I love the media of pastel – for the rich color and soft shapes that can be depicted. Autumn is a great time to be inspired by the natural landscape, to find images particularly suited to pastels:
Those people familiar with my work probably correctly guessed that the images above are not pastel works but rather are abstract photos that I took and created, with the intent of using them as reference images for future pastel paintings.
In August of 2012 I started a small series of large canvases. This series of abstract paintings were all done on 91 by 121 cm (3 x 4 feet) canvasses. I used generous amounts of gel with the acrylic paints for think, juicy textures. The color palette was restricted to the primaries, plus black and white.
In this part 2, I share more mountain paintings, a few more from the Banff region with a couple more based on reference photos from when I cycled the “Golden Triangle” in May of 2010.
Living in the Canadian province of Alberta, the Rocky mountains have always been nearby and not an infrequent subject for my art (although not nearly as much as I would like). In this 2-part blog post I will share my take on mountains as subjects for landscape paintings.
All of the works in this “Part 1” were painted in August 2009 when I spent a week at the Banff Centre.
This small series from the autumn of 2012 was an exploration of mark making into the wet surface of an oil-painted canvas:
In my previous blog post I shared a series of my landscape paintings of scenes from Canada’s west coast. Again, these were painted around 1992, in fact these paintings were intermingled with the more open coastal scenes done during the same period.
In around 1992 after visits to Canada’s west coast (particularly the Gulf Islands), I produced, perhaps my favorite series of paintings. This collection featured trees(and/or driftwood), shorelines and often active skies. My works at this time may show signs of influence from the paintings of Emily Carr.
This painting series was a bit unique for me. It had a common theme in terms of the subject matter – all of the images were drawn from what I saw (and captured with photos) during the night while on a train between Edmonton and Vancouver in November of 2007. What was unique for me was the use of oil pastel on a number of the works, and oil paint on a couple of larger ones.
In the early 1990’s I did a series of paintings of the Riverdale community, in Edmonton’s river valley.
One of the most distinguishing features of the community at the time was the large, undeveloped tract of land that belonged to the historic Little Brick factory, By the end of the decade those fields would be redeveloped to look like suburbia, but at the time it lent a rural charm to this area, just a kilometer from downtown.
A decade and half later I would revisit this series with a few more paintings of the community:
The 24th (final) piece in this series was completed in July 2007, about 8 months after the start. About half of the series formed a solo exhibition at the Gallery at Milner (Library in Edmonton) in November of 2009.
In this blog post, I present the middle third (pieces 9 – 16) of my 2006/7 Earth Light Tapestries series of abstract paintings. (The first 8 pieces are shown in Part 1 of this blog post)
The final group of paintings from this series can be seen in part 3 of this blog post.
The non-representational (abstract) painting series which I called “Earth Light Tapestries was my largest and most deliberate series. I began the series in late 2006 and finished in early 2007. A dozen pieces from this series were exhibited in a solo show at the Milner Library in Edmonton in November of 2009.
From the start, I set out with the goal to paint 24 pieces, each which would be 24 by 24 inches (61 x 61 cm) in size. I used acrylic paints with the intent to be experimental with textures and additives. The “earth” in the series title refers to the “earth” pigments (ochres, umbers, sienna, etc.) that dominated the colors through this series.
The pieces were just given numerical titles (in roman numerals) corresponding to the order in which they were created.
The “sand” reference in “IV” comes from the texture which was created by the mixing a fine sand into the paint and gel media.
The rest of the pieces in this painting series are presented in Parts 2 and 3 of this blog post series.
In my previous blog post I shared my Alberta landscape paintings from the particularly busy year of 2010. In this post, I share my landscape works from a couple years before and after that year.
(See the previous blog post for Alberta landscape paintings from the year 2010)
Although landscapes are a theme I have always painted, there are periods when they become a particular focus. In around 2010, I developed a new series of landscapes from my home province of Alberta. Most of these again depict the prairies and parkland that dominates the central region of the province. I was painting primarily with oils during this period and this series was painted in the studio.
In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the subject matter of my painting was primarily landscapes, and more specifically the prairies, parkland and foothills of central part of Alberta.
In Part 1, I shared some plein air paintings I made during a 3 week stay in a small village in the Auvergne region of central France. I was captivated by the area and it continued to be an influence on my painting for years. Not only did I paint while there but I also sketched and took many photos. These references and my memories inspired these paintings:
There are a few other paintings I have done of rural France that I count in this series, although I can’t be sure the scenes are from my 1984 visit to Auvergne or from another of my two trips to France during the eighties.
The creation of my first painting series (a group of works based on a common theme and style), was an important point for my artistic development. In August of 1984 I attended a “Painting in France” course put on by Paul Deggan (in conjunction with Capilano College in Vancouver). I and three other students stayed at Deggan’s home / art studio in the small, medieval village of Montaigut-le-Blanc in central France (the Auvergne region). For three weeks (after a week in Paris) we explored and painted this picturesque village (with it’s old chateau, a church and village walls) and surrounding rural areas.
The paintings in Part 1 of this series blog post are works that were painted “en plein air”, right there looking directly at the scene.
A number of other paintings were created as part of this series but they were done after the trip, back in the studio, from sketches and reference photos. These other paintings are featured in part 2 of this blog.
In 2009, I painted a series inspired by a train trip from Toronto to Edmonton in December of 2008. The first day and a half of the trip covered southern and northern (northwest) Ontario (actually not very far north in terms of Canada’s geography but feeling very far removed compared to the Toronto region). I took many photos of the rugged terrain of the Canadian Shield to use as reference images for paintings. As a series this is one of my personal favorites. Here are the key works:
“Evening from the Canadian”, oil on canvas, 61 by 122 cm (24×48″), 2009
I am participating again in the Twitter Art Exhibit. I mailed my postcard-sized painting today. It should comfortably get to New York by the March 11 deadline.
