Showing posts from November, 2009

Expression takes work

Parallel Play 12 x 16
Available at Collector's Gallery of Art

Last weekend I taught a workshop at the Calgary School of Art entitled "Expressive Oils".  I found that defining "expressive" was the most difficult part of preparing for the workshop!  The term became slipperier and more ambiguous the more I thought about it. 
What I finally decided was that "expressive" meant that I could see more of the painter than the subject in the final painting and I could see what the painter wanted to show me the most.  Expression is a complex mesh of composition, colour choices, brushwork and editing.  It uses the reference image as a starting point only and goes its own way from there.
Once I'd decided this, it was easy to prepare for the class.  The most important thing then became, "what do you like most about the image that you've chosen and how can you emphasize it in your painting?"  If you know this, you're half way to a good paintin…

Getting a Glow On

"Fishing",  Oil on gallery wrap canvas , 30" x 30"

What the heck is "glow"?
Some paintings have it and some just don't.  Glow is an amazing quality that many painters completely ignore or don't even know about.   It's a vibration in the painting which is revealed with the change in lighting conditions and gives up more colour and depth the more you look at it.  It's what makes some paintings magical. 
One of the most magical painters that I know of has mastered this glow: HE Kuckein.  A real painters' painter, Kuckhein's works are deceptively simple in subject and composition and don't photograph as particularly special paintings and yet, when you see them in life, you can't stop looking.  He's represented throughout Canada but whenever I'm in the Okanagan, I make sure to go to Tutt Art Gallery in Kelowna and check out his pieces.  The obliging manager has turned the lights off over his paintings to show me how th…

Switching Mediums

A few years ago I decided to abandon watercolour and try painting on canvas instead of paper.  I wanted to go bigger and brighter and to get away from having to frame under glass.  I also really wanted to be able to touch the surface of my paintings without fear of ruining them with any traces of oil or dirt on my fingers.  Paper is not easy to keep pristine. 
I thought that acrylic would be a natural choice so I went out and bought a full complement of colours, and some canvases and set optimistically to work.  It was a slaughter.
The paint fought me all the way.  It dried quickly and flatly like house paint; it covered the colours beneath it very opaquely unless I started fiddling with different mediums to make it more transparent or more rigid or more something or other; and it wouldn't glow for me no matter what I tried.  I started to question whether I was capable of being a painter at all.  This was not a good time.
Luckily a friend suggested that I try oil.  I'd avoid…