Morning Brush-off

Because I am working in two disparate locations—Santa Fe, New Mexico and Portland, Oregon—I am constantly rewarded with unique experiences.The oscillation between arid juniper savannah and verdant river valley, between wide open spaces and dense urban metropolis, keeps me off-balance and receptive to unexpected delights.

Portland’s decrepit Sellwood Bridge is undergoing replacement, a process that will take two or more years. For me, it is an unavoidable bottleneck that frequently backs up the morning commute. As a countermeasure, I depart my digs early and hope for the best. When I mistime the congestion, I often duck into the Starbucks on SE Tacoma, grab a coffee, read my mail, phone my wife and tweak a chapter. That’s usually enough for the traffic to ease.

December 2

In early November I was returning to my car when a novel sight plastered a grin across my face. Two plein aire artists were encamped on an intersection island applying oil to canvas as if ensconced in a field. Always the photographer, I was yearning for my camera when I remembered I was packing my iPhone. What a kick! I began shooting and it was not long before the gentleman handed me a card “so you will know who you are photographing.” Good move! I learned I was capturing two of Portland’s finest: Anton Pavlenko and Brenda Boylan. You will find their work featured, among other places, in Plein Air Magazine and at   I am so glad I stopped. They are far from withdrawn. We enjoyed a great couple of minutes before they returned to their work and I to mine. Anton and Brenda have been kind enough to supply images of two pieces they created that day. If you would like to see more, paintings they produced in Sellwood are on display at the Caswell Gallery in Troutdale (opening Dec 7th). If you are in the area, drop by and check them out.

december 1

You can find Anton’s Facebook fan page at and his website is

Brenda’s web address is and her blog’s URL is

In fact, her November 4 post shows the pair at exactly this location.

“Pause On Sellwood” by Brenda Boylan


“Quick Painting in the Middle of the Street” by Anton Pavlenko



5 responses to “Morning Brush-off

  1. What fun. Great story, Raymond, and great paintings!

  2. Yes, the paintings are lovely, and it’s always wonderful to have serendipitous encounters like this. Thanks for sharing Anton Pavlenko and Brenda Boylan with us Raymond,


  3. Thanks Raymond for approaching us out in the middle of the street. So glad to have met you on the island! Thanks for the fun write up too…nice job. Hope to run into you again out and about when the warmer months bring us painters out of doors to work our magic. All my best,

  4. Great story, Raymond! Thanks for reminding me to stop and pay attention. And for the itnroduction to two new painters.

  5. Wonderful slice of life in Portland! I did not realize you had such a long commute, Raymond!

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