Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Original Oil on Canvas 8 x 8 SOLD
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I've been away from painting for a while due to the holidays. I hope you all enjoyed your celebrations with family and friends. We had a wonderful Christmas with all the family in Vancouver, which made it really special. So to get back into things, I decided to choose a subject I was familiar with - Red Anjou Pears, and decided to concentrate on edges and brushwork. After a bit of frustration and feeling it was a too tight, I took a paintbrush and just made some bold strokes and messed some edges, and then I liked it a whole lot more!I'm really pleased with the values of the reflections on the shadow sides of the front and right pears. Those can be tricky, but I think I captured them. So now the dry spell is broken, and for the rest of my time off, I'm going to look forward to painting each day. Please take a moment to say hi because I've missed you!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Pear Hug

Original Oil on Linen  8 x 8  $95 
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Merry Christmas Everyone! I didn't have a Partridge in a Pear Tree so I decided to send a little love and do a Pear Hug. I'm having fun playing with these dark backgrounds, and edges. I liked how the pear on the right was almost completely in shadow. These were extremely red pears, giving it a bit of a Christmas feel. The wooden crate is one of my favorite props. It's a vintage pop crate - "Canada Dry". I'll have to try to get more of it into one of these paintings. Have a wonderful holiday season with your families. Talk to you soon!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Melon and Mandarines

Original Oil on Linen  8 x 8  NFS

Here is the last still life from my workshop. I actually finished painting it at home and enjoyed taking a little more time to think through some of the decisions. Although I'm happy with the outcome, it's a bit tighter than I'm attempting to paint these days, as it's a Christmas present and the recipient will prefer that style. I really enjoyed the workshop with Keith Hiscock (find him on facebook), who has motivated me to shake things up a bit and remember to put the art into what I'm doing, by looking at the canvas instead of the set up once I have enough information. When I paint landscapes or cityscapes, I spend a lot more time putting the art into it - editing out, changing the position of things to create a better composition, changing the amount of light coming through the trees. It seems that still lifes really pull me into a literal place. I think it comes from trying to nail that value and hue with minimal brushstrokes and then the next thing I realize that I've become chained to the set up. I guess there are no compositional or lighting changes that need to happen as I've created the the set up to my liking, so the art part becomes all about edges and brush work.  What about you? Do you find yourself being more literal with still lifes, and if not, how do you work your painting to avoid it?


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Still Life Workshop

Second Still Life Painting from Workshop

It's taken me a while to photograph this painting as I've been a bit challenged with light (or the lack of it) and rain. Yesterday there was a brief moment when the rain stopped and I rushed out onto the deck and managed to grab this image before the rains started again. :-) This is the second painting I did at the Still Life Workshop last weekend. We had about two hours to complete each piece, allowing our instructor Keith Hiscock, to come around to each of us a few times, giving us feedback.

Keith acknowledged that critiquing is very valuable but that we don't always have someone there to critique our work, so he recommended regular self critiques. To do this, he suggested choosing an artist whose work we admire, selecting an aspect of their painting skills that we would like to develop in our own painting skill set, and work on that aspect. It's not to copy their style, but to understand and develop things like brushwork etc.  After the completion of each painting, we should do a comparison of our work against theirs, to gauge our improvement. The skill and artist should keep changing as we improve our skill set. I think most of us do this on a casual basis, but by specifically choosing a skill for improvement, focusing on that, and doing regular comparisons to monitor development, results will be much greater. I think this an excellent and easy to do tool for self development, and  feel quite excited to get started on this.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Keith Hiscock - Still Life Workshop

This first image is the first painting I did on day one of the workshop. It's not a great photograph because I ran outside and propped it on a wall to shoot it without a tripod etc, so I'd have something to show you. Below are shots from the day.

Keith Hiscock is a very well known Victoria artist. He paints beautiful landscapes and still life pieces. You can find him on Facebook.  This is Keith's quick sketch to place the positive objects in the still life set up. 

 He then switched to the negative space and blocked in a thin layer of a mixed black.

 Keith demonstrated switching back and forth between the positive and negative spaces, helping you to really see, and to start setting up a variety of edges. Hard crisp edges at the focal point and soft or lost edges as you move away from the focal point or blend into the background.

