Leonardo da Vinci

Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.

--Leonardo da Vinci

Friday, December 30, 2011


Winter Melody
At this time last year, i was hunkered down painting still life's with intense studies of colors, values, shapes and compositions. This Winter i have found myself drawn to nature with the intent of having the uncomfortable cold and wet show up in my work, and some interesting things are occurring.
First, due to atmospheric conditions, i am finding such wonderful colors that work together in a more harmonious way as opposed to the intense lights and darks of summer. I have limited my palette to only four colors (Ultramarine, Alizarin, Burnt Sienna, Cad. Yel. Lt.) and white. But, most importantly, i see a vibrancy showing up that i don't think was there three weeks ago. To me, the subjects are coming to life and shimmering on the panel in such a way that is inspiring and exciting.
Even though i painted this one in the studio, i used similar colors and values from a recent painting i did in the field that elicited the same vibrant results. And, i think that my Winter studies are taking me in the direction i was hoping for..... to show the life, truth, inspiration, and depth of what is right in front of us with the moody natural landscapes of the Pacific Northwest.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Surprise

One night last week, i found myself unable to sleep. In the past i would toss and turn for hours until slumber arrived; but not this time, this time was different......
I, not so quietly, lumbered to my studio and began to paint a Christmas decoration that during this season, resides on our dining room table.
I studied and painted, and studied and painted, and studied and painted some more, all the while enjoying the juicy reds and golds of the yuletide decor. Finishing the painting at 1:30am, i cleaned up and tried for sleep again, with much more success this go around.
Now, i wanted to post this for two reasons. First, it's appropriate for this week, but second, i wanted to express the importance of seizing the moment. One is not always sure about the timing an inspired moment will come, and i feel it's important to always keep your eyes and thoughts open to anything that may come your way. Now i realize that painting in the middle of the night may seem a bit extreme to some, but it was a great exercise as well as a chance to burn up some energy that might otherwise be wasted on frustrated tossing and turning.
Wishing you a merry and inspired Christmas as you seize your moment....

Friday, December 16, 2011

In Search of Depth

If we've heard it once, we've heard it a million times, timing is everything, and it holds true for my most recent work. I made the short trip to the Burnt Bridge Creek Greenway, just off Andresen and 18th in Vancouver,WA. I have thought of painting there, but usually on a casual level and now i have a serious reason.....fog.
Most of the trees have shed their leaves to reveal their most interesting skeletons of beauty. Add in an early morning, fog, and some depth of field and Whoa, look out. All the makings for some great and interesting subjects to paint. So long as you can stand, like a popcicle in one spot for a few hours on a chilly morning.
Story Tree
One of my main goals in painting is give the viewer a soulful experience. This is something the late 19th century Russian painters were masters at, and they told amazing stories with their work. Not that they had a corner on the market, many great painters have told stories with their work, but i tend to gravitate to the Russian style of painting and subject matter. Much of their work was of subjects that, at first glance, you might not think would make a for good painting. But they had a knack for painting the truth about a subject in a very deep, soulful and meaningful way. And though my eyes, heart, and soul do i strive to push the pile forward.
I think that seeing the raw, beautiful, and honest shapes of trees with leaves aground on a gray and foggy day can be a moving experience; and oooooh, i can't wait to do the nocturne.
One only needs to stop, look, and listen to the thundering silence of nature.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Salute You.

Old Glory I
After painting my previous post's work, i sat in my jeep to warm up and think of what to paint next, where to go..... Just north of my ponder lied a modest building. Atop the structure, jetted a stout pole adorned by a large American flag that rolled about with the fluidity of an ocean wave in an almost non-existent breeze. I decided to study the flag, study its motions, study it's struggles to stay a flutter as the wind came and went.
As i studied the flag and its movements, i became mesmerized by its reactions to the light breeze. At times during it's dance recital, the red and white stripes flowed as if ribbons of silk were being pulled from a never ending bobbin. It was truly stunning. I decided right then and there that i was to put together a collection of portraits of our nation's flag in different poses.
On my way home last night, trying to figure out which painting to blog about, the profound remembrance and importance of December 7 came over me, and i felt my decision made. In an effort to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our nation on that fateful day so many years ago, known to all in two words as...... Pearl Harbor. I offer this humble rendition of Old Glory in your memory and my way of publicly saying, thank you.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Texture of The Academy

Academy Ruins II
Over the Thanksgiving Day weekend I painted quite a bit, which allowed me to get into a painterly groove. I could see my vision alter in just a short period of time where i would see things in brush strokes or slabs of color and not so much as subject. I find that when i get on a roll and have some intense time with paint and brush that i start to walk or paint on that knifes edge of where things come easier. Unfortunately due to a full-time job, those zen-like states-of-mind are harder to come by than i would like.
One afternoon i went back to the The Academy and painted this scene that has been on my mind ever since the original Academy Ruins was painted. The rundown brick structure is a perfect subject for painters and photogrophers, and i will most certainly return for yet another view of this lovely building. Come to think of it, i will create a collection of Academy Ruins with various compositions of this building. Sounds like fun huh?....
Why paint something cute and pretty and clean when i can bang shoulders with something that's been around the block. Something that's tough and hard, something that's full of history and texture, and doesn't care if i put my elbows on the table as i mowe down another pizza painting. Load me up! and pile on the toppings, its time to eat.....I mean paint.
Brushes Up! Now pass the napkins....

