Tag Archives: artist

Plein air and Happy Eclipse Day

I finally met up with my artist friend, Randall Tipton. I haven’t seen him since 2016- so much has changed since. He and a group of his friends paint plein air style every week.

Plein air painting

He drove me to this spot on the Lake Oswego – Tualatin border on the Tualatin River. I struggled a bit because I didn’t really feel like there was anything compositionally for me to grab onto.

I did like the undulating colors in the water:

Tualatin River

So I just decided to let go and have fun. I was mainly trying to capture the cool rippling effect in the water and then I decided to make the mud of the painting a dark red! I don’ t think it was my best effort but it was fun!

Randall’s painting came out much better:


Here is a recent painting I did of a peony in an apothecary jar. I cut this peony from my garden back in May or June? I love the lilac color, especially against the naples yellow.

I’m always trying to strike the right balance of finished vs overworked.

Lilac Peony Still Life, 2017, 12x16, mixed media painting on paper


Kitty in da house

I have a new orange kitty named Matisse. As a result I’m extremely sleep deprived. He loves to attack my feet at night and go bonkers right when I’m trying to sleep. He also wakes me up at 5:30 AM sharp, meowing, “it’s time to feed me!” Any advice for the weary?

I haven’t made any new paintings this week because this cat is driving me nuts. I did get some extremely adorable pictures of him, photobombing my floral still lives.

Kitty flower

Kitty flower

Here’s the last painting I did, a mixed media study of bougainvillea that I saw back when I was visiting the Bay Area. I wish I could grow bougainvillea in Portland.



Spring Flowers- some oil paintings

I’ve been awful about updating my blog this year. In fact I hadn’t thought about it at all when Portland artist Randall David Tipton emailed me to tell me he had read my blog post about his artwork that I wrote over a year ago. He returned the favor and highlighted a watercolor on his blog. Thank you Randall!

After a very long, wet winter (one of the wettest winters on record in Oregon), it is flower season here in Portland. This is the time of year when it is really hard for me to concentrate on doing any paintings because I just want to be out in the sun and take lots and lots of pictures.

Anyway, I wanted to update my blog to show some spring flower oil paintings I have completed recently. I wanted these to be light, bright, and colorful.  In the first painting of a quince bouquet, I wanted it to feel like a watercolor- painting with thin, transparent layers. This was successful for the most part but not sure if there’s too much ‘white’ left? What do you think? I’m going to do another one with the same technique, but start with a solid color background first to avoid that problem. I’ve prepped a canvas with a very light bright lavender. We’ll see how that goes.

Glowing quince, 2017, oil on linen, 16x20

Glowing quince, 2017, oil on linen, 16×20

This next one is also a painting done from the same quince bouquet in a teal vase but from a different perspective. I also used  a slightly different technique, painting much thicker. I think my obsession with Matisse shows a bit more here. Which one do you like more this one or the first one?

Quince bouquet, 2017, oil on canvas, 16×20

Here’s another closeup of a spring bouquet, I think composed of all the early spring blossoms:   quince, forsythia, and cherry blossom leaves. I had a lot of fun playing with color- glazing the background in teal and emerald green, creating the dark purple leaves.

Spring bouquet, teal. 2017. Oil on canvas, 16x20

Spring bouquet, teal. 2017. Oil on canvas, 16×20

A Coffee Shop with Cool Art

In North Portland, there’s this coffee shop called The Arbor Lodge. It’s definitely not my favorite neighborhood, but this place is a gem.

Unsurprisingly, this Portland coffee shop serves good coffee.

Today's coffee #pdx

A photo posted by Betsyness (@betsyness) on

What was a pleasant surprise was the quality of the artwork. Look at these graphic, acrylic paintings. They have a quality to them that reminds me of screenprinting or woodblock. Such fun colors!

The line quality also reminds me of cut paper. Have you heard of Swoon? She is a wonderful street artist that creates such intricate work. I could never do this, me with an exacto knife sounds like a recipe for disaster!


Art I Like: Randall David Tipton

I actually found Randall, a Portland area artist, through his blog, Painter’s Process. I seriously consider him one of the top contemporary landscape painters, I mean why isn’t this dude in MoMA?

Randall David Tipton

He graciously has shared some of his tips and wisdom with me. My favorite piece of advice? Don’t be afraid to ruin it (artwork). It reminds me of what Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book, Big Magic, to take art seriously but not seriously. He also inspired me to start writing this blog!

Randall David Tipton

I absolutely adore the colors in this one: the cold, dark maroons and greys. He so wonderfully captures the quality of light in winter. It’s muted without being muddy, and somehow glowing. Incredible!

It’s all a matter of pushing the paint, scrapping, pouring, tilting, blotting, and wiping as I try to build my idea. The studies are where I can try something out in a manageable space, but I take them seriously as paintings. My goals are the same for any size. I want a rich, painterly image which represents my view, my regard, my understanding of paint and nature. For myself. I`m trying to paint the paintings I want to see.

Interview with Randall David Tipton The second to last sentence is so good- maybe the best artist statement I’ve read in a long while. Don’t get me started about artist statements…

It’s crazy that he paints largely from memory. Look how keenly he observes the subtleties of nature. He so convincingly captures the reflection of clouds and the movement of grassy wetlands.


