Monday, June 29, 2009

Goodbye Road to Asotin

Columbia County Hayfield. Oil on Canvas. 11 x 14.

I believe I've finished my series, Road to Asotin. Not sure. But I think so. Columbia County Hayfield is in that series, middle of the series. The last one in the series was Big Hills, Palouse.

You can see the entire series on my Art Website. Or, the entire series that made it out of my studio. There were several more that found themselves in the 'not good enough' stack in the hallway. I don't abandon paintings quickly. I've found that some simply take a lot more time and layers of paint than others. But the bad stack, well, they're just bad.

I'm working on 7 paintings right now: 3 are in the series, Plateau in Winter, 3 are small paintings from my garden, 1 is a large painting of the Similkameen Valley. By Saturday afternoon all were wet and I had to stop painting.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Barnes Foundation

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Figure, 1886-1887; Oil on Canvas, 28 x 19

Paul Gauguin, M. LouLou, Oil on Canvas, 21 x 18

Vincent van Gogh, The Postman, Joseph-Etienne Roulin, 1889, Oil on Canvas, 26 x 21

Henri Rousseau, Bouquet of Flowers with China Astors and Tokyos, Oil on Canvas, 21 x 18

Two weeks ago my daughter and I had a reservation at The Barnes Foundation, just outside Philadephia. I'd heard this was a remarkable and little known collection. It was fantastic. The building was built to house the collection, there's a large mural by Matisse painted on site, and each room was designed to be a masterpiece.

By that I mean that the arrangement of paintings, furniture and objects in each room was carefully thought through. It's not possible to describe the quantity of masterpieces. They don't allow photos, you won't find much online, I bought cards and scanned a few for my blog. Look again at the paintings above. The Toulouse-Lautrec is unlike his poster art. The Rousseau flowers seem barely contained (the asters look like tigers to me! Rousseau's paintings seem never to get far from the jungle.) The Gauguin boy in his splended clothes but oh, what a background! There are hundreds of Renoirs, a significant collection of Cezanne, Matisse, Pissarro, Modigliani, Picasso and so many others.

If you're anywhere near here, you must visit. Reservations are required and they tend to sell out in advance. There are plans to move the collection to a new building. I'm glad I saw it before the move.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Clouds and Fields on My NEW Website!

Clouds and Fields. Oil on Canvas. 30 x 40.

My website went live today! Please visit it at

Those of you with websites know that this meant a lot of work to get it together and up but it was a labor of love. I actually like things like databases and websites.

I decided to go with an online art template company, called Foliolink. It's been a good experience. They have helpful people ready and willing to chat with me on the phone. I like the work of the other artists I see there. The templates were great and - very important to me - iPhone compatible.

Back to the painting. This is Clouds and Fields from the Road to Asotin series. There's a lot of movement.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Single White Peony

Single White Peony. Oil on Canvas. 10 x 8.

This is another beautiful peony from my garden. It's not nearly as fragrant as Duchesse de Nemours, and it produced fewer flowers this year, but I love single flowers. Those are flowers that have but 5 petals. When a rose has 5 petals we often call it a 'wild rose' but they're simply bred to be single.

The much more double, and much more fragrant Duchesse is still putting out the flowers and I started a new painting today. That'll be the last peony painting for the year.

Afternoon Valley

Afternoon Valley. Oil on Canvas. 18 x 24.

This is in the Road to Asotin series. I sanded this halfway through and then applied glazes so it's a very polished painting with a lot of depth in the dark areas.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Big Hills, Palouse

Big Hills, Palouse. 30 x 36. Oil on Canvas.

I finished this painting Saturday. It's from my Road to Asotin series and is one of my favorites from the series. I've been working on this for more than two months. And by working on it, I mean it's been hanging in the studio while I worked on many other paintings, and occasionally looked at it long and hard to figure out what more to do.

Saturday I added more definition to the hills, decided I liked it loose, lush and fairly thin, and then photographed it today. I think it captures the early morning light in a narrow valley of the Palouse at harvest.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Winter Field

Winter Field. Oil on Canvas. 12 x 18.

This is from my series Plateau in Winter. This is the Waterville Plateau, a high elevation plain in north central Washington that puts you eye to eye with the peaks of the North Cascades. This high elevation means that it's often frozen or foggy in winter.

We went back this Spring as I'm working on painting this area in several seasons. Driving up to the plateau from the Columbia River canyon we were listening to David Sedaris read his book, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. So now I picture the flat road leading up to the plateau and at the same time, I hear David talking about his dad and their rental apartments. It's really hilarious.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Vuillard in the Nursery and at the National Gallery of Art

Edouard Vuillard. Child Wearing a Red Scarf. 1891.

