Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pomegranates Reflected

Pomegranate Reflected  Oil  11 x 14  $400

Seasons Greetings one and all!! I hope you've all enjoyed a special holiday season with loved ones and friends. I want to wish each and every one of you the very best for the New Year. May 2013 be your best year yet, filled with good health and happiness, good friends and family, and  beautiful paintings and prosperity.
I haven't done a reflective painting in a while and decided to put the pomegranates on glass, to add a bit more compositional interest. I love painting all the rich red nuances of the interior of these luscious fruits.  I tried a few different background fabrics and finally settled on this grey green to compliment the reds.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Art for an Oil Free Coast

Pomegranate and Cranberries

I love the form and colour of pomegranates. They are a bit like pears, in that you really want to paint their shape and colour nuances. I teamed this one up with some glossy little cranberries, and of course my favourite antique wooden box. 

This past week in Victoria BC, we were privileged to have the "Art for an Oil Free Coast" exhibit, showing at the Victoria Conference Center. Over fifty British Columbia artists including Robert Bateman, Robert Davidson, Roy Henry Vickers, Mike Svob, Janice Robertson and many more, "have created paintings, prints, carvings and sculptures reflecting their experience of this vast wilderness and the beauty of the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii. These artists hope to bring attention to the magnificence and ecological diversity of this coast."  It was so incredible to see beautiful and powerful works by all of these artists in one exhibit. Above is the cover of the book that has been published to compliment the exhibit. It is available through The artworks are blended with poetry and essays to portray the splendor of the region.

If it is built, the Enbridge pipeline will cross pristine British Columbia from the Alberta tar sands, to Kitimat on the west coast, crossing over 700 fresh waterways, (sources of fresh drinking water, spawning grounds for our salmon, and sacred First Nations Lands) arriving on our coast where huge quantities of bitumen will be held in giant tanks on the waters edge. Then supertankers would load up and have to navigate through narrow and dangerous channels, bound for China.  Our entire coast is on the San Andreas Fault Line. Recently there was a 7.8 earthquake in Haida Gwaii just 150 km east of Kitimat. 

The 'Art for an Oil Free Coast' project is organized by the "Raincoast Conservation Foundation, comprised of a team of conservationists and scientists empowered by their research to protect the lands, waters and wildlife of Canada's Raincoast. They regard coastal British Columbia's majestic diversity of plants and animals as assets to nurture rather than resources to exploit." I wholeheartedly agree.
(excerpts from "Art for an Oil Free Coast CANADA'S RAINCOAST AT RISK)


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Quince and Crabapples - SOLD
When I saw these quince with the leaves still attached and these vibrant crabapples, I snatched them up quick, because they were asking to be painted! I really enjoyed painting the colour nuances in the shadows of the quince. 

The farm shop I bought these at has a petting zoo attached to it, and the chickens and rooster decided that they liked it better inside the shop. As shoppers were wheeling their carts around and others were at bistro tables enjoying a coffee and baked goods, the chickens were pecking  around between their feet, and every now and then the rooster would cock-a-doodle-do. We had so much fun there! Our cashier told us that sometimes a chicken hops up on a shelf behind the cash desk and lays and egg. That's definitely fresh off the shelf!

