Saturday, July 01, 2017

I'm opening a gallery

I've been sitting on news for a month and now that the paperwork is complete I can finally let you know that I'll be opening a seasonal gallery in Heart's Content this summer!

I have been searching for a long time for what I hope is the perfect property and location for a seasonal gallery and believe that the delightful, historic seaside town of Heart's Content, on the Bay de Verde Peninsula is "the one".  With a name like Heart's Content, it beckons you to rest and relax, doesn't it?

Why do I want to open a gallery? 
  • I'm a prolific painter and have work  not currently in galleries that I want to share with the world.
  • I want to provide other artists with an opportunity to showcase their art and build their art careers. 
  • I want to be next to the sea all day and night.  It is my inspiration for many of the paintings that I produce.
  • I have a business and art background that fits this industry and I want to put those skills to work.
  • And many other reasons that I can't begin to articulate!  

The building is a large gallery space, about 1500 square feet, with an attached apartment that I'll be calling home until the end of October. It sits a stone's throw from the waters of Trinity Bay on Route 80, on the Baccalieu Trail, 1.5 hours drive from St. John's.  It is located right next to the Heart's Content Cable Station where the first permanent telegraph cable connecting Europe and North America was hauled ashore at Heart's Content. With plenty of free paved parking available right outside the door, its convenient and comfortable for access.

Right now the space is big and full of echoes but July will be crazy with refurbishment to turn the previous pharmacy into a gallery space. Some inside restructuring, painting, flooring, hanging and lighting systems as well as all the other things that will turn the space into a functional art business are in full swing.

I am aiming for an August opening and will announce the date as soon as the building is ready . The website for the gallery is incorporated into my website  and updates on the refit progress will be posted there and on social media.

While the season will be shorter than usual this year, submissions from artists who believe their work would fit in with the island's newest the gallery are welcome. The feel of the gallery will be predominantly coastal - marine, aquatic, boats, fish, etc. 

Artist Submission Guidelines are available here.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Line Fishing

Line Fishing - Sold
22 x 28 x 1.5  oil on canvas

Dried salted cod was the staple for food and almost currency in Newfoundland for hundreds of years and still can be found drying on flakes and lines in late summer.

The colours that can be found in what initially looks like a bland cream coloured kite shape is amazing when really studied.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Islington - SOLD

8"x 8"  oil on panel

I cannot resist a boat sitting, waiting to be launched into the water.   This punt was resting on the wharf in Islington.  The lighting was diffused with sun just starting to show through and gave a pastel feel to the scene.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Seeing colour

Drying cod - work in progress

Artists seem to see colour within forms that many others do not see.  If you've seen a beginner's painting, it often has a solid block of colour making up a form, while an experienced artist's painting shows a number of colours that are used to create the same form.

For me, when I look at an image, I see the overall hue and that is often my foundation colour for that area.  Value changes will make that base colour lighter or darker as it moves across the form.  The colours overlap and intertwine.  They reflect light and hide it.  They try to create a cohesive painting where light and colour direct the viewer's eye and provide interest.

Summer Cove - oil study

Within a colour there are what I call "mini colour wheels".  These are colours that have common hues in them that harmonize with the area that I'm painting.  Often they harmonize with the whole painting.  They are the same area range of colours but more or less saturated depending on the form and light.

If you have ever created colour charts you'll be familiar with the range of hues and values that you can create with your palette or what new additions can create.  Everyone has their personal preference for paints on their palette and mix according to what they need.

Sunday, April 30, 2017


15" x 30"     oil on panel

“She had never known that ice could take on so many shades of blue: sharp lines of indigo like the deepest sea, aquamarine shadows, even the glint of blue-green where the sun struck just so.” 
― Malinda LoHuntress

Aside from a few details and tweaks, this painting is complete.With no shortage of sea ice and icebergs this year, there is lots of inspiration that the ocean provides, so there may be more ice paintings.

