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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.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Doug Braithwaite Workshop


Doug Braithwaite three day plein air workshop in Huntsville Utah.

Doug’s  plan was simple: he would teach and demo in the mornings and we would paint in the afternoons.  The day was 8 AM to 5:30 PM- that’s a long day for a plein air workshop and indicated that  he was going to be generous with his time. Fifteen students - and his wife Jeanette there to organize and help out.  

Right at the start the uniqueness of his approach was apparent. Doug uses a plein air system that he designed and built. It is unique and works well giving him a large glass mixing surface. He paints on heavy 5/8 MDF panels and sits them on a back board board that allows him to use a T square effectively as his maul stick. His panel is free to move and he is able to turn the  panel sideways or upside down to make specific strokes easier.  Really interesting and functional set up.


glass mixing surface


He uses a limited palette: titanium white, yellow ochre, cad yellow medium, cad red light, aliz crimson, pthalo blue, ultramarine blue and pthalo green. He begins by premixing his colours using careful observation relating his colours to those he sees in  nature for  his large shapes. Doug is a realist and works hard to make his colours and values correct as he sees it.



 Once his colours are mixed he applies an underpainting of ultramarine blue and aliz crimson ( a deep purple) and solvent loosely over the panel.  He then used paper towels and  QTips for pick out and applies heavier paint for the darks.  The plan takes shape. He can get quite detailed using this pick out approach. On day three he built the underpainting  by drawing the plan and then adding the darks (instead of pick out) with the purple underpainting.

Thin wash to begin


back board allows the use of the t square very effectively as a maul stick

Final stage pick out


The second phase has him taking paint from each pre-mixed pile and thinning with solvent ( he uses Turpenoid) and a bit of Liquin applying onto each of his shapes so that the paint blends with the under painting giving a colour direction for each shape but the overall value is darker and is “neutralized” by mixing into the purple under painting.

Second phase thinned colour added to underpainting

Testing colours

Panel free to move for easier working

In the third and final phase he uses the paint with a bit of Liquin and layers it such that paint from the same premixed piles when applied over the darker second phase the colours jump out visually  leaving the correct colour and value he wants.  


Day two demo almost finished

Day three demo almost finished


What is really remarkable is Doug’s  eye for colour and details and his incredible patience developing his paintings from a  loose construct to the final detailed work.  His brushstrokes convey so much information and are cleanly applied with confidence. He could stop much earlier and have achieved an excellent plein air piece but prefers to take the painting to a complete statement of what he sees.

Doug is a good and patient instructor . He and Jeanette are generous with their time and provided each student with samples of the brush cleaner he used and  each got a t square he makes himself. At the end of the workshop they invited us back to view their new Gallery and Dougs Studio – and a dish of Jeanettes peach cobbler.

Dougs large well organized studio


I got to purchase this sweet little piece Rooftops 8x10 – its full of the brushstrokes that I took the workshop to see so it’s like taking home a notebook full of ideas.

Rooftops   8x10 -


I have benefited from all of the many  workshops I have taken but few have met my expectations for learning as this one did. Very nice people working hard to help others learn.


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Preparing for Doug Braithwaite


Spent the last few days at the north end of Vancouver Island collecting reference material and doing a series of quick starts playing with the approach that Doug Braithwaite will teach in his workshop: smooth gessoed MDF boards and watercolour brushes applying thin oils and medium.  I usually try to out-guess what the instructor will present based on their supply list and images of their work and from their Blog and using that try to practice in advance in order to take full advantage during the classes.

First day I did three very bad starts and scrubbed them all. Paint was applied far too heavy and used too much medium. Next day I was ready to quit and  go back to my acrylics. But the third day was much better. I made five quick starts during the morning and could feel the control improving with each successive one. I used my Montana acrylic pens for the quick sketch then applied the oil thin with little or no medium. I feel some reason for optimism. Excuse the poor quality images.

9x12

8x10

11x14

6x8 you can see the ship in the distance 

Had a great few days.

Beautiful sands of San Jose Bay

Cathy  with one of the sea stacks 

Sea stacks of San Josef Bay 


Its heads-up driving to the west coast of the Island 

Fog lifting at Cluxewe estuary



Today we are back home in Comox. Tomorrow we head south to Utah. Expecting lots from this workshop. 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Heading to Utah and Doug Braithwaite

Doug Braithwaite 

Doug Braithwaite is a Utah artist whose work I have admired for a number of years. He produces wonderful small plein air pieces with amazing amounts of "information" while still keeping the painting looking inventive and interesting. He is a master at value studies and laying down strokes of paint and leaving them. Its a bit the way I work with acrylics (other than the master part) which is what caught my eye initially.

I have tried to find a spot in one of his workshops that would fit my schedule but have not had luck. Then last week, on his (actually his wife Jeanette seems to do the social media stuff) FB page they announced a cancellation and I jumped on it.

He uses oils differently than anyone I have taken workshops with - that's the attraction. Doug works on gessoed (tinted light gray) MDF board and works with soft watercolour brushes. Its a marriage between surface and brushes that I have no experience with and am excited to try it. He also uses a limited palette for plein air that includes pthalo blue and greens. Very powerful and hard to control but he uses them to great effect. I also like the pieces he builds on a diox purple value plan.







So I have been busy cutting small MDF boards and treating with gesso and playing with soft watercolour brushes using my water mixable oils and mediums.

My two little 8x10 attempts from boats at the dock in front of our home. Lots to learn.

On white gesso MDF tinted light gray

On black gesso smooth MDF


So far I really like it. Can apply the oil very lean, can manipulate and remove easily with paper towels and can make distinct brushstrokes without heavy impasto paint.

So we head to Huntsville Utah, thee days with Doug and painting there and back.



Back October 1.

 Cheers.