Monday, November 14, 2011

Come visit my new website -

Thank you for visiting my blog. I have now upgraded to a website that allows me to present my work a bit more coherently and by series. I will no longer be updating this blog, just my website at

I hope you will have a look and let me know what you think. See you at the new location!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spadina Chinatown

During my first course at the Toronto School of Art five years ago, I would walk home on Spadina. I tried taking some photos the old Cartier-Bresson way without people noticing. And it was with my retro film camera at the time, sorry to say. I loved the source image for this photo. The woman shot from below, the expressive hands, the face written with anxiety. I came back to it a few years later in my painting class. I like the hands but the expression is different from the photo, it's what came out from me, even if it was not entirely my intention. I have come further along as a result of my practice over the years, but this painting still marks a positive place of where I was in 2009. Size: two feet by three feet.


Thick and Thin Diptych

Painfully slowly over the last year, I have worked on these two paintings to try to experience the thickest and thinnest ways of working with paint. There are so many items you can put into acrylic paint, it is intimidating. This was one of my experiments. I did not use a brush except for very secondary touch ups. Palette knife and and dollar store sieve to throw the colour spots onto the canvas (look closely). I think the beauty of abstract art is when the layers are very present and create resonance and depth. I am still learning, my experiments are on the blunt side, but I hope to keep working at it. Size: both 20 by 28 inches

Snow/fog/rain 4

Don Valley Parkway in the Rain

Everyone in Toronto has been stuck in traffic on the DVP. This past spring, there I was, in the pouring rain. It was a good opportunity to catch it on camera and among my shots, this one with a long curve is the image that resonated with me. Don't worry, I was not moving when I took my photos. I loved my experience of painting on grey fabric earlier this year. I was determined to do it again and try to keep more of the fabric showing than I did on my first one (see Saturday Spadina below). Usually for my paintings, there is a period where I lose hope that it will be any good and it's a question of perseverance. This is one of the few of my paintings that I liked from the outset. I think I have taken those moments of frustration, anxiety, even anger at being stuck in traffic and losing so much time, and transformed it into something haunting, reflective, even lovely. Size: one foot by four feet

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hidden Gems Treasure Chest

Toronto School of Art's Hidden Gems event on October 26 is just around the corner and one of my contributions is the group project for students to take a dollar store wooden box and turn it into art. Well, I have often thought of just taking what you could buy at a dollar store and turning it into art. And that's what I have done (except for the fabric - left over from another project). Not too much is hidden except the underlying story (shredded dollar store children's book). Was lots of fun to use many of the techniques I have been learning in class on something I would have never tried without the project.
Hope to see you for the party on October 28 at Steamwhistle! Information can be found at

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Snow/fog/rain 3

Here are two more paintings from my spring glazing class. They were much more of a struggle than some of the earlier ones below, which came off without a hitch. These did not. Foggy building was one of the first ones I started in class, worked on it over the whole semester, but I only finished it well after the semester ended. 

I am getting closer to having enough for a show on the snow/fog/rain theme, but still need a few more - especially some big ones.

 Foggy building

Out on Yonge St. near St. Clair in March during a foggy rainfall. I absolutely adore the colours and sensation of being out at night in the fog or a windless snowfall. Well, that's the feeling, can't say that I am too happy about how I captured it. I think I will try again at some point, but not with the glazing approach. While I like the visual memories this picture brings me, I'm not too happy with it, but don't think I can take it any further. Size 12 by 12.

Bloor in the rain

Hard rain, dark sky, intense moving lights at street level. I was out taking pictures and at the time did not even notice the arcs around the lights. I thought there was a problem with the camera... But then I noticed it in other photos. Funny how I had never noticed it before I took my own photo. This one came along more easily than Foggy building but still took some time before the blur felt right. Make sure you squint your eyes when you look at it! Size 12 by 12.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Snow/fog/rain 2

College St. 

