Thursday, December 23, 2010


I had a few questions about brushes and procedures. Perhaps the picture will help. I wear brushes down to nothing....especially the bigger ones for filling areas. I tend to favour a distressed brush perhaps because it can do rough things....I get worried when things start to look too predictable. The stiff bristle round brush that you see...all worn down, was used for the top layer of many of my skies...I liked it for applying thick impasto. Haven't used it lately though...perhaps its time is done.

I AM careful about the smallest rounds that I use to draw fine lines with. I try to hold the brush very easily and make the lines almost accidentally. The paint is often thinned a fair bit for those lines. Small rounds are replaced quite often. I use a few flat synthetic brushes, but favor the rounds.

Almost everything gets underpainted very simply. A blue sky will have a thin wash of perhaps pink, applied in 10 seconds....little bits peek through.

I'm primarily a tonal painter. The Value...the degree of dark/light of the colour is most important. I'm also very conscious of how colours are greyed. I use a simple method of 'approximate complements' to grey. As I instinctively sense that a colour needs to be brought down in intensity, I go to an approximate opposite to grey it in stages. Finding great greys is so important.

I'm more intuitive rather than scientific in the way I find my colours. Red is the complement of green, and small bits of red will grey or reduce the intensity of green, but so will a whole variety of browns, reds that move towards orange, etc....that's why I think of this method as greying with approximate complements....they will all grey your colour, but in different ways.

A little exercise for anyone who feels they haven't exploited greys enough yet:

Grid a 20" x 26" sheet of bristol or any stiff card into one inch squares. Set out a full palette of colour plus white. Fill every square with a greyed full intensity colours allowed. I have no black in my palette but am a great fan of Paynes Grey. I wouldn't use the Paynes for this exercise though. You'll be surprised by how much exciting variety you'll find just by consciously reducing the brightness of colours.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Made one day prior to winter solstice...later in the day, a bit of snow falling.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Storm

Snow fell this morning and now it is raining which should last all night. If we can avoid freezing rain I'll be happy. This painting from earlier this afternoon....diagramed quickly...painted in studio.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 4th

Painted yesterday...the shortest days of the year. This is morning light, but I painted this later in the afternoon when the light was fading. Almost impossible to do these without enough light, but I surrounded myself with standing lamps and it was ok.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I'll be posting lots of pictures to Flickr in the next while....please see me there.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Last Dance

The painting, just made now, was done from the little diagram. The sky was doing all sorts of interesting things....a certain kind of clean hopefullness sometimes seems to arrive in September. The golden rod in certain light is shockingly yellow.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Evening Sky, August 27

A little subtheme has been these sky paintings, usually from notations made in the evenings

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Rain on Home Field

It started raining as I returned home....stopped at the top of lost dog hill to make a little diagram for this and was able to make a few pen lines only, as they were washing away in the rain...but it was enough. This was the first of two paintings made today.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


A view of a clearing from the highest place in the area. I was very happy to retrieve 3 small paintings from a now defunct bed and breakfast in the area. I'd forgotten all about of the reasons I don't like consigning things to galleries. Keeping track of consignment lists is just plain annoying. I tended not to do it, so I've lost many paintings this way over the years. Anyway, it was very nice to retrieve those 3. The colour system and paint application method of those earlier works influenced this piece which I did yesterday.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

County Road North older image, from years ago now, closer to the start of this whole series. There were many done in this small format. I recall the exact size was taken directly from some plein air sketches by James McNeill Whistler.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cottage Light

Memories from ages ago....walking towards a cottage in pitch-dark....the way light penetrates a bit, making everything safe, pleasantly mysterious, and warm in the coolness of summer nights.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lake Swimmer

Another little collage completed yesterday afternoon.....a swimmer....memory of a time at a northern lake.

I'd like to thank JORDAN DELOACH for doing a very nice feature about me on her design blog THE WEEKEND DESIGN....An exploration of design and the world of curiosities.

