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.