Saturday, Oct 26 was Canada Watercolour Day which has been initiated by the Canadian Society Of Painters In Watercolour (CSPWC). CSPWC is Canada’s top watercolour society and one I’m very proud to have been juried into just this year.
Even though the weather in Calgary was lovely we went to Devonian Gardens, Calgary’s only indoor park located in the heart of downtown. It had been closed for extensive renovations and it was indeed very different. It’s much brighter, airier, and definitely more integrated into the surrounding office buildings and food court. As a result it is much more heavily used. All that is, of course, exactly what the city wants. Unfortunately, as far as painting I felt it wasn’t quite as enticing as it used to be. Before there used to be more secluded spots and the Koi fish pond and it was more like it’s own little world. Now it’s full of open spaces and people. Anyway here are a few photos of the new look.
I was intrigued by the light on the palm trees so we decided to set up there.
As you can see there were many people passing by but the experience was absolutely wonderful. I find that right away I just go into the painting zone and I’m largely unaware of what’s going on around me. All the people who did stop by and speak were really excited to see us painting.
As I mentioned I liked the palm trees but I find that I can’t get too excited by a scene unless there are some people involved so we asked a young girl who stopped to take a look if she would pose. She was thrilled to be asked and this is my painting.
I like the painting even though it got a little overworked. With plein air painting, however, the result is only one part of the experience. To be there with life going on all around you and with the sights and sounds and just being zoned into painting is a true pleasure. When we left I think we both felt very pleased and inspired.
Until next year.
I’ve been studying Charles Reid lately. He has a unique watercolour style that is very accessible and inviting. In particular I’m looking at his approach to portraits. He was one of the first instructors I met that made me really take a look at the way I held the brush and applied my strokes. I painted far too much with the tip of the brush which can lead to overworked washes. He recommended really pushing the hairs of the brush into the paper and let the brush make the biggest, boldest stroke possible. This was excellent advice and allowed me to make much more creative use of my brush.
Anyway, these 2 studies of my wife, Susan, are my attempt to apply aspects of his style to my own subject matter.
This was the first one. I think it’s a very pleasant portrait though it bares only a partial likeness. There is a nice liveliness to it and I really like the hair and the colourful scarf. In fact I like it a lot.
This is one I did last night. I love the dappled light on the vest. I think the composition is very effective and has a very nice feel of light overall. I would like to improve the main eye. It seems like it’s a little confused as to whether it’s looking ahead or straight at the viewer. The likeness is quite close and it does capture the look of pondering that the photo had.
On a technical note. Reid uses raw sienna a lot. I have traditionally not used it much at all. I dug out my tube of it for this portrait. You can see it very plainly in the jaw line. I’m still not sure if I like it.
watercolour, 9 x 12
The Alberta Society Of Artists held their annual BBQ a few weeks ago at the heritage site, Perronoud Ranch just north of Cochrane. This was my first event as a new member of the ASA. It was a wonderful day. Sunny and warm. By the end of the day it was sunny with gale force winds.
My wife and I went early to do a little painting on the property. I was very pleased with my little study. We ate on this veranda. Some of our meal was simply blown into the surrounding fields by the wind.
I was very pleased to be juried into the ASA this year. I think the thing I like most about membership in art groups like this is the connection and networking with other like minded artists. To associate with, share ideas with, and learn from your peers is wonderful and very motivating. I’m always amazed at the range of interests and directions that others are pursuing. And most of all is the wonderful sense of camaraderie I feel, fellow travellers and all.
Back To School
watercolour, 7 x 12
Back To School 2
watercolour, 11 x 20
I find the colours and shapes of the school buses very attractive. When I saw them against the autumn colours of the trees I thought this is something to paint. Both studies were done on location.
The interesting challenge was how to capture the sense of the bright yellow trees without actually painting millions of yellow leaves. The beauty of plein air painting is that you need to figure out how to handle these challenges and you need to do it quickly.
It reminds me of a saying I made up when I was teaching grade 4’s. “What do you do when you don’t know what to do – do something.” In this case I think it worked out.