WATERCOLOR FIRST

I’ve been working for three and a half years on an archival way to successfully combine watercolor and oils.

I’m doing this on Terraskin (gesso based paper) glued to panels.

Done several by starting with the figures established in oils, then adding the watercolors, then back to oils.

Today I decided to establish the figure in oils first.

ROSE ROOM

I have two climbing Roses planted just outside my Portland studio.

They were planted soon after turning a large daylight basement bedroom into a studio in our then new house, around 20 years ago. These roses are now giant beauties. The lighter colored rose bush climbs over a pagoda structure my framer made me on the veranda above my studio. This enclosed space has become the “Rose Room”, our favorite place to sit outside in the summer.

Every May or June I take a photo of it at its peak of perfection. This is the 2017 shot.

JORDAN SCHNITZER MUSEUM OF ART AT PSU

I was surprised a few days ago when Jordan Schnitzer called to ask me to say a few words at a Press Conference announcement of his generous $5 Million Dollar donation he is giving Portland State University to develop a ground floor Museum in Neuberger Hall. William Dann and Nick Hodges from Wacker Architects were behind the design, which will be visible from both Broadway Avenue and the Park Blocks.

The well attended morning Press Conference apparently made the newspapers and nightly new, according to many friends who saw me.

I followed Jordan to the podium and briefly talked about my days as both a grad student and an Associate Professor as well as a Fountain gallery represented artist, showing for the first time at Jordan's mother Arlene’s gallery just a few weeks after graduation in 1976. I made the audience laugh when I shared that, being closer in age to me, I always liked it when Jordan attended a gallery event because, in the early days, I was terrified of his mother!

The experience caused me to reflect that I had actually broken two glass ceilings in those early days of my career.

The first came when I was asked to take over my Thesis Professor Fred Klein’s Life Drawing class after he suddenly died of a heart attack the final year of my MFA program. At the time, no other female faculty member was teaching an upper division class, which Life Drawing was. Having been the first in my family to go to college, my new salary was many times above my waitress pay, which I had been doing to help pay my tuition. I immediately began appreciating the value of a college education!

The second glass ceiling was when I was asked to be in a New Artist Introduction exhibit at the Fountain Gallery. Since this was Portland’s only successful commercial gallery at the time, run by Jordan’s mother Arlene Schnitzer, it was a huge honor. My work in that exhibit got good attention and sales and I immediately became  a Fountain Gallery represented artist, the first of my peer group. When discussing with Jordan who else on the PSU Faculty was represented by the Fountain, of all my former professors, I realized I was again the only woman!!

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TREE HOUSE BIRTHDAY PARTY

One of the most interesting and beloved public art pieces in Portland is Helen Lessick's “Tree House for Summer”, a house made from Living Trees housed in Portland Hoyt Arboretum.

Helen is a dear friend of mine who now lives in LA.

She was recently up visiting Portland for the celebration of her Tree House's 30th anniversary. Helen also had a new exhibit up at Jeffery Thomas Gallery along with a fine new catalog of her work.

JOHN YEON / RANDY GRAGG

Alex and I just attended a wonderful exhibit and lecture on the environmentalist and architect John Yeon.

Former art critic and currently head of the U of O John Yeon Center, Randy Gragg, gave an extremely informative and interesting lecture. I learned that John Yeon successfully lobbied that a portion of highway 101 conform naturally to the terrain rather than going straight by blasting away part of Mt. Neakahnie. Forevermore, I will never travel on that 101 hairpin curve and its pullout view parking areas without thinking of John Yeon!  

CENTRAL CITY CONCERN COLLECTION

In the mid 70’s I had a studio in Portland’s China Town. My studio was a floor below the now legendary PCVA, Portland Center for the Visual Arts.

The building had only PCVA's Contemporary Art Center and a handful or artists as tenants. The neighborhood had a large amount of homeless people on the streets. 

My studio had huge walls and I was able to make epic scale paintings there. One ended up in the office of PCVA’s then director, Donna Milrany. Donna later had it at her apartment until she had to downsize. She just recently donated it to the wonderful Central City Concern art collection. CCC’s new building is just a block away from my old studio and it’s mission is to help the homeless, which they do in a nationally recognized successful way. 

Interestingly, another painting done in the same studio depicting that very neighborhood as well as a semi-street kid I knew at the time was among the first paintings to be curated into the CCC collection. The collections organizer is Pam Baker, along with Kathleen Johnson Kuhn. Pam and Donna recently met me for lunch so we could all view the CCC collection.

I was so proud and honored when so many of the CCC staff came up and told me my paintings were their favorites. Apparently the CCC clients also appreciate them. Donna had written a statement about the meaning of my painting to her. She said their were two figure responding to the same large crashing wave. One cowers and hides his head while one triumphantly jumps up into the wave, raising his arms. She saw the imagery of this painting as two different responses to life’s challenging events. She hoped the painting would inspire the CCC clients to choose the way of meeting the wave head on. 

TRIUMPHANT MOMENT

I have been struggling with combing my two favorite ways of making art- watercolor and oil painting-for three years now.

There are many reasons I have wanted to do this but at he top of he list is that we’ve all gotten so used to seeing color through a back lit screen that there’s an expectation of brightness in order for color to visually satisfy.

It’s hard to get that kind of intensity in oil paint.

The Golden Paint Company has a new line of watercolors called QOR that are as bright as you get and I’ve enjoyed the results I’ve gotten with them.

So far there isn’t any work that I’m aware of that combines these two mediums in an archival way.

I like that kind of challenge.

Working in a way that’s technically difficult gets me to really concentrate which just plane make the work better.

My long term technical advisor Martha Bergman, formally of Gamblin Paints, has been hugely helpful with advice and general cheering on.

One of Martha’s suggestions that been HUGE is to paint on Terraskin, a paper made of Gesso.

My long term framer, Eric Gardner, has helped me work out the technical glitches of glueing the Terraskin onto panels for a great painting surface that handles both mediums beautifully.

My long term use of chemically melting cold wax into Galkyd Lite has helped seal the surface, protecting the watercolor from the elements.

Finally, finally, the paintings started to work in a way I hope they would.

This is especially sweet after much disappointment and cast aside work.

My Portland dealer Charle Froelick even had to tell me last fall, hat he wasn’t relating to what had been coming out of my studio.

Charles and Froelick Gallery director Rebbecca Rockom have now made two studio visits to see my latest progress.

They’ve recently chosen these four of the newest watercolor/oil work to be shown in a colorful summer group exhibit along with headliner Japanese artist Risuko Ozeki. 

I will have my own exhibit of the watercolor/oil work in October, 2018.

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STUDIO B

Finally! We’re at the beach!

One of my favorite things about summer is the chance to live at the Oregon Coast in our sweet small log cabin in Manzanita.

I have a yurt studio there.

It’s on a platform so the window level is above the old growth Huckleberries and it’s four windows all have a forest view of the Sitka forest we are surrounded by.

The huge round skylight gives off the most beautiful reflected even light.

It’s hard to do a bad painting in a rounded room where there’s no chance for energy to get stuck.

For my first group of paintings I’ve decided to lay down watercolors first, allowing a good bit of chance to dictate the compositions that will follow.

GEORGE

Was so happy and honored when George Johanson surprised me with a beautiful painting he’d done of me.

I had asked him to sit for me and he during the sitting he studied me painting him, so I got an image of him with his critical painter eyes working.

Ater I gave it to him he returned to my studio to take a photograph of me then later invited me over to be gifted his lovely portrait of me.

A true unexpected but very appreciated exchange.

SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO

My old friend Dazzel, the owner of this very old painting of mine, recently sent me this image.

Entitled “Sweetheart of the Rodeo”, it must have been on of the first I did when first out of college. Guess I was experimenting with popular styles of the time, in this case, a homey type of Pop Art.

So different than what my personal visual language became, it was still fun to see it.