Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Time Passage

"Spring Wallows"
oil on panel

Has it really been almost four years since I've posted both a painting and a musing here? As improbable as that seems to me, the more fantastic an idea is that, as I was looking through the blog here (trying to re-familiarize myself), I noticed I still had followers. 

I'm kind of assuming that even though their profiles still are listed, they've probably moved on long ago....but in case they (and you who might be reading this) haven't, "Hello again!"

I won't bore anyone with what has been happening for the last four years that has kept me away from the easel -- there will be plenty of stories to tell going forward. For now, I will simply say that it's nice to be back; both here and especially at the easel. You'll probably notice going forward that this blog will change a bit. For one thing, I'm more long-winded than I used to be. 

For some time, I've wanted to return to writing something more substantial than random rants on Facebook or what ever could be squeezed into a Twitter or Instagram block. this old school blogging may not be the trendiest platform, but I feel the longer format demands something that the others don't: thoughtfulness. Formulation of more coherent ideas, and cogent discussions, than can be summed up with an animated GIF and a pithy comment. It's something that seems to be a bit of a lost idea in 2019. 

Art will still be the focus. Along with it though, I hope to include discussions and thoughts on the business of being an artist working in multiple disciplines and how the changes society and our culture have gone through have affected the arts. Enough of that for now....

About the painting (this is a bit of a long one. Sorry.):

Roughly 4 years ago, I was invited to be an art festival in Northeastern Oregon in the Wallowa Valley. It was a beautiful festival run by incredibly nice and generous folks and my wife and I had a lot of fun. During the course of the week, we wandered around painting and photographing an area that, being a native Northwestern and having grown up in Oregon, I was embarrassed to admit I knew virtually nothing about. I kept returning this this particular meadow and painted probably a dozen different views...strangely enough, this was the only one that showed the mountains.

A few nights ago, as I was pulling my old materials and gear out to kick start a return to painting, I found this study I had done, and the entire day came back to me like it was just last week. The clouds had been covering all of the peaks the entire morning and I had simply been concentrating on groups of trees around the meadow. Without warning the clouds broke, the sun came out, and these mountains still dusted with spring snow gleamed like diamonds. 

In my haste to move my setup, I knocked over my cup of brushes from my easel and ALL of them landed bristles first in the soft mud at my feet along with my turp cup. My wife had taken the car and gone off in search of more photographic subject matter, and taken along with her all of my back-up gear. With no way to satisfactorily clean my brushes, I was left with only my painting knife to render this entire painting -- not something I've ever had to do before. I muddled through, put the paining in one of my carriers, and figuring it was a loss, forgot about it....until the other night.

When I looked at it through the prism of several years, I actually liked the energy with which I had been forced to push the paint around that day using a tool that wasn't very comfortable at the time. I touched up a few of the flowers in the foreground and broke a static line in the fence, but other than that, it's pretty much the painting I panicked my way through that morning in the Wallowas.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Memories of warmer times....kind of....not that I'm complaining...

 "Forest Grove Meadow"
oil on panel
"Lost Road"
oil on panel

It's been cold here in the Northwest this week. Not Mid-West or Northeast cold, mind you...but chillier than normal. Not that I'm complaining. My wife and I actually like the cold, and wait for months to bundle up with a scarf, grab a nice latte (or hot chocolate), and take the dog for a walk in the woods nearby or around the city. A brisk, chilly walk up to the Rose Gardens above the city is sometimes the perfect way to shake out the cobwebs.

However......and I admit this freely.....I don't care for painting in the cold. I can't feel my hands, the paint doesn't move, and I usually wind up dropping my brush or knife at least once due to the aforementioned lack of feeling. Even though I fight through it because I love winter scenery, I prefer spring/summer painting outings and think fondly of them when I'm out in the cold trying to get my hands to work.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Trying to make the most of off-time....

6x12; oil on panel
Early Autumn Sunset
6x6; oil on panel

Currently on vacation from both work and school, I'm trying to take advantage of the time off and use it as a springboard to get back into painting regularly. So far, I've been pretty diligent...I'm just hoping I can keep it up once class and work starts back up full-time -- until then, I'm having a lot of fun....

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Feeling my way....

 After Rain
6x6; oil on panel

Filtered Sky
6x6; oil on panel

....a second day back at the easel and some things are getting more familiar; some not so much.

 I went through a very similar experience last summer when I picked up my horn for the first time in four years. I had been writing and recording music, just not playing any on saxophone (which is actually my main instrument). Armed with the crazy notion that I might go back to school, I scheduled an audition for the music department two weeks out......and off I went to the practice room....

