Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Old, Tired and Sad", enhanced look.

Gee, with a title like, "enhanced look", you might think I had plastic surgery and should look a whole lot better than this! Just thought I'd show you what the painting looks like after clicking the button called, "I'm Feeling Lucky" on Google's photo software, Picasa III.
In reality, the painting is somewhere in-between the two versions.

"Old, Tired and Sad", 2010.

A depressing title perhaps, but the look seemed to require it. I painted this today while I should have been working on the landlord portrait. The idea which sparked the new work was to use this pose with blood coming from the lip or nose. I was thinking about a title saying something to the effect of "no more fighting".
As I worked on it, however, I decided the sad look said plenty and didn't need the theatrics of blood. It's a fairly high-key painting and was a challenge to photograph. It looks a bit washed-out here, but you all know how such things go. Sometimes a painting must be seen in person.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Why?", 2010.

Why? Because I've left this alone for nearly a month and decided it needed attention. The amorphous face just wasn't speaking to me, so I took up brushes and paint and got busy. This may be one of those paintings which will never be able to rest in peace, so-to-speak.
Anyway, I always thought it needed some eyes. I really like eyes in portraits. Call me sentimental.

Japanese Memorial stone.

I carried the camera with me yesterday on the jog to my studio. Situated along Waterfront Park are several monuments and memorials, including a moving tribute to Japanese-Americans relocated to internment camps during World War II.
The memorial consists of a series of boulder-size granite (I think) rocks engraved with beautiful and touching words, as well as, a long, double row of Japanese cherry trees. I have run past these monoliths many times, but for some reason, yesterday I halted my run and took the time to read the poignant words.
This one struck me as particularly relevant on such a beautiful and crisp autumn day.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lazy Seagull, Oct. 29, 2010.

I was jogging along the seawall at Waterfront Park on this beautiful autumn day when I came upon this enterprising, but lazy, seagull. A woman was busy tossing bits of bread to other gulls swooping and diving to catch the airborne treats while this very smart bird decided to sit as close as possible and wait for the lady to place the bread at its feet.
You gotta love the intelligence. It did keep a close eye on me while I took this photo.

Mount Hood, fresh snow, last light, Oct. 29, 2010.

Luckily, I made it home today in time to catch Mount Hood in all its glory. The mountain received nearly three feet (about 90-cm) of snow in the last two days and a couple of the ski areas will be open this weekend! Really early for the start of ski season, thanks to "La Nina".
This photo was taken from the living room of the condo we rent. I was so happy to see this magnificent mountain catching the last of the sunlight. Hope you enjoy it, too.

Getting There, Oct. 29, 2010.

Finally got to the studio today after pulling myself away from "Blue Rhonda", to put some time in on the large portrait of our former landlord. I haven't touched it for a couple of days and taking such breaks really helps to clearly see areas needing work.
I snapped this photo on my way home and find I'm getting closer and closer to feeling good about it.

"Blue Rhonda", the beginning, Oct. 29, 2010.

Though I should be at the studio working on the big portrait, the urge to begin on the blue Rhonda compelled me to stay in my home studio. Here's the first effort, all in Prussian blue. I'm using the wipe-out technique again and just can't stop. Needs adjustments, but thought I'd post the original before it's "adjusted away".
PS If you see three images of this post, it's due to a blogger upload malfunction. Lately, it can take up to three attempts at uploading an image before it "takes" and I can see it. I have no other option if I don't see that it has uploaded. Sorry, but we all know you only get what you pay for and with Google providing this service for free...well.

Blue Rhonda

The lovely and talented Ms. Rhonda Carpenter has bravely volunteered to let me attempt an expressive portrait of her. I know many of you follow her blog and are, no doubt, aware of her mood sometimes taking a dip, or "color-shift" towards the blue end of the spectrum.
Her feeling blue is the inspiration for how I intend to portray her. The image above is a photo she sent me to use, though it wasn't this color. Blue was the obvious choice and I hope this doesn't frighten her too horribly. I feel confident additional "expressive" marks are in store. Must be Halloween! Stand-by for the first work-in-progress photo.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Old Growth, about 2004.

