29 November 2009


This commission was done for Sonya, my supervisor at work, as a Christmas gift for her neighbour Sheila who owned Sushi. One of the challenges of this painting was to realistically depict the depth and intensity of the very dark fur, as well as capturing the detail of the light fur without it looking washed out.

19 September 2009


My cousin Heather asked me to do this commission of Shanty, in her memory. A great family dog, Shanty loved to go out on the sailboat, and run along the beach with Heather's boys, Cameron and Stewart. In fact, the photo that this painting was based upon, was taken just after one such west coast run. Ultimately, however, she was Heather's dog, and I was honored to paint this tribute to a beloved canine friend.

8 September 2009

Mrs. Tillson's Inspiration

When I tour a heritage home museum such as Annandale in Tillsonburg, formost in my mind is the question: Who were these people who lived here so long ago. I want to know what their lives were like. How they were like us; how they were different. What did they value? Are we ultimately the same?
Through careful artistic sutdy, painting a portrait helps me to know my subject better. This painting is a tribute to Mary Ann Tillson who was directly inspired by Oscar Wilde in the decoration of her home, Annandale House.

21 April 2009

Catnap In China

Moments like this don't come along very often. It's one thing to arrange teacups, but quite another to pose a cat. So when I chanced upon Orville as he is seen here, I had to find the camera fast.
My goal in this painting was to capture the glow of the sunbeam, as well as the warmth of the areas in shadow.

7 April 2009

Cobalt Blue

Although this is not a large painting, measuring only 7" x 11", it is a tribute to my brushes and paints. In fact, you could say that I used these brushes to paint these brushes. As for the paints, the few shown here are a primary color representation of the dozens of tubes that I own. I confess a weakness for collecting paints. To me the tubes are like seeds of color waiting to grow into a vibrant painting.
Update: On June 29 I received notice that Cobalt Blue has been accepted for exhibit in Open Water 2009, the 84th Annual Open Juried Exhibition of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour. The exhibition runs from September 5th to October 24th at the Leighton Art Centre in Calgary, Alberta.
Only 63 paintings were accepted out of over 300 images that were submitted!

22 March 2009

Tea Cups and Yellow

While working on the previous two paintings, I kept thinking of yellow. It was something like a food craving; I needed to paint bright sunny lemon yellow. Perhaps the time of year had something to do with it. There won't be daffodils for another month, and winter has been so long and drab. The landscape all around is a monotone of yellow ochre, or the color of mouldy straw. But that is okay. I can paint yellow. I can paint in colors that sing like canaries until the spring comes.

9 March 2009

Blue China and Glass

As soon as I finished Bookland, I wanted to do another still life. There is something especially rewarding in painting my own arrangement. Painting the things that I own deepens the experience as well. For example, the tea cup on the left is special; it was a wedding shower gift given to my grandmother some eighty years ago.
Late winter may be a dull time of year overall, but there is brilliance and beauty if you take the time to look for it.
Update: In May this piece was one of 48 out of 188 entries selected for Woodstock Art Gallery's 51st Annual Juried Exhibition, Visual Elements. This was a thrilling first for me!

26 February 2009

Journeys Through Bookland

I have been collecting china tea cups on and off for years, planning to do more still life compositions similar to the first painting that I did over thirteen years ago. Tea cups and books. When I found the old children's book "Journeys Through Bookland", (printed in 1922) in a thrift store, I had the inspiration I needed.

This is a personal piece for me, representing some of my favorite simple pleasures. A pot of tea, something historical to read, a winter sunbeam and a sleepy cat. The title of the book is important as well, since nearly every day for me is a journey through book land; I work at two libraries.

Practically speaking, this was probably the most detailed piece I have ever done, taking many hours to complete. Wicker again! What was I thinking?! It measures 16" x 30", which for me is large.

And thank you Orville (the cat) for holding your pose while I arranged the pieces.

30 January 2009

Crabapple Tea

For a long time, I had wanted to paint reflective glass. Like the distorted patterns found in waves or other reflective surfaces, painting glass is like entering the world of abstract art within a realistic painting. I once saw a painting done depicting a jumble of copper pots, as if it were the subject matter of a very difficult jigsaw puzzle. Looking carefully, I could see the artist herself reflected in a multitude of bizarrely distorted ways, stranger even than in a carnival mirror.
I chose a simple enough subject, yet was surprised by how detailed and complex it was to paint. Not easy, but satisfying.

19 January 2009

Watersoluble Oil

About three years ago, I bought a set of 'water mixable' oil paints. Seemingly a contradiction since we all know that oil and water don't mix, these paints really do just that. Oil painters can now paint without harsh chemicals, and watermedia painters, such as myself, may cautiously dip their toe in the mixable water, so to speak. So even though this blog entry is technically an oil painting, it still qualifies as 'light painted with water'.

I knew I wanted to give these oil paints a try when I bought them, but I had no idea it would take so long to get around to it. Oils have intimidated me. That is what other painters do. The ones who went to art school and learned all the rules. So when I finished this painting, using my self taught transferable skills, I gained a new sense of confidence. I felt like saying: HA! I just did an oil painting, so there!

In some ways I liked the experience, and in other ways I did not. I soon realized that what I liked about it were the ways in which it was similar to watercolor painting, and what I disliked were the ways in which it was not like watercolor painting. It was a nice place to visit, but it just wasn't home. Transparent watercolor remains my media of choice.