Tag Archives: landscape

Saturday, 4/30/11: John Fisher

Thanks to guest writer Cameron Hawkey for today’s post.

Today I briefly met with artist John Fisher. Working with a swift efficiency, he was already laying down the finishing strokes for his painting when I sat down to speak with him. “I have to leave pretty soon,” he said to me in a easy manner as he dabbed at the canvas. “I have to go pick up my son from soccer.” Being a father is a full-time job, true, but he’s also the art director of Sockeye ad agency. The man doesn’t dally. When he has time, though, he paints. As a painter of mostly landscapes, his understanding of weather is quite good, along with his consideration of light: a storm cloud envelops the land in his painting, and yet a little remaining afternoon sunlight still seeps through the cloudbank onto the field below. The sunlight was his final addition, made with a liner brush. Stepping back, he gave the landscape a final appraising look, and then called it a day. He signed the painting, put away his paints (M.Graham acrylics), folded up his easel, and stepped out into the afternoon to attend a soccer game.

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Wednesday, 4/27/: Jennifer Mark

Thanks to guest writer Mesha Koczian for today’s post.

Jennifer Mark prefers to use Golden Fluid Acrylics in her work. She extends them with Golden gloss mixed with water to get a transparent look. She was once asked to paint a series of works on old nautical charts for a global cruise line depicting scenes from the Pacific coast. She saw it as a fun challenge and hasn’t stopped even though she no longer works for the cruise line. An era is passing in the way of old charts. GPS is used on almost all boats now and the charts may not be required on board for much longer.

First she ages the charts to give the old look. She says, “I love researching and learning the history of the areas I’m painting. I learned about lead dropping and how it was used to get the depths of the ocean for the ships to sail safely. The most people have died around Astoria doing that job, giving it the nickname of the Graveyard of the Pacific.” After her research, she picks a scene and projects it onto the chart and traces the outline in pencil. Then she slowly layers up the colors and adjusts according to the color on the map. She wants the chart showing through, but not so much that it distracts from the scene. The gloss mix helps achieve this by giving vivid color and transparency. Her last painted layer is the fine lines of the rigging and sails. She uses a “rigger,” a brush invented by sailors to draw rigging on ships, and a pen against a straight edge for a crisp, clean line. More recently, she’s been experimenting with hiding things in the water because of all the hidden places under the ocean. “There are so many hidden treasures under the sea,” she explains. If you look close, you might see a face peeking out at you from one of her works.

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Monday, 4/25/11: Mandy Main

Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch for today’s post.

Mandy Main is a virtuoso of vantage points. It all began as a child in Bellingham, Washington where the home in which she grew up had panoramic views of the Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. While moving up and down the West Coast, including attending college at Stanford and earning her Masters at UCLA, Mandy’s subsequent homes came equipped with sweeping vistas. In North Portland, her family’s home on Willamette Ave, was appropriately in the Overlook area, with views of wooded Forest Park and the shipyard. And in SE Portland, near Mt. Tabor, Mandy could see the West Hills.  Upon becoming a professional artist a decade ago, she knew how important light bouncing off hills would be to her eyes. In her painting, capturing the longest view possible is what holds her imagination.

Mandy painted for An Artist a Day in 2009. She skipped 2010 because she had recently moved to Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs, CA where she and her husband live today. This week she returns as a guest artist on a lucky coincidence that her contemporary landscapes are part of a group show at Art Elements in Newberg.

Although Mandy didn’t quit her day job until 10 years ago, she has been painting steadily for two decades. Her landscapes incorporate very low horizons with reaching vantage points. Today she is painting an area south of Cannon Beach called Hug Point, a scene she chose to paint because she likes the diagonal line of the water coming into the shore, stretching the eye into the horizon.

Since moving from one very rainy place to a very sunny one, her landscapes have changed slightly, but she usually doesn’t paint desert landscapes. She often paints the mountains of Northern California that are smoother, almost “like sleeping beasts, organic and sculptural” she says, than the hills of Palm Springs.

She said the whole time she painted in Oregon she didn’t use blue paints for the skies; she used a variation of blue grays. In the desert where she lives now, the crystal clear skies mean true blue paints to capture the light bouncing off the hills.

