Monthly Archives: February 2013

10th Street Breakdown – The Story Of A Painting

Rex Beanland, 10th Street, watercolour, 18 x 24

10th Street Breakdown











Rex Beanland, 10th Street Breakdown, watercolour, 18 x 24

10th Street Breakdown (Work In Progress)







Rex Beanland, 10th Street Breakdown (Original) , watercolour, 18 x 24

10th Street Breakdown (Original)












This is another story of a painting.   I always this view looking up 10th Street towards SAIT.  The bottom image is how it began life.  This particular image shows the original version in one of it’s earlier stages.    I thought the composition had some promise but overall it didn’t do much for me . . . and so it sat for quite a while.

The middle image is the first reworking of it with greater contrast and especially more people added to create a sense of story.  Definitely stronger but still far from a wow painting.

Recently, I had occasion to really examine it and I was motivated to try to bring it to life.  Again with a lot of help and insights from my wife, Susan we identified a number of issues including:

• not a strong enough sense of light
• not a strong  centre of interest
• the buildings on the right front didn’t balance the buildings on the left (even though they are fairly accurate)
• the banners on the left were too low
• I also felt that the car on the left should exit the frame

Since there was already so much paint on it I had to do much of the renovation with gouache.  By the end I felt that the original placement of the car on the left was better so I went back to that.  Enlarging the buildings on the left and raising the banners made a big difference.  All the changes have made it a much stronger painting with a fairly compelling story.

I would also like to mention the usefulness of gouache.  It is certainly a wonderful medium in it’s own right but as a way to change/fix failed watercolours it is great.  There is a real freedom being able to add the light over dark.  Gouache has quite a different texture to transparent watercolour but when it’s integrated well into a painting it fits right in.

A New Take On Currie Barracks

Rex Beanland, Currie Barracks, watercolour, 30 X 20

Currie Barracks
30 x 20












The majority of this painting was done months ago and it has lanquished in limbo ever since because as much as I liked much about it it just sat there fairly lifeless.  Very recently I decided I had to bring it to some kind of conclusion so I thought a figure would balance the trees and add some interest to it.  I  thought that I wanted the person to be exiting the frame.  I also wanted a nice dance of branches over the doorway.  The use of white gouache just makes those branches jump right out.  Anyway, I’m now very happy with it.  It’s simple but with a nice feel.  It happens to look gorgeous in the frame I have it in.

Now I can also appreciate the strengths that it had right at the beginning.  In particular, I always thought that the brushwork in the reflections of the tree on the wall were very spontaneous.  All the grays for the shadows were created using ultramarine violet and cad yellow light.  Normally, a blue and a yellow will make a green but these particular pigments gave a beautiful gray which works very well against the wall which has a very light wash of yellow over it.

Field Of Dreaming, Kensington Market Toronto. Demo for Hughes On 10th



Rex Beanland, Watercolour Demo at Hughes on 10th

What A Great Group!










Last week I did a watercolour demo for Nancy Lynn Hughes at Hughes On 10th in Kensington.  This is a wonderful art gallery and studio where Nancy teaches and oversees a number of very popular classes for everyone from children to adults.

The people who came to this demo where absolutely wonderful.  They were full of enthusiasm and a very positive energy.   It was a lovely evening.

This is the painting that I did in that demonstration.  I ended up doing a lot to finish it when I got it home.


Rex Beanland, Field Of Dreaming, Kensington Market, Toronto, watercolour, 20 x 15

Field Of Dreaming, Kensington Market, Toronto













The Critique

The Good:
I love the colour and value contrast at the centre of interest.
It has a kind of energy even if it is a bit of a nervous energy.
Great little interaction between the figures.
I like that  light, curved mark front and centre.
Interesting use of dry brush.

Things To Work On:
I went too dark in areas like the parking lot so I had to rely a lot on gouache.
Once again I’m reminded to try to get the correct value in the first wash.

Upcoming Classes

I will be teaching a 1 day watercolour workshop in Turner Valley for the Sheep Creek Arts Council on Saturday, March 9.

I’m also teaching a 2 day watercolour workshop for the Leighton Centre on Saturday and Sunday, March 23-24.

Margaret Shelton Award (Best In Show) For ‘Street Of Wires’

Rex Beanland, Kensington Market, Street Of Wires, watercolour, 16x12

Kensington Market, Street Of Wires
16 x 12













This painting from our recent trip to the Kensington Market District of Toronto just won the Juror’s Choice Award for the Calgary Sketch Club’s Elveden Show.

I have previously posted a version of this image but I have made quite few changes in this painting.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of a painting telling some kind of story. The feedback I’ve gotten on this painting has generally been about just that.  People  saying that they wonder what’s going on in this street.

I really enjoy hearing comments like that and I am also very appreciative of the award.



FCA Gallery Granville Island – The Story Of A Painting


Rex Beanland, 4th Street, A Calgary Moment, watercolour, 18 X 24

4th Street, A Calgary Moment (Original)
18 X 24














This is a digitally enhanced version of a painting that I’ve been working on for the last month.  It’s based on some photos of 4th St. in the Mission District of Calgary.  I thought it was a good painting but my wife, Susan, really gave it some focus when she said that it did, in deed,  have some strengths but the sky and in fact the upper half of the painting was quite weak,  I’m not sure why but I have to agree that there is just too much bland sky.  The bottom half of the painting, however, was really strong with a little drama happening between the 2 foreground figures.

My first thought was to physically crop it and that certainly made it a much stronger painting.

A Calgary Moment

A Calgary Moment
9 X 24










I thought, however, that I would try to do something with the upper half of the painting to try to  bring it all together.  I was liberated by the thought that if it didn’t work out I would just carry on with the cropping.  This helped free me up as I very quickly threw in some more background buildings.  When I finished and stepped back from the painting I thought, “Wow, that’s it.”  Everything fit together and the viewer’s attention was drawn to the centre of interest ie the figures.

Anyway the conclusion of the story is that I submitted the final version to the Federation Of Canadian Artists gallery in Vancouver and I just found out that it was accepted.


Rex Beanland, 4th Street, A Calgary Moment, watercolour, 18 X 24

4th Street, A Calgary Moment
18 X 24














Needless to say I’m thrilled.