Leonardo da Vinci

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

--Leonardo da Vinci

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winter Solitude

Winter Solitude
One of the great aspects of the Pacific Northwest is snow. Not so much on the valley floor, but all around in the mountain ranges, foothills, and east of the Cascades does the magical wonder of snow, truly gain traction.
Snow, with its blanketing ability can take any scene, no matter how pretty or ugly, and totally transform it.
Being in snow, makes us think, makes us feel like a kid again. Snow is deep, moody, and inspiring.  It's almost as if life transcends.
Some of my personal favorite paintings are of snow scenes.
I knew I wanted to have at least a couple snow pieces in my show, and one of them is Winter Solitude.
And since Christmas is near, I thought this might be a good time to give you a preview and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Peaceful Coastline

Peaceful Coastline
18 x 24
One of the greatest attributes of the Pacific Northwest is the stunning coastline. It's a coastline that can be experienced and described in countless ways, with awe inspiring moments at every turn.  It's a coastline that can be as rugged as a steel mill, and as peaceful as a cup of tea.
With such a broad range of emotions that can be felt there, it's not surprising that it's such a draw to most everyone. 
For me as a painter, I am always trying to capture the mood or the feeling of a subject. And that's part of what makes painting the Washington/Oregon coastline an obvious choice. 
The amazing subtle grays on display any given day, offer substance and depth that you can sink your teeth into. Like a hot bowl of homemade stew, it warms the soul and feeds the spirit.
Make sure to save February 1 2013, on your calendar for my First Friday, solo show debut at Art on the Boulevard , "Moods of the Pacific Northwest."
It's sure to be a moooooding experience.....:)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Show Update

Tree Line Of Color
14 x 18
It feels good to finally give you an update on where my show, "Moods of the Pacific Northwest" is headed.
 Beginning in August, I found myself thrust into the chaos of figuring out how to put together a solo show. Planning the various places to visit and scenes I wanted to paint, has been exhilarating and exhausting all in one. 
One question I have been asked is, "how do you keep up with the pressure of the impending deadline?" A valid question for certain, but not one that I really thought about much. I have felt the pressure of time, but all it really did was to propel me to another gear. I knew that in order to pull this off I would have to step up my game, and in no time I found myself painting a lot larger format out in the field. Plus my wife, Victoria, has been a huge support. Between the two of us, she is the organizer and she has played a big part in me being able to do this. In addition, Kevin Weaver, gave me ample time to work the project.
Having said that, there is still work to do; I still have some moody pieces to complete and plenty of framing to do.
Tree Line of Color, happened to be an early piece in this series. I painted it from one of my favorite spots to work, the Steigerwald National Refuge. At the time it was my largest plein air painting attempted which came with great satisfaction by pushing those boundaries. And even though this is an intimate landscape, whenever I see it, I instantly think of a Cheetah and/or a Giraffe. I think.because of the subtle dark spots against the orange.
It probably sounds corny, but I really wanted to name it, "Cheetah"
What do you think, should I change the name?......

Kevin Weaver - artontheboulevard.org

Friday, August 31, 2012

Mixing it Up

Matterhorn - detail

I would like to share some great and exciting news with you. Now, most of you know that i show my work in Art on the Boulevard, gallery in Vancouver,WA. Well, recently the director of that gallery, Kevin Weaver, notified me that i was selected to have my very own solo show. How awesome is that?.....
I am so excited for this great opportunity, and i can hardly believe this honor has been offered to me.
Let me tell you just how significant this is......
First of all, Art on the Boulevard, is one of the premiere galleries in the Pacific Northwest. Second, Kevin has well over fifty incredible artists; all of them are just as deserving of a show as me. And third, there are only six shows per year.
Spots like this are pretty rare, and i feel very fortunate that the gallery has seen fit to promote and support me like this.
So, my show will debut on First Friday, February 1st 2013 and is entitled "Moods of the Pacific Northwest".
Two of the great things about the Pac. NW is the dynamic weather and diverse topography. My goal is to capture the feeling, the mood of the different seasons, and celebrate the endless beauty, of our textured landscapes and atmosphere from various locations.
During this process of preparing for the show, i might be a bit light on my posts, but i will do my best to keep up. I will begin posting work for the show in December, to give you an inside peek.

The Matterhorn
In case you were wondering these photos are of my mound of titanium white after battling with brush and knife. Plus its always fun to look for interesting shapes, colors and textures in the not-so-obvious places.
Until next time....... Keep mixing it up!

Friday, August 24, 2012


Hood's Veil
Last night i took inspiration and implemented a lesson from a fellow artist, and dear friend who lost her life to cancer earlier this week.
To honor Shirley Nelson, i set out to paint Mt Hood, which has long been a favorite subject for her. To my frustration, i found the sentinel covered by clouds; clouds that i was sure would add interest to the sky, just not this much interest.
I stood in disbelief as i knew this was going to ruin my plan. What could i do? How could i make this work? Obviously, Mother Nature has a will of her own and there was no parting of these clouds anywhere on the horizon.
I was just about to head for home when i thought, wait a minute, why don't you just take what has been offered to you and work with it?.... This thought process just happens to be how Shirley lived her life. She had dealt with cancer for years, a lot of years. In an out of hospitals, countless procedures, rounds of chemo, the list goes on and on. Yet, if you were to meet her, you would have never guessed she was dealing with such serious issues. She was ALWAYS a beam of sunlight, just a sweetheart of a person to be around. Always, genuinely interested in what and how others were doing.
Even though, i am sure she had her dark days, Shirley chose to focus on the positive side of life and enjoy it for as much as she could squeeze out of it and refused to give in to the negative.
So, i took this inspiration to heart and forced ahead and painted the scene as it was, without the mountain. And in many ways this painting may not work for most people, but it wasn't painted for most people, it was painted for one person.
Shirley, you are one of the strongest people i have ever met and i will take your inspiration and your example and do my best to honor your courage.
Thank you for being a friend.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Reflecting on Art in the Heart

Saki Stoneware
Even though we dealt with some pretty high temperatures at last week's Art in the Heart event, i had a blast. It was so great to visit and hang out with talented artists and view their work. It was also equally exciting to meet with collectors; some i hadn't seen for a while and others, this was our first meeting.
A big thank you to all who braved the heat to come enjoy a great weekend of art!
During my wanderings i came across many great pieces of art. One artist in particular, Robin Hominiuk, a local potter had some lovely stoneware pieces. And of course, me being me and always on the lookout for new and interesting things to paint, i knew in a flash that i wanted to step up and get some of this awesome stoneware.
So, i was torn between two small displays.... couple that with the fact that my wife was out of town for the weekend at a writers convention and i had sold a few paintings, and...... Bingo, you guessed it - i got both sets. I just couldn't resist, plus i had NO adult supervision.....
Even though i did offer one up as a gift to, My Dearest, i'm sure it will soon wind up in a painting too.
So, again, a big thank you to all who visited, Downtown Vancouver, to partake in Art in the Heart, you really helped fuel an artists fire. And many thanks go to Kevin Weaver, Director of Art on the Boulevard, for hosting and keeping us hydrated. You're THE BEST Kev!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Art in the Heart 2012

I am really excited to be a part of Vancouver's annual art festival -
Art in the Heart 2012.
This will be my second year to show at the event and it promises to be a great time.
If you are in the area, make sure to come down and enjoy this city's tradition, meet local talents, and see some great art that you might not normally see in the gallery.
Make sure to stop by and say hi - i will have a canopy just outside Art on the Boulevard.
Looking forward to seeing you there!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Flowers for My Love

Flowers for My Love
Recently i did a good thing; i gave some flowers to my wife. Of course this won me some good points, but it was well overdue. So, i still have some ground to make up, but this is a good start.
Vicki, commented that the bouquet needs to wind up in a painting. And certainly, i agreed with her.....
A couple days later, i set up a composition on top of the piano and used natural ambient light as my source. I love the using natural light. It brings a quality element to the subject that cannot be duplicated by artificial light.
 One thing that has been finding its way into my work lately is a palette knife. I have always enjoyed the look of palette knife work, but this time is was extra fun, and for some good reasons..... 
One, is the simple fact that i did not incorporate it throughout the entire piece, which allows for some variety of interest. 
Two, i really like the blending of colors, textures, and edges that were created.
And Three, is the unexpected.... There are times when something shows up that you weren't planning on that helps to make a painting exciting. Those incidentals can make for some serious interest, for me mostly in paint quality, and i love it when they stop by to say hi. For i usually invite them to be a permanent resident.

Friday, July 13, 2012


One thing that draws me to painting is going through the thought process of how to paint a subject.
One point of interest for me is whether to paint alla prima or work a surface over a period of days.....
When i began this piece, i fully intended to make it a multi-day affair. However, as the painting progressed, i was liking some aspects of it and i decided to push on into the evening and see how it turned out.
As it would be, i wanted to focus on the spontaneity of the sky and keep to the freshness of how quickly the light can travel across the terrain as it peeks through the massive web of cloud cover.
In the end, i was reminded a great lesson.....I went into this piece with a plan, a plan that was altered mid-stream. I scrapped the multi-day thing, went forward to complete it in one sitting, and wound up being pretty happy with the outcome.
Being conscious of our decision making, and acting on those intuitions is critical. Plus, you never know where you will end up going down those little experimental bunny trails.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Flying Umbrellas

