Thursday, August 25, 2016

Work In Progress

I've been working on these 20"x20" wood panels, playing with color and pattern, in between teaching sessions.  Here is a video:

For me, the key to not getting stuck (or getting un-stuck when I am stuck), is to:
  • Work on at least several pieces at a time.  This depends on size: the smaller the pieces, the more I have in the works at once.
  • Do only a few things to each piece before moving on to the next.  I try to stop before I get stuck, and let the pieces remain in process for as long as it take.  
This approach helps keep up the momentum, but of course nothing can totally eliminate the occasional frustrations of making art.  

Still in Process

Still in Process

Might be Done

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, August 15, 2016


Lorraine Bell's new book, The Art of the Crayon, has just been released, an my art is on the cover!  I'm so excited about this.  I don't have my copy yet (should be here any day), but I am quite looking forward to seeing what other artists do with crayons.  You can check out Lorraine's blog post about it, and see who else contributed to the book.  Looks like I am in good company.

You can see previous posts I have done, including video, on using crayons and oil pastels here and here.  I am teaching a one-day workshop at Art and Soul called Beyond Crayons: Mark-Making at its Finest" in April, 2017.  It is full, but you can get on the wait list, or just show up and beg Glenny, the Queen, for a spot in the class, if you like.  Or just take out your crayons, get Lorraine's book, and GO!

My favorite crayons are Caran d'Ache Neocolor II.  They are pigment-rich, and are a little more friendly with acrylic paints than oil pastels are.  If working in oil media, no acrylic, I love using Sennelier oil pastels for their buttery quality, and Holbein's for a stiffer consistency but with the same pigment density.  The Caran d'Ache Neopastels are great too.  I think the Cray Pas and other very inexpensive oil pastels are like the Crayola of the oil pastel world.  The professional quality oil pastels and crayons are well worth the money.  Just my opinion.

I am, as of recently, exploring R&F Paints' Pigment Sticks, which are like oil paint in stick form.  I want to make crayon-like marks, but on a larger scale, and investigating ways to do that.  These pigment sticks are GORGEOUS!!!  Unlike oil pastels, pigment sticks DO dry, over time, so they can be used like oil paint, and combined with oil paint mediums like cold wax and "Galkyd" or other alkyd resins.

Hope you enjoy a visit to Lorraine's blog, and to the web sites of the other contributors to her new book.  Thanks for the visit here!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Works in The Works

I love keeping a lot of pieces UNfinished, in the works, in process.  These ongoing pieces allow me to just play and noodle around with visual Stuff on the surface and see what happens.  Today I took out some large-ish (19"x25") 5-minute paintings.  My idea was to just play with them a bit, and then do the exercise of using a viewfinder to find little mini-compositions within.  (This was part of developing some exercises for a workshop I'm doing at Omega next year that is geared towards those who are a little newer to art).  I did not get to the viewfinder part, but here is what happened:

Here is the original 5-minute painting with some collage added.

And then some paint applied...

And more paint applied...

And then a little bit more collage.  This is where I've left it.  Might be done, might not; I'm sure it will tell me at some point.

Below are two more that are similarly in the works, started from 19"x25" 5-minute paintings:

I have no idea where these are going, or if they will finish as 19"x25" pieces, or if I will actually get to continue the exercise of finding the compositions within.  Sometimes I just have no idea what I'm doing, so I just put some paint (or collage) on paper and the put some more paint (or collage) on paper. 

I am going to take a little break (couple of weeks, maybe more) from the blog.  I need to focus on my own work and I have a rather intense period of teaching ahead of me.  All fun, all good, but something has to give.  Thanks for visiting. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Black and White Studies - a Few Finished

Thanks for your comments on my previous post.  Here are a few of the black and white studies that, to my eye, came to conclusion.  I still have many in the works, which I'll continue to play with and see what happens.  I may begin others as well.