Though I grew up in a heavily-forested state, we didn't have Sequoia, Giant Redwood or Douglas Fir. This is an impressive example of what's called, "Old Growth". The photo was taken on the way to Mount Hood and I can honestly say that being in a grove of such giants makes an indelible impression. It has been eloquently compared to being in a great cathedral and it's easy to understand why when you're surrounded by these living monuments. If only they could talk!
Of course, scientists would tell us they do, in fact, speak to us. We just have to know how to interpret their message. Lets all hope we have the foresight to leave a few hectares of these towering giants to grow in peace.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"What Was I Thinking?", 2010.

I did this today during a break from working on our former landlord's portrait. I have yet to decide what I think of it, but there are many possibilities for "darks".

Work-In-Progress, Oct. 26, 2010.

Work continues on our former landlord's portrait. The challenge is deciding on a color palette. The photo colors are not horrible, but the camera and printer have made the highlights way too bright. I've been trying to hone-in on something pleasing and it's always a challenge.
I'm using a limited palette and have a gray scale printout to help me adjust the highlight values to what he might look like in person. I'll get it eventually, but many days it's just frustration.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Work-In-Progress, Oct. 24, 2010.

Oh, what the hell. Perhaps I'll get lucky and the subject won't visit my blog for a few weeks. I hope he doesn't, because this may scare him and even though it's nearly Halloween, it just wouldn't be right.
This is on a 24 x 24-inch canvas and as can plainly be seen, much work remains. I'm trying to take my time, keeping in mind the foibles of working from photographs. The subject, our former landlord, is such an incredibly kind gentleman he'd probably take it, "as is" and graciously thank me. And that is exactly why I want this to be just as good as I can possibly paint it. I'll show it to him soon, if progress continues, and hope there won't be too many adjustments.
This may be one of my last portraits done in this manner. I'm very eager to find an interesting subject with no expectations--someone I can paint in whatever way strikes my fancy. And that can only translate into "expressive".

Friday, October 22, 2010

And Finally, For Caio, Take Three.

This was the final attempt. It was a delightful lunch, by the way, especially since the apple had been such a good sport.

For Caio, Take Two.

I hope you're still smiling!

For Caio, Oct. 22, 2010.

I hope you all have taken the opportunity to visit Caio Fernandez's blog. This man fits into no category, is immensely creative (though he hates the concept) and his work is always compelling, challenging, questioning and puzzling.
Today, I looked through his twenty pages posted on Flickr and found one image most curious and fun. Since I consume an apple for lunch daily, and I happened to have a hammer in the studio, I couldn't resist paying homage to him.
Ciao...if you're out there...I sincerely hope this post brings a smile to your face. And, you should know--my poor attempt at imitating your work is truly meant as an homage.

More Autumn Color, Oct 22, 2010.

Thought you might like to see more of Autumn in Portland. The white vertical strip along the left side of the frame is the Wells-Fargo Center, tallest building in Portland at about 540-feet. You can see the sky-bridge connecting it to the smaller part of the complex. The greens, yellows and browns beyond is one of the many parks in the city, opposite City Hall. And not that it's all that important, but you're looking north in this view.

Autumn Colors, Oct 22, 2010.

Spent the day working on a 24 x 24-inch (60 x 60-cm) portrait of our former landlord. I'd love to post an image of the progress, but I don't want him to see it yet and he does have this blog address. The session was productive and I hope to have it finished and post an image within a couple of weeks, however, such things are notoriously difficult to predict.
So, with no paintings to post, how 'bout some fall colors? The sun was shining this morning and the colors so beautiful I grabbed the camera and took these shots from our fifteenth-floor living room. I took advantage of the nice weather, because tomorrow a Pacific storm will move in and drench most of us with rain. Mt. Hood, on the other hand, will get a nice amount of fresh snow. Nothing quite like seeing that mountain dressed in white. It still has snow, but really needs the new stuff to spiff it up.

Giant Tree, 2003.

