Monday, October 10, 2016


Maple Pumpkin - SOLD
Today is the official Thanksgiving holiday in Canada and I have lots to be thankful for in my life.  Family, health, a roof over my head, clothing to wear, food on the table and a stable country to live in.

I have lots of other things to be thankful for, but the basics are the most important to me.  Often, people seem to think that physical objects bring the happiness they need.  While lovely things do bring pleasure, the pleasure is fleeting and if everything but the basics were removed, life would still be good.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and treasure what you love most.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Creating titles for paintings

 Scarlet River
30" x 40" oil on canvas
Available direct from the artist  Email 

Finding a title for a painting can go one of two ways.

1.  The title flows, almost intuitively and fits the painting.
It can be an idea that's been floating around in my head for awhile or an emotional connection to something that the painting represents that will provide the title for the piece.  Sometimes its even a song that I'm listening to while painting the piece as was the case in this one. "Sitting in the Morning Sun" was inspired by the Otis Redding song "(Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay".

Sitting in the Morning Sun    12" x 12"  oil on canvas - SOLD

2.  The painting resists being titled as if its life depended on remaining anonymous.
So what do I do in this case? I start analyzing elements of the painting that can trigger reaction in a viewer.  It may be colour, or location.  Sometimes the most obvious and the simplest things become part of the title.

If that doesn't work, I start doing some research on other paintings with similar subjects to see what their titles are.  Its amazing how many paintings of a subject have the same name.

Sea Breeze
24" x 24"  oil on panel, framed
Available direct from the artist  Email

My final trump card is the thesaurus.  I put in words that reflect aspects of the painting then see what results come up.  Its quite a good way of looking at alternate wording or may trigger other thoughts about the piece.

Throwing a piece out for public input on titles can provide results that can be worked with, but as the public don't have the same connection and insight to how the painting was created and what inspired it, suggestions may be based on common visuals only.  i.e.  black dog, red boat, etc.  And while these can be good titles, try doing an online search of "black dog paintings" and see how many have the same name.

Creating a title that is meaningful to the artist and the viewer can be a challenge.  Leaving a title as a number is a final resort but makes cataloguing very difficult for the artist, gallery and doesn't provide information that inspires viewers or helps them create their own story about the painting.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Cemetery sketching


Sketching is always high on my list of priorities and is pretty much a habit with me.  Subject matter varies to whatever is at hand or sometimes I get an idea in my head and have to go with it.  Last weekend the weather was beautiful, cool but sunny and perfect for a wander in my favourite cemetery to do some sketching.  The sculpture found in older cemeteries is often ornate and makes beautiful subjects for drawing.  Most of the individuals with large sculpures on their gravesite were likely from wealthier families.  Likely then, as nowadays, monuments were expensive.  There can be a marked difference almost next to each other in the cemetery of an ornate sculpture next to a simple wooden cross.

Over time, weather takes its toll and taller objects and finials crack off and are propped up the main element as in this very ornate monument.  Trees in the cemetery grow of course and encroach on grave enclosures and sculpture, pushing some of them over into the grass.

In this cemetery, graves of very young babies, children and young adults are common. With deaths in the 1800s, it was obvious that many illnesses or relatively minor accidents that we consider non-life threatening today were deadly as it was an era that existed without antibiotics.  Measles, mumps, influenza, scarlet fever, infections from minor wounds all took their toll in young children and adults alike.

I sketched on site using a new fountain pen that I didn't realize had water soluble ink in it.  Until I added water to my drawing back in the studio.  Still, I like the effect but will remember its reactive properties for next time.  And to read the label before I buy something!

Sketching baby graves is poignant but a stark reminder that despite the problems of the current world, we have a lot to be grateful for in the medical field.  In this Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, we have much to be thankful for, including antibiotics!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Surf & Turf

Surf & Turf

To farmers, hay making is an important task.  The result feeds animals during the winter and there always seems to be a fine line between sun and rain on the appointed day to cut and bale hay.  Left in the field, occasionally the weather goes against man and harvests can be delayed or lost.

This is a sideline from my usual boats, as I wanted a change of subject.  And driving past fields of hay bales, the inspiration was ever present.  From the idyllic sunset over traditional hay bales in a previous post, to the disastrous heavy rainfall after haymaking, these companion pieces show the romance and reality of farm life.

This was painted with acrylics using a palette knife.  This piece is 12" x 12" on canvas and available in my Etsy store.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Win a mini original gyotaku

There's just one day left before I announce the winner of this mini gyotaku piece on September 1st.  Its a wee piece measuring about 2.5" x 3.5" inches on handmade Indian paper.  The original capelin was printed direct onto the paper and then enhanced with watercolours.  These fish spawn annually on the beaches in Newfoundland and are one of my favourite fish to paint and print.

You still have time to win this, all you have to do is be subscribed to my mailing list. I send out my Studio News once a month and occasional emails for special events or offers, so you're never bombarded with email.  

Sign up for the mailing list is easy

Good luck on the draw!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Acrylics and palette knives

Hay Bales at Sunset
12" x 12"  acrylic on canvas

I have a love/hate relationship with acrylic paint.  I love it because it dries quickly and I hate it because it dries quickly.

I have experimented previously in using acrylics with a palette knife and have found that right out of the tube, no matter if its a "heavy body" acrylic paint or not, it just doesn't have the body that I am comfortable with to produce a good textured surface.  I use Liquitex Thickening Gel to thicken the paint, but it doesn't feel quite right to me.  Not yet.  Or perhaps I am simply used to the buttery feel of oil paints and their slow drying qualities.

You can see the effects of the gel in a video I made in January.

Having said that, this piece is just off the easel and I am happy with the result, but it took a bit of persuading to get it to where I wanted. What I do like about acrylics is the ability to overpaint without much wait time due to their quick drying nature.  The slight darkening in colour after drying makes for tweaking after the fact or remembering to use a lighter value when painting, whereas oils don't change their hue on drying.

The jury is still out for me, but I'll continue to use them when the mood takes me. The colour and form is fine, application doesn't thrill me as they dry too fast, but perhaps I'm simply used to oils and their natural disposition towards palette knife work. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Patriot

 The Patriot
30" x 40"
oil on canvas

The tricolour flag  that is commonly used to unofficially represent the "republic" of Newfoundland is also known as the pink white and green (PWG). It has been stated in various sources that the triclour represented the island of Newfoundland for some 200 years. However Newfoundland was never a republic, and the PWG was never an official  flag. Its representation of independence is based more on the thoughts around  post-Confederation and the stand against it. The history behind the PWG is not ancient history as many think.  The flag's origins are sketchy and there seems to be no solid historical support for it, but it is seen frequently on clothing, bags and many souvenir items and now, a boat.

You can read more about the history of the PWG on the NL Heritage site.

I found this boat moored off shore in Bay Roberts and also met the owner by pure coincidence.  The result was this painting.