Category Archives: Art Blog

Swinton’s Urban Landscape Workshop

What a great workshop it was at Swinton’s Sept 21 – 22.  Doug is so good at promoting his workshops.  It is always sold out. 

This group of watercolour enthusiasts ranged from no experience to very experienced but everyone was excited to try new things and as one participant said ‘to be pushed out of my comfort zone’.

Rex Beanland, Swinton Workshop 2019
Swinton’s 2019
Rex Beanland, Swinton Workshop 2019
Rex Beanland, Swinton Workshop 2019

Demo #1 Piazza San Marco

This first demo  was an exercise in creating a  fast, impressionistic interpretation of ornate European architecture plus the use of eye level to create a realistic crowd.

Rex Beanland, Swinton Workshop 2019
Rex Beanland, Swinton Workshop 2019

This is the demo that I did.

Rex Beanland, Piazza San Marco

Demo #2 A Wet Day In Paris 

The second demo was an almost monochromatic study in value.  The point was  to create a strong centre of interest and the feeling of a rainy day in Paris.  

Rex Beanland, Swinton Workshop 2019
Rex Beanland, Swinton Workshop 2019

This is my demo at the end of the workshop.  It needed much more value plus I notice the 2 ghost figures in the left and right foreground.  Together they seemed a little gimicky so I was going to just keep the original one on the left and eliminate the one on the right.  When I examined it more closely I noticed that the one on the right which was created with just a couple of brush strokes and a serendipitous paint drip absolutely captured a person on a bicycle.  I just couldn’t ruin that little bit of watercolour magic so I eliminated the one on the left instead.

Rex Beanland, Swinton Workshop 2019

This is my final version that I finished at home. I also really like those bold brush strokes of cobalt teal in the main figure.

It was a wonderful workshop that really inspired me.  Thanks to everyone who participated!

Experimental Watercolour With The Hat Art Club

I had the pleasure of giving a workshop to the Hat Art Club of Medicine Hat.  It was a great group, very enthusiastic, very friendly and very talented.

Rex Beanland, The Hat Art Club Workshop
The Hat Art Club
This group has a fabulous facility in a building that serves the public and the Medicine Hat College.
Rex Beanland, The Hat Art Club Workshop
Rex Beanland, The Hat Art Club Workshop
Rex Beanland, The Hat Art Club Workshop

The first demo 

The first demo was a painting of Haystack Rock.

Rex Beanland, The Hat Art Club Workshop
Rex Beanland, The Hat Art Club Workshop
Rex Beanland, The Hat Art Club Workshop
Rex Beanland, The Hat Art Club Workshop, watercolour, 18 x 12
Demo #1 Haystack Rock
Rex Beanland, The Hat Art Club Workshop
An Impressive Wall

Demo #2 Cameron Pond

We were very short of time on the second day so we didn’t get near to finishing the painting.  I forgot to take a photo when I got my demo home but this is it with a bit more work done in my studio.

Rex Beanland, The Hat Art Club Workshop
Demo #2 Cameron Pond )
Rex Beanland, The Hat Art Club Workshop, Cameron Pond, watercolour, 20 x 15
Cameron Pond – the final version

One of the greatest pleasures of teaching workshops is meeting all wonderful people come out to the workshop.  It’s always a great to work with a group that is interested in watercolour.  It was a wonderful experience with The Hat Art Club.

Strathcona Art Club Workshop

Last week I had one of the most intense weeks I’ve ever had in my teaching career.  2 2-day workshops in Medicine Hat a one day break and a 2-day workshop in Calgary.  Fabulous but intense!

The Strathcona Art Club is a group where everyone knows everyone else really well.  They were a very welcoming group and made me feel very much at home.  We had a great time.

Photos From The Workshop

Class Photo

I did 2 demos, one of Piazza San Marco and the second one a painting of Jasper Ave.

Piazza San Marco
Jasper Ave
(I finished this painting at home)

I think I pushed many of them a little out of their comfort zone but the quality of the paintings seems to validate that approach.


A real fun group!

Reflections On Tuktoyaktuk

In my previous post I showed some of the photos I took during my recent visit to Tuktoyaktuk.  It was a trip of a life time in a number of ways.  It was my most productive plein air painting experience I’ve ever had.  Here are some of the paintings I completed in Tuk.


