Meeting Notes, May 5, 2016

At today’s meeting Loretta, Dave, Tim, Charlie, Kathy, Za, Diane, Stephanie, Vicki, Jim, Peggie, Annie, Susan, Jerry, Mike, Tedd, Eunice, Joanne T, Carrie, Jeanne, Bill, Kristina, Joanne K, John, Anna, Tom, and me Celeste.

Today suggested table topic: Finished and unfinished ---what can you tell us about what you know about finishing a painting?

Celeste: I don’t have much trouble “finishing” a painting… I paint in an abbreviated way. Recently I had reason to think about not publishing paintings that aren’t up to standard. I am showing some plein air studies and a recent painting from Studio one-eleven (I got a lesson on this painting from Aimee Erickson).

Eunice: I have stacks of paintings. I vow to either trash or change them. I brought in a new still life painting (that is on the wall.)

Tedd: I have a lot of unfinished paintings…and often I kind of enjoy the unfinished ones. I am showing you a recent portrait painting.

Mike: Many a watercolor has been ruined by these words "I'll just change this a little thing”. (Laughter)!  I'm obsessive about detail….so sometimes I have ruined things and sometimes they have succeeded! I'm showing a painting that I did from Pittock Mansion. I am also showing a painting that I did on my sketchbook cover.

Jerry: If you are satisfied with the painting it is finished! You’ll  know when it is satisfactory. I did a this “compilation” painting of eyes for a project with Jef Gunn. I also brought in the 1879 article that I brought it once before about what is finished and what is unfinished. It is provocative that painters long ago pondered the same questions that we have now. We as people have evolved—and our paintings “evolve” with us.

Susan: in teaching third-graders I am asked all the time “am I done”? “am I my done”? So this question resonates with me. In my view, it is a personality thing. Some of my students know that they are done and others ask me. I have been working on a project with Alpenrose dairy. The Southwest Connection newspaper did an article on me! Look how big my name is here-- it is bigger than the headline on the front page! (Laughter)! I am pleased with how the article was written. The reporter/writer was really great.

Annie: This is my question so I came to hear the answers to it! (Laughter)! I believe that a painting is done if the results fulfill your objective (whatever that may be). There is an old quote--I don't remember who said it ---but it was along the lines of when you start a painting you look at it…but then at a certain point the painting looks back at you (and might ask for something). I am in a class and I am showing two paintings that I have done that are about values.

Jeanie: I am showing a painting that I did from Steigerwald refuge. This is from a photograph. It is not finished.

Jim: I seldom go back into paintings. I just check it for my message to see if it is working. I might tweak it for balance, but generally I just don't revisit the painting. I am changing course with my painting. I brought in an oil sketch I did of a man in Sienna Italy. He sold things at a market,  but he would glare at potential customers in kind of a mean way! (Laughter)! I also brought in a female figure study and a large painting of Italy.
I have a large mirror in my studio behind me. It is very helpful for evaluating how the painting is developing.

Vicki: I have piles of unfinished paintings-- I think it is smart to take photos of your paintings to get a fresh perspective of it. Changing it to black-and-white will help too. I am showing two paintings….one is of a Canola field.

Stephanie: To find out how you feel about the end results of a painting stand back and/or turn it upside down. Put it in a different light. Look at it on the computer. Use a mirror. Ask yourself “what if”? (What would happen if I did this)? After time passes you may become more objective. Some paintings are hopeless cases. I like the weird texture that came through this painting that I painted over. I like the look of sketchy or unfinished looking paintings, but I just can’t seem to do –it doesn’t match my personality. I like to develop things. I like the looks of “dripping” but is just not me! (Laughter)! When I put my initials on it –it’s done. Also to frame a painting usually makes it finished to me.

Joanne T: I am a caregiver so I've had to abandon my use of oils for a while. I am now using watercolor. I have found out that watercolor his hard! (Laughter)! I found a frame at Goodwill and it worked so well with my painting ---I am showing that to you. I am showing two recent paintings.

Jeanne: I do like to return to locations from sessions and I am not shy about going back into a painting. I don't have any problem at all with that. I sometimes think to myself “what the hell? I may ruin it but if I crash so what?” What is the worst that can happen! But I do want to make my decisions well considered. I have to have a good well-reasoned idea about why and how to change it.  I brought in two paintings from life painting class. In these classes we were trying to keep the values simple. I am also reading and enjoying books about Valesquez.

Bill: Who said: “Works are never finished but rather abandoned”? When I came back from Germany I was on a long flight. I did these paintings during the flight. I have just started this painting which is a work in progress of a double portrait.

Kristina: I am a less-is-more type of artist. I get into trouble when I put more detail in and lose my original motive. This painting is my no face sister! It is not finished. She is my most favorite person---I have trouble “capturing” her.

Diane: I am the Lady of perpetual unfinished painting (laughter)! More and more I don’t overthink. I just do a painting and let it go.

