Sunday, 11 December 2016


Most of the time I forget to take pics of my easel in the landscape when I'm out painting and I almost never think to ask someone to take any of me actually painting.  I must try to remember in future.....

But I thought I would post the few that I do have showing just some of the spots my friends and I visited recently. Getting out to paint with these seven friends has become a much valued part of my week.  I have come to really appreciate the fun and friendship I have with them; it is not only great to get out to paint in locations I might not have thought of, it is so good to be able to share my struggles, challenges and successes in a safe, caring and non judgemental group of painters. And we have such a laugh........

Ten Mile Point on a clear day. We painted here last year in thick fog when we couldn't even see that an island was out there.  But this day was great painting weather.  Ken Faulks chose to work in watercolour. 

High Oaks Farm off Granville and Hastings. There was so much here that I wanted to capture but I bit off a bit more than I could accomplish.  We'll be back here again for sure.

This spot on Hallowell Road has become a favourite for us. We've painted here in summer and fall and will be sure to get there in winter and spring. There always seems to be good cloudscapes here and there is a super island an small marina to the right.

Another day at Ten Mile Point.  Just the guys with me that day.

Saxe Point is another spot we seem to get to fairly often.  The dramatic clouds interested me so I painted them first before getting to the foreground.
Hallowell Road again.  Jim McFarland I painted together; the others wandered off to paint the view of the other side of the island.
We were lucky this morning to find shelter from the rain.  The beach is the place to paint on rainy days as it can still make interesting atmospheric pictures.
Mt Tolmie on a chilly morning.  Super shadows that day but I think mine was a wipe off
Esquimalt Lagoon

I thought this playground all in reds and yellows might make a painting. 
Gonzales Hill is another spot I return to quite often though not on windy days! I've painted here in wind so strong I've held the easel with one hand.
Desiree Bond - we didn't tell her the tide was coming in behind her!

Monday, 1 August 2016


Oak Bay Marina is near my studio and I often head down there for a quick field study or to gather reference for future studio paintings. I recently realized just how many there are and thought I would post some of them here.

 As you will see, many of them feature an old blue rowboat whose peeling paint and overall battered appearance really appealed to me. Imagine my dismay when I met the owner of 'my' old blue boat and he told me it had been lost at sea. And...he has replaced it with a newer, stubbier, less interesting boat.  I told him that simply wouldn't do!

The first painting I'm posting is called Over the Rocks, a 6x8 study. Looking through my files I found that I had photographed this one part way through, something that I always intend to do but usually forget.

The first two of the next 6x8's were painted with my little pochade box balanced on my knee while sitting on an overturned rowboat or a log. I tidied up the masts back in the studio as I find it isn't always easy to get them in cleanly out in the field.

I painted Rowboat at the Marina one morning when out with six friends. It is one of those rare paintings that go smoothly from start to finish. I liked it so much that I did a larger studio piece from the study and some photo reference.

Rowboat at the Marina   12x10
Shore Time  24x18

Several years ago I did several larger 24x24 paintings of the blue rowboat and have just recently completed two more.  I had a lot of fun with the first one, imaginatively called Blue Rowboat, playing with a looser treatment and simple colour scheme. I kept the background marina very uncomplicated really using only two colours. I repeated the blues and violets of the background in the rocks and in the boat.

I think the attraction for me in The Bicycle and the Boat, 24x24, was twofold.  The textures on the boat, especially the back area, and the bike up on the bank. I pushed the bicycle back a bit to increase the sense of space and to allow the boat to really dominate. As in almost all my paintings, the painting knives were used throughout.  I think this is particularly evident in the work on the sides of the boat and the rocks.

The next blue rowboat painting is Blue Boat Reflected, 24x24. This one is divided into three horizontal bands which could be problematic but varying the width and value of the bands allows it to work. I like to have areas of thin, even scratchy, paint along with thicker brush or knife work. I make use of the painting knife in various ways - in the bushes I alternated between laying in colour with a brush and 'messing' it up with the knife and applying paint with the knife and cutting back in with the brush.  I also used a knife to scrape paint away to create textures and to thinly apply paint in a scratchy way as on the boats and the grasses.

And the last one in the blue boat series is called White Boats on a Beach, 18x24.  The central boat is the one that replaced my dear old blue rowboat. In reality it is bright blue and very bright yellow, has a snub nose and is rather squat in appearance. But its position on the beach in relation to the others and the lighting appealed to me so I decided to use it but change its appearance. I elongated it, added the pointy front making it more like my old blue rowboat and put some oars and 'stuff' inside it. My first intention was to make it blue but I felt it worked better in this instance to keep all the boats white.

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Tuesday, 2 February 2016


 Well, the last two months have been unusual for me; some family issues cropped up and my painting time became very disjointed.  I found it difficult to concentrate and to plan and execute any new larger work so I turned to my 'might be salvageable' cupboard where I keep a stack of paintings that didn't work for one reason or another.  I like to play about with them when I have an odd hour here or there. Sometimes adjustments to the colour or values is all that is needed or the brushwork can be cleaned up or the painting is too tight and some bolder brush or knife work might liven it up.  Or, at the time, I didn't have a clear idea how to handle a new subject but later I can see my through it.  Of course there are those pictures that just shouldn't have been started in the first place - the ones where I scratch my head and wonder what ever was I thinking!

The painting below was done from some reference I gathered when visiting with a friend on his boat at a marina in Sidney.  It started life as a 24x18 with a fairly faithful representation of the boats in the background, a lot of rocks and water in the foreground and some geese in the middle bit.  It didn't work.  It was boring and it ended up in the reject cupboard.  Recently, I hauled it out and tackled it again.

I'll post the new version first followed by the 'reject'.
I invite you to play 'spot the difference'. 

What did I do?
I sorted through my reference files and found another group of boats with the same lighting and, without planning or drawing anything, I started on the right and worked across to the left.  First I broke up that dull wall of green with some sky and a suggestion of buildings and added some rocks and beach and then the boats and reflections.

I decided that the large rock upon which the two geese are standing was too large and dull so I flattened it.  And the row of sleeping geese which I had once thought made an interesting shape, had to go.  I started replacing them with water and reflections and some more mud but stopped before eliminating all of them. I probably went to make a cup of tea.  I'm glad I did because I think the two that I left are fine.

I then tried a number of approaches to the bottom third but nothing worked so I stuck a piece of masking tape across it at the 18" mark.  Better.  I took out most of the rocks and mud I had painted and went back to a larger area of water to lead into the painting. This time I kept it simpler allowing the top third to draw the eye.
Better still.
I think this one can stay out of the cupboard........