From the fresh, luminous greens of Hosmer Lake to the abstracted flash of kokanee in the headwaters of the Metolius River, water is the inspiration for my new series premiering at the August show at Tumalo Art Co. Teaming-up with Nancy Becker—whose swirling colors and flowing, sensuous designs in hand-blown glass are stunning—the show will be an island of cool serenity this summer.
I have been thinking of these paintings as visual haiku. After cropping a group of photos very closely to design with them as headers for a website, I found I loved the way they seemed to capture the essence of the places, but couldn’t figure out how to paint them. In the middle of winter, feeling very uninspired, I looked at the photos again and the idea suddenly jelled.
Many of the pieces for this show are painted on cradled birch board. I began experimenting with this new substrate to see if I could use the warmth and pattern of the wood to enhance the depth of the painting and add extra dimension. Working on the wood created some interesting challenges and joys and I expect to continue using it.
Every painting seems to have it’s moment….the moment when I’m not sure I can make the image come alive and be what I’ve envisioned. The only answer is to keep at it, to keep listening to the intuitive voice that informs the hand and makes it happen. This is the “work” of painting and can truly be exhausting. But it is also what makes it fulfilling.
I am fascinated by how fish look swimming in the water. They are naturally abstracted. Moving fast they are there and gone in a flash. Trying to take a photo of them to paint from takes patience, but worth is it. Often the images show reflections and other details I haven’t noticed while keeping my eye on the fish. These lead to a multi-layered painting.
This new painting is from photos taken last fall at the headwaters of the Metolius River in Central Oregon. The Metolius is spring-fed and literally bubbles up out of the ground. Kokanee (land-locked sockeye salmon) travel up the river to this spot to spawn every year. I wanted to capture the iridescence of the Kokanee flying through crystal clear waters.
This soft pastel painting shows the rock formation known as Monkey Face from the opposite side from Smith Rock State Park. I chose the vertical format to get the long sinuous stretch of the Crooked River. The panoramic of this view of the landscape is awesome as it is surrounded by towering rock. The river flows through a narrow canyon to the left.
The late afternoon I was there photographing it was perfectly still. Hawks were soaring in the updrafts. I would have loved to sit in that spot and make the landscape painting…maybe someday I can do that.
Last Friday I went up to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Portland to sign the new large giclee on canvas in their 3rd floor meditation room, placed by Art Etc. It was a quiet room with a large picture window looking over Portland. On a clear day Mt. Hood would be visible. I’m honored to have one of my paintings in this room where parents and friends of ill children go for some quiet time and to rest their spirits. “Through the Trees” was painted at Black Butte Ranch and overlooks the lake, with aspens in front and the majestic Cascade Mountains in the background. The original was painted using soft pastel.
Art Etc. places corporate art and over the years my fine art has ended up in many wonderful corporate settings in Portland including the Lions Eye Bank and DA Davidson Lake Oswego offices. Read more about my work with Art Etc.
The last painting I made for my April show at Tumalo Art Co. in Bend, OR, is of yellow-headed blackbirds in a crabapple tree. The challenge was to make the background of pine trees work with the intense light and colors in the foreground…ie I didn’t want the background to usurp the foreground. As with all paintings there is a moment when I’m not sure I can pull it off. But, as I follow my instincts, it usually resolves. I intended to cut this in half and use the 2 squares in some frames I had ready to go. But in the end, I liked the composition and couldn’t bring myself to cut it apart. The square frames will have to wait!
Yellow-headed Blackbirds are so beautiful and mixed with the reds of the apples and the ochre leaves, they come to life.