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Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

"Starry Night"
Watercolour 14x21"

I want to thank you all for the tremendous support and encouragement you have sent my way in this past year. Having an online journal and so many great people who are interested enough to follow it has been such a wonderful addition to this artistic journey.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with wonderful moments under star filled skies!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's Show time!

"Alberta Sky"
Oil on Linen - 18x24"
(for purchase info click here)

Finally, the paintings are painted, photographed, varnished, framed, delivered and hung. Yay! This is always my favourite time - the "I can stop going at a million miles an hour" time.

My show of 20 new works + 20 of my 100 in 100 paintings will be on display at the Avens Gallery in Canmore until January 1st, 2011. The show opens tomorrow and I will be there from 1-4pm. I would LOVE to see you there if you can make it!

PS: The above painting was done from field study #70 in my 100 in 100.

"Rain Approaching"
Oil on Linen 6x8"
(not for sale)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Workshop demo

"Onion and Garlic"
Original Oil - 6x6"
Click here to bid (begins December 4th @ 7pm MST)

Quick post tonight - crunch time for my upcoming show, so that's where my focus is at the moment.

This is a demo from a workshop I taught last month, another variation of choosing like colored objects and background as a way to visually achieve lost edges.

As I was setting up the demo, one of the guys in my class (you know who you are Dave :), asked "What are those little white things?" Needless to say, surrounded by 6 women,  the stage was set for his downfall....

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Commercial work vs. growth work

"Red Delicious"
Original Oil - 6x8"
Click here to bid

A common dilemma among professional artists is the need to produce commercial output and the desire to focus on growth as an artist. It seems that one almost always comes at the expense of the other when trying to merge them.

After several years of straddling the fence between the two, I have found what works best for me is to keep them entirely segregated. When I'm painting for a show, I focus on painting at my current skill level - no double gainers, cliff diving, or juggling balls of fire allowed. Taking chances mid-painting when I have a deadline adds unneeded pressure. I cut myself a lot of slack and don't do much second guessing. If the work is competent, it gets signed, and I get on with the next one.

On the other hand, when I am working from a model or doing still life, or any other kind of work where challenge and skill building are the key motivators, my bar goes way up, and I don't let myself off the hook for anything. The goal is to rise to the challenge or die trying, no excuses, no cop-outs, no fear. Failure is welcome here. That said, whining is frequent and ongoing.

In keeping the two camps separate, I find I can give myself fully to each one without conflict,  making me a happy painter and allowing me to perform to the best of my ability whichever roll I'm in.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

RayMar Art Painting Competition Finalist

"Lake O'Hara" (study)
Oil on linen - 8x10"
not for sale

This painting was just selected as a finalist in October's Raymar Art painting competition. I was a bit surprised as it looks sub-optimal on their website (seriously), but I have always loved this little field study, so I'm really happy it was chosen.

The most magical part of it was that little strip of torquoise, which wasn't initially painted in. I had just finished and was standing chatting with Sarah Kidner, my painting companion that day, when I looked up and saw the wind kissing the water at the far end of the lake, stirring up a little piece of color heaven. I quickly mixed it and laid it down in one stroke, and shazam! -  totally pulled the painting together. Awesome!

Thanks so much to this month's judge Scott Jones, general manager of the Legacy Gallery. Their website is well worth a look - they represent some really fabulous artists.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Upcoming Show

"Silver Basin"
Oil on Linen 8x10"

This is of one of the paintings I completed while heli-painting in the Bugaboos this September. I am currently painting a body of larger works inspired by my 100 in 100 project (and other plein air adventures) for a show at The Avens Gallery in Canmore, AB.

The show opens Saturday, December 18th, with me :) in attendance form 1-4pm. I would really love to see you there if you can make it!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Black and White show

"Snowy Egret"
Original oil - 8x10"
For purchase info click here

One of my galleries, The Artym Gallery in Invermere, BC recently asked their artists to create a painting using only black, white and one colour. The show opens on November 12th, and I'm sure it will include quite an interesting variety of approaches to the challenge.

My posting will be a little less frequent for the next month as I am painting for an upcoming solo show in mid-December. More on that next post, in the meantime, paint on friends!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Daily Painting Phenomenon

"Bottles on Blue"
Original Oil 6x6"
Click here to bid

I did this little guy a while ago, lots of fun working with glass!

