Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Book

Today I started a project that I have been thinking about for years. It's a daunting task and I'm putting myself on the line by mentioning it here. I'm going to write a "how to paint acrylics" book for beginners, based on the workshops that I've been teaching for many years.

I have 5 pages already and plan to chip away at it every day until I'm finished. All the info is in my head- the challenge will be putting in the hours to get it down on paper.

It's a new frontier!!

Friday, December 21, 2012


"Moonglow"  10 x 8" acrylic
Here's little wintery painting that I did for the "Spirit of Winter" show currently hanging at the Adele Campbell Gallery at Whistler.

The evolution of this painting was a bit unusual for me. I had painted it in early fall- mostly in green as it was done plien air in the daytime. I liked the composition but didn't consider the painting to be strong enough to go to one of my galleries.

I needed a couple of small pieces for the AC gallery show so I decided to try to make it a winter scene at night time. I think it works much better this way and it was fun to experiment with no reference photo to go by.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Here I am with Rino last week at the "Art for an Oil Free Coast" show at Performance Works on Granville Island. We opened November 27th, with a full house of 300+ people. An army of volunteers made this show possible and I would like to thank all that gave generously of their time and energy.

The show was taken down last Sunday and re-opened in Victoria on Dec 4th. Next destination is Salt Spring Island, then Nanaimo. Details on the shows, the book and online bidding on the paintings can be found at

It was a privilege to be a part of this very ambitious project. If you get the chance to see the show, I highly recommend it- 60 paintings of our beautiful BC coast by some of the province's top artists.

Last night Alan and I went to the opening of another amazing show- the annual Spillsbury Medal show at the Federation of Canadian Artists in Vancouver. I think this is the strongest and quite possibly the biggest medal show that I have every seen at the FCA- 93 paintings all told. The show can be seen on line at

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Citrus Stripes

"Citrus Stripes" 30 x 30" acrylic
I painted these tulips a few years ago from a slightly different arrangement. It was always one of my favourite florals so I decided to revisit the image. I went bigger this time and the painting seems to have more impact on the larger scale.
It seems like the stripes would be hard to paint but really, you just have to go for it. Any irregularities just make it look more believable- at least that's what I tell myself.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I never get tired of painting roses. I found a wholesale nursery near my house that sells seconds for cheap so now I can indulge in beautiful bouquets whenever I want. These ones were a combination of white and the palest pink. I love the way the light influences their colours.

"Catching the Light"   24 x 30" acrylic

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"Solace"  24 x 48" acrylic
It's rare that I paint something that I'm perfectly happy with. My reach is always a little beyond my grasp. But this one comes pretty close. It is an image that I just love, of a place that never fails to be magical for me. After a lot of ups and downs in my life this year, I am naming this painting, "Solace" because that's what this place is for me.

I will be entering this painting in the annual Spillsbury Medal show at the Federation Gallery in Vancouver. The show opens on December 6th, and it's always a beautiful show to see, as the signature members of the FCA put forth their best work. It will also be the Christmas party for the FCA so come by if you are in the area.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Here's a few pictures from our show opening last Tuesday night. Thanks to all that braved the horrible weather to come and see the show. It was wonderful to see everyone's efforts on the walls and I am proud to count these talented women as my friends. The show is up for the rest of the week if you want to check it out. Much of the show is on line at Federation Gallery, Granville Island, Vancouver, BC

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Blue Cow

Blue Cow, 9 x 12" acrylic
Here's another small painting that will be in the Oct 30th show. I painted it this summer when I was up in Sorrento. The reference photo was taken in Sorrento too. I was driving around with my friend Gaye Adams, looking for subject matter when we came across this girl, posing and beautifully backlit. It's one of my favourite paintings in the show.

Speaking of the show, I have now seen Gaye's paintings and also my sister, Suzanne Northcott's paintings. There is some really beautiful work going into this show. I can't wait to see what Jean, Liz and Sarah have come up with. Come join us for a glass of wine if you can.

Friday, October 19, 2012

little guys

These are little 8 x 10" oils. I painted them a while ago, both of them in pretty conventional colours. Yesterday I took another look at them and decided to play with the colour a bit. I didn't look at any reference, just kept trying different colour ideas until I liked what I see. I think they are both a lot more fun than they were originally.

These paintings will be going to the Federation Gallery in Vancouver for my group show. I plan to have between 10 and 12 new pieces in the show. The opening is Tuesday, Oct 30th, 6:00 to 9:00- everyone welcome, so pop in if you are interested.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Grandma's Beach 24 x 36" acrylic
I finally put the last touches on this today, although tomorrow I might find something else to change on it. I came so close to giving up on it a couple of times. Nothing came easy on this one. Alan came in the studio and told me to lose the rock on the right side of the foreground. I don't always listen to him but this time I think he was right.

