Thursday, 8 November 2012


If you are on the mailing list for Robert Genn's Twice Weekly Letters you may have read the one for October 25th, "Pomodoro Technique".  I found the tips in this letter particularly useful and have begun to apply the technique as a means of keeping myself focused.  The Pomodoro Technique is explained a bit here:

"The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.  The timer is set for 25 minutes and then you focus and go to work on your predetermined job.  At the end of the time period, the alarm goes off and you take a five minute break.  Then you start on your next Pomodoro.  If your Pomodora gets interrupted by a phone call or a request to go down and drain the lake, you'll have to stop and restart your Pomodoro later."  Robert Genn

A little kitchen timer is the type suggested, but I find the ticking too distracting, so I use the timer on my phone.

I picked out this photo, taken on a trip to Tofino, to use as inspiration on my first pomodoro painting

I haven't been very diligent in keeping track of how many pomodoros I'm doing, and my breaks are definitely longer than 5 minutes, but so far I think I am at about 7 sessions and have the following to show for it:

Here's hoping the next 7 pomodoros go as well.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Meet Simon

This is Simon.  He is a squirrel, and yes he's holding a spoon.  I have not yet decided if Simon is going to remain a drawing for my own personal amusement or if he will become more.

Every once in a while it is good for me to get out of the painting mode and just draw for practice sake.  This is how Simon came about.  I was so amused by my sketch of a squirrel holding a spoon, and looking like he really wanted to say something, that I started another drawing with Simon and his spoon in what I think his house would be like.  Pictures of that drawing will come later.

I've shown this sketch to a few people, and inevitably they start to laugh.  I'm fine with this as it is what I do when I see Simon, but it made me wonder who the audience would be for a drawing like this, adults or children?  Perhaps both, kids, depending on their age would accept a spoon holding squirrel as  completely plausible, adults would find it amusing simply because of the absurdity.  Either way, a scene with Simon in it does not have to make any logical sense.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Redwing Blackbird

This piece was done on a special request.  I have never painted a bird of any sort before so I took this on as a challenge and had to do more research than I am accustomed to.  The first step was to find a photo that would translate well into a painting.  Fortunately I have a good source for bird photos and they had many for me to choose from and gave me full permission to copy from their work.  I usually don't do any sort of rough draft for my paintings and let them develop how they want.  However, since this was for something specific I practised drawing the bird first.  I was quite happy with the initial drawing at its outline stage and then started to question my ability to recreate it on the canvas.  A tip was given to me by a friend on how to transfer drawings onto canvas and I decided to give it a try.  I made a photocopy of the outline drawing and on the back of the copy I painted a solid block of burnt umber gouache pigment.  When that was dry I lay the copy on the canvas where I had already painted a background and retraced the outline of the bird.  The burnt umber pigment transferred to the canvas and I now had an outline of the bird in the exact proportions that I wanted and the exact placement.  I used that to fill in the basic parts of the bird and then built up the paint to give a sense of definition.  I found this task difficult due to the black feathers and felt that the careful addition of white paint was the best way to go about it.  For a first attempt at a bird I think it went pretty well.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Commission continuation

Now that the branches are complete for the four panels that I am working on I can begin the blossoms.  I prefer to wait until the branches are finished and dry to the touch as this makes it easier from my end to work on the flowers.  I don't have to worry about putting my hand on the canvas to steady my brush, or that I might accidentally smudge something.

This is an example of how I start each individual blossom.  I use a purple / blue to divide the inside of the flower by marking off the edges of the petals, the dip in the middle of each petal and the centre.

I then use a cleaner brush to gently blend the white of the petal with the purple of the divisions.

I will then go back and add more purple to the original divisions.  I may do this process a few times, gradually darkening the centre area of each flower.  Most of the time the resulting blossom looks quite messy close up, but once I back up a few feet that messiness is not noticeable.  I have to keep this in mind when working on these as I can get in the habit of working very close to the canvas, trying to make the flower perfect from a few inches away.  This is not realistic for a painting as the viewer is likely to be standing at least a few feet away, so while I am working on it I must repeatedly back up and view the work from a distance until I am satisfied with the detail and depth in each blossom from that distance.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Commission work in progress

If you take a look on my "Paintings" page you will find 3 narrow pieces with branches and blossoms on them, years ago I made four similar pieces and decided not to sell them.  Recently I was asked to do some commission pieces which are very much like the four blossom panels that I have.  When I make one of these blossom pieces I progress in a specific way, first the background colour, then when that is dry to the touch I paint the branches on in black.  Each of the four panels have their background colour finished and I am at the branches stage.

In the above photo is a section of one of the branches, I have just begun to add a bit of dimension to the uppermost tip with some white paint.  You should be able to see that I have left some of the black paint for the branch in chunky bits, I like to do this to add dimension to the painting and give the branch the effect of coming up off the canvas.  These chunky areas are made by twisting the brush as I move it along the branch, squeezing excess paint out and leaving it on the canvas.  These pieces also work as a nice guide as to where to put some white paint for more dimension as seen in the next photo...

Much of the white highlights are added using a fairly dry brush and done when the black branches are dry to the touch as I don't want too much mixing of the paint.  The blossoms will be added once the branches are finished and I will update that process in a later post.

Friday, 30 March 2012

The Burnaby Artists Guild Spring Show

As a member of the Burnaby Artists Guild I have the opportunity to participate in their spring and fall shows.  This year's spring show will be on April 13, 14 and 15th at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts in Burnaby, British Columbia.  The main preparations are complete, but everything will come together on the 13th as all the members who are exhibiting their work will arrive to put the show up.  We all volunteer to help out and run the show, a small portion of our sales go towards the costs of running the show and the guild.  The last few shows I have volunteered to help with the main set up and always enjoy getting to see the variety of art that everyone has created.  It is also interesting to see everything take shape as a bunch of individuals with strong right brains work to a common goal.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Some recent work

This piece, completed late 2011, is a current favourite of mine.  It is called "Middle Beach - the Stones and Seaweed Leave an Impression," it measures 16" x 16" and is oil on canvas.  The inspiration for this piece came from a photograph I took while in Tofino of a section of beach where there was an extensive network of impressions in the sand that had been made by some seaweed which had since been taken by the tide back out to the ocean.  The stones remained, surrounded by this network.  I decided to also do a small study of each of the stones on 6" x 6" canvases:

"Middle Beach - Embedded."

"Middle Beach - Go West."

"Middle Beach - Nestled In."