Friday, January 29, 2010

Heading south...

Georgia Trees 24 X 30"

Last winter we spent a month in Georgia on Saint Simons Island.  The attraction for most visitors is the oceanfront, for me it is the trees.  Live oaks with Spanish moss and Resurrection ferns are like little communites or big mamas with numerous interesting children onboard or flitting about.  We're heading back there next week and I plan to take this painting with me.  I need to revisit  Saint Simons Park and decide if it is done.  Then start on some more tree portraits.  Maybe this gracious one:


Sunday, January 24, 2010

What's up? Two new works in progress...

Most of my very wet acrylics are quite small, the one above is the start of a bigger canvas, 34" X 34".  I'm not sure the technique suits this larger format.  This piece may or may not evolve in the same way as the smaller (5" X 7") controlled pieces.  Because it is big and wet, it needs a lot of room.  I have to work flat on the table and let it dry.  So I switch to another work in progress, one on the easel, like this one  (30" X 30") :


Not at all like the other but that's me - consistently producing a body of work that covers a whole menu of  art entrees .  A few weeks ago at the Kingston Arts & Letters Club two local writers, Steven Heighton and Susan Olding, spoke about adopting different genres or approaches to writing depending on the inspiration or content of the work.  Kindred spirits, I could relate.  The top painting seems to be a poem, an idyll.  The lower one is defintely prose, creative nonfiction.  

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas in Cape Vincent

Cape Vincent New York is just 10 miles south of Kingston, as the crow flies.  However there is a lot of big water and a large island between the two.  So, travelling to visit our friends who live there takes about an hour and fifteen minutes by car which includes two big bridges and a brief stop at the border crossing.  The community is a small village with a rich history, beautiful old buildings and powerful huge maples that toss the sidewalks around.  Despite the dull gray weather I found plenty to inpspire me and recorded it in rather bland photos.  Bland until some creative manipulation made them quite "painterly" I think.  Perhaps I can come up with something to suit a commission for one of the CV residents....?

A few "unaltered" photos :

Sidewalks along the western stretch of Broadway.   Trees have the right of way, just as it should be!

The Cape Vincent Arts Council's  Chopin Festival is held in this lovely building.

The Fisheries Station and Aquarium, formerly a grist mill.

The famous "Stone House" which housed Canadian Rebels during the Patriot War in 1838.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A dry spell

Finally something new to show after a dry spell in the studio.  This piece (12" X 24) is nearing completion.  I've been experimenting with my love (compulsion?) to portray flat horizon lines.  The calmness of a simple and strong horizontal is what I am drawn to do and when I manipulate it even a little, I find it unsettling.  The slight rise in the green hill seems too determined.  I'm hearing Julie Andrews "The hills are aliiiivvvvve .... and it's kind of creeee-eppeey!"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Art for the Holidays

Lisa has mounted another interesting show at the Tay River Gallery and I'm happy to have six of my little landscapes included. Below is one of these, a night scene. The windmills on Wolfe Island continue to intrigue me despite the fact they are both ugly or amzing depending on your point of view.

                                                      Windfarm 8" X 10" acrylic on board

And here's a detail of another small one, called "Flow"  :

Friday, October 23, 2009

Blurb - publish your art!

Another way to spend a lot of time at the computer and not in your studio?  Make a book!  The site I used was Blurb and I created a little journal with 35 of my paintings and some cool quotes.  Here it is, you can flip through the entire book:

I've come to appreciate how my record keeping and pictures files are sorely lacking.  I needed both to create the book and discovered I have no pictures of 2 pieces I've sold and have no dimensions for several others.  Some of the jpegs were really low resolution and unusable.  This could become a problem if I am suddenly important in the art world.  Uh huh.
I'll be buying a few copies of the book for friends and family once I've seen the quality of the first one I ordered today.  The colour reproductions will have to be spot on, crisp and accurate...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Artsy weekend

We had a lovely day in Perth for the Strange and Beautiful opening at the Tay River Gallery.  The show looked great, Lisa manged to get 7 of my pieces mounted, quite a challenge as the work is so diverse.  The other particpating artists were from the Perth area or nearby in Quebec, most were able to attend the opening and it is always a true delight to meet new "colleagues."  The pic on the right shows me at the Tay River Gallery with "Behold" hung vertically. Not the first time I've had pieces wired for more than one hanging option!  It is such a bold painting so unlike my calm, shy pieces!

Today I visited a few local artists who were part of the Town and Country Studio Tour in Kingston and northward.  Of course Sally Chupick's landscapes and florals were lovely, Nasturtiums was exquisite, tho the photo here doesn't do it justice.  I was very impressed with Michele LaRose's abstracts.  My favourite was one called Provence, click to have a look.  After a long drive down a twisty gravel road we came upon Bear Bottom Studio.  It looked like some hobbits might be nearby!  Have a look at the link to see Jamie Brick's fanciful work.  Jamie's website will tell you this:
Abandoned as an infant, Jamie Brick was taken in and raised by a pack of wild medieval rabbits. This unusual upbringing reflects in this artist's eyes as he sculpts, stone, wood and mixed media into creatures from a world that lies just left of centre.

The fall has been packed with shows.  Now it's time to settle down and get back to my studio and get to work.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Focus Art Juried Show October 7, 2009

Last night we attended the annual Focus Art show in Cornwall; I had 3 pieces chosen for this juried event.  It has been some time since I was in downtown Cornwall and I was amazed at the transformation in the last few years: loads of waterfront greenspace, interesting shops, excellent restaurants and art galleries!  We entered the imposing Cornwall Public Library to find over 75 pieces of art on display, an impressive and highly diverse show.   The "gallery space" was not large but very well lit, elegant, and directly adjacent to the reading room.  The Focus Art group did a wonderful job setting the work up as they have NO access to wall space! 

Shortly after the opening, prizes were announced in various cateogories.  I was thrilled and amazed to be called up for Honourable Mention (acrylics) for my little piece called Red Skies. 

Red Skies  5" X 7"

A few minutes later I was called again!  I also got First Prize in the acrylics category for this piece:

           Natural Order #1     24" X 36"

Thank you judges, thank you Focus Art! 

Sunday, October 4, 2009

More good news!

Today we drove back to Perth to deliver 2 more pieces for the "Strange and Beautiful" show; that makes 7 contributions from me.  Eight other artists have been chosen to participate and I had an opportunity to see some of the very impressive work Lisa Brown (gallery owner) was getting ready to mount. 

When I got home I had a phone message with more good news.  Last week I  submitted 3 pieces to the FOCUS ART (Eastern Ontario Visual Arts Association) Juried Show in Cornwall.  All 3 were accepted!  More about that later...

I think maybe I should buy a lottery ticket!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Art for Heritage at St. George's Cathedral


Here are 2 small landscapes framed and ready for the show at St. George's "Art for Heritage" on Friday and Saturday.  Each is 5 X 7".  Framing was a challenge.   I convinced The Framer to mount the boards on the frames rather than behind as is typical.  The paintings are tiny and putting them behind would cover half an inch, too much.  So The Framer glued wooden dowels to the back of each board and surface mounted them.  They sit in a little bevel that fits them perfectly.  They look wonderful!  Thank you Sweetie.

The show is on Friday October 2, 6:30 -9:00
and Saturday October 3rd, 10:00 -3pm.  Over 60 artists are participating with funds raised being directed to building restoration.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Strange and Beautiful

"Tay River Gallery is accepting submissions from Ontario and Quebec artists for an upcoming juried show,"Strange and Beautiful". Deadline for submissions is Sept 10th. Quality artwork in your choice of media, of an illustrative, painterly or abstract nature with the emphasis on the Strange "the unusual,different, eccentric, unfamiliar, peculiar, fantastic, bizarre, mystifying, perplexing" art that can at the same time be viewed as Beautiful " having beauty; having qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc.; delighting the senses or mind". The focus is on compositions where either content (subject matter) or perspective taken (interpretation) is particularly unique, imaginative and arresting."

