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Oil painting again

I did my first new oil painting in 43 years last week. And I led Damnation Crack cleanly! I know painting and climbing have nothing at all to do with one another. What can I say…I’m complicated.

I have a box of oil paints I bought when I was 17. I painted for a few months, then gave them up. After seeing the wonderful oil paintings Barbara Newton is doing after she switched over from pastel, I had to give it a try.

turban squash
turban squash

I also have wanted to try palette knife painting. To my great surprise, my first painting turned out absolutely amazing. I’m working on another one, thinking I might do a series. It seems that my eye for color and composition carrys directly across to the new medium. Who knew a new medium could be so exciting!

I love the freshness that comes through with knife painting. Every stroke has variety, as long as I don’t over mix the colors. And speaking of color, I no longer have to worry about having the right $4.00 pastel crayon…I can just mix it up for free from these old oil paints…talk about a blast from past.

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5 paintings in State of the Arts Gallery

I have 5 paintings in State of the Arts Gallery in Olympia.  I went to the artist reception Friday night for the show that will last about a month. Here is my window on 5th avenue.

my window
my window

Five friends stopped by to see the show. I also met the Barbara Newton, who was the featured artist. Her work is stunning, and made me feel very humble. She has an understanding of color that I have not yet acheived. While I stood by my window of unsold paintings, she sold a $1100 painting to a collector who already has 8 of her previous paintings.

It was cool to watch, and I was happy for her. She was very kind to me and offered a number of great suggestions. She reccommended that I copy one of my existing pastel landscapes as 6×8 inch painting and sell it on dailypainter.com. She sells half a dozen paintings there some months for very economical prices hovering around $60 to $100. They are unframed, which keeps the costs down.

I’m thinking that this winter, I could copy some of my unsold paintings down to 6×8’s, and use oil as the medium. I started in oil back when I was a teenager, and still have that box of paints. I would love to experiment with palette knife painting.

My paintings will be there for a little over a month. As I watched people walk by my window, I kept reminding myself that I’ve really just started painting again this Summer. I’m coming out of retirement, and can’t expect to be as good as a full time professional artist. Even if my paintings don’t sell, I’m going to keep at it. After all, Van Gogh sold one painting in his entire life. He had the passion to keep going even when the art community ignored him.

I’ve already sold over 60 paintings, and that is as a weekend painter. I should be able to improve considerably over the winter. Perhaps I will even get good at oil paints. I love the way they look. They can be loose, or as tight as anything. They are cheaper to frame…often hanging with no frame at all. They are also cheaper to use, and simpler from a materials stand point. I’ve often wanted to work on larger paintings, but pastel is so expensive to use, while oil can be very economical. It’s going to be a bit of a learning curve…but I’d far rather spend it learning to do something I love, instead of learning another programming language like C+, or Java, or Python. I mean jeez, give me a break. I love web design…but only as a job, it’s not a consuming passion anymore, and I certainly don’t want to do it full time.

Still, with my reduced hours at work, and no paintings selling right now…my visa card is rapidly becoming a monster. We had a wheel bearing hub go out, and a fridge. The bills keep coming in. But I guess that is life. I have a painting to work on in the studio, I’m out of here.

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Fall vacation

I was off for 23 days. On Labor Day we had dad’s 90th birthday with my sister, her husband,  their daughter Ginny, my Aunt and Uncle, my brother and his wife. Our kids had to work, but Sue and I went down with a salad. Brent cooked a salmon at Burfoot park where it was pouring down rain, then went up to dad’s at Panorama for a slideshow of 35mm slides dating back to the fifties and sixties. The inlaws were bored out of their minds, but it was riveting for us siblings to see back in time 50 years ago. In many of the pictures we could only see the backs of our heads, but we were able to recognize the clothes and knew who we were looking at back over the many years.

I framed a couple paintings through Labor Day, but arrived at Squamish on Tuesday evening without a partner. I learned later (in Smith of all places) that the campground at the Chief is the hotspot for finding partners. I tried to paint Penny Lane, but it didn’t work.

Marty showed up and we began climbing all the usual warm up routes at the Smoke Bluffs. Our best day was when we did 7 pitches up to Memorial Ledge via St. Vitus Dance and Karen’s Math, which I hung on once after the traverse. Sue and Lisa showed up for 3 days. They hiked the Black Tusk (18 mile round trip), rode mountain bikes at Whistler, and climbed one day. I led the nine at Octopus Garden and felt super solid. Those moves stuck in my mind for days. It’s funny how a good climb leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy.

Marty left after his usual 4 days and I drove South to do more framing and see Sue. My nephew John was available so I drove to Smith. He is a very capable 10C sport climber and we teamed up on Wherever I may Roam, J-T’s route, Moonshine Dihedral, and Karate, which I again led clean…to my great surprise. That route is all about staying calm, milking the rests, and using some critical tiny footholds on the traverse. I placed all my traverse gear (Blue and green) from the last good hand jams, both vertical and horizontal. They are both wrist bone lockers, so it’s relatively easy to hang there and set up the traverse.

Karate Gear list:

  • two #3 blues (2.5″)
  • four #2 yellows (2″)
  • two #1 reds (1.5″)
  • three .75 greens
  • two .5 purples (.75″)
  • four in the half inch to 5/8″ range. (grey, yellow metolius, blue metolius)

I painted for two days, completing a couple nice, but troubled paintings, and then Richard showed up. We did the Monkey on the first day via the 5.8 river side cracks. Exiting the mouth was scary, as was the rappel, but it was a grand adventure. We met a married couple from Yosemite who swung lead up Monkey Space 5.12 trad. They were an amazing couple…so talented. And she was a nursing mom. His parents were climbing with them two days later, kids and all.

We also did Zebra Zion. Richard combined the first two pitches, I led the traverse, and he led the money pitch. That traverse is only 5.7 for the first 15 feet, then it goes to butter sized foot holds and good hand crimps in an easy rising traverse to the ramp, which protects well with finger sized gear. I wasn’t sure I could have led the 10a pitch, but maybe it was just the heat. It must have been over a hundred in the dihedrals. Highlights of that four days were White Satin (bring two blues and 4 yellows), and The Outsider, which felt rediculously easy. At the crux there are huge foot holds. It is literally a stairway of flat one inch spearmint gum sized foot holds. You stand up on those and stick your fingers in two perfectly sized finger holes, almost as good as a bowling ball. Pull up on that, move your feet up on very nice jugs, and clip the bolt.

I have at least 6 paintings that are good except for minor touch up details like sky, or unfinished foregrounds. Most of them simply needed another day of work on location. I will be chipping away at them over the new week or two. I have 4 going down to the gallery this week, while I need to pick up two unsold paintings from the Fair.

I have 5 paintings in State of the Art gallery through the fall season. Details here:

fall show
fall show