Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Oil on Canvas  16" x 24"

This week I am spending my evenings planning a new painting - a larger landscape based on my field sketches and photos from the summer. I will work on the piece during the upcoming three-day workshop I'm attending given by Robert Genn. My cohorts are probably tired of hearing me go on and on about the workshop so I better come up with a decent painting.

And just to keep you all quiet for awhile, I'm posting this portrait that I painted for my friend, Clarissa. The painting is based on an old photo of Clarissa holding her son when he was a few weeks old. The original was black and white and was taken using a flash, so there were many artistic challenges. I hope you enjoy this painting as much as I enjoyed painting it.

For those of you interested in more details on my solutions, please read on:

1. I ignored the poor lighting from the camera flash that was washing out the definition of forms and instead, I concocted a light source from the right front. In a pinch, my Better-Half acted as my model and patiently posed for a photo under a strong directional light with a robe draped over his shoulder to help me determine where the light would fall. (I could probably make a few dollars on e-Bay selling that photo, but I wouldn't live long.)

2. I studied images of Mother and Child paintings in library books and online. They inspired me to go for the feeling of serenity. They also gave me the ideas for colours and to add more flowing fabric. I turned the plain white of the baby's blanket in the photo rich navy blue. The comfy white t-shirt Clarissa wore became a golden toned robe.

3. I replaced Clarissa's shorter hairstyle in the photo because it didn't fit the 'heavenly' mood of the painting. For a softer flow, I took new photos of her in the same pose looking down with her long tresses flowing down her shoulder. For skin tones of both figures, I referred to several more recent colour photos and to the real thing, easy to do since I see Clarissa at work daily.

4. Last but not least, there about three layers of paint on the entire canvas. I painted and repainted everything until it was the best I could do at the time. The robe has been red, navy and ended up gold. The baby's blanket has been light blue, gold and ended up navy. And so on...

The entire project was a learning experience for me and I loved working through it. When I got discouraged, I set it aside and worked on smaller items. My committment to finish and deliver, gave me the impetus to keep going even when I encountered road blocks. It was a true pleasure to give it to my friend on her birthday in July.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On Guard!

Oil on Linen  8" x 10"

Aaaah, colour - I love luscious colour.  The need to experience more colour influenced my choices for this week's still life setup. This is tomato season in BC - they are cheap and plentiful. This beauty was not ripe when I started painting the picture, but is ready to be devoured now.  The plain-jane salt and pepper shakers delight me because they were a souvenir from North Mart in Iqaluit.  And the glass plate... well, I will never paint that again, I've already firmly decided.  I am somewhat cross-eyed from trying to figure out the colours and shapes defining that thing.  It is now destined to be a cat food plate, permanently. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sun's Glare on Frobisher Bay

Acrylic on Canvas Board  9 x 12

I setup my easel on a flat spot half way up the side of a very large hill to paint this scene looking out over Frobisher Bay. For those of you in Iqaluit, this is the view from the path going to Apex. The fishing boats were tiny specs out in the distance and there were two young boys hunting for a weasel on the beach below me! The weasel escaped.

I am squeezing in studio time with my work routine this week and hope to finish a new still life for my next posting.

The book I am reading this week is the best instructional art book that I've read:
Problem Solving for Oil Painting – by Gregg Kreutz

Monday, September 07, 2009

Glowing Buildings on Rua da Atalaia

Acrylic,Oil & Pencil on canvas board, 11" x 14"

This week, now that I am back home, it seems like my vision has been ‘reset’ from being immersed in the warm August colours of the tundra for two weeks. Now, the rain forest and water surrounding me are fresh and amazing. My challenge this week has been to fit in painting, once again, with my work routine. So many ideas, so little time:
  • I have setup a new still life in my studio (aaaaah, happy to be back in my studio),
  • I am planning a larger landscape based on one of my Arctic field sketches,and
  • I decided to take part in a challenge set by artist blogger, Bill Guffey at
Mr. Guffey's Virtual PaintOut is a kind of sharing session for artists. Most of us appreciate an audience and there is nothing like a group of other artists to fan the flames of creativity.  His cool idea is to use Google Street View as the source of inspiration and this month, Portugal is the virtual destination. While I cruised around Lisbon riding piggy back on the little Google Street View man, I was quite taken with both the colourful buildings and the sunshine. But ouch, the view I chose to paint really forced me to dig deep into my perspective lessons from Picard’s drawing boot camp.

PS. if you are wondering about the three different mediums on this painting, I started it in acrylics, switched to oils when my buildings weren't glowing enough, and finished the lower balcony with a 7B pencil.  Even a size 0 brush wouldn't cut it for the grill work.