Pretty in Pink 12 x 16 inches Alkyd on Canvas Sold Collection of Petersburg Public Library
I conceived “Pretty in Pink” one rainy day in Wenachee, Washington when I stopped to visit former Petersburg artist and teacher, John McCabe, on a return trip north. As we chatted while John worked on a painting in his garage I glanced out the open garage door to see the family that lives next-door emerge from their house to walk their black Labrador retriever.
The father restrained the happy dog on a leash while their maybe 6-year-old daughter followed. Dressed in a pink dress and carrying a pink umbrella through that drizzle, I immediately envisioned her in a painting.
Back home in Petersburg that image stuck with me as I contemplated what I could produce for a local art show. The shows title, “points of light” didn’t fit my subject, but the idea of painting that little girl overcame my intention to stay with the theme.
Alas, I didn’t have a model and my “minds eye” is a bit fuzzy. But wait! It had been awhile since I painted one of my gnome paintings. I connected the dots and Pretty in Pink was born.
Of course I needed a troll and instead of my gnome lass holding a Labrador retriever, how about the troll with a slug pulling at her (yes, it’s a girl troll) leash. That leash soon morphed into a thick piece of rope. In contrast, the girl gnome has a very thin piece of thread to tether her porcupine and I like the delicate way she held that tether. Naturally, since this is Petersburg, my pink girl gnome needed to wear Xratuf boots.
The Songster 12 X 16 inches Alkyd on Ramar Panel $400 Framed
My favorite photographer (Karen) has been capturing some captivating images of local wildlife during the past several years and I wanted something for the above mentioned Points of Light art show. And there it was -- a back-lit song sparrow. I need to do more of these since Karen keeps bring home a treasure trove of images. You can see a few of them on our blog: Alaska and Beyond Through Artist's Eyes at http://donkarencorneliusartwork.blogspot.com/
Placid Sound Diptych 2 9 x 12 Paintings Alkyd on Canvas Sold
I love to sit on a log at Petersburg's Hungry point relishing the view of Frederick Sound as I listen to the waves lap on the shore and flock after flock of sea ducks skim across the water in front of me. If it wasn't raining outside as I write this, I think I'd head over there right now. Maybe tomorrow?
Alder Way Revisited 12 x 24 inches Alkyd on Canvas Sold
I originally left the word "Revisited" off the title of this painting, only to discover I had previously given a plein air painting the same title. So I revisited the title and viola -- there was its new name. The piece is based on another of our many photos of one of our favorite walks along an old logging track embraced with alder trees. It's hard to see in this photo (or even in the painting), but I inserted a deer looking at the photographer to the left of the red-coated person in the lower left portion of the piece. I wonder if the person who purchased the piece has ever discovered it.
Oh, Hi 6 x 6 inches Alkyd on Canvas Contribution to Petersburg Arts Council
Perhaps Oh, Hi, the portrait of an alpaca Karen made friends with near Hillsboro, Oregon, should be included on my portrait page. It was a close call. The occasion for the painting -- a fund raiser for the Petersburg Arts Council. The council provided local artists with 6 x 6 inch canvases upon which to create a piece of artwork in hopes sale of the works will generate funds for local art projects. Those attending the gala event had the opportunity to purchase wrapped artwork. It was theirs to keep -- unless -- someone else wanted it more. That person could then exchange it for a piece of art they had already purchased with a caveat -- they just had to up the financial ante.
My original intent was to paint something whimsical, then I thought: what could be more whimsical than those alpacas Karen photographed at the Airbnb we stayed at near Hillsboro while I was having eye cataract surgery? The upshot -- now it has me wanting to paint more animal portraits.
Spring Comes to the Coast Range 12 x 24 inches Alkyd on Canvas $750
Needing another piece to replace "High Country Spring," (see below) I zeroed in on a photo I had taken of southeast Alaska's Coast Range from a vantage point on our island. The photo was taken through a pass across the island. The more time I played with it, the further the painting deviated from the actual setting -- and the more fun I had.
With portraits I have a pretty good idea of what I want my final piece to look like -- the person I'm painting. Not so with these abstracts.. It's so freeing to just let go and see what happens -- an advantage of oil based paints where, if you don't like where it's going, just paint over it.
High Country Spring 18 x 24 inches Alkyd on Canvas Sold
A spring road trip to the Haines, Alaska area provided many opportunities to photograph the patterns of melting snow, one of my favorite subjects to abstract. This painting is based on a combination of several of them -- one for the background and one for the foreground. However, if you visit the area, you may find the painting is only based on the setting. It does look a bit different in reality.
I set out to paint "High Country Spring" for a competition I planned to enter this fall. However, at this point in it's composition it had been sitting in my studio for several months. Was it done? I wasn't sure, but the answer came with a phone call. A friend had visitors to Petersburg who liked some of my paintings in a local art show. Did I have others? At that time "High Country Spring" was lounging behind another painting. The instant I moved the other piece, the visitor announced he wanted this painting.
Artists have highs and lows in their careers, rejections and critical comments but it's all worth while when you experience moments like that. I immediately set out to paint another idea for the competition.
A Lazy Day on the Water 12 x 16 inches Alkyd on Canvas (Detail on right) $500
I photographed the reference photo for a Lazy Day on the Water just inside the mouth of LeConte Bay -- as we were lazing around enjoying the beauty of the icebergs. The painting lazed around in my studio for awhile until a recent opportunity to show it arose during the 2014 Tongass Rainforest Festival. The chance arrived with a request. Did I have any paintings with gnomes? Aha, I thought, I'll just add a couple of the creatures to this painting. Notice which gnome is catching the big fish -- yes the lady gnome in high heals. Also, for non-Alaskans, we don't use bobbers when fishing in salt water.
Unexpected Delivery 12 x 16 inches Alkyd on Canvas $500
The Petersburg Arts Council sponsored an art show on Valentine's Day, 2014. The only requirement -- all pieces had to include the color red. Meanwhile, I was enjoying Karen's whimsical drawings and paintings, her photos of chickens and a painting I completed a couple of years ago of Clarence, a South Dakota hereford. And so, the convergence of these stimuli led to the creation of "Unexpected Delivery." If you see the painting up close you might notice a departing swan in the distant sky.
