29 July 2011


Finally finished this portrait of Mel!
I think I started this in March, in Mel's studio, and was frustrated and left it there to dry. Wish I'd taken a "before" pic, it really was quite awful except for nose & mouth, which I did not alter.

oil & china marker on canvas

Titled "Relativity" because Mel is someone with whom I'm very comfortable, and my portraits of her almost always turn out great.

Then a quick small drawing, maybe 9 x 20" with acrylic wash. Love the eyes, these are really her eyes:

And in between things I finished this painting:

Urban Spaces series 2 #5
acrylic on stitched canvas
32.5w x 31.5h

28 July 2011


A productive week in the studio! We are going on vacation very soon, and I've been happily working away knowing that a break is coming.

Earlier I had thought this one was finished - but this week I worked on it a bit more:


Hmmm ... not sure if I like these changes!

Another one of this type finished. Very minimal working in the raw canvas areas. I really like it:

mixed media on canvas
61w x 34.5h

Yesterday I stitched, stretched and began painting another photo-based work:

32.5w x 31.5h

Last task of the day is to pull out the oil paint & alkyd medium, don vapour-barrier mask & gloves, and do another glaze on the commission:

Glazed cobalt violet + white.
Next the sky will need more lights, and some hot orange-yellows glazed over the lower areas.

Then I quickly leave the studio! Next morning the fumes are almost entirely gone. I can do a glaze every second day - the plan is to finish by the end of August.

22 July 2011

the beat goes on

Starting to glaze with oils and using alkyd medium again, wearing a mask this time... so far no problems.
I'm excited by the progression of this work, but also will be glad when the time for wearing a vapour-barrier mask while I paint is behind me.


Yesterday Shannon came up to the studio to sit for a portrait. We met in the accounting intro class.

First I did a drawing of her, using 2B pencil and India ink wash:

And then a 16x16" oil painting. At first I did not like it - haha, almost always the case with portraits for me! As time passes they inevitably grow on me,and already I'm liking this one more than yesterday.

Shannon has quite a delicate face, which I feel this painting does not convey. I can tell you why:
It's partly because I used a wax medium with the paint, which has a heavy consistency.
It's also partly because of the many raised lines on the canvas. Usually I draw into the paint with a China marker, which gives a wonderful delicacy of line, but this time I didn't draw much because the raised lines interfered with the smooth movement of my drawing tool.

It's also because I am not so interested in exact depiction. I like to work very quickly (this painting took a little less than an hour from start to finish) because I like the spontaneous emotional reaction I have to my sitter. These quick paintings have a fresh immediacy that would be lost if the sittings were prolonged and I concentrated on some conservative notion of accuracy.

Besides, the more I discover about life, the more I realize that nothing is accurate anyway. It's all in the mind of the beholder, so to speak.

This is the raised-line drawing on the canvas before I painted Shannon's portrait on it.

15 July 2011


It's Stampede time in Calgary...
The studio has been very noisy because there's a bar directly below and they have a boom box! They are cranking out the country tunes every day at full volume! Starting at noon!

So I decided to utilize this time to make some noise of my own, and fired up the compressor, put on earphones and built some canvas stretchers!


12 July 2011


Danse Russe

If when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
“I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!”
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,—

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

- William Carlos Williams

I first came across that poem sometime in high school, and decades later it remains one of my favourites.

In the studio yesterday, among other things, I worked on this painting:



I'm very excited with this pencil drawing on raw canvas juxtaposed with the painted surface thing that I've lately gotten into!

10 July 2011

to be or not to be...

...that is the question, indeed.

I went for a walk this evening and found myself on a path going through some very tall grasses, almost up to my shoulder. They had heavy seed heads on top, and tiny yellow flowers, and they were moving in the breeze. Their colour was dark in the path front of me and going to pale green further away - it was one of those evenings when everything seems lit from within and colours glow.
This is the place where I can rest my eyes: the grasses are like water.

Today Juan-Carlos sat for me and we had a lovely visit.

The Explorer
oil on wood panel
16w x 20h

In the last few days I made these:

Passage - 24w x 25h
Still needs some work!

Horizon - 73w x 33h
Just stitched and stretched. Now I have to consider about the drawing parts, and whether to add a second skyline, &c. Almost wanting to just leave it as is...

A slightly strange, dark, camera's-out-of-batteries shot but I like it.

07 July 2011

present future

Yesterday Joyce came up to the studio to sit for me.

First I painted this portrait while she talked about recent experiences in her life teaching abroad. Her joyful and animated spirit comes through here, I really like this painting!

Then made a quick pencil drawing - this actually looks a more like Joyce than the painting.

another perspective

My paintings and I in the Axis gallery. Actually they are two diptychs, but one pair has been hung with sides touching. They look good on the brick wall!

05 July 2011

making adjustments

Two finished works, seemingly suddenly, as is often the case.

A Small Potential Difference
acrylic on stitched canvas
51w x 34h

Later, There Were Pioneers
acrylic on stitched canvas
29w x 45h

Ongoing progress:

Yesterday I added white and red and more orange, also a bit of cobalt blue. Gradually it is taking shape.

And some small but, I think, very effective changes to these two:



Mixed media on stitched canvas
45w x 51h



Out Of Sound
mixed media on stitched canvas
51w x 45h