Saturday, August 29, 2009

SIDE TRIPS part eleven--Howe Art in Motion

The following video is my part three of Linda Sue's posts one and two of Howe Art Sculpture Park on Orcas Island. Washington State. She is right, the flashy pieces along the narrow road really catch the light, and your attention. Hey, focus on driving!

Friday, August 28, 2009

SIDE TRIPS part ten—Orcas Island

As with the rest of the Puget Sound area, Orcas Island is lush with vegetation and forests. This is due mostly to months and MONTHS of rainy weather.

The high point on the island is Mount Constitution

which tops out at 2,409 feet (735 m).

There is a paved road to the top with a lookout tower at the summit open to the public.

If there were no rain or fog or low-lying clouds I suppose from that spot you could see all the way to the Cascades and Mount Baker to the east, the Olympic Peninsula to the South and, maybe, once in a while, all the way to Mount Rainier southeast of Seattle. Jobs on the island are mostly involved with the tourist industry. There are several small towns with souvenir shops, dining places and art galleries. There are also resorts, golf courses, marinas, inns, cottages, and high end bed and breakfasts. While on the ferry I had gathered up some brochures and a map of Orcas. My cell phone reception on the island was poor to none. I found a spot where my phone worked in the driveway of a resort in the woods. I made a few calls looking for lodging and finally decided I was wasting my time trying to find a bed for the night at a reasonable price. Evening filled the trees with shadows while I talked on the phone.

Little black tail deer walked boldly out into the meadow to graze. Soon it would be dark and I had no place to stay. Fortunately on Orcas Island, a large area --5,200 acres-- is set aside for Moran State Park. There are plenty of camping areas with rustic but clean public bathrooms with running water. I paid a fee for a camp site in the darkening woods with all the other campers. The bathroom was within walking distance with electric lights and not stinky. I brushed my teeth and stuff in the bathroom and went back to my car. With a little work I got out the cot mattress and sleeping bag I had packed just in case. I flipped down the back seat and soon had a cozy place to stretch out and rest for the night. Sleeping in a Subaru Wagon is not too bad when you are short of stature and long on weariness.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

SIDE TRIPS part nine—Out to Sea

A LONG time ago, when Hubby was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington and we were living on army pay—that is-- almost nothing--one thing we did for a fun day was to ride the big green and white Superferry from Bremerton to Seattle. We’ve also traveled by ferry from Vancouver, British Columbia to Victoria and then down to Port Townsend. My trip to Orcas Island was a pleasant cruise. It took about an hour and a half as the ferry went from Anacortes to Shaw Island and then on to Orcas. There are the passengers to which the ride has become routine. They play cards or read or sleep. But if it is not too windy and/or cold I like to be out on the fore deck. There is a lot to see such as--
cormorants and other sea birds…
big freighters… sail boats…
goofy tourists… It was late afternoon when the ferry arrived at the island.
The Historic Orcas Hotel is the big building just above the landing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

SIDE TRIPS part eight—Linda Sue

My blogger friend, Linda Sue, told me where to meet her in downtown Fairhaven. She was accompanied by a four-legged character with big brown eyes and a fluffy mustache.
She had her camera ready and got me to pose by a fun mural painted on one of the buildings.
I forgot and left my camera in my car. We spent a couple of hours visiting and wandering through stores. I met her friends at The Blue Horse Gallery and she took me to her studio where she makes curious and extraordinary sculptures out of felted wool. Photos of them are on her blog. We returned to downtown and I got my camera.
As luck would have it, Wednesday was their day for farmer’s market.
The produce stands were loaded with the freshest, most beautiful fruits and vegetables
I think I have ever seen.
Since my trip to take art classes had become a sight-seeing tour, Linda Sue suggested I visit Orcas Island. She had just come back from vacationing there and recommended the place highly. I was soon back at the ferry landing with a ticket for Orcas. I called Hubby and told him I had changed my plans and was going to visit the San Juan Islands. “San Juan! That’s in Puerto Rico!” “No, no. San Juan ISLANDS…in Puget Sound.” An hour before we departed my car was parked in line with all the others waiting for the ride. I sat for a while wondering what to do with my time. I got out and took a few photos. When I got back in my car I immediately knew I had stepped in a fresh doggy dump. By the time I‘d gone through half a packet of tissues, a package of wipes and some hand sanitizer to clean off my sandal it was time to drive on to the ferry.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

SIDE TRIPS part seven—Another Side Trip

During our instruction WBL did a PowerPoint presentation including other artists. work.

I liked this artist's work. WBL said he had become too lazy to paint like this.

