Tuesday, September 30, 2008

First Tulips (10"x10")

I did lots of painting today but although I began 2 quarter sheet paintings I completed neither. So, for your enjoyment, here is a painting from way back in the spring of 2007. That's ages ago in my painting education but this one wasn't too bad. Enjoy!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Long Light East Coulee (14"x10")

I've been attending to other important duties today - namely delivering paperwork ending my long-term employment relationship. I was thankful to have a painting to finish this afternoon. I sketched this painting and backed it up with photos last week while visiting East Coulee.

An hour before the sun set it cast beautiful long shadows across the landscape and illuminated the east bank of the coulee. The overcast sky seemed so dull contrasted against the bright hillside. I hope I've capture at least some of the clear crisp evening light. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Braaten Farmhouse (14"x10")

Just off highway #2 near Bagley, Minnesota sits a little white house where my 102 year old Grandma was raised. This painting is based on some photos I took when we drove by the house in 2003. I think the right side of the house was added on much later... likely wasn't there when Grandma grew up there with many siblings. Back then folks were more content to have a place to live and there were no ideas about every kid needing her/his own room. No sir! They must have been quite tightly packed into this little house and by all accounts they were quite content there. Simplicity... a discipline we could all practice in North America! Blessings to you...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fall and Fish (10"x14")

I had a lovely 2 day visit in East Coulee with my friend Lindsey. She and Mike have a house there just a block from the Red Deer River. We enjoyed beautiful weather and visited some amazing sites very nearby. After 2 visits I can highly recommend the fabulous food at Whifs flapjack house on Dinosaur Trail in Drumheller. Delicious breakfasts, my favourite meal, served until 2pm. Great coffee too!
We spent a bit of time painting and quite a bit more time taking photos and gathering fall "stuff". Some of these fall things ended up in this fun fish vase painting. In hindsight, I could have improved this painting by rotating the doily slightly... this has a straight on look that I find uncomfortable. It was fun to paint though, and that was the main idea... enjoy!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gumballs With Tea (9"x14")

This piece is a personal favourite mine... one I'll frame for myself one of these days. The colors really work for me and I love the white teapot in the background. It holds great memories from art class...
Speaking of teapots, I'm off to the Coulee for a couple of days... I really need a break from the city (and numbers) so I'm looking forward to the short trip and a relaxing couple of days with my friend Lindsey. I'm sure we'll drink lots of tea. Enjoy!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Heatwave (8"x14")

My birdie visitors dropped a few black-oiled sunflower seeds and they sprang up early and fast in 2007. By this time last year they were 5 feet tall against the crisp blue fall sky. I found it inspiring then and I picked this painting out of my stack to share today - another beautiful fall day. I hope it inspires you... I'm off to a beautiful fall wedding tomorrow. My niece Tia will marry Matt tomorrow and we're joining together to celebrate their special day. I hope you enjoy your Saturday!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Looking Back on Summer (7.5"x11")

I am making a slow, plodding effort at catching up some on some record keeping. I've put it off for so long that I'd be embarrassed to admit how long in writing. I need to get this done before I get back into the fall routine so... artistic sacrifices have been required. Tasks like this seemed simple, basic, and fast to me a few years ago. They take much longer now but can't be avoided, not permanently anyway. Like wading waist deep in water dragging my jeans - possible, but slow, slow, slow.

I took a very short break from the "project" and puddled around with my recently restocked quinacridone paints. The larger bloom seems to have turned her back on us to look back on the summer sunshine. I used pthalo and ultramarine blue and burnt sienna in addition to quinacridones gold, rose, red and magenta in this wet into wet doodle. I hope to have more time to use my "quins" the next time I paint - I really enjoy these paints! Get more interesting information about the quinacridone pigment family by clicking here.
Interesting that my favourite pigments were first marketed in 1958. They are 50 years old, just like me. A very good year indeed.... Enjoy!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

River Bank Strummer (10"x7")

I spent a couple of hours down by the riverside today. Just 5 minutes from my house there's a lovely park that borders the Bow River on the north. For those of you in Calgary I was painting at Bowmont Park. This gorgeous park runs 4 kms along the north side of the Bow from Home Road to Nose Hill Drive. I can drive right down to the river and park near the railroad bridge. There's a little island in the river and a ped bridge hops over to the island and then crosses the main part of the Bow into Bowness.

