painting and photographic works

Archive for February, 2011

Winter Barks (part 1)

With the wrong mindset one could think that there is little to see or photograph in a winter landscape – snow covers just about everything, the trees are bare except the evergreens which seem to be so dark and have little “green”  However, when I slow down and look around, as I recently did while hiking the trails in Edmonton’s river valley, I see wonderful colors and patterns such as these, on the trunk of trees:


Birch Bark

Blue Lichen

A Touch of Yellow


Stripped of Bark

Watch for a continuation of my observations and photos in Part 2.

Funny How the (my) Brain Works

First impressions – what do you see?

I took this photo but when I looked at this image I must say I was baffled. My first impression was it was the face of some creature from a fantasy movie (or out of a nightmare).

Part of the reason this image looks the way it does is because I took the photo with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone, using the Salvador 84 “lens”.  That lens applies a certain mirror imaging effect to create a a “Dali-ish” surrealism.

However the my biggest block to perceiving the reality behind this image was just that I had turned it 90 degrees.

This is what the original image looked like (just turning the top image back 90 degrees clockwise) :









Pretty obvious now eh?

Is it just me (and my brain) or did you too have trouble perceiving the top image but easily make sense of the bottom one?


Here is an non-representational painting I completed in January 2010:

Disconnected, acrylic on hardboard, 71 by 61 cm (28″ x 24″)

I created this on a black-gessoed hardboard panel. It involved the application of numerous layers of acrylic paints applied with a palette knife. I also used a squeegee to apply and spread the paint.  To give a rough texture and hazy effect I added fine sand to clear gel and spread it over sections.

Friday Night Frights

Something a little different today. I have continued with my experiment from yesterday – of using a very slow (1 second) shutter speed and “painting” with light.

What I found on my camera  tonight were a number of images that  I find a little bit disturbing – unsettling is perhaps a better word. Some  are colorful, playful and interesting but somehow they seem like something out of a bad dream – Welcome to my nightmare…

Twilight Cascade

Take the Bridge

The Tangle in the Night

Light Storm

Bad Dream

How do these images make you feel? What quality (or lack thereof) do you think accounts for the feeling?


In Motion

I had a lot of fun playing around with the camera today. Whereas I have spent much of the winter working on low light photos by pushing the ISO setting as high as I could and trying to hold the camera as steady as possible, today I went the other way. It’s not the first time I’ve played around in this way , but I set the shutter speed to 1 second and  moved the camera around during the exposure – up and down , left and right, zoom in and out, or playful curves  – painting with light!

I like some of the images that resulted and plan to make a conscious effort to explore this approach. Here are five photos  from this evening (incidentally, a cold one with a temperature with windchill around -30C):

Light Drops

Horizon Lights



Painting the Evening Sky


Ice and Snow Abstracts

Five abstract photos from today with snow and ice playing an important role:

Abstract 110214-577

Treacherous Walk

Abstract 110214-595

Abstract 110214-592

Marks in the Snow

I like the idea of using abstracted photos as references for paintings. Which of these images do you think would make a compelling painting?

Winter Leaves its Mark

I was just thinking that I’ve taken some interesting  and varied abstract photos this week and most of them have something in common. That thing is  that all of these photos are of the winter snow or the snow after a melted and/or re-frozen:

Abstract in Blue and Yellow

Abstract 110210-365

Abstract 110210-386

Abstract 110210-389

Expressive Marks in the Snow

Abstract Sidewalk

Coming and Going – The Light of a February Day

Here are some photos that I took on a relatively cold February 8th in central Edmonton. The first 4 pictures feature the morning sun and the last 3 show artificial lights at the end of the day:

Sunrise Over the 'Dale

Morning Sun

Cold but Bright Monring Skyline

Reflected Sun Silhouette

Dance of Light 2

Alley Light

Window Glow

See more of my photos at my website and on my Flickr Photostream

Broken but Standing

In an earlier post I described the steps I took in going from a photo to a painting. I saw things in that first “study” that I wanted to improve and this is the result of a second attempt:

Broken but Standing, oil on canvas, 41 by 51 cm (16"x20") by Randall Talbot

My original intent was to do at least a couple of these smaller studies before painting a larger final version. I still may do that but first I want to study this one for awhile to decide what I like and what I would want to improve.


Incidentally, for those who might be interested, this is what my palette looked like by the time I finished this painting:

the palette

My palette is a sheet of glass under which I’ve placed a sheet of  neutral gray paper and on the right I’ve placed a 9-point value scale as a reference.

“Portrait of an Artist” – audiobook review

I recently finished listening to the audio version of  Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe by Laurie Lisle. What did I think of it? In two words: Very Good.

I must confess I knew very little about Georgia O’Keeffe before this book. I knew she was an American painter one of the giants of the 20th century. I was vaguely familiar with with her large flower paintings and works depicting bones. I also knew of her connection to New Mexico – that was about it. For some reason, these iconic images never clicked with me, never drove me to learn more about O’Keeffe.

Portrait of an Artist is a comprehensive biography laying out the story of Georgia’s parents before she was born and continuing right through O’Keeffe’s long life to the age of 98. From her childhood , through her schooling to her time as a teacher, the story is told and provides an understanding of this unique, strong, independent character. As is appropriate, large part of the story focuses upon her professional  painting years and her time and relationship with photographer, promoter and husband, Alfred Steiglitz.

It is a fascinating story and Lisle tells it in an entertaining way. The book was published in 1980 and the audio version released in 1995 but it is timeless. The book’s narrator Grace Conlin does a very good job of reading the story so as to hold the listener’s attention. There were a few minor errors  that I noticed in the reading but in a 13 hour and 42 minute book, they were really inconsequential.

This was one of those books that made me sad when it came to the end, but my education about O’Keeffe has only begun. My appetite has been whetted and now I must see images of the works which the biography talked about. In fact, I have ordered and I am anxiously awaiting the delivery of a printed  book  that will have images of many of O’Keeffe’s paintings. I am especially looking forward to studying her landscape work.

In summary – a very good book and audio version. I highly recommend it.

7 Favorite Photos

Here are seven of my favorite photos taken in the last week – the end of January into the first few days of February. Over these days the weather in Edmonton has changed from wind chills below -30C to mild sunny days with temperatures of +5. On the cold days I had no choice but to take photos with my Nikon DSLR but on the warm days I was able to break out (and most importantly operate it with my bare hands) my iPhone.

Cold and Busy

China Gate Lion

Blue Shakes

Golden Horizon


Puddles in the Alley

Light Arc