Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fireworks Finished

Here are the three panels of my triptych. I ended up calling it "Fireworks" - mainly because I just watched "Lord of the Rings" and Gandalf's fireworks reminded me of my paintings. Of course being abstract paintings they could remind viewers of anything - including sinuses or multiverses - but nowadays I like Fireworks better.

Before i finished, I took a real risk and added, not just plastic jewels, but also glitter glue, to make the painting sparkle. It doesn't sound very professional but it really worked and added a whole new feeling. Maybe that's why I called it Fireworks in the end. 

I gave these three large (3"x3') paintings to my daughter and they are hanging on a beautiful large reddish wall on the second floor of her house in Sechelt. You can see them when you walk in the front door.

They look fabulous!  Thrilling!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Why sinuses?

Forgot to mention in previous post why I was thinking of happy sinuses.  It's because the painting is for my daughter and what she really wants is happy sinuses. Her sinuses are not happy right now.  She's had problems - bad problems - for many years. Hopefully the high tech, cutting edge, expensive blue light therapy and newly designed probiotic will fix her sinuses and the painting will tell a happy story .

Multiverse or happy sinuses?

Although it may not show in the image on the previous post- I have done a lot detailed cleanup on this painting. The left and middle panels are now done in the same style. The white edges bled onto the scenes but the outside edges are sharp.  The drip downs are multicoloured.  The slash downs in the large spheres are more muted. I made one of the pinkish spheres in the left panel turquoise.  I think this helps it fit with the centre panel but also looks good on its own.  In fact the turquoise becomes the dominant sphere in the left panel. Confusion sets in when you then look at the centre panel which has more turquoise spheres but the blue sphere is dominant. So on to the original right panel. I'll try to make a yellow share be the eye catcher.  This will be tricky and I doubt if anyone will actually get this puzzle. Oh yes I think I will need to add a turquoise sphere to that panel.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


I think I will call it multiverse.

Yellow expanding

I put some yellow beams through the side of the large orange sphere in the central panel. I can see that it is taking over. I think the solution will be more yellow in upper left top background to kind of melt into the yellow beams. Or maybe just some yellow dashes on both panels. That would tie them together better. Anther puzzle to work on is the width of the white edges of the spheres and how much to lighten the color so  it blends into the white. Right now I think more blending and a narrow rim of white with drip down being multicoloured
. This is the fun part - most of the work is done and now it is fine tuning. It'd a challenge on such a big painting.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Website updated

For the last couple of days I have been working on updating my website, All my newly completed abstract paintings are now up. I still have several that are underway that I talk about in this blog.  It feels good to get this technical stuff done - a nice change from struggling to get my triptych right. I still have a big job of redoing my entire website with software I haven't yet bought - so that it will have a more professional look and fit on all devices.

Next thing - make some new business cards. I've done this several times in the past but will have to figure out how to do it again on my new fancy computer. I have the Avery card stock - so it shouldn't be too hard.  The question - which painting to put on it? Or should I put on a portrait?

I kind of like the one with the phone.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


I finally found out how to spell tryptich! I added a new turquiosey colour to the reds oranges yellows magenta and blues. I like the ray that appeared. I think I will add some more rays to other parts of this big painting.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Triptec sgain

This is a really big painting - 3' x 9'. Or 3 separate pretty big pictures 3' x 3". I showed it to Dennis and he suggested muting the "dabs " on the left panel. Yes - this really helped.  I had thought of taking the emphasis  to the other panels but couldn't figure out how to do it. Also fluff our the edges of the spheres  which I was planning to do myself.  So it's getting there but not done yet. I joined the Federation of Canadian artists today as a supporter. I wonder how that will go.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Triptec going strong

I have been working on my triptec - developing the flow of the background and working on the discs to bring out new contrasting colours. I still like the middle panel best because the rubbing alcohol created the best blobs. I have to bring all the panels to an equal strength and delicacy.

Monday, October 31, 2016

More synesthesia

Apparently about 1-3% of the population have synesthesia- so it's relatively rare. Also, as mentioned previously, it is related to dyslexia which is genetic. Yesterday I found the first adult I know who also sees numbers as colours. Who? My sister! This is very weird but also very interesting - it seems obvious that there is a genetic connection.

