Saturday, November 24, 2012

"Percheron Pals" - oil on linen panel, 10x8

"Percheron Pals", oil on linen panel, 10x8
"Colour Commentary", watercolour, 1995
It was many years ago that I painted these two characters in watercolour.  The title of the painting was "Colour Commentary",  (appx. 30x22 inches).  I've included a photo of that watercolour (above) along with my recent oil painting of the same pair, "Percheron Pals", oil on linen, 10x8.
I painted the original watercolour in 1995 during a time that I was showing my work in the Calgary Stampede Art Salon. 
In the past year my work came full circle, in a sense, while creating a body of work that is very reflective of my rural roots. It's been a wonderful reconnection; first with my affinity to my prairie roots but more importantly, a continued connection to my father, a true horseman whose gentle presence guides me as I retrace my journey.
While I've been painting almost exclusively from life in recent years, the old box containing my reference photos has been gathering dust in a studio cupboard.  Seeing them again is like seeing old friends; a reminder of a very pleasant time in my life.
I clearly recall the day I took this photo and remember these two old mates like it was yesterday.  I spent the day with artist Adeline Halvorson at a working horse pull event.  Adeline is, undisputedly, one of the finest equine artists working today. When I see these big beautiful horses, I am pretty much reminded of the day we spent in rural Alberta.  
As you can see, I was more of a "colourist" when painting in watercolour.  As an oil painter, I consider myself to be a "tonalist", but I am still strongly inspired by these same stately creatures.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


"Lindsay", oil on linen panel, 16x12
My painting of sweet "Lindsay" which took 3 hours or so.  My good friend, artist Ingrid Christensen , suggested I do one of these quick studies every day for 10 days!  She claims to be "mean", but really she's full of good advice.  Plus it is fun and excellent practice.   I definitely plan to put this into my weekly schedule.  I hope to take this painting a bit further, too.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"Caitlin - Demo", 16x12, oil on linen on panel
In preparation for my upcoming 2-hour-demo at Swinton's Art Supply & Instruction this Friday evening, I thought I'd better put in some practice time. 
Here is my sketch of "Caitlin", done from a photo. 
Caitlin is one of my daughter's sweetest and dearest friends and is as lovely on the inside as she is to look at.  A few years ago she modelled for me in my studio on a weekly basis. 
Not being an alla prima painter, and never too speedy (hey, what's the rush?), my aim in doing this painting was to get the paint on and get it on quickly. 
My second goal was to quit after 2 hours, my allotted time. 
Since I work directly, without a drawing, I have to confess it was hard to quit after 2 hours and very little fine-tuning. But I did manage to stop after 3. Well, ok. Maybe 3 1/2.
Normally I would take this painting to further completion, get more paint on and, of course, fine-tune the drawing as I do so - but I will enjoy it just the way it is.  
This study of Caitlin serves as a really nice reminder of  mornings in my studio, shared with a lovely young woman.
I hope to see you all out at the demo!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Model Break", "oil on linen, 10 x 14 inches
I'm happy to announce my upcoming weekend workshop, "Simple Ideas: Powerful Paintings", November 16,17,18, 2012.  This 2 day portrait oil painting workshop includes a life portrait demonstration on Friday evening, November 16th, 6-8pm.  To register for the demo and/or workshop: Swinton's Art Supply & Instruction  Or you can read about it on my website.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Paint Pony"

"Paint Pony", oil on linen on panel, 6x6 inches

I have always loved paintings where the subject is backlit but have seldom painted one myself.

In this painting, "Paint Pony", I focused on 'simplicity' ... simple shapes being the main thought.

In November I'm doing a demo and teaching a portrait workshop  titled, "Simple Ideas: Powerful Paintings".  I thought it might be wise to take some of my own advice ... and had lots of fun painting this one.

This painting is available at Rustica Gallery.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Making My Mark

Making painting panels in my studio ...

This week I prepared acrylic gessoed hardboard panels in my studio (photo above).This is about the most cost effective support to make and it's so simple, too.  I set aside a day or two in which to do this, making panels in varying sizes.  In this case the panels are 6x6 and 6x8 inches.  These panels, as many of you know, are great for plein air painting and I often glue a piece of linen to them for a variation in the surface.

There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing these pristine little panels lined up in my studio, patiently awaiting a beautiful brushstroke.

In previous posts, I've described my process of stretching and preparing oil lead primed Belgian linen from scratch. As an alternative, I will add a trowelled coat of oil lead primer to the oil lead primed Belgian linen that I keep on hand (such as Fredrix, 'Kent').  And once in awhile, to mix it up a bit, I stretch a canvas and do nothing to it!  It just makes me appreciate the surfaces I create all the more.

While it certainly would be a time saver (I'm told) to purchase a ready made canvas, for me there is nothing quite like putting my brush to a hand-made surface, knowing that every mark is my own.

As long as I live, I shall vividly recall the enchanting and precious moments spent in front of a Rembrandt original painting. How incredibly thrilling it was to discover areas of his linen surface, there for my very own eyes to see; wobbly, uneven surface areas where, I surmised, the hand-pulled tension was greater; areas where the irregular weave was so beautifully more evident.  Transfixed, I imagined Rembrandt standing where I now stood ... and knowing that every mark was his own.

I will write more on this topic in future posts.  In the meantime, if you'd like to know how to make these gessoed panels, simply send me an email at  and I'll send you my written instructions.

Or perhaps you'd like to comment on your own approach. I'd love to know how you make your mark.

If you'd like to receive news of my newest paintings, workshops, processes and what's new,  please sign up for my "Rembrandt, Etc: Making My Mark"  blog in the box provided at the top of this page, and sign up for my website newsletter, here. 

Happy Mark Making!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Workshops, Demos and Other Fun Stuff ....

I am really excited to tell you about my upcoming workshop and teaching plans.  Many years ago I enjoyed teaching regular weekly classes at Swinton's Art Supply and Instruction and I'm delighted to have reconnected with Doug and Donna once again.


"SIMPLE IDEAS: POWERFUL PAINTINGS" - November 16, 17, 18, 2012

Painting the Portrait from life, and from a photo as if painting from life, in oil

Cost: $250 plus model fee (includes Friday evening portrait demo - see Swinton's website for details)
Life Portrait Demonstration: Friday evening 6-8pm, November 16th followed by 2 day workshop, Sat, November 17th and Sun, November 18th, 2012 (10-4pm)
Swinton's Art Supply and Instruction to register. Friday evening demo open to all!

In this workshop, you as a student will enjoy the exhilarating process of painting the model from life on the first day and on the second day, painting from a photo, as if painting from life. You will experience creating real life at the end of your brush when you jump into painting the form directly, without drawing.

Emphasis for this workshop is "simple": simple ideas that create powerful paintings. Concepts, abstract design, value, edges, colour - all the fundamentals will be explored. Artist demo during the workshop as well as individual guidance throughout. Workshop includes the Friday evening portrait demonstration, followed by this fun, but challenging workshop. Beginners through to the experienced painters welcome.

You'll never look at a brushstroke the same way again.

About the Demo:

I'll be doing a demo at Swinton's for their Friday Night Demo Series. I'll be doing an oil portrait, Friday, November 16th 6-8pm. $19 - a glass of wine and nosh included. To read more about this fun evening, click here I will do the demo Friday evening and this will parlay into a 2 day weekend workshop which I'll be teaching. You can attend the demo - or the workshop - or both! I'd love to see you there. Contact me if you have any questions or register directly with Swinton's.

While I've certainly been neglecting my blog and website duties lately, I want you to know that the same doesn't hold true for my time at the easel over the past months.  I am eager to share my newest works with you soon.  Please stay tuned!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Elbow Falls - Plein Air Painting

Plein air painting at Elbow Falls with artist, Ingrid Christensen
"Elbow Falls", oil on linen on  panel, 8x6 inches
Here I Elbow Falls

There is nothing quite as invigorating and enjoyable as painting en plein air with friends.  Yesterday I met with the fearless artist, Ingrid Christensen, for an absolutely perfect day.   We made our start at Elbow Falls, about half an hour west of Calgary and ended our day with a second painting nearer Bragg Creek. 

My painting, "Elbow Falls", 8x6 inches, was painted on location for the most part.  While the memory of the beautiful setting was still fresh and the paint was still wet, I decided to complete it in the studio from the photo I'd taken.   

I'm still a determined novice at this plein air landscape painting business - and totally passionate about painting from life. 

More to come!

To purchase this painting, please click here.