Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fresh Snow Second Side Road Burlington - Plein Air

Today, after breakfast with the family, I packed my gear and headed off west
to do an en plein air painting. It had snowed yesterday and flurries were still falling off and on, but there was no stopping me today. I have been looking forward to going out all week and I was not going to be denied.

Because it was rather cold, I decided that I would paint while sitting in the hatch of my SUV. I set-up my paints, closed the hatch door and opened the hatch window so I could see the true colours outside.

The subtle colours after the snow were a treat to paint. With the sun finally breaking through just at the right time, I was able to sample the light and colours that I needed and to mold the surface. I hope you enjoy it!

Fresh Snow Second Side Road Burlington - Plein Air
8"x10" Acrylic on primed masonite board

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quick Plein Air: Farm House On 9th & Derry

After spending the day out with the family, we came back home at about 4pm. The day was warmer than the weekends we have been having lately and I knew I had about an hour to paint if I hurried up. I couldn't go far, so I went out to a favorite spot very closed to home on 9th and Derry Rd. It is a small farmhouse that has seen better days and must be waiting to turn into the most recent development with these Cookie cutter house (more like match boxes) that they are building nowadays. Hopefully with the slowdown in the market, this farm house will be speared for a while and I can paint it again!
Farm House on 9th & Derry, 5"x7" Acrylic on Canvas Board

This is a small one 5"x7", but that is as much as I could do in an hour outdoors. The colours are much nicer in the real one. I tried very hard to match them, but it is a very tough thing to do with subtle colours!!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

On the road again

After a few weeks with wings tucked and staying close to home, I am traveling again on business. When I travel on business, I rarely have time to enjoy the cities I visit. If anything, I might have an evening off, but that is mostly spent catching up on emails (work) and just relaxing. In the summer, the long daylight may tempt me to go out of my hotel room and some plein air sketching, but with the short daylight of winter, I am not able to do much.

I still take along my sketch kit. It holds my watercolour box along with my Altoids box which now holds my gouache paints. It also holds two sketch books, coloured canson paper, brushes and an assortment of pencils and pens. Most of the sketching that I do nowadays is in the comfort of the hotel room and mostly from memory.

It is hard to use colour in the hotel rooms. The lights are dim and the bulbs tend to shift the colours drastically to green. I mostly use pen and water which I don't have to worry about. Here are a couple from this week. I used a simple BIC Intensity Pen. I like it because it spreads the ink unevenly (bad for writing, but great for sketching).

It also holds re-wettable ink (writing ink) which I love to use because I can then use a brush to pull washes from the lines on the paper. Anyway, I hope you enjoy these two.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Cullen at the Vancouver art Gallery

On Thursday I took some time away from business in the evening and headed to the Vancouver Art Gallery to enjoy the Maurice Cullen exhibit (Maurice Cullen and His Circle). The VAG is just up the street from work in Vancouver and a short walk from my hotel there.

The exhibit was breathtaking. I spent over 3 hours viewing the paintings of Cullen and a few of his contemporaries. The first thing I remembered was how great it is to see paintings in person as opposed to the net or in books. Inevitably, the colours are never the same and you can't really study the details or method except by looking at the works first hand.

Maurice Cullen was born in St-John's Newfoundland and grew up in Montreal Quebec. He gave up a career in sales to go and study art in Paris and later returned to Canada where he settled again in Quebec. In my opinion, Cullen's winter paintings are by far his best works. He mastered the colours and texture of winter in Quebec and his paintings vibrate with life because of that. Of particular interest in the exhibit are four paintings of Quebec City that are a must see. It is very hard to describe what is so brilliant about Cullen's works. You have to see them in person.

I came away with tones of notes and a handful of colour harmonies to try. Mostly I gained a deeper understanding of snow and winter painting from Cullen. It was an excellent experience. The colours in the pictures here and else where of Cullen's work are not even close to reality. I often wonder who edits these images and if they have actually seen the real work. I know first hand how difficult it is to match colours digitally when you have the painting right there next to you. I am sure that even the best of the images we see are done by people who do not have the luxury of having the paintings next to them as they modify the images. All the more reason to visit art museums and shows when ever you can I guess!

If you live in Vancouver or area, or have a trip there, don't miss the exhibit. It is well worth it.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Salt Marsh 2

There is something very pleasing about the colours and calm view of salt marshes. I first saw a salt marsh very recently on a visit to Cape Breton Island in Northern Nova Scotia. I hope you enjoy this one. It is a small one, but as I had promised, I am phasing out my small size canvases and this is one.

Salt Marsh II, 3"x5" acrylic on canvas board

Blue Dawn

Blue Dawn, Acrylic on Primed Masonite board, 8"x10"

The darkest days of winter are behind us. The sun is slowly starting to wake up earlier in the day. Up here in Canada, and especially in the deep dark days of winter, we have a special relationship with the sun. As artists, the low angel and flat arch that it travels in the winter gives us a light that is lovely to paint.

This work is not a plein air or one taken from a reference photo. Before it became this small painting, it only exists as a compilation in my mind of many mornings. I have been brooding on these colours for a while, and I am very happy to finally put them down and see how they work together.

The colours may not translate very well on the screen. It really all depends on the calibration of your monitor, but the colours are subtle shifts from blue to gray to violet against a backdrop of a muted yellow sky. I hope you enjoy it too.