Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Lifeguard Station
9 x 12

This is a painting of the lifeguard station at D.T. Fleming beach, one of the many warm and lovely locations where we'll be painting in my workshop.  The workshop is at the end of March, just about the time when I am tired of the Pacific Northwest rains and ready for a little summer sun.  Check it out:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Sunrise Napili


Join me March 18-23 in painting the beaches and scenery of the Valley Isle.  These 5 half-day sessions allow you plenty of time to snorkel, surf, sun, explore the island, or kick back and relax on the beach.  Then spend the afternoons painting with me, creating your own personal Hawaii memory souvenirs.


For more information and to register:  http://karenlewisstudio.com/workshop/5953/aloha-in-color-maui-painting-retreat-2013

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Kilauea Sunrise
24 x 18
As the weather gets wetter, I'm in my studio more, thinking of trips to sunny places, past and future.  I love painting sunrise in Hawaii.  Just stay on Pacific time, get up at 5 AM.  Don't forget to go to bed early.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Oregon City Falls
8 x 6
October 12.  After two and a half months of dry weather it is raining for real.  The very air is green as plants open their pores to breathe in the moisture.  The rhododendrons in my back yard have lifted their leaves, scooping them into cupped palms to catch the water.  Breathe.  The waiting is over.

October 19.  I catch myself whining about the rain.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


16 x 12
We have a rare opportunity to paint at the Newport Aquarium.  Early in the morning, when there aren't too many visitors, is the best time to paint at the fish tanks.  A big old rockfish keeps returning to this spot to pose for me.  It takes a while to adjust the eyes to painting in this dim light.  So much the opposite to the problem of painting in sunlight.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Rocky Coast
8 x 6
At Rocky Creek, painters have gathered to join Erik Sandgren in his annual coast paint-out.  This is a classic place to paint rocks and breaking waves.  Most years, the wind howls, but today it is calm.  Even so, the waves still break with regular beauty.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


White Cloud Patterns

I have finished painting a coastal pine against the sea.  It's getting windier and I have brought my umbrella down to the ground to keep it from catching the gusts.  Lying back on my mat, I notice the clouds moving overhead.  They move, not as discrete objects, but pour like a viscous fluid in the medium of the sky, deforming around the edges, reforming at the back. To paint this pattern, I must move my brush as the clouds move.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Willamette Morning Escape
12 x 9
It is one of the hottest days of the year.  My plein air class has dwindled to a couple of die-hards.  In the morning, before it gets too hot, I draw them to a spot in George Rogers Park where the big-leaf maples create deep shade, and we begin working.  I'm drawn to the light on the river, and the glowing leaves of trees.   Back at our cars, it is 95 degrees by noon. Thank goodness for the leaves of trees, keeping us cool.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Ona Creek Bridge
8 x 6
It is mid-summer, and the tide is out.  I am sitting on the sand, looking up-creek and slightly inland (the creek bends a lot.)  This elegant little footbridge is the gateway to fun on the sand.  Today it is misty, and surprisingly still for this stretch of the Oregon coast.  The bent trees are evidence of the usual weather.

I have set up painting camp under my umbrella, which is wedged into the sand between handle and spokes.  It's just big enough for me to sit under with my paints spread out around me.  Of course, with my palette on the sand I get a lot of grit in the paint.  Evidence that the painting is authentic plein air.

Monday, October 8, 2012


East Hills and Farm
12 x 9

I am painting with Sally O'Neill at The Gorge White House.  The whole valley is filled with smoke.  The only way to see Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams is to know where they are, and spot the hazy tip emerging from the atmosphere.  The east hills are golden, hazy behind the farmhouses and nearer trees.  We settle down to paint the last of the Dahlias.  Sally made me put the house in.  Turns out, she was right.


