Tuesday, November 12, 2013

See my work at Alberta Street Pub during November

My show at the Alberta Street Pub in Portland features 18 paintings, most of them Oregon landscape scenes. In recognition of the venue I'm also showing a few beer paintings. I hope you can stop by to take a look and if you do be sure to have something to eat--the food is good and they serve boiled peanuts in a hot broth--delicious!

Friday, September 6, 2013

News flash! Flat file finished!

Alan at work.
(Bet you can't say that 10 times fast.) A few months ago I acquired a used oak flat file for $100. It stood on its side in our dining room collecting dust and clutter while I hemmed and hawed about what kind of stand I wanted. My husband offered to build one, and last week we finally decided on a good design and Alan got right to work. Using his borrowed ancient Craftsman table saw he "milled" 4x4s into 3x3s for the legs, attached 2x4 cross braces and shelf supports, and installed locking rollers so I can move it around and then stop it in its tracks. We went to Portland's Rebuilding Center to pick up a $3 scrap of Formica to cover the new plywood top and shelf Alan built. After staining the wood to match the oak color of the flat file and applying thin strips of oak to finish the edges of the top and shelf, we moved it yesterday up into my studio. Wow! It's beautiful! I've lined the drawers with glassine cut to size (along with extra sheets to put between paintings) and put works in progress in the top few drawers. Finished large-format works will go in the lower drawers until they're ready to be framed. Smaller finished work is stored elsewhere, another story for another day.
Drawers lined with glassine
Ready to go!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Pastels in the Hood" exhibit at The Gorge White House, Hood River

Tangled at the Top/pastel/10x7
During the month of September I'm joining several other members of the Northwest Pastel Society for our third consecutive annual "Pastels in the Hood" exhibit at The Gorge White House in Hood River, Oregon. Other participating artists include Michael Fisher, Caroline Garland, Christine Knowles, Gretha Lindwood, Barbara Szkutnik, and Janice Wall. Our work represents the Columbia Gorge, Mt. Hood and Hood River areas.
Horsetail Falls/pastel/17x11
Copse and Field (Mosier, OR)/pastel/12x18

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pastels and Natural Light workshop with Bill Cone in the Sierra Nevadas

Sarah & Bill at final critique (Photo: Melissa King)
I don't recall how I originally stumbled upon Bill Cone's blog, must have been one of those "one link leads to another" adventures, but when I saw his landscape paintings I was blown away. His popular one-week plein air workshop in the Sierra Nevadas fills up almost immediately and although it took me more than a year to get in, I am happy to report that Pastels and Natural Light at the San Francisco State University Sierra Nevada Field Campus was even more than I'd hoped for. I joined thirteen other students--our ranks included architects, animators, and graphic artists, most of whom live in the Bay area--for five full days of painting meadows, rivers, lakes, mountains, and rocks (my personal favorite.) Our experience included camping, swimming, and hikes loaded down with plein air gear; my pack weighed about 35 lbs. (Note to self: lighten up!) At the end of the day we looked forward to a hearty, delicious meal prepared by staff, lively conversations, and a sound sleep from all the fresh air, exercise, and focused concentration on our painting. Bill taught us more than I could comprehend about painting water: surface, reflections, depth, rocks on the bottom and their shadows, what to look for where rocks emerge from the water...it goes on and on and yes, he says, he actually is planning to write a book about it. I can't wait to go back again next year! By day Bill works at Pixar. His work is featured on the cover of the August Pastel Journal.

Light and shadow in the meadow
Me on remote location
Bill Cone's work on cover

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My favorite model

Alan being patient
...is my husband, Alan. Whenever I need a subject to paint, he's willing--and he holds long poses without complaining.  He tells me I'm a good artist, encourages me to work, helps me get ready for shows, and listens to me talk about colors and shadows and techniques and workshops. He cuts the mats and does the framing, photographs my work and loads the images into Photoshop. He helps and supports me in every possible way. July 19 is his birthday. Happy birthday, Al! I love you!