This giant tree, I believe it's a Sequoia or Douglas Fir, continues living and growing just outside our first apartment building in Portland--735 St. Clair. It was a beautiful spring day in 2003 when Michele and I decided to take a walk around our new neighborhood. We exited the building on the west side and were astounded to see such a magnificent, gigantic tree growing so close to the building.
Portland is a very "green" city, in every sense of the word, with many equally amazing natural sights to be discovered in her many parks and neighborhoods.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

View from the Steel Bridge, September, 2010.

This is the view I enjoy while crossing the Steel Bridge on my jog. One of Portland's several nicknames besides "The Rose City" and "Stumptown", is "Bridge City". With nine or ten bridges across the Willamette River connecting the east and west sides of town, it's easy to see why.
In this photo, you're on the Steel Bridge looking north and can see the red Broadway Bridge and the Fremont beyond. The grain ship loading up (I'm guessing) is from Greece.

Ladies of Pitigliano, 1995.

These ladies (and one daughter) are busy collecting fennel seeds for future use in many traditional Tuscan culinary delights. The photo was taken way back in 1995 during our nearly two years stay there. This is in the centro storico of Pitigliano, a warren of amazing homes, shops and small restaurants.
No new paintings to post the last few days as I've been busy trying to complete three promised portraits. I hope to return to the "Harry Kent Inspired Self-Portrait Series of 2010" very soon.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Melancholy", 2010

Did this today as something of an experiment with facial mashing caused by resting the head on the hand. Lucien Freud is quite adept at showing scrunched-up faces and I thought it was my turn.
The title could have been "Mr. Excitement","Sleepy", "A Slow Day", "Worn Out" or any number of others, but I always liked the word "melancholy", so it was the winner. I cannot promise it will not be adjusted tomorrow, but time will tell.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"I Saw His Paintings", 2010, Take Two.

I couldn't resist taking a charcoal pencil to this painting today. Just wanted to refine the fingers a bit and know...old habits die hard. Most of you must have figured it out by now, that this is an interpretation of the work of Egon Schiele.
I greatly admire his unique and wonderful drawing skill and his many works featuring elongated, bony fingers.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"I Saw His Paintings", 2010.

This one kept me at the studio this evening. It was done using the "wipe-out" technique. I mixed up a purplish-brownish mud and made a bunch of marks, followed by wiping out the lights with tiny bits of torn paper towel. For some reason I do enjoy this working method. The only minor drawback is that once I begin I cannot stop. I guess one could stop and begin again tomorrow, but I personally hate to let go. I've tried that a few times and it's never the same the next session. Some of the darks dry and there's no possibility of removing some, or all of the layer to change the value.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Monster", 2010.

I wore out a brush on this one today. Nary a bristle left attached to the ferrule, most are stuck in the muck on the canvas. Do monsters wear reading glasses? Sometimes you just gotta push some paint around without a plan or goal. Wait! Did I just write that?
No plan...who'da thunk?

"I Spoke With My Parents Today", 2010,

I took the photo on which this painting is based, with nothing in mind, save for the expressive pose. As I enjoyed my lunch of Manchego cheese, an apple and a couple of glasses of Chianti, I studied the painting and considered several titles. Initially, my choice was, "Silent Scream". I wrote that down and continued thinking about it when suddenly the image began to take on a significance far beyond mere expression.
I spoke with my aged parents on Sunday and they are not doing very well. The pose does a pretty fair job of expressing how I feel about about not seeing them for the past ten years. Whew!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Late bloomer, Oct. 12, 2010.

On my walk home from the studio today, I spotted this beautiful, lone rose in a garden outside City Hall. Roses can easily hang-on till November here in Portland, but this one struck me with its singular, lonely beauty. Any of you poets out there feel free to use this for material.

Harry Kent stopped by today.

Wel-l-l...not exactly. I printed this image I found on Harry's blog and couldn't resist. Harry--you, will no doubt, be immortalized in the very near future and I shall do my very best to paint your portrait in an expressive manner.

A Toast to Harry Kent.

Yessiree, Harry! This was taken today, just to prove I haven't touched the "New Beginning self-portrait. It's an inexpensive Chianti, sans the fava beans. Cheers, my friend.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"With My Good Eye", 2010.

