Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sauk river walk

Yesterday I took a day for myself and drove up to the Sauk River to walk along one of my favorite trails.  I was hoping to find some Lobster Mushrooms, since I had found one there before.  I like these trips into nature because it makes me look at the world a little closer.

I was alone, except for passing a couple of other hikers.
This fell as it is.  Nature's art.
This fungi was either sweaty or was oozing some sort of fluid.
Each leaf is as unique as a grain of sand.
....and in the days ahead this leaf will not look the same.
There were a lot of other mushrooms, I wasn't sure if hey were edible or not.  They are neat to look at though.

The sun shines through the trees the bough extends to the beams
mystery object

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Painting at Lake Chelan

In the last week of September, we had a fabulous 4 day stay at a resort off lake Chelan in the town of Manson.  We had stunning views, sunny weather, and no breeze.  It was ideal for painting. Kate and I brought along our watercolors and sat on the back porch and painted each day. 
Our interpretation of the view from the back porch of our loft. Kate's painting on right, mine's on the left.  Watercolor on paper 16 x 20 inches

First I layered on different washes of ochre, green gold, and blues.Then I went in to try and detail the vegetation, roads, houses, etc.

View from the back porch

I made a series of small paintings on blocks of wood.  I used a watercolor ground on the wood so that the watercolor could stick.  These are the same views repeated over the course of several days.

This is watercolor on paper 4 x 6 inches. Pond

View of the Pond

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Hermitage at Lewis Park

Flag, Honey Locust twigs, leaves, and branches.  24" x 48"

The Hermitage at Lewis Park was recently part of an interactive art exhibition hosted by the NEPO House on Beacon Hill.  The NEPO hosts an annual exhibition of a wide range of artists engaging the public throughout a 5 kilometer route.  This year was the first year I had applied and was lucky enough to be among the artists selected.  For the exhibition I wanted to create a replica of a lean to structure that I had previously build in the Cheasty Forest, however I also wanted to add other things to encompass the space.  My proposal centered on a forest setting and along the NEPO 5k route sat a slice of forest that was ideal, Lewis Park.  Having previously spent time in that park, I envisioned it as the perfect setting. After meeting with the Friends of Lewis Park, I was given an area to plan and execute my sculpture.  Special thanks goes out to the Friends of Lewis Park, who have labored, cleaned up, re-planted and continue to manage Lewis Park.

Wild Man Back to the Forest, 16" x 20" wood cut print.  At first I conceived of this poster as a way to motivate people to explore the urban forests on Beacon Hill.  I was going to post it along the route, but as the show approached I decided against it.

Since I am used to spending time alone, particularly in the urban forests, I sometimes try to envision what it would be like to live as a hermit.  I imagine that most things made would serve a purpose for survival. I also think that if time permitted a hermit may create objects that were recreational.  The objects would also be made of local materials, whether natural or reclaimed. As I did research on the life of hermits, I discovered that a hermitage was a place where hermits lived.  This led me to thinking about the Hermitage Art Museum in St Petersburg Russia. 
The Hermitage in Russia is known for its collections of primitive to modern antiquities in addition to its modern art collection.  I decided that I could create a version of a "hermitage" that acted like a museum in the forest. By using the theme of the Hermitage's collections, I could create primitive art and an environment that would capture the essence of what it would be like to live as a hermit.  

Bird Rocks  charcoal, chalk, brick, and seashell, on various stones.   Primitive art at it's finest.

In the studio I started playing around with Shawn's cubes  used to capture "the immediate future"

Honey Patch:  Honey locust twigs and leaves upside down and right side up.

Although Honey Locusts do not grow in Lewis Park, I used them anyways since I have an abundance of them at my house on Beacon Hill. I played around with the idea by laying them in my yard.(see above).   Then the day before the event I picked fresh leaves and brought them down to Lewis Park.

Locust Lattice:  sticks, and honey locust leaves and twigs about 20 ft. long

Objects found in Lewis Park:   Cardboard, rubber, a compact mirror, a plastic cube with big bird. sticks

Lewis Park has been an illegal dump site for all kinds of objects. While hiking into the depths of the space I found several items that I used for the art pieces.  Some of them are shown above.