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sunday Debacle?.....

Winter Mums
As i stir and struggle to gather the marbles of my mind and fend off stronghold effects of the previous night, a rush of urgency rushes over me as the realization that i, like Oregon Football, squandered a golden opportunity to capture an amazing dawn.
Yup, i overslept, and on such a beautiful foggy, and frosty morning that was sure to make for some great subjects to paint. Needless to say, i was a tad, um.... pissed. I knew that by the time i gathered my gear and arrived anywhere, the light would be quite different and not really what i was looking for.
As the morning marched on, the sun came out and lit up a pot of winter mums that my wife has on the front porch. The friendly mums took a liking to the brilliant sunlight and they were kind enough to just sit there and smile in an almost gloating fashion. So i set up and tried to give the colorful clump a deserving portrait. Color is just too fun....it should be illegal its so much fun. Please don't tell the moody subjects that i stepped out on them for a day, again.....
I did get out to paint in the mid to late afternoon, but i really felt compelled to tell the story of how Winter Mums unexpectedly came to be. Its a good reminder of how one door closes, but another one opens.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Steigerwald Gold

Steigerwald Gold
This last weekend i was a bit under the weather with a monster bull frog in my throat and my wife would not let me go out in the field to paint. It was a big dissapointment; for being an overcast showery weekend, the atmospheric colors appeared to be strong and vivid. At least from our kitchen window they were.
I took the opportunity to work this larger studio piece of Steigerwald. It is the same composition as last week's painting only i pushed the values a bit, and maybe a bit too far. So i'm stewing on whether to leave it or continue; the infamous age old question.
The great thing i love about working on a painting in multiple sittings is the layering and textured that can only be obtained after the paint has dried to some degree. To me the dragging of paint over dried or semi-dried paint is like taking a big bite of Thanksgiving dinner, absolutely mouthwatering, and something i just can't get enough of.
Matter of fact, i might start calling these my pizza paintings. They get piled high with layers of delicious toppings; and i'm a deep dish, combo kind a guy.
Ever had a Juliano's Hurricane? Oooooooh Ya, if so, then you know what i'm talkin' bout.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall Shouts with Color

Steigerwald's Trumpet
Vastly different from my previous post's painting excursion, this week was about trying to capture the wonderful light on this year's first day of daylight savings. I once again found myself at Steigerwald Refuge in search of a composition that inspired me. Searching for the subject is a funny thing. Along my hike into the refuge i am constantly looking, taking photos and thinking. And somewhere, somehow along the way, BOOM, there it is.... There is no question, that that is the composition. I think many artists will agree that often we do not choose the subject, the subject chooses us, and this subject slapped me upside the head and screamed to be painted.
I spent the late afternoon painting the beautiful day away and enjoying the wonderful fall colors that will all too soon give way to the rigors of its sister season.
I was so moved by this composition that i am currently working on a studio version 16x20 that is beginning to take shape and i will blog about it in a future post. The great thing about studio work is i can take all the time i want and add as many layers as i want and really build up the piece with texture.
However, this piece is about plein air, immediacy, and alla prima as Steigerwald belts out a tune in a Trumpet of color.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fall Plein Air Trio

Painting Blind
Last Sunday i woke early, without the help of my alarm, to go create some moody work and at the last minute i decided on LaCamas Lake. I wanted to make sure i got there with time enough to pick out a subject and start in before the light came. Well, i got there early enough.... the only thing moving around besides this lughead were two ducks at the boat launch. I wandered around the dark for a bit and found a spot i could see the lake through the trees. Noctural painting here we come..... One thing, because it was still dark, i couldn't see the colors i was mixing. Fortunately all was dark, except for the water and sky. Turns out, i mixed a lovely dark green and dark brown.
LaCamas Gray
Next up, mostly trees with a bit of lake, and by now the rain was a comin' down. Not much in the way of vibrant color, but this is what i was after; the dull truth of our Pacific Northwest weather. I was chilly and getting quite wet by this time, which makes the challenge of focusing all the more difficult, but its also driving me. One passer by stated, "I hope it waterproof paint."
I responded, "Absolutely, it oils"
LaCamas Blue and Gold
I soon found myself at the boat launch trying to land on my third composition of the day. Looking East was a more interesting view, but incredible warm yellow in the turning trees to the West would prevail. At this point the rain was intermittent and i knew i was on the home stretch of my painting excursion. Soon it was done and i was home by noon. Just in time for a hot bath, lunch and a welcome nap.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Study in Light