This small work was completed yesterday, but I did not have my camera so no image until today. It is only 15 cm x 23 cm (6x9 inches), oil on canvas and is actually my bad eye. Allow me to explain...
About a year-and-a-half ago, the retina in my right eye detached and I had surgery to fix it. Unfortunately, the vision in that eye has not returned to what it was and even with a corrective lens it's not very useful. The only good news is that the scleral buckle the surgeon put around the eyeball, has made that eye great for very close-up fine print.
So, the title refers to how I painted this, not the eye in the painting.
It was a great exercise in alla prima painting and I have not touched it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Studio Notes, Oct. 10, 2010.

No new images today. On purpose, I left the camera at home. I wanted to avoid the pressure of working on the new self-portrait and having the camera there always seems to prompt work and then, photos.
This was done as a first step in a major change in working method. It's about time, too. Today, alone in the studio, I was thinking about the attitudes of those who brought me up and surrounded me for the first twenty-four years of my life.
I was raised in Michigan, Battle Creek, to be specific. If any of you have eaten Kellogg's cereal, you are familiar with "Tony Tiger" and Battle Creek. My father worked for Kellogg's for twenty-seven years and would have had no problem if I had followed in his footsteps.
I had a wonderful childhood, stable home and solid education. That would've been good enough had I not gone to college and then entered the navy. Seeing the world and it's wealth of different cultures and attitudes opened my eyes to the endless possibilities. Home, and Midwestern attitudes were no longer where I wanted to be. As a result, I've been a moving target, vagabond, Prodigal Son and citizen of the world for a long time. Unfortunately, many of the attitudes I learned as a youth, have continued to plague me, despite Herculean efforts to overcome them.
I grew up being told , "clean your plate" at meals, "we don't waste things around here", "grow-up". I never visited an art museum until my navy career. We never went to any kind of symphony concert. I was being prepped to spend thirty years in a factory and live in my home town. So, how did these attitudes affect my painting regimen?
Today, I thought about my inability to leave a painting "unfinished". It is simply a deep-seated attitude about wasting stuff--in this case--canvas. Paint application has also been a struggle, too. Somehow, I've always been prone to use way more brush stokes than required. It's as if I had to use the painting to clean the brush before re-loading it. How crazy is that? I could have had a great career as a house painter!
I could go on, but you get the picture. That's why it's high time to acknowledge these roadblocks to creativity and make some changes. Today was the first in what may be a long struggle, but I believe it can be done. My new goal is to not set goals! Man! Am I messed-up, or what?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Self-Portrait", 2010, a beginning.

This is the beginning of the third painting in what has become, "The Harry Kent Inspired Self-Portrait Series of 2010". That's a mouthful, but I thought it was a great way to tell the world where these ideas came from and honor a truly creative genius painter and man of letters.
This one is quite a bit larger than normal--for me, at least--so there's much work ahead...or not!

"Self-Portrait", Oct 9, 2010.

Made it to the studio today and worked on one of the new self-portraits. This one is very near its end. I had high hopes when I took the photo, but sometimes one simply makes a wrong guess about such things. That, and simply not being able to put what's in ones head on the canvas. Anyway, tomorrow is another day. As something of a consolation, I did make a start on a third one.

Chinese Artist, 2003.

Portland has a wonderful outdoor craft and art market every Saturday and Sunday beneath the west side of the Burnside Bridge. Called the "Saturday Market", it features music and food and a few thousand browsers, shoppers and colorful characters. During one of our first visits to the market after moving to Portland, we came upon this gentleman who creates art in the form of Chinese calligraphy.
Here, you see him working on one of the two sayings we ordered. One says, "Welcome to Our Home" and the other, "We Wish You Long Life". We had them framed and they still hang on the wall in our entryway to welcome friends and visitors.

The nap. 1988.

This was our Doberman puppy, "Don Vito Poocherelli". We got him when we were stationed in Dallas, Texas, back in 1988. Michele snapped this photo of Vito and me during a serious nap. He was a great dog, ferocious and loving both.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Self-Portrait", 2010, work-in-progress.

This is the second of several planned self-portraits, inspired by the incredibly expressive work of Mr. Harry Kent, of Tasmania. I didn't have the courage to post this a couple of days ago, but what the heck. My mother would say, "Why do you paint yourself so ugly?". She has said that to me before, even when the portrait was much more "pretty", so I can only imagine what she would think of this.
I'll most likely re-work it, but world, here it is.
There may be dark psychological forces at work here, but I'll leave that for you to decide.