Quivering Pond
12 x 9
A little stream runs through the valley, around the villa, through the garden and into the woods.  Each spot along this stream is a meditation.  Faced with so many choices, I let the sunlight choose, finding a patch that breaks through the trees, warming the steps and gravel path.  Might as well be comfortable painting.  A frog calls out, letting me know he's hiding in the back left corner of the pond.  All else is quiet.  The deep wind of the Columbia Gorge becomes a tiny breeze here among the trees, setting the pond to quiver.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Trillium Lake Afternoon
8 x 6
My mother is a night owl.   One of my daughters is a night owl.  One of my nephews is a night owl.  This is a persistent and emphatic condition with all of them.

It's easy to put this down to temperament or habit,  but what if it's more than that?

If you've ever spent time around  a campfire, you know that there is a different state of mind that you can enter only after dark.  Maybe more than one state of mind.  Living in our houses with electric lights, we don't often achieve this state unless we go out to a dark bar or a dance club or a party, where the campfire experience is reinvented.

One of these states I'll call "dance ecstasy."  Somehow the critical part of the mind is put to sleep, and you are able to move and laugh and let go.   In some cultures, there's a chemical assist (alcohol, drugs) but it really isn't necessary.  All that is needed is subdued light (campfire) and music.  Voice is really good.  And drums.  Just think of all the energies that get released at a party.

Another state, I'll call "wizzard mind."  In this state the brain is on uber-clarity.  Large problems can be discussed.  Reality is altered.  Connection mind to mind is possible with very few words.  It is the state of mind entered by the shaman, the alchemist, the philosopher.  Again, some cultures use chemical assist, but I think what is needed is dark, and a certain level of fatigue.  Really.  We solve the problems of the world, then we go to sleep.

Maybe the night owl is just someone who makes really good use of these states of mind.  And after staying up really late, who wants to get up early?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


River Home
12 x 9
 I was sitting on the back porch meditating, when a bee came, crashed into my head, bounced off, and flew away.  It occurred to me that we really depend a lot on bees.  We depend on them to avoid running into us, to navigate with skill and agility.  It's never much of a surprise when one of their less intelligent cousins,  the gnats or mosquitos say, gets stuck in our eye, or inhaled during a downhill bicycle run.  But I've never before had a collision with a bee.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Fog at Sea and Beach
8 x 6

Field test 2, OREGON COAST, 60-65 degrees.  No sun, but also no wind!

Again, what I am looking for is a little faster drying color that I can still push around on my canvas.  I have put away my Fastmatte white and pulled out an M Graham Alkyd white, which I have been using for years now, and which appears to have only a moderate amount of alkyd with the Sunflower oil.

It's not a very good test, changing two things at once, I know.  But today, I am enjoying painting with more mobile paint.  The Fastmatte colors themselves are a little stiff, but mixed with my white, and/or a little Safflower oil, and they move across the canvas just the way I want them to.

My paintings are completely dry in 2 days.   The colors are not quite as matte, but they also haven't dried in and are retaining their color well.  Since I don't care about having a matte painting, I call this a success.

Next thing I want to try is replacing a few of my slower drying colors in my regular oil palette with Fastmatte colors, to see if they are compatible.  My slowest driers are Sap Green and Indian Yellow.

FASTMATTE with Safflower Oil
Fast drying?  Moderately.  Matte?  Moderately.  Colors push into other colors?  Yes, at these temperatures.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Pennsylvania Hills on the Verge of Fall
8 x 6

A short trip to visit my Mom.  On my way from the airport I spy a lovely sunset over a park.  Go back in the morning, sit on the dewy grass with my smallest paint box, and spend time looking at the trees with just a hint of fall color in them.  They are oak and maple and sycamore, and many other species.  Beside me is an unmowed field, chockfull of yarrow and goldenrod and hundreds of other robust meadow plants.  For a moment, I miss the shear exuberance of species in these Pennsylvania hills.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Cascading Boughs and Water
9 x 12

"Everything is energy and that's all there is to it.  Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality.  It can be no other way.  This is not philosophy.  This is Physics."
Albert Einstein

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Some 100 boards (3 sheets plywood) drying outdoors
along with my rolling folding table

1.  Cut (or get someone to cut) your boards into sizes.  It's a good idea to choose a few sizes and make a lot of those, to limit the number and sizes of frames you need to buy.  Since these paintings will have to be framed, the frames will be your biggest expense.

