Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Step 2 on "Seven Up"

The next step in this painting is to give it some interest in the ocean area. After all, it is literally"framed"  by the shoreline, cliffs and the hills in the distance. The painter has some important decisions to make at this point: Shall the water be calm and therefore reflective or shall it has some waves or ripples and texture? This will change the whole nature of the water and the feeling of the scene. A calm surface will give you a feeling of peacefulness when viewing it and a textured surface will create some excitement. Since I had planned this to be a painting showing some action with fishing boats and whales, the textured surface seemed a natural choice. I began to paint wavelets on the surface of the calm, blue water.
After I finished the wavelets the water still seemed too benign. After spending countless hours on the ocean, especially in Johnstone Strait, I knew I had to add some more turbulence. Often the wind and currents change the reflection of the sky so that, in the distance, there is a profound change in the colour of the water and it becomes brighter and lighter if the distant water is calmer (less wind and current) or it turns darker and more grey if it is turbulent. Well,  Johnstone Strait is turbulence re-incarnated, so my choice was easy! I painted a dark line of water just below the far shore.
When executing a painting, it's always a good idea not to concentrate too much on one area but keep working all over the place. This unites the whole thing into becoming ONE PIECE instead of separate units. I brought my attention back to the foreground and decided to try to make the Kelp bed take shape, giving the painting some depth and uniting the distinct shoreline with  the water. At this point I began to wonder about colour. I had been sticking to the reality of the blues and greens of our seascapes but at this point it didn't look very exciting. I was determined to "warm up" the painting so I cautiously added some warm clouds at the top and started to incorporate some of these colours into the rest of the painting. Adding the fishing boats to the scene gave it more life and depth. How much farther to go with the warm colours? Next Blog-----

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Step by Step on "Seven Up"

In the last blog, I promised to demo some of the steps in doing a marine scape. This is one of the last paintings I did called "Seven Up on Johnstone Strait, a 20x24 inch acrylic on deep canvas and this first image is the finished product, presently hanging in Gallery 223 in Nanaimo. During the next few blogs I will show it in its various stages of production and explain how it came about.

The next image shows the very beginning of the painting. I began with a cool colour scheme of blues, typical of summer in the area. I usually begin an acrylic with flat washes of colour in all the shapes that I have used as a composition, making sure that all  are interesting and different in size. This is actually the most important part of the whole process. If your design is not correct, you can use the mostbrilliant technique with a myriad of colours but it will still be weak and uninteresting. At this point, you must check to see if all your shapes within the painting are interesting and different. 
The sky, mountains, hills and ocean are all horizontal and, although different in size, beg to have verticals or diagonals for relief. The beach and cliff provide this interest, with the cliffs being slightly more vertical and forcing your eyes toward the ocean. If the eyes go there, thay must have some entertainment which must come next. (In the next blog!) 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

At Last a new Posting on my Blog

I must apologize for my tardiness in keeping this blog up to date. There have been some major changes in our family and in our life but everything is a bit more settled now and I can go on with keeping you informed and up to date. We are still running the gallery on a "by appointment" basis. "By Appointment" sounds so formal but really means give us a call before you waste your gasoline to come out here to make sure we are home.
I am involved with one other commercial but hope to expand to others as well. The gallery I am with at present is in Nanaimo and is called Gallery 223.
I've done some interesting marine scapes and will demonstrate how I've done them on this blog in NEXT BLOG. In the meantime, if you look on my website and click on "Paintings", you'll find at the top of the list a new category called "Small Original Paintings". If you click on this it will present a blog with a number of new, small original paintings for sale. The November rains have come with a vengeance and I am enjoying the warmth of my studio with all sorts of new ideas! Check me out in a few days!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Just finished a commission for a person in Germany. I enter the agreement to do a commission rather hesitatingly because it is usually a distraction from the work that is creatively straight from my Muse. When I accept it, the client understands that there is no time limit. This gives me the opportunity to work on the piece when I am in the frame of mind to do so. For instance, if the work is to be one of a beach scene, I will work on it when I am ready to explore that subject. This was a watercolour and the spirit was with me!

