30 May 2016

Ocean Park

After more than half my life inland and far away, I've returned to the Pacific coast. Home is where you're from, and now I'm home. Ocean Park is on the western tip of the Semiahmoo peninsula, a quiet gem near White Rock, between the US border and Vancouver. Views like this are common, and are shared with bald eagles. 
Yet another water based media, this was painted opaquely as well as transparently using casein.  Pronounced kay-seen, it is a pigmented binder, or glue, made from a protein found in milk. Binder plus pigment equals paint. Ten years ago, I did a painting of the infamous kitten, George Michael, looking out our window. As a generally overlooked paint, it has great potential.

27 May 2016


Our next door neighbour, Lynn, set out these sweet primroses at the end of their driveway in early spring. It was a sign of the riot of spring color to follow. And as a harbinger of good things to come, it needed to be painted. Continuing my attempts in gouache, I now wanted to paint something with more complexity and detail, and this was just the thing. I've learned that gouache responds well to my favorite 300 lb watercolor paper, which helps me achieve what I want. As well, a new firm small brush enabled me to capture the crinkly texture of the leaves and all the little details that I like to include. I must say, I do like gouache, and its got it's place.

21 May 2016

Salt and Pepper

Within the world of watercolor artists, there is a dogma among many that black pigment should not be used. The idea behind this is that black deadens colors, and that more lively darks are better mixed from deeply pigmented colors, such as dark red and green. There is truth to this, and I use that method often myself. Yet many esteemed artists use paints such as sepia (brown mixed with black), or indigo (blue mixed with black). In this painting of our salt and pepper shakers, I used both. It seemed to me that they would be just the thing to convey the pewter like finish on the shakers. And I think that they were. Conclusion: Used carefully, black has it's place. After all, Renoir called it the "queen of colors". Incidentally, the cloth the salt and pepper are sitting on is a rag table mat that I wove back in my floor loom hand weaving days. 

18 May 2016


In 2013, I began to experiment with gouache, an opaque cousin to transparent watercolor. I had done a horse and a small landscape, and then moved on. Earlier this year, I started a daffodil painting in watercolor, introduced a bit of gouache into the piece, and then carried right on to completion with gouache, since it was such fun to work with. It was time to further explore this often overlooked medium. Working with different kinds of paints, with all their various quirks and considerations, is to me similar to learning and speaking in different languages. All are expressive, but say things differently. I find that when working opaquely, I don't push for as high a degree of realism as I do with watercolors. It is interesting too, in a way, to sit back (so to speak) and watch my own style emerge.

17 May 2016

Blue Iris

A few blocks from our home, there is a ditch between a road and someone's fence. And there, from this lowly location, grew a handful of blue bearded irises. I don't know how they got there, but they were largely overlooked as cars raced past. Determined to do something about that, I returned later with my camera, and found myself eventually right in the ditch (it was dry) and even getting honked at. Nonetheless, I got what I was after, and this is the result. 

5 May 2016

Cherry Tomatoes

I usually like to paint in bright, clear, vibrant colors. Here I was after something fresh that would just about pop off the wall. Sometimes an urge for color like this is like a food craving. But what to paint? This is an example of working with what you've got around the house, and before long I had my composition set up and shot. Complete with that wonderfully rumpled tablecloth. Ironing it would have taken away so much of the intriguing texture. This painting took longer than usual to complete, due to the many layers of glazes applied, and to the intricacy of the cut glass.