Dining Room Treasures
All summer i have seen the afternoon fleeting light come and go on this one teapot of my wife's on our dining room table and have wanted so much to paint it. Now that our bright sunny days are coming to a not so consistent time of year, i knew it was time to put up or shut up. So, recently i took a couple afternoons that were nice back to back and once again invaded our dining room with the vengeance of a Linebacker stuffed in a Ford Pinto.
One thing i strive to put in my work is atmosphere. To do that, i let the composition and subjects tell me how they want to be portrayed in that moment as i problem solve through the painting. Now, it goes without saying that color notes/values are critical to a painting, but just as important is the application of that paint. This piece i found myself dipping my brush in a mound of paint and creating long stringies that were strategically placed for a certain effect. Long skinny lines were the result that added a shimmering effect.
So, much of the time i don't have a detailed master plan of how i am going to paint something, and i think it really helps create that spontaneous, atmospheric feel that i am looking for.
I have lately found myself entering a strange phase of my painting process; I have been using intense natural light to paint my indoor still life's, while venturing out into the not-so-pleasant weather to do my plein air work. Just the opposite of what the normal person would do. Maybe its time for a cat scan......
In any case, i am thoroughly enjoying my contemplative journey in search of creating deep soulful and inspiring art.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Tune-up

Fall Morning at LaCamas
Last Saturday morning, Vicki and i decided to get an early start and spend the first half of the day at LaCamas Lake. She would read Kevin's (my middle step-son) newly revised manuscript and i would paint.
Quickly i found this subject near the boat launch and since the water was quite low, i was able to get onto the lake bed a bit and start in. The morning was socked in with fog and made for some lovely grays. And i tried to work quick before the area lightened up, which it did.
I was amazed at how tame the ducks were, there was a group of them just in front of me eating all of what the swampy area had to offer. I don't think i've ever experienced hearing a group of ducks eat, it sounded like they were all smacking their gums (bills) sifting through the mucky water. It was really funny and is probably the most memorable thing of the day for me. Other than getting cold, and enjoying it.
I have been to LaCamas Lake a number of times, but usually for not much longer than a pit stop on a bike ride. This time was different, i gave myself the chance to slow down and take in surrounding beauty which happened to be amazing. For the 4-5 hours we were there, i completed two paintings and visualized other compositions i would like to paint.
So if you are looking for inspiration or just a great place to enjoy nature that's not far out, visit LaCamas Lake. I promise you won't regret it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thoughtful Experience

Sun Harvest
Right after work tonight i bolted for Jonsrud Viewpoint in Sandy,OR to paint the evening light on Mt. Hood. Shortly after i started, two curious ladies came over to see what i was doing and we had a nice chat. They were genuinly interested to see what i was going to come up with when done. So the pressure was on to come up with a painting that i was happy with enough to blog about.
Much to my frustration, not even half way into the piece, i lost my light. The sun retired and i was left with two options, scrape it down and turn it into a nocturnal or keep working and put my memory to the test. I hope you can tell that i chose to continue with my initial plan and paint the warm sunlight.
After some thought about this evenings events, i really wanted to blog about it. Not because this is my best work, but for the truth and the experience. There are some issues with this painting; first is the mountain, which happens to be the main subject, but it's the wrong value, it needs to be cooler. And some of the shapes are not quite what i wanted. But, what i really like is the overall feeling of the piece, it is pleasantly warm with colors for the harvest season. And the emotion of a painting is still more important to me than having all the i's dotted and t's crossed.
The truth is that this was a challenge to paint. If you ever painted in the dark, and from memory, you know it's bizarre... I didn't even get a good look at it until i arrived home. But, i loved the challenge and learned and grew as an artist from this experience.
I also wanted to thank all the people that have ever come up to an artist with inquisitive eyes. Its inspiring to me that people would take an interest in what a painter does and in doing so, they become part of the moment. A little bit of them become part of the work, part of the experience, part of the truth.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Progression of a Painting

I have been wanting to show the progression of a painting from start to finish and i recently slowed down enough and remembered to take photos at different stages of the piece.
This painting was done in an afternoon in my basement, uh... i mean studio..... The photo that i used was taken at Steigerwald Refuge, during one of my treks down the path in search of a plein air subject to paint. I will often stop and take a pic when i see something that strikes my eye in hopes of using it in just this manner. So here we go......

I like to use a highly textured panel for my support. This panel is a former painting that i sanded down and gessoed over and reveals some wonderful texture.

The first thing i do is to tan my panel using a varied mixture of Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine and then loosely sketch my composition. Next, blocking in some shapes trying to lay in some darks, but sometimes i get a little antsy and my passion for color gets the better of me.

Introducing the background trees and sky

Here i have lightened up the hillside grass, established the foreground tree and layed in my highlights for the path which really allow the painting to take shape.

Path of Light 14x11

At last i add some touches of lights and darks in an effort to make things pop a bit, soften some background edges and add some foodle to the tree and i think were done. I really liked the way the foreground shadows act as stair steps into the painting, maybe a bit of a struggle to get past them (much like hiking), but the draw of the path leading you into the painting, i think, outweighs the initial struggles. Also, the big bushy tree in the foreground was an absolute joy to paint and keeps you from going off the panel. Oh, i should explain the foodle reference; its actually two words i enjoy saying that help me refrain from too much detail work...... Fiddle and Noodle - Foodle. Oops, i guess the Fox Terrier/Poodle mix beat me to it, darn poodles anyway.....

Friday, October 7, 2011

What is my style?

Dining Room Light
My previous posting was of a painting that took many days and many hours to complete. This one only took 2-3 hours, a speed painting in comparison. I did not think too much, a smash and grab type mentality. I did not worry about getting all the colors perfect, much less all the shapes, but i wanted to give the feeling of the light streaming in through our dining room windows, highlighting the focal point, blurring the lines in the background and sharpening the edges in the foreground; but not too sharp. All the while striving for a sense of atmosphere.
So when i completed this painting i thought a lot about my style of painting. What is my style? How can i labor over a painting for days and turn around a week later and crank out this speed demon? And i think i came up with an answer that in the back of my mind i have known all along.
Art, whether that be poetry, sculpting, painting, or whatever the medium, is all about passion and inspiration. Its about connecting with a subject and feeling a strong need to portray it, however the artist is experiencing it. That connection, that bonding is so critical and is the only way to get true unmanufactured emotion and feeling into a piece; and that's when it becomes art.
I am never going to pidgeon hole myself into doing the same thing over and over, the same way everytime. I would be bored to tears. But exploring, trying new techniques, and pushing my own boundaries is clearly where it's at for me. And when it's all said and done, i will have that body of work, that cohesive style that will be unique to me.
So, thank you for taking an interest in my journey. My hope is to inspire you. Inspire you to pick up a pen, or a brush and create art yourself. Inspire you to appreciate art or that you become an inspiration for someone else in this wonderful world of ART.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Texture, texture, texture......

Quinault Summer Rise
One of my goals on our vacation a few weeks ago, was to paint a plein air painting on multiple day settings. Going back to the same place and re-working the same panel is a good challenge, especially at a place where the weather changes quickly. So, i landed on this composition near our cabin that i have enjoyed for a long time and decided this was my challenge piece.
Day one was a good start with calm water and nice reflections
Day two, weather was socked in and no sun to be had (no work on this piece)
Day three, sun was out again, but the water changed and my foliage reflections diminished, so the painting changed too.
Day four, well there was no day four on this painting, at least en plein air. Over the next couple weeks it was studio noodled for it was not as textured or as deep as i wanted it to be.
Layer upon layer did color get applied, worked, re-worked, then worked again in an effort to blend and use broken color so the under painting would show through and the texture would be evident. I think i accomplished this.
As i think about my favorite parts of this painting; the foreground foliage, the way the sky blends with the evergreens, the middle ground foliage was fun too. Actually the entire painting was fun for i gave myself the freedom that nothing was sacred. All was fair game for re-work.
The biggest challenge of this piece was the foreground water, and it was what i spent the most time on. A lot of thought, a lot of mixing of color, a lot of making shapes, and a lot of layering took place in this area. It was at times frustrating, but i was determined to get believable texture, and giving myself the "nothings sacred" frame of mind made all the difference.
I also remembered and implemented the mirror trick. Viewing a painting in a mirror, really gives a different perspective and allows the "problem areas" to become more obvious. It should also be no surprise that this painting came on the heels of Pacific NW Plein Air art show in Hood River at the Columbia Art Gallery, where Eric Jacobsen took First Place with "Peaceful Evening". The juror was the acclaimed painter Jim Lamb. Now, i am in no way saying that my stuff is on the level of Eric's, but his work is a huge inspiration for me and he is a dear friend.
Good friend and fellow artist, Celeste Bergin, also took Honorable Mention with "Serenade". Great going Celeste!
Click on the link to see the award winning paintings of that show:

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Moods of Steigerwald

Fall's Approaching
Last saturday i took another trip to the Steigerwald Lake Refuge, knowing and anticipating the first rains of the season were coming. One of my goals this Fall and Winter is to go experience the elements while painting en plein air in an effort to have those elements show up in my work. Its easy to go paint when its nice out, but what about the rain and snow? Not such a pleasant thought, but i am really looking forward to seeing how that truth, that raw weathering, impacts my paintings. I am sure that some will be touched up in the studio, but some will stay as they are and that is exciting to me.
The two paintings i did while there were a challenge; a challenge to adjust from summers high-key colors to rainy grays. I did get rained on a couple times which was a bit troublesome, but i am determined to capture the moods and attitude of these subjects, which is focused directly on Steigerwald. "Fall's Approaching" did get reworked in the studio, i just didn't feel it was strong enough, but "Path to Rain" remained true to the spirit of plein air painting and i resisted the temptation to fiddle with it.
Path to Rain
Towards the end of my paint time, i met a group of 20 or so nature lovers. Wilson Cady, Environmental Education chair, Columbia Gorge Refuge Stewards, was leading an annual Fall tour for The Friends of the Gorge. I really enjoyed meeting this group and we share similar passions; A passion for natural beauty and inspiring others. My hope is that my art will inspire others to experience the very places i visit while painting, inspire others to get passionate about art, whether that be appreciating it or creating it.
Being a plein air painter is interesting, for i have met some great people. Two weeks ago, while at Steigerwald, i met a couple from Wisconsin and we had a nice visit. It was great to chat with someone that is vacationing here to take in the beauty of the Pacific NW.
Don't forget to follow them on facebook....

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tomatoes - Ya just can't not paint em'....

Corner of Color
The three series of paintings i have strongly focused on (Vancouver Historical Architecture, Steigerwald Refuge, and Lake Quinault) are primarily landscapes. So when i saw our recent tomato and squash harvest i realized how much i was missing still life painting. And since the tomatoes have a fairly short life expectancy (at least while i'm around) it was time to jump on it.
I did not spend much time setting up this composition, i just added the tomatoes and squash to what was already sitting on the kitchen counter and started in. I set up my gear just inside the dining room where i could peer into the kitchen and get a perfect view of my subject. I don't know if it's just me or not, but every time i paint in a part of the house not designated for painting it feels a little strange. Here i am blocking an entry to the kitchen with turpentine and oil paints in the dining room. It's kind of like taking a super soaker to church, it just doesn't seem quite right.
Anyway, i had a blast and since i don't use Cadmium Red all that much it gave me some quality time with a friend who doesn't get on my palette enough. If you look close, you can see Cad. Red, or Red, as i like to call him, sitting in the far right of the bowl in the painting and thrusting his right arm in the air yelling,
"YEAH!, you see what I can do once you put me in the game".
I think he's just vying for a contract extension that expires at the end of this year, looks like i might have to renew it.
"Tell you what Red, i'll double your salary....."
That ought to shut him up. Until he realizes what double of nothin' is.....
Seriously though, the tomatoes added some great color and really brought a cheery feeling to the painting.
Don't forget to look around your house for interesting things to add to your still life paintings. Brushes up!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Willaby Creek Falls

Willaby Creek Falls
I have started a series of paintings of the Lake Quinault area on the Olympic Penninsula in the great state of Washington. My wife and i have a small cabin on the lake and it is not difficult to find inspiration at every turn, so i think its time that i come up with a collection depicting the amazing scenery. If you have ever been to Lake Quinault and hiked the network of trails, then you've probably seen and photographed this very scene near the Willaby Creek Campground.
Now, I'm sure that most have not heard of Lake Quniault, it's not what you would call a hotspot, but it is like taking a leap back in time and getting in touch with nature. The bizarre thing is, a good portion of tourists are from Europe.
Being that Lake Qunault is in the only temperate rain forest in North America, a place that get's an annual rainfall of around 15', it's not hard to find green. This can present a particular challenge for the plain air painter trying to capture the color notes of what they are seeing, and i'm here to tell you, you've probably never seen so many variations of the wonderful color known as - Green.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Adventures of Flat Stanley

Recently i received Flat Stanley from my nephew, Joseph Cardon. Flat Stanley was here on his summer vacation and really wanted to see the Pacific NW during his stay. Since time was short he decided go with me to Eric Jacobsen's Sauvie Island plein air painting workshop. So i got him hooked up with fresh paints, new brushes and his very own palette, dressed him up with some new digs and we set out on our journey.
Flat Stanley was so excited to get to painting i could hardly contain him, but finally i got him seat belted into the front seat and off we went. We arrived at the Sauvie Island Pumpkin Patch and Flat Stanley was ready. I couldn't get the palette or brush out of his hands, he just wouldn't put them down. He listened intently to Eric's lecture where he learned the importance of preliminary studies and having a plan of attack. Five important bullet points that he really liked were:
-Take notes
-Do composition studies
-Do value study
Flat Stanley, you're such a ham....
Finally, Flat Stanley, couldn't contain himself anymore and charged up to the front of the class and asked to paint with Eric; and Eric being the kind soul that he is was happy to oblige.

Finally it was time for Flat Stanley put his new teachings to work and paint on his own.

Thanks, Joseph, for sending, Flat Stanley, i think he truly enjoyed his time in the Pacific NW and i hope you enjoy learning about the places he visited.

