30 December 2006

George Michael

Our oldest kids shared an apartment and together got a kitten, which they named George Michael. He came to stay with us over the Christmas holidiays, and somehow it sort of felt like we were babysitting a grandchild. A foretaste, perhaps. Here was great subject matter for a painting, but how to get him to stay still long enough for a photo? Finally I managed to catch him staring intently at something out the window. This one would be done in casein, using my newly acquired techinques.

Casein is a very obedient paint, unlike watercolor. It goes where you put it, but nothing more. Some people like that. But I found that I was missing the 'give and take' of watercolor. There is a kind of partnership with watercolor. You do this, and it will do that. You start the process, and it will complete it while you are out of the room. Its a bit like giving a horse the reigns and it will find its way home. I had the hardest time getting the paint to blend the way I wanted along the window sill in this painting. The watercolor would have known what to do. But this stuff! I had to tell it everything.

I attempted two more casein paintings, but not being happy with how they were going, abandoned them both. During this time I also bought a nice set of water soluable oil paints. Seven months later they are still in their box. Maybe someday, but I could hear my watercolors calling me back.


I don't know how it happened, but I started to get interested in an opaque medium called casein. Paint is applied like oil or acrylic and has similar characteristics. It is thinned with water but doesn't harden on the pallete the way acrylic does, so it sounded ideal. There is not much information on this fairly obscure medium, so I started reading books on oil painting technique. The self-taught approach kicked into research mode as I read everything I could from the local libraries. I was peeking over the fence so to speak into the land of an entirely different way to paint. It was a strange country where a foreign language was spoken. Impasto? Scumbling? Gesso?

After the research, it was time to try it. Theory and practice. Both are good. As I had done in the past, I turned to the work of an artist I admired, in this case acclaimed oil painter Caroline Jasper. Although I was working in casein, the method was the same, and I copied her piece entitled "Expectations". She (and therefore I) started this painting by painting everything red. What a strange thing it was to dab thick white paint over a dark surface. But fun too. See that little mistake? Well now you see it, now you don't...ha ha ha.

This wasn't Kansas anymore.

20 December 2006

Kelly Vee

My uncle, I call him Uncle, is about as intensly interested in car racing as my dad is interested in tug boats. That intensity must run in the family. After following racing for decades, he finally left the spectator stands and bought his own race car, the vintage Kelly Vee, which he races himself. Not bad for a 65 year old. I saw him race once, and I saved the best photo I took for a painting. A suprise Christmas gift. I did only this one Christmas painting , as opposed to the previous year when I did six, which was kind of a lot.


Some of the impressionists experimented with pointilism: painting with small dots of color, and letting the eye do the blending. I wanted to give it a try too. So I bought a couple of very small flat brushes, and went to work on a 15"x22" format rhododendron. Most brush marks were less than 1/4" square. An interesting process, and I'm glad I tried it. But I missed the broad watery sweeps of a loaded brush. I don't think you'll see me doing one of these again any time soon...

26 June 2006

Naramata Vineyard 2

I feel better about this one, but I still see room for improvement. Stronger colors, mainly. Although the biggest challenge was getting the sage brush right. What a beautiful place this was; on Okanagan Lake, overlooking Summerland.

Naramata Vineyard 1

I don't know if landscapes are really my thing. I took lots of reference photos of BC on my visit with the hopes of painting the land I love and miss. Yet I wasn't too happy with the paintings I did. Especially this one. I am sure I could improve my technique if I practiced. But do I want to do landscapes? I don't know.

20 May 2006

Tugboats on the Fraser

If you see I've painted a tug boat, you can be sure that it is for my dad. This was a father's day gift for him that I painted while visiting him in Vancouver.

20 April 2006

Crocus 2

As with the first crocus, these ones grew in my garden. Since I was using the same pallete for the two crocus paintings, I painted them together. As I waited for one to dry, I would work on the other. The system seemed to work just fine.


Now this was all my own. I grew the flower in my yard. I took the photo. I painted it myself. I was now putting into practice what I was learning from others. This was something I could feel good about.

20 March 2006

Not My Own

Encouraged by the result of copying a painting by Elizabeth Kincaid, I attempted another one. This one, of a tiny glowing bud was smaller and more elaborate. Her method is painstaking and sometimes tedious, but I learned much from this great artist. I needed to do my own work, however. So I could not camp in the shadow of greatness any longer.

The First Floral

While surfing around online, I came across a book that I knew that I must have. "Paint Watercolors that Dance With Light" by Elizabeth Kincaid soon became the most important book in my how-to-paint library. The realism and glowing colors and dramatic lighting caught my breath, and this had to be how I would paint.
It has long been known by artists that:

The great masters became great masters by copying great masters.

Therefore, to learn for myself, I would need to copy some of this artist's paintings. I would dissect her work and learn from the unspoken details. I would learn by doing. This peach rose is from a painting by Elizabeth Kincaid.