Siege: An American Painter



The Lynnwood Convention Center welcomes the artwork of Siege, an American Painter, for our primary exhibit from July - December 2021. A native of the Northwest, Siege grew up on Bainbridge Island and has been involved in graphic design and printmaking since the 80s. He obtained a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in 1991, and has been working as a professional artist ever since.

Siege likes to describe his style as "industrial figurative" because he often uses type and technical imagery from atmospheric graphs and topigraphical maps. He also has a penchant for painting birds, bridges and boats, and has created images of mechanical parts, engines, industrial tools, and more. His passion for racing vintage motorcycles can sometimes show up in his work as well.

FREE EXHIBIT! The public is welcome to come and view Siege's art during regular business hours, Monday-Friday 8am-5pm or when the building is open for events in the evenings and on weekends.

View the artwork from Siege's exhibit below. Clicking on each thumbnail will display the full size piece as well as the title and description. If you are interested in purchasing any of the art, please email anmorgan@mac.com.

Watercolor painting of purple flowers on a branch against a dark background

Blue Figures

Desperate after being turned down for acceptance into Cornish's prestigious 5th year program, I pleaded for my advisor Kathleen Rabel to help me. The following morning she and her husband Steven Hazel sat across from me. I had only met him a moment earlier. The waiter walked away with our breakfast order. In my right hand was the rejection letter from the Faculty.... Abruptly he said FIVE VERY LOUD WORDS- ...and she said eight very calm words. I’m not going to say what they said.

But in that six seconds everything changed. I walked into what would have been my student studio, in the empty Summer building, and this first piece came right away. Unlike anything I had ever done, I didn’t realize what a significant turning point this piece represented. Looking back, I am eternally grateful for the genius guidance.
 
Oil Pastel on paper & canvas of abstract people with arms raised dancing in a circle

Figures Dancing

The fact is that even though I had now been accepted into Cornish College's 5th Year Program, I didn't quite understand what had happened. I worked with a possessed fervor, almost solely just being happy in my space - both physically and mentally. It was like the way teenagers do with the gas pedal - push it to the floor just to see how fast the car will go. 
Oil pastel on paper depicting three blue sleeping bags

Three Sleeping Bags

After finishing this in the late Summer of 1990, I wondered out loud, to my advisor, whether I had fallen into the same old rut of making a pretty picture out of a pretty picture? "Oh. I thought it was three sleeping bags-" said Kathleen.

That instantly was the title.
 
Oil pastel of vice grips tool

Vise Grips 2

An attorney called, actually, on the phone (when the internet was new... 1998 maybe?) and said that "I needed" (sic) to change the name of my painting(s) from VISE GRIPS to VISE-GRIP®, as that was the name of the tool. I had imagined my heart being crushed the death as I went through what many 20-somethings experience: that once-in-a-lifetime epic breakup. I told the attorney I can do that and promptly did no such thing. But significantly the tool-as-an-object-of-beauty THEME really started here. 
Oil pastel on paper of a figure hugging their knees, with blues and yellows

Despairing Figure 4

As this piece was analogous, and highly personal , the one thing I always think of is what Preston Wadley (Cornish Faculty) said: "I got it. The Horse seems to know what's going on."

At the time I was so struck that I almost burst into tears.
 
Oil pastel on paper of a spark plug in blues and yellows

Spark Plug 2

TOOLNESS. The theme of using a tool as a celebrated object continues. My brother and I had started to race motorcycles. So the Spark Plugs were born out of positive passion, not heartbreak. Significantly for me, the first major sale of a piece - a nine foot Spark Plug -was to my childhood friend Jim Tillman. Very important affirmation / validation.  
Acrylic & Oil Pastel on paper & canvas depicting a woman in black and white with a red outline

Drop Cloth

We're now into the mid 90s. I¹ve gone to canvas, fed up w/paper. I was living in a rental house, and trying not to wear out my welcome by making a huge mess. So there was a roll of brown butcher paper on the floor as a drop cloth.

OK. Some paintings fight with you, and I was fighting with one at the time. I kept adding the next part- realizing it wrong, and sponging it back off, over and over. It was a tremendous mess anyway, and I realized I liked what I was standing on better than the painting! I began to think maybe that's the real Art. Hmmm. So I picked it up and plastered it over the canvas.