Here’s an image of my piece, entitled “Restless”:
This, the sixth, Twitter Art Exhibit runs March 31 to April 21 (2016) at the Trygve Lie Gallery in New York City.
Like all of the preceding Twitter art exhibitions, the works are donated by artists from around the world and sold, with proceeds going to charity. There is no theme for the exhibit (the only thread connecting the exhibit is that all of the artists are on Twitter), so the range of works is mind boggling. To get a feel for the diversity, look inside the book featuring the works from the 2014 Twitter Art Exhibit that was held in Orlando.
The first Twitter Art Exhibit was held in 2010 in Moss, Norway, the hometown of founder David Sandum (@DavidSandumArt), after he called upon his many international artist friends on Twitter. The rest as they say is history.
My Twitter handle is: @RandallTT
Do you ever find yourself wanting to ( perhaps even needing to) do something different with your painting – but are feeling blocked, just unable to get started? One solution may be as near as your smartphone.
Specifically I am suggesting that you use some common photo apps with built-in transformative filters. Take a standard image and then apply a filter or six to see what happens. I’m not suggesting just painting the transformed photo but you might start off that way and once you creative juices are flowing, use that first painting as a jumping off point for a second.
These are some variations I came up with using the Cameraringo app on my Android device:
To me each of these variations suggests a different approach/media/color palette that I could use, and once applied to one image I’d likely carry the idea across to a little series.
Incidentally, here is the original image that spawned the five variations shown above:
A year ago I was packing up the studio that I’d called “my space” for 16 months. It was hard. I came to the reluctant decision that I had to move out of lovely studio space.
It was May of 2014 when I noticed a sign on the outside of a historic (over a century old) building in downtown Edmonton, a comfortable half hour walk from my home.
Studios were located on the 3rd and 4th floors, in a variety of sizes. I was able to get a very generous space of over 400 square feet. That amount of space was very beneficial to me. Of course it meant that I didn’t have to clean up after every creative session, packing away wet materials and works in progress. It meant that I could set up separate work spaces for my two main painting medias: oil and acrylic.
The space gave me room to get, and keep, organized. A set of shelves, behind my work table and next to an easel were dedicated to my acrylic paints and media.
A similar set-up of shelves, table and easel on the other side of the room was dedicated to oils:
The space allowed me to work larger than I had been. Canvases of 3 by 4 feet (90 by 120 cm) became my standard and I assembled some even larger stretchers (but never did get around to putting canvas on them).
Even with the two work spaces, I still had lots of floor space to use when I needed to paint on the floor, to build stretchers or for varnishing.
In the end it was time to retreat to a much smaller home studio, disassembling shelves and stretchers and hauling out many carloads of supplies and many mostly-completed paintings
And in the end that highly creative space reverts to just a space.
A year later I can see ever so clearer how important that space was. Although I do have some space at home that I am re-converting into a working studio, progress has been very slow. I didn’t paint at all for half a year. Finally I cleared out a little space and created 3 works. Now I am back into re-organizing mode that will hopefully give me room for a couple of easels and two distinct little work areas (one for acrylics and one for oils, with a third, a small table for pastel work).
The other important function of that studio space was storage. I had lots of space for materials – for stretcher bars and canvas rolls, for primed canvases and boards, for paintings in various states of progress, completed works awaiting varnish and framing and exhibition-ready pieces. Now I have all these things stored around my house in different rooms, paintings stacked up, eight deep, against walls and bookshelves. My ultimate goal is to make my studio space just a working space – the storage issue is a whole other problem that I will have to address. I suppose someday it will all come together …
It was a beautiful sunny morning after a couple of cooler days. It was also my last opportunity to gather some plein air images for printing. What type of landscape I wanted to capture, I wasn’t sure, but I was confident I’d know it when I saw it.
Perhaps a receding fenceline? Or a grassy field backed by the forest: Maybe a bending path: Or a little creek There’s a tree with some character worth capturing: Maybe some wild flowers? A path through the shaded woods? Ah finally, this is it: A colorful edge of a field with some attractive curving lines. I walked up and down the bit of trail overlooking this scene. There was no great place to sit so I chose a spot in the grass at the side of the trail. I got out my watercolor paint sticks and yupo sheet and sat down. But, What’s that … an ant? No not AN ant, hundreds of them. The ground was swarming with them. They were soon all over the supplies that I had set down on the ground and before I knew it they were also crawling over me! I picked up my stuff and frantically started brushing off the ants as I got the heck out of there. My initial thought was to move along and find a nearby place to try again – but I was spooked! I ended up deciding to just collect some photos for future reference and head back to the (safety and comfort of the) studio.
It has become quite common (an pretty much acceptable) for artists to paint from photographic references rather than from a model in the studio or from a landscape “en plein air”. But do photographs have any value to an “abstract” painter? Well, for me they certainly do. One of my favorite forms of photography is abstractions, especially those that push to the edge of non-representational-ism. Through the use of camera-motion and long exposures, with a bit of post-processing to enhance colors and contrast (and some cropping), I regularly come of with images that I will use to inspire my paintings. Here are some recent examples (all are photographs) that I can’t help thinking would make dramatic largish paintings on canvases/boards/paper in acrylic, oil or pastel.
My painting are yet to come out of any of these images and I’m not sure how related the final work might appear in comparison to these references but some day I shall tackle them.