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.

Saturday 22 August 2015

Brian Atyeo Workshop

Brian Atyeo Demo - piano player

Its been a busy summer. We sold our Comox home, purchased a home in Courtenay, just a few km away, and a summer home in Collingwood Ontario. We have moved  into Courtenay, have gotten settled in and built a new studio and work area. In September we head back to Ontario for a few months to furnish our home - and make a small studio there. In the middle of all the confusion Cathy and I took the RV to Alberta where I took a five day workshop with the great east-coast acrylic painter Brian Atyeo.

I have admired the inventive nature of Brian's work and was pleased to be able to attend. The workshop was held at River Rock Studio near Cochrane. The facilities were excellent and owners very hospitable. The workshop is advertised as advanced and all the students were accomplished artists many who had taken one of his workshops before.

Not quite sure how to describe our week. Never taken a workshop like it. Brian is an outstanding inventive  artist that makes his acrylics spin . and he spent the week making my head spin. He is the most indirect painter I have ever seen , layer over layer, opaques over transparent, multiple layers of glazes . He seems to spend as much time thinning and removing paint with his paper towels as he does apply it.  And he uses soft brushes :  hogs hairs, and softer synthetic acrylics, and large inexpensive brushes from Lee Valley .

I can't begin to describe Brian's demos so I have just added a grouping of images for two of them. You can enlarge by clicking on them He starts with a big loose value idea, then colourful washes then starts to shape with opaques, layer after layer, just when you think it might be done, he glazes down again introducing a new colour, then back to the opaques to  carve shapes. Exhausting to watch .

Poor photo but great end to the demo

Brian is a passionate fan of jazz and is well know for his jazz abstracts

Brians paintings are generally simple subjects completed in a complex indirect, multi layered approach making the final piece unique and interesting.
He is an excellent instructor and I highly recommend his workshop for a different and more complex approach to working with acrylics.

The first paintings we did were to be done as we normally paint. I used my normal approach and firm angular acrylic brushes. A fast lay-in from memory of a previous Whistler painting 24x24. Brian encouraged me to change to softer brushes and be looser in my approach and focus more on value and less on colour. So thats how I spent the week - large pieces, starting with bold loose value plan, shapes, layers of glazes and shapes carved by opaques.

At the end of the week after days of Brian's encouragement my approach to the same subject yielded a softer product toned with multiple glazes

So we headed home to pack and arrange our move. Any painting I did was trying to work with the recommendations Brian gave me. I found my time very frustrating - post workshop blues as I described in an earlier post. I found the changes difficult but persevered and think I have added useful new skills to my tool kit .  Gradually the " me" in my work started to return but modified and hopefully strengthened by Brian's ideas. Some of my pieces during that period: softer brushes, multiple glazes, opaque application and wipe off to the underpainting, and patience patience patience.

Tomorrow I am off to Gibson BC to begin a four day workshop on the Fundamentals for Acrylic Landscape Painters. Looking forward to that. 

Next BC workshops  will be in Victoria in February and Pemberton in March. I have just scheduled a four day plein air workshop in Collingwood Ontario for next June. Details will be on my website.


  1. Fabulous review, Brian, thanks so much for sharing Brian A.s techniques. Very inventive indeed.

    So did you work on paper, or wood panels? Doesn't look like canvas. Btw, is there a materials list for this workshop. Love those big flats!!

    Your paintings look really good!!!

  2. Hi. Was done on fairly large canvas is 24 by 24 20 by 30 etc. Brian paints big bold and loose and I tried to do the same


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