Ramparts:   sticks, lots of sticks pounded into the ground with a rock and laid across.
In most of the forests around Beacon Hill there is an abundance of sticks and branches that can be used for all sorts of purposes.  I used sticks to build various ramps laid out in a pattern(above).  My own take on "ramps to nowhere".

Hermit Hut under construction the evening before the event

Hermit Hut, tree branches Tinder Box sheet metal and cedar chips
I used the larger branches to build a hermit hut (above).  Next to the hermit hut I had a metal box that I shaped out of rusty sheet metal.  The box contained chips gathered from old cedar stumps which were left behind during the turn of the previous century. Beacon Hill was once covered in large red cedars before the loggers and the homesteaders moved in.  As visitors came through the forest I burnt some of the cedar to evoke what someone may have encountered in Lewis Park's past.  

Low Stakes Racket Metal Stakes, sticks, string.  I also called this the "critter trap"   It was about 4 and a half feet long,  14" high, and 2 ft deep.
I wanted to use these metal stakes that I found in the Cheasty forest by metal detecting.  So I created a low stakes racket that could also serve as a critter trap.  Since I don't eat meat I didn't intend for it to actually capture any critters, but lo and behold a couple of people who brought their dogs were almost in for an unpleasant surprise.
Catherine the Great:  a portrait using found ,materials.  wood, berries, dandelion, charcoal and leaves  4 x 4 inches.
In a nod to the founder of Russia's great Hermitage Museum I made this portrait of Catherine the Great from objects found in Lewis Park. Since the Hermitage has marble busts, portraits, crown jewels, suits of armor, Greek, primitive, and other collections I tried to make work that would fit into those subjects.

Mickey,   found objects 20"x 15" x 8"
The Hermitage in Russia has marble busts, The Hermitage in Lewis Park has a busted Mickey Mouse

Unicorn Skull  Earthenware with underglaze stain, clear gloss glaze, 22k gold overglaze, white marble
The Unicorn Skull was not made of found objects, I made it from clay coils.  I did find the Marble capstone though, in some ivy off Ballard Way.  Perhaps the remains of the last unicorn are to be found within Lewis Park.

Bird Dog, wood nails, rock with charcoal chalk, plastic big bird head
Bird Head,   brick, chalk, charcoal, on stone
Another Bird Head from the primitive art wing of the museum. 

Crown Jewels:  Sapphires ,  Berries, rubber, plastic, twigs, nails
For the crown jewel collection I created Twigature.  Twigature are small structures made out of twigs and small tack nails. These structures are meant to be hypothetical structures built as a way to protect and bring attention to the objects inside.  I made 4 of them which represented the crown jewels: ruby, sapphire, and pearls ;plus one attributed to the "crown"  

Crown Jewels: Rubies  ,  Berries, compact mirror, twigs, nails

Crown Jewels:  Pearls  Berries, sticks, nails, and shoots

Crown:   shoots, wood, rubber ball, pine cone
The "crown" contains a brain made out of a found rubber ball, the top of the twigature is a small pine cone to represent the pineal gland or 3rd eye.

My wife Kate helped me make the brochure with an exhibition key.

While people continually streamed through the Hermitage, I found a nice place to sit and draw with my ink brush.  This is a portrait of the forest.

This is my Lean-to that I built on a hillside in the Cheasty Forest.  It is built on the site of a small trash pile from the 1940's.  It is supported by a holly tree, a support branch and some rocks.  It has stood for several months.

I also made this self portrait out of clay that I dug out of the ground nearby.  It is unfired.  I also left an owl sculpture made of earthenware there, which has since been stolen.  It was within 100 feet of here that I encountered a barred owl which seemed as curious about me as I was with it.
disclaimer:  Some of the photos are blurry, I know.  I took most of them right before the event started with my camera phone.  I am sorry for that.   More images can be found here and here.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pasco paintings

 Last Fall, I drove down to Pasco, Washington.  Pasco is where my father's family lives, and it is situated near the confluence of three major rivers: the Columbia, Snake, and Yakima.  It is also downwind of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and surrounded by many agricultural fields.    I've always been intrigued with the old downtown core, a mix of shady businesses, warehouses, Mexican tiendas, and places for rent.  I went out early on a Sunday morning, taking photos and exploring vacant lots until later that evening.  These paintings are from the photos I took on that trip. Pasco and the Columbia Basin has magnificent skies on clear days, which is great for painting and photography.
Northern Pacific Railroad Bridge Watercolor, Gouache on watercolor ground cotton rag board.  This bridge crosses the Columbia River and joins Pasco to Kennewick. This bridge and others like it helped drive the regional development of the Tri Cities.  

