Sunday, November 28, 2010
Me again, suited-up for a cold run to the studio. It's my preferred method of spending minimum time outside when it's cold. The exercise can't hurt either.
Our weather has returned to normal for this time of year--Mid-4o's with the occasional rain shower. Now, the rest of the U.S. is beginning to feel the effects of the Arctic air mass as it heads east.
I used to jog when we lived in Italy and I'll never forget the scolding I received from our elderly neighbor one day. She saw me return from a run, sweaty, thirsty and drinking water from our neighborhood fountain. The delicious, very cold water came from Monte Amiata and I was enjoying a wonderful drink when she began telling me I shouldn't be having water, as it was bad for me following such exertion. To her, the only acceptable beverage for such a situation was vino! I laughed and joined her for a couple of small glasses of her own delightful red wine and some cookies. Now, that's the way to end a run!
Saturday, November 27, 2010
This is a virtual cropped portion of a destroyed painting of Pitigliano, Italy. I was curious to see how it might look enlarged to a grand scale and thanks again to Harry Kent and the website, "dumpr", here it is.
The view of this Tuscan town is from the shop of famous motorcycle rider and mechanic, Tarziello Niccolai.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Dr. Parker and his wife were supposed to spend the day and remain overnight with us, but the weather changed the plan. They were forced to turn back to Seattle after enduring two-and-a-half hours of slow-going on Interstate-5 due to snow and heavy traffic.
So, with a cold and so far, only rainy day here in Portland, I thought it was time for a photographic warm-up. This is a shot from Waikiki Beach during our last visit to Hawaii in 2008. It was during this visit that we first saw the legendary "Green Flash".
The "Green Flash" is an actual atmospheric phenomena which occurs rarely, but we finally saw it when the sun just dipped below the horizon. It's an unforgettable sight as an emerald green flash momentarily appears exactly where the sun just disappeared.
What a kick to finally see it after so many years in the navy, looking for it, unsuccessfully, from beaches across the Pacific. If you Google, "Green Flash", you can find out the scientific explanation for this most rare and special event.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
The Seattle Art Museum is the site of the Picasso Exhibit, but since no photos of the exhibit were permitted, I thought you might enjoy this view of the lobby. It's a major installation of a car crash in motion. I can hardly imagine how challenging it was to hang!
Here it is. I wonder how many people on this planet would fail to recognize this American icon? It was built for the Seattle World's Fair in 1962 and stands just over 600-feet tall. It features the obligatory revolving restaurant and both inside and outside observation decks. The 360-degree view of Seattle and surrounding area is spectacular.
It was designed to be a glimpse of the 21st-century. I'll avoid bashing my country, but it is sad that big dreams and charging into the future is being left to everyone else.
There were a few photos from our recent visit to Seattle that I just had to share. This building was a block away from our hotel and the design was unsettling, to put it mildly. One has to wonder how it will manage to withstand an earthquake. Yikes!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Harry, I was trying to be expressive--even thought about turning this into my impression of what the Meniere's might make you feel like. Sorry I failed so miserably. Fear not, however, as I will, no doubt, try again. I may be forced to use one of your paintings as a "model" since you don't exactly post a lot of photos of yourself.
And this will, most likely, receive a bit of tweaking tomorrow, though at this point, I'm not sure.
Dr. Parker and I grew up together in Battle Creek, Michigan. His family moved to Battle Creek when we were in junior high school. We became fast friends and remain so today. He and his wife, Chris, will arrive here for a short visit on November 22, so I wanted to have this small portrait ready for them.
Don't ask how the color palette was chosen, because I have no idea. I just began working on it and here's the result. I was torn between painting him expressively or in a more conventional manner. Since it's a gift and he's a great friend, I know he'll be kind, no matter what he secretly thinks of it.
Yup. It's Gordon, again. My last few attempts were failures, but this one will succeed because I'm painting for me, not him. Sounds selfish but there is a valid reason for doing so.
Gordon is slightly affected by Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder, specifically, he's a perfectionist. He warned me repeatedly that painting his portrait might be a problem for both of us. He's so nice, however, I decided to press-on anyway.
So, he has an image of what he wants to look like in a portrait and obviously there is no way I can know that, save for a Vulcan "Mind Meld". And I'm not sure if Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) is still available for the job.
