Friday, June 24, 2016

Back in the Studio

It is often difficult to get jump-started in the studio after being away for a while.  I have numerous go-to methods of handling re-entry, and the all revolve around realistic expectations.  I expect to feel awkward and ham-handed, I expect all my inspiration from the photos I took to evaporate as soon as I put brush to paper or canvas.  Sound familiar?  I think we all develop our little tricks of the trade for getting re-energized in the studio.   The Five-Minute Painting is a good one.  As is painting to music.  These are all about process, staying in the moment, and not getting precious about the outcome.  This time I just used some starts I made in early May, which you can see here, and used familiar collage and painting techniques to take them a bit further.  Easy size (10"x10", comfortable colors, and techniques that are well within my comfort zone.

"Land Line #1";  This one is actually a knock-off of a painting I did in 2013 as part of my Fresh Paint Friday series.  See the video here.

Fog Lifting #1

High Tide #1

High and Dry #1
While doing these I was not actually looking at my reference photos, but I can see bits and pieces of them in the work.  The color or seaweed and rocks, the fog, of course, and the ladder image from the wharf at low tide.  Here are a few more reference photos not posted previously:

Fog on Bell Island

Fog lifting at Cherry Hill Beach

The color of seaweed

More seaweed

Monday, June 13, 2016

Reference Photos

I've never been big on taking photos for reference, so I don't know why I was compelled to do so on this recent trip.  In these photos I see pieces that I did in 2013, as well as rich potential for future work.  I see these Stacks of Shapes studies, and the work I did at the Vermont Studio Center last year.

I have loads more, and will post in groups.  I will also post whatever comes out of the studio from these, but it may be a while.  I think images, for me, take time to sink in and filter through.  Forcing it would probably not be a good idea.  In any case, I am delighted to find that I LIKE taking the photos! 

Saturday, June 4, 2016


I've been curious about the recent trend of coloring books for adults.  Maybe it's been around for a while, but I only became aware of it about a year ago.  My friend Lucie Duclos has produced two coloring books, and I have copies of each, but, I confess, I have not colored in them.

What is the appeal of coloring for adults?  According to the feedback I got from a recent Facebook post, most people color for the calming effect, like knitting.  It is relaxing for your mind.  For some it's like a gateway drug into more demanding creative endeavors.  You do have to make decisions when you color - which colors to use where have a great affect on how the image reads, in terms of figure-ground relationships, for example.  But there are a lot of decisions already made for you, so it is not as daunting as the prospect of creating your own image.

Here is a video of me creating a coloring page.


Here is a page you can download and color yourself!  I suggest you print it out on relatively heavy printer paper.  I used this.  Print several copies and color each one differently.  Add your own details if you like.

Here are a few tips or suggestions on making your own coloring pages:
  • Vary the density and scale of the patterns.  That is, leave some areas open, and fill in other areas with different patterns or smaller shapes.
  • Vary the size of the shapes you draw.
  • Avoid making an all-over repeated pattern.  Unless an all-over pattern is what you want.  It will be more interesting to color an image that is not a repeat.
  • Do not try to make a "good composition".  Allow it to be quirky or off-balance.  
  • When coloring: try to avoid the All Rainbow All The Time effect.  Most coloring I see makes about equal use of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple, thus giving the image no particular emphasis or nuance.  Try, for example, mostly greens and blues, with accents of bright red and orange.  Use neutrals such as gray, white, tan, ochre, and earth tones or muted colors.  
But... WHO AM I to tell you how to color???!  The above are just some ways you might find coloring pages a little more of a challenge, and maybe more fun.  

Friday, June 3, 2016

The FIve-Minute Painting - Revisited

I've had this idea of the five-minute painting for a few months now, and here are some examples from a recent painting session:

The idea is to make time - the five minutes - and the size (9"x12") the only defining parameters.  So I set up my palette, get my brushes and other tools ready, and then hit the timer.  A few things I've noticed:
  • This is not about painting fast; it's about getting a clear idea down in five minutes.
  • The time parameter makes me focus much more strongly.
  • I make marks that I would not make if I didn't have the timer on, so I develop some new things.
  • I also make marks that are familiar to me.  Start with the familiar.
  • Sometimes the painting "finishes" before the five-minutes are up, and my rule is to paint up until the last second.  So this challenges me to do something in the remaining time, choose an area to enhance or add to. 
The twelve above are all done in one session, which took about an hour and twenty minutes (time in between paintings to replenish the palette).  Many of the colors are straight out o the bottle, but I did mix some as well, within the five-minutes:
  • Bubblegum pink: napthol red light + quinacridone magenta + white (just magenta and white is not enough, it makes it too sweet.  A little of a more primary red gives it the edge).
  • Acid green:  nickel-azo yellow + celadon + white (optional); then add to that some turquoise for a greener green.
What is the value of the five-minute painting exercise?  At this point it seems like the value is mostly in the degree of focus and the possibility of new marks.  It also loosened me up quite a bit.  I will keep doing these sessions and see what happens.  See my previous five-minute paintings here and here, which I did on 25"x19" paper.  Working large was quite a different experience.

Here are a few of the individual paintings:

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Try it, and let me know what you experience!