Keeping the Flow

It would be great if I could sit down and paint everyday. In a perfect world I could crank out watercolour paintings just by sitting at the easel or desk and doing it, but life gets in the way. The phone rings, the laundry piles up, a friend needs our attention.. or we have to go to our day job. Other times a blank sheet or canvas has a way of being really intimidating. Some days the ideas don’t come easy, or the pencil or brush just will not obey the vision in one’s mind.

I’ve struggled with this.. sometimes the mojo just isn’t there.

The solution I’ve come up with is to change it up. If I’ve been working in watercolour—I’ll do an acrylic piece. If I’ve been doing a of tight realism I’ll switch to something looser, put my detail brushes away and just work with a huge brush. If I’ve been working 2D for a long time I’ll set it aside and make a piece of jewellery… if I’ve been making large pieces I’ll try my hand at miniatures… or work on my website.

Sometimes I need to get out of the studio altogether and ‘fill the well’. For me, walking in nature is the best.. or even taking my camera and shooting some urban photography.

Sometimes I need to rest. Watch a movie. Take the pressure off.

“I’ve found that the only way I can keep writing every day, year after year, is to let my mind wander into new territories. To do that, I’ve had to cultivate a kind of mental playfulness….For me, it’s been liberating to put myself in the mind of a fictitious six year-old each day, and rediscover my own curiosity. I’ve been amazed at how one ideas leads to others if I allow my mind to play and wander.”
~ Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

Learning to be gentle with ones self, change it up, take the pressure off, try new things. These are the techniques I have found work when nothing else does.

Do you have any ‘go to’ things for when nothing else is working?

ALL the Prints are on Sale!

If you love any of my paintings, but an original is out of reach… now is thewatercolour of a Whisky Jack or Canadian Jay time to scoop up a Limited Edition Print! 

ALL the museum quality prints on acid free art paper are 45% off until the 15th of September. These are exclusive and are only printed in a short run of 50, NEVER to be printed again. Each Giclée is signed and numbered.. and come with a Certificate of Authenticity.

Take a look here at what’s available. Or click ‘Prints and Originals’ when on the website. 

Contact me here if you have any questions or inquiries.

THANK YOU for supporting my art!… if you don’t see anything you want at this time, I’d really appreciate if you could share this post.

How I Got Started Painting Birds

This is the very first bird I ever painted in watercolour. Watercolour painting of a cardinal on a snowy day

When I was painting in acrylic I focused mainly on portraits and big cats. (EVERYONE loves the big cats) but I wanted to try some other animals and I’ve always loved birds.

Acrylic was good for the solidness of large animals and for skin tones but I had painted one bird (a Snowy Egret) in acrylic and struggled with the feathers and with making the bird ‘solid’ but light. Acrylic is a dense medium and although I’m sure with time and practice I could achieve the effect I wanted in acrylic, I didn’t enjoy the process as much as doing the cats, and didn’t paint another bird for many years.

Birds are a fascinating subject and rarely stop moving for very long. Studying them is a real challenge and their anatomy and expressions are hard to capture. Maybe I’m a masochist (lol) but I’ve always had the desire to paint what I observe even when it’s beyond my skill, and birds push me to my limits. There are many failed tries in my garbage can.

 I started this little guy not really knowing what watercolour could do, only what I had in my head. I’m not going to say it was easy… and I went back and forth trying to get the feel, in my head, of the cheeky cardinals in my backyard, to the paper.  For a first, I am happy with him. 

Have you done something that pushed your limits? Do you think it was a valuable experience?

Why Realism?

There’s some grumbling out there, it’s about artists who paint realism. I paint realism, mostly. I hear the criticism… “it’s just copying”, and “there’s no creativity in it”,.. “why don’t you just take a photograph”.

But art is more than just how it looks to the casual observer. Whether abstract, impressionistic or realism. There are many choices to make before even starting a painting. Subject matter, concept, composition, colour, mood, intention… and more.

All these things are essential in a good painting, no matter how one approaches it, or expresses it. A painting, or any piece of art can be bad art if these elements aren’t considered well. They can also be bad if the skill is missing—it’s not one or the other and it applies across the board. Being ‘artsy’ is different from being an artist… and snobbery has infiltrated the world of art. Promoted by art sellers and art schools, they try to dictate what is ‘real art’… mostly to enrich themselves. Preference is a different thing altogether, and is very personal. This post is not about that.

Good art is, IMHO, a combination of vision AND skill. The method of expression varies from artist to artist and I refuse to think that just because someone has a different way of expression, that MY way is better than another’s. Realism is just as valid as abstraction, or impressionism, or cubism.. or whatever form that artist has chosen to develop.. they all take vision and skill and this snotty, unfounded criticism does all artists an injustice.

Art Show and the Museums of Burlington

Soooo.. I showed my art at the Joseph Brant Day Festival in Burlington last Monday. I set up my canopy, it was a crazy hot day. The staff of the Museums of Burlington were incredibly organized, helpful and all around really nice. I was impressed.

Other than the heat the day was going very well. It was a short show.. only from 11am to 4pm. About 2pm the thunderheads moved in. It looked very threatening. The event staff came by and told us to go ahead and pack up as inclement weather was coming in (at a show you agree not to leave before the end)…. we heard thunder.. and the lightning crackled. We had JUST taken down my work (all framed, with glass!) from the canopy and packed it when a powerful gust began and grabbed the canopy and almost blew it across the venue. We managed to grab it, and with the help of a Fireman from the venue that had been there managed to keep it from blowing away as we frantically untied the canvas walls and roof and secured it. Then it began to pour rain…

The staff came out and assisted the vendors in getting their (and our) materials and displays packed up and in our vehicles. At least 5 other vendors steel canopy frames were damaged beyond repair. The event staff were amazing. I have nothing but the utmost praise and respect for how they dealt with this unexpected and sudden issue.. as well as their handling of the entire show.

The Museums of Burlington are a class act.. and I am grateful they worked so hard to help all of us save our work, our displays and kept everyone safe.