I’m on the road with Jer, working on painting scenes from many tiny hamlets in the high desert of eastern Oregon. We started on Monday, it is now Thursday, and I have eight 12 x 16″ plein air oil paintings in my boxes in the back of the Honda. I also have a peeling nose (in spite of all precautions against the sun) and a whole set of images, some photos, some memories, of Oregon’s outback.The paintings are too raw to be shown right now, but here are some photos of things I painted:
The Heppner, Oregon, courthouse and uplands
The Condon Library and Lennox Heating and Cooling Store (circa 1903, erstwhile bank and saloon)
The Sahalee Park in Madras, Oregon
Grain Elevators, Ione, Oregon
There are a couple more photos of places I painted, but this gives you the flavor of the trip.
Here are some places I didn’t paint, but may still have to:
Here are some observations: the faint smell of manure wafted on a slight breeze can stir many memories in the country-raised painter. Teenagers in eastern Oregon hamlets who gather at the local mini-mart on hot July nights are likely to be heard screeching, “Oh, My, Goodness!” An unpaved, one-way lane in Canyon City is named Rebel Lane; I painted at the foot of a driveway on Rebel Lane that sported an American flag, a car with a “W in 04” bumper sticker, a ribbon of red,white, and blue, and a humongous truck with an Okie Drifter moniker. A UPS driver jokingly stopped immediately in front of me, totally blocking my view, and asked if that was a good place to park. I waved, he waved and drove on.
Country north of the John Day Fossil Beds is in full harvest right now, with combines dallying down narrow roads and sheets of golden wheat flowing over the undulating uplands. The scene resembles Nebraska or Kansas, except that the draws and arroyos drop abruptly into canyons (some of which one drives down), canyons lined with basalt and sagebrush.
Painting two paintings a day cures all one’s creative impulses, at least for 24 hours. The internet has become integral to our existence, and the consequences of being without are dire, even when the painting is good. The Prairiewinkle Inn in Prairie City, east of John Day (the city) is a fine place for a painter and her long-suffering partner to hole up and check in with friends.