Monday, June 30, 2008


This small study was recently completed and is of a pathway through the woods that I usually follow on my way home from the reserve. The snow was relatively thick on the ground at that time reflecting some of the evening glow of the setting sun behind me and hence is lighter than the sky. I especially liked the contrast between the darker foliage and lighter ground/sky areas along with the abstract quality of the scene. A few stars added some interest to the darkened sky.
I haven't done many night scenes but finishing this one has opened up a new direction for me to explore. I was pleased with the outcome although I struggled to get a good photo of the finished painting and it still isn't right. For one thing, the stars are a little brighter and there are also more subtle details in the darker areas. It seem that a lot of these finer details in my work are being missed when I photograph my work and is a problem that I have been aware of for some time. I am experimenting with various lighting methods and hopefully I'll soon have it figured out.
While continuing with this series of small studies, I am becoming more aware of how many different ways there are to paint a picture - one of the reasons that I am continuing with them. Within these studies though, I'm not only looking for ways to tackle a certain idea but also working in the hope of getting something that perhaps wasn't there in the first place. This of course, is more related to my feelings about art and design rather than to the scene itself. Wyeth got around this problem by making many studies both in pencil and watercolor of his intended subjects but for me, I have to be careful as too much of this and I can lose interest. It becomes instead a feeling of having already created the painting (in a study form) then I want to go onto the next one without having done the larger painting. Path through the woods is 7 1/4" X 5 1/4".

Friday, June 20, 2008


I have not posted here for some time and this is due to two things: One, I have been working on a few larger paintings which are taking their sweet time! And two, I have had somewhat of a painters' block. Unfortunately this does happen from time to time and I have found the only way to work through it is to try and keep positive, and work on smaller studies. These times are not about if I can paint or not, I think it is more along the lines of re-arranging my inner self. Since all my painting comes from my feelings and thoughts about the natural world, this inner feeling is central to all that I do and create. Consequently when out of balance, painting is the first to suffer. On a positive note, this usually happens when I am about to take a step forward with my work so I'm hoping for a happy outcome!
The smaller study above was inspired by a program I saw on TV and reminded me of the view I saw when looking out of Sheep Canyon while I was out west. As posted earlier, this trip made a deep and lasting impression on me. I'm still planning new paintings from the desert and hope to make it out to the Grand Canyon later this year. I can imagine the effect that place will have on me! Sheep Canyon is an oil and the size is 5" x 7".

Friday, June 6, 2008


This more recently completed portrait had (like so many other paintings) been started some time ago. I'm hoping to do more along this particular line but with me, you can never tell! While I have spent most of my recent studio time working on landscapes, there is so much more that I want to do - if only I had the time! Since this was the first attempt at a more formal portrait, I kept the lighting and composition simple. I was quite pleased with the outcome of this one though, but I still have a few areas that I'll work on when I get the chance. In this portrait I tried to capture her inherent beauty and proud heritage. I especially enjoyed working on the traditional Chinese dress. Made from silk, this was fun to paint with the silvery sheen highlights and the sudden deeper tones. I think I caught the model in a pensive mood too and I worked hard at trying to capture the correct skin tones. There certainly seems far more for me to explore within this subject matter and I have plenty of ideas too, and dare I say it - perhaps a self portrait!!!! I'll post more when (and if) I get some of them finished. This oil is 20" X 16".

Monday, June 2, 2008


Lately I have been working on a few large paintings that are taking longer that I had expected. I do hope to finish them soon and will have a few pics of them for you to look at on Pigbristles. In the meantime, I have posted this small study of a late evening sunset near where I live. I find myself doing a lot of these smaller studies, usually in the response to something that I have seen but also as a way of exploring ideas in paint. It makes sense to keep them small because they don't always work out! Working like this is I feel, an important way to keep developing as an artist. I don't want to simply paint the same kind of painting over and over again as I feel this leads to stagnation. By constantly challenging myself I continue to grow and while this process is difficult and often depressing (when things don't go my way), I usually come through the other side with a better understanding of the process of art - and of myself.
Working en plein air has also been very beneficial for me as it forces me to make decisions quickly and to work with what is in front of me. Usually it is the opposite in the studio where I can sit around looking at studies and make more careful decisions on where to go with the painting. I used to paint almost all of my landscapes outside and while this was not always practical, I did learn a lot. Now that I spend more time in the studio, I am still looking within and drawing on ideas from my thoughts and experiences. Most of these have made the transition into paint but I still have so much that I want to do - some of them very different to what I have painted before. The more typical Sundown in June is an oil on canvas mounted onto board and the size is 7" X 11".