In spring 2011, I took the Toronto School of Art glazing class with Tina Poplawski. This one was my favourite. I was on College Street on a Saturday morning and it was raining. Deep in the corner of a photo was a distorted image of a car. Starting from that, the painting technique is to create a monchrome background and thousands of thin layers to get to an image. It's more evenly coloured in real life... Size 12 by 12 inches

St. George cold

This was my second success in the glazing class. It was a bitter, snowy, dark winter morning and my photo was nice and blurry. The painting captures the flatness of what we see in winter in the dark as well the inherent fuzziness of looking through a snowstorm. I think this was aperfect image to use for this technique of building up layers with patience (which I don't always have...). Size 12 by 24 inches

Snowy night on St. George

It's amazing what you can see just outside your door! During a winter storm, I went out to catch the action and what caught my eye that night was how the snow was reflected by the street lamps. The big flakes really caught the light, and so many of them were swirling around the lights. The photographic image was areas of intense light surrounded by intense darkness. I painted this one in Tina' Poplawski's fundamental acrylics course in winter 2011 using fabric mounted on canvas. I chose a dark orange toned fabric and then mounted it at an angle I thought felt right. I will be continuing this technique! Size 18 by 24 inches

Queen's Park in a foggy snowstorm

Snowing on Saturday night and Queen's Park is empty. In my source photo, in which I emphasized the snow covered land rather than the trees. Then, with Tina's encouragement and techniques learned in class, I took an extended journey to create layers using different techniques. I crackled the snow, then glazed it with orange tinted paint, then extended the trees with drips, then added the mass at the bottom and finally dripped on white dots. What does it all mean? I don't know but the journey was a lot of fun and the final product holds your attention. As an aside, I believe as a painter that I am too attached to the photographic images I use and try too hard to reproduce them closely. Well, for this one, I started moving beyond the image and letting my imagination add what feels right. It's definitely different, but I enjoy this painting and hope that I can keep moving in this direction of using photos as starting points rather than something to copy. This painting did not photograph well though, there is much more of a green tint (background colour) to it rather than the orange/brown that showed up (top layers). Size 24 by 30 inches

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sculpture of Paintings

Sculpture Painting 1

Months ago, I walked into an art store and saw that they were selling small canvases and giving all the money to Haiti relief. So I bought some, put them on the floor of my studio and ignored them. Then I started to play with them using paint I had leftover from other projects. Then it came together, a study of lines, texture and secondary colours (orange, green, purple). I started with a thick black line or lines and worked around it/them. I worked with thined colours on one, then two, and finally up to eight of the canvases at a time. It took quite a few months. Finally, I had to figure out how they would all work together. Fortunately, some helpful chats with my teacher Tina Poplawski and classmates provided me with ideas and my basic hardware skills did the rest. Tina is encouraging me to use this as a starting point for many more. I plan to do so and have another set of small canvases sitting on the floor. Eight 8 X 10 inch canvases screwed together.

Snow and fog

In early 2011, I began a new series based on photos of I take of Toronto in the snow and fog on my little point and shoot camera - so no photographic technical excellence involved. In my Toronto School of Art Class on acrylics, Tina Poplawski has been teaching us about all the incredible possibilities of acrylic paint and its mediums. I have merged the two streams (at her suggestion), so I have an incipient series of paintings on wood, fabric, paper on canvas, and all of which incorporate many new mediums for me. Perhaps you will have difficulty figuring out what the subject is of some of them as real becomes abstract in snow and fog, but look hard next time in snow or fog and you will see that blur is the word!

Night Traffic

It's a snowy January night. Nothing quite so dark. In the distance on Bloor Street, a little bundle of intense light around the traffic. This is one of the few paintings that I have liked throughout its whole development process and which I have hesitated to touch in fear of overworking. It is painted on a paper over a canvas. The paper is like a sheer curtain and you can see all the swirls in it, which I tried to incorporate into the image. Size: 12 X 14 inches.