Lan Su Yuan Classical Chinese Garden.

Another of Portland's gems, the Lan Su Yuan Classical Chinese Garden is located on an entire city block at Northwest 5th Avenue and Everett Street. The name means, "Portland Suzhou Garden and the Chinese pictographs mean, "Garden of Awakening Orchids". It is an authentic Suzhou-style urban garden. If you love far eastern philosophy and gardening, or need a bit of tranquility in the heart of the city, this amazing garden is the place to go.
We had never seen a classical Chinese garden prior to our move to Portland and it was one of the first places we visited here. You can learn more about it at

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Tea Ceremony", 2007

In 2007, I was renting one of the six or seven studios I've had since moving to Portland. This particular studio was every artist's dream, including a floor on which I could spill, drip or run paint without fear. This painting was the result of having that creative freedom. I had a 30 x 40-inch abandoned canvas which featured a thick build-up of paint, glue, fabric, torn paper, liberally-applied oil and even coffee--in liquid form, as well as, the grounds. One day I decided to cover the "mixed media mess" with metallic enamel just to see what it might look like. The result, posted today, somehow reminded me of the mats used during a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Don't ask me how that idea popped into my head, because I have no clue. The painting, like so many others, no longer exists, save for this image which lives on in the fantasy world of zeros and ones. If we ever win the lottery, I hope to once again have a spacious, light-filled studio and go crazy.

The "Spruce Goose" and little buddy.

About 45-minutes south of Portland you can see Howard Hughes gigantic flying boat, nicknamed, "The Spruce Goose", hangared in the Evergreen Aviation Museum near McMinnville. This bigger-than-life aviation icon has plenty of room for the equally famous SR-71 to rest beneath its wing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Multnomah Falls

After that self-portrait, I thought everyone could use a post on the lighter side. Multnomah Falls is located a little less than an hour east of Portland, in the Columbia River Gorge. The mighty Columbia River separates the states of Oregon and Washington. The falls feature two drops totaling slightly over 600-feet and flow year-round. The famous Benson Bridge was constructed by Italian stone masons in 1914 and spans the lower cataract. It allows the brave-hearted to have a breathtaking view of the falls and surrounding area and is a truly thrilling place to be. A lodge, constructed using every type of stone within the Columbia Gorge, was built in 1925. It no longer houses overnight guest, however, it does serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Another one for Harry Kent.

This is the first of several new self-portraits in work, all inspired by Mr. Harry Kent, Esq. of Tasmania. The photos the new works are based on came about quite by accident as I was standing under a strong light and on a whim, decided to take some shots. Boy! Was I surprised! I've got four or five images printed and in the new studio. Two paintings are underway with three more at the ready.
No more pretty pictures here folks!

Dr. Andrea and Mr. Jared Haller, circa 1999.

This painting was never finished or delivered and was my first serious attempt at portraiture. This young couple had purchased one of my paintings they'd seen at the Chattanooga, Tennessee, cooperative In-Town Gallery, where I was a member and so began our relationship. Through the years they have collected several other works and continue to be distant, but good friends and my first (and only) patrons.
This double portrait was destroyed as a result of my then fragile ego and a few relatively innocent comments about it. I am still embarrassed to admit that I over-reacted and abandoned the painting, as well as, portraiture, until about two years ago. The toughest thing about painting, or any artistic pursuit, is giving it your best effort, baring your soul and facing rejection. Not even the best baseball player hits a home run every time at bat, but platitudes are no salve for the bruised ego.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Portland Visitor, Sep. 25, 2010.

I was jogging along the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade today and spotted the Morrison Bridge lifting to accommodate this vessel coming into the city. My normal every-other-day jog takes me along the Willamette River west bank, also known as Waterfront Park, to the Steel Bridge. I cross it to reach the east side esplanade named for our former mayor, Ms Vera Katz. The Hawthorne Bridge is my way back to the west side. I never saw the stern of the vessel, so I can't give you the name or where it's from.