Paintings from Small Towns, Eastern Oregon

Below is the first group of paintings from the Expedition — they are almost, if not completely, finished.

The first drafts of these were all studies — only one was worth showing without being worked more in the studio. But the act of painting on site is worth more than can be easily explained, except to say that there are effects — light, heat, wind, people, quiet, serenity, ambience — that are essential to the scene as I am experiencing it. What I hope the painting does is capture that moment of my vision.

Haines Branch of Baker County Libraries, Haines, Oregon. 12 x 16, oil on board.

I painted the Haines (pop. 426) library from the yard of the Grange Hall across the street. The library is a charming little building, updated in the style of the 21st century (sort of) with concrete siding and a 1908 date on the top on the little sculpture. An addition hides behind the bushes, so it isn’t quite as tiny as it looks. The firehouse, which I think needs an identifying sign in red, is next door, and we can attest that the siren blows very loudly. We must have heard a test wail, since the fire hall doors remained firmly closed.

Sahalee Park, Madras, Oregon. 12 x 16, oil on board.

It was hot, really hot, in Madras Oregon (pop. 5078), a town which always seems hot when we drive through it. The gazebo/rest room was coolish looking, but the trees seemed to writh with the heat. Lots of people went to and fro the park on this walk while I painted, but they all ignored me. The heat was too much for even the locals.

I am adding people to some of my small town paintings, sometimes from photos that I took and sometimes from memory.

Carnagie Center for the Arts, Baker City, Oregon. 12 x 16, oil on board.

This was an evening in Baker City (pop. 10105, the largest place we visited) when the sun went glowing gold. I painted in the weedy lot across the street, in full blissful shade. I waved at the town cop who drove by very, very slowly, chatted up the lady with the cigarette who wondered if that big old building would fit on that tiny board I was painting on, and cheered when Jer showed up holding my keys, which I had lost in the Haines Grange Hall yard earlier in the day.

About the process I am following — right now I’m re-working some of the paintings in light of Terry Grant’s comments about color in painting. Sometimes my added color denies or varies wildly from the actual “local” hues; I hope, however, that the variances make the paintings more interesting. Since the scenes were lively and interesting to me, it is more “true” if the paintings capture some of the enthrallment I always feel with my scenes. At any rate, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it <snort>. –June

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2 Responses to Paintings from Small Towns, Eastern Oregon

  1. June says:


    You may not know what an impact your comments have on me — bring ’em on. I’m thinking of a philosophical conversation about “true” (someone put me on to Karl Hopper) but I doubt my brain is up to that this AM. Thanks for weighing in and letting me know I hadn’t misunderstood too badly.


  2. terry grant says:

    Since you have now twice mentioned my name and referred to my comments about color in paintings I am feeling woefully inadequate in my ability to explain exactly what I meant. But when you say “it is more ‘true’ if the paintings capture some of the enthrallment…” I think you are getting what I was trying to say. It is all part of the liberties you take with reality in order to capture the feeling, or as the impressionists would say, the impression of the scene. I think it is all part of the very personal way an artist breaks down or abstracts reality in order to impose their own ideas and feelings and responses to the scene as opposed to slavishly copying the scene like a camera.


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