More painters: David Trowbridge, Helen Kroger, and Jane Erskine

The painting critique group to which I belong generally deals with landscape, both plein air and studio. And the  painters deal with landscape in both representational and abstract modes. (Of course, Hal, in the last post, managed to throw us all for a loop when he presented five figurative paintings, and Susan shows up with figures occasionally).

David Trowbridge paints landscapes,  most consistently in an abstract mode.  He places (“throws” he likes to say) his unstretched canvas on the ground and, using barbecue brushes, paints on-site.

David Trowbridge,  Sauvies Island, 43 x 46, Acrylic

This is about as representational as David gets. He likes to leave his edges unfinished, with elegant framing around untouched bits (I imagine he will crop this canvas a bit but leave lots of irregular white space around the image when he frames it.) While being relatively “readable,”  this painting is signature Trowbridge.  The critique group admired the smear of white around the trees and hill as well as the shape of the central mass — hills, trees, and lake. The road, of course, is perfect, particularly in color, enough to make a timid painter like myself sigh in envy.

Helen Kroger’s work is always elegant (word of the day alert!). She finds perfect shapes, works and reworks, smearing, sanding, revisiting, and continually playing with her surfaces. They exude complexity while being apparently simple — a goal many of us strive for.

Helen Kroger, Madrone Trees, 23 x 24, oil bar.

Helen’s small, almost Japonism trees appear often in her pieces; the deep green background interspersed with the reds  echoing the foreground madrone trees don’t shimmer, as complimentary colors often do. Instead they add depth and space to simple shapes. Incidentally, I’m naming these madrone, but they might simply be an evergreen whose color was required by the rest of the painting.

Jane Erskine, who, like David, paints plein air abstracts, often reworks her paintings in the studio. Luckily, the two she reworked after the session (and which I have no photos of) were not the two I was contemplating posting. She called these two below  “Bird’s Eye View” and the other “Bug’s Eye View” but refused to tell me which was which. I have my suspicions, but in the interest of not being wrong, I’m not going to reveal my own guesses about the titles.

Jane Erskin, 14 x 18″, Oil

I think the above is my fav of the four she showed us — it’s that mysterious city in the upper right that keeps dragging me back to the canvas.

Jane Erskine, 16 x 12″, Oil

Jane’s magic with shapes and her unique-to-Jane use of color are what always strike me. Once, when we were painting together, Jane pointed to a spot on my canvas and said  “You need some red there.”  Obediently, I put in red (silently protesting, of course). She was right (of course.).

So there are the next three of our painters — six out of the eight. Next up, Jerry Dickinson, who is preparing for Europe with his watercolors, and I, who has been able both to work on the paintings after the critique and to photograph and use the reworked images here. There’s a reason I do this blog — I can advantage myself — with a little help from my friends. –June

This entry was posted in abstract painting, acrylic painting, Art, critique group, figurative, landscape, oil painting, painting, Portland, Representational painting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to More painters: David Trowbridge, Helen Kroger, and Jane Erskine

  1. june says:


    You’d like it even better in person — it’s got tangible traces of “history” — there but just for the informed. (I tried to use the conniseur word, but can’t spell it).


  2. gerrie says:

    Gaaaa! I love that piece by Helen!


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