Rugged Range 18 X 24 inches Alkyd on Canvas $1000
Driving "out the highway" from Petersburg there's a gap in the mountainous spine that runs the length Mitkof Island. Through that gap we can view the spires of a portion of southeast Alaska's Coast Range. I usually slow down to savor that favorite view and have taken more than a few photos of the vista. Rugged Range is an abstracted painting based on that view.
South Side Beach Fringe 18 X 24 inches Alkyd on Canvas $800
Last summer Barry and Kathy Bracken took Karen and me out to "Agate Beach" to look for (surprise) agates. While the Bracken's cleaned up, I seemed almost blind to the gems. Ready for a break, I climbed up into the beach fringe forest to view the setting from afar and to capture a few images on my camera. Immediately I realized I had found a wonderful painting subject.
Turn of the Season 18 X 24 inches Alkyd on Canvas $800
Last spring Karen and I enjoyed a pleasant afternoon wandering around the margins of Blind Slough. It's a favorite time of year -- last years grasses are matted down by last winter snows while this years crop has yet to emerge. Meanwhile the alders along this shoreline, before the leaves pop, come alive with their lichen "coats" glowing in the afternoon sun. I had to put one of the photos on canvas.
Suppertime in Gnomeland 12 X 16 inches Alkyd on Canvas $400
Karen and I wanted to collaborate on a painting and gnomes seemed like a natural fit. I had recently seen some paintings of night subjects on the internet and thought that might be fun to try. With that inspiration the idea of some gnomes by a campfire was born. I suggested it to Karen and she immediately drew some sketches with which I could work. Thus, Suppertime in Gnomeland represents a collaboration between Karen and me.
Last Light on the Range 12 X 24 inches Alkyd on Canvas $750
The north end of Mitkof Island, where Petersburg's North Nordic Drive rounds Hungry Point, provides a vast panorama of southeast Alaska's Coast Range. The US -- Canadian border runs in straight lines from the highest peak to highest peak along the spine of the range. And since not all mountain peaks are arranged in straight lines, it makes for a bit of a zigzag boundary. The range provides our favorite view from Petersburg and is the subject of many folders of our growing files of digital photos. This painting is based on the image we often see as the last rays of the setting sun creep up the mountain slopes, in this case highlighting a distant cloud bank.
Lifting Fog 12 X 16 inches Alkyd on Canvas Sold
Petersburg Lutheran Church celebrates its 100th anniversary this year (2013). One event to commemorate the occasion is an art show in early October. Of course I have to participate so I dug out some favorite photos of the church. One spring-time view as fog was lifting over our town, a view from near our local ball field, particularly attracted me. Whoops, it needed a figure in it. I found one of Mandy and Karen on a hike. Mandy worked, but she was wearing black. Not so Karen. Thus I switched their outfits and viola ended up with "Lifting Fog."
Two plein air paintings also fit the theme for the show (sort of) so I'm posting them on Don's Plein Air Page.
Convergence 18 X 24 inches Alkyd on Canvas $1000 Don and Karen Cornelius
Upon completion of one of our nightly games of Upwords (a kind of vertical Scrabble) Karen's and my conversation shifted to future paintings. We both love "After Hours on the Loading Dock" in which Karen was part of the inspiration process. The idea of more collaborations appeals to both of us and I wanted to try more abstracted paintings of glaciers. With that Karen grabbed a pencil and sketched out the idea for "Convergence." the convergence of ideas as well as two glaciers.
Breakup on Portage Lake 18 X 24 inches Alkyd on Canvas Sold
This painting is currently on display at the 2015 National Weather Center Biennale in Norman, Oklahoma.
During our spring, 2011, trip to southcentral Alaska I took a side trip to the head of Turnagain Arm, to one of Alaska's most accessible gems, Portage Lake. Prior to 1984 I would have been able to see the glacier from the viewpoint of "Breakup on Portage Lake." Prior to 1914 the lake didn't even exist since the glacier totally filled the basin. I painted this painting based on a photo I took of the lake that June day as shoreline cottonwoods were just beginning to put on their spring green "plumage." I added the abstracted ice floes to provide an avenue into the painting, an avenue that might have existed but a few days earlier.
Springtime Near the Pass 12 X 16 inches Alkyd on Gessoboard $400 Framed
A couple of years ago we spent a week in June visiting family in Alaska's Matanuska Valley. Of course we had to spend some of that time in our old playground, Hatcher Pass. "Springtime Near the Pass" is abstracted from a photo I took of a side valley one of those evenings -- an evening that feeds the dreams of artists and photographers alike. Winter snows lingered on the upper slopes while the alder thickets at lower elevations began to light up in spring greens. It's my favorite time of year. It's also a time when male willow ptarmigan stake out their territory -- roosting at the top of a clump of willows or alders while their mate hides at the base of the thicket. Thus, if you look closely you can see one of my favorite birds regaling in the splendor of all his territory.
Alaska Monolith 12 X 16 inches Alkyd on Gessoboard $500
Rounding a bend while driving towards Hatcher Pass at the southern terminus of the Talkeetna Mountains, I was struck by a large mountain I had never really focused on before. How did I miss that one? Never mind. I didn't miss it this time. Now I just have to figure out if it has a name.
Left: Fresh Snow in the Old Growth 12 x 16 inches Alkyd on Gessoboard $400
Right: Fresh Snow Along the Trail 12 x 16 inches Alkyd on Gessoboard $400
Karen returned home from an outing at Blind Slough in an attempt to capture the world's best photos of Trumpeter Swans. She returned home with some fine photos of swans, but what first caught my eye were some shots she made of fresh snow in the old growth forests that line the slough. There, the spruce, hemlock and cedar forest canopy captured much of the new-fallen snow before it reached the ground. The contrast between the greens and yellows of the moss and lichen covered forest floor and the surrounding pure white of the snow simply sung to me.
