Monday, June 27, 2011

Carol Marine Workshop

Today I began a 5 day workshop with Carol Marine.  We are meeting at the Benalto community hall near Red Deer.  I'm fortunate to have a lovely place to stay here at my brother and sister-in-laws' place about 40 minutes from the workshop.  This morning we got things going with introductions and some general discussion around the daily painting movement.  Carol's story is such an inspiration and I am thouroughly enjoying this workshop so far.  This afternoon we were given 2 hours to set up and paint a little still life. 

I found these fun little key limes at the grocery yesterday and I set them up on my kiddie blocks with my new little mixing bowl.  I'm hoping to get some help with making the limes read a bit better tomorrow.  They aren't the usual shape of a lime but are round little guys.  Anyway, it was a lot of fun and we're just getting warmed up!

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Elbow Falls gets a new home

Elbow FallsYesterday I was privileged to attend the wedding of Kelsey Quist and Brandon Somerville.  I certainly hope they like this painting of Elbow Falls I did in acrylic last year. This is a viewpoint that most Calgarians, and many around the world, are familiar with.  Usually the sky isn’t orangey like this but hey, this is art folks!  The beauty of this spot on the Elbow River puts me in mind of a marriage – beautiful, risky, but WORTH THE DRIVE!  May your marriage prove this to be the case as you continue your journey under the cross.  Uncle Ron captured this photo yesterday and I LOVE it!  Blessings on you both in your joint venture as man and wife! 

kelsey and brandon under the cross

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Thundering Through the Foothills [oil, 10”x8”]

west from Leighton Centre startThis particular, spectacular storm rolled across the foothills between the Leighton Centre and the Rocky Mountains.  We had spectacular thunder and sheets of rain just a few miles away.  I painted for about an hour wanting to capture the power of the scene.  I kept an eye to the southwest though…  I wasn’t fond of my chances with lightening out on that ridge!  Bits of blue sky shone through here and there before the wind picked up, the umbrella came down and the golf cart got rolling. 

Golf cart you say?  Yes – golf cart!  Why let all that research golf engineers have done about moving heavy gear without sore shoulders go to waste?  Ron clipped some dividers out of an old golf bag and my chair [when I get a smaller one], umbrella, and tripod ride inside that.  Plenty of pockets for the layers of clothing, bug repellant and sunscreen, lunch, water, etc.  My Alla Prima pochade box rides in my backpack, attached to the top handle of the golf cart.  Nadda on my back – cool, eh?  Still, I’m not venturing too far from the car just yet…  my back isn’t up for long hikes.  painting setup at Leighton

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Survivor START [oil, 10”x8”]

Survivor - west coast tree start

I took a photo of this wind-bent tree in Ucluelet, BC in 2006.  I’ve painted it a few times in watercolor but this is the first attempt in oil.  Although I’ve got a ways to go on it, this scene speaks to me about persistence, thriving in the face of adversity [wind and salt spray] and showcasing beauty along side of the challenges life throws at you.  Although the surf pounds loudly in your ears when you’re in Ucluelet, it’s a sounds of peace for me.  I’m looking forward to finishing this one but I’ve got to set it aside for about 10 days for a family wedding this weekend and then *WOOT* a Carol Marine workshop all of next week.  I’m trying to rest up in advance so I don’t run out of jam part way through…  cheers!

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Late June Tulips [oil, 8”x6”]

late june tulips3 No, I’m not kidding!  The tulips planted on the northeast side of my house just bloomed a few weeks ago and they will probably last another week.  It’s been a very cold spring around here but today is glorious!  Sunny and warm for the first day of summer!  Enjoy!

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Monday, June 20, 2011

I Miss Biking [oil, 8”x10”]

I Miss Biking

Lately my daughter Kim has been biking to work along some of the beautiful bike paths here in Calgary.  There are over 1,000 kilometres of paved bike path within Calgary’s city limits.  I enjoyed biking to work until I lost my balance, fell and broke a wrist back in 2004.  The peace of the pathway before and after work was a wonderful contrast to pressured work days.  Since then my health hasn’t allowed me to get back on my bike and I’ve come to terms with that – don’t need any more broken bones, that’s for sure!  But last week I pulled my golf/art cart along a bike pathway in Tuscany and found this little view that pleased my eye.  Enjoy!

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tomorrow in Balance [oil, 8”x6”]

tomorrow in balance

More practice in oil painting and I took up a Daily Paintworks Challenge on “balance”.  Setting up this balancing act with a little striped box, a bottle of acrylic paint, and “tomorrow’s” blank canvas was just fun.  It was ironic to paint the bottle of acrylic paint with my oils!  We need hope in the future and signing this painting in the bottom right of the “tomorrow” canvas is symbolic for moving on with life and believing in the future.  Big thoughts for a fun little painting.  Have a great week!

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Friday, June 17, 2011

80% Chance of Rain [oil, 8”x6”]

80% chance of rainI painted some of this scene plein air but felt it needed a few touch ups at home.  I added the warmer color in the tops of the cloud and underneath, as if it was evening.  It feels like the whole things is working better now.  I have no idea what the rules around “plein air” designations are…  I suppose I should be more curious about that.  Right now I’m happy if I can get a color mixed the way I want, never mind where I painted it.  Ciao!

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Monday Model [oil on canvas, 20”x16”]

I had another go at the painting from class 2 weeks ago…  I like her face and shoulders better now.  She appears to be sitting up straighter.  I also toned down the colors in the dress and warmed up the color in her skin.  This seems to have put the focus back on the model rather than the bright dress.  I feel like I’ve learned quite a bit from this exercise, particularly about the pushing and pulling of warm vs cool skin tones.  Getting a “likeness” however, is still eluding me.  Fun stuff. 

Figure alla prima3 Figure alla prima

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Elbow River Jam [oil, 10”x8”]


I spent a few minutes finishing up this one today…  it’s all done now but, as usual, I reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow ;-).  I feel like I captured the peaceful, yet uncontrollable, essence of the scene and I even like my foreground rocks! That’s a first as I usually struggle mightily with them.  It helps to squint down and not think of rocks at all.  There are lots of colors in those Elbow River rocks!

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Elbow River Jam “start” [oil, 10”x8”]

Elbow Jam

I painted this last Saturday at Leighton Centre during a plein air workshop…  inside, from a photo.  It poured, pitchforks points down, all day long.  Correction, it poured until 4pm at which point we were done for the day.  However, the silver lining was quickly evident.  There are many things about plein air that are more easily discussed, observed, and practiced in the classroom without the elements and the distances between painters that one normally has  during outdoor workshops.  For example, a teacher can pull all students together more easily in a classroom when a common issue arises.  The discussion is covered once for many instead of student by student.  I took this photo a year or two ago on a Sunday afternoon drive out to Bragg Creek.  I’ve got some more work to do on this one but it’s going to be put off until later this week when, alas, the rain is scheduled to recommence.  Cheers!

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Consider the Lilies [acrylic, 20”x16”]

consider the lilies

It bears repeating regularly – we need to rest and trust in God.  Easier said than done I know!  Quite a few folks I know are feeling the pressures of the the world, whether they have major decisions to make, have fallen ill, or are getting by on less, concerned about family members, have lost a loved one, etc.  More often it’s a combination of several of issues.  Jesus put it succinctly as usual in Luke 12:27 - "Consider the lilies, how they grow : they neither toil nor spin ; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these”.  That’s what inspired this painting. 

I love how the apostle Paul described this type of resting from financial worries in Philippians 4 - “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity ; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  I think Paul’s talking about an attitude of gratitude that few of us practice these days.  And it does take practice…  have a contented week!

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lloyd Leaner [oil, 10”x8”]

lloyd lake leaner

There are so many scenes available to paint at Lloyd Park [SW of Calgary].  None are quite as tempting as this gnarly spruce tree which imposes itself in the foreground of many views.  It’s an interesting contrast to all the horizontals in the rest of the land/lakescape.  I struggled with the shapes in the background and although this was painted 90% on site last Saturday, I puttered a bit with it at home as well.  I can see that it’s important not to overdo the studio putzing…  the freshness needs to be retained.  Looking forward to more plein air this weekend at Leighton Centre!  Have a great day!

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pear Pair [oil, 6”x6”]

Pear Pair A pair of red pears – except there are many, many colors in these “red” pears.  Violet shadows, green, yellow and white highlights, 4 different pigments of red…  all rolled into 2 little pears. 

I’m sure enjoying painting these little guys!  I’m using baltic birch panels sealed with GAC100 and tinted with an orange/red.  The warmth peeks through in places and unifies the whole.  Enjoy!

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Still Green [oil, 6”x6”]


I’m back to studying the colors and shapes of fruit.  I took on this little pear today.  Even though it sat on a purple fabric, the light reflected back into the pear was orange!  The purple behind the pear took on a reddish cast that offset the green of the pear nicely.  Ciao!

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Little Falls at Big Hill Springs [oil, 6”x8”]

little falls at big hill

This little painting was also done at Big Hill Springs Provincial Park yesterday.  After a morning of chatting with passersby at the main falls, I took a rest break and then set up in a more secluded spot.  This little scene was so peaceful and calm.  Relative to some of the views it was quite boring.  However, sometimes “boring” is just restful… except we’ve lost our capacity to rest!  The sound of the waterfall was peaceful in the morning so I didn’t want to go too far away from it.  Consequently, I stood with a smaller waterfall spraying just a bit onto my left foot when I painted this scene.  Refreshing indeed - plein air painting was made for such a day a this! 

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Big Hill Springs [oil, 9”x12”]

BHSPP waterfall

My plein air adventure continued early today when I met with my fellow painters at Big Hill Springs Provincial Park.  It’s about 35 minutes from my house to BHSPP and yet this is the first time I’ve been there.  WOW!!!  From the parking lot this park looks pretty average…  but climb the Big Hill and you’ll see a series of waterfalls and pools that are gorgeous!  We had a gorgeous day for plein air painting – just the right temperature and good protection from wind.  I painted with the sound of running water in my ears for hours and it did me a world of good.  Also, I did a better job pacing myself today – yesterday was a bit too much standing for my back :(

We arrived [jammed into 3 cars to save parking] before the crowds.  Sharon did a quick tour of the potential plein air sites with some valuable information about when the light would be best at each.  Then a quick demo was followed by a lot of scurrying around to set up and PAINT!  I realized that this waterfall was a bit over my head, but I was so drawn to the sound that I just charged in.  I like the way this feels – it’s long-exposure painting…  so much water charging over those falls, such power!

Although I registered for this workshop weeks ago, today had another focus for me.  Before I began painting I walked around the area by the parking lot where ~760 trees have been planted in memory of a lost family member, including my brother, Chuck Matson.  This event is hosted by McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes for the families they served last year.  I was sorry to have missed attending the event with my family yesterday. 

Later, as I painted, I visited with dozens of folks taking in the gorgeous sun, sights, sounds, and smells of creation!  They seemed to enjoy watching us paint and chatting.  I certainly enjoyed visiting with them – particularly the children who say the most amazing things about their own art!  I was moved by the symbolism of the new growth and beauty that we are able to find in the midst of our grief.  Today was a day of blessings.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Lloyd Lake Wetlands [oil, 6”x8”]

Lloyd Lake Wetlands Just south of Highway 22x & 53rd St SW, near Calgary, a little gem of a park is waiting to be discovered.  It’s invisible from the road and is home to gazillions of birds – all chirping and squawking at once.  I went there to paint today with a group from the Calgary chapter of the FCA.  Sharon Williams is teaching this ‘plein air’ [aka outdoor painting] workshop.  I chose to paint this little scene of the reeds meandering through the lake.  I still haven’t taken the training wheels off my oil paints yet but I really do like what is going on in the top half of this one. 

As I prepared to leave this morning, I kept an ear tuned to the phone – the weather was that yucky!  As promised, it was cold, foggy, and drizzly in the morning but gradually cleared up this afternoon.  The change to these wetlands in different weather is incredible – it was worth braving the cold and wet to experience the changing light over this gorgeous little corner of the earth.

I look forward to painting again tomorrow at a different park.  We’re supposed to have great weather tomorrow – no doubt we will since we will all come fully prepared with our winter gear!  Enjoy!

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Team work

Ron and I spent a while cutting [scary saw!], sanding and prepping baltic birch panels for plein air.  A while ago I prepped some 9”x12” panels and I still have a few around.  However, now that I’ve done a few plein air sessions, I can see the need for some small ones.  Today we made 8”x10”, 6”x8”, and a few 6”x6”.  Ron cut and helped me set up the palm sander for smoothing the edges – nobody wants a sliver when you’ve inspired to paint!  I seal and tone all exposed wood with Golden’s GAC100, tinted with their fluid acrylic Transparent Red Iron Oxide.  And voila! – ready for my plein air workshop this weekend.  Now if the weather would just cooperate!

cutting panels sanding panels IMG_0007

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wearing Purple [oil, 6”x6”]

Wearing Purple

Weeks ago I decided that I need to do more small paintings on a more regular basis and really study the mundane, simple things around me.  With that in mind I ordered a supply of 6”x6” deep, gallery wrapped canvasses when Curry’s had their sale last month.  I got some help with “seeing” better last weekend. 

Yesterday I set up a still life with just a red onion with a light green background and painted my first 6x6 canvas.  So fun!  I  love the way these colors complement each other.  There’s a real trick to getting the paint to leave your brush when and how you want it to!  I’ve got a lot to work out in that regard.  My hands can be quite shaky at times so I do better when I make a quick, decisive stroke.  Easier said than done – trust me on that!  Location, pressure, direction, angle, all factors in making oil paint work.  Before the stroke you’ve already made several key decisions – which brush? which color? how intense? what value? It’s very, very entertaining…  Ciao!

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Monday model WIP [oil, 16”x20”]

Figure alla prima

Monday we had a beautiful model for our painting class with Ingrid.  I felt pretty good about my effort given only about 2.5 hours to paint.  Despite the warning from Ingrid that we often paint shoulders too big, I did exactly that.  Is it ever hard to figure out what isn’t working in a figure pose!  I did spend a fair bit of time measuring and re-measuring my drawing before I started blocking in and I think that helped.  The face is really bugging me though – I missed it totally on the color temperature for the shadow across her eyes.  Have a look at where I was at the end of class [below], and check out how long her right arm was!  I got the proportions “righter” but I’ve still got to deal with the color under her new hand…  or perhaps I’ll just wipe this and have another go next week. 

Figure alla prima just after class Cheers!

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