30 September 2012


We went to a friend's cabin this weekend and I brought along my painting gear.

view behind the cabin at 6pm

same view next day at 10am

I'd painted the canvas overall yellow awhile back - sometimes I do that with my leftover paint because it makes a nice starting point for future excursions.  Here's how this one progressed, beginning with white:

Directly after that I did a third one.  Laughing, I wedged myself and my gear into a small space between a fence and an old abandoned tractor to get this view.
12pm view

1pm finished painting

My brush puts in more curves than my camera sees, apparently!  But that's part of the fun of doing this: what my eye and hand can make of the present, trying to simplify without losing the feeling of the place.

The best part of painting outdoors, though, is sitting still in one place and gazing intently at the landscape.  Small changes - in the sky, the angle of the sun, the movement of animals - take on greater significance, and not just because I'm trying to catch it with the paint.  I become aware of where I am in a way that is impossible when I'm in motion.  It's very meditative and introspective, and I feel happy and calm.

27 September 2012

solo show

My upcoming solo show!

trust in your heart

Two new canvases stitched and stretched.  I'm using the same format to experiment with colour and technique.

Begin with a very watery colour mix on the raw canvas.
Let it sit 15-30 minutes.
Draw into the colour with a brush dipped in clear water.  
This takes out some of the pigment, leaving lighter, slightly blurred, not entirely under control drawing.  I like this effect, and will try doing this in multiple layers.

The prism in my window...

...throws rainbows everywhere!
Wrapping my work for shipping is more fun with bits of rainbows on the plain brown paper.  These are going out to a specific client, hope they will like one or maybe more!  It has, again, been a long time since I had a cheque, and I must trust in my heart which says "do what you love and the rest will follow".

a couple of spontaneous studio compositions

simple detail

A few days later and I like this painting better.  

Alberta Landscape #39
oil on canvas

23 September 2012

going mobile

It won't go fast, but it will go far!

view #1
up close in the woods: a challenging location for me

this is more-or-less what I was going for

the set-up

the palette - white not shown

the result

Turned out to be too difficult for the likes of me, so I wiped the canvas and re-painted, allowing it to become very abstract.  So close, hard not to itty-bit the details of leaves, tree trunks, grasses.  Pity I didn't photograph before wiping, it was a really bad painting, haha!

So I got myself out of the woods and up a small hill, where things were more open...
view #2

palette #2

result #2

I don't much like either of these paintings, but it was a gorgeous day and fun to try out my new and improved bicycle-mobile painting kit!


Enough abstinence!  Worked on these yesterday - not finished but beginning to look like something.   Ahhh... sweet painting feeling.

21 September 2012

anxiously awaits

I have not made artwork in the studio since shipping my recent paintings off to Edmonton...  getting a bit antsy in here.

Taking a break after several months of intense work is good.... but it is getting a bit antsy in here.

Extending/organizing the storage and shelving areas and generally opening the studio space up is very productive - I love this studio more and more as it takes shape over time.  Sometimes a physical space needs to change a wee bit to accommodate new ideas before the outward work can begin...  and it's getting to be critical mass antsy in here!

soon, soon.....




18 September 2012

plein air-a-lot

Went out painting a few days ago and forgot my camera, so there are only these photos to show, taken this morning in the studio.

First canvas - I was really trying to keep things loose, apply the paint thinly and not overwork.

Second canvas - the paint gets a bit thicker here, and I'm not sure I like the composition.  Foreground handling is throwing me off.

Third - my favourite of the day.  Paint applied well, good colour and placement of land/sky.

Yesterday my plein-air buddy and I went out again and I remembered my camera but forgot my brushes!  Oh no.  We found a lovely view, and she lent me two old watercolour brushes...

the lovely view

An exercise in frustration: applying oil paint with watercolour brushes, which are too soft and too long and the wrong shape entirely!  I don't hate the resulting painting, but I sure don't love it either.

I was ready to give up when sudden inspiration hit and I wrapped the lower part of the brushes with masking tape.  The shortened bristles were just a bit stiffer and just a bit easier to work with...

the second lovely view

The second painting, made with the altered brushes.  A much improved experience.

One very cool thing about all this is that I learned I can make a painting with only two brushes.  Hmmm... I have been carrying 15-20 brushes when I go out, but I think my field painting kit is going to be streamlined!

11 September 2012

free and clear

There they are, my paintings all wrapped up and ready to go out the door and into Bill's truck and off to Edmonton for my show.

I love the process of wrapping up my paintings prior to shipping them out, it's a really calming ritual for me as many months of hard work come to closure.  Making paintings is a performance: lots of behind-the-scenes study and doing and undoing and reworking and shifting things around... and then the curtain opens, so to speak, and it is what it is, and hopefully the work broadens emotions and ideas as it entertains.

Clear empty space...  ahhh....  with rainbows on the walls!
Atmospheric out-of-focus, hehee.

Apparently spider plants, besides being general air cleaners, are specifically good at removing formaldehyde from local atmospheres.
This is happy news for acrylic painters.

Almost all acrylic paints contain formaldehyde in tiny amounts, but because the paint dries so fast it is not much of an issue for the most part.  However, when applying glazes over large areas the potential toxicity is something to be aware of.  I wear a mask now when doing all-over large glazes, because it would be a real pity if I developed sensitivities to this medium as well as the oils!!!  

And now I have two spider plants, which help keep the air clean and also make the studio more cosy.

09 September 2012


last night added red to the middle bits
paint still wet in this photo

this morning added more cut-out bits at the bottom
also highlighted blue lines

mixed media on stitched canvas
53w x 49h inches

08 September 2012

come to the edge

Edges are very important.

Hard edges are generally seen as less desirable than soft or blurred edges.  This makes sense to me, because a hard edge leaves no room for question: that's it, the colour/shape ends there, no doubt about it.  A soft edge, on the other hand, inspires imagination and possibility.

So, with my usual sense of contrariness, I want to use some distinctly hard edges in this painting!  
As you can see, already I begin to soften that edge a little, though...  always the delicate balance.  I'm curious where this one will go.

And here another work in progress.  Looking awkward right now, but my inner vision remains clear and I see the beauty that will eventually emerge.  It's in there, just waiting to be revealed!

06 September 2012

if at first you don't succeed ....

... try, try again!  

Old, unfinished oil painting removed from stretcher (and cut into pieces that may be used for another project somewhere down the road).

Stretcher then re-used - does this look familiar?  I will not, I will NOT overwork it this time!! haha  The good part is I've had some time to think about my approach and how subsequent colours might be layered for some nice effects.

This is actually very interesting because I don't think I've ever tried to repeat a painting to quite this extent.  A few years ago I would've shuddered at the thought.  

Ah, but this is not exactly repeating myself, is it?  It's almost-repeating a beginning that went awry in the first attempt, and I do think the idea is worth another try.  My internal excitement-o-meter is happily humming with visions of how this one might turn out if I work thoughtfully.  That's always a good sign.

03 September 2012


"1. v. ... to find a solution to (a question or problem) to decide, determine ... 2. n. something resolved firmness of purpose ..."

I have resolved this painting as far as I am able.

Having not been very focussed in the last 3 weeks, I now resolve to be more productive in the studio.  To that end, I spent several hours today stitching up these pieces, a diptych.  Now I'm excited and eager to stretch them tomorrow - finally the gears are meshing.