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A Grade 7 Student in Ontario Asked Me Three Questions for a School Project. Here is How I Answered Them.

1) I saw on your Bio that you used to do graphic art. What made you decide to focus on painting?

Graphic design was a great career for me, but I find I like to work on projects where I have all of the creative control, and towards the end of my graphic design career I found I was transitioning more in to web design, and then focussing on the programming side because I found it to be an easier and more lucrative service to provide.

I started painting again after many years as a hobby, but after selling several paintings, decided that was what I wanted to do full-time. I like painting much better than programming or graphic design, and my only regret is not trying a career as an artist sooner.

2) How do you make the water and the clouds look like they are moving?

Your second question doesn’t have a simple answer, but here are some key points:

When I am choosing a photograph to use as a reference, I look first for a good composition. I let my eye wander across the image, and try to remember the path it took. Good composition will keep the eye moving around the image, usually resolving to a focal point (often the sun in a sunset photo), and then falling off into the rest of the image again. If the composition is good, other graphic elements will persuade the eye through a windy path back to the focal point again.

Once I am painting, I try to remember those paths, and accentuate them using lines and boundaries in the elements of the painting.

3) How do you decide on the colors for your paintings? I noticed that a lot of your colors are very bright and contrasting, but they aren’t exactly how you would see in nature.

I try to use simple colours, and I limit the colours I work with to the three primaries (Yellow, Red, and Blue) and three secondaries (Orange, Violet, and Green). I use one colour for each of those, even though dozens of shades are available for each. Using saturated, simple colours to start with helps keep anything I mix with them from turning a muddy brown (unless that’s what I want!). I should note that in addition to those primary and secondary colours, I also use white, and a dark blue that is almost black, like Prussian Blue.

I try different colours on my paintings until I get something I like, more than something that reflects reality. I don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. When I am painting, I think about how it felt rather than how it looked, and I try to choose colours that evoke that feeling.

I do however try to stay true to the composition in my photo. I think it’s important that I paint from real experiences rather than imagined ones, and I want the places I paint to be recognizable.

I also try to keep the values correct. The value of a colour is how light or dark it is. I want to make sure the order of things from light to dark is the same in my paintings as the photos I work from. A good measure for this is to take a black and white photo of the painting and see how it compares to the photo when it’s also changed to black and white. I try to keep the values similar, but when it comes to colour, I just go with what feels right.

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Square Foot Show

5 of my paintings will be in Julie Veenstra’s Square Foot Show, which opens on Thursday, November 30th. Pieces in this 3 day show sell quickly, and it’s all over on December 2nd. If you are interested, you can sign up to the newsletter for a 48 hour preview.

It’s a worthwhile show to check out. When I was invited to be in it and I saw the list of artists that were in it, I was very eager to be a part of it.

Some of my favourite contemporary artists are on that list, and it’s humbling to be counted amongst them! There are over 50 artists, and well over 100 paintings to choose from.

All of the paintings in the Square Foot Show are 12×12″, and priced at $350.

See the show, sign up for a 48 hour preview, and learn more here:

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Artistry at Afternoon Tea at the Empress – Saturday, November 18

I am pleased to announce I will be one of a group of artists painting on-site at the Empress during afternoon tea this Saturday, November 18.

You can read more about that here:

You can book a reservation here: