Still Life in a Busy World

The deck project is ongoing and I am still at home watching it come together.  One of the contractors brought us beautiful heirloom peppers and I painted them.   I sat before my easel concentrating on making only marks and strokes that counted.  Trying not to “pick” or “guess” what had to happen but thinking it through, painting the right value next to the correct value in the right shape.  It is habit forming and wonderfully meditative.  It is also a great way to paint. Now, if someone wants to taste Fall’s Bounty of Vegetables in my house, they have to come down to my studio to find them.

The Peppers Walt Gave Me

Heirloom Peppers

I also painted all the tomatoes that my son Sam had grown and given to me in a bowl glowing in the late afternoon sun from a window.

Sam's Tomatoes

Sam’s Tomatoes

Finally, I had a great time painting the coolest blue box and the warmest red orange tomatoes.    I like the soft edges here.

Special Heirloom Tomatoes from Gathering Together Farm

Blue Box, Red Tomatoes

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23rd Anniversary Celebration for Vistas and Vineyards

Plein Air Pastel from the Salem Oregon Dwarf Pony Farm

Making Hay

Tonight’s the night!  The show is up of selected work from a terrific summer of plein air painting.  There is an awards reception from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Giustina Gallery at the LaSalles Center on the OSU Campus.  The show will be up until the end of the month.  I have three pieces in the show.

Willamette River Landscape

Down by the Riverside

Plein air pastel landscape in Oregon Coast range near corvallis

Walk in the Woods

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Studio Still Lifes

I am bound to my studio these weeks as Scott is off nursing his mom and I am left to midwife our new deck and landscaping project.  Since he is gone, I have become a denizen of my basement studio at odd hours, all hours.

Last weekend, wine tasting with friends at Tyee, I grabbed some plums and pears to paint.  Yesterday, after looking on the web at contemporary, Cezanne and Old Master still lifes, I set up an arrangement to paint.  Many pastel still lifes are photo real.  I wanted mine to have character and sparkle.  Here are the three I painted yesterday, each one a bit better than the last.  They are all quite small.  The first two plum/pears are 9×12, the teacup is 6×8.

Still Life with pears plums murano glass bowl

Blue Striped Glass Murano Bowl with Fruit

Pastel Still Life

Pears and Plums on Cloth

Pastel Still Life with Napkin Plums and Teacup

Teacup and Plums


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Working on an Old Painting

During the past few weeks I reworked an old painting and improved it substantially. This week I tried another.  There are a couple of new directions I am considering. One is to add more lines of water leading to the horizon.  The other is to crop the painting to 18×12 from its 24×18 current size.  I will probably try the first (photoshopped below) and then move to the second idea if that doesn’t work.  I changed the trees at the horizon and deleted the water on the lefthand side.  I am enhanced the aerial perspective by greying and lightening the colors as they reach the horizon and darkened the piece to express the mood of early morning.

Original Painting of Grass Fields, Cheshire Oregon, Spring

Original Pastel Painting,
“Green Fields”

Photoshopped version of painting idea for Green Fields, Cheshire Oregon, Spring

Green Fields 2
Photoshopped water added


Green Fields, Cheshire Oregon, Spring

Cropped version of Green Fields

What do you think?


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Reworking a Painting

I have had Soggy hanging in our bedroom for some time, watching it to see how it could be improved.  The invitation to show at the Corvallis Fall Festival Fine Arts Showcase this year motivated me to work to make the painting better. ImageImage  I felt the forms, especially of the water, could be better and more distance could be created on the ground plane.  I thought the tree line could be more interesting too since the water speeds the eye there.  Attending workshops, one with Eric Jacobsen and another with Sarkis, has given me new problem solving approaches in my painting.  I framed the painting up this morning so that means I am finished with it, for a while at least! 

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Vistas and Vineyards at the Dwarf Pony Farm

Making Hay

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In My Element

The Philomath Open Studio Tour was a success.  I met many interesting folks who love art and enjoyed the party atmosphere of our visitors as the volume of discussions rose at the end of each group’s wine tasting.

I am now back in my studio starting a new series of pastel paintings done from photographs taken with my phone.  My daughter had downloaded a “retro” camera app that takes photos with a cool effect.  These are the resource material for my new paintings.  A photo of the first one I started is below with the original picture.  At the least, I will remove the chicken in the shadows in the upper left corner.

Also, (with great excitement and trepidation) I am learning to paint with acrylics from Donna Beverly–they are different in ways I could not have imagined.  Not only do I have to mix my colors instead of just grab them out of the box, they dry! before I have finished with the color I am using.  There are methods to deal with this that I will use beginning next week.  It is WAY FUN to do something new!  It is much more of a brain twist than I thought it would be.

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Philomath Open Studio Tour 2011

Philomath Open Studio Tour is this weekend and the next! Yesterday, Harold Wood and I set up our show at Spindrift Winery in Philomath.  Our studios are too far from town to engage the public so we are depending on the kindness of Matt and Tabitha at the winery.  Tonight the artists tour all the locations together and eat at each.  I still have some tasks to finish up to get it all ready but we are pretty good to go.  Harold’s bright, bold, digital work contrasts with my dark grey nuanced palette but the work looks surprisingly okay together.  Hope we have lots of visitors and meet new folks.  We will have some maps to get you round the whole tour. The weather looks like it won’t be too bad either.  Here is some new work that will be available at the show.  And the wonderful postcard/poster that Harold designed.  It just makes me smile—Michelangelo’s God image reaching down to choose sushi from a plate holding work by many of the participating artists.  Laura Berman’s felted box makes a particularly interesting bite of sushi.

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Up on the Wall

Was in Eugene yesterday, hanging a show of diverse work at the Pizza Research Institute at 530 Blair…a diverse show with Purely Pastel Artists. I have four pieces in the show. PPA is five pastelists from the lower Willamette Valley.  We have over 100 years of painting experience between us.  When we arrived, it looked like an overwhelming space for our art but  by the time we left, it looked great!  We will be there on the Last Friday Artwalk on August 26th from 5 to 7 if you would like to meet us.  It is the most unique, delicious, creative pizza in town. They are open everyday for dinner and lunch on the weekends.

Going Back In

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Get Ready

The workshop with Erik Sandgren was great: mixing my edges from hard to soft, my forms from warm to cool, designing the picture plane as well as the painting composition and, most importantly, making space on paper.  He advised that I work harder to draw relationships, scale and objects more carefully.  Slow down a bit and consider, don’t just plough through!  Also had some ideas about tying the horizontality of landscapes together with vertical color changes.

This is my first plen aire painting with Vineyards and Vistas after the workshop.  Loved the striped smokestack and the one of a kind enormous deodar cedar.  I didn’t really have a plan beyond painting those and trying to incorporate my new arsenal of painting ideas. Looking at it now, I wish the smoke stack was more vertical.  Mike Bergen Wonkiness creeps in.  It is hanging at my first Corvallis show–at the Chamber of Commerce through July.

Machine in the Garden

The Corvallis Art Guild Clothesline sale is on August 6th.  I am treating it as a dry run for the Art in the High Desert Festival at the end of August.  I have had photos taken by Scott Huette in Eugene for the Giclees that will be printed by Richard Armstrong in Bend.

Found this little painting in the Color Songs series that hadn’t been posted.  I was supposed to paint one every day but it has been awhile.  Today would be a challenge to paint the field of oxeye daisies below me.

June 21

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