One: Diverging

diverging, connection, paths, semi-abstract, acrylic, fundraiser

Diverging from the routine is commonplace for most artists. In fact, maintaining a routine is quite challenging. This week is more divergent than usual. Every invitation to do something different requires a decision. One makes the choice joyously or begrudgingly. Joy takes less energy. Rather, joy energizes.


So. with that in mind, the planned schedule for this week needs revising. First, Hallowe’en. The finished costume for our three-month-old granddaughter does not fit… Too small. Priority number one following the publishing of my blog.

Setting aside

Second, I engaged in the commitment to finish another painting by the end of this month. Although well on the way, this may just take a back seat for a while.

diverging, connection, paths, semi-abstract, fundraiser
Picking out the image

Le Francothon

Third, I said ‘yes’ to “Le Francothon” in which I will be creating a finished painting in “my style” within the three hours at my disposal. The painting becomes the property of Radio-Canada and will probably be used to raise funds at an auction for one of the participating groups. The event will be televised live on the Radio-Canada website.

My style

Unfortunately, “my style” requires about thirty hours rather than three. To overcome this technical problem, I will endeavour to bring the painting to the point where I can comfortably finish it within the three-hour time slot. This means studio time. Yes, well….

diverging, connection, paths, acrylic, semi-abstract, fundraiser
Preparing the ingredients.

Diverging paths

In the meantime. bigger questions than my weekly schedule are afoot. Diverging paths are opening before us with regard to how we treat our common home, Mother Earth, and those living here.

Paradigm shift

“We’re reaching a fork in the road; two paths are diverging on planet Earth, and the one we choose will make all the difference for the life of the planet. Shall we continue our medieval paradigm and mechanistic culture and undergo extinction? Or shall we wake up to this dynamic, evolutionary universe and the rise of consciousness toward an integral wholeness?” Ilia DelioThe Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love (Orbis Books: 2013), xxii-xxiii.


The thought I am evolving along with the whole universe is comforting. Although difficult to live in the unknowing of our times, hope remains in the basic goodness of all creation. Even though I do not always embrace changes with joy, I can with more regularity in the future. It is not about me. It is about us, becoming whole, becoming one. Life is good.


Different Strokes: Puddling

puddling, shapes, mixed media, semi-abstract, landscape, blog

Shapes are the basis of the puddling process. Puddling involves fluid paint filling a particular area, usually caught between texture and drip lines. In the previous article about my process, I was mostly working with a gesso/gel mixture that can be applied to the vertical surface. Stepping back is easy when one is at an easel.

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The mirror helps see the shapes
shapes, puddling, semi-abstract, mixed media, landscape, blog
Gazing into the mirrors.


Puddling, on the other hand, requires a horizontal surface so the paint does not run. In this position, I use a mirror to get the distance I need to see the larger shapes. Often the shapes are determined by texture as well as the area to be covered.

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Selecting the mix
shapes, puddling, semi-abstract, mixed media, landscapes, blog
Spice bottles are best.
shapes, puddling, semi-abstract, mixed media, landscape, blog
The ingredients
shapes, puddling, semi-abstract, mixed media, landscape, blog
Ready to go.

Mixing liquid grays

Selecting the gray blend appropriate to the prepared canvas, I create jars of liquid colour using a mix of gel mediums, water and pigment. I manipulate the value of the puddle with the brush. The deeper the puddle, the darker the result. It is important to have a variety of values within the shape graduating from darker to lighter.

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In between the white shapes
shapes, puddling, semi-abstract, mixed media, landscape, blog
Nice and shiny.

Time consuming

Puddling occupies a lot of time and I often find myself in a gazing position, contemplating the next move.

shapes, puddling, semi-abstract, mixed media, landscape, blog
Now for some resist

Puddling enhanced

Once the puddling shapes are complete I use a different gray combo to unite the whole by brushing a thin layer over top of the mosaic structure. Using some resist colours I vary the water in tones of green, violet or blue.

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Last bit of painting

Edges again

The last bit in the painting process is the development of edges to continue the image around each corner of the canvas. Next time I will cover the many finishing touches each image undertakes before completion.

Off to Banff

In the meantime, I am off to Banff for Entr’ARTS. This unique program offers a week-long program with a mentor at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity. I will be among musicians, poets, dancers and film makers as well as visual artists. In the few days we have I will be exploring the use of writing within the context of painting and producing four works from different approaches. So fun. Life is so good.


Different Strokes: Drippy Drops

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Drippy drops make up the third stage of my process. Once my awesome surfaces are dry I choose several spice bottles in which to combine stronger grays.

drops, acrylic, semi-abstract, landscape, mixed media
Selecting the colour combinations.

Drops are runny grays

Three of my favorite mixes are dioxazine purple DP and phthalocyanine green (yellow shade) PGY, phthalocyanine blue (red shade) PBR and quinacridone burnt orange QBO, and phthalocyanine green (blue shade) PGB and QBO. The mix must flow. And well aware of the danger of adding too much water (it causes the acrylic binder to break down), I choose liquid media to enhance the drippiness.

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Three jars for each set of complimentary colours.

Proportions of liquid must be right

The proportions are approximately forty percent liquid gloss medium with forty percent GAC 100, ten percent water and two gobs, one of each complementary colour. For more variety, I choose two more spice bottles with the same mix only I slant the combination to one colour or the other. For example, in the middle mix there would be equal proportions of DP and PGY producing the truest gray for this mixture. The next bottle would still fall into the gray category with a purple slant while the other would have a greener look. In the end, I have three bottles of the same two colours in different proportions.

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Gridding the photo.
drops, blog, semi-abstract, mixed media
Notan study.











Where to throw the paint

Before I proceed to throwing paint, I choose a photograph and do a quick notan study to determine where I would like my darkest darks.

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Throwing paint around is the best part.
drops, semi-abstract, acrylic, mixed media, landscape

Flinging drops is far from an exact science

Now for the fun part! I enjoy accidents. I find there are more happy accidents when I use more than one gray so I arrange three sets of bottles with their separate brushes (nine in all) within easy access. Larger canvases prove more difficult as I run out of table space. Next, I select a brush and begin to fling paint at the surface, carefully aiming (without a lot of accuracy) at the areas I have chosen to be darker than the rest.

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Ready, aim, fire!
drops, blog, semi-abstract, mixed media, landscape
Turning while squirting.







Causing mayhem

Once I have thrown sufficient paint at the panel I pick up my spray bottle and begin turning the canvas as I spray. The gobs of paint become drips and the drops turn into branches twisting into a mayhem of twigs and stems. Judging whether I have thrown enough paint, I may redo this step again. Perhaps a third time will be necessary after it has dried.

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Edges collect unwanted water puddles.
drops, semi-abstract, mixed media, landscape
Lifting more water.








Reducing the damage

Placing the canvas on the table I wait for the paint to form puddles. There are certain areas where I do not wish the paint to collect, in particular along the edges. Using a piece of paper towel, tissue or toilet paper I remove the excess water before it creates a visual problem.

drops, semi-abstract, acrylic, mixed media, landscape
drops, semi-abstract, acrylic, mixed media, landscape
Is there enough?

Judging when to stop

Using the mirror above the table I get a distant look at the vague value shapes and decide to let it dry. Occasionally I return to check on edges and puddling in the wrong places. Once dry I place them at the end of the room to determine whether another throwing session is in order.

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Ready for the next step.

Next: finding the shapes.


Hope everyone is enjoying this delightful summer. Until next week, abundant blessings.



Different Strokes: Layers

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A few weeks ago, molding paste took the centre stage as I discussed the beginnings of my process. The molding paste is now dry. Proceeding into the next step we prepare by playing with colour mixing.

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Fun, fun, fun!

