Wednesday, July 27, 2016


 Drifter - SOLD
12" x 24"
oil on panel, framed

On July 16th, I spent the afternoon painting at the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador.  With my connection to boats, what better place to demonstrate a boat painting than this museum and I was delighted to accept their invitation for the 3rd year.  Surrounded by traditional, hand built wooden boats of all kinds, I swear the atmosphere helps the painting flow.

Painting progress shots at the museum

I chose this little punt to demonstrate with a palette knife and, between conversations with visitors, had about three quarters of it laid in by the end of the afternoon and added finishing layers and details in my studio.  Painting in public is a great way to talk about your work and share some of the techniques and process.  I brought a couple of finished paintings so people could see them and their texture close up.  Impressionism is a unique technique that really shows its impact when viewed from 8 - 10 feet away, an appropriate viewing distance for most paintings.  Up close, the painting becomes almost abstract with sections of colour laid down one against the other in a mosaic that magically comes together when you step back.

Painting in public, for me, doesn't hold a fear factor.  In fact, I love explaining the process to people, and even letting them try their hand at palette knife painting.  People are genuinely interested and I find that if you are engaged with your work and comfortable with your medium, that comfort level translates into trust and approachability and wins out over any sense of discomfort that could arise.

Yes, of course, interruptions can disrupt the flow of painting, but those breaks are welcome, not intrusive in this situation.  I can see if I was working in the open air and had a definite goal in mind for a painting, a string of questions could be frustrating, but in this situation, I see my role as that of educator and demonstrator.

If you've never tried working in public, do.  People are a lot more interested and supportive than you think they will be.  And its a great way to show your work to the world.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Paint, scrape, repeat.

“I’ve always tried to hide my efforts and wished my works to have the light joyousness of springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labours it has cost me.” (Henri Matisse)
I seem to be scraping a lot of paint lately, which is a good thing.

Realizing my mistakes, adjusting to meet my vision and not settling for "okay" pushes me to find solutions and really think about what I'm putting down in paint.  Yes, the painting I'm working on looked superficially good, but inside I know I can do much better, so I push myself even when I don't want to redo something.  And I'm always glad that I spend the extra work time rather than settling for a mediocre piece that could have a detrimental effect to my reputation if let loose on the world.

This image is a crop of the block in of a painting of a drying cod that I'm working on.  The initial stages were fine, then I overworked it. Scraping back the paint, all except the top couple of inches - and in palette knife painting this is a big sacrifice of paint - provides me with a gift in return.  The removal of the paint leaves stains of diluted colour in exposed canvas as well as shapes in the background and shows me that I should change my palette to a higher key to harmonize the piece more effectively.

Taking a leap of faith and reworking as needed is a big part of the painting process for every artist. Revealing the underbelly of a painting is necessary sometimes, to reach the vision that only the artist can see.

Read some words of advice on reworking paintings by Robert Genn in The Painter's Keys.