Finally! I finished the third in the series of "Big Cat" oil paintings. Although visitors to my studio especially love the Big Cat 1 painting and it inspires many a conversation, I have great fondness for the humour behind this work. Wouldn't want to be the mouse. I envision this painting in someone's dining room over the sideboard. It's really title should be " Who's for Dinner?"
Ontario Plein Air Society
American artist Andy Warhol sums it up exactly "I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anyone could ever want to own." Today I was reunited with a painting I feared had gone astray. On exhibit at an unknown location through an art rental service experiencing difficulty, I feared this was one painting I may never see again.Read More
Yesterday I mentioned I used Tri-Art's sludge as the preliminary step (the canvas was already gessoed in white) to starting this 60" x 48" cat painting. I was quite enamoured of the taupe, neutral colour of the sludge, and began the day by ensuring areas had the sludge show through. This was not my original vision for the painting. Sometimes it pays to go with one's instincts, but in this case it was keeping me from connecting with the portrait. If I don't fall in love with the face, I know something is wrong.
So back to the plan - Black and silver oil paint for this silver tabby. What appears white in this painting, or light gray is actually silver. The painting is not done yet. But the concept that one side of the cat disappears into the darkness, and the other side is awash in silver light - is becoming clearer.
This oil painting incorporates the use of oil sticks as well as oil paints.
I just finished a series of 8" x 8" paintings - Scotsdale Farm: Snow & Shadows. I needed to stretch my wings after painting so small.
A larger than life portrait painting of a Maine Coon cat in silver, black, and white oil stick and oils seemed the natural next step.
What I have done so far -
- It is the first time I have used Tri-Art "sludge". I used it to cover the white canvas and add some texture.
- After applying the sludge, I saw a large cat eye, ear & head looking right in the swirls of the paint.
- Decided to go with my instincts. Found a photo of my silver tabby Main Coon cat to use roughly as a reference.
- & voila ... the painting begins. The face emerges some more out of the darkness.
Here is #6 in my series of 8" x 8" oil paintings about the shadows, snow & structures at Scotsdale Farm, a heritage site on the Bruce Trail, in Halton Hills, Ontario, Canada. The iron effigy of the horse head, stands silently, in shadow, by the empty barn. In the sunny background, a car drives by. More symbolism for such a small regional landscape painting? The horse faces left - representing reflection & looking back. The car faces right symbolizing looking ahead. That it has moved out of the picture frame symbolizes movement forward and leaving the horse behind in its dust..err..exhaust.
By 6:15 a.m. this morning, I was out of the drive through at Tim's and on my way to the studio. I finished this little 8" x 8" oil painting of the bird feeder at Scotsdale Farm by 11. Don't be fooled I did not get this painting done in just a couple of hours. Although, I paint with confidence and rarely go back on what I do - these 8 x 8's still always take 8 - 10 hours of solid uninterrupted painting to complete. This is the fourth in my series of 8 x 8 inch paintings based on my January 2nd , 2010 visit to Scotsdale Farm with the Ontario Plein Air Society (OPAS). It was - 25 degrees C. that day and we experienced everything from bright sunshine to grey snow swirls.
Scotsdale Farm is a heritage property on the Bruce Trail, just north of Georgetown and my Williams MIll Studio in Glen Williams, Halton Hills, Ontario.
Up and out early to my studio in the Stone Building of the heritage Williams Mill this morning, I was painting by 7:30 am. This little painting 8" x 8" oil painting of the stone silo at the province owned heritage site, the Scottsdale Farm. This beautiful old stone silo is on the Bruce Trail (a popular walking trail - part of the Niagara Escapement in Ontario, Canada).
I love the architecture of the American Colonial Buildings at this farm which I visited for the first time January 2 of this year with my plein air painting group OPAS. With three works of art inspired by this visit completed already, and other ideas lined up ready and waiting - I guess a Scotsdale Farm series is in the works! The photo below is very glossy as so fresh off the easel & it was still too dark out to take outside in more even light. Not a bad start to my day! And here is a better picture of "The Fourth Tree" - also a Scotsdale Farm painting.
Minus 32 degrees celsius with the wind chill did not deter 8 members of the Ontario Plein Air Society (OPAS) from meeting at the heritage Scotsdale Farm, on the Maureen Smith trail area of the Bruce Trail in Ontario.
This was my first visit to the lovely American colonial style farm buildings, and my need to explore and photograph, took precedence over my need to paint. Long tree shadows crossing over white clapboard buildings, a stone silo dusted in snow, and weather vane topped cupolas made for inspiring photo taking.
As there was so much to see, it took me a while to settle down to draw with my Cray pas oil pastels. But by the time I did, the weather changed - everything going grey. Still beautiful, but we all became a little more conscious it was winter. Shadows disappeared, and snow swirled off the roof tops, as in the little 8" x 8" oil pastel drawing on canvas I did, and am quite fond of, even though it was quickly produced, for the grand jaunte it represents.
By drawing on location, my feet buried in the snow, in a farm pen that I had to climb over a fence to get to, for the view I wanted, I can still feel the crispness of the air, and replay the image of the snow swirling past the silo I was drawing. The paintings of Scotsdale Farm that will be created in the comfort of my Williams Mill studio - these paintings, will certainly benefit from the plein air experience.
This weekend, I had the unique opportunity to exhibit my paintings during the South Side Shuffle Jazz Festival. Five other Mississauga artists and I put on an art show in the historic St. Lawrence Starch Company, on Lakeshore Blvd in Port Credit, Mississauga.