Sasha was a girl who worked at the Visitor Information Centre

Rex Beanland, Sasha, watercolour, 11 x 15

In Inuvik I was joined at a restaurant by 7 women who were out celebrating.  Karin was one of them.

Rex Beanland, Karin, Inuvik, watercolour, 11 x 15

Laverna was the owner of the fabulous B & B where I stayed.  We became good friends.

Rex Beanland, Laverna, watercolour, 11 x 15

Landscapes & Urban Landscapes

One of my favourite paintings was this one of a couple of houses in Tuk.

Rex Beanland, Satellite City, watercolour, 11 x 15
Satellite City

Another was a view from my B & B.

Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk Reflections, watercolour, 11 x 15
Tuktoyaktuk Reflections

One of my favourite subjects was the DEW Station (Distant Early Warning).  It’s an unmanned station that monitors all activities in the skies to detect and dangerous activity.

This first one was on a beautiful sunny day.

Rex Beanland, Summer Day, Tuktoyaktuk, watercolour, 11 x 15
Summer Day Tuktoyaktuk

Approximately 2 days later we had a severe Arctic Storm.


Rex Beanland, Arctic Storm, Tuktoyaktuk, watercolour, 11 x 15
Arctic Storm, Tuktoyaktuk

I found a number of scenes in Tuk really reminded me of the Maritimes and the fishing villages.  This was one of those.

Rex Beanland, Life On The Water, watercolour, 11 x 15
Life On The Water

On my last evening Laverna and her granddaughter, Hanna, took me for a drive up to the DEW Station where we looked down on the town.  This  final painting seemed to be my farewell to a wonderful place, great people and a fabulous experience.


Rex Beanland, Goodbye Tuktoyaktuk, watercolour, 11 x 15
Goodbye Tuktoyaktuk

I’m still pondering exactly what drew me to Tuk. For now all I can say is that I’m so grateful for having gone there.  And as for the future . . . who knows!

A Trip To The End Of The Road

I just got home from 10 days in Canada’s arctic including 6 days in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT.  It’s 148 km north of Inuvik and since 2017 is accessible by road.

Something called me to go as far north as the road went hoping that it would be a special experience and it was.  One thing I noticed is that by going to the extremes of climate, geography, culture etc I learned new things about the middle ie my life in Calgary.  Specifically the things that stuck out included 24 hours of daylight.  It was a challenge to go to bed when at midnight it’s still completely light out, kids are playing in the playground and life is just going on.  Standing on the edge of the Arctic Ocean and realizing that I’m at the top  of the world.

Another thing that I learned  is that in the Arctic you can not survive on your own.  You have to be connected to everyone else.  There are times you will need their help and there are times you need to help them.  In the city we can live with the illusion that we can get by on our own.

In the north you also learn some new lessons about letting go.  The prices in the stores are 2 to 3 times more expensive than in the city but if you need it you just have to buy it.  My favourite example was tomatoes 2 lbs for $17.99.  Also if you can’t get it in the store then you can’t get it.  It has to be shipped in which takes time and money. 

Finally  for people who love their connectivity in my week in Tuk I was never able to connect to the internet.  I finally gave up.  Phone service was great but not internet.  Other people told me that they use it but I was never able to access it.  It turned out that I was quite happy to stay unconnected.


I flew from Calgary to Inuvik.

Rex Beanland, Inuvik
Downtown Inuvik with Igloo Church (in background)

A great initiative in the Arctic is the creation of community greenhouses to help bring fresh produce to the Arctic. The largest is in Inuvik in a converted hockey rink.  People can rent individual plots and some is grown for a market.

Rex Beanland, Inuvik
Inuvik Community Greenhouse

Because Inuvik is built on permafrost water & sewage services must be above ground.

Rex Beanland, Inuvik
Above ground water & sewage


Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Houses on the Arctic Ocean
Some of the scenes of buildings on the water always reminded me of Nova Scotia.
Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
House Reflections
Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
A Peaceful M

When the sun was out everything was transformed.

Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
House In Shadow
Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
House Shadows
Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Houses In Tuk
Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Satellite City
Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Visitor Info Centre: Stacey Sasha

Laverna, owner of the Smitty’s B & B, where I stayed was a real help during my stay and became a friend.

Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Distant Early Warning (DEW) Station
Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Arctic Storm
Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Flooding in town (Arctic Storm)

This field was totally dry the day before.  A major storm brought the ocean right into town.

Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk

Pingos are hills that are formed by ice heaving up.  They are a very well know landscape feature in this area.

Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Car Top Tent

This car top tent is an extremely sturdy and comfortable solution for travelling with a small car.  The ladder is a structural element that gives it a lot strength.

Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Made It!

On my last night Laverna and her granddaughter, Hanna drove me around.  We went up to the DEW Station and I took some photos.

Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Looking over the Arctic Ocean
Rex Beanland, Tuktoyaktuk
Goodbye Tuktoyaktuk
Rex & Laverna
It was a fabulous trip!


In my next post I’ll be showing the paintings that I did on the trip.

Sketching In England

Last week I was  able to attend the funeral in England of a long time friend.  I was actually born in England though I have only lived there about 5 years in my life.  Still the country, the landscape, the people and especially the architecture always calls to me.  

I had hoped to take the opportunity to do a lot of painting but it just wasn’t possible.  However, I did manage to find some time to do some sketching.  This really reinforced the power of sketching.  It is intense observing and a great preparation for future paintings.  I found those moments when I could get away and take 30 – 60 minutes just to sketch quite magical.

In cafes or at the train station or just getting off the main road and taking in some the historical buildings there are so many opportunities to sketch and that time spent engaged is so very rewarding.

Here are some of the sketches it did.

Rex Beanland, Worthing From The Train Station
Worthing, from the train station
Rex Beanland, Worthing Coffee Shop
Worthing Coffee Shop
Rex Beanland, Worthing Coffee Shop 2
Worthing Coffee Shop 2
Rex Beanland, Holme On Spalding Moor
Holme On Spalding Moor
Rex Beanland, Gransmoor
Rex Beanland, St John Of Beverley Church, Harpham, Detail
St John Of Beverley Church, Harpham, Detail

The only painting I got to do was in the beautiful town of Beverley from a coffee shop.

Rex Beanland, Beverley

It is a truism that if you sketch a place you will remember so much more of that place than you will from any photo.  When I look at these sketches I can re-experience the sights, the sounds, the light and the feelings.  Wonderful!


Experimental Watercolour Workshop

I recently had the opportunity to teach a fun workshop at a location that I really love – The Leighton Centre.

It has been a while since I taught this particular workshop and once again I came to appreciate how much fun it can be and yet how many useful watercolour techniques are involved.

It was a great group of participants and we formed a very supportive and enthusiastic group.  

The three main activities were a fun way to do figures, a painting of Haystack Rock and a painting of a pond near Cameron Lake in Waterton Park.

Rex Beanland, Leighton Experimental Workshop, Class with Haystack Paintings
Rex Beanland, Leighton Experimental Class with Cameron Pond paintings

As I mentioned it’s always the people that make the workshop!

These are just a few shots from the workshop.

Rex Beanland, Leighton Experimental Workshop, Students
Rex Beanland, Leighton Experimental Workshop, 4 Students

Thanks to everyone for a great workshop.

Painting Trip To Slave Lake

Last week Susan and I took an RV trip to Slave Lake (Lessor Slave Lake to be precise).  Even though we were much closer to the wildfire at High Level the air was clear and it was sunny and warm.  It was a pleasure and very satisfying to have a week devoted to painting.  I spent many evenings sitting on the beach and painting.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

Here are some of the plein air paintings I completed.

Sunset Paintings

It was a great opportunity to practice sunset paintings.  I waited about an hour each evening to capture that moment when the sun just touched the trees.


Sunset Over Slave Lake

This one of a similar subject was from our night at Thunder Lake.  I love the setting sun and the clouds but I realized when I got it home how much it needs something in the foreground.

Rex Beanland, Sunset Over Thunder Lake, watercolour, 9 x 12
Sunset Over Thunder Lake

Two other day time paintings from Slave Lake

Rex Beanland, Slave Lake, watercolour, 9 x 12
Slave Lake
Rex Beanland, Slave Lake Walkabout, watercolour, 9 x 12
Slave Lake Walkabout

On the drive home we encountered rain for the first time and this scene is from Rocky Mountain House.

Rex Beanland, A Rainy Day In Rocky Mountain House, watercolour, 9 x 9
A Rainy Day In Rocky Mountain House

It was a great trip which we both enjoyed very much . . . and it’s really nice to get some new subject matter for future paintings.

Challenging Yourself In Art

A few years ago I made the decision to focus more on national and international exhibitions.  I did this because I wanted to challenge myself to improve as an artist and I wanted to see how I would fare in the wider world.

The positive side of this is the pleasure and motivation that comes from acceptance in these type of shows.  The down side is ‘get ready for rejection’ which as I think about it can also be positive as we strive to do better.

Anyway, with all this in mind I submitted to the Thompson, Nicola, Shushwap Chapter of the Federation Of Canadian Artists National Open Show.

I was thrilled that my painting, Jasper Ave, received the 3rd place award by the jurors.


 Rex Beanland, Jasper Ave, watercolour, 11 x 14
Jasper Ave

Also my painting, All Quiet In Gibson’s Harbour, won 1st place in the People’s Choice Award.

Rex Beanland, All Quiet In Gibsons Harbour, watercolour, 24 x 18
All Quiet In Gibson’s Harbour

I actually drove to Kamloops to pick up my paintings and had the pleasure of meeting the Chapter President, Mairi Budreau, and to personally receive my award.


On an unrelated front I was just in Toronto for the AGM of the Canadian Society Of Painters In Water Colour and I was very surprised to receive the President’s Award by outgoing President, Rayne Tunley.  It was for outstanding contributions and leadership.  I felt quite humble.

Rex Beanland, Presidents Award

I feel so grateful for being on this journey as a full time artist and for all the wonderful people I have had the pleasure of meeting.

The Power Of Play

Lately when I meet fellow artists and they ask ‘what have you been up to’ I’ve started saying that the past few months have been an period of dedicated play. I’ve put my more ‘serious’ work aside and I’ve just tried new things. Very little of the prep work I usually do. No thumbnails, colour studies, no value studies just jump right in – mostly with photos but also some plein air work. I’ve called it by a few names such as plein air in the studio etc but what it really is is just play.

I’m posting some of the results. Some of these paintings are successful as paintings some are not but I learned from each of them. I don’t know about the wisdom of posting paintings that may not be successful. However as learning experiences they were all very successful so I’m going to do it anyway.

This one was a lot of fun. It’s exactly the look I was going for – very loose. I have always been attracted to the lines of the steps.

Rex Beanland, Olympic Plaza, watercolour, 9 x 12
Olympic Plaza

This one was an attempt to capture a mass of foliage.

Rex Beanland, Shady Path Toronto, watercolour 8 x 10
Shady Path Toronto

In preparation for my workshop in Lethbridge I wanted to try to make something of this downtown building. This is just a literal interpretation.

Rex Beanland, Lethbridge, watercolour, 9 x 12

With this one I wanted to make it a more personal statement.

Lethbridge Fantasy

This one was to put it all together. Watercolour is so good a recording a rainy day that I used that theme.

Rex Beanland, Rainy Day In Lethbridge, watercolour, 9 x 12
Rainy Day In Lethbridge

This is a return to probably my favourite location, Kensington Market in Toronto. I love the ramshackle nature of the place. Very human, very interesting. This one I am very happy with and intend to do a larger studio version.

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

I’m intrigued by this wall and really wanted to work it into a painting so I literally copied the photo. Nice idea but not successful. Major confusion around ‘what’s the painting about’. Is it the girl catching the sun or the colourful poster. Trying to make both important doesn’t work.

Rex Beanland, Girl In Kensington Market, watercolour 9 x 13
Girl In Kensington Market

A very well known artist I know said that the human eye can’t really imagine what something will look like without actually seeing it. So by doing this I could see that as much as I love the girl and the wall I have to make a choice. Can’t have the two stars competing.

So let’s focus on the girl. I like that and I like the wall now but the structure on the left is probably too busy. Again it takes away from the star of the show – the girl.

Rex Beanland, Girl Kensington Market, watercolour, 9 x 5
Girl Kensington Market

Just a few steps away from the previous painting I caught this girl on the phone. Her rich, reddish brown skin was captivating. The dark really brings her out. It’s getting hard to take photos of people without the ubiquitous cell phone.

Rex Beanland, Girl On Phone Kensington Market, watercolour, 9 x 5
Girl On Phone Kensington Market

So what is the power of play.

For me it’s exciting, quick and very focused. But above all it’s a wonderful way to explore new themes, new techniques and to learn and grow as an artist.