This painting was a lesson on hanging in there, but also in putting something aside. I completed three other paintings while this one was in progress. Yesterday another new one was going sideways so I decided to spend some time on this and now it's done. I might even like it!

Friday, September 28, 2012

The background on this painting is taking a very long time to come together but I think it's nearly there now. Now the foreground will get some more attention. It will be challenging as there are rocks visible under the water and I really want that to be a feature of the painting. Basically it's a matter of painting what you see, rather than what you think you would see.

I painted this little 8 x 16" sheep painting when I was feeling bogged down with the background on the beach scene. It was fun to do and totally different. It's on board so quite a different surface to work on than canvas.  Every brushmark really shows so it's good for texture.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Here's the start to a 24 x 36" painting of one of the Salt Spring Island beaches. I'm painting over top of an earlier piece that didn't make it out of the studio so I had to use a strong colour to cover up the old image. Could have gone black or red, but I decided on purple this time.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I finished this 24 x 24" acrylic today. The reference photo was from Whistler. I have 6 finished paintings for the October show now- 4 to go.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Liz Wiltzen & me

Me, Rick McDiarmid, Alan, John Salminen, Liz & Stephen Quiller

Alan and I just returned from a glorious week, painting on Salt Spring Island with the Federation of Canadian Artist's Plein Air painting workshop. The weather was amazing and I came home with a ton of subject matter. I also was happy to note some improvement in my outdoor painting skills. I should have photographed my efforts but ended up selling them all at the final show.

Our instructors were Stephen Quiller, John Salminen, Carla O'Connor and my good buddy, Liz Wiltzen. Being able to paint and hang out with these amazing artists was truly a gift.

The two landscape photos posted here are ones that I plan to paint from for my upcoming show at the Federation Gallery. It opens Oct 30th and is a group show with Liz, Gaye Adams, Sarah Kidner, Jean Pederson and my sister Suzanne Northcott.

I will be hitting the studio hard as the show is right around the corner.

Monday, August 27, 2012

 This painting was done a few weeks ago at the 3 hour painting competition at the Birthplace of BC  Gallery, here in Fort Langley. I painted it in acrylics, outdoors, on one of the hottest days of the summer. Blending the colours was challenging, to say the least. I wasn't totally unhappy with the results but I did feel that oils might be a better medium to use for the subject.

I borrowed the painting back from the gallery and over-painted it today in oils. I think it looks a lot more polished and it didn't take long, as I had already made most of the decisions in acrylics. Once its dry, it will go back to the Birthplace of BC Gallery.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I finished this painting last week- "The Way Through" 40 x 30" acrylic. It's another Calvert Island Piece. A little different for me as the light is quite subtle. Strong light and shadow edits the details and I think, makes the image easier to paint. This one was a lot of work but I'm pretty happy with the results. I love the colour transitions in the rocks.

I've entered the painting in a competition- will report on how I do once I find out. I would like to enter more competitions- I think it's a good way to challenge oneself.  In the past that hasn't been a priority for me but I am ready to be more open to getting my work out there, beyond the commercial galleries.

Speaking of getting the work out there, a group of my paintings were rented out last week to a movie production. One painting had a small featured role with a close up. It represented the transformation of the main character, an artist called Sarah Robertson. They had to use my last name due to the signature on the paintings!

The experience of renting was ok but we did have 4 frames that were damaged by the production. They are going to pay to replace them but this is something that I will consider next time I'm approached to rent.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Here is my finished piece for the Raincoast book and show. "Fly By" 30 x 40" acrylic.

I don't know opening dates yet for the show in Victoria but the show will be in Vancouver from Nov 26th to Dec 1st- at Performance Works on Granville Island. There will be well over 100 pieces in the show, as so many artists want to get involved and lend their voices to the efforts to protect our coast from the threat of an oil spill. Also there will be a coffee table book launched this fall with images from the trips taken in June by the original 50 artists.

Thank you again to Mark Hobson, Brian Falconer, everyone at Raincoast Conservation Foundation and all the others who made it possible for this project to happen. I hope that your efforts will be rewarded and that the Gateway Pipeline will not go ahead.

Friday, July 27, 2012

 Here I am putting the final touches on my painting for the Raincoast project. I was asked to do something that would fit in the wildlife section of the book, so there is a solitary seagull flying through the image.

