Recent Work

NEHALEM: The river, the mountain, the valley and the sea
My first exhibition of paintings in oil is a love letter to the Nehalem Valley, her welcoming people, and the wild beauty that is everywhere.

Alder Creek Jay/Dream, 11×14, oil on panel

My dog and I walked under the branches shading
the trail. A young Stellar Jay followed overhead,
hopping from branch to branch as he
mingled with the shadowy leaves.
There is so much we don’t know. 
The small graceful animals of the wood—
lit here and there by dappled sunlight— 
come quietly into my consciousness
and then out again, ultimately unknowable, 
like fragments of a dream.

Above Nehalem Falls, 16×20, oil on panel

The ancient Nehalem glides over the stones,

Shining and singing in soft gentle tones,

She flows into my heart and right down to my bones,

The ancient Nehalem glides over the stones.

      — Carl Whiting, 2019

Neahkahnie Clouds, 16×20, oil on panel

The first people who settled here called the mountain 
Neahkahnie, which means “home of the creator,” and 
they called the valley Nehalem, or “home of the people.” 
Sometimes, when the waves are up on the coast, there
is a fine salt mist in the air around the mountain. 
This mist settles in the valleys, tracing the contours 
of the hills and softening the afternoon light.
Sometimes Neahkahnie lifts this moisture up to 
generate its own clouds. I don’t know the word for 
“breath of the creator” but I know what it looks like. 
This breath will stream up and over from the north like 
a greying comb-over. Other times it will lift to fill the 
sky over the Nehalem Valley, dwarfing everything below 
in a finery of ever-changing color and pattern. 

Neahkahnie Sunrise, oil on canvas

When morning comes the mountain is lit first,
her pines and ridges bright and awake against 
creases of slumbering blue shadow. 
Soon the far shore begins to glow, 
and finally the closer firs and grasses 
of the islands in the bay. 
That’s when I’m most aware of the water; 
when the valley is just waking, and the 
gleaming slender channels cut like slivers 
of mirror against their darker banks.
Whatever the day will bring,
whatever mood I happen to wake in, 
I always say hello to the mountain first.

Night Clouds, Nehalem Bay, 12×16, oil on panel

Over the bay, the towering clouds billow and drift.
The evening light still lingers on the horizon as
the sky in her upper reaches turns to blue black ink.
When the wind is soft and the lights of the houses 
begin to shimmer on the water, I recall a pirate ship lamp 
that rested on my nightstand when I was small, 
and I imagine I might be in Tahiti.


Roosevelt Elk, Lazarus Island, oil on panel

It is called Lazarus Island because in winter 
the island becomes submerged, only to rise again 
each spring. Several dozen elk will swim out to 
graze on the sweet grasses in the milder months. 
When I painted this elk, I started with his eye so 
that he could watch me from the surface of the board. 
I find that beginning with an animal’s eye helps me
stay on track as I work to capture their wild, 
confident manner.  See, for example, the mysterious 
pale crescent reflection in the eye of the Stellar Jay, 
and the cheer I tried to capture in the eye of the 
Violet-green swallow.
All around us, there is such startling beauty.
All around us, there are so many ways 
to know this world.

Silage Field and Farm, Nehalem Valley, oil on canvas

Out where Highway 101 crosses over the Nehalem 
I approached a man sitting in an idling tractor.
“Hello, may I ask you a question?”
“What kind of field is this?”
“What kind of field?”
“Yes…well, I am painting it, and I want to 
name it accurately.  Is this a hay field?”
“It’s silage. Silage is cut wet.”
“And then when it dries, it turns to hay?”
“No, it won’t ever be hay at all. 
You feed silage to the cows wet.”
“Oh.  So this is a silage field?”
A week after I finished this painting,
They knocked down the small red building.

The Cliff and the Sea, Neahkahnie, oil on panel

I am the wind that wavers,
You are the certain land;
I am the shadow that passes over the sand.
I am the leaf that quivers,
You the unshakable tree;
You are the stars that are steadfast,
I am the sea.

— from I am the Wind,
                      Zoe Akins, 1912

At Rest, Ocean Road, Manzanita, 12×16 oil on panel

A pair of Violet-green Swallows was observed 
assisting a pair of Western Bluebirds in raising young. 
The swallows guarded the nest and tended the 
bluebird nestlings, and after the bluebirds fledged, 
the swallows used the nest site for their own young.

—Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Wheeler is a Small Town, 12×16, oil on panel

The rubber stop sign in front of the post office 
inWheeler offered us a quiet little welcome 
when we moved here. It didn’t shout at a person 
the way the tall ones do, and it seemed to take 
being regularly run over with cheery resolve. 
A little while back my neighbor, Barbara, was reading the 
newspaper at the Roost. Though we’re both regulars, she 
typically keeps to herself, and so I was surprised one 
morning when she addressed me directly:
“When did you get back from Chicago?”
“A day or two ago.”
“Well, I knew you were working on that 
stop-sign painting, so I was a little sad to see it 
crack and fall over while you were gone.”
“It did seem to be on its last legs.”
“Yeah. So anyway, I was having coffee and the 
guy comes to replace it, and I went out there.
I told him I knew somebody who might want 
the old one. He looked at me kind of funny, 
but I put it in a plastic bag. It’s over there, 
under the table next to the stuffed chair.” 
She grinned broadly.
And that’s how a humble symbol of small-town life 
became my favorite symbol of community.

Face to Face, oil on board

A visual interpretation of Tela Skinner’s poem, Subduction.
This was my first oil painting after moving to this rugged,
seismically active region.

Estuary Crow, brush and ink on watercolor paper.

This particular crow is a regular visitor to our home, soaring down to accept a peanut and then carefully hiding it in a corner of the yard with an air of comic secrecy .

Crow over Nehalem Bay, watercolor and ink

Crows are adaptable, playful, and wonderfully observant.
They fly in great numbers past our house to somewhere south every evening.
Once in a while I’ll see one wing over into a barrel-roll for no reason I can fathom
beyond the joy of doing it.

Nehalem Bay and Neahkahnie Mountain

A watercolor painting published in the Squid, a literary publication devoted to
writing and art on the northwest Oregon coast.