Thursday, 19 December 2013

Painting Snow

I have been having so much fun painting with oils. I use them mostly straight out of the tube because I love the texture.  It is the one thing that oils do better than any other medium.  I may however have to start using a medium to thin the paint because while it doesn't freeze it does get very thick.

While painting portraits in the Burlington Fine Art Association studio yesterday some of us discussed painting today.  What a great idea that turned out to be.  We headed down to Valley Inn Rd to paint some snow.  It was a fantastic day.  About -3 C with the sun occasionally peaking out through gaps in the clouds.  Five of us showed up to paint and I think that we are all happy with the results.  I know that I am.  This painting loses a lot in the photo because you can't see the texture but few oil paintings photograph well unless done professionally.  This painting has a couple of problems but I am excited about it despite them.
This is a view of Valley Inn Road where it crosses the bridge and then climbs up the bluff to York Road at the top.  The Valley Inn Hotel built about 1820 was just to the right of the bridge but it burned down in 1959.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Painting with Snow

Oh what fun this was.  I was at the Scout Camp and it was a bit slow at the nature centre so I got my paints out.  It was -12 C, had been snowing for about 24 hours and a light powdery snow was still falling all about me.  I was revelling in the fact that my paints weren't freezing and merrily working away when my paint started to get gritty.  I kept working but it was like there was sand in my paint and the texture on the painting was really odd.  I blamed the paint and it wasn't until I got inside and warm enough that I could relax and think it through that I realized that it was ice crystals from the snow falling on my palette that was the problem.   It is just as well that it isn't a very good painting because I am sure that the integrity of the painting will suffer from the water mixed in with the paint. I was quite literally painting with snow.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

What a Day

I am feeling very very overwhelmed right now.  I cannot believe the support that I received from family, friends and artistic colleagues today.  I would especially like to thank Debbie for her support and her help in making my first ever solo show special.  I could not have done it without you.  I would also like to thank Rob and Margaret Roi for giving me the opportunity to show my work in such an amazing venue.

Friday, 29 November 2013

My Solo Show

I am very excited and very nervous.  I have been in many group shows but tomorrow we are hanging paintings for my very first solo show.  It is in St. James Anglican Church in Dundas and I will be presenting over thirty of my paintings.  The opening is on Sunday at 1 pm and the show will run for the month of December.

For more information about the show click on the invitation.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Primavera Farm

My first ever "plein air" painting was painted at Primavera Farm. There was an old oak tree that I would have liked to have painted at the time but artists parked their cars at the base of it.  I was elated when I was invited back so I went to paint the tree.  It was 3 C with a gusty wind and the best vantage point was from an open field.  I had to hold on to my paint box and my hands were pretty stiff when I finished but I managed a decent painting considering the conditions.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Scottsdale Farm

I met with five other Ontario Plein Air Society artists to paint at Scottsdale Farm northwest of Toronto.  It was another wonderful day.  About 13 C and Sunny with cloudy periods.  We painted from 11:00 until 3:30 PM.  This painting was done first.  The warm soft golden grass in the fields contrasted well with the cool green of the trees and the old fence.

The second painting was rushed and I was already exhausted so I am not happy enough with it to post it.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

My Solo Show

St James Anglican Church has supported local artists for many years.  They fill their worship hall with artwork and open a new show on the first Sunday of every month.  Many very accomplished artists have had shows here so I was very excited three years ago when they invited me to show.  The three years has passed and so it is show time.

I am now very excited and very nervous.  It is one thing to have four or so paintings hanging in a show where they are supported by the works of other artists but for this show I will be hanging over thirty of my paintings and they have to stand all on their own.  On top of that all where painted in one sitting and all but one were either painted from a sitting model or on location.

A Still Life

I accept that painting "still lifes" is a great exercise and good practice but I love people and being outdoors so I get no great joy out of painting a still life.  The second Wednesday of every month the BFAA sets up a still life in the studio.  I am not very good at painting them probably because it is work for me but they do help me to practice looking more and painting less.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Grindstone Marsh

I haven't been down here in years.  It is another very quiet valley leading into Burlington Bay.  It was about 8 C with only a bit of wind so I was quite comfortable.  The clouds were thick with only occasionally a hole where the sun could peek through. The scene presented a bit of a challenge because the marsh was almost devoid of water and I had no idea how to make it read as mud.  I scraped the foreground off more than a couple of times before I finally managed one that I was okay with.  We have a lot of marshes and mud flats in this area so I really need to work on painting them.

Monday, 4 November 2013

It was another great day to paint.

About eight of us met to paint at Princess Point today.  It was cool (about 3 C) and mostly cloudy. My hands got cold but not so cold that they affected my painting.  I am pleased with this.  I think that I managed to capture the mood of the day towards the end of the painting period.  The light was starting to get low and had a nice warm glow.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Wind what wind?

A major wind storm came through southern Ontario and we were down by Cootes Paradise painting with the wind howling over our heads.  We had arranges to meet Martha Laverty Allan , another Ontario Plein Air Society member who is visiting from the Ottawa area, and we were determined to paint.  The clouds were billowing in the wind and every once in a while the sun would come out and light up a section of the landscape.

I was pleased with this painting and it is starting to grow on me.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

I had a blogspot blog before I started my blog on my website so I kept copying from one to the other and kept them both going as mirrors of each other.  As I got busy the Blogspot one fell behind.  I have updated the Blogspot blog and I have linked it to my website so from now on there will only be the one blog.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Stress? What stress?

I didn't like this at all when I finished it but it is starting to grow on me. I am still not especially happy with it but I have been struggling lately so I am okay with it.  It was a gorgeous fall day and I was down by the water at Cootes Paradise looking back into Westdale Inlet.

I have been very busy getting ready for shows lately and I haven't been very focused when painting. Usually when I get outside with my paints nothing interferes but shows are always stressful and I guess four at once is just too much.

I found another jurried show but I think that I might just pass on this one.

Friday, 25 October 2013

It is great to be busy

Lots of great things happening but I am starting to get a bit overwhelmed.  I was at a reception on Friday at the Capital One offices in Toronto.  The Ontario Plein Air Society currently has a jurried show in their offices and I have two paintings hanging in it.
This Saturday I am headed back to Toronto for a reception at the Hangman Gallery.  OPAS is having a members group show there and I have four paintings hanging in it.
The Burlington Fine Arts Association juried show is coming up and I need to get two paintings framed and ready to submit to it by November 3rd.  It will be tough to get juried into that one because there is limited space and some very talented artists vying for it.
Finally the biggie.  I have a solo show at St James Anglican Church in Dundas for the month of December.  I need to get thirty paintings framed and ready in the next couple of weeks.  I am going to make the frames so I have a bit of work to do. I am really excited about this one,  It is a great venue and the curator was my art teacher in grades 7 and 8.
I very rarely work on a plein air painting after the session because they can very quickly lose their freshness.   However, this painting had a glaring problem.  I didn't like it at all before but I am actually quite pleased with it now.  The difference in colour between versions is my poor photography.  The original posting is closer to the correct hues.

I am looking forward to painting tomorrow.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

I am feeling better now

Last Thursday and this Monday were both disasters.  For the first time ever I produced a painting that I was too embarrassed to show anyone.  I scrubbed it off before I came home.  Monday's wasn't much better and I was getting really frustrated.

Wednesdays sketch group model was Leah and she had a great face to paint so I was inspired.  This painting has some problems but I like to think that I would have fixed most of them I hadn't run out of time.  I do feel and I was told that I managed a great likeness and in portraits that is important.

This morning we were in Hidden Valley Park.  It was cold.  It was 4 degrees C but there was a cold wind and we just aren't acclimatized to this weather yet.  I wasn't prepared for it either .  I will be next time.  I debated putting the three maples standing equally spaced like a row of soldiers but that is the way they were planted and part of the charm of the scene.

I haven't decided if I like this one but it is much better than the last two landscapes so I am happy.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


I went to my first Burlington Fine Arts Association meeting last night and it just happened to be their critique night.  The critiquer was Marla Panko and she told it like she saw it.   Constructive criticism is what helps us grow so I was looking forward to getting some "educated" feedback from someone who doesn't know me. I received more positive and less negative comments than most of the other artists so I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.  I fully agreed with the negative so it was a good night.
This mornings BFAA studio time was with a model and I love doing portraits so it was another good morning.  Gordon was sitting reading a book on his tablet.  I probably should have done a full figure painting so that it would have context.  Because he is looking down the head and shoulders painting makes it look as if he is sleeping.

This was completed in about two hours so I am quite pleased with it.

I need to find a way to get better photographs of my oil paintings.  It is hard to eliminate the glare when they are wet.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Kerncliff Park

This was our second Thursday at this old quarry which has been turned into a fantastic park complete with a boardwalk through a marsh.  I was so unhappy with my paintings last week that I didn't post them.  I was once rejected by a gallery because I wasn't in their minds consistent enough.  I think that consistency would be death to me as an artist.  It is the failures that I learn from and grow from.