Not sure if you've read Robert Genn's recent post about Daily Painting, if not you might find it of interest. Check it out here.  As you might imagine, I had a few things to say about it. You can see my comments, as well as a lot of other interesting ones, over on his site.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Losing Edges

"Red on Red"
Original Oil 6x6"
Click here to bid

This is another workshop demo. Lost edges add a lot of interest to a painting by engaging the viewer's imagination to "fill in the blanks", allowing them to participate actively rather than simply observing.

There are several ways to lose edges but one effective way is by bringing values or colours close together where edges meet. A great way to practice this is by painting objects on a like colored cloth. This is one example, but you could try a multitude of variations, one of my students did a great painting of a glass jar of milk on a white cloth.

Use your creativity and give it a try, it's a lot of fun!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bold Brush FAV 15% finalist - September 2010

"Peruvian Schoolboy"
Oil on Linen - 20 x 16"

I'm pleased to announce that one of my recent Peruvian portraits was selected as a Fav 15% finalist in September's Bold Brush Painting Competition. This is a terrific monthly online art competition that attracts some of the finest artists painting today.

Entering competitions is a great way to get you looking at your work critically, it keeps you raising your bar, and it helps build that thick skin we artists so benefit from. The more comfortable you get with both acceptance and rejection in juried shows, the clearer it becomes how subjective the process is, and the less knocked for a loop you are when your masterpiece isn't selected.

If you haven't yet, I encourage you to enter an image in the upcoming months, it's a great opportunity for exposure and a chance to win some dough as well!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Advanced Skills workshop (cont')

Workshop demo - oil 6x6"

This was another demo from one of my recent Vancouver workshops. The goal of this was thick paint again, lots and lots of it! On this one it really clicked in why this is way of painting is so fun...when you paint really thickly it forces you to focus on shape, value and color. It's super easy to forget about the object your painting and just get into yummy, luscious oil paint and pushing it around. You really, really, should try it! Smaller the canvas and bigger the brush the better.

"Kitchen Break" - oil on linen 8x6"
Click here to bid

This was another exercise working from a photo reference. The students turned their reference photo upside down and then painted only the large, flat, abstract shapes, trying to match color and value but with no attention given to creating form. The idea is to gain an understanding of how to create a strong foundational pattern of light and dark from your photo before begin to model form and add finishing highlights and accents. I recommend my students do a whole lot of these after the workshop to continue building this skill. It is one of the best things they can do to develop their design skills and their ability to see accurately.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Advanced Skills workshop

"Evening Greens"
Oil on Linen 6x8"
Click here to bid

This is a demo from an Advanced Skills workshop I just taught in Vancouver. This exercise is from the last segment of the workshop, where we focused on different exercises to stretch ourselves when working from photos.

The goal of this one was to put paint on as thickly as possible right from the start, trying to match the color and value fairly accurately, and getting the entire canvas covered quickly. Every time I demo this exercise I have SO much fun, I wonder why I don’t paint with tons of paint all the time. The students were game and really jumped in with the thick paint, doing some beautiful little pieces. If you want to try this one, use stiff brushes so you can really scoop the thick paint off of your palette, and then apply it with a light touch.

On the first day of the workshop we did speed painting from a model (maximum 20 minutes a painting and most getting wiped when the buzzer went). The purpose of this exercise was to learn how to zero in on what is essential quickly, with no time to get caught up in detail.

On day 2 and 3, the students worked on setting up simple still life arrangements and trying to nail the colour and value of their subject as closely as possible, with a lot of focus on the right questions to ask themselves to error correct along the way. At the heart of these questions is the idea that they must be able to be answered in paint. If some part of the painting was off, they asked themselves, “Is it...”:
  • too warm?
  • too cool? 
  • too light?
  • too dark? 
  • too red/blue/yellow?
  • too gray?
  • too pure?
In doing exercises that develop your ability to measure and draw well,  and see and mix color and value accurately, you gain the freedom to paint as expressively as you like, with skill. Because your expression is coming from a foundation of truth, your paintings will breathe with life and authenticity. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Plein Air tips from the trenches

"Silver Basin" study - 8x10" oil on linen

This painting was done on the heli-painting trip Robert Genn and I led in to the Bugaboos this fall. I'll post a better shot of it once I get it photographed properly, but I've had a few questions about my pochade box so I wanted to show it here. It stores two wet panels in the lid, and folds up super compact. Made by Ben Haggett in Montana. Superb quality and design, I ordered mine with a clip on tray instead of the drawer to make it more compact. Mounts on a regular camera tripod.

As promised last post, here is a summary of the key things I learned in my 100 in 100 project:

  • If a scene is particularly complex, have a clear plan about how to simplify it. 
Rule of thumb: Squint to eliminate detail and clarify values. Attempt to reduce the scene to 4 or 5 large abstract shapes and ask if it’s still an interesting design. If not, consider how you can make it stronger.

  • Values must be seen relatively. Getting enough contrast painting outdoors can be difficult. In part this is because when we look in to the shadows our pupils dilate and everything seems at least 2-3 values lighter than if we look at shadow areas RELATIVE to the light. Remember to keep checking everything against each other.
  • Pick something and get painting. Hours can be wasted seeking the perfect design. Our job is to create something interesting from the elements available. More often than not if you just stand still in a place for 5 or 10 minutes, something appears out of what at first seemed uninspiring. See if you can let the painting find you.

  • Choose a star player, and make everything else subordinate no matter how compelling it is. Light on the peaks, sparkling water, backlit forest, sundrenched meadow, gorgeous clouds - sometimes all these things are present and compelling in the same scene, but they can't all be given equal attention or nothing will shine. 
  • When you see something beautiful and you know the light is going to change before you even get it drawn out, try to convince yourself to go for it anyway. The only way to develop visual memory is to practice it. 

If this is the case: Stand quietly in front of the scene for a few moments before painting and burn every vital detail into your brain:
  1. What are the major patterns of light and shadow? 
  2. Is something catching bright light in front of a darker background? Is it cool and blue in the distance / warm and bright in the foreground? Perhaps the opposite of this?
  3. Is the sun lighting up the water and infusing it with colour?
  4. Are clouds or mist moving in front of mountains and catching the light?
 Establish what is essential that is going to change with the light. 
  5. What is captivating you? Once you begin painting, try to get that down first.
  • Choose what you’re going to say and stick with it no matter how many other ideas you are tempted by as the painting unfolds. An exception is if something intriguing happens that will still work within your initial plan - but be wary of changing horses mid-stream.

  • Above all - if you’re getting cranky - try to remember to not take yourself too seriously - ultimately plein air work is about information gathering and exploration of your subject. Know that no matter what winds up on the canvas, every brushstroke you put down with care and attention makes you a better painter. Remember to have fun, and find joy in the very cool act of being outdoors painting life unfolding before you.

I'm currently in Vancouver teaching a couple of Advanced Skills workshops, hope to be able to post while I'm here. Those still in fair weather climes, hope you're getting out there for a blast of late fall plein air, lucky you guys!

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Plein Air Workshop in Banff

    Just finished teaching a 3 day plein air workshop here in the Banff/Canmore area. The first day was superb outdoor painting weather! Our first outing was in a meadow 5 minutes from my studio where we all had a crack at mountains and fall trees.

    The gang! 12 keeners, some with quite a bit of experience and some trying plein air for the first time.

    Robbie Hosegood in front of The Three Sisters

     After day one, the non-summer we have experienced this year returned with a vengence. On day two, we took this opportunity to work indoors. We spent some time on theory and then dedicated the day to building our skills painting from photos. I used exercises from Kevin MacPherson's book "Landscape Painting Inside and Out" (highly recommend it!) The 3 we did were:
    1. turn the photo upside down and paint it in flat, abstract patterns
    2. paint the photo in black, white and grey only
    3. THICK paint right out of the gate, increasing thickness as the painting develops
    They were all great learning exercises, each one challenging us in different ways. It was the first time I had done them, so I got to learn too! Most importantly, they give you more tools in your kit for ways to move beyond merely copying a photo.

    Day 3 was cold and rainy again, but a lot of the group was eager to get outdoors and do some more plein air work, so we went to the Banff Park Administration Buildings where they plant a gorgeous flower garden every year, and remarkably the flowers were still in bloom. I think everyone was pretty excited (and a little warmed) by the color, and lots of them used the fun nature of the subject matter to try the thick paint exercise we had worked on the day before.

    Wendy Lockie undaunted by the weather

    Hermann Brandt able to set his umbrella down in a drier moment

    Holding an umbrella is not huge fun, if you want to do a lot of plein air I really recommend the BestBrella kit -  for keeping things dry in rainy/snowy weather, and for providing even light on your panel/palette and access to a wider variety of subject choices when the sun is out.

    Jackie Ramsay with a really good start - we talked a lot about blocking in the large, abstract shapes, and she really got a handle on this here.

    Helen Whyte setting up

    After braving the elements in the morning, we headed back to the dry, warm studio for our last afternoon session and did another Kevin M. exercise, this one painting the whole piece high key, no value darker than 5. WAY harder than you might think, give it a try! Start by mixing your 5, placing it where your darkest darks are in your photo reference, and then don't go darker than that anywhere else on the painting.

    *If you're not sure, a 5 value is is a tone that is halfway between white and black on a scale of 10. Now all you have to do is translate that in to color and keep everything else lighter :D

    PS: This post on a plein air workshop seems woefully short of plein air tips, I guess because most of them were sprinkled throughout the 100 in 100 project, but I promise to do a brief review of the key tips next post.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Bold Brush Finalist - August 2010

    I'm pleased to announce that "Secret Vantage" (#74 in the 100 in 100 project) was a finalist in this past month's Bold Brush painting competition. You can view the other winners here. Thanks to judge Brian Stewart for selecting my work!

    Other news, my good friend and super accomplished painter Frank Serrano has a new blog. Great chance to get some little gems on ebay at a terrific price, click on his name to check it out!

    Finally, I'm teaching a 3 day Daily Painting workshop in my Canmore studio November 5th-7th. There's one spot left if you're interested. Details here.

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Dan Schultz workshop

    Just took a 3 day Dan Schultz workshop where we covered portrait work as well as painting the figure in the landscape. I find the longer I paint, the less workshops are about learning something new, and the more they are about either being reminded of things I have forgotten to focus on lately, or hearing something in a new way that helps crystalize it.

    Those things for me at this workshop were:
    • Placing an intermediate color/ value between shapes is a great way to soften edges
    • When drawing, measure, measure, measure!
    • When blocking in, CONTINUALLY squint and compare to get the values down accurately
    • While it's important to compare a value to the one beside it, it's even more important to compare it to the lightest and darkest values in the entire subject. Here is an example:
      In this photo of Maya, it's easy to see that if you were trying to assess the value of her face only against her hair or the background, it would appear very light, but if you compare it to her hat or scarf you can see it's at least a couple of values darker than they are, and you must leave room for those lighter values.

      Workshops also help shine a light on the bad habits we can develop when working unmonitored in our studios. During this one I realized that in my impatience to get to the painting stage I will often move on to it before I have achieved a totally accurate drawing. Bad.

      I also find that when a painting's not going well, I have a tendency to do something bold and dramatic to try and fix things. Dan is a very careful, subtle painter, and watching him was a valuable reminder that sometimes what is required is the patience and discipline to slow down and make some very small, focused, intricate adjustments. At times this calls for painstaking attention, but it is amazing how it can make all the difference in pulling a painting together in the later stages.

      Dan's demo of Marsha. This is unfinished, but it gives you a good idea of how well he simplifies busy, complex subject matter into a few well placed, varied strokes to suggest what's there.

      Photo of Marsha modeling (NOTE: Photos posted here are copyrighted. Please respect this as well as the models - they were paid to model specifically for us.)

      Dan is humble and sweet, a passionate painter and a thorough and engaged instructor. I highly recommend taking a workshop with him if you have a chance.

      Thursday, September 9, 2010

      Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night....

      Robert Genn and Sally Pearson painting in Silver Basin.

      We had it all for Bob's trip, from sun to sleet and everything in between. A couple of snowed in mornings gave the opportunity for demos in the warm, cozy lodge, but as soon as the clouds lifted we piled into the helicopter and headed into the field to experience first hand high alpine plein air.