As with most of my paintings, shards and spots of unexpected colour find their way into the composition towards the end.  As long as the values are appropriate, colour works.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Fog Blanket Over Middle Cove
11" x 17"  oil on wood panel

Fog is such an elusive thing.  Ghost like, it is there one minute and gone the next.  I stopped at the lookout in Middle Cove and watched its progress up the cove and over the land.   You can drive past the cove and be socked in with fog then drive a tiny bit further and see clear blue skies.  There is never a dull moment with the weather here.  I've sketched and photographed this vantage point several times capturing sun and fog.  Now there's a bit of both in this painting.

Painting fog with oils is all about pressure for me.  I put in a thin layer of the background then meld the fog colours over it with very light pressure and a good amount of paint on the knife.  Picking up some of the background colour with heavier pressure gives that illusion of land showing through the fog.   Its worth a little practice on a spare piece of paper or canvas to get the hang of it and decide on the fog colours, as they will change depending on the weather and the background.

Middle Cove Fog

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

10,000 years and counting

15" x 30" oil on panel

This painting in progress is of some large chunks of ice on the shoreline.  The colours in the ice are amazing always and combined with the water lapping at their bases made a good composition.

I seem to be encased in ice lately.  My previous post at Easter about the first iceberg of the season seemed to send a signal to Mother Nature to open the floodgates.  And given the gift of ice, I figured I may as well paint it.

The pack ice pushed in to shore off and on depending on the wind direction and last weekend we had 60 hours of freezing rain and drizzle, coating the landscape.  Oddly enough it didn't seem to affect roads too much which is unusual.

Today, the sun was bright but the wind cold, but icebergs and more loose ice moved into the harbour where I live.  The sun lit the bergs and ice and the colours were beautiful blues and turquoises against the deep indigo ocean.

As the ice was so close and even on the shore, the opportunity was too good to not pass up the chance to harvest some glacial ice for drinks.  This ice is dense and melts much less quickly than the ice you'd make at home.  It was rinsed and broken into smaller pieces (this glacial ice is HARD) then to the freezer to add to drinks.  There are tiny pockets of air in glacial ice and they make popping sounds as the ice melts in a drink.  Its very unique.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Government Wharf - finishing off

The Government Wharf
24" x 24"  oil on wood panel

I've concentrated on putting in the final details for this piece and its sitting in the corner of my studio waiting for any tweaks and drying.  When I sign off on it, it goes to the other studio for its "glamour" shot.  There its set straight on an easel and lit well or, if the day fits, put in good daylight for photographing.

I shoot final images in RAW to ensure I capture as much detail and colour as possible.  The result are high resolution files of about 10 or 12 mp.  If I want to reproduce any of the images, the highest quality is required to be able to reproduce in larger sizes.
“The lessons you are meant to learn are in your work. To see them, you need only look at the work clearly — without judgment, without need or fear, without wishes or hopes. Without emotional expectations. Ask your work what it needs, not what you need. Then set aside your fears and listen, the way a good parent listens to a child” ~David Bayles

Friday, April 21, 2017

End of palette paintings

At the end of larger paintings there's usually paint left on the palette.  To put it to good use, I create small paintings of whatever subject appeals to me.  My internal "rule" is that I can only add white to what is left on the palette.

With the most current painting finished, I created these two little oil sketches and primed canvas paper.  The apple and a couple of turnips (also known as swede in the UK and rutabaga in the USA). I used a more graphic style for these with bright colours and solid forms, still using a palette knife.

How do you use leftover paint?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Trinity Water study

Trinity Water study
11" x 14" oil on cradled wood panel

I'm finding myself drawn more and more to scenes of rocks and water.  The waters around the province are pristine and crystal clear, making it easy to see to the bottom in shallow areas.  The movement of the water and reflections in the water as well as the colours in the rocks are a magnet to me.

This study is in preparation for a large painting of the same scene.  That is in the wings waiting its turn on the easel.  And my courage to work that detail on a large scale.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What does an artist do with their free time?

Do artists ever have free time?  Of course they do, at least in small snippets. Or so mine is.  And often my free time is spent in another form of creation or something that may move me forward in my own art.

It may be visiting galleries or museums, creating jewellery or photography and often that is done with an eye towards composition of another painting or drawing.

Living on a small farm, I restrict my time spent outside doing ‘farm stuff’ simply because its more the domain of my husband.  I prefer to wander off taking photos of what is in the barn or field than deal with the intricacies of growing or dispatching them, whether animal or vegetable.  I am partial to growing edible and medicinal herbs and am a chartered herbalist, so their put to good use in tinctures, creams and salves.

