Category Archives: Painting


The annual spring sketching trip to Charlevoix was a renewal for me! In Montreal I’m committed to my background as teacher at Dawson, occupant of a large studio, attender of many vernissages, acquaintance of many artists, researcher of art books and critiques. These groups/activities foster knowledge about the art world, but the Charlevoix painters paint together, which is unique. There is something very special about a long-established art group painting plein air. They are all supportive of each other. And we all feel that we learn something from the experience, and that’s far more important than the canvases we take home with us!

DSC04294For me, this trip was a push towards uniting my observations with my feelings for necessarily more abstract compositions. Making a preliminary sketch to help me find the composition proved immensely helpful, but it happened not because I forced the composition but because I just started the ink drawing and gradually found, in the process, the composition. Then, working largely from the sketch, but with the scene there for reference, and with the irreplaceable push from the physical specifics of being out of doors in April, I could work on the painting and let the painting itself develop, not just the scene. I am quite thrilled with the way it went.

I can’t always see in my finished paintings what I have accomplished, at least not immediately (and I don’t understand why this is), and it’s great to have the positive response of the others in the group. The gallery owner in Magog saw the works on my way back to Montreal, liked them very much, using the word “superbe” to describe the 16×20” on which I scrambled the thick paint into a “feeling” about the scene.


A Breeze Over The Shadows
A Breeze Over The Shadows

 Going forward with painting is a challenge. It’s far too easy to let influences of past work, or of work done by others, creep into what you are doing NOW, a NOW that must be both personal and contemporary. You can’t paint in the future – the most you can really do is to get to NOW.  And being at NOW means leaving a lot of other stuff behind in the past.  It’s not all forgotten, it’s just already digested, and I’m into cooking a new meal that will please my sensual taste buds, and those of my guest viewers!  With food, the proof of the work is in the eating of it when it’s ready, and in painting it’s in the complete visual satisfaction when it’s finished for viewing and contemplation.  There is a time when recipes and rules run out – to be in the NOW has its special characteristics that you’ve just added.  It works, and you know it!  And it feels honest and it feels contemporary.


Paysage Rouge
Paysage Rouge 38″ x 48″ oil

To paint is to re-make!  It is to take a subject or idea or feeling and capture it with colours and textures and shapes.  We remake what is called the real world into a much larger reality that can be intuited and approximated and suggested and deeply felt in a successful work of art.  It’s not only invention – it incorporates and remakes the rest of our world in a subtle and sensitive way.  The work of doing this is totally engrossing!

This is not a literal transcription of anything.  It underlines the necessity of having a life, a well-rounded life of experience and curiosity and knowledge, so deeply felt that it naturally permeates all our creations.  Painting in that sense is the re-making of our life into a form that can be understood visually by others.


Red Trails
Red Trails 30″ x 24″ Oil

Colour is exciting, refreshing, joyful, and fulfilling.  The trick is to get it right, on track with the right feelings, textures, subjects, and ideas. The key word is exciting, which is not to be confused with chaotic enthusiasm.  It’s more thrilling than that, the soul-saturating fullness of completeness.  Great colour is quiet exuberance!

It arrives almost before the painting does, with some unexplainable ping of recognition in a subject, a view, a stream of light, a visual event, or a vision.  Then it has to get carried into the painting, the process, the choices of colour, the concentration, the exclusion of all distractions, until the painting itself works as a total event on its own.  Quite something to achieve!

Changed Again

“So you’ve changed AGAIN?”

“No, just the subject matter! And this time I used paper and inks instead of canvas and paint.  I’m still me, and my paintings are still my paintings.”

Changing subject or medium is seen by many people as almost the same as changing style.  It’s no wonder artists head into the extremes of high realism or repeated variations on an abstract theme. How else to be known as consistent, which seems to be a “wanted” option.  Only with artists who self-profess to be varied and talented experimentalists will stylistic wandering be tolerated, as it is with Anselm Kiefer and a few others. It may be career-offensive for a while, but in the long run it allows the artist to grow even better!