The Old Beaver Pond 18 X 24 inches Alkyd on Canvas Sold
A short canoe paddle from the bridge across Blind Slough leads to a small side tributary. There we scrambled over logs and brush to find a massive beaver pond. I always wanted to canoe across that mini-lake. So, a few years ago, I dragged my canoe up the creek, over the logs and through the brush to find....the pond had drained. The beaver were gone leaving behind a vast grassy meadow. All than remained was the old dam and lodge and my photos -- one of which I used as reference for "The Old Beaver Pond."
Winter in Gnomeland 22 X 30 inches Alkyd on Paper Sold
WAVE (Working Against Violence for Everyone), a Petersburg nonprofit organization,
is having a fund raiser called Art by the Inch. Local artists; including Karen and me, have been asked to create 22
by 30 inch pieces to be sold by the square inch. The idea is
for people to pick out sections of the painting they would like to
purchase. The paintings will be cut up as per
patrons request. Here is a copy of my piece followed by closeups of two sections. Ooh, it's going to be hard to see the
scalpel attack this painting.
Winter in Gnomeland detail of two sections.
High Refuge 16 X 20 inches Alkyd on Canvas NFS
In 1966, I made a hike into an area of Denali National Park where I least expected to see wildlife. Crossing Muldrow Glacier which "flows" off Mt. McKinley, I climbed a ridge to the most alpine setting I have ever visited, a ridge on the approach to "The Great One." There, to my amazement -- on almost barren rock -- I discovered a flock of Dall Sheep. What were they doing there? Never mind, back lighting behind the sheep created a wonderful photographic opportunity -- one I have finally translated into a painting opportunity.
Along the Cutoff 12 X 16 inches Alkyd on Gessoboard $400
One of my favorite stretches of road lies between Haines, Alaska and Haines Junction, Yukon. There one traverses through endless mountain vistas with frequent wildlife sightings to season the drive. During a spring road trip several years ago willow ptarmigan seemed to line the road. At one pull out we turned off for some photo ops. Of course we couldn't help but notice the backdrop from this location. This painting captures that vista. Of course I couldn't resist putting one of those willow ptarmigan into the painting.
Denali Remembered 24 X 30 Alkyd $1200
After completing "The Great One" I had one of those "I should have" moments. I should have painted it larger, it is a big "hill" after all, and it needed a foreground. So, after a little practice it was back to the easel and here is the result -- Denali, still officially named Mt. Mckinley looking across Muldrow Glacier and the McKinly River as I saw it in 1966.
Spring Comes to the High country 18 X 24 inches Alkyd Sold
I'm still finding inspiration from our spring, 2010 road trip to southcentral Alaska. For this abstracted piece I mostly relied on a plein air painting I completed while camped on a knob overlooking the Chugach Mountains. The greening hillsides crawling up the mountainsides contrasted sharply with the still barren higher slopes. Need I say, it sure made me yearn for a rerun of that trip. OK, the herd of caribou on the ridge failed to materialize that year, so I had to import them into the painting.
Icy Gauntlet 12 X 16 inches Alkyd Sold Dance of the Aspens 9 X 12 inches Alkyd Sold
Icy Gauntlet: Trips into LeConte Bay to view the southernmost tidewater glacier in the northern hemisphere aren't always successful. The narrow bay is often choked with icebergs that calved off this dynamic glacier. Sometimes turning the boat around is the best option. Either way, the show never fails to inspire.
Dance of the Aspens: I started this painting as a plein air piece in the Yukon. Here I was drawn to the aspens battered by wind and snow to take on every manner of twisted shapes. I didn't complete the painting that day, so brought it home to finish in my studio. The moose? She's another import -- this time across international boundaries. It's a moose Karen photographed in Alaska's Matanuska Valley -- in another aspen grove. Should I have declared it when we went through customs?
The Great One 16 X 20 inches Alkyd $750
During the summers of 1965 and 1966 I worked as a seasonal ranger in Denali National Park. That was back in the days before all the access restrictions we see today -- back in the days when Denali bore the name Mt. McKinley. Digging through some of my old photos I came across a moldy, scratched image looking across McKinley River and the scree-covered Muldrow Glacier. It's life-span as a photo is meeting a sad fate, but hopefully this painting salvages that moment.
Distant Range 12 X 16 inches Alkyd Sold
Walking our dog, Niko, on the road behind Petersburg's airport, Karen stopped to photograph the view of the Coast Range beyond our little town. Only a few roof tops and the steeple of Petersburg Lutheran Church rose above the surrounding forests. While the motivation for this abstracted painting was not Petersburg, but rather the light patterns on the Coast Range, my reaction was, "yes, it definitely needs the church."
Spring at the Slough 18 X 24 inches Alkyd $800 Peaceful Evening 12 X 16 inches Alkyd $500
I've long been enamored with the view of Blind Slough from the Mitkof Highway just north of the Swan Observatory. Here, in the scene depicted in Spring at the Slough, we often stop to look for swans, bears, any living critters. We usually get rewarded for taking the time. Alas, I didn't put any in this painting. Guess I scared them off.
Further down Blind Slough one finds some wonderful assemblages of rocks surrounded by water during higher tides. Peaceful Evening depicts some of those rocks bathed in evening light.
LeConte Impressions 18 X 24 inches Alkyd Sold
This painting was acquired by the Alaska State Council on the Arts for inclusion in the Alaska Contemporary Art Bank in 2013.
I've painted views in nearby LeConte Bay before, but never the glacier. Nor have I abstracted any of those paintings. It was time. LeConte Impressions is based on our view sitting on Don Holmes' boat during the summer of 2011 -- just drifting among the ice floes waiting for the glacier to calve, sharing the Bay with seals hauled out on nearby bergs.
Wings Over the Tongass 16 X 20 in. Alkyd $500 Chugach High Country 12 X 16 in. Alkyd $500
Wings Over the Tongass: Karen and I found some new views of the Coast Range while exploring an old logging road during the summer of 2011. Yes, as small as our island is, we still have a lot of exploring to do. The view seemed to fit into my idea of painting abstractions. Still it needed more so on came a solitary bald eagle and flock of swans.
Chugach High Country is an abstraction based on the view of the Chugach from my tent at 4:00 AM several years ago. There, camped near the top of a knob several miles from Gunsight Mountain I spent several glorious days capturing the vistas in plein air painting as well as my camera.
