Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Big Wave 2014-15

Quik Eddie Poster _edited-1

Aloha Everyone,

Here’s the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational art for the 2014-15 season for those that haven’t seen it in the surf magazines.

Let’s hope they get some waves now.

Had a great time attending the opening ceremony and party.

Many thanks to Glen Moncata and George Kam. We don’t as of now have any posters.

You may be able to ask Quiksilver although I don’t see any for sale on their site. Give them a call.

Best Aloha to All,


Cassidy Western Paintings from Spring 2013

Hi Everyone, Here’s some highlights from my spring 2013 western paintings. Might be my best output of western work yet. The background in the Nez Perce piece is South Sister from Sparks Lake area close to my house in Oregon. They lived aways north of here up in the Wallowa Valley but no doubt wandered around down here. They say Chief Joseph was a compulsive wanderer. Maybe it looked like this? The Tlingit tribe in coastal Alaska does unbelievably beautiful wood carving. Their famous for their dance masks which I just drool over. I basically built this image from scratch with bits and pieces, a figure and a face I liked, a carving from another place after I looked through museum pictures for days, researched their clothing and invented the background from pictures of the ranges around their village. You wouldn’t believe all the things that go in to making these pictures. It’s rarely ever simple. The painting is actually the easy part if you can believe that…It usually takes way longer to do the research/travel etc. than the actual painting. These guys aren’t really walking around like this these days so you have to be creative. Sometimes it’s just like what my daughter would do with one of her dolls. I take a basic figure from a posed model ( maybe someone local from the Warm Springs reservation or in a pinch my son ) and dress them up like they might have looked and match the figures to a background from their tribal lands…which means you have to go visit those places and see if you can get a feel for the right story to tell. The fun is in the adventure of it all and bringing to life what these people might have looked like. I like to drive the backroads through Wyoming, Montana etc. I blur my eyes and pretend the cattle are buffalo. All you start out with is a rough idea or feeling and on the way to figuring out what that looks like you never know where your gonna end up. God gives inspiration if you pray for it…sometimes more than you know what to do with…I got a life time of stuff I’ll probably never get around to..at least in this life. We’ll have a new permanent page up soon. These are studio snapshots for now. Click on the thumbnails for a larger image. In the meantime for those interested in originals call Peter Orsatti at 541 306 1174 or e-mail at peterinbend@gmail.com for availability and more info. He’s a very nice man and we’ll help you with whatever you need. He’s there so I don’t give away the farm… All these pieces are oil on linen. Best to Everyone. More posts soon. Aloha, M.C.

Notes on Art Theory

I promised awhile back some some thoughts on art theory for those of you who are artists. While no means comprehensive if it inspires you it’s all good.

 A few notes about technique before I get to the more important underlying aspects of art. I paint “wet on wet” a very old simple technique but one that takes a great deal of time to master. ( I still think it’s the quickest surest way to improve ) I may do a series of  small pencil sketches to figure out basic composition. I’ll use photographs for information where I need it. I take a lot of pictures and have a very large reference file as well. I would prefer to paint from life but apart from landscape stuff it’s very difficult to get models that will sit still for more than 5 minutes anymore. The more information I have the better. A photograph is information… your not a slave to it, use what you need ignore the rest. You must remember that a camera sees differently than your eye. Your eye has what your concentrating on in focus but the peripheral is not. It has a shorter depth of field than most cameras. We want 3 types of edges, hard soft and implied. If you do everything hard edged like in a photo it will look like one. Decide which edges need to be hard. Let those that recede into the background be soft and where you can suggest an edge instead of painting the whole thing do that. As a matter of fact those areas of a painting that are less central to the them should have less detail. Prioritize the areas of detail. If it were a portrait for example the face would get the most attention the clothing less so and the background the least of all. Do only whats needed to suggest detail in the areas that aren’t as important. If I’m painting a palm tree for example I’ll simplify the shapes of the palm fronds and paint only a few actual fronds. Your eye will see that and complete the rest.

