Tuesday, 16 December 2014

"In the Sedge, Lakeside"
5.25" x 3.5"

One of our favourite cross country spots was through the sedge
grasses at the side of a local lake.  It was an area that in the 
summer was quite inaccessible because of it's boggy nature.  
In the frozen days of winter, we could skim nicely along to 
secret coves and beach heads.

"Across the Valley"
Watercolour  4"x5.5"

For "Across the Valley" I used a the sketch below as
 a reference to paint from.  The sketch was done high
up a logging road on a cold winters day.  Backing the 
truck into a small meadow, I could sit in the trunk with my
little set of watercolours and a cup of water with the entire 
valley unfolding in front of me.  Magical!

I adore watercolours for their portability, and often take 
them with me on travels. There is now quite a collection 
of quick sketches from all over the world in my sketchbooks. 
It's striking how just a glance at a page instantly invokes
vivid  memories of specific places and occasions.
Once, in a museum, I saw pages from James Whistler's sketchbook. 
 It was dense with acute observations of the English countryside.  
Absolutely gorgeous and compelling.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A painting of a memorable skiing trip 
over the hills to a small lake where we had hot tea 
and left over Christmas cookies.  It was on one of 
those days when the skies clear and the sun 
makes the snow piercingly brilliant.

Watercolour  5"x3"

As a child we often went skiing at night. 
I loved the glow of snow in the indigo landscape.
I am not sure if the falling soft, wet flakes made a noise
but I seem to remember a faint sensation 
of whispering sound all around us.

Watercolour 5"x3"

Friday, 12 December 2014

I grew up in a place whose name means ' Valley of Snow."  
This watercolour is an amalgam of details from my memory.
I love the quiet that snow brings both to the ears and the eyes. 
It muffles sound so that a single bird's whistle seems to travel
forever while it covers much of the usual visual deluge of texture 
and detail in white simplicity.  

Watercolour 3"x 4.5 inches on 140 lb. acid free paper.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

"That Shell"
Watercolour on  paper   5" x 3.5"

I have been working on getting this shell right.  They are so complicated as
the form transitions in and out, while the growth lines spiral around the form.  
It is a trick to get it all right.  I used 140 lb stonehenge paper for this one.  
Stonehenge is meant to be a printmaking paper and if relatively soft, 
with very little tooth. I like it for watercolour  because the pigment literally
sinks into the fibres so it is easier to get clean edges.  I like to imagine that
 it is easier on my favourite brush as well, with less roughness to chew 
those small hairs to oblivion.

Available at www.dailypaintworks.com

Monday, 8 December 2014

"West Coast Textures"
As winter settles in here, the garden has dissolved into a mess of 
sodden leaves and stalks.  Not much colourful out there to paint! 
So, I am using my collection of stones, twigs and shells as models.
 For this particular set up, I used a fairly bright spot light, 
which increased  the contrast from the previous painting. 
Stronger light makes the details easier to see, but also 
tends to wash away subtle tonalities.  It's a bit of a trick 
to keep it all in balance.

"Small Treasures"
This little guy is only 3 inches by  4.25 inches.  
At that scale the view is very intimate and it feels like
 I am catching a glimpse of a quiet and private moment.
This painting is in a technique called drybrush watercolour.  
As the terms sounds, the brush is very dry and as such, 
one can keep very tight control of where the pigments go.
For sale on Daily Paintworks.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Another approach to this subject! Working on 5" x 7" paper again, 
 I set the flowers up in a very strong light and left the background bare.  
This lets the elements be the stars of the show.  
Really like the shadow on the rose hip!
Sorry, this work is sold.

This is my second go at the roses.  This watercolour is 5x6 inches in total. 
The paper was washed to give it a sense of 'age' as these roses have an air 
of sweet nostalgia to them.  I also played with the strong pattern that the leaves
 make. I think it gives the background as much strength as the subject. 
Available on Daily Paintworks.

This little watercolour ( 5x7) packs a punch.  This fall, my mothers rose bushes were brimming with delicate pink roses, robust rose hips and the dried out ochre coloured petals of the blooms past their prime and not yet dead headed.  I really enjoyed playing the warm and cold reds against the veridian greens. Available through Daily Paintworks.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

I have been back to the watercolours in the past weeks.  I love the discipline of the medium as well as the way the paper receives the pigments. Wet washes sink in while drier applications hover on the surface.  It always seems to me that that paper resonates more like a soft skin as opposed to canvas behaving like an exterior fabric.

