Monday, July 22, 2013

Donations for Alberta Flood Relief

Wild Rose 1
4 x 4"
Wild Rose 2
4 x 4"
These 2 little paintings are my donations to the Alberta Flood Rose Project, a fundraising project which has the contributions of hundreds of Alberta artists. 

Each of the donated artworks will depict Alberta's provincial flower, the wild rose, and will be mounted in a large grid with 80 or 100 others.  The resulting colourful, group work will be auctioned off to raise money for the Red Cross' ongoing relief efforts in Alberta's flood areas. 

All of those different styles depicting the same subject will make a spectacular display for a home or office.  I hope the bidding is brisk!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The scene as it is, not as you think it is

Hidden Creek
10 x 8
I took my trusty pochade box to Kelowna BC recently when I was there to teach a workshop for the Okanagan chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists and to visit family.   The workshop was a success with lots of good portraits painted by the artists who attended, and, wonderfully, I also managed to find the time for an afternoon of plein air painting.  

This little creek was tumbling down right beside a back road, screened by trees so that you'd never guess it was there.  

What struck me was the amount of colour in the water as it tumbled down over rocks and into a calmer stretch of the creek.  I saw an overall ochery-green hue with a lot of lavender in the shadows.  Where the water frothed over rocks, it took on a cool, yellowish tint.  The sheltering foliage cast its colour into the water as did the bits of sky that managed to peek through the
branches overhead. 

 I didn't see these colours all at once; it took a lot of looking and thinking to figure out what my eyes were actually seeing and not what I thought I should be seeing.  Waterfalls and creeks aren't part of my everyday experience and the images of them that I have in my mind are from photos, not life.  So I instinctively wanted to recreate what countless photos had shown me: white foam and blue or brown water. But when I tried that first bit of white on the painting and compared it to the scene in front of my eyes, I realized that white had no place in this painting at all.  The light was warmer than that and the water much more colourful.  

Most of the water was done with a palette knife in order to preserve pure, clean mixtures layered one on top of the other.  I couldn't have kept the colours so fresh if I'd applied them with a brush; they'd have mixed on the canvas and diminished the sense of sparkling light.  The palette knife also created texture that helped to describe the many levels of rocks that broke the water as it flowed downhill.  

This little painting will be a great resource for a future, larger piece.  With all of those accurate colour notes, it should be a snap to re-imagine it in a larger format.   

Happy painting!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Arabella Magazine Feature

I can't wait for this issue of Arabella magazine to hit the stores this week.  My work is profiled in their "Artists to Collect" section with lots of great images and an interview.

It's a great honour.

I hope you'll pick up an issue at Chapters, Barnes & Noble or get it online

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Painting Light and Colour

Summer's Child
40 x 30
This is another painting in which my goal was to achieve a very specific effect.  In this case it was the effect of skin influenced by many different sources of colourful light: the sun at the child's back, the light of the sparkling water bouncing up onto his face; the dappled foliage reflecting into his skin; and the t-shirt adding some cool, blue notes and the shadow cast along his entire front.  Although I only had a photo that I took last year to work from, I could mine it for enough clues about colour choices that I had a starting point.  Then it was a matter of painting boldly: exaggerating some of those colours and layering them juicily together to create a vibrant and varied gray in the flesh tones.

I could add a lot of different colours as long as I kept the overall value the same in the shadow and kept consistent temperatures: cool in the shadow; warm in the light.  I know there is red in the "cool" shadow and the highlight on the boys neck has a hint of cool blue mixed with the peachy tint, but temperature, like colour is relative.  The overall impression of the shadow side is of a cool influence and the sunlit areas read warm (this is partially due to psychology: we think of the sun as warm and yellowish and so we bring that notion to a painting of sunlight.)

By keeping the face cool, the intensely-warm, backlit ear could be made to sing in comparison.  The child's ear had a sweetness to it which, along with the pensive pose, attracted me enough to take the picture in the first place.

Like every painting, this one was 1/4 part inspiration and 3/4 parts rational, problem solving.

Happy painting!