Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Painting from location, then at home

On my fourth day I still have not looked at my digital images of the location. But now I have reached a  turning point and tomorrow I will decide if this painting will undergo further abstraction or will I add children playing in the creek. Tomorrow on this blog will be more about the camera sas a tool in painting. Below: The progress on an oil painting on a 40" x 60" canvas.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

a sale

by Rain Trueax

For those of you who don't get the Rain Trueax newsletter (you can sign up alongside here), it only goes out when a new book is coming along or with a sale. This one will go out as a sale. I wanted to give readers here a chance also to get in on the free and reduced price books.

The Shaman's Daughter is free for two days as part of one of the things Amazon offers for books in KU. To Speak of Things Unseen is reduced price in what they call a Countdown. New to advertising as we are, this is an experiment and we are unsure how well it'll work out as we've never used their promotions for KU (where my books are all out in early August).  This is a bit of what was in the newsletter-- and if you haven't gotten these books, how the promotion works.

Adventure, Romance, Mysticism, Family, and the Arizona Desert

Saturday, July 14, 2018

popular or not

by Rain Trueax

Sometimes I dream something and wake with an associated idea-- sometimes only roughly associated. It happened this week. My dream had taken me back to high school relationships and one particular one where the dream mixed real life experience with fiction. 

In high school, I'd had a friend, the kind we did things together, had sleepovers-- and then one day I went to school and she was no longer talking to me. She never told me why. I never asked. To this day I don't know although I could hazard a guess. More interesting to me would be-- why didn't I ask then? I didn't and won't ever now. Her loss was painful for me as I didn't have a lot of school friends. The dream encompassed this real life experience but gave it a different ending-- think Hallmark ending ;)

When I woke, it was with this thought-- I am not a popular person. Is that why my books are not popular? Do they even relate?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Part two : Ruth Armitage's WORKING TOWARDS ABSTRACTION Workshop - paintings during and after workshop

Workshop Exercise on Texture

First day:  12 inch square watercolor with textures and gesso that morphed
into a linear dominance when I tried a pipe cleaner for texture making thin parallel lines. Delighted with the effect of the pipe cleaner, I was easily distracted changing my focus from non-objective to what I frequently paint -
the movement of water.

Workshop Exercise on Color

Second Day: Color expressing one title selected from a list representing a series about one subject. 
Dance theme!!  I identify with dance because I am a frustrated dancer who can't keep time and think of my painting process as a dance. When I was a child I selected a Degas dancer to hang in my room. From time to time I have painted dancers beginning in high school.

From the list of  dance titles, I painted a series of small color sketches.

My painting for the day focused on square dancing in a barn.
I  kept to my focus while thoroughly enjoying
 the process of watching the watercolor flow. 
Workshop Exercise on Line that I carried farther at home
Day 3: Line expressing my feelings about a title from my list on dance
Experimental practice with found objects useful for making lines

Line painting

My painting of the day started by selecting "Syncopated" thumbnail.  However never liking the results of making something slavishly copied larger, I wanted additional interesting choices so I mostly ignored the thumbnail. Subconsciously I must have been influenced by Ruth's larger than life dancers and the use of line in back lighting. Also I felt  influenced by the expressive edges of  Face Book friend, Portuguese Varatojo's simplified figures on black backgrounds. And of course the animated gestures of Walt Disney drawings.

 Diving with gusto into painting my linear piece for the day, I got into trouble with focus on my title.  Syncopated morphed into tango and then jive and back to tango.

 Making radical changes in my focus causes me to move from making choices with happy smoothness. Loss of focus can cause frustration like having to judge whether I should make the woman's left foot disappear or suggest the woman's fast tango flick between the legs of her partner. I chose to go back to making the painting theme of Tango. The woman looks like she wants to lead as she twists his arm. I decided to keep this confrontational dialogue between them.

 I like the process when paintings challenge me to develop narrative even if that change means pictorial problems. Well at least some of the time I like the challenge. Some challenges overwhelm me.

Taking from Ruth's workshop, I was kinder to myself  walking away from this painting several times, I developed it working on it a week after the workshop.

