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Saturday, December 29, 2018

approaching a new year

by Rain Trueax

As we approach the new year, it's a time for me to look back as well as forward. In some of my looking back, I picked out a few photos from our year to share. They show one piece of what we experienced. Not easy even then to narrow it down to only two from each month. The music is some I bought a license to use from JewelBeat.

So what 2019 will hold, well, time will tell :) 

Happy New Year

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

by Diane Widler Wenzel: New Year creative expectations :Ordering supplies for painting 2019

December 2018 my painting involvement was slowed to just looking at my recent oil paintings and wanting to make changes but my paints were packed away until longer, warmer days after my recovery from cataract surgery. So now recovered I am finding excuses not to paint. Love my progress in remembering my French I spend mornings listening to the lectures and doing the activities in "Rendezvous with French Speaking Cultures" from The Great Courses.
My paintings are crowding into my indoor work space. But not for long! A little more space will open up when I hang about twelve in the south hall of the Corvallis Caring Place in January.
So while dreaming in a catalog my husband jumped to order for me a Christmas gift of  ten Daniel Smith watercolor sticks. Something I will take on the plane to Hawaii soon. I wonder how they will work on surfaces that will be finished with a permanent varnish so they do not need to be protected with glass.
Also shopping for glasses or some combination of glasses and contact lenses that will be perfect for painting..
My cataracts are replaced with lenses correcting for relatively close distances for painting and  the computer. Works perfect for computer but not yet as well for painting indoors and outdoors. I am experimenting with many options. So far big paintings require a contact in one eye for distance. Far distance vision is necessary for the painting to look natural. For close work, also, the vision is a little fuzzy and I actually see better without magnifying glasses from Fred Myers. Apparently I need sharper vision for painting than I do for reading.
 After the holidays, I should be getting the driving glasses I have ordered last Friday. If I go with monovision with one contact lens, I will need reader sunglasses. I've been told that Walmart is a good source for reader sunglasses.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Merry Christmas

by Rain Trueax

Ho ho ho, who wouldn't go?

Silent Night. Holy Night.

Whatever Christmas means to you-- if anything-- it totally dominates the weeks before it. Hanukah slips in, along with the Solstice, but it's mostly aimed at that one time where gifts are exchanged -- sometimes returned the next day-- and all is jolly.

Except it's not that way for those who have lost loved ones, not for those who worry knowing they have extended their credit cards trying to create a memory that will be worth it. I haven't ever done the overspending for Christmas but definitely have known the times of great joy and those of nostalgia and a sadness about what no longer is. 

Because of the long nights (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), it is a season to go within-- when there is time amongst the many holiday events. I've written before about this and only have one thing to add here, where we are on the road in a travel trailer with four cats-- I hope whatever your expectations are for this season, you have warmth and a good feeling as your companion whether with family or alone with Christmas music and maybe holiday themed movies.

For me, the big thing is the Solstice, which this year was just a day before the full moon. It means we're over the hump and the light is coming back-- gradually.

Don't forget the Christmas books on sale-- alongside here. 99¢ until right after Christmas :) 

In Diana's Journey, she is not looking forward to Christmas but Bluff, Utah has a surprise waiting for her. 

Helena wants to bring her family together, which includes her husband's estranged family. Is Christmas, with all its pressures, the right time? Phillip doesn't agree. A Montana Christmas looks at all that the season might mean.

Frederica came to Arizona to find her daughter before Christmas. She finds a lot more. Christmas in this book is in the future with a family willing to welcome all to their loving arms. Frederica's Outlaw

In Rose's Gift, she is widowed and has not imagined a romance might be in store-- how about a stepdaughter and grandson?