July was a month of constant travel with a lot of teaching. I plan to stay put for most of August and hit the studio hard. I have a group show at the Federation gallery in Vancouver that opens on Oct 30th, so I will need quite a few new pieces for that. Details about the show are on my website.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Along the Great Bear Coast

"Along the Great Bear Coast" 30 x 40" acrylic
Here's the progression of my newest large painting. It's of one of the many stunning beaches on Calvert Island. I decided to start with purple underpainting, just for fun and because that's what my friend, Mark Hobson, does in all his paintings these days.

 In a way, I don't think the underpainting color is all that important. Different colors of underpainting may give a slightly different final effect, but I don't think there are any wrong colors to underpaint. We all have our favourites and mine is probably still quinacridone gold.

This painting will be on it's way with me to Whistler next week, when I go up to teach a 3 day workshop. I will be having a little feature of my work at the Adele Campbell Gallery in the Westin Hotel, Friday, 5:30 to 7:30. Please stop in and say hi if you are in the area.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Here's my gang from the basic acrylics workshop I did last week at Coast Collective in Victoria. I had a blast with everyone- a wonderful group of 13 women and one brave man.

Coast Collective is an art centre in the Esquimalt area of Victoria, housed in a beautiful stone mansion on the edge of Esquimalt Lagoon. The Centre is the creation of 5 dynamic women and has a large art gallery, gift shop and classroom space, plus outbuildings that are home to a variety of creative pursuits. The workshop program is ongoing and I have already committed to go back in March for an intermediate acrylics workshop.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Calvert Island trip

We have been home from Calvert Island for a few days now. I have to say that it was a trip of a lifetime. We saw some of the most spectacular landscapes I have ever seen. The top photo is of Alan, Mike Svob and Gaye Adams walking on one of the many beautiful beaches on the island.
Calvert Island is the home to Hakai Institute- a privately owned centre for education and research. We were generously hosted there. Other artists in our group were hosted on the Columbia III and the Achiever; a sailboat owned by Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

Each group saw different landscapes, due to the incredible diversity along our BC coast. Another group of artists are out this week- there will be 50 artists all together that are part of the Artists for an Oil Free Coast. We are very proud to be able to use our artwork to help the efforts to protect this precious wilderness area from the threat of an oil spill due to the planned Gateway pipeline project.

There will be a travelling show of paintings, opening in Victoria around November 16th. I will post the dates again once they are confirmed. The Vancouver show will be at Performance Works on Granville Island in late November.

I have already started my painting for the show and the coffee table book that will be produced. I am working from the photo posted here of the trees and rocks. Working large- 40 x 30". Will post the painting once it's finished.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Artists for an Oil Free Coast

Not too much painting going on right now. We are into preparations for our trip to Calvert Island, which is north of Port Hardy and is the southern tip of the Great Bear Rainforest. We leave Monday, the 18th and return 6 days later.

This trip is part of an ambitious event sponsored by the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and is the brainchild of artist Mark Hobson. Over 50 artists, all told, will travel to the region as a protest against the oil tankers coming down the BC coast as a result of the proposed Gateway Pipeline project. We will all paint or sketch on location and the result will be a travelling show and a coffee table book. CBC and Global tv are expected to be covering the event.

The artists are divided into groups of about 12. Our group includes our friends, Mike Svob and Gaye Adams, as well as Mark Hobson and Robert Bateman. This is a trip of a lifetime for me as I have always wanted to go to this region.

The challenge is to get the supplies down to a minimum, as we are quite restricted as to how much stuff we can take. I'm taking 9 x 12 masonite panels to paint on as that is the maximum size that will fit in my backpack. Also a small stool, easel, palette, paints, brushes and a collapsible water bucket.

I will post photos from the trip when we return.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Heron

"Blue Beauty" 30 x 24" acrylic

 I delivered this painting to my Fort Langley gallery the other day. I think it's one of my favorites that I have ever done. I love the abstract quality of the background.

I never planned to be a wildlife painter, but I have always enjoyed painting big birds. So far, crows, seagulls and chickens have been the most common kinds for me- I like to paint what we have locally. This is my second heron. Now I have a little vision of painting swans- love to paint white things. It might be too romantic, but if we ever get some decent weather I will go out with my camera in search of some good swan reference and see where that takes me.

It's the same with the landscapes- I seem to need to paint what is familiar. I know that many artists enjoy painting images from their travels around the world.  I've tried that and it never feels quite right to me. That could change, but for now, I find enough beauty and inspiration in what we have locally to keep me going for the foreseeable future.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Demo Piece from Painter's

"Artichoke and Peonies" 24 x 24" acrylic

Here's the finished painting from the one hour demo that I did at Painter's Lodge last weekend. I'm experimenting with a background treatment that lets the quin gold underpainting show through- gives it a slightly weathered, textured look. Because this painting is so blue, I think it needs that little hit of orange to balance it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Gang from Painters

Here we have our group of friends heading home from another great weekend at Painter's lodge. From left to right are: Linda Lando, Kiff Holland, Carole Rayer, Diane McDiarmid, Rick McDiarmid, Bettie Heighton, Brent Heighton, Alan Wylie, Suzanne Northcott, me, and Cathy Miller.

I did a demo at Painters this year for the first time. it was a bit intimidating, with about 300 people in the room but it went well and I enjoyed it. I will post the finished painting on the blog in a day or two.

The best part of the weekend was talking to all the people there and hanging out with so many other great artists. It was over all too fast. Thank you to everyone that took the time to talk to me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Back in the Saddle

"Rush" 16 x 20"

"One More Dance"  24 x 36"

I finished these two pieces yesterday. The river one was started as a demo in my last workshop. I thought the arbutus one was finished but there was something about it that bothered me. After seeing the Masters paintings in galleries in NewYork, I realized that there was too much color. The paintings that I admired in the Met and the Frick museums were mostly quite de-saturated colors with beautiful values.

I ended up repainting the sky in a lighter and much more neutral shade of blue. I also toned down the yellows in the foreground. To my eye, the painting is much stronger now.

I'm really interested in learning more about color. A lot of artists nowadays rely on bright color to make their paintings interesting. I have done this to a certain extent, although I don't feel color is my forte. I'm not saying bright color is wrong but I don't think it's where I want to go. I am so drawn to beautiful neutrals and powerful values.

One of our current day artists that I really admire is Renato Muccillo. His colors are so compelling and they give his work an old world, timeless quality. Check out his website if you've never seen his work.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

New York trip

I just returned from a wonderful week in New York with painting buddies, Liz Wiltzen, Sarah Kidner and Jean Pederson. Highlights for me were the Hispanic Society museum, where they have the huge Sorolla murals and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we saw the Sargent paintings. The top picture is Sarah and Jean, in front of the Sorolla murals and the bottom one is Liz and Sarah with one of John Singer Sargent's portraits.

I was so inspired by this exposure to amazing art and can't wait to get painting again.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

"Clearing" 20 x 30" oil
Skies have always been my nemesis. I envy those that paint them easily. Sometimes I can get them right and sometimes not. As I do more oils, I think that I will enjoy doing skies more. This one was done using transparent earth red- what a delicious color- as underpainting and working wet-in-wet for most of the painting.
I am learning to wait for things to dry. After my years of acrylics that's hard. I want instant gratification and really like to keep going once I start. Patience is the lesson of the day.

Plein Air at Van Dusen Gardens

Here are my brave band of students from the workshop I did on Saturday. We had rain off and on and not one person complained. Thank you, Alfonso for finding us a couple of tents- you saved the day.

Like me, most of the folks are just getting started at plien air. My tips, for them and anyone else that is new to outdoor painting, are to keep it very simple, look for good value above color and start with a thumbnail sketch to plan your composition.

It was very fun to spend the day painting with the group. Van Dusen Gardens put on 4 Saturday workshops each spring, as part of the Cherry Blossom Festival. There's a different instructor each week. Mine was the final one for this year.

Next weekend it's "Rocks, Trees and Water in acrylics" in West Vancouver. Details on my website.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Great Blue

I started this painting at the demo for my show last weekend. It's my first attempt at a heron. It was really fun to do- came together pretty easily. Nice when that happens.
Now I want to do more bird paintings. First nice day, I'm going to head out to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary with my camera.
This painting is slated for the big Painters at Painters event at Campbell River in late May.
"Great Blue" 20 x 30" acrylic

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Vancouver Show

Here's a couple of shots from my show opening yesterday at Granville Fine Arts. I was painting in the gallery and actually got quite a bit of painting done, in between chatting to people. Thanks to everyone that took some time on a beautiful sunny day to come and see the show.
The paintings will hang until next Friday, April 20th.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Last one

Just finished this last piece for my show. "Turning Point" 30 x 40" oil. Now I just have to sign, varnish, frame and deliver everything to the gallery on Thursday. I'm really looking forward to seeing it all hanging on the gallery walls. The show opens Saturday, April 14th at Granville Fine Arts [Broadway & Granville] and I will be painting there in the afternoon, from 1:00 to 4:00. Please drop in and say hi if you have time- would love to see you.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Two new paintings

I finished these two pieces today, although a little tweaking may take place before they leave the studio. They are both for my April 14th show.

Garabaldi Workshop

Last weekend I spent two days teaching this lovely bunch of people. They were gracious, focused and hardworking. Plus fun. I had a great time - thank you everyone for making it such a positive experience.