Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hoar Frost

Here is my attempt at portraying hoar frost, which we have a wonderful abundance of currently. Hopefully I can get outside this weekend and try painting from life, if its not to cold!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bright Morning

I had the chance to paint outdoors the other day when the temperature was hovering around minus 5 Celcius in Wellington Park.  While down there I spotted what I think was a Sand Piper and a male and female Mallard duck. I think these birds missed the last plane south and hope they can manage through the winter, which hasn't got very cold yet.  I'm considering taking some bread crumbs and such down there to hopefully help them out as they seem to be moving a lot more slowly than usual.

Monday, December 3, 2012


This painting had its beginnings as a collaboration with my painting buddy Dean Bauche at a retreat on Bonnie McNabbs ranch north of the Battlefords last winter.  In the beginning it was pretty grey, which I wanted to explore, but after getting it back from Dean I decided to add some colour.  My morning walks in the frost covered landscape figured prominently in the painting.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

First Snow

 I'm having an enormous amount of fun with this particular painting.  It has undergone a number of rather drastic changes over the last couple of weeks and there is getting to be quite a build up of oil paint on the board, which is cool with me.  I am calling it First Snow cause it seems to fit (for now). If I have any regrets at this point it would be that I didn't paint it on a 6 foot wide canvas.  Suppose I could call this a study for a larger painting?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Washerwoman on the Rio Bonito

Its almost been three years now since I went to Honduras to do volunteer work for victims of Hurricane Mitch and I am still feeling the effects of my time down there.  I do know that I came back to Canada with a very different perspective on life in general.  My mother often says "Get off of Grumble corner and onto Thanksgiving Street" and that would be a good way of summing up the overall experience.  We have so much to be thankful for here in Canada, but I also feel that I am thankful for witnessing first hand how what we view as poverty can be a blessing in some ways. What I saw was that the less you have the less complicated your life was and the possibility of happiness was greater. Bare in mind that I am seeing this from the other side of the fence; someone who maybe only eats once a day or maybe even every second day might see things differently. Its a complicated thing to express properly, suffice it to say that stuff doesn't bring you happiness, relationships do. Seeing those wonderful Honduran people washing their clothes in the Rio Bonito surrounded by family laughing and playing really makes you think about things in a different light. This painting has been in my mind for practically three years and finally made it the surface last week and quite accurately expresses my sentiments.  It is currently in Winnipeg for a two day show called The Lives of Women being held at the Arlington Gallery on 618 Arlington Street.  The show happens from November 24-25th between 12 to 6 pm.  If you are from Winnipeg please make a point of visiting, I am sure it will be a great experience.  Proceeds from the show will be going to the Womens Crisis Centre in Osborne Village.  I am happy to be part of it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Yellow House (or The Road Home)

I've spoken on other occasions about the difficulty of titling paintings, and this one is no exception.  I like "The Yellow House" although it does speak for itself.  The title "The Road Home also has some appeal as I have walked it on numerous occasions back and forth to our annual Art Retreat in Shellmouth, Mb.  What do you think? I am considering using it for the show piece at an upcoming exhibit at the Shurniak Gallery in Assinaboi, SK.

Monday, November 19, 2012

New en Plien Air

I had a rare opportunity to paint outdoors the other day. The weather was great and it was so beautiful with a heavy coating of hoar frost.  I set myself up beside Wellington Creek and painted to my hearts delight. Hope I have more days like that!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Seeing Red

An experiment using Red paint and found objects around my studio and yard.  Thinking of Matisse.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Autumn Still Life

This painting includes found objects from around my yard and neighborhood which I then set up in a south facing window of my studio to paint.  I enjoy painting from life, reminds me to be humble.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The last Hurrah

I've posted numerous paintings that had their beginnings by my looking out my studio window, and this is another one.  Painted just before the cold weather set in and the wind blew all the leaves away, it also celebrates my continued interest in the Canadian Group of Seven, in particular Tom Thompson.  Hope you like it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A point of View

This painting underwent 2 cuts before I was satisfied with it.  Sometimes I go back to the site of the painting and re-work the piece. I like to do this as it connects me in a special way with the land I'm standing on.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tribute to Tom

 I have the highest regard for the Canadian painter Tom Thompson. His paintings inspire me to try harder to succeed at my quest to paint well.  This painting had its genesis in the landscape around Manitou Beach, SK.  I haven't had much time to paint outdoors lately, work gets in the way but I try my best!  Hope you enjoy, and for my European and other worldly readers please Google Tom Thompson and have a look at what he accomplished in his short life, you won't be sorry.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Colours of Autumn

