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 29 May 2013

Playing with the ladies

Promised myself (and wife) that while I was travelling and in Ontario I would not make any gallery commitments. Well that did not happen but now they are done. So the next month or more is for me and for playing.

Have not done any figurative for a long while. Thought I would try a series of quick figurative pieces using the acrylics I brought and the few reference photos I have with me.

First is on black gesso on 12x16 linen on doorskin. Used graphite pencil to lay in first sketch, then used the acrylic marker pens for "final" sketch. Piece completed using only a half inch water colour brush (Alegro from Opus Framing ) Needed many layers of dry over dry to cover the light parts (back of gesso showing through on course linen).

Planning and drawing time about half an hour. Painting time about an hour. Simple spots of colour dry over dry.

Building a selection of acrylic marker pens

That was fun so I started another. This one on course linen again covered in gesso mixed with leftover paint from palette. 

Not happy so I left the exercise there. Thought I would share anyway.

Sunday 19 May 2013

What I miss the most

Colour of Gabriola  Acrylic 16x20

So, I have been painting in a small bedroom in this little rented condo for two weeks - all in acrylics. Not ideal but now I am looking at it as a way to learn what I can and cannot do without. I have a great studio set up now in Comox but we are considering the move to a smaller place and it would help a lot to know just what I truly need.

After two weeks its clear  what I miss the most (i.e. cannot do without). I thought it would be to do with the painting area -easels, work surfaces etc. But no its:

  • space in the studio. I normally, particularly as the painting nears completion, apply a stroke or two then walk back about 12 ft to evaluate. My day is a constant back and forth. Without it I find I can't accurately see the effect of each added spot of colour.
Critiquing at my Comox living room 
  • An effective area for  self-critique.  At home I place paintings-in-progress in a good frame  on an easel in our living room considering what it needs to make it stronger under different lighting conditions - for minutes, hours or days. Some I hang on our walls and consider for longer. Cannot stress how important that is and has been for my learning and to improve individual paintings.
  • The jars of premixed acrylic colours of know value. I generally have at least a dozen mixed with the colour painted on the top so I know what the final drying value/colour  will be.
  • A utility sink and work room. Right now I am washing brushes in the toilet - yes, the toilet. Really miss my big sink and work area - for gessoing, varnishing, etc etc. 

Jars of pre mixed colours of known value 

We do the best we can with what we have.


Sunday 12 May 2013

Time on the road

Been a while. After travelling for 9 days, we arrived in Collingwood Ontario, where our sons and their families live. Nice to be back in familiar landscape. Great to be with family and the weather has been wonderful. So I have not picked up a paint brush for almost a month. Had expected to do some plein air along the way but the weather SUCKED. So we just pushed through. But I did collect lots of new reference photos - hundreds in fact.

In case weather was bad I packed a half dozen of my favorite books to re - read. I began with Powerful Watercolor Landscapes - by Catherine Gill with Beth Means. I first saw it at the Carol Marine workshop and, although it was watercolor medium, the content is outstanding and suited to all mediums.

I was once again struck by the introduction - which seemed very close to home for me. This is a wonderful book - particularly for plein  air. It simplifies the essentials and provides excellent exercises. I recommend it highly.

Now we are set up in our little condo until the end of June. I set up a "studio" in a SMALL bedroom with Walmart plastic on the walls and floors. Added a bit of lighting. Used the storage boxes from the RV as "tables"  and used the palette from my ArtBox on my Soltek easel to get as close to the acrylic set up I wanted.

I have started painting again. But this is the longest stretch without painting I have taken since I began in 2004. Needed to start slow and small.

I will share some of what I am using and doing in a few days.