Sunday, November 29, 2009

Commissioned Portrait of Willow Moon

Artist at work on Willow Moon - 12 x 16 - charcoal on paper, top
Portrait of Willow Moon - 12 x 15 - charcoal on paper, middle
Portrait of Sunshine Blossom - 12 x 16 - charcoal on paper, bottom
Two years ago Mark Downey of Kelso contacted me to create a charcoal drawing of his new granddaughter Sunshine Blossom. I have no recollection of how he found me, but the result was the above charcoal portrait of a perky 6-month old toddler that he framed and gave to his daughter and son-in-law for Christmas.
Two years later Mark contacted me again to do a portrait of his new granddaughter, Willow Moon, with the intent of giving it as a Christmas present. After several fits and starts with the photo I was to work from (Mark doesn't have a computer and is proud of it) he delivered a photo via CD and flash drive. The result is seen above, a 12 x 16 charcoal drawing to which I added a moon and pussy willow branches onto Willow's tee-shirt. Several of my facebook friends inquired as to what 'Willow Moon' was, to which I replied she was an adobrable granddaughter, as granddaughters tend to be!
Mark is scheduled to pick up his portrait next week and take it to Michaels for framing with his 60% off coupon, as he did in 2006. I think it is a lovely gift, and gives me some much needed Christmas cash while keeping my drawing skills up-to-date.
Join my Facebook fan page and see new paintings in progress. including a classic child's portrait based on another photo of Willow Moon!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Hopeful Symbolism of Wind Energy Technology in Art

Top: Kate Lupo, Middlebury College Art History student
Bottom: Morning Wind, 48 x 60 original oil by Marie Wise
"Kate Lupo is a senior Art History major at Middlebury College who is writing her thesis on the hopeful symbolism of Wind Energy technology in art, spanning from the Dutch Golden age to the present. In her thesis discussion, Kate is delighted to include Marie Wise's beautiful images of modern wind turbines. Due in May, the thesis will be a coalescence of Kate's passions for art and the environmental movement."
- Kate Lupo
I've had a lot of positive feedback since sharing that Kate Lupo, a Middlebury College art history student (seen above) interviewed me for her thesis on the symbolism of wind energy in art. During the interview we discussed many art topics, one of them that the depiction of windmills in art is not new. Kate knows much more about art history than I, and she explained that artists have painted windmills (and other industrial scenes) for decades. Although I'd never thought of it that way, I realized she was right. Artists have painted all sorts of industrial scenes for decades, Monet's railway station and Van Gogh's windmills being two examples.
Why then, we pondered, is it so difficult for people today to process the concept that an artist would choose to paint wind turbines in our modern age? I think it is because people have trouble making the connection between what they conceptualize in their minds as art, and what they see when they look at my paintings. True, they look at them intently, love the colors and politely tell me they've seen them [wind turbines] before. But sometimes a puzzled frown furrows their brow when they ask me why I paint them, or why I like them, or why I'm inspired.
Kate hit the nail on the head when she decided to delve into the concept of symbolism. Although my wind energy painting inspiration comes from direct observations of turbine parts and wind farm projects under construction, Kate understands that the real power of depicting wind energy in art is the symbolism. The symbolism of a solution to global warming. The symbolism of the myriad problems inherent in our country's electrical generation system. The symbolism of the political pressure to find more renewable energy sources. They symbolism of protecting the plants and animals in our world.
Specifically, Kate found inspiration in my painting Morning Wind - seen above. In Morning Wind I included a heron in the foreground as a means of uniting the composition. Kate thought I had included the heron as a symbolic statement, and explained that herons are associated with the bible as symbols of resurrection, regeneration, and renewal. More about herons symbolism. I had no idea herons had this kind of meaning, but in context it makes sense, and seems to give this painting a much more powerful meaning. Maybe that's why so many people like it. Subconsciously they associate it with regeration and renewal! Thanks to Kate for opening my eyes to this concept!
Kate promised to share her thesis when she is finished, and I hope to share it with you (with her permission). In the meantime, if you'd like to contact Kate she's at She attends Middlebury College, a liberal-arts school in upstate Vermont with an enrollment of 2,400, according to a recent article in Time Magazine. The article says its considered one of the greenest schools in the U.S.
The article also says that college president Ronald Liebowitz has pledged to make the college carbon-neutral by 2016, and is well on the way. Earlier this year the school opened a $12 million biomass-gasification plant that uses wood chips from nearby forests and mills. The plant has already cut Middlebury's carbon footprint 40% and reduced fuel costs. But Liebowitz believes the real benefit of going green transcends the bottom line. "This is one of the highest priorities for the country," he says. "It's key for colleges to take the lead and push the envelope. We need to give something back to society." That attitude has put Middlebury at the head of the pack.
It looks like Kate's on the right track, and so is her college!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunflower: Adolescent

This is the third in my sunflower series, and the last this season. I'm tired of sunflowers and moving on. Maybe another will emerge later, maybe not.

The holidays are busy and I don't know if I'll get much painting done, which is my own personal let-down amidst the festive season. It happens every year.

But the good news is I have two commissions lined up, both portraits. I'm looking forward!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends! Don't eat too much pumpkin pie!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Holiday Happenings at the Broadway Gallery

Top to bottom:
Audrey Hoffman with her portrait in the background, paper works and woven scarves
Allan's Fav: Carole Boudreau's watercolor of ferns
Jane Gerdon at the cash register, Carole Boudrea's work in the background
Marie's Fav: Lorena Birk's small painting of a horse
We stopped by the Broadway Gallery for their Annual Holiday Open House on Saturday afternoon around 4:00 pm. Although the weather was nastily stormish there were a few people mulling around, listening to the music and in general admiring the paintings.
One of my favorite artists Audrey Hoffman was there and she showed me her work. On the shelf beside her colorful woven scarves and reclaimed paper diaries was a black-white photograph of her that reminded me of Georgia O'Keeffe. You can see it in the photo above. I hope I'm like Audrey someday! She laughs a lot and reminds me of what Georgia O'Keefe was probably like based on what I've read.
Allan and I always pick our fav artworks when we visit galleries and his by far was Carole Boudreau's watercolor of some ferns. You can see it in the second photo above. Carole is a skilled watercolor artist. Every time we see her work we go, ahhhhh!
I chatted briefly with Jane Gerdon at the cash register, explaining that I'd e-mailed the Broadway Gallery last January because I'm interested in joining again, but no one ever answered. Apparently my e-mails expired in cyberspace. Since the Rake Gallery dissolved I've considered rejoining the Broadway. So if they want me, I'm interested! Jane's pictured in the third photo above.
Finally, my fav was a small painting (very small) of a horse by Lorena Birk. In my opinion it was the best oil/acrylic piece in the gallery. I'm almost tempted to purchase, but then I'm not really a horsy person. You can see it in the fourth picture above.
While at the gallery I picked up a copy of North Bank magazine's winter 2009 issue which included a nice article about the Broadway Gallery written by Jessica Swanson. Jessica's my Facebook friend and she did a nice job. I think she's also a new mom. Thanks Jessica! However, the article mentioned today's holiday open house and said to, 'watch the [Broadway Gallery] website for more information.' So I checked the Broadway Gallery website and it appears the last time it was updated was September. I couldn't find any information about the holiday open house. Wonder if they're looking for a webmaster?
Finally, I'm hoping my friend Laurel Murphy will take the lead and start blogging about the local art scene. The best way to learn is to just do it!
~ I will keep the brush happy in my hands! ~

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reach for the Columbia, Celebrating Art and Artists of the Columbia River, Art Show & Sale

Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership
Annual Reach for the Columbia
Art Show and Sale
I participated in the Reach for the Columbia Annual Art Show and Sale on Saturday, November 14, sponsored by the Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership. According to Steve Harvey, board vice-chair for the partnership, this is the first year they've included an art show with their annual dinner. I certainly hope they do it again! In my opinion it was a spectacular evening. There were 280 registered guests for the dinner, and 20 artists participating in the show. It was held in the Portland Art Museum, a very gala and elegant location.
The art show took place during the cocktail hour prior to dinner, so guests had time to stroll through all the artist displays. Displays were located on three floors, and I was on the third floor. I had the privilege to meet and chat with many people connected to the river through their jobs, and to wind energy specifically. I even ran into some of my port colleagues! At several points during the show, the room was packed to the gills with guests!
I was very pleased to sell two paintings and a handful of cards, and many other artists had a number of sales! So although my contribution was comparatively small, I feel proud that I helped support an important cause, the preservation of the Lower Columbia River estuary. I hope to have the privilege of participating next year!
To all the staff that planned and organized this event, including Windy Hovey, Maggie Codding Jones, and Laura O'Keefe, plus others I didn't get to meet, you did a fabulous job! Every detail was attended to, and all the artists were taken care of in grand manner. Thanks so much! You guys are the best!
Here's aphoto album of all the pictures I took. Sorry if I missed anyone!
or see it in slideshow mode
Don't forget to join my facebook fan page!
PS: Thanks for all your ideas on what I should wear. I ended up taking my best friend Irene's suggestion to wear a 'clear blue like the Columbia' clean-lined dress! It worked perfectly!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Reach for the Columbia Annual Art Show & Sale

Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership
Annual Reach for the Columbia Dinner

Art Show and Sale

I'm participating in an exciting art show next Saturday, sponsored by the Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership. It's a non-profit organization in Portland that works to preserve and enhance the water quality of the Columbia River estuary. Back in my port days I recall coordinating tours for several groups connected to the partnership.
Steve Harvey, a friend from the Cowlitz Wahkiakum Council of Governments, is on the estuary board of directors, and recommended me for the art show. Subsequently the partnership invited me to participate and I was honored to say yes!
It promises to be an exciting evening at the Portland Art Museum, with invited guests including US Representatives Brian Baird, Earl Blumenauer and David Wu. I hope they like artwork!
I'm planning to feature some of my best nautical and wind paintings, along with one floral, and have my new book, Power of the Wind, available. Allan picked up four wooden easels on sale, and we have a couple of table-top easels as well.
I'm excited to meet the estuary staff that so far I've only talked to on the phone or in e-mail. They've done a fabulous job of coordinating things with me, and I appreciate how organized they've been.
I promise to take pictures to share with you. Geez, I wonder what I should wear? Maybe all black like Georgia O'Keeffe?

Friday, November 06, 2009

October Wind #3

Third in my October Wind turbine series, based on my trip through Klickitat County on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. I completed it a couple of weeks ago, but I've been so busy with life and everything that I haven't had time to post. I really like this painting. There's lots of yellow ochre, which is exactly what I saw that day last early October. The greens are 'fallish' and I made them with ultramarine blue and various yellows. I found that ultramarine blue makes a more realistic green; less garish than the Winsor or Viridian greens that I've used before. I could vary the green much more towards blue, which I did in the distant shrubs, and you can't get that shade when using the green pigments. That's because as distance recedes, you lose yellow first, then red, leaving you with just blue on the far horizon. I learned that from Mitch Baird.
Check out my new book: 'Power of the Wind', and join my Facebook Fan Page to see paintings in progress!
~ I will keep the brush happy in my hand! ~