Friday, December 26, 2008

Mexican Cactus

Last winter a friend of mine was heading off to Isla Mujeras, a small island just off the coast of Cancun, Mexico. "Are you coming with?" she said. Well that was all the invitation that I needed. I had never been there before and the Dalai Lama says that you should visit at least one new place a year. I started to make arrangements. I was already booked to enjoy a Saskatchewan Christmas with my family. Was I to go there, then back to the West coast, then south? It was mind boggling.

My partner Jeff said "Why don't you see what kind of flights are available from Regina?" "Regina" I said, "Are you crazy? There won't be nothing flying out of Regina." Well, what do you know, there was indeed a direct flight out of Regina and quite affordable at that. My plans were made. First to Saskatchewan for Christmas, where it was very cold, then off to Cancun Mexico where it was very hot. Talk about extreme weather changes. Another slight problem was the packing, as I had to move through several different climates. Long story short, I made it down to Mexico, had a fantastic time exploring, reading books, snorkeling and just hanging out.

While making our way to the beach for another glorious day of suntanning, swimming and goofing around, I saw this forlorn looking cactus, propped up in a terra cotta pot, ready to be potted. The owners were just opening up a restaurante and hadn't gotten around to potting the cactus yet. With a camera in hand, I quickly took a shot, then headed off to the beach. After returning to Canada and going through my photos I looked at this one and noticed the reflection of the house in the window. What a great bonus to this painting.

"Mexican Cactus"
10 x 12", acrylic

Another great painting inspired by my trip is
"Memories of Mexico"
24 x 30", acrylic

You can view it on my website:
or see a past blog dated October 20th.

Love what you do ... and do what you love!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Arbutus Paintings

Any one who lives on Vancouver Island is familiar with the arbutus tree. It is often found on exposed rocky shorelines overlooking the ocean. It is quite majestic as the often crooked trunk twists and turns reaching up to 30 metres in height. It has a distinctively reddish-brown (artists might say burnt sienna) bark that peels and flakes to expose (raw sienna) bark underneath.

Now that we know about the arbutus tree, let me show you a couple of painting that I had fun creating. As a part-time resident artist at TOSH (The Old School House) in Qualicum Beach, I paint in the gift shop twice monthly. What that means is that I paint for the day, as folks come in and shop around, often stopping to ask questions of the "resident artist", but I also prepare paintings at home, for things to paint while at TOSH. It has started a mad cycle of continuous paint flow and primed canvases.

These two were started at one of my TOSH painting days. They are bright and fun (my usual style of painting) with lots of layers of paint applied. I usually start out with one idea in mind, then half way through the process the magic begins and something takes over. Next thing you know, I end up with these two beauties.

They are both 5 x 7" - acrylic paintings
"Arbutus Heart" (middle)
"Arbutus Face" (right)

For more information on purchasing these pieces of art, please check out my online store

"Love what you do ... and do what you Love"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Along the River's Edge

"Along the River's Edge"
acrylic painting, 24 x 30"

Well I finally did it. I completed and signed this painting last night. Even though it is snowing penguins outside, I managed to photograph it on the deck, ready for my blog.

If you recall I started working on this painting at the end of October. It comes from a photo that I took during one of my dog walks where Nile Creek meets the ocean out here on Vancouver Island. The photo itself was taken on a gloomy day, but having a creative edge, I knew that it had potential for a great painting.

Working on this painting was fun as I used bold brush strokes on the bushes, often using the acrylic paint direct out of the tube, putting it on quite thick in some areas. Painting the water became somewhat hypnotic. Moving the paint back and forth, curving it around to create the motion of the water was a trick as well, as I wanted to be careful not to overdue it and know when to stop.

Once that was complete I knew that the proper work of the boat would be the icing on the cake. Getting the proportions correct and with proper shadowing, completed the piece.

I am very proud of the final painting and it will look great in anyone's art collection.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hot Off the Palette

I'd like to share some of my latest pieces of artwork with you.

"Walk Along the Beach",
18 x 24" acrylic

As you may recall this piece was featured on the front cover of the Beacon for the month of October, 2008.

It's fun to imagine the life of this boat - how many times it has been out to the ocean. I never tire of walking the coast line, looking for sea shells, a quick dip in the ocean .... well maybe just my toes.

Always with camera in hand, this scene grabbed my attention as I knew that some day I would like to capture this image in paint.

"Heading West"
16 x 20" acrylic painting.

Ever since my first drive through the mountains when I was ten years old I've been in awe of the Rocky Mountains. The majestic peaks, snow covered even in summer, glisten like diamonds in the sky.

This particular painting was inspired by my journey from Saskatchewan to my new home in on Vancouver Island.

The mountain and the foreground were painted using a palette knife. Heavy on the paint I scraped and moved the acrylics around to create texture and effect.

"Sunset Nile Creek"
10 x 12", acrylic

This painting is inspired by an evening sunset at one of my favourite dog walking spots. I never tire of this spot, as there are always lots to see from fresh sea shells on the shore at low-tide, to swans and seals splashing around at high tide.

To create this painting I covered the entire canvas with several layers of mars black paint. The Sunset colours and reflections were applied on top, creating a very dramatic effect.

"Lake Front"
10 x 12", acrylic

A warm summer day, a new car, and a drive with my favourite dog ... what could be better. We ended up on the shores of a mountain lake, dipping our toes and paws in the cool clear waters and breathing in the fresh mountain air.

Twas a refreshing and relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

Ah is grand indeed!

Thank you for viewing my recent work. I hope you liked the show. Till next time ...
Do what you love .... and Love what you Do.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thank God It's Friday

Today started out kind of slow. It was a wet cold day on the west coast. I would have rather stayed in bed - I did till almost 9:00 am. The promise of a hot cup of joe moved my feet slowly down the hallway to the kitchen. Before I can even pour myself some coffee, my faithful companion, Cheyenne comes trotting out of his bedroom and gives me the glare! The glare means "It's morning .... and I'm hungry ... and where's my breakfast? Oh ya - good morning - now where's my breakfast?" So rather then TRY to enjoy my coffee while being stared down, I always feed my dog first! He knows how to handle his people!

Anyway, at some point during the morning I did promise to take him for a w-a-l-k. He can spell ... immediately he starts bugging me .... when are we going ... why don't you go get dressed ....

Finally around 11:00 am, we did get our act together. Rubber boots, winter parka, touque and throw the dog into the car, down the hill, and across the road to a beautiful camp ground, at the mouth of the Big Qualicum River where it feeds into the ocean.

Keep in mind the wind is blowing, it's raining ever so slightly, rather dull grey cold day .... we came around the corner and the first thing that attracts my photographic eye are swans. They are everywhere ... gracefully swimming up and around the river. Making a racket - squawking, honking .... talking about the intruders.

A look overhead finds another majestic sight ... circling around are eagles. Eagles landing on the water's edge, fighting over a catch .... up above in the tree tops - Eagles everywhere. My cold frozen fingers can not take photos fast enough.

If that's not enough to get the old heart pounding, another surprise was just around the bend. Laying, splashing, resting on the side where the river meets the ocean was about two dozen seals. I felt like today was my birthday. I slowly crept forward, taking shot after shot ... trying not to alert those beautiful creatures that look like stone ... looking at me with their long gorgeous eye lashes. Eventually, they too get spooked and splash ... into the ocean, bobbing around, while keeping an eye on us.

How wonderful to see all of God's creatures like that , in one place. A photographer is lucky to get one or two good shots during an average dog walk. Today I was snap happy, coming home with so much material that I can use in my artwork, many of my publications, or to just share with my blogging friends.

Thank God for Fridays!

Love what you do and do what you love.

