Sunday, December 20, 2009

Late Afternoon Light, James St. Hamilton

16x20 Oil/Canvas
I have mentioned several times that I love architechture and old buildings. Hamilton has lots of great architecture, some of it in a bad state of disrepair. This is a wonderful old church with blueish stone. I debated whether or not to put the people in, but I liked the contrast between the vastness of the buildings and the people waiting at a bus stop.
Click on picture for a larger view

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yonge Street Patterns, Toronto

16x20 Oil on Canvas
I started this during our recent rainfall a couple of days ago. I liked the abstract quality of the signs and doorways and the buildings in the distance. The street was surprisingly devoid of cars. At the right hand side is the entrance way to the Zanaibar Club..a renowned "strip joint" that has been there for at least 50 years.
Click on image for a larger view.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

First Snow, Dundas On

8x10 Oil on Canvas
We definitely had a major weather change. We didn't get this much snow. Merely a dusting which may not last. I mentioned Richard Schmid in an earlier posting. I was able to find one of his  books in the library. It is from the 1970's and even then shows the great brush work and style that I aspire to. The book is full of interesting demonstrations and information. I would like to quote one of his passages:
"Trees are endlessly fascinating, and I regard them as almost personal friends. It is always hard to view trees dispassionately, as I must, in order to paint them. I once knew someone who failed utterly as a painter, because he always saw things as things and not as shapes of color.The fellow struggled for years but always kept seeing trees and branches instead of color value, shapes, and edges. Nature must be broken down in this abstract way in order to be interpreted in paint."
This is a lesson that has been difficult for me, but I am making some progress. I love old buildings, architecture, and trees etc. and I always want to paint "them" and all of their wonderful details. But they must be seen as only part of the whole, not as an entitys in themselves. Of course, if one is doing an illustration type picture, its a different story.
This house is in Dundas, down the street from where I live. It is a wonderful place with ginger bread and lots of detail. I tried to make it part of the scene.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bay and Dundas Street Rain, Toronto

To break in the new studio, I thought I would start small. I did a similar scene before, but wasn't pleased with it, so decided to do another. I am enjoying adding paint with a palette knife where I want the highlights to be stronger, more pure color. As I post this, it is pouring rain again, a system coming from Texas I believe. We would often have snow now instead of rain.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Sun, James Street Hamilton

Before the snow falls, the December landscape is grey and brown and dreary. It is dark at 5:30.  It requires  just the right timing to catch the sinking sun as it casts a warm glow on these buildings on James Street in the Hammer. This is another value study, trying to focus on shapes and not the details. Still difficult to do.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

November Rain, Toronto City Hall

20x16 Oil on Board
I had some great momentum going with this painting last Tuesday until I was struck down and immobilized by a cold/flu. H1N1 you ask? How would we know, no one is testing, but somehow they seem to come up with numbers infected. Thats all for my flu rant. I could go on. When painting Alla Prima, you try to complete the picture in one go so that you can paint wet into wet. When I returned to this picture today, the colors had dried, my palette had dried and so I tried to continue the best I could. It is difficult to "mush" colors around and make nice reflections when they are dry.
I would also like to thank everyone who left comments about creating a signature "style". (Post Nov 18) Its good to know that I am not the only one who struggles with this. How important is it? I think it is important if you want acceptance into galleries. Buyers want to recognize an artist by what they do. Its the same for music.
Another rant. Why are some artists such "machines" at producing? I tell myself that I am going to produce everyday. Take a look at my posts for November and it obvious that I can't live up to my own promises. A few artists come to mind who are amazing producers: Carol Marine, Edward B. Gordon, Kathy Weber. How do they do it?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sinking November Sun, Main Street, Hamilton

8x10 Oil on Canvas
More value studies. The November sun sinks so fast, its only minutes before it disappears. I love this old bank building at the corner of Main and James. It has wonderful corinthian pillars, which I wantd to capture with more details, but continuing on with my studies, I remembered to paint the shapes and values first, then add suggestions of detail at the end.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

For Rent, Main Street, Hamilton

8x10 Oil on Canvas
As artists, we want to develop a style. We would like people to look at our work, and know who the artist is. Getting there is a difficult process that requires hard work and learning. The best way to learn, I think, is to take a workshop with an artist who's work inspires you. When you look at their work you say, "I wish I could paint like that". Many of us don't have that opportunity. The internet is a great way to "study". There are so many artists to discover, and therefore, a great way to see what kind of art is inspiring and ultimately  discover how you want your paintings to look. I don't know if I have been hiding under a rock, but I just discovered Richard Schmid. I don't want my paintings to look exactly like his, but I want to learn how he achieves the animated brushwork, how to say a lot without fussy details, and what is the process  for starting each painting. I have ordered his book called "Alla Prima". So I will be taking a workshop from him in my own home. He also has DVD's.
One lesson is about blocking in values. In this painting from Main Street East in Hamilton (some shrub type trees are still hanging on to their green leaves), I tried to block in the shapes with their values, and add details near the end. So much to learn....sigh.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Under The Mast Hoist 2

11x13 Oil on Canvas
I always say that if you think a painting is done, don't leave it on the easel. I think I may have left this one there because it didn't seem finished. I have had a few busy days of not getting into the studio, so today, getting ready to start a new picture, I thought I would add a few dabs of paint to this one on the easel to see if I could "liven" it up. I also picked up a palette knife which I rarely use. I didn't look at the reference photo, I just painted. This is the result. I think I like it better.(click on picture for a larger view)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Under The Mast Hoist, Macdonald Marine, Hamilton

11x13 Oil on Canvas
Sometimes the colors in nature don't seem real. You think, if I painted that, no one would believe me. This evening scene was one like that. The autumn colors were so strong as the sun set, everything was illuminated. This scene is from a couple of weeks ago when there were still leaves on the trees. Since then, they have all but fallen off. I wanted to do one more boat picture before all the boats are put away and covered up for the winter. There is one last boat under the hoist waiting to be "lifted out". A time to put some things away, and start on new endeavours.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mom and Daughter share a coffee at Starbucks

6x6 Oil on Canvas
I can't say how many times I repainted this picture. I just couldn't get it. First I started the painting by sketching and then painting the dark values and coating the surface with transparent red oxide. I couldn't keep the darks dark and I hated the picture. Then I decided to try  a black underpainting a la Karin Jurick .(I have so much respect for her ability to capture so many great scenes. I had to ask these two ladies if I could take their photo.) When you start with black, you sketch in the image and start painting from there. I'm not sure if I like this painting yet, but at least it doesn't look like the dogs breakfast :) Also, keeping things "loose" can be difficult and frustrating.
Question for you: Does anyone paint on a black undercoat? What do you think of the process involved?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chevy Truck at the Drive Thru

6x6 oil on Board
Its time to get back to some small paintings and studies. Maybe until my studio is ready. It is too difficult to stand back and look at what I'm painting with the bigger see the big picture and not the details. The small paintings keep me honest..I stay closer to the style and look that I want to create. And the best way to do that, is to try not to be too serious, stop thinking, and KEEP PAINTING.
This Chevy truck is turning the corner after going through the Drive Thru at our local Dundas Tim Hortons during more and more rain.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Winner of Dreama Tolle Perry's monthly draw

 Dreama's painting "Lilly Ann" 6x6 Oil on Board

I am very pleased to be the winner of Dreama Toll Perry's monthly draw. She paints in a style that many of us aspire to. Her paintings have dramatic brush strokes, wonderful color, and are just plain gorgeous. Her blog is full of positive comments about art, painting and life and she always adds a touch of humour. Lately, I have been pondering about why we blog and she answered it quite nicely on her blog:

