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Don Valley Art Club show at Todmorden Mills

Show details

The fall show and sale for the Don Valley Art Club is coming up soon, and I will have a few pieces in the show. This particular show is set up so that if you buy something, you can take it with you immediately, not have to wait until the end of the show.

Opening: Wednesday November 25, 7:00 to 9:00 pm.  The show is on until December 6. Todmorden Mills is at 67 Pottery Road, where there is free parking and free admission. The gallery is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, open noon to 5:00 pm weekdays, and noon to 4:00 pm weekends.

This show is always popular for the wall of square paintings available at $144 each. These are 12 x 12 inch original pieces.

New pieces in this show

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The cabin we rented in Halliburton last summer was on the water, and we had the most spectacular sunsets, with amazing combinations of almost neon colors. With the fading light filtering through the tall thin trees at the water’s edge, I just had to capture this mood in a painting. I thought the finished piece looked oddly tropical, despite being in the near north, hence the name. It’s part of the Near North series of paintings.

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This piece is another in the Highway Series, where I have abstracted the landscape visible from the highway. The blocks of color are carefully selected and layered to produce a calm mood, and a sense of spaciousness.

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This is also part of the Highway Series, and I think creates a lot of space in a very small canvas. The silo stands like a sentinel watching over the activity, which becomes a competition between the agricultural structure and the wild bushes and trees. The photo has an odd brown cast that does not exist in the original — I’ll have to take a picture with a better camera, instead of the ipad. (Better plan, come and see it for yourself!)

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This is the first of what will be a series that I think will be called Broken Words. It uses a new method of transferring printed images that I have developed, and am getting good results with. The letters have been finished with a high-gloss gel that makes them stand out from the matte finish of the paint, something that does not come through very well in the photo.

There are many fine artists that show with the Don Valley Art Club, and you will not be disappointed if you make the time to stop by. For more details about location, check here.

Upcoming show at NEXT!

I am delighted to have two of my recent pieces going in to the juried NEXT! show at the Arts and Letters Club.

This is an amazing club that looks like Hogwarts on the inside, and has been in existence since 1908. Many famous writers, painters and musicians have been members. The club runs an open submission juried art show, and I am so pleased to be a part of this event, since they select only 45 pieces.

The two pieces I will have in the show are Cooper’s Farm with Sketchbook Page, and Three White Buildings and Triangle, shown below.

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Details about the show and public access dates are on the Arts and Letters Club Web site here.

More in The Highway Series

I almost overlooked adding this little gem, Billboard and Cows, which is currently hanging in my sun-room. It’s also an 18 x 18 piece, and although it is painted using a hard edge technique, you can see there is lots of texture. I guess we need a new term (see more below*.)


Also hanging in my sun-room are the two vertical pieces, called Shapes and Shadows 1 and 2. I think this view gives a more accurate impression of the colors, which came out a bit strong looking in the other photos posted.  These two paintings work well side by side, I think — they were actually painted from the same source material — but they also work well on their own.


*Hard Edge painting is a term that dates from the late 1950’s. You can read more about it at the Guggenheim or the Tate.  Or have a look at some of these paintings from Takao Tanabe.

Updating the site

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Well, it was an amazing summer of painting. I’ve been a real slacker at keeping this web site updated, but was pretty keen to get some of this new work up here, so finally set aside the time to just get it done.

I try to make the photos as true to the colors of the work as possible, but I would have to say that the originals all look better than the photos — it’s just very difficult to capture a painting in a photograph.

I have started two new series of work that I am REALLY excited about.

The Near North Series is a looser, wilder interpretation of the raw landscape of the Canadian Shield country. The same landscape that has inspired a lot of painters over the years. These works are also finished in the studio.

The Highway Series is about the wide open spaces that we can see from the highway — agricultural and industrial lands. It is hard-edged, worked in the studio from my sketches and photos. The image shown at the top was the first of this series, and the first time I have painted in this style. I was having a lot of difficulty settling on the right color for the foreground, and painted several swatches on sketchbook paper. When I finally got the right one, I collaged it in, as a mark of the process of painting.