 Before I get ahead of myself I should talk about the inspiration for the painting in the first place. I can’t tell you how to get that…I pray…God answers. John Lee Hooker famous bluesman was once asked where he got the inspiration for his music. He said God gave it to him…He just listened and wrote it down. Anyway once I have my inspiration ( trying to paint without it doesn’t often result in good work although sometimes you have to just start painting and then the inspiration comes ) I use Belgian linen with a very smooth tooth ( I like to see the brush strokes not the weave of the canvas ) I cover the whole canvas with a mix of poppyseed oil and a small amount of paint usually a mix of yellow, red, and purple that makes a warm brown. I don’t do any preliminary drawing on the canvas. I draw with a brush. Large ones to start with in simple basic shapes blocked in in the middle of the value scale. No white or black yet. Once I’ve covered the whole canvas in basic shapes and get them where I want them ( good thing about oils is they dry slow so you have 3-4 days to work ) Then and only then I can begin to to punch in my shadow areas and after that my highlights. ( white and black “pollute” other colors very easily and aren’t easy to cover up which is why we leave them until we have the basics in place. An added advantage to this is that when we do put them in we can do it with confidence because we’ve already determined everything is in it’s proper place.

Basically I’m working from the middle of the value scale outwards in both directions. Because I’m painting in to a wet surface the painting has a nice liquid feel to it. Simple shapes become progressively more detailed with smaller brushes. The trick is to say the most with the least.  Sort of a visual shorthand. I don’t want to paint every blade of grass, just enough detail where your eye can complete the rest. We want a little mystery not too much information! This is one of the things beginning artists really struggle with…too much detail…The trick is to decide what is necessary and nothing more. I still struggle with this…A great way to learn this is to do small paintings with only big brushes. This is where you learn the subtleties of value, color intensity etc. If you did nothing more than than going out and painting some hills and sky and concentrated on getting the colors and values just right ( how they really are ) you would be getting somewhere. After awhile of this take your paint box and take a life painting class. If you can draw the figure you can draw anything. It’s our baseline, the fundamental foundation that everything else is built on. Don’t spend a lot of time on any one painting, They should be more like a sketch except with paint. When I say sketch I don’t mean that you don’t strive for accuracy. Get the simple things right otherwise the detail you put on top of it is like lipstick on a pig. Spend your time getting the simplest things right.

This is how we learn, practice practice practice. Go look at Joaquin Sorolla, John Singer Sargent, Ernest Blumenschien and The Taos painters. Unfortunately there’s nobody alive in their class today. I aspire to someday do something I wouldn’t be embarrassed to hang in the same room but it may take more time than I have left…in this life at least. I’ll keep trying in the next one.

I can’t speak for anyone else but I do believe that there are truths that are universal for all artists..that is unless you subscribe to the deconstructionism, craftlessness and farce that is  modern art. If you did you probably wouldn’t have signed up for this site. I’m a non person in the modern art world just in case you were wondering. One thing I’ve learned is that art at it’s best is a true story simply told. If I can transmit something of the essence of a subject it’s core meanings and value I’ve got something worthwhile. A painting isn’t just a technical exercise in recording what something looks like. I can do that with a camera far more easily. What I’m after is a story told in an appealing manner in my style that’s true to the subject. It’s authentic…which means I have to do my homework. You might get away without that for 99% of folks but it’s the 1% that know that you paint for. If it passes muster with them you have something. What you hope happens after you’ve done all your research and figured out how to tell your story is the “magic” that turns a technical exercise in to something more than the sum of it’s parts. If I could describe exactly what that magic is it wouldn’t be magic now would it? I can sort of hint at it but in reality it can’t be fully grasped.

