Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I've not liked improvisational jazz much. I like a little, but if it gets too random, I stop listening. I want a bit of a melody line. It needs to resolve or it becomes musical chaos on key.
Ironically, I appreciate alot of abstract paintings that can look very chaotic. What appeals to me are the colors and how balanced the work is in design. If there is some emotion it also illicits, that's good too. But, some things just grab me and I can't explain why.
The impressionists had perhaps my favorite artistic style. They veered from the realistic, ad libbed the scenes and came up with great compositions. But they didn't go too far from the tune.
Minimalists, however are not on my like list. Their work looks to me like visual intellectualism. I find it dull, flat and boring. All head and no heart, like playing an uncomplicted melody over and over.
I was working on a drawing from a photo the other day and could not get a feel for it. The pose was just that, a pose. It looked stiff. I got frustrated and ended up with what I've drawn. It's a departure from what I usually do but I like it for some reason. I guess it's because it's improvisational. A bit of a jazz face.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Realization

In the depth of Winter
I finally learned
That there was within me
An invincible Summer
Albert Camus

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I would often go to the Saturday Market in Portland. It was a great place to find arts and crafts of all kinds but I'd frequent it just to watch people. One day I bought a snack at the food court and settled in to observe. A hot dog stand was across the way and I noticed these two gals waiting for a customer. None came. They busied themselves with cleaning and straightening until there was nothing left to do. They finally nestled into the pose I've drawn.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


My parents lived through the 1930's economic upheaval. It seemed to affect my dad the most. He talked about it quite alot and was always frugal in his spending. His father lost a grocery store and the large family of ten or so children lived at the poverty level for some years until the war. He was a hoarder of all things assumed to be of future usefulness. His garage was packed with cans of rusty fasteners, old spark plugs, wine corks, and a variety of rescued items from junk stores. His philosophy was, "Ya never know".
I've never experienced any kind of lack as my dad. He was, like most of that generation, an excellent provider and wanted to be certain that our family had what he didn't. I grew up with everything I needed. Most of my wants, as far as toys or whatever, were satisfied. Others in my neighborhood were like me.
I'm currently comfortable. The economic chaos hasn't affected me, and it's difficult to relate to those who are struggling. People can't understand another's pain unless they experience it themselves. I do have a concern though. I wonder about those who've lost everything. There is probably some young person, like my father, who will be permanently changed. I hope not.
However, it now appears that the financial situation is slowly improving. At least the number crunchers and economists say so. It looks as though we can look forward to another era of prosperity. But, "Ya never know".

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I've never been much of a gambler. I decided early on that my winning streak wouldn't be one at all, more like a stumble. I would enter contests as a kid but was always dissappointed. Bikes, BB guns and other toys to drool over, went to those that Chance smiled upon. I gave up trying in my adolecent years.
When the state lottery became official, temptation coaxed me out of my wariness and I got the itch to scratch. I don't remember how many tickets I bought, but I can assure you that there weren't many and all my money stayed in the treasury. I now think of money spent on lottery tickets as taxes which keeps me from buying them.
My wife and I stayed a night in Reno once while on a road trip. We did the cheap buffet in one of the joints and sauntered over to the slots. She played the nickel machines. I think all the bells, flashing lights and noise must have numbed me into thinking I could leave with more than I came with. I was overcome with naievity and invested in a quarter bandit. I looked at my small handful of coins and hoped that one would nausiate the box enough for it to puke out a pot. It just burped a beep and had no indigestion for any of them. Susan the Lucky though, won a bucket full of nickles and we left pretty happy. However, a speeding ticket on the way home consumed her winnings along with a bit more. Did I mention she was driving? We've since sworn off casinos.
I have never even once entertained the thought of betting on horses. The odds against winning to me seem astronomical. My relationship with Chance along with the inconceivable variables of horse and rider, guarantee a loss for me. You've got this guy on a horse who has to keep his weight down and may be faint from hunger. Or maybe had a fight with his trainer, girl friend or wife or maybe all three and is not in the mood to ride. Or perhaps nature calls in the middle of the ride. Cramps, pulled muscle, brain anurysm. Is he going to race at his full capacity? No. Then there's the horse who may have had a bad oat for breakfast or a fight with rider. Maybe it's thinking it will just stop running because it's tired of getting whipped and wants to retire. Cramps, pulled muscle, brain anurysm. No bob-tail nag for me. Gambling on horses is like feeding them dollars.

We were standing on the platform in Polgate, England waiting for the train to London when I noticed small gaggles of ladies starting to gather. They were dressed in their finery and all had hats of various sizes perched on their heads. We boarded the train and I sat across from the woman pictured above. Her's was much less ostentatious than most, but I wanted to ask if the crow put up much of a fight. I thought better of it. Someone popped open a champagne bottle and passed around the bubbly in paper cups. Curiosity won and I finally asked her what the occasion was. It was ladies day at the horse races and those of the feminine variety with a hat would get in free.
Oh. I immediately explained to her that the laws of probability were dead set against her and suggested she give me her betting money since she was going to lose it anyway. No, she wanted the chance to lose it herself. Too bad. I would have spent it wisely on overcrowded tourist attractions and taken a chance on bland fish n chips.

Monday, November 9, 2009


My face is taller now. It was much shorter earlier in my life but has grown alot over the last few years. I don't like it. As a matter of fact I never really liked it. It never looked good enough for me. I had someone once tell me I had bedroom eyes but that's a different item. If I could go back to those days of yesteryear, I'd tell myself I looked pretty ok. My face wasn't movie star material but I look acceptable in photos from then. I should have accepted what I had and not worried about my handsomness factor. I would have been less shy.
Andre Aggasi was concerned about his looks. His face grew taller than mine at an early age. So much so that he had fake hair in his twenties. It looked good probably because it was long and flowing when he played tennis. He doesn't have much hair now but he looks good. Real good. I'd like to look like him but I've decided that what I have is enough. When I'm seventy and my face lengthens to the upper back half of my head, I won't look as great as I do now. I'll see pictures of myself taken in my more hansome years and realize even though women didn't chase me down I need to like my face now. I'm starting to.
It's been said that God knows the number of hairs on an individual's head. I think people lose their hair so He doesn't have to keep track of so many. I'd be more comfortable now though if I still had my younger number.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sign of the Times

I returned recently from a three and a half week visit to England where I did all the tourist stuff. We spent most of our time in London. I marveled at the art, monuments and architecture and took way too many pictures. After a while I became visually saturated and everything began to look like one giant antique. I was ready to come back to the bland modern of Phoenix.

We visited the city of Rye in Sussex, a port on the Channel and wandered down its cobbled streets. It could have easily been a set for filming a medieval movie. We came across a house with a four foot tall entry door. People were supposedly shorter then because of diet or maybe genetics. Evidently the home owners were a bit more diminutive than their neighbors whose doors were taller. Maybe they wanted to keep the average sized swat team of the era from easily storming the building.

The plaque shown above was a few doors down. I wonder if it could been mounted on every building in the city.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Good Love

It knocked me down, it dragged me out, it left me there for dead. It took all the freedom I wanted and gave me something else instead. It blew my mind, it bled me dry, it hit me like a long goodbye, and nobody here knows better than I that it’s a good thing.
Love is a good thing. It’ll fall like rain on your parade, laugh at the plans that you tried to make, it’ll wear you down till your heart just breaks and it’s a good thing. Love is a good thing.
It’ll wake you up in the middle of the night, it’ll take just a little too much. It’ll burn you like a cinder till you’re tender to the touch. It’ll chase you down, swallow you whole, it’ll make your blood run hot and cold. Like a thief in the night it’ll steal your soul, and that’s a good thing. Love is a good thing. It’ll follow you down to the ruin of your great divide, and open the wounds that you tried to hide. And there in the rubble of the heart that died you’ll find a good thing. Love is a good thing.
Take cover, the end is near. Take cover, but do not fear. It’ll break your will, it’ll change your mind, it’ll loose all the chains of the ties that bind. If you’re lucky you’ll never make it out alive, and that’s a good thing. Love is a good thing. It can hurt like a blast from a hand grenade when all that used to matter is blown away. There in the middle of the mess it made you’ll find a good thing.Yes, it’s worth every penny of the price you paid. It’s a good thing.
Love is a good thing.
Do not fear.
Andrew Peterson

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Looking Good

If good looks are so important,
Why do beautiful people
Get divorced?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Aged People

I took my camera to the mall the other day to find a new subject. I saw this gentleman just outside sitting on a bench smoking a cigarette. He appeared to be well into his seventies and was wearing slippers. I seem to see alot of elderly wearing slippers in public. Perhaps it's their standard footwear around the house and it takes too much effort to change into street shoes.

I'm kind of intrigued by older folks when I see them. I wonder about their histories. Where were they born. What kind of family life did they have. Were there siblings and what gender. How many loves and were they ever broken hearted. Would their lives make interesting biographies. I didn't want to bother this fellow with all my questions. He seemed deep in thought.

There have been some intersting experiences in my life I could write about. There's been lots of emotion. Perhaps when I'm in my seventies and truly aged I'll write about it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I like pigs.
Dogs look up to us.
Cats look down on us.
Pigs treat us as equals.

Winston Churchill

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sometimes Life

Susan and I were house parents for a time and looked after a group of young women who were hormonally pregnant, had OCD, PTSD and all the other personality traits associated with dysfunctional families. It was hard, very hard at times. The work was rewarding though, when we saw girls get their lives together and return to school or obtain work. The stress however, needed relieving and I would often get away. The photo shows a scene taken then, along the river in Portland's Waterfront Park, a calming place I would frequent. Another winter shot, it probably reflects the feelings and frame of mind I was in.

Monday, July 27, 2009

On Living

I would rather live my life as if there is a God
and die to find out there isn't,
than live my life as if there isn't
and die to find out there is.
Albert Camus

Friday, July 24, 2009

Jane Sophia

My five year old grand daughter was over for a visit and asked if she could play with my iPod. She found an old Stetson Fedora in our play clothes, punched the top to make it round, and nestled into an over-stuffed chair. I caught her in deep concentration.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Heart's Desires

Once you get what you want,
You won't want it.

Salvador Dali

Monday, June 29, 2009


A drawing by Gary Larson comes to mind when I think of accordions. In the upper half of his single panel, there are people entering heaven and each is given a harp. The lower half has people going into hell. They all recieve, you guessed it, an accordion.
I'm not sure what antagonism Mr. Larson had against them, but I don't think accordions fit in with Lucifer. Millions of banjos, all simultaneously strummed, blaring out "Oh Suzanna" seems more fitting. Bagpipes! Now there's an instrument that could get you all fired up.
Accordions were supposedly invented in 1822 by Christian Fredrich Ludwig Buschmann in Berlin. If I had a name like that, I definitely would feel motivated to invent something. They were originally used for folk music but have found their place in classical, popular and even heavy metal.
I have to say that accordions are not high on my list of listened to instruments. I think Lawrence Welk tainted my tastes. I do however like a simple tune squeezed out with a clear melody line and not too much chording. "La Vie En Rose" played like that would stir my French passion. Susan and I were in Reims a few years ago, wandering down a street blocked off to keep cars out and tourists in. The fellow I've drawn was playing as we went by him. We didn't stop to listen. I'd like to go back now and hear him. Accordions are kind of on my mind.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Unquiet Mind

.I have been a painter's pallet,
Full of laughter
And of song and love.
Within my soul wildflowers grew
Like multicolored quilts.
I have been every hue.

All of this is now forgotten.
Evidence of it will not be found.
The greys of sunless skies for weeks
Have filled my thoughts.
I float in endless misty seas.
I long for some sensation,
Some desire, to drop
A bit of light upon my being.

Yet, my mind I know
Will have its spectrum,
And fill again with joy and life.
For time shall be my saviour.

It must.

by Kay Redfield Jamison PhD

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Life Changes

It was 1969 and the winter of my discontent. The girl I wrote of in Legs had dumped me a month or so earlier and I was completely broken-hearted and depressed. On this particular day I was wandering around Portland State University with my camera taking photos of whatever caught my eye. I saw the fountain pouring its life out on the pavement and took the shot. I was making no artistic statement when I captured the image. However, thinking back on it now, it looks much like how I felt. Life was mighty grey and all joy had drained out of me. Perhaps my subconscience was really trying to say something.
I met my tootsie the next year in a drawing class. When she walked into the room, something within me knew we'd connect. We did, after I finally had the courage to ask her for a date. We've been together ever since. She is a quiet and soft spoken gal with great, deep wells of mercy and compassion for the poor and orphan. An excellent mom, she stayed home in lieu of a career and poured her life into our children. She gave them love, nurturing and security. She's my wife, lover and mistress and has stayed by my side even with all my faults and is definitely my best friend.

Susan is an artist and is always looking for subjects to paint. For some reason, why, I don't know, she's always liked the fountain picture. A few years ago she did a water color of it and it hangs in our living room. The contrast is striking. Considering my gloomy mood when I took the photo and what she has brought into my life, Susan has very much colored my world.

Monday, May 25, 2009


The Yuma State Teritorial Prison was opened July 1, 1876 and housed inmates for 33 years until it became overcrowded. It was closed and used briefly as a high school from 1910 to 1914 and is why Yuma High's football team's name became the Criminals. Later abandoned, it was used in the 1930's by itinerants as housing. There is graffiti scratched on the walls of some cells. Names of complete family members are found in in one. The prison is now a state park and museum. I visited there a while back and took a photo of number 2500's picture to draw. The original shows him holding a specially designed mirror that fits on his shoulder to give a side view. A clever idea because the negatives were probably glass plates and expensive. I'm not sure what type of miscreant he was. I assume he was a robber since most of the 3069 inmates that stayed there over the years were. I also don't know why they displayed his photo. There wasn't any caption about him. Maybe the warden gave out prizes when they hit 2500.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Aged Buildings

The Portland Benson Hotel is one of those old buildings I love so well. It was built by Simon Benson, a lumber barron, at a cost of one million dollars. Then, a tidy sum and indicates it's grand opulence for the time. It was opened in 1913. Done in the Arts and Crafts style, it has marble and wood paneling all throughout the lobby; a very stately old gentlemanly building.

The photo shows the stairwell also done in marble with polished bannisters. It was taken on the ninth floor and shows the type of things I look for in old places. Stairwells are where I like to go just to experience the spaces and angles the steps and rails create. Every turn gives another graphic view.

My wife and I stayed in the Benson for two nights over a couple of Christmas holiday seasons. We chose from the least expensive suites. They are nicely furnished and upgraded to current standards except for the windows. A single paned glass is held in with putty, standard building practice for the era when they were put in place. We had a cold breeze from one once where the putty had pulled away from the window. It wasn't a problem. The individuality of the old place made it fun. We enjoyed ourselves.

We also lived in an old house built about the same time, 1910 to be exact. We were there for three years. It was originally the home of Malcom MacDonald, co-owner of the Oregon Nursery Company, ORENCO. Another Arts and Crafts style home or perhaps I should say mansion. It has eight thousand square feet of floor space. It was to be demolished but was converted to a home for unsuported young pregnant women and is leased from the Elks who are the landlords. The organization we worked for is still using it.

Built when heating was done with fireplaces, the walls had no insulation and windows were once again single paned. Winters there reminded me of Shackleton's antarctic expedition. It felt like a wooden ship stuck in the ice. I would often think of the person who invented the electric blanket. I had very warm feelings for him.

It was a great experience to be there, but I'm done living in old buildings. I now just like to visit.

Saturday, May 9, 2009



Friday, April 24, 2009


I took this somewhat dismal photo in 1969 while exploring with a friend a soon to be demolished apartment house. It was to make way for the expansion of PSU in Portland, Oregon. Old buildings have always fascinated me both from the outside and in, either abandoned or occupied. They can be ornate or simple, renovated or left alone. I don't care. They have so much character. They all have a certain personality that overshadows the new, pristine and computer designed architecture.
It's been said we are a consumer society. We crave the new and throw away the old, especially buildings. Too bad. It's true we keep a few around, some even as museums because a notable historic event took place there. However, the elderly that no longer have any apparent use we discard. Developers would do well to make an effort to keep our architectural heritage even if we're only 200 years old. Europe does a much better job.

Monday, March 23, 2009


See how He holds the
Stars in His hands.
See how He holds my heart.
God is a lover
Looking for a lover
So He fashioned me.
from "See The Way"
by Misty Edwards

Joy of Youth

My grandson, Mordecai, was in between diaper changes and wandering around "au natural" the other day. I couldn't help but take his photo. It'll probably be used to embarass him when he's older.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bonny and Son

I haven't done any portraits of my family except of my son. His was the first drawing posted on this blog. I was looking for someone to draw and I chose this latest on a whim. It's probably the right choice since Bonny is my son's wife. I don't know if number one son or number two is shown. I couldn't tell from the photo. Hence the anonymity.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Tonnaroti are Italian tuna fishermen. They get together in the spring to catch and slaughter the fish in a gathering called a matanza and are led by a shaman-like figure known as a rais. Gioacchino was a former one. I read about this in an article from a magazine and his picture captured my attention. He is a very large bull of a man with bicepts as big as his neck. As Bertie Wooster once said "It's as though Nature decided to make a gorilla, but at the last minute changed it's mind." I found his face extremely interesting and full of expression. I needed to draw it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


There are definitely beautiful movie stars in the US but I've grown rather tired of all the pretty faces the entertainment industry promotes. That seems to be mostly all there is. Films and television are full of images of people without spot or wrinkle. Blemishes or lack of facial symmetry cannot be tolerated. Noses, eyes, ears, and lips must all harmoniously relate on one's visage or you cannot be a star. A body must have perfect flesh. Once in a while there will be a "character" face that will come along. But they will normally be some foppish protagonist or an evil one, rarely the main character. I like Boston Legal. I have to sometimes turn it off because the plot gets too crass but the main folks on there are of the non-beautiful variety. They've aged. They're wrinkled. Some are fat. It's nice. I also like to take in a foreign film once in a while. It's a refreshing break from the "norm". Their stars usually look as though they're not from the Hollywood Barbi and Ken factory.
Barney is the security guard at the church I attend. I was immediately drawn to his looks when I first saw him and wanted to do his portrait. His face facinates me. It has been sculpted and chisled by genetics, weather and life experiences. It has much to say if you care to take the time to look. There must be many stories beneath. If I were a film magnate, I'd make him a star.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Fear is like a hologram.
It appears so real.
And then when you go behind it
you realize there is nothing there.
It's all an illusion.
Jane Stern
"Ambulance Girl"

Friday, January 2, 2009


I was wandering around downtown Portland in Winter 2006 and noticed the bag perched on a window sill of a large building. I checked out its contents and found a hamburger inside. A homeless man, all bundled up for the cold, came along and did as I did just after I took the photo. He was obviously hungry because the bag went with him.
I think life is kind of like the picture at times for me. I tend to see things in black and white. I'm rather opinionated. There are also many times that I view my existence in drab greys. I then come across something that really catches my interest, I get totally focused and run with it.