Friday, December 19, 2008

Today's Art - Kiera and Grandma

These two paintings were done by my Granddaughter, Kiera who is 4 1/2. This is what she wanted to say about her first painting. "I love my painting because it's so good. I named a tree and under it stood. I love it all the time a little river that I see all the time. The sunshine was very warm there - it was Mexico. I couldn't leave my trip so I stayed until the next airplane. It was warm and sunny. It was cold at home in Canada.
I like you because you were my favourite tree". KIERA THE END

This is what Kiera had to say about her second painting: "I love you because you're my favourite painting art. My stream was very good. The tree was really covered up when a storm was there. The yellow is lots of sunshine and fun on the beach. And I see you next time. Kiera, Goodbye!

I'm getting used to a new camera. Just now as I sit down to post the images I can see they are blurry and I shall have to try again tomorrow. Stay warm!!

Retweet this

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Artist Trading Cards.....

These two artists trading cards are my first attempts and I'm enjoying the process. I did these while on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The themes are definitely inspired by the sights and scenes from our trip. I found a small, local art store in Puerto Vallarta and picked up some tissue paper and glue which I used to collage the dancer's dress and apron. Enjoy!
Retweet this

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Marina View Sketch

Ron and I arrived in Mexico November 29 and this was the busy view from our deck. Between the trees we could watch folks taking their meals at the BBQ palapa. Immediately behind that was the marina... a red and white sailboat is passing in this view. More on Mexico coming.... Enjoy!

Retweet this

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mexico tomorrow!

Ron and I are off to Mexico for two weeks. We leave tomorrow and it doesn't look like we will have much internet access while there. I will post as I'm able... I plan to do some sketching and a LOT of photography while there. I leave you with 2 photos... the first is one of the friendly faces I hope to see again, the second is a lovely sunset over the palapas on the Bay of Banderas. I've also provided some information on the peregrinaciones that we will see from Dec 1-12 in Puerto Vallarta.

The celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Virgen de Gualdalupe), with its colorful religious processions (Peregrinaciones) from December 1-12, is the most public and extended religious holiday in Mexico. Guadlupe is the patron saint of both Puerto Vallarta and of Mexico. She is also known as La Virgen Morena (the brown-skinned virgin). She is believed to be the manifestation of the Virgin Mary in the Americas.
December 12th celebrates the miraculous appearance of the Virgin Guadalupe to the peasant Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin on a hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City in 1531. Puerto Vallarta celebrates this event with daily processions by social, civic and business groups and from adjoining communities to the Church of Guadalupe, in the center of Downtown Vallarta for special masses. Some of the larger of these processions may include parades with floats, dancers, music and fireworks. The final day of the peregrinaciones is a fiesta with fireworks and food vendors in the central plaza.
Visitors are encouraged to watch the processions from the sidewalks or even to join in. The processons usually start around the area of Juarez and October 31st streets.
At midnight on December 11, large numbers of people gather around the Church of Guadalupe to sing the Mananitas to Mary. During the day of December 12, Mariachi bands play and around mid-day the main pilgrimage named de los hijo suentes y previligiados (missing and privileged children) occurs with the largest assemblies of the whole 12 days. Children are dressed in sackcloths and traditional customs made of linen.
At 8pm on December 12 is the last mass of the celebration and the processions keep coming to the Church until almost midnight.
Retweet this

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tea Party gone digital

I had just a few minutes to do art today so I decided to play with the image digitally before attempting it again. These images are the results of my experimenting with the image in photoshop elements. This method is similar to experimenting with an acetate sheet over the painting - nothing is permanent and you get a pretty good idea what will work.
I'm pretty impressed with the results of the first stage of my editing BUT I'm pretty sure I don't have a "clone stamp" tool in my painting kit. It's neat how you can pick up the surrounding pixels and paint them over top. For example, the cut line behind the ladies was quite sharp and noticeable but after painting over it with the clone stamp tool and a watercolor brush (digital of course) it is much less noticeable.
In the second stage (layer) I picked up some of the darker pixels and used a "heavy stipple" wet media brush to to move that color around in the painting. I'm not quite sure whether this is working but it shows what can be done quickly to get an idea about the next step to take with the paper version. Enjoy! Retweet this

