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.

Monday 18 April 2016

A good exercise for landscape painters

There are lots of reasons to get out and paint on location. One is to learn how much your camera "lies" to you.

A good exercise is to make a sketch of relative shapes and sizes and take a photo from the same location. Then compare both - notice the distortion, particularly in distant shapes. Benefit - it gives the need/freedom in the studio to read into what photos are giving and to manage to the benefit of the painting.

In this case I did a simple quick sketch of shapes and relative values ( thats the D MD ML and Light on the sketch). I tried to be accurate in representing each shape: buildings, trees, lane, etc. Then I took photos from the same location and same height as my eye - the same eye I used to make the sketch.

Notice the difference. Camera pushes background back.

I used the sketch to make a quick plan on 12x12 linen board using an acrylic marker. Painting water-mixable oils. Made wash  using aliz crimson. Then did a simple quick block-in of the relative shapes and values using a large firm brush. Left the shapes flat and just focused on relative values.  Needed to extend the darks over the building to enhance the lights.

Result is a bit of an Edward Hopper flat-shape look to things ( I wish).

Been getting out of control again with my acrylics. All commitments met so have decided to tighten up accuracy, while still trying to be "me"  for the next few weeks working on "correctness" with simple architectural and figurative scenes in oils.

A fun hour.


  1. Hi Brian enjoying seeing some different subject matter from you.This one is very good -Jeff Heintzman

    1. Hey Jeff. Good to hear from you. Still painting? Was asking some of the Whistler ladies about you and they were not sure.

  2. Your article and photos really clarified what I've read so much about in following plein air blogs and tutorials - and the manner in which you presented this made it all become very clear in my mind - Now time to translate that knowledge into brushstrokes!! Thank you Brian.

  3. Thanks Gayle. Enjoy your painting.


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