Alan relaxing in Mazatlan
Alan reading on the beach
Alan doing laps in Florida

Friday, July 12, 2013

A new friend + good weather + lavender = a great paint-out!

A beautiful day at Red Ridge Farm
July means lavender's in bloom, and although I'm not participating in the Oregon Lavender Festival this year I didn't want to miss an opportunity to paint at one of the featured farms. Fellow pastelist Debbie Robinson and I have gotten to know each other at a couple workshops and decided to meet up for a day of plein air painting at Red Ridge Farms. What a beautiful location, and it even has an olive mill! It's larger and more developed than some of the other lavender farms and we had plenty of great scenes to choose from. That's half the battle--deciding what to paint! We started in the same location facing different directions, and then a couple hours later moved to new spots. As the day progressed the sun got too hot for comfort so we decided to finish up back in our studios. Come winter when the Oregon rains return, I'll pull the memory of this beautiful day out to warm my soul.

Debbie sketches a hillside for her 2nd painting
Two buddhas?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Showing off

How does it look?
Although I've participated in quite a few group art shows, last week was the first time I was the featured painter. Sixteen of my most recent pastels will be on exhibit at Tate Condominiums in Eugene through the end of August. I'm sharing the limelight with sculptor Debbe Cornitius whose stone and metal sculptures are remarkably compatible with my work. Because the show is in a private residence it was open to the public only during the reception last week. The exhibit looks great, the reception was well-attended, and lots of friends from our 35 years in Eugene showed up to lend support and share my happiness. Four paintings sold at the reception and another one sold a few days later! I want to give special recognition to my husband, Alan, who does all my matting and framing. As one of the guests who has worked in galleries said, "The presentation is a big part of the impact and Alan's work very nicely done."
Tricia, Dorothy, Larry
Debbe's sculptures + my paintings = gorgeous exhibit

Tricia, Sarah, Dorothy, Geraldine
Debbe, Sherrill, Sally
Geraldine, Sarah, Ed
Debbe and I discuss our art with the guests
Justin, Julie and Ed

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Springtime in Portugal/pastel/18x12
I've been busy getting work ready for a show this summer. Here are three new paintings that will be in the show. They have at least five qualities or features in common. Can you guess what I'm thinking about?

Sun and Shadow on a Gravel Road/pastel/18x12
Copse and Field (Mosier, Oregon)/pastel/12x18

Monday, May 27, 2013

Random thoughts about paint and pigment

Me and my teachers in Jaipur, India in 2009.
Here I'm shown with my teachers of miniature painting in Jaipur, India, in 2009, holding my interpretation of the goddess Saraswati. There were only three students in the class and the others left after an hour or so but I stayed all day and my teachers said I was the best non-Indian student they'd ever had. (I'm not sure if they admired my ability or my persistence!) We made our paints by mixing powdered pigment (similar to that in the photos below) with water. One of the brushes was made from a camel's eyelash, another from squirrel hairs.

Paint pigments for sale at a market in India.
Paint pigment in Venice, Italy, March 2009.
When I paint in public with pastels folks often ask, "Is that chalk?" Nope. Pastels are paints in solid form. Paint is made of pigment (particles of color) held together with a binder, and the nature of the binder determines the kind of paint and how it can be applied. Oil paint pigments are held together with linseed oil and runny or mushy when squeezed from the tube so are usually applied with a brush or knife. Pastels are made by mixing pigment, water and a binder such as gum arabic or gum tragacanth into a paste which is then compressed and dried into sticks of color. Pastels have a higher concentration of pigment than any other artist medium which explains why their colors are so brilliant. Another unique quality of painting with pastels is that they're applied to a surface by hand (much like drawing) with no brush to get in the way. Pigments can be organic, inorganic, or synthetic and can come from animal, vegetable, mineral or synthetic sources. Ochres and iron oxides come from the earth and have been used since prehistoric times. Natural indigo blue comes from a plant. The color burnt sienna is produced by baking a certain soil from Italy in a furnace then grinding it into powdered pigment. Because blue and purple pigments were difficult and expensive to obtain, those colors were associated with royalty in ancient times. To learn more about pigments, Wikipedia has a thorough and fascinating explanation. 

