Sunday, January 11, 2009

Beach Storm

At Short Sand Beach
oil on masonite, 6x6 inches

Yes, two posts today!

That is because I am catching up on photographing some paintings I did in December. I am not even sure just when I painted this one. After one of the larger ones, because I remember looking at my palette and thinking that the leftover paint colors reminded me very much of a coast storm. So I pulled out one of the small gessoed panels I keep handy, and made this.

I used the paints just as they were on my palette, and could visualize the scene as if I were standing on the rocks overlooking my favorite Oregon beach as one of those dazzling winter storms made its way in, late in the afternoon when the strange pre-storm light creates sea colors not otherwise seen.

By the way, coast storm watching is considered a spectator event in Oregon, like a symphony. Whenever a good storm is forecast, the roads from inland are clogged with cars as people head for the coast. Headlands overlooking the ocean are crowded with people, who bring picnic lunches, bottles of wine or thermoses of tea or coffee, and shroud themselves in waterproof gear.

Local police shoo people from the lower ledges-- newcomers don't realize that the breakers can reach 60 feet or more up the steep, rocky coastline when they hit, driven by the almost hurricane force winds that are considered common place along the Oregon coast. (And yet, just a few miles inland, protected by the coast mountains that rise straight out of the ocean, all that happens is that a lot of rain falls.)

Along the Tieton

Along the Tieton
oil on canvas, 9x12 inches

The subject is loosely based on several photos I took years ago along a twisting mountain highway through the northern Cascade Mountains, early in the snow season. The name is pronounced "Ty-eh-ton", and is the name of a river that flows down the eastern side of the Washington Cascades. I could spend a lifetime painting along this river, or taking photographs, or just hanging out. There are a million years to explore there.

Yes, there does seem to be a theme here. I did this painting sometime in December, before I did the usual pre-holiday crash and burn thing. At least that gave it a chance to dry well, so it photographed without a lot of glare.

I think that with this painting I finally began to get a feel for how I can work with oil paints in the style that feels like me.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Shadow Mountain

Shadow Mountain
oil on linen panel, 9x12 inches

This one was just plain fun to do. I gave myself permission to play, with no predetermined outcome. Why do my paintings always turn into mountains or water? Good question. I know the answer, and have decided it is irrelevant. It's what I paint right now.

I started here with brushes, used a palette knife to clean up an area, and ended up using knives to finish the painting because it felt right for what was emerging. I hated it for a while, but now I think I like it. The name comes from a (relatively) small mountain in Colorado near where I lived, at the headwaters of the Colorado River, just south of Rocky Mountain National Park.

There's a whole story attached to this painting, having to do with painting too early in the morning, rushing to clean up, falling painting, salad oil, dish detergent, and spending the whole rest of the day clearing ice and snow and splitting wood before the next storm. Won't go into details right now, but the painting survived, and oil paint washed out of the hair just fine after sitting all day smothered in salad oil and dish detergent under my hat. Life is just interesting sometimes.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Bridge

The Bridge
20 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

I've been working on this off and on for about a month, in between other things. Not sure I'm finished yet. Finished enough to post. There is something about this one that appeals to me, and at the same time leaves me wondering why it feels unfinished. The thing to do is set it aside and wait. Maybe it'll end up in the discards. Maybe it'll feel ok the way it is. Maybe I'll do more work on it.

The bridge in the painting is there if a bit ethereal in execution. There are several literal bridges superimposed in my vision here, and several not literal bridges superimposed as well, all of them representing a transition from one state to another, spiritual or physical. I suspect this is why I am reluctant to make this painting detailed in any way.

And yet: when I look at the painting, I see each of the places vividly. I wonder if you also have a special bridged place that this painting will evoke for you?

PS: 3/18/2009. "The Bridge" is no more. I had it hanging over my desk, and the more I looked at it, the less I liked it. Put it on my easel, thinking I'd rework it. Then I put it upstairs in my drying room for a while. Then I took it down and scraped it and gessoed it. I feel better now.