Thursday, 27 November 2014


24" x 36" - acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.
I am fascinated by how reflections appear in water - and take photos of them, when and wherever I can. Coloratura is a variation on one of these designs, based on essentially a detail from a photo. Moody Blues, seen below, was the first variation based on this same detail. I could see so many more visual possibilities for these flowing abstract shapes, I knew that I would work with this same composition again, using more colour, or a different palette.

The fun thing about this new work is that when you rotate it, it also looks quite interesting......

The title Coloratura is a musical term  'generally used to describe vocal music that is extensively ornamented and calls for ability in a very high register'. I thought it fit here too.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Looking Up

Looking Up
24" x 30" - acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.

I started this painting last winter while I was in Florida, and worked on it over a couple of weeks. I spent so much time looking at it that I lost all ability to judge it. So I left it alone - for 6 months - and with new eyes, l have decided that it's finished and I like it!
If it's snowing where you are - think of palm trees against a bright blue sun-filled sky - and feel the warmth. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Colourfield I

Colourfield I
28" x 22" - acrylic on canvas
This is for sale - contact me for price if interested.
While I was painting the large water lily painting (see earlier posts!) I worked on this landscape too.
The composition is based on a subject/photo I have used before - but interpreted each time, quite differently. In this painting I simplified the landscape field into a number of connecting horizontal shapes, which became more abstract and defined as they moved forwards and down the picture plane. The colour scheme developed as I painted, but essentially followed the value pattern based on the photo. The background trees and especially the clump you see on the right were the biggest challenge, in terms of colour and differentiating it from the foreground detail, to suggest the illusion of depth and aerial perspective. This was such fun to paint that I can't wait to paint others in this loose, abstract style.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Day 4 - Completion

 day 4
48' x 48" - acrylic on canvas

The changes from day 3 to day 4 are subtle, and probably somewhat difficult to see because the variation and gradation in colour on the painting surface and the brushstrokes, get lost in the photograph and then on the computer screen, despite my best attempts at adjusting colour, saturation, exposure and contrast in photoshop!  I am happy with the finished work - but now need a proper title!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Subtle Changes, Day 3

day 3
I worked on this painting a few days ago, refining shapes, values and colour. The big change from day 2 to day 3 is  in the elimination of the 'vein lines' on the lily pads. They were too graphic and incompatible with the painterly, loose interpretation I wanted. I also added more colour to the large lily flower and stem, as well as in the water. At the end of the day I felt that the painting was coming together well, so it was a good time to stop. My next steps will be to continue refining colour and value. I think the finish is in sight!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Painting Continues - Day 2

day 2
It has been a couple of days since I started this large 4' x 4' painting, inspired by lily ponds in general and based on a detail from a photo I took of a lily and pads in a decorative pond. To remind you (and myself) this is what day 1 looked like....
day 1
I was unhappy with the shape of the lily pads here, and was uncomfortable with some of  the empty water/blue space. When working from photos there is always a point at which I have to put that image aside, and work with what I have on the canvas. After all painting should involve some I started by re-drawing the shapes of the large lily pads at the top and bottom, and then began to add more pads in the areas that looked a little too empty. The lily flower was actually a delicate blue-violet, as was the bud, but I decided to darken and alter the colour in order to make them stand out. I am not certain they will remain the colours you see here, but I am happy with how they appear at this point. I really like the suggestion of more lily pads indicated with just a darker blue outline, but disappearing back into the water (as they do) through colour. I could also achieve this same effect by making these pads a slightly darker blue, but will leave them for now. I also outlined many of the shapes with some dark violet paint and this has given the painting a strong graphic feel, which I like, but I am not sure that I want to maintain. Time to take another break, and figure out my next steps and will get back to work in a day or two. Cheers.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Poppies in Honour of Remembrance Day, November 11.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

This poem is called In Flanders Fields, and was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in May 1915. It is one that many people in the English speaking world know well, and is publicly recited each year on November 11, to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice on the field of battle. The Remembrance or Memorial Poppy, was inspired by the poem, and has been used since 1921 to commemorate soldiers who have died in war. The poppies  they were first used by the American Legion to commemorate American soldiers who died in that war (1914–1918). They were then adopted by military veterans' groups in parts of the former  British Empire: The UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Today, they are mainly used in the UK and Canada to commemorate their servicemen and women who have been killed in all conflicts since 1914. If you are interested in knowing more about how the the poppy became the symbol that it is today - and it's quite interesting - go here.

Thus today seemed like a good day to paint some poppies. Both are in watercolour on archival paper; the first is a more traditional watercolour rendering, and the second is more loose and painterly. 

8" x 7" - watercolour on archival paper - $25

Remembrance Poppy
6.5" x 7" - watercolour on archival paper - $25

Saturday, 8 November 2014

The Evolution of a Painting - Day 1

Who cannot look at a lily pond and not think of light, colour, art and of course Claude Monet. Monet (1840–1926) painted approximately 250 oil paintings featuring water-lilies or Nymphéas, and were the main focus of Monet's artistic production during the last thirty years of his life. In May, I was in Paris for a few days and saw the cycle of eight water-lily painting murals at the Musée de l'Orangerie. 

It was interesting to see how large they actually are - 6.5 feet tall and if lined up side by side, 298 feet in width. As I walked back and forth, moving in close to see the texture and build up of paint, then stepping back to see how one area appeared, then moving in again and along the canvas I was not only impressed with the vision of symphonic colour, but the physical demands that painting even one such enormous canvas would have demanded from a younger person, let alone an man already elderly.  
But I am digressing.....

I came across a lily pond in Florida a couple of years ago - it was really a raised circular concrete pool with tropical vegetation surrounding it - and because the light was right and the colours of the flowers, water and lily pads, and the reflections were so interesting, I took lots of photos. I eventually painted two works inspired by the photos, and recently had another look through the collection, and saw some potential for a new composition in a 'detail' from the photo above.

I chose a large canvas -  48" x 48" - as I wanted to depict the subject larger than life. I love painting big and was excited to start, so quickly sketched on the image and began to paint, selecting a palette that basically followed what I saw in the photo. Big canvases require a lot of paint and application work and getting essentially one layer of colour everywhere took several hours - by which time it looked like this.

day 1
I felt that it was a good start but I could also see the problems that would face me the next day. I already didn't like the shape of the larger lily pads. They were fine in the photo, but despite drawing them fairly accurately, they did not look right on the canvas. Then there were the other bits in the bottom right was a good time to stop and sleep on it.