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Author Archives: Rex Beanland
I gave 2 workshops in Edmonton last weekend. They were sponsored by The Paint Spot a great art store, gallery and studio just off Whyte Ave. I have to thank Kim and her staff for making me feel so welcome. They are big supporters of Canadian and Albertan artists.
There were 2 classes both very enthusiastic about learning more about watercolour. It’s always a wonderful experience to be in a room like that.
The first day I did a demo of one of my favourite scenes from Calgary, the Stephan Ave Mall. It’s a good example of the monumental style street scene and has great shapes and composition.
This painting is all about value, the colour is completely secondary. But if you have a good composition and a good value then the painting will be successful. As a friend of mine said: Colour gets the glory but value does the work.
On the second day I did something I’ve never done before which is do a demo that I hadn’t practiced. This time I went in cold and that made it a very interesting experience. There was extra focus when I began the painting. But it did allow me to demonstrate the process I go through before I start a new painting. I always do a thumbnail value study in pencil. I find this practice very important. Since I’ve been doing this I notice the quality and especially the consistency of my paintings improved dramatically.
This is the demo I did on the second day. It’s a view down Jasper Ave. My main thought process was to see and paint the buildings on the left side as a single shape. I think it’s very successful. I really like the sense of light. I plan to do this painting again as a demonstration for my new distributor ArtClick.tv. Next time I do it I would like to improve the sky and also change the composition a little to bring the building on the right a little closer to the edge. Bringing that building right out of the frame at the bottom was the biggest change I made after the workshop when I got back in my studio.
Anyway it was great to meet everyone and it was a lot of fun. I look forward to returning.
It was a great weekend, Aug 9 – 10 at our Art In The Garden Show & Sale. For the 6th year in a row we were blessed with beautiful weather. For me the fun of art shows is always the networking, meeting other artists and new people who are attracted to my art.
This video shows the process for completing this painting.
I’m very excited by this solo show I’m having at the Naess Gallery in Edmonton. I’ll be there for the opening and also for my workshop the weekend of Sept 20-21. If you get a chance I hope you’ll be able to take in the show.
I’m also looking forward to my workshop at The Paint Spot on Sat – Sun, Sept 20 – 21. The first and probably most important aspect of this workshop is that painting successful urban landscapes in watercolour is first and foremost about using good watercolour techniques. We’re just applying them to buildings people and cars. So we will be looking at what makes watercolour so luminous and exciting namely good washes. Secondly we will be looking at simple techniques to easily create cars and people. It’s going to be a lot of fun and very informative whether you are new to urban landscapes or if you’ve already tried it.
If you are interested contact The Paint Spot.
Toll Free 1-800-363-0546
Every August for the past 6 years I and some friends have put on our own art show called Art In The Garden. It’s held in the beautiful garden of Rosemary Bennett.
By some act of a higher power we have had beautiful sunny weather each year and we hope for the same this year. There are refreshments, comfortable places to sit and enjoy yourself and I’ll be doing a demo on the Saturday. There will be paintings, Rose’s glass works, unframed originals and art cards.
I hope that you can make it out. It’s always a fun day.
I have a show coming up in Edmonton at the Naess Gallery from the end of August to the end of September 2014. This show will feature cityscapes. In order to get Edmonton subjects I have been painting in Edmonton twice in the past month. I was there last week for 4 days and it was a fabulous time.
The first reason that it was so positive is that it was the first time I have ever painted on a busy sidewalk, smack in the middle of downtown in any city. I was a little apprehensive but it turned out to be a great experience. Many people stopped and everyone was extremely positive.
The second reason I enjoyed was the actual paintings I did. I’m very happy with the results. I have long been a proponent of plein air (on location) painting but I continually discover new joys in doing it. In fact I recently came across a quote that sums it up nicely for me: “Plein air painting gives us the improvisational spirit, something that an artist may not get in a comfortable studio. By planting your feet on the ground, you feel the power of “earth energy” and a new-found honesty. Plein air strokes take on pioneer wisdom. While challenging, even daunting, the new complexity tests your ability to think things out.”
These are the 3 paintings I did on location.
