Monthly Archives: March 2011

Mastering Colour – Analagous Colours

The key to mastering colour is to limit your palette and practice mixing your colours until you are familiar with the characteristics of all your colours and how they interact.  Then when you add more colours you have a solid base from which to understand the new colours.   There are a number of colour schemes that help you use your colours in a logical way.  An analagous colour scheme is one of these ways. In the analagous colour scheme you choose 3 colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel. In these 2 examples I have added one of the 3 colour’s complement to allow for some darkening of the colours.
The bottom example is using cad yellow medium, cad orange, cad red light and the complement cerulean blue. In the top example I have used violet, thalo blue, viridian and the complement  Quinacridone Rose. In the top example I also corrected some of the compositional weaknesses I noticed in the lower example. By working this way again we are learning how these colours mix and also we have complete colour unity. Just on a personal note I have heard many times that bright warm paintings sell but unfortunately, for me, I’m drawn to cool colours. I just like them.

This again is one of the topics covered in my new class Mastering Colour, offered through the Calgary School of Art.  For information contact me.

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Mastering Colour – Triads


This is one of the lessons in my new course Mastering Colour. Each of these pictures uses only 3 colours red, blue, yellow.  In each of the pictures one of those colours is the dominant colour (about 60% or the painting), one is sub-dominant (about 30%) and one is a minor colour note (about 10%).  In each of these paintings  you think you’re seeing many more colours which is just caused by judicious mixing of the 3 colours.  Two benefits of this exercise are: 1) colour harmony and 2) a growing knowledge of the properties of each colour.

For information about this class which begins next Tues contact me.

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Basic Drawing Skills – George Clooney


The present session of Basic Drawing Skills just ended.  To see the wonderful results of the students check out the Drawing Blog.  I’ve been asked if I’ll be offering this class again and absolutely I will.  I love this class.  I’ve never seen any art course in which you see this kind of dramatic improvement.  People wonder all the time how is it possible for people to improve this much in such a short time.  Some people say it must be something about me and as much as I enjoy that kind of thinking it’s not really true.  It is in fact the truth that we all have the ability to do this.  We just need to be shown how to get out of our own way and let our natural ability shine through.

Anyway, I will be offering this class again in the fall 2011.  I’m also going to be offering a Basic Drawing Skills Part 2 working with the full figure in the future.  For information about these classes feel free to contact me.

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Still Life

I’m getting ready to try a 40 in 40 experiment.  That is to try to complete 40 paintings in 40 days.  Basically that involves doing smaller studies similar to this.

So this painting is a warm up for that process.

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Quick Sketches Again


This image is from a quick sketch I did when I was sitting behind this guy.  For some reason in sketching people from behind I’m able to see the big shapes much more quickly and accurately.  One thing I’m doing more consciously now is noting the values when I do the sketch.  I find the drawing skills that I’m teaching in my Basic Drawing Skills class are also the skills I’m practicing and they really do help make sketching a faster and more productive activity. I like the added interest created by him looking down.  I’m enjoying doing acrylic on canvas and this is one of the 10 little canvas boards I made this weekend.  I’m just loving this new direction in my art!

Listening and Writing
Acrylic
8″ X 10″

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Grey Owl Acrylic Portrait


I’m really excited by this portrait.  It’s the first portrait I’ve ever done in the opaque acrylic style.  It was a culmination of all the stuff I’ve been reading and practicing so just to have it work out was a big moment.  I think the main thing is that I had a process clearly in mind and just went at it one step at a time.  I’m including the first stage which was where  the difference in the opaque  approach was really evident.  No more thinking in a watercolour manner and building things up and preserving the whites.  I just got the whole surface covered in various darks.  After that it was just a matter of refining it.
Grey Owl
acrylic on paper
8.5″ X 11″

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Grey Owl

Again today while the class worked on their self portrait I had time to do this  portrait of Grey Owl.  I liked the value pattern of this photo.  I’m studying portraits in acrylic at the moment and I like the strong contrasts in this photo so I think it may work well in acrylic. This week we had a discussion about the changes in  fashion portraiture.  Frequently, today models are photographed with very flat, even lighting which may emphasize the perfection of their skin (after a few touch ups) but it definitely lacks character.  I’ve studied the portraits from Vogue and other fashion magazines and in the past the lighting was used to accentuate the character of the model.  I recently saw the cover of a fashion magazine that featured the top 20 models of the year and they were indistinguishable right down to their pouty look.  This portrait of Grey Owl (Archie Belaney) has lots of character.

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Sheila’s Friend’s Granddaughter

While the Basic Drawing Skills class was working on their self portraits tonight I did this portrait of Sheila’s friend’s grand daughter.  I haven’t done children before and this was a fun one.  A very cute photo.

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More Figure Doodling

This is a copy of an image from the Serge Hollerbach book.  I’ve really enjoyed studying his approach to acrylic painting.  He does these little doodles all the time, in ink, pencil or acrylic.  It’s just about playing with the medium.  I completely enjoyed laying on the opaque layers of paint.

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Figure Doodling

I have done head and figure doodles for years.  They are often very fresh and interesting drawings but I have never done anything with them.  I’ve decided to try to realize them in acrylic.  This was a little drawing I did yesterday at the Kingsland Farmer’s Market.  It’s a great practice to do these studies in a situation like that because people keep moving and you need to draw quickly and make effective use of memory.

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