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.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Developing a commission

The Comox Glacier is iconic to our region. It is just across the estuary from our home. Every local takes a crack at painting it and so there are many interpretations done.  Because Glacier paintings are so plentiful locally I chose not to try my hand at it.

But in October 2010 I was up and out early to do some sketching. It was a cold clear morning and it had snowed the night before in the mountains. While we don't get much colour on the trees on Vancouver Island, this year the colour was unusually strong and tended to hang about.  As I was passing by the Glacier  the early morning sun suddenly struck the trees across the estuary and I stopped to photo what I was hoping would be a very colourful and unusual image of the scene. The photo that resulted excited my interest to try my hand at making an abstracted painting of the estruary and the Glacier.

Comox Glacier, estuary and town of Courtenay

So I set out to make different interpretations, all acrylic, on different sizes and formats. I began with smaller pieces and graduated to those below. Each was done with a slightly different palette and different under painting. This was the first time I really tried to "push" my painting. And at the time I thought I had pushed the colours too far. But my wife said no- leave them.  Once framed in a warm dark frame the strong colours seemed to work - and they all sold.






A few weeks ago I was asked to make a commission of the Glacier, similar to one of those paintings that they had seen on my web. And they "needed" a painting with red in it. They also needed a different format: long and narrow - 18x36. I was not sure I could flatten the scene out but promised to try.

Below is the development of that painting:

Water soluble pencil used for initial sketch, then used Montana Acrylic marker, then wash off  with water. Foreground light, mids and darks sketched in with Montana pens. 

Wash using medium, water and orange liquid acrylic 

Redefine glacier shapes using yellow Montana pen 

adding controlled lines using making tape 

Light magenta glaze on glacier then redefined highlight area with white acrylic marker 

Many back and forth with light glazes and opaque areas of colour 

Glacier Morning  Acrylic 18x36 2014

Where it sits at the moment. Away for a few days so will reconsider when I return.

Making this recent painting, four years after the first, had me thinking of how different I now paint. Interesting to think about it. And it now has me rethinking other composition ideas  from the same source. 

That one photo proved profitable and fun and  great learning. 


  1. So generous of you Brian to share your processes and journeys through painting. I always enjoy reading your blog posts! Thank you.

  2. Love them all! Thank you of sharing.


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