Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Travel-Jog.

Memorial Day was an excellent day for a nice jog.  A fellow resident here in the building had long ago recommended continuing south, WAY beyond my normal turn-around point, to "enjoy" the run along the Willamette River Greenway, all the way to the Sellwood Bridge.  I'm not sure just how long a run it is, but I decided an adventure was in order and I'd go as far as the old legs would take me. 

This, for those of you unfamiliar with critters, is a beaver.  He was standing beside an information sign along the Willamette River Greenway.

 Here's the sign the beaver was beside.  Click on the image if you'd like to read about it.

This is the lower part of the sign above.  Again, click on it for a legible view.
Okay, this is the final educational sign.
Flowers along the way.
 I had the camera and snapped some shots of what to me was, "The Undiscovered Country".  I didn't make it all the way to the Sellwood Bridge, but it was a personal best in terms of distance.  Part of the reason I turned around early was the landscape.  I'm a little sorry to admit that all that "peace and quiet" was rather boring.  Few people, no city noises, no ambulances, fire trucks or police car sirens.  Just beautifully natural riverbank, with flowers and trees and the broad expanse of the Willamette.

  In the distance, you can see the condo buildings of the South Waterfront.  I've posted several photos of these glass, steel and concrete towers before.  This gives you an idea of just how far away from the city my old legs carried me.  Those condos are usually where I turn around!  You also get a feeling of the efforts made to return the river bank to it's natural state.  Native plants and wildlife have returned to this area and Oregonians are justifiably proud of their work. 
 This spectacularly-colored iris was found along my way back.
A heritage rose blooming in a small park near the marina.

 One of several large motor yachts tied-up at the Marina today.  Maybe this family brought the kids into town to enjoy the City Fair carnival.  The Newport Seafood Grill is just behind.

You won't see this on "Mega-Yachts of the World", but's a serious water craft.
In the distance, you can see Hawthorne Bridge is in the middle of a lift.  Probably to allow the "Portland Spirit" cruise ship to pass beneath.

Some of the colorful flowers in the small park.  It has a few benches and four small lilly ponds.
A close-up.

 Finally, a shot of one of the "City Fair" amusement rides.  Whew!  It was nearly six miles today and a chair in the studio was calling my name.  I needed a few hours to rest up for the jog home!  Oh.  And I painted, too.

On the run back to civilization, I took a few photos of a small park near the marina.  The marina was packed with some very large and impressive yachts, probably owned by folks here for the Rose Festival activities.  "City Fair", a huge carnival with all the trimmings, is spread out along Waterfront Park for the next two weeks and it runs into the famous Portland market of crafts and everything creative called, "The Saturday Market".  People were everywhere with kids and dogs, strollers and bicycles of every description.  Luckily, I was "forced" to slow my jog to a crawl to avoid running into someone.  Ahh-h-h, back to normal!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"Henry", Mr. Mitsuru Takahashi, Has Passed Away.

I just received an email this morning, informing me that, "Henry", Mr. Mitsuru Takahashi, passed away, May 16, 2012.  He is being buried today, 27 May 2012.

As I wrote to his friend, Henry touched so many lives from the small fruit stand called, "Henry's Place", he will live on in the hearts and memories of the thousands of us fortunate enough to have visited his shop and discovered the kind and gentle soul behind the counter.

I had planned on presenting Henry with his portrait when we arrived in Honolulu next Spring, but now hope his family will accept this tribute and that it will honor his memory for many years to come.
It is also my hope that future generations of Mr. Takahashi's family will be pleased to know how much he was loved and admired and that his radiant smile warmed as many hearts as the brilliant Hawaiian sunshine. 

The first papaya we enjoy from "Henry's Place" as new residents of Honolulu won't be quite as sweet with Henry gone, but if the family continues to operate the stand, the smiles will return and so will the sweetness and joy.  I believe Henry would be pleased. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Henry Today.

So, the Hawaiian background is gone and was replaced by a light lavender--for about two days.  It just seemed to cold and boring.  For the two days I let it dry, the search was on for ideas to make it better.  The explosive backgrounds seemed inappropriate for Henry, so until I arrived at the studio today, there was no plan.

The results of the day's effort are probably going to receive more work, but here it is.  Have a nice Memorial Day weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New Ideas.

Regarding Henry.  His cobalt blue fleece jacket was driving me crazy, specifically, getting the highlights on it to look anything but chalky.  I wrote the Maestro an email explaining my problem and asking for ideas.  

He phoned me last night and shared his thoughts and ideas about the color issue.  More importantly, his critique of the portrait showed me a way forward with it.  The background has changed numerous times as I've tried to replace the real thing with something more interesting, more "Hawaiian".  