Love, adventure, romance, mystery, truth, beauty…that’s about as close as I can get to describing the “magic” in a great piece of art. I can sort of elude to it but can’t exactly explain it. It just happens…I’ve known artists who are very good draftsmen with good technical skills who’s paintings are dead as a doornail. They never go beyond a technical exercise. Don’t get me wrong I believe in doing everything possible to develop drawing and painting skills. If you don’t have the technical ability to put on paper or canvas what’s in your mind then you hit a ceiling you can’t get beyond until you do something to upgrade your skills to the point they can keep up with your imagination but there’s more to it then just technique.

I tell the students I speak to that if you had a piechart that represented  what a fully developed artist looked like it would have small slices of natural talent and huge slices of self discipline, hard work, desire and stubborn determination. Everyone who has desire enough to do the work has enough natural talent. You have to work at it. It doesn’t just drop in your lap. There will be many obstacles. There will always be obstacles. There’s something that happens in the process of overcoming trial that can’t be gained any other way. We don’t learn much except by pain and trial. Wish it were otherwise but it isn’t…

Great paintings have a confidence in the way the artist tells the story that can’t be faked. The only way to get that confidence is making all the 1001 mistakes you need to learn. There’s no way to skip from 1 to 1001. We learn from mistakes. If your afraid to tear down everything your used to doing on a regular basis and rebuild you’ll never progress. One of the reasons we have so few great painters today is because the simple values of honesty, humility and handwork are beyond the patience of most artists. People just don’t want to do the work. It ain’t easy believe me, nothing worthwhile is…If your serious about a career as an artist you have to go to school for a long time. It took me 8 years. You’ll likely struggle to pay your bills for a long time. It’s hard! You’ll be tempted to quit get a safe stable job…and be miserable doing it. The desire for security is in my opinion one of the greatest obstacles to a person becoming the artist they were born to be. There is no “security”. You need something beyond your own power to make it…Faith! Faith that I was meant to be an artist. Faith that God will make a way and provide for my needs. If you were hoping for some advice on easy shortcuts I’m sorry I don’t have any. If you don’t like the idea of depending on God or your convinced you know better than the one who made you and gave you the gift of art I wish you good luck…If your the captain of your own ship…the ship be sinkin’.

This is a critically important point I cannot avoid even if I wanted to…The magic in art comes from the truth that lies at the heart of the story being told. No truth, No story worth telling. I’ll give you an analogy. Every good drama that’s ever been made has the same basic storyline. The hero somehow against impossible odds triumphs over evil and the day is won. Frodo ( a lowly hobbit )goes in to the middle of Mordor and against million to one odds overcomes and evil is vanquished. At this point I realize some of you were looking for some tips on painting and drawing technique and your getting a religious jaw instead. If your goal is to produce art with no meaning then I haven’t much to say you can glean from. Art with real meaning that speaks to peoples hearts has to have something to say about what is true. Namely that we were made for paradise and to live forever. Not just existing but creating ( because our creator gave us the gift of creation ) an astonishing thing when you really think about it…He could of just made robots but He made thinking feeling creative people. It is my belief that every person who has ever been born has the potential for greatness in something. Few of us ever realize it because we are unwilling to go through the pain and suffering it takes to realize that gift fully unwrapped. There’s something really valuable we learn in the midst of suffering that can’t be learned any other way. Through the process of creating we celebrate those things that really make us come alive. To become what we were meant to be…the real us.

Now if your goal is to “discover” yourself and your gaze is directed inward I wish you good luck. That is the direction of most modern art. Because it rejects nature and more importantly nature’s God it looks inward instead and they find chaos and destruction. If they refer to nature it is to mock it or pervert it. I operate off the premise that that without God I am utterly bankrupt and have nothing worthwhile to say. The more I learn the more I realize how little I know. Although I’ve been drawing and painting for 40 years It still feels like kindergarten, Check that pre-school, maybe infant might be more accurate. It’s only the very beginning! As a result I paint simple things. The pictures you see of Tahiti and the South Pacific are pictures about Paradise. Anyone who has spent any real time in the tropics can tell you the same thing…There is no paradise on this earth. Believe me I’ve been looking for the last 30 years. Hawaii,Indonesia, Fiji, Tahiti, Caroline Islands, Marshall Islands, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, Australia, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico etc.etc. Even if you find some beautiful place there’s always a fatal flaw…Always! We’re not home yet. This life is like a hotel stay in the valley of decision. Nobody gets out alive. Even if you worked all your life saved your money and managed to stay one step ahead of the masses ( looking for the same thing your looking for ) The next thing you know your getting old and everything hurts. I’m 54, you older folks know what I’m talking about, You young folks just wait and see.

The real value of places like Tahiti aren’t in what you can see but in what you can’t…Their signposts for something beyond what you can see…at present. Most of you have had moments of magic in your life. Maybe they were in a place like Tahiti or the mountains or a desert. Magical moments we grasp at but can never seem to capture and hold on to. Their fleeting moments, brief looks from the mountaintop through foggy classes. We don’t get nearly enough of those moments. Artists help us to pause and look for those moments. I paint pictures of paradise so that when I look at them I’m reminded of what I was made for. Somewhere in my soul I know beyond doubt I’m made for Paradise, for Heaven. I make pictures of Horse Indian culture and cowboys because it reminds me of the wildness and freedom that is also in Heaven. God is not tame, He’s wild. The irony is that to be truly free I have to recognize that there is someone infinitely greater than I am. I have a freewill choice to love Him or reject Him and go my own way. Love is the greatest thing going but it cannot be forced it must be chosen. It’s this story, our story, that is at the heart of all great art, even something as simple as a picture of a flower. What an artist is if he or she will will be truthful is like a little child who crudely tries to represent what God has made. Sort of like the drawings of our 3 year olds on the refrigerator but with an infinitely larger talent gap than the one between us and the 3 year old.

The highest thing an artist can aspire to is hold up a mirror to the beauty that surrounds us and say “Isn’t what God has made beautiful?” this is what I aspire to. The beauty is that there are as many ways and styles to tell these stories as there are artists, every voice is unique. It’s sort of like making soup we take a recipe ( imitate those who know how ) put in all kinds of different ingredients ( influences and all that we see ) stir it for awhile ( the time it takes to learn from our experiences ) eventually we put our own little pinches of this and that ( our own style now fully developed ) and we come up with something uniquely our own ( yet built on the foundation of all those who went before us ) Humility, hard work, sponge like absorption of information and wisdom, always willing to learn. Study and paint what you know and love and before you know it your an artist with a beautiful story to tell.

Keep painting, Aloha, Michael

Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge

One more post today for Bend locals.

This Saturday May 12th is the 2nd annual Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge at Mt. Bachelor ( Our local mountain ). Gerry is up there as we speak in a snowcat putting in the final touches to the course which resembles a series of waves made from snow.

Snowboarding is a natural extension of surfing for us and the many surfers who live here. It’s all surfing the wave is just frozen…I never lived more than a half a mile from the beach for 50 years and traveled all over the South Pacific, Indonesia and Latin America looking for waves but if I knew then what I know now I would have come here 20 years ago which is just what Gerry did…He’s always ahead of the curve.

The event starts at 11am. Hawaiian music virtuoso Bill Keale will be playing music. You should come just for that alone. It’s Anthony’s birthday as well and we’ll all be up there. At some point we’ll be making some prints of this art as well as some shirts for Gerry’s new line.

If you’re here in Bend come on up!

Aloha, M.C.

Gerry Lopez Big Wave Elephant Gun

Here’s a picture of a 9’6″ elephant gun Gerry shaped and I painted with a Tahitian pareo pattern.

It’s the first of a few hand painted boards we’ll do together. This one was just sent to the Quiksilver HQ on Kalakaua Avenue.

For you surfboard collectors better run…if it hasn’t been sold already.

You can ask our buddy George Kam who runs the shop about the details. I have no idea what the price is…ask George.

You can e-mail him at george.kam@quiksilver.com.

