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.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Westbound Go Train, Toronto

6 x 6 oil on board
I've always enjoyed train travel. There is still something romantic about the train. I'm sure there are many commuters who would disagree with this statement as they take the GO Train to and from work everyday. I travel the Go Train fairly often as I go back and forth to Toronto from my town west of the city. I rarely get tired of it.
This scene is from the train shed outside of Union Station. Passengers wait to get on the west bound train. I hope the current renovation doesn't completely change the industrial Victorian feel of iron posts and beams. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Yonge Street, Evening Rain

24 x 24 oil on canvas
I usually work from photographs. I love to take pictures and I love interesting weather (some people call it "bad" weather). When I take pictures downtown in the pouring rain or a snow storm, I'm not really concerned with the photographic quality. I mainly need reference and atmosphere. So I take a LOT of photos. When I get home and look through the photos, sometimes an image will really excite me. Like this one. It had a lot of great things going on. Old dark buildings in the foreground, blue misty buildings in the background. Some great reflections.
I am planning to do another series of larger paintings, and I may choose this image to do in a 36 x 36. I don't know if I have conquered enough fear to go to a 48 x 48.....but soon I hope. The last one I attempted got wiped...and I can tell you, that is a lot of paint to wipe!

This scene is Yonge Street looking south with the Hudson's Bay store on the right.

Friday, May 2, 2014

12 x 12 oil on canvas
Honest Eds is another famous Toronto Landmark, opened by Ed Mirvish in 1948 on Bathurst and Bloor Streets. With its 23,000 light bulbs, it looks like a theatre marquee rather than a retail establishment. Unfortunately, its future is short lived. Read more  on wikipedia.
 Thanks to John Tavares for the photo reference.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Umbrellas and Traffic

6x8 oil on canvas board
We haven't had much spring like weather yet. The temperature hovers around 5 degrees C and people are still getting out winter coats. And to top it off, it seems to rain every day. Its a good thing I like the rain!
People and their umbrellas wait to cross the street in Toronto, On.
Thanks to Ben Roffelson for this photo reference.