I really saw Ptarmigan in this valley. One whitetail -- back in the mid 1970s. In the mood for another abstraction, I based this painting on a plein air (High Valley) I completed during our spring 2010 road trip. I couldn't resist importing a whole flock of ptarmigan into this piece -- the idea generated from seeing one willow ptarmigan on a nearby hill.
High Country Winter 16 X 20 inches Alkyd $750
I based this painting on another trip one November day in the early 1970s. The location -- Sheep Mountain. The quest -- photograph Dall sheep in winter. Several friends and I clawed our way up a snowy ridge to a vantage place to photograph this flock. What we hadn't expected was the forbidding backdrop laced with avalanche paths behind the sheep.
Passing the Horn 16 X 20 inches Alkyd $750
Back in the early 1980s Karen and I kayaked from Leconte Bay back to Petersburg. Our route took us along the base of Horn Cliffs. There, barely more than a paddle's length from the shore, we found ourselves swept up in a strong northward current. All we had to do was steer, marvel at the beauty of the rocks and waterfalls, and relish the warmth of the sun. What a ride! In winter sea lions also haul out at a favorite hang out along this same shoreline. Of course! This painting needed one of those huge pinnipeds following our route.
Winter Delight 16 X 20 in. Alkyd Pvt Collection Winter Shadows 18 X 24 inches Alkyd $800
I always slow down for a quick peek when I drive across the Falls Creek Bridge on the Mitkof Highway. My reaction is predictable -- "Ooh, I should stop and take a picture." I did twice one day last winter -- coming and going out the road. Winter Delight certainlymakes the case for stopping more often.
In contrast, Winter Shadows depicts the view in the opposite direction just around the first bend further upstream. Out for a ride with our daughter, Mandy, and her Mike another day last winter we walked into Falls Creek to ooh and aah. For the record, the foreground footprints are Mandy's and not from the two wolves I've hidden in the painting.
Clarence 12 X 16 inches Alkyd $400
Since I have a bovine aortic valve I have an affinity for cows. Thus I was happy when we met Clarence on the Frying Pan Ranch in South Dakota. I doubt many herefords live to a ripe old age, but not many herefords are fortunate enough to live on Bret and Tammy Prangs ranch. I chose to paint Clarence with his broken horn, but feeling sorry for the docile bovine, I restored his sight in his blind right eye.
Nevada Dry Wash 9 X 12 inches Alkyd $250 Rocks for Karen 11 X 15 inches Oil NFS
Nevada Dry Wash began as a plein air painting in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area near Las Vegas, Nevada. It began there, but a heavy thunderstorm ended my reverie at the bottom of that wash. I've heard about flash floods. Thus, it sat for some time back home in my studio until one day I decided to play with it.
Rocks for Karen is an older piece I decided to share. Karen adores rocks. We have quite a few collections of her treasures throughout our house -- some in baskets, some in glass vases and some just tossed out in our yard. Everywhere we go Karen queries me about rock hunting possibilities. Thus it seemed only fitting some years back that I paint some for her. Of course the painting now resides in our house as a backdrop for one of her collections.
After Hours on the Loading Dock 12 X 16 inches Alkyd NFS
Karen and I teamed up on this one. A local show titled Our Town set me off to paint the loading dock at a local cannery -- from a photo taken by Karen. The rain gear ready for the next delivery had caught her eye. It needed more. I suggested the gnomes dragging a salmon to Karen. Soon she came up with reference sketches of gnomes followed by a pixie and a fairy. Of course the fairy had to wear rain gear and Xtra-Tuff boots. This is southeast Alaska after all. So much for reality.
Ironically, six months later the Alaska ferry, Matanuska, ran into this dock just a few feet to the left of the image. Could it have been lured there by our fairy? Oh dear.
Misty Walk 18 X 24 inches Alkyd $800 High Tide in the Notch 18 X 24 inches Alkyd $800
Misty Walk: Karen's cousin Connie Mutel and her husband, Bob visited us for nine days in July 2011. It rained. They never saw the tops of our mountains. Yet they claim they loved being away from an Iowa summer heat wave. So, they dragged us out in weather when we normally "hibernate" -- a lot. I based this painting on a walk along the Ohmer Creek Trail. That's one reason we love guests -- they lure us out of our comfort zone.
Hide Tide in the Notch: Karen and I spent an afternoon on one of our favorite beaches at the south end of Mitkof Island. At one corner of the beach a notch filled with driftwood sneaks through into the next cove. I based this painting on photos of the notch -- taken when the tide was out. Somehow the tide came in for the painting.
Campus Colors 16 X 20 inches Alkyd $750
After completing a painting of Middlebury College for my 50th college reunion yearbook, I was in the mood to paint Vermont. One problem. Those few miles between Alaska and Vermont. I had to make the trip electronically. Google maps lead me to the photography of Barbara Ganley who generously gave me permission to use her photo for reference. You can find out more about her work at Community Expressions
Winter Memories 12x16 inches Alkyd on Canvas Sold
Yukon Spring 16 X 20 inches Alkyd Pvt. Collection
Returning from our spring 2011 road trip through the Yukon, several of my plein air subjects seemed to lend themselves to abstraction. I'm drawn to patterns formed as snow retreats from wind-blown ridges leaving long white fingers in the ravines. I based this one on the view of Kluane National Park from a sandbar along Quill Creek. A warning: Don't try to select the route for a hike based on my depiction of the scene.
Northern Crossing 16 X 20 in. Alkyd Sold Textures of an Alaskan Spring 16 X 20 in. Alkyd $750
Northern Crossing: Anyone winding their way down Alaska's Glenn Highway, high above the Matanuska River, can't help but be drawn to a triangular-shaped mountain vying with the river for attention. Naturally, Karen took the best photos of it, one that seemed to lend itself to one of my abstractions. The recent selection of my painting, A Fine Day on the Tongass, for inclusion in the Alaska Contemporary Art Bank reinforced the idea. I have to admit the snow on the mountain was more patchy, the trees less regular, so I exercised every artist's option of messing with nature.
