The Day The Twins Came To Visit
watercolour, 14 x 7
I’ve always been a big proponent of the benefits of playing with paint. It’s often surprising how much you can learn from it. This painting is an example.
I’ve always found this building very interesting. It is right beside the Lougheed House. The other day I wanted to do a little painting but wasn’t interested in doing a detailed drawing and all the other ‘stuff’ that goes into a formal painting. I had a long and narrow piece of paper at hand and just for fun I thought I would try to paint this house. Because I had to fit the house into this unusual format I couldn’t worry about being accurate and I painted that way. With very little pre-thought I just began throwing paint around. It was half an hour of pure fun. When doing something like this there is absolutely no pressure. It’s all about just playing. I was just reacting to what the paint was doing on the paper. Also because I didn’t really care if it worked out or not as soon as I got an idea I just did it. For example the house, because it was a very light value and there weren’t a lot of shadows didn’t really stand out as much as I wanted so I thought ‘let’s see what it looks like if I exaggerate the darks on both sides’. From the photo you can see that there was actually a very dark house beside it which helped.
That feeling of being in the moment and not worrying at all whether it would be successful freed me up to just have fun. From all this playing I realized how much I want to have the same feeling of fun in my ‘serious’ painting.
The title came from the 2 figures on the left. I put my usual blob of orange for the faces but the background was wet so the paint spread out and it began to look like a couple of wild afro-type hair styles. So those 2 blobs evolved into the twins.
I think the spontaneity of the process shows in the final painting.
Colourful Street, Kensington, Toronto
watercolour, 12″ x 16″
The Kensington Market area of Toronto has always been a favourite of mine. In the summer the narrow streets are crowded with shoppers, residents and sightseers. It’s an ethnic area, now heavily Chinese influenced. I passed a very pleasant morning there while I was in Toronto recently receiving my membership in the Canadian Society Of Painters In Watercolour. I did a plein air painting, sitting just where the second figure is. This was the view from the market that I painted at that time.
I’m very pleased with this painting because it really captures what I felt about this particular street. I love the colour, the vitality of the area even if the buildings are quite old and not always in the greatest condition. It took me just about 90 minutes to do which I also like. Capture the essence quickly. It’s about deciding what inspired me in this photo and then constantly keeping that thought in mind as I worked to describe my vision. There was a lot of detail in the photo particularly in the store windows so it was necessary to eliminate most of it and to try to suggest the rest. I love this liberating style of painting. Don’t get bogged down in detail. It’s the feeling that counts and I think it comes through in this painting.
Technically, what I’ve been most concerned with lately is to work ‘alla prima’ which literally means ‘first go’. In order to do this it’s imperative to use the correct colour and especially the correct value in each wash the first time. In watercolour that is a challenge since it dries so much lighter but really it doesn’t take very long until you can accurately translate what you see, wet in the palette, with how it will appear when dry on paper.
I am thrilled to announce that I have just been inducted into the Canadian Society Of Painters In Watercolour (CSPWC).
This has been a dream of mine for a long time for many reasons. One reason is that, in spite of the fact that watercolour has fallen on hard times in terms of galleries’ interest, it is still my favourite medium. It calls to me more than any other medium and it is in painting with watercolour that I am most comfortable and most able to express myself. Another reason is that being accepted into CSPWC is a tremendous recognition of my art. Continually toiling away, solitarily, in the studio you never get the best idea of where your art is at. But to be recognized by my peers as being at a professional level means the world to me.
It was a wonderful day and it was great to meet so many other artists. Everyone was so welcoming. I feel very grateful to be at this stage in my career and I am completely motivated to carry on, to keep moving forward and follow this journey as far as I can.
The ceremony took place at the AGM in Toronto on May 4th. When I heard that the AGM would be held in the famous Arts & Letters Club I knew that I had to attend. The Arts & Letters Club is steeped in art history. This is the place where the Group Of Seven used to meet, drinking and smoking and passionately debating art (and probably more drinking). There are reminders everywhere of the Group of Seven downstairs in the club. I could almost feel their presence while I was there.
Here are a few shots from that wonderful day.