Monday, 19 June 2017

Travelling and Painting

I have been travelling in France during the last month and did some painting there as well. I am finally over my jet lag, have organized my house and studio and am starting to think about new paintings inspired by the thousand or so photos I took while away. I'll begin, however, with some posts of my plein air work done most recently in Provence, with Arts in Provence. 
This is a view looking up from the road that leads to the small village of Joucas, in the Luberon Valley and very close to where we stay at Les Bassacs. Over the 2.5 hours there I worked on two small paintings. The first was done on a small wood panel with an ochre ground. 

Joucas Vines 1
11" x 14" - acrylic on wood panel - $75
The second was done on heavy paper designed for acrylic paint, and executed mostly with a palette knife.

Joucas Vines II
11" x 15" - acrylic on archival paper - $75

Back in the studio I worked on another painting using some photos I took that morning, looking in the other direction. All in all, a good start.

Leaving Joucas
11" x 15" - acrylic on canvas paper - $75

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Roadside Attraction II

Roadside Attraction II
16"x 20"  - acrylic on canvas paper - $150
I seem to have an artistic 'season disconnect' as we head into spring. For whatever reason I am finding inspiration in some photos I took last fall when the colours were at their height in Ontario. I am sure I will catch up soon to spring, but in the meantime here is a second painting based on one of those photos from last September. This too was largely painted with a palette knife but the textural creating larger, flatter areas of colour. 

Monday, 17 April 2017

Roadside Attraction I - Autumn Foliage

Roadside Attraction I
16.5" x 22"  - acrylic on canvas paper  - $150
Lately I have become enamoured with 'mark making' while I paint, and have become more experimental in making a wider variety of them in my work. Painting with a brush is still a joy, but recently I have been using a palette knife as well. In this painting I began with the brush, but as paint layers were built up, the knife work created such wonderful texture, suggesting foliage, that I left it more intact than usual. 
The composition (and hence title), and even the colour palette was inspired by a photo I took last October when the autumn colours were at their most intense. It was a beautiful season.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

From Here to There

From Here to There
24" x 30" - acrylic & oil on canvas - $450
This painting evolved out of another based on a similar landscape design that featured 'foreground trees in front of a body of water, with a distant shore in the background'. I worked on both of them at the same time, but this one took an entirely different path. Below are the first three stages.

At this point I started attending a Master Class with painter Tom Stephens at the Sarasota Art Centre. The idea was that you would bring your current work and paint in a collegial environment and receive critical feedback- in other words - coaching. As someone who paints alone I was feeling in need of some peer review, so I signed up. This is the painting I took with me to the group on the first day, six weeks ago. Among Tom's comments was the important advice that you just have to dig in and push the paint around to see what happens next. It was the same advice I would have (and have) given to students, so I did, mostly going with my intuition. 
The result was a simplification of the design into fewer, larger and more interesting shapes, and the toning down of some colour areas with some neutral greys. The surface of the painting became more nuanced, layered and interesting. Eventually all the areas were resolved, with the final touches of oil paint, applied liked icing on the cake. It was not how I imagined the painting would look in the beginning, but I was very pleased in the end. 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

At the Hob Nob Drive-In, in Sarasota

At the Hob Nob
24" x 30"  - acrylic on canvas - $450
This is not my usual subject matter nor style, but one seemed to demand the other. 
The Hob Nob is a 'Sarasota landmark', and its oldest drive-in diner, having been around since the 1950s. 
Several years ago I was with friends touring some artist studios in that area and we stopped at the diner for lunch. While eating a very interesting looking man in full leathers and wearing a helmet that matched his motorcycle, pulled up.  I had to take some photos, surreptitiously of course, and since then have been thinking about painting him. I finally did it this spring. Though my original photo did include all of his motorcycle, I felt the cropped composition worked better on this sized canvas. A fun painting.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Des Nuages Orageux

Des Nuages Orageux
16" x 16"  - acrylic on canvas - $150

As I was painting en plein air near St. Saturnin-les-Apt, last September, storm clouds - des images orageux - were forming in the distance and approaching our group. Everyone kept painting, and happily the storm passed us by. Later that day I painted a small version of the approaching storm, and recently decided to tackle the the subject again. It was a dramatic 'big weather morning' and that is what I wanted to capture in this painting. 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Razzle Dazzle, Trees in a Landscape

Razzle Dazzle 
36" x 36" -  acrylic on canvas - SOLD
Continuing with theme and variation, some more 'trees in a landscape'! 
This painting evolved as follows...

.......and finally, it received an Honourable Mention in the Community Juried Exhibition at the Longboat Key Centre for the Arts (Florida) on view from March 4-30. 

Monday, 6 March 2017


36" x 48" - acrylic on canvas
I know I have said (written) this before - that one of my favourite subjects to paint is 'trees in a landscape'. Yes, the basic landscape composition. I have usually been inspired by a particular image based on a photo taken at a particular place, and then, initially, try to interpret the scene in a fairly representative (though expressive) manner. 

While painting, however, alternative interpretations or ways to reduce and further abstract the composition suggest themselves and that leads to variations on the theme. Tree'scape was inspired by the photograph (photoshopped below) I took at my cottage last October. 
The first painting on which it was based is this one, started last December. It went through several drafts, and then I stopped, as it didn't feel like 'me'. But, I began to see other possibilities, and had a large canvas........

This was stage 1......

and then stage 2......
and finally the finished work with lots of texture created through using a palette knife. 
I am really happy with the final painting, and love the palette and textural quality of the trees. If some areas look a little 'fuzzy' in the larger photo, it's because those areas of the painting are not as defined.
And of course it has led to another painting which I will post next day!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Drew, the English Springer Spaniel

12" x 12" - acrylic on canvas - sold
This is a Drew, the second of two English Springer Spaniels owned by friends. As I had painted Emmy Lou several years ago, it was necessary to have a companion portrait of this little fellow, and here he is in all his colourful glory. 

Friday, 17 February 2017

'Almost There' - the new name for a 'Landscape'

Almost There (Landscape) 
24" X 30"  - acrylic on canvas - $450
I am so happy to post this painting and show how it evolved from a small watercolour study to the final rectangular version you see above. 

It is based on a very simple scene photographed from my car window (in which I was the passenger of course) several years ago. I liked the vertical dead trees, dark backdrop of woods, long grasses in the foreground and bright spots of colour in the photo and always felt I could do something with it. 
The first rendition was a watercolour study, presented in a square format, and very abstracted, focusing on the far background band of trees and splashy, colourful foreground, connected with some vertical lines suggesting the clump of trees in the photo. 
I really liked this study and used it as the basis for a larger (36"x36") acrylic canvas painting - you can see how similar they were. However, though I loved the abstraction and looseness of the acrylic work, I remained unsure as to next steps. I really wanted to just leave it as it was, but so much of the canvas was not painted and I felt that if I continued to just fill in un-painted areas I would probably lose what I liked. So, after many months I regret to say that I whited it out the painting. Oh well. 
Recently I decided to have another kick at painting this composition and abstracting it using colour and line, but this time changed the format to a horizontal rectangle, something inherently more suggestive of a landscape. This is stage one.
Then using black paint and a brush I made lots of calligraphic marks. Fun.
Then, added more paint and colour and finally finished the painting.
A great painting experience and i think, a successful result.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Dreaming in Colour Landscape

Dreaming in Colour
22" x 30" - watercolour on Arches paper - $300
Since the end of the 'challenge' I have been working steadily, trying to finish three larger paintings. I had forgotten how much time they take after the daily small works, but am delighted to post this one, completed today, yeah!  It is based on a photo that I have used for inspiration several times in the past, because as I work, I find that I keep thinking of different ways I could approach the subject, hence the return and riff. 

 For a change I worked in transparent watercolour on a beautiful piece of Arches deckle-edge paper. The colours you see are quite true - it's very colourful and the whites are the white of the paper. I have another piece of Arches and have another planned watercolour, but that's for later in the spring. 

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

30 in 30: Collage of 30 Paintings

Congrats to all 1233 artists across North America who participated in this challenge. I think I became better at fussing less - there was never enough time. I will try to keep posting small works, but for now will turn back to some of my larger half-finished canvases that are asking for attention.  Many thanks for those who looked and those who commented - Cheers!

Monday, 30 January 2017

30 in 30: Day 30 - Scottish Landscape

Scottish Landscape
9" x 11" - acrylic on paper - SOLD
When I visited Scotland last June, one of the things that struck me were the rich and varied blues, purples and greens I saw in the landscape. This painting is based on several photos I took, but is more a memory of those colour sensations. And finally, this is painting #30 of the 30 paintings in 30 day challenge. Done. Phew!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

30 in 30: Day 29 - Yellow Field

Yellow Field
10" x 10" - acrylic on canvas - $50
This painting is based on a photo I took last October, on our drive home from the cottage, north of Toronto. I particularly liked the composition with its verticals and varying horizontal divisions of fore, middle and background space, all of which seemed to make for good compositional elements.
 In fact I have tried to paint this several times, but did not like any of the results until today. Maybe third time lucky, or a better palette choice, or painting with the palette knife allowed me to achieve the texture that I couldn't seem to get with the brush. Anyway, here is #29 in the 30 in 30 challenge. One more to go..... 

Saturday, 28 January 2017

30 in 30: Day 28 - Fields Near Home

Fields Near Home
6" x 7.5" - watercolour & gouache on paper - $30
This is painting #28 in the 30 in 30 challenge. I am resorting to tried and true subject matter, and still having fun.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

30 in 30: Day 26 - A Special Relationship

A Special Relationship
18" x 18.5"  - acrylic on canvas paper - sold
I was recently given a photo depicting a young woman who works at an elephant sanctuary in Asia and it provided the source for this painting, #26 in the 30 in 30 day challenge. As the hat was such a dominant shape in the photo I had to make it interesting in the painting, and did so by breaking it down into smaller abstract shapes, echoed in the elephant's trunk. I am very happy with how the painting turned out, combining both abstract qualities, and more realistic ones - except for the palette of course!