Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Painting Summer Memories

With the continuing days of summer, I have a collection of visual happenings taking place into July.

The third and final of the Eden Vale Winery Plein Air Workshop ties up neatly the class while it sparks the beginning of this journal page. The demo I selected was simple when compared the to previous "architectural" image from the day before. I selected this contrast-y silhouette of these planter pots against the rich background. I kept the foreground wall and bricks abstract to drive your eye to the pots. Those I waited to detail out until the entire image was dry ~ giving me great hard edges and brilliant colors. Later in the afternoon during our critique time, the gentleman with whom I make arrangements at Eden Vale, Aaron, dropped by to make sure we were comfy and happy. With a beautiful venue, terrific participants and  perfect weather, how could we have been anything but content?

Later in June, the Applegate Valley had advertised it's summer celebration at Cantrell-Buckley Park. The lovely site right on the meandering Applegate River was to have food and music and we head all the way out to the park on the 16th of June . . . only to see the sign advertising the event for, you guessed it, the following weekend!! That next weekend found me with many deadlines and when I'd completed my tasks, we arrived at the celebration - - just as things were closing up. Argh! But, Ro still snagged a glass of local wine and I my camera and we relaxed down by the river. This memory captured a tiny, brilliant yellow bird dipping in and out of the water just in front of the river's rock and a teeny lil' hang glider from the annual hang gliders nearby competition.

With the first weekend in July comes the annual Salmon Celebration. An all weekend event way out on the Rogue River includes honoring the salmon catch and the Native American Indian reverence for this harvest. We traveled out for the salmon roasting dinner and prayerful dedication that precedes it. T'was such a joy seeing people nested into camping nests and children enjoying the river. Gramma Agnes was there to contribute to the energy and I loved watching how the elders were honored as they were gently glided to the front of the dinner line. There is so much our current society could learn from the Native American traditions. Here I've savored the manner, smell and wildness of the roasting salmon, cut in large slices, speared and poked into the ground next to the glowing red fire pit for slow cooking. Ahhhh, the sweetness of summer here . . . in southern Oregon.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Plein Air Painters Escapades

One of my favorite classes to teach is Plein Air (painting on location out in nature). One of the most accommodating and welcoming spots I've found in the Rogue Valley, which offers up languid landscapes, blossoming gardens, lush vineyards and an elegant historic mansion, is Eden Vale Winery! Yes, I'm recommending visiting !!!

 Each of the three day workshop, we gather early to catch the morning shadows. We do a review of materials, design and planning and after a brief demo from me . . . everyone selects their own favorite subject matter to work up. To start out I do a small but fun lil' scene of the vineyards with background wine processing building. I aim at keeping it simple and capturing the feeling of the day. I'm pretty happy with this image.

In between assisting everyone with their images, I find a snippet of time to start the quick image of the yellow roses and the Adirondack Chairs dotting the grassy areas. Now you know how I love detail and finishing things off - - but with others suggestions to just "leave it alone, it's fresh", I've done just that (no, I didn't have to tie my hands back!).

The second day of the workshop we follow a similar agenda and I have my participants select what subject they would like me to do for the quick demo painting. The select: "architecture". Oh MY!! I have to admit that although architecture can be lovely, I tend to get all anal working on the perspective and square subject matter. But . . . I follow through with my commitment. I wander the grounds seeking a clean and uncomplicated object, letting my students hear exactly what I'm seeking. And, just as usual, once I get started on man-made subject matter, I find complications. This overhanging porch with graceful grapevines dangling appears easy, right? Well, once I started drawing the supporting horizontal beams, I went nuts attempting to define what was sky or beams. I eventually decided to go "loose" and just randomly drop in vines and sky. It pretty much worked ... but re-affirmed my avoidance of linear items. I will never make an architect!!!

Just to share some of the lovely journal work produced during the workshop, here's a lushly illustrated passion vine as well as a delicately depicted rustic pot with dancin' grasses!
And in case you wonder what the totality of my days working onsite for the Eden Vale Winery Workshop, here's the full two page spread (one more to come on the next page from day three). Love to hear your input or experiences with painting on location!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Columbia Gorge Adventure

Honest, I've not fallen off the planet. Just been absorbed and busy planning/participating/recovering in life. So hopefully, with understanding in your spirits, we'll pick up in June, from where I left off!

Early June, my lil' family, Roland, Cody (the Golden Retriever) and I, decide to take a spin up and around the Columbia River Gorge. T'was a multipurpose trip: 1)both Roland and I have birthdays to celebrate and 2) I'm on a mission to discover a secondary plein air painting sight for my upcoming tandem-taught workshop with Elinor Peace Bailey in July.

This birthday is a "second birth" that I commemorate ... this year it is celebrating my 27th year 'clean and sober'. For those of you who didn't know this about me ... well, all I can say is, it's been an amazing trip. From where I was 27 years ago, into who I've become and further ... into all the possibilities open to me ... I've come to see life with less fear and more joy and trust. So, depicted on the left side of this journal spread are two loving and beautiful partial cards I received to remember that event. I continue to feel honored by the friends I've made along my path. I'm the one celebrating :)

After Roland and I trek to Portland, lodge, dine out to celebrate his birthday (yes, the belly-button one) and slumber, we are up to meander along the old Highway 30 along the Gorge. At one of the waterfalls, Roland picks a sweet white flower for me :) Soon we arrive at the "Vista House" that is one of the sites I'll work from in the workshop. We poke and prod around, seeking areas that could offer more privacy, quiet and reflection. But with no trees, and only small shaded areas evident, we hop in the car to find a more intimate experience for my participants. Within five minutes we come across a picnic area tucked away with the exact conditions I'd hoped for. I called the park service and made my reservations. Job DONE! So following a late lunch in Hood River we doddle along our route back to Portland.

Across the remainder of the journal page is probably my favorite scene, that, to me, reflects the deepest of meanings the Columbia Gorge carries for me. At the Bridge of the Gods at the Cascade Locks we pull in where frequently we come across Native Americans selling smoked salmon and cherries. That scene paralleled by the strong mural upon the supports of the bridge (of how life was before the White Man and then, how it became after the White Man) brings tears to my eyes. The imagined vision of the powerful river, so alive and vital to the Native way of life, contrasted by the current Native Americans pedaling here in the parking lot saddens me. I hope I've captured the beauty and power I sense in the memory of this area with my sketch. But really . . . can there ever be enough pigment and emotion to do that?