Paintings, 2014

2015-07-27 22.29.072014 was not a good year for making art. We moved into a new house, with a studio space. A very large studio space, a separate building on the property. We packed (and looked for housing and sold our house) from January to July. We moved July 3 and spent July through November fixing the “new” house. And unpacking. And putting things away. And then rearranging the things that we had put away.

My new space, while huge and functional, was not finished — raw flooring (particle board), raw walls (sheet rock) raw ceiling (insulation). The bathroom, while a great upgrade on my old studio which had no such facility, had no molding around the door. The muck-out sink was a mess from the woodworker who used the place before I got there. The lights were flickering and/or not functioning. In short, from November through February, I worked on the studio.

StudioFeb22015EastEast side of studio, as of February 2.

StudioFeb22015westWest side of the studio as of February 2. Note that this is a 2 dimensional view: the actual imaged space is about 35 feet long. The “east side” (with its floor to be painted) is 15 more feet. A big space.

So, it’s been a long year. However, sandwiched in and around this year of moving and fixing and painting and moving some more, I managed to do a tiny bit of work. Some of it was on canvases with other paintings. The one that was most finished when I started into it in 2014 became an abstract that we put up in our dining room:

AbstractOne2014WLAbstract One 2014, 30 x 40″, oil on canvas, 2014

This was a painting that I had already begun using the color shaper (a kind of spatula) on, and I so enjoyed the ribbon-like marks it made that I’m continuing to find ways to play with that tool. Although my memory is a bit vague, I think this painting originated in the formations around Jerome, Arizona.

The next definitely originated in Jerome imagery, although it was far less developed when I began working on it this fall.

AbstractTwo2014WLAbstract Two 2014, 30 x 40″, oil on canvas, 2014

This oil painting provided a satisfying accompaniment to the first one; it hangs in our new living room. It started as a play on the stairs of Jerome Arizona, which mimic the land formations of that region, including the Mogollon Rim which can be seen across the Verde Valley below Jerome. But it quickly morphed taking on new shapes and movements.

It was about this painting that one of the workmen, walking through the living room, remarked , “Busy, ain’t it.”

I was sitting at the table, and I’m not sure he knew I was there.

“So am I,” I said, just a bit tartly. Jer hastened to add, “She painted it.”

The conversation went on from there.

In late fall, I took a workshop, kind of a masters play time, with Bill Park, a Portland painter. For a number of reasons, I decided to work in acrylics. After doing studies with the medium for a day or two, I brought in a large rolled blank canvas and began on the next painting. It is not quite finished, and in fact, it may not be in its original orientation when I finish with it:

TheGreenGreenHillsOfHome2014WLThe Green Green Hills of Home, about 60 x 60 inches, acrylic on canvas, 2014

My color shaper doesn’t work the same with acrylic paint, but acrylic has other advantages, the principle one being that it’s easier to transport a dry canvas of that size. This one began with a large figure and went on from there. There is one place that I intend to work on further, but I’m not saying where. And I’m thinking it may end up oriented like this:

TheGreenGreenHillsOfHome2014RotateRtWLThe Green Green HIlls of Home, rotated right

Finally, on the easel at this moment, sunk into that pile of furnishings moved so the second half of the floor can be painted, is one more abstract that I’m hoping to get to — soon.

AbstractThree2014-15WLAbstract Three 2015 (in progress), 30 x 40 inches, oil on canvas, 2015

I’m thinking of adding a couple of “bars” of cadmium red, horizontally, in places across the canvas (cadmium red is the red-toward-yellow basic paint, as opposed to alizarin red, which is the red-toward-blue). Until I try that, I’m not sure where this canvas is going. Nor when, for that matter.

But the studio is slowly being civilized, with painted sheet rock and painted floor, and a tamed bathroom, with molding on its door frames. The lights are all functioning and almost perfect. The new storm door can be kept open all day, and even in January, opening the big “garage” doors in the middle of the day was possible. This is a space in which even I can’t feel closed-in. If one is a busy person, one needs lots of space to roam.


The Plank Paintings: Playa, September 2013 — January 2014

Plank2The “Plank Paintings”, more formally known as Summer Lake from Winter Ridge, has long been finished. I wrote about it earlier, under the rubric of The Project from Hell.