You'll want to choose your sizes with consideration to warping.  I tested a 12 x 16, and it was plenty stable.  In this batch I am going up to 18 x 24, the largest size that I stock multiple frames for.  Anything larger and I think you'd need thicker board.  And the whole package would end up pretty heavy.  Some artists paint on larger boards.  They are mostly young guys.

2.  Knock off any rough edges with a knife or sandpaper.  I personally keep this step to a bare minimum.  In fact, I am philosophically opposed to sanding.  At every stage of this process I am doing everything I can to avoid sanding.  This particular board has a side that is a little soft.  Some of the cuts came out rough if that side was upward on the saw.  I will use the other side whenever I can, knowing that some paintings will be losers and I will end up painting on the other side when I retire the image.  Still, choose the best side to go forward with.

3.  With your sealant (I used 50/50 Gamsol/Galkyd) coat all the edges of the board, plus one side.  Let the boards dry 24 hours.

4.  With your sealant, again coat all the edges of the board, plus the other side.  Let the boards dry 24 hours.

The point of sealing the board on all sides is to prevent warping.  Also, it keeps that back side from getting scratched up in case I choose to use it later.

First coat in pink, 2 coats in taupe
Next step is your ground.  I am using Gamblin Oil Painting Ground.  You could use Acrylic Gesso instead.  It dries faster.  I find that the oil painting ground is a much better surface for painting on.  My colors hold their intensity and do almost none of that drying in where the colors look dull and extremely matte.

If you like to tone your canvas on location, you can use the ground in white.  I like to have a color already on my board.  I've gone through various stages with this, most of the time choosing a gray of value 4.  Now I'm starting to play with some other colors, as you can see above.  These are great fun to have peeping through your image.  If you are using Acrylic Gesso, color your gesso with acrylic color.  If you are using Oil Painting Ground, color it with oil paint.  A little experimentation will reveal your personal preferences.

5. Choose the best side of your board.  Take a palette knife or scraper and knock off any major bumps, leaves, or bugs that decided to become part of your art project while it was drying outdoors.  Coat the board with a thin coating of ground.  There's a good video on how to do that HERE.  You don't need to put color in this layer, because you'll be covering it up.  Let this coat dry completely.  In 90 degree heat in Portland it took my boards 24 hours.

As you can see in the photo, this first coat leaves quite a bit of the wood grain showing.  If that's the texture you like, you could stop here.  But I want all those lines pretty much filled.

6.  Take a palette knife or scraper and knock off any new bumps.  Get the brush hairs, before they become permanent ridges.  Then coat the board with a second coat of ground.  This layer should be the color that you want to finally paint on.

If you're a lover of smooth texture, you would be sanding between all these steps.  As a former watercolor painter, I kind of enjoy random textures.  I have taken a cat's paw firm roller and gone over the board, giving it a gently bumpy texture that kind of reminds me of watercolor paper.  I love it.  You might not.  Be my guest and sand it smooth.  Or just smooth everything out with a brush.  You could even press a canvas into it to get a woven texture.  But if you're going to do that, it would probably be easier to paint on canvas glued to a board.

If you still have a lot of wood grain, you might want an extra coat.  Otherwise, you're good.

7.  Let your boards dry a good long time before stacking them one on top of the other.  You don't want to press out all those nice bumps that you just made.  If you have any warping, a nice stack of boards will pretty much flatten one another.  It's a good way to store them.

Then, have fun painting!

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Testing Sealants

I have decided to try painting on panels.  Why?
-All my friends do it.  HA!  Since when has that mattered?
-They're less work to finish and frame.
-They're smaller to store.
-They are more stable support for thick paint.

