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 just doing it - Go to your room!

I have had the good fortune to take instruction from outstanding artists in Canada and the USA. I continue to work on my own development ( Going to MY room!) . I share, through this blog and workshops, what I have learned and what others have shared with me.

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.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

So, what did I learn from Carol Marine?

When I say I learned it - well, that's a wee bit of an exaggeration. Learning it means I can now do it. So lets call it the list of things she does that I find interesting and worth working on - thinking they would help my work - both oils and acrylics. Got to remember she is painting small still life - 6x6 panels- and subject is a variety of small objects with strong lighting.

1. Composition.  Carol spends a great deal of time designing her compositions. Very thoughtful of positive and negative - a shape is a shape. Used overlap a reinforce a feeling of depth in such as small space. She uses three point perspective - narrowing tall vertical elements as they descend (like a sky scraper in mirror image) again to add dimension and depth to her small setups. She considers colours (value, hue , temperature ) of her objects and uses them to effect.  Very thoughtfully done.

2. Palette.  Carol is probably as good as anyone I have seen working with a limited palette and mixing in a highly organized fashion. Small pools building on one another modifiying hue, saturation, temperature and value very subtly.

3. Grays. She is a master of subtle grays. I make grays in two ways: the traditional combinatin of compliments and adding white as needed, or using pre-mixed grays of know value and adding hue as needed. She starts with three primary hues: red, yellow and blue. She plays with a variety of each - warm yellow on cool reds, etc.  She modifies the temperature and hue direction of these grays as required. They are very subtle and sensitive when applied to the palette.

4. Overall value. Her dominant value is generally in the mid range. Many of her paintings are subdued with high values held in reserve until the final kick. When she applies her highlights (usually applied on a small spot of transitional value below) they JUMP off the canvas. Highlights are a mix of white, the color of the object and the colour of the light source.

5. Edges. This is what I love the most. Carol builds each object from the center using a fairly heavy load of paint. She then feathers (thins) the paint out beyond the edge of the object at points. When she carves the back-ground/negative spaces around the object it creates a transition that is interesting and high in "energy".
6. Shadows. Like above, Carol uses great transitional values and colour to bring her shadows to light. She consciously thinks about creating the penumbra (look it up!) for each and again it adds energy to her small pieces.

7. Lay it and leave it. Carol works in spots of colour - one beside the next. Something I admire and have been trying to strengthen in my oil pieces and what I use as a form of blending in my acrylics. She just does it so darn well.

8. Surface. She prefers to work on a smooth surface using fairly soft bright synthetics. I play with it but much prefer the more textured linen.

Those are the main points that come to mind. Helps me to write them down then they become concrete learning objectives for me.

So what am I going to do now? I need to get back to my large acrylic pieces ( I have been playing with these small oils for weeks now trying to be prepared for her workshop) but first I need to play and practice with some of the skills she displayed.  But I am not into eggs, orange wedges, apples or tea cups. So need to find an interest that will work in a small format then play with the skills.


  1. ah,,, Great Review Brian, Thanks so much! I love Carol's work and your sharing has been a good help to understanding the process....
    by the way, your eggs look pretty darn good! Scrambled or Fried?

  2. Hi Brian, As a landscape painter, you might be interested in Laurel Daniel's work for ideas about subject material for small paintings -- Big views on small sizes.

    1. Thanks. I follow Laurel's Blog now. Appreciate the suggestion.

  3. This is better and has more usable information than reading one of the expensive art books I purchased. You're great! Thank you for the notes to the class.


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