Za:  I once asked an artist I admire very much “when is painting done”? and he replied “A painting is never done because you can always paint on it!” (Laughter)! Seriously, though, I know that I am done when it has reached a certain state that I think is correct and when the design is right. I brought in two paintings today that are by other artists… not me. I brought in this painting that I own by Eric Jacobsen.  I love it because of the lack of color. He is known for his full use of color but I just love these neutrals. I also brought in a painting that I recently acquired by James Richard. I painted with him during Olmstead event. He’s a wonderful artist. I love this goat painting. I may love it in part because in my Hmong culture when a woman is going to become a wife the intended groom has to trade some livestock to get her!  It’s just something I think about when I look at this painting.

Kathy: I have been taking classes with Jennifer Diehl. She told me that your painting is a record of where you are now. Some paintings seem to finish themselves naturally. I am showing a pastel painting.

Charlie: I think it was Leonardo da Vinci who said that the painting is abandoned instead of finished. A lot has to do with the medium you use. Watercolorists are sunk when they lose their whites! (Laughter)!

Tim: I usually don’t have any trouble finishing. If I like it or if I don’t like it I will remain fluid! I will go back into things or not.  I went out recently to someplace called “Company Lake”. It is a toxic place full of chemicals….but it is pretty! (Laughter)! I am showing two paintings.

Joanne: I consider myself an All prima painter..someone who really does paint “all at once”. That's where I'm at. I like the momentum of blocking in a painting. I look at it as movement. I painted this painting of my neighborhood in the evening. I look for the abstract pattern. There are technical things I may change in some paintings…but I just move onto the next thing. I sometimes can’t solve the puzzle and whatever I’ve learned I’ll take that knowledge to the next painting.

John: I want to thank you all for these wonderful meetings. My wife and I have been traveling. We went to Sydney Australia. I've been very busy. I bought a new camera and had to learn how to use it during my vacation (laughter)! I thank you all for showing your wonderful paintings.

Tom: I know I am finished when I look at my painting and I have a feeling of joy that goes through me. A painting can take on a life of its own. I brought in a painting that I did of my neighbors garden. Some time ago I wanted to paint this garden but realized I wouldn't have the skills to do it. I feel more confidence now and so I did it!

Dave: I can see it better sometimes in others than I can in myself. I remember one time when I was painting with Michael Orwick and he asked me what I thought I said “I think you should sign it”. For myself I ask myself at the end of the painting did I say what I want to say? Is the drawing right?. I recently did a painting in acrylics --it’s just a sketch. I also did this painting of Bob Dylan. Richard Schmid advised… when you make a change to a painting ask yourself---will this change improve the painting? (Don’t just change something without a solid reason that will end in improvement)

Peggie:  I like to keep track of hours that I put in on a painting. The cat on the rug took 44 hours! If there is nothing more to fix then I am satisfied. I do use this checklist to check my paintings. Picasso said  something along the lines of “When do you know you are finished with the painting? Do you know when you're making love?” I brought in two plein air paintings.

Anna: I had a teacher who said that there really are no mistakes in a painting. You can just add another layer to it to make it right. Things are much different when you layer paintings versus when you paint outdoors. You can’t do both “traditional” painting and plein air at the same time. This same teacher told me that I have to paint outside in order to really develop fully as an artist. Thomas Kitts advised us during a workshop to make a practice of one hour studies. I’m going to go back to that. I painted this painting of a farm. (And I was asked to leave the property)! I am glad I did the painting, because the farm has since been demolished.

Loretta: A purring cat or a hissing cat is an indication of whether you are done or not (Laughter)!  It is important to stay alert to that final stroke of paint!

Joanne Kollman and Celeste Bergin Reception 5:30 to 8:30, Friday, May 6 Medley tea in Multnomah Village. (Joanne and Celeste will paint outside during the reception.) Medley will be serving samples of their organic teas. Click to Enlarge:

Art on the Boulevard First Friday, May 6 from 5 to 9 --it’s the 10th anniversary reception. (Za Vue, Michael Lindstrom, Oleg Ulitskiy, Eric Jacobsen, Don Bishop and others)

Forever Art first Thursday reception and also Saturday celebration of Cinco DeMayo. (Anna Lancaster)

Slots available at Studio One-Eleven in the Troy for life painting Saturday May 7, 1-4pm

Tigard art walk on Main Street in Tigard on Saturday, May 7. (Kristina Sellers and Anna Lancaster)

 Tim:  A couple people have asked me about my photographs on Facebook-- if you want to use any of my photographs just go ahead and do so, but send me a picture of the painting when it is done!

 Joanne: I am working with high school students in Computer lab –we’re trying to come up with a program where the high school students will help to build or fix existing websites for a small fee. More information to come.

Lavender Festival, sign up before June 1 for a lesser rate.

Cannon Beach Gallery June 18 and 19 Plein Air workshop with Joanne Kollman:
(Contact Joanne

Anna recommends the Hotel in Dufur where there are paintings by Lynn Miller
Thanks all for showing your paintings and sharing your ideas.

Next Meeting: Thursday, May 12. Suggested table topic:  Unusual vantage points. Have you painted (or done a drawing) from a position way above or way below (or some other unusual place)?  What has been your experience?

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