28 December 2011

coming and going

Hey, it worked! The power of optimism and envisioning the future:

I called my gallery here in town and asked if he'd like to show some of my older landscape paintings, and he said "sure" and so I brought 7 paintings (on 13 canvases, some di- and tri-ptychs) to the gallery today, thus creating a little more space in my storage area. How nice! Now I will envision people coming into the gallery and enjoying the paintings, and eventually buying each one.

Also in the last few days I have worked on this piece:

acrylic on stitched canvas - 16 pieces @ 12x12" each
Not quite finished but getting so close!

the future

Revelation: I am a serious studio pack rat.

We are in the final stages of the shift. Tonight we moved a U-haul's worth of shelving, cabinets, tables, and paintings. I have decided to donate or destroy any work that has not sold and that I don't want to keep, and I'm sure I will not have to buy art supplies for many years!

Envisioning the future: shelves and cabinets emptying as the paintings find new homes and the supplies are used up. These empty shelves and cabinets will then also find new homes, the studio will become spacious and I will avoid cluttering.

This is the idealized version of the future from here where I sit at 3am, exhausted but feeling optimistic.

23 December 2011


A small potential difference:

Stitching bits of photos into the canvas!

Also I have re-discovered the process of drawing with a ruling pen and ink. Add a little brushwork, and we come to this:

Not sure about the tree bit at the top here... trying to continue the tree branches in the photo, but I think it is screwing up the depth perception. Maybe need to just knock it back a bit, lessen the contrast of tree branches against sky - or maybe lose the trees altogether, white out. Well, I will let it sit for a bit before making irrevocable decisions.

Meanwhile: isn't this fun, though? I'm feeling pretty excited about the photo bits and loving the process of drawing again.

11 December 2011

old becomes new

These are oil paintings which I began in 2010, then put away for a year. In the last couple of months I pulled them out again and finished them, since we are moving out of the downtown studio and I don't want to paint with oils here at the home studio.

The Excavators
34w x 37h

93w x 31h
finished these with some oil pastel, really liking the effect of the drawing lines over painted surface.

A Time Of Multiples
25 x 25"

34w x 64h

Resonance III
24w x 30h

Now just a few more loose ends to tie up and the downtown studio will be a thing of the past!

Urban Spaces series 3

Two more 11x14" in progress:

And three more finished:

I'm quite enjoying working with this photo-collage process!

05 December 2011


Jim is the husband of a former studio-mate. He had not done a formal sitting before and was very happy with the result. Me, too! This portrait catches some of Jim's character - besides maintaining a business career he is a jazz singer, can be quite flamboyant, and is a very kind and intelligent man. It was fun getting to know him a bit better as he sat for me.

oil on canvas

my palette

Isn't it interesting : I often have difficulty painting a man's portrait, but this one turned out quite nicely. I think Jim's personality has something to do with that. :)

24 November 2011

cows and paint

Plein air painting this afternoon - pulled off the road near a farm gate, and just after setting up to paint we were surrounded by a herd of cows! They were being moved from one pasture to another by a cowboy on a horse and his trusty collie dog. Living in the city, it's not often we get that close to a herd of cows - it was a fun spectacle.

Note to self: wear longjohns next time!

And a few more of the mixed media panel pieces are finished:

These are all 6 x 6"

This one is 16 x 12". I'm not sure I like how it turned out...

22 November 2011

the continuing story of the bungalow studio...

in progress - 12 x 12" each
light's a bit glaring in this pic

And a new stitched one, shown here in several stages:

30w x 62h
No titles yet for these new stitched ones... but I have a possible show title:
Points Of High Silence
which may or may not make it to the final cut.

19 November 2011

good mornin' sunshine!

I seem to be in that stage where I want to take photos of the studio at different times of day:

both photos taken within seconds of one another - interesting how the camera reads light.

And here is some of the actual art work I've been doing:

A new stitched diptych - not finished, going to add a bit of drawing and colour adjustments, and who knows what else.

The little mixed media collage pieces are coming along nicely:

Urban Spaces 3.9
16 x 12"

Urban Spaces 3.10
16 x 12"

Urban Spaces 3.11
16 x 12"

These are not finished... well, the top one is maybe close. Wanted red ink for the bottom one and discovered I'm out - all decisions deferred until more red ink is got!

Happy days.

18 November 2011

interesting times

Moved the studio from downtown space into our basement. Missing the high ceilings but not missing the commute. Have been working here for a couple of weeks now and it's starting to flow again; after almost two months of very intermittent energy this is a great feeling!

17 November 2011

whatever leads to joy

Yesterday I became aware of the apparently common perception that if one works in the arts and is not rich and famous, then one is doing something wrong in one's career. And I thought: what a load of crap.

I don't need to be rich and famous. What I need is to paint, and I have been very fortunate in my life because here I am: painting! If this is not riches then I don't know what is.

