Posted tagged ‘painting’

Monday Night Art Class: Mess O’ Leaves

November 15, 2013

I took a a close-up photo of my tree in my back yard this fall:

Red Leaves IMG_4708a

And I decided to paint it.


Leaves 1 IMG_5618a

Leaves 2 IMG_5621a

Leaves 3 IMG_5636a

Leaves 4 Mess O Leaves

Took a while, but I finally finished it.

And that’s it.

I’m done painting leaves.

Until next year. 


This is why I hate watercolors.

October 29, 2012

Just finished off a painting tonight of Neys Provincial Park (on the North Shore of Lake Superior).   I spent a lot of careful time on this.

I was feeling reasonably happy with this my work, until it was time to go home, and I noticed a bright blue smudge on the left.

God Dammit.

Some blue pigment from one of my tubes tube had inadvertently gotten onto the paper.

I tried lifting it, but it was too late.    The damage was done.

Well, at least the stain wasn’t smack in the middle of the painting, or two entire evenings would have been completely written off.

But if I crop off 1/2 an inch,  the painting is still salvageable.  I got off lucky this time.

But still…it’s not quite the same.   I”m bothered by this.

This is why I HATE watercolors sometimes.

It’s so damned unforgiving.


Monday Night Art Class: The North Bowl of Revelstoke

March 26, 2012

Having just come back from vacation, I’m still in ski mode, and decided to paint one of my favorite photos from my trip:

Here’s what I ended up with tonight:

The first thing I did was the sky.   A wet wash of cadmium yellow, violet (phtalo purple) and cerulean blue.

Then I did the mountains, starting with the dark shadows of snow.   Again, with violet, cerulean blue, and maybe a touch of ultramarine and/or Paynes grey.

Then I started the rocks, starting with the larger ones as frames of reference, and painting the smaller ones around them.   They’re almost all the same dark shade.   I get my “black” from a mix of Van Dyke brown and Payne’s Grey.   I deliberately mixed up the rocks so they have random dark brown/black shades.

Whenever I got bored with the rocks, I worked on the foreground, adding layers of purple/blue and gradually making it darker.

Then I would add the final dark snow shadows on the mountain, and then lift some of the foreground out to lighten the color and add some texture to it.

I did a lot of lifting and re-painting the foreground.  If you want to do this, it’s important to have a rugged strong sheet of watercolor paper that can take kind of treatment.

I recommend the 300-lb Arches.   It’s “bullet-proof”, you can use it and abuse it, and it doesn’t buckle or degrade.   Not like the cheap watercolor paper I see a lot of beginners use.

Of course, it’s 12 bucks a sheet and when I tell this to people they say  “Oooh, that’s expensive!“.

(Oh, for crying out loud.)    You can cut a sheet into four, and make four paintings like the one I did here.

That’s 3 bucks for an evenings’ worth of entertainment.  I think most people can afford that.

Boggles my mind, why people will invest so much time into a hobby like watercolors, but they’ll scrimp and save a few bucks on sub-par art supplies that will only frustrate them.    But I digress here.

As a final touch to my painting,  I added a hint of cadmium yellow/yellow ochre to the white highlights to warm up the paining.    Using artist licence, I added a skier (a small blob) to the foreground in the middle/right, to give a sense of depth.

The one thing I’m not crazy about is the bottom right hand corner.   In the photo, this section is featureless.   I tried to make it interesting by lifting some of the paint and adding some shadows.  But I’m not sure if I like what I’ve done here.

If you notice, the painting is a lot more “warmer” (i.e. purple/yellow) than the original.    Part of the reason for this, is that I did the painting based on a print-out from a laser printer on plain Xerox paper.   The true winter white/bluish colors weren’t accurately reproduced, and this is all I had to go by.

Next time, I’ll print this out on photo paper instead.

Overall, I give myself a B-Plus on this one.

I’m not displeased, but I know I can do better.

Call this one a “study”.

I want to re-do it in the near future.


Friar’s Art Stories

December 14, 2010

I’ve lost count of all the paintings I’ve done, but each one has a story behind it,

And if I jog my memory, I can remember most of them.

Here are a few.



This was a study I did in art class.  My teacher wanted me to learn to paint texture, hence the elephant’s wrinkly skin.

I spent so much time on this damned pachyderm,  I started to become on a first-name basis with him.

So for my own amusement (and to annoy the serious old biddies in the class) I proudly announced that I would call this painting  “BUCKWHEAT”.

One of these ladies asked me:  “WHAT…in GOD’s name is a “Buckwheat?”


Needless to say, she didn’t appreciate my answer.

(Did  I mention I liked to annoy the serious old biddies in my class?)


My Favorite Rocks

I did this the day I got a shitty pay raise at my old job.

I was so depressed and so demoralized, I wanted to cry.

Instead, I sat down for four straight hours and painted this.   It turned out to be the best thing I had ever done at the time.

I guess they’re right, when they say artists must suffer.


Acadia Rocks

I was going aways for the weekend and it was a 3 hour drive to my friend’s house.

Just before I left, I decided to paint a quickie.

I pulled this one off in an hour.

Sometimes, it works that way.

The stars line up, everything falls into place, and you end up with a keeper.

And you’ll never be able to duplicate it quite the same way again, no matter how hard you try.

This was one of those special paintings.


House from Hell

Dammit, I worked SO hard on this.

It was an old brick house on the West Island of Montreal, and I was trying to paint it in art class.

This other student sitting next to me (a stupid witch I couldn’t stand) kept telling me I was doing it wrong.

Of course, she couldn’t draw or paint jack-shit herself.   But she was more than eager to point out all MY errors.

And she would NOT shut the #@$% up about it.


I kept trying to ignore her, but the painting wasn’t going well.  I just couldn’t’ get the perspective quite right.

Half way through the class, my teacher shook her head, and told me the painting was beyond fixing, and I had to reluctantly agree.

Of course, the Witch chimed in:  “See?  I TOLD HIM!   I TOLD HIM he was doing it wrong, I TOLD HIM!”

I got so fed up,  I set fire to my house.

I figured if I ruined the painting, then at least I might as well get some amusement out of it.

Heh heh.

It worked.

10 years later, the burning house still makes me laugh.


Depot Lake Road

Getting back to the Painting Witch.

By this time, I was quite pissed off at her, and was on the verge of tearing her a new one.

Instead, I took out a photo, and used my anger to start a new painting, right in front of her.

I splashed my paint willy-nilly, and finished this  9″ x 12″ before the class was over.

Just to prove that I could.


…I can still see her mouth dropping open in amazement.

(And THAT…was far more satisfying than any screaming or yelling I could have done to her!)



Feeling Blue

February 26, 2010

Friar’s Blogging Tip #157:   When in doubt,  show a painting of some fruit.

It’s almost guaranteed to generate at least one snarky comment.

Monday Night Painting

December 14, 2009

Some people ask me :  What’s the point of painting something?  Why don’t you just take a photo?

Good question.

Here’s a photo.  (Might have been taken by me or my girlfriend at the time, I don’t remember).  It’s Spirit Island on Maligne Lake, in Jasper National Park.

And here’s the painting:

As you can see, it’s not always about reproducing something 100% accurately.

It’s creating your own version of the world, as you chose to see it and edit it.

All while trying to coax finicky pigments to spread on a damp piece of paper.

With colors that are more subtle than the real thing,  giving the scene an entirely different, softer look.

And THAT….is what half the fun is.

Something that you can’t get from a photo.

Hit-and-Miss Painting

December 1, 2009

Here’s a storm I encountered in Wyoming 6 years ago.

I tried to capture the sky in watercolors.    My first attempt didn’t go so well…I tried to apply multiple layers.  Alternating between wet applications, and the blow-dryer.    But I over-did it and it became mud.


In the next attempt, I lay down the colors one, and only once.

Better than before.  But I still didn’t get the effect I wanted.

The problem with wet-on-wet is it dilutes the pigments, and I find it hard to get the dark shades.

If any watercolorists out there have any suggestions, I’m open to them.
Oh well, the evening wasn’t a total loss.   I finally finished one I’ve been working on for a while.

It’s a scene from Colorado in June.  I forget exactly where.  But there are countless places where you can drive up to 10,000 feet in a Honda Civic and see sights like this.