I finished the last coats a bit more than a year ago, and I recorded much of the process along the way. Then life intervened and I never got the panels photographed. Finally, however, I finally got the finished paintings lined up for photography is my new studio.

The panorama is 1 foot high by 16 feet long, oil on cedar planks, painted in 2013, 1014. More specifically, the substrate consists of eight 12 x 24 inch planks, harvested, with the help of the talented Rachel Streeter, from old building that sat on the land where the Playa Foundation was built. Playa, the Foundation, is located on Summer Lake, near Paisley, Oregon, in the far southeastern quarter of the state.

AcrossThePlayaFromRidgeWLA “playa”, as a geologic feature, is a lake which has no outlet to the ocean. The most famous one in the U.S. is perhaps Death Valley. The Amargosa, across a mountain range from Death Valley, where I painted in 2009, is a playa. Summer Lake sits at the northern edge of basin and range country, and forms its own playa, with Winter Ridge rearing above it.

The paintings were something of a challenge, beginning with raw wood that needed to be sanded and primed with an oil medium.

PlanksRawWlThen the planks were lined up on the wall, with various versions of the Summer Lake Playa, photographed panoramically, above and below:

PlanksAndPhotosRawWLOnce the horizon was established on the paintings, according to my physical sense of that sky and earth, I could start painting. Each painting was lined up with the previous one (although I started from the center, of course).

planksProcess2WLThe red line on the plank above was my original idea of the horizon. It got adjusted as I painted.

My desire was to capture something of the sweep of the playa as seen from above, on Winter Ridge, during a bright September day.

Here’s a photo of the finished panorama:

PlayaPlankPanoFullWLSummer Lake from Winter Ridge from the left, 1 foot by 16 feet, oil on cedar planks, 2013/2014.


Summer Lake from Winter Ridge, the Panorama, 1 foot by 16 feet, oil on cedar plank, 2013/2014

Below are photos of the individual planks:

#1PlayaPlankPanoWLPlank 1, Summer Lake to the south.

#2PlayaPlankPanoWLPlank 2, Summer lake to the southeast.

#3PlayaPlankWLPlank 3, Summer Lake to the southeast

#4PlayaPlankPanoWLPlank 4, Summer Lake to the east.

#5PlayaPlankPanoWLPlank 5, Summer Lake to the east.

#6PlayaPlankPanoWLPlank 6, Summer Lake to the northwest.

#7PlayaPlankPanoWLPlank 7, Summer Lake to the northwest

#8PlayaPlankPanoWLPlank 8, Summer Lake to the northwest.  To state the obvious, I was painting from the west side of Summer Lake, on the eastfacing side of Winter Ridge itself.

Below are the two center panels, 4 & 5, plus bits of the ones beside them:

PlayaPano4,5PlusWLThese panels were the culminating work from a short residency at the Playa Foundation, during the fall of 2013. The planks were courtesy of the Foundation, and it was actually Rachel, musician, tile setter, and finder of wood and energy, who provided the ambition and tools to move me along on this rather ambitious project. I used the grain of the raw wood to guide the earth images, allowing any imperfections in the boards to remain. The challenge of finding the nuances within the playa, sand and sky, was almost equal to the challenge of preparing the wood. And of course, I feel in the panorama a kinship with that glorious land of southern Oregon, a place of blazing beauty and tough conditions.

Written in January 2015, from NE 86th Ave,



The Project from Hell

The project from hell is the one that has at least 27 more steps to it than initially envisioned, and each step consists of 1 step forward followed fairly quickly by 1.9999 (or sometimes 4.999999) back.

So, take 20 miles of a dry lake bed, Summer Lake, seen in September from a relatively inaccessible spot on Winter Ridge approximately 250 miles from home.

SunriseWithCloudsThen add in a decision to use cedar planks from an torn-down homestead from the Playa Art Residency compound as surfaces to paint the irresistible 20-mile panorama on.



[The pile of planks, fondly patted, until reality set in.]

Continue, on arriving back in Portland, with the questions of how much to sand the 2″ thick planks (after the initial grinding off the nubbins at Playa), with what to seal them (white gesso, clear gesso, linseed oil, Liquin), and what paints (acrylic, oil, transparent, opaque) wouldl use the wood grain most advantageously.


Sampling PossibleSandingsPaintsSealingsWllThen throw a minor surgery to the mix, and you find yourself dealing with The Holidays, after which or in and around which, Decisions Must Be Made.

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