Monoprinting in My Front Yard


In the summer, I move my studio to the garage, open up the large garage doors and try to paint what I see outside those doors.

This summer I’ve mostly been working in oils with cold wax medium creating small 8 x 10 field studies that I’ll later turn into larger studio paintings. Those field studies are small sections of the landscape as seen from my garage!

Today, I moved a little further down the driveway to create with a medium I haven’t used recently. During this hot, humid summer, my printmaking paper would misbehave. I use the paper dry so the weather made the paper damp and that forced the paper to bend and curl at will. Not easy to keep a print registered as you add multiple layers to the design.

But today it’s cool and the air is dry and I brought out my GelliArts printmaking plate, my registration board and my Golden Open Acrylics. As I mentioned, the scene is a view from the end of my driveway. I simply sketched a few versions of how I wanted the landscape to appear then went back to the garage to to create the monoprint.

I used the 6″ x 6″ GelliArts plate to create this design and the following Golden Open Acrylics – Titanium White, Indian Yellow Hue, Manganese Blue and Light Ultramarine Blue. And I used lots, and lots of low-tack painters tape to protect areas while I added color. I started with an overall yellow background applied to the plate with a brayer. Every other color was added with a paintbrush. The initial treeline color was the light ultramarine straight out of the tube. The rest of the colors were mixes of yellow, manganese blue and white. I finished the piece in almost 12 color layers.

Now that the weather has cooled a bit (and temporarily it appears) I have a few more sketches ready to go. This one is called “Someday Soon”; 6″ x 6″, matted to 12″ x 12″.


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A Tiny Landscape

A short, four minute video of me painting a 6×6 inch canvas for an upcoming show. The texture on the surface is created with gel medium. I wash the gessoed canvas with a color first, then, with a palette knife, I’ll spread a thin layer of clear gloss gel medium over the surface. I let this dry overnight, then start painting!

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Paint and Charcoal


Played in the studio yesterday to create this acrylic and charcoal landscape painting. I used charcoal, matte medium, white and black paint.

Starting with a 12 x 12 canvas, I applied some gel medium with a palette knife to create texture. After the medium dried, I painted the canvas white. I used the matte medium to create tooth on the surface to hold the charcoal and I started working the charcoal into the surface while the matte medium was wet which caused the charcoal to soften and smear. Once the medium was dry, I applied more charcoal and then, with a small bristle brush loaded with matte medium I worked the charcoal to create the image. To clean the brush, I simply wiped it on the mid and foreground of the painting to create the soft grays you see in the photo.  The process required several layers of medium and charcoal and once I was satisfied, I used a small bristle brush to add some gray snow to the mid ground  using the black and white acrylic then used a shop towel to wipe some pure white over the foreground.

The painting is ready for any additional coats of paint or for a final varnishing without fear of smearing the charcoal and losing the tree pattern.

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Lovin’ The Paste


I love Golden’s light molding paste. I wipe it on, spread it on with a palette knife or used credit card, brush it on…no matter, the goal is texture. And I want a fine, subtle texture that allows layers of chunky color to show through on the finished artwork.

For this painting, called “Walk With Me” (18” x 18”), I started by spreading the molding paste in the lower half of the canvas. The image was inspired by the farm across the road so I knew I only wanted texture in the lower half. I let the paste dry overnight then started adding color mixed with matte medium over the entire canvas.

This time, I used a very limited palette of Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Light, Cerulean Blue, Ivory Black and Titanium White.  I mixed a pale red/orange and covered the sky; I mixed a darker red/orange and scrubbed the color into the molding paste on the bottom half of the painting. That was it for the first day. I applied some gloss gel medium to the sky area to protect the orange and to create a textured surface for the next color. And I let this dry overnight.

Next day, I painted the sky using a shop towel and mixtures of white and blue with a little black. Then I wiped back the color to let mostly red/orange show through. Using the palette knife and a shop towel, I spread green and orange over the bottom half. The greens were mixes of black and yellow and white with a little blue here and there and the orange was yellow and red and black and sometimes white. By applying the green color over the molding paste with a palette knife, the green hit the high points of the molding paste letting some of the red/orange basecoat show through. And where I didn’t want too much texture, I simply wipe the paint with a shop towel.

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Greens and Greens and Blues


“Shadows”; acrylic; 20 x 20″

Once again my backyard acted as model. But it wasn’t the landscape that captured my attention. Instead, it was the shadow in the lower right; a shadow cast by my studio. The shadow seemed to be leading the viewer in a specific direction and that direction was back into the woods, into the forest with its strong mix of shadows punctuated by brights spots of light.

Rather than being faithful to nature, I used my own color scheme – an analogous scheme which, to me, seems to create a quiet, peaceful mood. And I moved a couple of trees around to suit the composition!

Color palette for this painting was Nickel Azo Yellow, Raw Sienna, Napthol Red Medium; Transparent Red Oxide, Phthalo Blue (green shade), and Titanium White.  And the paint was applied with a brush, painting knife, credit card and shop towel. The challenge was to make a simple color scheme work by using a range of values and temperature shifts with the warmer colors in the background to draw attention to that area. The shadows seem to be on the outside of the forest; the woods appear more inviting.

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Bob Pennycook1_Out Front_2015

This painting, called “Out Front”, 20×20″; acrylic, was accepted into the Society of Canadian Artists Elected Members Juried Show. The show is on now at the Markham Flato Theatre in Markham, ON. Last spring, I was juried into the Society of Canadian Artists as an Elected Member and this is my first attempt at entering one of the Society’s juried shows.

The painting is acrylic on canvas. I built up several layers of color in the background before I applied the foreground tree. Successful layers of color were coated with gloss gel medium applied with a palette knife, then subsequent colors were applied with the palette knife. The use of complementary colors makes the foreground tree pop. And that becomes the whole statement behind the painting – even though you’re different, you still belong.

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It’s All About the Scale


Some days you can be bang on; other days you miss the mark completely.

This is a 20″ x 16″ oil.

Below is how I started. I painted a background then started applying poppy shapes with no indication of scale or even composition.

I wasn’t happy. So I stopped.

I switched to the canvas size above and focused on painting the poppy sizes in relation, in scale, to the size of the canvas and concentrated on a cruciform composition.

I’m happy now.blognewpic1

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I Could Do That

You’ve visited art shows and galleries. You’ve seen public art and private art. And when you look at that art, have you ever said, “I could do that.”?

Well here’s a short five minute video that suggests you probably could…or you probably couldn’t!


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Painting in the Driveway


My studio is small. Chemical smells can fill the air quickly. I can ventilate for acrylic fumes, but scents from oils and their related thinners take control of my studio environment.

So when I paint with oils, I paint outdoors, or almost outdoors. On pleasant days, you can find me with my pochade box in the middle of the driveway. On less pleasant days, I’ll be in the garage but with both garage doors wide open so it feels like I’m outdoors.  And I sometimes take my pochade box on the road, but I’ve discovered I’m much more comfortable painting near home.

My studio is filled with shelves and drawers of painting supplies. And for years, I believed I would feel insecure not being around all those supplies as I painted. But spending the warm months painting in oils outside my studio has forced me to think and paint compactly. Minimal supplies can be creatively freeing!

The painting above is a small 12″ x 12″ oil on canvas that I completed while standing in the driveway. I took some liberties with my neighbor’s acreage – I left out the barn and I left out the cows but I added some water in the foreground that wasn’t there that day, but often is.  Completed with a few paints, three brushes, a palette knife and shop towels.

My oil supplies are few. All contained in a portable box attached to a camera tripod. I reduced to an eight-color palette which tends to remain the same but sometimes I’ll switch colors. I use only four or five brushes (with sawed off handles so they fit into the pochade box) and a small container to hold turps or thinner. A roll of shop towels is by my side and I always wear nitrile gloves to keep paint (and thus, paint thinner for clean-up) from my skin.

Click here to see a one minute video of my outdoor setup. And yes, it was shot in my driveway.





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Look Ma! No Brushes

Give me a shop towel, a credit card and a shish-ka-bob skewer and I’m a happy painter!

In a recent post I mentioned my favorite paint applicators. In this seven minute video, I show how I use a few of those applicators to create a landscape from start to finish.

I increased the speed of the video to shorten the video….so watch quickly!


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