My first three attempts weren't all bad, but I worked them to death, without ever giving Gordon a chance to suggest corrections or improvements. Now that I'm trying to paint more expressively, I knew there was no way he would ever be happy with the outcome. My solution was to choose a pose from the photos we took a couple of months ago and paint it my way. He may or may not like it, and that's okay with me. I have no problem keeping the painting. It will, nevertheless, be interesting to see his reaction to it. I'll let you know how that works out!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Last night we returned from two days in Seattle, which included a visit to the Seattle Art Museum to see the Picasso exhibit; Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris. The museum houses works which Picasso kept for himself--works he chose to "shape his legacy". The exhibit showcases iconic works from every major phase of his eight-decade career.
Luckily, the exhibit stopped in Seattle (it will remain until January 17, 2011) and we had this opportunity to see it. Having seen many of these paintings and sculptures in books over the years, it was almost like a dream to finally see them in person. I spent about two hours going through the galleries filled with over 150-paintings, drawings, etchings and sculptures. Time-controlled tickets meant each visitor had adequate time and space to enjoy the show. No photographs were allowed, so sadly, my only memory is my entry ticket. It's difficult to mention a favorite piece because frankly, when you see so many it leaves one's mind a bit boggled.
On Monday the museum is closed, so we played tourist. We hopped aboard the famous Monorail for the short ride to see the iconic Space Needle. Built for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, the 605-foot tall structure continues to be the number one visitor attraction in Seattle. At the tender age of thirteen, to me, the Space Needle represented a limitless future, space travel and endless possibilities. It seemed so far away from where I grew up I never thought I'd see it in person. Well...finally I did!
Almost forgot...at the museum gift shop I picked up books on Francis Bacon and Otto Dix, two very uniquely talented artists whose work I admire. The books made the train ride back to Portland fly by.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
This, my friends, is what happens when a dark clown painting gets wiped-out. And I must admit that I like this vaguely-suggested creature-spirit a lot. I see many images within the four edges, depending on the light striking it and the mood I'm in.
I'll be absent for the next two days as we're taking the train three-hours north to see the Picasso exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. The National Picasso Museum in Paris is being renovated and approximately 150 paintings, drawings and sculptures have been sent on tour. Seattle has the exhibit until mid-January, 2011.
We plan on taking in a few other sights while there, too. I hope to have some good photos to share when we return. Hope to see you soon!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
This is quite a drastic change from the initial effort. I decided simply painting Ms. Carpenter in blue was WAY TOO OBVIOUS. After thinking about what I was attempting to express; melancholy, feeling "blue", a little depressed, I came up with this.
I shall say nothing more, not unlike Caio, and let you decide what, if anything, you feel when seeing it.
Rhonda gave me her permission to post this as is, though I did semi-promise more was in store for it.
This is a canvas with several abandoned paintings covered up. Today, it turned into this, though I'm not sure how. It reminds me of a circus clown having a really, really bad day. Pagliacco of the shadows.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Oh, the mischief one gets into late in the evening. This is a photo taken with distortion courtesy of either plastic wrap or waxed paper. I was experimenting with both in the hopes of getting an interesting shot or two which might be turned into a painting. Between the "special effects" and computer software I'm not displeased with the outcome.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
"Portlandia" is the second largest hammered copper sculpture in the United States, the statue of Liberty being the largest. She's depicted on the Great Seal of the City of Portland, welcoming traders into the port. Kneeling, the sculpture measures 36-feet high, but if she could magically stand-up, she'd be fifty-feet tall.
The monumental figure is mounted on a landing of the Portland Building, located on southwest 4th-Avenue, downtown.
PS Richard liked his portrait!
This is another of my all-time favorite (found only in barber shop) prints. I've been visiting this shop, "Rough Cuts", since we moved to Portland eight years ago. Mary Lee, the owner, gives a great haircut along with scintillating conversation.
No idea who came up with this one, but you gotta love it.
This print by M. Ryerson, shows future Portland mayor, Bud Clark, flashing his credentials to a statue. I don't know the year the photo was taken, but it's as famous here as Mr. Clark, himself.
I was visiting my barber shop today and noticed it while waiting my turn in the chair. Thought you would all get a kick out of seeing it.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
This is the latest version of an earlier post. Yes...it's me again, holding a small, round mirror. I was going for bold, loose brush strokes and serious contrast. The National Gallery hasn't called to purchase it yet, so chances are it will serve as a test bed for future ideas.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
This is the real, final-final, Richard Cork. When I got to the studio today, I was under-whelmed and knew something had to be done. After spending most of the day on it, I'm calling it finished--for real, this time. I've already made an appointment to deliver it, wet, tomorrow.
I believe Max Beckmann was watching me today, might have even taken control of my brushes a time or two. One thing for sure, I like it better than ever. Richard has spent time in Germany and is a fine artist, working graphic artist and art history student. He will, no doubt, immediately recognize my humble attempt to honor Herr Beckmann.
So, time to get back to the other paintings waiting in the wings. Keep the faith, Rhonda, Fon, Howard, Gordon and Dr. Parker--and of course, Harry!
Monday, November 8, 2010
I'm calling this finished. It has been through a couple of evolutions in my attempt to figure out what "expressive" means and in this painting, at least, maybe I did...a little...perhaps...nearly...almost.
To paraphrase Caio, "This wasn't painted for the machine". In person, it doesn't look muddy or dull and frankly I'm surprised I decided to post it. Richard's birthday is tomorrow and I plan on presenting it to him. I'll let you know how it turned out.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
This old thing was hanging about the studio today, looking particularly chalky, so I was forced to attack it with a dab or two of saturated color. I'd like to think this makes the painting a bit more expressive, but I'll leave that for the experts: Harry, Caio and Laura...lay it on me. I'd like to think I can take it.
I'm beginning to refine my ideas about what expressive painting is, but I'll spare you the details while the distillation process continues. Thinking about this has resulted in something of a slow-down in "production". The "Blue Rhonda", "Richard" and several other portraits are hanging in the balance over this issue and may or may not be touched until a clear path becomes evident. Hence, the photos of scenery rather than paintings lately. Keep the faith, as the wheels are turning and I hope the mental fog clears soon.
Friday, November 5, 2010
As I walked out of our building yesterday, it was as nice a November day as one could ever hope for. Sunny, warm (nearly 70-degrees) and beautiful. I had my trusty camera and as I looked across 5th-Avenue, the golden leaves and bluish reflections stopped me in my tracks. Almost forgot--the reflection in the windows is our building.
Medusa was precisely what this serpentine tree reminds me of and I finally took a photograph. It's a Japanese green maple which, by it's size, suggests it was planted many years ago.
The building we live in was constructed in the late-1970's and I'm guessing this tree was one of several original plantings.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
This is my initial effort on a portrait of a good friend and fellow artist we've known since moving to Portland eight years ago. I utilized the "apply mud and wipe it out" technique again to get it started. I know the pose is boringly conventional, but I trust it will be anything but boring when I'm finished.
As a newly liberated painter, I've decided it's time to paint my subjects in the pose of my choice, the color palette (or lack of) I choose and expressively, at all costs, including laughter, disgust, ridicule or fawning adoration. What better armor could I have than the belief in what I'm doing?
There will be a birthday party for Richard on Sunday and I'd like to present it to him there, so this will definitely be an instinctual and speedy exercise in creativity and expressiveness. Fasten your seat belts!
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Couldn't resist tweaking this one today. Without a doubt, it is the most fearless and free self-portrait I've done so far. When I saw it today, prior to the work, I still liked it--a lot. It must be the unrestrained application of paint that is so much fun. Like painting is supposed to be. The feeling of wonder when brush touches canvas and the mark you make brings a smile to your face is exhilarating. Perhaps it's the result of making the decision to paint and not think about it too much. Today I didn't worry about how exact the proportions were, didn't fuss about mixing the precise color or even consider whether or not anyone in the world would like it. I just let go.
I don't know if this is a sea-change, paradigm shift or just a lucky day. Hell, I don't even know if I'll feel this way tomorrow. Hold it. Yes, damn it! I do know! For about sixteen years I've been painting for everyone else; Their praise, sales, glory, fame--you name it and I've been guilty of painting for it. Not anymore. This is a Declaration of Artistic Independence! Freedom from apologizing, self-deprecation and worrying about anything but how I like the painting.
The only thing left to do is burn everything I've done prior to a month ago. Now that would feel wonderful. No turning back! Ah-h.
Since I've used up every last exclamation point, it's time to quit. I sincerely hope everyone out there who is struggling to find their own voice and wants to be brave, can experience this feeling of liberation some day.
Thanks to Harry Kent, Tapies, Lucian, Vincent and Caio and many others out there who have helped me come to this epiphany.
If I didn't know better, I might have been channeling Vincent yesterday--today, as well. Worked on the former landlord portrait again, as well as, "Blue Rhonda". Perhaps a post of Ms. Carpenter's portrait tomorrow.
And Harry...if you're out there, we all miss you and hope you're feeling okay.