 Here's Kerry Fleetwood, an FCA friend, and a very talented artist, who I painted beside during most of the workshop. As you can see, Kerry was really picking up on everything that Keith was saying. Her paintings were beautiful!

 Artists hard at it. You could have heard a pin drop!

Here's Keith giving Kerry a few pointers.

I learned some great concepts during the weekend, that I feel over time, will make a big difference to my painting technique. Among the many pointers here are a few that particularly spoke to me, for improving my work:

  • when developing the painting, switch back and forth from positive to negative space,  helping you to  form  shapes accurately and to really see. 
  • I found that this push and pull between negative and positive  also allows you to paint back and forth over the edges of negative into positive and vice versa, rather than painting up to the edge of an object, helping to start making decisions on your edges as the painting is in progress.
  • As my painting evolved and I had recorded on canvas the necessary information, Keith encouraged me to stop looking at the set up and focus on the canvas, making decisions as an artist, directing where the painting would go, rather than recording the image. I had all my values down and the placement and composition was where I wanted it, so I needed to stop looking at the set up. This point is going to have a big impact on my painting. I'm one of those who tend to overwork things.
  • At this last stage is where I tried to really focus on edges. Sharp well formed edges at the focal point, soft and lost edges moving away from the focal point. In the case of the leaves in my painting up top, a few leaves were defined and the rest blurred at the edges so they started to disappear. This was really fun for me. I've only been painting in oils for about 6 months, so being able to play with the edges like that is quite exciting.


Sunday, December 5, 2010


Oil on Linen  6 x 6  $85

It's mandarine season again, and I had some on hand so here they are featured in a small painting. I've been wanting to paint oranges on this tea towel for a while, and I've finally done it! I find the colour combination quite yummy. 

I've just spent the weekend at a fantastic workshop on Classic Still Life, learning the technique "Chiaroscuro" meaning light out of dark. The workshop was taught by well known Victoria artist, Keith Hiscock. Check him out on Facebook. He does beautiful oil paintings of west coast scenes and still lifes.  I'm really excited about the weekend and will post all about the workshop in a day or two, when I hopefully will have taken some photos of my paintings from the class.  Now that we've hit daylight savings up here in the Pacific Northwest, it's hard to get photos of my work outside of the weekend, as it's always dark when I get home! Yuck!



Thursday, December 2, 2010

More Christmas Small Works at the AGGV

Sweet n' Spicey  6 x 6  

A-pear-antly Red  6 x 6

I'm happy to report that my two paintings Three's a Crowd and Tempting, that are part of the Christmas Small Works Show at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, posted November 22, have been sold! So I've been invited to submit two more and these are my new submissions. If you are interested in either of these paintings they are both framed and are $125 each and can be purchased through the AGGV 

 Also, after receiving such kind and supportive comments from you on my last post Ford Cove - Hornby Island, I realized I hadn't told the whole story about this painting. I'm sorry this photo is so dark, but it gives you the idea.

This painting was selected for the Vancouver Island Art Calendar 2009, and was the image for the month of December. The calendar was produced by the Rotary Club to raise funds for their humanitarian program - ShelterBox. These ShelterBoxes are sent into areas where natural disasters etc. have displaced people from their homes. These large green plastic boxes contain a 10 person tent, water filter system, a special portable burner that will operate on any fuel - even paraffin, tools, cooking and eating utensils, school supplies - all of the essentials for a family of 10 to survive for at least 6 months. They have been sent to places like Myanmar, China and Haiti.  I was  very proud and honoured to be part of this fund raiser, and managed to sell enough calendars to fund the purchase of one entire ShelterBox.

An amazing thing about the program is that if you purchase a ShelterBox, you can track it online and know when and where it is sent to aid people in need.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Ford Cove - Hornby Island

Acrylic on Canvas  24 x 36  SOLD

 This is another scene from Hornby Island, but not from this past summer. This scene was painted from a photograph during a summer vacation full of rain. It had been raining all week, and finally it started to slow and I decided to go down to Ford Cove and visit the Art Gallery there. As I drove into the cove, the black clouds broke and the sun burst through. The contrast in the light was almost like a photo negative. Amazing! I'm tempted to try this one again in oils.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Small Works Show at the AGGV

 Three's a Crowd - SOLD

Tempting - SOLD

These two paintings are part of the Christmas Small Works Show at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. It opened on Friday and if you haven't made it there yet because of the cold snowy weather, do try to make it there soon as there are many wonderful pieces by over 60 of Victoria's well known artists. To view the information on the show click here.

