This painting is for my daughter Jessica, and was promised for last year...ish, so I am thrilled that it is now completed. We'll see if she checks out my blog and realizes that it's finally done. Now she can feel like she's living at an aquarium as it hangs in her living room...ha!
Inspiration for the painting was from a photo taken by a brilliant photographer named Randy Olson, for his piece in National Geographic Magazine entitled Kamchatka Salmon. I've made a few minor changes, and will not sell or reproduce this painting. Fingers crossed that he's okay with this.
Because of it's larger size, I wasn't sure how I was going to tackle this piece, and as it progressed, it became more and more detailed. I liked the contrast of somewhat tight and then more loosely painted fish.
I finally got a bit of time to finish Dana Cooper'smoleskin painting. It's Remembrance Day in Canada, and here in Manitoba it's a day off which I am very thankful for, in that we have time to reflect upon, and remember our soldiers who have, and so bravely now serve our country. Dana's son as I recall is in their armed forces, so I did think about her and her family's contribution as I worked on this piece. The freedom to enjoy a beautiful, peaceful summer afternoon is one of the things our countries have always fought for, so it is my honor to try and depict this privilege which we enjoy on this amazing continent. To all of our servicemen and women, thank you.
My contribution toDominique Eichi'smoleskin book was a lot of fun to do, even though it's late. Thanks again for organizing the whole moleskin project Dominique, I've really enjoyed the art being produced, and the friendships we have strengthened.
This was the landscape that I was supposed to be painting instead of a dusty old Corona bottle. What WAS I thinking? In her moleskin, I wanted to surprise Michelle Burnettby doing a portrait of one of her painting buddies, Tracy, and feature some of the beautiful country around Helper, Utah. What a coincidence to be attending a workshop with Michelle's lovely friend, who was a lot of fun to be around. The world can be such a small place.
I have been missing painting lately, and was finally able to do this plein air piece close by my house...hence the very clever title...ha! Yesterday must have been a hundred degrees here, (thirty five Celsius)...even us metric guys go Fahrenheit when it's that hot. The Red River is quite muddy, but has some interesting colour in the bright sunshine, and I just wanted to paint something, even though it was baking out there. So here it is, my first plein air back home. Kinda felt like Utah with the sun and heat. oil on board 10" x 8"
The Flying Moleskins has been a lot of fun to say the least, and I particularly enjoyed finishing this piece for my blog buddy Camille Olsen. It was almost done about four weeks ago, but lacked some finishing touches that eluded me until last night. I've been away, and busy lately, not having any time to paint, so completing this felt great. I punched up the darks in the gal up front effectively bringing her forward and increasing her importance in the painting. (She kinda looks like Rose). Then I tried to create more interest in the shadows in front of her. I took this photo in Germany last May, and included a streetscape in Camille's book on her request. oil on paper 10" x 8"
This was my first attempt at plein air painting, but ninety percent of it was completed in my studio. Using a technique I'd never tried prior to this, I floundered and made some huge drawing errors which I was able to correct at home using a reference photo. The whole experience was quite overwhelming, but a lot of fun nonetheless. I found it interesting how so much information was lost in a photo, and ended up having to wing it. For example, the shaded areas were very flat with little or no value and colour information, but fortunately I had some value clues even though the underpainting was weak. Not all is lost if even a small part of the painting is done from life. In finishing this piece at home, it became a lot more detailed than I originally had intended. oil on board 10" x 8"
This is my last landscape from Helper, and not really being into them prior to the workshop, I feel that I want to pursue painting the world now that the plein air bug has bitten me. Figures are still my passion, but broadening ones horizons is always a worthwhile pursuit. This piece was finished fairly quickly in my studio. When the darks and values are laid in accurately, adding colour and highlights not only make more sense, but they go down so much easier with more strength and conviction. Using this technique I hope and feel that improvement will come with each successive painting. oil on board 8" x 10"
This location just outside of Helper, Utah was amazing with it's dramatic beauty and inspiring vistas in every direction. Usually after watching one of Doug's fabulous demos, we would scatter and find something to paint. It was seldom that any two of us chose the same spot, as there were so many interesting ones to choose from.. Utah has to be one of the most beautiful states in the union. This was my second attempt at rocks en plein air, and it felt great after the detailed value sketch was completed. The colours and paint just seemed to start flowing. oil on board 12" x 9"
I'm sure this is not what anyone was expecting to see for my first workshop post given the absolutely gorgeous landscapes that we had around us in Helper Utah. It was about 7 PM and Doug had us out doing some more plein air painting. What can I say, the man is a task master...ha! Anyway, it was another perfect evening and we were overlooking a golf course with mountains and rocks all around us, but I was sun burned and tired, (it had been 92F that day), and looking off into the distance just felt like it was going to be work. Tracy had a chair she wasn't using and I found this castoff Corona bottle just laying there calling to me. Well not really, I usually only hear them when they actually contain beer. Doug always made his rounds while we were painting, offering encouragement, valuable suggestions and the odd brushstroke here and there, if the person wanted it. On his first visit to me he looked at this and chuckled, and thought it not too bad, so on his endorsement with a few finishing touches at home, I give you Dry and Deserted. Now because most of this was done from life, I was easily able to mix fairly accurate colours to finish this painting using the photo I took as a reference. oil on board 8" x 5 1/2"
I've been away for the last couple of weeks, with the first week spent attending a truly wonderful workshop in Helper, Utah led byDoug Braithwaite, a fabulous artist, teacher and great guy. His clean, beautiful art works were what drew me to his workshop in the first place, and I tell you, I wasn't disappointed. Doug has a straight forward method of painting that is so smooth and seemingly effortless that one cannot help but try and incorporate some or all of what he demonstrates. Every stroke and every colour just seem to make sense. There were so many areas of art that he touched on, that I don't really know where to start.
Eight of us arrived at Helper, and stayed together in an old, newly renovated hotel/ art studio owned and operated by David Dornan and his wife MarilouKundmueller. The atmosphere was all about art, the camaraderie was super, and the art direction and inspiration invaluable. Doug initially spoke to us about establishing value drawings before laying in any colour, determining values and matching colours as we were seeing them. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have an accurate value drawing before adding any colour. He showed us how to prepare panels, how to mix paint and how to apply it, how shadows changed with reflected light from the sky and ground. We used a limited palette and were forced to mix our own colours, something I am now committed to. We mixed our colours with a pallet knife, not a brush as I am so fond of doing. Mixing with a brush is a sure recipe for creating muddy colours and inconsistencies. I used three times the amount of paint that I usually do, and tried to mix more than enough to do the job at hand. I can be so stingy squeezing paint, and it just isn't smart. Doug told us he reckons that only about forty percent of the paint he uses makes it onto his paintings. Utrecht Art Suppliues love him for this...ha, and I am now striving to carve this same endearing relationship with them myself.
Doug did several amazing demos, and I've posted the above photo of him next to one, including the original subject. You can see how dramatically different the photo is from the finished painting. This is where working from photos exclusively has a serious limiting effect on producing realistic colour/values. I am now a plein air convert and loving it as I try to find my way to creating more vibrant work. Using an 8" x 10" board to record colour and value is so important when going back to the studio with photo references. Now this is all stuff I'd heard or read about previously, but just didn't get.
Doug...love'ya man...and I really, REALLY mean it this time. You are the best.
I'll post something of mine later. None are really finished, and my glorious holiday is sadly over with some intense work staring me in the face starting tomorrow.
Check out Helper Workshops and get yourself down there if you are serious about your art. And by the way, two of the young guns attending the workshop are fine arts majors currently attending unniversity in Utah. I will be returning to learn from the other masters...(Doug's own art profs)...David Dornan and Paul Davis. David gave us an extraordinary demo in his studio one afternoon that absolutely broadened the horizons in my world, including glazing and process techniques that I never could have imagined. And Paul showed me more in fifteen minutes about drawing...well I need to get back and spend time with both of these very fine and extremely talented gentlemen.
A big thanks to everyone down there...I had a ball. It was so cool meeting so many artists and making some great new friends. I drove down, and Rose met me in Salt Lake City the following Saturday. We toured through Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park and saw some of the most awe inspiring places on the planet. The U.S.of A is certainly a wonderful country with a lot of wonderful people.
Angela Elledge is a teacher, a dog lover and a traveler among other things. She requested "places" in hermoleskinwith or without the accessories, so I tried a German street complete with outdoor patio, an unusual dog, a couple of kids (far enough away to be seen but not heard...ha), and tried to include Angela herself. I really couldn't find much reference material on her blog, so I thought what a great opportunity to challenge myself, and rotate her head in my head, and see what happens. Well it's not easy, and it's not a great likeness, but it was fun, and one could argue that there is a passing resemblance. Sorry Angela, I tried. I'm probably the second last person on earth that's not on facebook, and I almost joined figuring a few shots could be found of you there.
Ruby is the cutest, softest Basset hound who belongs to the people who run the gas station down the road from me. She visits on Thursdays and is immensely popular with anyone and everyone. I photographed her last summer, but finally got the urge to slap some paint on a board, and try and create her likeness.
A pair of Great Horned owls, set up housekeeping last spring in an abandoned crow's nest right beside our house, and hatched three beautiful, white and fuzzy natural born killers. They were so exciting to watch, and we reveled in their presence for at least a couple of months. Upon learning to "almost" fly we would awake to find them on our deck, or barbecue or just sitting in a tree waiting for their next meal. The father, who is smaller than the female, helps feed and raise them, and it is he who I painted. He may look like he's sleeping, but I assure you, not even close. He is watching over the brood as junior sits in a tree willing him to go get some more food. I only saw them feed once early one morning, and let's just say there isn't a lot of chewing involved. I found duck parts all over the yard, and yet there is something endearing about these majestic birds. These paintings will go into amoleskin book for my friend James Parker, who requested pieces with a wildlife theme. oil on paper 5 1/2" x 8"
This painting was done from a fabulous challenge photo supplied by Gary Keimig. Not only is he a great painter, but check out his photography. I've always loved these awkward looking giants, who are so graceful as they move. Powerful and virtually fearless as they roam the forests, they are an absolute treat to see on those very rare occasions. oil on board 8" x 5 1/2"
I want to thank Dean Haven and Bobbi Heath for bestowing the Sunshine Award on my blog. I post it now to acknowledge all of the wonderful people who have been so supportive and sent their prayers our way. My wife Rose was diagnosed with incurable follicular lymphoma in Aug/09, underwent chemo and other drug treatments, and has now been declared cancer FREE. We are elated and relieved. I don't know if it was the God Squad, as she lovingly refers to those who sent their prayers, and there were a lot of them, or the fact that she got this early and the treatments were perfect, but perhaps it was both. Her doctor has stated that if she can stay clear of it for the next five years, he doesn't feel it will ever come back. She has gotten her life back and I am thrilled to join her in the celebration. Thank you so much to everyone, you are all truly amazing.
This is anotherFlying Moleskins contribution for that very talented artist,Liz Holm. I worked from a photo that I took in Baden Baden, Germany at the Museum Frieder Burda. We visited the Durer, Tizian, Velazquez exhibit and really enjoyed seeing a few paintings from these famous artists up close. I was quite taken with this exhibit room, which was filled with huge tapestries and had a great floor.
It's always fun to have the opportunity to repay someone through something as personal as art. This is a little painting I did that reminds me of Hansel and Gretel walking through the enchanted forest. Gingerbread dead ahead just off to the right. Careful "witch" way you turn kids. Aren't they cute?
A warm bed is something most of us take for granted, and in this man's case, a subway or sewer vent is the best he can do. I borrowed from three different photographs to create this painting for Adebanji Alade whosemoleskin theme was poverty and homelessness. In Canada we know that over a million people can afford either food or shelter, but not both. Scary numbers in a country with a population around 35 million. This group does not include all of the homeless, whose profile is quickly changing to include women and children. They represent the fastest growing subgroup followed by youth.
This self portrait is my answer to Alice Thompson's invitation to any artists wishing to participate in her first challenge. I felt I had to, and wanted to participate in Alice's project, because she was a tremendous help to me getting started with my blog, and her support has always been fabulous. The criteria was to do a self portrait using only one colour along with black and white. I chose Phthlo blue. I am also supposed to explain why I chose the colour I used. After looking at my reference photo which was shot outdoors in my snowy front yard, I decided that blue was the predominent hue which I was picking up as I squinted at the photo. Normally I would have chosen a warmer colour like burnt sienna, but the thought of using blue intrigued me. You can see the other artist submissions at Calypso Moon Artist Movement. Thanks Alice for taking the time and making a huge effort to get this going. oil on masonite 5" x 7"
This is my portrait of Karin Jurick, an amazing artist who inspires me. I participated in a labor of love initiated by Jill Polsby , who approached a bunch of us to do a portrait of Karin from the same reference photo. The results are here...all 118 of them. It is a group thank you to a great lady.
This is my first contribution for The Flying Moleskins, and the recipient of this 9" x 7" oil on paper, is that very fine gentleman, and wonderful artist, Dean Haven. I had the pleasure of speaking with Dean the other day, and he is a very engaging fellow who is great fun to compare notes with. Dean, I hope you like it, and I hope it folds well (after it dries), and does all the right stuff to look good in your moleskin book. This is from a photo I took while in Germany this last May.
See this piece and others featured in The Flying Moleskins blog. This is an art exchange conceived and orchestrated by Dominique Eichi...thanks so much Dominique. oil on gessoed watercolour paper 10 1/2" x 7 1/2"