This painting is loosely based on a previously posted image.  It was largely painted with a 12 inch wide drywall tool and finished up with progressively smaller tools.  I had great fun with it and I'm looking forward to doing more with this type of paint application.  Currently I'm looking for a supplier of Oil paint that can sell me quantities in quart and gallon sizes as this technique can really burn up the paint! The German painter Gerhard Richter had a hand in this, my hat is off to him.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

On Fire for You

I found myself wondering this morning if there is any noise on the sun as it generates all the tremendous energy that gives life, or is there utter silence.  Silence is interesting me a lot lately. In my studio I usually have music playing or often when I am painting outdoors I will have the iPod playing my favourite tunes but lately I been opting for silence.  I am trying to function in silence, including quieting my sometimes rather active brain.  You know, we all struggle with a noisy mind and isn't it wonderful when we can silence that static and be at peace with ourselves.  Painting in this kind of silence is very meditative for me, I like the results, which often surprise me. I offer the painting above, which I have titled "On fire for You", as a homage to the Sun.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Silence

The Pond
After quite a respite from plein air painting I finally had a bit of time to get outdoors to paint a few days ago and this is the result.  The scene is a small pond at the head of Wellington Park, here at Manitou Beach.  It was a lovely morning, quiet except for the sound of geese, pelicans and other birds on the move.  What is silence anyways?  It has been said that if a human can get out into the outdoors on a regular basis, and I mean somewhere away from man made noise, their auditory sense expands exponentially. The silence of nature is quite noisy, but an enjoyable noise that has many different levels to it.  Consider how a prehistoric man would react to life in a big city, I am thinking he would go mad.  Unfortunately there are very few places left in the world that could be classified as truly silent.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shellmouth Group Shot

I came across this great shot of Shellmouth Artist Retreat gang.  Missing from the photo are Gerald Dressler and Miriam Koch.  Can you tell we all had a great time?  The paintings behind us were done by Mabel Mund.  Shortly after the photo was taken we were treated to a musical show that was performed by Jack and Sandra Hollenburg and Jessica Stacey and her group. I had the pleasure of pretending I was performing with Jack, maybe next year I can play some blues with him!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What is Art?

I recently came across a wonderful quote by a kindergarten student.  The teacher asked the kids on the first day of class "What is Art?"  Here is one of the responses.

"Art, oh that's when you make something beautiful out of paint or even recycled materials. Sometimes it looks like what's in your head and that's good. Sometimes it doesn't and then you change what's in your head. If it still doesn't look beautiful, you just take a deep breath."
Antonia, age 5

One of my favourite activities in the spring is going to the Mendel Gallery in Saskatoon, SK to view the K-12 Art display.  Although all of the Art is breathtaking I particularly am drawn to the K-3 children's work as it seems to embody all that is good about Art.  I think that many mature artists long to get back to the child in themselves when creating.  The painting above is a somewhat whimsical piece, I leave the definition up to the viewer!

Monday, September 3, 2012

After the Rain

This oil painting, which was painted at the 2012 retreat in Shellmouth, is titled "After the Rain". I don't think the photo does it real justice as the paint texture is quite pronounced in places. It was inspired by one of my many walks in and around the community of Manitou Beach. I had quite a bit of fun with it and think that it expresses my sentiments on that particular day.  Close friends commented that they saw elements of the late Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. Your comments are always welcome.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Something new from something Old

This painting, which I worked on at the 2012 Shellmouth art retreat, had its genesis as a painting completed at a 2005 retreat at the same location.  I am becoming a bit more brutal about what satisfies me in my paintings, if it no longer resonates with me then it is destroyed or in some cases whitewashed and reborn as another creation. The painting above speaks of a trip my wife, son and I made to southern Utah a few years back, camping and hiking in the sandstone landscapes with their amazingly beautiful shapes and textures.  The textures from the previous painting really came through nicely and complemented the new paint layers. I had a bit of fun with iridescent gold paint my buddy Dean Bauche lent me. As usual, photos cannot do justice to the painting.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Shellmouth 2012

I'm just nicely back from my annual journey to Shellmouth, Manitoba where my great friend Jan Layh hosts the annual Shellmouth Artists Retreat.  It was pointed out to me that this is my 12 session!  Geez, where does the time go?  Anyways, we all had a fantastic time.  There was much merriment, art making, cooking and eating, playing of guitars, banjoes, accordions (thanks for playing Jan).  I had the pleasure of painting beside my good friend Dean Bauche and wife Barb.  We always have such a good time together.  I credit the whole gang that attends this event with my growth as an artist.  It is no wonder that one of these retreats is never enough for us, we need additional fixes so we have organized other smaller events throughout the rest of the year.  It is a great family we have created.  This summer we mourn the loss of two member artists, Mabel Munds sister Joan and Miriam Koch's friend Mildred. May they gently rest. I had the good fortune to sell this 30 x 60 oil on the last day of the Retreat.  I barely had time to get acquainted with her.  The painting is titled "Song of Autumn". At least I know it is in a home that houses many of my other Retreat paintings and is loved for what it is.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Plein Air Partners

