Tuesday, 15 December 2015

One Dog - Four Dog Portraits

Blake Three  
It has been over a month since my last post. In that time I did some travelling south, and lots of painting. One of my projects was to complete four commissioned dog portraits of a golden doodle named Blake. I get these commissions every once in a while (you can see some here)  and generally quite enjoy the change from painting landscapes.  I took lots of photos of the dog and looked for head shots that were clear (especially around the eyes) and poses that were interesting. I went back and forth between the first three, finally finishing them, then going back to the first and re-working it entirely, then re-checked proportions on all of them, and so it went. Finally finished them late last week, and I can say that I am happy with the results and hope the client will be also when she sees them on the weekend! And now I can't wait to start a landscape. Cheers.
Blake Two
Blake One

Blake Four

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Another Theme - Another Variation - Provence Meadow II

                                            3                                              1                                                 2

In May I was plein-air painting here (1) and back in the studio later that day, I painted 2 and 3 based on this particular scene. What had intrigued me about the location was the dappled light through the trees, and the light and dark value pattern on the ground leading back to the dark tree verticals with the light behind. It was a view full of artistic possibilities, and I knew that I would return to it as a subject for further exploration.
After working on several larger canvases this fall I decided to try a larger interpretation of the scene. I began by drawing lines denoting tree shapes and areas to suggest shade and foreground on the white canvas with the intense pencil crayons, then applied water with a brush to soften and obliterate the lines and created a watery effect.  Then I a started to add some acrylic and basically kept painting.
As I painted and at the end added more intense pencil lines where I wanted some graphic emphasis - which you may be able to see in the details below.

The finished painting looks like this - and I was pretty happy with it - having achieved a painterly, abstract, loose version of the field. And I love the colour too.

Provence Meadow II
40" x 30"  acrylic on canvas

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Variation on a Theme: Saignan Valley II

Saignan Valley II
30" x 24"  acrylic on canvas
While working on a larger canvas featuring this same view looking down over the valley from the village of Saignan in Provence, I started this second 'variation'. My idea, once again, was to (try to) keep it loose, painterly and more abstract than the first canvas, which you can see here. 

After doing a very quick drawing in my sketchbook, I roughed in the design on the canvas using Inktense pencil crayons - they are like watercolour pencil crayons but the colours are more intense and permanent once dry. I then painted clear water on the pencil lines achieving the blurry, watery effect you see here. I really liked my start but had no idea what to do next. I knew that I would lose the graphic quality through painting - so I left it alone for a few weeks.
When I finally returned to the work, I added colour and paint, filling in a few area and leaving other parts alone. I began to really enjoy the white parts (actually unpainted canvas) and decided to maintain them, but did add white paint. Slowly I added more colour but kept the shapes big, while playing with perspective.

Knowing that the foreground flowers would be various shades of magenta, I wanted to tone the entire work down with a chromatic grey elsewhere.  And so it went. Final touches were added with the inktense pencils, outlining shapes for emphasis and adding surface detail. 
Fun! And fairly loose and abstract too!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Variations on a Theme: Below Saignan

During the summer I painted several variations of a particular image that I found both intriguing and inspiring. (Truth be told, I have probably always done this.) This fall I  have been re-visiting images and scenes that I have painted in the past - and that has resulted in a number of related works and variations on a theme. 
The first theme or subject was inspired by a particular view looking over the Luberon Valley (in Provence) from the small village of Saignan. I was there is 2014 and painted this watercolour in situ, at the time. 

Of course I also took many photos and thought that I might do another version in acrylic once home. 

Looking around for a subject in October, I re-discovered these photos and decided to try a much larger version of the same scene - and this is how it evolved.

I quite liked what I had by stage 2, however it really didn't look as good as it does here in the photo. I needed to resolve the middle ground, and the foreground flowers - and keep it loose. Easy! Hah!

Stage 3 was tighter, and by stage 4 it felt like a disaster. At that point I felt quite discouraged and ready to white it all out out and forget the whole thing - or - try something really different  - and turn the whole thing into a mixed media work with collage papers and acrylic paint. This approach sounded like a lot more fun, so that is what I did. I have a very large collection of textured Japanese rice and mulberry papers, in various colours and patterns and began to apply them over the painting, leaving lots of painted areas exposed. Then I painted over those papers to blend them into the painted areas and to soften the colours of some of the papers. I continued working this way until it was finished.  The final work looks like this. It has a wonderfully varied and textured surface, protected by several layers of medium and varnish. I am delighted with the result and will definitely do this again.

