Friday, November 21, 2014

Ground Plan

Acrylic on archival paper, 23" x 30"
$1200, free shipping in U.S.
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(Forgive the length of this, but I thought some might enjoy reading about the genesis and development of this painting.)

“Ground Plan” was painted over an old, unsuccessful painting on a sheet of Indian Village paper. It’s fun to paint over a failure. It’s like finally getting to beat up on the mean bully that was always kicking sand in your face. Never again will he taunt you.

There’s an added bonus: a pristine white surface can intimidate, sitting there waiting to be turned into a masterpiece. But a failed painting says “What’s left to lose?” The beautiful surface has already been defaced—might as well see if I can make something else out of it. It’s also somehow easier and more interesting to apply paint over previous paint, dragging one color over another.

That’s how most of my paintings begin these days, dragging one color over another, looking for an opening, trying to let my intuitive hand do the work while remaining an interested but slightly distant observer, my analytical brain throttled down to autopilot.

Color choices are spontaneous and arbitrary—the brush dips into green. I do have a vague idea in mind: A recently completed painting called “Distant Stone” seems promising; maybe it could be a starting point for a series of works. I leave a small area of the old painting untouched, surrounding it with the green. Suddenly, it’s a stone in a green landscape, and the painting begins to have a focus.

I do have in mind a landscape, but not necessarily a naturalistic one. I’m after landscape more as metaphor than as fact. A broad-brushed and fluid pass of blue across the top of the page is all that is required for the imagination to commit to “sky”. Now the foreground stares at me, blank and incomplete. I think “birds”.

Don’t ask me why I thought of birds, except that they have appeared from time to time in my work for years, and lately they’ve been popping up a lot. I try not to question these things—it’s not a good idea to over-investigate your motives. Paintings don’t take kindly to it. If you start analyzing the “why” of every move you make while painting, you can watch the life just suck right out of it. I do feel the need for some reference, though. I have an old encyclopedia of birds I picked up at a Goodwill store. I decide in advance that whatever page I randomly open to, those birds will be the reference for the painting.

I throw the book open and what do you know—green birds for my green landscape! These are the kind of little synchronicities—call them gifts-- that I count on and regularly receive in painting and in life.

Later, I go back and read their names; “Merops orientalis”, “Melittophagus bulocki”, “Coracias abyssinica”. Most happen to be native to Ethiopia. Interesting, but not the point. the bird photos are just starting points, to be loosely interpreted in the painting. I’m not trying to be ornithologically correct (is that a word?) No doubt I’d be laughed right out of any self-respecting birder’s club. I just need some little birdish looking inhabitants for my imaginary landscape. They are also metaphors, though of what I’m not exactly sure. I’ve learned that it’s okay—even desirable-- to embrace the mystery of things.

Later still, when my analytical eye once again blinks open, I may look at this painting and realize there were all kinds of solid, rational reasons for doing what I intuitively did. It often happens. But right now, I don’t want to know.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Portland Sidewalks

I've been wandering around Portland the past few months, taking photos of the sidewalks. OK, I know that sounds a little weird, but I've been kind of amazed by the variety and beauty that is literally underfoot. Here's a couple of examples. You can see more on my Facebook Studio Page. "Like" the page while you're there, to follow my FB posts, and please send me a friend request on my timeline.  Thanks!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Distant Stone

Acrylic on archival paper, 22" x 30"
$1200 plus $15 shipping in U.S.
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Three years ago this painting seemed complete...almost. It hung around taunting me until recently, when I suddenly saw a way to move forward with it. I'm much happier with it now. Some things happen quickly, others take their own sweet time.

A big thank you to all who came to my studio over the weekend. I saw old friends, made new ones, and made some sales to boot. But I STILL forgot to take photos!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Open Studio!!

Open Studio!!

Almost ready for prime time! I'm running around today doing last minutes in preparation for this weekend's Clark County Open Studio Tour. The studio will be open this Saturday and Sunday, November 8th and 9th, from 10 to 5. There are paintings large and small, as well as lots of prints and drawings. You'll see examples of my more traditional realist paintings, including the small works posted on Daily Art West. And of course also on display will be the semi-abstract work I love to do. I may even do a bit of demonstration painting, if I can work up the nerve.

Check out for more info on all 50 artists and maps of the self-guided tour. I'll have tour brochures available here. If you're going to be in the Portland/Vancouver area this weekend, I hope you'll stop and say hi.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Shore Fishing

Oil on board, 5" x 7"
$125 plus $6 shipping in U.S.
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Here's a favorite little painting of mine--a fisherman tries his luck from a rocky coastal shore. This was painted in 2007, the year I began the Daily Art West blog. I think it caught something of the freshness of the day and the smell of the salt air.

Apologies to those who clicked the Clark County Open Studios Tour link in my last post and found it didn't work. My bad, I mistakenly placed a "www" in front of the link. Here's the correct one:  Please check out the site and make plans to visit some artist's studios, November 8th and 9th. I'll be doing some demonstration painting--come watch me mess up a perfectly good white surface!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Open Studios Coming Up

Mark your calendars for the Clark County Open Studios Tour, coming up the weekend of November 8th and 9th. 50 artists here in Vancouver, WA and surrounding area (including yours truly) will throw open their studio doors. Come see us in our lairs!

If you can, try to make the preview party November 1st, a week before the tour. You'll meet all the artists (we don't bite), see examples of our work, and decide which studios to visit the following weekend.

Visit for lots more information and maps to the studios. Hope you can make it!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Summer Cottage

Oil on board, 11" x 9"
$425 plus $10 shipping in U.S.
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Here's a painting from 2011. I stayed in this cool little retro cottage while I was in Tieton, Washington making prints at Goathead Press. Seattle jewelry artist Lori Talcott owns the cabins and kindly let me use one. Though carefully upgraded, the cottage still made me feel like I had traveled back in time to about 1955.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What Time Is It?

Acrylic and pencil on rag paper, 30" x 22"
$1200 plus $16 shipping in U.S.
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My bird doodles seem to be morphing into something else--a series, maybe? Funny how that happens. This one seems somehow musical to me. The energy and rhythm of the placement of colors and marks feel kind of jazz-like.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Breathing In

Acrylic and pencil on paper, 29.75" x 21.5"
$1300 plus $25 shipping in U.S. (framed)
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This is painted on a hand-made paper called Indian Village, which I found hiding in my flat file. This beautiful paper, with its irregular shape and lovely texture, was manufactured in a small village in India in the 1980's. They're apparently not in business any more, since it's next to impossible to find any these days. This sheet had an unfinished painting on it, which gave me some great colors and tones to underlie this completely new painting.

I used to have a small stock of the stuff, but afraid this might be the last one. I'm going to dig through my stacks in hopes of finding another sheet or two. Any of you artists have stories of art supplies you fell in love with that are no longer made?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Warding Off Darkness

Acrylic and charcoal on paper, 22.5" x 26.5"
$1000 plus $15 shipping in U.S.
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With these works I'm interested in creating a kind of ambiguous space. It's a field of possibility, where forms can advance or recede, or not fix themselves clearly in a defined, dimensional space. It's the space of the imagination.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gulf Coast

Acrylic on bristol paper, 11" x 11"
$275 plus $10 shipping in U.S.
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Don't quite know how this bird thing got started. I like working without predetermined concepts, letting ideas generate from the process, instead of sitting around trying to think them up. While playing around with some casual drawings--doodles, really--the bird forms started appearing. Maybe I've been watching too many episodes of Portlandia..."Put a bird on it!"

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Mixed media on bristol paper, 7 1/2" x 7 3/4"
$125 plus $6 shipping in U.S.
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Something about this one reminds me a little of the illustrations in old bird books, although it doesn't attempt to replicate that kind of scientific precision.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Black Stork

Mixed media on bristol paper, 11" x 11"
$250 plus $12 shipping in U.S.
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Another birdie, a self-contained stork. I'm enjoying doing these drawings. Mixed media means just that--I throw the kitchen-sink at them: pencil, colored pencil, acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel, ink markers...whatever seems to work.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Mixed media on bristol paper, 5 1/8" x 8 1/2"
$70 plus $5 shipping in U.S.
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Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Mixed media on bristol paper, 6 1/4" x 10 5/8"
$100 plus $6 shipping in U.S.
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Today was for the birds! I worked on a group of mixed media drawings of our feathered friends. I'll post more over the next few days.

You've no doubt noticed that posts are few and far between these days. After over seven years of pretty steady posting, it's time for a change. I'm still busy painting, but the focus is on my contemporary work, which is being posted on Facebook. Now and then some of the things I'm sharing there (like the birds) will also be posted here, but to see everything, I encourage you to send me a friend request on Facebook, and/or "like" my studio page.

Thanks to everyone for your loyalty and support--it means the world!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Gate at the Villa

Oil on board, 9" x 12"
$400 plus $12 shipping in U.S.
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It's been winery weekend for me. I was at the lovely Bethany Vineyard in Ridgefield, Washington on Friday afternoon for a Head Start fundraiser. Saturday it was off to Villa Catalana Cellars, near Oregon City to do some plein air painting at their "Art in the Garden" party. There were probably at least 15 or 20 artists there.

I wandered around the spectacular setting for a short time before settling on this wonderful gate as a fitting subject. I caught some ribbing from some of my artist friends (namely Randall David Tipton and Ruth Armitage), for setting up in the full sunlight.. They had wisely found some shady locations in which to paint.
I reminded them that everyone knows artists are supposed to suffer for their art.