Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A tree grows in...Oregon?

 Thumb nails from Sketchbook

Of all the various trees there are to paint, my favorite are the Eucalyptus and the Sycamore; unfortunately they don't do well up here in the Northwest climate so they're very scarce. Oak trees on the other had are everywhere and have a wonderful shape, especially in winter when they're bare-leaved. Pine trees I don't care to paint at all (which may seem ironic in logging country) but they're even more abundant than all the other species put together, so I tolerate them as supporting cast members at times...

 Narrowing it down...

This past January there were a number of cold, but clear days and I was able to get out and do some studies. These quick pencils from my sketchbook were done before starting the composition near the bottom, titled "Behind Winter's Veil".

 This one...
I shifted a few elements around until I came up with a composition that focused the light on one large shape with a second, larger shape in the foreground...

Monochrome study variation in chalk on Canson (5x7)

This drawing is from another location using the same 'dominant light combined with a large shape' idea...

Start on a burnt Sienna canvas

Initial block-in

I originally had some light and shadow lines breaking up the foreground... 

"Behind Winter's Veil" (20x24) o/c

Here is the finished painting; I decided to put the entire foreground in shadow at the last minute to concentrate all of the light on the background tree -- this proved to be more dramatically effective.

It's about the shape and colour in nature and their integral relationships... The old saying, "paint shapes, not things" is good to keep in mind, divesting yourself of preconceived ideas of everyday objects. Trees are noble with individual character, and should be observed that way by the painter, carefully and thoughtfully arranged into pleasing, if not ideal compositions...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Barn Storming.

 Spring Barn, Helvatia (16x20)

Spring is here, after a fairly mild and noticeably short winter. I was able to get out the other night and again the next morning and painted a couple of barns in the Helvatia area here in Oregon. I worked with what was there and kept any touch-ups to a minimum when I got back the the studio...

Spring Evening (16x20)

Conferred with a couple of painter friends (one on the east coast and one in the mid-west) whose opinions are that barns are 'stand alone' subject matter; they are a relic and record of the past at the same time as having their own personality in our contemporary world -- like a portrait they have character and style, and like strangers on the street, you pass them by without much thought. These were a joy to paint en plein air and I hope to get out to do it again soon (got one more on my mind out in that area)...

 Thumbnail Sketch (2x2.5)

Monday, March 17, 2014

New Work, New Gallery:

 Sous Chef (24x30) o/p

I've just joined the Jones Terwillliger Galleries in Carmel (and Palm Desert) CA... These new paintings will arrive there tomorrow and I'm looking forward to my association with them, and representation in these California markets!

 The Lesson (24x30) o/c

 All Or Nothing (30x40) o/c
This is similar, but different and larger from an earlier version, titled "Nightingale"

No Privacy Backstage (30x40) o/c

Monday, March 3, 2014

Life Drawing in Colour


Went to a figure drawing session yesterday morning at Crush bar (no, I did not drink!) and drew with oil pastels... These are approximately 30 minutes each on Canson paper. I like the feel of oil pastels over regular, chalk pastels for their tactile relationship to oil paint, and the ability to stretch, blend and stick the colour without the fragile volatility of chalk...


Figure drawing from life is a good practice to do regularly if you can; working from a three dimensional, living, breathing (and ever-moving) subject is a challenge that sharpens your observational senses and hones your eye-to-hand skills as a painter... Model: Julie Webb, Portland, OR

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


 The Studio

When we were looking for a new home, we envisioned an unattached building for my studio,  and I was ready to settle for a simple 2-car garage...what we got however, turned out to be a 2,000 square foot all-wood, custom Quonset hut! We were the first ones to arrive when it hit the market after our real estate agent called us in a frantic -- our offer was accepted on the spot. What you see above was essentially a giant garage behind the house we purchased in 2002 -- it housed the original owners antique car collection back in 1952. The face of it looks the same today except for the entry which was once a 2-car wide garage door...

 View as you walk in the front doors...

It took a full year to remodel; bring in gas heat, extra electricity and water/sewer for the bathroom. My friend Mike who was a framing carpenter built the floor, stairs, wood shop and bathroom areas. I did some finish work, hanging doors, trim work etc., but hired contractors to insulate and drywall the entire structure.  Today, 10 years later I am still totally stoked to go to work each day in such a magnificent and unique place!

Library to the left of front entry...

My handy father-in-law built the custom bookshelves that house my art book collection and various reference books. The door to the right is storage space under the staircase (on the far left is the double door entry).

 View from stairs leading to loft...

The north light windows are 16' high and the ceiling is 20' high at the center with circular fans and 6 of the original early 1950's light fixtures.

 View from back of studio (notice figure model stand on right)

I have most everything on castors so I can easily move things around when I hold figure painting sessions here.

 Upstairs loft office...

This space overlooks the studio and keeps the business part separate from the work space.

 View from back of studio...

You can see my monster-sized Mayline drafting desk on the right (from the 1940's) and the entry to the Wood Shop beyond that with my grandfathers trophy antlers above the door.

 Wood Shop for cutting panels and building shipping crates...

This is closed off from the rest of the studio with a Shop Vac to keep saw dust from entering the painting space.

I've worked in everything from an apartment bedroom to rented office space, so for the first couple of years I told myself I would never move from here; and even though the splendor of this place hasn't diminished, I could move on if need be. Fact is, even though we live in a pleasant neighborhood, we'd like to move to the country and get a little more space around us away from the suburban scene...who knows, maybe there's an old barn out there someplace that just needs a little TLC. Either way, I am blessed to have enjoyed such a dream studio as this one for the last decade...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Studies...

 Winter Creek (9x12)

When it's sunny with clear skies here in Portland in the middle of January, it's usually COLD...however it wasn't too bad this month; I was able to get out and do a few plein air sketches as long as I bundled up... I'm used to doing sketches like these in the warmer months when the trees are covered with plenty of foliage, giving them more body and shape to work with...but this was a nice change of (brisk) pace...

January Sun (9x12)

I really enjoyed focusing on the movement of the trunks and branches, and the hues they produce when massed together; beautiful grey-violets and pink-sages that compliment one another. I hope to get out again soon, and gather more colour reference before Spring hits. Not often we have a dry winter like this, and I'm happy to take advantage of it! Hope to turn some of this raw material into some larger works too...

Friday, January 24, 2014

"Personal Space" show now open!

The Chairman (12x12) o/p

My new show, "Personal Space" opened last night at Bonner David galleries in Scottsdale, AZ -- click link below to see it!

Heard it was well received, but I'm back here at home painting for another gallery that will be carrying me in California, then on to an exclusive group show in New York after that... Sounds like I'm movin' and groovin' in the art world, but it's business as usual: you paint, frame, ship 'em out and hope for the best. I am very grateful doors are opening, but sales are what keeps the boat afloat. Would like to say money doesn't matter, but when it's your family's livelihood it sure does.
At least I love what I do -- and that counts for a lot!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Interview in Uncle Jam

Last summer, artist & author Phil Yeh came by the studio and did an interview with me for the latest issue of Uncle Jam magazine, a publication about artists and writers. It is very interesting that when I was a teenager in 1976, I picked up an issue of this magazine because it had a cover and interview with the late Rick Griffin (my favorite artist at the time) and now, nearly 40 years later I am the one being featured in the same way...all the more special as this is their 40th Anniversary issue -- thank you Phil and Linda and Uncle Jam!

Read the full interview here http://www.wingedtiger.com/