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.

Thursday 26 December 2013

One Approach to Developing an Acrylic Painting - a progressive series

It been quite a while since I posted a progressive series on the development of an acrylic painting.

The reference is a photo I have used to create three smaller paintings in the past few years. I thought I would take a different approach and attempt a larger piece - 30x36.

 I chose to "flip" the image placing the open sky on the left. A quick placement of the larger shapes below.

I flipped and cropped the photo. Initial sketch of large shapes was done using a Montana acrylic pen black. 

Golden Liquid Quin Violet and gloss medium brushed on using wide Liquatex brush and scraped off in light areas using large rubber colour shaper. Creates a bit of a value plan in the under painting.

Redefined the large shapes using a Montana pen grey. Then wiped on Golden Liquid Magenta with water and paper towel to dampen down the light pen lines and add colour to them - see below. 

Laying in the darks - rocks, trees - pthalo blue grayed with raw umber at variable values. Tree limbs pthalo blue and iron oxide black for dark under painting. 

Adding colour and shaping to trees

T square to draw the horizon (water) line. You can also see where I picked out some of the blue on the rocks using the rubber shaper to create variation. 

Water blocked in 

Placed distant tree line and hills. Beginning to shape rocks using the lighter and warmer grass colours. Added dark values and warm reds to the tree limbs. 
Shaped trees and branches outline with high key grayed greens and blues of sky. 

See above and below the use of a mid sized rubber shaper that was used to lift off areas of the blue to expose the under painting and create variation - light/dark, warm/cool. Also placed spots of the yellow grass then used the shaper to pull out and shape impression of grasses.

More definition of grasses, tree limbs, add branches to the left side and create highlights on the rocks. Intense lighting of the studio pushes the photo. Added some spots of warm to the sky and water. 

Been an intense couple of hours. Time for coffee, get the painting off the easel and take a look at it thoughtfully for critique. 

Under cool light of a dark dull day

Warm it a bit with an incandescent light.  And, yes, that's what our living room looks like most days. 


Now the hard part. Consider it for a few days under different lighting conditions and decide what it needs  to reach a finish. 

Sunday 22 December 2013

New Christmas Selection

Its been a month since my last post.  Cathy and I have been in Ontario having an early Christmas with our families . Sure glad we did - we missed all the difficult weather.

Since my return I have been busy making gallery  "replacement" paintings for those that have not found a home.

So I don't have anything new to offer . I just wanted to make contact before the year's end and to share a few of my  recent acrylic paintings and to wish you and your families all the best that this season brings.

And, of course, happy painting in the New Year.

And all the best from Cathy and Santa

Thursday 21 November 2013

Small brush exercises with WM oils on MDF board

Returning to Kennels - 8x10 oil on MDF

This past week I decided to spend a bit more time with the WM oils using small watercolour brushes on a smooth gessoed surface on MDF board. I am really liking the greater control I have with the combination. I no longer seem to be getting my self deep in oil muck  and am more easily able to make corrections as required.

The hunt scene was part of our old life. The shapes and colours of horses, the coats ( men wear pinks and ladies black with blue collar) and the fall colours create opportunity for abstracting and I plan to do more and larger.

Heading back to Ontario for an early Christmas with family tomorrow - so I needed to work on a few Christmas presents.

Our nephew is playing in the Toronto production of Les Mis -5x7

Our grandson Jayden 5x7

Our grand daughter Maeve 5x7

Photos are off as I had already plus a finish on ( using Liquin as recommended by Doug Braithwaite and really liking it).

Good small brush exercises.

Terra Skin ( Mitz Art ) selects one of my paintings

I was very pleased to learn that Art Mitz, the manufacturer  and distributor of Terra Skin has selected one of my acrylic sketches for the cover of their new sketch pad (thanks Lea Stillinger) .

The piece was an 8x10 done on TerraSkin "neat" - no gesso. Its a sketch completed near Collingwood Ontario.

Its one of those quick pieces that I did not take seriously and thought it was too loose and too silly to consider keeping. But I kept it and showed it ( because my wife liked it) and got a very positive reaction to it and it sold quickly. Now chosen for this. Go figure!   Its a part of my continuous struggle with "who I am" as an artist. Do I want to be loose and playful or be tighter and demonstrate technical competence. Its become almost a daily fight for me. 

I have posted on the use of TerraSkin earlier. Its a great product and can be used for any medium. I more often add gesso, often black, to give it a bit of "grip". 

Recently  I have been using oils with soft watercolour brushes (thanks Doug Braithwaite) and  I find they work very well on this smooth surface. 

More small examples:

I found it a great product for quick figure drawing/painting sessions - acrylic 6x8

Also like it for "spots of colour " exercises WM Oil 6x8 

Simple and clean for simplifying plein air sketches  WN oil 6x8 

Take a look at their product line:

Thursday 10 October 2013

Cut downs for stronger pieces

I am not sure if I have posted about finding the heart of a larger piece and cutting it down to create a smaller better piece. Something I do often, particularly if a piece is just hanging around or has not sold and I reconsider its strengths and weaknesses.  I put it on the floor and try a variety of  frames to isolate areas to see if I can find areas to save. Its not uncommon to find a few strong  8x10s  from a larger weak piece.  Another reason I like to paint on boards when I can - so easy to take to the chop saw.

Original sketch - too much foreground 

Chop saw at work 

8x10 cut down that I think (hope) is stronger

Thought I would like this start better in square format 12x12 - now to finish the piece
20x30 stretched canvas with poor composition 
Tried 14x18 frame and think I found a stronger composition 

Marked and cut canvas - but accidentally tore it pulling off frame

White glue spread on doorskin to remount

Re-framed, torn area mended using acrylic gel and paint - now to decide what it needs to finish