Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mid May

This made in Mid May, the 15th. Today is extremely cold, close to freezing, and I wore my winter hat while walking, but visually the day is beautiful. Two more little square paintings made today. It is a busy time of year, and it was good to produce something today after a few days gap.

5" x 5" acrylic collage painting on heavy, archival paper, 6" x 6" external paper size, listed on Etsy today.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Evening Trail

I've been meaning to paint sections of this trail for years....part of a snowmobile trail in winter, used by dirt bikes and ATVs in the summer, but almost always sure to be quiet and unused. Quite high up here....if you were to look over the edge on the left, the side road would be 15 feet below....into the deep coniferous forest on the right....fairly late into the evening...still light, but you could feel night coming.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting on acid-free matte board, external card size 5" x 5", now listed on Etsy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Near Home

A while ago now....just as the leaves where coming out....returning home and looking down the long, protected lane. The little white rectangle is my neighbor's mailbox....a few minutes walk to my place.

Acrylic collage painting on paper, 4" x 4", external paper size 5" x 5", now listed on Etsy.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Roadside, May 2

For two days in a row I walked by this location and there was something about the field above and the cut of the road embankment that was pleasing. The top field was just greening up and the air was cool. It was interesting that my response was just as strong the second day of seeing this....a signal that there was something there I should paint. This little format is suitable to these sorts of small sensations. On a bigger size and different format, I wouldn't have painted this.....every decision affects something else.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting on paper, external paper size 5" x 5", just listed on Etsy.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pilgrimage Field

There are a number of directions I walk in, and no close paths get neglected, but there are favourite places that are missed if not seen regularly. This field changes often...the farmer is very attentive to the health of the soil and to his crop. I often see him in passing as he comes to or leaves this area. There is a path just at the left here that would allow me to encircle the field but signs are posted and I don't wish to be a nuisance. Painted a while ago....the field is quite green now with a very slow growing crop that is perhaps there just to hold the soil and add be plowed under a bit later.

5" x 5" acrylic collage painting on white, acid-free matte board, external card size 6" x 6", soon to be listed on Etsy.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

How Easy Is It Anyway?...How Hard Can It Be?

Matisse started as a painter who was very much tied to the things he saw, but steadily he moved to the point where he wanted much more than that. Colour and all the elements of art needed to be distanced from the 'simpler' act of seeing, while somehow still grounded in 'experienced' reality. It's this duality that still gives such strength to his work. And if we think that this was an easy victory, and not really much of a step, fairly familiar terrain already explored previously by Gauguin and Cezanne just to name two who were at least in the same ballpark, we should think again.

I am mightily surprised by the actual record because the Fauve works produced in Collioure in 1905, seem, on the face of it, such a joyous release. But not everything is as easy as it might at first seem.

" More than forty years later, Georges Duthuit described the state in which his father-in-law [Matisse] approached the act of painting, a tension so extreme that those closest to him risked being sucked in with him to the verge of breakdown or vertigo. "The obvious forebodings experienced by the painter-who is at the same time so prudent, and so orderly that people call him 'the Doctor'---made him tremble. During the few years when he was able to endure this vision, Matisse spent whole nights without sleep, nights of desperation and panic." From now on Matisse would never again be free from the insomnia that had first attacked him on Belle-Ile. Amelie helped him through the interminable nights by reading to him, sometimes until dawn. The novel Matisse remembered reading in 1905 was Alexander Kuprine's Yama, an account of life in a provincial Russian brothel which deeply disturbed him. In fact, he could not have read this particular book (which was not published in French until 1923): it was a freak of Matisse's imagination that transposed Kuprine's powerful images of brutality and exploitation in a nocturnal underworld back to the summer at Collioure, when the stable, familiar daytime appearance of normality seemed to be blown apart before our eyes.

It is not easy to understand today how paintings of light and colour, mediated through scenes of simple seaside domesticity----a view of fishing boats above pots of scarlet geraniums on the studio windowsill, Amelie wrapped in a towel or seated barefoot on the rocks----could have seemed at the time, both to their perpetrator and to his public, an assault that threatened to undermine civilization as they knew it. But Matisse was not simply discarding perspective, abolishing shadows, repudiating the academic distinction between line and colour. He was attempting to overturn a way of seeing evolved and accepted by the Western world for centuries, going back to painters like Michelangelo and Leonardo, and before them to the Greek and Roman masters of antiquity. He was substituting for their illusion of objectivity a conscious subjectivity, a twentieth-century art that would draw its validity essentially from the painter's own visual and emotional responses.

Hilary Spurling, The Unknown Matisse, Volume 1, Penguin, 1998

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ready Field

5" x 5" acrylic collage painting on acid-free white matte board, now listed on Etsy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wild Mustard

Painted yesterday...and I ran out of time so only one image was made yesterday. Something about the interaction of colours and viewing the scene from afar was appealing. The strong yellow of the wayward mustard...leftovers from last year or wild seed, combined with the fresh green and the heavy, somewhat overcast sky, spoke of a special quality of spring that seems to move so quickly. It was very pleasant making this. In my favourite pieces there is usually a fine balance between abstraction and a certain kind of realism. I like to be able to feel myself in the walk on the breath the air. It's something I aim for but it doesn't always happen even if the picture might have other redeeming qualities. The ease of decision making is important to me. I agonize over too much and I don't want to agonize over pictures.....when the flow from decision to decision happens almost automatically the experience of picture making becomes more memorable and self-sustaining.

5" x 5" acrylic collage painting on acid-free matte board, external card size, 6" x 6", now listed in my Etsy shop.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Home...coming home from walks this is what I've been seeing the last few days just before entering the drive. These things start not so much as pictures, but as sensations. I noticed "'s so nice and fresh and green just here"....something is felt first and then the picture is constructed. When I started doing the 4" squares I noticed the format is really conducive to this sort of thinking. Here I went to a slightly bigger square at 5". There will likely be many more of this size since 4 more have already been made...the first was done yesterday.

5" x 5" acrylic collage painting on paper, external paper size 6" x 6", now listed in my Etsy shop.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tracking Spring

Painted on April 25th....the crest of a hill with a bit of scrub bush just starting to feel the pull of spring....the ground greening up a touch. There is a period from about the start of March to the end of June when I track the days carefully for's a dramatic and favourite time.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting on paper, external paper size 5" x 5", now listed in my Etsy shop.

Etsy Treasury

Click on the title to see VickiDianeDesigns selection of Etsy dudes....apparently there is a shortage of man creatures over there. I happen to be a man creature...I qualify! Thank you, Vicki.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

April Sky

Only a while ago in April, my closest field looked like this, and now it is a very lush green. I would like to keep up with painting daily changes in the landscape but that is never possible. Suffice to know that nature does not really repeat and fascinating and endless surprises are available to anyone who simply looks.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting on paper, external paper size 5" x 5", now listed on Etsy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Seedlings, 2 Inches Tall

Was it only 4 or 5 days ago that I saw the tractor seeding this field? The seedlings are about 2 inches tall now. Such an image of hope.....a seeded field in spring, and thankfully there are still people who make a life putting seeds in the ground. I seem to visit this field almost every day and have painted it from various angles perhaps well over 20 times.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Low Clouds

The field is higher than me here....I'm on the road just below.....the clouds seemed to hang so low. I liked how the field turned out....the scale of the marks suggested a proper recession into distance. There is always this concern with distance....memories of Saskatchewan fields slipping miles back.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting, external paper size 5" x 5", now listed on Etsy.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Matisse, On Originality

Matisse became very interested in Maupassant's ideas on artistic originality, which grew out of lessons the writer learned as a young man from Gustave Flaubert.

"What you have to do is look at what you wish to express long enough and with enough attention to discover an aspect of it that has never been seen or described by anyone before. There is something unexplored in everything, because we have grown used to letting our eyes be conditioned by the memory of what others have thought before us about whatever we are looking at....To describe a blazing fire and a tree on a plain, we must stay put in front of that fire and that tree until for us they no longer resemble any other tree or any other fire. That is the way in which you will become original."

There are problems caused by not looking carefully enough at those who came before you, of being ignorant of the discipline (95% of the enterprise is learned....there is no need to even attempt reinventing the wheel every time) and then there are problems caused by looking so closely at examples that you cannot see past what has already been done.

-The Unknown Matisse, Hilary Spurling, book 1 in her 2 part biography of Matisse.

Friday, May 8, 2009

401 Embankment, Port Hope

Driving into Port Hope and passing the County Road 10 401 Entrance....this embankment made a strong impression...I turned my car around and parked for a bit just to get the right view. It's a man-made hill but I liked the slope of it and the smattering of young growth up the of my favourites of these small pieces.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting, external paper size 5" x 5", now listed on Etsy.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

White House, May 2

The last of 3 little images made yesterday...completed from a motif noticed while doing the garage sale rounds in the morning. This tiny white spec of a house seemed so fresh in the midst of the new greens.....still the pinks in the background because foliage is just starting for deciduous trees.....also shot outside against my favourite flower, the tulip, which sadly seems to last only a few days now because cool spring days can turn summer hot in the snap of a finger.

Every picture requires tension of some sort....dark and light, bright and greyed colors, large and small, very loose and more controlled......all of these are noticeable here and consciously included in the painting process. As well, while every inch of the surface must always be considered, not all parts of the piece should be equally worked. Some areas are singled out for more development, some for less....and this also gives a desired tension. This aspect also seems to dovetail nicely with the way vision works. As we look at the world we choose to focus upon only certain things at any one time, but we remain aware of a great deal of secondary information in the form of peripheral vision. Some of the world seems very complex, busy and detailed....and other parts remain veils of generalized information...and it all fits seamlessly together. Not a new discovery at all and present in so many ways through art history. Just one example, the sfumato of High Renaissance and Baroque times allowed the artist to spotlight attention easily onto select subjects by allowing edges of objects to fade away unnoticeably into the simplified darkness of background. More and more I do notice that this contrast of the general to the specific is necessary and desirable in a picture, and can lead to some sense of realness at least akin to what is experienced in life.

4" x 4" acrylic collage painting on paper, external paper size 5" x 5", now listed on Etsy.