I will ask my older grandsons if they see colours with numbers or if they were just being over enthusiastic when I asked them years ago. They both inherited colour blindness from my dad (through me) but that doesn't mean they don't see any colours. They just can't distinguish between red and green - but they do see yellow and blue and some other colour that none of the rest of us see instead of red and green. They are both excellent artists but do all their work in black and white.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


I see a weird connection between numbers and colours.  I have read that this is called "synesthesia"

It's not that I see the numerals as being coloured. Its that the numerals are also colours. One - white, two - pale red, three - light green, four - soft blue, five - dark blue, six - dark green, seven - light yellow, eight - bright yellow, nine - dark green. After that, the numbers are are just combinations. Zero is black so ten is whitish black, eleven is double-white, twelve is whitish red, thirteen is whitish green. It's kind of hard to explain. The street number for my house is white with blue and black and a bit more white (1401). My parents house in Vancouver was similar but there was was also bright yellow (1408).  I seldom think much about this and have never met anyone who told me they see what I see.

This week one of my grandsons was officially diagnosed with moderate dyslexia. Reading is hard for him right now and writing is even harder. However he is very smart. He can tell long and complicated stories and can assemble a complicated robot in the time I would spend trying to understand the directions. It turns out that there is a connection between synesthesia and dyslexia. Same part of the brain or something.

Kandinsky had synesthesia. Einstein and Michelangelo had dyslexia. "Is that cool or what?" as our astronomy professor from the Teaching Company would say. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Back to triptec

I began to do 2 things to my triptec. I introduced cobalt blue into the purple side and began to blur out the lines that I  had put in to break up the background behind spheres. Right now it looks like balloons. My plan is to gradually ease back into more mauve on this panel then hit most of the reds in the middle panel before making the left panel a bit more yellow and blurring all the lines in the background.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


This checkerboard is inspired by kandinski and is meant to go with Gardener's Dilemma.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A bit more kandinski

Two paintings underway.  Love the colours.

October already

It's October - a fierce October ! The fall rains and big winds have changed our summer landscape completely. I  got a fantastic new computer - with Windows 10, Photoshop and all sorts of new ways to do old things.  I also got a DVT. Now it's warfarin forever. Thank goodness for painting. I just get out my paints and go to another realm. Everything is about colour and light.

I have worked on several paintings over the past month. Here is one I started in the September class with Dennis Brown:

I love it. It is so peaceful. I know I need to do a tiny bit more - but I don't want to loose what I have.

I also revisited Gardener's Dilemma and think it is nearly done - but not quite.
I think I need a few more strategically placed red and/or while rectangles to link it together better but still keep it slight jarring.

I have done quite a bit on on my Triptec. Here are the 3 pieces together plus a close up of the connection between the second and third pieces There is so much more to do but I love the warm glow in my studio.

I have also gone back to Troubling Waters 2 and added a bit more collage - words about plastic water. There was a lot of news about Nestles taking water from a community in Ontario recently.  I thought some actual quotations about the problems caused by plastic water would  add to the aesthetic appeal and to the message:

Maybe Troubling Waters 2 is finished now. I put the most recent iteration on my website because I think it is.

And finally, I started a new series I am calling them "iKandi" because it is inspired by Kandinsky and Dennis Brown's October class.  Mike thought it would be a cool name.

This is the first one. Note how there are outlines and there are blurred areas. This is fun to do and, to me, is reminiscent of Picasso. I think this image is probably upside-down - but that is yet to be finalized.

This is the second one at a very preliminary stage. I plan to make it much more complex. Compared to my other paintings, these are relatively small paintings 12x36.  It is quite wonderful to work on something smaller but no too small.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dilemma #1

I think this painting is finished except for edges and final matte finish. I am very happy with colours and pretty happy with the design. I will take it to my class in Ladysmith tomorrow to see if Dennis has any useful comments. My idea (from Dennis) is to take on piece of it and make the next one and thus creste a series. The only parts that look possible right now are the magenta rectangle and the textured bit. Oh maybe the red and white squares next to the magenta rectangle. Also green leafy bit in the middle. Don't really know how to do this - that will be my aim for tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

More Checkerboards

This is a painting I was working on before we went on our 10 day RV trip.I am not sure what to do next.It is helpful to look at a photo of it to get new ideas. What I am seeing in this photos is that there are too many white "zebra" stripes. They were actually supposed to be abstract foxgloves - depicting the struggle for order (checkerboards) in chaos in a garden. They are not bad on the left side - maybe even to the claw  is sort of OK. I think I will paint white over the whole main one so that I can then paint it pthalo green again and do some texturizing, The yellow post-its are a perfect colour. Somehow I have to make them work. Collage? Post-its as a collage might be a little edgy.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

What Eve Saw

Mike and Lexy - now with some abstract touches including checkerboarding and stronger drips. I think this is my best painting to date. I might change the name to "What Eve Saw" to indicate that Mike's hand is a bit like God touching Adam and the red leash is a bit like the serpent. Got these ideas at the optomitrist. Why not!

Gardeners Dilemma

I have started a new abstract which I am calling  Gardner's Dilemma. I started it when Henry and Charlie were here. So much green paint got squeezed out that I knew they could not use it all - so - although I hadn't intended to paint I slopped it on a waiting canvas and did a little scraping. I then added some blue and red.The yellow is actually oil pastels.

 I worked on it yesterday - adding some strange zebra like strips, changing the colour of the checkerboard, adding a blue square.

Today I had an idea. I thought it was depicting the conflict between the organic maybe chaotic green and blue bits and the imposed checkerboards. For some reason the red checkerboard reminded me of a red rose bush I had planted that was suddenly in bloom. The zebra bits reminded me first of flox and then of foxgloves. Foxgloves - those lovely self-sewn plants that enliven the garden but eventually have to be puled out. I had a theme. It is the gardener's dilemma of whether or not to allow all the wild growth that goes on in the garde n- at least in my wild garden.

To me a garden is imposed order on nature. I hope this picture ends up depicting the conflict between wild nature and imposed order. . Next step is to add some lovely yellowish green chaos on the left side and reduce the stripey look (or maybe not.) I tried to blog this on my phone but the photos would not download and the whole thing would not publish.  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Time for a portrait

Awhile ago I decided that I would really improve my painting if I alternated between doing abstracts and doing portraits. Now I have finally started a portrait of Mike and Lexy. Here is my inspiration:

The difficulties with this photo are many. First - there is only part of Lexy showing. I had to cobble together some other photos to get her whole body. Then, because she is foreshortened, curved toward Mike, and extremely fluffy, she tends to look like a fat little pig in my drawings. Second - one of the most appealing features of the photo is the RV mat - especially the flag. I love it but I don't want it in te painting - at least that is how I feel right now. Third - Mike's head looks a bit too long. This is partly because his head is on the long side but mainly because of the angle.  I took this photos from inside our trailer - so up about 15 inches and looking down on the two of them.

The things I like about the photo are the longness of Mike's figure and the triangle it makes with Lexy. I particularly like the boots and the book. Best of all is the story of a person intently reading while, at the same time, patting his dog and making his dog so strangely contented. I have made the initial sketch and will put it up next time - it is on my phone.

The real challenge will be to incorporate my new knowledge from abstracts into a large complicated portrait. Colours - green, dark brown, beige, gold and maybe a drop of red somewhere.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Abstract Aura

I have been working on this painting on and off for a few weeks and finally think I am finished. Here is how it unfolded:

 I started with a background - just washes and drips. 

Then I tried out a zigsag and a circle, For me, a migraine aura is always circle that suddenly appears - with a bright zinging zigzag around the outside - on the left side. I can see through it - but things are a bit distorted.

My first attempt was two zigzag circles. I think it was pretty cool. I had another aura a couple of weeks ago and it was crisscrossed with zigsags - so actually quite a bit like this stage of the painting. . I might start another painting and stick with this layout. I would need another matching sized canvas.
 I eliminated the outside circle - though you can still see remnants of it. I cleaned up the checkerboard inside the circle and and made it a key feature. I think my auras do have checkerboards - like Kandinsky's abstracts. This makes me wonder if Kandinsky had migraines. They are very common - one out of 10 people have them - though a much smaller percentage see auras and women are much more likely to have them than men..

Here is the finished painting.  I decided to flip it although the zigzag is always at the top. Artistic license right! The outside of the circle seemed like dead space - not good in an abstract. I added some strategically placed pink "jewels." I hope it doesn't look too much like a globe or a planet now. My auras are more like a round pane of glass - never a ball.

I think the final outcome is uncertain. At least I hope so. The pink jewels are actually reflections of magenta  mixed with pthalo blue inside  the circle- but it has become quite a dark and muddy colour. I really love this painting now. I stuck my QR above my signature and it does work.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Beginning to make a sort of triptec.  Dont know how it will turn out. Started with magenta  and a touch of yellow. Tried using rubbing alcohol to make random circles. Each canvas is 36x36 so it will be pretty big

Aura almost done

Worked on my aura painting at Dennis Brown's class. I think it is nearly done. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Migraine aura

Today I'm trying to paint an abstract inspired by a migraine aura I experienced about a month ago. I started with a 30 x 36 panel and gave it a quick wash with drops in pthalo blue and pthalo grenn. I painted in the half circle zig zag of the aura in white. Of course it looked terrible. I started breaking it up with yellow and greenish yellow. Still a problem. Could have gone more blocky - big safe blocks. Maybe next time.  Tried a scraper and lots of water drips. It's no longer impossible. I will do some whitish blocks coming from top right to bottom left to balance the zig zag crescent. Will mostly eliminate the spider bits I created with the scraper. Maybe make the aura floating front of the background. That's it for today. It's more important that it's an interesting painting than a representation of an aura.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Troubling Waters

I stuck QRs on both my Troubling Waters collages and the QRs work.  If you have a QR app on your smart phone - they're free - just focus on the QR above the signature on the painting. Click "Open now." Choose your browser. Go to  Top Sites and choose To get to the information on "one use plastic water bottles," go to the Abstracts page and click on the title of the water bottle paintings. They are linked to these websites:

It's a bit to complicated to get to the bottled water information but easy to get to my website.

I had thought about calling the collages Troubled Waters but decided it was too close to the song and to the name of a movie made about water problems in Nanaimo. After seeing what good work the Council of Canadians are doing - I decided to join. One thing always leads to another.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Troubling Waters and QR

I finally finished my first two bottled water collages. I think they are both really colourful and I like the designs. They took quite  a long to complete - but now they are done. I always based my changes on the design - not the message. Once  I had the plastic bottle theme going, it was pretty easy.  It took awhile to think of a good name. Finally "Troubled waters" (Simon and Garfunkels song) popped into my head. I modified it to "Troubling Waters" because plastic bottles of water are very troubling.

Not only are they a waste of money for most Canadians but, more importantly, they a terrible source of unnecessary pollution in landfills and in the oceans and Great Lakes. They disintegrate into tiny bits of plastic which people are now calling "mermaids tears." Fish eat these tiny bits, other fist eat the first fish and so on and so on until eventually we eat them. They likely cause cancer and allergies and asthma and real human tears. But think of all the trouble they cause every organism that eats them - not just humans. Because they are plastic they just float in the water looking so pretty and innocent. It is very sad that plastic bottled water has become completely respectable and yuppie. Plastic bottles that contain pop and iced tea are just as bad - but you can at least understand why people are buying them - pop does not come out of the tap like clean safe water does in most Canadian households.

Here they are:

 Troubling Waters #1 (formerly "Kands and Bottles")

Troubling Waters #2 (formerly "Time Line")

I've gone on at length in a previous blog about the Pure Life pixel people falling into the water. Since then, I have made a few other changes. The formerly white lines are now a lovely veridian green,  the grey rectangle in the middle is pink and things are warmed up overall. I also collaged in several shiny blue circles which are images of the bottom of bottles. I really like this painting now - though it is a little "loopey canoopey"! 

The other thing I am trying is a QR Code above my signature. Here it is:
If you open the QR app on your smart phone the QR will take you to - my painting website. My idea is that this will then take you to at least one website on the plastic water bottle problem - but I haven't totally figured that out yet. I guess I will start by linking the title of the first painting to a good website.

My next painting will either be something on mermaids tears or the flashing migraine image which popped up last week and gave me a nagging migraine for a week.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The water bottle people

This painting is now a collage with a story. It's hard to see on a phone so let me explain. First you probably still see the London underground map. But  look again - there are water bottles - 7 of them. Now i'm sure you can't see the people on the label . There are 3 - a tall blue person on the right. A not quite so tall green person on the left. A short yellow person in the middle. They all have their arms raised presumably for the joy of drink fresh clean water in a plastic bottle. You can see them in some of dark pink  rectangles - half way down on the far right and at the bottom in the middle. At first glance they look pretty joyful but now look to left. There's only the tall blue person at the top. My goodness! The green and yellow people are down below - having either dived or fallen into the depths.  Maybe the other groups - in their stragely pixilated forms - are actually waving for help.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Kands and bottles - done

Here is the finished collage. It is 30x36 with 4 main levels of collaging.

The first level is invisible. It was a mistake because I had never done collage before and didn't know what I was doing. I just ripped up some water colour paper and stuck it on in patches. I didn't like it  but it wouldn't come off - so I created the second level - nice round discs which I stuck on top of  the ragged bits to make them disappear. I painted them different colours.

