30 October 2013

Garden Tour

Every year in June the Rotary Club of Chilliwack puts on a garden tour featuring especially amazing yards and gardens of area residents. I had a great time getting photo references of roses and all manner of fabulous garden views from about a dozen or so very different gardens. Now I can paint summer gardens all year long if I like. This landscape is taken from a very special property high atop Chilliwack Mountain overlooking the Fraser River. The painting is small for this much detail, only 8x10", and was my second attempt at gouache. It has been such a long time since I painted an outdoor scene, and I was surprised by how similar it looks in style to my watercolour landscapes. This time I painted on cold pressed watercolour paper which I found to be easier to work on than the smooth surfaced mat board that I used on the gouache horse.

21 October 2013


This horse, called Squirty, is leased and ridden by my sister Elaine who is taking lessons (and doing very well). If he looks at all familiar, scroll down and check out the previous post, which was painted from the same photo. While the last painting was done in gouache, this one was done in watercolour. I wanted to be able to compare the two media with the same image. A couple of changes here, however, is that I chose to include the bridle that I omitted with the gouache, and I gave the background a more realistic colour. The vivid blue of the gouache was intentional, used to bring out the horse's colour. There is a lot more detail in this one, that I wasn't able to get with the gouache, but then I'm new to gouache and have lots to learn.

20 October 2013


Recently, I started experimenting with a kind of paint new to me, called gouache. It has been around for centuries, but as with casein, was largely overlooked by fine artists when acrylic paint came along a few decades ago.  It could be called opaque watercolour, since it is a very similar product, but has been made to cover or overlap the layer beneath. This painting was my first attempt at gouache (and of a horse), and posed some interesting challenges. Not only would it cover areas needing improvement, but it also inadvertently covered up some of the good parts as well. I found myself loosing my way and having to retrace my steps and redo areas repeatedly. Still, it was a fun experience overall, and I went back to my art store a couple more times to get more colours while their sale continued.
Compare this to the next horse painting.

19 October 2013

Colorful Kitten

This kitten went through some interesting stages before completion. I chose the image from a royalty-free photo image site online as I needed a subject to demonstrate my painting ability at an SPCA fund raising event. For some time now, I've been using an under painting technique similar to that used by oil painters, called glazing. I could simply paint this brown and grey kitten brown and grey, but the fur becomes so much richer if I start with other colors first, such as in this case, blues, mauves and pinks. I got some comments from curious onlookers who must have assumed that I had a pretty unique take on reality! In hindsight, I ought to have taken some pictures of the earlier stages to show how very differently this painting started out. 
And then there was that ear, the larger one in the foreground; it seems that every painting teaches me something. Working in a public setting, I was bound to get distracted, and so I did when using a particularly staining green background pigment. Later I saw that the green had seeped into the ear area, and was there forever. This wasn't and area where colorful glazing was going to work.

Lesson 1. Don't use staining pigments when you might get distracted!

I was able to cover the problem with a bleedproof white gouache product, sort of like white-out for artists. I would only use this in emergencies, and don't use it very often, but how great to have it on hand for times like this. I was able to paint over it, and now I can't even tell where the trouble area was.

Lesson 2. Watercolor mistakes CAN be corrected!

Paint and learn, paint and learn...............