I have cupboards full of yarn and was a prolific knitter in the past.  I still do put a few small things on the needles from time to time and enjoy the rhythm of knitting and the satisfaction of a tangible, object at the end of it.  When I do knit, I prefer real wool when suitable and a unique pattern.  If I invest time into something, I don’t want to see its clone half a dozen times in the course of a day in my travels.

Iceberg season again

Pack ice and icebergs are making an early appearance this year and on Easter Sunday I took a drive down the coast to Ferryland to see a large berg grounded just offshore.  There were quite a few people dotting the hill overlooking the sea and the wind off the water was so cold that I didn't stay long.

I went further up the coast for an alternate angle and explored the little town of Aquaforte where I found a few boats for my reference collection, along with some further shots of the iceberg.

Icebergs and pack ice aren't something that I've painted very often.  The bergs are majestic and do have appeal but for some reason I haven't gotten around to them.  I'll have to rectify that in the very near future.

Meanwhile, if you're on an iceberg hunting quest, you can find their location on the Iceberg Map.  Its predicted to be a bumper iceberg season in 2017.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Government Wharf - progress

The Government Wharf in progress
24" x 24" oil on wood panel
                  Little drops of water wear down big stones. (Russian proverb)
I'm working my way across this painting of an algae covered wharf and love creating the colour changes.  Once across the palings and reflections, I can start on some details that provide the texture.

Working through complex paintings, its easy to mentally shut down and convince yourself to give up. Keeping that vision in your head and working methodically through the less interesting parts to reach detailing is crucial in creating art.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Age and beauty

The Ice Maiden
24" x 36" - oil on cradled wooden panel

There are so many contradictions in humans with respect to age.  We love old objects, but want the newest ones.  We love old cars, but won't take time to restore them to their glory.  We love old people but don't want to be one.

I'm a proponent of embracing aging as well as respecting and admiring the past.  There is so much we can learn from what has gone before, both in physical and intellectual areas.

Sketch for Wooden Boats series 2015

I love old boats. I love seeing how they were constructed and admiring the handwork (and hardwork) that went into them.  It is somewhat sad to see them sitting, derelict on a shoreline but I enjoy capturing them in that moment as an almost historic homage to what has gone before.

I have watched this boat decline and disappear over years until this year when it was removed and is likely kindling for someone's fire.  I am glad to have had the privilege of sketching and painting it and keeping its memory alive.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sketching from virtual life

Giraffe resting I

UPDATE:  Giraffe calf born 11:25am Newfoundland time Saturday April 15th.  Gender: male.

If you haven't heard of April the expectant giraffe by now, you're one of few.  She's a captive bred giraffe housed in the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY.  Her enclosure is on a live feed on Youtube and if lucky you may be able to catch the birth of her 4th calf in the very near future.

I won't say I'm addicted, more curious perhaps, but I do check in most evenings to see how she's getting on.   Apparently giraffes need between 30 to 120 minutes of sleep a day, so its rare to see them napping.  The other night I was looking at the live cam feed as she folded her impossibly long legs underneath her to rest.  A resting animal is a perfect sketching opportunity and as I'd never sketched a giraffe before I thought I'd try.

Giraffe resting II

She changed position once more, almost cat like, curled around herself with her head on her hind leg. It was like a complex yoga position and didn't look comfortable, but she stayed there for about 5 minutes giving me another chance to do a quick sketch.

If you don't have an exotic animal close by to observe from life, a virtual view is just as good. Testing sketching skills with moving animals whether from life or a camera provides the same results.

Check the cam and see if the calf has arrived yet.  She was showing signs of something happening last night, so you never know.  Next, sketching a baby giraffe!

Thursday, April 13, 2017


White Knight - Sold
24" x 36"  oil on canvas

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” “There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.”

Chiaroscuro is Italian and roughly translated, means light and dark. It originally described a type of drawing on medium-dark paper where the artist created both darker areas with ink and lighter areas with white paint.  Very similar to drawing on the toned papers that are available today.