The Valley Below Saignan I
40" x 30"  - collage papers & acrylic on canvas 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Lake Reflections and the End of Summer

Lake Reflections
16" x 16"  -  acrylic on canvas  - SOLD
I actually finished this painting at the end of August, but never got around to posting it - so here it is - a reminder of summer, being near water, rocks and trees, of warm air and summer sounds. It's already feeling like long ago! 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Tulip Close-Up

Tulip Close-Up
24" x 24"  -  acrylic on canvas
I love painting objects on a larger scale than they appear in life and single flowers or bunches lend themselves to that approach as many many artists have discovered.  I used to paint a lot of single tulips, and particularly liked them at the stage where the flower head has opened up and just before they begin to swoon. Of course the other view is looking inside, close-up. 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Still Life With Flowers: Harmony in Yellows and Reds

Still Life With Flowers: Harmony in Yellows and Reds
36" x 36"  -  acrylic on canvas

I haven't painted flowers in a long long time, yet I continue to take photos of them and every once in a while I draw them, and then think about painting them.....but don't.  In the past I tended to paint them in a 'contemporary realist' manner, but my current tendency towards simplification and abstraction in landscape, prevailed in this painting as well. 
I cropped the photo to a square format but did not change the arrangement of the flowers in the composition as I thought it was a good one. I drew the flowers  on the canvas with a brush and black acrylic paint and a brush, then began to 'fill in' in the colour, slowly eradicating the outlines and adding expressive marks with pastel. I maintained the actual colour of the flowers, but simplified the background elements and palette there.  I really like the finished work, it's larger than life scale, overall composition, surprise shapes of colour and marks in the background. It presently hangs in my kitchen dining area, on a wall that receives late afternoon sun, and when it falls on the painting, the warm ochre, yellows, reds and pinks, glow. 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Catching Up

It has been awhile indeed. Life has been busy with travel, socializing, visiting and just stuff.  I finally got back to the studio and painting about 2 weeks ago after a 4 week hiatus - and started some new paintings, and tinkered with some old ones too.
Island Retreat  
(formerly called 'Blue Pines')
24" x 24"  -  acrylic on canvas - SOLD
I first posted this painting last September and called it Blue Pines . At the time I felt it was finished but more recently I began to feel that the palette was not quite right, particularly in the foreground rocks. I experimented with the image and colour in photoshop and decided on the changes that you see here - pushing the blues and yellows towards green, adding complementary reds, and giving the rocks more definition - and I was quite happy with how it turned out. 

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Summer's End

Summer's End
24" x 18" - acrylic on canvas - SOLD
Summer is winding down as is painting at my cottage. This one is based on a photo I snapped as we canoed around the big island, and interpreted using a palette of saturated complementary colours. I love the ochre yellow sky - it makes me think of goldenrod and the fall colours to come. But weather is still warm, and we still have another week until labour day! I will be in Atlantic Canada, visiting friends and family and of course gathering imagery for future paintings. I hope you enjoy yourself and the final days of August wherever you are.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Northern Escape "Escapism"

24" x 30"  -  acrylic on canvas  - SOLD
This painting is based on the same Haliburton landscape image of rocks and trees I have been
fascinated with all summer, and is the third variation on this theme. What  I really wanted to do (and did) in this version was to have a very light and warm palette, and stylize the tree and rock forms. 
And just for fun I started another version, but it is really in its incubation stage and will be there for a few more weeks. 

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Moo Cow - Last week's DailyPaintworks Challenge

Moo Cow
16" x 16" - acrylic on canvas - SOLD
It has been a few weeks since my last post, but that is not for want of trying, or painting. During that time there were starts and stops and wipeouts; then some perseverance prevailed, and I finally have something to show for my efforts. I worked on some landscapes and this one - a cow painting. Who doesn't like a cow painting?  Years ago I painted lots of them (and sheep too) but got away from them - however decided to revisit that theme because last week's DailyPaintworks challenge was just that. Good fun. May paint a few more too.  

