The Artist Matures

Spring Thaw, studio oil, 18″x 24″

The weather and our wimpy souls have not been conducive to plein air painting lately, so our lovely new studio has been getting a workout. Andrew has been working on a portrait drawing and a few landscapes. I’ve been staying the course with landscape painting. Every so often the incredible portraits I see on Pinterest tempt me to sway off course but I am determined to grow and learn through landscapes this year.

I completed Spring Thaw (above), which is the largest landscape I’ve done in years, over a weekend and a few evening sessions in the week to follow. The piece kept my interest over that length of time, which is rare for me. I am terribly fickle. This one flowed from my brush so smoothly and the pattern of work that I had created kept me going back for more. The piece really came together so easily. And I really like it. But it isn’t the direction that I intended to go. That whole loose and painterly direction… remember that?

I am beginning to question whether I am trying to go against my natural style. Or am I trying to develop enough skill to be able to manipulate control that style into something more mature? Yes, I suspect I just answered my own question. My hero Roos Schuring developed from a realist into an incredible impressionist. It can be done! The lucky treat in this growth process is seeing these pieces come off the easel and hopefully on to collectors walls.

Exhibition season is approaching , with the TD Art Gallery Paint-In deadline fast approaching. Andrew and I will be off work then and have some camping/painting trips planned but will be in town for that special event – should we be accepted. The format is changing this year, making it an all-curated happening, which I prefer.

Here’s another new piece, created in a 3 hour-or-so session.

On the Coast
On the Coast, studio oil, 11″x14″

I’m not sure what to say about this one and it may need to sit on the shelf before it talks to me.

I have an extra long weekend coming up and am very excited about closing the outside world and obligations off to simply paint and paint and paint.

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…