Before my son was born I hung a copy of this painting in a frame from Target in his room where I could see it. When we spotted the original the other day at the National Gallery of Art in the Small French Paintings exhibit, I made a beeline for it. I was surprised during this trip by the number of paintings I saw that had hung in our home for a time. Well, copies of them I mean. They've long since been replaced by original art but still, great memories.

We went to the National Gallery of Art twice on this trip simply because we could. Free museum, free time, it was all good.

And bonus! We found good lunch places nearby. The museum cafe is a disappointment - picture your high school cafeteria but at a price of $15 per person. Fortunately a short walk away is a Potbelly sandwich shop for super cheap eats. We had salads while sitting in the sun on Monday. Or, even better, just around the corner from that is the shortest flight you'll ever take to Oaxaca Mexico. It's Oyamel restaurant at 401 7th Street NW. I woke up this morning thinking about their sour, salty chicken soup with avocado. Yum.

Folk Art Collection at SAAM

Howard Finster. "God is Love. Seek his will and find his peace he saves from sin." After 1970.

There is a wildly entertaining folk art collection at SAAM. It occurred to me seeing this that you can't really go wrong when you write your thoughts and your story on your paintings. I love it. It's deeply interesting to me and truly a people pleaser.

One of my favorite contemporary painters is Stephen Hannock. I don't mean to imply that his remarkable works are like the Finster painting, but one of the qualities I love is that he embeds his personal story into his landscapes in the form of collage and writing. Two of his large landscapes are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I'm fascinated with how I see my landscape differently after seeing the meaning he attributes to his. In a place where you've lived a portion of your life, each corner and every street is rich with memory.

Lunder Conservation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

In case you've wondered (I always have) how works of art are cared for, repaired and conserved, this is the place! They have lots of information on videos and you can see the conservation studios at work.

The top photo is the painting studio where they restore paintings. In the lower photo you can see a repair in progress. See the sign that says 'Art Below' and 'Don't Move'? There's a painting weighted down.

The Center even has a large interactive display in the hallway that discusses careers in art conservation. Perfect for kids who can always use more information about options and opportunities. After all, who knew at age 14 that people make a living repairing masterpieces?

Next time you're in DC visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) w/ the Luce Center for art (thousands of paintings stuffed in glass cases - I love it that their storage area is open to nose around in), the Lunder Conservation Center, the Portrait Gallery and the SAAM.

Treasures at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Wayne Thiebaud. Levee Farms. 1996.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is a treasure and for us, a great find. We couldn't find much information about it ahead of time. Turns out it was closed for six years for renovation which is why it seems to have fallen off our radar screen.

This painting is one of many wonders in their 20th century collection. My daughter took a picture of Joan Mitchell's Sunflowers painting for her cell phone screen saver. They also have a good collection of paintings from the Hudson River school and a nice room with Albert Ryder paintings.

I was intrigued by this recent aerial landscape by Wayne Thiebaud.

I'm working on a large aerial landscape of the Similkameen Valley in north central Washington right now and was interested to see Thiebaud's approach. His paintings of pastries, ice cream and other wondrous treats are well known. Personally I feel there aren't nearly enough cupcake paintings in the world. I love his work.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Picasso at the Phillips

Picasso, Woman With Green Hat, 1939.

This may be my favorite photo from the Phillips. I can't wait to go back there.

The Phillips Collection, Washington DC

Chaim Soutine, Return from School After the Storm, circa 1939

This is a private museum, housed in a series of town houses in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of DC. This museum is a must - we loved it. It's an extraordinary collection of modern art, especially American modern art. Each painting is well signed with interesting information. I learned a lot.

Jacob Lawrence is an African American artist who painted a series of 60 paintings in the 1940's, 'The Migration.' Half are here, half are at the Museum of Modern Art. Fantastic!

Renoir's famous and fantastic Luncheon of the Boating Party is here. I had a print of this on my wall when I was a teenager.

There's a small room with 4 Rothko paintings. As they explained, he intended his paintings to be experienced up close, in smaller rooms. It felt like a chapel.

Van Gogh in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Van Gogh: Portrait of Camille Roulin

This was an incredible painting. Some of Van Gogh's paintings have lost their intensity since he used Alizarin Crimson but not this one. Vivid.

I also loved a large landscape on exhibit by Peter Doig. It was a special exhibit so no photos allowed, but I sketched it.

Philadelphia Museum of Art & Cezanne

Cezanne - the Large Bathers

The Philadelphia Museum of Art had several breathtaking Van Gogh paintings and a truly large and wonderful Chagall but I think this painting of bathers by Cezanne was my favorite.

