Thursday, October 8, 2015


Oil on cradled board, 29" x 27.25" x 1.25"
$1900 plus $30 shipping in U.S.
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Friday, September 18, 2015

John Brown's Oath

Oil on stretched canvas, 22" x 20"
$900 plus $18 shipping in U.S.
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The rabid abolitionist, John Brown, from my Civil War series of 1999-2000. Brown claimed that at age 12 he got a message from God to free the slaves. In the mid 1850's, he and several of his sons attacked and killed a number of slavery supporters in Kansas. In 1859, Brown led a small group in an attack on the Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia. His aim was to steal weapons to arm slaves for a revolt. He was promptly captured and hanged.

This painting interprets an 1846 daguerreotype that shows him swearing an oath to oppose slavery. The old photos of Brown have always fascinated me; an intensity bordering on the pathological is barely disguised.

Here's a detail of the painting:

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Civil War Series

General 1
Oil, pencil and charcoal on paper, 39.75" x 30.25", 1999.
$950 plus $18 shipping in U.S.

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Ken Burns' great documentary series, "The Civil War", is being re-broadcast this week. It reminded me of a group of Civil War related paintings and drawings I did in 1999-2000. They've never been exhibited anywhere, but I decided to share some of them here over the next few days.

A childhood friend had a several volume edition of Matthew Brady's iconic Civil War photos. I would go over to his house and study those books for hours. They captivated me, and led to a life-long fascination with the subject. For this series I used photos as the starting point, not to copy but to try to express through those faces what it must have been like to live during that tragic and terrible time in our nation's history.

Detail of "General 1".

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Above and Below Show

If you're in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area this month please stop by my exhibit at the Above and Below Art Studio, in downtown Vancouver. Reception is Friday, Sept. 4th, 5-9 PM. I'll give a little talk (pearls of wisdom) on the following Wednesday, Sept. 9th, 7-8:30 PM.

The show runs through Sept. 24th. This is the working studio of Tom Relth, so to visit at other times call 360-561-4245.

Hope to see you at one or both events!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

"Alluvium" Featured

My painting, "Alluvium", is featured this week on the Saatchi Art home page.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Three New Murals

I just shipped off three murals that have been occupying quite a bit of my time in the studio this summer. They will end up being installed on outside walls of a high school in the small town of Alva, Oklahoma.

I've painted a lot of murals, but this particular method is a first for me. These were painted on a thin, non-woven polyester material that is principally used in the garment industry as interlining. A growing number of muralists use it because it allows large murals to be painted in the studio, then rolled for transport and installed on site. Very large murals are painted in sections, then attached to the walls with an acrylic gel in a method akin to applying wallpaper. Once installed and properly sealed, they are extremely durable indoors or out, and it is almost impossible to tell they were not painted on location. Preparing the material for painting is somewhat involved, requiring numerous layers of acrylic varnish. The prepared surface is quite smooth and very nice to paint on.

These murals are pretty small as murals go--each one is 5 by 9 feet. The subjects all deal with actual people and events in the school's history. The basketball mural depicts the Alva High School girls basketball team in 1924, the year they won the national championship. The football player is Alva alumnus Jack Ging, who went on to be a standout college player. Later, he went to Hollywood and became a motion picture and television actor. The third mural depicts Edna Donelly, who was national teacher of the year. That entailed a trip to The White House to shake hands with President Eisenhower.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The House Below the Mountain, re-sale

"The House Below the Mountain"
oil over monotype on paper, 40" x 26", 1986.

The owners of this 1986 painting of mine, "The House Below the Mountain", are interested in selling it.  I promised them I would publicize it here and on Facebook.

The mid-eighties were a transitional time for my work, and I've always felt like this piece was one of the finest of that period.  If you're interested in purchasing it let me know and I'll put you in touch with the owners directly.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Last Week of Show

Jump in the car (or boat)! July 7th is the last day to see my show at RiverSea Gallery, in Astoria, Oregon.

Monday, June 8, 2015

New Show!

If you're going to be near the Oregon coast in June or July, please stop in Astoria and see my solo show at
RiverSea Gallery. 

Preview the show online here:

Here's the statement I wrote for the show:

"I’ve always been intrigued by that exact tipping point when paint ceases to be just paint, and this other 'thing' appears. Almost magically, a welter of marks and colors can coalesce into something we recognize: a tree, a face, a seascape.
The works in this show address oceanic or coastal themes, but they are really about where that tipping point of perception resides. All of them began with the same process: random lines and colors rapidly applied to the panels. There was no pre-determined idea of what the paintings would look like, beyond the vague notion of having something to do with the ocean. I gave myself over to intuitive process, allowing each painting to travel where it seemed to want to go. Some chose to stay more or less abstract, others demanded more specific levels of depiction. They raised questions for me. How many, or few, visual “cues” do we need to recognize a subject or concept? What does it mean if we say a painting is “abstract” or “representational”? Where does one leave off and the other begin? Are they really separate things at all?

All these paintings are imagined inventions. All, in one way or another, dance around with the idea of how we comprehend what we see."




"Expanse 2"

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Oil over acrylic on cradled board, 30" x 60"
Available for sale at RiverSea Gallery, after June 13th
Click image to enlarge

I thought some might be interested in the development of this recent painting. It will be available for sale during my upcoming solo show at RiverSea Gallery, in Astoria, Oregon, June 13--July 7.

Many of my paintings begin abstractly, with random gestural marks and rapid, intuitive color choices. Some remain more or less abstract, while others, like this one, turn into more recognizable forms--in this case, a seascape.

Here is the initial abstract lay-in for this painting, done in acrylic:

I actually liked the energy and color in the painting at this state and considered leaving it. But I did have a vague notion of wanting to end up with something ocean related, so decided to forge on. If you compare the finished painting with this, you'll begin to see that there are certain gestural lines and shapes that ended up forming the skeleton for the piece.

Here the structure of stone and water begins to emerge:

I liked the amorphous, misty quality that was coming out, but it seemed too chaotic and unresolved design-wise at this point. The painting is surrounded with coastal photos I've taken, as well as work by other artists that inspire me.

Artists often speak about how a painting leads it's own life, and this seems so true to me. Rather than directing the course of the work, it often feels more like I'm just along for the ride. The stroke put down earlier influences the next one, just as our yesterdays affect our tomorrows.

There were many changes before and after this stage, but hopefully this gives some idea of how a painting comes to be. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 18, 2015


Oil over acrylic on cradled board, 33" x 30" x 1.75"
Available in June (see below)
Click image to enlarge

Apologies--it's been quite awhile since the last post. I'm posting more often on Facebook these days. You can see my Facebook Artist's Page here. Follow it to stay up on my art posts. My personal page is here--I'd be happy to get a friend request from you.

Very busy in the studio, preparing for a month-long solo exhibit opening June 13th at RiverSea Gallery, in Astoria, Oregon. This painting, "Stormcatcher", will be available for sale then. You could say I've been going "coastal" for this show; the paintings deal with oceanic themes, ranging in style from representational to abstract. I'm pleased that with "Stormcatcher" I maybe managed a synthesis of those styles.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Oil over acrylic on cradled board, 14.25" x 15.25" x 1.75"
$600 plus $15 shipping in U.S.
Click image to enlarge

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This painting began life as an abstraction, with no clue it would later turn into a seascape. It's the center panel in the studio photograph below.

This is a fairly good example of how abstract structure underlies any painting, realist or not. Even though it went through obvious changes, much of the original relationship of forms can still be seen in the finished work. I wanted some of the texture and color of the earlier state to peek through, so I worked to modify, without entirely obscuring, the under-layer. The result is a loose, painterly work that has a somewhat impressionistic feel.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Tidal Memory

Oil over acrylic on cradled board, 26 1/4" x 30" x 1 3/4"
$1900 plus $30 shipping in U.S.
Click image to enlarge.

My desire is to paint a group of ocean-related or coastal themed pieces without painting literal "scenes". Here's the latest attempt.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Clam Flats

Watercolor on archival paper, 14" x 16"
$750 plus $12 shipping in U.S.

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This huge old-growth cedar lies embedded in the tidal flats of the Nestucca River delta, on the Oregon coast. I try to imagine its long lifetime, maybe growing on a steep coastal hillside for hundreds of years, until erosion undercut the roots and toppled it into the surf.

Who knows how many years the tree rolled around in the sea before high tides or a winter storm carried it into this harbor and left it lodged in the sand and muck. Inverted now, the roots reach upward to the sky like beseeching hands.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Tunnel Inspector

Oil on cradled board, 23" x 23" x 1.5"
$1850 plus $20 shipping in U.S.
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Winslow peering into a culvert, curious but hesitant. I'm fond of this piece--think it caught something of his energetic personality and joy of being in the great outdoors. Hopefully it expresses something of dog-nature in general. It's one of a group of paintings, all of Winslow, that I exhibited in a show titled "Sit/Stay", at Mary Lou Zeek Gallery in 2013.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Collection of Hours

Enamel on cradled board, 19" x 24" x 1.5"
$950 plus $20 shipping in U.S.
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Here's a painting in my alternate, less realist, "style". Works like this are begun without any notion of what the result will be. Ideas and imagery come out of the process of moving paint around on the surface. This way of working can frustrate--it often feels like painting blindfolded. But it can be exciting, too--a process of discovery. Painting only what one can think of usually ends up being predictable and boring.

I can't accurately re-trace the steps that led to this dry-docked boat sitting in a rather surreal looking landscape. But I like how the piece seems to raise more questions than answers. It leaves room for many interpretations.