Why not?  
-They have to be framed (as opposed to gallery-wrapped canvas, which can have its sides painted.)
-If you put them in panel carriers the edges get smeared.
-They are heavy.
-If you buy them instead of making them, they are really expensive.

So I probably won't use them for air travel, but let's try this out and see if I like it.

So I ask everyone I know and do an internet search on how to prepare them.  As usual, I get a bazillion answers, and have to resort to my own testing.

I have settled on 1/4 inch sandee plywood from Home Depot.  It has a fully filled core, birch veneer, and smooth surface both sides, though one is very soft and will definitely be second choice.  I buy a sheet and have my husband saw it up into appropriate sized bits.  (This involves cleaning the garage, but hey.)

I take some of the scraps (there shouldn't have been any, but who knew the saw blade would eat up so much wood?) and use them to test sealing finishes.  Above are my squares, testing Gesso, PVA size, GAC 100 from Golden, and a 50/50 mix of Galkyd/Gamsol.  I finish both sides plus the ends.  Then I soak them 24 hours in a tub of warm water to simulate humidity and dry them in 90 degree sun to test for warping.

The GAC 100 softened slightly on the surface.  This might not happen if it's cured longer than a day, but I decide to eliminate it except for in travel situations.  The Gesso and the PVA size panels warped slightly.  The winner?  50/50 Galkyd/Gamsol.  Which means they have to be done outdoors.  Better get busy making enough panels to last til spring.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Memaloose Island
12 x 9

Sept 4,  Pacific Northwest Plein Air Day 5

One of the areas that caught my eye the day before was Memaloose State Park.  This morning I have been here since sunrise, watching the shadows change on the hills across the river.  I want to wait for my painting buddy to arrive before I set up.

Turns out she thought I meant a different spot, so I set up with a view of the island with its odd memorial. 

 " The Chinook Indian tribes of the Columbia Gorge used to lay the bones of their dead on open pyres on Memaloose Island in the middle of the Columbia River near The Dalles. A granite monument visible from Memaloose State Park campground marks the resting place where a local pioneer named Victor Trevitt wished to chart his eternal course buried among honorable men. "  State Parks web site.

The oaks are looking particularly lacy this morning. I finish by indulging myself in a bit of brushwork.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Hood Valley Sky
24 x 18

Sept 2, Pacific Northwest Plein Air, Day 3

At Sakura Ridge B & B the views are spectacular.  The whole Hood River Valley stretches out below us, dotted with farms and patched with forest.  Mount Hood rises above the misty valley, still shadowed in the late morning.  I bravely set up an 18 x 24 canvas on my largest easel.  After the first hour of painting, I have to take down my umbrella.  The wind has come.  After another hour, I am struggling to keep the canvas from sailing off into the pear trees.  Okay.  A simple painting is better than a smeared one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Fishing Platform
9 x 12

Sept 3, Pacific Northwest Plein Air, Day 4,

Karen Whitworth, Talya Johnson and I are headed east in search of dry hills and cliffs.  It is late morning, and the shadow patterns in the gorge keep calling us to stop.  But we have already committed to going as far as The Dalles this morning, so we pass up many promising panting spots.  We stop at The Dalles, where we stumble upon a group of dipnet platforms, hanging out over the river.  I imagine standing on one. I'd definitely want a belay line.

Basalt and Bushes
8 x
We enter Horsethief Lake State Park just at the moment when shadows are falling across the basalt cliffs.  Unanimously, we decide to paint there.  A ranger comes out to see what we are up to, standing in the dry brush so far from the lake.  Painters: a real headshaker.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Alpine Meadow Shadows
16 x 12

August 2, Pacific Northwest Plein Air, Day 3

I talk a few other people into returning to the alpine meadow with me: Kat Sowa, Za Vue, Brenda Boylan.  We tromp through the bushes together.  Some are delighted with the mountain, others with the stream.  It is later in the afternoon and the shadows are longer. I paint the same scene with a different composition.