"Storm Coming" 12"x12"

12"x12", Untitled (so far)

"A Fine Line", 12"x12"

12"x12", Untitled (so far)

10"x10", no title yet.
All of these are available as originals.  They are acrylic and graphite on paper mounted on 3/4" wood panel.  12"x12" are $395; 10"x10" is $295.  E-mail me if you are interested in owning one.  I have them up on Fine Art America for sale as prints.  Or you can PAINT YOUR OWN!!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Black and White Studies

It is always fun to narrow down the focus for a bit, return to what feels like "basics" that turn out to be not so  basic. Working in black and white is a practice I return to periodically to re-set my sensitivity to the spectrum of values (light to dark), quality of line, depth, and other aspects of painting that are more subtle than the strong language of color.  You can view previous posts on the topic here, here, and here

I was recently introduced to the video below about Hyunmee Lee, whose work I have admired on Pinterest.  She talks about working in black and white, and then introducing just one color, and working with that for several years.  My attention span is a bit shorter than that (I'm thinking:  hours, maybe), but I loved the concept.

Hyunmee Lee: Gesture and the Flow from 15 Bytes on Vimeo.

Here are some pictures of my studies.  I began fourteen pieces, all 12"x12" except for two of them, which are 10"x10"  I actually gessoed over old work-in-progress that was getting stale (I've never done that before!), so some of the previous painting comes through as texture.

Here are six after only one or two passes.

This was one that spoke to me in its simplicity.

This is after one or two passes with paint, etc....
And then I turned the above piece upside down and painted over more of it.

I think this is the 10"x10" piece that is in the bottom row, middle, of the first photo.

Will keep working on this one....

Definitely need to push back more elements on this one. 

This one may be close to done.  I'll let it rest for a while.
 I love the process of exploring the nuances of veil, gray scale, and breathing room.  I find I am generally putting stuff down on the paper, lifting with cheap drawing paper or a brayer, making marks in graphite and crayon, or scratching through paint with a nail; and then when everything is dry I paint over, paint over, paint over in thin layers of white paint (veils of fog, as I think of them).  I do only one or two things to each piece at a time, not letting myself go so far as to get stuck or even ask what happens next.  Just do one or two things, and move on to the next piece.  It's refreshing.  No pressure to finish anything.  And yet, I think that some of them will come to be finished pieces.  I just have to not rush to get there.

Some of my black and white originals are available on my gallery site.  More are available as prints here and here.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

Back in the Studio

It is often difficult to get jump-started in the studio after being away for a while.  I have numerous go-to methods of handling re-entry, and the all revolve around realistic expectations.  I expect to feel awkward and ham-handed, I expect all my inspiration from the photos I took to evaporate as soon as I put brush to paper or canvas.  Sound familiar?  I think we all develop our little tricks of the trade for getting re-energized in the studio.   The Five-Minute Painting is a good one.  As is painting to music.  These are all about process, staying in the moment, and not getting precious about the outcome.  This time I just used some starts I made in early May, which you can see here, and used familiar collage and painting techniques to take them a bit further.  Easy size (10"x10", comfortable colors, and techniques that are well within my comfort zone.

"Land Line #1";  This one is actually a knock-off of a painting I did in 2013 as part of my Fresh Paint Friday series.  See the video here.

Fog Lifting #1

High Tide #1

High and Dry #1
While doing these I was not actually looking at my reference photos, but I can see bits and pieces of them in the work.  The color or seaweed and rocks, the fog, of course, and the ladder image from the wharf at low tide.  Here are a few more reference photos not posted previously:

Fog on Bell Island

Fog lifting at Cherry Hill Beach

The color of seaweed

More seaweed

Monday, June 13, 2016

Reference Photos

I've never been big on taking photos for reference, so I don't know why I was compelled to do so on this recent trip.  In these photos I see pieces that I did in 2013, as well as rich potential for future work.  I see these Stacks of Shapes studies, and the work I did at the Vermont Studio Center last year.

I have loads more, and will post in groups.  I will also post whatever comes out of the studio from these, but it may be a while.  I think images, for me, take time to sink in and filter through.  Forcing it would probably not be a good idea.  In any case, I am delighted to find that I LIKE taking the photos! 

Saturday, June 4, 2016


I've been curious about the recent trend of coloring books for adults.  Maybe it's been around for a while, but I only became aware of it about a year ago.  My friend Lucie Duclos has produced two coloring books, and I have copies of each, but, I confess, I have not colored in them.

What is the appeal of coloring for adults?  According to the feedback I got from a recent Facebook post, most people color for the calming effect, like knitting.  It is relaxing for your mind.  For some it's like a gateway drug into more demanding creative endeavors.  You do have to make decisions when you color - which colors to use where have a great affect on how the image reads, in terms of figure-ground relationships, for example.  But there are a lot of decisions already made for you, so it is not as daunting as the prospect of creating your own image.

Here is a video of me creating a coloring page.


Here is a page you can download and color yourself!  I suggest you print it out on relatively heavy printer paper.  I used this.  Print several copies and color each one differently.  Add your own details if you like.

Here are a few tips or suggestions on making your own coloring pages:
  • Vary the density and scale of the patterns.  That is, leave some areas open, and fill in other areas with different patterns or smaller shapes.
  • Vary the size of the shapes you draw.
  • Avoid making an all-over repeated pattern.  Unless an all-over pattern is what you want.  It will be more interesting to color an image that is not a repeat.
  • Do not try to make a "good composition".  Allow it to be quirky or off-balance.  
  • When coloring: try to avoid the All Rainbow All The Time effect.  Most coloring I see makes about equal use of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple, thus giving the image no particular emphasis or nuance.  Try, for example, mostly greens and blues, with accents of bright red and orange.  Use neutrals such as gray, white, tan, ochre, and earth tones or muted colors.  
But... WHO AM I to tell you how to color???!  The above are just some ways you might find coloring pages a little more of a challenge, and maybe more fun.  

Friday, June 3, 2016

The FIve-Minute Painting - Revisited

I've had this idea of the five-minute painting for a few months now, and here are some examples from a recent painting session:

The idea is to make time - the five minutes - and the size (9"x12") the only defining parameters.  So I set up my palette, get my brushes and other tools ready, and then hit the timer.  A few things I've noticed:
  • This is not about painting fast; it's about getting a clear idea down in five minutes.
  • The time parameter makes me focus much more strongly.
  • I make marks that I would not make if I didn't have the timer on, so I develop some new things.
  • I also make marks that are familiar to me.  Start with the familiar.
  • Sometimes the painting "finishes" before the five-minutes are up, and my rule is to paint up until the last second.  So this challenges me to do something in the remaining time, choose an area to enhance or add to. 
The twelve above are all done in one session, which took about an hour and twenty minutes (time in between paintings to replenish the palette).  Many of the colors are straight out o the bottle, but I did mix some as well, within the five-minutes:
  • Bubblegum pink: napthol red light + quinacridone magenta + white (just magenta and white is not enough, it makes it too sweet.  A little of a more primary red gives it the edge).
  • Acid green:  nickel-azo yellow + celadon + white (optional); then add to that some turquoise for a greener green.
What is the value of the five-minute painting exercise?  At this point it seems like the value is mostly in the degree of focus and the possibility of new marks.  It also loosened me up quite a bit.  I will keep doing these sessions and see what happens.  See my previous five-minute paintings here and here, which I did on 25"x19" paper.  Working large was quite a different experience.

Here are a few of the individual paintings:

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Try it, and let me know what you experience!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I Am Featured as a "Collector's Choice"

Janis Kirstein, of Kirstein Fine Art, has given me a feature on her blog.  Check it out here.
She has included lots of information, loads of images, as well as my new video, which I posted a few weeks ago.  Please visit this feature, and also check out Kirstein's work.