Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I Can See (Better)!

The cataract surgery went very well today (Tuesday, April 26) and immediately following, I noticed a significant vision change.  As the hours have passed since the operation, my vision has continued to improve.  I find myself smiling a lot at every new discovery.  Tomorrow should be even better as all of the dilation drops will have worn off.  I should also find out just how improved the vision is when I visit the eye doctor tomorrow afternoon.  Though cataract surgery is the most-performed operation in this country, it still seem like a miracle to me.  My hat is off to the team of professionals who perform this miracle on so many patients each and every day.

Also, we've continued to track Harry Kent's portrait across the Pacific.  As I write this, it has already arrived in New South Wales, Australia.  Harry should have it some time tomorrow.  The tension is building and to say I'm nervous about his seeing it for the first time would be a gross understatement.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Finally, It's On It's Way!

Harry Kent's portrait is now winging it's way to Tasmania.  He should receive the painting on Friday, Tasmanian time, if all goes according to schedule.  I don't know about all of you, but I'm extremely eager to see if it arrives in good shape and even more importantly--will he like it.
I might not post for the next couple of days.  Cataract surgery tomorrow.  The doctor thinks the new lens might correct some of the remaining vision loss as a result of the retinal detachment a couple of years ago, but it may take a few days to tell.
Anyway, I should be back in no time and it'll be interesting to see what effect, if any, the new lens has on my painting.  Sure wish they could transplant a bunch of talent to go along with the new lens, but that might be too much to hope for.
See you in a couple of days--pun intended!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Day Off.

Nope.  Never set foot in the studio today.  It was just too nice out.  Bright blue and sunny skies and finally a warm, true Spring-like day.  We are having dinner guests Monday evening and I have decided, with Michele's acquiescence, to do the cooking.  She deserves at least one dinner engagement off and Monday is it.  She did, however, walk to the huge Portland Farmers Market today to pick up a few items I'll need for the coming gourmet feast.
Part of my day in the sun included a couple mile jog to City Market, our favorite place to pick up real Italian prosciutto di Parma.  I put the bundle of thin slices of Heaven under my arm and continued the jog to a supermarket closer to home.  There I purchased a few other items and was now burdened beyond the ability to jog any further.  It was only about six blocks to home and I stayed in the sunshine the entire way.
The day was so perfect everyone seemed to be outside enjoying it.  Michele said the Farmers Market was really crowded for the first time this year.  Of course, many food vendors are there, as well as, musicians, so even though it is too early in the season for vegetables and fruits and berries, such a nice day brings out the crowds.
The river was packed as well, with boats of every description and size.  It seemed that every Dragon Boat team was out there, getting in shape for the races which are part of the Rose Festival in June.  It is great fun to see the city come alive with something as simple as a nice day.
So, it wasn't all that difficult to stay away from the studio.  I ended the day, sunning myself while chatting with a friend who lives here in the building.  The building we currently inhabit has a beautifully landscaped patio with comfortable chairs and plenty of sunshine.  Many of our neighbors were taking full advantage of it, too.
We are about to go to dinner at other friends here in the building.  Gee, time to hit the shower!  Hope you all had an equally nice day where ever you live!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bye Harry.

This is it--no kidding.  I can't believe it, but Harry's portrait actually got signed today and I am committed to leaving it alone.  As soon as the most recent adjustments and the signing dry, it will be delivered to FedEx to be packed for shipment to Tasmania.
I could work on this for at least another year or two, but it is time to let go.  It's always a sad day, and I'd be lying if I said it felt good.  The studio will be missing one of the friendly faces which make it a joy to go to.  Luckily, I've still got Rhonda, Fon and a painting of Jeremy (Fon's husband) to keep me company.  I hate goodbyes.  

Friday, April 15, 2011

Harry Kent, The Never-Ending Painting.

On my way out of the studio, I snapped this photo of the on-going Harry Kent portrait.  I like it much better than the first post, way-back-when, but than, maybe a week from now it'll be better.  I should probably pack this up and send it to Tasmania before the paint build-up tears it from the stretcher bars!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rhonda Today.

Still working on Rhonda's portrait and her hand is proving to be a formidable challenge.  Nothing earth-shattering about that, as anyone of the painters out there well knows.  Anyway, I'll just keep after it until I'm happy.  I could probably stop anytime, but you also know how that goes.  Each new day reveals obvious necessary adjustments.  I'm sneaking up on it and feel like a few more sessions may get it done.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rhonda Continues

Made more corrections to Rhonda's portrait today.  Many teachers try to get their students to think about a brush stroke before application.  Value, color, shape of the mark, thickness of application and location are all important and combined with proper thought, can result in a well-placed, efficient brush stroke.
I just don't happen to live in that ideal world.  Most of us know of Paul Cezanne's extremely slow process.  Chroniclers have written that he often would take up to half an hour between brush strokes.
Even William Matheny, my Maestro, repeatedly tried to explain that a well thought out stroke would not only be more often the correct stroke, but such a process would actually save time in completing any painting.
It's all great advice and I have always appreciated it's significance, fails to consider the personality of the painter.  For example, I'm the antithesis of patient or methodical.  I do most things instinctively, quickly and yes, often stupidly.  Who knows what caused me to be this way.  I do believe, however, early exposure to athletics was a major contributor.  The home run, touchdown or basket were my seasonal goals and I had the youthful energy to go after them at full speed.  Taking chances to make the big play was something I learned early and dearly loved.  It was a wild-and-crazy childhood which hasn't changed over the years.                                                                   
Maturity, or as close as I could come to it, never completely killed that approach to life.  Today, even as an almost senior citizen, my energy level and nervous system combine to thwart any attempt at caution, due regard, contemplation or patience.  And so it is with Rhonda's portrait.
I must have already made ten thousand brush strokes, wiped out half of those and re-painted the wiped-out areas.  But, you see, I don't care.  When I'm standing at that easel, time is suspended and I can't stop and don't even try.  Wel-l-l...that's a lie.  I do try, but it doesn't do much good.  When I force myself to take a break, within minutes I've spotted a canvas full of immediately necessary corrections.  I leap up, grab a brush and hit it again.  Soon, another hour has passed without noticing a minute of it.  It's so much fun and pain and pure wonder, I just want to keep going and going.  I don't even care that many sessions amount to nothing, that I may have just wrecked everything, that I may never get the painting back to something fit to be seen by humans.  It just doesn't matter.  It's an obsession, a curse and a thrill and I do love it so.
Painting is the hardest thing I've ever attempted.  Nothing in my prior life prepared me for the unsurpassed challenge of creating a decent painting.  Hell, I don't know if I've ever created a decent painting yet and the rub is I won't be around to know whether or not I ever did.  That will be up to future generations to decide.
Anyway, it's time to post today's effort.  I used photo software to make the image black and white so you can see how the values are progressing.  Also, I must have made a hundred corrections to the drawing today alone and already see a bunch more now.  But, hey--I got into this crazy life on my own and besides...tomorrow's another day and I can hardly wait to get back to the studio.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The New Rhonda, with some blue.

Day four on Rhonda's portrait and I just read a comment from her that made me feel great.  She should REALLY like it today--I added some of her favorite blue to her scarf.  It still needs tweaking, but I know she'll like seeing it.  Decided I need to work some additional blues into the painting, too.  I know many of you have seen my first attempt, "Blue Rhonda", so I gotta get those blues in there.  It just won't be a completely blue painting this time. 
As they say in TV land...please stand by.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Woman in Pain", Work In Progress, Rhonda Carpenter.

So, this is Rhonda's portrait after today.  The hands are getting better, but need additional work and I know Rhonda is eager to see her very nice blue scarf gain some highlights.  Blue is her favorite color, if I remember correctly and when I saw her wearing it in the photo I knew it was no accident.  Maybe even a not-so-subtle hint or reminder for me.  All-in-all, I'm happy with the progress and looking forward to tomorrow in the studio.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Work In Progress: "A Woman In Pain", Portrait of Rhonda Carpenter.

Work in progress!  I finally surrendered and got rid of my last failed and frustrating portrait of Ms Carpenter.  No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't make it work.  Rhonda was most generous and patient with me, but a couple of weeks ago I wrote her and gave her the bad news.

I did ask her if she could provide another photo, but this time with more shadows.  I requested the same pose, or as close as she could come to it and a few days later I had three great photos to choose from.  Many thanks to both her and her photographer husband, better known as, "Sweetie". 

My goal with this portrait is to achieve a likeness, but more importantly, convey the misery and discomfort of a universal pain.  The pain may be from a migraine headache, the blues, flunking theoretical physics, illness, injury or loss of a loved one or simply living.  I'm no expert, but it seems to me women face a few thousand more challenges in life than men and I hope to express that in Rhonda's portrait. 

I sent her an email, with an image of how the painting looks now, with many promises of how I plan to improve it.  I also gave her the choice whether or not she'd be okay if I posted it "as is".  She was a good sport, as anyone who knows her or follows her blog would expect.  So, without further delay, here she is.  Remember---it is a Work-In-Progress!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hey Harry! Get Well Soon!

This is a heavily doctored (thanks to computer photo software) version of the Harry Kent portrait.  Yes, I'm still working on it, but this WILD AND CRAZY, WILDLY EXPRESSIONISTIC image is meant as a message to Harry:


                                                BEST WISHES,

                                                   ALL OF YOUR BLOGGER FRIENDS

April 1st, 2011 in the City.

We had another great Spring day here in Portland and it was not an April Fools Day prank.  While stopped for traffic during my jog to the studio, I snapped this photo of a Portland icon, a "Benson Bubbler" drinking fountain.

Simon Benson, a businessman and philanthropist, donated $10,000 to the city in 1912 to fund the purchase and installation of twenty bronze drinking fountains.  Some say he did it to reduce the amount of beer thirsty loggers drank and others say it was his response to seeing a thirsty child crying during a July 4th parade.   Personally, I prefer the crying, thirsty child story.

The unique four-bowl design was created by famous local architect, A.E. Doyle.  Currently, the Portland Water Bureau maintains 52 of these famous fountains.  In 1965, the city presented one to the mayor of our sister city, Sapporo, Japan, and another can be found at the Maryhill Museum of Art.  Sam Maryhill, a friend of Mr. Benson, asked if one could be installed at his museum and so it was.  The water they provide comes from Portland's Bull Run watershed located on the slopes of Mount Hood.  It is pure and cold on hot summer days when the rains are but a memory.

The other photos were taken at Chapman Square, one of Portland's many downtown parks.  I couldn't resist the red azaleas and delicate flowering cherry trees which decorate downtown Portland.  The sculpture of the pioneer family facing west is titled, "The Promised Land".  It was created by Oregon artist, David Manuel in 1993.  It was commissioned by the Oregon Trail Coordinating Counsel to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Oregon Trail--not to be confused with the earlier Lewis and Clark Expedition.

PS  I've just begun a new painting of Rhonda Carpenter.  What began as "Blue Rhonda", morphed into several additional paintings, none of which pleased me.  I told Rhonda I decided to give up on those efforts and asked her to send me new images.  She was a great sport and a couple of days ago, I got an email from her with several photos to choose from.  I made my choice and began work today.  I will post a photo when it's further along.  Stay tuned!