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.