Monthly Archives: June 2010

School’s Out For Summer

I began this blog as a travel through my year long watercolour class with Sharon Williams and this class just finished a couple of weeks ago. It was an incredible experience for me and I really learned a lot. Most beneficially it dealt very clearly and practically with areas that I had weaknesses in mainly to do with composition and value. I now feel much better prepared when I approach a painting. I look forward to the next year when I can continue to assimilate a lot of what I learned and put it into my work. It’s appropriate that this image is my latest painting because it represents the year for me. It is a composition that I developed for one of our assignments. I call it Alberta Flats. This work was an attempt to take a little watercolour sketch and do it large, 30″ X 20″. It didn’t really work as a watercolour so this final version is mostly acrylic except for the purple mountain. I had to work pretty hard at it but I feel that most of my decisions have improved the work.

I plan to keep this blog as a journal of this new year and look forward to continued artistic development.

Basic Drawing Skills


I just completed the latest session of my drawing class: Basic Drawing Skills. It was a really great class and a lot of fun. I am constantly learning from teaching this class, learning about the process of drawing and also about the connection between drawing and who we are as people. Realistic drawing seems to touch us at a very deep level.

In this class we practice the drawing skills that are taught by using them in portraits. I very much enjoy trying to draw accurate portraits. I did this profile of Willie Nelson after the class was over simply as a challenge. I admire him as a person and I wanted to render a wrinkled face without allowing the wrinkles to dominate the face. I also like this type of lighting, with the highlight area not being the eyes. The eyes are so significant that they draw our attention anyway but with this type of lighting we take a little trip before we get to the eyes.
I will be offering this class again in the fall. If you are interested in improving your drawing skills or would like information on this class click here.

Colour Study Two

This picture was a real experience. It was done in 6 hours in one day. It was done with complete focus and concentration. An almost endless stream of decisions had to be made and in this case most of them worked out. I really like the feeling, especially the rhythm as the viewer can bounce all around the picture. I also like the colour unity. I originally planned an almost black background but this one with it’s flecks of light helps the rhythm of the piece. For me it’s also a large painting 30″ X 24″.

I attribute the success of this painting mainly to the liberating process of doing colour and value sketches. These are the 3 studies I did. Because of them I was able to concentrate just on applying the paint. Composition, value and colour decisions were already made.
To see more examples of my work check out my web site.


Iris From The Value Sketch

This image of irises is based on one of the value sketches from the previous posts. At first there were too many different colours but a little reworking has brought the image a little more under control. The more I look at it the more I’m starting to like it. It was done on a full sheet of watercolour. It’s worth an entire post just to talk about the difference between doing a small painting and a large one. It really is a different mind set. Now to try to do another one using the other value sketch. Once again I have to appreciate what I’ve learned this year especially in terms of the process that I now go through before I actually paint the image. The compositional, value and colour studies are so important in making the final image successful. These little sketches are a very easy way to resolve any issues and then when I start to paint I am much more able to be in the moment and respond to what the paint is doing on the paper.

Floral Design & Value Sketches

I have frequently struggled with florals particularly finding a balance between the flower and the background. I often visualize the flower as being bright and vibrant but to get a background that accentuates that has been the problem. My backgrounds have tended to compete with the flower and diminished the effect I was trying to achieve. This week we worked on florals and what is really helping is to do value sketches to resolve the background/foreground issue. Here I have done 2 value sketches. One with a very dark background and the flower containing a range of the other values. The contrast here is a little distorted because of the background is black paint and the other values are in pencil. In the other sketch I have put the darkest values in the flower and worked the background around that. It was very helpful to do this and it helps me to see a wider range of options.