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Update – May 2017

Art of the Plant


In 2018, there will be a national jury show of botanical paintings at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

My goal is to get a piece in accepted by the jury and displayed at this event.  The challenge is to find something that is artistically different, but still acceptable to the strict conventions of botanical art.

While I accept the need for the focus of the work to be on the plant, and that the plant needs to be accurately rendered in terms of scale, physical structure, and colour so that the audience can tell one plant from another; I reject the notion that backgrounds need to be white and the plant isolated from any other details.

I believe that plant lives within a dynamic environment that gives meaning their form and function.  So, while some plants thrive, others are endangered. Particularly, when plants come into contact with urban development.

This clash between nature and man allows me to explore my other interests of urban landscapes and architecture.

I am inspired by the works of Martin Johnson Heade, Margaret Mee, and Marianne North.  These are artists who make the world within which plants live relevant to their artwork.

Unfortunately, I am not confident that the botanical societies will provide me the space to create work that will be shown in their exhibitions.

Without their support, I feel it will be very challenging to get acceptance by more traditional artist galleries.  Traditional landscapes and still life paintings is not my goal.  I want to create something that is contemporary and exploring the issues of today.

The submission deadline is January 2018, so in the meantime, I need develop my approach and painting skills to the point where I can accurately render native plants in oils.

Lack of Posts

20170319_200929.jpgThank you for dropping by!  It has been almost a year since my last post. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for both art and blog posts.  With the start of a new year, I hope to post more consistently, but less frequently.

Over the past 9 months I have been very busy with art projects:

1. Successfully created a digital sketch for the first ever online exhibit of botanical art that was staged by the Botanical Artists of Canada.  This work built on my summer efforts to use my iPad for drawings. This work also represented the start of new series of projects that explore themes of plants and architecture.

2. Successfully completed a project proposal that was submitted almost at the last minute.  While the proposal was not accepted, it showed me new possibilities for the future.

3. Worked hard to create and complete a piece for VAM39. Unfortunately, I was unable to make the deadline, but look forward to next year’s juried competition.

4.  Successfully cleaned and reorganized my studio.  While this may not sound like much, it represented 2 months of effort and many trips to the dump.  With this studio house-cleaning project done, I will be better able to create larger works of art in the future.

5. Finally, on short notice, I created a piece for a person who was retiring.  While the work could have used more time, the fact that I was able to successfully compete the project within a month is a major achievement.

That brings things up to date.

For the future, you can expect posts about once per month

Again, thanks for dropping by.


Good Piece by Russell Smith of the Globe and Mail


Nice piece about how public space is being re-shaped by digital and corporate influences.

Art Post 72

Art Post 71 – from life sketches

Art Post 70

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.





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