The paint can mark is on the right side, and this would begin to make its way back into canvases as an element. But that¹s how it started- and this is the very first example.
 
Acrylic & text on paper & canvas of a red circle floating above a multicolored background

Mars 2

In the late 90s I was talking to my friend Jim¹s dad, who worked directly with NASA as a Meteorologist, through the University of Washington. Years before, I remember looking at photographs, eight feet wide, taken by the Viking Lander, which landed ON Mars in 1975. These were part of their living room, and as a visiting kid, I didn¹t realize how rare this was.

And so twenty years later he gave me a technical paper he¹d written on theory of the peculiar atmospheric double spike in a Martian Day. Two sentences in, I was lost, but fascinated.

Walking up the path towards my house, my eyes fell upon some ripe tomatoes that I had planted in my garden. I stopped and gazed at them for a minute. And the Mars series started.
 
multimedia: acrylic & gesso newspaper, foamcore and cloth on paper & canvas, multicolored abstract art

Sellout

When I went to real canvas in 1994, for a brief time I was in love with the way color fell down the canvas. I produced a batch of canvases that now look like a tip of the hat to Helen Frankenthaler. Big washy dripping color. I roared down to show the curator of a major well respected art gallery in Seattle. He looked at my big washy stuff and said flatly "no no.... um, have you tried to write down why you do this archaic kind of painting?" I was embarrassed and drove home with my tail between my legs. And I said out loud "omg does everything have to be a sellout?" - what my GF used to call "thrashy art with thick paint and dead dogs."

Meanwhile it turned out that Kurt Cobain had killed himself that day. I found out as I got home from this encounter. And, in anger on two fronts, I started this piece. Not only being briefly humiliated, but also I believe that if you have a child, you don't kill yourself. I collected the newspapers from the day and it all worked into this painting.
 
Multi-media: Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas of abstract art in blues, purples and white

Brush #70

Optical illusions are a weird thing, Somehow this piece is one. People see something, or not, and there's no middle ground.

Paper on Canvas. By now the style had settled in that the desire for text had now created a method: paper on canvas. And working that paper became as important as the text. Meanwhile this came ten years after Sellout. I got an apologetic phone call from the Cafe where my Art was on display. So sorry, said the voice, some awful person has written some graffiti on your painting! Really? I said - what does it say?

HAVE YOU WRITTEN DOWN WHY YOU DO THIS KIND OF ARCHAIC PAINTING?

I laughed, and said don't worry- that's part of the Art. I wrote that. I wrote it with a Carpenter¹s Pencil.
 
Acrylic & graphics on paper ,and canvas, abstract colors with the word "Volume"

Volume

Subject matter is really only an excuse to divide the canvas into fields, with the shapes of tools and the the shapes of text itself. I had been admiring the back of my brother¹s old Fender Amplifier. 
graphics & acrylic on paper & canvas, closeup of a dial gauge and the word "MACHINE"

Machine

A dial gauge is a tool that lets you measure extraordinarily small increments. To me they are amazing. I did a whole series. This piece was done for Dave Motteler. 
Mixed media painting of an industrial tool with a crank  in grays and blues

Crank

I had heard about Defamiliarization as a way of describing something as though you had never seen it before. When an object goes outside the perimeter of the canvas, one has a fresh perception, and the image suddenly has its own life.

No longer just a picture of a thing.
 
Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas of a red bridge

Cape Creek

First bridge painting ever. Mid-2013 the paint-can mark begins to appear as an element on a regular basis. I don't think it was a conscious decision. But now also the gel - a bar that is transparent; in this case the blue rectangle on the lower left.

Cape Creek Bridge was designed by Conde McCullough, and built in 1932. Without realizing why, I have painted many of his bridges. Located just south of Heceta Head, with its famous lighthouse, it's easy to miss if you're driving fast.
 
Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas, depicts a robin perched on a snowy branch

Pale

We were walking in the snow and an American Robin was eating apples now gone soft in the late autumn. In the snow the blacks and whites around you are very loud to the eyes. The ruddy colors of the Robin and the fading yellow of the apples struck me.