The Old and the New
Available at: Art on the Boulevard
I have been holding this piece back for a while, but now seems a good time to bring it out. The subject is a new sculpture in Downtown Vancouver,WA, with the Kiggins Theater in the background.
My wife and i were there to witness the spirited unveiling of the new artwork at the First Friday of April. When i coupled this with my passion for capturing downtown scenes, i knew my mission.
The next morning around 10am, i set up shop on the SW corner of Main and Evergreen, and started in. What i came home with was a 6x8 study that i used to create this piece, which i started and completed on Sunday, April 9.
I did spend the entire day on it, but that's just what it was; one full day of adding layer after layer of juicy paint and building it up to create a thick, but fresh, pizza painting.
What i like about the story being told, is that there is new art making a statement, but the Grand Daddy, Kiggins, is watching over just to make sure the kid doesn't get too big for his britches. :{>
Actually, i am really happy that i could incorporate this icon of Vancouver, with this new piece of vibrant artwork. It was an absolute joy to paint and i am thrilled about where our city is headed in supporting the arts.
Here is a link to The Columbian's article of the First Friday event. Congratulations to Jennifer Corio and Dave Frei for creating, Flying Umbrellas. It is a wonderful sculpture that our city should be proud of.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Painter's Paradise

Front Row Seat
A couple of weeks ago i had the opportunity to visit Central Oregon with some friends and paint for the weekend. Destination..... Post, Oregon..... Yea, i had never heard of it either.
I wasn't sure what to expect, but when i arrived, i was not disappointed. The scenery there is absolutely stunning. It's one of those places where you could set up and paint just about anywhere and get a killer composition with amazing subject matter. A kind of painters paradise......
For me, the weekend was not without apprehension. I have not painted a great deal east of the Cascades, but i thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the lovely neutrals and stretching myself with new challenges.

Post Plateau
Pretty much the entire weekend was windy, with showers, and even included snow one night. And, as uncomfortable as it was weather wise, it did create some dynamic skies that were
All-in-all, it was an outstanding time, which i would love to do again. A HUGE thanks to David and Kendra for being such an awesome host and hostess. This was a treasured time that i will not soon forget.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Make it, Break it, Make it Again

Pumpkin Patch Barn
If you are a painter, i am sure that you have experienced the ugly stage of a painting. For those of you who are not painters; there is usually a time during the painting where the whole thing just looks like a mess and you may not even be able to tell where in the world you are going with it. This phenomenon occurs to me from time to time and this little guy was no exception.
I use the make it, break it, then make it again rule, and for me it's a matter of just getting enough paint on the panel until the majority of the piece is full and i am really able to work the entire surface; much like shifting into fourth gear and cruising to the finish line.
When i put down the brush with this piece, like with many of my paintings, i still wasn't sure it was completely finished. My initial thought was to have more of a sky painting, but that green field kept creepin' up on me. As you can see the 1/3 design came to be.
At first i was not satisfied with the outcome, which is pretty typical for me, but after i step away for a day or two, i view it with fresh eyes and suddenly i like it. I know many of you know what i am talking about.
The whole painting thought process is quite intense and very focused. The, can't see the forest through the trees, thing becomes my reality when painting. And believe it or not, i view that as a good thing. It tells me, i'm searching for values, shapes, colors and lines. Add emotion to the mix and POOF, its almost like David Copperfield making chocolate chips appear with the wave of his hand. You don't know how it happened, but there it is.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Straight from Lake Quinault

Lakeside List
Last weekend's trip to Quinault was mostly filled with work. However, Monday morning i did manage to get out and paint a couple plein aire studies. The Willaby Creek Campground has some interesting trees along the lake that are great subjects. The real treat with the trees in this area are their shapes and how few of them stand like a stagnant Beefeater. They're all over the place directionally and it helps to create some fun compositions.
 It was an overcast day, so there is not much in the way of dramatic light. Instead, i am trying to let the ccomposition do most of the speaking. There was some fresh spring color laden on the tentacle like branches of these two twisting listing trees that helps gives some zip to the piece.
However, on par with my thought process in painting, i want the viewer to feel the mood, feel the subject and become connected with the piece on a soulful level. This is something the Russian Masters were awesome at capturing. The work of painters like, Levitan, Korovan, and many others; the list goes on.....  are very inspiring to me and is certainly a level of painting that i strive for.
What list inspires you?.....

Friday, May 25, 2012

Untold Stories

Old Glory XI
With the Memorial Day Weekend upon us, i thought it would be good to post another flag painting. Since i have started this series of paintings, i of course see our nation's symbol everywhere. And i'm like a kid in a candy store when i see a flag, and state to my patient wife, "look, there's another one"!
I often stop and take photos to capture just that right composition and study the wave patterns. However, this past week while in Seattle, and locked out of my son's condo (for a bit), i had ample time to contemplate a large flag flying atop a downtown building. A few people passed by, including an older gentleman wearing a veteran's hat. As he shuffled by, he glanced at me and gave me a nod. I reciprocated with a nod of my own and a solemn "hi". He had no idea what i was doing or what i was thinking, or what i was about to think....
At that moment, my thoughts turned from line and form to people. The many faces that pass by everyday with the blink of an eye, and of their untold stories. What does our flag mean to them? What does our flag mean to all who have lived under these colors? How much pain and how much pride is lurking in each and every one of us that most people never have the opportunity to learn about.
So here is one of mine....
I painted this piece with specific thoughts in mind. As it is my Eleventh flag painting in the series, it, and my number Nine painting, are meant to serve as my way of honoring the victims of  9 11.
Number Nine was painted for a specific Marine, and dear friend of mine, to represent our military forces and public servants who work to protect our nation on a daily basis. Number Eleven is to honor the 911 victims.

In my closing thoughts  i would like to dedicate this post to the memory of my mother, Betty Jane Lindstrom, who passed away in 1991. She planted the seed of oil painting in my teenage thoughts so many years ago. And although our painting styles are a bit different, i wish we could have had the opportunity to paint together.
Mom, thanks for the memories, and thanks for your amazing creativity.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thoughts on Painting Still Life

Food for Thought

Still Life painting is a great passion of mine. And i think for most people, you either love em', or you don't. For me, still life's hold a special place in my heart, for that's when colors and values and shapes, began to make sense to me.
I also enjoy the gathering of trinkets and formulating them into a display. And, I gotta tell ya', you just haven't lived until you've wandered through thrift stores looking for interestingly shaped items that are just begging to be re-purposed. It truly is great fun. However, some items, like the bud vase, was my mother's, the book is my wife's, and the flowers are snips from our yard.
I knew i wanted this painting to be full of texture and that it would take multiple sittings to get it where i wanted it. The whole thought process that takes place with problem solving (the application of paint to a painting revisited) is quite freeing and magnetizing. Freeing - in terms of not having to dial everything in during the first pass or two because i know i'm going to refine as i go. And magnetizing - because each visit is like a new painting, only better. The juicy thick paint being pulled and dragged, grabs like a saber tooth tiger and reveals wonderful nuances.
If you already enjoy painting still life's, i might be preaching to the choir. If you don't, i would urge you to give it a shot - you never know, you might succumb to the power of the still...and if you're an appreciator, you probably already have.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Truth in Painting

Gorge White House
Last Sunday, Vicki and I, went to The Gorge White House in Hood River, OR for Celeste Bergin's solo show opening which was great.
We are no stranger to the great city of Hood River, we actually got married there, but it was our first time to the delightful old farm house.
We arrived early to allow me get a plein air painting in and enjoy a picnic before the scheduled event. I found it a struggle to land on something to paint, for there is so much beauty with every turn. Mt Adams and Mt Hood are both clearly visible, amazing hillsides, and terrific orchards. I finally landed on a distant view of the Gorge White House itself with the wide grassy path, cutting through the fields and leading you to the house.
There are some things i really like about this painting, but there are some things i didn't see until later in the day which could have made it a stronger composition. The most glaring to me, is the way the line of the dark tree trunk is right in line with the edge of the grass. That line should have been broken up.
Performing the act of painting is all about choices and making decisions. What to put where, and how to compose a piece in a manner of the mood or feeling you are trying to convey. Now, i could have moved the tree to make it more technically correct, but i was not willing to lose the spontaneity of the main subject farm house. So there you go; I made my choice.
Plus, there are times when i like to show the truth of my day, the honesty in my moment of how i was seeing. At times that may be a bit cockeyed, but for better or worse the authenticity always shows through and that's one of the great things i love about painting.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Art - Vancouver,WA

Art - Vancouver
Oil on panel
In an effort to celebrate the return of Spring and the start of the outdoor art event season, i decided to post a painting that i worked on last month. And since our weather, here in the Pacific Northwest, is just about to turn a swift 180 degrees, where the sun comes out to play a little more regularly, i thought this one might be appropriate. 
The scene here, i painted from a photo reference that i took last August while participating in Vancouver's annual, Art in the Heart, art festival.
I really enjoy capturing urban street scenes; scenes that have an intimate feeling to them; scenes with interesting lines, shapes, and colors. And ultimately trying to give the viewer an experience through my eyes that i find intriguing enough to paint.
A big thanks to, Cirith, for being my unsuspecting victim in the red dress. Word to the wise; Beware, for you never know when you will wind up as Art in Vancouver.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring Time Still Life

Spring Time
This last weekend was mostly about still life painting, and i had these three Daffodils left over that i begrudgedly did not paint during Eric Jacobsen's workshop. I was determined to not let my efforts of finding them on the side of the road go to waste though, and so i stayed up way too late Monday night in an effort to give them their due.
After painting it, i let it rest for a couple days to let things get good and tacky, as i was planning on a second coat, but all i did was add some lighter shadow values to the daffodils and that was it. There are a couple things i was wanting to change, but the most important thing i found to this piece is its spontaneity. Much of the time, i enjoy going in two, three, and four times adding texture, building up a painting surface that would rival the consistency of a chewy granola bar, but not this one.
Although, there is a good amount of paint, it doesn't get bogged down and retains a freshness that i really like.
I've talked about it and many others have too; knowing when to stop can be a real challenge. And i am not willing to sacrifice the feeling or mood of a painting for sake foodling, at least not for today.
Today is about Spring, flowers in bloom, and of course the timing of things....

Friday, April 20, 2012

Going Outside the Lines....

Academy Ruins V
A main focus for painters is knowing where your light source is coming from and how it falls upon a subject. It is a most critical key ingredient when designing a composition. For many, that means getting out in the field before sun-up to capture that elusive early morning light, or staying late to take advantage of the amazing colors of a nocturnal scene.
As a rule of thumb, most painters and photographers put down their gear between the hours of 10am and 2pm due to the flat light that ocuurs that time of day. However, rules are meant to be broken, right?....
I began this painting about 1pm last sunday, not for its outstanding light quality though. I have been wanting to paint this scene for the lines and how the shadows fall across the grass and the face of this part of the Academy's old laundry building.
Even though it's the wrong time of day, i really enjoy the effective light on this old structure. Plus it was a great study of line and composition.
It's important that we know what we are trying to convey, what initially draws us to a particular composition and execute the emotion.
Like many, I enjoy painting amazingly lit scenes, but i also won't limit myself to staying in the lines; if you couldn't tell.... :{>

Friday, April 13, 2012

Urban Impressions

Out for a Stroll
Recently, i have hit my urban impressions of downtown Vancouver,WA. Last weekend, the weather was so nice - it gave me a great chance to get out and snag some well-lit scenes for a couple of plein air pieces, and some photographs for studio work.
This painting was done in studio, but i wanted to give it a plein air feeling. The initial pass went in quite quickly - i did not fuss with perfect lines. Instead i focused on putting splashes and swipes of color and value in loose fashion. If you've never done that, you should try it. It's almost like being a kid again. Or in my case, dinner was just about ready.....
Over the next couple evenings, is when i really focused. I tidied things up a bit and infused some intense light, but still tried to keep to the playful feeling. I left all the signage as strokes and splots to keep to the looseness of the design. And although this is a representational painting, it could be more an expression color and light.
I know this is a tall order for anyone outside the area; but can anyone guess what the subjects are in this painting?
One hint....The yellow building was the first home of The Columbian newspaper.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Still Life

Young at Heart
This past weekend was filled with the painting of Still Lifes and the main focus was an Eric Jacobsen workshop at Art on the Boulevard.
If you've never taken a workshop from Eric, i would highly recommend taking one. He is a great instructor with a wealth of knowledge and one of the most inspiring people i have ever met. If you already have, then you know what i mean.
Saturday, after MEKing around, we went trinket hunting at local thrift shops and i found some new subjects to add to the collection as well as a Frank Sinatra album that i just had to get.
By Sunday afternoon, my new vinyl, interestingly shaped friends, and flowers were begging to take center stage and perform. So, after my display was set, the turntable began to spin and i started to paint in a most passionate way. I usually paint in silence, as i am a deep thinker, but the electrifying sound of Sinatra energized me and i just didn't want it to stop.
I painted all afternoon, until it was dark, having to get up and flip the record every so often, but i didn't mind. Having Ol' Blue Eyes, fill our home with his captivating sound was worth every moment of what would be considered, to this day and age, a hassle.
After letting this painting sit for a few days to tack-up, i revisited it and made some modifications. I may make a few more adjustments, before i consider it done, but never-the-less, i hope you find this painting, Young at Heart.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Art-Filled Weekend

This past, steroid induced, weekend of Art was a doozy.
Friday was spent at Kat Sowas Studio, where i was able to take in a Craig Srebnick figurative demo and then got a solid start on a still life painting. Then Vicki and i took in a Vancouver Orchestra Chamber Concert, that included a string quartet, piano, clarinet, two sopranos and ended with a killer violin solo.
Saturday we spent all day in Seattle with two of our sons, Kevin and Brian. We toured the UofW campus and got to see the great architecture, and stunning Cherry Blossoms, We were also introduced to the Frye Museum. A special thanks to, Kevin Weaver from Art on the Boulevard, for turning me onto the outstanding venue that owns very impressive works. The next time you are in Seattle, you MUST take time to visit The Frye. Maybe someday, Vancouver can have this level of museum.....
A Gargoyle peers over us as we pause to rest on a UofW campus courtyard
Bronze sculpture of George Washington, dedicated in 1909, looks west with a view of the Olympic Mountains.
Fun sculpture on campus.
 Pitcher and Flowers 11x14
And lastly, here is the still life that i started on Friday and reworked on Sunday. I was able to paint most of the day which put an exclamation on my weekend that was jammed packed with artistic adventures.
This weekend.....A workshop with my good friend, Eric Jacobsen.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Flyin' with Gray

Gray all the Way
This past weekend i had my brushes on six different paintings. Some being completed, some just beginning, and some obtaining both in the same sitting. This one, i would be willing to bet, maybe has thirty minutes into it.
I had just finished cleaning my palette and was deciding on which subject was to be my next victim for the day when i walked upstairs to find it snowing outside; and so, i took this as a sign that i needed to paint a snow scene i had been thinking of.
At least that's what i intended to paint.....
As i began, those three large piles of gray scrapings (light, med., dark) started calling me and i couldn't resist scooping into the juicy piles of mud and without much thought, the frenzy began. I started laying down massive globs of paint and with every twist and turn and slide of the brush, i could feel the tension of a structured, hard thought through painting go right out the window.
Unfortunately, the snow painting went out with it too. But, that's ok for a few reasons.
One, it was therapeutic; two, i can still re-do the composition in a more structured and true snow scene; and three, it was a great use of my scrapings and out came an interesting little painting.
I say interesting, for the chunky, sculpted shapes, and broken color are really fun to see - especially up close.
Most of my scrapings wind up in the next painting session, but i don't recall every painting almost entirely with my grays and i have to admit it felt like one of those guilty sins - like eating an extra donut, even when you know you shouldn't.
So, the next time you get the chance, do something a little off-color, and eat the extra donut.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Great Views from the Park

Maples' Dance
On my way to paint the Post Hospital on Sunday, i couldn't help but to be enthralled with the amazing colors that were vibrating with the intensity of a techno club on Saturday night, and i had to stop at Vancouver's Central Park to capture it.
I have long wanted to paint these interestingly shaped trees that seem to glow when the sunlight illuminates their moss covered limbs and trunks. So i cut my travel short and remained in the park for an action filled afternoon of wind and rain and slingin' oil paints with the spirit of, The Outlaw, Josey Wales.
Seriously though, these trees have such great lines, i don't think i did them justice, but they were great fun and the local colors were inspiring. I will definitely revisit this spot, at least on a seasonal basis to see what poetry of musical color are on display as i witness the Maples' Dance.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Winter, Winter, Winter.....

Winter Morning
During my travels to and from work i drive past some stunning scenery. Many times have i wanted to pull over, break out my gear and start painting. While that hasn't happened yet, in the meantime, i take photos to use as reference for studio work. This painting was done from one of those pics that i have taken, just after a recent snowfall.
One of the great challenges in painting is to capture the subtle value shift that makes a painting read properly. And i think that challenge gets heightened when painting a gray scene; the values are so close that the margin for error narrows to a knife's edge. Fighting through that struggle is also part of the draw for me.
I'm not saying this from an ego maniacal stance, for i'm sure there are many who would rip this thing to shreds in a critique. i only offer this to say that anyone who knows and loves color can attest to the fact of how hard it can be resist the temptation of adding life and vibrancy with color, and remain neutral or tonal. in the end, it still has to come off believable and more important.......inspiring....
Either way it works or doesn't work is for the viewer to decide, but over the course of this winter i have developed a new love for painting the mood, and texture of our Pacific Northwest.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Still Life

Apples and Cheese
This has been a great week with art, and not all of it had to do with the act of painting. My wife and i had the chance to spend last weekend with Celeste Bergin and her hubby, David Burbach at Lake Quinault,WA.
The weather was a bit temperamental and included some high winds, which does not make for much fun as a plein air painter. However, we did take some nice walks that allowed David, a professional photographer, to take some nice photos of the beauty on the Olympic Peninsula.
Celeste and i did manage an indoor still life though, and that was great fun. Even in that controlled environment, we did deal with some struggles; Lighting and elbow room. It was pretty tight quarters, and even though i wasn't, it felt like painting in the dark. Coupled with great conversation, fun atmosphere and bright colors, this painting was a blast.
Also, this week i had the chance to spend an evening with a great friend and fellow oil painter, Bud Fields. Bud is creating a new style of rustic frame made from Blue Pine that really showcase his unique style of Landscapes, Western, and Wildlife Art. I also received a tour of his great collection of art and great workspace. Bud also gave me a great education on the importance of framing and its ability to enhance or detract from a painting, which was a super show-n-tell.
Saturday the 3rd, i am anticipating in the Clark Co. Arts and Culture Summit, which is another big step towards promoting this area's art scene.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Mild Winter Scene

My passion for painting runs hand in hand with my quest for finding subjects. I have spent some time exploring the Burnt Bridge Creek Greenway and i have obtained a great affection for its beauty. While the amazing winter colors, interesting shapes, and lovely textures are mesmerizing to me, i find that coming up with a strong artistic composition can be a challenge at the BBCG; and in being a challenge, i am forced to exercise my vision, push my limits and forge ahead to the uncharted territories of my creative thoughts.
I think it's important that we keep learning, and growing, and pushing our boundaries as individuals - and as we keep thrashing at the thicket of our thinking, we start to see the world unfold before us in the vast sea of possibility.
Possibility you may ask..... not so much the possibility that i can turn out paintings like Korovan or Shishkin, but more the possibility that i can uncover the filtering layers of haze that blind me and reveal the raw, unedited truth of how i paint, how i see the world. Avoid the nagging tendencies to follow a worn path and blaze a new trail, my own trail. And if i do that, how can it be wrong?...
I know this may seem a bit of a charged statement, but i only say it to inspire others to keep honing their passions. If we don't know what that is yet, keep searching - and if we dig deep enough, i promise, we'll find it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

