Category Archives: Art Blog

Plein Air Paintings From Trip To Whitehorse

I recently posted about our wonderful RV trip to Whitehorse.  I still look back with great appreciation for that trip.  As well as going there to experience that area of Canada which I had never seen before it was a painting trip and a very productive one!

Here are some of the paintings that were done on the trip.

Jasper as mentioned previously was a real surprise.

Rex Beanland, Jasper 1, watercolour, 11 x 14

Jasper 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rex Beanland, Jasper 2, watercolour, 11 x 14

Jasper 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favourite RV camp was right in the centre of Grande Prairie on the reservoir. These 2 works were done just beside our campsite.

Rex Beanland, Sunrise, Grande Prairie, watercolour, 11 x 15

Sunrise, Grande Prairie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rex Beanland, Early Morning Grande Prairie, watercolour, 11 x 15

Early Morning Grande Prairie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One time when we pulled off the highway and just followed a dirt road we discovered this scene which was very different for me but  a lot of fun to paint.

 

Rex Beanland, Fort Nelson Creek, watercolour, 11 x 14

Fort Nelson Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spent 1 day painting on the streets of Whitehorse.

 

Rex Beanland, Downtown Whitehorse, watercolour, 11 x 15

Downtown Whitehorse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This  last painting was not done plein air but from a photo back in the studio.  Interestingly it was done in a style that I use for transparent portraits ie lots of light glazes.  The rocks on the left probably have 10 glazes as does the water.  This approach gives it a great sense of depth.

Rex Beanland, Athabaska Falls, watercolour, 18 x 14

Athabaska Falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One real gift that comes from being an artist is the ability to travel – with purpose.  The purpose being to paint.  It gives much greater significance to everything that is seen.  I can’t wait to got back ‘Up North’ again!

North To Whitehorse

In May we took a 10 day one way RV trip to Whitehorse.  I’ve always wanted to go north and this is the furthest that I’ve been.

It was a painting trip for both of us.  RV’s are fabulous for painting since you can stop anywhere and you can paint inside or out but you also have your home right with you so there is no rush to finish. Of all the sights we saw I would have to say that the most surprising to me were in Jasper National Park.  I’ve never been to this park before but it has excellent painting subjects.  This scene was at a roadside turnout about 45 minutes north of Lake Louise.

Rex Beanland, Mountain In Jasper & My Painting

Mountain In Jasper & My Painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This view was 10 minutes further up the highway.  I loved the colour of these mountains.  They seemed to be drenched in violets and blues my favourite colour combination.

Rex Beanland, Another Mountain In Jasper

Another Mountain In Jasper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just before getting to the town of Jasper we stopped at Athabaska Falls.  I don’t know how I had missed hearing of this place.  It’s a powerful and dramatic location not only with the falls but the many fascinating trails through the rocks.

Rex Beanland, Athabaska Falls

Athabaska Falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rex Beanland, Susan & Me At Athabaska Falls

Susan & Me At Athabaska Falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next surprise for me was Grande Prairie.  Partially because it’s the largest city in the north and partially because we stayed at a RV park right beside the reservoir which offered this stunning view early the next morning.

 

Rex Beanland, Sunrise, Grande Prairie

Sunrise, Grande Prairie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed being there so much that we set up and painted all morning.

Rex Beanland, Painting in Grande Prairie

Painting in Grande Prairie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From there we got on the Alaska Highway and at the northern tip of BC we came across another unexpected treat.  In the middle of nowhere is the Liard Hotsprings, a beautiful, natural hotspring.  Due to it’s popularity they have a provincial park campground right there.  The water bubbles up from the ground at one end of this pool (you can just see the rocks that surround it on the right) and as you get closer to the source the water gets VERY, VERY, dangerously hot but there are also some small cool streams that make the water warm but lovely.  It was so neat to have the dirt banks and the vegetation right on the water.

Rex Beanland, Laird Hotsprings

Laird Hotsprings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We saw signs on the highway saying watch out for wild buffalo but we mocked them thinking that there are no wild buffalo.  We discovered that there are many of them and they love the side of the highway.  We were calling them bison but have been informed that they are actuallly Wood Buffalo.

Rex Beanland, Wood Buffalo Herd

Wood Buffalo Herd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rex Beanland, Wood Buffalo & Me

Wood Buffalo & Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve never seen buffalo play before but this 30 second video clip shows that they have a lot of fun.

 

Wood Bison At Play from Rex Beanland on Vimeo.

 

 

Finally into the Yukon.

Rex Beanland, Welcome to Yukon Rex & Susan

Welcome to Yukon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are about 38,000 people in the entire Yukon and 28,000 live in Whitehorse so there are really no other large towns and people are very spread out.  One of the larger places is Watson Lake (pop about 1000).  It’s famous for it’s sign forest.

Rex Beanland, Watson Lake Sign Forest

Watson Lake Sign Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally we reached Whitehorse which is a lovely town.  In many ways it seems like any other small town but there is this neat feeling that you are very far north.

Rex Beanland, Painting In Downtown Whitehorse

Painting In Downtown Whitehorse

 

 

Rex Beanland, SS Klondike

SS Klondike, Whitehorse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My new friend Charlene holding my painting.

Rex Beanland, Charlene & My Painting

Charlene & My Painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a great trip. It was very interesting to me because whenever I have heard people talk about going to the arctic circle or beyond they always say there is something special, almost spiritual about it and I must admit that I felt something being in Whitehorse.  It affected me so much that I have become somewhat obsessed with the idea of returning to go all the way to Tuktoyaktuk.  Susan has no interest in that trip but who knows it may happen.

Transparent Watercolour Portrait Workshop

Another great weekend at the Leighton Centre for my Transparent Watercolour Portrait Workshop.  I really love spending a weekend with a group of people who are eager to learn. This was a group like that . . . plus there aren’t many places as beautiful as the Leighton Centre.

One thing that I continue to learn is how useful and enjoyable it is to do little practices before getting down to the serious business of doing a complete painting.  It’s liberating as well as so very useful to practice the various skills separately before putting them together in a painting.  

Here is the first little practice we did.  It’s easy to create this very attractive painting but it includes some valuable skills in particular the ability to soften edges.

Rex Beanland, students' bridesmaids, watercolour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next little practice incorporates all the skills that go into the full portrait but in a small, easier study.

Rex Beanland, Student samples

Eye samples

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the demo I did as it was at the end of the workshop.

Rex Beanland, Quizzical at end of workshop, watercolour, 18 x 14

Quizzical at end of workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I got it home I felt that the extra hair on the left was too much so my trusty toothbrush took care of that.  

Rex Beanland, Quizzical. watercolour, 18 x 14

Quizzical

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was definitely a fun weekend and once again made me realize how much I enjoy teaching.  The experience is also made better when you have a great group like this one.

Rex Beanland, Class Photo, Portrait Workshop

Class Photo

Leading Edge Workshop In Winnipeg

I was really pleased to be asked to do a watercolour workshop for Leading Edge Art Workshops.  The workshop was in Winnipeg.  I lived in Winnipeg for many years so it was a great opportunity to visit the city.  The workshop was fabulous.  The participants were very talented artists and extremely eager to learn which is a very exciting combination.

I was very pleased with what we accomplished.  The quality of the work was great as can be seen in these photos.  These are all works in progress.

Rex Beanland, Leading Edge Workshop

Class Paintings 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rex Beanland, Leading Edge Workshop

Class Paintings 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The class wanted to keep moving forward with new content so I didn’t finish my demos during the workshop but I was asked to  take photos of the various stages as I worked on the paintings at home.

Kensington Market

This is a view from my favourite painting location, Kensington Market in Toronto.  One of my current interests is a perspective looking down so I particularly like this subject.

Here is the painting as it was at the end of the workshop. 

Rex Beanland, Another Look At Kensington, watercolour, 14 x 21

At End Of Workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second stage . . .

Rex Beanland, Another Look At Kensington, watercolour, 14 x 21

2nd wash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Third stage . . .

Rex Beanland, Another Look At Kensington, watercolour, 14 x 21

3rd wash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final stage . . .

Rex Beanland, Another Look At Kensington, watercolour, 14 x 21

Kensington Final

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jasper Ave

My second demo was a scene of Jasper Ave in Edmonton.  I love the arrangement of cars. I’ve been doing a lot of sunset themed paintings lately so I added a sunset to this scene.  Here is the painting at the end of the workshop.

Rex Beanland, Jasper Ave, watercolour, 14 x 21

At End Of Workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stage 2 . . . adding the rest of the cars

Rex Beanland, Jasper Ave, watercolour, 14 x 21

2nd wash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stage 3 . . .  adding some darks

Rex Beanland, Jasper Ave, watercolour, 14 x 21

3rd wash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stage 4 . . . left side

Rex Beanland, Jasper Ave, watercolour, 14 x 21

4th wash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stage 5 . . . I really wasn’t happy with the left side of the painting, so, using masking tape and a toothbrush I lifted out the entire problem area.

Rex Beanland, Jasper Ave, watercolour, 14 x 21

Lifting Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Version . . .

Rex Beanland, Jasper Ave, watercolour, 14 x 21

Jasper Ave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again it was a great workshop and thanks to everyone for their participation.

Rex Beanland, Leading Edge Workshop

Class Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I always ask participants to send me photos of their completed painting and one enthusiastic soul sent me theirs.  It has a lovely ghost like look. Well done. 

