Freighter Four

Another in the ongoing series of little-guy 14 X 18 inchers. This one is amongst my best recent paintings--I'm very happy with the crunchy sky, the dramatic effect of the light, and the total control of tonalities. the clouds really do seem to be lifting off the mountains (a departure from the photo). Best of all, it just fell off the brush.

Priming Day

In the tradition of the craft of painting, I mix and apply my own primer (gesso) to canvas I buy in rolls and stretch myself. I use a mixture of calcium carbonate (chalk) and polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue, thinned to the right consistency with water and coloured with a little pigment for a pale cream ground.
Reasons? (Besides keeping the tradition alive and a certain DIY coolness):
  • It is fun to be involved in the painting process right from the get-go. I create the total object.
  • It is a bit cheaper.
  • It allows me total control of the substrate; the colour, tooth, and absorbency of the ground all are huge factors in the final outcome for me.
  • I find commercially-primed canvas too sterile white and smooth, and stifle creativity, since how I paint is sometimes more important than what I paint.
Some day I'll get unlazy and post some pix of the step-by-step. To me, using ready-primed canvas would be a bit like using some sort of MS template to "design" a website. After awhile, the world looks the same. It's part of what sets me apart from all the hacks and wannabes--that, the fact that I can actually draw. Painting should not be a lifestyle choice, but a total commitment.
Its part of my whole philosophy towards life, I guess. I am a cyclist, and not only can I fix my own flats, but I build my own wheels. You can either accept the spoon feeding society offers--which requires a lot less effort, but makes you dependent--or you can do your own thing. That takes observation, research and elbow-grease.
Go forth and do thou likewise.


Arbutus, the Strawberry Tree

Well, in retrospect, maybe this one is not 100% finished, but I'm posting it here because this blog has fallen off the map (and needs to get back on), and I have some more stuff coming. I'm painting again, and feeling a general surge in motivation, which is very refreshing.
I'm a bit concerned that my style is staying too realistic, too tight. But a closer look at the above will indicate that I can let things get beautifully fuzzy and sideways at a moments notice. I am particularly gratified by the out-of-focus foreground (a favourite and often unconscious device of mine) and the way the top parts of the tree are chunky and unfinished. I also totally spaced on carrying that one branch through into the canopy. I am beginning to understand why Cezanne's pictures look the way they do; his focus was so complete, he often didn't see what he was missing.
I find that the 22 X 28" format is perfect for big trees. I have a few more up my sleeve, still.
Loving the colour-matching capabilities of my new MacBook. Every painter should have one. Yeah, that's a shameless plug for Steve and the gang at A-Company.