Tag: learning to paint

A New Mentor

After moving from the northern GTA area, to the rural Ottawa area, we had a lot of adjusting to do. We had fewer neighbours, a gravel road and so much nature. At night it gets so dark with so many stars, something you miss growing up in the city.

Finally the pull of the canvas compelled me to finish Gandalf. I nervously started on my own, unsure if I remembered everything that I had learned. It took me some time adding and tweaking colours, until I felt like if I added anymore I would ruin it.

I went on to try painting something else, and decided on a picture I was shown of a dwarf. I sketched it on, then struggled trying to figure out which colours to put on first. So during the drying of layers, I decided to start another painting, this time of a Lynx. On a role, I also started portraits of my kids. I ended up with so many paintings on the go, it was a bit crazy.

I finally finished the dwarf, just before a new store opened in our local town. They offered lessons and group sessions run by local artists. I perused the line up and looked at some of the work they had submitted. I decided that I needed to join something, a 1 night a week for 10 week session, with a portrait artist sounded great! Hopefully I would learn new techniques and help keep me motivated.

2008, Still Life Oil Painting

2008, Still Life Oil Painting

Jack Neilson’s approach was so different from Clint. His approach was to capture the image like a still life. So I put my other projects away and decided to try his approach. I decided to be a bit radical painting in Impasto style, using just a painting knife, even attempting abstract painting (definitely not my strong suit). Jack had us always mixing colours, and this is when I really memorized different colours. I started really understanding the colour wheel, with tints and tones.

The first project was a still life of wine bottles. After that we could pick a picture of our choice. So we had to do a quick sketch, then start blocking in the colours. Jack worked so quickly, basically going over his canvas fully at least 3 times, but then that should be it.

2008, Oil Painting from photo

2008, Oil Painting from photo

This was my biggest lesson that I keep trying to accomplish. Since my media of choice has always been oil, I tried driers added to the oil, even different media like acrylic and gouache. I did attempt watercolours, but found them a bit difficult to achieve what I wanted. I even tried “plein airs”, which I haven’t been able to complete outside yet. I just love the details and 3 times just doesn’t seem like enough go overs for me, well not yet but I keep trying!



Painting Discovered

Back in April 2004, we chose to open a comic book store in our small but growing town. We decided this on a shoe string budget, that mostly covered the stock and shelving. During our setup, some family members were painting on the window. This was when an old school friend and his daughter happened to walk by and take notice of the painting. Luckily my kids recognized him and called me. Clint and Cherene came to visit often, and so we asked him to paint our sign if we bought him the supplies and thankfully he agreed.

Being a single dad, Clint was always busy. So by November, I came to lend him a hand. It was a great experience to take our design and project it onto the board. After we traced the main design, we sprayed it to keep the pencil from wiping away. Next step was to paint. I thought, no problem it’s like painting a wall. I was wrong.

2005, Acrylic Paint

2004, Acrylic Paint

Clint showed me how to mix the paint to match the colour in our design. I had never mixed paints before and I wasn’t sure what or how much of each colour to use. It only took us a couple of days using just acrylic paint and it was exciting bringing the finished sign to the store to hang up.

I next had the chance to visit Clint in January 2005. He was busy working on a pencil portrait commission. It was so mesmerizing to watch the face appear out of the page. He worked an exact likeness of the photo, the detail he put in was amazing. Inspired, I asked for some paper to just draw something silly.

2005, Pencil Crayon Sketch

2005, Pencil Crayon Sketch

As I was about to attempt colouring with pencil crayons, Clint stopped me and showed me how to use a blender. I was shocked at how he took a 2D picture and made it pop out with such depth. I spent several hours, over days, shading then colouring. Layer over layer of pencil crayon. My first real drawing of a dragon complete. At this point,  Clint agreed he should mentor me.

So I bought my first sketch book and other drawing books to get going. I learned to sketch before drawing on canvas, then painting. I did a castle in oil paints on canvas next.

2005, Oil Painting

2005, Oil Painting

Raring to go, I tried a portrait of the wizard Gandalf. I never got to finish this with Clint, as life forced us to move 400km away.

We still keep in contact and have helped motivate each other over the past 10 years. I am grateful to Clint for mentoring and pushing me to keep trying. Thanks again Clint!