Friday, November 15, 2013

Website Transitions

My amazing web site has temporarily disappeared while my amazing web designer works on a new and improved version with me.  This is why my blog is pretty much it right now, it's holding a little place for me on the web.  The new design is pretty hot, and I'm excited to get it launched in the next week or two.

In the meantime, here's a cute picture of my dog Millie, waiting expectantly for the new website to be up and running.  Okay, she's actually holding out for a piece of cheese but you get the idea.

Thank you for your patience, this is going to be awesome!


Friday, November 1, 2013

Drawing in Progress!

Commuters, (working name) work-in-progress

24x36 mixed-media on paper

Lately I have been on fire in the studio.  Not literally, thank goodness.  (There was a thumb-vs-X-acto knife incident a few weeks ago that was pretty bad, but the bandages are now off, and there have been no actual fires to speak of.) 

The ideas have been coming fast and furious lately, though, and I'm now working on about three different pieces in totally different media and genres. 

This drawing, a work-in-progress, is from a series of photos I took in Seattle.  I'm always fascinated by the rhythms of the work day, and the bicycle commuters on the Bainbridge / Seattle ferry are pretty interesting to watch.  This piece fascinates me because of the value contrast and the mood: five figures to the right watching closely, intently as the ferry comes to dock downtown.  I laid the drawing out one evening and just thought I'd get started blocking in some forms.  Four and a half hours later I looked like a coal miner and was completely energized.

I will post again when this piece is finished.

May you have an energized day free of fires or X-acto knife accidents!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Here's the new kid in the studio, another "little" piece (24"x80") titled "Hometown."  It combines images from my hometown, though it could be practically anywhere in the United States.  I'm thinking more and more about work that addresses the repetition in our lives, the efforts of living day-to-day and still trying to achieve what is meaningful to us.  Trying to remember the big goals while stuck in our routines of paying bills, mowing the lawn, going to work, coming home from work. 

It's also a piece about urban sprawl and that fact that it could be almost anywhere, any suburb in America.  We've lost something critical in the need to throw up buildings at break-neck speed without paying attention to what is being lost.  Prime farm land, open space, wildlife habitat--all might be in the recent history of our own subdivision, our own backyard.

Here are a few process pieces for you--this one took quite a bit of math to achieve mostly because it is painted on an old interior door.  That means it isn't exactly 24"x80", but 23 5/8" by 79 3/8".  I have a pretty mathematical mind and I like the craftsmanship of these kinds of pieces, so it took me a bit to set up.

"Hometown" image 1: playing with pics and grids

"Hometown" image 2: contour lines (I actually really liked it at this stage and might try to do more work that uses these sketchy lines exclusively)

"Hometown" image 3: blocking in the values and rearranging some houses (Ah, the power of art, to be able to move a house on a map for the sheer whimsy of it)

As always I welcome your feedback.  I'm hoping to turn this into the first of a series, stay tuned.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Horseriders on the Beach

Just outside Bandon, Oregon, a little promontory of land juts out into the Pacific, creating two unique views of the coast, north and south.  Unusually shaped rocks and islands, amazing tidal pools, and a wealth of bird life make this a stunning place to explore.  We were just coming back from the beach one evening, pausing to take one last look at the ocean for the day, when about twenty horseback riders came around the bend to the south.  I had just realized that the lens on my poor camera was completely covered in salt spray from spending a day at the beach with me.  Now to get down to the beach from our hotel involved a loooong staircase.  That sucker was huge (and I do work out.)  I made a tactical decision, and started to run back to the hotel room, realizing along the way that of course I had opted for the third story room as it had a better view, adding even more stairs to the ridiculousness.   I hauled my sorry butt back up those stairs, into the hotel room, found the lens cleaner, back down the stairs, leaping over a toddler, (just kidding, but I did call out that I was coming up on the left of this kid with his mom so they wouldn't be too alarmed), racing by them to the landing over the beach.  Amazingly, the horses were just passing by, and were perfectly back lit against those strange islands in the last rays of the western sun.  They moved almost ghost-like on the beach, the salt spray in the air adding to the ethereal feeling of spirit and wonder of that place.

This pastel is a composite of the photos I took that evening, and captures for me that sense of other-worldliness, of other timeliness, and the beauty of Coquille Point. 

It's an 18x24, pastel on sanded paper.  I may have to kill the horse and rider on the far left-hand side of the image as I think the tension between it and the rider in front are a little too symmetrical.  It's a point of discussion in my house, let me know if you have an opinion.

Back to the studio to work on my other project (it's big, I'll post more when it's ready for an audience.)

Keep painting!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Just Keep Swimming

12x36", oil on canvas
            At the swimming pool the other day, someone mentioned in passing that I wasn’t really a swimmer.  I know, this sounds particularly harsh, and she wasn't being intentionally cruel or anything.  It was more in the context of “here’s something you’d understand if you were a real swimmer.”  Nonetheless it’s been on my mind a bit.
            Don’t get me wrong; I know what she meant by the comment.  I’ve never been a swim-team kind of swimmer.  I’m not very fast, I prefer the back crawl to the regular crawl stroke, I’ve never accomplished a dolphin kick, and I don’t do those flippy things at the end of each lap.  Yet I do swim three times a week and, while I’m swimming, I think about my form and how to improve it, and work to become an increasingly efficient swimmer. 
            I’m also 5’4”, and my shoulders are a bit narrow from “normal.”  If I were able to work with a real personal trainer / swim coach kind of person for a period of time, would I improve?  Undoubtedly.  (By the way, if I ever have the money for such a personal trainer I will totally do this.)  Would I ever be on the Olympic swim team, (pretending here for a moment that I’m not 42 years old)?  Absolutely not.  I don’t have the build for it and I don’t have the drive for it.  I love swimming, I’m a bear when I don’t get to the pool often, but it’s not my absolute passion.
            Painting is. 
            I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard “Oh I can’t do that, I’m not a real artist.”  “I’d try, but I’m not an artist,” and any number of comments along the same thread.  Sometimes these statements are made by emerging artists, or even established ones.  Somehow, the notion of being a “real artist” is so unimaginable to us that it can’t be used in reference to ourselves.  Only masters of the past, or those smart folks on Art21, or maybe even the person in class next to you are the real artists.
            Art may not be your main passion in life, but if you create art, and think about creating art, and work to improve your form and technique, or even think about it, you’re an artist.  A real artist. 
            In the meantime I’ll keep going to the pool, then to the studio, and trying to improve my techniques to the best of my abilities.
            Keep painting, keep swimming, and follow that passion!


In the meantime, here's a random painting of water for you, one I just finished.  It's not named yet, but it's from the Big Island of Hawaii, a stunning view of the Pacific, of which I am a huge fan.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Anacortes Arts Festival

I am very pleased to say that two pieces of mine were accepted at the Arts at the Port juried show in Anacortes, Washington this year.  The artwork I saw as I was dropping off work was amazing; I'm in very good company up there.  The festival itself is this upcoming weekend, August 2, 3, and 4, with lots of artists and craftspeople showing off their wares.

Here's a link to the festival site:

And here are the pieces that were accepted.

 "The Waterfront"
oil on canvas

"Pier 54", triptych
oil on canvas
48x60" complete dimensions

If anyone is out and about in that area this weekend, please stop by to see some excellent artwork, some of which is mine!

Happy painting!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Seattle Skyline

This is one of those images I've wanted to paint for years now.  It's the view from the ferry looking at Seattle's skyline.  I finally was there with perfect light and color.  It wasn't foggy, the wind wasn't blowing 70 miles an hour, and the light was that energized light between day and dusk--perfect.  I spent a lot of time on this under-painting because the skyline should a.) look like the Seattle skyline and b.) be in perspective. 

As I've often said, I feel strongly that value is the most important element when it comes to emotional punch in a painting.  Working like this, in a monochrome underpainting, gives me a lot of visual information, which helps me know whether or not it is on track.

This piece has been a blast to paint, and I think that energy comes through to the final. I found myself at one point becoming very tight with the process, attempting to paint each window just right. At the time I was listening to an NPR podcast, which I enjoy, but it put my brain in a different mode. I switched to my music library, picked the top 25 songs I listen to, and pretty soon got some life back into the painting.

This is a triptych (3-panelled painting), and it's total outside dimensions are 36x48, oil on canvas. The images are in the order of final piece, then 3 versions of the underpainting in order.

Happy painting!

P.S. If you are or know the owner of Ivar's seafood restaurant, give me a call. I think this piece might just belong over there.