Bay Taxi

This is my comedy painting, I laugh every time I look at it. Another snowy Saturday night, this time in February. Light traffic, all moving slowly. The question put to us in class was - what do you want to put into your paint/painting? I chose glitter. So off to the store and party glitter now catches your eye in the intense lighted places of this painting. I feel that overall, the painting does give a sensation of snow falling I'm usually serious when I paint, but who can be serious when you put glitter in your paint??? Size: 12 X 12 inches.

Early Morning Traffic

6:30 a.m. in February, it's snowing so I charge outside and in a corner of one of my shots I see the lights in the distance without any reference to the objects they come from. This is painted on a wood panel and I have intentionally tried to leave some of the wood grain showing. All the paint is thinned - except the lights spots which use about every available product to make them thicker. This one consists of lots of layers and wood definitely has a different feel from canvas so it was quite the experience. Size: 18 X 18 inches.

Saturday Spadina

Unlike the other paintings above, this is a daytime image while snowing. At night, the neons give an incredible orange glow. During the day, everything turns gray when snowing. This painting is on gray fabric which actually shimmers where it shows through. So I tried to leave some exposed and it does catch your eye as you walk by. I also tried to follow some of the wavy pattern of the fabric. First of the series with people in it, but I hope more to come, which gives the images even more of a sense of urban loneliness - at least for me. Size: 10 X 20 inches. Sold.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fall 2010 - New directions

Fall 2010 was a time of trying new and different approaches to painting - I had a course at the Toronto School of Art with TIna Poplawski on all the things you could put into acrylic paint combined with different approaches. Very exciting stuff!  Here's some of the things I did both in and outside of the course. I hope you will be surprised at how different it is from my other posted work!

Manning Park Lake

I visited Manning Park in fall 2009 and you cannot but be struck by the beauty of the mountains. It's a harsh but beautiful environment - snow was already beginning to fall in September and the ravaging effects of the pine beetle infestation were everywhere to be seen.  This was the most successful of my class paintings - taking the thickest of all the items you can add to paint to add so much texture.  I think it's appropriate for the subject matter to make something so still also lively and in some ways out of control. Size: 14 by 12 inches. SOLD!

Fall Apples

November north of Toronto, a few apples are holding onto their tree, rotting on the branch.  Lovely rich earth tones.  This was our encaustic imitation class and I was very energetic, which adds something to the tangle of branches in the background. I feel they are very lively, although I would have liked them to move a bit more into the background. Everything but the branches is done with the palette knife, which is a great way to work freely. Size: 12 by 14 inches.

Mango dry brush

I have always loved drawing white on black and that's what we did in one of our classes. This was an exercise in self restraint for me, using very little paint to create a pastel look and to keep some of the black coming through at all times.  I really like the result, it reminds me of Georgia O'Keefe - floating in space and time. Size: 14 by 12 inches NFS

Mango - new Old Master look

I did six mango paintings in my class in fall 2010, only two make the cut for the blog though.  This one amazed me in that we used an incredibly restrained palette, I think three colours and white only.  And yet the result is bursting with energy, using techniques from the Old Masters but benefiting from modern paints.  Size: 14 by 12 inches

Winter sunset 1

This painting was on raw canvas, no gesso. First time I ever tried this (or knew you could...). Fortunately, I picked an image that lends itself to this approach which is similar to working in watercolour.  You can't really work a lot of details when the canvas is wet, but you can really blend colours well with the right brushes and sunsets are a good subject for such blending.  Size: 14 by 12 inches 

Winter Sunset 2

Here's the second version. I decided to leave out the tree. I was not paying attention, so I did it on a non-rectangular piece of canvas. I prefer it without the tree actually - feels colder for some reason. I have always loved fall/winter sunsets and enjoyed painting this and learning how to blend colours on the canvas in ways I had never succeeded before. Size: 15 by 18 inches

Thanks for reading and looking!