Thanks to everyone who sent their good wishes for the Oak Bay Art Studio Tour that took place this past weekend. We had icy cold weather with high winds at times, but the snow held until today, which came in the form of a white out! So we were very lucky during the weekend. Although we had smaller crowds than usual, those who did come were serious art viewers, who were very interested in the art, my process and inspiration and they were all a pleasure to welcome into my home. So all in all it was a success! I'm taking a few days off to relax after the weekend, and then I'll be back painting and posting again. Talk to you then!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Oak Bay Artists' Studio Tour - Show All Ready!

 Arbutus at Saltspring  Oil on Canvas
11 x 14  $150
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Spring Greens  Acrylic on Canvas
12 x 12  $225  
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These are the last two painting additions I'm making to my Oak Bay Artists' Studio Tour Show. This has been a very busy week of framing and organizing, not to mention cleaning, but I'm feeling pretty good about how everything looks. My family are going to be my assistants throughout the show, so that should be a lot of fun to have them there helping me. The only stressful thing at this point is the weather. It's calling for snow! Now if you live in Victoria you will appreciate just how ridiculous this is. It rarely snows in Victoria! Anyhow, I'm sending out all my good Karma vibes so that if it does snow tonight, it will turn to sunshine before the first visitor arrives. :-) If you do live in the area, I'd love to see you! Remember to double click on the brochure in the right side bar for the tour brochure and map. Wish me luck!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dream Catcher

Original Acrylic Painting  12 x 16  Framed $300 
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Here is the finished painting. It's a very grey day here in the Pacific Northwest but I think the photo is pretty close to the original, none the less. I really enjoyed painting with a black gesso ground. It created a wonderful richness of colour and light. I have a few photos of other subject matter, taken at dawn, which I think would work well with this same technique, so I'll be experimenting further.

I had a blogging  friend (check out her blog for a great sketchbook project), inquire about the Oak Bay Artists' Studio Tour, and whether people come through my house. Yes, that's exactly what happens. Depending on where the studio is located, artists open up various portions of their homes. The first time I participated I was a bit nervous to have strangers wandering through my home, but discovered that it was a very pleasant experience. Everyone is so respectful and appreciative to be able to come and view art in the artists space, to talk about process and inspiration, and if they purchase, they are purchasing from the source which is something they really appreciate. I serve tea and cookies, sometimes they even sit down for a visit, and it's really quite fun. There's a lot of prep work though, because you want everything to look good, including the garden!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Black Gesso

Today's post shows the beginning of an experiment. I've always wanted to try black gesso and I have a photo reference that I think is just the right image to work well on a dark ground. It's a high contrast photo of a man fishing on the Canal de Midi in France. Shown is the gessoed canvas with a few guidelines drawn in and the beginnings of the block in process.

Meanwhile I've been working on the preparations for the Oak Bay Artists' Fall Studio Tour, coming up next weekend. I've been doing quite a bit of framing, and today spent about 5 hours designing the show and then hanging it. In total I have just over 50 paintings, so you can see why it took so long. I've had my first walk through, by my girlfriend Kerry, and she approved of the placement and groupings. Phew! My only concern is the lighting. I don't have spot lighting in my space, so I'm hoping for two sunny days to augment the lighting that I do have. For more info on the tour, you can double click on the tour brochure in the right column to download a map, and if you're in the area, please drop by and say hi. I'll have a little freebie for anyone visiting the tour who mentions my blog.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Country Road

Country Road  18 x 24  $475
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I blocked in the main colour pattern, concentrating on the rhythmic flow of  the branches, as well as establishing the tree trunks. These masses were then broken down into more varied tones and temperatures. My focal point is where the light hits the end of the road so I worked on establishing the light and dark contrast in that area. I used a number of greyed colour tones to make the more saturated colours pop. Because of all the layering of colours I paid close attention to the arial perspective, so that it layered back in space properly.

I drew in a few guidelines in burnt umber and started to block in the abstract colour shapes. Here everything goes in as a flat field of colour without creating shadows and form. I'm concentrating on the abstract shapes. I coloured the canvas with a sepia tone which I left to show through in small patches throughout the painting, creating colour harmony.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Artist Phyllis Serota at the AGGV

Artist Phyllis Serota at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

I've had a very artsy weekend. After the Friday night "Little Gems Show", Saterday arrived and I attended a "Talk in the Gallery" with Victoria Artist Phyllis Serota, whose show "Still Still Life" is showing at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Phyllis is a very warm, engaging speaker who allowed everyone to relax, laugh a lot, and enjoy hearing of her inspiration for her paintings on exhibit. One attendee commented on how she appreciated Phyllis making the explanations of her art so accessible and unintimidating. Phyllis sighted this as an important aspect in marketing your art., and said that she has worked at breaking down the barriers and creating comfort for the public to enter galleries to view and appreciate art. I thought this was a really valid point for all of us to consider when showing our work. 

Phyllis has been painting for 50 years, so she has seen many changes with the evolution of materials and methods. She has moved from oils to acrylics, utilizing lots of textural effects. She sees digital photography as a revolution in art. She says that the cost savings and creativity that digital photography provides artists is enormous. 

Phyllis' work is varied, sometimes painted purely from her imagination, sometimes from her own personal history depicting family events, or from life , as in the case of her still life paintings. To view her work click here
I'm also very fortunate to have Phyllis as a neighbour. She has a wonderful studio which she she  kindly gave me a tour of, and is very warm and encouraging with artists like myself who are newer to the art business. 

Apart from all of the art events I attended this weekend, I also managed to get in a fair amount of painting. I'm preparing for the Oak Bay Artists Studio Tour coming up on November 20 and 21, and have been painting some larger pieces. I'll post those later in the week. Talk to you then!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Little Gems Fundraiser Art Show

 Here I am just before the opening of "Little Gems Fundraiser Show" at the Community Arts Council in Victoria. The arts have suffered such debilitating funding cuts, that the arts of Victoria have donated works for a show to raise money to keep the Council alive. I'm standing beside my Mexican themed painting 'Salsa!'

 I took this shot just as the first few artists and patons started to arrive. It was a truly wonderful evening and many red dots began to appear.

Victoria's Art Critic Robert Amos performed a very spirited reading from James Joyce's Ulysses, which brought much laughter to the room. A much acclaimed artist himself,  Robert also donated a work to the show.

Victoria's Art Icon Pat Martin Bates regaled us with a story from her youth, a reading from her autobiography
"It Is I Patricia". Pat is an internationally acclaimed artist, who is literally part of the art history of  British Columbia. She is a huge advocate for the arts and is tireless in her efforts. It is such an honour to have a piece of my work hanging in a show with work by Pat Martin Bates. The show continues through November 17, at the CAC, in Sussex Court at Fort and Douglas. So if you are in the area, drop by and take advantage of purchasing a piece of original artwork by a local artist for yourself or perhaps a gift for someone, and at the same time supporting the arts in Victoria.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Pear - ently Red

Original Oil Painting on stretched Linen  6 x 6 - SOLD
Currently Showing at the Christmas Small Works Show
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

 I'm really into painting these rich red Anjou pears.  I love the gorgeous sculptural form of pears and the colour of these Red Anjous is just so inspiring. I think it was faster to paint than it was to name. My two kids were in hysterics coming up with all kinds of crazy names, and finally I had to just stop the madness and I went with my daughters first serious suggestion. It was a fun family moment!


Sunday, October 31, 2010


Original Oil Painting on Linen 8 x 8 Framed - SOLD
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I had a lot of fun with this one. I'm working on more painterly brushstrokes, and was thinking about lost edges as well. I'm quite pleased with the spontaneity of it. The photo has some glare unfortunately. If I manage to get a better shot, I'll repost. I find that the darker the colours with oil paintings, the more difficult it is to photograph. Anyone else have that problem? And if you do, how do you deal with it?

