Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December - I'm Back

I haven't written anything since June! What a long time! Well, the truth is that I didn't do any painting between June and November. I simply couldn't face trying to paint with acrylics. They dry so fast. I didn't know how to get started. But now I'm painting again.

What got me going? A good friend, Jim, took up painting seriously this year. He is very good. Suddenly he started turning out paintings and more paintings. It was exciting.

Eventually, inspired and encouraged by Jim and all the fun he was having, I  decided I should start using my acrylics the same way I used to use oils. The only difference would be that, instead of using the deadly turpentine, I would just use water.  Mike kept encouraging me and one day I just got started. Bit by bit I began to get confidence.

I continued to work on yellow irises I had started in the spring and I now have finished 3 different yellow flag paintings.

I got more ambitious and tried painting a photos of the view from the road coming down from Mount Washington - with both sunset and moonrise. I liked it.

I decided to be even more daring. I took a big 2013 oil painting sketch and painted over it with acrylics. I had no problems with the paint adhering because the underlying sketch was so thinly painted. I made it very bright and I outlined it in black in the the spirit of Norval Morriseau. I liked it too.

I put these paintings on my website <> and  made them into notecards. Here they are:

Yippee! I'm painting again!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 3 - Yellow Flags Painting

I don't know why it took me so long to get back to working on my Yellow Flags painting. I thought it looked horrible when I left it on June 2, but there it sat on my easel for 3 weeks.

June 24 I had another go at it and I think it looks much more promising. I added white edges to the leaves (which really are there - but no so noticeable), darkened the background, and smoothed the edges a bit. I covered a lot of the red paint on the blossoms with light yellow and touches of white. In the photo below I think it looks quite lovely - but it's not quite that nice in real life.


Next I want to add a bit more detail to the flowers and differentiate the colour of the leaves to look more they way they do in the photo - i.e. some leaves are quite blue and others are more green. I have already cut the one really long leaf on the left back so that none of the leaves go past the top - I think this was a good idea. I'll see next time. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Day 2 yellow flags

I am not very comfortable painting vegetation which is making me wonder why I am trying to paint these yellow flags. I want them to look impressionistic but not to abstract. this would suggest that I need to not only show each blossom but also many of the leaves and the stalks from which the blossoms emerge inside furled leaves. However I do not want to show all the leaves precisely - but also don't want a muddy mush.

What I have done today is paint in the dark background above, I first outlined the flowers in blue and then red - eventually I only want the slightest bit of red to show around the yellow flowers. I had been painting the leaves yellow-blue-green and nothing showed up - so I switched to teal which is a sort of cerulean. Of course it is much too blue but might be a good base paint into which to add light yellow and white for the edges of the leaves - but what colour to do the darker part of the leaves. I will have to experiment and look at some paintings. right now I hate this painting but that is par for the course. i had a vision and I seem far from achieving it right now. Fortunately, the photos always look better than the actual picture - not nearly so muddy - so I have a bit of hope.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 27 - banners up and painting

It took me two weeks to paint my banners and it was exhausting - mainly because I was still recovering from my sinus surgery - but fun. I love the banner festival because it makes me commit to painting and getting it done in a reasonable time period.The banners went up on the May Long Weekend. Here are "double Helix" and "Double Helix Unzipping" hanging on Front Street, Nanaimo.
I think they are great! I thought lots of other people would double helixes - but no-one else did.

Today I worked on a new painting of yellow flag irises. They are gorgeous at this time of year - but I just discovered they are also considered an invasive species - like yellow broom and yellow dandelions. Too bad! Somewhere they must be native and loved plants.

This is the photo i am using for inspiration. I took it at Cottle Lake in Linley Valley a couple of days ago.
Here is my underpainting - done with acrylics. I actually took a lot of care drawing it. Then I painted the flowers yellow over my drawing. But when I started to fill in the dark background I realized that the flowers were too low in the painting. The whole balance of the picture was not pleasing. So - I did what Penny Maday had told me. I whited out the dark area with patches of white where the blossoms should have been. Then I whited out the yellow flowers and sloshed on some yellow-blue paint to get the greenish eeffect. I think this mistake may have been a happy accident because - at this point anyway - the painting looks pretty loose and fresh. If I had carried on it would have been pretty tight. I will have another go at it tomorrow. I like it that the blossoms are larger than the ones in the photo.

Re my health. It is now 75 days since I took prednisone and my breathing is still excellent. My peak flow is always in the yellow in the morning and the green throughout the day.  It has not gone into the orange (let alone the red) since my surgery. Another great thing is that I am now a patient at the Serious Asthma Clinic in Vancouver and will have a new program in a few weeks. It appears that my previous treatment was for childhood asthma (which is allergy related) not for adult-onset asthma (which results from a different kind of sensitivity). Hopefully my new program will keep me in the green indefinitely - with NO MORE PREDNISONE. Yippee!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 16 -new banners

My goodness, it is a month since I wrote my blog. Where did the time go? I guess it was mainly that 2 weeks ago I had sinus surgery to try to improve my asthma. It was a major clean out of all my sinuses and I am still a bit knocked out by it.

Nonetheless I have now designed two banners for the Nanaimo Festival of Banners. The theme is Evolve. I decided to do pictures of chromosomes. I looked at a lot of images on the internet of double helixes and came up with the following:

 This one is called "Double Helix." It shows a pair of chromosome twisting away into the distance.

This one is called "Double Helix Unzippping." It shows the same chromosome reproducing by splitting apart like a broken zipper. Daughter partners have been created and the chromosome is becoming two two chromosomes

Both these drawings are 4" x 8" and will be the design for two large banners. I need to do quite a bit more study to make sure I understand what is happening in these pictures and have the terminology correct - so if anyone asks me I will know the science behind the art. Then, when I 'm OK, I will take the drawings to the Brenda at the Banner Festival and book some time to paint them.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Two acrylic paintings

I finished my first 20"x16" acrylic painting - me taking a photo of Nelson Island and Jarvis Inlet from the ferry. It was very interesting to do. A friend said it had a Colville look - so I tried to make it look that way - i.e. not at all impressionistic or following Emily Carr. Here is where I stopped working on it on February 9.

In the actual painting the horizon is straight.  I did a bit more on the hand and collar after I took this photo - but I am not completely satisfied with it yet. I guess I will have another go at it and also paint the edges of the painting so that it is actually done.

Then I started on another small (20"x16") painting of someone else looking at a small screen. This time it is Mike looking at his phone while sitting at the kitchen table. Here are some pictures of how I proceeded.

I started with a fairly careful pencil drawing on my canvas. It took a lot of time and ruined one eraser - but I wanted it to look correct. I included the binoculars on the counter as a nod to Colville. They were really there in the photo and I think they add to the design. (I did not include the red fire extinguisher which hangs on the wall by door - because it seemed a bit odd and distracting.) Then I painted in some basic acrylic colours - mainly yellow, raw sienna and white..

Then I added more paint - mainly yellow and raw sienna plus burnt umber and red for the hoodie. I was happy with the way the table was turning out and thought the hoodie looked pretty good. It was really hard to draw the hood part - but with the shading it looked fine.

Then, yesterday, I added lots of black and red and redid the way the light glows on the table. I actually probably used too much red. It was because I squirted so much out on my palette. I didn't want to waste it and hoped it would make a good undercoat. I will likely tone it down next time I paint - but maybe not - since the red gives the painting a lot of life and is fun.  I was happy with the green patio bushes showing through the sliding glass doors. The stainless butter dish also has lots of potential at this point. I would like to be able to blend a bit more - especially on the hoodie - to have a Colville look - but don't know how to do this. Maybe I need to use a different medium or maybe I should give up on Colville and go with what seems to be happening.

I have been feeling better and better while I worked on these paintings. It is now 12 days since I finished my last prednisone burst and I almost believe that I am actually cured. I love the cold outside air and the way it feels in my lungs. - so clean and cool. The allergist I saw last week said that allergies are not part of my asthma/sinus/eustachian tube problem. But my ENT doc (who never listens and never takes a nose swab - but did order a CT scan) says he is wrong. It is all about allergies that the allergist didn't test for. A bit puzzling. Thankfully he referred me a rhinologist in Vancouver. He is Elspeth's doctor and she has lots of faith in him.

Regardless of allergies or irritants, the acrylic paints are not causing any bad sensations - so I will continue to try to master this new plastic medium. I particularly like (but also hate) the way the paint dries so fast. My idea now is to paint a series of pictures of people looking at screens. My next one will be Brendan and Jordan and I  working on our Grant Clan Facebook page at the RV park in Deer Lodge last summer. It is a very blue picture taken after dark with the screen shining on our faces and should be pretty fun to do.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


I'm trying to paint with acrylics. I know they a wonderful and have tons of potential - but they don't work at all like oils. However, oils are out due to the irritation caused by the turps - so I have to get the hang of this. The most strange part is that in the few minutes it has taken to photo my picture and get going on this blog the painting is dry enough to work on again.

Health note: I am back on a 10 day prednisone burst - so my breathing is so much better than last week and the phlegm has ended for a while. It looks like I might be on this 2-3 month prednisone cycle for a while. However, I have a new antibiotic which might get to the root of the problem, On Monday I get tubes in my ears - that should help me to hear better even if my allergies get out of hand again. Being sick sucks! You have to think of every day being a bonus day!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Back to my Arbutus

I haven't done much painting for a while - because - guess what? I am sick again. Being sick is such a drag. This time I seemed to be doing OK after my December prednisone - only to catch a cold on Boxing Day - a really nasty one. Mike got it too and we struggled on but we both felt miserable. My asthma exacerbated again and my peak flow dropped. My eardrums both ruptured and i am once again temporarily deaf. However, three different puffers are keeping me out of the predni"zone" - and I am taking antibiotics for my recently discovered chest bacteria. So - I did some painting today. Back to my arbutus. Here it is.
The colours seem pretty garish but I think it is the lighting. My art room is wonderful but the light is not too good in the winter since the window faces north towards the hill which is our back garden. Once it gets dark - I can't really see what I am doing in the golden artificial light. If it is clear tomorrow I will get a better idea of how this painting actually looks.

A couple of things I need to do are put more of an arch into the main trunk where it divides, put some shadows into the trees on the far shore, darken and lighten the branches to show sun coming from the right side and  put in a few sets of leaves where I have now made some of  the narrower branches look sort of red - and hence alive.

I guess I have face it that the turps are irritating my bronchial passages and making me cough. I was fine until I cleaned my brushes.  Heck!