Supper at Emmaus - 1601
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Caravaggio, with his intense dark backgrounds in paintings in the 16th century really brought chiaroscuro to a new height with an almost spotlight effect on his figures.  Chiaroscuro adds drama to a painting with focal points being flooded with a light source and the edges of objects melting into the same value as the background, making you look closely to define one from the other.

You can see just how large this painting "Supper at Emmaus" is, with its almost lifesized figures  and see more of his work, style and life in the video below from the National Gallery where the painting is housed.  The video is 30 minutes long but well worth your time if you're interested in the master artists.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A room with a view

All Roads Lead to the Sea
40" x 40"

It can be difficult for collectors to visualize what a painting would look like in situ.  An online image always looks different when viewed from the appropriate distance and more vivid when viewed in person.

Pickeyes Cove
24" x 36"

I occasionally use a free program called WallApp that lets me place some of my paintings in a room setting. The paintings are not accurately to scale, I simply eyeball what I think size would be compared to the furniture.  But they provide an added view for a collector that may make up their mind about purchasing.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Government Wharf - WIP

The Government Wharf - WIP
24" x 24"

In Newfoundland there are two types of wharves.  A private wharf, usually called a "stage" is made of thin trees stripped of branches and some planed wood.  They're found all over the province and show a variety of building skills and supplies - and are in a variety of repair and disrepair depending on the health of the fishery in that area.

Garden Cove fishing stage - colour study

The other type of wharf is the government wharf, built with federal funding.  These are traditional, sturdy wharves that are usually associated with an active fishing community, built of preserved lumber and well maintained for the most part.  When I was working on my gyotaku project and asked about boats in communities, I was always directed to "the government wharf", where fishermen often landed their catch.

Petty Harbour II
30" x 40"  Peter Lewis Gallery

I have painted a lot of boats with a lot of wharves around them and love the colours that are found from the values of wood sitting in water, algae found on the wood and reflections that disturb the water of a still harbour.  This government wharf, located in Trinity, seemed to be a good choice as it fit all the criteria I wanted.  I gessoed the wood panel and drew the structure in charcoal, using a yardstick to measure the gaps to ensure there was uniformity.

Updates will be posted as I progress.

This folk song - On the Government Wharf - sums up the loss of the fishery and its impact on a community.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Painting water

Winter Ditch
4" x 36" oil on panel

Water is one of those subjects that can strike fear into some artists.  "It's too difficult."  "I could never do that". are phrases I have heard many times.  And for less experienced artists, its true.  When you first look at a scene, your eye takes in the varying values, colours, forms, and light.  The scene seems enormous and daunting.

So how do you make it more approachable?

When choosing a subject, I use a viewfinder to limit the area I'm looking at and make a good composition that fits the shape of the canvas or paper I'm using.  If using a camera, you're pretty much doing the same thing by honing in on an area or scene, with the advantage that you can have multiple views and choose from them later.

I make a small thumbnail drawing of what I want to paint.  If it has the right shape, correct amount of dark, mid and light values and I like it.  I go on to creating a colour study.  The colour study helps me confirm my palette and colours and set the final seal of approval on deciding if I'll go larger.

What colour is water?  It is every colour.  It reflects everything around it, in it, under it and above it, depending on the light level its seen in.  Sunny days give strong reflections of the world, overcast days have diffused light so colours and values must be adjusted accordingly.

I use a split primary palette of a warm and cool version of blue, red and yellow, along with white and an earth colour.  I occasionally add another colour, depending on what I believe the painting needs.

Starting with an under drawing to guide placement, I build slowly, as with any painting.  When something seems difficult, the mind really is saying that it will take more time than usual to complete and this is very true.  As with any difficult task, working through a little at a time is the way to success.  Its very much like a puzzle; finding the right colour, value and stroke to make everything fall into place.  And most importantly, painting what you see.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

All Roads Lead to the Sea

All Roads Lead to the Sea
40" x 40" - oil on canvas

“It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.” 
― Rachel CarsonThe Sea Around Us

Saturday, April 08, 2017

10 minute painting exercise

10 minute apples

In workshops I offer students opportunities to expand their knowledge, improve their painting techniques and learn new ways of seeing what is in front of them.

