Try Something New

My first streetscape.

Headed Home, Studio oil, 8″ x 10″

Having just completed a large, complex piece (The Fall, below), I was looking for something smaller and simpler to finish up the weekend. I’m in love with the work of Seattle artist Robin Weiss, in particular his streetscapes. They feel so west coast and are not too tight, not too loose – they are just right. It’s difficult to describe why I am so attracted to them. He’s good.

I had sourced a couple street photos and chose a dusky, wet street scene. Jumping into the work, my thought was to just try it – what could happen?! Coming off what I thought was a successful painting made it easy to take that risk.

So began this new landscape; as simple blocking in abstract colours and shapes.


By the time I came up for air (or coffee, as the case may be), it was starting to come together nicely. It’s a very satisfying experience to let go of trying to make paint look like something and just put down shapes, colours, tone, and the spaces in between. A challenge in this one was to make those shapes look elegant in and of themselves. Sure, the finished piece looks nice but when I focus in on the brush strokes and small shapes, they are not particularly that attractive. This will be something to work on.

Since I enjoyed the process and the product of this one, I do believe there will be more streetscapes on the easel soon. Perhaps even a plein air version! Imagine that! I’m such a risk taker! 😉

It’s all great fun.

Here’s the larger piece I finished prior to Headed Home.

The Fall
The Fall, Studio oil12″ x 24″

Daily Practice


I often read that it’s important to make art every day in order to really see progress reflected in your work. This is difficult when  you work a standard job, but I’m giving it my best try! Every day I make it into the studio, even if it means just prepping a board, setting out the design for a painting or finishing a small study. This week I started a larger, 18″ x 24″ painting, thinking I would start the piece in earnest the next evening. But when that next evening came, my focus just wasn’t there. Not only that, but I realized that I didn’t know how to paint! The scene I had referenced was a little snowy creek scene and… I’ve never painted snow or a creek like that. All of a sudden I had no idea what to do first. I took the board down and put up a smaller, 9″ x 12″ board and laid the design down again. And then things started to fall into place; block in the larger shapes, find the darkest dark, and the lightest light and just… start. Since it was a Friday night, this painting session included a lovely, crisp Chardonnay… so at that point I’d had enough that it was time to stop. A great start!

The next day I had all day in the studio so an exhausting 5 hours later I was pretty happy with the results. The piece is tighter than I would prefer, but I managed to render the forms and light in a way which helped me understand how to tackle the larger version.


Last night I put the larger version back up on the easel and realized the original design was not well laid out. In the smaller version, I struggled with the snow bank on the right which comes forward and is mostly in shadow. Without much light, it looks like just a chunk of blue, so I turned the board around and laid out the design again, taking the snow off to the right earlier to eliminate that area. I had more of an idea on how to tackle this one now, technically. I also knew I wanted this one to be more loose. Larger brushes and a different attitude are in order.

Until tonight…