Monthly Archives: December 2011

Weaselhead Rhythms

It was such a lovely day last Friday that I went down into the Weaselhead to do some plein air painting.  It was warm enough to sit for an hour in shirt sleeves.  I did the 2 little sketches that you can see at the bottom of the above image.  I quite liked the feel of them.  I then developed the composition that you see in the top image.  I do like the composition and especially the diagonal lines that lead your eye to the centre of the interest.

Interestingly it took awhile to find a place to sit on the bank of the river (as seen in the bottom plein air sketch).  It was very muddy as the sun warmed things up.  Anyway, I stepped onto the edge of the ice and one leg fell right in.  Fortunately, it is only about a foot deep but the water was very cold.  It took about 15 minutes for the water in the boot to feel OK and I was fine for the rest of the hour until I had to walk back to the car with a wet, squelchy boot.

Weaselhead Rhythms
watercolour & gouache
9″ X 12″

Scratch Sheet Fantasy

scratch sheet fantasyI was teaching a lesson yesterday and during the lesson I used a sheet of paper to demonstrate various marks or techniques.  That was things like the tree, a few dark green swatches at the top that were leaf demonstrations etc.  Anyway, I thought as a kind of fun activity that I would try to turn that random sheet into a painting.   I just played with value using progressive layers of darker values to suggest detail and draw the eye.  This image is the result and I love it.  It’s also a wonderful exercise to do a painting where you’re  just playing with value and not concerned with realistic colour.

Pond Fantasy

This image was quite a surprise.  I didn’t really know what it would look like when it was finished.  I still don’t know if it is finished.  It falls in the experimental watercolour mode.  The first stage was done by throwing, splattering paint and using my spray bottle to encourage the paint to run and mingle.  I did a little masking out.  I find it really draws my eye in.  I love the element of surprise and discovery that marked this particular painting process.

Glenmore Shadows & Light Streaks

I did a little plein air painting and a little photography of the snow shadows in Glenmore Park this weekend.  This was a little scene that caught my attention.  I enjoyed the streaks of light coming through the dark trees.  I thought that some of my new wet in wet techniques might work with this.  I discovered that I don’t really have the technique to do these complicated trees.  I knew that I didn’t want to do them realistically with lots of detail.  You can see my interpretation.  It’s certainly not what I imaged it to be but over the last 4 days as I kept refininig it I’ve come to enjoy it.  A neat idea but not completely there yet.

Curb Appeal

doorwayDoorways are a very popular theme in art.  I knew an artist who almost made a living out of doing doorways, particularly, Mexican doorways with bright colours and plants etc.  This particular image is a doorway subject that I am going to use with my watercolour class.  Right now I’m trying to translate it to watercolour.  The original painting is an oil.

I also want to do it in my wet in wet approach.  With all the colourful flowers it’s tempting to start painting very specific shapes right at the beginning but I find it more useful to approach the final image with a succession of washes, going from light to mid values and only in the final stages adding the darks and creating the detail.   I like what this painting looks like and I just want to play with the composition a bit.

Yesterday’s Demo Completed

landscape with barnThis was the demo I did with my watercolour class yesterday.  I’m posting it because I only got about a third of the way done in class and I wanted everyone to see how I finished it.  It’s interesting for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, when using a triadic colour scheme of one of each primary it’s a challenge when you choose yellow as the dominant colour.  Yellow is a special colour in that it’s always a light value.  When you add it to any other colour it always lightens the colour so it’s a challenge to get darks that are primarily yellow.  The other interesting thing is that my yellow was Naples yellow with is a very opaque pigment and you can see the interesting effects of having strong values of Naples particularly at the front of the barn.  It sits on the paper very differently than a transparent colour.  It is interesting though.

Sibbald Pond

This is the final version of this image of a pond we found along the Sibbald Trail.  The main thing about it is that it’s a large version, 20″ X 30″.  It’s been a while since I’ve worked in the larger format.  I find that I’m doing so many studies for my teaching that it seems hard to get the larger works done.  In this painting I again did virtually all the yellow, yellow orange grass by using the little squirt bottles.  I feel that gives it an organic feel.  It also creates a wonderful collection of white shapes where the water goes around them.  I don’t feel that this piece is finished because I think that this size demands a little more colour variation rather than just relying on the complementary yellow – purple  colour scheme.

Sibbald Pond
watercolour 20″ X 30″


Emperor’s Choice

This image was just plain fun.   I just started with a rich application of colours that I threw at the paper.  Then I used a mister to direct the water/colour mixture down the page.  Then when that dried completely I took a look at what I had and just started to add darker values.  When this was dry I painted in a traditional manner with some darks.  It seems to have a veil of mystery about it.  These are some of the ideas that I am dealing with in my new workshop, Watercolour Wet & Wild which I am giving for the Sheep Creek Art Council in Turner Valley.  This method can relieve a lot of the stress of making the perfect mark because so much of it is painted spontaneously by working with the water.

Still Searching For The Right Composition

Echo Bay RocksI really want to paint a larger piece based on this rock motif.  The image is basically a combination of rock patterns from our cabin on Lake of the Woods.  I have the technique that I would like to use ready to go but I just can’t get the right composition.  For some reason I’m blocked from looking at this scene in a new way.  It’s always interesting and enjoyable but it isn’t going where I want it to.

I’m glad that I decided to add the two figures.  Having people in a landscape adds a lot to the narrative effect of the painting.  We’re drawn, as viewers, to that human element in a painting.