Karen Whitworth arrives just as we are finishing.  We sit down on the roadside together, captivated by the same stand of trees.  Our paintings turn out completely different.

Alpine Meadow
8 x 6

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Dawn Dancers
8 x 6

Sept 2, Day 3 Pacific Northwest Plein Air,

A cold morning.... too cold to stand at the edge of the gorge.  I position my van with the sliding door open to the sunrise, and paint my limited view.  The VW van is here again (or still) but the park is quiet.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Meadows and Mountain
16 x 12
Sept 1, Pacific Northwest Plein Air, Day 2 cont:

After the sunrise painting, a nap is in order.  I stop at a campground on my way up to Mt. Hood and rest for about an hour.  Then it's on up to the area near Sahalie Falls.  Just along the road is a colorful meadow, with a view of the mountain.  I work my way through the shrubbery to a spot in the shade.  Tiny berries decorate the bushes, blueberries, and huckleberries with their blue-black luster.  Folks around here seem to call them all huckleberries, but they're all yummy, full of late summer sugars.  The woods are cool and shaded, and surprisingly light on mosquitoes.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Columbia Gorge Sunrise
12 x 9
Pacific Northwest Plein Air, Day 2

My hosts, the Fields have suggested Ruthton Park for my sunrise painting.  It's a pocket park, with a nice overlook of the Columbia River, and today, a VW van parked in the back corner.  I tiptoe my supplies to the cliff edge and set up to watch the sun rise.  It is a still, cold morning, a slight bite reminding me that fall is around the corner.  Still, I'm confident that sweater weather will end in about an hour.  The river goes through several color phases.  I choose one, and lay it down in paint.

The view in the other direction is enchanting as well.  I'm getting hungry.  But painting comes first.
Train Tunnel at Dawn
8 x 6

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


West Light on East Fork
12 x 9

Sept 1, Pacific Northwest Plein  Air Competition, Day 2.

Painting a 24 x 18 is exhausting.  I come down from Sahalie Falls, day 1, and rest in a campground for an hour. This is the scene I'm contemplating.  With light glowing through the trees and bouncing off the water, I find it hard to close my eyes. I want to get out my paints, but I know that the minute I do, the sun will fall behind those trees and the light will be over.  So I go back the next day at the same time.  Nature's reruns are never exactly the same, but sometimes you can recapture the essence.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Sahalie Falls
24 x 18
August 31, Pacific Northwest Plein Air Competition, Day 1,

We (some 40 painters and 10 or so writers) meet at The Gorge White House, a lovely farm full of flowers, pears, and mountain views.  The past two years I've had difficulty creating good compositions here.  I have a burning desire to go paint at Sahalie Falls, and I am halfway there.  So up the mountain I go, trying to find the place on my recollection from last year.

The falls are exactly where I left them, and luckily, there is light on the water.  This is a cool, quiet spot to paint, with no wind and very few distractions.  I am at peace, having found what I came for.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Cascade Melody
24 x 18

This studio piece is a melody to send me off for a week of painting en plein air in the Columbia River Gorge, this Friday thru Tuesday.  There will be lots of painters there, and I'm looking forward to doing nothing but painting.


You are invited to see me paint in the Columbia Gorge:

Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2012
Columbia Arts
215 Cascade Avenue
Hood River, Oregon 97031


Monday, August 6, 2012


This post is not about painting.  It's about information.  About how much information we have available to us, if we only look for it.

For as long as I can remember, our bathtub has drained slowly.  I had always supposed this to be because of some clogging or other.  Also, the tub drain trip lever wouldn't stay down, so you had to sit in the tub and hold it until the tub drained.  I devised various methods of wedging washcloths on top of it so that the tub would slowly drain in my absence, but it still took forever.

