“Nobody owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.” ― William S. Burroughs

October 9, 2017

Another month of daily drawing complete. I had wanted to work on a grey ground this  month, thinking I’d play with adding white, but I didn’t find myself all that interested in it when I sat down each evening to draw. I also found the texture of the grey gesso different than that of the white and it wasn’t as nice to work with. It was a bit of a push to do these drawings this month. Hopefully I will find more energy for it in October. I am starting to think about what my project for 2018 might look like…


“We go forward, looking in the rearview mirror.”- Marshall McLuhan

September 25, 2017

July 8, 2017, 5.5” X 8”

I have just not felt like painting lately. I’ve done a bit here and there, but nothing that has amounted to anything. Instead of paintings, today I’m posting some of my favourite drawings from my current sketchbook. In January I started my daily drawing project in order to improve my drawing skills. In June I realized I was not seeing the improvement I had hoped to, so I started a fresh sketchbook with the intention of drawing 30 minutes a day minimum – including the time I put into my daily drawing. It’s gone well and I feel like I’ve been a bit more experimental and playful as a result. Here’s a small sampling.

“The artist must train not only his eye but also his soul.” – Wassily Kandinsky

September 11, 2017

Thirty-one hand drawings complete. All done in black Copic Multiliner pens and Sakura KOI Watercolor Brush Pens in three shades of warm grey.

Some thoughts:

  1. I liked working with this combination of pens. The Copics did not bleed with the grey pens and the grey pens blended nicely on the gessoed paper. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but it might be nice to find a colourless blender pen to soften the transition between the lightest grey and the white of the paper. I may have to explore that.
  2. Hands are made up of really weird shapes and can look pretty bizarre from different angles
  3. I found it very valuable to focus on the shapes I was drawing, and not the fact that I was drawing hands. I was specifically thinking about drawing this fold in the skin or that bump of flesh or wrinkle and not about fingers or finger nails.
  4. I enjoyed drawing the baby hands the last five days the most. The cute little chubby knuckles and pudgy fingers were more fun to draw than my own hands – especially when mine often came out looking old and claw like.
  5. It is far easier to draw someone else’s hands than my own. I had to tape my sketchbook down to keep it from moving and then do a lot of squinting. And I would inevitably move my hand during the drawing and notice it only at the end when things didn’t quite line up as they should. I am very appreciative of my kids’ willingness to play hand models for me when they could.
  6. I only drew from photos a few times – including the baby hands. I try to draw from life for the simple reason that I am here to learn and to develop my skills at flattening reality. If I have the camera doing that flattening first, I am limiting my opportunities to improve.
  7. Overall I like the result of the August drawings and might have to take up a another theme in October. It helps not to have to try to decide what to draw each day. And surprisingly, I didn’t get bored with the repetition.

“To make us feel small in the right way is a function of art; men can only make us feel small in the wrong way.” – E.M. Forster

August 28, 2017

Couple of Pears, Aug 12, 2017, Oil on Panel, 8" X 8"

Couple of Pears, Aug 12, 2017, Oil on Panel, 8″ X 8″

Couple of Apples, Aug 19, 2017, Oil on Panel, 10" X 8"

Couple of Apples, Aug 19, 2017, Oil on Panel, 10″ X 8″


The last painting from my July Painting Challenge inspired me to paint the same painting a couple more times. I thought I may do a series of these incorporating variations, but after the third one I think I need a break. At least I have a set of three now.

“Color is the place where our brain meets the universe.” – Paul Cezanne

August 14, 2017

July Painting Challenge – Conclusions and Notes

Panel Preparation
  • Started with 20 Exhibition Wood Cradled Panels from Opus – 15 were 8″ X 10″ slim panels (3/4″ deep) and 5 were 8″ X 8″ deep panels (1.5″ deep)
  • 3 coats of gesso applied to each panel with a light sanding between coats
  • 6 panels were covered with found paper and another 3 coats of clear gesso with a light sanding between coats
  • 9 panels were gessoed in black, grey or Venetian Red gesso
  • 3 panels were covered with gesso tinted with acrylic paint – light blue and yellow
  • The edges of all of the panels were gessoed black and I covered them with green painter’s tape while I was painting
Daily Process
  • Each day I started with about a half hour of drawing, often of the same subject that I would then paint. I found this very helpful to get a feel for the values of the subject matter with graphite or charcoal prior to taking on the paint.
  • I began most of the paintings with a very quick charcoal sketch directly on the panel.
  • I spent between one hour and an hour and a half painting each panel.
  • I painted with two spot lights – one directed to my subject matter and one to my easel and kept the blinds closed in order to control the light.
Random Notes
  • I played a lot with outlines which flatten the image, but then adding volume into the objects themselves with gradated values.
  • Trying to keep the edges sharp was tedious with oil paint and my lines became very inconsistent as a result, which annoyed me. Distinct outlines also created issues regarding shadows and light reflected off the edges of objects and how to portray that in a simplified manner.
  • On Day Fourteen, I decided to soften all of my edges – with a favourable outcome.
  • I should have known better and not cut the a lemon off on two sides on Day Seven. There was no way I was going to be able to make that lemon 3 dimensional after that. And I completely forgot to add the shadow under the bowl.
  • I really need to avoid outlining round objects until I learn to draw a better circle. This was a problem in Day Seven and again on Day Thirteen.
  • My lights were quite bright and the room fairly dark, which sometimes resulted in a fairly dark painting, as in Day Nine.
  • On Day Twelve I roughed in a few colours onto the pears and was about to start blending them in and then decided I liked it how it was and I just stopped.
  • Prussian blue is one of my favourite colours and it turned up in eight of the paintings and the combination of Prussian blue and burnt umber appeared in six of them.
  • The last 3 days I used all of the same colours.
 The biggest gain I achieved from this project was developing an increased ease at just jumping in and starting and not thinking about how it’s all going to turn out – and that has made it well worth the effort.

“We do not escape into philosophy, psychology, and art–we go there to restore our shattered selves into whole ones.” – Anais Nin

July 31, 2017

Another month complete – thirty-one drawings and fourteen paintings made it a busy month. I’m taking some time to draw conclusions from my painting challenge and will post them together in two weeks with those notes.