Aloha, Michael

Waikiki Paddle Festival

Aloha Everyone, My apologies for the lack of posts lately. I’m the worst businessman on the planet…(I succeed in spite of myself by dumb luck and the help of angels) I’m going to try and catch up over the next week. Really a lot going on.

I just returned from the Waikiki Paddle Festival. A great time had by all. Really a special event. Hope some of you in Hawaii were able to see it on Oceanic Cable.

I want to thank George Kam, Wendell Titcomb, Gerry Lopez, George & Keone Downing and Glen Moncata for everything. A ton of people are asking for a giclee print of the festival art. We’re doing a limited edition print 36″x44″. Big and beautiful. Roger at Evolve Digital printed it and once again nailed it. He’s a wizard. You can get it with deckled edges as well. You can call Peter Orsatti at 541 306 1174 or order from my site by e-mail and he’ll follow up with you. Edition size is 250, price $1200.

My Bend neighbor, Pipeline legend and Waikiki Paddle Festival ambassador Gerry Lopez is going to sign the first few dozen with me. If early edition numbers are important to you get it now.

Another interesting bit of news is that I’ll be doing the poster for this years Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau ( The Eddie ) big wave contest at Waimea Bay. ( Thanks Glen Moncata ) George Downing is the contest director and the elder statesman of our surfing tribe in Hawaii. He was THE original big wave rider. I was blessed to spend a few hours talking story with him and son Keone at this years event.

I got a history lesson on the creation of the Ala Wai Canal and the wave at Ala Moana, The sand migration on the North Shore, Waikiki and a few other subjects. I’ll be working on a painting of Uncle George in the next few weeks.

I’ve been really busy this spring with a whole slew of projects as well as some new oil paintings which we’ll try to get up on a new paintings page early next week. Might be the best batch of paintings I’ve ever done. There’s quite a bit of American Indian stuff as well as Oregon landscapes.

I’ll be posting a story on painting theory for all you artists out there pretty soon as well. Thanks again to all of you that have signed up here and I’ll try to be a little more diligent in posting from here on out.

Best Aloha, Michael

Pendelton Round Up

Aloha Everyone, Sorry I haven’t posted earlier but I’ve been on the road quite a bit so will try to catch up in the next few days with a couple stories. I had the great pleasure to attend in September the 100th anniversary Pendelton Round Up courtesy of good friends Curtis and Kathryn Baker. We had front row box seats as good as it gets. This rodeo is like The Masters golf tournament of rodeo. The history behind it is really rich. It was a visual feast for me and I’ve started painting some historical Pendelton images. My first painting is of black cowboy George Fletcher who along with Nez Perce Indian Jackson Sundown and John Spain was involved in the most famous saddle bronc riding final in Pendelton history. ( The subject of a Ken Keesey novel. ) Although Spain ultimately won the event the crowd believed Fletcher was the real winner and jeered the announcement of Spain as winner and cheered Fletcher instead. Pretty remarkable for 1917… 53 year old Jackson Sundown won the all around… 53 years old! One tough cowboy and anyone who knows what a beating those guys take over a career knows how incredible that is… Every old cowboy limps for good reason. Some have broken most of the bones in their bodies at one time or another and are frequent customers of the local emergency room. Watching the energy with which these horses and bulls come out of the chute is incredible. Look how high off the ground the horse is in the picture above…with a rider on his back no less! Pendelton is a repository for American history and tradition and honors the character, honesty and toughness of a lifestyle that is fast disappearing. A real slice of American history with real Americans…

One of the great things about Pendelton is the association it’s had from it’s inception with Indian people of the Northwest. There’s an Indian horse race that has to be seen to be believed. One rider rides 3 different horse around the track which his teammates hold. He rides at full gallop one lap around the arena jumps off that horse ( at full speed ) and right back on to the next one which his friends try ( often unsuccessfully ) to hold still. There is no saddle or stirrups. They grab the horse’s mane to swing on. There are 4 different teams all doing this at the same time on the same side of the track so pretty much every race has collisions and falls. The energy is unbelievable. a rider might go from first to last or the other way around in a heartbeat. There is in addition to that dancing competitions with tribal groups from all over the west. The main drag in Pendelton is shut down for rodeo week and filled with musician’s stages and vendors. We stayed in a really great old hotel that had been the town brothel up until 1964! The Baker’s rented the whole thing for their pals. I was honored to take part. I’m really inspired to paint this imagery and will post pictures as I finish them.