Frenchman River
I had company whilst painting this oil. My daughter Sacha and good friends Dean Bauche and Jan Layh all sat out in the glorious morning sun down by the Frenchman River and painted in our own manner.  This was the first time that Sacha painted out of doors with me and I think she did great.  The hills around Eastend, SK are so green due to large amount of rain they have been getting.  I am told by people who travel that this place reminds them of Ireland and Wales.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Art Forgery and Superstores

No, you won't find this painting at the worlds largest chain of superstores(no need to name names) unless of course this image is stolen by the notorious Chinese art fakers who have been known to supply said superstore and other home furnishing stores with many of their so called paintings, wittingly or not.  Literally thousands of Chinese are employed at Art Factories copying Old and New Masters from all over the world.  Southern China is the world's leading center for mass-produced works of art. One village of artists exports about five million paintings every year -- most of them copies of famous masterpieces. The fastest workers can paint up to 30 paintings a day, for pennies a day. Yes, you will find this original oil painting at my studio, keeping company with many others in the same vein. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Eastend 2012

Well, we've been back from the annual Eastend Retreat hosted by the Bauche's for over a week now. The painting above is a plein air painted at Brady's Ranch looking up at the hills surrounding the place.  It was a great day and a pleasure to be outside doing what I love best.  We all had a great time again, there was fantastic food, music performed by participating artists and collaborations on many paintings.  Can't say enough about the value of this Retreat, going to Eastend is like going home.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Going to Abstraction

A favourite theme, the former Blue Hotel in bygone days and later a brine shrimp processing plant.  Remember those Sea Monkey ads in comic books many years ago?  They came from good old Manitou Beach back in the day.  This is a pastel and charcoal piece over a heavy undercoat of marble dust and other stuff.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A semi abstract oil painting on masonite, undercoated with orange shellac.  A playful rendition of random thoughts bouncing around my skull.  It works for me. 
We are only 2 weeks away from our annual Spirit of Manitou Studio Trails tour.  Please drop by if you  are in the area, it promises to be a great event!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Somehow this painting explains where my head is at when I am in the "zone". It is a self portrait of me, don't ask me why or how, it just is. Does anyone see the family resemblance?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


This is an encaustic painting, 12 inches square, painted on a cradled wood panel.  Loosely based on a freight train speeding past my field of vision on an amazing prairie summer afternoon somewhere near Melfort Saskatchewan in the year 2010.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Painter

I rather enjoy exploring the scarier side of my psych on occasion, and usually what happens are paintings such as the one above.  The title is "The Painter" because that is the first thought that came to me when I considered giving it a title.  I am considering refraining from titling my paintings in the future, especially if I continue in this vein.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


The Deer missed these flowers, some Hyacinths I planted last fall.  I so enjoy watching nature unfold, the simplest things seem to sublimely beautiful and profound.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Deer Food

These are what is left of all the tulip bulbs I planted last fall, pretty much all the rest of them were chomped off at ground level by opportunistic deer that wander around the neighborhood looking for free handouts! I will persevere with planting flowers and vegetables, just because. I am learning a bit about the workings of nature living where I am, it just takes a keen eye and a handful of patience.  As my wife often reminds me, deer have to eat as well.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Layh Homestead

A few weeks back Crystal and I attended the Langenburg Adjudicated Art Show, their 18th, and had the pleasure again of staying at their lovely home near the edge of the Assinaboine valley.  Jan and Don have an amazing yard, I don't know how they find the time to keep it so perfect with their busy lives.  I found a bit of time to paint while I was there so I set myself up in one of the gardens and painted this view towards their house.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Windy day

What a windy day we are experiencing.  I loved the way the trees were bending over and wished to try my hand at expressing that movement.  Also, the colour of the water and the scudding clouds mesmerized me. Hope you like it! A glorious day.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Its Raining, its Pouring

Its terribly wet out and has been for a few days now. I have lots of work to do but its all outside so I'm in my studio trying to be productive and maybe learning something to boot.  This is an oil painting about water, one of my favourite subjects, and a leaf beginning its journey to who knows where.  After I was almost finished it for the day I realized it bore some resemblance to the American painter Larry Poons, whom I admire.  Funny what comes up through the sub-conscious at times.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mother Natures Son

