Sunday, March 27, 2011

Painting the model from life

Painting the lovely model, Kerrie, from life (at Sarah Kidner's Canmore, AB studio)

"Kerrie", oil on linen, 12x16

This is my painting of "Kerrie", 12x16 which was painted from life in Sarah Kidner's beautiful studio in the mountain town of Canmore, Alberta.  (see photos below).  Also painting that day were my friends,

This painting was painted in a 3 hour session which is pretty quick for me.  I feel the painting is a great start and I'm quite happy with it.  But, if I want to finish it, I'll have to resort to photos of the model taken at the end of the session, which can never be compared to the real thing - painting from life.

I consider myself to be a 'life painter' meaning that I paint what's real and in front of me.  That's easy to do when setting up my still lifes to paint, but the model often cannot sit for the number of hours it takes me to finish a painting. So, when this happens I must resort to using a photo reference to complete it.  One of the great things about painting from life though, and what I love about it, is that so much of the visual information stays with me.  Even when referencing a photo later, to complete a painting, it's the 'start' which will guide me and bring the model back to life in my mind. 

I'm happy with this 'start' and I might consider completing this painting.   When doing this, the challenge will be to retain the 'freshness' that is so much in evidence in a painting painted from life. 

On the other hand, if I elect not to finish this painting, I will keep it in my studio to look at.  Each time I look at the painting it will serve up a myriad of fond memories of the wonderful day spent with my amazing friends, painting from life. 

Painting with the girls...

(L-R): Liz Wiltzen, (my easel), Sarah Kidner, Gaye Adams, (Back): Jean Pederson

(L-R): Liz Wiltzen, Sarah Kidner, Gaye Adams, Jean Pederson, Bobbi Dunlop

Just spent a couple of glorious days painting the model from life with my fabulous artist friends: Liz Wiltzen, Sarah Kidner, Gaye Adams and Jean Pederson in Sarah's beautiful studio, nestled in Canmore, Alberta.

Jean and I drove from Calgary (45 minutes) and Gaye was visiting from Sorrento, B.C for the week. Unfortunately,  snow, fog and icy road conditions at home made it impossible for us to join the group until the last two days of the week.  Hard to believe considering we found the mountain town was enjoying spring like conditions.  

These women are truly inspirational and I'm so happy to call them my friends. It really doesn't get any better than this.
I've posted my painting from our 3 hour session on the last day, above.  The first day was a wiper.  Such is life ;)

Friday, March 18, 2011

"Tang Dynasty Prancer" framed

"Tang Dynasty Prancer", 12x12, oil on linen

Here is the painting, framed.  A frame makes a painting look so much more important.  Unfortunately, the colour is not accurate in this photo but you can read about the Tang Dynasty horse and see the accurate colour in my post below.  

If you'd like to see this painting up close, just click on the photo.  Click on it twice and it'll be almost life size!  Thanks for visiting!

Please leave your comments, I'd love to hear from you.

"Tang Dynasty Prancer"

"Tang Dynasty Prancer", oil on linen, 12x12

My father, who passed away this past October at the age of 92 years, passed along his great love of horses to me. As I've mentioned in previous posts, as a young artist horses were the subject of many of my paintings; many of them my Dad's. The hearts of artists and poets throughout the ages have
been captivated by the beauty, power and grace of these wonderful creatures.

My Dad had such a way with them, such a gentle touch; it was apparent to all who knew him. Now, I do not see a horse without thinking of my Dad and the while I paint them, I think of him, as well.

As a still life painter, the Tang Dynasty horse has become a great source of inspiration for me. Within the Tang society (China 618-906AD) the horse played an important role and was revered for their vigor and strength. They symbolized strength and status, as well as reflected on the personality of their owners and the prosperous and powerful Tang Dynasty itself.

Ceramic models of the owner's horse have been found preserved in their tombs. Upon death, many Chinese horsemen were buried with clay horse sculptures and horses on which human figures are mounted, occupy a special place.  These would often be found either preceding or following the coffin.

The Tang horse portrayed in my painting "Tang Dynasty Prancer", 12x12, oil on linen, is not an authentic Tang horse but a reproduction which occupies a special place in my studio and which I treasure nonetheless.   I've painted a number of them which I'll display in future posts. 

I hope you enjoy their elegant, and often dramatic, beauty as much as I enjoy sculpting them with paint.  For me, with each brushstroke, the ancient horse comes to life.

This framed painting is available for purchase at: [Space] Untitled or for further information please email me at

Please see the post above to see this painting framed.