Thursday, June 26, 2014

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...No. 1 Spadina Crescent

36 x 36 oil on canvas
I never knew where the expression "Dark and Stormy Night" originated until I looked it up and found it to have been written in 1830 by Edward Bulwar Lytton, an English novelist. I couldn't get the expression out of my head while I was painting. It was known as a melodramtic style of writing and has since become a cliche.
I did a similar painting to this a while back and wanted to do it on a larger scale. The Gothic Revival building in the background is part of the University of Toronto, built in 1875. It is situated at no 1 Spadina Crescent.
To establish a dark moody feeling, I used a palette of Viridian, Cadmium red, Ivory Black, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow, and Titanium white.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

And Now for something completely different...

Toronto Victorian and Garden
8 x 8 oil on canvas
 I don't normally do this type of scene. But I do love old houses and gardens so I thought I would have some fun with colour.
Toronto has some amazing older homes and I hope to get around to painting more of them this summer...and hopefully include some gardens at the same time.

Thanks to Ben Reffelsen for the photo reference.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


24 x 24 oil on canvas
I know, why am I painting snow? My daughter came into the studio and "seriously?" is pretty much what she said. I asked her what she thought and she just said "I don't know..I can't even relate." Fair enough...we had a tough winter this past year. 
Whenever I do a show, I like to have a variety of paintings and I was low on the snow scenes, so I thought I would do this one. I have done this scene on a smaller scale, and wanted to do it a little larger. I have to admit that I love snow. And I loved the atmosphere on the day that I took the reference photo.
This scene is on Spadina during a blustery snowy day. This painting will be available at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition at Nathan Phillips Square July 4,5,6.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thursday Night Jazz at The Rex, Queen Street

30 x 48 Oil on Canvas
This is another Jazz themed painting for the Jazz show at Petroff Gallery July 19th. Queen Street in Toronto still has many older small buildings mixed with larger newer ones. (As most streets in downtown Toronto).Of course the smaller older ones are always more aesthetically pleasing and pedestrian friendly. 
The Rex Hotel is a great venue for jazz. I took the photo reference on a Thursday evening as patrons were arriving to catch the shows.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Jazz Bistro, Victoria Street, Toronto

36 x 48 oil on canvas
  As I mentioned in a  previous post, Petroff Gallery, using the Beaches Jazz festival as inspiration, is putting together an exhibition of works inspired by or representative of jazz music. I chose one of the two studies I did of The Jazz Bistro and painted it on a much larger scale. A lot of the painting was a study in greys and deciding which ones wouldn't contrast with the yellows, reds, and greens. it was a lot more difficult than I thought and the problem solving revolved around maintaining proper colour temperature. 
The Jazz Bistro and Senator Restaurant are located in some great older buildings on Victoria Street in Toronto. They really hold their own against the monolithic Rogers Building next door. I can't believe how much the Toronto streetscape changes from year to year. I hate to see the old buildings come down and I hope these two will hang around for a long time to come.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Jazz Bistro, Toronto

8 x 10 oil on canvas
Using the Beaches Jazz Festival as inspiration, this coming July Petroff Gallery is putting together an exhibition of works inspired by or representative of jazz music. I have decided to participate and paint images of Jazz venues in Toronto.
The Jazz Bistro on Victoria Street is an interesing location, situalted next to the famous Senator Restaurant. I did two versions and must decide which will work best on a 36 x 48 scale.
 Which composition do you prefer?


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Chinatown Rain, Dundas And Spadina

36 x 48 Oil on canvas
I did this painting over a year ago and didn't like it. The composition was off, and it was difficult to bring it all together. Plus, the people were walking from side to side adding to the compostion difficulties. It was a large canvas covered in paint and it sat in the studio staring at me. I decided to put it on the easel. What I loved about this scene was the busy activity at this corner of Spadina. Streetcars continually pass both ways, shoppers are everywhere, and the sounds and sights of Chinatown pervade the scene. So, I decided to rework it, changing the people and numerous other elements. The composition still isn't the best, but I think I've captured some of the atmosphere and activity of Chinatown on Spadina.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Beck Taxi on Yonge

30 x 30 oil on canvas
I really liked the composition on the 6 x 6 painting I did a while back. I decided to try it on a larger scale. One of the difficulties when going larger is the tendency to tighten up and start adding more detail. I worked at leaving it loose and spontaneous, using a lot of squinting and larger brush strokes to maintain the atmosphere rather than focusing on the details.
This scene features a Beck Taxi going south on Yonge Street with Dundas Square in the background.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Acrylics or oils? What is your preference?

Moonlight Cat 16 x 20 Acrylic on canvas
Every now and then I need an acrylic fix. I spent several years painting realistically using acrylic paints.When I decided I needed a change and wanted to paint more spontaneously and "looser" I decided to switch back to oils. It has been quite a journey. I love oils and how they can be blended and smooshed around. But sometimes I feel I stop focusing on strong values and composition, and for some reason I return to acrylics to change my focus. I don't know why I find it easier to maintain values with acrylics. They seem to allow themselves to a more graphic deisgn sense and its easier to keep the dark values dark.
When I painted this cat on a piano (several years ago), I painted the notes to the Moonlight Sonata on the music sheet. And I enjoyed it!
What do you prefer? Oil or acrylic?

8x10 acrylic on board

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Quiet Moment, Berczy Park, Toronto

12 x 12 oil on canvas
We don't have quite this much greenery yet, but I am hopeful that we will be able to sit comfortably outside in the next few days. A cold wet spring has us longing for warmth and sunshine.
Sometimes when taking photos we get some interesting scenes that we weren't particulary aiming for. This couple looked so engaged, possibly on a work break and they made a nice addition to the sunny scene in Berczy Park behind the Gooderham building. (Also known as Toronto's Flat Iron building)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Afternoon Shadows, Queen Street

12 x 12 oil on canvas
The challenge in this image was to capture the glare of the sun during late afternoon as the sun disappears behind buildings.In the downtown core, the contrast between light and dark is accentuated. I have added a phlalo blue to my colour palette, and I used it here in addition to my traditional palette to mix the grays of the darks and the yellows in the lights. It seemed to add to the warmth of a sunny day in spring. 
The palette I normally use is: Alizarin Crimson, Unltramarine blue, cadmium red, cadmium yellow dark, cad yellow light, Transparent Oxide Red, Viridian, and Titanium white.
In this painting, pedestrians jaywalk across Queen Street near Bay Street.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Westbound Go Train, Toronto

6 x 6 oil on board
I've always enjoyed train travel. There is still something romantic about the train. I'm sure there are many commuters who would disagree with this statement as they take the GO Train to and from work everyday. I travel the Go Train fairly often as I go back and forth to Toronto from my town west of the city. I rarely get tired of it.
This scene is from the train shed outside of Union Station. Passengers wait to get on the west bound train. I hope the current renovation doesn't completely change the industrial Victorian feel of iron posts and beams. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Yonge Street, Evening Rain

24 x 24 oil on canvas
I usually work from photographs. I love to take pictures and I love interesting weather (some people call it "bad" weather). When I take pictures downtown in the pouring rain or a snow storm, I'm not really concerned with the photographic quality. I mainly need reference and atmosphere. So I take a LOT of photos. When I get home and look through the photos, sometimes an image will really excite me. Like this one. It had a lot of great things going on. Old dark buildings in the foreground, blue misty buildings in the background. Some great reflections.
I am planning to do another series of larger paintings, and I may choose this image to do in a 36 x 36. I don't know if I have conquered enough fear to go to a 48 x 48.....but soon I hope. The last one I attempted got wiped...and I can tell you, that is a lot of paint to wipe!

This scene is Yonge Street looking south with the Hudson's Bay store on the right.

Friday, May 2, 2014

12 x 12 oil on canvas
Honest Eds is another famous Toronto Landmark, opened by Ed Mirvish in 1948 on Bathurst and Bloor Streets. With its 23,000 light bulbs, it looks like a theatre marquee rather than a retail establishment. Unfortunately, its future is short lived. Read more  on wikipedia.
 Thanks to John Tavares for the photo reference.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Umbrellas and Traffic

6x8 oil on canvas board
We haven't had much spring like weather yet. The temperature hovers around 5 degrees C and people are still getting out winter coats. And to top it off, it seems to rain every day. Its a good thing I like the rain!
People and their umbrellas wait to cross the street in Toronto, On.
Thanks to Ben Roffelson for this photo reference.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Crossing Queen at St. Michaels

12 x 12 oil on canvas
It always seems easier to paint rain as it pounds on the skylight in my studio. Its easier to "feel" the atmosphere. This scene was quite muted and as I was painting, I decided to incorporate a little more  palette knife work to add some interest and blend the colours of the street to show wetness.
I imagine this woman has left work at the "Urban Angel" after spending a day helping those in need. The streetcar heads down Queen Street.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Night Rain, King and University

6x6 oil on board
This is a small study for a potential larger painting. The night rain created a show of reflections at the corner of King and University in Toronto.
This painting is for sale through Daily Paintworks Auction.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dundas Square, Night Rain

12x12 oil on canvas
As I've mentioned before, I like to do smaller images before I decide to do it on a larger scale. The investment in time and materials makes it worthwhile. I like the strong lines on this one, so may do it on a 36x36 size.
This scene is looking towards Dundas Square at Dundas and Yonge.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Streetcar Parade, Queen and University

8x10 oil on canvas
A very busy evening commute had traffic backed up for blocks. Three streetcars passed by at the same time, providing some nice colours and reflections.
This streetcar parade is at the corner of Queen and University with the window of the Four Seasons centre for the Performing Arts at the right.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Snow in April

8x10 oil on board
I must apologize for doing this picture. I know here in southern Ontario and many other areas we have had ENOUGH of winter. But as I went walking early this morning with Bailey my dog, I had to take some pictures of the wonderful soft snow that had fallen on everything. This house is on Melville Street in Dundas.
Spring really is here, and as Mark Twain says,"  In the spring I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours."