Sunday, October 12, 2014

Insomnia series

 Blue Christmas  - SOLD
5" x 7"
oil on panel

When I can't sleep, there is no point in me staying in bed tossing and turning and fighting with the  thoughts in my head.  I get up after about 10 minutes of trying to sleep and head to the studio.  Doing something, anything is the only way to quiet my mind.

The disadvantage is that painting or drawing takes over and before you know it, the night has gone and sleep hasn't come.  Then I must either go to work or start the day. Sleep usually is not the option that ever wins, at least not until late in the day, as morning primes my spirit and soul.

During my restless nights, I work on large paintings or sometimes tackle little pieces like this one, done around 4am this morning.  I should call these the "Insomnia series".  Where the Christmas theme came from this morning I have no idea.  But it made itself known there in the wee hours.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Paintings are like books

 A painting is like a book, there is a beginning, a middle and and end. But paintings seem to come with more twists and surprises along the way, although some books can do that too.

There is a beginning to each painting; this is where the planning takes place.  It involves subject, composition, sketches, value studies, colour studies and palette choices.

The middle can be no man's land where things can go very well or go very poorly.  That section rests on mindset and experience.  There is a point where every artist believes their painting is beyond disgusting.  They believe they should never paint, why did they ever believe they could paint and that they'll give it all up and start knitting.  With experience comes the knowledge that this is simply a phase of unfinished work and progress is not often pretty.  Knowing that fact and keeping in mind the vision in your head sees me through to the end.

As the end approaches, all that angst from the midsection is eliminated and you can see things coming together.  There are still moments of trouble, where those 'just one little stroke here' can be the death of a painting that you spent hours on.  Like approaching wild animals:  slow movements, gentle touches and never look into its eyes.  That last section is putting the painting far from you and not looking at it for a week or more before deciding if any adjustments are needed.

I've just put #7 to the wall of the series of 15 wooden boat paintings that I'm working on and #8 is at the beginning stage.  Unfortunately I can't show you the full painting until the exhibition, but you can see glimpses here and there to pique your interest.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Glassy Jack

 Glassy Jack - SOLD
5" x 7"  oil on panel

Glassy Jack always makes an appearance in October, gearing up for the season of falling leaves, cold nights, candy corn, shiny smiles and long shadows. He's looking for a permanent residence to share his brilliance. Could it be you?

I have a couple of glass pumpkins that seem to find their way on to table tops in the fall and provide a warm glow in the evenings.  With a small candle casting light and shadow across a surface, its a prime candidate for a small painting.

There is an illusion that glass is difficult to draw or paint.
In reality, its an investment of time to observe shapes and values and patience in ensuring colours correct and in the right place.  Easier said than done, you're saying.   Like the old carpenter's rule of "Measure twice, cut once.", something similar is true in painting.  I observe much more than I paint, meaning that I look carefully a number of times, check shape and proportion, colour hue and value against the subject and my colour study, THEN I put paint on the panel.  And one stroke only, removing the knife and going on to the next stroke.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Traffic light series

I called this little group of small paintings that were done from end of palette paint leftovers, the 'traffic light paintings' due to the red, orange and green colours.

Hard Pressed - Sold

These were fun to do and were snapped up quickly from my Etsy store.  I eased my own rules a little to create another in this group which will be available to newsletter subscribers only.  As my Studio News will be sent within the next day or two, you still have time to sign up and see what the painting is.  You can easily sign up by clicking on the link on the right hand side of this blog page or click below.  Simply add your email address, hit subscribe and that's it!

Keyed Up  - Sold

Why the names?  It must have been my frame of mind at the end of a hard work week!  All I can reveal about the fourth painting is that it follows suit.  You'll have to be a subscriber to find out more!

Juiced Up - Sold

Friday, September 26, 2014

End of palette rules

 Juiced Up - Sold
5" x 7" oil on panel

I can never bear to throw away good oil paint when a painting is complete, so I usually end up creating a small painting from whatever is on the palette.  One of my secret end of palette rules is that I can't add any more of a colour to what's already on the palette, besides white.

I use a split primary palette which consists of cool and warm versions of each primary, as well as an earth tone like burnt sienna or burnt umber as well as titanium white, so it usually gives me a fair choice of colour mixing options.  However that can depend on how much of each paint colour is left over.

I lucked out with a good quantity of pthalo blue, burnt sienna, cadmium red, alizarin crimson and cadmium yellow, so I could mix pretty much anything I wanted and meet the value ranges needed to create this apple.

My other end of palette rule is that the painting must be small, quick to produce (no more than an hour) and loose.  It should be very impressionistic with the colour "bleeding" into other areas.  The challenge for me is that my end of palette paintings are a big transition in size as I come from large (30" x 40") down to 5" x 7" like this one.  I have to remember to get out the small knife and put the trowel away!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mixed apples

I love apples.  I mean, really love apples.  In their natural state, cooked, preserved, apple butter, apple pie...on and on.  I can't resist them.

So what is more natural than planting apple trees to ensure your own crop?  Perfect idea, right?  So there are six or seven trees planted a couple of years ago with just that idea in mind.

It seems that nature has its own ideas in this part of the country and the weather always seems to get the better of the poor trees.   It might take the form of a late frost that kills the flowers, but more likely its the wind.  When you live on an island, wind becomes almost a constant.  Probably not wind that you're thinking of.  This is gale force, rip limbs off trees, blow away anything not tied down wind that is much more common than I ever remember.  And it isn't kind to young apple trees.   Yes, the trees are staked.  Yes, the wind blows the stake and tree sideways.

However, for the last couple of years there have been some apples growing!  Until the wind blows them off the tree.  Literally.  Its so disheartening I could cry.  I mean, its not too much to ask that I have enough apples to make a pie is it?  And they make such wonderful subjects for painting too.

But, to the rescue, a friend with a couple of apple trees that are older and more sheltered perhaps that are doing well.  So he provided a sack of apples with offers of more where they came from.  I think there will be some apple turnovers arriving on his doorstep soon as a thank you.

The apples are a mix of Golden Delicious and a little intensely red and gold one that looks almost like a crab apple but is sweet with pink tinged flesh.  A mix of both of those were chopped up for a Cinnamon Apple Crumble muffin that I made tonight.  A handful were the subject for this little study on paper using mixed media of anything from coloured graphite to charcoal to pastel and acrylic.  And I may not be finished yet.

PS  Don't get sidetracked by painting when you have muffins in the oven.  Like I did.  I hope they are salvageable.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


11 x 14  oil on masonite
Available for purchase on my website - $625 shipping included

A subject can be painted or drawn a dozen times, two dozen times and each time there is a new discovery in the process. Colour and value analysis shift with each new view.  Painting experience influences the approach and familiarity with the subject matter guides decision making.

This painting was the demo in yesterdays palette knife workshop on painting boats and water.  It was a subject that I had painted previously on a large scale (30" x 40") and long sold.  The simple shape lessens intimidation factors for those less experience, and the complex reflection shapes and colours gives a challenge for those with more painting time under their belt.

The next palette knife workshop will be held on December 6th and has a Christmas theme.  There is just one spot left right now so grab it quickly if you're interested.  All supplies are provides and lunch is thrown in as well, all for $150.  Registration is available online.