03 November 2013

Silver Jubilee Part Four: New Adventures in Painting


Some time in early 2001 I was talking with a gallery owner in Toronto (whose gallery closed about a year later) about exhibiting some of my watercolours in her gallery. Although she liked my paintings, she asked if I had anything in a larger scale (my largest watercolour was 30" x 22"), maybe something on canvas. At the time I was only painting in watercolours, not having much experience or proficiency in acrylics or oils, so the size of my paintings was limited to the paper available, but she told me of a special kind of gesso that behaves (i.e. is absorbent) like watercolour paper when applied properly to canvas. This excited me since I wanted to paint larger works, so I ordered some and gave it a shot once my expensive order came in more than six weeks later.

I prepped two 36" x 36" canvases and began painting as I normally would with watercolours, by blocking in the shadows with violet. It didn't work and the paint just sat on the surface. I guess I didn't apply it properly and I was frustrated and impatient after waiting so long that I decided to give it up. I didn't want to waste the canvases, though, so I went to the art store and briefly considered getting some acrylics, but I really didn't like the way they dried so quickly, so I got some oil paints instead...and dove in head first.

Below is is one of those first two canvases, and it was with these that I started to rewire my brain so I could paint in this new medium (dark-to-light rather than light-to-dark).

36" x 36", oil on canvas, 2001
private collection

I experimented a bit more, getting a few more canvases to pushing myself into a brand new world (although, one I'd stepped into briefly about a decade earlier). Realizing that I could do certain things with oils that I couldn't with watercolours, I began to get excited at the prospect of adding another medium to my love of painting. 

24" x 36", oil on canvas, 2001
private collection

I presented that gallery owner with those first few paintings and she was impressed and suggested I paint some more pictures focusing less on the human figure and more on interiors like in the piece above. I went to a house a couple of friends lived in and shot a few rolls of film for reference for what would become my Interiors series:

30" x 40", oil on canvas, 2001

30" x 40", oil on canvas, 2001

14" x 18", oil on canvas, 2001

48" x 60", oil on canvas, 2001

Over the years I tried a variety of approaches in oil and in 2007 I adapted several of my earlier watercolours into abstractions for my Echoes series:

15" x 22", watercolour, 1998
private collection

30" x 40", oil on canvas, 2007

15" x 11.5", watercolour, 2002

20" x 16", oil on canvas, 2007

My subject matter started to vary greatly as I became more and more interested in pushing my limits, seeing what I was capable of...

30" x 40", oil on canvas, 2009
private collection

36" x 24", oil on canvas, 2008
private collection

Oiseau 10
20" x 14", oil on canvas, 2008
private collection

The Princess
40" x 30", oil on canvas, 2010
private collection

Full-bodied (b)
14" x 18", oil on canvas, 2010
private collection

36" x 24", oil on canvas, 2010
private collection

In 2010 my wife, Krista (in the painting above), and I had moved to Prince Edward County to start Small Pond Arts and I immediately began to respond to my new rural surroundings with a large number of oil paintings which included landscapes, farms, and local farmers:

24" x 36", oil on canvas, 2010
private collection

36" x 24", oil on canvas, 2011

36" x 24", oil on canvas, 2011
private collection

36" x 24", oil on canvas, 2011
collection of the
County of Prince Edward
Public Library and Archives

16" x 20", oil on canvas, 2012

I decided to celebrate my fortieth birthday by painting a self portrait depicting me as plainly as possible while having a matrix background that refers back to my very first watercolours in 1988:

28" x 22", oil on canvas, 2011

Earlier this year –my 25th Anniversary year– I embarked on a new type of oil painting journey that had me work well outside my comfort zone by painting en plein air (which I practically almost never do, preferring to work indoors from my own photo reference) for over a month for my 33 on 33 project:


Day 33 (of 33)
20" x 20", oil on canvas, 2013
private collection

It was difficult, fun, challenging, rewarding, annoying, exciting, frustrating, hilarious, educational, and more...but, ultimately, I still quite prefer to be a studio painter and my current series, the Tournament of Shadows, is all the better for it:

30" x 36", oil on canvas, 2013

24" x 48", oil on canvas, 2013
private collection

Now, two-and-a-half decades later, I have three main painting media: watercolours, oils, and inks, and I choose the medium best suited to the subject matter I want to paint, so this gives me great versatility in a storytelling sort of way, so to speak...or something.

So in my love of painting I get to play in three beautiful arenas.
And I'm still learning.
Always learning.








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