The next level of collaging was the black twirly bits - actually the trimmings from the circles. I stuck them on while they were still unpainted and they were tricky to paint neatly. I thought they would look better with white sides to make them look sort of three dimensional. But that was almost impossible to do neatly and there got to be way too much white which I had to paint out.

There my picture sat for about 5 weeks because I was pretty sick - first with a "nasty" bacteria which required super nasty antibiotics and then with an uber cold (rhinovirus) which rapidly turned into a super bad asthma exacerbation. The asthma required a prednisone burst (50 mg for 7 days) which made me shake so much I could barely do anything let alone try to paint. I kept looking at my picture and not liking it. It sort of tormented me but I couldn't do anything about it.

After the prednisone  - a few days of post-prednisone misery  mainly consisting of nausea and loss of connection between brain and body. I hate that part - but it was a prelude to getting grumpy and wanting to take action against or in favour of something. My progressive spirit woke up and said - "make a statement about something in your painting."  "Plastic bottles." I thought. "They are a curse on the earth. When people who have perfectly good tap water get convinced to buy water in bottles (it looks so clean and shiny) they more often than not don't bother to recycle and the bottles end up everywhere." Even worse - they eventually they turn into micro-plastic bits and poison creatures who mistakenly eat them. Truly a curse on the earth despite the fact that there are some people who have to buy clean water in bottles because their water has become polluted - another disturbing story.

That's when I came up with an idea for the fourth level. Cut-outs of plastic water bottles floating on the surface of my Kandisnky inspired web of discs, checkerboards and twirls. They are mostly Nestle's products since I only had one cut-out of a Dasani bottle (by Coca Cola) which I had been keeping for years hoping to put it into a painting but I could only find a good image for Nestle's "Pure Life" on the internet. So I made 16 prints of Pure Life, cut them out  and stuck them plus my Dasani. They float, in a backward S shape, on top of everything I had painted so carefully. 

Happily the prednisone worked and I mostly got over the post-prednisone part. Now I can walk up hills again, I'm not coughing, I can cut and paste, I can get interesting ideas and maybe even do some painting.

I should mention the sad fate of the 100 year old Jean Burns building in downtown Nanaimo which burned down last week. One of the small storefronts in the complex was the new Nanaimo Arts Council  space which features unjuried art shows. It burned down the night before the Spring Exhibit to which I was planning to submit "Time Line." Very sad for art in Nanaimo and all those who had works on display  at the time - not to mention all the other small businesses who lost everything. Nanaimo will never be the same again.

I now realize I will never display "Time Line" in its current form. It is not interesting and mostly looks like a map of the London Underground. Maybe it just needs some plastic bottles or other call to action to make more interesting. If I stuck bottles here and there - it could become the second of a series of call to action against wasteful plastic.  Then again - what about plastic bags? Tricky .. Hmmm... That will probably be my next project.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Collage goes social action

This collage has been making me feel nauseated for the last month! Well, it really wasn't the collage. It was the 3 weeks of antibiotic I took for a weird bacteria found in my sinuses and then the week of prednisone I took for a bad asthma exacerbation.  The worst is over I hope. I'm  breathing fine now but still shaking too much to actually paint. So I decided to try a bit more cutting and pasting. 

For years I have been wanting to make a statement about the unnecessary use of individual plastic water bottles in Canada. Unlike some third world countries where the water will really make you sick, our tap water is almost always safe and clean. But the manufacturers convince us to buy water in flashy plastic bottles anyway. The problem isn't the water. It's basically just tap water. There is a problem with the waste of money - but it's people choice I guess. The problem that worries me is the bottles. Most water bottles don't get recycled and end up everywhere - like ubiquitous plastic bags. They quickly deteriorate into tiny pieces of plastic - bad and totally unnecessary pollution. 

Feeling well enough to think about final touches to the collage, I suddenly had a creative moment. I remembered the cut out plastic water bottle I had been keeping on my desk - hoping to add to a painting one day. This would be the perfect setting. I made a few more cut outs from a website - then taped them on to try it out. "Kandinsky with Plastic."

I still need to touch up some of paint, glue the bottles properly and varnish the whole thing. Maybe tomorrow if the shaking stops. Then I think it will be done and I can start something new. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Collage being varnished

I think I have finished my collage. I have touched it up, given it a pink glaze and a yellow glaze, added a few fake jewels, painted the edges carbon black, signed it modestly and applied the first coat of acrylic varnish. I'm unsure if I like it but will finish vanishing and call it "Collage with green dots."