To learn about Flat Stanley visit http://www.flatstanley.com/

To see Eric Jacobsens art visit http://www.jacobsenstudio.com/

Monday, August 15, 2011

P-Patch Community Garden

Thomas Street Garden Pump
Our middle son, Kevin, lives in Seattle and this last weekend we helped him move to the Capitol Hill area. Saturday was pretty much a 12 hr grind, but Sunday Kevin took us on a tour of the area. Now, being the artist that i am, i found subjects and compositions all over the place, Seattle is just an amazing city, a bit edgy, but amazing. Both days i found inspiration everywhere that was begging to be painted.
During our sunday walk, we happened onto the Thomas Street Gardens, which is a lot, in the middle of a residential neighborhood that Thomas Street Gardens acquired in 1997 and is part of the P-Patch Community Gardening Program in Seattle. It is a lovely whimsical garden that clearly fits with a NW theme of recycling meets artistic.
Many of the P-Patch gardens promote a "giving garden" where the produce is donated to a local food bank. They also promote environmental awareness, strengthen neighborhoods, and increase self-reliance among many other things.
I was so inspired by this little pump nestled amongst the flowers and rocks that i knew it was going to make it into a painting. Little did i know it was to be the same day. I spent a few hours last night with some touch ups tonight and enjoyed painting this fun and cheery piece.
One of the things i enjoy doing while painting is dabbing on thick spots of color, especially for the flowers. I am not concerned too much with detail at this point, as i enjoy letting the paint do its thing as i apply it and pull the brush off the panel. The photo doesn't show it, but there are little curly ques and ridges that appear when applying paint in this manner and to me is the frosting on the cake. And, you just don't eat cake without frosting, right.....?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Is the Art in your Heart?

photo taken from my booth
The Art in the Heart Event took place this last weekend in Downtown Vancouver,WA and it was a great experience. So many incredible artists that double as great friends really enhanced the entire weekend for me. Getting to know Bud Fields, Marilyn Hocking, Oleg Ulitskiy, and catching up with Mike Rangner, Celeste Bergin and Gene Wigglesworth were highlights.
photo of me in my booth by David Burbach
I wanted to give my booth a real studio feel to it, and with the tremendous help from my wife, Vicki, i think we pulled it off.

part of Historical Series on walnut slab One way i decided to display my many unframed pieces was to build some tiny easels which worked great and added to the artistic feel i was going for.

Academy Steeple
9 x 12
Academy Steeple, is a special painting for me. Not only did it make its way onto the Art on the Boulevard mailer, but it was a pre-sale. So, although it never hung in my booth, it found a good home. Thanks Gemma! And thanks to the others who became inspired enough to be caretakers of the other 3 pieces.

photo taken by David Burbach Although the photos don't show it, the event was bustling with people, especially friday night. I would like to thank the many friends and family that came to Art in the Heart in a great show of support. A tremendous thank you goes to Kevin Weaver, the Director of Art on the Boulevard Gallery, for having me in the event.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Napoleon 12-Pounder's

Sunday was a good day for painting. I got an early start at Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge and turned out a couple 6x8 landscapes. I was home by noon, had some lunch and had energy for more. So, i went to the studio and painted from a photo i took, of a pair of cannons that are stationed on Officer's Row. As i started in, i found myself wiping the panel clear of my poor lines a handful of times so i decided to simplify and exaggerate working the entire painting more than i usually do. Forgotten what a challenge painting oval shapes can be, i just worked back and forth, making, breaking, making, breaking and then making again. It turned out to be quite fun.
I did a little research on these beauties and found while they are replicas of the Napoleon 12-Pound Light Field Cannons, they have a great story. They were made by students of Mountain View High School (Vancouver,WA) from material donated by the City of Vancouver. The students used drawings and original photos so they could get as close to an exact replica as possible, however they do not fire which is probably a good thing; Great job MV and its instructors Larry Books and Darell Midles. The placement of the cannons was taken on as an Eagle Scout project by James Deuvall of Troop 328 (Vancouver,WA), way to go James. The cannons were dedicated on November 8,1991 in honor of four Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, and they are:
First Sergeant James M. Hill: 5th U.S. Cavalry, The Indian Campaigns, 1873. First Sergeant Moses Williams: 9th U.S. Cavalry, The Indian Campaigns, 1876. First Lieutenant William W. McCammon: 24th Missouri Regiment, Civil War, 1896. Bugler Herman Pfisterer: 21st Infantry, Spanish-American War, 1899
Present at the dedication was General Colin L. Powell and Major General Patrick H. Brady. In a book i have (Images of America Downtown Vancouver, by Pat Jollota) General Powell is pictured leaving the Marshall House.
Thank you to all who had a part in this memorial and thank you to all, past and present, who put their lives on the line so that i have the freedom and the right to post this entry.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Historic Hangar

Unique Aviation
10 x 21 7/8
The Pearson Air Museum was built in 1918 and used as a "cut-up" plant for the US Army's Spruce Division. It was relocated in 1924 to its current location, turned into an aviation hangar and has lived a very textured life. During World War II it was used to house Italian prisoners and on June 20,1937 served as host to the unexpected landing of the Soviet ANT-25 and its three flyers, Chkalov, Baidukov, and Belyakov. It wound up as the first flight from the Soviet Union to the United States via the North Pole.
The museum seeks to inspire and educate with its amazing display of antique aircraft and interactive attractions that include a movie theater, flight simulator and science area. Want to see a replica of the WWI plane flown by the "Red Baron"? Well, its here too.
As the nation's oldest wooden structure still used to house aircraft, Pearson Air Museum remains alive with many events during the year. The scene i depicted in the painting was from a photo i took on Memorial Day weekend this year during their "Open Cockpit" event where vintage aircraft offered thrilling rides to kids of all ages.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Art in the Heart

