The Story

Artist Statement

I portray my subjects in their “in-between moments” in life, where individual personality is expressed through gesture, style and culture. By using broad gesture and simplification, my exploration of the ephemeral moment conveys a thought or emotion. These fleeting gestures depict universal human qualities.

I paint strangers, acquaintances and people I know well. A woman I saw balancing a gallon of milk on top of her head as she was walking down Powell Boulevard proved instrumental in inspiration for my series. This would be a customary way to carry groceries in another country, but this is my neighborhood. At another time I noticed a distraught yet somehow optimistic bearded man telling his plight to police officers in the lobby of the Beaverton City Hall where I planned an art exhibit. I am fascinated by hands that are in motion and at rest as they often more telling than a facial expression. However, a down-turned glance or a hint of pattern and costume might consume my attention at any given moment.

My process involves taking hundreds of photographs and then selecting images as deliberate and spontaneously as I photographed them. Sometimes I go to work on three large canvases at a time. At other times, I let an image or images percolate…sometimes for weeks or even months. I work from my own photographs, looking and then painting directly onto the canvas as though I were painting from life. My intention is to capture on to the canvas a candid, off-guard moment in time.

The stories behind the paintings:
(stories are still being added and the numbers correspond to the image page)

1) Circular Thinking
I wanted to paint Tracy before I met her. I remember my first vision of her; the tailored powder blue coat was the perfect chroma and contrast against her dark skin. Later our sons became friends, and I met Cortez, the rescue dog at their home. I told Tracy I was photographing the dog to deter her from shielding her face. It was after the fact that I marveled at each of them caught up in their own circular thoughts, existing in the same space yet separate worlds.

2) Man in Black Beret with very Small Feet

I diligently worked on my painting skills for several years at the University of Cliff as we called it. At the time I didn’t know I was making a transition from commercial to fine art. I just started making painting after painting and then a bunch of etchings I sold through a publisher. I learned the classical method of painting with Cliff, a former instructor and friend from the Museum Art School days. Our friendship spans 3.5 decades.

3) Bus Stop
I don’t know these teens. The girl sat up and smiled when asked for her picture. I photographed this moment of two teenagers waiting at a bus stop while I stopped for a red light. Those teen-age years flash in my memory along with thoughts of young love. Some connections linger just for a moment but nostalgic memory sometimes lasts forever.

4)A Splendid Ride
The artist I portrayed in this painting described her life as such a splendid ride. She simultaneously delighted over my paintings while she was very serious in her remark that struggle got me to this incredible creative place visible in these paintings. I met Judy over 3 decades ago at the Museum Art School. It also turned out that I had chosen to paint her dearest friend of over 50 years. I didn’t know they had connection when I chose them as subjects from very different communities.

5) Washing Dishes
This is my friend, my studio mate and the keeper of the Troy laundry artist studio building; he is washing the dishes in the bathroom utility sink. The sun sets on this side of the building. Relationship with this building and friend spans 3 decades. In the 1920’s my mother walked by this building on her way to Buckman elementary school sometimes looking up at the women of the laundry smoking out of the windows.

6) Fr. Murphy’s Reply
Neil Murphy writes to me:
“You totally nailed it with this great portrait of my brother. I’m surprised he had his eyes open because usually when he is sitting like this he is asleep. Thank you so much for sharing your talent with us and the entire Central Catholic community. I especially liked the way you captured his folded arms, the smile and the pant leg lifted up beyond the sock. Priceless. Great job!”
I enjoy fostering community connections as part of my painting process. These common threads provide a path for meaningful relationship. I first met Fr. Murphy over 4 decades ago.

7) The Daily News
Waiting for lunch, I watch this woman reading the paper while standing at the Greek Deli counter. I notice people walking and reading, sitting and reading, and standing and reading. In this moment in time, people still interface with paper; it is not yet all replaced by technology.

Reason for Pause
My dear friend of 30 years sat looking at the late Bob Hansen’s drawings when they were on display at the Portland Art Museum. This renovated part of the Portland Art Museum used to be studio space for the Museum Art School that was the core of my early training. Place, space and relationship are rich with a multi-layered connection that spans 4 decades for me. I first attended the Anna B. Crocker classes at the museum school when I was 12.