Northern Pacific Railroad Bridge,  detail

The Blue Bridge, Acrylic on cradled gesso board  10"x 30"   

The Blue Bridge is main bridge crossing over the Columbia River linking Pasco and Kennewick. 
Blue Bridge (detail)   

Blue Bridge (detail).  This is the view from Clover Island on the Columbia River looking North.  
I was never formally trained in painting.  I started painting at a young age though, when my mother bought me an easel and some watercolors, and the last 15 years or so, I've developed my skills solely from practice.   Though I am aware of the paintings of my peers, I am trying to find my own style.  Many years ago, I worked primarily in an abstracted highly stylized style, but lately I've found it more challenging and satisfying to paint from something I've seen.  Some of these paintings will continue to evolve before I show them.  I find that it is good to put a painting away for a little while and then come back to it later with a fresh perspective. 

Depot Lunch gouache on paper
At One time Depot Lunch was the longest continually operating tavern in the state.  Sadly it no longer exists, it was torn down many years ago, as was the old Northern Pacific Railroad Depot, across the street.  The white building on the left sits next to the former depot lunch site.
Depot Lunch Detail

Depot Lunch detail
Homes for Sale gouache on paper

Detail, This building had a lot of textures, I tried to capture some of the variations using different washes of paint.

Underpass,  Acrylic on rag board.  I did two versions of this painting, the other one is below.  I believe that this underpass ( it goes under the railroad tracks and this street) is due to be demolished soon

This version has less detail.   

Icehouse, oil pastel on canvas

Gravel Loader,   acrylic on rag board 6" x 3 7/8"

Pond Generator, acrylic on paper

Pond Generator, acrylic on paper 9x 12 inches

Daily Donuts acrylic on cotton rag board.  This painting was a rough draft for a  larger, more detailed painting

Daily Donuts, Acrylic on wood. 
Detail of Daily Donuts
ACME Machine &  Welding  Acrylic on cotton rag board.  This was the first of three paintings about an abandoned machine shop.  ACM is my initials so the subject is interesting for me based on that alone.  I am also drawn to the decay of manmade structures, attempts at covering up graffiti, weathered paint, etc.  

ACME Detail

ACME Detail of doors.  

ACME Machine & Welding, Acrylic on Cradled Gessoboard.  This is the 2nd version of ACME.  8"x 16"

ACME Detail

Detail view of ACME
Thunderbird Motel, acrylic on cotton rag board. 2013 

Thunderbird detail,  The Thunderbird Motel in Pasco is probably one of the scariest motels in the state. Seriously.  In one of my photos, I captured  a bicyclist and I couldn't resist adding him to the painting. On the left is a Dead End sign, which actually exists and is telling of what lies beyond the Thunderbird.
Stefanie's Boutique, Acrylic on cotton rag board.  

detail, El Primo Western Wear
Detail Stefanie's.  Stefanie's is really called Stephanie's.
More details, Taqueria La Esperanza
Supermex , acrylic on wood  7 3/4 x 4 inches

Detail Supermex .

Warehouse, acrylic on wood
Warehouse, Detail
Metropolis acrylic on wood

Alleyway, acrylic on wood, 

Chinese Gardens, Acrylic on Cradled Gessoboard, 8" x 16"

Pasco, Washington is where I was born and these paintings are a reflection of local history. The buildings in the old downtown core offer a unique opportunity to document local architecture as many of the original buildings still stand.  Other buildings are particularly attractive to me because of personal significance or because of their dilapidated state.  Though East Pasco tends to get a bad rap because of its generally poor and transient population I find some comfort in visiting from time to time and exploring different places.

Municipal Lot, Detail  
Municipal Lot, Acrylic on wood