..... a good place to go for all things related to design and home decor.....Jordan puts interesting and unexpected things together.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Madge Lake Blue

Following on the heels of the other 2 abstractions. Distant summer memories served as the source.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

August Haze

...very hot days at the start of August. The colours melt together in these conditions. I tried to do a bit of that here even though some contrast of light and dark was kept to keep excitement. It's always interesting to see how these effects can be pushed...perhaps the thing to do would have been to make another one right after, where dark/light contrast was much less.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August 3

Underlying all my representational work is an impulse to also not be entirely bound by what is seen. The historical roots go back to Matisse and there is also an influence from Abstract Expressionism and related work. Visual reality is very important, but there is also a subjective world, an undercurrent of moods, feelings, chatter... that is always buzzing in the background while the senses deal with anything in the world. I make various things that allow for more of a focus on the subjective and it always seems to be firmly anchored in strong design elements as well.

...made from my ever increasing collection of painted papers covered with my leftover paints. For every little landscape painting I make, perhaps four 8.5 x 11 sheets are covered with colour....

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Last Sky July

The motif of this last sky of July was noticed last night but painted today....just now. I was painting skies last summer around this time too. These sky paintings from this summer seem to be mostly memory work....the diagram for this has 2 or 3 lines in it....a super brief little thing.

Night Maple

A row of 3 Maples along the driveway, lit by the house lights.

Friday, July 30, 2010

July 24 Sky

....just settling in to make today's painting...which will be a simplified night view of a Maple...made from a quick diagram while walking last night.

Here's a small impression of a particular character of sky. There are many of these that I've been meaning to many ways the sky takes on its particular appearance. This may be a start of a sub series.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sky Painting

As usual, the paintings have continued at about the rate of 1 per day this summer. Here, a little sky painting done from a very brief line sketch and memory....experimenting with some shadowbox framing.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June Valley

The view west from the hill I painted the other day.....I was drawn to the long, low horizon with the little white house peeking out...the certain, healthy greens of optimistic. The sky gave me trouble at different stages. I can't tell now, but I may have stayed too long at the party on this one. The grey in the sky was kept, then totally removed...but it was necessary so I put it back. I use Payne's grey a lot but Payne's did not work in this needed to be blued in a certain way. By the time I figured out the colour so much time had passed.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Garden Hill

This is a special hill that has been painted many times, in all seasons and all weather conditions. On the day this was made, I made a trip just to this site with the intent of painting this subject. That's not usual for me....usually I have no idea what will happen or what I'm looking for.

My preference is that the process maintain a very easy flow and a good sense of mystery. I don't really want to know too much about what will happen....when I DO end up knowing too much, making the painting can turn out oddly oppressive and less alive. I like pleasing surprises at every stage. Here, the last stroke to the painting was the horizontal bit of white on the top of a cloud mid right lent solidity to the whole painting.

At a certain point, the painting is about much of this to how much of that? It turns out I am really a painter of blobs....I like making a paint blob and moving it around....whatever else the painting is, it's a pleasing arrangement of blobs.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

June 26th

I was walking by the field adjacent to me....a place I don't often walk. It was evening and there was much mist in the air, and the foreground field was a yellow that didn't seem appropriate for this time of year....I don't know what the crop is. Just the relationship of the yellow, grey of the sky and dark of the trees (I wrote black on the diagram) created a sensation. I diagrammed it quickly. It was all blended more than this...intermingling with lots of thick air.

It helps to make these little diagrams. I never know how I will work....perhaps from a photo, perhaps from a more complete and complex sketch, or maybe from a chicken scratch like this....but only if the memory is strong enough to hold the image over a few hours or a night.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Larger Landscape Paintings

I was pleased to do these 2 larger paintings (22" x 30")....I don't always have that much time....more are likely coming this summer. As well, I plan on doing more oil paintings on panel this summer.

Another idea I've been playing with for a long while is buying an Epson printer and making 8" x 10" prints with archival inks and paper, giving people a chance to get the images even more cheaply. I still have to do some thinking about this but I like the idea....

Saturday, May 22, 2010

First Green

I managed to paint some larger pictures at school over the last while. I used them as demonstration pieces for students....they seem to quieten down and perhaps pay more attention when they see me engrossed in a painting problem of my own. I am still keeping them there on display for the kids, but I'll bring them home soon.

Not surprisingly, my methods don't really change from the larger (22" x 30") pieces to the smaller pieces. Everything I do remains a one-sitting might be an hour or it might be 3 hours work, but it has to get done in one sitting and the sense of flow needs to be felt in the process and evident in the looking.

It used to be this way when I was making larger 4 x 6 foot canvases as well, except then I was painting at night.....and it would take from about 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. to finish the thing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Back Acres, Mid April

6.5" x 7.25" acrylic on gessoed paper. A very pleasant spring day.

The appeal of painting what is there is that you can never really know in advance what particular combination of colours and shapes can unlock a strong mood or sense of rightness about a place. Subtle shifts make all the difference. I've been paying much attention to these spring yellows of the fields in the last number of days....there is a whole range of yellow that can be used, each different enough to vastly change the overall result.

But while all this activity may go on into the future, and any particular picture may have turned out any number of ways, there is only one piece or maybe two, from each day, chronicling my particular time and place. 1000s of things were possible, but this was April 11/2010, 2:50 p.m.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Art on the Move

Many Thanks to Ann Yu for sending photos of my little fridge magnets and small paintings in her Los Angeles home. I love seeing how people present the work and how they place it in their makes the whole process seems more alive and meaningful. I get a real thrill out of such photos!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lost Dog Hill...Spring

I'm standing on the summit of a hill in the field next door. Just at the point in spring when some new green is ready to emerge...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hurt, Johnny Cash

Click on the title, for a moving rendition.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Blue Hills

Small acrylic on paper, soon to be listed on Etsy. Looking south, Lake Ontario is far in the distance.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I'm not sure why I feel compelled to save these little diagrams, but yesterday I took some time to cut and paste a drawer full into this book. Maybe I think they should be saved because each little drawing represents a very concentrated moment.....first a motif gets recognized....then a decision is made to stop everything to record it....then the diagram is made on paper I carry in my breast pocket, taking maybe 30 seconds or a minute. I make these diagrams every day. Many are turned into paintings, and I always feel a tinge of regret if I don't have time to make the paintings. If a day goes by without the painting being made, the drawing won't be remembered and used.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kim Frohsin

Lemon Slices: Black Stripe, 9 1/4 " x 14 1/8", acrylic, ink, gouache, paper, by Kim Frohsin

The artists I am constantly drawn to, like Kim Frohsin, are able to do a great deal with what are really ordinary things in the world. If you visit Kim's site you will see a series of wonderful compositions on lemons, paper airplanes, studio models, human heads, horses, dogs, slices of wonder bread, fortune cookies, and other things. She has highly advanced observational drawing skills born of long practice, an ability to balance shapes in an always beautiful way, and deep understanding of colour theory....her colours always sing, creating both surprise and a sense of visual rightness fitting with the observed world. She looks very closely....the light always seems right. Her forms have weight but are not modelled; rather the whole work is built primarily of colour shapes that lock together wonderfully. There is complete ease with materials and again, you can be sure this comes from years of practice. I appreciate the small seems to let ideas flow even more easily. One sees both the reality of the objects she depicts, and her rich expressiveness of line and colour, welded perfectly together. This is a beautiful simplicityy born of much study.

So what is new, important, or appealing about this? Through this steady encounter with the world right at our fingertips, everything seems continually reborn. Nothing is set in stone....there is still so much to find. I always enjoy seeing what Kim Frohsin produces.

Home Field

9" x 7" acrylic on gessoed heavy artist's paper. After doing the little magnet images, this felt large! Home field from the county road.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I am wealthy in fridge magnets.....and cats....the cats just keep showing up here.

The magnets are all listed on Etsy. I expect the collection to keep growing (magnets...not cats!).