Friday, April 30, 2010


Painting: Celeste Bergin, Reading, Oil on canvas panel, 16x20 inches. ©2010.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Harborside tree & Hawthorne Bridge

Oil Sketches : Celeste Bergin, Harborside tree & Hawthorne Bridge, Both oil on paper, 4x10 inches. ©2010.

Painting at the waterfront today with Brooks and Carrie:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Life painting session

Our model today was "styled" to look Native American. The pose was complex and I tried to just concentrate on simple shapes. I hope she'll come back and model for us again.

(Top): Celeste Bergin, profile, Oil on canvas panel, 6x8inches. ©2010.
(Bottom): Celeste Bergin, seated figure, Oil on canvas panel, 16x20 inches. ©2010.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

liquor, lamps and tilt-y trees

We go to O'Connor's each week for PPASP breakfast "art discussion" meetings. O'Connor's has great food and they are used to us pushing tables together when we have a lot of artists show up. The waitstaff is so nice to us--especially Cherrie who suggested we go into the O'Connor's annex for "alla prima hour". Man! was that fun--it is a very funky place with oddball things that would keep a sketcher occupied for a year. We had to leave there, however, and go to the first 2010 official paint out at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens. I set up my acrylic palette and I only had about 10 minutes into the painting when it started to rain in a big way. I kind of like the resulting painting has a bit of a Group of Seven sense about it. To see what some others did today, check our blog Behind the Scenes.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Mountain...a favorite subject

It's been 34 years since I moved to Oregon....and during that time I have never felt complacent about Mt. Hood. Every time I look at it--I think--I live in the prettiest place on the planet!

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Mt.Hood from the North Side, Oil on canvas panel, 9x12 inches. ©2010.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I ♥ Skulls, sunshine and Moofie the was your day?

I gave myself two assignments today. I set out to do a self portrait in only black and white with one flat brush, all to be completed in 25 minutes total. Even though the outcome is not 100% me, I achieved what I set out to do. Side-note: The portrait reminds me of a comedianne who used to appear in things in the 70's--She had huge eyes. I just can't think who it is. (I realize the eyes are too big, but I kept to the 25 minute thing and I'm not going to revisit it).

As for my other assignment...well, Thomas Kitts has convinced me that I should try what he does to prepare panels. He takes a panel (any type) and scrapes lead white over it, forcing the paint into the weave of the canvas. I found some Schmincke lead white, donned my gloves and had a go. (I had asked Thomas if he was worried about toxicity.... he replied, "Well, I am not going to chew it or sand, no". I wasn't crazy about this support/ground project, I found it taxing--it made my hand hurt, scraping scraping scraping, and I just could not get it smooth. I wondered, can't I just buy better supports that require no scraping? On the plus side, I did this outside and it was a super-nice day.

I noticed that the skull on the lead white tin was really quite friendly looking. Interesting design decision. I like skull imagery...I guess I can attribute that to my penchant for cemeteries and pirates. I will try these new surfaces after they've dried in about a week.

I've tossed in a photo of my beautiful brown Maine Coon cat Moofie into this post...he can often look menacing too-------but not really.

UPDATE: I really wracked my brain trying to think who my self portrait looked like (more than me) --finally the name registered with me! It is Carol Kane. I am quite certain the idea behind self portrait painting is not to paint all these other people. Funny how many of my portraits seem like people aside from who I mean to paint. Some sort of attention lapses. I'll work to correct this.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Limited Palette, Side Door

Painting: Celeste Bergin, The Side Door, Oil on canvas panel, 10x20 inches.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Red Coat II

Great News! I got a call today that my painting "Rush Hour Rain" was sold at O'Connor's! Whoever said that hanging work in restaurants is not a good idea is......uh.... wrong! Happily I will replace the sold work with this piece..."Red Coat II" (so named because I painted it from memory of a Red Coat sketch). I painted this expressively over a previous painting that was 100% letter forms. I allowed some of the words to show through. Oooh, this appeals to the old graphic designer in me...and yes, yes, I thought of Jim Dine as I painted it.

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Red Coat II/Alternate title: Read Coat, Oil on canvas panel, 30x40 inches. ©2010.

(Update: SOLD!)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Today's Life painting session

We had a fantastic model today, a ballerina who stood perfectly still with her arms outstretched, holding onto a scarf. She had her weight just a little off center--but as often happens, I inadvertently "straightened her"... dang! It's a common problem.. painters must fight off that inner straightener. If we don't pay close enough attention we will straighten out anything that is not vertical. I pledge to establish any lean early next time! After my (failed) initial oil sketch of the over all pose I moved my easel to another location and painted her super-lovely face. I was more satisfied with this effort. One of the painters remarked during the session that our model looks a bit like Sargent's Madame X...another responded, "no way... Madame X was NOT good looking!" (I can see what painter #1 meant, but I agree with painter #2... our model seems prettier than Madame X).

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Prettier than Madame X, Oil on canvas panel, 16x20 inches. ©2010.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'm back...already!

Power Mac Pac fixed my computer in less than one day. I am grateful! Now I have to figure out how to reformat my external hard drive so that I can back up anew. I'll do that for sure tomorrow, because the thought of losing all my data really makes my blood run cold.
After our PPASP meeting today many of us sketched in Multnomah Village. I liked this drawing the best of all the things I sketched today. It has a Manga sense about it that I rather like--the hair in particular. All of our sketches from today can be seen here.
So, what did you do today? Did you do something art related? Have you been backing up your computer?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Logic board fried!

I'm writing from a borrowed computer..yesterday my "Breakfast in the cafe" post must've been just too much for my MacBook Pro as it died right after that entry and no amount of my pleading and restarting would recesitate it. I got up early this morning to make sure I was the first one through the door at the Power Mac Pac store so I could see the service guy. It was that good news/bad news thing, where it is terrible news (logic board!)--but good news (Apple will fix it)! You won't see posts from me until I get it back..but hopefully that will be soon. Meanwhile, I am counting YOU to hold down the blogosphere until I return!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Breakfast at the cafe

Oil Sketch: Celeste Bergin, Breakfast at the cafe, Oil on canvas panel, 7x15 inches. ©2010.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


This was painted with a lot of my leftover paints (scraped into a pile of gray)..this time my all leftover paints made more of a dark brown than a gray.

Oil Sketch: Celeste Bergin, Fruit, Oil on canvas panel, 9x12 inches. ©2010.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Astoria and Svensen Island, Oregon

Interesting day today! I visited Riversea Gallery and Lightbox Gallery in Astoria. I stopped into an art store and purchased a decent watercolor brush (for color sketching). While at the Pier I saw the Astoria Trolley zoom by. After this I visited "Svensen Island". I was drawn immediately to an abandoned house. A man came by and told me that his Grandmother used to live there but that it was uninhabitable after a terrible flood on Christmas Eve. He couldn't tell me what year it happened.."Maybe 2003, he said, it was devastating..I try not to think about it for very long..but I do have to drive past here every day". (I didn't dare ask him where his Grandmother was now, because he already had tears in his eyes).

Painting: Celeste Bergin, a flood of feelings, Oil on gessoed hardboard, 5x7 inches. ©2010.

Sketches: Celeste Bergin, a flooded/abandoned house ©2010.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Grand Opera

Sometimes you just have to paint something that is a bit "much". What's the point of being an oil painter if you don't go for the occasional big over-the-top scene? It is a rite of passage..yes?

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Sunset, Oil on gessoed hardboard, 9x12 inches. ©2010.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sketching with my pals --East & West

We sketched today at Carolyn's house and then Carrie & I got to paint at Mark Larsen's studio...where we painted flowers. My beloved Triumph Spitfire winters over in Carolyn's garage. Each week I start the Spitfire up to keep her running. She is a 1975 Spitfire 1500 (nicknamed "Honey") --my pride & joy!

Behind the Scenes sketch gallery

Monday, April 12, 2010

quick sketch for practice

What is your androgynus name? (mine is Price!)

Update: My ex-h just phoned me to tell me that this is the ugliest thing I have ever painted. I disagree. I know I've painted worse things. I just don't usually post them. ha.

Oil Sketch: Celeste Bergin, for practice, Oil on gessoed hardboard, 8x10 inches. ©2010.

FARD, shine a new light on reality

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sharing my notes from Artist 2 Artist and Columbia Art Gallery, April 10, 2010

Yesterday I attended the Artist 2 Artist conference at Columbia Art Gallery. I was so impressed by the Keynote speaker, Nancy Houfek-Brown. I took good notes. I know that for much of this "you would have had to have been there" and my notes won't really do her address justice. Still..I wanted to write it up in order to remember it better (for myself). I'm sharing the notes because it was such good information. Houfek-Brown talked about many things I have seldom thought about, such as the problem of unintentionally slurring words and thereby minimizing what we do. Her message was much more than "All the world's a stage" --It was more along the lines of "say it, say it strong and then you will feel strong...because you will be strong". Not to mention one also has to wait for a reply to whatever idea is being "launched". It was a great presentation. (pdf file of my notes "Fullscreen")Nancy Houfek-Brown Address Notes r

Friday, April 9, 2010

Some days!

For some reason I can't stop making golf analogies when it comes to painting. I imagine it is because I used to play a fair amount of golf...and I learned a lot of good lessons from it. There is an unwritten golfer-law that you don't leave the practice range on a bad shot. Ending practice on a bad shot will mess with your golfing esteem. You have to leave the practice range on a decent shot--(if that means going out into the field to retrieve a ball to hit again--that's what you do).

In a similar fashion, whenever I have a painting effort that supremely tanks I will paint a simple gestural thing that will improve my mood...that way I won't be ending the painting session on a sour note. (simple gestural thing above).

I've been oil painting for about five years and on some days it can be just as frustrating as it was in the very beginning. Prior to painting the gestural painting above I "wasted" an hour on something that wound up a "scraper". Time painting is never wasted, of course, although when there is no finished product it might seem that way. We all have off days. I worry about others who experience this in the first year of painting...they are apt to give up. (I read a statistic somewhere that oil painters often stop painting during the first year, and they do not return!) Well...I will never give up. Nevah! And no one else should give up either!...if you hit a bad shot at the end of the day..just hit some more until you can finish the practice session on a decent shot. That's my unsolicited advice-of-the-day sports metaphor.

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Figure, Oil on gessoed hardboard, 8x10 inches. ©2010.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sketching with my art pals

Another Thursday after-the-PPASP-meeting sketch session...and just like last Thursday we braved the cold (again), we sat on the shadow side of the street (again) and I forgot my extra sweatshirt (again)....Some of us "fanned out" and also found things to sketch in the sunshine. Here are some of the sketchers, along with some of our scenery and the resulting sketches.

Our sketching gallery: Behind the Scenes

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


There was a great surprise in my life painting session today...a "real" ballerina. Getting her graceful shapes down in paint was a challenge. I did several starts. Finally, I did this oil sketch that approximated the pose. Even when things don't go exactly as planned, it's always GREAT to be able to look at a real live person and to try to translate what is seen onto a 2 dimensional surface. I was smart to abandon the idea of going for a very complete painting and to just concentrate on shapes. It is better to have one aspect of your effort be satisfying than 0! I was astonished how she held this pose with just a couple of short breaks for 3 hours! I hope that she'll pose for us again. She was a dream!

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Dancer, Oil on stretched canvas, 11 x 14 inches. ©2010.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

sketch day--in Multnomah Village

It is our regular day for the PPASP meeting at O'Connor's in Multnomah Village..It was a great meeting and at the end some of us hung back to sketch. We had to move when the lunch crowd arrived, so we swung by Carolyn's house and did a few more sketches in her kitchen...just to make sure that we all got enough sketching in. I really enjoyed the day. The best part about doing these sketches is that there is no obligation to accomplish anything specific with them. I like doing both the simple pencil drawing and the color sketch. Things like these are fun to look back on later. "Oh, I remember that day--!" Keeping a sketchbook, as Picasso so wisely pointed out, is a way of keeping a visual diary.

Monday, April 5, 2010

for Jake

Kawela Jacob "Jake" Kaluna
8/3/88 - 3/31/10

Painting: Celeste Bergin, For Jake, Oil on gessoed hardboard, 6 x 6 inches. ©2010.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday's child

The lump of dark gray paint (in the first small photo below) is paint scraped up into a heap from last night's end-of-the-painting-session colors. Would it make a good background color for today's painting?
I began with a loose sketch in paint over an an old study. I added Titanium white to the gray and roughed in the background. The vase was established opaquely and in a medium-dark value. I placed darks adjacent to the main flower--to heighten the light value of the lily. Using that same lump of gray (and white) I placed some strokes over the dark vase to create the illusion of glass. This painting is entitled: "Sunday's child" in honor of Evangeline Ruth Hutchins, born today--Easter! (I remember when Evangeline's Mom was seems like yesterday!---A bonus is that Evangeline is my dear friend Van W's first name. Congratulations to N&W, cofam, and Great Grandpa Dave!)

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Sunday's child, Oil on canvas panel, 8 x 10 inches. ©2010.