One: Dominance

mixed media, dominance, blog

Eight new pieces adorn the walls of my gallery “Inspirations”. The photos (top and bottom) may appear to be duplicates. Can you see the difference? Our brains have a way of simplifying what we see so we can quickly assess our surroundings and determine whether there is any nearby danger. Efficient. However the dominance of colour or size might skew our perception.

Thinking gets in the way

Efficiency is not always the best option, certainly not when one is artist. Really seeing takes time. A number of activities must stop. Thinking is one. When I stop thinking and open myself to the present moment I see all sorts of things I could not see before. Like the sunrise on my way home from the swimming pool. Like the slugs on the sidewalk in my backyard.

Beyond the first glance

The dominance of the computer in our world precludes seeing for many. Lost in thoughts solving the latest dilemma we miss the beauty around us. So did you find the difference? Not only size but image dominate the left. It takes effort to get beyond the first glance. Life is good.

mixed media, dominance, blog
All lined up waiting for varnish

Venue for viewing

My opening reception is fast approaching: October 7th, 7pm at CAVA.  A selection from my new series “Wildwood” will be on display for your enjoyment. I will be in attendance to meet and greet all visitors!


Don’t forget the workshop in Redwater. It is all about Abstracts.


One: Pedestal

mixed media, landscape, pedestal, blog

Getting old is something we all do and eventually recognize. Bending over the tables to do my puddling is proving less comfortable these days. I decided to put myself on a pedestal! Well, the painting is on a pedestal…


The human race becomes amazingly inventive when we are faced with a need. Fuel that with a dream and the possibilities are endless. Just think about what we have accomplished in the last hundred years! Flying, moon landings, taking pictures of Pluto…. It is no wonder we put ourselves on a pedestal.

Getting down from the pedestal

Another need comes to mind. One facing a rather large amount of resistance from those who have. The have-nots raised their voice long ago and continue to draw our attention to the devastation we are wreaking upon the Earth, our only home. It is time we listened. Perhaps if we come down from our pedestal we will be able to hear and see more clearly. I hope so. My great great grandchildren deserve to enjoy the places I depict, not only in my paintings. Life is good.

mixed media, landscape, pedestal, blog
Up on a pedestal, a foot stool rather.

If you happen to be in Vancouver do drop in on the FCA show “Scenes from Western Canada”. I am already getting complements…. Check out the other upcoming events too on my Events and Latest Happenings page.


One: Edges

blog, mixed media, edges

Painting edges is a way to avoid the cost of framing. Many artists choose to finish their work with a solid colour on the edge. Others like the look of shadow boxes (a frame flush with the surface of the painting and some small distance from it so one can see the edge of the canvas). I prefer to continue the image around the corner.

Mark with an X

Painting around corners poses some challenges as tree trunks, for example, tend to look natural in one position but not in another. One artist suggested I indicate the position on the floor with an “X” so that my viewers would know where the ideal vantage point is located. Yes. Or maybe we can let the trunks go with the flow and blame the breeze! Generally the look of the continued image appeals to my sense of completion.

The Disadvantage

The disadvantage of finishing the edges by extending the scene is time. Each side requires some thought on how to match what is at the edge on the adjacent side and one must wait for paint to dry. Having several to finish at the same time limits the waiting. And one can always begin another painting…. Life is good.

blog, mixed media, edges
All lined up: one side at a time.

Two of this series “Wildwood” will be showing in the Federation of Canadian Artists “2016 Scenes from Western Canada” from September 6th to 18th. If you are in Vancouver do drop in!


One: Mixing Awesome Grays

Running out of paint has several advantages the most important of which is the chance to experiment with new colours. Mixing new colours leads to awesome discoveries.

A few choice combos

New colours include some I have not tried. Usually the unused tubes are mixtures such as “Teal” or “Hunters’ Green”. Most of the time I prefer mixing pure colours. Pure colours give me a more vibrant and predictable result. In the ensuing experimentation I discovered several definite uglies and a few truly lovely hues. I am still into grays. Iridescent Turquoise with Quinacridone Burnt Orange is surprisingly beautiful although it is very close to the same result using Thalo Blue (green shade). I will be using the Turquoise as a drop colour among the finishing touches. Another combination with pleasant results was Dioxazine purple with Thalo Green (yellow shade).

Airtight containers

On the other hand the experiments using mixtures resulted largely in muddy, very unattractive grays. Quinacridone Magenta combined with Permanent Green Light showed up as almost acceptable yet the result with Thalo Green (blue shade) yielded a spectacular blend. All in all I spent several pleasant hours mixing colours. I do have one problem: no more airtight containers for my new grays…. Life is good!

Matching complimentary colours yields lovely grays.

To learn more about my process take a look at my newsletter!


One: Finishing Touches

finishing touches, varnish, isolation coats

Transitions challenge the creative process. At the moment I am finishing four pieces and refurbishing my colour mixtures. As the exact amount of each colour varies with new combinations I am loath to begin a new painting without a good supply of the basic grays. Beginning something new has to wait.

Adding finishing touches

Watching paint dry, a truly exciting activity, became my principal routine… Once this stage passed I turned to the other little finishing touches that make my work unique: inscribing poetry and bible quotes throughout the image, applying my signature, splashes of pure colour. More waiting and drying. At some point as well I install hanging hardware. I also record the poetry, name of work and code number on the back of each piece.

Protective coats

Before applying the varnish I spray on a workable fixative to stabilize the watercolour pencil and the felt pen. The solvents used to remove the varnish, should the work ever need cleaning, damage the underlying materials. To protect the original painting I add a coat of Liquitex Gloss Medium and Varnish. This product binds with the paint and the various media within the image providing a barrier between it and the varnish. Two coats of UVL protection become the last of the finishing touches.

Finishing leads to beginning again.
Newly purchased raw material. Exciting possibilities!

One: Gesso

Gesso, blog

Drastic measures are sometimes required. Gesso is the perfect solution. I love working on several paintings at the same time. Helps me stay fresh. There are occasions when this strategy fails to keep me from falling into the pit. Yes, indeed, I dig holes for myself as I desperately search for solutions to visual problems while not noticing obvious errors. And so it was this week.

The foible

Although I really like the image in the photograph there are several adjustments in the shapes and value areas needed to render it perfectly. Since my process is rather random the habit of creating same sizes repeated at same intervals is an ongoing foible. So while I rearranged the dark water shapes, adding more “snow” and thereby covering the lovely accidental colour happenings, I completely missed the evenly spaced branches climbing the left side of the canvas. Sigh. It would not do.

Gesso: the perfect solution!

Taking a large brush I reached for my base mixture of gesso, gel and complementary colours and covered the whole surface. Gone! Although some would argue the previous image will influence the next I trust the underlying chaos of the method. The texture remains. The thin layers of colours are creating glow once more. It is time to splash paint again. New trails, new accidents, new challenges. Life is good.

Gesso, blog
Blank and beautiful!

One: Flexible Space

flexible space

All creative spaces must be flexible. In any given moment things change dramatically. I received a few emails from the Federation of Canadian Artists stating I had successfully applied to three of their upcoming shows. One of them was easy: I had nothing left to do. The three submissions are going into an online exhibition entitled “Limitless” from June 1st to August 31st at the Federation. The other two are more complicated.

Flexible framing

One requires glass. In order to facilitate the flexible part of what I do I keep an old blanket with some heavy brown paper in one of the cupboards where the tools for framing reside. Throwing it on a table I grabbed what I thought would be a good selection for one of my drawings only to find the table was too narrow to accommodate the frame. Moving my canvases around (not sure when I will get back to them!) I cleared a wider space and tossed the blanket there. The paper is to protect the work from blanket fibers. There is nothing more frustrating than to discover some lovely red hairs in with the nice white mat.

Flexible means outside the box

After cleaning the glass and reassembling the pieces I placed the matted drawing into the frame. Well now. It appears the frame is too large for the mat. Re-measuring every bit I decided to store this one and go with a different size.Using the gallery floor as my cutting space I sized some foam core. Flexible again! So where am I at? I will be visiting the local art supply store for some new mat and then they will be delivered to my favorite mat cutter for the beveled border. The next thing will be to choose a method of shipment. “From Life” opens May 24th to June 5th. The 2016 Annual International Mail-In Exhibition will be coming up shortly too. Life is delightfully good.

The gallery floor provides the space needed to cut matt and foam core.

One: Stepping Back

Blog, stepping back

Stepping back from my work as I am in the process of painting is a crucial practice that has become automatic. This works when my paintings are on an easel.

Flatly horizontal

Most of the time my new panels are flat on the table top as the puddles of paint are not dry enough to erect to a vertical position. Stepping back causes a problem because the perspective is distorted with the distance.

Stepping back solutions

Wires have been installed on the canvases so they can be placed on the easel. This works well when the paintings are dry. I prefer stepping back as I am working because it gives me the global image more clearly and I pick up on common mistakes which I am always making: same size strokes the same distance apart, same shapes and same colour and same….. Not sure why I do this. I think it is a human trait betraying my need for order. To solve the problem I invited my daughter and her husband over to help me install a large mirror on the ceiling. (I knew it would come in handy one day!) Craning my neck proved awkward and impractical. So I took out another mirror. Now I have my distance and I do not even need to step back! Life is good.

Don’t forget the VASA Member Show on now!

Stepping back,
Mirrors create infinity. I hardly move and I step into all possibility!

One: By Appointment


At the moment my gallery is open by appointment only. I may host another exciting gallery event in the unspecified future… My phone is not exactly ringing off the wall. However, emails have been active as I accommodate different schedules. As a result of the “Dans mon studio/In my Studio” tour at the beginning of this month I had a very interesting visit last Friday. Having missed the opening David Eggen arranged an appointment for a private showing with me. He took a brand new artwork home with him.

Appointment sale

I had actually set the work aside to put in the upcoming VASA Member Show opening next week. Without so much as a blink I whipped out my new “Square” and iPad. I discovered the Internet was too weak to make the transaction. Finally I pointed it in the correct direction. It only works in my gallery, not my studio and only near the window. In any case I plan on visiting Mr Eggen’s office to see where it now resides. And the VASA show? I sent a quick email to determine whether I could make a switch with one of my latest mixed media pieces. Yes, indeed! Life is good.

Educating the Minister of Education!