GO TO YOUR ROOM ! I borrowed this phrase from the recently deceased Canadian painter Robert Genn who believed that there is only so much we can learn about how to paint from the many fine instructors and resources available today. The true learning comes from going off on our own and doing it - Go to your room!

I have had the good fortune to take instruction from outstanding artists in Canada and the USA. I am now focusing on my own development ( Going to MY room!) and sharing what I have learned and continue to learn. I created this blog primarily for those attending my workshops to keep in touch and to further share as we grow together. If others are interested in following that would be great.

Enjoy the journey.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Two quick windy day sketches

It was a beautiful morning near the Niagara Escarpment, Collingwood, but VERY windy. Was hoping to spend the morning - but the wind got to me so did two quick sketches - water mixable oils on linen board 11x14.

Friday, 27 May 2016

ANSWER TO QUESTION: What am I using to hold my brushes

Following the last post I was asked by a couple of followers about the system I use to hold my brushes. My system is Art Box and Panels. You can purchase a brush holder with the system - a simple PVC tube that works well. For me, it was too small. So I purchased larger PVC piping, put caps on top and bottom pieces and a joiner piece to make the holder and attached with a bit of Gorilla Glue .

I drilled holes for air drying of brushes. At the appropriate height I made a double hold that will slide over a screw attached to the back corner of the palette.

The base with the brushes attaches to one side. The top holds my maul stick, straight edge, palette knives and rubber shapers and attaches to the other side. Very happy. Cheap and simple.

The other one I like is the hanging brush holder available from Guerilla Painter.
This shows it hanging from my Soltek easel.

And finally, I had two Artwork Essentials systems that I also liked and they have a really good brush holder .

Hope this helps.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

When there is nothing of interest to paint from the RV site.....

Cathy and I traveled in our RV from our Comox Valley home on Vancouver Island to Collingwood Ontario where we spend the summers.  We try to arrive at the next RV park so there is enough time for a quick sketch or plein air painting. Often as not there is just nothing of interest to paint, so I travel with a large selection of photos and refer to them. I haven't posted about my acrylic plein air set up in a while, so I thought I would combine the two.

We had a free no-travel day in Oliver BC with friends. Nothing excited me to paint and it was raining on and off. So I put out the RV awning get my photos and set up to paint.

I have owned or tried most plein air set ups. Because I paint standing and am fairly tall, I have stopped using pochade boxes - where the separation of the palette surface and the panel is very tight.  In stead I prefer a separate palette and panel holder. I now use the Art Box and Panel  and have one set for oils and one for acrylics. Simple, inexpensive and work well for me.

I hold my paint on a Masterton Stay Wet plastic palette - without paper and sponge. I mix on grayed-glass.

I use a plastic recycle box to carry my supplies strapped to a folding folding cart. A plastic board can be used to create a work table for holding supplies. I no longer back pack in to places to paint - body part problems.

I spent most of the rainy day making 12x16 sketches on linen glued to 1/8 door skin. This day, each was given an underpainting of quincradone violet. Thumbnail sketches were made to create the rough design. The sketch was transferred to the panel using acrylic marker. Each sketch took about an hour. We are now in Ontario where, when I get a chance, I will decide if any are keepers, frame and consider each and what need to be done next.

In spite of the rain, it was a fun day.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Time for a change

Its been a long winter of painting mostly large acrylic landscapes. I needed a change. So, for the week prior to our driving back to Ontario I got out my water mixable oils for the first time in well over a year and decided to try my hand at portraiture again. But this time I wanted to be loose, to almost paint the face like a landscape - large brushes, bold strokes, and fast intuitive painting. Most of my earlier portraits are too highly rendered for my taste today. They lacked "energy".

I started with a generic female face.

Then decided to try my hand, once again, at some family portraits - but not feel the need to be "correct" - still hoping for a resemblance.

Made initial sketches with water mixable pencils then finalized using acrylic markers. Began with a wash of acrylic quin. crimson and shaded in dark areas.

 All painting was done with large firm angular brushes (brights) - Opus Legatto and Rosemary synthetics. All done 8x10. Target was to complete from first drawing to finish of one hour. Most went overtime. All were done in one sitting. The sketch below, of my grandson, was the first, done the fastest and my favorite of the group.

My daughter in law and grand daughter under warm night lights - very abstracted. 12x12

I made another 6 pieces. Not great portraiture but great fun and nice to do some risk taking to see what would happen. Starting to feel comfortable working with oils again.

To answer an earlier question I use water mixable oils for the easy soap and water clean up - I don't have health concerns. I use it with water or odorless mineral spirits. I like Winsor Neuton Artisan Quick Dry medium.

Tomorrow, off to Ontario in our RV. Will be doing a painting demo on Sunday May 8 at Avens Gallery, Canmore, Alberta.


Monday, 18 April 2016

A good exercise for landscape painters

There are lots of reasons to get out and paint on location. One is to learn how much your camera "lies" to you.

A good exercise is to make a sketch of relative shapes and sizes and take a photo from the same location. Then compare both - notice the distortion, particularly in distant shapes. Benefit - it gives the need/freedom in the studio to read into what photos are giving and to manage to the benefit of the painting.

In this case I did a simple quick sketch of shapes and relative values ( thats the D MD ML and Light on the sketch). I tried to be accurate in representing each shape: buildings, trees, lane, etc. Then I took photos from the same location and same height as my eye - the same eye I used to make the sketch.

Notice the difference. Camera pushes background back.

I used the sketch to make a quick plan on 12x12 linen board using an acrylic marker. Painting water-mixable oils. Made wash  using aliz crimson. Then did a simple quick block-in of the relative shapes and values using a large firm brush. Left the shapes flat and just focused on relative values.  Needed to extend the darks over the building to enhance the lights.

Result is a bit of an Edward Hopper flat-shape look to things ( I wish).

Been getting out of control again with my acrylics. All commitments met so have decided to tighten up accuracy, while still trying to be "me"  for the next few weeks working on "correctness" with simple architectural and figurative scenes in oils.

A fun hour.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Next best thing to plein air painting

For a variety of reasons I am finding it more difficult to be able to commit the time needed for making plein air paintings . Recently I have tried more sketching on location. Quick sketches take only a short time and still gets one involved with the great outdoors. It involves all that plein air painting does - except the painting. The planning, compositonal choices, simplification, value plan etc are still required. The thinking and decision-making are no different. And best of  all it doesn't require my ever-patient wife to hang about for a few hours.

A few month ago I " invested" in a new start-up Kick-starter campaign - the Nomad Art Satchel .  It arrived last week and I took it on our RV trip to Tofino. The satchel can hold all one needs, but I have other sketching kits that can as well. The two advantages the Nomad has is that it has a plate for attaching to a tripod and a shoulder strap that makes it possible to stand and sketch.

I expect it will get a lot of use. The sketches combined with photos should make good reference for studio works.

Nomad opens with pad side and storage side

Images from Nomal web page

Monday, 25 January 2016

Starting a new week

I tend to paint in batches. Today, as on most Mondays, I often set up a group of large pieces to work on during the week. This week its' west coast pieces for a west coast gallery. As well as working on those new pieces during the week I will be bringing other recent pieces back in as needed for refining.

I begin by selecting images, then cropping and modifying by computer ( ACDSee Ultimate Pro 9) . To make the approach I am using this week work I need to select images with a clear foreground, mid ground and background. I will be starting with foreground then shaping it with mid ground and that with back ground.

I make thumbnail sketches using pencil and pad then transfer a crude plan on canvas using acrylic markers . I sketch the group together.

The approach I  am using for these pieces is based on the references I have selected. I want a serendipitous outcome. Of course, not all pieces are started this loosely.

I make undercolour choices for each and begin a very crude value plan normally scrubbing in dark transparent colours and removing and adding as needed using a large rubber shaper. In the one below, 20x30,  I began laying in the yellows and orange on the white canvas before I crudely banged in the darks. Always adding a mix of colour into the dark value - just happenstance.

The one below is 18x36 on umber treated gesso.  Its a bit more of a trick adding the colours into the value shapes - but just bang in what colours might work on the trees and background.

The next is 24x36 .  If you enlarge the image you can see where the dark green/red values is brushed in then the shaper use to create crude tree shapes and thinning and thickening the paint/value.

I then begin to shape the foreground using opques adding to the crude value plan. All this is done quickly and loosely hoping for an uncertain but interesting outcome. With time and patience I know now that I could bring each piece back to looking almost like the original reference - but that is no longer my intent or interest. The reference is merely the starting point. From this stage on now I no longer consider the original reference image  - just trying to make each piece stand alone as something interesting.

Above you can see my work area. On the left a Staywet palette holding my tube paints. On the back left a selection of Golden liquids (mostly dark transparents) and on the glass mixing palette you can see jars of opaque grays of different colour and value I mix from left over paints etc.

So thats a pretty good morning and a fairly good start on the two pieces. I will carve the shapes into the third tomorrow. Then come back in and start refining each.

I am now comfortable making such rough starts full of happenstance but working towards a crude value plan. From this point things start to slow down and get serious.. So I will work with these during the week. In addition I will pull into the studio pieces begun in previous weeks to make adjustments and tweeks as needed. My new studio is large and is beside a large family room that we really don't use so I can hang many recent paintings - works in progress - where I can consider and make changes for a few weeks as required. This is new for me and I think is going to help refine my final produce.

So I start crude and fast - but trying to focus on value then finish slowly and more carefully spending many days coming back to each piece refining. In most cases the final product is tweeked greatly changed over a period of two weeks.  If needed, I photo, look at the value plan in black and white or upload into Sketchbook Pro and rearrange shapes etc as needed. I am moving more and more from pencil and pad to the computer for answering questions.

Hardest part of it all - selecting the theme and images to work with . Once started its just play until its done.

Hope your having a good week too.