Thursday, 22 November 2018

Coote's Fall

My desktop computer running Windows 7 had become excruciatingly slow so I decided to rebuild it with Windows 10.  I backed all my files up three different ways, reformatted my hard drive and did a fresh install of Windows 10.  I am loving it.  I have not had a "not responding" message since.

I did find some time to get out and paint.  This first painting was done two Mondays ago.  We hiked down through the Lilac Dell, at the RBG, and followed the path down to the water.  It was a cool rather dull day and most of the fall colour was gone but the area has a lot of oak trees with wonderful rusty red leaves.  I decided to paint on canvas for a change and quite enjoyed it.  This is looking toward Bull's Point and I think that I like it.

Last Monday we went back to the same location hoping that the colours would still be there.  It was the same sort of day.  About 4 C and cloudy so cool for working but not uncomfortably so.  I stood in the same place and faced the opposite direction down Coote's Paradise.  The yellowing leaves on the willow contrasted nicely with the rusty oaks and gray leafless trees.  The jury is still out on this one.

I will be doing demos in public at the Art Gallery of Burlington from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm tomorrow and Saturday.  It is as part of their annual Christmas show and sale so there should be a lot of people looking over my shoulder and chatting with me.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

My Quest for the Rock

On October 20, 2018 a group of us set out on a canoe trip into Killarney Provincial Park.  My quest was to sit and paint on the rock that Franklin Carmichael sat on in 1935 and to climb up to the top of the cliff where A Y Jackson painted his sketch for Nellie Lake.  I had wonderful and talented artistic company in the form of Martin Kotyluk a Sudbury artist.  We arrived at Grace Lake just as the sun was setting so we ate supper and settled in for a very cold (-4) night.

Franklin Carmichael is seen sketching 
at Grace Lake in this 1935 photo.
(Joachim Gauthier photo)
Me sitting on Carmichael's rock on Grace Lake
Me sitting at Grace Lake 2018

It was a tough unmarked climb up to Carmichael's Rock but once up top it was obvious why he chose this spot.  The views were magnificent.  Being inspired isn't always a good thing for me.  I knew that I would likely never get back this way again and so I only had one shot at it.  We were rushed because we knew that after we climbed back down we would still have a rugged uphill 2K portage before supper.

My painting of Grace Lake 2018
This isn't a great painting however considering the conditions that it was painted in I am more than happy with it.  The cold damp temperatures kept the paint soft so it, as well as my others, got pretty beat up during the rest of the trip.

We had a layover day on Nellie Lake and the cliff that A Y Jackson painted from was right behind our campsite.  It was an even higher and tougher unmarked climb but again it was worth it.  We had fantastic views of Carmichael (Nellie) Lake, The Notch and also north out of the mountains towards Espanola.  I was tired and exhausted but forced myself to sit and do two paintings.  I am not excited about them but the experience of sitting painting where my idols once sat is exhilarating.

My painting of Carmichael (Nellie) LakeMy painting looking through The Notch, Killarney

The next day we portaged all our gear down the steep 1420m portage through The Notch . I stopped for a break at a waterfall about half way down and painted what is in my mind my best painting of the trip.  This was painted in about twenty minutes and I was, at the time, too tired to care if it worked or not.

My painting of a waterfalls in The Notch, Killarney

These last two painting were painted on Little Bear Lake.  The most exciting thing about these paintings is the fact that Morgan, my 13 year old granddaughter, and her friend Onalee asked if they could have a board each and some paint.  Sitting painting and chatting with them was the highlight of a trip of highlights.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Beyond the Valley Studio Tour Follow Up

I thought that I had posted this three weeks ago but now remember that I went looking for images to use and never came back.  I am now using images of some of the paintings that sold during the weekend.

When I was invited by Angela and Fred of Dragonfly Designs to be a guest in their studio for the Beyond the Valley Studio Tour I jumped at the chance.  This tour has eight studios with 16 very accomplished artists and artisans so I was excited.  I have been involved with many shows so how hard could it be.

There were some tense moments but it all turned out to be relatively easy and sales were extremely good.  I had a couple of credit card glitches. A couple of people got a deal because I forgot to charge for the frames and I told a few people that I would get their email address from the receipt and add them to my newsletter.  Sadly the credit card processing company will not give me any information at all about purchasers (which is mostly good) including their names and email addresses (which is not so good).

I will be eternally grateful to Angela and Fred for inviting me but also to Shelley Prior of Shelley Prior Fine Art for lending me her racks.  Most of all I would like to thank all the wonderful people who came by to look at, chat about or buy my art.  You all helped make the weekend a spectacular success in my mind.

I was also having so much fun that I didn't think to take any photos of my setup so if anyone has any I would love copies.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

I Love a Challenge

As part of the Beyond the Valley Studio Tour Debbie suggested that I do a painted interpretation of one of Angela Sirr’s glass landscapes and that Angela interpret one of my paintings in glass.  Angela and I, without giving it much thought, decided it sounded like a great idea.

This image is Angela's amazing fused glass landscape that I was to interpret.  I am used to painting a scene where my main concern is what detail to leave out. Here I have no detail and have to decide what to add.  After a lot of hand wringing, hair pulling , and planning  I came up with what may be one of my best paintings ever.

I gave this painting to Angela so that she could interpret it in fused glass.  Glass is unforgiving and unpredictable so Angela spent hours struggling to come up with a decent landscape.  Many bubbles and cracks later she ended up with two pieces that I think are brilliant.

I am not posting our finished products here.  To see them you will have to come to Angela's Studio during the Beyond the Valley Studio Tour where they will be shown prominently with the originals.  We hope to see you there.

Monday, 17 September 2018

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Today was another great day to paint (aren't they all). The Monday painters were at La Salle Marina in Burlington.  All my friends elected to paint the many sailboats in the marina however I chose to look across the bay to the steel companies.  More than a few passers by asked how I could make the ugliness of Stelco look so warm and inviting.  It is simple really.  I am inspired by the fact that these companies, now much reduced in stature, built the city of Hamilton and also by the fact that they may be ugly polluters but they have worked hard to clean up their acts.

A pension from this company allows me to eat and buy art supplies.  It wasn't always clean and easy work however I have many fond memories of the many wonderful people who I worked with.  I painted this quickly and I am pretty pleased with it.  I am not sure weather my paintings are better than ever or if my perception of them has changed.  Either way it feels great.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

I Am Excited

I am honoured to announce that Fred and Angela Sirrs kindly invited me to be a guest artist in their studio for the 2018 Beyond the Valley Studio Tour.

They both produce exquisite fused glass jewelry and Angela has started creating amazing landscapes in fused glass.  The image of the birches in the upper right of the invite is actually in glass.

I will be showing my paintings from this summer on Georgian Bay and Lake Superior and a few from last summer in Newfoundland.  I am finally getting comfortable with acrylic paint and I am producing my best ever work so I can't wait to get your feedback. 

Beyond the Valley Studio Tour
Saturday October 13 and Sunday October 14
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
218 Mellville Street
Dundas, Ontario

For more information about the tour visit their website at

Monday, 10 September 2018

A Day of Art at the Lake

Debbie and I spent Saturday with ten or so artists that we met this summer at Sylvia and Peter's cottage on Lake Erie near Selkirk.  I was a day filled with painting, wine, laughter and friendship.  I always thought that painting big water would make for a rather boring composition however this summer has me thinking very differently.  Lake Superior and Lake Erie have inspired me enough to produce what I think is some of my best work and that is exciting indeed.

I produced four painting and am happy with two of them.  I was offered a wee dram half way through the second painting and things started to go down hill at that point.  The fun and laughter started to increase though so it was all good.

This first painting was painted in the morning looking north east from the shore in front of their cottage.  I was excited with this one because it is about my third or fourth painting where I managed to get waves that looked like waves but were still painterly.

This next painting is actually my third painted with the taste of a good single malt lingering on my taste buds.  Thank you Wendy.  I was standing in almost the same location as the first painting however I was looking south west.  I don't think that I would ever tire of the views from their cozy retreat.

I would once again like to thank Sylvia and Peter for being such amazing hosts.  We are still giggling every time we think of some of the stories.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

What a Great Summer

I have been camping and painting for almost six weeks.  It has been very hot but also quite productive for me.  We were camping in various parks from Killbear near Owen Sound all the way across to Neys Provincial Park near Marathon (almost to Thunder Bay)  Many of the group of seven painted extensively in this area so I researched some locations before I went and tried to find them.

My favourite was near Wawa.  A Y Jackson had a cabin on a Lake Superior beach just south of the town.  One of his paintings called Shoreline Wawa Lake Superior was painted in 1955 in a small cove just north of this beach.  I had to scramble over some rocks to get to it but I found the cove.  It was a huge thrill for me to be standing painting almost exactly where he stood to paint his.  I think my painting shows how inspired I was.

I painted about 25 paintings on this trip and I think I produced some of my best work.  Many of the others can be found at

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Waiting for the Night

We were down on Pier 4 last week to do a nocturne. We arrived at 5 p and the sun didn't set until 9 so we had lots of time to do some warm up paintings. The view on one side was across the bay to the high level bridge and the other way was towards the skyway bridge. I am playing with a new palette and I am determined to get control of Phthalo Blue.  It is very intense and wants to take over everything.

This first painting is looking towards the high level bridge.  This is a very imposing structure that few artists have managed to capture very well.  There is lots wrong with this painting and yet I like it.  This palette may just work for me.

This second painting is of the same scene.  I elected to leave out the forground structures, move the bridge away from dead center and let the phthalo blue show more to its advantage.  I like this one even more.  I am on a roll.

This third painting was done just as the sun was setting and lights were beginning to come on.  I wanted to paint the skyway in the dark so this was a set up painting for my final of the night.  I am excited about this one mostly because I used phthalo in three painting is one night and I like all three.

Bring on the dark.  That is for next post.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

I Got Agressive

Catherine Gibbon told me to pay more attention to the light and while looking at my past paintings I reached the conclusion that I have to be less timid when I paint.  My best work, in my mind, is where I was bolder in both brush strokes and colour.  If I am not sure how I want to approach a subject I get cautious and mix little piles of paint and keep reworking it in an attempt to get it right. I need to mix big piles of paint, get the colour right, load up my brush and think about every stroke.

We were at Cedar Haven Farm on Tuesday evening.  I love this place and am always inspired here.  I did three paintings.  The first one took about an hour and a half and was just okay so I wont post it.

This one was done in about 45 minutes and is much better.  I decided to step outside my box and did a magenta underpainting.  This colour was so intense that anything that I put on top of it seemed very dull in comparison.  I also discovered that a glaze of yellow turns the magenta into the  beautiful warm orange seen in the foreground.

This third and last painting was painted in about fifteen minutes while I stood in the parking area waiting for everyone to gather.  The sun was just starting to set and I made no attempt to tone down the magenta.  I am really excited about where this will take me.  Catherine said that she thought that this was my best painting ever.  High praise from my mentor.  I think that I might just agree with her.  I know Debbie does.

This is going to get exciting.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

It was Hot

I am not sure what the temperature reached yesterday but it was above 30C.  That is way too hot for May especially considering how cool it has been the last while.  I stood in the heat fighting with acrylic paint that was drying incredibly quickly and tried to focus on what I was doing.  I was in a lets just get this done mood and maybe that was a good thing.  I have tried painting the Mcquesten bridge many times and failed miserably every one.  Only time will tell but I kind of like this painting. 

This just proves that I do my best outdoor paintings when I don't overthink the process.  I just block in the shapes and let the painting tell me what it wants. 

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Made in Dundas

The annual Made in Dundas festival at the Dundas Museum and Archives has tons of activities for kids.  Everything from a petting zoo to crafts, puppet show, face painting, fire truck and much more.  It was very hot and very busy with parents chasing their children from activity to activity.  Deb Carson and I were right in the thick of it merrily painting away.  The idea was that we would promote our exhibition inside however all the adults were too busy with the activities to chat with us for more than a moment or two. 

This second painting was an experiment.  I had this painting of Moon Bay that I kind of liked but the sky was too blotchy and the water wasn't quite right.  Catherine Gibbon suggested that the water could be darker so I decided to glaze over the water to darken it and the sky to smooth it out and lighten it a little.  I am now really happy with this painting.  I am going back to play with more of my disasters to see if I can work some more magic..

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Time to Breathe

Four exhibitions and a torn medial collateral ligament and torn meniscus and it has been a bit crazy for me.  The last of the shows is hung and my knee is improving, albeit very slowly, so I have some time to regroup.  I have been very happy with my painting the last couple of weeks.  Not much worth posting but I am getting excited about were I am headed.  More colour and more contrast makes for much more fun and satisfaction.There are a couple of issues with this painting but none that I can't live with. 

This painting was done in Courtcliff Park.  I painted three paintings Tuesday night and I learned a lot from each of them even though two were pretty bad.  This one is 11" X 14" and was painted in about 30 minutes because the sun was getting ready to set behind me.  I love the wonderful warm colours in the late evening.

I think that this is one of my best acrylic paintings and that excites me.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Adjustment Time

I sprained my knee about six weeks ago and not only is it slowing me down it limits how long I can comfortably stand at my easel.
A painting of the view from the Crack in Killarney Provincial Park
I spent some more time working on my colour study for the commission.  I am getting really excited about this now.  I am happier with both the rocks and the clouds.  Now that the clouds are showing better depth I may fiddle with the mid ground a bit.

If I get this one perfect what will happen when I start the larger finished version?  No pressure!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Now Colour

Last post I introduced my latest commission and posted images of my value sketches. I am reposting the value sketch here. This scene is all about depth and to properly represent the huge expanse stretching to Georgian Bay I need to get the values, colours and shape sizes correct.

I have now done a colour study.  This is 9" X 12" and the desired finished painting will be 12" X 16"  The purpose of this study is to play with shapes and colours keeping in mind the values from the previous study. I need to lighten the foreground rocks to make them believable, lighten the dark midground trees on the right to push them back and the far distant landscape is possibly too light and maybe just little too blue but I can't make that call until I make the other changes.

 I am starting to think that I can make this composition work. 

Sunday, 15 April 2018

I Love Commissions

I am working on a commission for a dear friend and paddle partner. I have narrowed it down to two scenes from last Octobers canoe trip.  I started with these value studies and would like to thank my very talented nephew Jamie Christie for getting me thinking about using Prismacolor markers. These were fun to do and I will do more preliminary sketches with then in the future.  I might even buy some coloured markers.

The top left image is one of Bob's photos and top right is my sketch done on location.  AY Jackson painted the same scene from almost the same location but that is a story for another time.  I painted the sketch while sitting on campsite 30 on OSA Lake and I suspect that Bob took his photograph from the same place.  The bottom image is my value study for a painting.

This second option is the one that Bob wants me to do. Bob took the photo from the top of The Crack in Killarney Provincial Park.  It is a long tough climb for a couple of old guys but oh what a vista.  It is an incredibly high La Cloche peak with a relatively flat plain below it stretching to Georgian Bay.  It will be tough to show that perspective but well worth a try.

The final image is our paddling crew on "The Crack" looking back towards OSA Lake and more La Cloche mountains.  This great bunch of guys drag me along with them and all I have to do is paddle and paint.  An outdoor artists dream deal.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Painting Kids Painting

I had a great time at the Dundas Museum and Archives this afternoon. 

 When I was there yesterday hanging my show I was told that they had invited youth to come paint outside this afternoon.  They wanted to know if I could come and set up and paint.  I said sure and invited some friends.  

This was painted quickly and while it isn't one of my best paintings it captures young Max sitting on the stairs of the Doctor's house merrily working on a painting of his grandmother sitting on a bench and totally oblivious to the fact that it was only 3 F.  I painted it in a rush because I didn't expect him to stay long but he managed three paintings outside over about an hour and a half.  I was impressed because he, like us,  worked with no gloves on and my hands were cold and stiff by the time I finished.  I wish that I had taken a photo of his painting to show here.

His determination reminded my of my grandson Max.

April 14th Opening

It has been a very busy few months but my solo show consisting of thirty plein air paintings is now hanging in the Dundas Museum and Archives. I decided a little over a year ago that I needed to become proficient with acrylic paint so that I could use them while traveling and especially on canoe trips. I decided this show should be all acrylics and I had no idea how much stress it was going to be. The paintings were all propped up in our living room and depending on the light and my mood they looked fantastic or they looked terrible.

Having said that I am really excited about it now that it is up.  The lighting in the gallery is far superior to our living room.  All paintings were painted on location in places like OSA Lake in Killarney or the Tablelands in Newfoundland or Paudash Lake.  The gallery is open to the public but be aware that there are often meetings in the room.  I am really excited about the opening reception on April 14th from 1:30 to 3:30.

I would love to know what you think of my work.