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 28 October 2015

Trying to find myself - again.

Acrylic oc 12x12s

After selling our Comox home, purchasing in Courtenay, spending a two months getting it furnished, creating a new studio etc, we moved on to Ontario in mid September.  We purchased a smaller condo here that we plan to use as our summer home -beginning next year. We are here for two months, again furnishing, creating a small studio, making contact with galleries and, most important, spending time with family and old friends. So I have not painted on a regular basis for months - first time since I started a decade ago.

My little studio is a 10x10 bedroom. Was not sure it was going to work - but it is OK and  I have a garage where I can gessso and do all the messy stuff. So I am back painting - but I am not having an easy time of it. Its been a month and I have never struggled so much.

My small Ontario Studio  10x10 ft
Is it that I have not painted regularly? I know I am having trouble developing Ontario compositions - missing my West Coast mountains and seascapes. But its more than that. My most recent workshop was with Brian Atyeo - great painter and teacher. Spending a week with him probably had more affect on me than any other workshop I have taken. His paintings are indirect - multi layered glazes , scumbles, wipe offs. They are very complex and a challenge to follow and I spent considerable time following the workshop trying to integrate his approach into my work.  I have blogged before about my Post Workshop Blues - the difficulty of finding my own voice after a workshop - but I  have never experienced anything like this.

My new critiquing area - our dinning room - thank goodness for supportive spouses
My previous experience with these difficulties taught me that I have to work my way out of it. Paint small and many. Experiment. Back to the basics - build from a value plan. Limited palettes. Get out the old brushes again - not the ones Brian Atyeo wanted me to try. Pull up some of my old paintings and try to think my way through them. .  Critique my paintings hard. Re-do them trying other things.

I have been knocking off 12x12s and smaller. Every few days I try something larger - but they are too visually busy. Its the move to the larger pieces that is giving me the most trouble. Can't seem to stop banging away with spots of colour hoping they will add up to something. I  think of some of the acrylic painters I admire and how much control they have ....and I cannot seem to contain myself to achieve that control -control that I think I once had :
eg. Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki and Randy Hayashi

I remember Robert Genn, at his last Holly Hock workshop,  telling me he was having difficulty translating his smaller sketches into successful larger pieces . Even the best is challenged at times.

A recent work up from a 12x12 to a 24x24 - Down from Blue Mountain

So I will keep at it and let you know how I make out.


  1. Fabulous work Brian. You may not be happy with your looks wonderful to me.

  2. Wow! Thanks for the generous compliment Brian...that means a lot coming from you! I can relate to your current painting conundrum especially after the Atyeo workshop. I think he uses some kind of Jedi mind trick(s) which seems to never leave the student's consciousness. I guess that's what a good teacher does. I just came across a quote from Mark Mehaffey (whom you mentioned to me thx) that I think applies to the painter's experience being "the hardest, most mentally engaging, frustratingly fun activity there is... exactly like life!"

  3. Experienced the same thing after a week with Rex Brandt years ago - you can't go back to what you did before (exactly) yet the new stuff feels contrived somehow. Remember how much you love messing around with paint, keep going and suspend all judgement for another month or so. The best of what you needed to learn will manifest.

  4. That looks pretty successful to me! Brian Atyeo sure does make you think about what you are doing but you eventually get a big push to the next level. Not easy.

  5. I so appreciate you sharing your struggles! Often when you look at beautiful art (such as yours) the viewer doesn't see the struggles. Have you read the book "Art and Fear"... I recently started reading this and it has increased my awareness that most artists experience struggle! Seems as though it's an important part of the process. For me, knowing this has helped with the grass is greener on the other side of the fence syndrome!

  6. Thanks Kathy. Yes I have read the book and enjoyed it. Helps to know its almost normal for artists - still challenging to get through it. Cheers.

  7. Thank you very much Brian! I admire your work, I am looking at your painting on my wall as I write this. :-)


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