This painting reminds me of living in Toulouse France. We had many exotic (for us) fruit and nut trees in our yard, and one of those was a pomegranate tree. I didn't know what to do with a pomegranate and was told to us them in salads. So here's a great little recipe if you happen to paint a pomegranate and then want to eat it. Baby spinach or mixed greens, lots of pomegranate seeds, walnuts, a bit of crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese, and an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. It's really yummy!


Thursday, October 28, 2010


Clementines Original Oil Painting on Linen 8 x 8 Framed - SOLD
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I had a very slow start on this one. I wiped it off twice before finally deciding to sit down, thereby changing my viewpoint and avoiding drawing the opening of the pitcher. Some days you just can't make it happen! I ended up liking this composition better and am pleased with the outcome. I'm working on more painterly brushstrokes, which I think I achieved on the pitcher and the cloth. The clementines ended up a bit tighter, but you have to start somewhere!

This painting is of one of my favourite belongings - a Tuscan pitcher. I bought it at a flea market in a little village in the Southwest of France. The woman who sold it to me, told me a wonderful story of how she came to own it. A flea market vendor in Tuscany was berating the crowd for being so cheap and not buying anything from him on this particular day. He held up the pitcher and kept lowering the price until finally he offered it for free, at which point she stepped forward and accepted it. The irony is that she didn’t pay it forward, she charged me for it, and quite a healthy price too! But I’m happy I own it all the same. :-)


Sunday, October 24, 2010


Original Acrylic Painting  6 x 6  $65 

The first of the persimmons have just arrived at the grocery store. I love painting these exotic little fruits. I see more persimmon paintings on the horizon....


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Finding the Balance

Here I am at the Sidney Fine Art Show with both of my accepted pieces on the same panel! I was given special permission to have this picture taken. I would have loved to take more pictures to give the flavour of the show, but it wasn't allowed. It was a wonderful evening and some of the pieces were so outstanding that I felt particularly honoured to be a part of the show.

The past 6 weeks or so have been extremely busy for me. Apart from my day job as a Display Artist, and my family and home commitments (including a small reno), there have been several wonderful art shows that I was fortunate enough to participate in. It's been lots of fun and a whirlwind of activity, but the long and short of it is that I haven't been able to paint as much as I'd like to! How to organize my time? I never have a problem with motivation, I have a problem with time, or at least not having enough of it. Hopefully in the upcoming weeks things will relax a bit and I'll be able to get back in the groove. I try to paint two to three evenings a week and at least one full day on the weekend. How about you? Do you have trouble finding the balance between all the various commitments in your life and getting in your precious painting time? If anyone has any great tips on how to manage their painting schedule, I'd love to hear them. In the meantime I'm going to concentrate on getting back to the easel, which is something that I love and that I enjoy sharing with all of you.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Old Corner Store

Original Oil Painting on Canvas  8 x 8  $85
Free s/h CAN & USA

This poor forgotten corner store has been standing empty in our neighbourhood for years. My friends and I  can think of all kinds for ventures for the spot, starting with a great little artist run gallery...The neon sign, which is practically a landmark, says News, Confectionery, and Magazines on the blue L shaped band. Another era for sure. I thought I'd better paint it before it disappears.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Sidney Fine Art Show 2010

Tutti Frutti  Original Acrylic Painting 
24 x 24  $800 + shipping and handling
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A-peeling  Original Oil Painting 11 x 14 
$650 + shipping and handling
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I am thrilled and honoured to have two paintings, Tutti Frutti and A-peeling accepted into the Sidney Fine Art Show 2010, in Sidney BC. Last evening was the Opening and Awards Ceremony, which I attended, and it was a superb and exciting affair. The calibre of work and variety of disciplines was wonderful. It's truly a beautiful show and if you live in the area, do make a point of dropping by as you won't be disappointed.

If you are not from the area, following is the a description of the show presented by the organizers - The Community Arts Council of the Saanich Penninsula:

After more than a year's preparation, the 2010 Sidney Fine Art Show will open it's doors to the public at 9:00 am on Friday, October 15 at the Mary Winspear Centre in beautiful Sidney by the Sea. Now in its 8th year, the Sidney Fine Art Show has become one of the largest and most anticipated shows in British Columbia and a highlight on the cultural calendar of Vancouver Island.