Monthly Archives: February 2010

Introduction To Abstraction

This week we began looking at abstraction. This was done by creating a composition of objects that have some significance for my wife Susan, over which I layed a grid (the letters ‘Susan’). Then in painting it, basically, whenever I came to a new line or shape I painted it using none realistic colours. Also the paper was prepared by creating a random background wash which was allowed to dry before beginning. It was interesting in this painting because I wasn’t sure how to create the original composition of objects that meant something to Susan. There was a random shape that seemed to mirror the head of the large central figurine so I began by drawing it to fit with that background shape. This became the figurine’s head. I really enjoyed doing this and I certainly like the results. I’m not sure if it’s finished but if I continue I will probably use gouache or acrylic so that I can add lights over the darker colours.

Art Instruction Videos


In a little bit of cross referencing I would like to mention that we (myself and my wife, Susan SauvĂ©), in our other life, have a video production company, WhitePine Productions and we are now combining our interest in art with our video pursuits and are producing original art instruction videos. We are the very first company in Western Canada to specialize in this. We presently have 3 DVDs out. You can see a preview of them at WhitePine Videos. We also have 3 more in the can. We are really pleased to mention that we just finished filming one with Eleanor Lowden-Pidgeon. Her bold, colourful compositions are certainly unique. Look for that to be available in the fall. We just put out Brent Laycock’s first instructional video. Brent is one of Canada’s most recognizable and respected landscape painters and we are pleased to be able to offer this DVD. In a little syncronicity we also have Sharon Williams first DVD available. Sharon is the instructor of the art course I am taking. Her well thought-out approach to painting is clearly demonstrated in her DVD. If you would like to push your own artistic development forward why not try one of these DVDs. These workshops on a disc are really convenient for home study as you can stop and start and move to various sections of the painting as desired.

Using A Limited Palette

One of the two main benefits that I’m getting from my art class is a better understanding and use of colour. This has come mainly from using a limited palette. My preferred method at the moment is to choose 3 analagous colours and one contrasting or complementary colour. It gives the paintings a guaranteed colour harmony. In this picture I used Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Violet, Phthalo Blue and Viridian. I also got to include a crab shell from one of my travels to the Maritimes.

Painting From Memory

On the last morning of our visit to the cabin on Lake Of The Woods this summer, we went for an early morning paddle in the kayaks. On the way home I was paddling into this view. I loved the feeling of all the shapes melting into the misty distance. Later in the day I did a quick study from my memory and a while later I did this version. I like that it captures quite a bit of the feeling of that morning. I really like the feeling of the light in the sky and it’s reflection in the background shore. The closest piece of land was painted using thalo blue and cadmium scarlet, a pair of complementaries that I had just learned about from my Stephen Quiller workshop. I loved the rich dark that they produced.

Still Life & Composition


I’m starting to get a much better understanding of value, colour and composition. The use of limited palettes has helped to better understand individual colours and using compositional, value and colour sketches is making me feel more confident about composition. I’m finding painting now is less hit and miss and more consistent. I used to do some really good paintings but also many that didn’t work out. Now, with the planning I’m putting into my work fewer and fewer are throw aways. This assignment was to practice composition using a still life. I used Yellow Ochre, Cad Yellow Medium, Cad Red Light and Cerulean Blue. I like the low perspective.