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.

Share this post:FacebooktwitterpinterestmailFacebooktwitterpinterestmail

A Painting Facelift

blog trail new pic


Funny how paintings can change over time. One gets completed; you live with it for a while and seem to enjoy what you created. Then, some time down the road, you realize a few nips, tucks and tweaks can make a stronger image.

The painting above is the current result of an image I’ve changed a few times. The image below shows the former look. The orange tree poking up through the forest just became annoying.

blog trail former ic

I knew I had to do something with that tree, and the photo below shows what I did – I got rid of it! With acrylics, that’s easy to do.


I mixed the sky color which was Ultramarine Blue, Titanium White and a touch of Indian Yellow and brushed into the sky, over the offending tree and down into the tree line a bit.  I didn’t adjust anything in the bottom half of the painting but did soften the tree line, made the highlight on the grass a little thinner and less intense and move the tree into the front of the forest.



I built the tree with layers of ultramarine blue and yellow creating values of yellow-green. Then I just kept adding color and switched the hue, and the tree, to blue-green, which I liked better. I added a few more touches of the blue-green throughout the image and I’m calling this painting done!

Share this post:FacebooktwitterpinterestmailFacebooktwitterpinterestmail

Drive-by Pix

Out from the Dark

Bits and pieces of quick photo grabs were combined to make this composition.

My wife and I share driving along Hwy 401 into Toronto. When I'm the passenger, I have my smart phone or ipad at the ready to capture any drive-by scenes that might have possibilities. Sometimes the photos are blurry; sometimes I question why I even took the photo, but other times I'm delighted with an image or piece of an image that I can use in a painting.

This painting, called "Out From the Dark", 18" x 24" and painted in oils, has several sections from several photographs. I cropped elements from various photos, added them to a page in Photoshop and manipulated until I found something I liked. My Photoshop cropping is pretty rough so once I'm happy with a composition I do a small sketch either in a paper sketchbook or a digital sketchbook. And that becomes my composition.

Next step was to decide on concept and color. The foreground of a couple of the original images I used as resource was filled with construction equipment. I wanted something a little more pastoral and I discovered a photo I took of a large shadow on grass – just a shadow; just some grass. Weird, but the pic was in my files. Turns out that shadow became the reason for the painting.

Share this post:FacebooktwitterpinterestmailFacebooktwitterpinterestmail

Block Printed Pillow

Ink pillow

Let’s combine an exercise in wood carving with some DecoArt Ink Effects, a type of transfer paint used for designs on fabric.

Printmaking, particularly block printing, is something I’ve enjoyed for decades. Using the hand tools to carve into the wood, linoleum…or potato is a great way to pass a relaxing hour or so. In fact, I often carve a design with no intention of printing the image. And that’s how these trees came about.

Months ago I cut these trees into a piece of Masonite. When I wanted to try printmaking using the Ink Effects paint, the trees were the perfect size – the design fit the only white fabric scrap I had!

The concept of Ink Effects is simple. Use the Ink Effects to paint your design onto a piece of paper. Let the design dry then transfer to a non-cotton fabric using an iron. I wanted to see if printmaking techniques would also work. I love the texture you get with a hand-printed image.

I taped off the edges of my carving to be able to print a clean image then used a stiff-bristled brush to drag the Ink Effects over the carved image. My intention was to create some streaks and white spaces in the design – a mono print effect. You can probably see the texture better in the picture below.

Ink pillow

I placed a piece of white printer paper over the wet ink and pressed firmly with a brayer. When I lifted the paper this was the result:

Ink pillow
Some of the paper stuck to the Masonite when I lifted the sheet, as you can see in the picture below…but hey, that’s just more texture. The bottom picture is the carved Masonite after I printed the image on the paper. I let the paper dry for an hour or so then used a hot iron and transfered the image to the fabric…twice. You can see the pillow has six trees but the carving only has three. I thought I’d get a ghost image with the second transfer, but the image came out almost as intense as the first.

A joint effort between my wife and I resulted in this pillow cover. If you’d like to see more about Ink Effects check out this website.

Ink pillow - print

Share this post:FacebooktwitterpinterestmailFacebooktwitterpinterestmail