Some recent studies…

A favorite of mine, this oil sketch of a class model, Dot.

Each term, I invariably undertake a few demos and investigations in class – some serious,  others whimsical and I enjoy them all. Here’s a crop of classwork pieces I’ve collected this Fall:

Whenever I run a class on self portraits, it’s only fair that I do one too.

France says it looks a bit melancholy – the classic “why am I looking at myself in this mirror” look. Here’s another selfie, this time with marker on white board:

I’ve enjoyed doing a few caricatures recently.

Following are a couple of sketches of another David, a class model:

David, posing as Van Gogh, the first watercolour and ink, the second with a sharpie.

David’s hand (with my brushes) in pastel and charcoal.

And here’s a watercolour of another model:

James, in watercolour and charcoal.

I wrote about interpreting the masters in an earlier blog post…..not necessarily copying, although invariably respecting the original. Here are a couple of interpretations of a drawing by Winslow Homer:

The first with some wash and the second a modernist twist.

….and I’m fond of this impromptu tribute to Honoré Daumier:

Sometimes the simple studies are the most enjoyable!

Finally, I don’t need much tempting to study still life, it’s the availability and simplicity of the subject that intrigues:

Flower arrangement in pastel.

The enduring delight of the Sunflower, in oil.

Update on the Break-a-Brush Mentoring Program

it’s a virtual studio…

This Spring, I began distance coaching for a couple of students, and over the summer the program expanded as a number of artists came on board: Some looking for structured support with specific aims outside of the classroom, others finding it just not practical to take an art course or workshop right now. Our busy lives often drive us in various directions and time is so often at a premium!

The artist and I typically start with a three-month outlook and I then work with the participants on individual weekly assignments, advice and reviews. Email has been working well as our prime communication mode, supplemented by Skype, phone and where practical, an occasional meeting for coffee. There is a pretty diverse set of interests, with watercolour, acrylic and oil all being represented. A couple of artists are looking to develop their portfolios prior to pursuing their art education, a couple have specific painting projects in process and some are developing their skills, following something more akin to an on-line course.

I’ve been getting some great feedback and this has really energized me to continue and develop the program:

“Hello David. Thank you very much for your wonderful criticism (positive, as always) of my first painting in this series! By the way, how did you touch up my painting? Did you use “Paint” on microsoft! Impressive! I agree with your comments/suggestions. I will work on my next sketch a bit later this week. I think this mentoring method via internet is working well. Cheers,” Claire LG

“I thought your video was great! Had to turn up my sound, but the message got across well. Good questions from the crowd! To sum it up – this was an awesome exercise! I’m excited to use these principles in the next assignment” Nicole Wootten

“OK, this is an interesting exercise! Especially with the left hand but I can definitely see how much more thinking is required from using that hand… it is fun, I am having a hard time limiting myself to 5 mins….Thank you!” Chantal Dupuis

“Terrific! Thanks so very much, David. Your mentoring emails, complete with links, are like presents xmas morn. So much to unwrap! Love it! I know I will have great fun exploring. And yes, I enjoy our chats, too. Connect again soon.”  Barbara Dundass

The program runs at a monthly subscription rate of $100.00 . There are still a couple of places available for October: should this sound like a good fit for you, just contact me by email at, by phone on 613 620 6737 or confirm participation via PayPal: Click here.

Additional information and details of our Fall Saturday Workshop Program are on the courses section of the website.

After giants….some demos

Pastel after Fred Varley’s “Vera”

I quite often use a classic painting as the basis for a classroom demonstration and invariably get more out of the process than expected. Students also enjoy the practice which leads me to wonder why it gets such a bad rap in some circles. I mused on this a month ago in After giants…part 1.

I don’t intend to copy – I’m often just interested in a sketch which may be quite different in scale and medium from the original. The more I look, the more I see and  the work takes on a life of it’s own. Working quickly results in more of an impression than a copy.

Here are a few of my favorite forays into drawing and painting after the masters:

Charcoal and watercolour sketch after Francisco Goya

My charcoal and watercolour wash version of Francisco Goya’s drawing simplifies the original somewhat. I was pleased with the effect of some quick brushwork. The overall impression is a little more squat than the original and I think I’ve stayed true to the wonderful dynamics of Goya’s sketch – dynamics that perhaps got diluted in Goya’s full-size painting, “The Forge”.

Some of the dynamics of Goya’s initial sketch were perhaps muted in his final masterpiece “The Forge”

Watercolour after an A.Y. Jackson pencil sketch

This watercolour is based on one of many pencil sketches of Quebec villages by A.Y. Jackson. I’ve retained the main elements of the barn but the colours and treatment generally are all imagined. A.Y. almost certainly did his sketch plein-air and hopefully, my quick watercolour retains a little of the urgency.

Small watercolour after Prudence Heward’s “Girl on a Hill”

Here’s another watercolour: a miniature version of Prudence Heward’s “Girl on a Hill”. It’s 5″x5″ . I’ve changed the composition a little and like the intimate feel that is quite different from the original.

Acrylic on board after David Milne’s ” Side Door, Clark’s House”

This demo was part of the kick-off to one of my Acrylic and Oil painting classes. During the first week, I normally ask students to paint with just one colour. On a piece of gessoed backing board, I like the way the image spills out whilst showing the fundamentals of Milne’s original composition. “Side Door, Clark’s House”.

Acrylic after Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin’s “The Silver Goblet”

Here’s another  demo where the surrounding space helps the image in some way. In this case, it’s on canvas paper. The original image by Chardin is a great subject for value studies in charcoal as well.

After a Rembrandt monochrome sketch

A monochrome study by Rembrandt was the inspiration for this little study in pastel on pink card –  this is all that was left after I’d handed students all but one of the (more tonal) sheets from my pack! Perhaps the better for the slightly brash pop-art treatment.

My interpretation of Fred Varley’s famous “Vera”  is in pastel. I’m invariably intrigued by the effect of using different media with the classics and this is no exception.

Pastel on cartridge paper after Fred Varley’s “Vera”

Announcing the Break-a-Brush! Mentoring Program

Wherever you might be, we can help you with your art…

Over the past few months, a number of you have asked about distance learning and coaching! Perhaps you have some specific aims outside of the classroom or maybe it’s just not practical to take an art course right now.  Our busy lives often drive us in various directions and time is so often at a premium!

We’ve developed a bespoke drawing and painting mentoring program for the medium of your choice. We’ll start with a three-month outlook of objectives, measures, schedule and other relevant factors. Assignments sent by email will normally include one or more reference images, links to videos and/or text instructions. A review of each assignment will follow, as well as comments on other of your painting projects that you might wish to include. Regular progress meetings are held by phone/Skype or in person, as might be agreed, depending upon logistics.

The program kicks-off in July and you can find details on the website.

Be sure to let me know of anything you might want to include, modify or discuss!

The Space Between…

Space Camp graduating class of 2017!

Children have largely not yet developed our grownup habit of doubt. They have big vision, big optimism and big resilience. Children grow into a system that, with the best of intentions, encourages caution – very often with excellent reason.

But, perhaps we grownups should take another look at the space between a child’s vision and boundless optimism and the caution, skepticism and doubt of adulthood.

Perhaps there exists a creative opportunity in that space where magic can ignite, a space where vision combines with ability, helped along by the skills adults have acquired.

Might be there something we’ve been missing?

During our Space Camp, we adults had the opportunity to view the cosmos through the lens of a child’s mind…..a precious lens of unbound creativity, bordering on magic.

Wonder. Full.

To Mars and beyond!