Saturday, June 27, 2009


Boat traffic is picking up. The shadows on the cottonwood across the cove make interesting patterns, down the tree and across the sand. I flick a brush mark across the end of the island to show the wavelet created by the boat wakes.


An hour before my class I am at the river, looking at the variety of things to paint. It’s the beginning of a sunny day, boat traffic is light, and the rich blue sky is reflecting nicely in the water. I don’t have much time, so I do a quick study of the colors on the water. It’s peaceful this early, even on a Saturday, but I know it won’t last.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


This is a lovely and relaxing spot. The pattern of waves on the water has light dancing all around the cove. It took a lot of energy to leave the house, but now I am happy to be here. Morning painting, my favorite time.

A mother duck is ferrying her brood around the quiet cove. The chicks are about two inches long, and still have yellow topknots. They stay as close to her as it is possible to be, perhaps hoping to look like a bit of her wake. Every time she turns, they shimmy up against her in a reforming wave.

Later in the morning there is other entertainment. A mom in a van drops off two boys around ten or eleven years old, along with a dingy and a cooler. The older one does all the inflating, and the rowing, taking first the cooler, then the younger boy to the beach across the inlet. The mom takes off, leaving them to adventure on their own. I am wondering whether I would have let my boys be unsupervised at the water at that age. About an hour later, two girls show up, giggling and bubbling around. The older boy comes and ferries them over. I wonder if the boys’ mom knows about the girls. I wonder if the girls’ mom(s) know about the boys.

Other boaters arrive, and put their boats in. Their weight rocks the dock where I’m standing. Wind picks up on the river, and I have to take down my umbrella. The wind rocks the pier. For some reason, this makes me happy. (I have spent many happy hours in boats.)

This is a great place to paint. I promise myself to come again. Often. Particularly in the morning.

Monday, June 22, 2009



Imagine a book you could open to almost any page, and find a thought to explore for the day. Nita Leland has created this book, in CONFIDENT COLOR. Every page of the book explores color with illustrations from a variety of artists, charts, and “Try It” exercises to emphasize the principles. Want to know what colors will emerge from your palette? Create color cards and organize them or display them. Want to create a more brilliant palette? Leland helps you explore this too. She covers basic color terminology and theory, the seven contrasts of color, and color harmonies. She includes exercises in limited palette and thoroughly explores many different types of palettes. Her exercises will open your eyes to working with color, not to creating color recipes. This book, with its wonderful stay-flat binding, is easy to open and use in the studio. A compendium of color thoughts for the beginning and advanced artist alike.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


There are so many roses here, it’s hard to find a focus. I am tempted to paint a single rose. That would be a ridiculous understatement for the experience here. Instead, I find a lamp post with a graceful climbing rose, and a rough rock wall. As I finish, I look again at the sea of roses. If you can’t see the forest for the trees, then you can’t see the roses for the garden.

The scent of roses follows me to my car.


A cloudy, misty day, so we have taken shelter under some large Douglas-fir trees, with a nice cityscape peeking over the rich colors of the roses. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the shapes of buildings and the hundreds of roses. Fortunately, the oils are not too sensitive to moisture. As long as we don’t mix water in what the paint on our palettes, the paints will be fine.

The rose garden is full of visitors. Indecipherable foreign languages pass behind me. I talk to people from Mexico, New York City, and Seattle. A bridal party comes to be photographed. With all the tiers of roses, why are they starting in the parking lot?

The clouds keep moving. Distant mist becomes sprinkles in the garden. At one point, the city is obscured in heavy mist. Soon the mist arrives to dampen our paintings. We are almost too busy painting to take much notice.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Today I take my class to Carter Bridge Rapids on the Clackamas River. The weatherman promised no rain, so I didn’t bring my tent. There are other challenges, though. Footing under the bridge where we are painting is extremely rocky and rough. Walking up and down the boulders is difficult for all of us, and makes it difficult to teach. I can see that not only do I have to consider weather, teaching topic, driving distance, walking distance, restrooms, and compositional elements, but I must include footing as well. Luckily, everyone is careful walking around and we meet the challenge unscathed.
This rapids is one of my favorite painting subjects. It offers a variety of approaches, zooming in to one of the spills, filling the page with the falls, or even pulling back to show the mountain in the background. I love the basalt cliffs and the hints of warms in the rocks. They work against the green of the water with an energetic palette. Here’s my painting. The foreground rocks need some work. Later. Climbing on these rocks is tiring.
The river valley funnels wind under the bridge. Here it is, a fine June day, and we are all in jackets. Next to my painting spot, a tire swing suggests a swim in the cool green water. Not today, thanks.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Today I paint with my friend, Irene. She has some new acrylics she wants to try out, and suggests my backyard. It is pleasant out on the deck, with scattered gray light and shade in the wooded back.
These old maples are a joy to paint. They have lived full and richly intertwined lives, their old burls harboring mosses, ferns, and insects. I love looking at the varied colors of the mosses. I wish I could say we painted to the sound of birds, but today someone in the neighborhood was running a power saw.
Here is a portrait of one old geezer. When I bring the painting indoors, it is almost black, a testament to the changeability of oil in different lighting. It is going to need a home with a spotlight.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Stuff I took with me to Arizona (in lieu of clothes).
Black sun hat, black sun shirt
Testrite easel (with carrying bag, sling for easel, shade for easel)
Plexiglass palette

Stuff sack with bungee cord, roll of tp, plastic garbage bags

Raymar panel carrier with homemade panels
Frederix Canvas pad
2 prepped and unstretched 12 x 16 canvas mounted on
gaitorboard (for later stretching)

M Graham Walnut/Alkyd Medium
MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) with Flash point highlighted, rubber banded to the box
Titanium White (2 tubes), Cadmium Yellow Light, Quinacridone Red, Cadmium Red Light
Yellow Ochre, Transparent Red Iron Oxide
Ultramarine Blue, Manganese Blue Hue, Sap Green

Rubber bands, blue tape, push pins
gesso and black acrylic

I think it weighed around 15 lbs, but I forgot to weigh it.

Happy painting!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


My class is meeting me at Vista House on Crown Point. The forecast is for a shower, then clearing to just cloudy. As I drive up to the point, it is raining. We decide to paint there anyway. The scene is full of lovely atmosphere, and the clouds are constantly changing. I set up my show tent and we are covered and comfy while we paint in the rain. The only thing that would make this better would be no puddling in the dips of the tent. I push the water out, only to have it pour straight down on my hat.

Clouds drift up the valley, sending tendrils down along the gulleys. Landmarks come and go in the mist. It’s an exercise in freezing shapes on the canvas. Just like “don’t chase the light,” the mantra becomes, “Don’t chase the clouds.”

The tent is a success, and we have a grand time painting the WEATHER. (The curious corrugated effect in the center of this picture is from my panel carrying box. I think I’ll leave it. It kind of looks like rain.)

Friday, June 5, 2009


Looking for a place to paint, I ask in the grocery where the nearest park is. “Park?” Is the response. I guess people don’t spend much time outdoors in the summer, here. I head for the house where we are staying and alter my schedule.
After the strongest heat of the day, I stand just outside the garage in the shade to paint a prickly pear that is just poking up above the wall. Trying to narrow in on one small part, I examine the variety of greens and challenge myself to render the form. It’s as hard to paint a green object as it is to paint white. I paint the cactus against a white wall, with a dark doorway behind it. Rick says that it looks like it is upside-down.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


We drag out of bed a half hour later than yesterday. I choose a smaller canvas, thinking that it might be a little easier to simplify if I am forced to. And I learn from yesterday’s difficulty and paint the things that will change most first: the rock.
I feel more connected with the rock today. There’s something comforting about painting the exact same subject more than once. I tell my self I should do this more often.
After my painting is as finished as I intend to make it, I put my supplies away and walk up the hill in search of my husband, who is taking in the Sedona energy up top. He sees me and walks down toward me, but I intend to take the summit anyway. On my way down, I meet Carolyn Sommers ( who does energy paintings. She shows me some. They remind me a little of the northwest Native American drawings of salmon and raven, except these are drawings of trees and rocks. She says she is looking for the tree that she drew yesterday. I look at her drawing (energy only, lines, thick parts) and I see her problem. We visit for a while. I take a break and call my husband on my cell phone and tell him I will be late because I am visiting. He understands. He’s travelled with me before.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


We get up just after sunrise, with the sky already light. A short drive to the airport mesa, and there I set up to paint a view of Sedona Rock. It is an exercise in chasing the light. I lay in the dark and light patterns, but get distracted by painting the sky. Every once in a while, my watercolor background pulls me away from doing what I know I should–painting the thing that changes the most first. In Oregon, that is often the sky, but not here, not now. By the time I get back to the rocks, the light pattern has completely changed and I am chasing the light. Mistake. Still, these rocks are mysterious, flamboyant, and interesting, despite the rough rendition.