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 24 October 2017

Review of Judsons Gorilla Campaign Box - for plein air

I admit I am a bit of an equipment junkie. Over the past decade I have bought and tried ( and in many cases re-sold) many of the pochade or other types of plein air setups. I originally chose from the pochade box types (panel holder and palette box attached). Of those I tried, the Gorilla box from Judsons was the best construction quality with good designs. In recent years I have moved from the box type to those that separate the palette from the panel, I am tall and more comfortable with the panel at shoulder height and the palette near my waist. I chose the Soltek ( a great system but a large foot print and some wear and tear issues) and the Art Box and Panel ( simple, low cost and good construction). I continue to own three sizes of the Gorilla Boxes, the Soltek and three sizes of the Art Box and Panels. Yes a lot, but I have a studio in BC and one in Ontario and I like separate setups for my oils and my acrylics at both ends.

I need another system like a hole in the head but when I saw the new Judsons Gorilla Campaign Box I had to try it. The reason is that it combines the separation of panel and palette with more depth and two drawers which makes carrying the paint, equipment and drawing supplies convenient.

The system was not up to the construction quality of my other Gorilla products - but that would make it far too heavy. Construction was adequate and the finish excellent. It weighs five pounds empty. I needed to make a few adjustments inorder to have it fit onto the easel. I installed a spacer to enlarge the opening for it to fit onto the easel legs. I also cut the end off the " hooks" so they would not extend beyond the box. As well I added two screws to hang my brush holders. With those things done the unit worked well. It carried all my equipment and needed supplies. The aluminum panel holder provided good support and enlarges to hold up to an 18x24 - far bigger than I have ever painted but curious to try.

Screws added and spacer behind wooden hanger

Holds my paint and drawing supplies on the two drawers. My small Sta-Wet palette, maul stick, medium, palette knives, straight edge and alcohol ( for cleaning palette) are all carried. It comes with a neutral gray acrylic palette.  

Brush holder and top used to hold "tools"

Set up for work - paint in Sta Wet palette that I put in the freezer when done

The system is well designed and well enough constructed. Think it will be a keeper. I can recommend it as a good example of this type of system. 

Monday 10 July 2017

Ian Roberts Workshop - my review

Last week I was lucky enough to  attend three days of a plein air workshop conducted by Ian Roberts and held through the Blue Mountain School of Landscape Painters in Thornbury Ontario.

Ian is recognized for his teaching on composition - both through his books and DVDS and Videos and his workshops in North America and Europe . In fact his book Mastering Composition has sold over 40,000 copies - a runaway hit for art books.

Ian is the kind of instructor you enjoy spending time with. Warm and friendly yet frank and honest. As expected, the focus of the workshop was composition. As you see him in his DVDs he spent the time between participants with notepad in hand critiquing designs and considering other options. As a result he spent little time doing demos - in fact, he stated that his demos would be short and pointed and preferred to spend time with the group. He spent little or no time discussing painting technique - other than colour mixing. 

His workshop is not for beginners. Those with experience would benefit greatly moving their designs forward .

For me, I wanted his help with plein air design but also wanted the opportunity to get my oils out for the first time in a year. I needed a good "kick start" and this was a great opportunity. I plan to focus on oil plein air for the summer. 

The Blue Mountain School of Landscape Painters is a not-for-profit group of volunteers that have been in existence for 35 years. Interesting, Ian's father was one of the original founders of the School. They only hold workshops each June and are all plein air. They are very organized. I have taught there the past two seasons and have been very impressed and enjoyed my time with them. As well, the selections of sites available for painting are outstanding. From Georgian Bay scenes, to the boat yard in Meaford, to beautiful rolling countryside and farms of Gray county and the Beaver Valley. And being non-profit their workshop pricing is very reasonable. 

I made a number of small sketches ( what I call starts) trying to limit each to an hour max. Starting to feel more comfortable working with oil (water mixable) again.

Friday 26 May 2017

Ontario Plein Air - day two

Enjoyed another day working plein air. This time in the lovely community of Meaford which has a wonderful harbour with lots of subject matter.
Again, acrylic on linen mounted on board. Gesso mixed with Quin Red. Quick plan as thumbnail sketch. Sketch transferred to panel using with pencil. Final plan committed with acrylic marker - black.

Pencil Sketch  transferred from thumbnail

Acrylic marker final plan

Diox Purple Liquid glaze used to darken body of boats
Negative paint forming boats

Opaque paint carving negative spaces
 Adding some yellow to the negative space for "punch"
Throw it in an old frame to see if it helps. 

Don't think  I am going spend any more time on this one. Will add isolation coat ( Golden Soft Gel Gloss 2:1 with water) to bring out the darks and deeper colours and even the surface finish.

Fun sketch to do.

Tuesday 23 May 2017

First Ontario Plein Air sketches of the season

Yes, yes, I know, its been a long time. Life and other painting commitments get in the way. Also not much new to share that I have not already shared about my approach.

Today I made my first plein air sketches of the year in Ontario. Both quick and simple. Total time under two hours. Compositions weak - but its a start again. Just nice to be out.

Both 12x16 acrylic on canvas board.  Small thumbnail sketches.  Initial plan of large shapes laid on using pencil. Final plan made using acrylic markers.

Second sketch on grey gessoed board. 

Burnt Orange wash.

Best keep practicing.

Friday 27 January 2017

New under paintings

More paintings developed:

30x40 on canvas. Sketch with acrylic marker

Pthalo turquois glaze

Magenta added to darken areas

Magenta wash to the sky area

filling in darks with more transparents then adding opaque to shape trees and grasses

Viewing framed 

additional glaze to darken - over did it - too dark 
Brought up the lighter opaques - back and forth, back and forth- need to frame, hang and consider

Second piece 16x24 on canvas:

Anthacranone blue underpainting 

Allowing the blue to form the darks of the rocks and dark tree and dark accents of mountain