Friday, December 20, 2019

Art and Health

This is the painting that can be seen- in part, because the template cuts it to fit the space- on my December newsletter. It is basically part of my back garden and I had a great time building up the foliage. The dark tree is "tulip tree"- liriodendron. When we planted it, we were told it would grow to around 30 feet. The nursery was assuming we would be moved in 10 years and I didn't own my "big book" of plants. Well, some 50 years later it is over 90 feet and not quitting yet. An arborist told me it is one of the tallest trees in the Eastern forest. The trunk is over 17 feet in diameter - but I do love it, large leaves, falling cones and all. The blossoms are now too high to see them clearly. At one time, some large green parrots, native to Northern India that were somehow flying free, used to come and sit in the tree and eat the cones like corn on the cob. Unfortunately, they are no longer around.
     I chose this painting for my Christmas card this year, too. Autumn, not winter, but nice and colourful. I call it "Autumn Tapestry"
     I read an interesting piece on the internet today that looking at art can actually be good for your health as it bumps cortisol and serotonin levels in the brain and produces an effect in the body similar to exercise. The British Medical Journal on December 18, noted that going to art museums twice a year lowers early death rate by 14% while culture vultures do even better at 31%. Apparently, hanging paintings in hospitals improves patient satisfaction, health outcome, length of stay and pain tolerance. I often hear from people who have really enjoyed seeing paintings of mine in Richmond General Hospital. I'm glad to hear that they have enjoyed them - but now even more pleased to think that they might even have helped them!
     Maybe everyone should also have paintings in their homes- which is what artists would like to see. And a quote from Nathalie Bondil "I am convinced that in the 21st century, culture will be what physical activity was for health in the 20th century."

Thursday, November 28, 2019


On Tuesday, December the 3rd, Richmond Artists Guild will be hanging a show in Gateway Theatre. The show will all be related to the end of year musical " Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". This production is, apparently, not so Egypt-oriented as the Donny Osmond show that comes to mind. It is, of course, still with the story based on the Biblical tale of Joseph, his coat of many colours and his dream interpretations but, the staging, we are told, will be more dream-oriented and an emphasis on the musicality. I decided it would be a good  reason to paint a picture of a clarinet - which I think is a very interesting looking instrument... something about all those silver keys! It turned out to be an interesting challenge as it had to be accurate - but I didn't want to end up with something that looked like it was cut out of a musical instruments catalog. I wanted the background to be a bit magical and musical looking - but with nothing so basic as musical notes. I used some "interference" white/blue on the  clarinet keys. This means that the colour shifts a little as you look at it- adding another element to the painting. At the beginning stages, I was afraid it might not come off as I had hoped... but I ended up being fairly pleased with the result. I hope others enjoy looking at this painting.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Long Poses

Here is the pen and ink with watercolour wash  of Giving that I did for our Cultural Days event at the end of September. Now we are having "Long Poses" again on alternate Fridays and I'm working in mixed media. I like to have long enough to work on a piece as a contrast from regular Life Drawing sessions where poses may be much shorter...the first ones are one-minute poses and the longest usually 20 minutes. This one was roughly two and half hours - allowing for the model breaks. The other photo shows the distance I was from the model as well as a bit of our outdoor set-up. Fridays are indoor sessions but for Cultural Days we were outside where visiting public could watch or  participate.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Bouquet wth Red-Hot Pokers

Here is the newest bouquet painting and it is a very special bouquet. Carol-Lyn Sakata brought it to me from flowers from her mother's garden, which is to be redeveloped. This is the garden that is the triptych painting now in Richmond General Hospital. I've never painted red-hot pokers before- never seen any for sale in a florist and I don't have any in my garden. Also, it was so lovely to get such a beautiful bouquet so nicely arranged and with such a nice assortment of flowers. It was both a challenge and a pleasure to paint. The painting is 24 x 24.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

DoorsOpen on June 1st and 2nd

Here is a new one - 30"x24" that I will be showing for DoorsOpen this coming weekend - June 1st and 2nd. It is a dance of golden birch leaves around the old trunk in the fall- based on a tree in my garden. I say "based" because every painting gets adjusted for what the painting wants and so, varies from what a photograph might show. There should be more of an individuality to a painting - a feeling of "hands on" that a photo can't show. And of course,  seeing the actual painting is different again from seeing a photo of the painting. One of the nicest compliments I ever had was a collector telling me that every time he looked at a painting I had done, he saw something different again. so, whether it is this painting or a different one, take a good look at an actual original painting and enjoy the difference.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


This is my painting currently showing in Gateway Theatre as part of the group show "Pastoral". It is running through April 28th and can be seen, even if you aren't attending a performance, from noon to 5pm by entering through the box office. The art show is a tribute to Canada's rural heritage and also features the following artists: Dale Byre, Jennifer Heine, David McHolm, Bonita Ruttkay, Pat Thorson, Larry Tillyer and Jeff Wilson.
The painting is partly based on reality but I also exaggerated the expanse of the field from remembering how far across field could seem when I was a child. I really enjoyed painting those clouds. I hope we have some nice skies again this summer - and not forest fire haze!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Crayon Day

I read that today was to be "Crayon Day" and, although I have heard nothing more about it, I decided that it could be Crayon Day on this blog. They were created in 1903. The inventor was Edwin Binney who formed the firm Binney and Smith but it was his wife who invented the name "Crayola". Alice Stead Binney took the "cray" from the French "craie" for chalk and "ola" as short for olegineax for oily - and now we have had them for 116 years as one of the first art materials children get to use. As you can see from my old box, they can last forever! My white is missing - I think I used it up long ago as a wax resist when using paint. I rarely use them now but they live on on my desktop. I like the new water-soluble wax crayons and sometimes use them for Life Drawing as they can be used dry and then blended somewhat with water...retaining some of the linear wax crayon look too. So, cheers to Edwin (1866-1934) and Alice and wax crayons!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Introducing Art History

A delightful picture book came my way last week. I would highly recommend it  for a number of reasons. First, it is a good imaginative story in itself. It has quality, not cartoon-y, illustrations and it is educational. It is even has words not often found in picture books- cerulean and indigo, for example- to describe some blues the fox is seeing and this can really appeal to young children by giving them new words to play with.
If you look carefully, Monet can be found painting in his garden on quite a few pages. There is also a yellow butterfly that follows all the action. A natural follow-up would be to find reproductions of Monet's paintings as an introduction to this famous artist. The expressions on fox's face as very well done. There is also a very satisfying ending that shows the joys of plein-aire painting and solves fox's problem of how to preserve the colours of the garden. This is one to really enjoy reading aloud to a youngster and I predict it could be a real favourite for them to keep.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

High Noon

Here is my pastel of Michael as Gary Cooper in High Noon . the drawing is done on a rough hand-made paper as I felt it suited the subject.  I love doing figure drawing and I feel that drawing is really important. I usually do Life Drawing once a week and save some drawings, The warm-up one and two-minute poses are drawn on newsprint and I usually just put them in the recycling bin. Right now  I am drawing with a white pencil on black paper - just exploring the effects of the light making highlights on the figure. There are more pages in the black sketchbook than I originally thought so it is going to be awhile before I get back to colour. Maybe I'll work with water-soluble crayons then - or even watercolour for awhile. This pastel work is from a different day - usually every other week - when we have a "long pose" and I often  work in mixed media - in my case - pastel over acrylic and acrylic pastel gel which you can see in previous posts.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

New Show at Gateway

This is my painting currently up at Gateway Theatre. Richmond Artists Guild has a show called "Bodhi of Work" which was inspired by the current onstage production of "Yoga Play". All the works are connected to yoga in some way - so they include scenes from the East. I will confess that I did not do this painting specifically for this show as I had it from my "Dream Cities" series.... but I have done considerable revision so it is in a new incarnation and incarnation certainly fits with Eastern spiritual beliefs! It is, of course, Angkor Wat, but Angkor Wat as you are not likely to see it today - uncrowded with a spiritual vibe. The show at Gateway is well worth seeing and is getting quite a lot of attention. If you aren't attending a production (and the play is fun!), you can call in during box office hours and go in to see the display.