Did you know?  Old watercolourists never die, they just wet their sheets!!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

South of the Border

Just got back from a road trip down to San Francisco. For several years we had been salivating with our friends about a drive down the Oregon coast to a possible San Francisco destination. We finally did it but our friends were limited to ten days. Two big revelations for me: Cannon Beach, which I idolized in my mind, was a cluttered, tourist trap with access to the beach severely limited by an endless row of beach houses. When I return I will make my base at Newport Beach and drive from there to a number of gorgeous areas within its circumference to paint and paint and paint! The other revelation was rather humbling for a Vancouver Islander. The Redwood trees were immense and much of the original old growth was saved. A highway called The Avenue of the Giants led through 35 miles of trees so large it seemed unreal. 35 miles of Cathedral Grove!!!

These were the highlights of an reconnaissance trip that gave us a really good idea of places to settle into and explore.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lady Ellen Point

North Islanders have been trudging out to Lady Ellen Point for donkey’s years for almost as many reasons as there are North Islanders. As mariners make their way down Queen Charlotte Strait, they eventually reach the west end of Malcolm Island, whereby they must decide whether to go to the left of the island and remain within Queen Charlotte Strait until they reach Blackney Passage to get into Johnstone Strait or to keep to the starboard and enter Broughton Strait. If the latter is their choice, they will have Lady Ellen Point on their right. This passage through Broughton is such a narrow seaway that it seems you can touch both shores by simply reaching out your arms. This is what makes Lady Ellen Point so delightful to anyone wanting to watch the traffic of the sea. You are almost in the shadow of the huge Cruise Ships. Besides being a darn good place to wet your fishing line, it’s a really nice hike for couch potatoes!

Some twenty years ago, Western Forest Products very kindly cut a trail to the ocean from one of its logging roads in the area. Since Lady Ellen is on the flip side of Ledge Point, the peninsula directly across from Port McNeill, the logging road that goes to the Lady Ellen Trail takes off to the left from the Ledge Point road. For years, we used to go to the end of this logging road, where the trail began, and walk down to the ocean through groves of huge spruce, but when you reached the ocean, it was still a hefty two kilometers to Lady Ellen. When the tide was in it was touch and go because we often had to dodge in and out of the heavy jungle that lined the shore. Last summer saw the building of a state of the art hiking trail along this shoreline ending at Lady Ellen but slated to continue until it meets the Ledge Point road and trail. What a magnificent hike that will be! Rumor has it that you will eventually be able to begin this hike at Bear Creek in Port McNeill and circumvent the entire Ledge Point!

This small painting came about when I followed my wife, daughter and grandson on their jaunt to Lady Ellen to try out their luck on the pink salmon run. While they fished, I painted. None of us got skunked!

Monday, January 24, 2011


We returned from the Baja California Sur (south Baja) on January 13th to piles of mail and dozens of jobs as well as 4 inches of snow - a bit of a turnabout from South Baja. I did as much sketching as I could but was plagued with a chest cold. We stayed at our daughter's house in La Ventana , a small fishing village on the Sea of Cortez. Most of the "Norte Americanos" there are wind surfers or kiters and the beaches are full of such action. The beach from the town southward goes on for ten miles or more and, though I'm not a wind surfer, I love walking the sand that goes on forever and plopping down and sketching some of the action, since there is quite a significant tidal change here. Here and there the beach is interrupted by rocks that are old lava flows that have tunnels worn into them by the sea and here, when the tide is high and the wind strong the water is pushed into the tunnels and comes shooting up into the air through holes worn upward through the rocks. Locals call them "The Booferaws" from the sounds they create. Ann took some photos of me sketching there. One of the many rough sketches I did is shown here as well. This beach tends to be quiet in the morning and windy in the afternoon, so sketching was easier the earlier it was done.

I'm back painting in my studio again, still working on a series of autumn on Mt. Cain. As the alders slowly turn to their beautiful spring browns I will be making my way into the North Island countryside to do some pleine air painting. See you again soon.