Saturday, February 26, 2011

Half Surrendered? [24”x36” acrylic on canvas]

Philosophical or spiritual question…  can anybody be half surrendered to a situation, circumstance or person?  I have been pondering this question while I painted today and when I saw the quasi-figure [in the top right] appear, I decided to see if I can take this non-objective painting over to an abstracted reality theme about surrender.  Now you are right inside my head with me…  how does it feel in there?  ;-)

About the paint process:  this is the largest painting I have ever done.  It’s challenging but also very exciting to have the space to do new things.  Acrylic is the perfect medium for this because you can explore as much as you want. 

This first photo is the canvas right now. Step by steps are below for those that are interested…


The first stages of this painting I just explored texture and color using my three colors – thalo turquoise, quinacridone crimson, and quinacridone gold.  These 3 colors combine to make some gorgeous brights and some beautiful neutrals.  The second photo I am faintly glazing areas that are darker in my viewfinder design.  NOTE – I rotate this and look at all orientations in these early stages.

DSCN4146  DSCN4150

Next phase is developing some dark, transparent areas in keeping with the viewfinder design without being “married to it”.  I added quite a bit of texture with stencils at this stage as well as painting dark areas and using various tools to lift texture out of the paint.


Now I began exploring a semi-grid using opaque and translucent paint [white mixed with one or more of the 3 colors and varying amounts of water &/or medium].  I worked meditatively [ie half thinking, half day-dreaming] and I use the texture from the last layer to guide where I put down these passages of paint.  After I painted the translucent grid in the top right, I got back from the painting and in this portrait orientation I noted the figure with right hand raised… 


I’m enjoying the opaque shapes above but I’ve built some walls that need to have bridges…  those solid opaques stop the eye from moving about.  We’re left thinking “why is THAT so solid when nothing else is?”  So, I misted those opaques and used a stencil and made some bridging marks – transparent over opaque and translucent over transparent. 

Then I tried putting a hand on the figure and I decided this would be a good point to quit for today…  not entirely sure that hand is working.  Fun painting session!  Many more to come on this painting…

DSCN4167 DSCN4168    


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Monday, February 21, 2011

Tweaks to “Expanding”

I haven’t had a lot of art time beyond what I’ve spent updating a mailing list for an art organization I belong to.  However, I’ve taken some much needed breaks from that to tweak “Expanding” and I thought I’d share that with you today. 

As I left this on Saturday I felt that the notable shape in the top left wasn’t integrated with the rest of the piece.  The circles were isolated there, the color was isolated there [altho only 3 colors are used throughout], and that shape was just so OTHER. 

DSCN4136Here’s the old version below…  I pushed the blue back to a greener color with a glaze of Quin gold.  I gave the implied circles some company but they are opaque and their size and color varies.  Then I provided a path for the eye to move out of the bottom of the greenish blue shape in the top left.  These few changes have made me feel a bit more like living with this one for a while.  Time will tell.


I’ve got to share a few other things that I’ve been working on that I’m excited about.  As you’ve heard me say many times, I want to paint bigger.  To that end I’ve been challenging myself by buying larger canvasses.  This week I took out a 24”x36” gallery style canvass and began another painting in the same color scheme as “Expaning”.  I laid in the first loose color layer and I’ll be working on this one for a while.  Here’s the first layer:

DSCN4134 I’m fascinated by working with this canvas!  There’s so much room to work that going back to the smaller ones, although still fun, just isn’t the same…  hmmm, this could get expensive!  Happy Family Day [if you’re in Alberta anyhow]!

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Expanding [acrylic, 11”x15”]


Here’s the viewfinder design I used for this painting:DSCN4109 I used Golden’s thalo turquoise & quinacridone crimson, and DiVinci’s quinacridone gold for this painting.  This was started at the same time as “Box Me In?” so that I could go back and forth between the two using the same colors and many of the same mark making tools – stamps, etc.  Here’s how it looked after the first session:

IMG_0222In the second session, I began establishing the darks and lights by simply glazing darks made up of the three colors.    Then I used my number stencil and my trusty stencil brush [a fav I bought back in the 80’s] to make some interesting large areas of the darks and mid values and it looked like this:

DSCN4107I forged ahead and got fiddly whilst keeping the viewfinder pattern in mind.  It was fun to putter along on the details mindlessly.  I call this the meditative stage.  Towards the end of this session, I felt I needed a bit of a grid but not a terribly strong one.  My solution was a curved banned drawn in chalk which I painted up to in places…  sometimes in the curved shape, sometimes around it. 

I’m going to live with this one for a bit before I decide next steps.  Have a great weekend folks!

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Box Me In? [acrylic, 11”x15”]

DSCN4115 DSCN4108

Last time I listed some issues with this painting:

  1. reintegrate and add interest to the top right shape
  2. resize the intervals on the left side
  3. take a proper photo [last time I took it at night with artificial light]

After referring to my viewfinder design [small image above], I added the small slices in the top triangle and the central shape.  I also added a curvy wedge shape to the top right to make that shape more interesting.  I missed the boat on that bottom shape – too many lines and it’s too big but I will live with it for a while before I make any more changes.  Enjoy!

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Box Me In? [acrylic, 11”x15”]


Step 2 – as it sits right now

The inspiration for this non-objective or abstract painting is a 1”x1.5” viewfinder design cut from a large newspaper image.  I like the patterns of lights and darks and I’ll keep the 4 large shapes while playing back and forth with the details.  I’ve got some work to do to reintegrate and add interest to the top right shape.  I will also need to resize the intervals on the left side…  they’ve become equal and boring.  After that I’ll take a proper photo and repost. 

Step 1 photo below.  The surface is 300lb watercolor paper which had been sealed [with 2 coats of Golden acrylic gel], loosely painted, given up on, and then covered with one coat of gesso.  You might expect that the first layer of paint would be insignificant but you’d be wrong.  As the acrylic paint dries [which takes a very LONG time], the surface layers melt into those below and the result is a very unique surface.  If you enjoy working your way out of chaos, you’d like this way of painting…  IMG_0223 Enjoy!

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chinook [acrylic, 16”x20”]

We’re home from Mexico and I’m back into the studio.  Rather than dive into my Mexico reference material, I’m finishing up some paintings that have been waiting for me. 

We get some bizarre clouds here in the foothills.  The skies are big – Montana’s got nothing on Alberta, that’s for sure.  This painting is roughly based on a photo I took of one of those big skies.  I worked on the sky first and just today I painted the foreground snowy hills. 

DSCN4092  Wishing I was still in beautiful Bucerias…. Tengan un buen dia!

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sayulita [5”x7” ink & watercolor]


We visited Sayulita on Saturday to watch the surfers and see the local Saturday bustle.  It is about a 40 minute ride on the local bus service – FAR advanced relative to Calgary’s transit system.  The seats were comfortable and softened the bumpy roads somewhat.  We had a lovely walk on the beach, in fact the guys in this sketch could be Ron and Stu contemplating renting a board, jk!  The sea was very rough on the outer shore so with red flags flying we were very careful.

Later we enjoyed watching the Huichal ladies in the plaza making their colorful items for sale….  Mexico feels wonderful, safe and warm.  That said, we are being very cautious while we enjoy!  Hasta Luego!

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