Some fantasy art

Wizard’s Staff
7×10 watercolour

Our challenge this week was to paint something shiny like glass. I chose a crystal stopper for a wine bottle which I placed in an old bird’s nest. I thought, why not some surrealism. But, as it progressed neither the bird’s nest nor the wine stopper were recognizable. So, instead of recycling it, I let my imagination take over and tried a little fantasy art. As a wizard’s wand this makes so much more visual sense. It just needs a good story to go with it. Open to suggestions. 😊

The background is a layer of W/N Mayan Dark Blue mixed with alizarin crimson and burnt sienna. A second layer of pthalo blue mixed with burnt umber was put over that. When it was just dry I splashed water over areas where it seemed like light should come through, waited about half a minute, and then lifted off with a paper towel. I repeated this until I got a look I was happy with. I think it gave some perspective the painting was lacking.

Art Challenge: Metal

Metal Kettle Pencil Sketch
using 2H to 6B

The challenge in our group this week was to paint silver or metal. Then it was suggested that pencil sketching would be a good change for the group. I drew this in freehand, so the proportions might be a little off, using a tonal and hardness gradient from 2H to 6B. It’s also got a bit more personality than the real object. Other than that, there was a little erasing for highlights but less than I anticipated; and the paper stump blended the tonal gradients nicely. I thought about darkening the darkest areas with a charcoal pencil but the 6B provided a nice contrast and saved me from wearing charcoal all day. Now, if I could only get the watercolours to behave as well as the pencils…

Challenge: Bullrushes

7×10 watercolour
Arches 140lb cold press

This week our group challenge was Bullrushes, which are sometimes called cattails. Bullrushes are one of my favourite fun things to paint. I had a few of my own photos but I chose to use this free image from Pixabay because of the depth created by the different values in the layers. I used several basic watercolour techniques to give me the background relying on a lot of wet in wet. After an initial drying I did the foreground using mostly burnt umber with a little indigo and alizarin crimson; followed by another drying then by glazing, lifting off, and picking out the highlights with a razor at the end. A fun morning project while renovations continue in the house.

Habitant Estuary ’22

It’s the second day of the new year. Our first group challenge for 2022, is to paint trees in winter. But it’s mild out and the skies are soft with rain. Our January thaw has come early. The trees will have to be painted without snow. No doubt the very vocal geese in the lower field are expressing their thanks the leftover corn is exposed. Yesterday a healthy red fox ran past the house. There was purpose in his gait and posture. He was no doubt thankful for the abundance of geese. It was oddly reassuring.

A lighter touch

Over the Salt Marsh 7×10 watercolour on 140 lb arches cold press

I was overdue for a watercolour practice so I decided to at least go into the studio and splash some colour on a bit of paper. I used yellow ochre, cerulean blue, alizarin crimson, and some leftover green on my palette with the goal of keeping it light. The sky at the horizon line could be even lighter but overall I think it succeeded and hope it brings you some joy today.

Gallery Exhibition Dec 2021

Opening night of the December exhibition at ArtCan Gallery and Cafe went well. I snapped a couple of pics after the crowd thinned out. Despite the weather, there was a lot of interest, some sales, some wine and great treats that were catered by the cafe chef, Michaela. The show runs until Dec. 23, 2021 on Main Street in Canning NS @artcan.canada. As an update I’m very happy to say that the bridge painting has been sold!

Bridge at Invermoriston (L)
Rainbow Haven Beach at Dusk (R)
each 16×20 oil on canvas

Mountain Triptych

Mountain Triptych
watercolour sketch on stone ground paper – Approx 8.5 x 33

This week the members in our group were given the same reference photo (I don’t know who took the original image) and asked to paint our own interpretations. I scrounged around and found three pages of stoneground paper from a long ago workshop begging to be used, and, since the image was panoramic, I opted for a triptych format. I was a little dismayed to find my pencil marks didn’t erase but since it’s only an exercise, I figured, no worries. It took three or four hours of making marks and splashing paint over two days but it’s kind of cool. I like how parts of the perspective are created by value shifts and I like the sketchy feel of it. It’s always fun to try something new. Also, I think it captures the expansiveness of the panorama and in the end that’s satisfying in itself.

Two Rivers – Two Challenges

Habitant River 11×14 oil on gallery wrapped canvas
fundraiser for the local food bank reference photo Ron Hayes

As a fund raiser for charity, students in our gallery group were challenged to paint the same image taken by The ArtCan Gallery owner Ron Hayes. The Habitant River will be included in the December group exhibit at the gallery along with two other paintings of mine. The proceeds, if it sells, from this particular painting will be donated to the local food bank.

Moon River – 8×10 oil on canvas board
wet in wet challenge

Since Plein Air has ended, our plein air group has issued their first off season challenge. This week’s challenge was wet in wet. Though it needs further work, and with the exception of the red underneath, Moon River used only paint left over from The Habitant River’s palette. So, though very different in style, there’s a connection through colour. While Moon River came purely as a bit of imagination and expressionism, The Habitant River was more of an effort to stay true to the source image. It may be a stretch to say, but I see them as internal and external approaches from my own artistic interpretation. Somewhere between the two there’s a point of union but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

A revisit

8×10 oil on canvas board

Back in the studio, I was putting some finishing touches on two pieces for a December gallery exhibition and decided to revisit an old painting I had done in 2009 in a NSCAD class. I used some leftover pigment and glazes to punch up the colour on what was a fairly boring and flat little stand of poplar trees. I left the composition alone and was careful not to cover up all of the cad red base coat. Instead I focused on deepening the shadows and increasing the warmth which brought the painting to life. I finally felt good signing it. Can I say this painting only took twelve years to complete?


Watercolour, ink, and gouache

As kids, Halloween was always truly and deeply celebrated in our house. In addition to decorating, dressing in costume, and carving pumpkins, our dad would always take time to do a spooky drawing. They were predictable and fun with a few tombstones, maybe a ghost, a gnarled tree, a black cat, and a full moon with a witch flying by on a broomstick (apologies to witches for the stereotype). Also, there had to be pumpkins. I remember trying to work out how he did them using crayons on manila paper. Those drawings were some of my earliest art lessons and were ultimately better than candy. Spooky fun. I’ve recreated this one with those elements from memory. Happy Halloween, Dad!