9) Family Portrait
Community connections strike a nostalgic chord and also become a bit autobiographical for me. Matthew, a 13-year old boy is an uncle for the first time. He is in my younger son’s grade and the inspiration behind this painting. I was an 8-year-old aunt, so the dynamics of extended family signaled a fond memory for me watching him with his neice. Mother and baby live close to her younger siblings, now aunts and uncles. Grandparents and great grandparents encompass this extended family all enjoying the new addition to the family. I’ve known this family for almost 2 decades. They serve and make an indelible mark in their N.E. community.

10) Phil
Phil often struck a memory chord to my father of eastern European decent who passed in 1971. I learned through Judge Philip Abraham’s eulogy that in his life he made authentic connections with everyone he encountered, as had my own father.

When I learned of Phil’s passing on January 2, 2013, I began the painting, I had to paint him the way I had imagined in my mind’s eye. I could still see Phil clearly in my mind beyond the photos I had taken in 2008 before his health had declined. For several weeks following his death I painted, thinking about nothing but making sure that his essence would emerge from the atmosphere created on the canvas. I was on a mission and nothing else mattered or could be accomplished during that time until the painting was compete.

I’m still learning from those moments I spent with the Judge when he sat for a painting several years back. He came across as one of the most non-judgmental and compassionate people I have ever met. I am curious about the mark, the imprint and the impact that some individuals have on community often long after they are gone. He had a caring demeanor about him that evoked a general acceptance of humanity and all of its shortcomings. I think of him often; I think of faith, forgiveness and family.

12) Just Listen

I came to learn through painting that this woman and the artist in A Splendid Ride were teachers together, a friendship spanning 5 decades. I watch her listen; at this particular moment she listens with compassion to the woman depicted in Foreclosure.

Piano
Three siblings take delight in jockeying for position at the piano on Easter Sunday. I take inspiration from costume, action and facial expression. The youngest boy is a close copy of my youngest son a decade ago.

Garden
In S.E. Portland I watch and photograph children from Burma, Ethiopia, Somalia, Iraq and America. They prepare the soil for a community flowerbed. Fabric patterns from head to toe and a smile inspire this painting.

16) Crossing
A common sight and nostalgic memory inspired by another grey day in the S.E. neighborhood in the Pacific Northwest. A family I don’t know crossing the street inspires this painting

18)Patient Stance
I saw this dog waiting many mornings outside of the N.E. gym. I have been taking pictures of dogs for years for other art forms. I wondered if other cities were as populated with dogs as we are. I discovered, that like our status for bike population, Portland is pegged as the #1 dog city in the nation as well. My nostalgic sense recognized that over a hundred years ago a horse might have been tied outside instead.

19) Waiting
We are in a time of phasing out plastic grocery bags. If you have a dog you might have saved these plastic bags for obvious reasons. I recently saw the European Masters show at the Seattle Art Museum. I noted in one of these skillfully rendered 17th century etchings, a dog pooping in the road.

I photographed many people and dogs waiting outside, for what? In this scenario, I learned that low-income folks were waiting for free shots and veterinary care for their pets. Community service and contemporary culture compose a white dog, a white bag, plaid shorts, a red wall and red writing to portray a fleeting moment in the S.E. neighborhood.

22) Foreclosure
Margaret is a childhood friend. We were best friends in the third or fourth grade. Our boys were best pals for a time as well. I have two sons 13 and 22 and she has seven children spanning the age difference. What originated as a retirement and investment move proved a bad loan on the dream home and subsequently a hard road ahead. I photographed her in her bathrobe in her classic 1940’s kitchen. The photograph that inspired the painting marked this moment before the end of a dream. Her house foreclosed and was taken apart piece by piece.

23) The Wagon
A parcel of children pass by my living room window in a wagon. I grab my camera and run out the door to capture the moment. They look at me as I look at them. I learn that they belong to a daycare up the street.