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.

Friday 27 July 2012


Getting ready for tomorrows plein air competition - Prix d'Art at the Old School House Gallery, Qualicum Beach an hour south of here on Vancouver Island. A really fun event that draws 50 artists from the Island and the mainland of British Columbia. 

So this morning I start to organize things, picked up my tripod - and a leg breaks off. Just metal fatigue I guess - I have worked it pretty hard and felt I was going to need a replacement soon. This has been a great tripod, bought 8 years ago from Judsons ( Gorilla Box ) - good tripod at a good price. But I am now tripod-less as needed to support my Alla Prima Pochade that I like best for acrylics - as shown in an earlier post. And I wanted to use acrylics for this event. 

So I set up my Soltek and played with different ideas to make it work. I have used it for acrylics - but don't like it nearly as well as my Alla Prima. For acrylics I like to have a small Masterson Palette for the heavy paints and easy access to the bottles of Golden fluid acrylics that I squirt out as needed - and on to a glass palette where I mix. 

So next I got out my Coulter Art Box system that I have been using for oils this summer. And yippee I think I have a system that will work - in fact, I took it for a "short ride" this morning - spent about 30 minutes at the end of my drive way working on a 9x12 - and think it will do the trick. 

Coulter system set up for acrylics and my transporter cart

Masterson Stawet on the left, glass in the middle and fluid acrylics and medium on the right,
 brushes hanging on the back, two water containers on front

Taking system for a short work out to see if I am happy

Never tried this before - using a cut out view finder - thought it might be good for architectural subjects
Summer traffic in Comox 

Initial block in

The system worked well and let me set up the way I like acrylics to be set up, in fact, having the panel at shoulder height was an advantage over the Alla Prima. The only limitation is that I had planned to work 14x18 but felt it was too big for  the panel holder to support - so I will stick with 12x16 or 11x14. 

Saturday 21 July 2012

Strathcona Wilderness Institute - Paint-Out Demo

It was another fun day. I was asked to do a demo painting in support of Parks Day in BC at Strathcona Park for the Strathcona Wilderness Institute. My plan as announced was to do an acrylic demo of Mt Albert Edward - while it was a beautiful day Albert Edward was behind a big cloud all day. So it became a good exercise - using the foreground available and painting the distance and mountain from memory. 

I started showing four "options" that could be considered.  Then did my usual sketchs using water soluble pencil and final sketch using China Marker. I use two 12x16 linen on doorskins. I applied the underpainting on the first - used Jenkins Green (never used it before as an underpainting  - but is a nice warm green and something to try again). While it was drying I sketched the second and used Quin Violet for its underpainting. 

End result - two hours total time - two "starts" to consider and make final tweeking to . Might make paintings. 

Rough plans to consider 

Alla Prima Pochade configured to use for acrylics

Mt Elbert Edward is out there somewhere

Just plastic and pigment on linen. Stick them in a frame and they almost look like paintings. 

Jenkins Green underpainting

Quin Violet underpainting 

Fun day!

Tuesday 17 July 2012


This Saturday, July 21, from 1 to 3 PM, I will be doing a demonstration painting near the Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre (beside Raven Lodge, Mt Washington) for the Strathcona Wilderness Institute - it's  Parks Day.  

My intention is to make one or two different "starts" of Mount Albert Edward. I will discuss my approach to planning and beginning the painting and continue towards a finish as time permits. 

Join with me. Watch my approach,  or begin your own paintings and I will offer my suggestions if you wish. 

I will be working in acrylics. Bring what you like. Even pencil sketches for planning. 

Weather looks good. Be prepared for sun. Try to arrive well before 1 PM so we can move to the painting site and have time to enjoy the afternoon. 

I have an affinity for Mount Albert Edward  as I have  a fear of heights/exposure and climbing it a few  years ago was a big accomplishment for me.  In the past few years I have painted Albert Edward from many different approaches - both plein air and studio paintings. It is iconic - most locals know it by sight - and an easy and fun mountain to paint. 

Love to see you there. 

Some examples - from 6x8 up to 24x36

Monday 9 July 2012


Jeff Watts and his painting I purchased in 2007 that is on the front of his DVD
Well, our home sale is not going well ( our kids/grandkids are wanting us to move back to Ontario). So we can probably expect to be on Vancouver Island until next year at the least - not a bad place to be - so it's OK. 

 I need to continue with my development and have decided to take what is probably my  last opportunity to return to the Watts Atelier in Encinitas CA for a serious refresher. Jeff Watts is conducting a six day intensive course on portrait and figurative in oils.

I have spent the past few months using acrylics - plein air and studio. Catching up on commissions and gallery commitments. So I need to budget some time now to get back to oils and to do some portrait pieces. I will start by reviewing Jeffs DVD - which is excellent for quick portrait pieces. 

Fun for me is that I purchased the small painting on the front of the video. Its a wonderful little piece and I was so pleased to see it used for the video.

When Jeff's workshop finishes I will attend the Weekend with the Masters near San Diego
where I will spent three days taking plein air with Ken Auster.  I also have his DVD and have just revisited it for the first time in four years. Should be fun. 

Cathy will be coming with me and will enjoy two weeks on the beach in Oceanside CA where we have stayed in our RV before - great spot. 

Still room in both workshops if you want to join me!!!!!

Sunday 8 July 2012

Street Painting - a step towards plein air?

I recently spent a couple of days painting on the sidewalk  in front of two galleries: Gallery 223 in Nanaimo and Pearl Ellis Gallery in Comox. Neither site provided an interesting spot to make a plein air start so I painted from photos. Both days attracted interest with some folks staying and chatting for over a hour. 

In each case I spent about an hour  and a half making starts that I will put final finishes on and see if they warrant being called a " painting". 

But my point came to me yesterday when one of the "audience" was talking about their fear of painting plein air in front of viewers. It dawned on us that maybe painting in a visible location from photos - where you have better control of your subject and weather etc - might be a step to building confidence in painting in front of others. 

I choose photos that are simple to work. Each example is acrylic 12x16 on linen mounted on 1/8 " doorskin plywood. 

Just something to consider.

Cameron Lake Colours 

Late Snow Castle Craig

Shapes of San Jo Bay

Strathcona Runoff