Priscilla wants to make special for two people who have never know a warm time where it came to that season. The Marshal's Lady

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

by Diane Widler Wenzel: Power of Agnes Varda photos and film, "Cinevardaphoto"

Cinevardaphoto is the second film of Agnes Varda reviewed here. The first was "The Gleaners", December 12.  As the words "cine" and "photo" suggests in the title, this Netflix DVD is actually 3 short films about the power of  photography by Agnes Varda.  The first is a documentary about a collector, artist, and curator, Ydessa Hendeles who made a photo art installation called the "Teddy Bear Project" first presented in a Toronto Art Museum and with a second viewing in Berlin. The project was installation included  two stories with a room on each level connected by a winding staircase. From floor to ceiling are photos. People of all ages, doing all kinds of things in all kinds of places but in every picture there is at least one teddy bear.
 Ydessa said her exhibit is not a theme show. The whole show include other rooms as sparse as the two exhibiting photos is crowded. The exhibit challenges the viewer. Ydessa connects on an emotional level with the viewer.
Included in Varda's film are the responses of the people viewing the actual exhibit, "The Teddy Bear Project".  Walking through the entire exhibition, the feelings of the spectator changes for the photos of people with teddy bears. After seeing the almost emptiness, they go back through the rooms of photos with teddy bears that previously gave them warm fuzzy feelings of connectedness. Now most felt the photos made them painfully sad.
But the way the film was presented, I felt uplifted with confirmation that all people are essentially alike including everyone. But I might be projecting my own beliefs into the deliberately understated theme.

The second film, "Ulyssis" documents Agnes Varda's photography after World War II.
The third was a documentary of 1950's Cuban revolution and the Cuban arts. I enjoyed how  a group of still  photos taken in succession were used to create the illusion of a motion picture.

Creativity is taking two or more ideas and combining them to make a new not obvious realizationship. Agnes Varda believes all aspects of making a film should work together to communicate the theme without anything to distract. 

Saturday, December 15, 2018


by Rain Trueax

Recently, I've been thinking about life and writing-- how they go together. Many years ago, I decided people could be divided only two meaningful ways. It wasn't by race or ethnicity but were they caretakers or destroyers? 

It isn't always easy to tell the difference. Some destroyers come across as loving-- maybe loving to one and destructive to another. Care-taking is the same way. It doesn't always mean Kumbaya. We might think someone is a caretaker when they want to give away things or are complimentary. It doesn't always work out to be true caring. 

Where I think it's easiest to use this test is with ourselves.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

by Diane Widler Wenzel; Review of Agnes Varda's film, "The Gleaners and I"

Gleaners are everywhere sifting through harvested fields and looking through dumpsters to name two gleaning sites. But I had not thought about them until I watched a Netflix video. Agnes Varda's "The Gleaners and I".   It was filmed in 2000 when she was 72 years old.  She is well known in France as a pioneer in the New Wave films. She is a feminist and activist. The theme of the "The Gleaners and I" was our society is wasteful of food, manufactured products and without words she communicated that she felt she was a discarded senior.
In Oregon the art of gleaning is an art in the best of health.

Don gleaning firewood from dying trees  about 8 years ago

About 19 years ago Don chopping wood  gleaned 
from neighbor's diseased trees.

Varda believes all roles in making a film should work together. Cinematographer, screenwriter, director, etc. working simultaneously to create a more cohesive film, and all elements of the film should contribute to its message. at first I was puzzled by what appeared to me as disconnected.She combined pictures of her old hands and gray hair with interviews of people from all backgrounds eating and collecting agricultural waste and urban garbage. It was a real stretch for me to associate Verda with societies discards. She intended to say society makes older people discards and that she proves how wrong society is?

 But what was most interesting to me was the creative process of some of the gleaners who were performing or visual artists or lived creatively.
It is fun picking up glass and other micro-trash on our neighborhood roadways and then make an assemblage.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Christmas in fiction

by Rain Trueax

There were years when I had a big footprint where it came to Christmas. It goes back to childhood with Santa coming Christmas Eve, and then Christmas Day with our family, aunts, uncles, grandma, and cousins for big meals and more gifts. When Ranch Boss and I formed our own home, there was always a Christmas tree and more gift giving through all the years of child rearing-- even as they formed their own homes and grandkids came along. 

Regularly, we'd have a big dinner at our home twice-- first one for neighbors and friends with even luminaries to light the driveway, second for family and again some friends, who didn't have family nearby. I loved the preparation, the decorating, the sharing, and setting up three tables for sit-down dinners. 

In decorating, I had Christmas nativities, ornaments that went back to childhood, collectible ornaments (some hand painted), white twinkly lights, and a huge Christmas village. Lots of greens were cut, along with a Christmas tree along with many white candles.

We generally did the Advent calendars and, in Catholic days, attended midnight masses (that is so special). Then out here in the rural community church, we were involved in Christmas programs. It's a busy season when someone is in a community.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

by Diane Widler Wenzel: Painting color and texture after cataract surgery

Every Spring the first time painting outdoors after becoming accustomed to dimmer lighting of winter, I need to be mindful that the brighter outdoor lighting makes my paint colors appear lighter outdoors. Then looking at them indoors the colors are much too dark. Since the colors appear lighter, I paint too dark. Soon I become accustomed to painting in outdoor lighting.
Having cataracts removed is like painting every Spring. I am adjusting happily.
I feel grateful for seeing a cleaner brighter view of earlier color in my paintings.


I, also, am aware without cataracts I am seeing like the Spring time outdoor painting phenomenon - I am apt to paint darker and dirtier.  Being aware I am sure I will adjust and be better off seeing truer color.  How fun to see how they relate to one another.
After surgery for a right eye focal point at three feet at arms length for best seeing my paintings, a big surprise was seeing clearly the textures of paint I had missed and did not know I was missing.

Detail from a textural painting completed 2016
Still wondering how my left eye focus at six feet will integrate with the right eye focus at three. Second surgery was yesterday. Such a big experiment!

Saturday, December 01, 2018


by Rain Trueax

It's hard to believe that it's already December. This year went by soooo fast. I am not much of a holiday person, though I had years where I was. Now it's mostly get through the season, to the shortest day and start heading toward spring and then summer. 

There is a time in life where I was more traditional but that's not this time. I look with some nostalgia on those days but life is what it is. I do see people where their lives seem to stay a lot the same for religion, community, family. Do we choose whether that happens or is it what it is?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

by Diane Widler Wenzel: My daughter's artistic hanging maximizes the effect of my paintings

The light gray walls complement my color saturated paintings.
Accessories like flowers and pillows repeat the blues and yellows in my paintings.

Thank you my daughter, Nancy. I hope these paintings enrich your life.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

a work in progress

by Rain Trueax

Do you think about how the world is doing? When you read the papers do you lose hope or feel more optimistic? I do a little of both with articles that make me feel positive and those that cause me to lose faith and see instead a future for humans that might be dystopian. 

Except, in our daily living, for most of us, our world goes along smoothly. Not to say, we don't know pain or dissension. But we don't suffer what the people did in Paradise or the ones who went to a restaurant/bar for a nice evening and found a nutcase with a gun because his life hadn't gone as he had hoped (I know it could be a her but normally it's not).

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Diane Widler Wenzel :Thankful for memories

Looking through my stack of paintings, I recall many memories tucked into each piece.

This  airbrush on newsprint is from a photo taken of my mother in 1934 when she married my father.

This is my first airbrush work done at a Linn Benton airbrush class. Done in 1986 a week after I  broke my left wrist!  I am proud of  how I was able to open the Higgin’s ink bottle just with my right hand and drop ink into the pen I was holding in a hand mostly enclosed in the cast.

For this post I pulled out paintings and drawings I have stored in a stack on shelves. The watercolor of the woman on top is a painting of my mother  in her last years.

