Category Archives: Art Blog

Putting The Urban Landscape Into Perspective

I’ve become very interested in the perspective of looking down on buildings. It’s interesting mainly because it’s a different way to look at things and therefore it takes us a little out of our comfort zone painting-wise.

This is the view from my mother-in-law’s 32nd floor apartment in Winnipeg.  

Rex Beanland, Winnipeg From The 32nd Floor, watercolour, 16 x 20

Winnipeg From The 32nd Floor

What Makes This Painting Interesting

I’m still playing with this subject to work out all the kinks but I think it’s worth the effort.  It presents a number of challenges but also a number of rewards.  One interesting element is the  perspective of looking down which by itself makes this an interesting subject.  Another thing that makes it interesting is that it includes some experimental watercolour techniques that give it a special look.  In this case the buildings in the background were put in using lots of water and lots of letting the paint do it’s own thing.

Also, the centre of interest is really strong.  The centre of interest consists of the the dark shadow on the road and all the people and cars near the sidewalk.

Painting and drawing this perspective was a great challenge but it offers great rewards. I plan to continue exploring this subject.

Presentation Of My Painting At The Calgary Stampede

I received one of the biggest honours of my art career this year.  I was commissioned to do the official sponsorship painting.  The theme was The Calgary Stampede, Community Spirit, Community Involvement.  Copies will be made and given to all the major sponsors.  

It was are real challenge for me because I’m not really a western artist and this was the first time I have ever painted horses.  I’m very pleased because I think they look like horses.  It’s also quite large for a watercolour, 24 x 36.

Rex Beanland, Calgary Stampede, Community Spirit, Community Involvement, watercolour 24 x 36

Calgary Stampede, Community Spirit, Community Involvement











There was an official presentation of the painting in a very exclusive saloon for the sponsors.  Everything was absolutely first class and as the official artist, my wife, Susan and I were treated like royalty.  Wonderful dinner and front row seats to the chuckwagon races and the Grandstand Show.  A night to remember and as I mentioned a great honour.

The painting was officially unveiled and there was a lot of interest in it.  I was particularly pleased because many people there were real horse people and they all OK’d my efforts.


Rex Beanland, With Vice Chair, Dana Peers and CEO, Warren Connell, Stampede Presentation

With Vice Chair, Dana Peers and CEO, Warren Connell









Rex Beanland, With Dana Peers, Vice Chair of Calgary Stampede, Stampede Presentation

With Dana Peers, Vice Chair of Calgary Stampede










Rex Beanland, Unveiling The Painting, Stampede Presentation

Unveiling The Painting














Rex Beanland, People Take Photos, Stampede Presentation










Rex Beanland, There was a lot of interest in the painting, Stampede Presentation, Stampede Presentation

There was a lot of interest in the painting








Rex Beanland, Some of the wives were very interested in art, Stampede Presentation

Some of the wives were very interested in art










I no idea years ago when I started painting that there would be such pleasant surprises in store.

Many thanks to the Calgary Stampede.

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
















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.