Thursday, June 23, 2016

Seven boats

I've just realized that I didn't share the paintings from my recent group exhibition.  Time got away with me as deadlines for other paintings and projects are looming.  This exhibition was different in that it was a transition from my usual larger gallery pieces.  There were six 12" x 12" and one 24"x 24" in oils available.

The opening on June 10th was busy and fun with lots of people and conversation and a sale for me which is always nice.  The exhibition came down on June 20th, but my pieces are still available at Peter Lewis Gallery and another sold today.

If you're in downtown St. John's, drop in and see the pieces in person as well as art from a variety of local artists.  And if you're not near, you can see a short virtual view of the exhibition on Peter Lewis Gallery Facebook page.

Directionally Challenged
Wine glasses started to accumulate on the mantel on opening night

Sitting in the Morning Sun - Sold
 A red dot is always nice at an opening

 Left to Right:   The Channel; Off the Collar; Veiled: Tidal Pools (sold)

 Right side painting: Lobster Red

 Photograph:  Peter Lewis Gallery

Monday, June 20, 2016

All That Glitters

 All That Glitters
11.5 x 14 graphite on paper

Its been awhile since I did a "real" drawing.  I do lots of sketching and always forget how much I enjoy really getting into a solid drawing until I do one again.  Classical drawing was my background and, as with every artist, we move laterally over time into other areas.  Painting and printmaking sidelined me from drawing as much as once did, so its a pleasure to complete this piece.


I did a study a few weeks ago for this piece in a Moleskine sketchbook, then decided to proceed with the drawing.  Yes, all that water was a little tedious at times, but its part and parcel of making the whole piece work.  Abandonment is the trademark for those who choose it when the going gets tough.  Or boring.

I used Strathmore Windpower paper for this.  The jury is still out on whether or not I really like this paper.  It has a medium grade which was perhaps a little grainy for this drawing, but seems fairly resilient and receptive to pulling out highlights with a kneaded eraser without causing damage.  I used Blackwing 602 and Staedtler 2B and 4B pencils to complete the piece with many, many, many light layers to build values.  Pressure is key to building layers of graphite before you reach saturation point.  The lighter the pressure, the more layers you can achieve and the further back you hold the pencil, the less chance you have of pressing hard and destroying the surface.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Exhibition opening

Tonight is the opening of a new group exhibit at Peter Lewis Gallery, where I will have seven new boat paintings revealed.  This is a new format with the gallery, showing a larger painting accompanied by 4 - 6 smaller pieces from each artist. My pieces are 12" x 12" and 24" x 24" and I'm looking forward to seeing how the show is hung.

I'll share my paintings with you after the opening and you can catch a glimpse of one of mine on this poster. If you're near St. John's, drop by for a glass of wine and see the work of some wonderful local artists.  I'd love to meet you there!

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Building a complex sketch


Flatrock, the little town of about 1,500, where I live in Newfoundland, is home to some unique rock formations and geology going back a million years or more.  The smooth flat rocks stretch out from the land into the sea and were supposedly used for drying cod many years ago.  Other rocks are like stacks of huge square boulders lying on their sides, one on top of the other.  I'm not a geology expert but love looking at the rocks and their coverings of lichen, additional boulders that the ocean has deposited onto rock shelves and, of course, the gulls' antics around the rocks and water.

Drawing rocks is no different than any other subject and if there are a lot of them I break the scene down into sections to make it easier to deal with.  Drawing intricate scenes can be perceived as difficult, but in reality it isn't.  It's time consuming and realizing that, I make a commitment of slowing down and studying a scene carefully which makes the drawing a lot easier than rushing and ending up with a poor sketch.

 Flatrock waterfront

This was my vantage point a few days ago as I sat in the car to sketch some of the rocks.  I day was beautiful but the wind was just too cold to sketch outside for long, so as my hands were getting just too cold to work well, I took to the comfort of the car out of the wind.

I did a pencil sketch on site which took about 30 minutes, then took the piece home to finish it in the studio.  I added ink over the pencil, then coloured pencil.  Colour notes in the sketch book for rocks and ocean along with the photo to enhance my memory provided the colour cues I needed.  And if I am stuck I can just wander down the road and have another look in real life.



Friday, May 20, 2016

Cloudy with a chance of rain

 Cloudy with a Chance of Rain
oils on canvas panel 6" x 6"
Available through Etsy - $65 + $5 shipping within North America ($10 to UK)

Its heading towards the Victoria Day long weekend in Canada. Yes Canada still celebrates Queen Victoria's birthday, bless her. She was born on May 24, 1819. Its also called the May 24th weekend or just the May long weekend.

Its the first official holiday of summer where people head to the woods or cabins for camping and boating. The weather can be unpredictable of course and it can be scorching sun, showers, torrential rain or we could have flurries. Its what makes Newfoundlanders a hardy bunch.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Waiting for Spring - a video tutorial

 Waiting for Spring
6" x 8" oil on panel
Available from my Etsy store - $70 + $5 shipping

I've been testing my video making skills, making a tutorial on painting a terracotta pot.  I learn something new with each video that I make and am far from perfect, but enjoy the process and the learning.

You can have a look at the tutorial in the YouTube video below and see more on my YouTube channel.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Proportional dividers

For people starting out in drawing who aren't confident in their drawing skills, there are several ways of transferring a subject onto a piece of paper.  Tracing, projecting, gridding are all used in varying degrees and a proportional divider is another option.


This is a simple tool that  provides accuracy for drawing and can be used to increase or decrease size. It can also be used as a check for measurement after freehand drawing if something doesn't look quite right.

Once the scale size is decided on, the central screw can be fixed in place. The closer to the smaller end of the divider that the screw is placed, the larger the proportion of the drawing will be and vice versa.  This setting should not be changed during measurements for the drawing. The small ends of the divider are used to measure the height or width of the subject.  The larger end is used against the drawing surface and small dots or lines are made to indicate the measurement.  These measurements are made throughout the drawing, depending on the number of objects in the piece.

Of course, the usual plumb lines for proportion and measurement are needed to ensure objects align as required.  Angles are usually determined by confirming an angle with a pencil then moving that same angle to the drawing.  Where points intersect will be the measurement test and can be adjusted as needed.

If drawing from life, it is crucial that your view point never changes and that your arm is locked at the elbow for each measurement.  If either of these change, the drawing will be not be accurate.  If using a photograph or drawing from a computer or tablet screen, you can measure direct from the image, scaling up or down as required.  Note if you use a computer screen: make sure that the photograph size is not enlarged or reduced if you draw over several sessions.

While tools can make life easier in setting up drawings, they shouldn't be relied on for daily use and can never replace the hand/eye drawing skills that develop over time.  It is well worth learning to use the classical techniques for drawing, proportion and measurement and use tools such as the proportional divider for complex pieces or to check for accuracy in line placement in freehand drawing.

The divider I used here is from Accurasee in the USA and can be ordered online.