Her heart is with 19th century American landscapes, and she feels fortunate to have lived in a lifetime where classic landscapes have returned in vogue and have seen commercial success.

The materials she is using today include: Galkyd medium made by Gamblin. MGraham oil paints, which incidentally she learned to paint with. Today she discovered a new paint: Michael Harding unbleached titanium, which she said is unlike any color she has ever gotten out of a tube.

Mandy loves her new home in the desert but comes back to Portland often enough to take part in art openings, the Mt. Tabor Art Walk (she was one of organizers) and she is a long time donor to Cascade Aids Project’s Annual Art Auction.

Note from Muse:  Since Mandy had just come in from out of town, we prepped a wooden panel for her in advance with a base layer of color.  We didn’t quite get it right (too much solvent perhaps) and the paint did not want to layer onto the surface.  Mandy graciously made the best of the situation and worked on two quite different paintings — one on the panel using painting knives, and one on a canvas using brushes.  She’ll continue work  on one or both pieces over the next couple days and we’ll post an update with a picture of her finished work.  UPDATE:  The last two pictures are the two pieces that Mandy completed for the auction, the first is on a wooden panel, the second on canvas

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Saturday, 4/16/11: Anna Magruder

Anna Magruder joined us today for her second year of participating in “An Artist A Day.”  Anna’s portraits in oils have a unique and recognizable style.  Her use of color is expressive, sometimes surreal, and her figures are often creatively distorted or combined with unexpected backgrounds or objects. Influences and inspirations for her work include vintage Americana, the works of Renaissance portrait painters, and a variety of contemporary illustrators and painters including Joe Sorren.

A number of Anna’s most recent paintings (on view through April 24 at Guardino  Gallery) were inspired by vintage travel and vacation photos.  In many of these pieces, landscapes have begun to play a more important role along with her figures.  The landscapes in her backgrounds add character to the scene and animate the thoughts of the people in her portraits.

Anna has worked with a variety of media, but prefers oils because of their ability to create subtle blends between shades and colors.  She started today with a line drawing on a vivid solid red-orange background.  With her drawing as a guide, she first painted and blended her subject’s face and hair.  With this portion of her subject mostly finished, she then moved on to surrounding her figure and background landscape elements with a pale yellow-brown.  She used this color to outline and define shapes and details of her figure and landscape.  As she painted the clothing and figure of her subject, she layered and blended colors, but also left the original bright-red background showing in highlights and accents.  The composition of her painting along with the interplay of cool colors, warm colors, subtle colors, and bright colors gives this painting a feeling that is both energetic and pensive.

The last picture shows Anna’s painting at the end of the day Saturday.  We’ll post an update with a picture of her finished painting.  UPDATE:  The final picture shows Anna’s finished painting.

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Friday, 4/15/11: Suzy Kitman

Thanks to guest writer David Freas for today’s post.

On Friday, surounded by a group of her inquiring students, Suzy Kitman painted a bright costal landscape and in the process demonstrated some of her innovative impasto oil techniques. In between painting sessions, she took breaks to explain how her work reflects a variety of eclectic influences, from archeology and her time as a patina artist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to her experiences with photography and portraiture. This day’s image, captured on the Oregon coast between Otter Rock and Shortsands, depicts craggy rocks towering over surfers swept up in a choppy tide. Though the content of her piece may sound familiar and pleasing, there’s something exciting, even surprising about Suzy’s painting. On one hand, her style is highly realistic. Working from her own photographs, she deftly plays with brightness, tone and color to render images that draw viewers in and successfully transport them to her chosen location. On the other hand, Suzy’s paintings are an adventurous exploration of extreme textures and weights. In this seascape, you can feel the massive weight of the rocks and sense their jagged surface. The ocean waves are heavy and energetic, and the sky, in contrast to everything else, is flat and smooth. By playing with these textural contrasts, Suzy presents the viewer with another, unexpected level of engagement that accentuates and electrifies the content of her tranquil image.

The effect Suzy achieves through her impasto technique makes for a surprising viewing experience. Working with M. Graham oils she first fills out her composition with flat fields of color. Once the scene is set, Suzy lets her palette dry out and scrapes it down. She notes that a glass palette is best for this as it can be scraped totally clean. She then collects those scrapings, filling a small container at her station with little curls of dried paint. Next, working with Liquin Impasto and heavier applications of paint, she fixes the scraped paint onto her surface and uses a palette knife to sculpt directly on her canvas. Once she achieves her desired texture, Suzy plays more with the color of her piece, taking every opportunity to capture a fresh view of the work. She turns the painting upside down, steps away from it and periodically looks at it over her shoulder through a mirror. The result is a painting that offers a dynamic viewing experience. From across the room, the image is vivid and inviting, but, as you get closer, the surface reveals its intricate texture and the image that appeared flat from a far begins to leap out and take literal shape.

The last picture below shows Suzy’s painting at the end of the day Friday.  We’ll post an update with a picture of her finished work.  UPDATE:  The last picture shows Suzy’s finished painting.

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Wednesday, 4/13/11: Shawn Demarest

Shawn Demarest set up her French-style easel today with her palette positioned on the drawer of her easel between her canvas and her chair.  To her left, she set up her photographic reference as though she were sitting outdoors viewing her subject to the side of her easel.  Her painting today was inspired by a night-time photo she’d taken of traffic crossing the Ross Island Bridge south of downtown Portland.   Shawn has spent a lot of time painting outdoors on location, or “en plein air.”  This experience has helped her develop skills very useful to painters — quickly taking in a scene and making creative decisions about how to depict forms, light, and colors; selecting and mixing paints from a limited and harmonious range of colors; and choosing the appropriate level of detail to convey the mood and movement of a specific place and time.

Over the past year, a greater amount of Shawn’s work has occurred inside her studio.  Painting indoors has allowed her to keep making paintings during our long, wet winter and as enabled her to work on more pieces at a time when preparing for shows.  Painting in her studio also allows more time to work on each piece without having to worry about changing light or packing up at the end of the day.  With more time to focus on each painting, she can take breaks to get some distance from her work and reflect on the direction her work is taking.

Shawn is inspired by the scenes and places she sees every day in her Southeast Portland neighborhood.   When she’s planning a piece that she will work on indoors, Shawn likes to take photos outdoors that capture a special view or moment.  Her plein air background enables her to keep these special moments fresh and alive in her paintings, even when working indoors away from her subjects.

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Tuesday, 4/12/11: Matt Gauck

Thanks to guest writer Kinoko Evans for today’s post.

As I park my bike next to Matt’s, a crew of his friends on bikes show up to support him. It’s a very Portland day, and we talk the upcoming comics festival as Matt paints a portrait of a barn owl in oils. His portfolio of work is diverse. He’s been painting, creating album art, designing posters and illustrating social justice and narrative images since he graduated in 2005 with his MFA in illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design. His focus shows in the clarity of his visual communication. Even this owl tells a story. There’s a forest of thick vegetation with the top of a ziggurat rising through the canopy behind the snowy barn owl and a wide sky. I ask about the ziggurat and Matt explains. It’s the story of his recent trip to Mexico. “I have been painting a lot of ziggurats lately,” he tells me. The story continues about an owl’s nest that was in the upper temple of one of these Mayan pyramids he had climbed during his travels. Also, he learned of a legend attached to these ruins of a woman who took the form of an owl. She is called “La Chuza the witch owl.” In his painting is reflected the mysticism and the appreciation of the bird, wet with paint.

Matt prefers working in color, and is versatile enough to create line work when necessary for situations such as screen printing. The owl is painted with M. Graham oils. Matt uses only blues and yellows to create his greens, while raw sienna and titanium white also help create his natural palette. He also uses M. Graham walnut oil and remarks that the Windsor & Newton Liquin medium he’s brought is a staple to his process. Using as little as two faded, grayscale references, Matt is able to create this scene without preliminaries and with only a faint penciling of the owl before he begins to paint. He’s recently created a poster for Will Potter’s new book, Green is the New Red. The posters will be available May 16th at Powells books on Hawthorne during Potter’s scheduled reading.

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