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.


Artist’s Notebook for July 11th

Digital drawing of campus architecture, Hamilton (Ont).
Digital drawing of campus architecture, Hamilton (Ont).


My focus for the past week has been a proposal for a commission job.  I can’t really go into details but if successful would be a really positive development.

The proposal pushed me to get my CV updated.  I also created a dedicated artist’s website.  The site is a WordPress product and I used a free theme to get things started.  In the past few months, I have been looking at different artist’s sites for inspiration.  I would like something more polish up and running before I start showing at group shows.

Otherwise, I am continuing to work on my campus building iPad Pro project.   This project is meant to work out the bugs of using digital created images oppose to more traditional drawing on paper.

Related to the working in digital, I am considering creating a work for submission for a digital competition for floral images.  This contest would allow me to judge my efforts against others with more experience with floral painting.

All this digital painting stuff is related to my discovery of David Hockney efforts with digital tools and the creation of digital paintings worthy of being show in galleries.

I will keep you posted on how things work out.  Thanks for dropping by.



Artist’s Notebook – Developing an Artists Statement

Developing an Artist Statement

Why – Urban buildings and Landscapes?

Buildings and the land that surrounds them reflects our collective values and priorities.

When I first started painting, I was very focused on portraits and figures, trying to capture the essences of the subject.  I found it amazing that 500 years later, you could gaze into someone’s eyes and get a sense of their personality and character.  However, portraiture is conflicted by biases and deceptions created by the sitter, the artist, and the audience. Each player trying to control the message that the portrait is trying to convey. There is also the additional challenge of why would collector want to hang some stranger on their wall.


from life portrait
from life portrait

Unable to resolve these problems of the individual, I shifted my focus to tree portraits.  Viewing trees as a sort of collective representative of the community that surrounds them.

In urban settings, the placement and continued survival of trees is not accidental.  There is too much competition over land use to let this happen.

Winston Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont).
Winston Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont).


Winston Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont).
Winston Churchill Park, Hamilton (Ont).

The presence a tree or a group of trees is a visual statement by the community.

In effect, tree portraits became a proxy for a human portrait.  It is hard to hide your values behind a huge tree living in a middle of a park such as the large tree that used to grow in the middle of Churchill Park in the west end of Hamilton, Ontario.

For nearly two years, this large and imposing tree became the focus of my artistic, from life, efforts.

In the 1920s, the land was set aside for further development of residential homes.  However, the Great Depression brought these plans to a halt.  Over time, the land came into control of the city and was made into an urban park.

The name of the park reflected the post-war character of the surrounding neighborhood, British and fading colonial empire might.

Within the last 10 years, the great tree was lost to a winter snow.  The lawn bowling club that used to be busy with bowlers dressed in summer whites is now closed.

Churchill Park Tree (2004)
Churchill Park Tree (2004)
Churchill Park, same view (2016).
Churchill Park, same view (2016).










The community is now much more diverse and the edge of the forest that surrounds one side of the park is now protected by a wild grass transition zone.

From managed stateliness to managed wildness.

Trees introduced me to the concept that to understand people, it is sometimes better to look at their handiwork rather than their faces.

Now, I have shifted my focus to buildings and the lands that surround these structures for clues about what we really value in life.