Sunday, 17 September 2017

Three weeks of Cod

Debbie and I just returned from three weeks on the road with Catherine Gibbon.  We spent three nights in PEI, three in Cape Breton and nine in Newfoundland.  In Newfoundland we spent most of the time in Winter House Brook which was five minutes from the Tablelands but Debbie and I spent three of those days in Francois which is an outport on the south coast and accessible only by boat.  It was an artists dream vacation.  We painted every minute of the day and discussed locations in the evenings.  I am only posting a few of my paintings.

Francois (pronounced Fransway by the 43 residents) is surrounded by either massive cliffs or water.  Our very warm and caring hosts were Doris and George Fudge who invited us into their home and treated us like family.  We ate with them at their table and spent evenings sitting in their living room chatting with them.  A truly remarkable experience.  These first two paintings are of the cliffs with a few of the homes tucked up against them.

The Tablelands is an area of flat topped cliffs where very little grows.  They are predominantly made up of peridotite which is a rock that lacks the usual nutrients required to sustain most modern plant life. The cliffs are 700 metres high and stained orange from the iron in the rock.  I wanted to climb to the top but became so inspired to paint them that I didn't find the time.  Next time.

 I am now excited by acrylic paint and I think that this very intense week has improved both my work and my attitude towards myself as an artist.  I am excited about where this is heading.  More of my Newfoundland paintings can be found at

Monday, 21 August 2017

My Best Yet?

I have been struggling to get that nice thick textured look that I had with oils.  I read that Tri Art makes the heaviest body acrylic paint so I bought one tube of Payne's Grey and headed to Manorun Organic Farm to try them out.  I painted this using the Payne's Grey for the dark greens and concluded that it not only makes a fantastic dark green when mixed with Hansa Yellow but it does indeed seem nice and juicy.  You can't tell from the photo but there is lots of texture in this painting.

To top it off Tri Art paints are high quality paints that are made in Canada and cheaper than all others except student grade. Hi quality, Canadian and cheap. Yahoo!  I purchased a bunch of tubes and can't wait to try them out.  I have a week to play and decide before I head to Newfoundland.

I think that this is my best acrylic painting yet.  Any thoughts?

Saturday, 19 August 2017

I Am Having Fun again

I haven't been posting but I have been traveling and painting.  We spent some time on a friend's property near Port Loring, two weeks on Manitoulin Island and a week at Agawa Bay Campground and I painted everywhere.  Most were disasters but I produced quite a few acrylic paintings that I am quite happy with.

This first painting was on my bucket list.  I climbed to the top of Willisville Mountain with my paints on my back.  Willisville is in the middle of the La Cloche mountain range and was a favourite haunt of many Group of Seven artists.  It was pushing thirty degrees and mostly sunny so the the hour climb had me hot and tired but the view had me inspired.  The lake in the distance is Grace Lake,

This second painting is the same place but looking south towards Little Current.  This view doesn't have the white quartz rock of the other views but it went on forever.  I plan to make this climb again because it was definitely worth the effort.  Now that acrylic paints are my new best friends locations like this are doable.

This third painting is of Spirit Island on Seagull Lake.  It is the always inspiring view from a dear friends property near Port Loring.  Debbie and I love camping here.

This last painting was painted while sitting on my brother in law's patio on Manitoulin Island. I will never tire of coming here.

Debbie and I are headed to Newfoundland in a week with my mentor (Catherine Gibbon). I can't wait to see what I produce there.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

My New Friends

Okay the jury isn't quite in but acrylic paints may become my new best friends.  I am still struggling and there is a lot more to learn than with oils.  Oil paint was more consistent.  On really hot days it softened up and on really cold days it stiffened up but not annoyingly.  Acrylic paint on the other hand is very humidity sensitive.  Some days it doesn't dry at all and I can blend as with oils and on others it seems to dry before I get it to my panel.  I can spritz water and/or retarder but the question is how much on any given day.

These three paintings were all painted with acrylic paint on three different days.  The paintings don't excite me but my progress does.  Once I learn to work with their idiosyncrasies I think I may love them.  They allow me to work back to front instead of dark to light or light to dark and that has many advantages.

 The first painting was painted at Cedar Haven farm.  An inspiring location that is very artist friendly.  The clouds aren't perfect but maybe my best so far.  The other two were painted at the farm of a friend.  I told Deb that I could paint on her property once a week for a year and I would still want to come back which reminds me that I do need to get back up to visit my friends at LongLane Bed and Breakfast again.  There are still lots of paintings to be done there too.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Painting Darkness

I have only ever attempted a nocturne once before and I failed miserably so I was both excited and nervous to be standing on top of the escarpment watching the sunlight fading and city lights slowly blinking on.

When painting outside, at night, we try to limit the time spent looking at our dimly lit board and palette so that we can maintain our night vision.  This also means that when we look at our painting with a flashlight our pupils are wide open and the painting looks nice and bright.  When I actually saw this painting in daylight I was surprised to see how dark it was.  All in all it was an amazing experience and I am very excited about the result.

Onward and outward.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

This is Fun

I have been struggling.  I was fighting with oils so I switched back to my trusty watercolours and struggled even more.  I want to develop some skill with acrylics so that I can use them on canoe trips and when travelling so I decided to play with them for a while.  In the past I used them thick out of the tube just as I would oils and that didn't work very well for me.  I couldn't deal with how fast they dried. Monday I misted my palette with water and a little retarder and voila.  I had a blast.  The paint stayed wet long enough to use my oil painting skills and yet dried fast enough that I could paint over sections that I didn't like.  Did I just find my medium?  Maybe.

Painting is fun again.

This was painted on a very grey day at the end of Ferrie Street in Hamilton.  It was cool and very damp.  It had rained all morning and the solid grey sky started to break up into rolling cloud masses just as we started to paint.

Sunday I will be painting Coote's Paradise from the "High Level Bridge" as part of the "Day on the Bridge" festivities.  There will be beer and wine tents, food trucks, live music and one of the best views anywhere.  It should be the perfect storm for me.  I can't wait now.

Monday, 8 May 2017


I have been struggling lately and have been very unhappy with everything that I have been doing.  Debbie and I went to a "Lunch at Allen's" concert.  The group is made up of four singer/songwriter Icons in the Canadian music industry and they played some of their oldies and played them with a wonderful intensity. I was inspired to go back to my roots.  I pulled out my watercolours and headed to Courtcliff Park on a gloriously sunny and warm day.

This scene is normally a meandering creek but with the record rainfalls that we have been having it was a lake.  This big old willow is reminiscent of a painting that I did some time ago both in oils and watercolours so I was in my comfort zone and having fun.  It is a little overworked here and there but all in all I am very happy with it.