Norma Bassett Hall

Chipping the Block, Painting the Silk: The Color Prints of Norma Bassett Hall. On display at the Whatcom Museum through February 14, 2015.

Norma Bassett Hall was a Northwest print maker who worked in moku-hanga and was a pioneer in serigraph. The exhibit includes sixty of Norma’s prints, along with a sample carved wooden block, a hand made book, and proof series showing the cumulative effect of each block.

Highly recommended. Afterwards treat yourself to a meal at the Mount Bakery Cafe or the Old Town Cafe.

Curvilinear Perspective

The Big Diagonal Cutters inspired me to explore uncomfortably close views of tools and machinery. I wanted to create the feeling of massive machines that almost wrap around the viewer. One idea to achieve this effect is curvilinear perspective, a technique I encountered while studying Rackstraw Downes and Antonio López Garcia.

In the example below, Rackstraw Downes uses a form of curvilinear perspective to put the entire Pulaski Skyway in view from a close up vantage point:

The Pulaski Skyway Crossing the Hackensack River, Rackstraw Downes, 2007

The Pulaski Skyway Crossing the Hackensack River,
Rackstraw Downes, 2007

Here’s another example from Rackstraw Downes. In the scene the ditch on the right lies perpendicular to the road on the left. The power lines curve because they appear highest looking straight down the ditch and lowest as the approach the horizon ninety degrees to the left.

At the Confluence of Two Ditches Bordering a Field with Four Radio Towers, Rackstraw Downes, 1995

At the Confluence of Two Ditches Bordering a Field with Four Radio Towers,
Rackstraw Downes, 1995

Antonio López Garcia uses a similar technique. Here the railing on the right and the road on the left curve along an upward facing arc.

View of Madrid From the Vallecas Fire Tower, Antonio López Garcia

View of Madrid From the Vallecas Fire Tower,
Antonio López Garcia

In this painting, the verticals on the buildings curve in towards the center.

Gran Vía-Clavel, Antonio López García

Gran Vía-Clavel,
Antonio López Garcia

Here the bathroom wall curves away from the viewer at the top and bottom.

Lavabo y espejo, Antonio López García

Lavabo y espejo,
Antonio López Garcia

In this drawing the floor curves.

Retrato de su tío, Antonio López García

Retrato de su tío,
Antonio López Garcia

I wanted to try the same effect to give a feeling of a scene so large you have to turn your head to take it all in. Here’s my vantage point for Clearing Snow. The truck looks massive, but I wanted to use curvilinear perspective to exaggerate the effect.


I used Photoshop to add a spherical distortion. This is not the same as curvilinear perspective, but it approximates the effect. Notice that the yellow loader now leans to the left while the truck sits on an arc so that its verticals tilt left towards the loader and right towards the edge of the frame. It is almost as if the vehicles are sitting on the small asteroid in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.


The effect seems promising, but for me, the jury is still out with this particular image. The risk is creating caricatures of trucks like one might find in a children’s book. The effect may work better on a sweeping vista.

Clearing Snow

Just started a new truck nocturne. This one pairs a 1/32 scale Peterbilt Model 379 dump truck from New Ray with a 1/50 scale Norscot Caterpillar 980G Wheel Loader. These die cast models were purchased from EBay, but 3000Toys seems to be a good source for inexpensive die cast models. First Gear,  New Ray, Norscot, and SpecCast make models with really fine detail.

For my purposes it doesn’t matter that the loader scale don’t match up with the dump truck because no one knows how big the loader is supposed to be and its smaller size actually lends to a sense of forced perspective.
The trucks sit on a sheet of clear 1/8″ acrylic over a piece of black paper. The acrylic gives good wet-pavement reflections. The snow is white Kinetic Sand from Michaels. Lighting is from a variety of LED headlamps and button lights. The backdrop is a piece of black foam core, but it appears blue in the light of the headlamps.IMG_2642

15 Seconds of Fame

King5 recently aired this Evening Magazine segment featuring the PAWA Mount Baker Paint Out. Here’s the pull quote:

“Art is infinite, there’s no way you could learn all of it in our lifetime. When you go out and paint with ten people, even if you are all standing in a line painting the same thing, you all paint something different… and you learn so much from seeing another way that another person sees the world.” — Michael Hopcroft

Building 30 West

Had a great time visiting the Building 30 West Artists in the heart of the Sand Point Naval Air Station Historic District. Their recently renovated building is home to studios for about 30 artists. Watch for their next open house – they do it about twice a year. I stuck my head in a bunch of studios and had many interesting and inspiring conversations. The photos below show Emiliya Lane, Heather Carr, Amália Couto, Sandra Power, and Marc Bohne.

October 17, 2015

This evening I painted the cab of the truck.


My string was based on Cadmium Red Medium, brightened with Cadmium Yellow Medium and the tiniest amount Titanium White and darkened with Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Umber, and Prussian Blue. I mixed six steps initially, and then created the intermediates on the palette with the brush as I painted.


In the next session I will tackle the grays that make up the chrome on the truck and the surface of the road. Then I plan to go back and work on the reflections – sharp ones in the puddles and more diffuse ones elsewhere. Once the truck is dry, I will go in with a liner brush and add the grooves around the doors and various access panels on the boom and create halos around the lights.

Intimate Impressionism

This weekend I visited Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art which is on display at the Seattle Art Museum through January 10, 2016.