Contemporary Landscape Artist


(posted on 28 Oct 2017)

Just put "Western Skies" 36x36 up on a post to FB for tomorrow. Was thinking that I didn't have to take much license with the clouds. The snap I took from the car shows that the sky really didn't change much. It's already such an abstract sky! We were travelling back to Calgary from Banff in March when we saw this configuration  in the sky. 

I've made up some art theory mugs for the artists at my studio group-- the Etobicoke Art Group. Included info on the mug:
the 16 elements of composition/design/play in the system, 

the descriptors for colour definition

the 6 ways to add power to a painting

how to make a colour look luminous

and last but not least.... our fearless mentor's oft heard comment "Too much subject, not enough Artist?"

What a great group and such a joy to be a part of.

There's lots going on in the latest painting "Western Skies"--  high key/low key complementary colour (blue-orange) system, high value contrast, unity provided by the black underpainting, harmony in the palette, balance, repetition in the shapes, gradation in colour and shapes, transition provided by large diagonal shapes connecting, texture on the surface both physical and visual. 

Feel welcome to send me your comments :D and have a great weekend!


(the vertical 'cloud' in the photo is windshield reflection)


(posted on 3 Oct 2017)

Thanks for the  mention!

Here's the link:

At the Jurors Walk for the Headwaters Festival Juried show, two of the jurors gave critique of the works they chose to include in the show for the artists who were present that afternoon. It was interesting. One juror queried the level of abstraction in the parts of one of  my paintings- more abstraction in one part than another. 

The Headwaters Arts Festival Juried Art Show opening reception will be on Friday September 15 beginning at 7  pm. The show is free entry at any time except on the night of the opening as it is a fundraiser for the Headwaters Arts. Tickets for the reception are $25 (tax included) and available  online at or by calling 519-943-1149. I am sure tickets are available at the door but please call to be sure.

The exhibition is at the Alton Mill Art Centre in Caledon, Ontario. This is a little west of Highway 10 in the small village of Alton. It is a lovely old knitting mill building.

Please let me know if you plan to attend and I will watch for you. Happily, I have 2 paintings juried into this provincial exhibition. Usually the refreshments are in the lower level. The exhibition covers the entire main floor of the Alton Mill Art Centre for this event only.


(posted on 2 Jul 2017)

How Long Does It Take to Paint a Picture?

The short answer to this question is that it varies a great deal. Beginning to end, sometimes a week, sometimes a month until all decisions are completely satisfying.

Some paintings almost seem to paint themselves. Others are a bit of a struggle to pull out of the depths. At present, I always begin with a pencilled value sketch to develop the composition and show myself where the lights and darks will be.

The composition usually takes a great deal of time for me. I don't like repetition (i.e. do overs) so I like to get the composition right in the first go round. The drawing may start out complicated. I keep sketching and simplifying. My simplest paintings are some of my best. Often, I am thinking about the drawing when I'm not actually drawing.

The next part (after deciding the composition is ready) is deciding what colours to use. I like to shop the colour wheel, looking at all my choices. A rose in any colour is still a rose. I don't paint roses but you get what I mean. If I am having a hard time deciding, I have a bigger shopping chart for colour inspiration.

My colour plan could be complementary colours, analogous colours, monochromatic. Then I start out with one colour in the right value and go from there. My values (lights and darks) stay pretty true to my original plan but often the colours come around to something not so near to the original plan. My colours are mixed from a limited number of bottles of Golden brand paint. All my greens are mixed. And I like the challenge of matching the values of several colours so that the area will appear flat.

Eventually, I get something that I am pleased with and can go to the canvas.

The one thing the value sketches don't show is the colour contrasts. So sometimes I need to adjust the plan on this account. Being a visual artist, means you will know it is right when you see it. If I make a drastically poor choice , I will need to go back to the black underpainting and begin again in that section. If all goes well, I save the most fun for last, putting in a juicy bit of colour somewhere as a focal point.

Did you know that a focal point doesn't need to be interesting in and of itself? It just needs to bring your eye over to that part of the painting so you can spend some time looking around there. Here's the latest - just a snap from Instagram- still a few decisions to make

(posted on 20 Jun 2017)

Today I completed Wild Lupines 12x12. This is a little departure for me as it is flowers--usually I do landscapes-- and very flattened shapes. What do you think? Send me your comments on the contact page.

In the natives meadow, the lupines are silhouetted by the darkness of the deer browse line(where the deer have eaten all the leaves under the edge of the forest) . This darkness makes the flowers glow just like the luminosity provided by the black underpaintings that I use. Here's what I mean:

(posted on 29 May 2017)

Here's a quick pic of the last painting I completed before the end of the week at Advanced Individual Studies, Haliburton School of the Arts. The Mountain in Town is an abstraction that began on the streets of Banff. It's hard to imagine the streets of Banff ever being empty but in a way , it's not about Banff. Here's what it's about:

The mountain towers over the little town so as the artist, I gave it full dominance using the strongest of contrasts, which is a contrast in value. The lightest part of the painting is the mountain, which may or may not have been covered in snow-- I wanted to create that dominance. There is a repetition of shapes in the buildings on one side of the street. They are a dark low intensity orange, as are the buildings on the other side of the street.

The perspective lines which were used for the sidewalks and streets ending at the mountain are re-used as well for the lamp posts, mountain outcrops and dark sky resulting in pleasing simple shapes along the way.

The painting has a complementary blue/orange colour scheme. High intensity/low intensity complementary opposition bounces back and forth between the 3 oranges and various blues. (There is still a bit of juice to add to the bottom left corner in the orange area.)

The roofs of the peaked buildings echo a mountain peak shape and are brought to life with an intensity-graduated orange...just to make sure you get over to look at that side of the painting :D The same for the relatively bright blue running along the storefronts on the left, providing that complementary intensity contrast and because I love blue ;) Because that blue is more intense, your eye might run out of the painting but you are stopped by the contrasting orange parallelogram shape.

Between the white mountain, the orange rooftops and the blue in the sidewalk, we have a triangulated balance. You could possibly make a case for the street lamps being minor focal points but middle of that collection is still in the middle of the painting.

This week, it's printmaking with Otis Tamasauskas at HSAD. Today, we prepared aluminum plates with toner/alcohol, photographic material, omnichrome pencil, silicone/mineral spirits. I have 3 ready to print tomorrow. Stay tuned. They won't be expert as I've never done this before but it sure is fun! So many tools to use :D

Day 5 of Advanced Individual Studies completed (again) yesterday. This is a special week as the artists are juried into the course. Everyone works on their own path. There is lots of interaction between the artists and we have a lecture once per day on some aspect of applicable Art history.

In the course of the week, I have completed 4 paintings and one exercise piece. Here is the colour pic promised on Thursday of Meadow at the Narrows 30x30In.

The Convocation hall show is hanging now. This is a another public gallery credit for my bio. Convocation was yesterday for the art school grads. It is a shorter exhibition this year due to the timing of the convocation relative to our course. A great week!

Next week I am in Printmaking Fusion. I still need a few supplies that are supposed to be available at the school's bookstore. Printing plates and paper. So exciting to start something new. I have done watercolour printmaking before but this will be quite different. I am expectingt the results to be more like what I expect based on what I put through the press.

While I was away, Coreopsis in the Meadow went home with a local saxophone player. Sweet music to my ears!

Where does the week go? Only one day left of a fantastic week painting painting painting. Below is a black and white of a completed painting- forgot to take a colour for you. Check back on the weekend to see that. It has a little more juicy colour than might be usual for me. Simplified more than usual for my meadow pictures. The trees are collected into one shape. I'm sure you'll know they are trees. At the area called the Narrows, the old white pine guards the path. Beyond the space widens again to reveal some of the hilly nature of the area.

I've been using a rolling line through the sky so I can use two delicious blues in that area. Now you'll want to come back and see what I think is delicious blue :D

In the foreground, you'll see why Kandinsky thought that yellow was the psychoactive colour rather than red red orange. In that area, the colours are all the same value (lightness or darkness) as you can see in the black and white photo, but the yellow is very noticeable. It is not a bright yellow just as the blues and greens are not bright, but you will see how noticeable the yellow is.

See ya later??

We're past half way now at our fabulous week of painting with the incredible artists who come for this paint-in week. I gave my presentation on the how/why I became an artist. I kept it short as one or two people were becoming homicidal, I mean impatient with some presenters who went on far too long. Being aware that many wanted to get back to painting, at under 10 minutes, I get the prize for fastest. We were technically allowed 15 minutes. It is good to practice speaking in front of a group.

An artist who was a refugee from eastern Europe after WWII talked about her work showing modern day refugees. She identified strongly with them. Coincidentally, the College had problems with lightning hitting the well pipes and there was no water for a great part of the day. It was a mere inconvenience when we considered the privations in life for a refugee.

I added a little colour intensity and value contrast to yesterdays painting. It is now complete. Little Lookout 30x30" Can you see the changes from yesterday?

Then I moved on to do Winterberry By the Pond. 30x30" This is an enlarged version of Winterberry 6"x6"

While I was busy painting today, two paintings were being delivered to ArtBomb in Toronto-- the commission Bow River Near Canmore and Mount Edith Cavell, Alberta. These have been sold. Mount Edith Cavell is one of my favourites.

Greetings from Haliburton School of the Arts at Fleming College in Haliburton!

I am here for the next two weeks doing nothing but thinking art, hearing art, seeing art, dreaming art and creating art! This week I am painting in John Leonard's Individual Studies studio. Next week, it's Otis Tamasauskas Printmaking Fusion course. Very excited.

From yesterday, the first day's painting still being tweeked is below. No title as yet but it is a view from the top of the hill in the country.

Today, Tuesday, two artists gave their presentations and we reviewed art from the Canadian abstractionist artists. This took some time so I've only got the underpaintings ready for the next two paintings.

Did manage to complete the exercise given for the week. This is hanging in the Paper Chase show in the hall at the College. The exercise was to create a structure of shapes, group the shapes into 3 or 4 areas of different value(light or dark or mid light, mid dark etc). Within a value area, use complementary colours (the values of both colours would need to keep matching those of the area) All areas except one needed to be visually active. This means that the area needs to look or feel textured . Doesn't need to be a good painting-- just needed to solve the problems given. I used a composition that you may recognize from the gallery. Seemed easier than making a new one :D The red originates in the Indian Paintbrush that grows in this meadow in front of the magnificent Mount Robson in our Canadian Rockies.

You'll notice that when you squint your eyes nearly closed(the colour disappears and you just see darks and lights), the red and green (paper towel and textured paint collaged pieces) complements are the same value and closely match the glued on gritty sand on the mountain. The light area includes violet with bumpy yellow complementary dots. The sun is lumpy paint. The midlight value, low intensity 'road' in the lower left of is also textured paint.

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