Each one of you who take the time to read and view my art---it is so amazing for it creates such a sense of family--- it is a way of putting our heads and hearts together on art and life. Along with the comments here on the blog, I receive so many nice emails--it is just interesting because it truly is like opening a little bit of love in the mail. My heart is brimming over so I always want to remember to say a very, very sincere thanks to each of you. You are special and your contributions enrich my life and my art. Thank you--thank you!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Sail Loft, Hamilton Ontario

20x16 Oil on Canvas
The main activity at Macdonal Marine at this time of year is boat hauling and winterizing. Some people store with the mast up, some take them down depending on your preference. In this scene, there were still leaves left on the trees and the evening sun cast a warm glow. It was one of those times when you were glad to have a camera. This building has probably always been a sail loft. It was called Grants Sail Loft in the 1860's. Hamilton Harbour has a lot of history dating to the 1830's.
I was tempted to put more detail on the right side water reflection, but when I did, I lost the dark value. I decided to leave it simple to draw attention to the lightest values.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall colors on the Trail, Dundas On

5x7 Oil on Board
While walking the dog on the trail this morning, I was marvelling at the magnificent fall colors at this time of year. I was also wondering if there was a way to capture the brilliance. I took some photos. Photos don't always capture the reality of what we see, but I had the scene fresh in my mind. It really was a difficult subject. I was wondering how I would put the subtle tree leaves over a wet sky. It is so important to do a lot of small studies and then take what we learn to the next image.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Crossing Queen Street

40 x 32
Oil on board
I learned several things while doing this painting. Space is important. Being in such a small studio space, I had to drag this large painting into another room several times to stand back and look at it. Also, an area dedicated to photographing is important. Glare from lights, or outside on a windy day just doesn't do it. As in a smaller painting, its important to keep the areas of value consistent. Working large, I found it easier to get fussy with areas and get too busy rather than focusing on the "big picture". I have learned a lot, but I think I will go a bit smaller until my space is ready.
People are crossing Queen Street in Toronto on yet another rainy day. This painting isn't quite finished. I need to add streetcar lines and rework a few values.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Warm Spot

8" x 10"
Oil on Canvas
Our house is a stone cottage built around 1850. It is in a constant state of renovation. We are in the process of putting a studio space in the attic( yay!) so that I can move out of the 8' x 8' room I am in now. My husband does most of the work, but I help out when I can and therefore, my painting production will be down a bit. It has gotten quite chilly here, almost going to freezing some nights but staying around 50 or 60 degrees during the day. We don't turn the furnace on until Nov. so the house is pretty cool at times.
Our dog Bailey has found a warm spot in the sun.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Praying to the Wind Gods

8" x 10"
Oil on Foam Board
Racing sailboats at this time of year can be frustrating. As the sun goes down, the wind dies and leaves sailboaters quietly waiting for a puff of air, their spinnakers hanging in the breathless evening. Everyone "prays to the wind gods" in hopes of getting the air first. The setting sun also creates the most spectacular sunsets.

With many of my paintings, I do a drawing in black acrylic paint and then I identify the darkest darks which I paint in black acrylic. I don't want to lose this dark value during the painting process. I then coated the surface with a mixture of cadmium yellow dark and transparent red oxide. I also added a bit of magenta because the sky in my photo was so pink in parts. I am an impatient painter and acrylics dry so fast, so I use acrylics for this step as well. Sometimes I do the mid value, but decided to leave it all orangy yellow so that spots of it  would show through and hopefully add a glow to the painting. I then start painting with the oils. I was wondering, is hearing about a painting process interesting, or boring?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wellington Street, Toronto

8" x 10"
Oil on Canvas
I can't help it. I love rainy scenes. People say there is no color on a rainy day, but I find that in some cases, the colors are exemplified. Also, in city scenes, the light source is dramatized because of the tall buildings. I want to be brave enough to do more "smooshing" of the colors to exaggerate the wetness. Often (almost always) I am afraid to change what turned out ok. I think with experience, we become more willing to experiment and not as concerned with results.
This is Wellington Street with Toronto City Hall in the back.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Evening Sun at Macdonald Marine

11" x 14"
Oil on Canvas
We have had a stretch of sunny weather here and have gotten in a little sailing. Last weekend, we had our fun regatta for people who don't often race their sailboats. In the early evening, the sun reflected a gorgeous orangy yellow over this scene. We normally think of sailboats as being more picturesque, but I thought these powerboats looked great in the September light.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


6" x 6"
Oil on Board
A young couple shares an umbrella as they walk down Queen Street in Toronto.

Monday, August 31, 2009

"Lovin the Rain"

6" x 6"
Oil on board
I really enjoyed the way this young woman sauntered down the street, without a care, as if it wasn't pouring rain. Everyone else was hunkered down or under their umbrellas, escaping from nature's wrath. People ask me if it always rains in Toronto. And no it doesn't, but I love the rain and the reflections it creates. My husband pretty much hates the rain, so he is very good to begrudgingly come along for walks with me, and be the umbrella holder.
This crosswalk scene is from Yonge Street in Toronto.
Also, I've decided to start a new blog for my "Drinks With the Masters". I have too many ideas in my head that I must do!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bay and Queen, Toronto

19" x 15"
Oil on Board
I wanted to do a busy city scene with wires etc. I have to say, I really had my work cut out for me with this one. It was really hard. Simply put. I don't know how many times I changed the color of the poles. And as usual, I still may not be done, but its time to get away from it and decide.
This scene is from the corner of Queen and Bay Street in downtown Toronto.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Morning dew and coffee

6" x 6"
Oil on Board
While working on this little scene, I noticed that it started looking like some of the paintings from the 1940's. I decided I liked the look, and left it with that feel to it. This is our local Tim Hortons. It is so early, the morning dew is still on the grass.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Subway Station Shelter

20" x 16"
Oil on Canvas
I wanted to do something with a little more color. When doing a city scene, objects need to relate to the scenery around them, so that the perspective isn't lost. with bold colors, this is harder to do.
This is a scene from Union Station in downtown Toronto. People are heading down to the subway or Go Transit. A line of Taxicabs wait on the street.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


6" x 6"
Oil on Board
I'm not sure if I'm completely happy with this picture, but I think it "works". In my first attempt, I tried to paint the bike in a more detailed manner, trying to paint the color and details I saw. I wiped that one. I realized that the only thing that makes the bicycle discernible is the reflected light shape in the bicycle tires and around the bicycle. It is all "suggested shapes".

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The French Fry Truck

16" x 18"
Oil on board
I never know when I'm finished a painting. I like to stop at a point anyway, let the picture sit around for a couple of days, and decide if it needs more work. Inevitably, I will find things that I don't like. For example, I already realized that I forgot the gull's beak. Ha. Also, undecided about whether to put in the city wires. The title is temporary. Needs much more thought....
This scene is from Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto during the Outdoor art festival.

Monday, August 10, 2009

16" x 18"
Oil on Board
Thanks to all of your encouraging words, I am definitely entering the contest! I have decided to submit another one as well. It is a little different...same sort of atmospheric quality (I hope) but a sunny day. I liked the way the crowd was gathered at this French Fry truck in downtown Toronto. Also, I caught the scavenging seagull at just the right moment. At this stage in the painting, I am working on blocking in the values with some color added. As you can see from the monitor in the photo, I use this to work from. You can still "squint" and see depth and atmosphere. I call it painting "en plein monitor".

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Crosswalk in the Rain"

11" x 14"
Oil on Canvas
I have been toying with idea of submitting a painting to International Artist magazine. I have been experimenting with painting more people..this months contest is people and figures. I don't know why I want to choose such complicated pictures....they can be extremely frustrating! Often I choose them because I like certain aspects. In this one, I liked the different reflections on the crosswalk, and of course the bright red purse.
This scene is from downtown Toronto on Yonge Street with the Hard Rock Cafe in the background. I need help with titles. I seem to have no imagination in this department! Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Queen Street Cyclist, Toronto

6" x 6"
Oil on Board
A cyclist heads down Queen Street in Toronto. Toronto downtown, like any big city, is full of people, bicycles, street cars and cars. Toronto seems to have more bicycles than normal. Its either because we are more environmentally friendly, or its impossible to drive there.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

San Francisco afternoon

20 x 13.5
Oil on Board
I decided to try the challenge from Different Strokes from Different Folks. I enjoy city scenes, so this one kind of fit in. Also, it wasn't a rain picture! I usually like to experience a place or scene first hand, so it was a little difficult just going by a photo. I also tried to keep it loose and not attempt too much detail.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Toronto Cabbies

6x6 Oil on Board
Toronto cabs have such great colors. I think a person could do a whole series with these wonderful colors. Hmmm. Downtown scenes are great in that the tall buildings provide a distinct light source.

Sunshine and Coffee

6" x 6"
Oil on Board
Yes, we do have sun sometimes! After our walk, Bailey (my dog) and I stopped for coffee and two plain "timbits" for him. The sun was shining brightly. This Tim Hortons is in Dundas Ontario.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

These Boots are Made for Walkin 2

8" x 10"
Oil on Foam Board
This is version no. 2 of this picture (see posting July 16 ) with the magenta ground. I can't believe our (me only?) urge to copy. I had to actually move the painting No.1 to another room so that I wouldn't refer to it. I have to admit to actually going there once. Its really pathetic. ha. I went with much stronger color than normal. My comfort zone is using cadmium red, diox violet, earth brown, cobalt blue, cadmium yellow deep, black, white. As I mentioned before, painting on this foam board allows me to loosen up. I'm not sure why. My husband says that I will need to be hypnotized to believe that canvas is foam board, and then I won't have the urge to tighten up.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Red Coat and Strappy Sandals, Toronto

6" x 6"
Oil on Board
Walking in downtown Toronto on a rainy evening.
Red is so challenging. What color are the shadows? Its a strong color, but how does one make it stand out and look lighter without using white or yellow and diluting the wonderful red. So many complications in a picture.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Minden Tims

6" x 6"
Oil on Canvas
While visiting my daughter in Minden Ontario this past weekend, I noticed this great floating Tims sign. I am fascinated with unique quirky signage and all things Tims. This sign was floating on a board in a marshy area on the edge of a lake. In an area surrounded by lakes, marsh, and the Canadian shield, I thought this quite creative. Minden Ontario is north of Toronto in "cottage country". It is called the "near north" because it isn't really north, I guess. It is north enough to have bears, wolves, moose, deer etc. and plenty of cold weather and snow in winter.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Crossing Dundas Street, Toronto Ontario

6" x 6"
Oil on Board
People crossing Dundas Street during the afternoon commute in Toronto Ontario.

I would like to thank Laurel Daniel for giving me the Bella Sinclair award for "friendship, sisterhood, caring and sharing. I will take this opportunity to pass it on to others who have been encouraging in their comments or who I respect for their contributions in making the "web world" a better place.
MaryAnne Carey, Tammy Hext, Carol Schiff Studio, Kathy Weber, Carol Marine (I don't know Carol on a "comment" basis, but in following her blog, I believe her to be one of the hardest working, positive, encouraging artists out there. The Yoda of art bloggers.) and (following Laurel Daniels lead) my sister Paula. My sister has always supported me and encouraged me to keep working and keep trying. She is a firm believer in the adage: if you believe in yourself and follow your heart, good things will happen. Thank you Paula!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

These Boots are made for walkin in the Rain

10" x 8"
Oil on Foam Board
This painting had the ground in diox violet and Trans earth brown. I often like to work on this background color.
This young woman was walking down a very reflected Queen Street in Toronto.