Rex Beanland, Leading Edge Workshop

Student Sample

 

 

 

Creating Luminous Washes In Watercolour

This is a neat little video that I deals with a super important aspect of watercolour namely how to create exciting and luminous washes.  

How To Create Interesting and Luminous Washes In Watercolour from Rex Beanland on Vimeo.

This video was included in my latest newsletter.  I try to include one or two short interesting videos per issue.  If you would like to receive the newsletter please contact me.

 

Studio Plein Air Painting

This post is about a little practice I’ve been doing a lot of lately.  It’s like plein air (on location) painting except it’s done in the studio.  

Sometimes after I’ve been doing a lot of ‘official’ painting I want to paint but I just want to have some fun. So I search all my photos for one that speaks to me and without any preliminary work – no thumbnails, no practice, no pondering I just quickly sketch the subject and jump right in.  I always work small sitting in front of the computer not at my painting table.  

I set a time limit of 60 – 90 minutes and work out everything on the fly.  There are always surprises that happen.  Each painting seems to include subjects or effects that I’ve never tried before and I don’t have time to think and plan I just do, in one sitting.  They aren’t always great paintings but they are always fun and I find that I learn quite a bit each time.  It’s always a surprise when I finish them and put them on the wall.  Usually I’m quite pleased.  The goal would be that some of them might end up as ‘serious’ paintings.

Here are 4 recent examples.

Rex Beanland, Looking Down On Kensington, waterecolour, 9 x 12

Looking Down On Kensington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one did work out really well and I’m very happy with it.  I plan to use this as a teaching painting in my next workshop in Winnipeg for Leading Edge Workshops.

Rex Beanland, 2 Cars Kensington Market, watercolour, 9 x 12

2 Cars, Kensington Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This image from my favourite location, Kensington Market is a painting that I’ve wanted to do for over a year just because of the bright yellow and red cab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A practice for a large painting I’m doing for an up coming show.

Rex Beanland, Church, Yale, BC, watercolour, 9 x 12

Church, Yale BC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A scene from a very neat, eclectic town on the old TransCanada Highway in BC called Yale.

This little painting practice is just a fun activity that keeps me thinking painting but is relaxing and spontaneous and also does yield a number of benefits.  Very much like plein air painting but done in the comfort of the studio.  Something you might want to consider.

A Neat Little Practice

Fairly frequently, in the evening when I don’t want to work on an ‘official’ painting.  I will set up in front of the computer and just randomly go through my photos.  I choose the first one that strikes my interest and without any preparation at all I’ll just set a time limit of an hour to an hour and a half and just paint spontaneously.  It’s often very freeing and it’s always a good learning experience even though the painting doesn’t always work out. 

This is one of those practices.  I’ve become interested in views looking down so this one struck my fancy.  Here is the photo.

Rex Beanland, Kensington Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the painting. It took an hour and a half and in this case I’m very pleased with the result.  It’s almost completely a value study and because the values are right the painting works.  You can see that most of the detail was left out but the light is great.  The only change I would make is to add more figures and create a more interesting centre of interest.  The values of the shadows on the building do guide your eye down to the bottom of the painting so that is a great spot to add more of a story.

Rex Beanland, Kensington Market, watercolour, 11 x14

Kensington Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In any case this is a very neat little practice idea to add interest and variety to your painting process.

Painting Edmonton

Last weekend I was in Edmonton to visit a friend and I took the opportunity to do a couple of days of painting.  It was a fabulous experience because once again I got ‘into the zone’ and I was painting with enthusiasm and purpose.

I always look at these experiences as opportunities to gather reference material and to try out various ideas.  The last think I worry about is whether the painting is successful.  Whether it is or not doesn’t have to affect what I learn from the experience.

In that spirit I thought I would show the 5 paintings I did and do a bit of a critique of each one.  Some people might find it helpful.

Rex Beanland, Jasper Ave, watercolour, 11 x 14

Jasper Ave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I really like this one especially because of the drawing.  Love the cars and the guy in the front.  The issue with this painting is that I wanted it to be warm and it’s in that frustrating place of being about 50% warm and 50% cool.  I plan to do this again and I’ll make sure it’s predominately warm.

 

Rex Beanland, View From The Hotel, watercolour, 11 x 14

View From The Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great sky with the smoke.  The foreground needs more purpose.

 

Rex Beanland, Sunny Day In Ponoka 2, watercolour, 11 x 14

Sunny Day In Ponoka 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice but the dark wash on the right is a little muddy which is to be expected since I went over it 3 times.  Rule #1 Try to get the right colour and value first time

 

Rex Beanland, Elbow River, watercolour, 11 x 14

Elbow River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only painting that didn’t work out.  Two problems: 1) the tree is poorly drawn and 2) again is it warm or cool?  I wanted cool with just some of the warms showing through.  The biggest issue is that for some reason I did the background trees warm and that was a error that I couldn’t recover from.  They should have been cool.

Rex Beanland, Sunny Day In Ponoka, watercolour, 11 x 14

Sunny Day In Ponoka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love this one.  Everything worked out.  It’s definitely a cool painting but the small hits of warm colour really spice it up.  This is a keeper.  By the way, it’s the first time I’ve ever been to  Ponoka.

Just to sum it up I love these short intense little painting trips.  There’s nothing like having such a singular focus to inspire us and our painting.

I believe something is happening in my painting journey because the last painting trip I took was also extremely successful.  For me as for many representational artists we need to get back to the real source (nature not photos) frequently to continue to improve.

Night Painting

Painting watercolour at night is an exciting experience.  The main difference from day time painting is that the paper takes a very, very, long time to dry so you need to use a direct approach.  The name given to this style is alla prima (first go).  In alla prima painting you need to get the right value first time, apply it and leave it.  There is no chance to put an underpainting and then to let this dry.  The second really important thing is that you need to have a good, consistent light source.  I’ve done it under public lighting in supermarket parking lot which worked fine.  I’ve also seen artists wear a head lamp.

One of the neat things about night time painting especially if you’re not used to it is that it makes you paint in a different manner. For me I always start a painting  with an underpainting.  At night I can’t do this so I  have to use a different approach – alla prima.  This forces me to think in a new way.

This first painting is of the Airbnb guest house we stayed in at South River, ON.  South River is one of the gateways to Alquonquin Park.  We were there for my nephew’s wedding.  I was really pleased that I got most of the values the first time.  I just had to adjust the 2 dark roofs.

Rex Beanland, Algonquin Guest House, South River, watercolour, 14 x 18

Algonquin Guest House, South River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This second painting was done in the parking lot of a local supermarket.  It was tremendously fun to do.  The paint was dripping and flowing and it was an exhilarating  40 minutes.

Rex Beanland, Late Night At The Liquor Store, watercolour, 11 x 20

Late Night At The Liquor Store

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This final painting was a nocturnal demo I did at the CSPWC Symposium, August 2017.  This is one that gave me a lot of trouble because I tried to begin with a underpainting and it took a long time to dry.  Also, I thought I was close enough to the lamp post but after a while it got so dark that  I couldn’t tell one colour from another so I had to finish it the  next day.

Rex Beanland, Heritage Hall At Night, watercolour, 16 x 12

Heritage Hall At Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve never tried night painting give it a shot.  It’s a lot of fun and makes us paint differently.

Urban Landscape Workshop At Swinton’s

Doug Swinton of Swintons Art Supplies  is doing something very right when it comes to workshops.  This is the second workshop I’ve done there and both have sold out.  I really appreciate that.

Anyway, it was a great workshop.  I love working with a group of people that have chosen to  do watercolour and this was a really good group.  I always like it when we manage to develop a strong group  identity and that happened in this workshop.

There were many participants who were either pretty new to watercolour or even some who had never painted.  I like this mix because it gives a relevant reason to go over basics and also  I believe that with the right instruction beginners can progress very quickly.  I think that this happened in this workshop because their was real  success in producing fresh watercolour washes which is not an easy thing to  do.

Another big challenge in this workshop was that I asked everyone to  create their own ‘story’ by creating their own arrangement of cars and figures and again I think this was very successful.

Here is my first demo which is a view of the Bow Building from 9th Ave.  When I looked at it at home all of a sudden I saw the story I had created very spontaneously.  So  the title is ‘Conga Line Down 9th Ave’.

Rex Beanland, Conga Line On 9th Ave, watercolour, 20 x 15

Conga Line On 9th Ave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing A Watercolour

I  made a very big change when I got my painting home.  The building on the right was the same colour and as dark as the building on the left.  It made for a very dreary painting.  So I used a tooth brush to completely lift out the right hand building.  Here is how that looked.  I then changed the colour to red.  This helped a lot in making it a more enjoyable  painting.

Rex Beanland, Workshop Student Work, watercolour

Workshop demo with building lifted out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the little practices that we did over the weekend was how to shade the skin of a more realistic figure.  I really liked the way that the abstract background made this painting come to life.

Rex Beanland, Bridesmaid Ponders,transparent watercolour, 12 x 14

Bridesmaid Ponders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the second demo  that I did.  It’s a great subject from Kensington  Market in Toronto.

Rex Beanland, Kensington Market, watercolour, 15 x 20

Kensington Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are various student samples of the first demo.  I had a camera malfunction for one sample and one other one was still a work  in progress so I haven’t included them.

Here is a neat little student example of what I call my 1 stroke figure method.

Rex Beanland, Workshop Student Work, watercolour

Student Figure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am so grateful that at this point in my artistic journey I am teaching a lot of workshops.  I find teaching extremely enjoyable and also extremely satisfying.  It’s a true pleasure to help people grow and learn in their own artistic journey.  A great workshop!