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tea Party part 2

I found a neat copyright-free photo of 4 ladies sitting around a quilting frame working and visiting together. I printed it onto an overhead and attempted a transfer onto this monoprint using acrylic medium. As you can see, not much of the photo transferred and portions of it stuck to the surface and lifted paper when I peeled it off. I'm still getting used to the BFK Reeves paper. I find a huge difference between transferring onto bare paper and a print or painted surface. More practice I suppose...
So, on to plan B - since I damaged the paper I felt the best option left was collage. I reprinted the image onto tracing paper and used acrylic medium to collage it over top of the first mess. And now I've got other challenges... I'm going to need to creatively integrate the image into the print. I have a few ideas to try - more new territory for me. This photo shows where the piece is at this evening. I hope to have some time to work on it tomorrow so stay tuned!
Retweet this

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tea Party Monoprint

I worked on this monoprint over the weekend using Yupo for a printing plate. I missed taking a photo of the plate prior to printing because I was in a hurry. This first picture is the Yupo plate after I printed it - not much paint left so I would call the printing process fairly successful.
I began this project with a farm theme in mind. The trees and barn were cut out of drywall mesh and stuck on as a resist. I expected that some paint would seep down into the grid pattern as I applied it with the brayer but the paint mix must have been too dry. The sky started out blue with just a bit of purple but the dioxazine purple is so strong it overpowered the blue. So, I just went with it and played the yellow /purple compliment game. I rolled gamboge on top of the tree area. The dish pattern was done by dampening cotton lace, laying it over the painted yupo, covering with wax paper, brayering over and then lifting the wetted area with a kleenex.
This second picture shows the resulting monoprint. I left myself a decent sized light value area thinking I would do an image transfer there.
Tomorrow's post - how to nearly wreck and [hopefully] rescue a painting from disaster... stay tuned! Retweet this

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sky Study (10"x6")

I decided to do a quick sky study today. I usually use ultramarine blue for my skies but thought I'd find out what I get with pthalo blue instead. Phthalo is a cool blue and it gives great grey/black when mixed with burnt sienna. It follows it should be good for greys and stormy skies. But it's a bit too blackish grey... I think I'll go back to the warmer ultramarine blue because it' gives more realistic warm greys for a stormy sky. Enjoy! Retweet this

Friday, November 21, 2008

Painting Havoc

Two years ago Ron bought me 34 small tubes of Winsor Newton watercolor paint for $30 on Ebay. Most of them have been collecting dust in my drawer because I simply don't need them. For the past 2 years I've been using a limited palette (7 basic + 4 optional). This has forced me to learn color theory hands on and helped my confidence grow. However, I've been curious about some of these colors and I let myself experiment with them using a dropper to see how they blended and mixed wet in wet on the paper. The colors were veridian green, olive green, cadmium orange, cobalt blue, brown madder.

The first photo shows the most interesting learning - cadmium orange floats and spreads in wild bursts of color. Then it dries chaulky - I'm not a fan.

The second photo shows how carried away I got on this little experiment. It was a mess! Thanks for not commenting on this one folks... but I did give the good, bad and ugly warning right up front... Hopefully I'll have something prettier for tomorrow!
Retweet this

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Abstract with Transfer

Here's another of the monoprints that I've been working to finish. The first photo is the Yupo plate just before printing - I could have left a larger opening and had a bigger image transfer... The second photo is the finished product on BFK Reeves printmaking paper. The image transfer is my Mom at about 10 years of age. I used acrylic medium to transfer the photo to the printmaking paper, then some acrylic to enhance the image in places. I also strengthened some of the areas of the monoprint with solid watercolor and various textures.
I'm becoming a bit more comfortable with abstraction but I struggle to know when I'm done ;o).
[double click on either image to see it larger]
Retweet this

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Christmas Monoprint (6"x4")

This is an monoprint plate ready for printing. I'd like a lighthearted singing snowman like this to send to my friends. I hope that this will turn out well enough to use as a Christmas card this year. Can I just say that there is no method more fun than spritzing drops of water on to a painting and then lifting them up to get an instant snow storm. We'll soon see.
I have a lot of work in the hopper and slowly but surely I'm making progress on each of them. I'm also having a blast trying various image transfer methods. Hopefully I'll become proficient enough to use them in my art.
Retweet this

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Roots Grown Down Deep (14"x11)

Have the roots of your being firmly and deeply planted in Him. Colossians 2:7 (Amplified Bible)

This is the current status of one of those monoprint starts I did 2 weeks ago. I've struggled with how to progress these things and decided to apply the same methodology I described in my "Composition 101" post earlier this week. I just needed something to get me to the next step. Sure enough, I got an idea about how to develop this one as soon as I got through step 1 (5-7 main shapes) and step 2 (value study thumbnails). Then the fun began!

I wanted a figure with head bowed and searched for that - no dice. Then I found one just about right on the net and I sketched it up on plain paper, transferred the outline to my monoprint and began painting. I began in bottom right corner and used quinacridone rose/blue mix to darken the value around the figure. In the left bottom I developed some boxes that came through on the monoprint into a checked, multi-colored area. The window was a bottle for a while - then that didn't make sense so I morphed it. And that about sums up how this business works. Synergy... one step builds on the previous and so on until you get an idea where to take the piece. I can just about here my readers' say "well, that was as clear as mud". Sorry, you either have to take my word for it or try it yourself. It's hard to describe. It feels like I'm almost done here. I'm considering whether the crossed leaf stamp in the top left is too white. I'll have another look when the sun is out to check the values. Enjoy!
Retweet this

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Transfer Experiments

Good news - my laryngitis is abating and I am no longer squeaking when I talk. Now I sound like a gangsta. AND more importantly, I've felt like art again today - yippee!
So, on to my transfer experiments. All of the following examples began with small (2x3) photos printed on my Canon Pixma MP830 Ink-Jet printer and all are acrylic medium transfers.
Summary - There are numerous methods for transferring images to art paper to make them part of a mixed media work. I can use images printed on my MP830, either on transparency or paper, to transfer images to printmaking paper. The critical factors are moisture content and contact time. I found gel medium and water mixed to be superior to straight gel. It was helpful to spritz the printmaking paper lightly before transferring so that it doesn't rip when lifted.
If you'd like to see image transfer methods in action, go to and search on "image transfer" pretty cool stuff there!
I'll begin with the most successful and then show the disasters and what I think went wrong.
A. Materials - Rives printmaking paper, Golden Gel Medium (gloss), water, paintbrush, photo printed on transparency.
I began by brushing a mixture of medium and water onto the printmaking paper in the shape of the photo. I quickly laid the transparency photo onto that wet area, burnished it with my finger for a few (3-5) seconds and then lifted off the transparency slowly from the corner. There are a few small spots that didn't transfer on both images and the faces could be clearer but the images are recognizable for sure.

B. This second set were done using the very same method as the first but pressing a newly printed plain paper photo into the medium, burnishing with thumb (3-5 secs) and lifting. They don't have the darker values the first method gives but they have a nice soft sepia tone to them that I like. I'll need to practice more with this method to make sure I get the right level of moisture and the contact time down pat.

These are some of the transfers that didn't turn out:
C. I used Rheotech matte medium brushed directly onto the printmaking paper, applied the transparency, burnished lightly and lifted. The problem on the left was uneven application of the medium. When I lifted the transparency the centre was blurred and gooey but the top left corner was stuck to the paper and it ripped. What a mess that would be on a project!
On the right hand side you can see what happens if you don't get the transparency lifted off in time - it adhered to that paper and would have ripped the whole area off if I had kept lifting it. Again, a mess.

D. Below left the image is visible but it's mostly blurry. I used the same materials as in A. but I dampened the outside edges of the transfer area with water. Then I brushed the area with gel/water mix, applied and burnished the transparency and lifted. The problem was too much... water and medium - it transferred the image but when I lifted the transparency the goo moved around and it made "meringue" peaks in the medium. If the right parts were crisp and the outside blurry it would look pretty cool in the right piece.
The image on the right was almost okay - just a bit too little of everything here... yep, it's picky! Reminds me of water control in painting... CRITICAL

E. The images below were done with close to the right mix of medium and water - just a bit too dry on the edges so the paper ripped.

Happy Friday! Retweet this

Monday, November 10, 2008

Composition 101 - Monday Morning (20"x14")

Monday morning wash hangs in a gentle breeze in this painting I completed yesterday. I wanted to capture some of the sense of home that a scene like this gives me. Think of those wonderfully scented sheets on your Saturday night bed - relaxing isn't it? Anyhow, that's what I was trying to capture in this painting.I took the photo reference for this painting while visiting Matthew and Christina (our son and DIL) where they lived near Finch, Ontario in fall 2006. Something always bugged me about this photo reference so I tucked it away for a time when I could identify what that was... and fix it.
When Sharon asked the class to bring photo reference I grabbed this photo. As I worked through the process Sharon outlined (see below) I identified the issue that I needed to address - the clothes hung straight down from the line and looked HEAVY! What? Most of the time the sheets practically dried in the time it took to hang them on the line where I grew up in Saskatchewan (Eston specifically). Once I figured that out in my sketches I really wanted to paint this scene. I'm mostly satisfied with it as is but now that I see it condensed down to such a small scale I believe I will put one more wash over the front of the house - it should be darker than the side because it's in full shade in this early morning scene.
For those of you that are interested in such stuff, here is the photo reference I used for this painting followed by photos of the steps I took to work out my composition and values. Enjoy!
Photo reference
Composition - Identify interesting shapes both positive and negative

Value Study Thumbnails
Larger Sketch and Value Study for transfer to watercolor painting Retweet this

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Yupo plate ready for printing

This is a Yupo painting that I'll be transferring to BFK reeves paper tomorrow. I've left a space white where I'll apply an image transfer as I finish the piece. I've aimed for a cruciform composition for the printed image. I had a hard time holding myself to the cruciform in mirror image... because of course the printed image will be the reverse of this image. I'll see how it goes when I print keeping in mind that the print will be lighter in value than this plate. Enjoy your weekend! Retweet this

Friday, November 7, 2008

Stamping around

I've had an interesting week with art and immunizations and life insurance quotes and lawyers... You get the picture. I've had little time for the former and spent more time on the latter. This week has been black and white in many ways. I've been doing sketches, value studies, and a bit more stamp carving.
I finished carving this stamp this this morning. In the photo you can see the carved stamp on the top right. I used a brayer to apply some watercolor to the stamp and then stamped positively onto the watercolor paper (bottom right). Then, after re-wetting the stamp, I applied it to the previously painted Yupo paper. The water dissolved the paint and I lifted the paint off with a tissue - see lower left of the photo. Another option would have been to roll a brayer over the tissue before lifting which would have removed more of the paint.
I'm having a fun time with these mixed media techniques. Enjoy! Retweet this