Also among many conventions to push back on, is the standard 2 x 3 sort of typical dimensions that paintings end up being. Making my own frames allows to me to do very wide pieces like these three. Breath of fresh air.
 
Mixed media abstract painting with cream, red, black colors

Traditional Interior

Seattle's Capitol Hill in the 80s had a free spirit for those of us living there. My GF took me to HaNa, a now sadly gone Japanese restaurant in the middle of Broadway. It was here that I developed a taste for Sushi. Every Sushi Chef has his own style, and there are many wonderful places, but I will always miss the small familiar vibe of that spot. It was during this time that Traditional Interior was inspired. 
Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas, closeup of red gear box

Lair

So many industrial tools and machines are incredibly beautiful if you stop to look at them out of context. This is the fourth in a series of nine gearbox works. Often while working, I have noted that I have done something a certain same way, and will rebel against myself in a fit of oppositional defiance. Here the bar is NOT red. 
Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas of the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon

The Hawthorne

The Hawthorne Bridge across the Willamette River in Portland Oregon was designed by Waddell & Harrington. It completed in 1910. This piece was the second bridge painting. Purchased by the City of Kent, I am grateful that the City of Lynnwood is being allowed to borrow it for this show. 
Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas, image showing a group of crows flying

Murder Scene

At some point I saw that in every successful painting I had done there was some very black BLACK and some very white WHITE. I was commissioned to do a Crow painting and went on to do a series. Whenever I notice crows, it always seems to be a cloudy day, which introduces GREY into the picture. Here quite literally.

In 1973 or so, there appeared briefly a convention in textbooks to have the caption of an image appear not underneath, but in a Bar that stuck out like a dock, into the interior of the image or photograph itself. The first time I was having fun imitating the style of layout, but I kept wanting to add the "bar". In this show, this is the first example.
 
Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas of an old ship in a shipyard

Intermission

About to be single again, I had gone up to Port Townsend to clear my head. Someone had said there was a great little cafe: the Blue Moose, open at 5am. I am an early riser, and I was there at 4:59am.

But the sign said open at 6:30am. Growling stomach and teeth, I went for a walk through the Shipyard. All was silent, very much like a scene out of the Andromeda Strain, boats sleeping on stilts, waiting for dawn and repair.
 
Self portrait of the artist holding a paintbrush

Self Portrait

Significant to me personally is that this is the first image my wife ever saw of me before we met. 
graphics & acrylic on paper & canvas depicting the Ravenna Park Bridge in Seattle

The Ravenna 2

In the summer it's hard to take in without foliage in the way, you have to stand under it, in the steep ravine. This led to the Winter version. Like three other works in this show, this is the second version.

The 20th Avenue Bridge (also known as the Ravenna Park Bridge) was designed by Frank Johnson, and built in 1913. Closed to cars in 1975, it is foot traffic only now.

 
graphics & acrylic on paper & canvas of a closeup of a paint brush with white paint on the edge

Mark

Twenty four years after I graduated from Cornish, I sought out Greg Skinner, the head of the Art Department. He had been responsible for admitting me into college way back in '87, after taking a summer class. He was struggling with muscular dystrophy and house-bound in a wild setting outside Port Townsend Washington. I drove up and spent a couple of afternoons just catching up on two and half decades. As I was leaving he said I have something for you. A big old brush. Then it came out that it was one of Mark Tobey's brushes. (!)

---I thought I could never paint with this brush, because its Mark Tobey's. Then I thought I HAVE to paint with this brush, because its Mark Tobey's. And then I thought of a 3rd option: I paint the brush itself, because it's Mark Tobey's.
 
Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas that looks like a freeway cloverleaf road.

Thirty West

Walking out of the Seattle Art Museum, my eye caught a piece that I only saw from across the room. It looked a great deal like a stylized illustration of the 205th freeway cloverleaf. I went home with a new thought: to explore the idea of PATHWAYS.

This is the first of four.

 
Abstract mixed media painting with reds, grays, and blues

Northern Line

Mondrian's tree, becoming more and more abstract until it was just colored rectangles made an impression on me. I had never seen an abstraction of something in a sequence before and with the idea of PATHWAYS I started to look at Harry Beck's famous stylized map of the London Underground. But the negative spaces were more interesting than the lines. Initially the canvas was much brighter at first but I worked the surface hard: wet and dry and wet again- over and over, eventually scratching the surface with a belt sander, and staining in multiple layers. 
Multi-media: Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas of trees near a road in Italy

Targa Florio

Negative space is thing they always talk about. Even in this piece I never painted any trees.
I painted the canvas first and the sky afterwards. Can you do that with subject matter?

The Targa Florio, one of the oldest road races in the world, took place on the twisty two lane country roads in Northern Sicily, from 1907 to the late 1970s. It was run as a time trial, and so each car left the start line alone. This meant that you could be passed by a car that you couldn't see. So you race against ghosts the whole way.

My wife Angela and I were lucky enough to drive on (what for me) was hallowed ground.
 
Multi-media: Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas, closeup of spark plug

Timing Mark

This piece exists because of a forest fire. Racing colleague Karl Landrus had commissioned me to do a Spark Plug. But a fire swept away his house and all inside. So I created another Spark Plug painting to replace it. But I liked it so much I wanted one for myself. So this one came about.

I had been looking at Robert Indiana's work, which often includes a fat circle, and stenciled words. So, a tip of the hat to him, and playing with what had become a very fat paint-can mark, as though it were a flywheel or the rotation of an engine. Any old school mechanic has seen the steel hammered with a chisel to mark the exact point where the engine should fire.

When a good friend got injured in a racing accident, I put this piece up for sale to try to help.
 
Mixed media painting in blues and grays of a bridge

01089 (the Ben Jones)

This bridge “01089” is locally called the Ben Jones. Located just South of Depoe Bay Oregon, it was designed by Conde McCullough, and built in 1927. The highway bypasses it now, but the Pacific still smashed the rocks beneath.
 
Multi-media: Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas of a vintage motorcyle

Valentine on Page 21

We are now up to the present. I was honored to be the featured Artist at the 2019 Handbuilt Show in Austin Texas. Of the six pieces I did for this, Valentine on Page 21 is my favorite. Visiting motorcycle racers Simon Reilly & John Wood in England, my brother & I were lucky enough to have the experience of riding vintage motorcycles over the Snaefell Mountain Course on the Isle of Man.

Industrial design in 1938 had an Art-deco flavor to it, and once I saw Woody's BSA B21, I knew it would become a work.
 
Multi-media: Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas of an orange freight train

Crossing

Straight out of an old time movie. Heading west on 90 approaching Ritzville Washington, I could see a Freight Train smoking on down the track. Realizing that it would follow the valley down towards Connell, I put the pedal to the floor. How fast do I have to drive to get to the Crossing at Paha before the train?

This is the first Train Painting. Series followed.
 
Multi-media: Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas of a ship in a shipyard

The Saturn at Dusk

Returning to the Shipyard, but now in the water. Second version of the Saturn. I tend not to think too hard, but just work in an automatic way. Light was always the thing that I realized (after the fact) that I was trying to capture. But recently began to notice that so many successful works included WATER. Hmmm. 
Multi-media: Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas of a yellow goldfinch perched on a branch

Statesman

I had never seen the American Goldfinch until Angela and I went and spent a few days on the shores of the Columbia River at Kettle Falls.

In theory you can have blue and yellow together without just getting green. But often I see (or is it feel?) cool shadows over water and then afternoon or evening light washes warmth over it. And it seems to be warm coolness. Or cool warmth. Can that be?
 
Multi-media: Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas of a bird walking in the water with a bridge in the background

North Fork

The Mountain Quarries Bridge, built in 1912, over the North Fork American River. I found myself being pulled to combine the bar and the paint-can mark. 
Multi-media: Acrylic & graphics on paper and canvas of a waterway in Everett, Washington.

Union Slough

The waterway north of Everett Washington has been calling out to me for years. Light, water, sky. Bars. Gel. Paint-can mark.

I have begun to describe these as ingredients in a recipe. Some paintings call for more lemon, some for more salt. More cilantro in this one, more apricot in that one. When do you know it's done? is a question I have heard many times. Like cooking. You just know.
 
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