Monthly Archives: September 2010


Those of us who originate from eastern Canada often lament the lack of bright reds in Alberta’s fall colours. There are actually quite a few red accents in the fall colours here but they are mainly in hedges, bushes and minor characters. I’ve become increasingly aware of them this year. This is a view from our front yard.

I did a colour study, en plein air, and then came right in and did a studio version. I like the freshness and rhythm of the image. I love plein air painting. I particularly enjoy it when it’s right at my door step like in this case.

Basic Drawing Skills

This portrait of King Tut was done in graphite on watercolour paper. The texture of this paper allows a lot of light speckles to shine through creating a pleasing effect. I made a conscious effort to direct the eye of the viewer to Tut’s eyes. So I have down played the darks of the head dress at the bottom and the false beard in order to direct attention to the eyes. I have also made the darks of the head dress that are above the eye, darker as they move into the picture. Again I’m trying to direct the viewer’s eye.

I created the darks by adding more layers of lightly applied graphite rather than by pressing harder with the pencil. I find that creating darks this way gives them much more subtlety and life. Pressing too hard will damage the surface of the paper and gives a very flat dark. This particular portrait with it’s wonderful design elements and strong value contrast would make a lovely painting. I certainly plan to try this at some point.
P.S. I would love to have some comments. Just click on the ‘comments’ link below this post. Another window will open and chose ‘Comment as > anonymous’, write your comment, then click ‘post comment’ and that’s all there is to it.

Understanding Acrylic with Brent Laycock

My wife and I have a video production company, WhitePine Productions. We are very proud to produce the finest art instruction videos in Western Canada. Our latest video is Understanding Acrylics with Brent Laycock. Brent is one of Canada’s most original landscape painters. His vibrant and deeply personal work is instantly recognizable and he has received the highest possible national recognition . Contact us for more information or to order copies of Brent’s DVD.

Collaboration With Jean Pederson

I’ve just completed collaborating with Jean Pederson on her excellent Farm Fragments Installation at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery. I was there for the opening on Sunday, Sept 19. The exhibition includes paintings, collages, installations and objects illustrating life on the farm going back over 100 years. I created a video that complemented Jean’s vision. It was an enjoyable challenge to combine images of abandoned farms with interviews of people who grew up on these farms. The audio track also included many nature sounds that I recorded. It was a very creative project that allowed me to stretch out videographically, so to speak.

The exhibition continues at the Red Deer Museum and will, hopefully, be travelling to other locations in Canada. If you are in the area definitely stop by to view it.

Plein Air Lake Of The Woods

I just got back from an incredible time at our cabin on Lake of the Woods. I had just a couple of days to do some plein air painting. This was one of the pieces I finished, a view just beside our cabin. I enjoyed the interplay of the dark rocks and reflections with the very subdued water. I also tried to paint the rocks with out resorting to my usual habit of mixing ultramarine blue and burnt sienna to make the grays that were every where in the rocks. Instead I mixed quinacridone rose and thalo green to get what I thought was a very attractive gray. This mix was further modified in places with some yellow and in other places with some blue. I was very pleased with the value range and the composition and as always plein air paintings just seem to acquire a greater feeling of spontaneity and directness.