I don't generally use masking fluid or draw out the subject before painting, but prefer to work directly with brush and pigment.  I also work from a 'live model', not a photograph. I feel that this leads to a less static interpretation of the flower.

Dahlia Trio
5" x 7" watercolour on acid free paper

Our weather patterns are behaving like a yo-yo right now.  For two days we receive glorious fall weather that begs you, loudly, "Come outside!" Then the skies open to deluge us with torrential rains.  The flower beds are all caught up in the drama, reaching blooms and buds to the sun only to be beaten down and tangled up by the rain.  Feel free to use any of these images to paint from!


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Whew! That was a busy summer! Hope yours was great!

As the morning air becomes cool and crisp and the light turns golden, it is time to be enjoying the last days in the garden.  Dahlia's are definitely the colour champions at this time of year and the garden is packed with white, pink, orange and yellow blooms. 

I set up in the kitchen of the house to paint in the full spectrum of south light instead of the studio's north light. It  looks like a mess, but it was fun to paint in a different space.  I'll  include a photo of the bouquet as well, in case someone else wants to take a crack at painting it.  

Thanks for looking.


The kitchen table remodeled!

  On top is the 6"x6" oil  painting while the photo below is the still life. You can see that I added another petal to the red and yellow dahlia in the final composition to better  balance the pink one.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Thinking about Space,  the‘nothings’ that make ‘ somethings’ more interesting
Reflecting on the disciplines of math, music and dance, I find there 
are many tools with which to consider and analyze the use of space 
in visual art.  From math the concept that the element ‘one’ is defined 
by the space, or ‘zero’ seems simple but is often overlooked. 

When one paints an object in a field, the field is just as important as 
the object. The one, defines the other, quite literally.  For example a 
tree placed on the left of the composition will project differently than 
one in the middle, top, bottom or right hand side. Playing with the 
relationship between the object and the field (space) is one of the most 
rewarding and simplest ways of enhancing a composition. 

Attention to the repetition and grouping of units and space is very useful in 
creating interest and unity. Two, four, six as compared to three, six, 
nine for  a simple example.   I can also think of scale which is easily
expressed in mathematics as a useful tool in painting composition. 
How different the reading of the same image, tree, if it takes up ten 
percent of the field, versus ninety-five percent! Quite simply paying
attention to the ‘nothing’ element, space – creates more interest in 
the ‘something’ subject!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Just added new paintings to Daily Paintworks today.  Check out the new 'crop.'
One of the works is of the Arrowleaf Balsamroot, which looks very much like a daisy, and which can only be found in the Okanagan.  Here are some photos of it this spring on the hillsides overlooking Lake Okanagan. It was a great day for a hike, and seeing all these blooms made it quite a wonderful time.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Thinking about Space,
The necessary element that makes the ‘other’ visible.

Our book collection seems to constantly be growing with art books, poetry, science, sociology, psychology and 'how to' books hogging the majority of the shelf real estate. I like used book stores, and try to visit them when on travels, especially abroad. You never know what will present itself in a dusty, almost universally poorly lit, spot!  I delight in finding the older books, including outdated elementary school textbooks.  They are written in a plain, uncomplicated manner, offering a comprehensive yet simple overview of their topic in an engaging conversational way.  

Mathematics, by The Golden Library of Knowledge, published 1958, begins with the sentence, “Mathematics is the science in which we think carefully about numbers and space.” In another that I cannot find right now, “Mathematics is about one and zero.”  I love it! As far as I can remember, no math teacher every pointed out to me that it requires a zero to define the one, a space to create separate and distinct units.  In Music, space divides sound into separate notes which can be used to create rhythm and pattern.  For dancers space is the expanse which allows movement. It may seem obvious that Visual Art needs space as well, but I find often in pursuit of creating the subject, I can forget about the important element of space.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

It has been three months since my first oil painting in Qiang Huang's workshop at the Scottsdale Artist School in Arizona.  As I  become more proficient at manipulating oil, I am starting to think about how to use the medium in terms of expression. 

Qiang, paints mostly still life.  His work uses broad lush strokes in high key colour and tone.  This type of painting style is loose and the paint shimmers and dances as it portrays how light falls and reflects off of it's subject.  I have not done much in this style as one needs a bright light source - and I profess that right now, I can't wrap my head around adding more stuff to my small studio.  Other possible approaches to painting include colour, line, pattern, texture, shape,or space. I hope to explore them each on their own merits as I keep exploring oil painting.  

In previous years, my watercolour paintings have explored and pushed the use of space, or volume quite a bit.  Here below are three dry brush watercolour paintings.  
Last Years Maple                        17 x 14". 
The Plight of the Bumblebee        22 x 30"
Sweet Ravages of Time               22 x 30"

Mr. Bumblebee won Best Watercolour in a Botanical Artists of Canada exhibition, while Ravages received the First prize in a Canadian Federation of Artists Show. 

PS: You can check out Qiang Huang at   http://qiang-huang.blogspot.ca


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A property nearby has been donated to our city to be turned into a park. A big Thank you to the elderly gentleman who has given his community this gift. The land is well over an acre. The original house has been torn down and what remains flowing out from it's footprint  is an overgrown, gone wild, utterly enchanting, garden.   In one corner a massive, at least fourteen foot wide, camelia bush is in full bloom right now.  It's blooms are dropping into the snarl of overgrown rhododendrons that crowd close, into ferns that are reaching high into it's legs and past the intruding wiry barbed strands of blackberry shoots.  The next few paintings will focus on the plants found in this stunning and peaceful spot.

Friday, 11 April 2014

One of the collections accruing in my home are pebbles, shells and miscellaneous wood bits.  Years ago they were the subject of a lengthy series of paintings.The work started out merely by observing and recording them, but then  I became fascinated by the idea that these little things were pieces of massive mountains now lying underfoot at the beach. The more I worked with them, the more I noticed how they had been worn into unique characters, their residual shape revealing the texture and strengths of their substance.  From there I began to muse about the relativity of the experience of time, which can range from the immeasurabilities of deep space, to the vast expanses of geological time, through organic time, to human time. Here is a sample of the first observational works completed in drybrush watercolour (approximately 2001.)


 Here is a link to my first attempt at pebbles and shell painting in oil on canvas...


Monday, 7 April 2014

A few years ago a sentence in the morning paper caught my eye, so it was hastily ripped out and stuck in a pocket.  That night, while getting ready to go to bed, I took it out and stuck it in small sprig of babies breath that was in a vase on the vanity.  The newsprint has long since gone yellow, and the babies breath shriveled, died and dried, but the quote by Plutarch, born in Greece long ago in 46 AD? has not lost it's potency.   "The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled." 
I look around my home and see all the things I have collected in anticipation of finding sparks. Rows of books to ignite my mind, collections of stones and feathers to excite my eyes, groupings of odd items acquired on trips and visits to stir slow embers of memory.  I remember the finding of each, but what about their affect?

 Time and experience have washed away at both my anticipation and intention, the mind smoothed flat with habit and assumption. It makes me think about the newsprint. Have you ever tried to light a flat piece of paper?  It will not burn.  It needs to be crumpled together just tightly enough to have fiber and air in perfect balance to interact.
I wonder if all my objects still hold the potential to kindle fires of the mind, ideas and questions? Or is it all just stuff that fills in space between these four walls. How does a fire start if it does not have enough air?

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The twigs in this bouquet were picked after a great and unexpected snowstorm downed many trees in the neighbourhood. Most were covered in yummy rounded buds just ready to burst into bloom or leaf so we put them in water and waited for the magic to begin..  A few daffodils from the garden brought colour and contrast to the rich texture and I moved into the kitchen to paint the whole bunch.  Sadly, they have passed now and  for the first time in my painting 'life' I am using photos to recapture the arrangement.  There are some larger paintings happening in the studio now that I think I am getting a grasp of the new medium. Will post them soon!


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Third Day

Many Thanks to Ms.Emily for her help in finishing off the more complicated parts of this Blog business.  Every mistake from here on in is MINE!!

Friday, 21 March 2014

This is the latest post on the Daily Paintworks site.  Daffodils are popping up everywhere in the garden  Who knew I put so many bulbs in!  Painting is six inches by six inches in oil on a cradled panel.


Good Morning!
First day after the Vernal Equinox, sunshine and budding flowers.  A good day to start something new.   After poking around for a few hours on this program I suspect I am as far as I can get, so it's time to call in the professionals . Hang on as I get going on this project.