Thursday, April 30, 2009

March Hope


I love the end of March. Even though winter might still have some serious surprises there is always a steady series of hints that spring is coming....a perfect clear day shown here, warmish but allowing only a gradual melting. I like how this field dips down into a gully, always leading to interesting snow patterns near spring.

I was pleased with the quality of the yellow, the sky line where purple meets blue, and the snow mass, where text shows through from the back of an old sheet of paper.....I caught a bit of the mood of the day.

Acrylic collage painting on single ply matteboard, gessoed both sides to prevent warp, 9" x 7.5", listed now on Etsy.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This from March 22/2009. It's as if this pair of trees has a frame around them. They are high up on a hill with little else near them, on one of my walking routes, and my attention never fails to go to them. There were a lot of paintings being produced at this time.....I'd just started the little 4" x 4" things, so this one got left behind....just listed on Etsy.

7.5" x 9.5" acrylic collage painting, on single-ply matteboard, gessoed both sides to prevent warp.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Young Aspens

On the daily route.....a young aspen grove....looking through into the deep valley below.

4" x 4" acrylic collage landscape, external paper size 5" x 5", listed on Etsy now.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cloud Bank

.....a field I often walk to, because it allows a distant view.....a dramatic looking but harmless cloud bank moving in from the west. I struggled a bit with this one. Skys can be very tricky. They look so free and their impact is so immediate, I like to do something comparable in paint. Usually there is a sequence to the might involve 4 or 5 things....if one thing goes wrong, you can fiddle a bit, but once that fiddling becomes noticeable it is better to just step back and redo the entire passage. Otherwise you end up looking like someone sweeping the dust under the rug.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting, 5" x 5" external paper size, now listed on Etsy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Life of a Space

Some of my favourite times at school are spent simply considering the piles of work produced by students in these rooms. Some of the work shown here will soon be assembled into a student exhibition of little figure sculptures (grade 9s and 10s), and the high-coloured poster figure images which will be put in frames. Over my 20 years teaching art these rooms have acquired a history...layers of many projects. New projects/assignments are continually many things are possible repetition of the tried and true is not necessary. All of this influences what I do in my own art as well. I think the idea of using coloured papers for collage landscapes started here. We will do small collages next and use up some to those painted papers made over the years.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Paintings seem to come very easily during the winter and early spring.....something about the land showing only her beautiful bones....a lack of adornment.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting on paper, external paper size 5" x 5", now listed on Etsy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The End

A spot I drive by every day....this road just ends at the base of the big hill. I very much like that my area remains farmland with not too many encroachments in the name of development. This can still be the land of the odd.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting, external paper size 5" x 5", now listed on Etsy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

East Hill

.....on another day my walking route might have taken me about a mile east, over this big hill. If it's cold out, I'll take the hill....more likely to be sun in that direction.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting, 5" x 5" paper size, now listed on Etsy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Garden Hill

A very high hill...much higher than it seems here....covered in coniferous forest.....a section from the daily drive that often sparks my interest.

I sometimes ask students to count their decisions in a work, as a way to become conscious that a piece of art can be many things did you actually decide to do? Here I might have made about 10 or 12 separate decisions....not that many really.....there is a bit of observational mucking about with the brushwork, but that is kept to just a few bare essentials.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting, external paper size, 5" x 5", now listed on Etsy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


....a cold, bright Saturday morning. I headed to Richardson's lookout, the highest point in the area. A number of small pieces were made, all dealing with looking far, far into the distance.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting, 5" x 5" paper size, listed now on Etsy.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Is it Worth Leaving the Wilderness

Every so often I leave the bush to see what art is on offering in Toronto. I must be getting more intolerant of travel time because it hardly seems worth the effort any more. Admittedly, I have all the resources and inspiration I need right here and am missing nothing. But about every year or so, I do like to visit James Wilson Morrice and David Milne at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Their images provided insight and inspiration when I was 18 and in most regards, they hold up well over time....they remain two of the strongest painters Canada has produced.

Frank Gehry's refurbishment of the Art Gallery of Ontario is excellent. The whole gallery feels much more spacious, the window-edged spiral staircase provides a refreshing glimpse into the heart of Toronto, preventing the claustrophobic sense that often permeates large museums, and the Galeria Italia (a gift from 26 leading Italian Canadian families) also opens up the space in a new seems almost a rest place in the gallery, like a beautiful civic park might provide a moment of pause and peace in a bustling city. Included are a few shots of Toronto from the spiral staircase (the interesting box on stilts is the new section of the Ontario College of Art), and a glimpse of the Galeria Italia.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

March 25th, 2009

This was made on March 25th. It's a collage painting on gessoed single ply of the first of the recent images in which I was considering the motif almost as emblem. It went very quickly and easily...and it's always very enjoyable when the very last step in the paintings is as fresh as the first step. Here, the last thing was the darker blots of grey in the sky.

8" x 10", soon to be listed on Etsy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


....coming home from an auction.....looking far off into the distance at the crest of a range.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting on paper, soon to be listed on Etsy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Another image based on the idea mentioned yesterday.......paint only the few simple shapes that define a motif you find striking in the landscape. This worked to a degree only.....because even when I hone in on those few shapes it seems there are at least a few further complications that need attending to. The initial aim was to make the image so simple as to be iconic. This is not quite it, but I do find it satisfying to isolate those few things that make the very strong initial impression.

4" x 4" acrylic collage on paper, listed now on Etsy.