I read this Call to Artists a few weeks ago and thought my art is often strange, unusual, different and eccentric, peculiar etc and hopefully beautiful from time to time as well.   So I put together a submission, some of my really unique and unusual pieces, thinking this show was meant for me!  After checking the phone for messages and the computer for emails, just about hourly, I finally got the news.  I"M IN!!!!  I am truly bizarre and unique!  Or at least some of my work is....  I submitted 10 pieces, 5 were chosen: "Improv 3" which I completed recently, 3 of my bas relief pieces and "How the light Gets In" (detail above).  Wooohooo!
The Tay River Gallery is in lovely Perth Ontario; the show opens Oct 6 and runs to Nov 21.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Slave to the photograph

It's a bird!  It's a plane!  It's Superman!
No, just the start of another abstract painting.  After no new work in the studio for a week I am finally back at my easel.  But a lot of "work" is done before the paint comes out, even with what seems to be an intuitve abstract like the one on the left.  I have been culling old photos, tossing lots and cutting up others that I reassemble and manipulate with Irfanview (an easier type of Phototshop, and free!).  In this kind of work my computer is my sketch book and I create lots of possibilities before I am even close to something worth painting.  Then of course when the paint comes out the photo sketches are manipulated even more or abandoned altogether.  Don't be a slave to the photograph!  Otherwise you may just as well print that and say you're done.  Can't remember where I first heard the slave phrase, but it is a good one.  Never be a slave to your computer either.  That's me talking to myself.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Perfection refers to the weather!  My studio has a door directly to the back yard and lately I have taken to sitting outside to muse about paintings in progress.  I have some hooks on the fence providing me with a plein air gallery and of course there is lots of comfortable seating as well.  The September weather has been made to order:  not too cool, not too hot, no rain, not humid, no bugs - perfect!
Here are two versions of an abstract I've been working on.  Early version on the left, a later revision on the right.  Improved or not?  I'm not sure....

         "Improv 3"  acrylic on canvas   22" X 28"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Behold 20" X 40" acrylic on canvas
Here's a new painting I've been working on, rather controlled and not as loose as my last abstract piece.
Seems to be done? I'll give it a rest and look at it with fresh eyes in a few days...


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fish flashback


It's a flashback painting because I'm back to my early representational phase for this painting. I chose the fish as I had taken some photos of him (her?) in the fish tank at the interpretive centre in Mallorytown, St Lawrence Islands National Park. The park is sponsoring a call to artists and I'll submit this when done. Needs some more work on the background and then some glazing to settle everything in.

I am reminded how relaxing painting like this can be, no abstraction, no open ended soul searching angst! Just paint a nice picture. Like baking a cake you've baked many times before. You know what to do, how to do it and how it should turn out. Maybe a little bit of manipulation of brush stroke and composition but it's all brain work. Heart and soul take a back seat.

Nice little fish, "Pumpkinseed" or sunfish as we called it when I was a kid. We'd catch these little guys and toss them back in, too small and too prickly to eat.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A glazing fiesta

"80F- hot, dry and clear"

"90F - hot, hazy and humid"

These are 2 little pieces (part of 6 paintings called the "Weather Series") that I sold at the eee show. Each is 5" X 7" . Working this small is new for me but the small size really allows me to focus and explore working with very wet acrylics.

This weekend I started on 12 more minis, working on all of them simultaneously. After many many glazes there are 6 that are close to being done, 3 that I will likely sand off, re-gesso and start over. Three more still need a lot of work before they sing.

Here are a couple that are starting to hum:

Friday, July 31, 2009


Here's another piece (24 X 36") I started last week in Brockville. I'm now saying started as the finished label no longer applies. After a few days of looking at it in a new setting I can see colour changes I want to make. Stay tuned, I have 4 days with the whole house to myself so there are no excuses.
No distractions, just focus and paint paint paint.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Memories of Kandinsky

I'm back from another week away, this time a class at Brockville's St. Lawrence College. Jennifer Lawton's approach to large and lush representations of photographic close ups had me revisiting some of my earlier approaches to abstraction. The above piece in acrylic (30 X 30") is reminscent of Kandinsky's improvisations I think, though that was not my intent when I started on it. It needs some more work, something looks unresolved. Perhaps some music may help me complete this piece. As Kandinsky said:
Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano
with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or
another, to cause vibrations in the soul.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Leonard please call

