Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Afternoon Traffic in Red and Gold

8 x 8 oil on cradled panel
Last minute show details are taking up too much time, so I decided to take some time and paint something fun and small. The reflected sun peaks through buildings and illuminates the afternoon traffic in downtown Toronto. The Streetcar and Co-op taxi made a nice arrangement of reds. I thought I should paint another taxi besides the Beck Taxi that dominates many of my paintings.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Santa's workshop, Hudson's Bay Store, Queen Street

16 x 20 oil on canvas
Every year the One Of A Kind Show in Toronto holds a contest for all artisans and artists to participate in. This year the contest theme was "Santa's Workshop". The entry must be in the artist's style and medium. When deciding what to do, I thought a Toronto scene featuring the spirit of giving would be something that I could work with.
The Hudson't Bay Store on Queen Street always has their windows dressed up for the holidays. I decided to feature these windows with Santa ringing the bell for the Salvation Army donation drive.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sun After the Snowfall, Yonge Street

24 x 24 oil on board
This has been a difficult painting to work on, so I am going to leave it for a bit before I decide what might need changing/improving.
I don't know what it is about the clarity of the sun after a snowstorm. The air seems clear and the blues in the sky can be stunning. It probably has something to do with the reflections on the white snow. This image is from later in the afternoon as the sun sinks behind buildings in the downtown core of Toronto. Some sunlight makes its way through the buildings to highlight the snow in the foreground.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

After the Snow, Queen and McCaul

24 x 24 oil on canvas
It actually snowed a bit today. Not as much as in this scene but lots of flakes coming down. Very unusual for this time of year. It still makes it easier to paint snow scenes.
Streetcars wait at a red light at Queen and McCaul while pedestrians cross the street. The triangle shapes of the Rex hotel are visible on the left.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Night At the Opera, Queen Street, Toronto

12 x 12 oil on canvas
The colour scheme of this scene was challenging with the mix of greens and reds. As long as I kept the green cool, it seemed to work.
A sophisticated looking couple cross University Ave. going to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts to see Verdi's Falstaff.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Dreamed in Pink and Purple, King Street, Toronto

8 x 10 oil on canvas
I've painted this corner before.The rotating light on the Standard Life Building changes the colours on everything around it. It is a perfect example of how light changes the colours of what we see and perceive. I captured this photo as the light was pink/purple.
The colours this young woman was wearing added a nice moody feel to the scene. She is crossing York Street during a misty rain.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Heading Back to work, Bay Street

12 x 12 oil on panel
I had a feeling this one would be tough with the opposing colours on either side of the street. The road, middle sidewalk, and right sidewalk were all different colours. I was tempted to add some cooler blue temperature to the pillars on the left, but I didn't want to change their colour too much. I let my" artist" side dominate decisions that should have been made by my "design" side. We can't help it. sometimes we "need" to add that light standard even though we know it messes with the design of a painting.
As Mike Svob says in his book, "Let your artist/design side boss your artist/drawing side around. In other words, try to make decisions that work for the picture/painting. 
I think parts of the painting work really well, others may need some adjusting.
A "suit" heads back to work on Bay Street in the financial district of Toronto.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Riding The Red Rocket

8 x 10 oil on panel
I love trains. There is something romantic about them that survives from a different era. And in spite of the traffic jams and some discomfort, the Toronto Streetcar still maintains that special something we love about trains. Torontos' streetcars will be chaniging between 2014 and 2018. I don't like change, but I think I can adjust to liking them as well.
Passengers board the 504 on a stormy night. 
Thanks to Ben Roffelsen for the photo reference.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October Rain, King Street, Toronto

12 x 12 oil on board
I was happy to get some photos as the leaves are turning. We have had lots of rain so getting a rainy scene wasn't too difficult. The yellow leaves made the scene. 
The Beautiful Church on Simcoe Street is visible on the top right hand side.

Monday, October 20, 2014

First Snowfall, Toronto Streetcar

8 x 8 oil on board
Since I had "snow colours" on my palette, I decided to do another snow scene rather than scrape off the paint and waste it.  I called this "First Snowfall" because there is very little accumulation on the ground. I don't know if we are ever ready for the first snow fall. Many of us rush off to get out snow tires put on at the last moment, not to mention any names.
A young woman rushes to board a Toronto Streetcar in the early evening.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Gooderham Building in Snow

24 x 24 oil on board
I really enjoy how snow changes a scene. Everything seems softer and quieter. I say that I like to convey a mood or atmoshere rather than just painting a picture of a building. Snow is the perfect way to achieve this.
The Gooderham Building is Toronto's Flat Iron Building, nestled at the intersection of Front and Wellington. The photo reference had cars in the foreground, but I left them out to change the feeling when looking at the picture.
I thought this picture would be fun to paint. Actually, it was unbelieveably difficult with so many nuances of hue. I'm not sure if its finished, but I need to leave it for a bit and stare at it from time to time to see what it needs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Enjoying the Scenery

8 x 8 oil on canvas
I was quite amused by this photo. It was obviously lunch or break time, but enjoying the scenery was not part of the plan. Having seen so many suit styles, its interesting to see the style so "retro". I particularly liked the pointed shoes.
Two young men walk down Bay Street on a sunny afternoon in Toronto.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

8 x 8 oil on canvas
I think it is almost impossible to take a photo of downtown Toronto without finding a beck taxi or streetcar in the picture. (The same goes for New York City and their yellow taxis). The colours can be challenging, but in this picture, the turquiose of the taxi and the highlights of the Sunlife Centre at 150 King Street West harmonized nicely.
This is late afternoon in the financial district of Toronto.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jazz at Massey Hall, Toronto

16 x 20 oil on canvas
Massey Hall is a wonderful music venue on Victoria Street in Toronto. Many famous people have played here, and the "Jazz at Massey Hall" comes from the Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie recording. Massey Hall was built in 1894 and has been hosting music events ever since.
I took this photo reference on a very rainy night, and liked how the sign illuminated the building and street in a glow of red. This view is from Shuter Street.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

T.G.I.F, Queen and University

12 x 12 oil on canvas
On an early rainy Friday evening, a "suit" walks down Queen near University, heading home after a day of work in the Financial District of Toronto. The wonderful wrought iron fence of the The Law Society is visible on the right, illuminated by passing cars and the various lights of the city.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Afternoon Glare, Toronto

12 x 12 oil on canvas
We've been having some great summer weather even though it is autumn. We like to hang on to summer as long as possible. I added black to my palette again, using Ivory black, alizarin crimson, yellow ochre, cad yellow med, cad yellow light, ultramarine blue, cad red. 
Thanks to John Tavares for the photo reference.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Queen and Bay

24 x 24 oil on board
I have to admit that I am running out of ideas for titles.Or else, since I've increased my painting time, I don't have time to think of titles. I will be showing some work at a Gallery in Kitchener called the Artisan Zone. It is a beautiful space in a lovely old building and the owners are a very enthusiastic couple with lots of ideas.
I am enjoying painting these darker looser scenes, working on more interesting brush strokes, or mark making as it is also called. With mark making, one can use any tool to make an impression on a canvas. Sometimes I remove paint with a rag, or incorporate a knife. Some artists actually do oil paintings with brayers, all adding interest in a painting.
The Hudson's Bay Store windows are on the left in the painting. It is an amazing store that seems to go on forever. I always enjoy this corner and the scenes it provides. I did a 12 x 12 of this scene, but wanted to try it on a larger scale.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Left Over Paint

10 x 10 oil on canvas
I had a lot of left over paint from working most of the day and decided to work on this scene. I took the photo on Front Street in front of Biff's Bistro. I must admit, I can't think of a suitable title. My brain is not working at all in that direction. Any suggestions?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Temperance Street in Winter

12 x 12 oil on board
I like to paint the atmosphere and feel of the city streets, but I also love the little details one finds in the city. For example, this street called Temperance has always intrigued me. I found a blog by James Bow who writes:

"The block bound by Yonge, Adelaide, Bay and Queen was owned by him, and when the city approached him in 1837 to help them build a new road west of Yonge between Richmond and Adelaide, he donated the land, with the stipulation that alcohol never be sold on the new street. Thus Temperance Street was born."

This scene features Temperance and Bay on a winter day.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

College and Spadina, Misty Rain

24 x 24 oil on canvas
I have a stack of canvases in the studio that are "duds"...paintings that I couldn't get to work for various reasons. I did this painting about three years ago but hated it. Looking at it while waiting for gesso to dry, I thought I would take another shot at it. The canvas was heavily textured, so to make it work I used a lot of knife work to even things out. I think I like it better. I have always found green to be a difficult colour to work with and this was no exception.
This is a misty rainy day at College and Spadina.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Winter Rain, University Ave, Toronto

12 x 12 oil on board
I toned down the colour in this scene and returned to a more subtle palette.
A young woman heads home from work during a winter rain.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Night Rain at King and York

12 x 12 oil on canvas
There are some street corners that always put on a show. This corner of King Street West at York changes colour as the sign on the Standard Life Building turns. I have several photos featuring different colour patterns. It was a challenging scene to paint.
People head home from work on a rainy night in the Financial District.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Reflections in Red and Blue, Queen and University

24 x 24 oil on canvas
Traffic heads up Queen Street past the Sheriton Centre for the Performing Arts on a rainy evening in Toronto.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Red Lights on King, Toronto

12 x 12 oil on canvas
Red signage and pouring rain bathed this cityscape in reds on a cold rainy night in Toronto's Entertainment District. The Kit Kat Restaurant sign dominates the top middle of the picture.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Winter Blues, Financial District, Toronto

8 x 10 oil on panel
I have some shows coming up and I want to work on some studies for larger paintings. I find that it really helps to do a smaller painting when there will be so much time, paint, and energy to go into the finished product.
I took this scene last January in the early evening when it was minus 20 celcius. The air was clear and the sky very blue. The blue reflected on many of the surfaces. In spite of the cold, there was a lot of interesting light and reflections.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Evening Commute on King

12 x 12 oil on canvas
I have done this image before but thought I would do it iagain with a different colour palette..This young lady is heading home, crossing King Street, dwarfed by the streetcar waiting at a stop light. I often cross the same street several times as I take photos, hoping for some interesting images. This time it paid off.
The Princess of Wales theatre is visible on the left.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Just Walking in the Rain No.1

8 x 8 oil on canvas
I really enjoy taking photographs. They aren't always the best quality, but I don't need a lot of detail to use them as reference for painting. I find so many interesting people in the background of these pictures, and I have often thought of compiling them into a group of paintings called "Just Walking in the Rain".
I really enjoyed this picture. The young woman appeared to be out for a fitness walk while the Basset Hound looked completely dejected. I guess we don't all like walking in the rain.
This woman and her dog are walking  in front of the Gooderham building preparing to cross Front Street.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Evening Rain, Queen and Yongs

11x14 oil on panel
I know I couldn't leave this painting alone. I wasn't happy with the atmosphere. The photo reference was a lot more "glowy" and atmospheric and looked more like a rainy day. So, of course I left it on the easel and ended up reworking it. I still find turquiose and orange to be  difficult colours when attempting harmony and proper value. Hopefully I learned something from the experience.
Which painting do you prefer? I would love to learn from your comments.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

11 x 14 oil on canvas
I'm having some fun doing quick paintings (under three hours) and adding some colour. I often use a limited palette to achieve a dark moody look, but I decided to brighten things up a bit. This scene had a lot of turquoise blue in it so I found a tube of cobalt teal in a paint drawer and added that. Its more difficult maintaining proper values with more colour (for me anyway). I will look at the same scene in black and white to make sure I am not deviating from my value sketch.
This scene is at Queen and Yonge and features the pathway above Queen Street.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Downtown Rain

12 x 12 oil on canvas
I have several paintings in the studio that I am not happy with, so I have been painting over them with an old tube of white oil paint to reuse the canvas. This particular canvas I actually had to carefully use a razor scraper to get all the annoying bits of paint off.
Its a rainy day today, so I decided to do a quick downtown rainy image. I kept the painting time to two and a half hours. (Actually it is time to stop painting, take off the painting smock and put on the cooking apron.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Late Afternoon Shadows, Financial District, Toronto

8 x 10 oil on paper
This is a study for a potential larger painting. I often work on paper and if I like the study enough I will glue it onto a cradled panel to make it more suitable for selling.
This image is late afternoon in the Financial District in Toronto.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Queen Street Shoppers

12 x 12 oil on board
Staying with the theme of "Summer in the City" I couldn't resist doing this group of shoppers crossing Queen Street with the late afternoon reflections. Some paintings I just have to do because the subject is "fun". Although they are generally just as difficult as what we might call "more serious". I may add a little blue to the shadows...still wondering about the temperature in relation to the warm yellow of the road.
This scene is from Queen Street in Toronto.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Summer In the City, Toronto On

12 x 12 oil on board
Its hard to believe that summer is half over, but there are lots of great days left. This scene features downtown Toronto on a sunny summer day. I took a  break from rainy scenes and also added some colours to my usual palette of:Ultramarine blue, Alizarin crimson, transparent oxide red, cadmium yellow deep, cadmium red, viridian. I added cadmium orange, cad yellow light, and cad red light.
Thanks to Ben Roffelsen for the photo reference.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sirius Lee Social, Mcdonald Marine, Hamilton

11 x 14 oil on panel
In a boat yard, there are always boats that don't make it into the water when summer arrives and so they spend the season "on the hard". This painting features the early morning light, glinting off of the boats, their masts and lines and creating sparkles on the water.
The small boat club, Hamilton Bay Sailing Club always has interesting names for their boats. The boat in the foreground is a "Sirius" and so it was aptly named "Sirius Lee Social".

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Time Well Wasted, Macdonald Marine, Hamilton

11 x 14 oil on canvas
We have a small sailboat in Hamilton Harbour and spend part of the summer around boats. Every summer, I like to do a few marina scenes. This scene features the dock across from us just after a rain. The dark clouds were receding and a bit of light trying to break through. I like the name of the middle boat "Time Well Wasted" ..

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jazz and Art Show at Petroff Gallery

36 x 48 oil on canvas
I have been away from the studio for a bit, spending time with visiting family and various other summer time commitments. I hope to get back to steady painting very soon. In the meantime, I wanted to mention the Jazz and Art show that is presently on at Petroff Gallery. The show runs until August 8 and features some great paintings, glass, jewellery and  sculpture. It is a beautiful setting on Eglinton Avenue in a renovated bank. I was very impressed with how they combined the colours of my paintings with the other items for sale. Stop in and have a look

Thursday, June 26, 2014

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...No. 1 Spadina Crescent

36 x 36 oil on canvas
I never knew where the expression "Dark and Stormy Night" originated until I looked it up and found it to have been written in 1830 by Edward Bulwar Lytton, an English novelist. I couldn't get the expression out of my head while I was painting. It was known as a melodramtic style of writing and has since become a cliche.
I did a similar painting to this a while back and wanted to do it on a larger scale. The Gothic Revival building in the background is part of the University of Toronto, built in 1875. It is situated at no 1 Spadina Crescent.
To establish a dark moody feeling, I used a palette of Viridian, Cadmium red, Ivory Black, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow, and Titanium white.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

And Now for something completely different...

Toronto Victorian and Garden
8 x 8 oil on canvas
 I don't normally do this type of scene. But I do love old houses and gardens so I thought I would have some fun with colour.
Toronto has some amazing older homes and I hope to get around to painting more of them this summer...and hopefully include some gardens at the same time.

Thanks to Ben Reffelsen for the photo reference.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


24 x 24 oil on canvas
I know, why am I painting snow? My daughter came into the studio and "seriously?" is pretty much what she said. I asked her what she thought and she just said "I don't know..I can't even relate." Fair enough...we had a tough winter this past year. 
Whenever I do a show, I like to have a variety of paintings and I was low on the snow scenes, so I thought I would do this one. I have done this scene on a smaller scale, and wanted to do it a little larger. I have to admit that I love snow. And I loved the atmosphere on the day that I took the reference photo.
This scene is on Spadina during a blustery snowy day. This painting will be available at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition at Nathan Phillips Square July 4,5,6.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thursday Night Jazz at The Rex, Queen Street

30 x 48 Oil on Canvas
This is another Jazz themed painting for the Jazz show at Petroff Gallery July 19th. Queen Street in Toronto still has many older small buildings mixed with larger newer ones. (As most streets in downtown Toronto).Of course the smaller older ones are always more aesthetically pleasing and pedestrian friendly. 
The Rex Hotel is a great venue for jazz. I took the photo reference on a Thursday evening as patrons were arriving to catch the shows.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Jazz Bistro, Victoria Street, Toronto

36 x 48 oil on canvas
  As I mentioned in a  previous post, Petroff Gallery, using the Beaches Jazz festival as inspiration, is putting together an exhibition of works inspired by or representative of jazz music. I chose one of the two studies I did of The Jazz Bistro and painted it on a much larger scale. A lot of the painting was a study in greys and deciding which ones wouldn't contrast with the yellows, reds, and greens. it was a lot more difficult than I thought and the problem solving revolved around maintaining proper colour temperature. 
The Jazz Bistro and Senator Restaurant are located in some great older buildings on Victoria Street in Toronto. They really hold their own against the monolithic Rogers Building next door. I can't believe how much the Toronto streetscape changes from year to year. I hate to see the old buildings come down and I hope these two will hang around for a long time to come.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Jazz Bistro, Toronto

8 x 10 oil on canvas
Using the Beaches Jazz Festival as inspiration, this coming July Petroff Gallery is putting together an exhibition of works inspired by or representative of jazz music. I have decided to participate and paint images of Jazz venues in Toronto.
The Jazz Bistro on Victoria Street is an interesing location, situalted next to the famous Senator Restaurant. I did two versions and must decide which will work best on a 36 x 48 scale.
 Which composition do you prefer?


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Chinatown Rain, Dundas And Spadina

36 x 48 Oil on canvas
I did this painting over a year ago and didn't like it. The composition was off, and it was difficult to bring it all together. Plus, the people were walking from side to side adding to the compostion difficulties. It was a large canvas covered in paint and it sat in the studio staring at me. I decided to put it on the easel. What I loved about this scene was the busy activity at this corner of Spadina. Streetcars continually pass both ways, shoppers are everywhere, and the sounds and sights of Chinatown pervade the scene. So, I decided to rework it, changing the people and numerous other elements. The composition still isn't the best, but I think I've captured some of the atmosphere and activity of Chinatown on Spadina.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Beck Taxi on Yonge

30 x 30 oil on canvas
I really liked the composition on the 6 x 6 painting I did a while back. I decided to try it on a larger scale. One of the difficulties when going larger is the tendency to tighten up and start adding more detail. I worked at leaving it loose and spontaneous, using a lot of squinting and larger brush strokes to maintain the atmosphere rather than focusing on the details.
This scene features a Beck Taxi going south on Yonge Street with Dundas Square in the background.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Acrylics or oils? What is your preference?

Moonlight Cat 16 x 20 Acrylic on canvas
Every now and then I need an acrylic fix. I spent several years painting realistically using acrylic paints.When I decided I needed a change and wanted to paint more spontaneously and "looser" I decided to switch back to oils. It has been quite a journey. I love oils and how they can be blended and smooshed around. But sometimes I feel I stop focusing on strong values and composition, and for some reason I return to acrylics to change my focus. I don't know why I find it easier to maintain values with acrylics. They seem to allow themselves to a more graphic deisgn sense and its easier to keep the dark values dark.
When I painted this cat on a piano (several years ago), I painted the notes to the Moonlight Sonata on the music sheet. And I enjoyed it!
What do you prefer? Oil or acrylic?

8x10 acrylic on board

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Quiet Moment, Berczy Park, Toronto

12 x 12 oil on canvas
We don't have quite this much greenery yet, but I am hopeful that we will be able to sit comfortably outside in the next few days. A cold wet spring has us longing for warmth and sunshine.
Sometimes when taking photos we get some interesting scenes that we weren't particulary aiming for. This couple looked so engaged, possibly on a work break and they made a nice addition to the sunny scene in Berczy Park behind the Gooderham building. (Also known as Toronto's Flat Iron building)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Afternoon Shadows, Queen Street

12 x 12 oil on canvas
The challenge in this image was to capture the glare of the sun during late afternoon as the sun disappears behind buildings.In the downtown core, the contrast between light and dark is accentuated. I have added a phlalo blue to my colour palette, and I used it here in addition to my traditional palette to mix the grays of the darks and the yellows in the lights. It seemed to add to the warmth of a sunny day in spring. 
The palette I normally use is: Alizarin Crimson, Unltramarine blue, cadmium red, cadmium yellow dark, cad yellow light, Transparent Oxide Red, Viridian, and Titanium white.
In this painting, pedestrians jaywalk across Queen Street near Bay Street.