Monday, 17 July 2017

The Clearing

The Clearing
30" x 40"  - acrylic on canvas - $600
I started this painting last December and finished it in April, after several starts and stops and time away from it. 
It is loosely based on several photo ideas of 'trees in woods'. I wanted to work with a vertical format and liked the idea of creating a sense of space through a series of receding diagonal lines, and distant trees. Once I started the painting I liked the basic composition but could not quite figure out the trees and how to depict them in a way I was happy with.  Here are some stages.....

At this point I was fairly frustrated and thought that perhaps eliminating some areas or at least making them less distinct might be interesting, so that is what I did.
Unfortunately, I continued to obliterate, went too far and then simply lost anything to work with. Turned the canvas to the wall and ignored it for several weeks.
I hung onto the photos however, then played with ideas, and a few weeks ago decided to try once again. My goal at that point was to be bold, keep the brushwork active, and not to refine or overpaint. I also chose a predominantly green-yellow-purple palette, one that I don't often work with, but really like. In this way the final painting came together fairly quickly, and I think quite successfully too. And it only took four months to paint! 

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Summer Woods

Summer Woods
30" x 40"  - acrylic on canvas - $700
Since the beginning of July I have been living in my 'cabin in the woods on a lake' in the wilds of Haliburton County, about 3 hours north of Toronto. The weather had been mostly unseasonal, unfortunately, but at least it has not interfered with painting. I started this canvas a few weeks ago and it evolved slowly in terms of composition, palette and brushwork to its final form. And I am finally, very happy with it.  The overall colours and especially the yellows, pinks, and reds are actually a little brighter than what you see here and the background purples (on right) are slightly greyer and lighter in value. I tried my best to correct these on photoshop, and this is about the best I can do. 
The sun is shining today and no rain is predicted for at least 24 hours, so I think I will put aside the brushes today and venture forth to the dock and water and do battle with the biting flies. Have a great weekend, wherever you may be.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Ochre Quarry Abstracts

Abstract Ochre I
14" x 15" - acrylic on canvas paper - $35

Abstract Ochre II
14" x 17" - acrylic on canvas paper - $35
These are plein air works, inspired by the visual sensation of being surrounded by a forest of trees in an abandoned ochre quarry, (situated in the Luberon Valley in Provence) in June. I have painted there before and have done studio paintings based on some of my photos. This, however was the first time I really threw the paint, and tried to interpret what I saw in a less literal fashion. I was pleasantly surprised with the results and hope to bring some of this new found energy into future work.
Here are a few photos to give you an idea of what I saw.....unfortunately the light that morning was quite flat, so the ochre colour was a little on the dull side.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Olive Tree 'Variations' at Oppede le Vieux

Oppede le Vieux  is a beautiful village, slightly off the beaten tourist track, and for that reason alone makes an ideal spot in which to paint. There is a wonderful olive grove below the main part of the village, and that's where I sat for several hours in June, painting one of my favourite subjects. Here are two variations on the theme, with earlier stages too. 
Olive Trees at Oppede le Vieux
14" x 17", acrylic on canvas paper - $75

an earlier stage

Oppede Olive Abstract
14" x 17" - acrylic on canvas - $75

second stage

first stage

Monday, 3 July 2017

Painting the Broom near the Falaise de Madeleine (Lioux, Provence)

Broom and Falaise
12" x 14" - acrylic on canvas paper - SOLD
The tiny village of Lioux is situated in the Luberon Regional Nature Park. The surrounding countryside is beautiful  and dominated by a huge cliff, called the Falaise de Madeleine.  This imposing grey limestone cliff is a over 700 meters long and more than 100 meters high, and literally towers over the village beside it. The views of the cliff from a distance, however, are quite magnificent and that's where we went to paint, earlier in June. Once there I spent the first half hour wandering, taking photos and of course sourcing the perfect view to paint.  

The lavender had not yet bloomed, but the yellow broom was glorious and finally led me to a spot sitting under an apricot tree in an orchard across a small lane looking at this view....

And....if you want to SEE me painting (for about 5 seconds!) go here and click on this photo....

A great painting morning - and best of all - I have lots more material to work from, and wonderful memories of time and place.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

St. Saturnin les Apt - Two 'Plein-Air' Views and their Progressive Stages

Last September I painted this scene, but from the other direction. Because the scene combined landscape 'elements' I like (interesting tree shapes, bushes, a road, a small building, and sky) I decided to paint it again when back there in June, but looking the other way down the lane. Below are the stages, from drawing to finished painting. 

Stage 1 - drawing the scene - liking the level of detail and loose scribbly lines.
Stage 2 - scrubbing in the dark values, not worrying about losing lines and details; liking the notan-like composition 
Stage 3 - adding more colour and middle values; liking the white bits still visible
Stage 4 - have added a lot more green, mixed and straight from the tube, starting to work on refining areas. 
Stage 5 - more colour, more refinement, more painting. 

Finished:  St. Sat Back Street 
14" x 16" - acrylic on canvas paper 
I am happy with the finished painting, but I have to say that I liked some of the earlier stages more. There is something about their 'incompleteness' that suggests spontaneity, or maybe just the potential for artful decision-making. Something to keep in mind while painting in the future, both plein-air and in the studio!!!

I did have a little more time that morning and because I felt the need to not be so careful or controlled, I started another painting of the same view. I think you can see or feel the sense of energy I had in the initial drawing below. 
Then I kept painting.....and then it was lunch! Yeah.