It seemed like a great idea at the time, but if you've followed the posts, it was on the brink of becoming a horrible cliche.  As the Maestro pointed out, Henry and his family live there and they don't need to be reminded of what it looks like.  In addition, he expressed his opinion that the saturated colors competed with Henry's smile and nothing in a portrait should do that.

Of course, he's correct and I have long known this to be true.  Somewhere along the way, I began imposing my own love for the location and my own need to see it in the background.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  

I thanked the Maestro for helping clarify the path forward with this painting.  Today, I'll cover all the superfluous stuff behind Henry with a non-competing background and get the portrait back to the original focus:  Henry.  It's truly a gift to have someone like William Matheny to go to when problems arise.  His gentle manner, talent and experience always combine to provide just what I need, at just the right moment.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


That's all I did on this painting today.  Just a little tweaking.  Not being known for my artistic courage, I keep sneaking up on the highlights.  A few tweaks on the foliage to ratchet up the light.  A few more on the water, along with a few more darks.  It's not good when you begin to fear you'll wreck a painting.  I may have to stop.  Maybe.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Finger Painting-101

The stream received more attention today, though the palette knife was left in it's scabbard.  The paint was so thick after a couple of knife sessions, I had to let it (sort of) dry before continuing work.  My goal is to create the atmosphere you would normally see around-and-above a rapidly moving stream.  An atmosphere containing lots of water vapor and splashing droplets being illuminated by the shafts of light making their way through the dense forest.  It's a visual poem in my head and I did my best to make it appear on the canvas.

The weapon of choice today was my "pinkie" finger.  No brush in the inventory remotely looked adequate for the task at-hand, no pun intended.  The autumn foliage was brightened up a little, too.  This may be getting near the stopping point as I'd like to avoid detailing it to death.  Hope you had a great day.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Henry and Memory of Tennessee.

It's a bit odd to see Henry wearing a fleece jacket in Honolulu, but it was early February, he's almost ninety and was actually seated in the shade, not near the beach.  I may have to remove his jacket and have some fun putting him in a colorful "Aloha shirt".  Juggling backgrounds and clothes in the middle of a portrait isn't the classic way to do it and now I know why! 

The fresh mountain water was so pure and cold, I couldn't resist!  I actually measured this canvas today and discovered it's 20 x 24-inches, not 24 x 30-inches as initially reported.  
The photo this is based on has different proportions than this canvas, so the last two sessions have been dedicated to adjusting the discrepancy.  Not that you'd notice, but I did and it bugged me.  I feel like the sense of light is better today, too.  This is one of those rare instances in which I'm trying to take a little artistic license to make the painting more interesting than the photo.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Memory of Tennessee.

Something different today.  A couple of weeks ago, while digging through our old photos looking for an Orvieto, Italy cemetery monument image for Jeanette Jobson, I stumbled upon some memories of our time living in East Tennessee.

In particular, a couple of photos taken during a hike in the woods, with a stream cascading down layers of rock.  Long ago, I tried painting the scene, but never liked the effort and discarded it.  The photos went into storage and I had forgotten about them for the last twelve years.  I've had them at the studio for a while now, trying to muster the courage for another attempt.  Today was the day.

The first thing I must say is, if anyone out there likes the painting, all credit goes to Tibor Nagy.  He's another artist who's work I greatly admire and it was his wonderful paintings which inspired me to have another go at it.

The first effort, those many years ago, was killed by my usual bad habits of over-working and being a slave to details.  In fact, the scene was so full of mostly unimportant details, I  remember feeling overwhelmed from the start.  I had no idea of how to simplify all the information in the photo and the experience was not fun.

Today, I took what was an abandoned self-portrait on a 30 x 24-inch canvas, turned it horizontal and began slathering it with a raw umber-loaded palette knife.  I hoped to establish the strong dark shadow pattern which dominated the scene and would act as a perfect foil for the dappled lights and falling water.  Other colors included, ivory black, terre verte, cobalt violet, burnt sienna, yellow ochre and titanium white. 

Today, the term, "reckless abandon" might apply.  In just over an hour-and-a-half, I stopped.  Thanks, Tibor!  Though my painting lacks his spectacular look, for me it was a triumph.  It may receive some additional attention once the very thick paint drys, but not much.  When I stood back to view it, I felt there was plenty of opportunity for others to engage their imaginations, something most of my paintings lack.

And on top of having a good day at the easel, it was a beautiful, warm day here!  Can life be any sweeter?  You know my answer to that, so I won't bother writing it down.  I hope that, wherever you live, your day was a good one, as well.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Henry Today.

After working on Harry's portrait for most of the morning here at home, it was time for a long run (by my standards) to the studio to do some work on Henry's portrait.  Oh.  And being Friday, of course there was the Old Guys Gab Fest, too.

You may have noticed the stencil lettering is gone...for now.  I had second thoughts about having it on a portrait and thought perhaps the ocean and a bit of Waikiki Beach might be a nice touch.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring.  My goal is to make Henry look like Henry and make it look like a sunny day in Hawaii.  Might have a way to go on it, but that's okay.

Getting There.

YES!  Here is Harry Kent today.  The photos were taken at the same time, using two different cameras:  A Canon and an Olympus.  Hope you had a spectacular day and have a great weekend.

This was taken with the Olympus camera.

The Canon was used here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Never Stop!

The work continues.  The photo I've been working from, actually, a print-out of a photo, had the shadows quite dark.  For some reason, I use the photo software to accentuate shadows to help definition.  That's all well-and-good, but having developed the terrible habit of painting what I see, without compensating for those rather excessively dark shadows isn't so good.  I'm going to keep at, until there is light in those shadows!

For the past few sessions, I've been working to bring up the key in this work.  You all know what a challenge that can be and it confirms the Maestro's early lesson:  "Just paint another one on a new canvas."  Bad habits die hard.  Anyway, here's what Harry looks like today.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Can You Ever See Too Much of Harry? I Don't Think So!

I told fellow Blogger, Rhonda Carpenter I'd follow her orders and leave the previously posted version of Harry alone.  I lied.  Despite her lavish praise, I just wasn't happy with it and since I didn't have a blank canvas available at home, I was forced!...(yeah, that's it!) I was DRIVEN to re-work the available version.  So, it's not my fault...right? 

Rhonda--please forgive me, I couldn't help myself.  And we both know this one will suffer the same fate.  As I look at it while typing this, flaws, mistakes, omissions and out-and-out goof-ups are evident.  It is my curse and my joy to continue to battle with the two demons who haunt me--Rework and his buddy, Overwork.  To vanquish these two evil spirits will take a Herculean resolve, perhaps more than I can muster.  So far, my track record in this struggle is Me--zero   Rework and Overwork--12,987.  The odds against me are staggering, but I shall proceed undaunted and without fear. 

It is my fondest hope that you can find understanding in your heart and support me in this fight.  Never mind the failures, the personal weakness exhibited at every turn, the empty promises.  I'm in this for the duration.  I shall not give up.  I'll never surrender.  Have a nice day tomorrow everybody!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Some Good News.

Actually, it was wonderful news for the Cascades AIDS Project.  A couple of months ago, I donated a painting to this most worthy cause and like last year, hoped it would make the auction and sell for a nice amount of money. 

The painting was juried-in for the silent auction, part of the "Grand Event" held last Saturday evening.  Like Celeste Bergin mentioned in her blog, I, too, did not attend the event.  It was indeed a Grand Event, too, raising over $570,000 for this important organization.

My painting, called, "Vintage", did very well.  Much to my surprise, it sold for $1, 373.00!  It was only priced at $850.00, so either collectors are aware of my age and questionable future output, or more than a couple of folks liked it enough to drive the price up.  Whatever the reason or motivation, I couldn't be more pleased.

Last year, my donation was priced at $1, 200.00, but sold for only $900.00.  I certainly hope this year is significant and the beginning of a trend!  I will definitely contribute another work for 2013, if the world hasn't ended by then!  Have a nice Sunday everybody!  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A New Harry Kent

This is about as loose as I've ever gone and perhaps Harry Kent is the only person alive today who may appreciate the attempt.  This has been in work for quite a few months, but there was no satisfaction with the same old static, unimaginative paint application.

Having admired the "explosive" style of Jeffrey R. Watts for several years, I broke out the palette knife and big gobs of paint and threw caution to the wind.  It was a struggle to just let go and not become overly concerned about exactitude.  It may, or may not survive, but it did provide valuable  experience in a radically different way of painting.  For a long time--years, in fact--awareness of my many deficiencies wasn't enough to cause me to take any significant steps to correct them.  Each time I stood before a new canvas, the old ways and accompanying bad habits took over, and like putting on your favorite slippers, it was comfortable.  Nothing could possibly be worse in this business!

I know most of you are steadfast in your efforts to grow, trying new materials and new ways of using the tools of the trade.  I've always admired what I see on your blogs and need to emulate your never-ending search for improvement, excitement and growth.  Keep up your great work and sharing your wonderful new ideas for everything to do with making art.  Obviously, I need the help!  Have a great day.  Almost apologies to Mr. Watts.