December 24, 2006

Christmas presents

I had to take a few days away from my usual artistic activities to make presents for Christmas. Here is one example.

December 22, 2006

silk flame bowl

This silk bowl, made from silk hankies, looks like the flames of a fire.

Let me know if you would like to see how this is done.

December 12, 2006

Encaustic Collage

I enjoyed teaching the class so much, that I decided to make a few of my own. These six pictures are each 6 x 8 inches, and work nicely as a group.

Craft Class Images

I teach a class in a new technique in December each year, and this year the technique was encaustic collage. I based the class on a technique demonstrated on HGTV by Kim Bernard. Take a look at,1789,HGTV_3255_4518927,00.html and see also for more of her work).

Here are some samples of the results produced by this very talented class:

Karina Bodo

Irene Mazurenko

Jill Svenson

Jonathan Robb

Brenda Kam

Siu Yu

Kendra Malainey

November 22, 2006

encaustic collage

Encaustic (unbleached bees wax) with copper and tissue on primed wood.

silk bowl 2

This is the second bowl. This one is made from several layers of silk hankies (squares of unspun made from a single cocoon), and formed over a bowl. I put this one in the oven for a bit, and it heat-bonded the medium quite well. It is gossamer thin, and see-through in most places, yet it stands on it's own, and retains it's shape, even after gentle hand-washing.

silk bowls

It has been a while since I posted, so I am posting a few images today. I wanted to try making bowls from silk paper, and this is my initial attempt. I am using Jo Sonya's Textile Medium which is great for leaving the final product still feeling like silk, but it requires heat to set it, which is very difficult when the material is in a bowl shape (kind of hard to iron). I was using a balloon resting in a bowl for the basic mold, and after it dried, it was quite difficult to iron properly.

September 22, 2006

Hay Fields in Fall Bloom

The hay fields are so beautiful in the fall, and it is sad to see them get mowed. The clover and pea flowers are so dark they look black, and it is always a pleasant shock to realize it is a huge field of flowers - pink, purple, white and yellow.

This oil painting is 24x10 inches on canvas.

September 18, 2006

fields of clover

I completed two paintings today, both of hay fields. The first one is on a 3.5x5 inch canvas, and the second one is on a 4x6 inch canvas. Both are painted with acrylic.

September 12, 2006

Wolf drawing

A quick sketch of a wolf, 10 x 12 on watercolor paper.

September 9, 2006

Moraine Lake II

Another version of the mountains at Moraine Lake in Lake Louise, this time a bit bigger (8x10) and a bit more interpretive than photorealistic. This was primarily painted with a pallette knife, which is a beter tool to create the striations in the rocks.

The water is icy cold and never gets much above a couple of degrees above freezing, even in the heat of summer. The water comes from the glaciers in the mountains above, and there is so much sediment that it is murky even at the shallow edges of the lake. The high sediment content is the reason for the strange color, which is always a beautiful teal blue-green.

September 8, 2006

Fields of Clover

Acrylic on canvas, 3.5 x 5 inches

September 6, 2006

Moraine Lake

I found some tiny little canvases at the local art supply store that are only 3.5 x 5 inches, and they are made of real canvas on real stretcher bars. They were so cute, I had to buy a few to try them out. I haven't painted in this small format for a while, and it has it's own challenges. The brushes and even the paint consistency has an impact on the final product. For example, adding too much water to thin the acrylic paint makes it difficult to paint because the water always forms droplet size paint globs, which are often too big for the image (like the trees in this example).

This is a picture of Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. the stippling that appears in this photo is actually the grain of the canvas, and is not as evident in the actual painting. The image also looks bezelled, but that is because I painted the image on the sides of the canvas as well, so the picture wraps around the sides, top and bottom, right to the wall.

September 3, 2006

Stained Canvas Final

This one is finally done - I think. I still need to stretch it, but I am satisfied with the colors and the way they work together. The centre fold is still a bit evident, but I will see if I can minimize if after it is stretched.

I like these type of paintings. They look like a riotous flower garden in full bloom, which is how my flower gardens usually end up.

August 30, 2006

Stained Landscape

I decided I couldn't leave this one alone, and that it still needed more modulation in the trees, and a lot more blue in the sky and the water. I think this one is greatly improved, and the blue-green part in the middle actually looks like water with reflections of the trees.

I also added yellow to the trees, to show the earliest indications of fall, which is evident already in my part of the country.

August 28, 2006

stained canvas

And this canvas is starting to come together. There is always a point with this technique where I think I should just abandon it because it is not going to be repairable, but I find that if I keep working at it, it does start to improve.
The photograph doesn't really show it very well, because the image looks much more integrated in person. It still needs more work, though, perhaps to punch up the yellows and make the greens a bit more leafy-coloured. And the line is still quite evident, so I am going to try to do something to get rid of that.

