Saturday, July 31, 2010

Banff Plein Air

I took a painting trip to Banff yesterday and it was just wonderful. It took me back to my last period of intense plein air painting when I went out every morning and did a 2 hour painting and then another 2 hour painting in the afternoon. In Banff I did this painting in about 1 and a half hours in the morning. I had visited this spot and taken photos a month ago. I'd even worked out a value study but to be there plein air and to be in the moment is something special.

As I drove away I noticed this second scene about 40 metres from the first one. I felt compelled to stop and do a second painting. The feeling of immediacy when painting on location can't be duplicated in the studio. It was just a rapid fire process: observe, make a decision and apply paint.
After this experience I avoided asking myself the obvious question - why don't I do this more.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


This is the third in a series of large format irises. In this one I wanted a light back ground with the value contrasts in the flower itself. The original background was done in watercolour and got too dark. I used acrylic to white out the entire background and do a new one in acrylic. So this painting is a true mixed media, half watercolour and half acrylic and I'm very pleased with the painting. I think they get along well.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Value Study

Lately, I've started painting in acrylic again. I'm interested in exploring using acrylic in a watercolour style since I love the effect of paint and water but also want the ability of adding lights over darks and acrylic seems like it might fit in with this approach very nicely. I'm also being very consistent in doing preparatory work for each new painting and this is a value study of a scene of a little creek just on the edge of the Banff town site. This is the next image I want to tackle.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Case For Experimenters

I've just read another very interesting book by Malcolm Gladwell. He writes of everyday events and processes and makes us look at them in a very different way. The piece I just read was comparing different styles that painters can follow. He points out the example of Pablo Picasso who burst on the scene at about age 20, as a fully formed new voice. His new vision captured the public imagination immediately and he experienced financial and critical acclaim right away. He also did some of his best work early on. Gladwell contrasts this with the group that he calls 'experimenters'. These artists, and his example is Paul Cezanne, take years and years of experimenting and struggle before they finally clarify their vision and achieve their own voice. This analogy caught my attention because I am definitely an experimenter. I have to play with ideas and seemingly take many detours and deadends before I finally achieve the ability to say what I want with my own voice. This is one reason I'm enjoying revisiting some of my earlier paintings. Since I originally did them I've studied lots, practiced lots, made lots of mistakes and figured some things out. But through it all there has been progress and I see things now that I wasn't ready to see earlier. This painting from the Lake Of The Woods is a perfect example. The only thing that remains from the original is the main rock. The beauty of Gladwell's observations is that though very different neither approach is 'better' or more valid than the other they are just different. We just need to stay true to our own journey and that way we can't lose.

Central United

I've always really liked this image of downtown Calgary from a different perspective. This began as a fairly tepid painting then was left for over a year. Inspired by the class I've just completed I did a major reworking, feeling much freer. As a result of this it is beginning to develop it's own story.

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