Artist’s Notebook – Creating a Website

Artist’s Notebook – setting up a website

Fat Cats and Starving Dogs is a personal website; the goal is not to sell art but to explain what it takes to make art. However, I now need an artist’s website.

For the past year and a half, I have been struggling to master oil painting techniques and to find a voice in the field of contemporary urban landscape painting. Furthermore, I have also been struggling to find time to create a consistent body of work that I can present to galleries and collectors.

While these efforts continue to challenge me, I now need an artist’s website that can place my new creations within a larger context of art-making.

So, as I create my individual works, I need a place where galleries and collector can visit and understand what I have to offer them.

As I have mentioned before, I originally started off as a portrait and figure painter. However, the challenges of post-modern identity and perspective caused me to shift focus to tree portraitures. It was my way of examining people’s character and personality via the landscapes they create for themselves.

Today, my focus is on architecture and urban landscapes. In a way, I am still continuing the themes of my earlier efforts.

By creating a portfolio that highlights my tree portraits, maybe I can bridge this pre-2006 period with what I am creating today.

Artist’s Notebook – iPads, Computers, and Painting

Artist’s Notebook – iPads, Computers, and Painting

Using technology to help create and shape your paintings always seemed as a bit of cheating. Even the Use of reference photos seemed a bit iffy.  However, I came of age when this technology was just entering the painting world.  Today, young artists take technology as a given and seem to use it freely if they believe it advances their art.

I say all this because of my recent re-connection with David Hockney.

Hockney is one of my artistic hero’s for his use of: realism, colour, and perspective. To have the career that he has had and still be relevant is amazing.

The Pace gallery just had a show (Apr 29 to Jun 18) featuring David Hockney’s iPad drawings of the Yosemite Park in California.

These iPad creations are just amazing, given my recent purchase of an iPad Pro, I was curious on how Hockney was incorporating this technology into his art-making process.  The Pace Gallery show then lead me to the artist personal website and his videos of his large scale painting made from life.

What I really from interesting was his use of Photoshop to mock-up his large scale painting that were executed on site.  In his art-making, Hockney seemed to bounce back and forth, between on location to re-working the composition in Photoshop back in the studio.

This got me thinking about re-working one of my old, unfinished, “from life” paintings.  The Ghost Tree is a 2006 painting that marked of my tree series.

Ghost Tree, Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont).
Ghost Tree Painting (from life – May-June 2006), Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont).

In the 10 years since this painting was first started, the grand old tree was lost to a winter storm.  So, with David Hockney as an example, I wondered if I could incorporate, from life sketching, Photoshop compositing, and re-working in oils of the old painting.

So, this past week, I took a bunch of reference photos of the site and then started a sketch of the current trees and landscape to deepen my knowledge and awareness of the landscape.

Ghost Tree Landscape, Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont). Photo taken on June 17th, 2016.
Ghost Tree Landscape, Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont). Photo taken on June 17th, 2016.


Sketch of Ghost Tree Landscape, Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont).  Photo taken on June 17th, 2016
Sketch of Ghost Tree Landscape, Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont). Photo taken on June 17th, 2016

Over the next few weeks, I will experiment with this new art-making process to see how much value I can gain from the experience.

I will keep you posted on the results.




Artist’s Notebook – Hamilton’s Red Hot Housing Market

Artist’s Notebook – The red hot housing market

North-West Hamilton, Ont.
North-West Hamilton, Ont.


With prices skyrocketing in Toronto, more and more people are following the lead of artists and heading to Hamilton.  Everywhere you look, old 19th century housing is being gutted and modernized.

Hamilton (Ont).
Hamilton (Ont).


Recently, I explored the urban landscape of North-West Hamilton, between York Blvd and Barton. On every street, people were fixing up homes.  The area is ideal for commuters with easy access to the 403 via King Street, York Blvd, and out east via Burlington Street and the Skyway Bridge.

Hamilton (Ont).
Hamilton (Ont).


Most of the large was once part of Allan MacNab’s estate or part of his railway empire of the 1850s and 1860s.  The land north of Barton was part of his vast railway yards, repairs shops, and shipping docks.

19th century Worker Housing, Hamilton (Ont).
19th century Worker Housing, Hamilton (Ont).

Given the need for hundreds of workers, MacNab sold the land to his workers for housing that was only a short walk from work.

My hope with all the commuters is that they will see the hidden value in Hamilton’s former industrial landscape.  The signs are encouraging if you look at all the renovations going on in the city.

Artist’s Notebook – Exploring Westinghouse Site

Artist’s Notebook: 06 June 2016

shadow selfie

One of my major activities is exploring the city for reference material for future compositions.  On these visits, I try and frame shots to see if something might click.

MIP Main Entrance

For example, visiting the former remains of the 1912 Westinghouse foundry on Longwood, I am was curious about the potential for urban decay industrial landscapes.


The abandon buildings have provided countless images for landscape photographers over the past twenty years.

Abandon Building

I am also interested in finding subject matter for compositions that might be submitted to the MIP art shows.  If I can find an appropriate urban theme derived from the site, I may submit that composition for the fall show.