Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Art Blog Has Moved!

My new art blog is up and thriving on my own web site  I'm also pleased to announce that I have live, free videos of art instruction on my site.  Click here to go directly to

Friday, March 18, 2011

Grey Owl

I'm really excited by this portrait.  It's the first portrait I've ever done in the opaque acrylic style.  It was a culmination of all the stuff I've been reading and practicing so just to have it work out was a big moment.  I think the main thing is that I had a process clearly in mind and just went at it one step at a time.  I'm including the first stage which was where  the difference in the opaque  approach was really evident.  No more thinking in a watercolour manner and building things up and preserving the whites.  I just got the whole surface covered in various darks.  After that it was just a matter of refining it.

Grey Owl
acrylic on paper
8.5" X 11"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Grey Owl

Again today while the class worked on their self portrait I had time to do this  portrait of Grey Owl.  I liked the value pattern of this photo.  I'm studying portraits in acrylic at the moment and I like the strong contrasts in this photo so I think it may work well in acrylic. This week we had a discussion about the changes in  fashion portraiture.  Frequently, today models are photographed with very flat, even lighting which may emphasize the perfection of their skin (after a few touch ups) but it definitely lacks character.  I've studied the portraits from Vogue and other fashion magazines and in the past the lighting was used to accentuate the character of the model.  I recently saw the cover of a fashion magazine that featured the top 20 models of the year and they were indistinguishable right down to their pouty look.  This portrait of Grey Owl (Archie Belaney) has lots of character.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sheila's Friend's Granddaughter

While the Basic Drawing Skills class was working on their self portraits tonight I did this portrait of Sheila's friend's grand daughter.  I haven't done children before and this was a fun one.  A very cute photo.

Monday, March 14, 2011

More Figure Doodling

This is a copy of an image from the Serge Hollerbach book.  I've really enjoyed studying his approach to acrylic painting.  He does these little doodles all the time, in ink, pencil or acrylic.  It's just about playing with the medium.  I completely enjoyed laying on the opaque layers of paint.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Figure Doodling

I have done head and figure doodles for years.  They are often very fresh and interesting drawings but I have never done anything with them.  I've decided to try to realize them in acrylic.  This was a little drawing I did yesterday at the Kingsland Farmer's Market.  It's a great practice to do these studies in a situation like that because people keep moving and you need to draw quickly and make effective use of memory.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Composing In Acrylic

I've enjoyed reading Serge Hollerbach's book Composing In Acrylic.  It's a very different style from anything I've done but it definitely got me thinking differently about acrylic.  He emphasizes big shapes, fairly simple but definite brushwork and working quickly.  This painting started with a little study  exploring the use  of pure colours surrounded by neutrals (see post February 20, 2011).  This makes the pure colours 'sing'.  From that little study through an organic process came the idea of the street scene.  Adding some simple figures gave the whole image a story.  This painting was both fun and a learning experience.

Verona Street
18" X 18"

Friday, March 4, 2011

Currie Barracks

I'll be sorry when the Currie Barracks area is redeveloped and I'm in the process of documenting some of it.  This is my third small plein air sketch that I've done and the second one of Currie Barracks.  It was overcast again and there was not a lot of contrast.  This particular subject also had little contrast which I took as a challenge to create some movement in the image when there isn't really a lot going on.  I was definitely trying to focus on the big shapes and I think the design is OK.  Still it was fun to give it a shot.

Currie Barracks
6" X 8"

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Basic Drawing Skills - Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker was someone who blazed like a shooting star for a time and while he was at the top of his form he  changed the face of jazz music and had an impact world wide.  Unfortunately, he was heavily fueled by heroin and died way too young because of his addiction.  This image seems to portray the focus and passion that he brought to his music.  In the Basic Drawing Skills class this is the last of our 6 portraits and it is, I feel, a fitting end.  The improvement and development of the drawing skills of the students has been inspirational to see.  One of the skills that seems to take longer to develop is value, having a full range of values from light to very dark.  This portrait is all about value with extensive areas that are basically black juxtaposed with areas of white.  It makes for a dramatic portrait and forces all of us to push our concept of dark to a new level.  I think one of the reasons for our reluctance to go really dark is that a dark stroke can't be taken back.  It's a bold and definitive mark that is unequivocal.  Often our comfort level is with lighter less assertive marks that we can change and modify or simply take back.  Not so with these bold values.  So this portrait challenges us in a slightly new direction and since everyone has demonstrated such high levels of drawing ability it's neat to face this particular challenge.