I certainly do!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I'm Back

Just returned from a wonderful trip to the beautiful Qu'Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan. A little bit of work with lots of pleasure made for a great time. I lived in the valley for seven years prior to moving out to the Island. It feels like home, as both my parents still live there, my brother farms the family homestead, and there are lots of friends to catch up with.

Here is a picture of the early morning frost, just as I headed out to the airport last week. There is something very magical about a cool crisp morning such as this ... like frosting on a cake.

I also took some photos while at the farm. I can't wait to start working on this one as a painting. Any suggestions on what to title it? I would like to try painting this with a very limited palette - possibly only three colours. I want to give it a rustic feel, like that of a sepia photo.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween,

When I was a kid, Halloween was a big event for us. Coming from the farm (Saskatchewan kid) we planned our costumes weeks in advance, as we had to make them out of something that mom had around the house. For instance, old bed sheets, old cloths .... one year I made a wig out of binder twine. The memory of that brings the smell of bales to my nostrils. We had fun! We would meet our friends, at a given time in town, and off we would go. Treats were bigger and better then. I remember one neighbour in particular who gave away bottles of pop.
Can you imagine? You got a whole bottle to yourself. And you got to pick the flavour too. And we weren't scared about what was inside our treats! Everything was good ... and we ate everything.

Our farming neighbours got into the swing of things as well. One Halloween, after returning with our bounty, we went back to our farm house to find that my crazy aunt had put chickens in our kitchen. Live chickens, running around and making a mess! I'm not sure how my mom and dad knew who was responsible. I'll have to make a point of asking them some day.

Then of course there was always stories of someone's outhouse getting tipped over.
Yes, it was fun. We all need to go out and have some fun sometime. Have a few laughs too!
It's good for the soul!

My painting for today is called "Pumpkin Patch", 18 x 24", acrylic with a bit of gold and copper paint.

It's a very lovely piece ... still one of my favourites, as I painted it a few years back. Notice the rabbit in the patch?!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Days End

Just a quick blog today to let you know that I finished my piece for the Oceanside Arts Council 1 x 1 x 100 show.

I thought of calling it "Looking Out my Window" as that is pretty much what I can see from my kitchen window, as the sun sets. I've decided to call it "Days End". One can just imagine another perfect day of fishing, as a glorious sunset calls the day
to an end.

This is a 12 x 12" acrylic canvas that will be sold for $100 for a fund raiser for the Oceanside Arts Council.

I had one week to complete it. I just signed it this evening, wired the back for hanging and took a photograph of it. Tomorrow I will say good bye as it is delivered to the gallery.

I have also started another painting, by first putting several washes of yellow oxide and cadmium yellow over the canvas. Then I start to block in shapes.

Stay tuned ...... as the painting progresses.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Multi Tasking

It's Tuesday afternoon and I have cabbage rolls bubbling in the oven. I've also just put some lemon squares in the oven for dessert or maybe afternoon tea.

I am also thinking about the painting that I started last night.
It is another acrylic painting - on a 24 x 30" canvas. The idea comes from a photo that I took this summer at Nile Creek, just outside Qualicum Beach, during one of those dog walking days. It was late in the afternoon, lots of shadows and a red boat was docked against the river's edge. Hmmm ...
I may have just come up with the name of the painting "Along a River's Edge". I like it. I particularly like the reflection of the boat in the water, plus the natural contrast of the red against the forestry green.
Here is the photo - I will show you the painting in a few weeks (I hope) once it is complete.

I am a master at multi-tasking. Self employed for more years then not, I have had to be strict with my scheduling and time management. Multi-tasking allows me to come to the end of the day and say "Boy, you did good today. Look at all the things that you accomplished!" This morning I did my GST return. I also sent out several emails, balanced my cheque book, took the dog for a walk, made my bed, took a break and had a latte, while pruning some outdoor plants plus wrote a book review and started priming another canvas. And the days not over yet!

Here a painting that is fitting for this Blog - to all those multi-taskers out there
I call it "You're a Star", 12 x 10" , acrylic

And now ... I have to go check on my lemon squares!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fall is in the Air

Well another week has flown by. The fall colours on Vancouver Island are breathtaking. Brilliant orange and red maple leaves crackle as you walk through the woods. There is a chill in the air, as you know the days are getting shorter. Does that mean we have less time to be creative? When I paint I often like to prepare several canvases at once. Once the initial concept comes into play, then I am only able to work on one or two canvases at a time. Otherwise, I tend not to appreciate the moment as I am looking forward to the next piece and not enjoying the one that I am working on. I must bring myself back to the present moment enjoying how the paint moves, what I want the painting to do as it comes to life .... the joy of the experience - in other words, I enjoy the journey, as well as the trip.

This painting I call "Geese Convention". It is an acrylic painting, 18 x 24". Can't you just hear the constant honking as the geese all lodge their complaints at once?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This is my Dog

Cheyenne, 16 x 20", acrylic painting

Today I'm going to tell you about my dog Cheyenne. He is a rescue dog, from the Regina Humane Society. He is approximately 8 years olds - I gave him a birthday date of March 1st as I wasn't sure when he was born. In this painting he was only 3 - just a young pup. He has been a constant companion and joy in my life. He is also one of the most intelligent doggies I've had the pleasure to meet. I often believe that he is a reincarnated swami. Sometimes he will walk by and wink at you - as if to say "I know,"

We both use to live in Saskatchewan on an acreage. His big job, was not only to patrol the acreage and mark his territory, but keep the coyotes away, catch the gophers in the yard, and also look after most of the neighbourhood dogs. He had a big job indeed. He also loved to tease the cows - but we won't mention that to the neighbourhood farmer.

About a year and a half ago, two coyotes took him on and he really got a beating. Long story short, we moved to Qualicum Beach on beautiful Vancouver Island and started him on regular VOM treatments (Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation ) - it's like a doggy chiropractic treatment. He is now in pretty good shape. A bit of arthritis in his back legs. Some days a bit stiffer then others, but he is comfortable and still a joy in our lives. Now there is no more chasing coyotes plus he has a much smaller yard to look after. The odd time a rabbit will dare to hop through the yard ... that gets him very excited!

Cheyenne now enjoys walks by the ocean and leisurely restful afternoon sleeps.

To find out more about Cheyenne you can check out my website

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Feature Front Cover

On my return from an intense weekend at Hollyhock (that's another story), I had an email from the editor of the Beacon asking if they could use one of my paintings on the cover. The Beacon is a community magazine that originates in Bowser and serves Qualicum Beach and the Lighthouse County. I was thrilled!

The original piece is 16 x 20", an acrylic painting and called "Walk along the Beach." It depicts a broken down boat that I found on my of my daily excursions with my dog Cheyenne. The boat may have been retired - or just tired. With camera in hand, I took a photo, knowing that one day I would want to use it as a subject for a painting.

The Oceanside Arts Council in Parksville is having an exhibition called 1 x 1 x 100.
Each participate paints a painting that is 12" x 12" and sells for $100 with 50% going to the Arts Council for a fund raiser. Today I picked up a canvas and am prepping it with gesso.
It has to be finished by next week as the show opens in Nov. Better get to it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Welcome to My New Blog

Hi and Welcome to my New Blog!

I am creating this blog as a means to connect to fellow artists and art patrons. I am a fine artist, working currently in acrylic paints.

This recent painting is called "Memories of Mexico", 24 x 30" on stretched canvas.

It was painted from a photograph that I took last year during my winter vacation. The pot of cactus was on a landing just below the apartment that we were renting. I loved the strong bright colors of the brick walls and the tall over-flowing cactus. I especially liked the Mexican blanket hanging in the window as a curtain. It made me laugh as I have the exact blanket on my couch at home - one that I bought years ago on a trip to Cancun.

A lot of my paintings are bright and bold in colour.

You can find out more about me by visiting my website at