Monday, March 30, 2009

3 In a Row

These 3 images from one session were done yesterday. They were made one after the other from impressions brought back from a walk just previous. I liked the ease of making....with no second guessing at all. I'll do another session today.

Image size 4" x 4", each paper trimmed to 6" x 6", collage from hand painted papers followed by some acrylic painting....soon to be listed on Etsy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Acrylic Gel Image Transfers

Here is an image I worked on today inspired by Randel Plowman's lovely things, at A Collage a Day.

A Collage a Day, Randel Plowman

I was thinking of project ideas for high school art students and Randel did a very successful workshop in collaging with a highschool art club. The acrylic gel image transfers shown in the top image work very well with collage process.

1) Collect images that are of suitable size for your collage scale. Photocopies and newspaper images work well. Consider the nature of the contrast that will be established with the material you will glue on to.....I purposefully chose things that are dark black so they will show up well.

2) Paint over the area you wish to use with acrylic gel. Put in on a bit heavily and let it dry overnight. If you are considering doing a lot of work this way, it might make sense to make a whole archive of images.....cover them with gel, let dry, so you can choose from many possible images when it is time to collage them into the image.

3) Submerge the dried gel images into warm water and let sit for 5 minutes. Gently rub off the paper from the back of the gel images, keeping the material wet as you do this. Set your gel images on paper toweling to dry.

4) The edges of the gel images may get a bit ragged from the 'rubbing off' of the support paper. You may wish to tidy them up by trimming with scissors.

5) Glue your gel image bits into your'll have an almost perfectly transparent effect (depending on how well and gently you remove all the paper from the back)!

My image at the top has 2 image transfers glued in. I like this method very much and look forward to using it in some collages. I think my students will also like doing this!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

3 Images, 1 Session

Yesterday's work....3 little images each measuring 4" x 4". Going to an even smaller size is sometimes helpful. Sometimes a motif is just a whispering, and there are so many of them!.....'look how these 2 patches of snow line up with each way behind this big one in front....way smaller...but dead center...framed in the yellow ground.' There will be something about such an arrangement that is noteworthy. Making some small things like this helps me to remember that such noticings are important.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wee Forest

I never know where these images are going to come from, but most come from looking into the landscape. Yesterday was a warm but overcast day. I walked deep into the forest...about an hour trek. It started raining about half way in...a very gentle, pleasant thing that didn't interfere at all. Returning home I stopped by the new forest before going in....the little bits of green are young evergreens peeking this stage you can't see them well in summer because they are so small. This planting is only about a year old...there's been a good amount of die-off due to drought, but this plot should survive and fill in nicely.

I liked the relationship of the yellow to the white, to the grey of the sky. It was important to have the little trees just hint....and I knew that they should be done close to the end.

The 1 minute reference drawing was done in the rain....bits of smeared ink...

Acrylic collage painting, 8.5" x 9.5", Listed on Etsy.

The Blind Boys of Alabama, "Amazing Grace"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March Beach, Acrylic on Canvas

Another in this Oshawa series....the beach at Lakeview Park in late March as winter ends. This little area was a refuge.

12" x 16", acrylic on canvas.

Listed on Etsy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Johnny Cash, I Hung My Head

Heap, Oshawa Harbour

Another older work that I brought up to look at again.....there were a number of paintings that dealt with sections of Oshawa Harbour. Acrylic on canvas, 20" x 24".

Listed on Etsy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tanker, Industrial Landscape

So many years ago now....this image, 'tanker', from the Oshawa harbour....the ground stained and scarred with oil and tar and god knows what. On rainy days the water on the ground was multicolored. Sinister in some aspect, but it also reminded me of a childhood growing up in a refinery town....playing in junkyards with all manner of discarded industry metal. One of the many earlier images that gave rise to current work.

Listed on Etsy, acrylic on canvas

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Great Lake Swimmers, "Your Rocky Spine"

Claiming a City

A long time ago, a move to an industrial city came as a shock. The only way I could make peace with the place was to walk for hours and document with 1000s of photographs. A long series of large works on paper, smaller and larger canvases resulted. The largest canvases were 4 x 5 feet. The images were often broody and gritty (I know and understand gritty), but there was also a searching and longing for 'home'...many of the paintings were of houses.

"Overview", acrylic on canvas, 18" x 22"

Listed on Etsy.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

If you read nothing else on Matisse.....

Matisse the Master, A Life of Henri Matisse, The Conquest of Colour, 1909-1954, by Hilary Spurling.

A certain large percentage of those who went through art schools in the last 40 years see Matisse as THE pivotal artist of modernism and the key proponent of central ideas still directing much contemporary practice. Surprising then that so many misconceptions persist. Long popularized photos of Matisse cooing to exotic birds, playing the gentle professorial role to Picasso's badboy pose, standing like a wellgroomed shopkeeper next to pictures and rooms full of uplifting colour, suggest a person of perpetual calm. Just a misconception. Or perhaps the serenity achieved in the paintings came at great personal cost. We didn't imagine Matisse as a long-time insomniac struggling against nervous tension at every turn. What he achieved through 2 wars, family breakups and grave medical problems was hard fought. Spurling lays out a life of a gentle but driven man in a fascinating way. Much that is new is revealed. If you love Matisse, you may love him even more by the end.

I should have read it first...but didn' next up is, The Unknown Matisse: A Life of Henri Matisse; The Early Years, 1869-1908, by Hilary Spurling.

Friday, March 20, 2009


All I ever need to know is the next step...well, sometimes maybe 3-4 steps ahead. I wasn't very happy with setting the first shapes so large, but the interest in the colour relationships took over. I knew suggesting the tender littleness of the seedlings would be a nice surprise kept for the very end. The pleasure in finding surprising but suitable colours keeps the building of the piece going. I liked finding the light splotch colours for the front of of the carton...and the yellow on the side was also cool to find. The background was supposed to be much simpler in the early stages...gradually it got much more complex than this...but I simplified it.

I'm glad the picture got made....something to record this delicate little growth. Every day I see things that should be made into pictures...I make a note, and quite often never get back to them.

Starting a Collage Painting

Wonderful spring sunlight streaming in. At first I thought there should be much more negative space, but this was the start is all purely instinctive once the idea is set...and the idea was to celebrate these little seedlings....because it's springtime and there should be some little image to show this tiny bit of eternal hope.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Musical Interlude....Tom Waits, Hang on St. Christopher

Making a Painting...Final Stages.

I like working in the early afternoon....I turn the radio on to CBC talk...and settle in for an hour or two. The end stages of a work can be's possible to do too much...or to quit too early.

A landmark hill very near me. Collage painting made from hand-painted papers in acrylic, 7.25" x 9.75", on single-ply archival matte board gessoed both sides.

Making a Painting

These photos show the process used. The torn section in the sky was a fascinating piece to start with.....I ended up tossing the most interesting bit out because it seemed too dominant later on. I also liked the white tears in the paper that happened when the wet paper stuck to a studio table. It is important to take proper care of craftsmanship....each piece must be very firmly glued...after a while the hand knows exactly how to do this.....this also gives a bit of time to think and dream.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


This from a few days ago. I was pleased with how it turned out. As always, the point is to go on until it is satisfying in some way, and hopefully, satisfying in a way that hasn't quite happened before. Started with cut shapes, and paint at the end. The painting has to deliver a charge and usually, any sign of technical pickiness causes me to rework and simplify.

7.75" x 9.75", acrylic collage painting on single-ply archival matte, gessoed both sides.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Remembering July

Acrylic collage painting, on single-ply archival matte board, gessoed both sides, 8 x 9 inches.

Remembering the wild greens of early July last year.....looking south and east at the cedars that have grown so tall.


1) I used to prepare painting papers and paint directly in front of the motif while sitting in the car, or I'd spread a blanket and paint on the ground.
2) I still use the camera a lot and always have, but there are times when working from the photo just doesn't do it. The data might become too flat, too complex and convoluted, or it just might completely obscure the few essential elements that initially sparked interest in the motif.
3) The top photo is a memory painting and there are countless of those also. Most of the ideas come while I walk. Something seen makes an effect that lingers and the work is painted immediately upon returning home.
4) I'm forgetful and therefore I always have a sheet of typing paper folded up in 4 in my pocket, along with a pen.....I need that in my job to note down things that would otherwise be missed. Plenty of landscape impressions get recorded in this way as well....but they do not become paintings unless the painting session immediately follows....wait a day or even a few hours and the idea is cold. And sometimes on a walk, 4 such 2 minute drawings will be made, but perhaps only 2 become paintings.

Painted Collage Papers

The collection of painted papers is growing.....perhaps out of control. Even at school, every time the students leave all sorts of mixed acrylics that can't be put back, I'm feverishly spreading it all out on sheets of typing paper. Works great for collages....and I've recently started putting gesso on both sides of the heavy stock I use for the collage paintings.....the slight curve of the paper caused by gluing always annoyed me.

I have a longstanding fascination with collage....there seems so much potential in the colours arrived at accidentally, put to new purpose. It's like solving some sort of riddle. The little works in the background all start as collages.....3-10 shapes quickly cut and glued, and then some paint.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Field, Late June

From a special time, summer time was my own and the season was still young. In late June the field was at its richest green, in a very quiet, isolated area....hard to get to. Acrylic on gessoed paper....the paint is handled quickly and each work is completed within an hour or two. There is a reason the work is needs to seem easy, almost accidental and insignificant...and related to play. If things get over-controlled the work is dead before the paint is dry. The small scale encourages surprises.

Spring Thaw, March 15, 2009

This series of landscapes has been continuing for years and over time, much has changed in terms of procedure. There are about 4 or 5 favourite methods that I juggle to keep the whole enterprise fresh. This picture measures 9.25 x 7.25 inches and is done on single ply, acid-free matte board gessoed on both sides to keep the surface nice and flat. Pieces of hand-painted acrylic papers are cut and torn, then glued into place....I have a box of about 1000 sheets by now....I don't know where I'm going to keep them all...the pile keeps growing. Direct acrylic painting is added in the last stages. New sheets of coloured paper are painted with whatever colour remains on my palette.