Look at that cloud reflection! And this one is a watercolor. People it’s incredibly difficult to have both that freedom and control in watercolor. He is a master!


He has elevated Yupo, a plastic watercolor paper, as an artist medium. If you google or go on Pinterest, most of the stuff you’ll see painted on Yupo is amateurish and features extremely garish, saturated colors. It’s not surprising- Yupo is slick and even more difficult to control than normal watercolor paper. You can see how he takes the unique pooling and puddling texture that paint forms on Yupo and makes it work wonderfully to depict water and sky. I love the transition from the blue sky into the ambiguous forms of the tree. Lovely.

Randall David Tipton

More free flowing textures on Yupo. This is all very, very difficult to do well.

Randall David Tipton

He is wonderfully irreverent of “proper” art techniques- no underpainting or drawing, he’ll use black straight from the tube, he’ll use white watercolor, he won’t clean his brushes after use, he’ll use cheap brushes, he’ll use non-brushes as brushes.  He’ll paint right over an older painting without second thought. I asked if he sands it first before painting over it. He said he supposes he should. He asked me, “What’s gouache?” He normally purchases canvases that have been pre primed with gesso, explaining that he doesn’t have the time for it. I like it! That is a very good lesson (I mean I’m already lazy and messy enough so I guess I am extremely biased here) but I think it is true that we all have so limited time, if we can afford to take shortcuts, why not outsource the awful, boring parts?

He credits his tenacity for pulling many pieces together. Hopefully I can be just as tenacious and keep working through paintings that are a struggle and that I’m down on.

Art I Like: Sally Mann

No matter what crazy new phone app or new iphone Apple puts out, you cannot beat the look of a large format photograph. To prove this statement, check out Sally Mann’s work.

I love this portrait-how charcoaly black and soft her face is rendered and how white and sharp the flowers are.

Sally Mann

I love how black the shadows are and that depth of field.

Sally Mann

So elegant.

Check out her work in her book, Still Time.


Mt Hood and recent Watercolors

I had some lovely Pinot Gris and Pinot noir at a local vineyard near Portland with an unreal view of Mount Hood today.

I’m finally going to post some of my recent watercolors. Normally I hate everything I do until I hide it away and look at it a few years later. A friend has encouraged me to blog more and show more works in progress.

Some watercolors of the dark foliage I have been obsessed with lately.

    I like the colors on this one but feels a little too flat.

 Lilacs. I like the green in the leaves.

Art I Like: Nancy Cuevas

I met Nancy through Gloria who I met on a plane. I was doodling a bunch of- what else- flowers and the woman seated next to me, Gloria, noticed and we began talking about art.  She said she knew this amazing oil painter. Boy was she right.

Nancy Cuevas is seriously one of the most underrated contemporary artists. I mean look at her mastery , I think (actually I know, because I have had the privilege of seeing the works in person) that these photos don’t do her work justice.

Nancy Cuevas


I think because they are so technically superb and realistic, that for some reason our eyes kind of glance over it – like oh another photo on the internet. But people look at the luminosity in those shadows below the neck!

Nancy Cuevas

She’s been focusing a lot on animal portraiture. Once you get over her skill- I mean I can’t even describe the craftsmanship- she paints the most empathetic portraits and brings out the grace in these animals. Look at the glowing colors she brings out through layers of careful glazing.

Nancy Cuevas

#workinprogress #noblewhiskers #cats #nancycuevas

A photo posted by Nancy Cuevas (@cuevasartstudio) on

I think TV Guide had this annual cover story, the best TV you’re not watching or something like that. Similarly, Nancy Cuevas, is one of the best oil painters you don’t know about, and if you’re in Portland run, don’t walk, to see her work in person.

Art I Like: Todd Hido

When I was obsessed with film photography while living in Pittsburgh, one of the photographers that I studied on Google was Todd Hido.

He did a series of of homes photographed at night. I always thought Pittsburgh would be be a great place to just go around randomly taking pictures of buildings at night.  Look at the atmospheric quality and the colors that you can get from long exposures on film….

Todd Hido
Todd Hido‘s House Hunting

On a random side note, I am listening to Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs album which would make the perfect soundtrack for a Todd Hido exhibit.


‘Cause on the suburbs the city lights shine,
They’re calling at me, ‘come and find your kind.’

Sometimes I wonder if the world’s so small,
Then we can never get away from the sprawl,
Living in the sprawl,
Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains,
And there’s no end in sight,
I need the darkness someone please cut the lights.

Anyways….I also love these landscapes…I am not the only one who thinks taking pictures through a rain covered window looks cool:

Todd Hido
Todd Hido

The rain giving the images a cool painterly effect.

I also pinned a few of his portraits. Nearly all of his portraits showcase really beautiful lighting and color. There are a lot of NSFW images, and his process is slightly sketchy (I saw a video where he books hotel rooms on a higher floor (better lighting) and then uses the natural light that shines through the blinds to take his pictures.

Todd Hido


Todd Hido

I think this is one of his most striking portraits:

Todd Hido

Read more what he has to say about his work in his book, the Photography Workshop series.