       Sunrise painting session at Hourglass Lake.

      Painting above Kick Off

      This spot had particularly great design elements, but truly the beauty of heli-painting in the Bugaboos is that every landing gives you a wealth of new material to draw from. Just as heli-skiing is the ultimate ski experience, heli-painting is a remarkable and unparalleled plein air experience. This whole thing started last summer when I suggested to Robert that this would be a pretty cool trip to offer. He agreed, we ran with it and the two inaugural trips we've  just completed were pretty outstanding. We will be presenting another trip like this next summer, please let me know if you would like to be notified once we have set dates.

      Check out Robert Genn's current newsletter for more about this past trip.

      I am currently taking a 3 day Dan Schultz workshop. He's a great teacher and I'm learning lots, will share some of it next post.

      Saturday, September 4, 2010

      Robert Genn arrives with the gang!

      View of the Bugaboos from Rocky Point Basin
      (click on images to see larger)

      Robert Genn arrived in the Bugaboos this morning with 10 eager students, and this afternoon we flew out to this spectacular location to get our feet wet. The crew were troopers, the weather was far from summer warm, but they bundled up in layers upon layers and soldiered on. Most of them did a couple of paintings each in the 3 hours we were out, working in acrylic, watercolor or oil.

      Robert giving some guidance to Laurel McBrine.

      Tatjana and Sinisa Mirkov-Popovicki starting their first piece, don't think Sinisa stopped smiling the entire afternoon.

      Sorry for posting photos and no paintings, will post some of the work from the trip once I get it home and photographed, but I thought you'd enjoy seeing the gorgeous scenery up here!

      Wednesday, September 1, 2010

      Heli-painting in the Bugaboos

      "Cobalt Lake"
      Original Oil 8x10"
      (purchase info)

      I guided heli-hiking in the Bugaboo mountains of British Columbia for 12 years, and it was such a pleasure to fly back in there last week with two of my dearest friends for some plein air painting. Cobalt Lake is my favourite lake in the world, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to paint it from life.

      Today I headed back up to the Bugaboos with a group of keen plein air painters to explore this amazing place and work on our outdoor painting skills.  About 5 cms. of new snow, and air temps were crisp to say the least, but they LOVED it! Here are some photos from our first afternoon out. (click to see larger)

      Friday, August 27, 2010

      Oil Painters of America Western Show 2010

      "Parade Day"
      Oil on Linen 8x10"

      I am pleased to announce that my painting “Parade Day” was juried into this year’s OPA Western Juried show, which will be held at the Mountain Trails Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming from October 9th - November 10th, 2010.

      Heli-painting in the Bugaboos:

      I will be leading two heli-painting trips with CMH into the Bugaboos in early September. On the first trip I will be guiding and teaching a plein air workshop, on the second I will be guiding and assisting Robert Genn teach a workshop.

      I flew into the Bugs with a couple of friends this week to get warmed up and do some location planning. This was one of a few pieces I finished while up there. (Watch for it on my website soon).

      There is still space in the first trip (Aug.31st-Sept 4th). If you are interested in further details, please click here.

      Friday, August 20, 2010

      100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #100

      #100 - "And to All a Goodnight"
      Original Oil 6x8"

      10/07/17 (10:15pm)
      This is not what it looks like - a fishing expedition to see if I could find Darrin again... I was actually on a side road BESIDE the highway, not on the highway - which enabled me to paint outside of the car, always better.

      I see this view every evening when I drive home from the studio, and always love it, so it seemed fitting to paint it for my last piece of the project. Hadn't planned on putting cars in, but as they kept streaming by while I was painting, they started to feel like an essential part of the subject, so in they went. One thing I have discovered during the project is that I LOVE painting plein air nocturnes, more to come for sure!

      Many of you have been commenting or writing to congratulate me on finishing the project. It really wouldn't have been nearly such a great experience without you (that includes the silent ones of you watching from the sidelines). Lots of people have also mentioned they will be sad to see it end, and I want you all to know that it's not ending, just changing. I will continue this blog with the intention of posting interesting paintings and sharing insights and stories that I hope will inspire and captivate you, so please check in from time to time to see what's new!

      Sending out a HUGE heartfelt thank you for your interest and support! You guys made it fun, and kept me going on every level from painting them to posting and writing about them. This project was one of the coolest things I've done recently, I'm so glad I took it on, and so glad you followed!

      PS: I will be publishing a book, both a softcover and hardcover version, of this project in the near future and will post about it here when it's ready to roll.

      Wednesday, August 18, 2010

      100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #99

      #99 - "Catching the Light"
      Original Oil 6x8"

      10/07/17 (7:45pm)
      Sometimes you don't even have to try, the light just gives you one. There was so much that was beautiful about this subject, and once again I knew it would be gone fast, so I spent a few moments before beginning to really take note of what I wanted to capture.

      Knowing this was day 100, I was so grateful for a gorgeous evening. This painting gave me a chance to work with some of the key things I've learned along the way such as:

      • squinting to make sure I can reduce the scene to 4 or 5 large abstract shapes before starting
      • keeping the distant values light enough (always lighter than I think)
      • neutralizing and blueing colour as it recedes
      • using a few simple brushstrokes to suggest a whole lot of detail
      • choosing what I'm going to say and sticking with it no matter how many other ideas I am seduced by as the painting unfolds...tough one
      • if the wheels are falling off just keep putting paint on 'til it looks right
      • above all - when I'm getting cranky I try to remember to not take myself too seriously - (really tough one...)
      All in all it's been one hell of a ride ~ can't wait to share #100 with you guys!

      Monday, August 16, 2010

      100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #98

      #98 - "Miner's Peak"
      Original Oil 6x8"

      *All proceeds from the sale of this painting will be donated to aid the victims of the Pakistan floods via Oxfam Canada.

      10/07/17 (5pm)
      Sorry for the delayed post guys, the internet was giving me a lot of grief tonight. That gave me time to decide that I'm going to post the last 3 one at a time though :-) ... can you tell I don't want it to end either?

      This one was done at a new painting location I discovered right near the end of the project, and one I'm sure I'll go back to often. I feel like this one has a more graphic feel than a lot of the work done, more like how I used to paint, which I thought was a pretty cool thing to pop out right near the end of the project. Plein air painting - just like a box of chocolates...

      Saturday, August 14, 2010

      100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #97

      #97 - "12:01"
      Original Oil 6x8"

      10/07/16 (10:45pm)
      This is my favourite painting, and my favourite story of the project, so it gets its own post.

      I had been painting all day just outside of Calgary (#'s 93-96) and was heading out of the city along a fairly major thoroughfare (Sarcee Trail) when I saw this scene. I was SO captivated by it, but it was 10:30 at night, I still had more than an hour drive to get back to the mountains, I'd already done 4 paintings that day, and it was not the ideal painting location. So I almost kept driving. What motivated me to stop was the project, and the fact that it was almost over. It really seemed like a now or never moment, so I pulled over, put on my hazards, and started painting in the front seat of the car, all the while thinking, "It'll be a miracle if I get this finished without a cop showing up"...

      Sure enough, 45 minutes in, flashing lights in my rearview mirror. I unrolled my window as he walked up and said, "Bet you're going to tell me I'm not supposed to be here." He said, "No, I'm just concerned, is everything alright?" As I assured him all was well, he looked into the car and said, "Wow. You're painting..." "Yes," I answered, "I really loved this scene. I know it's not a good spot to stop, I can pack up right now." To which he responded, "No, no, you just keep working and I'll sit behind you with my lights on 'til you're done."

      Okay, not the answer I was expecting. I said, "Seriously???" He said, "Yup, go for it".  I assured him I would wrap it up in 10 minutes or less, and he replied, "No worries, take as long as you need..."

      I did wrap it up in under 10 minutes, because honestly it felt a little too weird having my own police escort while I finished my painting, but this ended up being the finished piece, no studio tweaking. It was ready to be done. When I ran back to thank him, he said, "16 years I've been on the job, and this is a first. It's always something wrong. Happy to help out".

      So this painting is dedicated to Darrin from the Calgary City Police, car # 1201. Thanks for looking out for me, and for giving me one of the coolest painting memories of my life. You rock! 

