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Showing posts from November, 2010

Painting the Painters

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Lyndell  16 x 12"




Winter arrived last week, and it blew in hard and fast.  One day I was in sandals, the next: snow boots. 
As it does every year, the first snow brought traffic to a halt, and that meant that the model did not make it to my class at the Calgary School of Art.  The poor woman spent her evening stuck in traffic.

Luckily, I have an intrepid group, and they opted to paint each other in the act of painting.  This is an extremely tricky thing to do: your subject is always in motion and expressions constantly flicker across his or her face.  It requires a certain "whatever happens, happens" approach to painting, or you're likely to get pretty tense. 

The amazing and wonderful thing was that no one got tense, and everyone got a very good likeness of their subject.  More than that, they all produced very emotional, touching works of the people that they knew.  It was a stimulating and invigorating experiment that I probably wouldn't have tried under ide…

Figures in Landscapes

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Alpine Meadow  18 x 20 This painting is unusual for me in that it has a figure, but he's not centrally important. Normally I do either figure or landscape, but not both at once. There's something relaxing about putting a little person in there for scale and narrative, but not having to render him with any degree of detail or finish.
Though I love landscapes, I have found that they look empty to me without some people or their traces. I guess that makes me truly urban, or maybe my aesthetic has been shaped entirely by European impressionism and post-impressionism. You'd be hard pressed to find a wild scene even in 19th Century western Europe; the land had been densely populated and cultivated since Roman times. Planted forests have lived and died on that continent. It makes North America seem rugged and untouched.
It's that raw wildness that I'm unable to render in paint. Maybe it's just too huge and impersonal for me to contemplate. It makes my attemp…

The Lure of Instructional DVDs

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Autumn Bouquet II 26 x 30 I was browsing the trailers on the APV Films site the other day and ooh-ing and ahh-ing like a kid at a fireworks display. APV distributes art instruction DVDs and has some very good, international artists.
I love watching even the short promo trailers because they show the working methods of the painters. David Curtis paints as if he's assembling a jigsaw puzzle: he knows where each piece goes and places it unerringly in the correct value, shape and colour. Herman Pekel paints with abandon and glee, using credit cards for tools, sloshy, drippy paint, and layers that you can't believe he's able to apply given the amount of wet, mushy paint on the canvas. Maxwell Wilks starts his paintings in a random, sketchy, and muddy fashion and then pulls a light, pleasing, and harmonious work out at the end. And there are others: all unique.
The thing that stays with me, after watching all of these different approaches, is that it's their confidence …