I use a 10 minute exercise which cuts down on "fiddling" time.  Seeking detail at the beginning of a painting is a common trait in beginners, but is never successful.  They end up painting the same thing over and over and over as they adjust and readjust their work.  Seeing larger shapes and making quick decisions without thinking about detail helps the brain/eye/hand think like a painter.  Everything starts with the largest and most basic shape, then detail slowly emerges as you refine the drawing or painting.

Divide a small canvas into four (or six or more) squares. Using an apple (in this instance), paint it for 10 minutes then stop.  Rearrange the apple's position and paint it again for 10 minutes.  Keep doing this for as many times as you have squares on your canvas.  The first painting will be...different...and that's ok.  The last one and you'll be getting the hang of making quick decisions on colour, placement and value.

Try it and let me know your thoughts on the exercise.

Friday, April 07, 2017


 Origami Boats

Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task which needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time.

Procrastination comes with all sorts of labels around it to justify its existence and the slow the inevitable - the performance of an impending task.  I'll do it tomorrow or next week.  I'd rather draw this now instead of the commission. I'll just watch this next episode and then start painting.  Etc., etc., etc.   I know, because I do it all the time and if I am not careful a day can be wasted and no meaningful art is created.  This can cause stress and increase deadline pressures and make my job as an artist not as pleasant.

Procrastination is about time management.  We all have the same 24 hour period to fit activities, meals, exercise, recreation, sleeping, etc. into.  What we make room for shows its level of importance in our life.  And how disciplined we are in sticking to a time allotment, once we truly want to do something makes a big difference.

Procrastination in art students tells me a lot about how serious they are about learning.  If homework was "forgotten" or they were "too busy" to practice guides me in understanding whether they want to remain hobbyists or take art to a more accomplished level.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Sea ice & bears

Iced In - SOLD

Pouch Cove harbour

An early spring storm with northeasterly winds brought pack ice close to shore and with it a few polar bears.  Where I live, we got the ice, but not the bears, they were further north.  

Bauline Harbour

I always feel sorry for the bears, as they're usually disoriented and hungry.  People get too curious and too close and it becomes a dangerous situation.  The bears if too close for comfort, are usually tranquilized and airlifted back north.  Sometimes it ends badly for the bear if it endangers human life.

You can see some photos of bears on the Bonavista Peninsula this week here and here.  And video footage here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Oil sketching on kraft paper

I love persimmons.

Their colour, form and of course taste, are wonderful.  Not being native to Newfoundland, they are a treat that I occasionally find and the need to paint them always takes priority over eating.

I've been trying heavy kraft packaging paper for drawing and painting and find it works beautifully for oil sketches, with no seepage of oil or buckling.  Now I'm no purist for supports when it comes to drawing or painting. I'll use whatever comes to hand to capture my idea.  If my support is a disaster or success, its all part of the learning process.

Sometimes its the journey that teaches you a lot about the destination.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Out of sight, out of mind?

Early spring road - a study

The blog has slipped my mind over the last 6 weeks.  No, to be honest, it hasn't slipped my mind, I haven't had time or interest to post.  There, I said it.  I truly don't know if I have more to say or share or if social media and its short clips of information has taken over from a longer post.  Blog readership and engagement is limited and I feel as if I'm talking to myself most of the time.  Do other bloggers feel similarly about the health of blogs generally?  I'd love to read your input.

After my last post in February, I got sick.  A cold led to flu which led to pneumonia in March, so creativity was abandoned. I have not felt so sick before in my life and will be first in line for a flu shot in the fall. My absence in the studio wasn't for lack of interest, but simply because I was too sick to make it to the studio and do anything productive.  I completed the February Sketch challenge by some miracle, but that was more likely that it didn't take a lot of effort daily and sketching is second nature to me.  So lounging on the sofa, I sketched and napped and let nature take its course.

After I was feeling better,  I headed to the studio with a vengance, trying to make up for lost time in painting production.  The summer season will be here before we know and I need both small and large pieces.  I've been in heads down mode, including putting workshops on hold to allow me time to really concentrate.  And its worked.  I've created a number of paintings and am just putting the finishing strokes on a 40" x 40" piece.

My "word" for 2017 was FOCUS.  It has served me well.