Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Botanical Beach

Here are a few more steps of the painting I started last week. It's close to completion and I hope that you will enjoy reading about this painting process.


Since the most striking colors of this scene come from the turquoise water, and the orange sunlit foliage in the foreground, I decided to punch up  those two colors as much as possible. My turquoise in the water and sky is a mix of phthalo blue and phthalo green. The orange in the foreground is a mix of ochre yellow and perylene red. Violet-grays in the rocks and clouds are a mix of ultramarine blue and perylene red. Greens in the trees and shrubbery are a mix of ochre yellow, cadmium yellow and ultramarine blue. If you place these pigments on a color wheel, you will find that they are arranged in a nice symmetry so they should work in a painting.


In most of the cases adjustments of color, form and values take the most effort and time in my painting process. I wish it wasn't so, but I haven't figured out yet how to get it all spot on, in one go. I doubt that I ever will. And in any case, making changes can be a fun path of discovery...for the most of the time. When things just aren't coming together and I start feeling frustration, the best thing to do is stop and come back later. Sometimes we get fixated on some particular idea and we don't see a forest from the trees. Coming back after a rest usually allows me to step back and take in the whole thing without prejudice. Either a fresh idea emerges or I realize that what I thought was a problem, isn't a problem after all.

Step 6 - DETAILS

Finally I get to work on those delicious little details that many of us like to fiddle with - the grass, the negative spaces around trees, little shadows and forms in the rocks, highlights, etc. The idea is to add more where it is required, and obfuscate where I have put too much. 

Botanical Beach, acrylic, 30x40

I just got an idea to transition color of rocks from warm to cool as they move from the foreground to the background. Since this would be a big change, I think I should leave the painting alone for a while until I convince myself that the idea is worth pursuing.

Best Wishes,


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Step By Step

I always enjoy seeing step by step creation of paintings, so I decided to post a painting that I just started a couple days ago. Luckily, I remembered to take photos of painting stages this time! Hopefully it won't slip my mind to photograph the remaining process.

I selected a scene from a very special place on Vancouver Island, BC called Botanical Beach in the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. Shapes of rocks and plants found there are incredible. I recently made another painting titled Wild Coast  inspired by that place, and I am sure I will make many more.

This time I started with values and forms rather than composition, to mix things up a bit. There are many ways that lead to Rome!

 So, without further ado, here's one way to make a painting.


 The initial sketch was done directly on canvas with a pencil, over which I added values and forms with raw umber acrylic paint thinned with acrylic medium.

Step 2 - TEXTURE

I painted a transparent burnt sienna imprimatura over the entire piece and after that was dry, I used heavy body acrylic gel to add texture over the foreground rocks and shrubbery. Here is a section of the textured surface so that you can see randomness of palette knife marks in the hardened gel.

Step 3 - BLOCK IN

 The most dreadful of all stages for me is the first block in with acrylic paint. My goal at this point is just to cover the entire canvas without dwelling on details. Acrylic paint is quite challenging and often uncooperative in this first approach due to the slickness of the previous layer, so I only aim for coverage and approximate matching of colors of large shapes. Consider this stage to be the "under-painting". Subsequent layers will provide better surface quality, color variations and details.


Before I fully commit to this composition, I like to apply some dynamic symmetry construction on it. I am happy with the composition since I find several "hooks" with the constructed system of golden rectangles. Perhaps I'll tuck in a few shapes here or there, but overall the composition is sound. If you are curious abut this, feel free to read my previous post about composition.

So much for today. I'll try to post more steps when I manage to get back to this painting. So much to do, so little time!

Best Wishes,


Thursday, 1 May 2014


Beach Palette, acrylic, 24x30

I was wondering if everyone else sometimes gets overwhelmed and bored with all the bureaucratic stuff we are told we must have - resumes, diplomas, statements, memberships, submissions, titles, approvals…the list goes on and on. But there are many contrary examples of people accomplishing their goals, maybe even more likely, without any of those things – burdens, time wasters, distractions? How come a drop-in clinic doctor is always able to help without a six page form I had to fill in for my family doctor?

We are cultivated to follow rules and eventually we may end up missing them and seeking them to save ourselves from the perceived frightening uncertainty.  This is a serious thing that can stifle a creative person and it’s not always easy to shake off.

I remember coming to a revelation one late night that it was entirely up to me to decide what kind of artist I want to be. The more rules I avoid the more interesting choices I can make! Sounds like a duh thing, but it really was an eye opener for me.

So, I can respectfully choose not to enter competitions, shows and events  which take time from my painting, even if everyone and their dog will be there!  It is up to me to decide when to go to my room, and how long to stay there. Even the best food won’t taste good if it’s crammed down our throat. Happiness is in making our own choices.

And in case our choice looks scary, no worries. Steven Pinker wrote that people have an amazing ingrained ability to justify their deeds and perceive they have done well, no matter what happens with them. According to him, we will all eventually be happy, whatever we choose to do. He didn't say at which point this happiness will occur though. I guess that’s up to us to discover.