Stained landscape

I completed and stretched the stained landscape today. I'm still not sure if it is finished, but I will have to wait a couple of days before doing anything more to it, so I don't over-work it and ruin it. The yellow-green at the bottom seems a bit too dominant, and it seems to need a bit more yellow in the back row of trees, but I will live with it a few days and see.

August 25, 2006

more stained canvases

Since I had the paints out and mixed, I decided to finish this canvas, which I started years ago, and abandoned because I thought that the amount of room for the sky was too small. I added the yellow-green to the bottom today, and will add blue to the sky and the water tomorrow.

I also had a very small piece of canvas with crumpled washi paper glued to it, so I glued it to a piece of foam core board, and started this painting. The paint follows the lines of the wrinkles, and creates an abstract pattern that will be great for petunias. It is very small - only 2.25 inches wide, so it is going to be challenging to finish.

Stained Canvas

I took a few days off and went to Lake Louise, so I didn't get much art time. I took a lot of pictures, but found all kinds of excuses not to draw or paint. I had started a painting of a grizzly bear long ago, so I took it along to finish while I was there, but I have a huge mental block about this painting, and always find excuses not to finish it.

Anyway, I got back home late yesterday, so I went back to work on the stained canvas. I decided that it was going to take too long to try to put in all the colors separately, so I added color all over the canvas. The colors look really bright in this picture, because it is wet, and now I am thinking I added too much alizarin crimson, but I will wait until it dries to make any more changes.

August 18, 2006

Tissue Collage - final

Here is the final picture. The composition is weak and should have been better planned, but the tissue worked as the main collage material, and the black canvas underneath also worked. It gives a nice depth to the shadows, and adds to the texture of the finished piece.

The photo doesn't really do it justice, because the texture is quite a bit nicer and adds a lot to the impact of the image.

August 17, 2006

Tissue Collage

I had a ruined canvas that was primed with black gesso, and I wanted to reuse it, so I thought I would try a collage using art tissue. I started by layering white over the top half, and then a layer of blue over that.

At this point it doesn't look like it will work, because the black is so strong, and I am wondering if it is just going to be a waste of materials to finish.

Stained Canvas - step two

I added the green tonight - Pthalo green straight from the tube. This will fade when it dries (you can see how much the purple faded compared to the previous image) and I will also add some Hooker's green and some yellows to make it look more natural.

August 12, 2006

Abstract Floral on stained canvas

I haven't had a lot of time to do artwork, due to all the normal interferences of life, but I finally managed to get a chance to start a new painting yesterday. This one is an abstract floral picture painted with acrylics on raw untreated canvas, using a staining technique similar to watercolor. I have done some like this before, although I worked with canvases already mounted on the stretcher bars, so it was a bit easier to control the color flow.

I started by machine washing the canvas to remove all the sizing and whatever else is coating the raw canvas. I decided to work with one color at a time for this painting, because the colors tend to mix and get muddy if I use several colors at once on a wet canvas.

I started with the few circles, and they looked perfect. By the next day, however, they had bled further than I anticipated, because I was too liberal with the water. There is also a crease across the canvas from the washing process, and it won't come out no matter how many times I iron the canvas, and the paint pools a bit there, so it may have to become a staight-line element in the painting, like a stick or something.

This picture shows the canvas on my table, after I reapplied color to some parts of the painting. It was wet when I took the picture, so it will fade as it dries.

July 27, 2006

Landscape in oils

This one took a couple of days, because it is oil paint, and it had to dry a bit before I could put the subsequent layers on. It is a simple landscape, and I'm not sure if it is done or not. The canola fields in full bloom are so spectacular, and the color is so powerful that it almost makes one's eyes hurt. Portraying that effectively probably needs a canvas twice this size.

July 25, 2006


I started keeping a sketch book by the phone so I can doodle while I am talking. This is a very loose copy of an image from a child's of books called the Spiderwick Chronicles, by DiTerlizzi and Black. Wonderful books, and the great illustrations seem so effortless and charming. The character's name is Hogsqueal.

July 24, 2006

Field of Cars

Although I managed to accomplish quite a bit yesterday, this is the only image that was completed. It is a digital photograph altered in PaintShop with the enamel filter. I love the way the sky is interpreted by the digital formula.

Other than this print, I printed a digital image, started an oil landscape painting, and worked more on a large mixed media painting, none of which were completed enough to share.

July 23, 2006

digital watercolor Still Life with Pears

I took this picture as a reference for painting a still life, and then applied the watercolor filter to see what it would look like as a painting. The watercolor filter is a really good learning tool to figure out how to paint an image. The filter removes a bit of the reality of the image, and reduces it to the component parts which makes it easier to understand and interpret.