Sunday, November 25, 2012


This is a commission I completed recently. My client wanted a full pineapple standing up. I found some tropical fabric in my fabric box which she liked, and she requested a red hibiscus as well. I have to say I struggled with this one because it didn't feel like me at first. I made quite a few changes to the pattern in the fabric, using it more for inspiration, and did a number of grey tone value studies  to work out how to desaturate the background keeping the intensity of colour in the pineapple and flower. I was inspired by the interesting shadow cast by the foliage and I added lots of fun colours to the brown and yellow skin of the fruit. In the end it was all about light, shadow and colour and I enjoyed the process.
If you're in Victoria and haven't made it to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria Christmas Small Works show yet, do drop by and have a look. Many of Victoria's favourite artists have pieces in the show and they are all priced from $100 - $150. It's a wonderful opportunity to give the gift of original art to someone special. In fact you're pretty special yourself, why not take a piece home?!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pear with Plums  Oil  8 x 8  SOLD
Wow! What a hiatus that was! This first post in a looonng time is a painting I did or the Art Gallery of Victoria's Christmas Small Works Show, a fund raiser of the Art Gallery. See the side panel for information on the show. 
As some of you may know, I've been taking time away from both painting as regularly as usual and from social media. I've  been helping and visiting my very elderly parents who live in a different city. That combined with an unprecedented number of requests for commissions, has kept me away from smaller daily paintings. My schedule is allowing me get back to painting my own inspirations and concepts. I've learned a lot from this year about both creating art and life:
  • there will always be things in life that  may take you away from painting for a while - but you will always get back to it. Take time to enjoy those precious moments.
  • I've discovered that for me, painting is tied more closely to my emotions than I thought. When crises happen my emotions are all used up and I have nothing left for painting. It's as if I don't know how to paint anymore. I have to take the time to be with family and then get back to painting.
  • Commissions are a wonderful compliment to your work, and also a guaranteed sale, but for me, I find that that they redirect my energies away from my creative fires and my need to realize my own ideas. At the same time I grew in my art while painting several commissions, by pushing through and finding really positive outcomes. I painted subjects I would not have chosen to paint, but in the end created paintings that were in fact me.
I also realized that I must create in order to feel balance in my life. How that creating looks may be different because of time and travel. It may be drawing instead of painting, or working out  compositional thumbnails or jotting down concepts for series with quick sketches and notes to support the idea. It's still a creative process that moves me ahead in my art for when I'm ready to paint again. 
How do you work difficult times that may take you away from your easel? I'd love to hear your tips if you have some. 



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

TD Art Gallery Paint In - A Grand Success!

This past Saturday was the TD Art Gallery Paint In, the biggest and most fun art show of the year. We couldn't have had a more perfect day weather wise. It was beautiful and sunny but not too hot. If you're from the area, you'll know that we've been experiencing a lot of rain, so it was a great relief to see the sunshine. 

Approximately 35,000 art enthusiasts roamed Moss St., a distance of about 10 blocks, being entertained by artists demonstrating their work, by painting on a community canvas, a mural, print making, trying out claywork, all sorts of wonderful opportunities for the public to experience art.

This is my set up. I also had a demo station on the left, along with a community canvas that could be painted on or if you were a little unsure of brushwork you could use oil pastels.

The Community  Canvas was lots of fun. The youngest person to paint was 2 years old, and the eldest was 90. There were lots of hearts, some rainbows, sunshine, flowers, trees, and lots of gestural strokes.

Here's two sisters sharing the bottom of the canvas. In fact the bottom of the canvas was really well worked. All in all it was a great day. I met many art enthusiasts who were interested in my process, and really wanted to understand how a blank canvas evolves into a complete painting. I was also really enjoyed my friends dropping by to say hi. Thanks everyone!!


Monday, July 16, 2012

TD Art Gallery Paint In - Victoria, Canada

 On a Clear Day  Acrylic on Canvas  24 x 48

Summer is finally here and so is the 25th Annual TD Art Gallery Paint In! This Saturday, July 21st, from 11am - 4:30 pm, 150 artists will be displaying and demonstrating their art forms and interacting with the expected 35,000 attendees. The Paint In stretches the entire length of Moss St, from Dallas Rd. to Fort St. I will be located at the corner of Moss and Clover Streets. It's always such a fun day and I really enjoy talking with all of you!

Silk and Persimmons  Oil on Linen  11 x 14

You Can Paint Too!
Please drop by and say hi and add some brushstrokes to the public painting that I will have at my station. If you've never put paint to canvas, here's your chance! Adding a brushstroke gives you the opportunity to enter to win one of two small still life paintings! How fun is that?

As well, I have been juried into the Art Gallery's Summer Small Works Show and Sale. Watch for my two pieces available for sale in this important fund raiser for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

See you at the Paint In!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Still Life with Starfruit

This is a step by step of a commission that I just completed for a client who is collecting a series of these long narrow still life canvases. I had never thought of painting starfruit because it wasn't a fruit I was at all familiar with, however, it has beautiful form and created an interesting shadow along the edge of the bowl. My client requested this particular cloth, which is an Egyptian Prayer Rug, and the plate is Turkish. It made a nice exotic combination.

Because the plate had white in it, the cloth was creamy white, and the starfruit was basically white with touches of yellow and green, I had to evolve into how to create a vibrant colourful painting, as my client and I both love colour. So I started with something I know well - grapes.

I started adding colour and pumped up the vibrancy of the star fruit by bringing out the yellow and green.

I decided at this point that the contrast of the shadow shapes in the cloth were far too strong, (I was working from a few photographs as well as some of it from life) so as I changed the colour of the cloth, I also softened the shadow effect.

This photo was taken inside on my easel and the colours appear very cool. I slept on it and decided to soften the contrast slightly and warm up the lights a bit.

Here is the final painting which I shot outdoors in the shade. The colours came out much warmer here. I felt it was a very busy painting with the patterns in the cloth and plate, so for compositional purposes I softened the colours in the fabric above the plate. 

I find commissions very challenging because they are someone else's inspiration rather than your own. In the end, this painting became one of mine, but I had some moments of struggling. I really like the person I was painting this for, and concentrated on created a thing of beauty for this special client. 

When you paint commissions how do become inspired by the content if it's not necessarily something you would choose to paint?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Three Persimmons

Three Persimmons  Oil on Linen  8 x 8  SOLD

I've been busy in Vancouver with my parents recently so I haven't had a chance to practice the techniques that I learned in Mike Svob's workshop. However, I've been practicing thumbnails, trying to come up with different designs for the same image, and seeing which one is most dynamic, for a future painting. This sounds elementary and easy, but it's actually quite difficult to rethink a photo considering adding gradations,  simplifying the shapes and creating a pattern of three values - light, midtone and dark. If you can get through this step and feel really good about one or two thumbnail designs, the next step of painting from your thumbnail by matching the values, is really freeing. A bit scarey but freeing! I highly recommend you try it. 

This is a little painting a did a while back. I received this beautiful table runner as a gift. It's made from recycled Sari's. The persimmons added to the exotic theme, but it was really all about painting the beaded and sequined fabric. I love exotic fabrics...


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mike Svob Workshop - More

This is my second painting in Mike Svob's workshop. This one is in oils, and I was trying to use a colour scheme I don't usually go for. I'm more of a warm palette person. I'd like to try this one again with a warm palette and more intensity to the colours. Below is the reference photo

The second day of the workshop Mike painted in oils. The process was a little different but the concept was the same. We chose a reference or references, created 5 or 6 thumbnails trying different emphasis and compositions.  This is really hard to do and requires a lot of practice to come up with many different scenarios of the same image. Mike just whips them off and has endless ideas. The most important part is breaking the thumbnail into three values - light, midtone, and dark, then paint from the thumbnail instead of the reference, using any colour, as long as it's the same value as the value field in the thumbnail. this process creates a new vision from your reference material. In fact you could paint several paintings from the same reference this way. I'm so excited to practice this new approach and see where it leads me.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Workshop with Mike Svob

This past weekend I had the good fortune to be able to attend a two day workshop with Mike Svob, an artist from Vancouver BC. His work is collected all over the world and much loved for his wonderful sense of colour. He is a terrific, giving instructor, has a great sense of humour and really worked hard at assisting everyone. As workshops go it was a five star and we all gained valuable knowledge to build on our painting skill base. If you ever get a chance to take a workshop from him, I would highly recommend it. He has a five day workshop coming up in White Rock in August and it's posted on his website if you're interested. He also has a book that you can buy online called Paint Red Hot Landscapes That Sell.

Mike believes in creating value study thumbnails where you can try a variety of scenarios, and if the thumbnails aren't, you don’t go ahead with the painting. The value studies are broken into light, midtone and darks. The values that fall in between are pushed to the value that they are closest to, or as Mike says “whichever value guy he seems to be hanging around with.” Mike believes that value is the most important aspect of a painting and if you get the values right, you can assign just about any colour in that value spot.

Here is Mikes reference photo. He cropped down to the two people on the left. And here is his new design using this reference.

I totally loved that he changed just about everything in terms of colour. It was so exciting to watch the transformation and he did it so effortlessly.

The first day we painted in acrylics and the second day in oils. Below is my reference photo and the acrylic painting that came out of it using his techniques.

Sorry it's a bad photo because I photographed the photograph to save time in searching for it on my computer.

I've been very focused on painting from life for both my still life work and my landscapes in plein air, so this has excited me SO much because I don't have to capture the perfect shot on the perfect day, or wander around looking for a terrific scene being lit by a heavenly beam of light. Not that I don't love plein air of course! But now I can trust myself to make some of it up and have a wonderful time doing it!  I'm sure many of you have been interpreting a great deal more than I was willing to do, so you might not find this so exciting. But this way outside my comfort zone and I'm totally pumped about it!


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Plein Air

This past weekend my painting buddy Sharon and I  managed to get in a bit of plein air painting by the seaside in Oak Bay. It was our first time out this season, and of course I forgot a few necessities, like my garden gloves that I use to paint. But the funniest was that I didn't have my usual paint colours, and I realized that I was using someone else's palette. I had brought a box of paints that had been suggested by an instructor for a workshop I took a while back.

This scene is just a few hundred yards from the Oak Bay Marina Coffee House, where I will be setting up my still life show tomorrow morning. It will be running the whole month of June, so if you live in the area and are out for a walk along the beach front, drop by for a coffee or bite to eat and enjoy the show! 

This is a Mexican inspired painting that will featured in the show. There will be 7 or 8 other Still Life paintings as well.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

More Still Life Step by Step

So where have I been this year? Why am I blogging so infrequently? Well...I’ve been busy with family. My parents are both quite elderly and living in Vancouver, and I’ve been travelling back and forth quite a bit, and will  continue to do so. Add to that my full time Display Design work, my art shows, my own family, the house and garden etc. and something had to give. So blogging has slowed right down, and some months painting has as well. However, I’m fortunate to live close enough to visit my parents to help them out, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. So please accept my infrequent blog posts and please send me a comment when I post, because I love to hear from all of you and appreciate the feedback.

This is another commission piece for one of my collectors. There is a series of these long narrow still life pieces coming together. They are all 24" by 12" on Gallery Wrap canvas with the image wrapping around. I applied some texture to the canvas first with modelling paste to create some energy and movement, and to add another dimension to the painting. Starting with a value study in Transparent Red Iron Oxide, I then built layers of transparent or semi-transparent paint in the fruit. I like to use these transparent colours, because the light can pass through right to the white of the canvas, creating an inner glow in the fruits.. 

The fruit bowl is cobalt blue glass with some rings of texture running around it. I started to build the reflective quality of the glass, and the beaded table center underneath.

Everything but the table cloth is now fully painted.

I completed the table cloth, added depth and colour to the shadows, and added more texture and colours to the beaded table center. Again like in my last post, this was a commission for a strip out of one of my existing original paintings, so I used my previous advise and tried to see the image with fresh eyes, trying not to ask my myself how I painted parts of the image last time. For me that's important in order to enjoy the process and not second guess myself. I have one more painting left to complete in this series of six and this next one features star fruit, something that I've never painted before, so I'm looking forward to that!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Still Life Step by Step

This is a commission piece I recently completed. The commission request was to paint a section from another of my originals, capturing the essence of the image, but in a different format. The original was square and this one is long and narrow. I don't know how you feel about painting similar images in different formats, but I find it very challenging. Instead of enjoying the process and problem solving naturally, with spontaneity etc, I find that I keep asking myself, "how did I create that effect last time?" or "how did I mix that colour?" I decided to approach this painting slowly and to fight the urge to ask myself those kinds of questions. To force myself into a fresh approach.


 I painted my value study in Transparent Red Iron Oxide. I prefer this colour to Burnt Sienna for example, because it's transparent, and the light passes through it to the white of the canvas. Subsequent layers of other transparent colours such as Napthol Red and Hansa Yellow, again allow the light to pass through the paint to the white of the canvas, creating an inner glow in the peppers. 

 One thing that I found extremely difficult was the rounded edge of the colander. I used a grid to draw the image, capturing the turn of the bowl, and the proportions, instead of sketching loosely in paint and adjusting as I go. But during the painting process I inadvertently  made small adjustments to the edge of the bowl and kept changing the shape and losing the circle. Without the line continuum, I kept reading the shape incorrectly. I had to regrid in some areas twice during the painting process to get the shape back again.

In the end it was a lesson in both patience and persistence, and I was pleased with the outcome. But the biggest lesson on this one, was to see the painting with fresh eyes, and to not go where I'd already been, trying to second guess myself. It allowed me to experiment, improve on the outcome, and most importantly, to find the joy of painting the image a second time, as if it was the first. And that was a well learned lesson for me. How do you handle commissions and requests to paint a similar image in a different format?


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Summer Citrus

Summer Citrus  Acrylic on Canvas  16 x 16  $500

This still life was painted from a series of photos I shot in my garden last summer. I loved the light reflections on the glaze of the pitcher, the bowl and the fruit. There was a lot of light play on the tablecloth as well. I enjoyed interpreting the various components in the colour scheme of blue and yellow, carried through in the tablecloth, and the fence and foliage in the background. I think the final effect is quite harmonious.

My Tuesday night Still Life Painting Class had a go at this image as well. They had a photograph to take home and work on for a few weeks, between our painting from life studies each week. I was very pleased and impressed with the results. Unfortunately I didn't get any shots of their work, but they're a bit shy anyhow. 

I'm getting ready to hang a show this upcoming Sunday April 1st, for the Oak Bay Artists Society. A group of sixteen of us, is having a show at the CAC Gallery at Cedar Hill, April 1 - 8. This is a preview show for the Oak Bay Artists Spring Studio Tour, taking place on April 14 & 15, 12 noon - 4:30pm. Both shows feature some wonderfully talented artists and a host of mediums. If you're in the area, drop by and say hi! We'd love to see you!


Sunday, March 11, 2012


 Silk & Things  Oil on Linen  11 x 14  
On exhibit at the FCA Spring Exhibition at Goward House

....a little mistake. Well you know how sometimes a message gets passed along and by the time it arrives to you the info isn't quite right? Well that's what happened with the message about which of my paintings was accepted into the Federation of Canadian Artists Spring Exhibition. The one in my last post was not accepted, but this painting, Silk and Things was! If you're in the area, the show is on at Goward House, 2495 Arbutus Rd until March 28th.

And if you like the painting below please "LIKE" it! This painting is in this months BoldBrush Competition, and you can vote by clicking here and when the voting page opens, click the "Like" button below the image. Thank you!


Coming up on March 20th is a new set of Acrylic Painting classes that I'm teaching. This set is about painting reflective surfaces. If you are in Victoria and would like to join us, we have lots of fun while learning! The classes are at Monterey Center in Oak Bay, Tuesdays Mar20 - April 24, 6:30 - 9pm,  6/$75
Register by phone @ 250 370-7300 Reg#103003

My new website has a newsletter that comes out every 4 - 6 weeks. Apart from my classes and shows, I also include an educational section covering an art topic to appeal to both art lovers and collectors alike. If you are interested in receiving this email newsletter, please click here and to view my website click here.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Eastern Elegance II

Eastern Elegance II  Oil on Linen  11 x 14  $650

I'm pleased to tell you that my painting "Eastern Elegance II", has been juried into the Federation of Canadian Artists' Spring Exhibition, here in Victoria. If you are in the area the show is on at Goward House, 2495 Arbutus Rd, until March 28th. There are many talented, well known Victoria artists appearing in the show, and I'm honoured to be a part of it.

I had a great deal of difficulty photographing this piece. It's still not quite what it looks like in real life. The white pot is bleached out with the shadow contrast not really evident. I was getting a lot of glare because of the dark background and finally shot indoors in natural light. If you have any tips for photographing oils with dark passages, please let me know. 

I've just added some pieces to my new website as well as a few testimonials from some of my collectors. I invite you take a moment to view it, and highly recommend FASO to anyone looking for a new website provider. They provide a personalized, highly professional site with enormous options, and excellent support.

Coming up April 14 & 15, is the Oak Bay Artists Spring Studio Tour, with a group preview show to advertise the tour at the Community Arts Council Gallery at Cedar Hill Recreation Center, coming up April 1st. So there's lots happening in the next short while for all you art enthusiasts!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Noah Layne - Portrait Painting Demonstration

Hello at last! It's been quite a while since I posted. I've had some busy weeks teaching a Contemporary Still Life painting class, hanging a new show at the beautiful Marina Restaurant, painting a series of small works, and organizing a wonderful portrait painting demonstration, for the Federation of Canadian Artists. 

First thing first - the painting demonstration: Our guest artist was Noah Layne a well known Victoria artist. Some of you may be familiar with his work from features in  Artists' Magazine and Southwest Art Magazine, where he was named "One of 21 under 31 to Collect Now!". First of all, Noah is a wonderfully kind and sharing artist, whose relaxed style and humour made the demonstration so enjoyable. He is an award winning artist who believes in the importance of working from life.  His works are primarily concerned with portraying a realistic image through the use of light, line and color. He talked a lot about finding the form shadow and cast shadow lines in order to create the illusion of three dimensional form. He demonstrated this by casting a shadow on a piece of bent white card. He explained his technique of constant comparison; measuring and comparing facial proportions, and holding his paintbrush like a plumb line to compare shapes like the nose, mouth and chin, in relation to the straight line of his brush. He also talked about shadows in relation to the light source. When the light is close to an object the shadow will be dark and the edges crisp, and when the light is farther away the shadow will be more pale with a diffused edge. Noah has a great blog with many painting tips and step by step demos.

Some more of  Noah's achievements:

Noah has shown his work in shows and galleries across North America.
He has been a multi-year finalist in the the prestigious Art Renewal Center Salon.
Been a finalist for the inaugural two competition with the America China Oil Painting Artist League.
Been a multi-year finalist in the Artist's Magazine Annual Art Competition winning an honorable mention in 2010.
Was short listed for Canada's National Portrait Competition “The Kingston Prize” 2009.
Was selected to be a Hudson River Fellow in 2009 in New York.  A Jacob Collins founded fellowship.
Was picked by Southwest Art Magazine in 2004 as one of 21 artists under 31 to collect now! 

I've been having a very difficult time photographing my work in order to post. Between snow storms and rain, I'm also contending with daylight savings, which means up here on the 49th parallel, that it's dark when I go to work and dark when I come home, so I have to hope for a bit of sun of the weekend. I'm thinking of buying one of those table top photo tents. Do any of you use those and if so, can you give me some pointers as to size of tent and what power of light bulbs you use? I'd like to be able to photograph up to a 12 x 16 if possible. Is that too large?

I'll ask my class if they are ready to be featured on my blog soon. I thought I should get to know them first before dropping the paparazzi bomb. :-)


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Still Life Painting Workshop

'Desire'  Acrylic on Canvas  24 x 24  SOLD

For those of you in Victoria, I have a painting workshop coming up next week. Just a few spots left so don't delay!  

Contemporary Still Life Painting - Acrylics
Tuesdays Jan17 - Feb 21
6:30 - 9pm
Monterey Center, Oak Bay
Cost $75 
To register call: 250 370-7300 Reg# 103003

It's going to be a lot of fun learning various acrylic painting techniques, composition, colour mixing, lighting, grisaille value study, and how to use a view finder. Come on out and join in the fun!

Please take a moment to check out my new website: