Saturday, January 30, 2010


I just finished reworking my painting of the Monroe St. Bridge "Spring Torrents" that I did about a year and a half ago (oil, 20" x 60"). It's going to be in an auction at the MAC in a couple of weeks. Mostly I fixed some perspective problems that have been bugging me for a long time. The more I worked on it, the more I realized that I would do to it if time permitted. Isn't that always the case, though? I also reworked some of the frame. Wish I had started that a couple of weeks ago too ... it still needs some work, but I've run out of time -- have to deliver it at noon today.

I added a figure to the right on the bridge. I thought of giving it a new, dark title, like "Jumper" or "Contemplating the End" ... but, as amusing as I might find dark humor, I'm not so sure that it would go over so well at the auction ... especially if there are to be some city officials involved. Probably still a sore subject for them after the last jumper.
I hope that it sells ... it sure has freed up a lot of space on my walls.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Pfeffer won't let me out of her sight since I got back. She tripped me up several times as I was painting -- laying right under my feet. It's good to see her too.
Before I left on my trip, I roughed out a small painting of the dude playing the five stringed viola. I was not happy to see that my initial rough was pretty far off -- so, essentially, I had to start over today. I really didn't intend on staying up for most of the day to do the whole thing, but -- that's what happened. It's small, but will go nicely with the rest of the musical collection on February 5th at the gallery's First Friday Art Walk thingy.

Hope to see you all there.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Heading Home

The visit to see Ben in Detroit has come to an end and I'm heading back to Spokane (via Minniapolis-St. Paul and Seattle). Man, it sure seemed like a short trip. It was great to see Ben, though.

Friday, January 22, 2010


The first time that I ever saw this Rembrandt, I was 18. Wow, that was a while ago!

Yesterday I met my friend, Tim W at the Detroit Institute of Arts. We had a good time catching up after five years.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mt Rainier

I'm sitting in the Seattle Airport. From where I am I can see Mt Rainier. Wierd to think that I was at the top of that sucker.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mostly done

I took most of Sunday (after battleing with that terrets inducing print for several hours) to work on the nude with cello. It's mostly done now ... but I'll pick at it for the next few weeks until I hang it. Here is a far away shot of it in the studio. If you want to see it close up you have to wait until I post it after I hang the show, or come down to the gallery on the First Friday in February.

Dipped in Acid

No, it wasn't me that was dipped in the acid; it was the zinc plate that I've been working on for the last few days. I called in on Thursday and Friday. I had a whole bunch of stuff that I wanted to get accomplished before my trip to Detroit next week. One of the things was an etching of the dude playing his viola. Well, hmmm, I didn't count on it taking me FOREVER! Usually I can do one of these things in six to eight hours. It takes repeted dips in the acid ... which we'll call one cycle. Sometimes it takes two cycles (mostly it's due to my habbit of over-wiping my plate when I'm printing -- so I have to over-etch to compensate). Well, so far, I've done four cycles and it's not there yet. I'm blaming it on the acid ... but it probably has more to do with the way in which I use the acid. I don't have the proper facility with a fan and a proper tank ... so I'm using a large tupperware container out in the yard - rinsing with a bottle of water rather than in a sink. I'm going to take steps to make a more proper facility in the future -- whenever that stabalizes.

Briefly, here is a partially illustrated step by step of the process I use: First I did a drawing of the subject. Then I scanned it into my computer and reversed it (because when you print the image it is a reversal -- which doesn't matter in some cases, but, since it's a guy playing an instrument, right and left are important). Then I take that image and lay it onto a prepared piece of zinc (it's prepared with a "soft ground" -- a black substance that has asphaltum in it). I then trace the image into the soft ground and dip it into the acid. The proper, or traditional acid for this is usually nitric acid -- but I have no idea where to find that, so I've been using muriatic. The acid eats away where the metal has been exposed. This gives me my basic image. I then clean the plate of all of the ground and give it a light coating of spray paint. Then, using the soft ground like paint, I block in all of the places that will be white.
Again, a trip to the acid. I then add more soft ground to the places that are close to white in the value scale. Another trip to the acid bath. Then block the next value down -- acid bath. Finally, I do one more dip in the acid with everything blocked out except for my darkest darks (which, if you'll notice, have already been dipped several times before, because they haven't been blocked out.
One last dip ... then I clean it all off and go into my little printmaking dungeon, and ink up the plate. I wipe off all of the ink on the top of the plate (sounds easy ... but it's a long process using small scraps of newspaper rubbed in small circles with light pressure) so that the only remaining ink is in all of the little crevases created by the acid. ... run it through the press, and voila! A print.
As you can see, my darkest darks arent all that dark ... in spite of all of the times that I've put it through the acid. It's old stuff ... that may be part of my problem -- I'll replace it before I give it another go when I return from Michigan.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Crazy Weather

I just got back from a little outing with Del and Marge. They drove into town and picked me up to go painting a few blocks from my place - on the high banks looking down at the river. The weather this morning was schlecht ... which wasn't all that bad for painting, though. It's a funny thing -- when you want it to stay hazy and misty and grey ... the way that it was when you started ... then the sun comes out just to spite you. Ah, well, we had a nice outing, anyway.

