Sunday, November 09, 2014

My Hated Book Covers

About twenty years ago I illustrated the covers and interiors for a young readers book series about a talking detective basset hound named Wordsworth. Only well after the series was in print did the editor tell me author Todd Stasser hated my work. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

All the originals, done in acrylic airbrush colour on watercolour paper, are long gone. But I did have enough forsight to make colour copies at the time. Here are five of the six covers from my hated book cover series...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

This Year's Plein Air Paintings - July Trip

I just got back from what's become an annual July sojourn for myself and a small group of artist friends: our annual July plein air painting trip to Whitefish Falls ON, in the LaCloche Mountains north of Manitoulin Island. We had fabulous weather and I got right to it - beginning with this block-in of the cabin that sits across the island from the one we stay in.


I let this one dry for a few days before coming back to it. Meanwhile I made my second attempt in as many years at this driftwood log, which I discovered a few years ago on a rocky little peninsula just beyond our island. My first stab at this piece was a disaster and I ended up painting it over.


This time I think I did a bit better, but it's still not quite a success. Maybe next year I'll try again...

Next day I blocked in my 3rd painting of the week; a new challenge for me: attempting to capture the transparency of water and what lies beneath it's surface.


This ended up being my most successful painting of the week, I think. I'd managed to get the transparency to my satisfaction and was prepared to stop there... but our instructor, Richard Edwards, came by and pointed out that the real challenge would be capturing not just the transparency, but also the reflection on the surface of the water that obscures some of the transparency.


It took some nerve to paint in the cloud reflections. As I brought the brush down to begin covering some of the sunken logs and stones, I thought, "This is where you ruin this painting." But ultimately, it was an important step forward and I'm happy I took it. Progress!

Every year during our painting week we take a day trip to the foot of nearby Willisville Mountain. This year I ventured up the back trail that leads through a lush forest and eventually to the top of the mountain. My goal was to paint the sun-spangled forest floor of the trail - another new challenge for me - in the past I'd avoided scenes like this, too daunted at the thought of organizing all those tree trunks into a viable composition.


The solitude of my location was both resplendent and a little unnerving. There are bears in these woods and the whole time I was there, I kept waiting for the sound of heavy breathing over my shoulder. I smashed this piece out in about two hours and packed up double-quick.


Next time I want to paint a forest scene, I think I'll find a nice spot near home. The only bears we get in the city are on Kraft peanut butter jars!

The last day on the island, I revisited my cabin painting block-in from early in the week. Here's how it turned out after a few hour's work.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Some Classic Gouache Pin-Up Paintings

A few years ago I got very interested in 1950s pin-up art. One of the best illustrators working in that genre was Mike Ludlow, who painted the 1957 Esquire magazine pin-up calendar. Here's a page from that year...


I studied Ludlow's painting technique and then gave it a try myself. Gouache is a tough medium but also a lot of fun. Here's the result of my first effort...


I'm hoping to get back to doing some more of these -- check back soon!

Monday, February 04, 2013

My Kawaii Paintings

A few years ago I became really interested in a type of cartooning called "kawaii" greeneyescat02.JPG This little green-eyed cat is my favourite, but I did a bunch of other paintings which you can see in a set on Flickr

Monday, January 14, 2013

Marshall the Magnificent!

Here's a little painting I did as a Christmas gift. It's our cat, Marshall, as a Luchador. MarshallMagnifico I did two of these paintings and they were so well received when I posted them on Facebook that people started commissioning me to do similar paintings of their cats!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Plein Air Paintings from the Summer of 2012

Once again this year a bunch of us artist friends went up to Whitefish Falls, Ontario, in the heart of the LaCloche Mountains, to paint 'en plain air.' We stayed at on the island at Bayvilla Lodge... Cabin Nine ... which has so many lovely views of the surrounding landscape! The Island But sometimes you needn't look to the horizon for beauty... sometimes it's as close as the parking lot, which is where I sat one afternoon and painted this: BayvillaCabin Just down the road from the lodge is a wonderfully ramshackle old garage. On the Tuesday of that week I took all my gear down to a shady grove across the road from that building. Three hours later, I had this piece mostly done... FarquharsonsShack Backing up, on the Monday of our week in Whitefish Falls I started a painting of the bay inlet - a view from right outside our cabin on the little island... First Painting, Part 1 Above, sketching the scene in paint - below, laying in broad swathes of colour with a palette knife... First Painting, Part 2 ... and brush... First Painting, Part 3 After about 3 hours, I arrived at a satisfactory conclusion... well, not exactly "satisfactory." Although I wasn't unhappy with how I'd blocked in the scene, the full daylight look just wasn't working for me. So I turned this painting to the wall. First Painting, Part 4 That evening we enjoyed a most spectacular sunset. This is the scene I felt I really wanted to portray! I returned to this painting on our last day in Whitefish Falls and painted it over from the memory of that sunset. InletSunset One other painting came out of our week in Whitefish Falls; this "View to the Willisville Mountain," also as seen from just outside our cabin on the island - except turning to look more to the North. ViewToWillisvilleMountain Returning home to Hamilton, I still had the plein air painting bug. One spot I'd wanted to paint for a couple of years now is a farm at the corner of Puslinch Townline Rd and Victoria Rd. So one evening I drove out there and set up in the corner of the farmer's field. VictoriaRdPleinAir The following weekend I travelled back up north for my annual fishing trip with a great group of pals. I spent the Friday night at my buddy Mike's cottage, and that provided the perfect opportunity to do a little painting! PaintingtheSharmaShack Mike has done so much for me over the years that I was delighted to be able to present him with a small token of my appreciation: this painting of his cottage, which he seemed really pleased to receive. SharmShack Travelling further on up north to the Oxtongue River, to our friend Wade's family cottage, where we have held the fishing derby for many years now, I spent about eight hours over two days painting in a little grove of pine and hemlock trees. This view of the Lovell family cottage is the result. WadesCottage And finally, upon returning home to Hamilton once more, I painted this view of a storm sewer - that's right, a storm sewer. It's in a tiny, forgotten meadow near here... so jarring to see it in the middle of such a beautiful, natural environment... I've wanted to paint it since last year. Last Tuesday I did! MeadowStormSewer Today (Saturday August 11th) I'll be bringing these paintings and quite a few others I painted last summer to the Locke St. Art Market, 211 Locke Street South, Hamilton, Ontario If you're in the area and have some time, please drop by and say hello!

Friday, March 09, 2012

A New SiRobot Painting

Here's a little digital painting I did a couple of weeks ago based on Simon's robot character design.

 I did this in about two hours in Corel Painter. Hope you like it!