Paintings and Works at Home after the Workshop

At home I was eager to try again to work from the "Syncopated' compositional thumbnail. I wanted to keep the lines straighter than in the thumbnail.  I discovered even with straight lines I can space them to imply a curve. I discovered that I am very heavily set in my painting ways. I should try only a few Ruth's directives which are aimed at more focused personal involvement.

Second new painting at home, "Curved Form Dance" started as a ball and a box developed with out dominance of either color or texture. To express my feelings when almost done I couldn't resist adding line as that is my long standing comfort zone habit.  I recall adding line as a resolution to a painting was encouraged by PSU Professor Fredrich Heidel's class in 1965 and Mr. Clark my art teacher at Portola Junior High School in Berekely, California in 1957.

At home I was eager to try making curved form suggested on the hand-out but not actually covered as an exercise in class. I started with a ball divided into facets of reds in three tints and a solid dark purple box above it with no value or hue changes.  Texture and color was suppose to be dominant. But in the end phase I wanted more whimsy and just had to add white lines. With the completion of this painting, I decided I would definitely continue in the direction of making color and line my expressive signature. 
The third new work at home is "Broken Line Assemblage" of glass littered on our neighborhood road
 along with pebbles and shells from the beach that I pick up when I go for walks.
"Broken Glass on Textured Color Lines" inspired by jazz dance

I plan to go on longer walks to find more glass. Last Friday the Sanitary collection of glass was cleaner and little glass was scattered on the road. Tuesday the street vacuum sweeper did a good job at picking up glass too small for me to pick-up.

I plan to continue to journal  here as well as privately.

I plan to make small changes in my process with the goal of keeping a focus on expression of meaningful symbols to me including old standbys of dance and water. I hope to continue to have a greater awareness of when I am being to harsh with myself. When I feel frantic to prove to myself that I can conquer a painting, I will change the pace and sit to make more controlled strokes. If keeping to my focus is not working and my own Judge is bullying me, I will walk away for awhile.

Tomorrow when I am plein air painting, I will for the first time start with a list of titles, selecting one but allow myself to change in response to the journey. Maybe moderated intuitive painting will work for a smoother painting process of a stream impacted by dry weather. Maybe not!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

when a review turns sour lol

by Rain Trueax

Even though my time is almost up here, I have to share this. I came home from town and saw a review for one of my books at a review site. To say the least, it was not flattering to the book. I thought readers here might like seeing it. It is part of the writer's life.

If you check it out, read the review as I did a screenshot of it. Then hey, hit like for my page. Facebook likes it when our pages get likes-- so do I :)

Saturday, July 07, 2018


by Rain Trueax

While I might enjoy seeing new types of birds, have a bird book often nearby, my biggest fascination with birdwatching is seeing the interactions between them. I remember years back renting a home in Montana where the owner had bluebird houses right outside the backdoor. I would sit on the porch stoop and literally spend hours watching them coming with food for their babies.

Here at the farm, I like to watch the song birds as they come to the feeders, but don't see much interaction with the families. I do recognize when the fledglings appear based on size. In Arizona, with the trees closer, I would see fledglings being fed by their parents, watched the squabbles over territory, but most of all saw how the Gambel's quails interacted within families and without. I spent hours and not know more than minutes had gone by. 

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


Now that I am back home from a remarkable three day workshop with Ruth Armitage, I am processing what I can apply to my own painting process from a cornucopia of ideas and tools Ruth generously shared.
 I cannot begin to make a complete review of the workshop because her quotable pearls of painting wisdom were numerous. The atmosphere so friendly in an ideal size class of 8. Two well mannered dogs, jokingly referred to as the therapy dogs, were one comfort we experienced in Ruth's attic studio in the Oregon City countryside. Here creative permissiveness encouraged fearless exploration.

I came to the workshop being dissatisfied with many of my abstracts. I have been oscillating between impressionistic work to almost unrecognizable subjects as far back as I can remember as a child growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area where I was exposed to a local artist working in a cubist style. Recently I have retired from selling my work and concentrating on keeping a limited body of stronger work from all of my periods.  In a limited space, I retire mostly my abstract pieces because they are not as interesting to me.

So here is some of what I took away from Ruth's workshop:

 Ruth on the second day demonstrated her process to color dominate painting. She dressed in interesting complementary colors and she said she pretends she can not fail. She choose nine titles from a list of titles she keeps on her phone. Then she did some small compositional sketches in color for each title. She felt free to attempt the unexpected without being judgmental. Why not express smoke with yellow green? The unexpected is powerful.

 Perhaps if I made lists of  painting titles around a personal subject, my abstract paintings would develop narrative making my connection to them greater resulting in my caring about them even after many years. On the other hand I might be less intuitive. Also my first markings on a painting are the freshest and I could loose that energy by moving from a thumbnail to a larger finished piece. So what it boils down to is starting out on the paintings without preliminary preparation means only a few develop the involvement that stands the test of time. Looking at my favored abstracts they are all connected to a time where I had a heightened emotional occurrence. I like them not just because of a sentimental remembrance but I performed better at the creation of the piece from whatever I was experiencing at the time.

 I  do not have failed abstracts just unfinished pieces and more frustration than I want in the future or need to create for myself. I shall try a modification of her method for a short time and see what happens.

 Back to Ruth's demonstration : For her finished demonstration piece she chose from the nine spontaneous renderings she did of her titles.  While painting her piece, she focused on the subject helping her to keep her Judge away so she could continue feeling free to play.  Only later if the painting isn't working does she refer to applying her list of principles of design.

Another trick to prevent tighten up is to talk to her Judge. She says," Inner Judge, I don't want to hear you say this is crap because you interfere with the fun, spontaneity, and creative surprise." Then if that doesn't work she says " So you are still here judge, time for me to take a break."

Before the workshop sometimes when a painting was not going well I felt frustrated thinking the painting was getting crappy, I didn't take breaks.I would become frenzied trying to prove to me that my Judge was wrong and my whole feeling of self worth depended on being able to prove that I could paint. Regrettable results usually developed! It is also  not always enough to stop one piece and start another.  I need to become more self aware of when I am responding to the counter-productive Judge.  Talking to my Judge would mean I recognize the Judge and automatically I hope I will reset my thinking and mood.

  Ruth gave additional tools to arm me against the detrimental Judge in my mind but I  will not go into them here.  I think I have made the point on how I am processing and I am eager to get back to painting.

 When Ruth came around to help us, if we needed it, I mentioned that only a few of my abstracts that are far from representational survive the test of  time. I would have more success if I follow your process. To which she responded with doubt.  I believe I am not a narrative painter and  years ago more intuitive than now.  Part of me says I should continue to trust reacting to the canvas activated by a few random marks. Yet the promising thing about Ruth's process is that refusing to listen to your inner Judge does open the door to intuitive choices.

Ruth said she is not intuitive but I disagree. She is an intuitive painter balanced by moderation. She only refers to the academic elements of design when the painting doesn't seem right.

The third day Ruth did a demonstration focusing on line.
Dressing for success, Ruth wore an outfit with  subdued black and white  Which drew my first impression to the variety of linear patterns in her clothing.

Before Ruth's workshop I disliked pulling myself away from painting to shop for clothes. I wanted to spend money on art supplies rather then clothes. Now I hope I will enjoy clothes shopping more when I search for clothes that will express the kind of paintings I want to make.

 I once commissioned a felted scarf  by Patricia Berman who fashioned it in response to one of my playful collages. Now I have a reason to allow myself such a luxury in the future.

Before the workshop I had a dim view of sitting while painting. But after seeing the results of the other students, I want to try sitting for smaller brush movements where edges of shapes are expressive  and standing while painting bigger movements.

The closest thing to journaling is Ruth's lists of subjects, but I was reminded of  20 years ago at a WSO meeting where Donna Watson, and Ruth talked about the importance of journaling in their painting  metamorphose.So I will journal and make lists. Some will be subjects I would be happy to share.can share. If there is interest  a future blog could be my journal on how inspired I am by the students comments and the work they did.  Of course I will share my work during and after the workshop next Wednesday.