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.

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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

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Golden Vase (21"x14")

Here's the finished product... You might recognize the split compliment (blue/orange & violet/green gold). This painting was a lot of work and, although I am satisfied with the result, it's not a favourite. I may need some time to get perspective on this one. Right now all I can think of is SAVE MORE WHITE PAPER! I had so much work to scrub out (barely) enough lights to make a painting. Something to think about when preparing the next start.
For easy reference here's what it looked like 2 days ago:
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!!!
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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Work in progress - Golden Vase

A few days ago I covered my kitchen table and sloshed around in paint just as if I was in grade 2. After I added paint to the watercolor paper I placed some saran wrap, wax paper, onion mesh and a variety of other texture making stuff on the wet surface and left it to dry. At that point it looked like this:

This is where the interpretation and second guessing begins. I looked at this "start" from all angles and I saw a woman leaning on one elbow, a box jellyfish, an octopus & seaweed, a bullfighter and a Franciscan priest....... Before you assume I'm crazy these are all options that I could have developed in this painting. However, I like doing still life paintings and I also saw flowers wrapped in clear cellophane with a greenish gold vase behind it. The purples, however, were troublesome - way too dark. I pencilled around the shapes I wanted to develop and began painting this morning. I added some rice paper "leaves" to the plant on the right hand side before painting the plant and pot. Also I've developed the darks (maybe too much) around around the bow, flowers, and the cellophane highlights.After a couple of 30 minute sessions this is how it looked:
I continued to develop the flowers and darkened the background vase this afternoon and here's how it looks right now. Stay tuned...

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pink Glow (10"x14")

This was meant to be a "start"... I dampened the paper, and stroked on color. Just before I began adding stuff to make texture (saran wrap, cardboard, mesh, and other household stuff) I happened to glance up and spotted this vase. I decided to work it into the painting and skip the "start" process... I added the flowers and a background and wrapped it up. I like the way the vase turned out. Enjoy! Retweet this

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Foothills Fury (21"x14")

This was the scene a week ago heading west out of Calgary on the TransCanada Highway towards Cochrane. A rare fall thunderstorm blew in quickly over the foothills. Five minutes later it was pouring rain. It lasted only an hour before our beautiful weather returned with the sunshine radiating clear and warm from it's position low over the Rockies. We've had some lovely days this fall... and I've plenty of beautiful photos to show for it. I believe I've got enough photos for a lifetime of painting. The issue now becomes remembering the context and feelings that belong to each - without that they're just photos.
This half sheet painting is larger than I'm used to working. Quarter sheets seemed a bit small for the landscapes lately - this give me a bit more room to play with. I had trouble with the sky on this one. In the small format it looks livid and somewhat foreboding which is exactly the mood I'm going for with these storm clouds. However, I needed several applications of paint to darken the lower part of the clouds. It never ceases to amaze me (and it should) how much lighter watercolor paint dries! A single, dark application may have been more effective close up. That said, I like how the faint mountains turned out - just peeking out of the mist and rain in places. Enjoy! Retweet this

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rowan Berries (14"x10")

One of the most beautiful fall sights is a flaming "Mountain Ash" or Rowan tree. It's clumps of red berries coupled with the gorgeous multi-colored leaves is hard to resist. Some leaves were an interesting combination of red and green - tough to paint that's for sure. Others were orange-red, deep burgundy, golden, pink... an amazing variety for a single branch. Such a treat to look at and to paint.
I began by painting directly (no pencil lines) thinking that I'd have a fresher look and impression. I sprinkled a bit of salt over the area I intended for the berries and let it all dry. Yesterday I pencilled in various shapes and puttered at it off and on... defining a leaf here, a berry clump there, and generally making a variety of leaf and branch shapes. I added some darks behind the leaves and defined some veins by wetting and lifting out with a towel (an old cotton tea towel works great for this). I lifted out some negative leaf shapes the same way. Adding a few dark tips on the berries and glazing a few small berry clumps with blue to push them back a bit finished it off.
I had fun signing this painting. The right bottom was quite dark so I decided to lift out the signature. I used my rigger to paint my name with clear water and rubbed it with the towel to lift off the dark paint and reveal the letters. Enjoy!

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

a stinker and a start

I've finished another painting, two in fact. However, it is midnight and I haven't the light to get a decent photo. That will be tomorrow's post. For today I share a the beginning of a stinker and the beginning of one I actually quite like. First the stinker...
The beginning... I wanted those intense fall colors, to paint by pour and pump, and I had a particular scene in my mind... I'd protected some negative spaces for the sun to shine through, etc. What a mess! Things got really fun... and then I had mud.
Here's the interim photo... I did force myself to go all the way to the end of this and I will post it. It's good for the soul. Days like this I'm glad that I am truly having fun in the process... the results are not worth the time. The colors blending together as the freely chased and pulled each other around was really fun to watch. Had I used transparents it would have resulted in better results. Tomorrow I'll post the end result (not really a "finish" yet).

My start from late yesterday is nice, bright and cheery. I'm going for fall berries, mountain ash to be precise. Stay tune tomorrow for the finish of this painting.
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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cold Shoulder (14"x10")

This piece developed on the side yesterday when I was waiting for something else to dry. I had some paint mixed and some droppers handy and I just started to puddle around. Until the very end I drew/painted with a glass dropper. I dropped mixed paint - most were not my normal colors... cad orange, viridian, brown madder, cobalt blue. I used a bit of green gold (becoming a fav of mine), my standby ultramarine blue, and a bit of black ink. I continued to drop color here and there, sprayed water, and drew shapes, words and people. I found myself thinking about the webs the world weaves and everything that gets thrown at us by "the world". Eventually an arm and shoulder grew out of the mess and I emphasized it. It's an uncomfortable piece to look at... probably reflecting the state of things in my world these days lol.

It's been an interesting few weeks and I keep coming back to the words of Christ in John 16:33 - "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." In this piece I've depicted my right shoulder turned away from "the fiery darts" and the blue represents peace which comes in waves - as in the real world. I added a "world" circle on the left with "over come" surrounding it. Interesting that we are guaranteed trouble and offered peace. Good thing, eh? ("huh" if you're south of the border;o) I'd say enjoy but that word might not apply to this painting. Have a look... Retweet this