I set up right on the rocks across the river from a huge retaining wall. I liked the patterns of light that were happening along the steep back yards of the homes to the south. The light was streaming in on an alarmingly sharp angle for 2pm... it is definitely fall. The shadows of the tall blue spruce trees threw some nice long shadows. A red roof with a white chimney poked through and caught my eye... and I began to draw. Just as I finished up my value sketch, a fellow in a red shirt came along and sat down on the retaining wall... I thought he was reading but now that I'm home and I look at my photos I can clearly see he is playing a guitar!

I enjoyed the 2 hours I spent painting and puttering so much. Children were laughing and throwing sticks for their dogs (it's an off-leash area), and LOTS of folks drifted by in their dinghies, kayaks, and canoes. I took quite a few photos and had some laughs with dog owners when their pets show a strong interest in sniffing my paints (honey based!).

I came home at 5 with a painting I did not like at all. I struggled with water control due to the warm, very dry air and I missed my 1" flat which I left at home. In warm dry air there's no time to fiddle with paint... it should be stroked on and left alone shortly thereafter until completely dry. Well, that didn't happen. Here's what my painting looked like when I got home:

As you can see it's dark, very dark. Before I took this photo I'd run some sandpaper across the river to get some sparkle back. That helped but I felt I should use some scrubbing out to get me back some lighter values. At this point I had a failed painting so why not practice some of these other "disaster recovery" skills, right?

Here's the photo after I lifted out sunny areas in the backyards, lighter areas in the trees, some gouache "sparkle" cheat, etc.:
When I looked at this version on my computer screen I felt there was still something obvious missing and I realized that the mesh of the fence needed to be shown, at least in places. I managed to indicate some light fence mesh by applying clean water in tiny lines in a few places... after it sat a few seconds I blotted up the paint. In some places I painted mesh in lightly with a blue-grey mix. I think that helped some.

After that was done I took this photo: Although I can't call this a successful painting, I got the following benefits from this painting experience:
  • Practiced just about every watercolor technique I've learned thus far...
  • Enjoyed 2 hours outside on a beautiful day with happy people all around me...
  • Compiled quite a detailed study (value, color, etc) of this scene for future work
  • Honed my observation skills
  • and, I blogged about it!

My goal this week is to execute a larger painting... Stay tuned and - Happy Monday everybody!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Policeman's Helmets (7"x10")

I've been searching for information on the tall plants with orchid like flowers that my neighbor Michelle gave me in the spring. I just found a very good photo of them on the UBC botanical garden site. It turns out that they are Impatiens glandulifera, or "policeman's helmet". In the UK they re known as Himalayan Balsam. None of these handles does this plant justice. Michelle called them "popcorn orchid" which is obviously not correct. They are apparently a weedy infestation from Asia!

Meanwhile, I am enjoying their blooms. Don't confuse me with the facts, I've already made up my mind... However, I will certainly be careful with the seed pods - apparently they spread like mad!

I think they look good in my little greenish glass bottle with some red ruffled... somethings... from my flower beds. I thought these deep red flowers were bachelor buttons but I'm not sure anymore. Regardless, they're pretty and they caused some neat shadows...

Maybe you're wondering why I keep painting this little green bottle and now I've totally lost it by putting an EGG of all things into the mix? I've just not been satisfied with my bottles - this one is more like it. It actually looks like glass! I really enjoy the shadows cast by transparent and semi-transparent items. It's fun and challenging to focus on what I'm seeing and try to get beyond what I think I'm seeing. Painting glass, especially clear glass, forces me to SEE shapes and patterns. As for the egg, you can never paint too many eggs. They're just good practice and besides that, they're fun! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

White Tea Pot (7"x10")

I like how the shadows turned out in this still life. The light is shining though the little glass bottle and it makes such a soft shadow on the drapery behind. The shadow of the flower is very delicate too - darker in the middle and on the edges and light shining through the thin flower. Very pretty.
I'd wanted a white teapot for painting and, lo and behold, one turned up for my birthday last April (thanks much). I expect to be painting this white teapot for years to come. It's amazing to me how dark "white" items are when the lighting is controlled. They make very pretty still life subjects. Hope you like it!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Just a link...about factories

I can really relate to what Robert Genn sent out today. It applies to learning any new skill and art is mostly skill, not talent. Here he is talking about what is required to become proficient as an artist - an "art factory":

"An art factory is a place where unmarked supports enter on one side, become caressed with the physical manifestation of human imagination, and are subsequently pushed out the other side. Whether these modified supports are commercially destined or not, it's a process that needs to take place.

When the factory gets the steam up and things begin to happen, the worker becomes hooked. Also, as skills are learned, techniques defined and directions found, the place begins to look like a perpetual motion machine.

Theoretical folks don't always understand that the factory itself turns its operator back into a student. The factory becomes a school. If you like the idea of do-it-yourself learning, and you are curious about what you might be able to do, a little private factory is one fine institution. If your factory starts small and gets productive, you'll need a bigger factory."

I think this is really good advice whether you set up a photo factory, food factory, sudoko factory, art factory... the bottom line is that there is no substitute for time "in the saddle". The great part about it is that it's so much fun while you're learning. If you haven't signed up for that art course yet.... well, I did my best.

Art class begins in a month and I can hardly wait! I'm excited because my supplies are on the way - shipped yesterday from Curry's in Toronto. I'll have some Quinacridone Rose again after a whole year of using Quinacridone Red (feeling a little silly over that one...)

Tomorrow is an "appointment day" so I'll be back on Wednesday...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fruit Trio (10"x7")

I think this may take a better photo tomorrow in the daylight but I wanted to post this tonight. I miss the long daylight hours we have had over the summer. I hadn't realized how much I was depending on it to get decent lighting for these photos.
I've been feeling a bit stuck with painting for the last few days. I have lots of ideas but I'm having a hard time deciding what to paint NOW... Lots of the ideas seem like I'm not quite ready for them. Fruit on the other hand... well, I just love painting it. The red pear turned out to be quite a challenge today.
I started this painting off by doing a gamboge wash from left to right over all three pieces of fruit but covering only part of the centre of the red pear. Then, while that was still wet I rounded out the rest of the left pear with reds, quin magenta and ultramarine blue. Then I dropped ultramarine blue and some azo yellow into to the green pear... as that dried a bit I darkened the top of the banana with a wash varying colors from blue to red in the centre and then green gold toward the right side. As the paint mingled on the paper I lifted out highlights on the pears... softening the edges of the white highlight on the green pear. then a few spots on the banana and the green pear needed a few burnt sienna speckles. After I was satisfied with the fruit, I washed in the shadows with ultramarine blue, violet, and some cobalt... with just a touch of quin gold... it was fun watching things flow as it dried. At the end I added some darks on the stems of the fruit and the side and tip of the banana.
I definitely didn't stick with my original color scheme but I kind of like the result... Enjoy!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mount Burgess (10"x14")

Mount Burgess rises up 8527 feet behind Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park. My dad snapped some photos of Emerald Lake this summer while there visiting with some of his state-side cousins. What amazing sights we have so close to our home - this national wonder is about 2 hours west of my home in Calgary. Ron and I visited there on our honeymoon and took a toodle around in one of their shiny red canoes. What a beautiful place... I must point out that the color of the lake needs to be pushed over more towards the green side to make this accurate. Nevertheless, I was pretty happy with the results of this painting given the fact that I spent only 1 hour on painting it (and not much more on drawing). I do believe I am getting a bit more speedy in both the drawing and painting categories... that's really quite encouraging for me - it means my plucking away at it over the summer has made me more comfortable and more confident. Since it's a skill and not a talent anybody willing to practice can do it.... join an art class at a community hall near you.

There was a very important event that went of like clockwork today in downtown Calgary. The Easter seals Drop Zone had 85 folks raised over 175,000 for Easters Seals and the Camp Horizon people by repelling down 30 floors. My daughter Kim participated in honor of her cousin Heather who enjoyed many years of camping at Camp Horizon. Here are a couple of pictures of her drop and her smiles.
This is the "I made it" smile. Here you are just ecstatic that you are still alive, you've gone through with your commitment and in so doing raise money for something near and dear to our hearts.

Here she is partway down but has the time to stop and chat with some people that were needing some directions...???

Anyway Kim, we're proud of your achievment. I'd be challenging your Uncle's Dwight and Chuck next year. Now THAT would be entertaining!!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Red & Black Rooster (10"x10")

I've just looked through dozens of photos on the internet trying to find out what type of rooster I was painting last night. To that I say "Uncle". I had no idea how many types of roosters there are... nor how popular it is to grow fancy poultry!!! Maybe by the time I repaint this guy I will have figured out what type of rooster he is. [My drawing exceeded my paper supply... so, I am missing a very long piece of black tail sticking straight up 4-5 inches beyond the edge of paper- nevermind, it was fun to paint!!!]
Despite the long black tail, this guy wasn't the biggest rooster. That honor went to a HUGE reddish blonde guy that was really strutting his stuff at the Saskatoon Berry Farm yesterday. I visited there with my folks and had a very yummy lunch complete with Saskatoon berry pie. It's a really cute little place. One of those gems you live right next door to but have never heard of. What a fun place to visit!