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Northern Escape Abstract

Northern Escape Abstract
30" x 36"  acrylic on canvas  SOLD
This is the second painting based on a small drawing of a typical Haliburton Highlands/Ontario cottage country landscape - and one that I had a lot of fun painting. When I began the painting I wanted to restrict my usual exuberant palette to one that was more muted and neutral, but because I always try to pay attention to what the painting needs as it proceeds, and not to some pre-conceived plan, that idea was abandoned fairly quickly. I thought about adding 'real' texture, but the decided the paint splatters would have to do. I did a lot of drawing back into the painting with soft pastels, which I then fixed with  Spectra Fix  - a wonderful, non-toxic, very safe and easy to use product that anyone who works with pastels or charcoal should try. I am quite happy with this work - it's big and bold - just like what it represents.  Cheers!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Northern Escape - More Rocks and Trees

Northern Escape
16" x 18"  - acrylic on canvas -  SOLD
I seem to be flipping back and forth between painting Provence landscapes and northern Ontario landscapes these days. Perhaps I am feeling nostalgic about my painting experience in France as I love sifting through those photos, but at the same time I am surrounded by the rugged beauty of mixed forests, dark blue lakes, dramatic skies, and rocky shorelines - what we call cottage country in Ontario.

This painting encapsulates the physical nature of this kind of landscape, and I hope the spirit too. My preliminary drawing was a quick one, and more abstract then I intended the painting to be. As I painted this one I kept thinking about the drawing and so I started a second more abstract version, and worked on both of them at the same time. More on that one in my  next post.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Near the Hamlet of Croagnes in the Luberon

Near Croagnes in the Luberon
24" x 20" - acrylic on canvas 

The hamlet of Croagnes is behind the hamlet of Les Bassacs, or so it seemed to me when I took myself off for a walk on the Saturday between my two weeks there in May. Of course I took lots of photos and one inspired the composition for this painting. Here are some of the other views too.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Painting an Old Ochre Quarry in the Luberon Valley, encore

Old Ochre Quarry in the Luberon
24"x 30" - acrylic on canvas - SOLD
In May I painted in an old abandoned ochre quarry in the Luberon Valley. At the time it was a challenge to paint the cast (tree) shadows as the light and therefore their shapes, kept changing. I took lots of photos with the intention of  returning to this subject once home. Parts of this painting were easy and therefore fun to paint, other areas like the foreground were a challenge and I had to do a lot of 'landscape editing'. The colour ochre and yellow were the staring point colours for the palette, which then demanded the complementary shades of purple through red and pink, which then required green. Tried to keep blue out of this one, but some still sneaked in.  
Have a great weekend.

Friday, 31 July 2015

A New Painting and Spotlight Interview with Daily Paintworks

I spent a morning and an afternoon painting in an old abandoned ochre quarry near Les Bassacs (Provence) in May, and I knew that many of the photos I took would provide me with additional paintings ideas. One photo was of a pathway leading away from the ochre area, and that inspired this painting. 

Beyond the Ochre Quarry
24"x 24" - acrylic on canvas - $400

I hope that you are having a wonderful Friday afternoon wherever you are and looking forward to a 'long' weekend, at least in Canada (Monday is our Civic holiday). If you are looking for something to read or are just really really really bored, click this link and you can read my interview with Daily Paintworks, an online gallery where I have been posting my art for a few years now. Cheers!


Thursday, 30 July 2015

Still Waters Run Deep: Painting Water, Land and Sky

Still Waters Run Deep
20" x 24"  acrylic on canvas SOLD

This tiny rocky island lies off a big island on Redstone Lake (in Ontario) where I am fortunate to spend time each summer in a small rustic cottage. Over the years I have taken many photos of this little island while we have paddled around the big one, and they have been starting points for several paintings.  Each interpretation, however, has been quite different. I really like the saturated palette, and the lightness of those hues reminds me of summer air and light. Lately I have been quite interested in pushing my landscape shapes and forms towards greater degrees of simplification and abstraction, and I think it has worked quite well here. Have a wonderful summer day.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Pears and Painting

I love painting pears. They are my default subject when I need to paint or need to just re-boot. That happened when I arrived at my cottage a few weeks ago. 
Pear Down
8" x 10"  acrylic on canvas  
This one is all about 'point of view' and composition: painting the pears 
from above, looking down, and positioning them so that they are barely
contained within the frame.  

Edgy Pear
9" x7"  acrylic on canvas  
Edgy as in 'on the edge' of falling off the table and cloth. Cezanne painted the most beautiful fruit on planes that tilted and did not always make   sense, except to him. This one started out as a grisaille, which is basically a painting done in grey values first and then coloured with layers of transparent glazes. However I did have to add some white to some of the colours to achieve what I wanted. A few of the stages are below. Cheers! 
These are for sale - contact me for prices if interested.