The location was terrific, the venue attractively set up, and the atmosphere, with the Shuffle's live music drifting through the doors, made for a really pleasant experience. The positive remarks on the artwork displayed, as well as the overwhelming appreciation for an art venue in the area was very encouraging. The show reaffirmed just how much an art gallery for Mississauga artists is needed.
This weekend was also World Paint Out Day, a day that individual artists and plein air groups around the world make a special effort or host special painting on location events. Ontario Plein Air Society was too recently formed to organize an official plein air event. Instead OPAS, asked its members to make an effort to paint and to then post the work on its blog site.
My very full weekend - TIFF (The Men Who Stare at Goats gala ( yes - I saw George Clooney and Jeff Bridges) a street garage sale, and the art show, left me with only a short time to dash out a painting, while working the show at the Starch Building.
A beautiful day to paint! This 6" wide x 12" high oil painting is from the viewpoint of Fram's St. Lawrence Starch Building, looking east, past the iron fence, to Lakeshore Blvd.
Although I prefer not to touch up my plein air paintings, I chatted too much to inquisitive & friendly passers by, and so need to clarify and brighten up a few parts. This includes defining the words "Port Credit" (the focal point) on the red and white banner.
I thought you might enjoy the retelling of a blog I wrote from 2007. Lessons still apply!
- Snobbery does not equal professionalism.
- Always look a customer in the face.
- Treat every one with respect. Do not prejudge. Look after your customer. Appreciate when someone has actually taken their time to stop, look, and compliment.
- Be fair to your clients by being consistent in your prices, but sometimes, it pays to compromise. At the time I could have used that $38, although I have had more than $50 in fun in recounting this story.
- paint on location with a buddy (maybe a partner might have been more observant than I)
Epilogue: A year later I sold the painting at an outdoor art show at Corbyville, Ontario. By that time I had paid for a matte and shrink wrapped it. After the woman bought it I told her the Wayne Gretzky story. She was delighted as the painting was bought as a present for her husband and he was a huge Gretzky fan. Oh… and the price the watercolor painting sold for? $25!
And with the wisdom of age and hindsight (there's that word sight again) , I mean, how cute were these guys going back to search for change to try to get the $50? What was I thinking?
Today I was to paint with the new group Ontario Plein Air Society, but rain got in the way. Instead we held a very constructive meeting in OPAS leader Zan's SUV, and roughed out goals for the next year. OPAS will be holding plein air painting sessions every Sunday until November and yours truly will help organize at least three of them, including the three day paint out to be held in conjunction with the international plein air paint out day! To find out more about and /or to join OPAS (it's free!) visit http://ontariopleinairsociety.blogspot.com/ Meanwhile here are a few hits of colour on what was a very gloomy day.
Today was the third gathering of the new group Ontario Plein Air Society. Nine of us met at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre in Glen Williams. We used my former studio in the beautifully restored old yellow mill - which can now be rented by the half day - as a home base, but painted down the road by the Credit River.
In my secluded little spot on a couple of feet of eroded shoreline, and only a foot from the water, I painted the tree line that stood at my eye level, resulting in the oil painting on canvas above "Spring Growth by the Credit River. A Glen Williams, Halton Hills scene) . The day was hot, and very bright, but in my tiny shady oasis, I was cool and relaxed by the lapping water. That is, after I decided to ignore the huge yellow jacket that buzzed in front of my eyes every 20 minutes, and the clouds if midges that wafted above now and then!
Some terrific paintings were produced by all, and it is always fascinating to see each artist's interpretation of the same location. I am always surprised how 3 hours of painting outdoors feels like a happy day away! (Please note: this plein air painting is now sold)
And for those of you who think you might like giving painting out doors a try - the following is info on OPAS. By the way OPAS is free, and anyone is welcome. It is a way for plein air painters across the GTA and beyond, to link up to paint.
Find us on Facebook Ontario Plein Air Society(OPAS)
Follow us on Twitter twitter.com/O_P_A_S
2010 Update: This original plein air oil painting, painted on location by the Credit River, -under the bridge at Burnamthorpe Bridge between Riverwood Park and Erindale park - has been given as a charitable donation to the Art Gallery of Mississauga (AGM) for its 2010 7th Annual Art Auction Fundraiser, April 29th, 2010.
Above is a 6" x 12" oil painting of a man fishing by the Credit River. We are both under the enormous Burnamthorpe Road bridge - between Erindale Park and Riverwood Park. The day was sunny but the shadow and the wind was cold! After 3 hours my convulsive shaking told me the painting was now finished.
Today I had the fun of plein air painting with the newly formed group, Ontario Plein Air Society (OPAS). I had not painted on location in years and never before with oils ( the exception Tapatoo Tree (sold) in water soluble oils ) . Painting on location is quite exilarating - at least that is what I felt after I was done, and could seek relief from the cold and wind in a more sunny spot.
Just before I headed out to meet up with OPAS at Riverwood Park, I quickly thumbed through some International Artist & other art magazines for some helpful hints. Painting on location requires effort put into the logistics.
Following the example of British artist James Hart Dyke (American Artist magazine November 2003) I used the limited palette French Ultramarine, cadmium yellow, cadmium red light, raw umber and titanium white. What freedom!
Once on location, I struggled a bit with what to paint. I sat across from an enormous old tree, partiatially in decay - but what I wanted to say about this tree could not be said on my 6" x 12" canvas. Suddenly I found my self doing a quick - almost Japanese brush like gesture of the fisherman before me ( I could have drawn him all afternoon) and that was that - I had my subject. I guess I just cannot escape the call to put a figure in my landscapes.