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Showing posts from April, 2015

Altered perception

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One of my students in the Steveston, BC workshop gave me a very cool gadget.  It's low tech - just my speed.  It's another tool in my basket, allowing me to see my subjects and my paintings from new perspectives.  There's nothing like a new viewpoint to show you where your painting needs work.

The black mirror is a piece of glass coated on the reverse with black acrylic paint and, though it looks goofy when you use it (you look up to see an upside down version of the subject reflected in the glass), it is incredible at separating values in a subject so that you can understand the form of what you're seeing.  We used it in the workshop to clearly discern the value changes
along our model's arm, from low light up to high light on the top of her shoulders.

 Since then, I've discovered it's amazing at showing the value changes across subtle shifts such as on a white shirt worn under average light.  While it's easy to see light and shadow in bright sunligh…

Solo Exhibition Roux and Cyr International Fine Art Gallery

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I'm having a solos show!  That's pretty exciting for me, and I hope you can come out and see it if you're in the Portland, Maine area,  The Roux and Cyr International Fine Art Gallery is a busy and active gallery that's been open for just over a year.  I was honoured to be asked to join them by painter and co-owner Susan Roux and it's been a positive experience all around.

The opening is May 1 and you'll be able to see a wide variety of my work from figurative to still life, and from small to large.  Enjoy the work and wine!

Happy painting!

FCA Workshops in Steveston Village, BC

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The figurative and still life workshops in Richmond, BC were a great experience for me and, I hope, for the painters who attended.

Two days were spent painting the clothed figure - many thanks to our inspiring model, Amy - and two days were devoted to still life.  Painters came from as far away as Tennessee, New York, Jasper, Osoyoos, and Calgary, as well as from the Vancouver area.  That meant great conversations in the classroom and over shared meals in some of the restaurants in the vicinity of the workshop venue. And yes, the venue had a lot of Rotary Club paraphernalia, but it was great despite the busy walls. We were in a functions room in a historic hotel, the Steveston, which also contains a pub (The Buck and Ear), a cafe, and a liquor store.  Really, you don't need anything else!

Despite the varied subject matter, I found that the recurring themes of the workshops were largely the same: composition, paint layering, edges, tone, colour temperature and colour interaction…

Choices, choices...

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I'll be in Vancouver next week teaching both figurative and still life workshops for the Federation of Canadian Artists.  To get into the mood, I've been working on small pieces in both genres in the studio.

What strikes me each time that I begin a painting is the vast number of choices that it involves.  And each choice made launches the work in a definite direction.  My most confounding decision starts with the support.  Oil primed linen is my usual choice (though I've also got oil paper, velum, aluminum, and gesso primed canvas and panels in the studio), but within that category I've got rough, smooth, and medium textured linen; double primed and single primed; stretched and mounted.  Each will impart a completely different look to the final piece - at least in my eyes - because the way that a mark breaks on each is unique to that surface.

Next is the colour of the toning - if I use any.  Sometimes I opt to start on a white surface for the clarity of colours tha…

Balance colour and temperature

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Some painters deliberately avoid using all three primaries in a single painting, but it's a practise that has never worked for me.  I need to see the full spectrum of colours in each painting or it feels out of balance.

This may be the difference between a tonal and a colourist approach; I can see limiting primaries if the subtle distinction between values were my method of painting, but colour is what obsesses me, and I need to use my full palette to satisfy my eye.

Of course I tend to forget this on occasion, as I did in this painting.  It began as a generally cool piece with greenish shadows and warm, yellowy light.  With the blue dominance in the still life objects, this meant that my painting was an analogous scheme of yellow greens and blues.  It was what I saw in the still life set up, but it didn't work in the painting.

It's interesting when that happens, because it's a reminder that you can't just trust your eyes, you have to use some rational thought an…