Yesterday I intervened with Mother Nature with disastrous results. Sparrows had taken over our Purple Martin palace and weren't allowing the Martins to land and, since I'd built the house for the Martins, I decided to remove the nest and put it in a new birdhouse I'd built specifically for the sparrows.  Well, once the sparrows discovered the change they evicted their little chicks and threw them to the ground to die and made efforts to re take the palace.  I've been discouraging them by throwing rocks at them whenever I see them, I'm a little miffed at them for treating their young that way but  I suppose its my fault.  The Purple Martins have shown up again and are showing interest, we'll see how it all works out. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Water World

I haven't had much time to paint lately, life as a carpenter has to take precedence at this time of the year! Looking through some of my works on paper and I came across this watercolour painted a few years back, I rather like it as it expresses exactly my sentiments when I came across the scene.  And, since it is raining so heavily outside, the water theme is appropriate.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It might Rain

I sat in my back yard lounge chair and painted this watercolour a few days ago, actually before it really started greening up here at the beach. Shortly after I finished this one it started to rain.  How wonderful it is to sit and paint outdoors on a spring day.  Robins and sparrows, purple martins and goldfinches singing to their hearts content with the odd raven flying by with a sticky bun in its beak! I've lost count on how many paintings I've done from my yard.  I'm a lucky duck for sure to be living in such a sublime place.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

April Showers

Rain has been the order of the day lately.  Going for walks is a joy, the greening of the landscape is well on its way and the aroma of the poplars in bud can be intoxicating in a very good way.  Kinda hard painting pastels outside in the rain so I painted this from my window in the studio, something I've done quite a bit of.  I witnessed a funny event while painting, a Raven and a Magpie were getting into it over something and the next thing I see is the Raven flying off with a large cinnamon bun in its beak! He handled it quite easily and after stashing it somewhere was back in five minutes to scrounge for another one.  Love those birds and their choice of snacks.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Something out my window Version 2

Every one in awhile I get an urge to paint out of the comfort zone and more likely than not paintings such as the one above appear.  I actually really enjoy painting these as they allow me to use what ever technical abilities I have garnered over the years combined with a rampant imagination and playfulness.  The paintings give me the same wonder I feel when gazing at summer clouds, always changing and open to interpretation.  This piece is painted on a 12 inch square piece of masonite prepped with acrylic modelling paste and shellac.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

April showers bring May flowers

Who doesn't love Petunias?  Their cheerful and floppy blossoms remind me of a bunch of Ukrainian Babas all dressed up in traditional clothing sitting around a kitchen table laughing and singing as they make perogies for a big family wedding.  (How is that for imagination?) I came across this watercolour painting yesterday as I was rummaging through my stock of papers for something to paint on.  It had a bright yellowish/green background that I found unsettling so I decided that I had nothing to lose by painting over it with black.  As some of you may know, yellow and black mixed together makes an interesting green by varying the intensity of either. Tom Thompson painted some lovely wild flower paintings using a blackish background to good effect. I am really looking forward to planting pots of Peturnias this spring so I have something to look at and paint.  I'll just have to have them somewhere where the deer can't get at them!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Feeling Blue

Those that know me comment on my use of the colour Purple.  I don't deny that I love the nuances of purple but I do use other colours on occasion, one of them being Blue.  Of course when you mix blue with red, guess what, you get Purple. This painting is predominantly blue and explores a building here at the beach that I am fascinated with called the Blue Hotel.  It is commonly known locally as the shrimp plant but is now abandoned and falling into disrepair.  This painting also explores my fascination with geometric shapes, which shouldn't surprise to many people who know me as a Carpenter who strives to build things square.  How does this painting make you feel?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hair of the Earth

When one looks closely at an African Violet you will see a multitude of fine hairs on the surface of the leaves and it is these that give the leaf that distinctive shimmering effect when the light strikes (as well as benefits to the plant that we have no idea of as of yet).  The surface of the earth displays similar effects, although because of the complexity of the surfaces one is confronted with untold light effects under varying light conditions of course. I believe that is my muse, all the texture of the earth and sky, these tendrils poking up out of the ground receiving that which they require. In return they give it back to me and I give it to you. Its a Mystical experience that has many layers. I don't think these thoughts when I'm painting, I'm just in receiving mode quietly pushing the paint around.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Oftentimes in the spring when I am out and about painting or just hiking in the hills I hear the geese much sooner than I see them.  When I finally locate them I often think of diamond or pearl necklaces as I watch the flocks twisting and turning in the sky above me, particularly when the sun catches the bottom of their wings every once and awhile. There have been probably millions of Snow and Canada geese flying around here lately, likely getting fed and watered up for the long trip further north.  It is a sight to behold as squadron after squadron make their way overhead! I am a fortunate son.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Haiku Morning