Battle Of The Paddle Aftermath

Aloha Everyone,

Just back from Honolulu and The Battle Of The Paddle. Lots of hard work and long days but a really great time. The artwork for the event was a hit across the board. I’ll have some posters from the event in a few days after they get shipped over. I had a great time hanging out with Gerry Lopez, George Kam, Dale Hope, Wendell Titcomb, Kimo Akaka and many others. I had the great pleasure of spending more than an hour talking story with George Downing who in his 80s is the senior leader of the Hawaiian surf tribe. Uncle George is the man who decides whether or not the Eddie Aikau contest at Waimea goes off or not. His knowledge of Hawaiian waters is without peer. He had a lot of complimentary things to say about my art and some good advice on life. To hear his stories about the “old days” of Hawaiian surfing is a real treat. I also spent some time with his son Keone who won the Eddie a number of years back. I saw many old friends and made new ones as well.

After the event we had a chance to surf for a couple days in beautiful offshore turquoise Waikiki. Had a great time at Number Threes, Paradise and Poplars. The timing of the swell coinciding perfectly with the end of the race. Will have some info on the posters shortly and let those of you that have inquired know. Aloha, M.C.

Battle Of The Paddle Hawaii

Aloha Everyone, Here’s one my latest projects. This is for a stand up paddle board race at Duke Kahanamoku Beach at Waikiki. It’s the Rainbow Sandals, Gerry Lopez Battle Of The Paddle. Along with my good friend George Kam we did all of the art and most of the marketing for the event. There will be posters, t-shirts and magazine ads. I’m headed over in the morning to Honolulu. The event is June 11-13. Had a lot of fun with George and Gerry working on the concept for the event. The story behind this Duke image starts with a man named John Zabotacky who surfed stand up or “Beachboy” style for 60 years virtually by himself. George Downing went to have a talk with him and when he asked John where the inspiration came from he said he saw Duke doing it  one day… So Duke is not only the father of modern surfing but the father of stand up! So with that back story we thought it appropriate to use this image of Duke to kick off the first annual event. Will have more to post soon as I’ve finally learned how to do it…I’m computer challenged… Stay tuned. Aloha, M.C.

First Friday Art Walk

Ivan and Michael discussing Modoc artifact

Ivan and Michael discussing Modoc artifact

The Gallery will be open for the First Friday Bend Downtown’ers and  Art Walk tomorrow. Last month we had a visit from Ivan Jackson, a Modoc Indian, from Klamath Falls located  about 2 hours south of Bend.It was a great night and exciting to witness, two masters of their crafts, meeting for the first time and discussing their lives and experiences.

Michael, who has painted and studied the South Pacific and Native American cultures for decades, has a tremendous understanding and love for these people. Ivan Jackson studied under the tribes elders for decades, motivated by the love of his people and culture, to become a master at creating authentic Modoc artifacts, the way they have been making them for thousands of years. Needless to say they had much to discuss between the crowds pouring in and Ivan demonstrating some of his techniques.
Michael has just completed a number of beautiful paintings for the gallery. I will send out an announcement once they have been displayed.
We are also pleased to announce that Michael was commissioned by the Surfrider Foundation to paint one of the 25 most famous surf breaks in the world. In addition Michael was also commissioned by The High Desert Museum for a painting to be used in this summers events and for their advertising and promotion. We are honored to be working with these two great organizations. We will send out more information about these events this summer.
Hope to see you soon
Peter Orsatti
Michael Cassidy Fine Art Gallery