      Thursday, August 12, 2010

      100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #95/#96

      #95 - "View from the Leighton"
      Original Oil 6x8"

      10/07/16 (5pm)
      Wow - I just got such a pang in my heart typing in #95. Really hit me that this is almost over. It has been such a great experience, and wouldn't have been nearly as special if not for all of you following, so thank you SO much for your interest, support and enthusiasm, it has meant the world to me.

      Here was my BIG learning on this one: use the opportunity of working on a small canvas to create depth, movement and interest with brushwork. The foreground triangles of this piece were painted fairly flatly, and then somewhere near the end it occurred to me to throw in some expressive brushwork. I couldn't believe how much energy and space were created with those 5 or 6 simple marks.

      #96 -"Evening Warmth"
      Original Oil 6x8"

      10/07/16 (8pm)
      I LOVE this painting. It's the same day and location as "Summer Greens" (#93). As you can see, it turned out to be a beautiful evening.  What I find most interesting about plein air painting is that often I can look at a piece months or years later and remember the moment it was painted so vividly. The air temperature, the sounds and smells, who I was with, exactly how I was feeling. They're like little canvas time machines, magical doors into moments lived. This is why I am compelled to hold a few of these back for my own collection, they are a record of such valuable moments in my life, and worth so much more than any money I could exchange them for.

      Tuesday, August 10, 2010

      100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #93/#94

       #93 - "Summer Greens"
      Original Oil 6x8"

      10/07/16 (12:45pm)
      Painting with the girls again today. This was a really beautiful marsh, and I was just getting a feel for the subject when a small hailstorm blew in and chased us to the shelter of the car.

      #94 - "Peony Study"
      Original Oil 6x8"

      10/07/16 (3:30pm)
      I got  30 minutes into this one and lost the sun. Packed up thinking I would finish it in the studio. And every time I glanced it's way for the next couple of weeks, I would think, I love it just as it is. Why would I do more? So in the end I didn't.

      On another note, I just stumbled across this wonderful video clip of Virginia Vaughan's moving year long daily painting adventure. Both she and her paintings are lovely, well worth a look. If you're interested you can check it out here.

      Saturday, August 7, 2010

      100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #91/#92

      #91 - "Green on Green"
      Original Oil 6x8"

      10/07/15 (5pm)
      The background and the water gave me so much grief on this one, I changed them and changed them and changed them. And then I remembered.


      #92 - "Late Day Light"
      Original Oil 6x8"

      10/07/15 (7:30 pm)

      Painting outdoors is incredibly challenging, but it is also infinitely rewarding. There are moments when I have just spent an hour or two completeing a painting and am cleaning my palette when I stop to look around and I realize I am in an altered state, connected with the  landscape on a deep level, rooted in it. Integrated. It is this sense that I have become more and more aware of throughout the course of this project.

      In the end it doesn't much matter if my painting turns out, I have been changed by the experience, and that's what I hope will show up my future work.

      Thursday, August 5, 2010

      100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #89/#90

      #89 - "Shoreline Patterns"
      Original Oil 6x8"
      For purchase info click here

      10/07/14 (4pm)
      The light changed at least a million times while I was painting this, often completely reversing itself to background hills in dark shadow and foreground trees in full light. This was a case of being commited to stick to plan A and not get seduced by B,C,D,E and F.

      #90 - "The Dike"
      Original Oil 6x8"
      For purchase info click here

      10/07/14 (7:30pm)
      Are you guys figuring out I'm an afternoon/evening painter? This actually worked to my advantage in this project as it's light in our neck of the woods until 11pm for most of June and July, so I would often start around 4 or 5 pm and paint into better and better light as the evening unfolded.

      I have been reading a really interesting book called "The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle. The basic premise is that talent doesn't have to be born, it can be grown, that anyone can greatly improve their skill at anything by practicing in a very specific way.  To paraphrase from the book: "If you use your muscles a certain way - by trying hard to lift things you can barely lift - those muscles will respond by getting stronger. If you fire your skill circuits the right way - by trying hard to do things you can barely do, in deep practice - then your skill circuits will respond by getting faster and more fluent."

      If you looking for motivation to keep working at your art on the "I forgot how to paint" days, and you want ideas on how to excel more quickly, it's worth checking out this book.