The sun was in my face as I was trying to do the foreground ... it was totaly different than when I started, so -- I'll have to take my stuff down there in the morning after work to finish it up, I guess. It sure was nice working on something other than cellos for a change.


If, as Serov says, every painting is a kind of sickness, this still life with cello has turned into my Bubonic plauge ... or the swine flu ... I'm not sure which. The symtoms are: extreem irritation, swelling of jaw muscles (as I clench my teeth), occassional hair pulling (not my own, however, I'm in short supply there and can't really afford to loose any - the cat has a few bald patches now, too), and a smattering of terrets #*!&% syndrome.

I spent some hours on it yesterday ... only to find that I've painted the floral arrangement waaay too high in key. It was a much brighter day yesterday than the previous times that I've worked on it and I didn't really take that into account when I was working -- derrr. Ah, well, the ol' glazing technique should take care of that. Curious to see it? You'll have to come to the gallery on the first Friday in February! Neener, neener. For those of you who are too far away to come, I'll post pictures of my "musical arrangement" -- including the "Bubonic Cello" (which will be the official title of this painting if I ever get the darned thing finished) when I get it all hung.

Meanwhile ... I'm going to work on an etching, as I said I would. I've got the drawing close to finished (which will also be on display) ... I scanned it into my computer and reversed it, so that the image will be correct when I print it. Here is what that image looks like now before I start my etching of the zinc plate.

It's been a while since I've done an etching ... and a real long time since I've done one that's very big. This one won't be huge ... but it will be about 8"x10" ... which is about twice the size of most of the intaglio prints that I've made. I'm a little aprehensive, but very excited to start.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Paintings in Progress

Here are some of the paintings currently in progress:

As you can see, I'm trying to get the most out of the cello that I rented. I'm going to return it later today, sadly. I hope to get the still life finished by then ... at least the cello portion of it. The cello in this still life (16" x 20") really gave me fits ... I had a real tough time figuring out where I went wrong ... and I think that I finally figured it out -- had to repaint the whole top part (as you can probably tell). When it becomes light enough, I hope to spend about three more hours on it before I have to take the cello back.

This 16" x 20" painting is a portrait of a girl named Mari. She's the daughter of one of my co-op collegues; Olivia Waterman. Mari was kind enough to come down to the gallery and pose for Dennis and I one day. This is, obvious to the casual observer, still quite early in the process. It has started out well ... almost effortlessly, really -- which kinda scares me.

Lastly (well, lastly here -- I still have several things -- including an etching or two -- in the works for a whole new showing at the gallery in February), is the nude with cello (24" x 30") that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. It's going slowly ... but going well, I think.

Friday, January 1, 2010

First Night

This was the first year that I've ever gone down to the "First Night" in Spokane. I wasn't actually down town specifically for that event, but, rather, to be at the gallery for the monthly art walk. The sponsors of the First Night usually include all of the galleries in the downtown area, but this year they had a tighter budget, etc, and we weren't included with all of the other events. Too bad. I felt sorry for our featured artist, as I've never seen it that dead on the nights when we're open late like that. Sara did make some sales, however.

Sara's husband is in the Spokane Symphony and was kind enough to stop in and regale us with music from his viola before the symphony played ... and again after the event at the Fox. The great thing about Jay Pryor's instrument is that it's a home made, five stringed viola! He says that he's one of a hand full of people in the world who make them (he gets around five grand and up for each) . It was a beautiful and unique instrument and he played wonderful music for us.

I went back to the truck and brought out my sketching stuff and was able to get a quick sketch of him before he had to leave. I also took a plethora of photos to do some painting from later. So, you can see that the whole theme of musicians with their stringed instruments theme prevails - as if by its own will. Hopefully I'll get them all done in time to put them all up together next month. There may be a new etching or two in there as well.

Our regular guitarist was on hand to play for us throughout the night and did a nice job. I think that he's getting much better. I did a quick sketch of him, too.

My brother, Chip, came down to the gallery and spent some time perusing the work and enjoying our cuisine, then he and I quaffed some tasty beverages and inhaled some sustenance in the Catecombs restaurant just down the block -- then wandered through the festivities at Riverfront park. It wasn't what I pictured, but it was still early. Terry Lee had a booth set up in the downtown mall and was working away at a painting ... nice to see. It was only about nine ... but, actually, having been born on the east coast, it was the new year for me! I called my son Ben who was whooping it up with friends. Timmy was already well into New Years day over there in China by that time. I wished that I could have called.