Tuesday, 23 June 2015


Water Reflections: Splash
24" x 18"  acrylic on canvas  $300

This is another painting that was almost finished when I stopped working on it several months ago, and one of the canvases I returned to last week. The title came easily as it names exactly what you see - a big splash in water. It was inspired by a detail from a photo of reflections in a water - a subject I find fascinating especially when removed from the original context - allowing for lots of painterly play and abstraction.

Sunday, 21 June 2015


24" x 30" acrylic on canvas $400
Last summer I painted a number of smallish works featuring olive trees or olive groves, called oliveraie in French.  These were inspired by all the olive trees I saw in Provence, and my visit to St Remy-de-Provence where Vincent Van Gogh was hospitalized in the late part of his life, and where he painted olive trees. After completing the small works I wanted to do a larger canvas and started this one - but for whatever reason it was never completed. Last week I decided to finish it and this is the result. And I am pretty happy with it, too! I love the colour palette and the patterning on the ground and in the foliage where I used pastel to draw into the foliage. It would look gorgeous on a blue, violet, cream, green or yellow wall, if you have one of those!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Forest Rhythm

"Trees love to toss and sway; they make such happy noises." 
(Emily Carr)
Forest Rhythm
24" x 30"  - acrylic on canvas  - $400
I started this painting last March, worked on it then, put it aside, and then returned to it last week, resolving what I thought were the stylistic issues. The subject was inspired by a place I visited last summer - my friend Mary Kate's cottage on a small island in what we call 'cottage country' - and features a landscape view that I have now painted several times, but in very different ways. I am really happy with how this painting turned out and I love the sense of movement created by the undulating curves of the trees and forest floor, which in turn suggested the title.  
As usual though, this work went through several stages. 
stage 1
I just wanted to get down some colour shapes and then think about it
stage 2
though I really liked the abstraction that was happening here,
 I felt the forms needed more definition and value contrast 
stage 3
the palette changed as did the values but the trees needed shape,
and 'something' was needed in the background;
 I was liking the curving horizontals at the ground level
stage 4
loved the wild curving lines defining the tree foliage,
but it all needed more paint and some refining

Monday, 8 June 2015

Post-Provence Thinking and Painting Ideas

Working methods and habits – good and not so good - evolve over time. When you change your environment, new challenges - beyond the equipment and physical ones - emerge. Painting en plein air – without my comfortable studio set-up, photos and computer, challenged me to paint differently. I learned to be much more ‘in the moment’, make creative decisions more quickly, and paint more spontaneously. I had no props – just what I saw in front of me. I didn't care about 'wasting paint' (ideally less to take home in my suitcase) or paper (I had more). After a three hour dose of this kind of work each morning, I felt more creatively free back in the studio, in the afternoon.
Keeping this experience in mind, I hope to continue to do some weekly plein air painting this summer, and continue to paint with less reliance on my props and studio environment, and more creatively. 

The two landscape paintings I recently posted (above), and two I did in France (below) are examples of what I hope to try more of in the next few weeks. Namely, painting the essence of the view/place in a relatively natural style, and then de-constructing it, and painting simplified, abstracted versions. It’s not that this is necessarily a new direction, it's just that I am trying to be more conscious of what I am doing and why. 

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Back in the Studio

Redstone Morning
24" x 18"  - acrylic on canvas - NFS
I have been home from my painting trip to the south of France for almost a week, and I have to say that I had a wonderful time. Not a big surprise, I know. I have lots of landscape reference material that will keep me busy for the rest of the year, but before considering any of that, and reflecting on what I learned and experienced about plein air painting, I needed to get back to the incomplete work on my easel that had a looming deadline. The painting was to be a wedding gift for a young couple being married - tomorrow - and it depicts a view that is familiar to them and myself, of a tiny island on Redstone Lake where we and her family have cottages and have spent the last twenty odd summers.
   As I painted Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I went through the usual phases of liking it, hating it, worrying whether they would like it, worrying whether I liked it, and so on.  On Thursday I considered painting an entirely different scene, then I thought I would just do another version, then I just decided to keep painting - which was the best decision. By mid-afternoon Friday, it felt done and I was happy with it and think (and hope) they will like it for the 'personal connection to place', and as an artwork from someone they know.  For fun (I was in need of letting go at that point) I decided to do another, abstract version of the same scene. It came together very quickly - and yes it was fun and I really like it. Have a great Sunday!
Update........the bride and groom loved the painting.....yeah!

Redstone Morning Abstract 
24" x 18" - acrylic on canvas - $300

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Painting at la Fontaine de Vaucluse and in an abandoned Ocher Quarry

Thursday (not sure why publication date is Wednesday because I didn't actually post until Friday????) we spent a wonderful day at the village called La Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, where the largest spring in France is found, and is the source of the Sorgue river. The sun shone, the temperature was perfect and the colours in the fast moving water were intense blues and greens. I love painting reflections in water, and so was delighted to walk, snap photos and feel inspired.

I finally settled on a view.......


Friday morning we painted at an old ochre quarry near Les Bassacs. We arrived about 9:15 and the view I wanted to paint had many interesting cast shadows. I tried to paint quickly and get down the darks and some mid tones, but the light kept changing.
I did finish the painting (left) in situ but felt it neede some colour correcting back in the studio, and so the final version (right) is a little different, though the photo is too light, and the painting has a stronger ochre tint. Now that I see them side by side I think I like the first version better! C'est la vie!
Tonight is our vernissage and then last dinner. I am almost packed and already anticipating the next two travel days, to Marseilles and Paris, then to Toronto and finally to Guelph and home. 


I am a day behind in writing these posts......yesterday we went to Bonnieux, a lovely village with wonderful views within the village itself, as well as big landscape views towards the horizon.

I painted a tree - don't ask why I chose that from all the other great possibilities, because I have no answer!  
So here is the view and my interpretation.

In the afternoon I worked on another painting that I really like, of a meadow around the house in Les Bassacs.