Sindoor applied to a stone carving in India.
Paint is used throughout the world for a variety of practical, aesthetic and religious purposes. In India, red sindoor (vermilion) is often applied to the part in a woman's hair to indicate that she is married, or as a "tilaka" or "bindi" on the forehead. Sindoor can  be made from turmeric powder which becomes red when mixed with lime juice or lime powder and moistened in water. In the photo to the left, paint is regularly applied to an ancient religious image.

There's a lot to learn and love about paint!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Making lace in Barcelona

Spanish Dancer Wearing a Lace Mantilla by Mary Cassatt
One day in Barcelona on my way to somewhere else, I passed a little shop where women were gathered around a table making lace. It was the Escola de Puntaires de Barcelona, a school that teaches the centuries'-old art of lace-making with bobbins in a style specific to the region of Catalonia.   (Here's the link to their Facebook page.) To the left is a painting by Mary Cassatt featuring a Spanish mantilla or veil, a traditional item of clothing that is often thrown over the top of a tall comb called a peineta.

I found a link to an informative website on Spanish lace making that includes a remarkable "old timey" video in Spanish about lace. And here's another link to information about Spanish lace written by the lace-making expert Carolina de la Guardia. Additional internet searches for Catalonia lace show that clothing designer Calvin Klein has used it to decorate a line of women's underwear.

The women making lace at Escola de Puntaires welcomed me into their shop. I, with my limited Spanish, and they, with their
limited English, managed to communicate friendship and mutual joy in the creation of beautiful objects.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Painting on the Road: Ronda, Spain

Canopy of trees made wispy shadows
Ronda, Spain, is one of the pueblas blancas (white villages) with Moorish roots built along cliffs for strategic defense advantages. The scenery in Ronda is especially spectacular. One day while my husband hiked I stayed behind to paint. There were so many views to choose from! Most of the wide vistas felt overwhelming to me, so I chose the more intimate setting of the lovely Alameda del Tajo park established in the 19th c. A musician was playing her dulcimer as tourists and residents strolled, lingered on park benches, and chatted with friends. Chirping and fluttering birds along with the scent of wisteria, orange blossoms and jasmine were carried on a warm breeze. When working en plein air I generally work for about 3-4 hours and get two paintings started, taking a few photos of my scene as I go along. This allows me to catch the light on my subject and finish the painting in my studio if it continues to interest me. I don't necessarily want to replicate exactly what I see (I have the photograph to show me "reality"), but I do want to capture what interested me about what I saw or my feelings or memories about the day or the place. On this particular day I was thinking about light and shadow and pink blossoms. And I was feeling very, very happy.

Ronda, Spain
Ronda, Spain

Ronda, Spain

Ronda, Spain

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Painting on the Road: Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

Picasso's sherry at Bodega Tio Pepe, Jerez, Spain
Jerez (pron. hair-eth) de la Frontera is located in Andalucia in Southern Spain, a jewel of a city with an alcazar (Moorish palace/fortress), archaeological museum, bodegas (wine cellars, especially sherry--the word is an version of "Jerez"), equestrian farms, clock museum, outrageous flamenco and tapas bars... I could go on and on. But here are a few pictures to tell a story about sculpture, painting, urban design, ceramics, topiary, food presentation, music...all the sensual attributes of perception (texture/form/scent/line/compositions/color/taste/sound) that make an artist swoon.

Chandelier in our room, Jerez
La Cura del Flamenco, Jerez

Sherry dedicated to Jean Cocteau at Tio Pepe in Jerez
Every door had a knocker, most are unique.
Hungry? Eat!

Que quiere decir? No se.

Young people having fun at Damajuana, Jerez

The scent of orange blossoms,  everywhere

Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre

Grapevines will provide shade
Jerez Alcazar
Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte
Ancient relic at archaeological museum, Alcazar, Jerez
French clock, clock museum, Jerez
What lies beyond? Follow the light.
Museo Arqueológico Municipal de Jerez 
Alcazar is a feast for the senses