“Water Lily”. Painted July 2022. 12” x 12”. Acrylic on Canvas.
I try to challenge myself with each new painting, either a new style, subject matter or technique. However, we’ve been so busy lately with the builders on the house, showing visitors around the coast, or simply travelling between Twin Eagles and Vancouver, that I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time working on my painting skills.
It was time to do a smaller painting, without any big challenge, just for the pleasure of painting. I looked through my reference photos and found a picture of a water lily that would make a nice simple little painting. Since there wasn’t anything particularly complicated about the composition, I had some fun with the negative space around the lily pads as well as the cast shadow from the Lily itself. I also enjoyed the rymthic nature of the water.
There’s nothing particularly exciting about this painting, but it will fulfill its mission to brighten up a little wall or nook.
Preparatory Drawings for “The Sentinel”. Drawn July 2022. Graphite on Paper
I’ve been planning a large painting that I want to complete in the next couple of months. This will be my largest painting to date – six feet tall and three feet wide. I plan to hang this painting at the end of the main hallway in the new house. The architect considers the walkway in front of the Art Studio that leads you to the front door and along the main hallway of the house to be the “spine” of building, so it needs a sizeable piece of art to be hung here. It will be the first thing you see as you come in the front door and if you look in the opposite direction you will see a Blue Spruce tree that we are planting just past where the walkway ends. The idea is that the painting and the Blue Spruce tree will act as visual bookends along this view corridor. Both the spruce tree and the painting will be well lit, so that the night effect will be even more pronounced.
My painting process always starts with one or more sketches. I usually start out with very general shapes and then focus in on a specific composition or subject matter. The three pictures above show that progression. This helps me get a handle on the overall proportions and I get a chance to resolve any structural problems before I even prime the canvas. I’ve been taking a lot of pictures of West Coast trees to use as references for this painting, so I considered a wide range of options, but eventually settled on a tall Douglas Fir Tree that is situated at the top of the bluff facing the ocean. The tree stands alone and has weathered many winter storms blowing up the Malaspina Strait, so it felt like a strong subject that deserved a painting. It also has the added benefit of a view over to Texada Island in the background.
Now that I’ve worked out the basic composition of the painting, my next challenge is to consider what style of painting will be the most appropriate for a painting of this size. This is the kind of challenge that I really enjoy.
From the second floor deck or just in front of the house, we have a perfect view line for rising full moons. The last few months have been particularly beautiful, so I grabbed a collection of my pics to post here in my blog. I’ve already got some ideas for paintings based on these photos.
“La Oscuridad”. Painted June 2022. 36”x24”. Acrylic on Canvas.
On both our visits to Buenos Aires, we were fortunate to rent an apartment on the top floor of a condo on Calle Ayacucho in the Recoleta neighbourhood. It had a large wrap-around deck that looked down on the street and out across the rooftops. During the day it was a busy street, with a steady stream of traffic both vehicular and pedestrian. But at dusk, the street took on a stillness, punctuated by the occasional car or person. It was as if the city took a collective breath….and held it.
Dusk is interesting in Buenos Aires. Because of the afternoon siestas, many people are still at the office at this time, so it’s common for most of the condos and apartments in the street to be dark around 6:00 PM. I was fascinated by how the darkening sky and the harsh fluorescent lighting transformed the colours of this little slice of the city. Shadows and shapes formed and only a few of the condos had any lights turned on which only added to the air of mystery.
From my 9th floor perspective, I looked down on the street from a bird’s eye view. However, towards the horizon and setting sun, I looked across a collection of roof tops. The last of the setting sun put the rooftops into a perfect silhouette. Shapes merged together and the array of antennas, wires and screens became a key part of this painting.
Since I’ve never painted a cityscape before (especially a night scene), this particular painting was a challenge. I really struggled with getting the right colours and values. It was also a lesson in only painting the slightest of suggestions, rather than every detail. Something, I need to spend a lot more time exploring.