Saturday, August 23, 2014

Recycling supports

 As much as we would all like, not every painting turns out as we anticipated.  Mine get put into cupboard, tubs or on shelves to be pulled out weeks sometimes even years later for review.  Some are worked on more, some torn up or trashed and then there are some that I paint over.

I had this image of bleeding hearts that always appealed to me.  I had several of these plants in the garden and always loved the old fashioned heart shaped flowers that bloomed reliably year after year.  I was looking for a rectangular panel and had nothing new in the size I wanted.  I rummaged around and found an old painting that never quite worked and decided it would fit the bill.  Its a 10" x 20" canvas panel so fit the composition nicely.

I'm no purist. I don't sand and gesso and sand and gesso an old piece before painting over it.  I jump straight in.  The rule is that it must be the same medium on the old piece as what I am using.  Other than that, there are no rules.  And as I'm using a palette knife, any texture on the original painting doesn't affect the new layer.

So stay tuned for the finished painting.  And yes, it is flowers.  I know.  I must have hit my head somewhere...

Monday, August 18, 2014


5" x 7"  oil on canvas

When animals pass on, I like to commemorate their passage with portraits.  Lucky was around for a long time and Lily was more the newcomer of just a few months before the fox changed all that.

Lucky in Sunshine
Stillman & Birn Gamma Series sketchbook
Pen and watercolour
7" x 10" 

White Pekin ducks are lovely creatures, so pristine white with brilliant orange beaks and legs.   I did a little watercolour sketch of Lucky and with some paint left on my palette from another painting, decided that I would create this little 5 x 7" painting using a small palette knife.  I love the texture a knife can provide, but find going this small with one can be a challenge.

Lily will be next for her portrait when I have a spare moment to fit her in.

I use what I consider 'fast' mediums when I create sketches.  These are paints that dry quickly such as watercolour or acrylic, along with pen and ink or graphite.  But it doesn't stop me from adding oils if the mood takes me.  The sketch demands the medium and all dry eventually.  The beauty of a Stillman & Birn sketchbook in most all of the series that I've tried, is that the paper is quite substantial and will take a lot of water and stand up well.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Sales

The Tragedy of the Commons - SOLD
oil on panel  5" x 7"

Sunday Sale  $35 + $5 shipping

Whenever I clean out the studio, I get inspired about finding homes for paintings and supplies.  Now that I can see the floor and work surfaces again and have more room for a lot of large canvasses, I have launched a Sunday Sale on my Etsy site.

On Sundays during the year, I will offer original paintings or drawings at half price. While I do this large boat painting project I need all the space I can get and I enjoy others being able to purchase original art at affordable prices too.

To launch Sunday Sales, I'm offering The Tragedy of the Commons.  This little worried cod is my interpretation of the impact of the cod moritorium in Newfoundland and Labrador. The tragedy of the commons title is based on an economics theory by Garrett Hardin, according to which, individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, behave contrary to the whole group's long-term best interests by depleting some common resource.

Keep an eye on my Etsy store on Sundays and see if you can grab a bargain for yourself or someone else.  Remember Christmas is only 129 days away...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Seeing colour

 Sunspot 24" x 48" SOLD

I have number 3 boat painting on the easel and its progressing nicely.  There is freedom in creating paintings using a palette knife and at a larger scale.  It eliminates or at least lessens the ability to drift into too much detail.  That leads to more expression and where my 'different' colours come from when painting boats and water.

Boat # 3

I get asked how I see the colours that I use in painting a subject.  It's developed from years of acute observation, seeing subtle differences in light and environmental colour reflections on a subject, combined with a knowledge of how values work, no matter what the colour.   I could create a monotone piece like "Dream Boat" below and it works because the values are correct.  We know in reality that this colourway would never happen, but it can be pulled off visually because the light and shadow work.
Dream Boat

It's a similar thought/visual process that I use when adding additional colour to my boat and water paintings such as in "Sunspot" or "Boat # 3", currently on the easel.  The colours may not be reality based, but they are value based.  They add visual interest but don't detract or lose the viewer's ability to identify the subject and have it  read as correct.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Bulgarian Carrot Pepper

While my head is wrapped around researching and creating a body of paintings for a solo exhibition in 2015, I still find time to sketch daily. I know, I know, I keep harping on about it but I can't apologize. Drawing is THE key element in all art disciplines. If you can't draw, you're in a boat without a paddle. So step away from the computer, look at whatever else is in front of you and draw it. 5 minutes, 10 minutes. Just do it. You'll thank me eventually for bugging you about it. :)

This time of year the garden offers up lots of bounty and is the inspiration for sketches. This is a watercolour sketch of a Bulgarian Carrot pepper, also known as "Shipkas”. It's small, about 2 inches in size, and the colour is beautiful. I haven't eaten it yet, so can't tell you my version of the heat factor, but this Scoville rating states heat between 12,000 and 30,000 units. Research seems varied on that, but there are so many factors involved that create levels of heat in peppers, as well as individual taste tolerance too that it is difficult to provide an accurate guide. I think I'll try making a hot sauce with some and see what the heat level is like for me.

And a sad note, Lucky and his friend Lily were attacked the other evening in the garden.  Lucky was killed and Lily gone.  It was most likely the silver fox that has been hanging around for the last week or two.  The ducks were part of the landscape for me and visitors and are missed.  Life in the country is never easy.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Cambridge Favourite

Cambridge Favourite
12" x 12" oil on panel

Available from Daily Paintworks  $250 shipping included

Living in a short season climate, growing fruit and vegetables can be a challenge.  But strawberries always come up trumps and there are usually some appearing in the garden each summer.  Their flavour is so intense when freshly picked and sun warmed.

This variety, Cambridge Favourite, is a classic and good for northern climates, always cropping reliably.  This was gathered early one morning, beating the birds to the harvest, then sliced to reveal the inner workings before painting.  The aroma of fresh strawberries made it difficult to paint instead of eat, but I confess, I had a few on the side to eat for inspiration.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Trinity Punt
I'm making some inroads into my series of 15 wooden boat paintings that I'm producing with an art grant that I was lucky enough to receive this year.  The challenge is finding wooden boats as they're becoming scarcer as people switch to fibreglass which doesn't require the same level of maintenance and weighs much less than wood.

However, with diligent searching, many miles of travelling into coves and bays and tickles and a LOT of photosgraphs and sketches, I'm getting material together and have the first painting completed and the second on the easel which is two thirds complete.  I am working towards a solo exhibit in the spring of 2015 at Peter Lewis Gallery and want to hold my cards fairly close to my chest before the exhibition. I'll show sections of paintings that I'm working on but  not the completed pieces.  They will be revealed at the exhibit.

Of course, its always difficult to be reserved in terms of art sharing, as so much is shared online in so many ways.  So I ask for patience and I will share what I can, when I can.  These large pieces will likely fill my easel non stop over the next six months or more but there will be other paintings as relief from the large work.  But you  may see glimpses of pieces in progress like this peek through the studio classroom window at dusk of the first painting in the series.

I'll be working on a book of sketches that will accompany the boat paintings and will share some of those as they are produced.  I don't know which will make the final cut but as I do studies and sketches of most paintings as well as in the field, there will be enough to share freely.