This painting of the Hotel MacDonald was started at 5:45 in the morning. The sun was just rising and that orange glow caught part of the building. 10 minutes later the light completely changed so I kept this particular view in my mind. I enjoyed the challenge of integrating the darker shape of the trees. I was lucky to find this little unused door way where I could keep out of the way of the pedestrian traffic.
In the afternoon I moved down Jasper Ave and was quite inspired by this scene.
The next day I moved to Whyte Ave and found the shape of the historic Dominion Hotel building very attractive. The sidewalk was very crowded since this was the first day of ‘Art Walk’.
I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring this year, in part because of the long, long winter that we have had. I continue to paint on location 2 – 3 times a week and a fact of on location painting in the springtime is ubiquitous presence of green. I have heard many times over the years that green is one of the more challenging colours to paint. I believe that one reason for the particular challenge of this colour is that it is so pervasive in our landscape and also because nature displays an almost limitless variety of greens. I doubt if any other colour in the landscape comes in so many varieties. It is intimidating to not only get colour perspective with green i.e. having it recede into the distance but also to harness what can be an overwhelming variety of green.
This spring I seem to have been doing a lot of plein air painting that involves this green challenge. It has been a fascinating experience to try to make sense of it all.
The challenge really began when I volunteered to do a demo for the clothesline sale at the Leighton Centre in early June. Previously, I have used some photo that I’ve been working on as my subject for the demo. This year I wanted the challenge of painting the actual landscape of the Leighton Centre, and the landscape at the Leighton Centre involves a lot of green. The images that follow show some of the paintings and studies that I have done this spring that have a large amount of green in them. I love this type of on-going challenge and I have learned a great deal from my experiments with green.
This first image is a little study I did the week before the Clothesline Sale to get familiar with the subject.
This is a studio painting based on a view of the foothills near the Leighton Centre.
This is a plein air study done in late May during our visit to south western Ontario.
This study was done on location at a little park right in the centre of Calgary. I quite like it because it’s not obvious what it’s all about at first glance.
This final plein air study was done in Edmonton in mid June. I have a show coming up in Edmonton at the end of August so I spent a few days there getting reference material. This is the area of Old Strathcona just off Whyte Ave. I loved the thick canopy of trees. I’m not sure what type of tree they are but they so remind me of Winnipeg. So different from the trees of Calgary.
Whatever comes of all this work with the colour green it has been a fascinating journey and I feel so much more confident in my handling of the colour. This is particularly useful because as I mentioned at the top of this post, the world is absolutely alive with greens particularly in the spring.
I’m having so much fun painting with this little hand held palette that I thought I would share a bit about it. The palette is made by Winsor & Newton and costs about $50.
The entire palette measures 5.5″ x 4″ and it’s 1-1/2″ deep.
The palette has 3 retractable mixing trays, 12 pans for paint, a water container (including 2 little cups), and a small brush.
The beautiful thing about this palette is the incredible convenience of being able to create a small study so easily and so quickly. One hand holds all the things necessary to paint. The only extra concern is a place to put the sketch book. I usually end up just putting it on my knee.
The challenge with something this size is the brush. It’s a very small brush that doesn’t carry a lot of water so it requires extra attention when deciding how to create your washes. It is definitely a challenge to master it but like everything with a little practice you learn how to work with the brush. With this palette and a good watercolour sketchbook (this one is 5.5″ x 8″) you have a complete painting set up but it easily fits into a small bag.
I use mine whenever I want to do a little painting but have neither the time nor the energy to work on anything larger. I can pull it out and get something painted usually within 20 minutes. As you can see from the paintings below I often have it when I go shopping. Perhaps because there are few expectations of creating a masterpiece it seems particularly easy to relax and just play around. I consider the paintings I do with this set up to be more about collecting information than being great paintings. Inspite of that I find that they can have a charm all of their own.
For representational painters, in particular, the practice of collecting information on location is just about essential and this little hand held palette is a great tool to help in this practice.
I taught a fabulous 3 day workshop this past weekend at Kensington Art Supplies & Instruction. It was a fabulous workshop because of the participants – a wonderful group of enthusiastic and talented painters.
Two of the main concepts we covered were value and also understanding and working with water. On Friday we basically played all day working on a very, very, wet landscape. It was interesting since no one was very familiar with this approach that we were all at the same level (no matter how experienced we were). I’m including samples of those paintings below.
Some comments from the workshop
“I got exactly what I wanted from this workshop, Rex – from the concrete skills such as brush technique, wash applications and the importance of value”
“Rex has a unique ability to build on what each student accomplished. A delightful class”
“I loved Rex’s class because it really took me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to try new techniques and methods.”
I’m very excited by my new workshop, Watercolour BootCamp. It’s a comprehensive and easy to understand approach to watercolour painting. It will definitely take your watercolour painting to the next level.
It’s being offered Friday – Sunday, April 11 – 13 at Kensington Art Supplies & Instruction.
If you’re interested contact Nancy Lynn Hughes at Kensington Art 403-863-4261
or contact me. 403-685-5812
One of my mentors in the art world recently made a statement that no matter what we paint we’re always painting the light. It took me a bit to figure out what that really meant. I believe he meant that no matter what we paint we are always painting that subject in a particular light condition.
I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately, especially in the light of a comment I have heard 2 very well known artists make recently. They both said that if they go out either to paint or to take photographs and there is not bright sun they pack everything up and go home and wait for a day when there is sun. I understand the allure of sunshine. It gives wonderful shadows that are so important to many paintings. The sun also brings out the brightest and purest colours so naturally paintings depicting sunlight are very popular with clients and art lovers.
However, sunshine is only one form of ‘light’ and overcast days, foggy days, night times are all just other forms of light. They are not the absence of light. These other light conditions also have a charm and drama all of their own.
I have chosen some paintings that illustrate other light conditions.
Misty Morning In Shelbourne was done one misty morning in Shelbourne, Ontario. It was a lovely foggy morning and my wife and I sat in the car for 90 minutes while we each recored our own version of the subject. This painting obviously is subdued in colour and values but it still has a charm and is very evocative of that particular morning.
I have just started doing night scenes and I have fallen under their spell. The rich blackness of the night sky sets off all the lights even more dramatically. Mississagua City Hall was done on location just before Christmas 2013. The city hall building is surrounded by office buildings and condos and I liked the way the Chinese White impressionistically captures a sense of all those lighted windows in the background.
Early Morning At The Beaver Pond was one of a series of paintings I did when I took Sharon Williams 24 week watercolour class a few years ago. I used this same subject matter for a couple of practices on using complementary colours. I used Thalo Blue and Cad Scarlett to do a cool version and a warm version. After doing them I wondered what that pond would look like in the very early morning. So this was strictly a mind exercise but I found it extremely enjoyable. The early morning light reduces both contrast and colour saturation but the sense of story is, to my mind, almost increased. There is a strong sense of mystery.
Late Night At The Liquor Store is still a particular favourite of mine. A large part of my connection with it is that I painted it plein air one night at about 10:30 in the parking lot of a large supermarket. I set up under one of their large parking lot lights. I was intrigued by the light pouring out of the store and the hope that seemed to emanate from it. A dangerous hope to be sure but a great painting experience and I get drawn in to the story every time I look at it.
Finally a very recent painting. This is one of my favourite scenes at the moment from 9th Ave in Inglewood looking to the Bow Building and the downtown office towers. It was an overcast day with some light striking the one yellowish building in the centre. Because there was no strong sun light where I was situated and therefore no strong shadows I was better able to notice the yellowish slushy snow and wetness on the road. I played that yellow up and exaggerated a lot of the other colour. I think it created a very attractive and effective painting.
I’ve been thinking about this issue of painting light a lot lately and what I’m suggesting is that if you are in love with the effects of sunshine (and who isn’t) that you might also enjoy trying out other light conditions. There is a tremendous amount to be gained from studying and experimenting in these other areas. Even if the paintings fall outside the realm of mass appeal the benefits gained from stretching out into new areas will be well worth it. And sometimes the story and evocative nature of these paintings may out shine some works that feature bright sun shine.