My Neighbor’s Tree just keep giving and giving. It’s suuuuper convenient to paint it because I can just walk out to my front driveway and if it’s too cold, rainy or SNOWY(!?), I can paint while looking out the studio window.
Plein Air Landscape painted at the Oregon Coast last weekend. It was lovely to be at the ocean.
My friend David Rosenak is a landscape painter who found himself working closer and closer and closer to home and realized he had a lifetime of paintings to make without leaving his property. When he first revealed this to me I thought it was a little odd, but perfect for him – see more about him by clicking here. I compared my practice at the time to his and I was attracted to the convenience of it but couldn’t see how it could ever work for me. I tend to want to paint everything I see, all the time, everywhere I go. But I struggle to get things done and finish what I start so, David’s method stayed in the back of my mind.
We got a dog two years ago and started taking her on walks along this ditch trail about half a mile from my house. It’s a wonderful walk. You see close mountains and distant ones, close and distant trees, houses, shacks, weeds, farmland — there are just endless compositions to experiment with. And there are never any other people down there. So I started painting there a lot and have made five paintings I’m pleased with in the last year.
These are the latest paintings are from the ditch trail. Painted last fall and late summer. The evening one was painted when my mom was sick and I didn’t fully realize she was dying, but I was extremely stressed out and painting this was a good way to take my mind off of things. The last one was painted in the month after she died. The reason I bring this up is that when I look at these paintings I travel emotionally to the joyful feeling I had while making them. Writing this post, my mental sequence was, “Wait, when did you make these? Was it before mom got sick?” And I realized it was during her illness and right after she died. It is kind of shocking, but somehow there is life and spark in being outside and making landscape paintings, despite this generally being a terribly tough time. However, I don’t think I would have been able to do it if I didn’t have this comfortable and easy location to go to. Since my mom’s death, I feel like staying home (or closer to home) all the time. I really miss her. I think as the spring comes I’ll feel a little less like a hermit. And I don’t know if I have more paintings to make down on this ditch trail. It’s impossible to commit to something like that. Time will tell. But I do like working where it’s comfortable and safe.
Both measure 20″ x 35″. Painted en plein air over a number of sessions.
I’ve mostly moved inside the studio for the winter – here are a couple of paintings from back in the fall.
Spring has been utterly glorious here in Southern Oregon this year. Everything is lush and green and my roses are having a banner year. The yellow one is called Jeri Jennings and the red is Unconditional Love. Both are Paul Barden roses, both came from Rogue Valley Roses – a place I’ve mentioned before on this blog. Janet has collected a fantastic variety of roses that grow on their own rootstock, all meticulously categorized and documented and REALLY hard to choose which to plant, because there are so many good ones.
In my eagerness to share this image, I’ve had to photograph it before it’s been varnished, so there are some matte and shiny places. I’ll re document the image and replace it in a few months when it’s been properly varnished.
Still Life with Squash, Oil on Linen, 28″ x 30″
Winter Geraniums, Oil on Panel, 20″ x 24″
I’m moving inside, thinking about still life and figurative work now that the weather is too cold for landscape painting.
It started with this composition for a smaller panel, but decided to move to the larger panel with more background info, which gave me a chance to play with an idea I’d been kicking around for a while. I had been looking at the “Classical” landscape painting formulas and wanted to make a painting that used these principles.
Classical Landscape by Claude Lorrain – there are a million billion paintings made with this formula in the 18th and even into the 19th century. The Ecole de Beaux Arts clearly taught this was the way you had to do it. Nobody cares now, but it’s interesting how many paintings were made this way.
The composition spirals to for you to enter the picture on either side, the bottom is always darker value.
They always zig zag with close distance object on one side, going nearly top to bottom, then swing over to the opposite side for middle distance subject and then swing back for the far away view.
The close middle far is obvious in my painting. I elected not to try to make spirals with clouds etc, because after all, my work is more about stark, aging American landscapes instead of fantastical ideal pastorals. I did look for stuff to point to the subject, which was the green building, though, as well as the secondary subject of the far power lines. I don’t always take time to carefully compose a plein air landscape, but it’s pretty satisfying when I do.
The location for this painting has a story too. The green building houses a business called Barrel 42. Brian Gruber and Herb Quady make Rogue Valley wines here, including the fabulous Quady North wines. This is of particular interest to me, a native Southern Oregonian with an agricultural family history, because wine is overturning pears as the dominant agricultural product in Southern Oregon. The big aqua building (so many of the old pear buildings are painted aqua –???) is called SOS – Southern Oregon Storage, or something like that. The walls are super thick and maintain cool temperatures year round, perfect for storing barrels of wine, pears etc. Of course these interesting places are always along railroad tracks because they used to use rails to ship things. Not much anymore, as you see the side track to get close to the building to load up the goods is overgrown with weeds. Time marches on, and it’s nice that the railroad tracks are seldom used, because they offer a quiet place to paint, and the tracks always have nice lines to play with.
I usually resist paint out competition weekends, because they are never really very productive; I wind up usually making paintings in places I don’t have an affinity for and there is not enough time and there is the added pressure of knowing your work will literally be judged. Umpqua Valley Arts Association hosts a paint out in Roseburg that lasts a few days and is in a generally good time of year for weather, so I signed up. We had two full days of painting and I was able to connect with some really excellent Oregon painters. So, it was worth going to.
Two days in a row, different weather, slightly different composition.
Each measures 10″ x 16″.
12″ x 20″ Maybe I liked this one best. I don’t know.