Still, I think it stands alone as a viable image, even if it is a digital painting.

July 22, 2006

Poppies - Digital Watercolor

I snapped this picture of poppies in my front yard a few weeks ago, and transformed it using the Photoshop Elements watercolor filter.
I love the way that the filter picks out the most important elements, and blurs the rest. It doesn't always work, so I have to experiment to see which pictures can be altered this way, but when it is successful, it is quite exciting.

July 21, 2006

Felted Crocheted Bag

I started this crocheted bag about a month ago, using a pattern from a book. I felted it in the washing machine, and it is quite solid now. I think I felted it more than the one in the book, so it doesn't look like it was supposed to, and it is much bigger than I expected as well. It is a bit plain as is, and I think it needs something more like beads around the flap, and a tassel of beads at the bottom.

I will post more pics when I get the beading done.

The color of the wool is nice, anyway.

July 20, 2006

Digital Watercolor of a Fox

Well, I started out OK, and managed to do some art every day for about a week. Then work got in the way, and put a temporary end to art. I let my internal critic get in the last word before a trip to Quebec City, and left my camera at home, so I don't even have any pictures of that beautiful city to draw or paint. Ignoring the internal critic is always my biggest battle.

So, back to some art.

I took this photo in a zoo, just before the zoo was about to close at the end of the day and the animals were all getting hungry. This fox was going through all the motions of hunting a pigeon that landed outside the pen. It was fascinating to watch as he crouched down and shifted his feet to get a better grip in preparation for the jump-and-run attack. Of course, the pigeon flew off, and the fox was left with eating pre-caught food.

Unfortunately, the original picture had an obvious grid from the chain link fence, and it was impossible to get rid of it. I scanned the picture into Photoshop Elements, and added the watercolor filter. It is a passable image now, and looks quite nice printed large (13x19) on watercolor paper.

July 6, 2006

Gwenny at 8 hours old

This is a beginning of a sketch of a baby. I still have lots of work to do on it, but thought I would post several versions of the sketch as it develops. There is always lots of pressure when drawing someone known to the artist, because if the picture doesn't look exactly perfect, then it will be considered an insult. But I keep telling myself that it is always better to make the attempt than to avoid the difficult parts.

I haven't done a lot of drawing since I left University, so my skills are a bit rusty. I am hoping to try to practice a bit every day to get my skills back, and this was a great subject. Such a peaceful baby - for the first few hours of life.

July 5, 2006

Gulls on the Rock

I was looking through the photos that I took on a recent trip to St. John's, Newfoundland, and found this one picture. It was taken on a very misty day on a wale-watching boat tour. We missed the wales by an hour or two, but I thought this was worth the price of the boat trip.

Encaustic landscape two

This painting was an attempt at creating a landscape using encaustics. I used a combination of encaustics I created myself, and wax crayons. I have included the picture at three stages, to show how it developed.

The first was just intended to create an overall background to lead the painting in the general direction of a landscape.

The next stage involved adding the drops of color, which I had thought would look like flowers, but it just ended up looking totally abstract because I couldn't get teh drips small enough. This technique would work great as a Jackson Pollock type abstract, but I was going for a landscape, so I decided to try to salvage it. I starting using the heated tip of a soldering iron to draw trees and plants in the encaustic paint, and it seemed to improve the image, so I kept going.

Encaustic is a difficult medium to work with - it gets muddy very quickly, and it is difficult to keep the colors clear. I ended up scraping away a lot of paint before I was satisfied enough to stop.

This is the final finished painting. It is still somewhat abstract, but it is very clearly a landscape.

Sunset - encaustic

This is another encaustic painting on canvas. The colors are a bit garish and outside my usual palette, but I think it turned out OK. I think I will try it with a blue sky instead of the bright sunset.

Long Weekend of Art

I decided to try painting with encaustics. I decided to start with an encaustic painting I had started last year, but I had put away because I wasn't satisfied with the colors or the composition. Originally I was trying to use the encaustic like paint, working on a canvas with some lace and rice paper added for texture.

I added drips of contrasting color from a height, to get splashes, and I am a bit more satisfied with the picture, but I think it still needs some pale blue dots to counterbalance the yellow.

New Beginnings

I thought I would try using a blogger for a 30-day-artist kind of project. I am hoping to create and post at least one piece of artwork every day, or get started on something at the very least. I really liked the concept of the 30-day artist website, but the original site already has a 30-day artist committed. I hope to explore a variety of mediums and share a new piece of art every day (at least that's the plan). Eventually I will try to incorporate how-tos and demos where possible.

If you want to check out the 30-day artist site, it can be found here: