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.

Friday, 27 January 2017

New under paintings

More paintings developed:

30x40 on canvas. Sketch with acrylic marker

Pthalo turquois glaze

Magenta added to darken areas

Magenta wash to the sky area

filling in darks with more transparents then adding opaque to shape trees and grasses

Viewing framed 

additional glaze to darken - over did it - too dark 
Brought up the lighter opaques - back and forth, back and forth- need to frame, hang and consider

Second piece 16x24 on canvas:

Anthacranone blue underpainting 

Allowing the blue to form the darks of the rocks and dark tree and dark accents of mountain

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

New starts for the New Year

Been a while and its another year. Few more approaches to acrylic landscapes
Started with a photo of the shoreline near Campbell River, Vancouver Island.

Interest area was simply the shoreline. Altered some elements (rocks) to close in the outside and emphasized and exaggerated the foreground elements.

24x30 sketch in with fine then darks with15mm acrylic markers

View in frame, notice the different temp of light in other room 
Played with glazes to darken for more "drama".  Need to think about it - pretty dark . 

Iconic west coast tree near lighthouse in Ucluelet BC

Diox Purple glaze

Use rubber shaper to pull out rough values

18x24 consider few days, may need to bring in some warmer temperatures  and the value on the rocks too light - same as water- need to be darker

Saturday, 29 October 2016

New start

New start. Comox Estuary.  Acrylic 16x24 on canvas mounted on board. Quick rough  plan with pencil then final plan with acrylic marker.

Block in darks using transparent red iron oxide and pthalo green. Spread for variable thickness using 3 inch rubber shaper.

Block in and carve transparents with opaques. First layer coverage. Frame and reconsider what it needs over few days.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Third interpretation

Third morning. I wanted a different approach again. Went to a diox purple as the underpainting and did a bolder rough value plan - adding and subtracting with brush and colour shaper.

Pencil sketch - 18x24 canvas

Acrylic marker plan 

Diox purple underpainting and rough value plan

Stronger vertical transparent darks
Poor photo - canvas covered in first layer- transparent darks carved by opaques. 

So now framed and put with the other two and consider over the next few days. I punched in some silly high saturated branches in the front - just to see if they worked. Probably not. Will see. OK with the sky but the foreground probably too strong and distracting.

Getting started - again

Been away from studio painting for almost a month - closing down Ontario and driving back to BC.  Having trouble feeling excited about painting - and thats not normal for me.  Went for a Thanksgiving Day hike in Strathcona park. Thats all it took to get me pumped again: the colours were wonderful.

I decided to do multiple interpretations of the view of Mt Washington from the Meadows hike. Something I painted years ago when I was tighter and less interpretive. How would I interpret it now?

So I made three "first layer starts", one each morning, and each using a different approach. All were done quickly and crudely - just spots of colour. Stopped each once the canvas was covered, then framed, and set aside to examine in a few days to finish. I wanted loose, colourful, bold interpretations - almost a plein air look.

Start with pencil sketch then final plan with acrylic marker - 18x24

Under painting with quin red and crude value plan using colour shaper

Add caption

Add vertical darks

Add background values

Its crude but canvas is covered.

Framed and set aside for a few days before deciding on second layer and details

Second day, decided on a vertical interpretation. Again total time about 90 minutes.
Acrylic marker plan 16x20

Poor photo - but you get the idea - image covered  

So now, framed, set aside, look at them casually and then more critically. Can see many things to do. For example, on the first piece, the yellow meadow is too saturated and the yellow line takes the viewer out of the canvas to the left. Is the foreground coming forward: is the background pushed visually back? Are the colours too saturated? Needs to be changed.

Tomorrow, the third day. 

Friday, 30 September 2016


I have to November workshops ( Gabriolla Island and Coast Collective, Victoria) - both are full.

In January 17-19 2017 I will be teaching at the Old School House in Qualicum Beach. 

Approaches to Acrylic Landscape Painting

The Old School House, Qualicum Beach

January 17, 18, 19 2017

This three day acrylic workshop will expose students to different approaches for planning and developing an acrylic landscape painting. The course is designed for the serious beginner (with acrylic experience) to the intermediate painter interested in alternative approaches.
We will work from the same references.  The first morning we will review/discuss the principles of value, form, perspective and composition. We will paint together the rest of the workshop.  We will plan using shape and value sketches making best compositional choices. Each "start” will be made using a different approach. We will develop the paintings together stroke by stroke, glaze by glaze. We will adjust as needed together and make a final critique to consider and other choices we could have made, and you can make at home, to make the piece stronger.

Lots of learning; lots of fun. 

The following week I teach in Sidney , BC.  This is a longer, more comprehensive workshop focusing on strengthening the fundamentals for landscape painting. Contact:

SPCA  Acrylic Landscape Workshop         January 27-30 2017     

This four day acrylic landscape workshop is designed for the serious beginner (with acrylic experience) to the intermediate painter interested in strengthening fundamentals and getting an exposure to different approaches for planning and developing an acrylic landscape painting.  We will focus on Colour; Value; Shape and form; Perspective; Planning; and Design/Composition. Students will be sent a set of notes in pdf format for reading in advance. This helps to insure we are all “ speaking the same language” during the workshop. We will also discuss self critiques and supplies and equipment.

Each morning we will review  the day’s subject with presentation and discussion. Brian will do a demo relating to the days subject and incorporating approaches to planning and design.  Exercises will be introduced as needed.

Following the demo on day one students will work from their own references with guidance .   The following two days,  Brian will demo his approach to planning and executing a painting and students will follow step by step building the piece together. The final afternoon students can choose to once again follow Brians  work step by step, or work from their own reference.

Will be fun.

Next June I will again be teaching plein air skills in Thornbury Ontario. A great place for on- location painting .  Contact the Blue Mountain School of Landscape Painting. 

Plein Air Workshop Blue Mt School of Landscape Painting June 19-23 2017

Painting on location is enjoyable - but challenging. The most experienced plein air artists invest time in planning their composition before they paint.  Time spent planning can speed the painting process and increases the chance of a successful painting/sketch and an enjoyable day.

This five day plein air workshop will begin with two days of “indoor plein air painting” . We will review fundamentals and approaches to planning for strong composition. We will work together from supplied reference material.  This indoor work prepares us to handle the three outdoor days with confidence and enjoyment.  

Looking forward to these workshop. Hope to see you there.