From High Above

I sat on a the edge of a cliff to do this painting. Okay, “sat” isn’t quite the right word, but the cliff is pretty close by. This is a really cool spot overlooking the Willamette Valley to the east. I hadn’t been here for a long time; for some reason the “authorities” welded shut the access gate, although jumping over the fence is actually pretty easy because it is not very high. A couple other people were there at this spot at the same time as me, enjoying the view.

With this painting I struggled to get the cliff part to come forward and the background to go back. I did have a real hard line on the horizon at first, and blurring that out seemed to help. I also tried to make the actual cliff real visually busy, to bring it forward.

The “buildings in the distance” effect I was trying to go for was somewhat effective I suppose.




Windy Skies

I tipped the paper over to the side for this one, so the water would run across the page and not down. Since the weather was so warm on that day, the paper was drying very quickly, making it easy for backwash “squiggles” to form.

I think this painting was able to capture the “busy” sky that was happening on this day, and the sense of wide open space. I kind of wish I had more direction and purpose to those sky shapes, although at least it has one big sort of white shape on the upper left that gives it a little drama. Also, I suppose the small marks towards the bottom help give a little sense of distance or receding space.



A Rock

A couple weeks ago I did this painting of a rock. Actually it was a couple of rocks and they were sitting right by the bicycle path and they caught my eye somehow. I feel like it is important to try to be able to turn any scene into a successful painting, so this was some practice for me in that regard. I suppose it is also practice to “see with the mind’s eye.” I find that some of my best paintings are only loosely based on the scene in front of me.

This rock was actually placed there by humans (as opposed to some natural process). It is part of the Whilamut Natural Area in Alton Baker Park. In 2002 some people had the idea of putting rocks around the area and engraving Kalapuya words in them (along with English translations). This is no longer Kalapuya land, and their language is no longer heard along the river banks of the Willamette (apparently there are some surviving Kalapuya to this day but it is unclear how many people speak the language.) Their words are engraved on stones though. It seemed like an admirable effort, to put these stones around with Kalapuya words, but at the same time a little sad. I’m not sure how many people actually look at them. I suppose it is good to have a reminder that some other people once lived here and called it home.

This rock that I painted has Gudu-Kut engraved on it, which means “frog” in Kalapuya.

Apparently Whilamut means “where the river ripples and runs fast,” and there is a stone with that word engraved on it down stream from where I sat, on the back where a riffle forms in the river.




Beginning of Summer

The long shadows of summer are wonderful, I love how they stretch across the ground and never seem to end. On a recent Sunday afternoon it Dorris Ranch, lots of people were out enjoying the shadows, or that is, the sunlight that creates the shadows.

Summer is an exciting time for painting, if nothing else, because of the way paint dries so quickly, which serves as an inspiration of sorts to go more quickly and loosely.





South Willamette Valley vista

One of my favorite places to paint, it is a little hard to describe where it is even. Looking south from an old road, this vantage point offers a view of the Coast Range, I suppose. The cows cluster around each other, not doing much of all except eating. People stroll by on the road, the only traffic, mostly older couples. Occasionally bicyclists pedal by, talking intently. One man stopped and talked to  me and told me how his grand kids laughed at him when he tried to paint, but later did a landscape and salvaged his reputation.

I like the fresh feeling that this painting captured, very lush and humid.







102 degrees and a chance of haze

It has been over 100 the last couple of days in Eugene-Springfield, and the addition of some smokey forest fires made for some pretty spectacular atmospheric conditions. I went up a little north of Coburg to paint.



I wanted to catch the sense of a big sky filled with a dense sort of haze so I put that little tiny house way down in the corner as far as I could put it.

The main thing I learned with this one is to really push the value, not with thick paint, but multiple layers. The blue in the sky is at least two layers and the haze is at least two additional layers. I put down the layer, let it dry completely, then wetted everything, literally the whole page, with a combination of big brush and spray bottle. Then repeated.

I was a little nervous about accidentally taking off the layers underneath, but I tried to be gentle.  Overall the layers gave a nice thick look to the haze. I put a layer of haze over the mountain in the distance, which I think was particularly effective.

I got a little creative with the composition and “erased” some of the houses and trees on the horizon, just leaving one tree and one house. Also made the haze a little more colorful than in real life.

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