Monday, August 30, 2010

Day five--Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2010

I had a great surprise today...Blogging friend Casey Klahn dropped by the Columbia Art Gallery (where we were engaged with "intake day"). Casey is driving from WA to Sausalito to participate in an art festival there and he swung by to see us! When I saw him come through the door I thought "I know that guy!" ( reality I have only seen his photo on his blog). Check out Casey's brilliant abstract-realist pastels....his work is truly outstanding: Casey Klahn

The work arrived all day today up until 5pm. Great fun to see all the different styles and approaches.

Here are my paintings in my back yard (where I framed them on the picnic table) whew! made the deadline! Will you come out to the public reception on Friday, September 3? I am the curator of the show, so you can collar me and let me know what you think of the job I did. Be there or be square!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day four--Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2010

Today my painting friend Donna Van Tuyl called me to tell me that she had a serious mishap while at the Dalles Mountain Road location. She just finished taking a photo of her set up when she fell down a hill and broke her leg! I talked with someone recently who said "plein air painting has a certain ruggedness associated with it". Well, yes! This pretty much drives that home. Last year my plein air instructor Elio was injured while scouting painting locations too. (Thank goodness he recovered 100%). The very best aspect of being an outdoor painter is that we are not all safely tucked away in a cushy studio, but getting hurt while painting a picture does seem pretty incongruent, doesn't it!? My own story is that I cracked my head open during a paint out on the coast. There happened to be a nurse there who looked at it and told me to go to the hospital. I did, but not before finishing the painting. (haha). 9 staples in my head later, the painting is still one of my best..probably because I painted it with "resolve". Plein air painters are a hardy bunch. Please go visit Donna and cheer her is a link to her blog.
Dalles Mountain Road would have been a 100 mile trip for me coming from Portland, so I opted to paint here today in the overcast early morning. I used some of my new Gamblin Columbia River Gorge Gray that came in our welcome kit from the first day. Isn't it smart of the Gamblin people to make a gray for the Pacific Northwest? I love it! (By the way, have a look at the Torrit gray competition that Gamblin has, the deadline is October 1).

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day Three--Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2010

I arrived a little late-ish to the Springhill Vineyard in Mosier. The scenery was dominated by dry blonde grass.

Oil Study, Celeste Bergin, on the bluff, 8 x 8 on gessoed hardboard

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day Two--Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2010

The Timberline Lodge location was the day 2 destination ...but I did not get there. Well, the locations are just suggestions and I was sorry to miss it, but I managed to do a plein air painting anyway. Tomorrow I'll be in Mosier..that's the plan!

Oil Study, Celeste Bergin, three trees, 7 x 5 on gessoed hardboard

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day One--Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2010

Below is a little painting I did from the lawn of the Gorge White House, today..the first day of the Columbia Art Gallery's Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2010 event. It was a perfect day and it was great to see so many familiar faces!
Oil Study, Celeste Bergin, Mt. Hood, 7 x 5 on gessoed hardboard

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Potpourri..The ordinary & the extraordinary

The Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2010 event begins this Thursday. I can't believe that it's already here! I've participated in all the previous Columbia Art Gallery plein air events in Hood River and this will be the best yet! Well, in preparation I went to Tap Plastic to get some "liners" for my pochade boxes. Ever since my first plein air workshop I've liked using the plexiglass for my palette. I spray the backside middle gray. Some artists like to use glass palettes and still others like the wood in the base of their pochade box as a palette/ mixing surface. I guess it is all in what one gets used to. I decided to get several plexiglass palettes cut so I can have them "on hand" in the future. Even though a plexiglass liner lasts quite awhile, I consider them more or less "disposable" and I am trying to reduce my trips to Tap Plastics. I painted a sunflower study today. My cat Daisy looked lonnnggg stretched out on the couch. These are the rather ordinary things from the day. Below is a video sent to me by my friend Theo T. I wasn't so sure about it in the beginning..but as it continued ...I came to realize that it an animator's tour de force..... extraordinary...funny and serious at the same time.

BIG BANG BIG BOOM - the new wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Canvas, "Art Bar & Bistro" costumed model session

There was a 2nd new model added to the first pose tonight at The Canvas....(she was "auditioning"). I liked her strong angular features and she reminded me some of Princess Diana. The new model was prettier than I depicted her. I think she passed the audition, so maybe I will get another chance to paint her. To see what everyone else did, check the PPASP Behind the Scenes blog.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Painting over an old painting.....again

The painting I used to "paint-over" was a 2005 plein air of a lilac bush (below). I can't explain what I was thinking with that orange background...was I tripping on acid? Well, the orange made painting-over easy, because everything showed up really well on it. The paint-over is a copy of Edouard Manet's painting "Illustre". I love how Manet used black..he used a lot of black! Painting with black is delicious fun. I will do it again (but I promise to leave the cad orange in a drawer forever).

Top to bottom: 1. old garish painting from my big stack of old garish paintings. 2. simple drawing of basic shapes over old painting 3. Adding the black & flesh 4. Adding more black 5. covering up more orange with white & black and "impressionist" greens 6. Final painting, Celeste Bergin, Woman reading, "Illustre" after Edouard Manet, 2010, Oil on 12 x 12 stretched canvas.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Oblivious of "the rules"

Cleaning my studio today, I sorted paintings into piles to keep or ditch. I unearthed this painting from when I first began painting...I remember painting it "just for fun". Back then, there was no show to get into, nobody to try to win over with mad skillz. I didn't know anything at all and didn't take anything very seriously. This painting still makes me smile. I put it directly into my "keep" stack. P.S. In my observation, many artists seem to like cats. Are you a cat person or a dog person? I've been I am completely converted to cats. Cats are cool! Here's Dave doling out the crunchie treats for Mufasa & Daisy.

Painting: Celeste Bergin, For no reason at all, 2005, oil on wallis paper 12x9

Friday, August 20, 2010

Meandering stream II

Whenever I read "this photo didn't turn out to be accurate in color" I wonder well, Golly! why didn't the artist try harder to get it to be more accurate in color? It's uh, kind of important, don't you think?! But, here I am--posting this painting that didn't photograph right. What can I say, I'm the pot calling the kettle black. It's all over more yellow than what is represented. I'll try to get it right tomorrow.

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Meandering Stream II, 2010, oil on canvas panel 5x7

Thursday, August 19, 2010


The master Kurosawa directs the master Scorsese as Van Gogh in this, The Crows segment, from Dreams. Very much worth the 10 minute investment.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chillaxing in Multnomah Village

Most every Tuesday for a long time (I don't know, maybe since 2005?) I've been meeting with other plein air painters at O'Connor's in Multnomah Village for breakfast. Today several of us went to the "Art in the Heart in Multnomah Village" Show at the Multnomah Arts Center. I hadn't been able to attend the artist's reception on August 6. The theme of the show is Multnomah Village itself. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my paintings got a primo spot right in front. You know, we all work hard, so when our work is displayed with care and attention it means a lot. We were all pleased with how good the work looked in the space. After stopping at the Gallery we did some sketching. You can see what everyone did HERE.

Top Photo "Server at OConnor's" (it originally hung for a very short while at O'Connor's) Previous post.
Sketches: Celeste Bergin, Yellow Umbrellas at Thai Herbs, watercolor & pen on paper. "Donna" charcoal on paper 9 x 6

Monday, August 16, 2010

just blue

I went to The Canvas tonight. I took drawing materials instead of my paint set up. I did happen to have one tube of blue and a brush--so I painted this version ..(which is my favorite of the evening). I always enjoy this particular model because of her "serious" face.
To see what everyone else did at the Canvas...go HERE.
Painting: Celeste Bergin, Just Blue, 2010, oil on canvas panel 9x12

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Making up elements ...for practice

This is a little practice painting using up the last of the paint on my palette. I wanted to see how few strokes I need to indicate a car. It is mostly a "made up" street-scape.... that reminds me of Florida.

Oil Sketch: Celeste Bergin, a place like Sarasota, 2010, Oil on hardboard 6x8

Friday, August 13, 2010

Painting over an old painting

Whenever I see an old vehicle permanently parked exactly where it may have stopped running, I think about how it was likely once someone's pride and joy. I could easily have a pasture filled with all my old vehicles, because I irrationally think of cars as human. When I was a youngster my family would drive a car for years and years. We would finally trade one in and I would cry as we drove away in the new car. All of this loyalty is nonsensical, of course..(but I know that I am not the only one who is sappy about cars--witness all the beautiful old immobile vehicles next to structures all over the place. Some people just can not bear to send their old pal to the junkyard).

Okay, so lets talk about how I painted this over an old painting. The original painting is pretty comical. I painted it from life at Hipbone studio a couple of years ago. In case you need an explanation, it is a painting of a seated nude from the back. I knew right away after I painted it that it very much resembled a pork chop.

1. The first thing to do is turn the original (bad) painting upside down (which is even more pork-choppier). With the original painting upside down you won't get too caught up in the existing shapes.

2. I loosely draw in major shapes with dark purple-y paint.

3. Background shapes are next and I try to link things together.

4. I put the "most obvious" color in first (the headlights and center of the hood)

5. I use big chunks of color to describe the various planes on the truck.

6. Wait. Is that a hill or a big pork chop in the distance?

7. Final painting: Celeste Bergin, 1941 Dodge Pick up, Oil on stretched canvas 12x12

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I went to Bread & Ink this morning for "art breakfast". I took the same route that I drove several weeks ago when a guy ran a stop sign and "totaled" my old (but amazingly dependable) Toyota Camry. It's driveable, but it is severely compromised and no one will even consider fixing it (because the cost to fix it exceeds the value of the car). Now I fight every other day with Allstate about how the car has more value than they want to assign it. This too shall pass (but in the meantime maybe it truly is time to turn it into an "art car"). On another note, I came across this vine charcoal self portrait I did awhile back (above). It's one of a few that I think actually does look something like me. I did some housekeeping today. I especially like using the front room mantel as a place to dry paintings. I cleared it all off today to make room for the "next round". All in all, I had a good day today (excepting Allstate)..and I hope you did too...what did you do today?

Drawing: Celeste Bergin, Me, 2010, vine charcoal on newsprint paper 16x20

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rouault-like expressionist portrait

The best thing about painting at The Canvas on Monday evenings is that the session is fairly short in duration, so one doesn't have much opportunity to dither..there is just enough time to throw something onto the support and call it a day.
I painted this at The Canvas a couple weeks ago. I didn't think I wanted to post it because it looked too rough to me. Tonight, upon reflection, I had a change of heart..because now, after a little consideration, I think she's acceptable in an expressionist way. She reminds me of paintings by Georges Rouault... I might paint over her someday, but in the meanwhile I will enjoy the fact that she emerged so Rouault-like.
How about you ever wind up liking a painting that was initially considered (by you) to be a dog or a scraper?

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Untitled, 2010, Oil on hardboard 16x20

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sketching in a vacant lot ("the Fields Neighborhood Park")

After our breakfast art meeting Carrie & I went to the Tanner Springs Park and to a giant vacant lot called "The Fields Neighborhood Park". Both of these parks are in the Pearl District. I bet a person could spend a month in this area and never run out of subject matter. We'll go back again! See what the others did HERE.

Watercolor/sketch: Celeste Bergin, Old Water Tower, 2010, 6x9 paper

Monday, August 9, 2010

Revisiting a still life painting

I wanted to do some painting today...but I didn't feel that I had time to launch into something I did the next best thing. I found an old painting that I could strengthen. I sanded the painting down lightly and then I applied oil paint and medium judiciously over the top of the old version.

Painting: Celeste Bergin, Dark Pitcher, 2010, Oil on canvas panel 8x8

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Art in the Heart in Vancouver.......was FUN!

My first outdoor festival! I know I made some mistakes (not the least of which my tent was initially too short, but luckily Mike Rangner & Kevin Weaver helped me get it right). Many of my painting friends showed up (and I sincerely thank you!) It was great to see you there. The event was a lot of work...but totally worth it. I got to visit with a steady stream of art appreciators and as an added bonus I sold some paintings too! BIG THANKS to Art on the Boulevard (Kevin Weaver)!