These boots are made for walkin in the rain

Get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as you please-Mark Twain

I think these words by mark Twain can apply to writing or painting. Picasso for example. His early work shows that he knew the facts...later on he chose to distort them.

I cut a couple of 8 x 10 pieces of the "foam board" to experiment with painting the same scene on two different grounds. Results to follow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Featured on Emptyeasel

I am positively thrilled to say that I am the featured artist on the website called EmptyEasel. This is a great website with well written and interesting articles. People have contacted me to say that they now notice elements of my paintings that they didn't see before they were pointed out in the Emptyeasel article.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Waiting to Cross Younge, Toronto

10" x 8"
Oil on Canvas Board
Often I look at an image and wonder if it will" work". Even though I think it has too many negatives, I do it anyway. I liked the paper covered windows, and the starkness of the scene, even though I knew it would be difficult to portray.
I'm always amazed to see buildings for lease right down town Toronto on Yonge Street.
These young ladies enjoy a drink while waiting for the light to change at Yonge and Gould Streets.

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Pretty in Pink"

6" x 6"
Oil on board
And now for something completely different! I decided to do a picture from James Parkers Window to the world art. I had a lot of fun, decided to "let go" and see what happens.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Drizzly Yonge Street Commute, Toronto

10" x 8"
Oil on canvas
Traffic heads down Yonge Street in Toronto on a rainy day. The big tv screen above the Hard Rock Cafe is visible to the left. Toronto has very distinctive taxis, painted teal and orange.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bay and Dundas, Toronto Ontario

8" x 10"
Oil on Canvas
Traffic at the corner of Dundas and Bay streets, passing the Canadian Tire Store. (I posted a looser version of this earlier, but wasn't satisfied with the result.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Suits Heading Home, King St. Toronto Ontario

8" x 10"
Oil on board
The pedestrian rush hour in Toronto as everyone heads for the subway or Go train after work. when doing this painting, I tried to break it down into simple elements. The painting in the previous post needs some simplifying. As I mentioned in Janelle Goodwin's blog, I try to do a preliminary thumbnail sketch, dividing the scene into three values and then maintain the values when painting. I often get lost in the details. And then I must remind myself to "keep it simple".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Crossing Dundas Street, Toronto Ontario

17" x 16"
Oil on Foam Board
I am becoming a storm chaser. When the forecast called for lots of rain, I packed up my camera and rain gear and headed for Toronto. I love Toronto. So much activity, so many people, and just a wonderful city. Its only 50 miles away, so I should go more often.

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Wilson and James" #2

16 x 20
Oil on Foam Board
The second attempt at this subject. The composition is a bit awkward. It may need a bit more work, so maybe I'll go back to it later.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Another Rainy Day in the Hammer"

16 x 20
Oil on Stuff
I wonder if studio painting makes us treat every painting as a potential "masterpiece" rather than as a spontaneous rendering of a subject as is done "plein air". Do we overwork them, lose the sense of the scene? As I often mention, changing to a looser more atmospheric style is my goal. I would like to use bolder more energetic brush strokes, some thicker paint and maintain the sense of time and place. But old habits die hard. I have a solution. After doing a bathroom renovation, we were left with some stiff foam shower material. I have been eyeing it as a potential painting surface. It is light, durable and waterproof and can be cut with an exacto knife. It is cheap, so I can paint larger without worry of wasting canvas. A perfect surface for doing an oil "sketch". It can't be sold, so I won't be focused on sales or "masterpieces". Just for practise, experimentation or anything else I want to do with it. It has a subtle texture, but a couple of coats of Gesso should help. This is my first "oil sketch" on the foam board.
As an example of what I don't want to keep doing is "Lighthouse Fish Market". I loved the quircky signage, and the boxes of fruits and vegetables etc, but I got too laboured in my approach, got out the pointy brushes, and went against all my goals.

8" x 8"
Oil on Gesso Board