Thursday, December 31, 2009

transitory sunshine woman

I tried to capture a fleeting moment in this painting start..a moment that is there and not there. The sunshine is on her shirt but she is also in a shadow....Like the new year that is here and not here ..just minutes away... Happy New Year!

oil (sketch) on 8 x 10 canvas panel

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Broken color still life

I've been talking with my artist friend Katherine van Schoonhoven about applying color in an irregular way. Katherine has been making some pastels that are called "crumble colors". A "crumble color" is a single pastel that was made with several colors. A line drawn with a multi-color pastel results in some pleasant surprises. I've seen Eric Jacobsen do a similar thing with oil paint. He dips the brush into a couple of colors and then applies it to the surface--voila! ...some lively marks that are unexpected. I was thinking about all this when I did this still life. Most of this painting was achieved with two or more colors on the tip of the brush. I think all I have to do is resolve that pear on the left that is pear shaped, but a citrus color. That's the joy of oil is easy to scrape things off and adjust.
Oil on 8x8 gessoed board

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My storage clipboard, for planning and sketching

I wanted to share this nifty organizational drawing kit that I learned about watching Ian Robert's dvd about composition (scroll down for photos). Roberts is emphatic that paintings must be carefully considered before brush meets canvas. He does many sketches and thumbnails for ideas. He prefers to use loose sheets and a "storage clipboard*" instead of a conventional sketchbook. I've been doing things his way for awhile and I understand why he likes it. The storage clipboard has lots of room for completed sketches and tools. A big advantage is being able to use whatever paper you want and having all sorts of pens/erasers/pencils with you at all times. I mean to add a viewfinder tool to this kit. Roberts told us that from time to time you should sort through your planning sketches to determine which studies are worth keeping..he recommends you three hole punch the sketches you want to keep and put them into a binder. Admittedly this gear doesn't look all that's functional and convenient. *I got my storage clipboard at Office Depot.
For an in-depth discussion about Ian Robert's other book Creative Authenticity visit Katherine Cartwright's blog.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My day was was yours??

Today I drove to the Columbia Art Gallery in Hood River. The trip to Hood River is always looked extra wintery during the late morning and the Gorge looked like Canada. The Gallery is being readied for the next show (Drawing for Drawing sake). I'm looking forward to seeing that exhibit, my painting friend Todd Smith is participating.
Great News!....I learned that two of my paintings were SOLD in the Columbia Art Gallery Small Works show (thank you Columbia Art Gallery and painting purchasers)!

When I got back home I searched for a painting to paint over. You know, I really enjoy sanding down an old painting and painting a new one over it. Half the fun of it is finding some horrible old painting to "get rid of." It's liberating! I found this copy (below) that I painted a couple of years ago of Mary Cassatt's "Girl in a Straw Hat." (Really...what am I supposed to do with this thing!?) I had my sandpaper poised to sand her ..when she turned her little sad sack eyes on me. I guess I will have to find a different painting to obliterate. I just couldn't do it. Looking at it now I realize that her only crime is not enough temperature variety--(it's too golden), but I nailed her little sad expression...enough so that she got this reprieve. By the way, did you know that Mary Cassatt was a cousin of Robert Henri? I just discovered that.
P.S. I have also discovered a very cool blog for those of us who love the masters (and sometimes paint from a master painting) ..I submitted my Sargent copy for inclusion in "Challenge Nine"--there is still time for you to submit too (up to January 13).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sauvie Island

oil on 6 x 8 canvas panel

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thanks for all the birthday wishes!

I didn't paint today..but I resurrected one of my favorite paintings of my own vintage "John Shaft" suede coat for this post. I think when I painted it I was trying to think of ideas for the Gamblin Torrit Grey competition. I never did follow through--but I like the study I can I not? Do you have an article of clothing from your past that you really really like? Believe me when I tell you nothing was more cool than the Shaft type coat. Today is my birthday!--the candles are 5+?, but I don't mind telling you that I am 59 today! Go me! Thanks to all of you who remembered my birthday. Soon all this holiday hoopla will be over with and it'll be back to the studio. I have lots of ideas about what I am going to work on. Plans! Oh! It is so great to get older.....It is exceptional to have a history that includes a Shaft coat....Advertisers want us to never get older, but there is nothing better.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas ....Everyone!

Yesterday, Christmas Eve day, I drove to Urbaca Salon to get my hair trimmed (how did I ever get such a plum appointment as that?)..It was foggy even though it was late morning. I had always heard that "Big Pink" (the US Bank Tower) "makes it's own weather". It's the type of thing you hear and you say to yourself--what the heck? Well, as I crossed the Burnside bridge I saw that Big Pink had a very pretty cloud hanging on the upper floors. It was so pretty and reminded me more of Christmas than of terrorist attack.. I think.
So, the tree is up and Moofie the cat guards the packages until it is time to officially open them. THANKS TO ALL OF YOU who care anything about my meanderings here in "Celeste Paints"---you know, I speak from the heart that I am very grateful for the life I have and for YOU the people who check in with me every now and then! It means very much to me that you do. May your Christmas be filled with everything you love and your New Year the best ever!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Some of the painters who showed up at Gallery 2121 on Monday evening..(back row left to right): Pam Flanders, Katherine van Schoonhoven, Michael Fisher, Mark Larsen (front row left to right): Stephanie Cissna & Celeste Bergin. A big thanks to Pam Flanders and Machell Dawson for putting it all together.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The birdcage

oil pastel on 8 x 10 paper

Sunday, December 20, 2009


oil on 8 x 10 canvas panel

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hearth & Home exhibit at Gallery 2121

Thanks to everyone who came out to see the work in Hearth & Home at Gallery 2121. The Gallery is an uber cool spot ... if you missed coming out today you can come by on Monday from 5-8!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Warm grays and cool grays!

I've been advised...every now and then --paint a copy of a painting by a great artist! Painting a copy will deepen our understanding of what makes a painting great.
My copy of a John Singer Sargent painting proves ....grays are colorful...And that Sargent certainly understood how to indicate a shaft of light!
oil on 16 x 20 masonite panel

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A start

This is the painting I started yesterday. Everything about it was disappointing me..but today is a new day and I see that it has possibilities. I meant for that scarf to be super-red. I lost the color relationships I set out for. I'll wait for the whole thing to dry and revisit it another day. It is a start. I may or may not finish it.

oil on 9 x 12 canvas panel

Monday, December 14, 2009

Summer Study

This is a painting from last summer..from my archives. It's a study, and I didn't think it was good enough to post (then). I'm reversing my decision about it because I want to post something. I painted a studio painting tonight that is REALLY bad, I couldn't post it. If I didn't have enough "canvas miles" behind me, I'd be tempted to hang up my brushes! Luckily for me, I honestly understand that feelings like that are more transitory the more one paints.
Every now and then (like right after a failed painting) I remember having seen the following video. Ira Glass, host of National Public Radio's This American Life, knows a lot about turning out a polished, finished product. He also remembers turning out work he didn't necessarily want to put his stamp on. This video, part of an interview series on story telling, features exceptional advice about working through those first few attempts—or even years—where your product doesn't quite meet your standards. It doesn't matter what your creative process is..his advice is stellar. I've posted it before--and it bears repeating.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Patches"... a special family dog

Next weekend six painters from PPASP are part of a holiday exhibit entitled "Hearth & Home" at Gallery 2121. Each artist will be contributing something unique to the mix for a show that emphasizes the beauty and comfort of our surroundings. What describes home better than it's furry member(s)? One of the things that I'll be offering is animal portraits (by commission). This is a pastel I did of "Patches". I never met Patches (because the portrait was posthumous). I heard plenty of stories about what a special dog she she would sit at attention until she was given the signal to "nose-dive" for treats placed in the bottom of a tub of water. She would submerge her entire face into the tub and a steady stream of bubbles would come up to the surface on either side of her snout until she came up with her treat. I know that sounds weird, but apparently she really loved to do it! She was part of the family for years and years. I was always happy to know that my portrait of her was/is considered a treasure by the whole family.

An animal portrait takes from 3-6 weeks for completion.
Email me at celeste(at) to learn more.

"Patches", pastel 16 x 20

Gallery 2121 Presents Hearth & Home, Holiday Art Exhibit & Sale

Gallery 2121 will be open for receptions for an exhibit entitled Hearth & Home on Saturday, December 19, 11am - 6pm and Monday December 21, 5pm-8pm to celebrate a limited time art exhibit and sale of picturesque paintings and platinum palladium photography at:
2121 SE Belmont Street, Portland, OR 97215

Six artists and one photographer reflect a broad range of representational styles and approaches that capture the beauty and diversity of our surroundings. Paintings of traditional and urban landscape, marine art, contemporary figures, animal portraits and mixed media are all incorporated into an exhibit that aims to showcase this season of hearth and home.

Nationally recognized, award winning artists include: Pam Flanders, Mark Larsen, Celeste Bergin, Carrie Holst, Katherine van Schoonhoven, and Carolyn Rondthaler along with award winning photographer David Burbach.
Gallery Hours:
Sat December 19, 11AM - 6PM and Mon December 21, 5PM-8PM
Hours also by appointment: (503) 762-7948
2121 SE Belmont Street, Portland, OR 97215

View Larger Map

(painting above by Celeste Bergin: "Reading Room" oil on 8 x 10 canvas panel)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Sailing Club

This painting is for the PPASP winter project, "Subject to Interpretations". Each month we get to paint from the same reference in a manner similar to the Different Strokes for different Folks project. All of us look forward to the challenge because it is normally subject matter that we might not choose at all!

Oil on 8 x 10 canvas panel

Friday, December 11, 2009


Can you practice life drawing without a live model and without leaving the house? Yes! I found this very cool website that I want to share with you....Posemaniacs. Though nothing replaces actual life drawing from a real model--Posemaniacs is pretty good! I especially like the "hand-viewer". (Once there you have to scroll down to around #14 for the hands)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This is my 500th post

For all the sunshine and butterflies I paint (just kidding about the butterflies) I'm equally drawn to subjects that can be described as "sad". Dark is interesting. It may be confusing that I flip from daisies to despair and back again...but that's me. This marks my 500th post to my blog....thanks for paying attention to my work. It means a lot to me that you do!
oil 5x7 gessoed board

Monday, December 7, 2009

end of day cat painted with end of the palette paints

I confess..I let my paints get pretty dried out. I managed to scrape together enough paint to scratch out this cat from a photo reference. I was reluctant to put out new paint for some inexplicable reason. Perhaps it was economy driving me.
And you know, painting cats is much harder than it should be. They have such delicate stubby little faces and it does not take much at all to have them wind up looking like foxes or dogs. One false move and you'll have a canine instead of a feline. This is painted over a bad painting of a woman who looked more like the actor Ben Gazzara than a woman. Painting can be an altogether very funny business.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sleeping Warhol

Yesterday we got to see several Warhols at SAM. Indulge me..I have to tell you this.. I actually met Warhol once...he was seated directly in front of me at a Broadway play in NYC. The play was 42nd Street. He was so recognizable with his black/white choppy hair and pale skin. He was very affable and autographed my playbill with his name and trademark heart. (Unfortunately, I have since lost it!). I did this quick sketch today from a black and white photo of Warhol taking a nap in his leather coat. The end result looks a bit ghoulish, almost like a person in a least that is what it reminds me of. Many of my artist friends do not share my admiration for Warhol..but that's all right. I loved most everything about him. Here's something from his diary: "I broke something and realized I should break something once a week to remind me how fragile life is."

Seattle Art Museum (SAM) for the Michelangelo exhibit

I know I am not supposed to take photos inside SAM, and I am generally respectful of the rules..but the hanging cars in the lobby were just too hard to resist. I didn't risk taking photos in the Calder or Michelangelo exhibits, however! There were quotes on the walls attributed to Michelangelo on the walls. How is it that so many of the things that he said still apply now? The Michelangelo exhibit was comprised of ten drawings that were never meant to be seen. I got to stand right in front of one and sketch FROM his drawing. How many people can say that? We also visited the Howard Mandville Gallery and ended the day with dinner with this view of a Marina. A perfectly arty day!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

disappearing sun

If you have your paints out all the can paint a lot. I meant to paint something bigger than this today, but an unexpected wrench got thrown into the plan. Still..because my palette almost always has paint on it, I knew I could paint something .. albeit small--this is a color study on a business card sized support.

oil on 2 x 3.5 board

Monday, November 30, 2009


Did you know...?
Redheads constitute approximately four percent of the European population. Scotland has the highest proportion of redheads, as 13 percent of the population has red hair and approximately 40 percent carries the recessive redhead gene. Ireland has the second highest percentage; as many as 10 percent of the Irish population have red, auburn, or strawberry blond hair. It is thought that up to 46 percent of the Irish population carries the recessive redhead gene. Red hair reaches frequencies of up to 10 percent in Wales. In addition, redheads look breathtaking against a green blue background.

oil on 12x12 canvas panel