Do it yourself

Colour mixing is endlessly fascinating. Although it takes time to explore, the nuances of making my own combinations pays dividends. In this case, I am interested in combining various complementary colours to form grays. Before choosing my colours, I consult a colour wheel to ensure the complementarity of the colours. Then I bend the rules.

Make a selection

Once I have chosen the hues I brush the two together on a scrap piece of paper, watching for the magic. Some lovely combinations include: dioxazine purple with phthalocyanine green yellow shade(PGY), quinacridone magenta with PGY, and phthalocyanine blue red shade (PBR) with quinacridone burnt orange (QBO). While I have an excellent memory, and can identify colours easily, I find labelling each piece of paper saves time in the long run. Having done a dozen experiments, I identify my favorites and turn to the next task.

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Making a satin mix.
blog, layers, art, painting, acrylic, semi-abstract, mixed media
One with iridescence, one without.

Avoiding a dead gray

Since mixing the colours together to form grays kills the magic, I prefer to keep them pure and separate. Using airtight containers, I add a fifty-fifty mix of regular gel gloss and liquid gel matt with some iridescence and a small amount of pigment for the first thin layers. Thin is good. Each layer allows the other to show through eventually blending into a glowing surface.

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One thinner, one thicker.
blog, layers, art, painting, landscape, semi-abstract, mixed media
Gloves are essential.

Other layers

In addition to the basic two hues, I throw in a layer of metallic, either gold or silver. A particularly beautiful combination is PB green shade with QBO and gold. Awesome! This later ties in with the circles I use at the end and determines whether I use gold or silver leaf.

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A vibrant gray.
blog, layers, art, painting, landscape, acrylic, semi-abstract, mixed media
Texture and glow.

Awesome results

In the end the highly-textured surface catches the colours in various quantities and produces an exciting debut for the forthcoming masterpiece. Yes, well, perhaps. Life is full of surprises.

Summer slow

If you missed my solo show at VASA this June you can still see a selection of my latest in my gallery “Inspirations” attached to my studio at 12936 108 Street Edmonton. Do give me a ring to make sure I am home (780-761-7262). En plein air along the river valley will preoccupy my time this summer.


Different Strokes: Collaboration

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Collaboration reduces the work load. Many hands make light work they say. Perhaps that is not always the case. However, for Doris Charest and I, the work has become fun. We entertain the same work ethic. Neither of us feels as if we are carrying the major part of the load.

blog, mural, acrylic, school, collaboration
Where do I put them?
blog, mural, collaboration, school, acrylic, painting

Collaboration on a mural

We are working on a mural. Of course, this is right up my alley. With a twist. Instead of being in control of the image we have shared the work load even further. The students and staff of École Père-Lacombe paint the final product. Collaboration at its finest.

mural, blog, collaboration, school, acrylic, painting
Hooked to the ceiling, grid in place

The elephant

On the down side the effort has created an elephant in my studio… To begin with we imported some specialized panels, Crezon half inch, good both sides, for the occasion. I folded away my work tables and began the process of preparing the surfaces.

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Chalk everywhere

Hung from the ceiling

Once the primer, exterior paint coat and gesso had been applied we installed the two four-by-eights on a wood support system and hooked it to the ceiling. With the use of a chalk line we formed a grid on the gessoed panel, numbering each five-inch square. The result: blue hands and chalk everywhere on the floor and in the neighbourhood.

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Preliminary painting done
blog, mural, collaboration, school, acrylic, painting
More chalk line, a second grid.

Fabric instead of wood

Instead of cutting up little pieces of wood for the personnel at the school we used sheets of prepared fabric upon which we painted the guide, the logo of the school. After the paint had dried we cut up the sheets, carefully numbering the back with a little arrow pointing in the correct direction.

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Fixing imperfections while the other cuts.
mural, blog, collaboration, acrylic, school, painting
All over the floor.

Fixing the imperfections

Occasionally we had some repair painting to do as the masking tape holding the sheets to the panels had created white spots where there should be none. Little squares covered the floor as they dried out. Next: distributing the squares at school.

A surprise coming up

Multi-handed collaboration always leaves room for interpretation. Handing out the “tiles” we have little idea what they will look like once we receive them back. The result will be a grand surprise, a suitable ending for the unveiling on June 1st.

Other events

June 1st is also the evening of my opening reception for “Sacred”, a solo show at VASA. Do check out the display at the Garneau Theatre too. Catch all the events here.


Different Strokes: Matching Edges

blog, finishing, landscape, mixed media, acrylic

Matching edges

Inevitably as one works away in the contented bliss of one’s studio, there comes a time to finish what has already been created. Although not at the same level of creativity matching edges to the finished work can present their own challenges.


Then the question of attitude determines whether the task at hand is a pleasure or not. At times, I find myself grumbling. When I recognise the growing negativity in the atmosphere around me I stop. Recognition, awareness is always the first step. In the realisation a choice is born: either I curtail the grumbling and embrace the circumstances with joy or I leave my studio for the day in hopes my mood improves with sleep.

Negative thoughts

Negative thoughts abound. We seem to be drowning in them lately. The sea of thoughts is seed for action. Actions come out of what we cultivate. We tend to encourage the growth of the seed we nourish with time and energy. Long ago I noticed the level of negative energy rose every time I allowed it into my home, my heart, my head. This Is when I turned the television off. That was fifteen or so years ago. I no longer invite it into the space in my home or in my studio. I sometimes wish I had an on and off switch for my tongue too….

blog, matching, mixed media, acrylic, landscape
Messing it up with runs.

The choice

Getting back to finishing edges, often timelines do not permit for extra sleep. The choice remains. Either I embrace the circumstances or I make life miserable. Occasionally I take a break and go to a different project for a while. When I return to the task I seek to lose myself in the flow of following textures and drips while keeping an eye on the main image. The colours must match. The tonal values remain the same. Losing the corners requires special attention. Watching for drips running into the finished face is essential. In the end the effort adds much value to the painting.

blog, matching, mixed media, acrylic, landscape
It does not match!

A casual glance

I thought I was done with this piece. Varnishing was the next step. A casual glance granted me a glimpse into the mismatch of shapes along the edge. This would never do. I took the time to perfect the finishing by reworking the shapes. Gratitude for the guidance of a casual glance made me smile. Even in finishing edges there is much for which to be thankful. Life is good.

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My Creative Process: Mural Making

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Murals interrupt things…

Mural making is a major disruption of creative space… Always a choice, one can rent space for the project or one can make do with what one has. It comes down to finances and the profit margin. That being said, we chose to use the space available as the mural measures only eight by eight feet.

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A little crowded.


Preparing the support in any mural undertaking is the most crucial part of the enterprise. If the surface upon which one paints is not stable, the image will not last. One of the best supports is Crezon, a product used for highway signage. We chose half inch, good both sides. Good both sides means is a coat of sturdy brown paper seals the plywood both front and back. It leaves a nice smooth surface upon which to paint.

Support Preparation

Washing the area with TSP is the first step.  It removes any oily finger marks and general dirt. Even though the back side of the panel will be against a wall it still requires paint to slow inevitable deterioration. Using a good quality primer, we ready the surface for the two coats of exterior latex sealing the back and the edges.  Edges are more difficult in that they are exposed to the elements even if well painted. Eventually we will apply a silicon sealer to all exterior edges once the installation is done. Ideally a metal frame will complete the protection. The front side requires only one coat of primer for now.

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Gridded and numbered.

More prep

Another area of preparation is the fabric upon which we paint the image. A layer of plastic covers the table before applying the undercoat. This ensures quick and easy removal. The fabric binds with any wood surface once it is primed. Gesso enhances the primer coat . That is, we mix fifty percent good quality exterior primer with fifty percent gesso and then apply it to the fabric on both sides. Peeling the fabric from the plastic often leaves bits of loose paint here and there. These should be removed before painting the other side.

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Ready to cut.

Behind the Mural

A grid made of one by two inch boards supports the plywood boards. We secure the structure by tying it to the ceiling using hooks. Tape holds the fabric to the boards at the top. Small pieces of painters’ masking tape join one sheet of fabric against the other. To speed the operation a projector shines the image on the prepared surface. We trace or draw the projection in felt before painting begins.

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Fine balance.
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Hanging by a thread.


A numbered grid

As this mural will be a mosaic of small images painted by children we will grid, number and cut the fabric into five inch squares. The students will each have a square upon which they will create their own image respecting the value, colour and line. Once completed we will glue each piece into its place on the grid. The artists will execute some final touch ups before the unveiling.

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Cut up and ready to go.

A new series…

All this activity does not count in my estimations of creative work, that is, the hours I put in on my own creations. One of the challenges: ignoring the elephant in my space as I turn my attention to my new series “Sacred”; it opens in June at VASA. Check out all the upcoming shows in Events and Happenings. Even with a mural in my space life is still so good.


My Creative Process: Flow

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In the flow

All artists wish to be in the flow. Flowing means effortless creativity. Everything falls into place just right. Some days are better than others… It may depend on sleep, or eating habits, or grumpiness, or too much wine….

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The photo does not quite fit the grid.

Three new paintings

Wine aside, I have begun three new paintings all of which fall into a similar colour spectrum. As usual I have chosen a visual reference for each and designed a notan to determine where the main light and dark shapes form the best balance.

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Notan thumbnail: deciding on the shapes of light and dark

Lights and darks

With the planning in place I proceed to throwing paint, letting it dry and deciphering the lay of the land. In this particular painting, I had just initiated the placement of the light shapes when I encountered a problem with the texture. I confused the lines of dripping paint with the coarse sweeps of a comb. No longer able to continue in the arena of light I switched to the dark.

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The drips and the texture combine to make a mess.

Retreating to consider

The darks formed the tree trunks. Again, I retreated into the distance and considered my straight watercolour guidelines. The trees in the photo were straight. One tree did not want to go there.

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Watercolour pencils sets the guidelines.
A sharp curve

Knowing better than to force my will on my muse I gazed more deeply into the chaos before me and decided to go with the texture. Carefully forming the trunk so it gradually grew smaller as it approached the top of the canvas I noticed it took a sharp turn to the right then climbed to the left. Interesting. So be it. There must have been a fierce wind storm to snap the trunk. What courage to keep growing after such a setback…. Imagination makes sense out of nonsense.

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The darks make placing the lights possible.
More fun

The painting is far from finished but with the lights and darks established the fun intensifies as I add colour and reflection. Life is good.


Do check out my events page for upcoming shows and happenings.


Nine-Foot Ceilings

Higher ceilings

I need nine-foot ceilings. Or ten. Or twelve! Eight is a little low…. I selected the image for the four foot square canvas I had already prepared. The first step is splatter and spraying. As I spray I turn the panel to encourage the drips and drops to dribble in different directions.

Collapsing walls

Therein lies the problem. The table is about three feet off the ground; the frame is four feet. Diagonally it is much longer so as I turn the surface, concentrating on the dribbles and trying to avoid tobbling my open jars of paint, I hit the ceiling. Then the light fixture. Then the plastic splatter wall. The paper clip holding the wall in place snapped off the railing and the plastic sagged onto my painting. This would not do!


Carefully replacing the canvas on the table I set about repositioning the sheeting. I needed more slack. Noticing the lack of splatter to the right I moved the whole sheet to the left forming a corner around the table. That gave me enough material to set the wall further back away from the table and the canvas. Glancing at the wet puddles forming on my painting I decided all is well. Life is good.


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Collapsing into wet paint!