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Texture Samples

I'm currently working on 3 paintings based on monoprint starts. None are complete yet but I wanted to show you a couple of examples of texture I created with the stamp I carved just a few days ago.
These samples are part of a monoprint I did last weekend. The process uses Yupo (plastic paper) as a printing plate. Paint is applied to the Yupo paper and then a variety of tools are used to manipulate the paint: dry foam roller to flatten brush ridges, lifting paint with a brush, toothbrush spatter, cotton lace imprints/lifts, stamps positive and negative... if it makes a mark it can be used on the Yupo.
After the artist decides the Yupo paper printing plate is complete, printing paper (soaked for 3-5 minutes and then blotted) is laid on the plate and a baren (or flat spoon) is used to hand rub the paper. The water in the paper activates the watercolor paint on the Yupo plate and the rubbing transfers the paint to the printing paper. After the monoprint is made a second print can be done the same way but the second print is called a "ghost" and is much weaker in color and value than the monoprint. At the end of the monoprinting process there are 2 or 3 pieces that can be developed into art works; the Yupo plate, the monoprint and the ghost (if printed).

These are examples of the same stamp used positively (above left) and negatively (above right). A positive stamp is straightforward - dip the stamp in paint and press it on the paper. The negative stamp is a lifting process. A moistened stamp is applied to the Yupo plate over an area previously painted. Tissue or paper towel is laid over the wetted area, then a bit of wax paper laid atop that before rolling a brayer on top. The tissue adhers to the wet paint and when it is lifted the shape shows up in relief against the painted background. Enjoy!
Retweet this

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Rocky Mountain Clouds (11"x7")

Last Wednesday class we worked with a landscape photo, did up a quick value sketch and made quick adjustments to composition required for a good painting. Then we were to paint a small painting matching the original photo closely and another painting pushing the colors into something more exciting and dramatic. The photo I had (thanks Sally) was similar in colors to the left most painting above. I don't mind it but I really like how the piece on the right turned out. It's pretty much the same scene but I changed things around using the triad green gold/ultramarine violet/scarlet lake. The color scheme really makes things sing... Enjoy! Retweet this

Friday, October 31, 2008


My first monoprint! I love the colors and how the impression of the golden light shining through the "buildings"... it's pretty abstract and I'm sure I will have some additions and changes but here's how it looked last Monday after the class.
We'll be working on more monoprints as well as progressing the artwork from the print stage to a finished painting over the next few weeks. I'm really enjoying seeing all my old painting friends from class... Enjoy!
For a short explanation of the process of monoprinting click here. Retweet this

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Last year during a creative mixed media section in my art class I bought a lino carving set and a couple of blocks. I carved a small block and used it a couple of times then. Now that I'm doing more mixed media again I wanted to carve a stamp that's unique to me... here's a picture of the materials, tools, and the result. The pattern on a decorative pillow inspired the tulip and curlicue pattern.
I began by drawing the pattern I wanted on the block surface. Then, using the various knives that came in my carving set, I removed the material around the pattern. There must be a set method for carving with these knives but I just went at it intuitively... [why read the instruction manual? takes too long.] I managed to get a reasonably clean imprint area and I tested and adjusted it a few times on the watercolor sheet at the back of this picture. Lots of fun! Retweet this

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

100th Post - City Lights (14"x10")

Here is my first painting in acrylic - Golden Fluids... SO much fun! I really wanted to play with my new reds - quinacridone crimson, quinacridone red, quinacridone magenta, quinacridone burnt orange. Yes, I'm back to the quins... and a few other colors thrown in to make a nice pattern. One of the blue blobs looked a bit like a figure so I developed it and another... and on it goes. It feels like a big city outdoor party... or something. I enjoyed playing with the paints and getting a feel for how they flow wet in wet. And the colors dried brighter instead of lighter - a nice addition to my watercolor paints. Stay tuned! Retweet this

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Color work...

For homework this week we are matching colors to a photo... I chose to attempt to match skin/hair tones. Wow, what a challenge. First match is to a blonde woman... I did this one directly on the sketchbook paper. As you can see in the first photo, the colors used are more vibrant on the swatches to the left. After attempting this I selected several areas of her skin, numbered them and matched them on watercolor paper where the colors are much more predictable and vibrant.
On the second photo I did the same thing. I thought this fellow's skin tones would be harder to match but I found it much easier. He has such deep tones and I found the colors easier to perceive... See what you think.

Retweet this

Friday, October 24, 2008

Red Lilies (13"x9")

Another "start" finished. This one didn't have a lot of texture at the beginning... just colors mixed up on the paper. Once dry it sat around for a week or more before I thought of a photo I took this summer of my red lilies. Looking at it now gives me the feeling of a jumbled up garden in bright sun... Enjoy! Retweet this

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Paint along - Alvaro Castagnet

I've just watched a fascinating DVD of Alvaro Castagnet painting... he did 5 paintings and they were all amazing! I enjoyed this DVD more than any other I've viewed. He's quite a character and his enthusiasm is catchy. I painted along with one of his paintings and here is the result. He did this painting in 3 washes, allowing it to completely dry between each. Of course he began with the next to lightest value leaving stark white for the big umbrella in the plaza. Then mid-tones and finally darks. The paint flows off his MASSIVE brushes and he mixes colors on the fly - very fun to watch. I like the results he gets with his intense darks... have a look at his website here for a nice shot of eye-candy. This has inspired me to put more figures in my paintings. Stay-tuned to see how that goes! Retweet this

Monday, October 20, 2008

North Glenmore Park - work in progress

I began this today and I have some bits to complete. However, I want to share it with you here tonight. I'm very excited about the mixed media class that I started today. It's quite freeing to be able to get back lights and whites in a variety of ways. I'm still waiting for the remainder of my supplies to arrive soon from Curry's. Have a look at this painting in progress and check back for future updates. Have a great Tuesday! Retweet this

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fairy Ferris Wheel (11"x14" for now)

I was intrigued by the lady slipper form and long moustache of this orchid. Using a photo reference works better when it is a reminder of a time/place/feeling personally experienced. My folks and I visited the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden in August 2003. It was a great day for orchids - warm and humid in the shade of the garden. I think I captured some of the mystery of the flower in this painting. Now if I could just get my hands on a milkshake from What's Shakin'! If you ever go to Hilo, don't miss this treat... the memory of the home grown fresh fruit taste is very strong! Aloha! Retweet this

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tia's Wedding Day (10"x14")

September 20th was a beautiful day here in Alberta. I enjoyed Tia and Matt Hand's wedding out at Crystal Ridge Golf Club. I thought an outdoor wedding was pretty risky any day in Alberta... but Matt and Tia got a stunner - 26 degrees Celsius and sunny. Just before the sun set I caught this photo looking out over the golf course from the clubhouse. My first painting class was yesterday and we were asked to bring a landscape reference photo and I took this one. What a struggle! I think I had performance anxiety painting in a group after so much painting alone time over the summer. It started to come around towards the end of class and I worked at it a couple more hours today. It's not a favourite but I hope you can see the beautiful fall scene. Enjoy! Retweet this

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Windy Whites (13"x10")

Cosmos, especially white cosmos, are an interesting subject to paint. This time I tried a new method for saving the whites - clear contact film. Although it did it's job well I don't think it's going to be a regular in my bag of tricks. It gave a very hard edge to the flowers and it's not only unrealistic, it's misleading. These flowers were blowing hard over from left to right in the wind. The hard edges make that less believable than painting around the white would have done. I softened some of the flower edges and it did help some. Go vote Canada!!!! Retweet this

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dolphin Sunset (10"x14")

The circular patterns that came out of one of my recent "starts" immediately reminded me of jumping dolphins. So, I developed it along those lines. I've never seen this particular green in a sunset but it works in my imagination and that's all that counts here. The dolphins looks like they're having fun! Enjoy!
Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers! Tomorrow is election day in Canada - VOTE! Retweet this