Recently i was invited to be a guest artist of the art gallery, Art on the Boulevard, for the annual outdoor art event and sale, Art in the Heart. It will be held in conjunction with First Friday on August 5th and 6th in Downtown Vancouver,WA.
I am so excited and humbled to be a part of this event as this will be my first time to showcase my paintings in this type of setting. Also to sit along such great artists as Mike Rangner, Bud Fields and Oleg Ulitskiy is a bit sobering.
Now, as you can tell from my blog entries, i have been painting local historical structures for the last few months, not with any particular event in mind, but this i feel is an opportunity to do exactly what this collection of work is intended to do; inspire, enlighten and engage people with the wealth of local and national history that is right here. I know we've all said it, Gosh, i haven't been there since i was in grade school, or i've never been there and i live in the same town. I guess this is my way of helping people over those obstacles and inspiring them to get energized about our city and its rich heritage, or just add fuel to their fire that was set years ago.
In any case, i have been working diligently and plan on having around 70 paintings on display or at least ready to thumb through in a bin.
If you are not aware, Art on the Boulevard art gallery is in my opinion one of the premier galleries in the whole Pacific NW. It represents some of the finest art and artists you will find anywhere. I urge you to click on the link and take a look for yourself or just make the short trip downtown and experience it in person. You will not be disappointed, but you most likely will get inspired.
I want to thank Kevin Weaver, the Gallery Director, for giving me this opportunity to take another step forward in making my dreams become real.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fisher Cemetery

8 x 10
I have been painting quite a bit of late, which is why my blog is suffering from larger than i would like gaps between postings. Last saturday i decided to spend the morning with the oldest public cemetery in Clark County, Fisher Cemetery. There is something deep, soulful and enriching about visiting cemeteries. They allow our thoughts to run rampant with the figuring out of who is buried there and how they ended up there; what is their story?
Headstones date back to the 1850's, some with beautiful carvings, some with amazing quotes, and some that are unassuming, but most possess names and dates that hit me like a sledge hammer. Why, for instance, on December 17,1903 did Clara Stamp die at the age of 24 Yrs. 6Ms. 11Ds....? and why did her mother parish the following year, while her father lived until 1920. These are questions that i just cannot put down, i have to know more. This is the essence of story telling in a most textured way.
Solomon Fisher and William Simmons established the Fisher Community in today's SE corner of Vancouver,WA along the Columbia River. There was a grade school, general store, blacksmith and a post office. Fisher built a riverboat landing where wood was sold to passing by steamboats. William Simmons donated an acre of his own land for the cemetery and named it in honor of his wife Ann J. (Fisher) Simmons.
In order to move forward, one must have balance, one must know where they have came from. In the case, where a community came from. It brings light and perspective to the senses, and frees our thoughts allowing forward progress.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Vancouver Train Station

Train Station
5 1/2 x 11
The Vancouver Train Station opened in 1908 in tandem with the train bridge which finally linked Oregon to Washington permanently for the first time. While this structure is not as vast as some stations it does have a striking appearance with great lines that were fun to paint.
I have struggled to find much in the way of its history, but i do know it was the local arrival place of some prominent people such as Empire Builder James J. Hill.
The station is owned by the City of Vancouver, and Amtrak still operates daily runs out of this location.
Careful restorations, mostly of the interior, were completed in 2008 and included refinishing the original maple floors, plaster repairs, custom solid wood doors, wainscoting and trim to match that of the early 1900's time period.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Academy

16.5 x 20 More widely known as The Academy, The House of Providence, opened in 1873 as a school and orphanage in Vancouver, Washington USA and was said to be the largest building north of San Fransisco at the time. It was designed by Mother Joseph (sister of Providence) and built of bricks supplied by local Hidden Brick Company. The Academy operated as a school until 1966 when it was sold to the City of Vancouver. It remained dormant until 1969 when Robert Hidden, the grandson of Lowell Hidden (founder of Hidden Brick Co.) purchased it. The Hidden family still owns this prominent historical landmark where they lease out office spaces to local business, and has turned into a popular place for weddings. I have a personal connection to The Academy as my great grandmother, Mary Jane Vermeire, and her three siblings lived here shortly after arriving from Belgium and losing their mother in a typhoid epidemic early in the 20th century. As life often makes big changes hinged on curious ancestral decisions/occurrences, i feel i owe a deep gratitude of thanks to all who have had a hand in creating and maintaining this significant piece of local historical architecture. For, if not for The House of Providence and its mission, i may have never come to be and you would probably not be reading this right now.......