Each one of my pictures has memories of the people who taught me like my parents, treasured teachers, and people who support me like my husband, family and friends. I am thankful I have been in a position where I can be so creative. My stacks of art work is a happy visual diary of my life.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

definitions change with the times.

by Rain Trueax

There is a quote that floats around claiming a Chinese curse says—may you live in interesting times. It turns out it’s not Chinese, and there are different opinions on from where it originated. [Quote Investigator]

Certainly, we do live in interesting times. Despite the many advantages, for those of us who live in what are considered developed countries, sometimes the fast movement of events does feel like a curse. Things change, or what we thought was true, suddenly is proven false. Conspiracy theories abound (if you are not up on these, head to YouTube, it's rife with them)

This is not just happening in the United States; but as a country with global influence, some believe it’s our fault wherever bad stuff happens.  I think we do have a lot of influence, but with a changing world, that might not last. Nothing ever does.

The post below is about cultural shifts. It's not partisan but might appear political to some. Of course, it is-- all human interaction eventually gets down to political maneuvering.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Painting after cataract surgery

The removal of cataracts is rejuvenating my vision and I enjoy more beautiful, bright vibrant colors. 
The future holds some welcomed challenges. One challenge is painting color expressive in new ways to me.
At the Oregon Fall Creek Fish Hatchery and Research Center's Art Festival, Saturday, November 3rd several days after the surgery I demonstrated painting process. During the lunch break I went outside to watch a pair of spawning Chinook. I did a quick sketch on my watercolor paper. 

Then inside I began the watercolor. Even in the early stages, I started painting dark that soon covered too much of the painting. One reason may be that color now looks lighter with my cataract free eye.

Working from memory at home the painting lost the flow for me. So I washed most of the paint off  by dunking it in our bath tub then sprayed away the color with warm water. Working over the washed painting, I started wishing the Chinook covered more of the painting surface.  The finished piece needed cropping.

I find many happy surprises looking at my paintings done before the surgery. But some tempt me to change them. It would be a good idea to wait on changing work until I get used to the way the world looks now. But on an acrylic painting, "The Painter at  the Beach", the color just does not match the emotions I want to portray, so I decide to touch up a few places.

The purple on the sky popped and looked too saccharine.  As usual I deceived myself thinking only a few brush strokes would make this painting better express how it felt outdoors that Autumn day on the Oregon Coast.
I never learn that going back into small areas usually means the surface becomes a mess of strokes showing awkward indecision   Somehow the grays of some clouds had nice line but were dark and foreboding. So I needed to wipe it all off.  I summonsed my courage to be more direct. I made most of the sky a thin wet tint and brushed strokes of grays close to how dark they appear.

I started a new painting as a test because I feel uncertain of using a new surface until I learn how my eyes work. So a $7.00 Habitat for Humanity 54" x 42" lightly used canvas is a bargain giving me freedom to paint freely.  On top of this discarded painting I am responding to what is on the canvas. The all over random criss-cross heavy broad stroke texture and pastel palette allowed my addition of  an imaginary powder blue sky.  Then I had the freedom to further assign vertical whites to reach high. The title in marking pen was on the back - "Another Spring". It is still "Another Spring".

Struggling is good in the painting process for several reasons. One, the positive outcome of a struggle means I appreciate all the more the success at learning. Two, I always anticipate that there is more to learn.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Beauty, Truth and Love

by Rain Trueax

Denton Lund giclee, Echoes of the Old Ones, now hanging in the bedroom

While I don't generally discuss politics here, the US has just been through one of the most brutal election seasons I can remember-- and that goes back a long way. For many, the attacks weren't based on issues so much as evil vs. good; Nazi vs. Communist; stupid vs. smart; and on it went. The attacks were not just against a candidate but against anyone who voted for him.

Those of us in the middle tried to keep our heads down to avoid being hit by the shrapnel as it flew from both directions...

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

by Diane Widler Wenzel, My colors seen through different lenses

           I anticipated lavender areas would help pop autumn colors to express how I felt about Ritner Creek.  I began the painting on a prepared ground of lavender with a band of blue tint grayed with burnt sienna at the top. Before my surgery I was unaware that the lavender I was painting was so saturated. It looked almost gray to me like the photo shopped one below.

October 30th I had cataract surgery on my right eye.
The second  is close to what I now see with my new artificial lens.
 I like both ways of seeing my painting. But I feel it was more cohesive through my quinacridone gold colored cataract often referred to as being amber colored cataracts. The yellow ting grays violet and darkens navy blue and browns the greens for me.

Just goes to show how we perceive the world depends on the lens with which we view it. We do not sense the actual object through our eyes. We see the color not absorbed by the object. We see energy reflected by the object and how the energy flows through the lens in our eye and is channeled to the brain.

Thus an analogy is drawn between perception of colors and our perception of other aspects of life. I am aware of my lens on politics tending to bend information towards what I want to believe and the structural beliefs of my lens will not focus on information that does not affirm what I want to see.

Our preferences depend on familiarity: Over past decades the desire for saturated colors has increased a demand for more colorful greeting cards due to the public getting used to TV screen colors. Our figurative lens through familiarity not only finds saturated color more acceptable, we buy more saturated color items.

In 2018 more family and friends are looking at my abstracts than they use to.  Thirty years ago I used to watch gallery visitors walk right by my work. Now people look until the colors and textures affect them - calming them, or energizing them, or striking other emotional connections. In the last ten years or so more people are used to seeing abstract work and the vibrantly colors on their electronic devises. Face book plays a part in getting the general public seeing things in intensified color hues, resulting in a preference for brighter colors. In addition to accepting modified colors more people are able to connect with the abstract.

Equally abstract paintings in 1959 went unnoticed or loudly condemned by many, even by artists. Human nature rejects the different and strange.  The viewer were more easily gratified by instantly recognizable objects.

In 1959  the Portland, Oregonians' were angered by Louis Bunces' abstract mural for the Portland Airport. It was hotly debated. The opposition wanted a pastoral scene. His mural still graces a wall on the way to the concourses. He pioneered the public display of the abstract and his work continues to familiarize us with a broader appreciation.

I am tempted to go back and change some of my paintings with lavendar and greens and yellows. The red ones have not changed as much. But maybe in time I will get familiar with the new way I see colors and I will accept the old paintings as they are.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

the end of a season

by Rain Trueax

Equinoxes and Solstices aren't the only way the year can be divided. Most people are familiar with religious holidays but maybe less so of those from our more agrarian past when humans lived closer to the seasonal changes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

by Diane Widler Wenzel : Halloween Collaboration

Trick or treat? What a fun time to decorate for the  trick-or-treaters. Two black cats and a witch will greet them.
 Husband Don is trying to use up the odds and ends of lumber he has collected over the years. He produced them for me to mark cutting lines on three pieces of mahogany skin over plywood.

Then husband Don cut the plywood and sprayed it with flat black. I added the painted lines and color on the witch. I painted a witch trying to be beautiful.

After I painted, Don installed some flirty, flickering LI D lights.

Yesterday I had cataract surgery and today I am thinking of dressing as a one eyed pirate.

Planning, also, for next week's blog, a dead serious one. On some things I have noticed how differently people perceive my paintings. It is easy to demonstrate different perceptions are to be expected and not reason to attack the taste of other people who see differently. We all expect that in art and we do not blame others or insult their intelligence. So people I know are more open than they used to be about art as compared to 1959..

Saturday, October 27, 2018

writing what comes

by Rain Trueax

Some of you, if you have been with this blog long enough, know about my newest exploration of the 'other' side, the Hemstreet Witches based in Arizona. Those books have been exploring what might be for powers, as well as what is unseen by most of us. They are as much metaphysical as they are paranormal. Is it possible that some are born with insights and power to see beyond the physical reality? I write these stories because I think life is not that firm for "What Is". 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

by Diane Widler Wenzel: My meal prep like my painting process, My table like my hanging of my paintings

The presentation of a simple meals is as important to me as the arrangement of  my paintings hanging in my home.

I don’t think how my work will effect interior decorating when I paint so I am always happily surprised when our living space and my paintings enhance one another. These surprises are thrust into my awareness when someone requests a viewing of my work and I start arranging work on my walls that I think will suit them.

I was surprised to see the lighting change during the day picking up the light in the painting, "Swimming Free". What surprised me was the painting created an enhanced lightness as if there was an additional skylight in our home.

My open storage is like my refrigerator storage. I pull out ingredients with water themes to hang for my friends who are coming this Thursday to acquire a couple of paintings. Although I am not actively promoting my art, if friends or family want my work, I am happy to see my favorite paintings go to a good home. Then I can visit and in some cases I can borrow it for shows.

Hanging art in my home is like meal preparation. I  can go to the refrigerator or studio to pull out the ingredients for showcasing  my meal whether my art is painting or food.

I should not be surprised that my meal presentation and painting choices are so similar. My meal prep is like my "laissez faire" painting.  I don't know what the menu will be until I see what ingredients are ready for me to prepare or hang.
My palette : My table
accepted and award winning in a 2003 Art About Agriculture Exhibit
The paintings on my walls can not be seen seperately from the totality of  living.  I should not be surprised.
 I see them as nurturing and as satisfying as a good meal.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

When your body can talk to you

by Rain Trueax

Our life depends on our body continuing to function. Kind of a basic truth. Years back, I was interested in meditation as a way to keep track of how my body was doing. Deep breaths, blocking out my thinking, meditative scripts, music, lots of ways to quiet the brain, and listen to the body. 

Mostly, being aware of our body involves noticing what in the beginning might be subtle changes. Losing/gaining weight? Yellowed skin? Long-lasting, unexplained pain? Digestive disorders? Skin changes? Breathing difficulties? 

For most of us, we'd just as soon not have to think about something going wrong. Reality is-- the earlier we recognize a symptom is significant, the more likely it can be fixed. 

Many people depend on yearly checkups, mammograms, colonoscopies, and other tests in the doctor's office that might find a problem before symptoms.

There happen to be home tools that can help our body talk back to us. For young folks, this may not be an issue as there are years when we don't worry about things going wrong. The older we get, the more that changes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

by Diane Widler Wenzel: I garden the same way I paint

Lighting, atmosphere, color and linear gesture are important considerations in both my paintings and flower garden. My "laissez faire" approach, likewise, is the same. In my garden I love volunteer poppies, forget-me-not, snapdragons, glads, dahlias, and cosmos to come up where they may. In painting I often plunge in with colors without  little conscious thought to bring about what may. "Laissez faire" painting brings about new relationships that look natural because the paint flows naturally. Then  I weed out all but the happiest of accidents. In my garden and painting I am perpetually weeding to center attention on what is most interesting to me as my goals evolve. In paintings that tell a story the weeding is particularly important to communicate.
Pictures with busy activity can be more expressive of intention by subduing the activity. For example I just did some weeding within my 1989  on location painting of Tom Allen's watercolor demonstration at a boat repair yard on the Yaquina River.

My painting before subduing the clutter.

The distracting boy to the far right obstructed the dry docked boat that Tom Allen was painting, The boat is a necessary part of the story. So I cut him out entirely by scrubbing out as much paint as possible before covering the boy with Daler Rowney white acrylic ink. When the ink is just barely dry it can be covered with brilliant watercolor. Later it hardens and if thick will resist the paint like the white lines in the man's hat in the lower right.  Since the boy I removed was an important memory of our summer stay exchange student from Barcelona, I  redrew him lower down in the composition.

Adding a blue wash over mostly the bodies holds the group together as a unit by eliminating all that distracts from the faces there by popping out their expressive gestures. The same principle applies to my flower garden. When a green clover starts to dominate I allow my husband to rototill  and spread the mint mulch. The mulched garden is seen as a visual unit like the onlookers at Tom's demonstration.  The gestural blossoms are made more prominent by the less busy mulch.