That's my daughter admiring the painting up close.

They also have a remarkable collection of Thomas Eakins - a native son - but oddly, I took no pictures of his incredible paintings. But we enjoyed them.

I like that this museum has a great website and you can see the collection online: The bookstore had everything 25% off while we were there so I bought 3 books: Cezanne & Pissarro, published by the Museum of Modern Art, Matisse, published by Taschen, Morandi, published by Prestel. My daughter was tempted by a Babar book called Babar's Museum of Art. Famous paintings have the head replaced by Babar's head. The Scream by Munch was hilarious.

Philadelphia and Washington DC

Just back from a quick trip to Philadelphia and Washington DC to visit my daughter and see museums. We saw amazing things. I'll post my favorite image from each museum. Or I'll try - it's hard to choose.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Three Trees in the Palouse

Three Trees in the Palouse. Oil on Canvas. 18 x 24.

This is a study for a larger painting and its one I think worked well. This is from an area in eastern Washington, near Uniontown. Its a terrific little town with a bakery and a saloon - cool and refreshing on a hot August day - that serves homemade potato chips. Delicious.

I'm on the east coast visiting my daughter and we have reservations tomorrow morning to visit the Barnes Foundation, just outside Philadelphia. I can't wait!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hills at Sunset

Hills at Sunset. Oil on Canvas. 15 x 30

These are the tops of the hills in the Palouse, near Waitsburg, as the sun is setting.

I spent the morning getting my new database loaded and up and running, full of my painting information. After a lot of research I went with Its an Access based program and that works better on my laptop than the more common Filemaker based art databases. So far its great and will enable me to be organized and track my work.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rosa moyesii 'Highdownensis'

Rosa moyesii 'Highdownensis'. Oil on gessoboard. 7" x 5".

We've had sunshine here in Bellingham for over a week now and my roses are blooming. This afternoon I painted this cutting from my garden.

Rosa moyesii grows like a tall shrub - it's about 10' tall with great dappled shade in my back garden. Single red roses. Love it.

Waterville Fog

Waterville Fog. Oil on Canvas. 18 x 24.

The Waterville Plateau is a high elevation area in north central Washington State. There's an old town there with one of those cool old hotels. Everyone knows everyone. People have restored old cafes and the sidewalks are high off the surface of the street. It's not on the way to anywhere for me but I like to go through there, especially in winter when the fields are frozen and the fog thick.

My grandmother was born not far from here, after you drop down off the plateau, even further to nowhere. A place called Wilson Creek.

This painting is from a series called Plateau in Winter.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Hills 1. Oil on Canvas. 16 x 30.

This is the landscape near Dayton in the Palouse. I love the eroded hills. The foreground is a field of grass in late August - dry and golden.

Those are the colors that define the west for me: the browns and purples of the hills and the many tones of yellow. This painting is one of my favorites of the Road to Asotin series.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Field of Wheat

Field of Wheat - 14 x 28 - Oil on Canvas
This is a painting I finished about a month ago, in the Road to Asotin series. The Palouse at wheat harvest has an amazing light quality. I'm happy with how this one turned out.

Road through the Hills

Road through the Hills. Oil on Canvas. 16 x 20.

I finished this painting yesterday. Or at least I think I did. It's still hanging in the studio so I might find an improvement or two to make. It's from a large and ongoing series called Road to Asotin.

Road to Asotin:

Last year I worked as the Field Director for Governor Gregoire's re-election campaign in Washington State. It was a remarkable experience: I saw stunning landscapes, worked for one of this country's most exceptional women, and got to know great people both on the campaign and in the communities we visited.

We traveled to the most beautiful corners of the state including my favorite area, the Palouse.

We spent two days traveling to Asotin County in August and my current series of work is based on that trip.

White Peony

Friday night we had a party to celebrate the good people running for local office. I picked peonies for my kitchen. Yesterday I painted one set in a milk bottle.

Bonus: my studio smells fantastic. It's a Duchesse de Nemours peony.

Last year I had the great good fortune to visit Bologna, Italy with my daughter and was delighted to find the Morandi Museum there. I've always been a fan. I bought a set of postcards and they're pinned to a large bulletin board in my studio. Lined up like that I finally noticed that sometimes his table is beige and his wall gray, in other paintings the wall beige and the table gray.

White Peony. Oil on Canvas. 8 x 10.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

100 Paintings

In art school one of my painting professors told me that once I'd painted 100 paintings, I'd be an artist. There's a lot to that.

I'm nearly there.