Colleagues and Comrades: Dickason, Erskine, Trowbridge

January is a month to be grateful for friends and colleagues in arms. Often, but particularly in soggy January, I seem to need other artists in my environment, commenting, thinking, singing their way through our common endeavors.

The painting critique group that I meet with involves such comrades in arms.  As inspiration for others similarly slogging through January, I thought I’d show some of their work.

Jerry Dickason‘s Columbia Gorge III is one of five he brought to the January critique meeting. I chose it in part because it was a lovely loose rendition of the scene. Jerry has been playing around with a variety of techniques and subject matters; this month all five of his paintings used only on two hues plus white. This is a small painting, about 5 x7″, which shows up well on the web.

Jerry Dickason, Columbia Gorge III, 5″ x 7″, Oil, 2010

Jerry’s looseness is a marvel, since from the first time I knew him, he was an exquisite draftsman and has had a hard time letting go of the almost architectural precision of working. He has worked hard to provide, as here, the slosh of painterliness I love so well.

Another of our members, Jane Erskine, is a painting buddy of mine. Jane and I have driven all around Portland, mostly in the rain, finding places to rest our easels, dive into the scenes, and emerge to realize we needed to get to a bathroom, quick. Jane is just like me in that we both keep thinking it’s time to stop, right after we add a bit of sienna to just this spot, although that means there needs another bit in another…….

Jane has been painting still lifes — I was in Nevada, so what could she do, besides go to work? — and this is the one she brought to the January meeting. It was still wet, because Jane, again like me, finds this group a goad to get immersed in texture and color and vision. (It  also means the oil glistened in the light, so the right side of the painting shows up poorly.)

Jane Erskine, Still Life,  about 16 x 16″, Oil on canvas, 2010. (I’m guessing at proportions, here.)

Jane paints landscapes which, while based on a scene, come very close to falling into abstraction. David Trowbridge, who painted the abstract below, is also a landscape painter, but his work is clearly on the other side of whatever line divides representational painting from abstractions.

My most astonished view of David’s paintings was a photo of a triptych that he showed at Gallery 114.  I had always thought of him as painting landscapes that were totally abstract, albeit full of liveliness, but that triptych was  so clearly a representational abstracted landscape that I had to reconsider my categories. Alas I have lost the file where I put that particular image, so here is David’s January offering.

David Trowbridge, about 36″ square, oil on canvas (??) 2010.

Each of these artists had other paintings I could have shown. Each of them works in a variety of modes; David has an abstract series based on wrestling (!!); Jane has paintings from Mt Tabor and Colonel Summers Park; Jerry did the South China Sea as well as an apocalyptic NYC scene. When we first met, he was doing paintings of his wife reading to their grandchild.

The other artists in this critique group are equally talented, engaging, and, most important to me, serious about pursuing their art. We don’t drink tea and eat crumpets. We don’t talk about our personal lives. We laugh a lot, and we look long and hard and try to articulate what we see so we can both understand, communicate, and perhaps help ourselves as well as our fellows on the road.

I will post some of the other artist’s work after the February meeting, second Tuesday of the month, and if, during that evening, you see steam floating up in the Northwest Hills of Portland, you’ll know it’s this critique group, energizing.

What better way to spend a winter evening? –June

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