First Rose

1st rose

This work that I wrote about last time is finished now.

It is 10×10″ and oil on board.  I enjoyed painting this one and have learned so much by doing it that I have another very similar set up to work from. First though, I am off to start another drawing for the portrait based works that I introduced a couple of months ago here:

For those that look at paintings I’m sure you know that photography describes them fine but doesn’t really capture a painting so this one will be at later in the week if you want to see it in the flesh.


So I have finished the third of three still lives I have done over the past three months. In the last post I mentioned how much I’ve enjoyed the time doing them.  I set up a black box beside the easel and each of the SL works from this year have been identical in terms of the environment but increasingly complicated. You can see what I mean in previous posts Fallen Angel, Courage, Ancestors and now this one. The last two are almost double the size too.  detailThe lotus flower is a candle holder that is sold in New Age shops,  it is blue, symbolizing Vishuddhi  the throat chakra, which has under its rulership communicaton.  For a long time the skeleton has been to me a symbol of the material aspect of being human and not, as it seems to be in op culture, of death.  Let me see if I can explain; one of my most powerful personal meditations has been to quietly sit and visualize the image of a skeleton- bones with no life or way of movement to them. Once I have this clearly I imagine the skeleton begin to animate and move. Almost instantly it brings the experience of wonder that a pile of bones can move on it’s own. The last step is to then, while still in meditation, bring my attention to a point where my own skeleton is obvious, like the jaw or brow bone and direct the sense of wonder of a moving skeleton to my own experience of self.  For me this has the effect of delineating the material and spiritual(conscious) experience of being human and the skeleton is a central character in this mystical sense of being.Clouds detail 2 I don’t know if it would work for anyone else but for me it cultivates an awareness of these two aspects of being, and to what end? Why would one try a meditation like this? It isn’t necessarily deep relaxation, in fact it may seem creepy. For me it has been a “bottom-line” kind of exercise-the experience of matter/the experience of spirit- powerful if you have as one of your goals self awareness in a spiritual sense.


So here in this image, the skeleton(the material human) has a white flower on it’s head, maybe symbolizing a revelation or an enlightenment of some sort as it gazes down into Vishuddhi.  The organza fabric tied up with the purple ribbon are like clouds, suggesting etheric setting and the ribbon banner behind is a scroll type image that I am developing for future works where words from the spiritual characters will appear.

Don’t quite know what to make of all of that but it might have some sort of emergent meaning for you.

And thank you for stopping in to read!

New Still Life

Ancestors web
Recently I have enjoyed developing more of a still life practice. I have been working from a black box set up beside my easel. Much work I do of portraits is from photo resources and so it is very valuable for me both creatively and technically to spend regular time working from life. In this composition I have used some fabric from my studio that I dyed in deep hues, the now familiar purple ribbon and a small terracotta face that has been hanging on my wall for years. When the face has fallen a couple of times I glued the pieces back together as I love it very much.  This painting was strongly about colour relationship while I was working on it, but there is a symbolic component that describes the ancient alien conspiracy tales which I find fascinating and bizarre.
Here for your interest are photos including a couple of the work in progress. The finished piece along with the last, “Courage”, will be at Jarvis Hall Fine Art in Calgary later this week. I will also have more additions of work in progress on this blog shortly.

in progress 1

in progress 3 web

Ancestors detail complete




One of the methods we use in Tarot is to combine two or three separate symbols to create one idea. This practice has provided me with a structure to approach designing still life painting.
I think the core reason that I enjoy painting from still life is the act of painting from 3 dimensional space for an extended period of time. Because I use photo references commonly I find it very valuable to have the memory of painting from a three dimensions fresh.
The above comment about the method in reading Tarot has infused the practice with another layer of meaning for me. In the following image I have three basic parts- the ribbon, the card and the glass talisman. I am using the purple ribbon now to express connection to the Divine; the glass piece is one that is used for energetic protection and the Two of Wands has a key idea something like ambition. Combining the three symbols into one concept I have called the piece- Courage.

The card in the image is from The Angels Tarot by Robert Place and Rosemary Ellen Guiley. It was published in 1995.

Jarvis Hall Fine Art +One

The summer show at Jarvis Hall Fine Arts is called +One. Each of his gallery artists were asked to show a piece and then invite an artist they wanted to be included. I believe that Jarvis did not pre curate the show at all and just responded to the work that showed up prior to hanging. It is a rich mix of styles and approaches to art that will appeal to a good range of tastes and interests. It is very interesting to see how well it all works together as the mood changes from one piece to the next and every piece in the show is worth seeing individually.

Here is Jarvis’s description for the show:

Join us for the opening reception of our summer exhibition entitled: + One

“Featuring works by:

Mark Dicey + Doug Taylor
David Foxcroft + Dan Hudson
Marianne Gerlinger + Marcel Van Eeden
Janine Hall + Richard T. Davis
Billy McCarroll + Serena McCarroll
Herald Nix + M. Cran
Jen Somerville + Mireille Perron
Jeffrey Spalding + Marmaduke Matthews
Larissa Tiggelers + Shannon Brown
Dean Turner + Isobel Rae
Carl White + Timothy Reece
Dan Whiting+ Mackenzie Kelly-Frere
John Will + Robin Arseneault

Since opening the gallery, Jarvis Hall Fine Art, in 2011 I have used my summer months to program curated group exhibitions. I have allowed for and invited artists that I do not represent to be included in these exhibitions in order to push the boundaries of programming in a commercial art gallery. My hope is that our audience will get a greater sense of what is happening in contemporary art, further afield from the artists that I represent.

This year, I asked each of the artists at JHFA to invite a guest artist (+ One) of their choice to take part in our summer show. The result of this of type of curation has resulted in our largest exhibition to date with an estimated 30 works on view. I have had no input into the list of invited artists, believing that the strength of the exhibition would be served by the varied mix of style, approach and execution. Every artist at JHFA has their own reasons for whom they added to the guest list. ”

I chose Richard Thomas Davis who I met at the last the last Kingston Prize Portrait competition. I admire his work greatly for its meditative beauty but also for its slow and careful aesthetic where craftsmanship, technique and attention to detail are so valued. I find a lot of inspiration in his art that supports my longing to make work where paint describes a vision so completely that it transforms into the vision itself.

What Lies Beyond the Storms

What Lies Beyond the Storms

Storms have always been a part of my creative imagination. They are so powerful and awesome, no match at all for humans and the things we build. They are terrifying, dangerous, exciting, beautiful and more all at the same time. I have no physical experience with tornados or hurricanes myself, only imaginings feuled by images from videos, photos and stories. Storms are so wonderfully symbolic. It is a combination of water and air and for someone like me who thinks in symbols, the mixture of the two- mental and emotional- is so meaningful, especially when I consider the destructive force, the beauty, the turbulence, the temperatures and the impact on the earth and on the creatures. Rich subject matter to ponder including the relationship between the forms of air and water- in the human, in the weather, in the imagination and throughout creation.
This piece is called “What lies Beyond the Storms”. The two twisters reach stretch from the dark clouds on either side of the composition like pillars. There is a suggestion of some drama and human presence on the ground around them. Far above the dark clouds there are patches of night sky and stars and below them is the glow of light from the sun beyond. So if I look and contemplate the light the turbulence of the storms is only on the periphery.

What Lies Beyond the Storms detail 1

What Lies Beyond the Storms detail 2

Latest commissioned portrait

I have just delivered the latest commission from my studio. It is oil on board and 18×24″. It is the third portrait of a set of brothers and I will have a post up shortly of the all three. For now though here is this last one along with a detail. You can click on the image for a larger view. Thanks for taking the time to look!