We woke up this April morning to a gentle snow fall. The lake was perfectly calm and I was inspired to firstly write a Haiku poem to commemorate the moment and then to paint the scene.  What peace I felt as I painted while being serenaded by the calls of playful ravens frolicking in the sky above me, specks of snow sticking to my painting panel and numerous other birds looking for their breakfast.  I remember a similar sentiment when I was sitting near the house a number of years ago in the early evening while a gentle misty rain fell down. It literally transported me back to the West Coast where we lived for awhile, I caught whiffs of cedar trees in the air. Times like this must be what Mystics experience in states of enlightenment.  Its an extremely hard thought to articulate. Life is music.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Tangle in the Middle

Try as I might I cannot seem to escape the complexity of Mother Nature, so I just have to give in to it and embrace and paint the chaos in front of me.  Wolf Kahn is very accomplished at it and devotes a few pages to the topic in his book on Pastels.  I love texture, in nature and on the support I choose to use for the work.  This paper is coated quite heavily with marble dust and manipulated with a painting knife, go figure. Painted the other morning in front of a favourite poplar tree.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Painting

I've been pushing the paint around on this piece for a few days now. It is a 48 in x 60 in  canvas and let me tell you there is a bit of paint on it! Not that I mind, I have enough paint for a life time and enjoy using it.  This piece will have to sit around for awhile now, maybe it will tell me it needs more work somewhere.  I've got to give it a rest, although I feel it is going where I am happy.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thinking of Tom Thompson

I figure Tom Thompson definitely is Canada's greatest painter.  He was a man who was most comfortable outside, like me, and painted the majority of his paintings plein air.  These paintings are often called "sketches" but actually in many cases are superior to his studio paintings because of their freshness and vitality. He was not a rich man (like me) and often painted on wood panels that he would salvage from work sites (like me).  I love how the grain of these wood panels show through his finished works as they uncannily add to the painting.  Many have tried to replicate this effect (like me) to no avail. I figured I'd try anyways cause the Lord hates a coward. I title this painting Morning Shadows, it is painted on a birch panel and is 10 x 12 inches in size.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Thin Ice

I managed to do a small plein air this morning while the sun was shining, I call it "Thin Ice" as it depicts a sciff of ice on Wellington Creek.  I liked the contrast of the water and ice with reflections.  Right around the time the sun disappeared my dog Oreo practically jumped in my lap, which meant it was time to pack it up and go for a walk, which was the original intention in the first place.  Dogs are long suffering.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Looking for the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

There is so much beauty right at our doorstep, we just have to take the time to look, hence the title Looking for the Extraordinary in the Ordinary  I painted this oil over another painting that I wasn't quite happy with, although it portrays the same lake that I spent many wonderful times at with family and friends.  I have spoken before of how it is one of the two "True Blue Lakes" left in the world today.  Rumour has it that Bill Gates dropped down in his Lear jet at the airport beside Clearwater Lake and hired a guide to spend the afternoon out on the water, reading a book will some of the biggest lake trout around swam around beneath the boat! A number of years ago I watched a CBC documentary by Pamela Wallin where she interviewed Bill Gates about his Foundation and interest in providing a computer in every public library in North America.  I convinced the local librarian to contact the Foundation and lo and behold they were given a brand new computer!  Thanks Bill.  He truly is quite a philanthropist.  A number of years ago I painted a much smaller version of this 30 x 36 in. piece.  After watching the National Geographic show "The Big Melt" I am concerned that scenes such as this may soon be a thing of the past, at least for a few thousand years!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Runoff near the Village Inn

I painted this morning sitting near the Village Inn here at Manitou Beach.  This rock formation was created last year as part of a major overhaul of the beach front needed to deal with the increase of water coming into the lake.  The result was we gained a lovely water feature complete with a Fred Flintstone type of bridge spanning over the creek.  A nice place to be, our family installed a bench in memory of our sister Angelene Tysseland who passed away last winter. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring is on the way

Spring is arriving.  I quite often find inspiration looking out of my studio window, as I did this afternoon.  This is an 11 x 14 pastel of my neighbour Murray Westby's yard, minus the spruce trees.  Hey, artistic license prevails!
I am trying to use pastels the way my buddy Wolf Kahn does, no small feat.  I don't want to copy his style but I am interested in his philosophy.