Sample of another artist's work. So random--- (I was starting to get visions of Missoula Art Museum, --see Side Trips part three below). Another sample. So unusual and original and thought provoking. So not my style. By the middle of the second morning’s lecture I had stopped taking notes. I could tell by eye-rolls from some of the other students that I was not the only one who was perplexed. Mr. L said we should paint like we were rich and sent us back to work. There would be a critique at three that afternoon. Irritated. Annoyed. I didn’t want paint like I was rich. I’d brought quality expensive watercolors and paper. I probably could have painted like a five-year-old and enjoyed it if I’d had a bunch of cheap acrylics or poster paints. I also wasn’t ready to waste my time-off-without-pay to be miserable in a little cinderblock room. I finished what I was working on not long after everyone left for lunch. I left the illustration on the table, gathered my stuff and walked out. I went for a drive through the nearby farm country, trying not to think about blowing money on tuition in an amount that could purchase a Kenmore Refrigerator. Spotted cows and ponies stood up to their bellies in thick pasture. Gardens overflowed with flowers. And everywhere I went I could see Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands to the west.
I made a phone call to Linda Sue and left a message on her machine. She has a wonderfully entertaining blog called, All I Ever Wanted. She also happens to live only half an hour up I-5 from where the workshop was being held. We’d never met, but had emailed and made loose plans to get together when she learned I would be in her neighborhood. All the time I was driving around I had a song in my head. It ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If’in you don’t know by now
An' it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It’ll never do some how.
When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I'll be gone
You're the reason I'm trav'lin' on
Don't think twice, it's all right… So long, Honey Babe
Where I'm bound, I can't tell
But Goodbye's too good a word, babe
So I'll just say fare thee well
I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don't think twice, it's all right Good ol’ Bob Dylan. Can’t sing worth beans, but he has a way with words. I ended up in Anacortes at the ferry terminal. I‘d spent some time in Port Townsend and I knew a huge ferry took passengers, cars and trucks to Whidbey Island. I asked the man at the ticket window how much for a ticket to Whidbey Island. “Why would you want to take the ferry to Whidbey?” “Because IT’S-AN-ISLAND.” Patiently he explained that I could just go down the highway and drive over the bridge. Oh, I said in my best Emily Litella voice…Never mind. The bridge goes over what is called Deception Pass and is an amazing feat of engineering.
It is actually two spans over a deep turbulent channel. Note the shadow of the bridge on the water. As the tide changes, the water in the channel churns like a washing machine. Pretty impressive. Check out Linda Sue’s story of sailing through Deception Pass. Speaking of her… When I got back in my car she had left a message on my cell. We chatted and made plans to meet the next morning in her town. No problem.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

SIDE TRIPS part six---Missed the Memo

In college I minored in art where I studied various mediums and styles. My present paying job is in computer graphics. I like it, but I enjoy even more painting landscapes in transparent watercolor, the operative word here is TRANSPARENT. There are many ways to get color down on paper using a water-based medium. The attribute that distinguishes transparent watercolor painting from one using opaque medium is LUMINOSITY. Works in transparent watercolor are similar to stained glass. Light passes through the crystallized pigments and bounces back from the white paper. When done right, the result gives the work a kind of glow. Achieving this effect requires a lot of forethought and there is not much that can be done to cover up a mess. A few years ago I studied with Jane Hofstetter, a member of the National Watercolor Society, in a workshop at Long Beach, Washington. She taught us a great deal about composition, design, mixing pigments, and, when possible, preserving paper for the whites of the painting. Long Beach is at the mouth of the Columbia River where a handsome light house sits on one of the cliffs. See below the painting of Cape Disappointment that I completed after that workshop. But that was ten years ago. I was excited to go Mr. WBL’s workshop to improve my skills and learn new techniques. He told the group the he was not there to impose his style and techniques on our way of painting. He also said he was not concerned about what a painting looked like, but how it made one feel. Our first assignment was to work in a series of repetitions---painting the same subject six different ways. He proceeded to demonstrate by slapping down layer after layer of opaque paint, throwing in plenty of thick white and solid black.
To be fair, in my eagerness to take classes from WBL I had missed the line in the website description of the workshop, “He has devoted much of his life to his passion for art. His style has certainly changed throughout the years, but his desire to create has not.” His style had dramatically changed. It was like going to study classical piano only to find out the teacher had switched to jazz. I thought his work was great in an abstract, opaque sort of way. It was just not what I had come to learn. I did the assignment using clouds as a nonrepresentational subject. Mr. WBL’s critique was that I let the paper show through. “Little flecks of dandruff” he called them. He challenged me to try painting a subject from an unusual angle. I decided to paint a picture of the old church in Bannak (see Side Trips part two below) in a dark way. I used big paper, big brushes, and some paints I didn’t mind sacrificing to the abstract gods.
I was amazed at how a painting of a little brown church could express such ire and frustration! Of course I was criticized for letting white paper show through, and he said I needed to lay down thicker paint. Back at the motel I couldn’t get my magnetic door key to work. It was raining by then so I got soaked walking to the office. Got a new key. Didn’t work either. “Would you like me to go with you to see what the problem is?,” the clerk asked, looking at me like I was some hayseed from Idaho. Duh. Another walk in the rain. She could not get the key to work either. Fine! I told her I would go get something to eat and give her time to get the problem fixed. Without any effort at all I found a monster mall with exact duplicates of every store in every mall I have ever visited. At least I could walk off my exasperation in a dry place. I even went to a movie. Back at the motel the clerk said the lock to my door was worn out and broken beyond repair. She gave me a master key and told me I had to move my things to another room. I was being “upgraded” to a place with two queen beds. It took three trips in the rain to haul everything upstairs to the room with a little window facing the parking lot. What would I do with two queen beds? I slept in one of them.