Recently, very impatient with the extremely slow draining, I dug out the drain filter and pulled up all the hair I could reach in the drain.  And the tub stopped draining AT ALL.  There was nothing else I could do at that end, so I sat staring at this:

Tub Drain Trip Lever
Those big screws have to be for SOMETHING.  If this were a Myst game, I would happily unscrew them and see, but this was a real live bathtub with no do-overs and I am surely not a plumber.  So I got on the internet and started watching tub repair videos.  And sure enough, about my fourth video, there was a video on what goes wrong with the tub drain trip lever, and how to fix it.

So I unscrewed the screws, pulled out the parts (now that I knew what I could pull out and how not to break it) and took it to the hardware store, got a new one, and installed it.  EASY-PEASY.

The tub drain now works perfectly.  I am so happy!  

I know, not all fix-it jobs are this easy, or even possible to do without a lot of skill.  But some are, with just a little information.

Information is out there!  It's on the internet.  It's surrounding us in the expertise of our friends and acquaintances.  It's available through empirical testing.  It's in multiple other modes of interaction with the universe.  And here, in this time, there is so much of it (sometimes too much of it) that we can easily reach out and touch the piece we want.

All it takes is remembering to look.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


My Fastmatte Palette
This summer, I am field testing a set of colors from Gamblin called FASTMATTE, made with Alkyd resin and linseed oil.  Why?  Well, when my sap green takes a week to dry in Hawaii, I know that change needed.  At the very least, a little medium added to my oils.  But what if I go even farther and use alkyd-based paints?  They would be compatible with my oils, yet dry faster.  I could slow the drying if I want.  I can change the surface quality by using a varnish, if I want.  And it would be nice to try something that dries a little faster when I am travelling.

So, why not go to Acrylic?  That dries too fast for me.  I like to push one color into another, wet into wet.  I have watched acrylic painters struggle with drying on their palette, and I don't want any part of that.  For me, the obvious choice is to try an alkyd.

It isn't that big a step.  I almost always travel with an alkyd white.  Most paint manufacturers make this with a mixture of drying oil and alkyd resin, in some undisclosed balance.  The alkyd white assists most of my colors in drying just a little faster than they might with a white made only with oil.  Since Gamblin, who makes most of the oil colors I use, came out this year with a full line of alkyd paints, it seems only reasonable to give them a try.

Oregon Coast, rainy weather, 50 degrees.

Okay, I'm not really giving it a rainy weather test here.  It is pouring outside and windy.  I am sitting in my van with the sliding door open, painting in/outdoors.  Plenty of humidity, but I have heated up the van interior, so it is probably 68 in here.

The medium I am using is 50/50 Galkyd/Gamsol.  I use it in small amounts to thin the paint on my palette.  Most of the colors come out of the tube in a relatively thick paste, pushing me to use more medium than I ordinarily do.  Paint consistency is largely a matter of preference.  Mine leans toward the butter on a warm day.  I particularly dislike peanut butter consistency, and a couple of these colors approach that.  The medium thins them just fine.

I am happily painting along when I discover that the more medium I use, the faster the paint becomes planted on the palette.  It reminds me of building sand castles.  You know how you take your bucket down to the waves, fill it with a mix of water and sand, and carry it back to the castle?  You can then dribble sand on the castle all you want, and it will remain semi-liquid.  But the minute that sand hits the mass of sand you are building on, all the fluidity goes out of it, and you are left with dry-ish sand that you can only move if you add more water.  Clearly, I am going to have to make some adjustments, either to how I paint, or to the medium, if I want to be able to push my colors around.  Next field test, I will try a different medium.

FASTMATTE with 50/50 Galkyd/Gamsol:
Fast drying?  Yes, very.  Matte?  Yes, very.  Colors push into other colors?  Only when I am very quick.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Blackberry Blooms on the Bend
8 x 6
June, 2012  Cedaroak Boat Ramp
Cottonwood seed drifts through the air along the riverbank, showing the direction of the wind as surely as the telltale of a sailboat.  I breathe in at the wrong time, taking in a chunk of fuzz.  Coughs, sneezes, and my head clears.  I notice the sounds of the park: waves, boat motors, birds, a guitar.   A chainsaw.  The tranquility is easily broken.  I tune my attention to the visual, the movement of the water and the glow on the bushes.  Tranquility returns.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Summer Sea Clouds
8 x 6
June 2012,

When I wrote the title for this painting, I was reminded of the line "summer sea foam."  Suddenly a song runs through my head: Walk, shepherdess walk....straight from the Girl Scout sing-alongs of my childhood.  Every once in a while someone says something to me and song lyrics pop into my head.  I think it's my brain saying,  "See?  I can still remember stuff."  My response:  "Yeah, but not when I want you to."  I do a google search on summer sea foam.  I get summer dresses in seafoam green.  No summer sea foam in the painting, so back to the clouds.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Cloudy Overlook
12 x 9
June, 2012
This is a viewpoint I've visited often, painted often.  Yet each time I paint here, the painting is different.  I look in a new direction.  I zoom in or out.  The weather changes, or I change.  Point of view is as much within as without.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Indian Beach
8 x 6
Surfers come up and down the hill from the beach.  They are fortified for the cold water in wetsuits and hoods, looking quite seal-like as they sit atop their boards.  In this getup, the rain matters not at all.  When I arrive, they are clustered behind the break at the center of the beach.  They all seem to agree on where the best waves are, and when the tide shifts, they shift together, with the synchronicity of a flock of birds.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Rain A-Sea
8 x 6
June 2012,
It's Plein Air and More weekend at Cannon Beach.  I have committed to painting at Ecola Viewpoint.  It's raining, with some wind, and pretty cold for June.  I set up for painting small paintings in my car.  I have the sliding door open, and people wave at me as they walk by.  It's hard for anyone to watch me paint, but it's miserable out there.  One benefit of crummy weather is lovely clouds.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Low-Hanging Clouds
8 x 6
April, 2012

Sunriver is just as wet as western Oregon this weekend.  The amost-budding willows give a different palette to the landscape, though.  I am content to paint from inside the van; the glimpse of the river lifts my spirits.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Spring Willow
6 x 8
May, 2012
Karen Whitworth is visiting Portland and there is a break in the rain.  Coincidence?  Karen and I join several Portland area painters at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron garden, where we scatter around the ponds, painting water features, rhododendron, and even the ducks on the water.  It is an idyllic day, just the right temperature for prolonged standing outdoors.  A welcome bit of spring.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Molokai Hidden Cove
8 x 6
Molokai is a prime place for gorgeous, quiet beaches.  The sand is typical Hawaiian ground shell and coral of a pale mustard color.  Many beaches have a fringing shade.  There's a downside to taking shade under an acacia.  Thorny twigs fall all around them, hiding in the sand and volunteering to poke  through flip-flop treads.  The shade is thready, but many degrees cooler than the sun-heated sand or bare red dirt.  Red dirt is everywhere on the island.  The resort very cleverly gave us brown towels to take to the beach.
The water is amazing.  An intense ultramarine-turquoise blend through much of the day.  It is just cool enough to make you suck in your belly when you get in, but then refreshing, and warm enough to stay in.
We spend several hours alone on one of the beaches.  If you find the beach too crowded, easy to find another one not being used, at least on weekdays.  All of them have the same pale sand, red dirt, turquoise water... a color-fest.  Was that a cardinal I saw in that bush?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Molokai Beach at Sunrise
16 x 12
We head into town for the biggest excitement of the week: a sing-along at the hotel.  In the bar, a local professional musician is leading a group of local singers/ ukelele players in Hawaiian music.  We enjoy watching the sun go down as more and more people gather to play along.  They have huge tomes of lyric sheets.  As the evening wears on, I realize that they are playing nearly everything in the key of G.  I hear the same lead-in progression several times in a row.  Oh, now they play in F.  The pro musician reminds everyone what the chords are in F.  The whole thing reminds me a lot of when my parents played barber shop music in our living room.  (Same chord progressions too.)
Later on, Rick and I decide to have dinner.  But no, the kitchen won't be open until 6.  Since we got up at 5 AM, this is a no go for us.  We retreat to our condo and make our own dinner as the sun finishes setting.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Palms and Headland
16 x 12
At dusk the feral cats and toads come out.  This is coincidental, as the cats have absolutely no interest in toads. They are interested in people as a source of food.  There are signs everywhere saying, Please don't feed the cats.  But many people have trouble seeing these creatures as wild animals when they are so soft and fuzzy and begging.
The toads have their own problems.  Along the road to the beach we found some 20 of them, squashed and desicated.  This is, after all, dry country, and what dies in the road dries in the road.  Sad for the toads, but the flattened toad mummies don't seem to indicate much decrease in population.  We see several live hoppers on the way to our room.
I read that these are the infamous cane toad.  Despite their rep for causing ecological havoc, as individuals they look innocuous.  I have a certain amount of sympathy, being a non-native creature myself.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Outside our Lanai is a dwarf banana "tree".  It has a nice bunch of bananas growing on it, and we are sorely tempted to pick them since there were no bananas at the grocery.  But these are still green.  I read up on bananas and find out that if they are immature, they won't ripen.  I cut a test banana from the top of the bunch and put it in a bag with an apple (puffing hard with ethylene gas.)  If this one ripens, the bunch is ready.  After all, what's the point of coming to Hawaii if you can't have your apple bananas?

Two days later, the apple has puffed itself into mush but the banana is barely more yellow than when I picked it.  I take a drive to a farm store (which is now open because the Memorial Day weekend is over) and buy lots of apple bananas.  We also decide to try another variety which should be ripe on our last day.

As we are getting ready to leave, all that remain are the unknown other variety of banana and the test banana I picked. We try the unknown variety and it is rather like bananas at home.   Not too exciting.  I open our yellow-green banana and we split it.  Yum!  Ripe just in time.  Someone else will have to enjoy the rest of them.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Sunrise and Trade Winds
8 x 6
Sunrise is my absolute favorite time of day to paint.  In Hawaii, the sunrises are magical, with different clouds every day.  I love getting back into the rhythm of daylight.

You try to paint the sunset, and once the big show happens, you are scrambling to finish the painting in the dark.  But at sunrise, you can paint quickly to catch the colors, then take your time finishing as the sky gets lighter and lighter.

Here on Molokai, wind is a problem.  I have travelled with my smallest pochade box (and still a suitcase that weighed 49.5 pounds) and it is barely stable, even without wind.  Every morning I try to sneak into some shelter where the gusts won't take my canvas and sail away with it.

I am not painting the actual sunrise, which is happening at my back, but the effects of the sun to the west on sky and ocean.  I grab bits of color from my right and bits from my left and pull them together.  Sometimes this creates a problem, like reversing the light direction in the foreground, and I struggle getting the painting make sense.

At sunrise, the birds are at their birdiest.  A gang of turkeys crosses the road on our way down to the beach.  Other than birds, the beach is quiet, almost deserted.  A time for solitude, for open noticing of everything around me.  I am awake and present.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Molokai Dawn Cliffs
16 x 12
I think I put shoes on once since we arrived on Molokai, and that was a mistake.  We leave our flip-flops at the  door and go barefoot indoors.  Not so unusual for me, as I  go barefoot or sockfoot at home.  Now all the paths and beaches meet our feet in flip-flops.  The soft soles pick up rocks and thorns in their tread.  They have a ring of red dirt stain around the edge.  My feet feel not so much dirty as dry.  I would like to be greeted at our condo door with a warm bowl of water and soothing cream.  Still, my toes are happy and awake.

In this warm weather and varied activities, the flip-flops feel right.  Easy to slip them off, and put on fins.  Easy to slip them off and dig toes into the sand.  Slip them on and stroll along the street... they exempt us from  "no shoes, no shirt, no service."  They go equally well with shorts and sundresses.

They will be worn out when I get home.