Wednesday, February 15, 2017


When I lived in the UK, there was a large corn field where I walked daily with the dogs and the children.  Every walk uncovered fossils on the ground that we'd pick up and bring home.  They were mostly extinct ammonite species from the Triassic/Jurassic period and most were left behind when I moved back to Canada.

The simple shape is appealing and the colours that come from age and earth add to the appeal.  Using granulating watercolours in Lunar Black and Lunar Blue (a combination of Lunar Black and Pthalo Blue), they are perfect additions for creating texture and age.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Floral Tea

Floral Tea
6" x 8" oil on panel

The forecast for Valentine's Day is a blizzard and a lot of snow.  I'm sure that will put the damper on those restaurant dinners that may be planned and perhaps dining at home will be in order, provided you remember to get the supplies at the stores.  And if the power stays on.  However, love always finds a way, storm or no storm.

While I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day and have zero expectation, it tends to pass by unnoticed for the most part for me.  But when there's a chance to put some seasonal red in a painting that just may be the token of affection for someone in your life (or perhaps self appreciation) I'm all for it, especially in the depths of winter when we need all the encouragement we can muster that spring isn't too far away.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 06, 2017

The art of not giving up

 Pick Eyes Cove
24" x 36"  oil on canvas

Every drawing or painting is created using a process that starts with the basic shapes and transitions through progressively more complex layers until completion.  There is no magic solution that speeds up the process.  Buying the paint brands or tools that a successful artist uses won't speed up the process.  Reading how to books or watching endless DVDs on technique won't speed up the process.   It takes time, patience and lots of practice.

During that transition between stages, its difficult to keep the vision in your head for the original outcome and the frustration of how long it takes or how difficult it becomes can overpower the artist and they give up long before the turning point is reached that brings the painting to completion.

Details become more interesting than the hard work of background, colour and value.  Wanting to see the finished product becomes more enticing than working your way through the weeds.

"Its about the journey, not the destination." is true as you learn so much along the way.  Persistence and patiences are key.  Allowing yourself to make mistakes and understanding how to fix them, and knowing that it IS a process that is not quick, but that will end up at the destination if you allow it sufficient time.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

February Sketch Challenge

I started a February Sketch Challenge to encourage others to kick start their sketching and drawing skills.  As an art teacher, I would say that the biggest challenge my students have is their limited ability to draw. (the other is colour theory) People jump into painting without having a good skeleton for the piece and spend time and effort trying to correct in on the canvas, often ending up frustrated.


The challenge is to draw something every day during February.  All levels of expertise are welcome and its a private Facebook group that keeps out trolls and negativity or turn it into a brag fest for proficient artists.  Its not too late to join and whether you sketch once a day or once a week, every sketch counts on the journey to become skilled in observing and drawing.

Visit the group and send a request to join.  We'd love to see you there.

Friday, February 03, 2017

American Red 242

 American Red 242
11 x 14"  oil on cradled wood panel

I love the character of old wooden boats, especially those that show their age.  Its the same with people.  Shiny, perfect anything, outside a newborn baby seems artificial in some ways.  Its as if the truth is being hidden from view.

With boats, a shiny coat of paint masks the knocks and marks of time and journeys which make its stories even more interesting. Pretending that life hasn't happened diminishes their value in my eyes.

American Red 242 is the name of a Newfoundland Heritage paint.  This colour has been used on boats and doors and fences since before I have had memory.  My mother's door and fence were this colour; my grandmother's door and fence were this colour.  Perhaps it doesn't fade quickly.  And judging by the boat in the painting, it is holding some colour despite the weathering.

Monday, January 02, 2017

New Year Opportunities

At the start of a new year, we review what's gone before and plan for the future.  I hope your past was all you hoped for and that 2017 is even better.  For those struggling, as well all do from time to time, take a deep breath and look for something - anything - that brings pleasure in your life, no matter how small.  And know that tomorrow brings new beginnings.

New years brings new opportunities for change, self improvement and exposure to new things.  Aside from the usual resolutions that fly out the window mid January, its worth really looking inwards to see what you want to change, learn or be. Changes can be free for the taking.

Kick start your art skills by joining my February Sketch Challenge Facebook group.  All skill levels can join in and all mediums and there is no pressure to perform daily.  Do what you can, when you can and you'll see your drawing skills soar by the end of the month.  Click here to join.

Cloudy With a Chance of Rain

And check out my January Clearance Sale of small paintings.  All originals, mostly oils and all just $40 each.  Whatever is left at the end of the month gets re-purposed, painted over or burned.  Click here to see what's available.

I've posted my list of 2017 workshops with a range of drawing and palette knife painting classes from beginner to more advanced.  Details, supply lists and registration are all on my website.  Click here to read more.  If you enter 2017WORKSHOP at checkout you'll receive 10% off any workshop.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Hybrid Painting

 Winter Sun
6" x 8"  oil on panel

Its been quite awhile since I painted using a brush.  A palette knife is my usual tool for painting these days and has been for about six or seven years.

I was asked to give a private class in painting in oils with a brush.  I did hesitate, but painting is painting and the principles are the same, so I went ahead with it.  It was an odd feeling, using a brush again, both uncomfortable and comfortable at the same time.  I advocate that anything that pushes you outside your comfort zone is a good thing and always teaches you something.

My student did beautifully with her piece and I liked, but not loved mine.  It was simply different from what I was used to producing.  Coverage wasn't as thick, application wasn't as quick and at this point in my art life, a brush felt more clumsy than natural.

Brush painting - Winter Sun

This image above is where I ended with my demo in the class and I confess that I switched back to a palette knife to complete the piece that evening.

Will I use a brush again?  Absolutely, but not frequently. I still use brushes in glazing and with acrylics and watercolour, but for regular day to day use, they just don't seem to fit my style anymore. I have moved on  and am firmly entrenched in the world of knives.

What is it about brush or knife strokes that appeals to you?  Why do you use the tools that you do?