Textures of an Alaskan Spring: Springtime in Alaska is a rather uneven affair. While trees at sea level may be bursting with renewed energy, higher elevations remain locked in winter's mantle. Such was the scene I found near Portage Glacier late in May, 2010.. Like the progression of spring, I like to refine these subjects into increasingly abstracted patterns during the progression of the paintings.
Easy Way Through 18 X 24 inches Alkyd Sold
Setting out to plein air paint in the spring of 2010, I almost stopped at the start of a trail leading to a favorite beaver pond in the Ohmer Creek drainage. Almost. Here it was cold in the shade. The beaver pond area offered sun and as I soon would discover -- mosquitoes. However, at this juncture I opted to keep walking, only stopping long enough to snap a few photos. After all, if you stop and paint every scene that beckons in this part of the world, you'll never get anywhere.
I "got into" winter early in 2011. But not in the way of my past -- skiing, photographing wildlife, even camping or travel to warmer climes. This year I've been savoring the joy of capturing the beauty of our Alaskan landscape at this season, especially on those golden days bathed in the low-angle winter sun -- mostly from the comfort of my studio. Photos by Karen and myself are the source on this group of painting.
Spring Break 9 X 12 inches Alkyd Sold
Oh, oh, it looks like I'm pushing the season calling the one a winter painting. However, fall, winter and spring blur a bit in southeast Alaska. Muskegs, such as this painting depicts, may experience multiple break-ups and refreezes anytime from November clear through March. One day you're walking on ice and a couple of days later you're dumping water out of your boots. For the record, this day that Karen photographed in March really was the end of walking on frozen ground -- if you can call these wetlands ground.
Four on the Point 18 X 24 in. Alkyd Sold Winter Glow 18 X 24 in. Alkyd $800 Eighteen miles from downtown Petersburg, a short side road leads to Blind Slough Picnic area and Crystal Lake Hatchery (think salmon). Here, I like to stop on the bridge to admire the view and look for wildlife. Upstream a point with four alders often lures my camera lens, particularly with early morning back-lighting. I based Four on the Point on photos I took early one spring morning before the ice had melted on the Slough.
I found Winter Glow in January, 2011 when I set out to photograph the mouth of Falls Creek from a high perch above a fish ladder (think salmon). Yes, the downstream view was terrific, but when I turned around, my happy discovery was upstream. There I was greeted by the glow of sunlight on a distant mountainside reflected in an unfrozen part of the stream.
Steller's Discovery 16 X 20 inches Alkyd Sold
Georg Wilhelm Steller went on a cruise from Russia to America with Vitus Bering in 1741. The high point of his voyage was ten hours on Kayak Island before Bering announced, "OK boys, that's enough. We don't want to be late for dinner." With that they headed home. Alas, they had a particularly unpleasant ship-wreck en route -- ironically on an island bearing Bering's name, Bering Island which is located in a sea also ironically bearing Bering's name. However, during his ten hours Steller discovered a bird which looked like the blue jay he had seen in his Field Guide to North American birds. Eureka, he cried, we've discovered Alaska, ignoring the fact that Kayak Island was named for the watercraft used by the natives who had beaten him to his discovery.
Never mind, Steller had five new species named for him as a result of the cruise. Had the species known of the risk, they might not have agreed to his offer. Two are extinct, one is in bad shape and only two are doing well. This Steller's jay, discovered by Karen while she had her camera in hand, is one.
Winter Light 12 X 16 inches Alkyd Sold The Back Way 12 X 16 inches Alkyd $400 I took a mid-afternoon hike in January above Petersburg's industrial area -- Hungerford Hill. There, a "restricted area" road leads behind Petersburg's airport. I don't buy into that philosophy, so it's a good place to hike. Lots of other locals use it too. Winter Light and The Back Way depict scenes from that day.
Alderglow 12X 16 inches Alkyd $400 Abandoned 12 X 16 inches Alkyd Sold
Many years ago a fur farm was located on Mitkof Island south of Petersburg. Eventually it was closed and turned into a Forest Service tree farm. Now that, too, has ceased operation. However, a handful of alders share what must have been a clearing in front of the farm with a salmonberry patch. Down on the beach remains of the old fur farm can still be found. There a sadly leaning shelter with a skiff that shall sail no more still survive. The skiff's role in the project -- to fish for food for the mink and foxes raised in the fur farm. I wonder at the emotions of the workers who just walked away and abandoned their boat to the whims of southeast Alaskan storms.
Alpenglow on the Thumb 12X 16 in. Alkyd $400 Last Farewell 12 X 16 inches Alkyd $400
I drew on one of Karen's photos of the evening light on Devil's Thumb, a local landmark, for Alpenglow on the Thumb. The US-Canada border bisects the summit. But the photo lacked something. There was no snow on the foreground trees. Looking out my studio window at Petersburg Mountain, I found my solution -- heavy snow blanketing the forest. Why not?
I painted Last Farewell from a photo I took several winters ago on a hike at Petersburg's Sandy Beach. Later, I went back for more images, but could never find the cabin. I finally figured out the mystery when the Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department put out a publication to celebrate their 100th anniversary. There, a photo showed the cabin going up in smoke -- a practice fire. Was my photo the last to be taken of someones dreams?
Quiet Waters 16 X 20 inches Alkyd on masonite $750
One of my favorite walks winds along the wild side of Petersburg's elementary school. The crown jewel of the walk is a pond created by fill that dammed up a creek draining muskegs. In summer the pond is choked with aquatic vegetation, in winter it is covered with ice and snow. Then, in the spring it reappears along with a pair of mallards that often check in on their northward migration.
Turbulent Seas 18 X 24 inches Alkyd Sold
I watch a lot of boats sail past our house on the way to fishing grounds out in the Gulf of Alaska. I listen to weather reports for high seas out on those grounds -- 27, 28 feet. I hear stories about rogue waves. I'll pass on the experiences. I prefer to play with the idea with my paints than to hang over a boat railing, feeding the fish my last meal while wishing I was anywhere but there. However, it's one of my favorite subjects when I just feel like letting the paint fly. For boats, I go down to the docks to take photographs for reference. The Odin provided my model for this piece.
L: Autumn Muskeg 9 X 12 in. Alkyd $250 R: Low Water 18 X 24 in. Alkyd $800
Autumn Muskeg: Leaf peepers to not come to southeast Alaska to see fall color. They leave it. However, that is not to say this area does not have it's own beauty in the autumn. It's just more subtle such as this grassy muskeg meadow on the south end of Mitkof Island.
Low Water: When visitors come to our island home, a favorite activity is to head for an area where garnets wash into a creek. But, as much fun as it is to discover those tiny ruby-red treasures, the beauty of this rugged drainage is my favorite feature. At high water it's a torrent. At low water, it's a series of low waterfalls and log jams the entire length of the creek.
Desert Sentinels 9 X 12 inches Alkyd Private Collection
My brother's request for paintings of the southwest converged with the arrival of a new painting surface, a Raymar panel. For a subject I chose a photograph I took while driving between Grand Junction, Colorado and Moab, Utah. Highway 128 parallels the Colorado River offering a lifetime of painting subjects along the way. Had someone been clocking my progress, I think I only averaged a handful of miles per hour. In retrospect that was too fast. The trip really required days to do it justice.
Hanging in There 9 X 12 inches Alkyd NFS The Nearsighted Gnome 9 X 12 inches Sold
There’s a link between these two paintings. Five years after I had open heart surgery I still haven’t formally thanked the lead doctor who performed the surgery. It’s time. Remembering lots of bear photos in his office I painted the whimsical brown bear for him. The cows symbolize the bovine aortic valve he outfitted me with and as for the forget-me-not flowers -- I can’t forget him.
Then, reflecting upon his office decor, it seemed that a more realistic painting might be more appropriate. So I painted the “Hanging in There” painting of a black bear cub based on a photo that Karen took at Anan Creek south of Wrangell. Since I wasn’t sending the Doctor the whimsical bear, I opted to add it to my fledgling gnome series and put in the “Nearsighted Gnome” attempting to milk what he thinks is one of his cows.
WAVE, Women Against Violent Emergencies, sponsored an art show in Petersburg. The theme -- Rise Up. I completed three paintings for the event, each one taking a different slant on the theme.
Standing Together 18 X 24 inches Alkyd $800
During a previous road trip Karen took a series of photos of three women -- a grandmother, mother and daughter -- wading into northern California surf with huge storm-driven waves thundering beyond them. Karen wanted to paint the scene for the Rise Up show so I let the idea slide until the last weekend before the opening when Karen was off on a trip. Without her here to guard it, I figured it was safe to steal her idea. Thus, Standing Together is based on the concept of women supporting one another in the face of adversity.
Rising 20 X 24 inches Alkyd $900 Wake Up 12 X 16 inches Alkyd NFS
Rising sprung from the recent Tongass Rainforest Festival show (see below). My idea: Rise to your fullest potential. Portions of the Coast Range rising to it’s full height through a rising layer of clouds, a humpback whale rising above the waves, abstracted trees rising in the forest, icebergs rising from the sea, a couple of flocks of snow geese migrating south after rising up from their summer breeding grounds, an eagle on top of the biggest berg with other eagles soaring to greater heights above it -- all contributed to the theme.
I based Wake Up on a photo of my daughter, Tamia, when she fell asleep after finishing a bottle of juice. Then I added more to the story. If Tamia doesn’t "rise up" she is going to lose her cookie to our dog, Niko. No matter that the original photo of Tamia was taken in the mid 1970s and Niko is our current pet.
2010 Tongass Rainforest Festival
This year, the Tongass Rainforest Festival offered another opportunity to show some paintings. Again, I completed three pieces for the event.
Off for a Rainforest Picnic 12 X 16 Alkyd Sold
Adding a gnome to the painting “Last Watchman” sparked an idea for the Tongass Rainforest Festival. Why not have fun with gnomes. An internet search to see what gnomes look like showed I had lots of room for imagination as long as they had a red hat. Trolls also popped up with the search revealing even more latitude. Thus came the family of gnomes and a troll off on a picnic during a rainy day in the Tongass rainforest. Several creatures endemic to the Tongass added surprises to the setting. I finished this painting the day before the show. It sold the next day. I guess I’ll have to paint more of these creatures if I want to enjoy having them around.
Tongass Backwater 18 X 24 in. Alkyd Sold A Fine Day on the Tongass 18 X 24 in. Alkyd Sold Tongass Backwater: A favorite canoe paddle up Blind Slough leads to a spot where a stream draining a beaver pond complex enters the Slough. The beaver are now gone, the dams in disrepair. However, returning to our canoe on our last trip, I found an incredible scene dominated by a Sitka Spruce tree growing over the backwater. I first painting the image without the tree figuring it was too dominating. Alas, without some sort of spark I felt the painting was a bit boring. Saying to myself that the tree was what inspired me in the first place, I took a chance and painted it in.
A fine Day on the Tongass: Collection Alaska State Council on the Arts Contemporary Art Bank.
Inspired by one of my favorite artists, Donald Flather, I decided to let loose with a more abstract paintings highlighting some of my favorite features of our Tongass rainforest home -- glaciers, spires rising heavenward, and charismatic fauna dominated by a pod of orcas.
Tongass Recycled 16 X 20 inches Alkyd on Clayboard Sold
After the Tongass Art Show in 2009 I was asked if I could paint another version of my painting, Cycles of the Tongass. This time I went bigger adding more critters including a couple of explorers -- my friend Brian Paust lead by his dog, Sage, and followed by grandson, Gus.
End of the Season 20 X 24 inches Alkyd $900 Rough Passage 18 X 24 inches Alkyd $800
End of the Season: A pullout alongside a grove of aspens in Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico lured our car off the highway. The season, spring and the ground was still covered with snow. Our shoes barely reached our ankles. Thank goodness for telephoto lenses. I had to paint that subject. Karen suggested a few leaves after I completed it. I painted a few on a sheet of paper, cut them out and Karen proceeded to arrange them on the dried painting. I followed her lead in placing them on the canvas.
Rough Passage: Our ferry encountered big water while crossing Dixon Entrance in November, 2009. Perfect for me. I headed out on deck to capture some wave action, although not many of the images had a level horizon. I based the boat on a fishing boat tied up in the Petersburg Harbor, one I knew plied those same waters.
El Cabezon Alkyd on Canvas 20 X 24 inches Private Collection
As our plane approached Albuquerque, New Mexico in the spring of 2007, I spotted a dolomite volcanic plug emerging from the distant desert. THAT was what I had come to New Mexico for. Thus, my first question upon landing switched from "how do we get to our B&B?" to "how can we get to that mountain?" And so, several days later Karen and I found ourselves bouncing along a dusty track leading to Cabezon. We spent the day climbing as high up the peak as we could before the trail turned into more of a you're-on-your-own deal. Getting there, we photographed practically every step along the way. Some more than once. I based this painting on one of those photographs.
Inspiration Alkyd 12 X 16 inches $400 Prelude to a Good Day Oil 12 X 16 in. $400
Inspiration: Inspired by one of my favorite artists, Donald Flather, I set out to do an abstracted painting of the Coast Range. Running up against an inspirational wall, I chanced critiques by Karen and friends. OK, I “un-abstractied” the piece a bit. More critiques, more “unabstracting.” Finally I gave up and ended up with this hybrid.
Prelude to a Good Day: The sight of fog lifting over Blind Slough one spring morning brought my foot to the brakes. Wow! This was our payoff for enduring a climate that generates 120 inches of rain pattering on our roof every year. I based this painting on several of the many photographs I snapped attempting to capture my feelings that memorable day.
Georgia's Inspiration Alkyd on Canvas 20 X 24 inches Private Collection
A request for a painting of New Mexico prompted a search through our photographs of this spectacular state. What a gold mine in painting material we have. This painting depicts the setting I found the evening I discovered Ghost Ranch, the place where Georgia O'Keefe purchased a home. No wonder she finally settled in New Mexico. It also bears a striking resemblance to the route our Garmin GPS tried to send me off on for my drive to my next destination, Farmington, New Mexico. I ignored Ms Garmin that evening.
Cycles of the Tongass Alkyd 12 X 16 inches Sold
The 2009 Tongass Rainforest Festival Art Show prompted me to play with an idea I had a number of years ago pus finish off two other paintings. The original concept for this one, salmon migrating upstream into a forest abstract, has morphed considerably since I made that sketch. I'm only sorry I didn't have more time to play with it. Then, again, maybe it's a precursor to more whimsical paintings ahead.
Dash to the Sea Alkyd on Canvas 12 X 16 inches Sold
This painting for the Tongass show originated as a plein air of one of my favorite creeks on Mitkof Island. Our plein air group had spread out across a log-stringer bridge along a seldom-used logging road. Half way through the piece, I ran out of steam and never got back to the site with the painting in hand. The festival gave me the incentive to compete it in my studio using photographs from past outings.
In Retreat 2009 18 X 24 inches Alkyd on Canvas Sold
I began this painting at least two years ago, but then abandoned it. The color wasn't right. Maybe I should have titled it Tongass Resurrection since the festival prompted me to rework the piece. The subject is a retreating glacier just before you encounter LeConte Glacier in (suprise) LeConte Bay. I've long wanted to hike up this valley, but always feared getting trapped on the shore by ice.
Waiting for Spring III 18 X 24 inches Alkyd on Canvas Sold
This is my third and last version of this subject. The reason for three -- so many happy memories of those days combined with how much fun I’ve had painting it. In late March and April I would use my binoculars to scan the hillsides across the upper Little Susitna Valley in Hatchers Pass, north of Palmer. I learned to pick out willow and white-tailed ptarmigan sunning themselves on the south side of willow and alder thickets -- little mounds just a tad warmer in color than the surrounding snow. Once I spotted the birds I donned my skis and set off with camera in hand. White-tailed ptarmigan were particularly tame and on one occasion I photographed a friend actually touching one. The subject of this painting is a willow ptarmigan in winter plumage.
Last Bend Alkyd on Canvas 16 X 20 inches $350
Green's Camp, a logging camp during the heyday of logging on Mitkof Island turned into a campground for many years until a washed out culvert ended the fun. Now, however, the culvert has been replaced and the road reopened. This painting depicts the last bend in the road before breaking out into the estuary where the culvert washed out. Forty-plus-year-old alders (several of which appear in this painting) used to overhang the road until an over-zealous Alaska Department of Transportation employee cut them all down. Fortunately I captured the scene with my camera just a week before the massacre.
At Peace Alkyd on Clayboard 16 X 20 inches Sold
A half hour's drive from Petersburg on the Mitkof Highway you'll find a parking lot at a trailhead near Blind Slough. A quarter mile boardwalk trail (actually it's some sort of hard plastic) leads to a rocky shore in this part of the estuary. Popular for king salmon fishing in early summer and coho salmon fishing in late summer, Blind Slough is popular for waterfowl in winter and shorebirds in early spring. And it's always popular for us to hike into any time of year. I based this painting on photos of the rocky shoreline one spring and tossed in some Western Sandpipers as a surprise for the viewer.
Gift from the Stikine Driftwood Sculpture Approximately 12 inches long
OK, so this one isn't a painting. Five or six years ago I was into driftwood sculpture, essentially discovering what hidden treasures lie in a weathered piece of driftwood. My neighbor's daughters, Ellie and Caddy Bergren sometimes stopped by the picnic table in our front yard, where I worked, to see what I was up to. Then one day Ellie brought a muddy piece of driftwood her sister had found during a family kayak trip on the Stikine River Delta. From it's shape I knew it was a keeper and from it's source I knew where it needed to end up. Pleasant hours in the sun at our picnic table, scraping away the mud, peeling the bark, digging out rot and finally sanding the piece revealed this treasure.
Cetacean Ballet Driftwood Sculpture 24 inches long Sold
I spotted this chunk of hemlock root in a ditch during a springtime walk. "Aha, a keeper," I said to Karen. However, I could barely lift the muddy specimen and we couldn't retrieve it with our car due to lingering snow on parts of the road. I looked in my pack for the requisite screwdriver to eliminate the weight of some of the mud, bark and rot. Nuts. I didn't have it with me, nor was I packing a knife. Now, I have found screwdrivers on the road in the past, but never on demand. Not so this day. There it was, a bit rusty, but perfect for the cause.. Cleaning up the specimen lightened it enough so that Karen and I, like Jack and Jill, could pack it back to the car. After considerable drying, I spent many mellow hours on a beach or at our picnic table discovering the Cetacean Ballet hidden in that muddy root.
Layers of History Alkyd 18 X 24 inches Private Collection
I discovered Zion National Park in the fall of 2007. Well, actually someone had discovered it before me, but, with no time to paint, I gawked at potential subjects at every bend of the road. The following spring I returned with an arsenal of paints and canvasses, but had too much fun exploring with Karen and only managed three small plein air studies. Painting in one slot canyon I was jolted out of reverie by a clap of thunder further upslope. Having watched a movie featuring a flash flood the day before, I set a world's record for vacating a painting site. Later, I painted this scene in another canyon below the road and worked it up into this larger version after we returned home.
Hidden Canyon Alkyd 18 X 24 inches Private Collection
Needless to say, I'm hooked on the southwest and a favorite discovery I have only captured in photographs is Capitol Reef National Park. With just an afternoon to explore the Park in late October, 2008, Karen and I discovered Grand Wash. Although the sun had already vanished behind the towering cliffs when Karen and I hiked up this side canyon, the red rocks reflecting the evening glow made for a memorable hike which was considerably slowed by all the pictures we snapped.
12 X 16 inches $400
During my October, 2008 road trip through Death Valley, I did a quick abstract of a scene along Titus Canyon Road. Returning home armed with that painting, I set up to abstract my abstract. Alas, I kept returning to a photo I had also taken of the scene. In the end my super abstract ended up as anything but. Ah, well, I still like the painting.
Break Between Storms
18 X 24 inches
Collection of Clausen Memorial Museum
based this painting on a photo I took last winter during a walk between
snow storms. The steep roof of the church was actually covered with
snow -- a rare occurence -- but it’s red roof is such a Petersburg
landmark that I had to paint it with that distinctive roof. For this
subject I attempted to use the looser painting technique that I have
been cultivating for my plein air works.
A Bit of Chop 24 X 30 inches Oil on canvas Sold
is another version of a subject that fascinates me, the power of the
ocean. I based it on a compilation of photos I found of high seas on
the internet modified for compositional purposes and an image of a
commercial fishing boat rigged for long lining tied up in Petersburg.
Of course the title comes from our local boat captains notorious
penchant for underestimation.
Northwest Passage 2008 Oil on canvas 24 X 30 inches Sold
based this painting on a photo I took during a spring of 2008 trip into
LeConte Bay. This was our turn around point because of the increasing thickness of the ice, but the idea of a vessel
out beyond us, perhaps seeking the fabled Northwest Passage struck my
sense of adventure.
Heading for ShelterOil 20 X 40 $1200
One of my favorite things about winter in Petersburg is our concentration of overwintering sea ducks. In fact I purchased the canvas to make a waterfowl painting like this back in the early 1990s, but it wasn’t until 2006 that I began working on it. I used numerous photos and digital images of flying surf scoters as well as Frederick Sound as reference material.
Oil 18 X 24
This painting tells a story, perhaps about the big one whose “Guardian Angel” let it escape without ever revealing to the fisher the real story -- or perhaps not. The ending is up to you.
Oil 24 X 30
My favorite place in the Petersburg area is LeConte Bay and the big valley south of LeConte Glacier is one of my favorite views in the Bay. This painting is based on a photo I took of this valley on one of those days that showed the Bay at its best.
In the Heart of LeConte
Oil 24 X 30
One of the best reasons to live in Petersburg is its proximity to LeConte Bay, a narrow fiord carved by LeConte Glacier. The southernmost tidewater glacier in North America, LeConte dumps vast quantities of ice into the fiord every day. The ultimate way to see LeConte Bay is via kayak. Miles disappear rapidly as one glides between icebergs, sometimes slicing through tide rips choked with bergy bits, other times gaping upwards at apartment-house-sized monoliths. This painting depicts a day when an easy paddle just feet from the shoreline leads around a bend where LeConte Glacier will appear several ice-choked miles distant.
12 X 16 Sold
I created this painting for an Art with Heart exhibit. Having had my aortic valve replaced with one of bovine origin I felt it was only appropriate that I give tribute to the cow who helped save my life. The flowers, of course, are Forget-me-nots.
Into the Storm
Oil 18 X 24
Looking out the window of our cabin during a heavy autumn “southeaster,” I was amazed to see a commercial fishing boat heading out into the storm. Grabbing my camera I set out to experience the excitement of the storm as the boat met it off Hungry Point. I took a number of very grainy photos of the boat encountering the waves upon which I based this painting. It received an Honorable Mention in the 2005 Little Norway Art Show.
Oil 18 X 24
Commissioned to paint the Westerly after a friend saw my painting “Into the Storm.” I virtually stalked the Westerly in the Petersburg Boat Harbor as it traveled into and out of Wrangell Narrows that summer in order to collect a number of reference photos for this painting.
Logjam at Ideal Cove
Oil 20 X 24
My first attempt to follow the trail to Ideal Cove ended at the Cove, but not by any human-made trail. However, the “trail less traveled” lead to a beautiful log jam at the mouth of the creek draining Crane Lake, a place I never would have seen had I been where I wanted to be. I added the American Dipper to provide a hidden surprise in the painting.
Oil 12 X 16 Sold
One of the most memorable sights in LeConte Bay is the glacier-fed falls about half way up the east side of the Bay. I first rendered this scene with paint brushes to get my need to paint in detail out of my system. That done, it was easier to explore the subject more freely. So, I put my paint brushes away and painted the same scene using only a palette knife.
L: Over the Log Oil on Hardboard Sold R: Driftwood Passage Oil 12 X 16 NFS
L: Harlequin Wave Rider Oil 20 X 24 $900 R: Hazel B off Yakobi Rock Oil 12 X 16 Private Collection
L: Bubble Feeding Oil 12 X 16 Collection of Clausen Memorial Museum R: Catch of the Day Oil 18 X 24 $800