Kensington Market, Toronto
20 x 15
This is the demo I did last week for the Airdrie Regional Arts Society. I hadn’t known about this society before but was very impressed by their enthusiasm and friendliness and the commitment of the members.
For the demo I choose a scene from our trip to Toronto last month. It’s in the multi-cultural area of Kensington Market. There is a nice energy there. I mostly finished the painting during the hour and a half of the demo then touched it up in the studio. I’m pleased with the way it turned out. Doing this demo helped me refine my thoughts about what I’m trying to achieve in my painting and for me it’s all about ‘story’. Accuracy, neatness and polish are not as important as the story. The story I wanted to capture in this painting is the energy and movement in this area of narrow streets and crowded sidewalks. In summer it can be chaotic but even in December parts of it are still alive. Using the little figures immediately helps with the story. For example the two figures near the right hand edge really do seem to be in conversation.
9 x 12
A lovely day with the sun shining and this colourful house seeming a bit festive.
I’ve never painted as much on location as I have in the last 8 months. Since I’m mostly interested in cityscapes I don’t have to travel far to find some subject that asks to be painted. The only 2 problems I have with winter plein air painting from a vehicle are being at the mercy of where I can park and secondly not being able to step back from the painting so it is a challenge to get the big picture in terms of value. But still a great way to spend a few hours.
16 x 12
This is another scene from our recent trip to Toronto. The Kensington Market area.
An interesting challenge in this painting was to paint the graffiti. It was a little complicated but it was also a wonderful opportunity to play with colour.
Snowy Day In Elbow Park
9 x 12
11 Ave SE
9 x 12
Downtown, Another View
9 x 12
3 recent plein air paintings. The bottom 2 paintings were done in exactly the same spot on 11 Ave SE. There are a few smaller, older houses that have somehow survived the expansion of the Stampede. One way sees these little houses dwarfed by the encroaching office towers. Turn the other direction and get a nice view of the back end of downtown.
Yonge St North
Yonge St North2
This is another scene from our trip to Toronto. It’s a view driving north on Yonge St. It was interesting to have a double decker bus driving tourists around the city. I haven’t been to Toronto for about 3 years but I was raised there and I have to say that I really like that city, warts and all.
But on to the painting. I find that I’m using my chinese white or white gouache a lot lately. Partly that’s because I’m using it to correct things. That is not the best use of the opaque medium – to cover mistakes but if a painting has things wrong with it what else can you do. But at other times, however, using opaque paint is part of the plan. I use it frequently because it allows me the freedom to forget about the detail and just make a big juicy wash. Then after I can add the lights with the chinese white or the white gouache. If I didn’t do this I’d have to either paint around various shapes which destroys any creative brushwork or to use masking liquid which just isn’t on my radar at the moment.
In the top painting I used this technique to lighten the entire distant building. I used chinese white and cad red light to make the nice bright pink writing.
In the bottom painting I used a lighter opaque blue where the blue building meets the edge of the bus. The original wash was too dark so that there was less contrast with the dark red bus. With this lighter wash the contrast is increased.
In the top painting the bus stands out nicely because it’s up against lighter washes.
I spent a week in Toronto over the Christmas Season. I was so impressed by how big it is, or, more appropriately how big that entire area is. Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Brampton, all just one big city. The other thing was the rate of development in the downtown area. New condos everywhere. It’s a city that moves and shakes. But the other side of all this is the incredible traffic. We got caught in a traffic jam where 2 lanes had to merge into one. It took us 45 – 60 minutes to go about 5 intersections maybe 2 kilometres. That is not fun.
Any way as far as painting one thing I loved about Toronto was the overhead streetcar wires. They are such a neat graphic element. I’ve been studying some master watercolour artists lately and they paint in cities that have streetcar wires such as Melbourne, Australia. I was always disappointed in the fact Calgary has so few overhead wires. Now to have seen them in Toronto was a real treat.
This painting from Kensington Market doesn’t have the streetcar wires but it did have a massive number of regular wires.
This is another painting in my experimental series. It involved a lot of throwing paint at the paper, using the spray bottle, pouring paint etc. I wanted to use any way to get the paint on without using a brush. I actually have a video that I made a year ago on the process I used to create a very similar painting. I’ve had a very positive response to the video and the process. I find that many beginning watercolourists have a lack of confidence in their drawing skills and their ability to use colour creatively. This type of painting relieves the pressure in both areas. They don’t expect themselves to have any control when they’re throwing paint so they naturally tend to loosen up and just enjoy the process.
Then by the time the traditional painting part begins for the trees, grasses, reflections etc they already have an exciting background to work on. I’ve often seen students thrive in the freedom that this kind of painting offers.
This particular image was inspired by a little pond just beside Cameron Lake in Waterton Park.