My obsession with the square format is not quite over, exactly, but I’ve started using some other shapes and sizes.

I hope you enjoy these new pieces.

Preparing for a show – building frames and mounting the work

I’ve been getting some paintings ready to show, and thought you would be interested to see what goes into that.

Since I generally paint on wood panels, the panels themselves need to be supported on cradles. I build these myself. The work looks so much better when it is framed, even simply framed, that I decided to build simple frames for the pieces in this show. As well, the frame protects the painting. If it gets dropped by mistake, for example, it will be the frame that is damaged, not the painting.

I was building so many that I made a careful plan of the rough and finished size of each piece, and how many pieces of each type of wood I would use.

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Careful planning will minimize the waste from the wood. So I measured all the cuts first. The wood you see here is oak and poplar, which is what I use for the visible parts of the frame.

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I allow for 1/4 inch of waste from the power saw — you actually use close to 1/8 inch just to the cut itself.










Next step is to make all the preliminary cuts with the power saw. I did this outside the sun room, which I temporarily converted into a framing studio.  Way too much sawdust to do this inside, so I bundled up and did it on the deck.

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Next up is trimming the rough cuts. This bad boy tool is called a mitre trimmer, and it has razor sharp blades that cut a very thin slice off the corner of the wood. I love the way the trimmed corners feels – smooth and perfect.

mitre trimmermitre trimmer in use

Here’s my giant pile of trimmed cradle pieces, ready to be glued up. This year I acquired a v-nailer, which greatly simplifies and speeds up the process. You glue, clamp and nail one corner at a time.

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I also paint the edges of each of the cradles. Usually a dark purplish – charcoal color that I mix up myself. So if you buy a piece without a frame, you can hang it on the wall. In the finished frame, you can see just a bit of this edge, so it is important that it look good.

In the picture on the right, the thin pieces that are painted are going to be the back part of the frame. Thin pieces of oak and poplar will be mounted to the edge.

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These cradles are all mounted to the individual paintings with carpenter’s glue, then clamped until the glue is set.

The thin frames are a little trickier, since they have two parts — the profile is an L shape. Each one has eight pieces to be fitted and glued. I use corner clamps, but this year I also pressed some yoga equipment into service — see the colored rubber bands? I wrap and clamp these as well, to make sure the corners all fit nice and neat.

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Before I put the painting into the frame, I apply a coat of matte varnish. This is painter’s varnish that protects the painting from UV and minor bangs, as well as grease or dust. I also mark the back of the painting with a title, date, and conservation information (so any future conservator knows what materials were used — what kind of ground preparation, paint, and varnish.)

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Here are a few of the pieces for this show, all framed and ready to go. These are hung in my home for us to enjoy before they go make their way in the world!

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I’m quite pleased with how these all look. All set to be hung!

Paintings added to permanent collection of Toronto Public Library

I was thrilled to have the Toronto Public Library Special Collections get in touch with me this year and enquire about purchasing two paintings.

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These are both recognizable locations in a nearby area of the city that was at one time the town of Leaside. The top piece is an old building at Todmorden Mills, which is now a public space. I deliberately distorted the perspective on this lovely old building, which had such pretty colors in the stucco.

The lower one is part of a cement plant, in the Leaside industrial park. I am very interested in these industrial spaces that are part of the city, as they are fast disappearing.

Both pieces are now in the permanent collection at the Toronto Reference Libary!

Painting the Bruce Peninsula

I’m just back from two weeks off the grid (no internet! no e-mail!) of glorious painting on the Bruce Peninsula. This wonderful location is bordered on Georgian Bay on one side, and Lake Huron on the other, and has a landscape that really appeals to me. The Niagara Escarpment, a rock formation that runs south to Niagara Falls, has created many beautiful cliffs and bays on the peninsula.

Here are a few of the painting locations, kindly documented by my husband Bruce.

My work is inspired by the landscape, not an attempt to capture it in a realistic or photographic way.

Getting started with a coffee in hand, a crucial part of my painting routine!

Getting started with a coffee in hand, a crucial part of my painting routine!


This was the dock at our rented cottage, overlooking a quiet lagoon. I created several paintings on different days, different light conditions. Often too windy to use the umbrella, so the light was often a challenge — blindingly bright.


Another spot on the cottage property, this time trying to get some shelter from the sun and heat.

There is a lovely access point to Bruce Peninsula National Park that you reach by walking an easy half-kilometer path. There are lovely rocks and coves, small islands, and it’s also a great place to swim.

Unfortunately, in the afternoons, stable flies are a nuisance here.

The start of a painting - this is just inside Bruce Peninsula National Park, and a popular spot for a cooling swim.

The start of a painting – this is just inside Bruce Peninsula National Park, and a popular spot for a cooling swim.

The finished painting.

The finished painting.

Many people visit Flowerpot Island every year, named for the large pillar formations formed by eroded limestone. We walked to the far side of the island, where the old lighthouse-keepers cottage is located, and I enjoyed painting the large rocks there.

That's me at my easel in the centre background, trying to capture the forms of a large rock.

That’s me at my easel in the centre background, trying to capture the forms of a large rock.

On the Lake Huron side is Singing Sands beach at Dorcas Bay. This huge beach is very shallow. Too shallow for adults to enjoy swimming there, it seems to be an endless series of shallow sand bars. Very popular with young families. I was enjoying the tiny vivid yellow flowers and red grasses, as well as the dunes.

Painting the dunes at Singing Sands

Painting the dunes at Singing Sands

A more whimsical painting of the beach, with some bathers visible in the background

A more whimsical painting of the beach, with some bathers visible in the background

Little Cove is a beautiful spot in the National Park that is marred by only a couple of small chunks of private land. We encountered some wild weather there, and I had to move to avoid getting wet feet!

The round shapes in the rocks seen in the second photo are apparently formed when the great weight of a glacier pressing down on the rock is released due to melting, and the rock springs back. Very challenging to capture in a painting, but quite inspiring.


Painting at Little Cover, note the waves starting to encroach.

Circular wave shapes in the rock caused by melting glaciers

Circular wave shapes in the rock caused by melting glaciers

So now I just have to get busy and get images up on the site here to show you! It was a fantastic trip, and I painted almost every day.

On location in Haliburton at A Brush with the Highlands Plein Air Painting Festival

This is a photo taken at the 2011 plein air painting festival (A Brush with the Highlands), after I had finished painting, so the light had changed quite significantly. But here’s what I was looking at. I love these groves of trees, they never fail to capture my attention.

This is a photo of the installation for the juried show at A Brush With the Highlands in 2012. I’m in good company in between two pieces by artist Sheila Davis, which won awards. For this part of the show, one can only submit pieces that were completed during the three day festival. We had exceptionally warm weather, so being in the shade was essential!

Summer plein air painting

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Two of my favorite things to do are create art and be in the great outdoors. In the summertime, I try to combine these by painting outside, known as “painting en plein air”.

Every summer in August, there is a plein air painting festival in the Haliburton Highlands, a district in the Canadian Shield about a three hour drive north-east of Toronto, where I live.

This year, my husband and I rented cottages in a couple of locations for two weeks before this event and I painted outside almost every day, which was really joyous and relaxing. You can’t really think about anything else while you are painting, so it takes you completely out of your head.

For the actual festival, which happens over three days, farmers and landowners in the rural area let artists come onto their private land to paint. Meeting the other artists is usually interesting too, although I freely confess that we are a unique segment of society for the most part!  Case in point — I bumped into a painting friend in the grocery store, and we stood in front of the cheese counter discussing composition principles for half an hour.

The images in the gallery called “Come into the Forest” are all plein air paintings. Most would have been painted over 3 – 4 hours, with occasional stops for coffee, sunscreen or bug spray! Some take a bit longer. This year was very dry, so I didn’t have to cope with any sudden rain storms.

The changes in light and shadow over a few hours are one of the challenges of outdoor painting, to say nothing of the overwhelming complexity of the view. You have to take away everything that is not necessary until you are left with a story that makes sense.

The painting shown here – The Old Maple – was painted on the last day of the festival in the afternoon, on a property called Brigadoon.