Thursday, September 30, 2010

Art Visions 2010, Kelowna, BC

Art Visions 2010 is set to open once again on October 7 in Kelowna BC. 

I was fortunate enough to be juried into this growing show again this year, and my painting "Digging" will hang in Hambleton Gallery

The show is unique in that it encompasses 4 galleries in the art district in Kelowna.  Last year my work won the Gold Medal and I attended the event.  It was an impressive organizational feat, and the Central Okanagan Chapter of the FCA pulled it off without a hitch.  We all had a great time mingling and viewing art.  Opening night was chilly but the Okanagan wine that was served in each gallery warmed people up nicely. 

If you're in the Okanagan, I hope you'll attend this ambitious and exciting show.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Painting Out

Afternoon in the Rockies
9 x 12

I went out to Banff to paint with Alice Helwig recently and we had a great time. 
That's the easy part; the part that's tricky is having a great time AND producing some work. 

Both Alice and I talk while we work.  I'm not sure that it's always intelligent talk because we're also intently focused on our paintings, but it means that we work well together.   I got a painting and a half out of the day.  The half a painting is partially scraped out and awaiting revisions to clarify some design problems.

The piece above pleased me because it caught the drama of the light conditions.  We avoided our usual rainstorm by a few hours, but the clouds loomed throughout the day, and every time I looked back at the mountain, there was a new shadow pattern on it.  That was frustrating at first, and then liberating: I could do whatever I wanted, because I could never capture what I was seeing in the short time that it presented itself. 

I tried something new for this piece because the Raymar panel that I was using was untoned, and I had to work fast.  Using a muddy mess of mostly Transparent Iron Oxide and Ultramarine - along with whatever was lingering in my brush - I sloshed on an overall dark wash with a mix of odourless mineral spirits and walnut oil (my usual medium).  Then I went straight to the most exciting part: the lit-up mountain, and put it on with a few heavy, impasto marks. 

At this point I had the lightest light and nearly the darkest dark.  It was easy to just develop the mid range from there. 

The tricky part was layering over that initial wet mud without contaminating the subsequent layers.  I had to watch the paint consistency to make sure it was always fairly heavy and would both cover the dark, and flow off of the brush without much pressure.  When I describe this pressure to my class, I tell them to imagine they are petting a bug with the brush.  Their goal is not to squish the bug.  This image seems to help them ease off the brush and lay strokes on gently and cleanly.

I'll try this very direct method of painting again in the future.  It's raw and rugged: exactly what plein air is all about.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Workshop October 2

Painting the Figure
The Long Pose
October 2, 10am to 4:30pm

I'll be teaching a workshop on October 2 at the Calgary School of Art.
I thought it would be nice to teach a long-pose figure painting which allows time to develop a finished painting.  Normally I work the painters fast and hard in my workshops and have them do 3 to 4 paintings over the course of a day.  They leave pretty tired, but with signs of a definite progression. 

Nice as that progression is, I saw the value of a long pose when I did Zhaoming Wu's workshop in the Spring.  We had a pose for the entire day, and not even a face to work with.  I managed to snag this profile view when we were setting up but some painters spent the day looking at a spotlit back.  And yet, they managed to do interesting things with that because they had the time to fully explore and develop the painting.  We still left tired though.

I'm interested to see what students do with a long pose.  When there's no time constraint, I believe they'll start to really notice the small subtleties of form and colour temperature.  

The course still has room, so if you want to see what you would do with the opportunity to paint a single pose during a day, sign up and join us.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

CIPA Exhibition in Calgary

 Images from the 2008 CIPA Exhibition

I'm very excited to have been asked to be a member of the awards jury for the Canadian Institute of Portrait Artists' national exhibition. 

CIPA holds a juried, biennial exhibition in Canada, and this year it is going to be showing at Mount Royal University here in Calgary. 
The dates are: September 21 to October 15
Venue: 2nd Floor, Bissett School of Business, Mount Royal University

I'm looking forward to seeing the show in advance and hope that you'll check it out while it's in the city.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dazzled by Light

12 x 24"
I realized while I was on vacation in Kelowna, BC that Calgary's light sucks!

Calgary has a very cool, hard light for most of the day, only breaking into warm, saturated colour in the morning or evening. 

By comparison, the light in the BC interior is an impressionist's dream all day long.  I've never been to France, but I suspect the light is like what I saw on my vacation: warm, rich, and full of colour bouncing in every direction. 

The painting above is from a photo of my son fly fishing in a small lake near Kelowna.  When I painted it, I tried to remember the magical, atmosphere and let myself introduce lots of reflected warm and cool light.  The underpainting is ochre which softens and warms all the colours on top of it. 

I'm glad that I painted this within a couple of days of returning from our trip.  Like most photos, the picture that this was taken from doesn't capture much more than the basics of colour and pose.  Having the memory of that day fresh in my mind let me recreate the scene as I experienced it with my wondering (and envious) eyes.

Who knew there were so many fly fishermen and women in the world? 
Since starting on this subject, I've had comments and queries from all over.  Recently, an Italian blogger wrote a piece about my work in part of an ongoing series of fishing art blogs.  Here's a link to Mattia Romano's fascinating blog; you can practice your Italian!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Presentation Counts

9 x 12

Last week I visited a frame shop in Kelowna that I've wanted to see for some time: Classic Gallery Framing.  I've looked at their frames online, but, like most people, I need to see the real thing before I'll buy something.  What really interested me was their plein air frames. 

When I was in New York recently, I noticed that many galleries frame work in these seamless-cornered, gold frames with no liner.  This is not the Calgary aesthetic, but boy do I ever like it!  The simplest little painting looks like a million dollars when surrounded by gold.  I also like the fact that there is no linen liner to collect dirty fingerprints and dust. 

I bought 3 different styles of plein air frame: 2 gold ones and a black one.  The picture above is of the simplest of the frames that I brought home and shows just how effective gold can be.  If it's good enough for New York, it's good enough for me!