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.