This was my first painting.  It is actually almost the exact motif that I failed miserably at last week.  This is much better but I am still not happy with the rocks.  I need to learn how to do the stone faces in the escarpment.

This was my second painting.  It was done in about a third the time of the first and I like it much better.  I think that there is a lesson to be learned there.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

What a Gorgeous Day to be Outside

It started off a bit chilly this morning but it quickly warmed up to about 22 degrees with a bright warm sun. I was painting at Princes Point with the Burlington Fine Arts Association and we couldn't have had better conditions.  It was such a great day to be out that I completed two paintings and I was still reluctant to pack up.

I was originally attracted to this scene because this glowing field was the backdrop for some low hanging branches of a very old maple tree.  I was going to do a painting of the branches but when I finished the background I decided that I liked it as is and branches hanging down in front of it wouldn't make it any better so I left them out.

I am very pleased with the result.

I am not as pleased with this painting but I am okay with it.  I have the reds a bit too intense but it balances the darks on the other side so it kind of works.

We are off to a volunteer reception at the Carnegie Gallery tonight so I will get a preview of the completed addition to the gallery.  It will be the perfect finish to an intense day.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

It was a fantastic day to paint.  A group of us met at Meyers Apple Orchards in Copetown.  It was about 16 degrees and the sun was warm with a few fluffy clouds to make the sky interesting.

Meyers is a u-pick orchard. All the apple trees are pruned so that they can be picked without ladders and they have fantastic shapes and gnarly branches.  They are also loaded with apples.  Most of the others attempted to paint the rows of trees however I decided to stick to one tree with the wonderful blue sky as a backdrop.

I am very happy with this painting.  I would also recommend Meyer's apples.  I bought three of their many varieties and they are delicious.  It was indeed a great and productive day.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Dundurn What?

It is time to listen to Debbie and fix my lackadaisical painting storage system.  I was sickened to discover that a painting that sold was badly damaged. Not only did I lose that sale but one of my best paintings in now not ruined.

I didn't expect to do well painting today because I was still upset by my ruined painting, it was cool and windy where we were set up and there was a very noisy truck right behind us the whole time that we were painting.

The act of painting removes me from all that.  I get so wrapped up in the process that everything else becomes insignificant.  When I started to pack up I came to the realization that I was shivering from the cold and my fingertips were numb.  I was also pleasantly surprised by the resulting painting.

This is the back door to a grand mansion built by Sir Alan McNab in 1835.  It was built on the site of a War of 1812 fort and was named Dundurn which is Gaelic for "strong fort".  It was affectionately nicknamed Dundurn Castle by Hamilton residents.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Lowville Creek 14" X 11"

Today was a great day.  Is was about 18 degrees C with clear blue skies so there was great lighting and it was very comfortable. I rushed out of the house without my tripod or my rags but a picnic table served as a tripod and towels were borrowed from a friend so I managed quite well.

I struggled with my last couple of paintings so I had mixed feelings about painting today.  Eagerness to paint mixed with some trepidation about how it would go.  I needn't have worried.  I am quite pleased with this painting.  I still have a long way to go and lots to learn but paintings like this one keep me excited about the trip.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

St Joseph's Church

It was another hot sunny day (31 C).  We were on Lock Street in Hamilton and managed to find a little bit of shade across from this church.

I totally messed up the placement of the church on my canvas with the steeple dead centre and too much foreground.  The steeple is very complicated and tough to sort out and paint.   Especially with the thick paint that I like to use. It was a great learning experience so I consider it a good morning.

 I really do need to paint more buildings.

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Whitefish Falls Area

Debbie and I spent a week on Manitoulin Island and I drove off the island to the Whitefish Falls area to paint.  I love the La Cloche Mountains, the pine trees and the water.  Together they make great subject matter for paintings.  It is easy to see how members of the Group of Seven were inspired here.

This was the first painting that I did.  It is from Willisville Road and I believe the lake is called Strawberry Lake.

The wonderful people at Bay Villa Lodge allowed me to wander their property at the mouth of the Whitefish Falls River.  This is a scene from their island which wasn't really an island.

This is a third painting done from an old railway bed just outside Whitefish Falls.  It was about an hours drive and a fifteen minute hike.  I arrived just in time to catch the last of the colour from the sunrise but I think that it was worth the trip.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Stelco and Boats Take 2

I don't often paint the same motif twice but when I got to La Salle marina, to meet friends to paint today, I discovered that the sailboat was turned to show its bow and the bright clear day totally changed the look of the steel company.  I also saw it as a chance to correct some composition problems with the first try.

This was also my first time painting on a coloured ground.  I like the results and will likely continue to colour my boards before I paint on them.

We are off to Manitoulin Island tomorrow and I think that the coloured boards will be a big help there.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Brandon - oil on hardboard 14" X 11"

I was painting with the Burlington Fine Art Association Wednesday morning sketch group.  They alternate weekly between portrait, figure and still life sketching.  The model this week was Brandon.  He had fantastic colouring which was accentuated by the pink shirt and he sat remarkably still.

This was only my third portrait in oils and my first using oils with a live model.  I am really excited about this painting.  It isn't perfect but it was done in under two hours and I am very happy with most of it.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Bayfront Park 11" X 14" oil

This is one of two paintings that I painted standing on the deck of the gazebo near the boat launch.  I was a great but somewhat busy place to paint.  I no longer have a problem with spectators so this was a wonderful day.  It was warm and still but comfortably so.

 I am not posting the second painting because it is already painted over.  Sometimes it just doesn't work and the harder that I try to fix it the worse it gets.  It was a learning experience.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Dog Days - all paintings 11" X 14"

I have been painting just slow to post.  I really need to find my camera charger.

This was painted on Monday July 8th but I had to wait for paintings to dry so that I could scan them.  It was a very hot day at Bronte Harbour but fortunately we could find some shade and there was a gentle breeze coming off the lake.

This was painted last Monday.  It was just as hot with a bit less of a breeze.  Do oil paints ever get soft when it is this hot.  Three of us all painted this scene as an exercise is getting the shape of the water correct.  I am happy with my result.

This was painted Thursday.  It was rather horrendous.  It was very very hot,  there wasn't even a whisper of a breeze and the deer flies were biting like crazy.  It was still good to be painting.  I love my job even if it doesn't pay well.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Manitoulin Island

Debbie and I spent two marvellous days on Manitoulin Island last weekend and I managed to find time for two paintings.  Unfortunately the battery in my camera died and I have misplaced the charger so I had to wait for them to dry enough to scan them.

This is the gate for the lane leading to my brother-in-law's home.  Bill's house has a magnificent view across Lake Manitou of the Cup and Saucer.  I have the gateway a bit narrow and the sun from different directions but I am happy with this.  It was a beautiful day but the shadows were moving faster than I was painting so I got a bit confused.

I had a few hours to kill in Little Current so I headed out towards Whitefish falls looking for rocks, water, and pine trees to paint.  There are lots of great views however very few places to pull off the highway to paint.  This was painted at a boat launch at the narrows at the top of La Cloche Island.  Locals call it Swift Current but I couldn't find any reference to it on any map.  The scenery here was awesome.

Fletcher Creek again

We went back to Fletcher Creek Conservation Area again and painted from 2 PM until 9 PM with a short break for supper.

This is my afternoon painting.  The weather was perfect.  I was in a old cedar grove beside a marsh and the bugs surprisingly weren't a problem.  The only challenge was the lack of light.  There was a thick canopy and mostly cloudy skies so it was pretty dark.  Every once in a while the sun would break through and there would momentarily be gorgeous highlights.

When we brought our paintings out into the sunlight the colours and contrast was much different than we expected.  I love this location and am okay with this painting.  I should have used more colour.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Guennadi's "Old Maple"

I am still struggling at times with oil paint so I enrolled in Guennadi Kalinine's painting landscapes from photos class so that I could learn from him.  He said that a great way to learn is to copy a master so I decided to copy one of his.  How better to learn than to copy a master while he is looking over your shoulder.
I wanted to learn how he does his backgrounds, tree leaves and grasses so I chose a wonderful painting that has all three.  Of all the paintings that I have done with oil paint this one was the most fun.
I am very happy with this one.  
I need to learn how to properly photograph oil paintings.  They all look much better in real life when you can see the texture in the thick paint.  
Saddly last night was the last class.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Paletta Pine 11" X 14" oil on birch board

I painted with the Burlington Fine Arts Guild this morning.  It was sunny and a comfortable 20 C with a gentle breeze off Lake Ontario.  We were painting at Paletta Park and Mansion on the Lakeshore in Burlington.  I prefer slightly less manicured locations but the hazy view over the lake was a nice backdrop for
this old pine.

I probably shouldn't have put the tree dead centre in the painting but I felt that it deserved centre stage.  The water is still a bit too blue but I am pretty happy with this one.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Almost the Solstice

It was a fantastic evening to paint.  The low light created long shadows and the yellows and reds were brilliant.  I am pleased with this.  I was told that it was my best yet and that I should call it "Solstice" because I captured the light so well.

The mosquitoes were ferocious and the constant buzzing made it difficult to concentrate at times but the temperature and lighting were perfect.  I am still having a lot of fun with oils and I guess it shows in my paintings.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Burns Pond

We were painting at Burns Conservation Area.  It was a nice warm evening and a wonderful location however as soon as the sun started getting low the mosquitoes got so bad we retreated to our cars.

I am continuously learning and improving with oils.  That is my goal right now so I am happy.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Tiffany Falls Take Two

We went back to Tiffany Falls for a second week.  I was determined not to paint the falls again but to attempt the creek or part of the gorge.  However, when I got up to the falls there was a lot more water flowing over it than last week so I did a take two.

I am glad that I did because I like this painting a lot more

The Top of Tiffany

Some days I paint better than others but I have discovered that every day is a good day to paint. Today I painted at Tiffany Falls with half a dozen other artists.  It was 21 C and a clear blue sky except we were in the gorge so the sky colour didn't matter.  It did however mean that there were fantastic highlights in the valley.  The down side is that the patterns changed in a matter of minutes.  When we arrived the sun was gleaming off the falling water and wet stone but by the time we left the whole gorge was in shadow.

This painting is oil on canvas board 14" X 11" and since it is my first attempt at water using oil paint I am happy with it.

Friday, 24 May 2013

I have painted a fair bit in the last week but nothing that I care to share.  I am discovering that painting with oils is much different when it is 28 degrees than when it is 5.  I am also not acclimatized to the heat so I am struggling to focus mentally too.

This was painted in Geunnadi Kalinine's class at the Dundas Valley School of Art.  He showed me how he does rocks and I tried to emulate him.  I am happy with this but it is nowhere near as good as the ones that he painted.  It is oil on an 11" X 14"  birch board and painted from a photograph that I took at Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick.  I wanted to capture the massive size of the jagged rocks with the one huge round rock in the foreground.

I need to get better lighting for my photographs.  This looks much better in real life.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

It was a very dull grey evening

It was very dull and grey last night but the farm that we were painting at is inspirational so I had a good time painting this. I think that my oil painting skills are advancing much faster than watercolour ever did but I am painting more so that likely has a lot to do with it.

This is oil on birch board 11" X 14".

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Paint, Paint, Paint

I am getting lots of painting in these days.  I am getting out at least three times a week so I should be improving.  It seems the more I paint the harder I try and the more frustrating it gets when things don't work the way I want them to.  I am learning a lot about scraping and wiping paint off my board.
This was painted Monday afternoon.  It is an old wild apple tree just before the blossoms start to form.  It was suggested that I carry the mid ground green all the way over to the left side of the painting and looking at it here I think that I have to agree.

It was an exercise in dry brush and scumbling techniques and I am happy with the result.

I hope to head back to the same location next week to catch the tree in full bloom.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Today was a good day. Sort of.

The day didn't start off great.  I was packing up my paints and somehow, without realizing it, got sap green paint on my finger.  I then used that same hand to brush my hair back off my forehead.  When I went to brush my hair before going out I discovered a dark green stripe on my forehead and a thick stripe through my hair.  I quickly jumped into the shower to shampoo it out but that only spread the green evenly through my hair.  When I showed up to paint all my artist friends had a good chuckle.

We were painting in Troy Ontario.  This first painting is a scene that I painted a couple of years ago in watercolour.  It is Debbie's favourite of all my watercolours so I decided to give it a go in oils.  It was a warm hazy afternoon.  I am happy with this.

This one was painted in the evening.  I was told that it may be my best ever oil.  I am not sure that I agree but it does look better than this poor photograph makes it appear.  The sun was low in the sky and shining through a thin haze of clouds

Yes my hair is still green.  Anyone know how to get it out?

Sunday, 21 April 2013

I am Still Having Fun

I am discovering that with oils I don't have to fight with freezing temperatures or high humidity as with watercolours but I am discovering new battles.

When I painted this it was very windy and my easel was bouncing around so much that I ended up with paint everywhere.  All over my easel, the handles of my brushes, my coat, my hands, my face.  I do need to come up with a more wind friendly kit.

This was painted on a very still, sunny and warm day.  It was a pleasure to be outside painting.  Until the small black flies started get stuck to my painting.  Now leaves, sticks, needles etc can easily be brushed off when the paint dries but bugs have blood so it was a tad messier and there were a couple of dozen or so of them.

I am having fun.