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Marshall House

Grand Marshall
16 x 20
I must admit, the idea of creating a series of paintings that showcased our local historical architecture actually started with The Marshall House. As my favorite house on Officers Row, i have often reveled in it's beauty of amazing lines, detail, and of course the wonderfully placed and signature turret.
The Marshall House was build in 1886 in the style of Queen Anne Victorian and was very popular with many aristocrats of the time. George C. Marshall lived in the house while stationed here as the Commanding Officer of the Vancouver Barracks from 1936-1938.
This type of history right here in our city is why i began this project, and i am so glad that the City of Vancouver saw the importance in restoring these gems of national historical significance for many more people to enjoy, get inspiration from, and learn from this living museum known as......... Officer's Row.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Vancouver Train Station Bench

9 x 12
A couple weeks ago i visited the Vancouver Train Station and during that time i discovered a wonderful old bench with an amazing patina. What also helped was the timing of the day's light as the sun streamed in through the windows, placing it's mobile stamp of intense spotlight on the interior of the station. I took some photos as i knew i might be inspired to paint, not so much the interior, but that incredible bench that has obviously been around a while and possesses great lines and stunning architecture in it's own right. Sure enough, last Sunday was the day to bring this settle to life in the Historical Series. Now some may argue that it does not deserve a place next to the likes of St. James Catholic Church, The Marshall House, or The Academy, but i believe it does. Just because it's not boisterous in appearance, and takes a back seat to even the arthitecture of the Train Station itself, i felt it a lovely enough piece that it deserves an advocate.
As i think about the old bench, i am curious as to the thousands of people who shared a moment or many moments with the unassuming support or those who just flew by in a flurry of worry of missing their train and did not even give the welcoming friend a glance, much less a tip of the hat.
What stories the solid feature could tell, if only given the chance and that some one would take the time to listen.So many watchful, hopeful, and empty days and nights has it sat there just waiting and wanted to do what it does best - give you a rest.
The next time you go to Vancouver's Historical Train Station, don't forget to show respect and off a little time and thanks for all the self-less devotion any one bench can possess. I am thankful for the inspiration it touched in me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Modern Hospital

Building 614
8 x 10
On Saturday i spent the morning with the Post Hospital near the Vancouver Barracks. Built in 1904 as a modern hospital that included drains and pipes for blood to flow, and large windows to allow light in for surgeries and fresh air for patients. Around 1930 the open decks were enclosed that creates a sun room effect on all four sides. The building has been vacant since the 1990's, but there has been much talked about turning it into an art space that would include studios, office spaces, galleries, and possibly even a museum.
The thought of having such a place here in Vancouver is exciting to me. Any way we can push the envelope, expand the arts and create awareness to the public is a great thing and needs to be pursued. There are a great number of talented artists in the Pacific NW that could use a space just like this, and encouragement for our youth must be woven in as well. i see this as another step towards doing just that.
In a society where budget cuts hit the arts hard, the rejuvenation of this great structure would lend itself well to pushing against the tide and get the Post Hospital back to doing what it was intended to do - help people. Maybe not in the purest sense, but definitely it would be a place of growth, re-birth, and inspiration - and i cannot think of a better structure to house such an endeavor.
Since my goal in painting these historical structures is all about creating awareness of the depth and texture of our city, the Post Hospital is a must in this passionate series of paintings.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Before it's too late.....

I-5 Bridge mid-Spring
8 x 10
While the I-5 Bridge is not an historical building, it is an historical structure and before it is replaced by something bigger and better, i wanted to include it in my series of paintings. So, this morning i worked on a Marshall House painting and as the dramatic sky revealed itself this afternoon, i knew i was going out to paint. I went down to the waterfront and carried my supplies across the foot bridge to look at the Fort which wasn't working for me today, so back across the bridge i went and i knew that i was going to have to figure out a composition of the I-5 Bridge. I found my spot, set up, and started in. The wind kicked up a few times, almost taking my umbrella with it, but i only got rained on a couple times. As the light and clouds were constantly changing, i had to work fast and mixed many of the colors directly on the panel, not thinking, just reacting to what i saw. Consequently a lot of energy went into this painting and i am really glad i've got my first I-5 Bridge under my belt, before its gone.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Shifting to 2nd gear

O.O. Howard House
6 x 8
I am getting into a groove now with the Historical Series of paintings. Early this afternoon i took a stroll around the Vancouver Barracks/Officers Row area searching for my next victim and decided on the O.O. Howard House. This historic home was built for the Civil War general O.O. Howard in 1879. While this is not the most popular of homes on Officers Row - probably for being just off the main drag, i felt it was definitely worthy of my attention and best effort.
General Oliver Otis Howard (1830-1909) was a Medal of Honor recipient who lost an arm during the Civil War, and was the founder of Howard University in Washington, DC. - and its president from 1867-1873.
As i ponder about this historical figure, i can only imagine the stories and lessons he might have had to offer, and i am humbled by the thought i could give light to such tremendous history.
When i started with the idea of painting Vancouver's historical buildings, my driving force was to bring awareness to our community's past; but i am finding that the list of prominent figures reaches well beyond household names like Marshall and Grant.