What followed was two weeks of the most humbling, frustrating, and painful hours/days in recent memory -- and that includes recovery from emergency abdominal surgery :) My beloved 1959 Selmer saxophone -- my first true love -- felt like a foreign object. As the days progressed, ideas and technique that became more clearly remembered in my mind were simply not in my hands any longer. I would go to play something I heard very distinctly in my head and my fingers could not make the connection -- the muscle memory was gone.....or at least, very much asleep.....more to this story later....

....so here I am again, returning to something that I haven't done for quite some time and feeling like I'm staring at the bottom of a very large mountain -- fortunately, I believe I know the path up a little better this time.

Still, it will be an interesting journey

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

First new painting in almost two years....

9x12; oil on cradled panel

This scene is very familiar to me....a stand of poplars that I've returned to many times -- and plan to re-visit many more. It seemed like a fitting way to begin the second chapter of this journey -- a more diverse version of the journey I hope, as I feel more and more each day that I am in a better balanced state of mind with regard to both my musical pursuits and painting. It's been a long road back to both....

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

To and Fro....

A short time ago, a friend had posted a statement on a particular social media site that he was retired from playing his trumpet and focusing his creative energies in a different musical direction. He appreciated the sentiment expressed by followers that he should pick up his horn again, but was pretty firm in his conviction. He basically said to all involved (I'm paraphrasing here), "...this is where my life is...deal with it..."

It got me thinking. I could relate completely to what he was saying. I've had a few of those periods where I've turned away from what a number of people considered my primary creative outlet, compelled to explore other avenues of expression. At one point (as some readers know), I put music aside completely and took up landscape painting full-time. Fortunately, my wife was remarkably understanding and supportive; which probably spoke more to her patience and humanity than to my promise as a visual artist. More on that in another entry....back to my friend....

 Understand, we are talking about a supremely gifted trumpet player, and possibly one of the most innately talented people I've ever had the privilege of being around -- and there have been a lot of them, to my good fortune. But as all musicians know, music (and for that matter, all art) is a path that usually chooses us, not the other way around. It's my feeling that our responsibility lies in recognizing the changes that this path sets before us from time to time, and responding in the best way we know.

The great Charles Lloyd has said that it is our job to be "in service to the music." Think about what that means. In the metaphysical sense it means we have a responsibility to something much larger than our own career microcosms (as important as those are, day to day). But aside from that, it also means we, as artists, have a responsibility to pay attention and be fully engaged in whatever we do. It means recognizing in ourselves those times when we need to push forward against mental or physical difficulties. To face creative fears and insecurities. To maintain our understanding of a changing, fluid environment and how we can best serve and survive that environment. And to have the courage, dedication and conviction to explore creative avenues, even when it flies in the face of what those around us feel is prudent or proper.

 A teacher once told me "...you want to become a better musician, become a better human being...write poetry, paint, play a new instrument...live a human's life..." This single statement could be a subject for an entire blog in itself. But as it applies to this particular situation, I think the meaning is very clear. By doing something different, and being fully present in doing so; it will only serve to expand our understanding of creativity in all forms, and thereby serve to benefit our original path. One will feed the other.

 I don't know if my friend will ever return to the trumpet. If he does, I'm confident it will be with even greater capacity for expression and joy than before, and we will all be the better for it. Until then, he will continue to be in service to the music the best way he knows how.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The merging of two worlds...

So....after many, many months of indecision and waffling, I've decided to begin posting both my visual musings and musical ones here on the same blog -- for now.....buckle up, gang; I was a musician long before I started painting, and it's a pretty twisty road to and from. To start, I'd better set the record straight. I am indeed still painting. About a year ago, I came to the conclusion that I needed two things; 1) To study my newer craft much more privately for a time to discover what kind of a painter I want to be; and 2) A JOB. I went back to writing music for a living after four years away, and probably the most fascinating thing about that change, is how a couple of years of painting changed the way I approach nearly everything in music -- but more on that in another post. For now, it's enough to say that I'm fairly certain I needed to go on that multi-year journey, to come back to the art form that first took me back when I was twelve years old. I'm hoping to share those insights, and discover new ones, with a re-dedication to this blank space here in the digital ether. Peace B

Monday, February 11, 2013

A little shameless self-promotion.....

Back to paintings tomorrow....but for today...a couple of short logo videos that I created and scored the music for demos....

Calling Rain Studios is my music company
Village Row Media is a production company with my wife Kim

Saturday, February 9, 2013

"Winter Display"

Always amazes me how many colors are still on display in nature during the winter....
"Winter Display"
8x10; oil on panel

Friday, February 8, 2013