Some mixed media/collage things I've been working on:

Urban Spaces 3.4
mixed media on panel
9 x 12"

Urban Spaces 3.5
mixed media on panel
9 x 12"

Urban Spaces 3.6
mixed media on panel
9 x 12"

Urban Spaces 3.8
mixed media on panel
6 x 6"

Gradually these are coming along... the plan is to have a series of about 20 collage pieces and 10 or more larger stitched paintings, as well as some other things, for an exhibition in spring 2012. How nice to just steadily plug away at my craft and gradually see the work emerging!

And the plein air painting I did earlier this week:

oil on canvas
12 x 10"

Yes, I love my life. Rich and famous? Nah. This is better. :)

in response to your inquiry

Hi L .....

So you asked about paint - oh boy, you are in for a long response! Hope this is not too much. I'm not sure how much you know about paint so here is perhaps a lot of information but still not nearly everything there is to know about paint. I'm a detail-oriented person so to me these are the basics, haha.

First, a little on the physical properties of paint:

(you probably know a lot of this from the silkscreening, but I'll go over it anyway.)

Pigment load is the ratio of pigment to medium. A medium has no colour and it can be oil, water, acrylic polymer, egg yolk, casein etc. Ok, so egg yolk is yellow of course, but when thinned out it is very transparent. No colour basically means no colour added.

If you are using paint with a low pigment load you will have colour that is less vibrant and more transparent than that of paint with a high pigment load.

There is also some variation of the actual pigments used to make very similar colours. Two colours can look the same optically, but when brushed out onto a surface or mixed with other colours you will see that they behave quite differently. Some pigments are inherently transparent, some opaque. Some have a tendency to dry flat while others dry more glossy.

You can mix mediums with your paint. Basic acrylic medium comes in gloss, semi-gloss or matte. Gel medium will thicken your paint, allowing for impasto effects. Modelling paste medium can be carved into for very textural effects. All the these mediums can be mixed with the paint, or applied under or over the paint layer.

One advantage to applying gloss medium over your paint layer is that you can paint on top. You cannot paint on top of varnish - the paint will not adhere properly and the colours (especially dark colours) will go cloudy over time.
Another advantage is that the medium will seal the surface so that when you apply varnish on top you will have a uniform gloss. Varnish protects your painting because it is non-porous (unlike paints and mediums), and some varnishes have UVLS filters which personally I like.

I use mostly liquid acrylics, because I like to use thin glazes and washes of colour. I tend to make a thin mix of 50/50% water and gloss medium, adding a few drops of Flow Release (golden product) because it does this cool staining thing.
I also like to draw on top of the paint with oil pastels. Then I seal the whole thing with several coats of gloss medium before varnishing. This is what I did with the purple/yellow one.

GOLDEN - intense colours and dry quite shiny. Some of their paints feel very "plastic-y" to me. Liquid and heavy-body acrylics. Huge selection of mediums. Expensive! http://www.goldenpaints.com/

CHROMACOLOUR - colours are often not as intense, consistency a bit like gouache - not plastic-y at all, quite opaque and a velvety finish when dry. Liquid and heavy-body acrylics. Not as expensive as Golden. http://www.chromacolour.com/

STEVENSON - similar to Golden but not quite as shiny. Considered "student quality" by some artists, but I find they have a decently high pigment load. Heavy-body paints only. http://www.dlstevenson.ca/

LIQUITEX - don't use much but very high quality paint. http://www.liquitex.com/

And then a little on technique:

Layering works both ways : light-to-dark, or dark-to-light. You will get different effects depending how you go. If going light-to-dark you will be able to keep a glow in the colour underneath. If you go dark-to-light you will be able to achieve lovely subtle effects in your dark areas. I often work both ways on the same painting, choosing areas for maximum effect.
(I think the yellow/purple layered one is mainly light-to-dark. With the hard-edged "folky pattern" ones I work both ways.)

Sometimes if you want a crisp or intense light colour over darks you can lay white down first, just in the areas where you plan to apply the light colour. Don't worry about making the white totally opaque, it is mainly to supply a lighter area where the light-coloured paint will show up better on top of the darks. If you don't use the white underneath, you will need to either use thick paint* or use several layers of your light colour over dark areas. Either method can give lovely effects.

*the danger of a thick layer of acrylic is that sometimes it will "crack" while drying! This applies to mediums and varnishes as well as paint.

No matter the medium (oil, acrylic, &c), if you start with a white ground you will get maximum intensity of colour. This is one of the reasons that canvas is gesso'd before painting.

There are some specific colour exercises that I could do with you if we were geographically closer! Maybe next time we visit... but that could be some time and meanwhile you want to paint. It might be worth your while to take a colour theory course somewhere. This will teach you a lot more than just mixing colour - it will teach you how paint in fact responds to itself and to various external factors. If you study these things you can experiment more productively.

Whew - I hope that's helpful and not too long-winded!

Please say hello to B and to J, hope you are all well and enjoying life.

11 November 2011

then and now

Self-portraits done the night before my opening at the Front Gallery. Boy do I look tired!

39 x 39"
First larger work begun in the *new* basement studio. Good beginning.

Sky Light
mixed media on stitched canvas
45w x 51h
An up-to-date image.