Monday, April 13, 2009

April Field

In the last few days I've taken to finding very simple, strong designs from far in the distance......a kind of telescoping. It starts with the eye lighting upon something and holding on for a while....this happens quite naturally but I've often resisted making pictures of the sensations. The eye instictively and playfully reduces the composition to very few key shapes. I've thought of this idea on and off for a long time and will experiment a bit. I did 2 pieces yesterday and will do a few more today.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting, soon to be listed on Etsy.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


From a few days ago...exited the forest, still with plenty of snow cover, to look across these spring fields. It's a very cold day again looks and feels like this....but the sun is beautiful and makes for a perfect day. I remember making these sheets of blue that I've been using for a number of skies recently. They were done at the end of a teaching day when students left unused acrylic blue behind. I recall thinking...'I wonder what I'll use these for'.

4" x 4" acrylic collage on paper, soon to be listed on Etsy.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tom Waits, "You Can Never Hold Back Spring"

Cold and Bright

Straight up this hill, turn right, and you have the view in the photo...the area has a continual rhythm of hills and valleys...a cold, bright Saturday. 3 more small 4" x 4" collage paintings just made, the image shown was the first one. Although they go quickly, I'm usually out of steam by the end of the third one.

Soon to be listed on Etsy.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Five Blind Boys of Alabama, "Look Where He Brought Me From"


The brevity of this says something about how motifs work on my mind and eye. Usually a combination of 4-5 things together makes a special a combination of notes or chords in a song create a distinctive appeal. Casting my eye to the property line as I return from a walk...the light turns the field pink....a strong shadow cuts through the middle and a few little evergreens peek through. A bit of snow patch at lower right, and a strong, brave line of evergreens with a vivid blue backdrop....this arrangement clicked the button that said 'paint this'. No telling what the arrangement might be, and what impresses on one day might not cause the same reaction the next. It's all a bit mysterious.

Acrylic collage painting on paper, image size 4" x 4", external paper size 6" x 6", soon to be listed on Etsy.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Summer Storm

This 4" x 4" series continues. Working on very small scale encourages all sorts of experimentation. You can do anything and risk anything because it goes quickly and the investment is not large....try new composition methods, new colour arrangements, new paint sequences. I liked how the cloud mass moves in on the right....white paint was smeared beneath before the top shape was glued. It's a little thing, but I never did that before. I remember the sense of quickly fading light as a new bank of clouds moved in after a summer storm.....little bits of brighter green flashed to the eye in the foreground...I don't know what that little building is on the chick-a-biddies' may be an outhouse, but it sure isn't discreetly positioned.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting on paper, paper size 5" x 5", soon to be listed on Etsy.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Remembering August

Sometimes, when I don't want to deal with the day that's here, I'll think back to another one....the horse pasture across the way.

4" x 4" image size, 6" x 6" paper size, acrylic collage painting, listed on Etsy.

Monday, April 6, 2009


From a few days it snowed again so the world did not look like this. Normally it is a bittersweet feeling to track the last patches of snow in spring...and I quite often make paintings about these last bits. Here it was the snow patch in combination with the birch trees that created the motif. But right now I'm not feeling so bittersweet about the passing of winter.....she just needed to deliver one last snow storm on April 6th!

Collage painting on paper, image size 4" x 4", listed on Etsy.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I don't like to waste. The things that I appreciate in the work done are not always visible to others. The blue of the sky was a waste piece of paper, folded and ready to throw out, before it was rescued and turned a perfect blue for this arrangement. The 1000s of little image impressions, seen, appreciated, and mentally set, are not complete until they are fixed in time, perhaps with a little picture like this. My hill, my piece of waste blue,.....waste no more....and likely to survive longer than I ever will. This is one of the reasons why art makes sense.

Acrylic collage painting on paper, image size 4" x 4", external paper size 6" x 6". Soon to be listed on Etsy.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Late, Late March....the bluest sky...a time of promise. The little group of youngsters, over by the chick-a-biddies...a last bit of snow, like an underline.

Acrylic collage painting, 4" x 4", soon to be on Etsy.

Odetta, Live in Concert, 2005, "House of the Rising Sun"

Friday, April 3, 2009

Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY

The Albright-Knox Gallery is always well worth a visit both for the quality of the permanent collection and the special exhibits. The gallery is comparatively small and tends not to tire or overwhelm viewers ; the current exhibit is Action/Abstraction; Pollock, deKooning, and American Art, 1940-1976, February 13-June 10, 2009. A day after returning, the image of one early Pollock stays with me....I'll need to look more closely at all of his early work. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed on the upper floor, but included here are a few favourites from the permanent collection.

When you teach, you tend to always write projects. An exercise for a few of my upper year students working with design and expression problems might go something like this, based on the Franz Kline shown in the first photo:

1) base-coat 3 full sheets 22" x 30", with blue acrylic, one with pink acrylic, one with, let's say, brown acrylic....mix for opacity. In the overpainting, allow some aspect of the underpainting to 'peek through'. Create a short series of 3 works.

2) use gestural application of black first to create an intuitively arrived at design over the paper. Pay attention to the negative spaces created by the application of the black. Try to create an asymmetrical balance between the shapes.

3) fill the negatives with white acrylic, paying attention to how this 'locks in' the positive spaces.

4) if the overall design created by this stepped procedure is not pleasing or balanced, keep slowly and gradually removing sections of the composition with white, and re-entering other sections of black.

5) let the paint and brushwork retain its natural other not beat the paint to death by over brushing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Out Like a Lamb

Completed on March 31st. Almost all the snow is gone now, except in the forest. It's possible to get off the roads and into the fields. Here a patch of young tree growth caught my attention along a sharp hill incline. This is a 4" x 4" collage painting.....4 paintings were made in this session.

Will be listed on Etsy before too long.