I began going to the Sandgren Paint Out in 2000, never having painted a landscape, or on location.
Figures was my interest then.
This group, along with Erik Sandgren who was not present at the 2003 summer gathering, form the core of my contemporary painting influences. I don’t believe anyone really makes their life happen without others. I have an art degree but these artists are more important for me.
Lineage is important. How can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?
We all have formative influences that we build our foundations from. These are my painting ones, do you know who yours are?
Left is one of my favorite pictures of Nelson; laughing during a painting break with Pat Straub. He was always a good one to help us laugh despite the challenges painting provides. Life beat me about the heart when I was a young adult and I need always a reminder not to take life so seriously!
My reminder to laugh more on location this summer – sometimes it seems to get away from me in the struggle for the moment I search too hard – missing the purpose altogether too often.
The photo below, is Humberto Gonzales,and Nelson Sandgren chatting over the roar of the ocean. It was perhaps my first full two weeks on location. I knew everyone just a little having come only a few days for the last 3 years.
My paintings were fairly disastrous but I learned a tremendous amount,
something I often value more than the end result.
I’m pretty sure this was the year Nelson gave a spontaneous indoor critique, due to rain, that became a most engaging all afternoon lecture ending with a round of singing on the piano.
Humberto is an artist who lives in Portland. I know him mostly for his stunning full sheet watercolors done on location. He has been a much appreciated aid on my path, always generous with his insights, and comfortable with an audience standing over his shoulder watching.
I own a painting of his from Yaquina Head. I watched him paint it. There were perhaps a hundred tourist on the beach that day, he deftly captured their color and movement, pitting it gracefully against the stunning backdrop of the sea rock and pounding surf.
It never fails to bring pleasure, always providing new areas to look at
even after 10 years of looking.
Bets Cole and Yolanda Valdes-Rementeria, in her red shirt, visiting before they settle in to begin the days work.
Bets Cole’s work has a demanding architectural structure that underlies even the most seemingly abstract work.
Both woman are well established painters, traveling and showing their work in many areas. Their dedication to the craft of painting as well as their skill as artists provided role models I needed to keep me from being discouraged at my lack of accomplishment. They set standards for perseverance
and resulting successes that matched the mens, and shared their words of encouragement.
It can be quite difficult to settle into work out of doors, new locations, in public with a thousand eyes, in the wind and the sun, amongst a group more accomplished than yourself, all the while confronted with an amazing dynamic landscape from which you are to sort out what piece inspires you.
“Paint what you see.” said Nelson!
Daunting to say the least!
Roll models are essential, I am fortunate to have found so many when I did.
Below is Yolanda diligently at work.
Above is Mark Clark, another well known NW artist. with this wonderful beginning of a painting. Mark often joins the group at the coast. His wife Peg Coe, also an accomplished painter, and well know NW artist, comes less often. I have learned much from watching both of them work, and studying their finished work.
Above is George Kosanovic, an artist from Washington state, and long time friend and painting buddy of Nelson’s. It is my understanding they painted together every year for 60 years!
I always think such long term friendships speaks
highly of the individuals involved.
My favorite personal memory of George is his wise advice provided when I asked him to help me with a painting. He whipped out the gesso and proceeded to demonstrate how even with watercolor you could just regain those whites! Makes me laugh just thinking about it.
Many would perhaps be mortified but for me it was freeing, and reminded me it is all just paint – if it isn’t working ( and it wasn’t), hey, get rid of it!!!!!
Thank you George.
From the Left George, Yolanda, Mark Clark ( standing), Dee Vadnais (NW artist), Nelson Sandgren – far background, Pat Straub, Joe Seamons who regularly set his paint brush down and picked up his guitar.
Lucy Warnick, that’s her blue coat shoulder in the center, an artist from southern Oregon, who is well known for her beautiful palette and engaging landscape work in acrylic and watercolor as well as her monotypes. She was always generous in her help; her sharp eye and easy critique made points that counted without wounds; plus her wonderful story telling talent that can fill the day with laughter.
Here is the core group I feel privileged to have found. All hard at work, quietly focused on their on challenges, except for young Joe Seamons working differently honing his performance and guitar skills while providing us with a pleasurable sound to work to.
Humberto is close by, just off the edge of the frame, as was I.
One of the important people missing from this photo is Walt Weber. A retired architect, Walt brought the discipline of that profession to the chaotic nature of painting on location. He is another who easily shared what he had learned over the years, as well as his coffee and dry space when needed.
For those of you who don’t know.
Joe Seamons has become quite the established musician with his bands; Renegade Stringband, Timberbound, both based in Portland; and a third more recent one, where he plays a banjo with Ben Hunter.
Joe painting again – you can tell by the perplexed look! He always smiles when he plays music.
Mark Clark in the background.
Mark often lays in what he considers the basics for his paintings, then takes them home to his studio for the winters work. He applies multiple layers over the months in the studio developing the most lush and tactile of surfaces with care and patience. The imagery is suffused within the layers, a grace and elegance particularly suited to coastal ambiance but also works well for other scenes.
There, a recollection of the past, a remembrance of my beginnings as a landscape painter on location.
Thank you all for the influences you’ve provided.
Also thanks to those of you who came to read, and made it all the way to the end!
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Photographs are from my personal archive and are copyright protected.