LaCamas Lake

Winter Oaks
This past weekend, i took the advice from a great friend and went exploring more of the LaCamas Lake Heritage Trail. I have painted there before, but only on the south end of the trail. This time, i started at the north end and took in some amazing beauty. The flat and wide path wonderfully winds through the trees and along the lake's many inlets to reveal very intimate scenes that gave me a sense of being in another world.
It was difficult landing on a composition, for they were everywhere. Which one do you do? Which one gets ignored while another takes center stage? This is the never ending question that plays round-n-round in the plein air painters noggin.
Thankfully, i did land on my star for the day, and really what it came down to was the amazing moss covered oaks that really struck me. It may have been the close proximity, or the backdrop of evergreens that really made the sea-foam green of those trees pop, but i wanted them in the composition.
I was also stunned by how many people use the path. There were countless runners, walkers, and cyclists who seemed happy to share the space with a painter.
Nature and art go hand in hand, but i think most people are quite surprised to see someone out painting, especially in a venue they frequent. Not that the scenery does not warrant being painted, but that, Wow, someones actually doing it. I know i would think its great, but then, maybe that's partly why i do it: Meeting nature on her terms, in her opera house.
It is always interesting and exciting for me to have the unsuspecting person stop to take a look at what i'm doing and maybe strike up a conversation - which did happen a few times. This is not always easy for a painter, for we tend to get pretty focused. So, going in and out of of those mindsets can be distracting, but it is a challenge that is necessary and will ultimately make us a more well-rounded painter.
So thank you to all those who showed an interest, and took the time to help me grow.
Click on the link to learn more about LaCamas Lake Heritage Trail.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Academy Ruins Series

Academy Ruins III
One of my favorite things about the city of Vancouver,WA is its wonderful historical architecture; and of the list of great structures, my all-time favorite to paint is the old laundry building at The Academy.
The brick behemoth, that has been condemned for a number of years, may not be suitable for human habitation anymore, but its rugged character and adorable charm make it a painter's and photographer's dream. It's beat up brick, run down trim, and broken windows make it a joy to paint. All i have to do is pick the time of day, set up, and sling away.
Academy Ruins IV
There are so many compositions that i want to paint here, that i think i could use this building as inspiration for a number of years. One of the building's finest assets are it's exterior conduits. Along with the dormant ivy, the old pipes - that seem to run like a maze, make for some fun lines and add an interesting strength to a composition.
This scene here, in painting IV, i have had my eye on for a while and i am likely to paint this view again.
The Academy Ruins Series is turning out to be very special to me and i have three rules for it:
1) Must be 6x8 (or 8x6)
2) Must depict this building only
3) Must be painted plein air, alla prima
I am excited to paint other scenes of this building in larger format; they just won't get the unique tag of, Academy Ruins.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Along the Road

Milepost 131
This past weekend a stake was thrown in the ground, a tree was planted, and a Milepost was found. I officially have gallery representation; Art on the Boulevard in Vancouver,WA has taken me on, for which i am extremely excited about.
The road of following my passion for painting is filled with highs and lows, and is textured as much as a pizza painting.
(see posting of Steigerwald Gold for more on a pizza painting) http://michaellindstromartist.blogspot.com/2011/11/steigerwald-gold.html
This week is an extreme high, but it is not the final destination. Along the road of life there are occurrances that we will always remember as significant; graduation, marriage, birth of a child, death of a loved one. These are some examples of mileposts that can alter life or at least mark a moment in time. A moment in time from which there is no going back, we can only move forward. This is one of those weeks for me and what better way to express it than to paint it.
A great many thanks are owed to a great number of people who have helped me get to this point in my art career. No way did i make it here alone. And no way do i continue to improve without the help and support of friends and family.
Huge thanks to Kevin Weaver for taking me on in the gallery, and to my wife, Vicki, for believing in me and supporting me through thick and thin.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Painting a Sunny Winter Scene

Winter Clearing
My trips to The Burnt Bridge Creek Greenway have harvested some great reference material to use in my studio work; the composition i used for Winter Clearing is one of my favorites. The numerous scraggly bushes, twisted trees, and killer colors are warming to my soul in the cold of winter, and i am hopelessly drawn to their power.
I have been gearing up to paint more in larger format and i feel this view of the fields, through the bushes and trees and on to the background hills, lends itself well to a larger forum to do its speaking.
Something occurred during this painting that i wasn't expecting though..... the scene depicted here was actually a bit overcast. While putting pigment to panel, i found myself using colors that would indicate a brighter day, and strangely enough i found it working for me... so i just went with it. This brings up an interesting thought: At what point does a painter recognize that something is working or not working? And what do you do with that? This leads to the big question....when is a painting finished?
I think it's critical to be self-aware; but that is not enough.... One has to be able to trust their own instincts, and then confidently act upon them. That might include shutting it down before a painting gets overworked. It might also mean that you revisit a painting after a period of time with a fresh set of eyes.
I know i'm not alone, when i say it's a struggle knowing when a painting is finished. It might be the hardest thing about painting, but no one can tell us when a painting is finished. That is part of the struggle and learning and growing process that must take place from within and will ultimately make us better painters for it.
I will never claim to be a great draftsman when it comes to painting. I will never have all my i's dotted and t's crossed. The important things i want to show up in my work are emotion, depth, texture, and passion. And, i think that's why people connect with art. They acquire a connection deep in their soul, with a certain piece of art, and that's when the inferno begins.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Painting the Snow

First Snow
Tuesday evening after arriving home from a meeting with Northwest Oil Painters (around 9:00), i grabbed a bite to eat as the first serious snow of this winter started to stick on the valley floor. As the snow began to accumulate, i decided that i was going to go out and paint my first plein air snow scene; which happens to be something i have been anticipating for months. So, after i wolfed down my grub and chatted with my wife a bit; around 10:30 i loaded up my gear and walked down the block to go find my snow scene and paint it.
I knew i wanted Old Evergreen Hwy in the painting, but trying to layout the composition was a challenge. I landed on the corner of our street where the hwy makes a slight bend and has a couple street lights and some interesting trees. And of course the fresh coat of snow makes everything come to life.
There wasn't much traffic, but a snow plow did manage to get my attention as it rumbled by and obliterated the soft tracks. And my poor umbrella only collapsed once leaving my palette even more sparkly with a snowbank of its own.
I managed to stay warm and fairly dry the entire time, except for one thing........my hands. Holy Cow! My fingers were so cold that when i started packing up to head home, they couldn't even break down my tripod. I had to put on some gloves and work the knobs with the palm of my hand. I know what you're thinking, but i am NOT wearing gloves when i paint, at least not chunky work gloves, i need the dexterity.
I arrived home at 12:30 and tried to shake the snow off everything as best as possible and began the warm up of my hands. I was so wired from the experience that i did not go to bed until 2:00 - even though a full day of work was only four hours away. I say that, not to complain, but to explain the depths of what a painter will do to capture a moment in time - and i wouldn't have it any other way.
This nocturnal experience of plein air painting left me craving more snow - the fleeting and tranquil beauty it brings when it graces the valley floor is futile to resist.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Painting the Sun

Filtered Sun
During my New Year's Day plein air painting excursion to the Burnt Bridge Creek Greenway, i came across this scene. The painting i did that afternoon was a thumbnail shot of this composition which turned out nice, but when i saw the sun filtering through the clouds, i instantly knew that i wanted that in a painting too. So, i took some photos and my three paintings for the day and headed home with the anticipation of creating a painting with another dimension in it; the sun.....
I completed this painting in pizza painting like fashion with a layering, texturing, and making-breaking-making again mentality, over the last couple weeks and it was a joy to create.
My favorite thing about this painting is the sun. I have never painted the sun or the moon before, but i have been wanting to for some time. Now, while the sun and moon are ever present, they are not always paintable subjects for me. So when the sun became paintable to me, i was really excited to give it my rendition and add that wildcard element to a painting.
I don't often see the sun as striking as it was on that day. It was totally there, but as if i were looking at it through welding glass and it just became a glow in the sky which was simply beautiful, understated, yet powerful; I love those adjectives. It's difficult to describe, and i think a rare occurrence, but when i can use the words beautiful, understated, and powerful in the same sentence, then i have come upon something truly unique that speaks to me in the poetry of a brush putting paint to panel.
I hope you enjoy the Filtered Sun as much as i enjoyed painting it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Progression of a Flag Painting

I have been working on a series of flag paintings; i thought it would be fun to have you walk with me through the progression of one of them. Currently, i have completed six paintings in this series, and more will follow.
So here we go.....
Initial sketch on tanned panel. Laying down my darks and blocking in shapes getting ready for white. As i lay in the white stripes the flag starts to take shape. Finishing off the white stripes and putting down the initial background sky.
Old Glory IV
Final touches include: adding more dimension to the sky, popping in the stars, and strengthening the pole.... there you have it! A celebration of Old Glory living and breathing, and i am quite happy with the outcome.
It is fun to do a progression like this - we can look back and maybe bring ideas and thoughts of how to do something different to a future painting. For me, i really like the way the lone flag looked against the tanned surface of the panel - without a sky. I think it gave a rustic feel to the flag that i really like, so i did one and you can view that version by clicking on the Flag Paintings link: http://michaellindstromartist.blogspot.com/p/flag-paintings.html
Any thoughts that come to your mind?