Friday, August 29, 2008


Another small study that I finished off this morning. I must admit that I struggled a bit with this one. I wanted something more from it than just another painting of something that I saw. So there was quite a bit of careful consideration while I was painting and some adjustment of tones and colors. Consequently the surface of the painting is a bit messy (for me anyway) but at least I got there in the end. For me, the finished painting has something of an uneasy feel to it. Almost as if this was a site of an awful catastrophe. I'm not sure why I feel that way, perhaps it's because of the darker tones (and hence feeling) of the work. Whatever the reason, I still plan on doing a larger version of it but may change the composition slightly, I'll see. The size of this oil is 8" X 10 1/2".

I have been meaning to mention a new gallery that is representing me in New York. Open Gallery is situated in the lovely town of Northport and currently have a number of my paintings seen on this blog. So if you are in the area, please stop by and introduce yourself - the owners, Ian and Han Soon Murdock would be delighted to meet you. Address is: Open Gallery, 66 Main street, Northport Village, NY 11768. Tel: (631) 754-0501.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Back in Feb-March of this year, I did a series of posts demonstration how I usually go about creating a watercolor. When I had finished the painting, I wasn't totally happy with the outcome so the painting sat in my studio for some time. Then just before I left to go to Canada, I took another look at it. I realised that I could make some improvements so started by applying more washes to darken the inside wall. Once this overall tone was established, I could see where next to go with the work and darkened the bottle first then added a few more washes inside the sill and surrounding walls. When I got back from Canada, I again returned to work on this piece. I added more soft foliage outside the windows and slightly lightened the shadows on the sill. With more dark green washes, I deepened the tone of the window frames and bars slightly. Some areas of reflected light seemed a little too weak so I added some Cadmium yellow to the lighter areas of the frame and that did the trick. A paler wash of this color was added to the upper panes to slightly warm the light there and I finished off by creating a few more textures surrounding the window. Finally happy, I now consider the painting finished. I found that by darkening some areas, there now seems to be more of a focus on the window and the diffuse light streaming through. Doing this little bit extra has I feel, allowed me to capture more of the essence of what I was seeing and feeling many years ago and this takes me right back to when I initially saw the scene. Now I can frame it and move on to my next watercolor. As with all my work on this blog, you can click on the image for a larger version. Also most of the paintings shown here are for sale so please contact me if interested (contact details are on my website).

Friday, August 22, 2008


I finished this small oil yesterday and was pleased with the finished painting for I was able to sort out some problems and get a better idea as to the tones and colors that I'll be using in the larger version. I think that I'm not completely satisfied with the composition and may change it slightly but I felt that I was off to a good start at least. Initially I was attracted by the sunlight on the rocks but the colors of the crystal clear water were amazing! I have alluded to this somewhat on the right where deeper water from the main flow of the river runs. Compositionally I like the way the rocks line up diagonally across the painting intersecting the thrust of the river which runs from the right to the left. There are a number of diagonals here that keep the eye moving about the painting. And the way that the underwater rocks are layered adds interest to areas surrounding the sunlit rocks.
A different view of this rock pool shows an even deeper emerald green of the water and I may try to do a painting of that too later on. I'm assuming the clarity of the water (and hence the colors) came because of the river being fed by snow melt - the water was very cold. This area was another memorable place during my visit and a wonderful playground for the creative. River Rocks II and other works which I am still working on are part of a series that I have going at this time. The study is a little over 5" X 7".

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Here is my latest work from the Canada series. I saw this scene as I walked along a dike and was immediately inspired by the tonal contrasts between the foreground and the late evening sky. I also liked the way the sky was reflected in the river creating an abstract effect and providing a break in the massed grasses. Here the sun has already set but still providing plenty of light in the sky. This interesting halo effect around some of the clouds was a pleasure to paint. The pic looks a bit dark here but in reality has less dark tones in the fore and mid-ground areas.
It was especially enjoyable working on the foreground grasses trying to create mass and interest within a limited tonal range. In some ways I was reminded of the landscape in Italy and this is probably more down to the shape of some of the trees and rolling hills in the background than anything else. These Canada scenes have certainly inspired me and am now looking at my local landscape in a different way. I hope to have some of those up here soon but I simply have to get the Canada work out of my system first! This oil is 18" X 24".

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I have finally finished a studio painting from all the studies and sketches that I did while I was in Canada. A pre-study in oil (see earlier post) done when I had returned was also helpful. For some reason everything about my Canada trip was truly inspiring and I saw many landscapes that I wanted to paint. I had been looking for a scene like this for years and when I came across it, immediately thought of doing a painting. I was attracted by the way that the light was falling across some of the grasses leaving the foreground in shadow. The set of the tall trees against the mountains was very appealing and also the way that the tops of some of those trees were catching the light. I changed the composition slightly to one I preferred then roughed in the scene with oils. I went back to work on it after the paint had dried a bit adding more colors then put in the final details. This painting was a huge step forward for me in terms of subject and style formation. I couldn't be happier with it and especially like the way some of the bushes and smaller trees are highlighted against the shadowed background. It was a very rewarding painting to do and its success after all the studies done previously is sure to inspire similar works. This one is 12" X 16".

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I saw this scene on my first day in Canada. I awoke before dawn and stepped outside just as it was getting light. Fortunately the Fraser river is easily accessible from where I was staying and that early, the world seemed calm and quiet. As I walked along the banks, I discovered these boats at mooring. I explored the scene from a few different angles then just stood and watched the new day being born. A crow called and a bald eagle flew past heading upriver. From the nearby woods I could hear the song of a Swainson's thrush and faintly across the river came the bleating of sheep. While I made studies of the scene, the sun began to rise highlighting the trees on the far bank, the light and colors were incredible. I spotted another bald eagle sitting on a post in the distance and geese flew slowly downriver calling. It was one of those special mornings that will stay with you for a very long time.
When working on this painting, I was first attracted to the almost abstract quality of the scene and did the smaller study first as a way of exploring my ideas about what I wanted to say. It was a very enjoyable painting to work on and I plan on doing a larger version soon but this oil is 9" X 12".

Monday, August 4, 2008


One of the places I spent some time wandering around and painting while in Vancouver was Pitt Meadows. I had visited there during my last trip and the surrounding landscape with tall trees, open water and distant mountains inspired a number of paintings. Some of the most spectacular scenes were seen late one evening when the light was raking across the landscape. This study came out of what I saw and experienced there. I kept it small and loose as I want to finish a larger painting similar to this later in the week. The study taught me a lot about what I was trying to capture and from it I will better be able to completer the larger painting. Although I brought my watercolor box and sketchbooks, I really wished that I had my oils on this trip as it would have been wonderful to work set up with my easel along the dyke. There was so much to see, I could have painted there for weeks!

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Back in the studio now and I have managed to finish off this small study - the first from the new Canada series. The view here is from Whistler looking across the valley to distant mountains. As mentioned earlier, there was still plenty of snow around so this coupled with the clouds sometimes cloaking the mountain peaks was just the kind of scene I was looking for. I'll probably do some larger paintings later but I was happy to get going with this one for now. I have also completed a late evening scene away from the mountains which I'll post tomorrow. My memory and the references in my sketchbook of this mountain scene was somewhat different from how I finished this study. Most importantly though was that the outcome was what I had envisioned before starting. I was helped by first accurately painting the mountain line and I subdued some of the clouds so that I could show the peaks and snow more clearly. There was very little detail in the hazy atmospheric lower slopes which suited me just fine. Unfortunately I'm still struggling to get good photos of my smaller studies although photos of my larger paintings are fine! Herculean study is in oil and measures 8" X 10".