Wedding Flowers

 

Wedding Flowers Marissa and Josue web.jpg

 

Pear Still Life

I’m moving inside, thinking about still life and figurative work now that the weather is too cold for landscape painting.

Pear Still LIfe
Pear Still Life, 9″ x 12″ oil on linen mounted on aluminum panel

 

Barrel 42, Medford, Oregon

Barrel 42 Medford, Oregon 12″ x 16″

Brian Gruber Winery

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.

claude lorrain pastoral landscape

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.

Google “Classical Landscape” here

claude lorrain pastoral landscape spiral

The composition spirals to for you to enter the picture on either side, the bottom is always darker value.

claude lorrain pastoral landscape zig zag

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.

 

Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns

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.

Roseburg Paint Out

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.

 

Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns
This dying oak tree was the painting I liked the best out of all I made that weekend. 7.5″ x 10″

 

Gray Day Roseburg Hills web Sunny Day Roseburg Hills web

Two days in a row, different weather, slightly different composition.
Each measures 10″ x 16″.

 

Roseburg Valley Ranch

12″ x 20″  Maybe I liked this one best.  I don’t know.

 

 

Plein Air Painting Video

I participated in a paint out event in Roseburg, Oregon and while there, Michael Sullivan, photojournalist at the News Review created this little video profile.

Thanks Mike and check out his work at http://www.michaelsullivanphoto.photoshelter.com

Hike and Learn

The Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument hold a monthly event called a Hike and Learn, where the invite someone to enhance participants’ experience of the monument with their expertise. They have invited me to lead a Hike and Learn on the subject of Landscape Sketching!  The monument is pretty neat because it has some of the greatest bio-diversity in a concentrated area in the United States.  I’m a big fan of using my art as a tool for documentation, so I’m looking forward to documenting this significant location this week and weekend.

The Hike and Learn is open to all, and is free to attend.  On Friday evening I will give a slide talk that goes over the basics of sketching the landscape.  Then Saturday morning, we will all meet up and head to Hobart Bluff to hike a little and sketch out in the wild.  We’ll meet back around lunch time and share our successes and struggles.

And the local paper – Ashland Daily Tidings has done an article on the event — check it out here.

bpennell sarahfburns
Photo by Bob Pennell for the Ashland Daily Tidings  – That’s me with the crazy grin, pretending to be on my way to do some landscape painting.

Details and Further Info:

www.cascasdesiskiyou.org

Hike and Learn — FREE
Limited space, please sign up as space is limited by sending email to: event.cascadesiskiyou@gmail.com.  Email title: Hike & Learn SKETCH  Email body: Your name, email, address, phone

Friday, August 21, 6:00-7:00 pm
Slide Talk at the Ashland Public Library

Saturday, August 22
Hike – Meet at the Shop-N-Kart Ashland Parking Lot at 9:00 am to caravan up to Hobart Bluff
Hike and Sketch from 9:30 – Noon

Plein Air Trip to the Oregon Coast

Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns
McVay Beach, Brookings, Oregon
Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns
Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

 

Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns
Whaleshead Beach

 

Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns
Whaleshead Beach
Clifford Beach Grassland, Northern California
Clifford Beach Grassland, Northern California

 

Clifford Dunes, Northern California
Clifford Dunes, Northern California

My Trip to Paris — Part Two: The Paintings

I had an amazing time painting in Paris. Getting out and painting in this old city, known for centuries of great art, connected me to so many of my heroes and gave me a chance to meet lots of tourists and locals. I cannot wait to go back – there are paintings there I still really want to make!!

They are displayed in the order I made them.

Oil Painting
Hyacinths – on a Rainy Holiday in Paris

It was rainy and a national holiday, so all the museums were closed, so I bought some hyacinths from the nearby flower market and made a still life in the little apartment I was staying in with my aunt.

Oil Painting
The Louvre, as seen from the Tuileries

I love the Louvre so much, I must go back someday and paint the iconic entrance with the pyramid. When I first arrived, I shied away from making a painting that would be so direct, but after spending two weeks in Paris, where they really embrace beauty directly, I realized it’s just as affected to avoid beauty as it is to seek it exclusively.  Best bet is always just paint what moves you. Be real, even if it lands you in a cliche.

Oil Painting
From Pont Neuf, The Seine

Mid Morning looking sort of toward the east.

Oil Painting
Cincannatus in the Tuileries

With a view of the Musee D’Orsay in the background 9 to the left of the statue is  the tip of the museum, with it’s massive clock face peeking out a tiny bit behind the trees).  I finally had a day where Paris had those impressionist clouds you see in paintings.

Oil Painting
Sculpture in the Petit Palais Garden

My local friend showed me this wonderful little park.  Many paintings could be made here.

Oil Painting
Looking out of the Louvre Courtyard

Here I am, nearing the end of my trip, embracing the obvious beauty and being happy about it. Archway to a view with a grand building? The more the merrier.

Notre Dame, oil painting by Sarah F Burns
Notre Dame

My last day painting in Paris, I was under the influence of the Corots I’d seen in the Louvre. I was also recreating the point of view of some impressionist paintings I’d seen.

Artist David Rosenak

Today I’m going to highlight paintings by my friend David Rosenak.  This may be the longest post I’ll ever make.   He has four paintings up at the Portland Art Museum this year – 2015 – in the Northwest Contemporary section.  GO SEE THEM. While you’re at it, mention to PAM that they should do a better job of pointing out where these paintings are; I’ve been to that museum probably 25 times and I always have to figure out where in the world that particular gallery is. 

Oil Painting by David Rosenak
(untitled), David Rosenak, oil on plywood, 7 3/4″ x 7″, 2008

There are so many things to say about David – first and foremost is that his paintings are absolutely captivating. I happened to stumble across two other pieces at the Portland Art Museum a few years ago.  I clearly remember thinking, “who painted these!??” — and life is amazing sometimes, because I actually got to find out who, and become friends with the painter.

Oil Painting by David Rosenak
Oil Paintings by David Rosenak – Portland Art Museum 2011
Plaid Pantry, oil on plywood, (2010), 9 7/8" x 10 3/8", David Rosenak, On View at PAM during 2015
Plaid Pantry, oil on plywood, (2010), 9 7/8″ x 10 3/8″, David Rosenak, On View at PAM during 2015

I found out because I posted an image on my blog and David vainly googled himself. (Just kidding David, not vanity so much as housekeeping – right? What you can’t see here is that I realized I should google myself to see if anything is interesting there. Not really. It’s only stuff I put on the web myself. So okay.)  Anyway, David found my blog, read it, and actually liked my paintings too! At some point, he emailed me and we started talking about painting, art we admire and being an artist.

David Rosenak Oil Painting
(untitled) by David Rosenak (c.2001-2003) Oil on Plywood 8″ x 9″,  collection PAM

Over the course of these conversations David has become sort of a mentor or an example of having integrity as an artist. So, to set the stage for how he has been an example, I’m going to share where my head is/was. I felt — and still feel — internal pressure to legitimize my obsession with art by turning it into a business.  But I’m not capable of “branding” myself with a style and making pieces that are predictable and popular.  I absolutely think art is a noble profession and if people sell their work well enough to put food on the table, I think that’s awesome! It’s great when art can be appreciated widely, but if you’re an artist you also know there’s an icky, slippery slope to fall down when you’re making art mainly for other people. On the other hand, most of us are not simply expressing ourselves for its own sake, but trying to reach out and connect to some unknown viewer in an authentic and sincere way.

Along with that struggle, there is the battle for technical skills, real ideas and the essential but unpredictable spark of magic that makes good pieces work.  It can take years to even come close to making something really special.  Years of self-examining, persistent, steady work. To be really great, you have to start young and have some successes; many of those successes are self delusions, but that’s no matter, they keep you going, keep you pushing forward. After all that you still may not have achieved something great, or may not get recognition until you’re gone.  It can be such a strange and insane undertaking to “be an artist”.

So here I am, needing to justify all this by making it a business and I meet David.  The time when I meet him and first see his work is at a point where he has achieved something special through years of trial and error and persistence.  His work is desired by collectors, galleries want to sell his work, and David simply says “No, thank you”. He does not sell his work. I repeat — his paintings are not for sale. He has goals for his work, for sure. He doesn’t create it “for himself” – as the corny line goes.  He wants it to be seen in the world by as many people as possible. He knows how long they take to make, how hard he worked to make something he is truly proud of and he wants to cast them in a place where they have the best chance to grow.

And he knows they are precious. They take months and months to complete.  He puts scores of hours into each piece.   Because time stops for no man, his window for making them is pretty small – as it is for us all – but heightened by the fact that ten years ago David discovered he has Parkinson’s disease, which causes tremors, making painting tiny things a challenge.  When he first noticed the tremor it was in his right hand, and after three years he trained himself to paint with his left.  (This is so typical of David. Persistent.)  Now he can only paint on his good days, still with the left hand.

Oil Painting by David Rosenak
(untitled), 2011, oil on plywood by David Rosenak, 8″ x 8″, on view at PAM during 2015

More interesting things about David: he is color blind.  When David was young and testing out his influences, he tried a few paintings in the style of Wayne Thiebauld, but since Thiebauld’s thing has a lot to do with color, David realized he was trying on someone else’s shoes (we all do that when we’re young, but some of us never grow out of it).  Then he noticed his primary teacher was making some greyscale paintings, and he realized he’d been fighting a battle with color he had no hope of winning, so he switched to greyscale in 1981 and hasn’t looked back.

Oil Painting by David Rosenak
(untitled) 2013, oil on plywood, David Rosenak, 18 3/8″ x 16 3/4″, on view at PAM during 2015
Oil Painting by David Rosenak
For Sarah, 2014,  oil on plywood, 3 1/2″ x 10 1/2″, collection Sarah F Burns

I’ve seen still lifes, cityscapes and figure drawings by David, and they’re all really good, but the little cityscapes are the best. David has painted cityscapes since the late 80’s; he showed me a few scenes near his house in a medium sized scale. And they were cool.  Then he made them small (nothing larger than 20″ and most average 10″ on the long side) and bam! They suddenly really worked.  As the scale was becoming more intimate, the subject moved closer and closer to his home. All the views are of his back yard or his view toward downtown Portland.  Since he has the subject, scale and approach settled, he is focusing on compositions, and they get more and more mature. He likes to joke that he is essentially making the same painting over and over again in an attempt to improve it.  And he has many plans for new paintings within that framework. The adage of freedom coming from limitations is really true, I guess.

Oil Painting by David Rosenak
(untitled) 2007, oil on plywood, 7 3/4″ x 5 7/8″, David Rosenak, on view at PAM during 2015
Poppy, oil on plywood, David Rosenak
Poppy, oil on plywood, David Rosenak, collection of Maureen Caviness

Since his subject matter is his yard and what he can see from it, it’s useful to say something about his home. He has a wild, artsy little compound in SE Portland, full of cats and dogs and amazing plants, and all tended to by his neighbor and long time friend, Moe (Maureen). Moe is a gardener and you see in the paintings records of Moe’s work and their friendship.  David lives kind of like a cat, moving around his territory, napping, enjoying bits of shade or bits of sun, walking over to his studio a few blocks away to paint, taking the bus across the river to his day job.  His paintings are like a cat would record things because they feel so still, yet so full of life.  Like a cat they contain long moments of stillness while being ready to spring to action at any second. They’re also neutral like a cat.  They’re not saying, “Let’s go do this!” or “Think this!” but, “This is fine as it is.  I’ll find a comfortable place here.”   They say, “I see it all, and it’s fine.”  They’re so documentary and so neutral that they create a deep feeling of calm.  It makes me feel like the best times in the world are those times when you take your coffee outside in the sun and sit and soak in the world, with your friends or without.  I love the little figures who are doing just this.  They’re Moe and David, and they’re just standing there like they’re thinking, trying to decide what to do next.  Pondering something, calculating.  Trying to decide which thing they could do today. Or if maybe the day is best spent sunning, checking the mail, weeding a bit here.  Taking a break in the business of the day to pet the cat.

Oil Painting by David Rosenak
(untitled) 2002-2004, David Rosenak, 10 1/4″ x 10 1/2″,  oil on plywood, collection PAM

So anyway, David Rosenak’s work resonates with me deeply and while I actually do really like to sell my work, his example has helped me to relax and focus only on making work I feel really good about, and let the chips fall where they may.  It also gives me hope that one day, some stranger will see my paintings in a museum and say, “Who painted these?”