How the light gets in, Homage to Leonard Cohen 24 X 36

I frequently listen to Leonard Cohen as I paint, and while a friend says his work features music to slit your wrists by, I think he sings of hope, for the most part. Take his song Anthem. Despite the mess we may find ourselves in there is always some hope, a crack in the darkness, a crack in the universe where the light gets in. The painting above is in the current eee group show. It is called "How the light gets in, Homage to Leonard Cohen"
I recently saw Leonard perform and he was breathtakingly impressive. I want to have an art show, an homage to Leonard Cohen. Artists would respond visually to his music and prose. I've written to his management folks in NYC and I managed to get a flower and card to him on stage when he was here in Kingston. So far no reponse. Leonard, I'm waiting, you have my number!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Panic to Peace

Yesterday afternoon I was in a major panic, our show was opening and I thought no one would attend. Or maybe 4 or 5 people drifting around in the huge room. Many of my invitees were out of town or otherwise occupied. The show opened at 7 pm; at 10 to 7 we had one guest. Looked like a lot of food and wine would be going home and we would be pretty depressed about the turnout. BUT! By 7:15 the place was packed, you could no longer hear the music for the din of visitors. The crowd (yup, I call it a crowd) was steady and we all had lots of positive comments about our work. And a few sales as well! The eee show even got a bit of TV coverage as Ben and Terry appeared on the 6 o'clock news. A great show!
Whew, now some peace and relaxation......

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

56 inch centers

Yesterday I spent the whole day helping Ben Darrah mount the eee show. Ben is an artist and former gallery manager with lots of experience curating and hanging art. Needless to say I learned a lot. All the art is mounted so that the center of the painting is 56 inches from the floor. So, when one stands back the visual presentation is all paintings in line, the center of each at eye level. Sound easy? Well just where is the center of the painting and where does the center of the painting end up when it is hanging, stretched across two nails? Is the floor level? If not then the 56 inch rule will need to be adjusted. And if 2 paintings are stacked the center is in the space between them. No problem!

Kingston has no public art gallery space (a horrible situation) so we are happy to have the multi purpose room in the libary but of course there are lots of problems with the walls, projection niches, screens, switches, alarms etc. There goes the nice centering of the work.

Despite the challenges I think the show looks pretty good.
Join us : Thursday evening, 7-9 pm

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bubble and Squeak

I have now done 6 of these little mini landscapes. Each is 5"' X 7 with many layers of very wet paint applied using sponges, rags, brushes and my fingers. These are all on masonite board; those I did on canvas panels are not as effective. The canvas texture interfers with the glazing effects I am after.

I plan to exhibit them at the eee show next week. Naming them is going to be a challenge. Perhaps Bubble for the one above and Squeak for the one on the left?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Great Week Working with Megan Hinton!

Here's a final shot of Megan Hinton's new studio which our group christened. The 5 afternoons examining abstract representational painting was time very well spent. Although the demos on colour, value etc were not new information the treatment of each was new and Megan's approach reflected a style and method that was unique. I have a new respect for black paint, charcoal, the palette knife and drawing with paint.
It is wonderful to see how other artists work. Most of the time we artists work alone. I wonder if we could be more like musicians, play and create together. We can "listen" to the music our fellow artists play.

PAAM (Provincetown Art Association and Museum) has an amazing roster of classes. It will be hard to return to Cape Cod and not consider another class with Megan.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Colour Color

Yesterday's studio lesson was supposed to focus on colour but we all got yakking and working so Megan didn't have time to do her demo.
The weather has improved and we finally walked one of the many beaches which are all very clean and serene.
The old weather beaten ball above was a beautiful piece of flotsam.

Or is it jetsam?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lesson 3: Value

Today Megan started off by mixing 2 blues: cobalt and ultramarine. Next she created a varied palette by adjusting the value of the mixture by adding black and white to varying degrees. From there she proceeded to paint a quick value study of one of the objects in the still life collection.

After the demo I worked from a photo I took while in England, one of the woodsy canals. I like the compostion but am not yet happy with the colour and brushwork. Here it is: