Saturday, November 16, 2013

13 -Step Acrylic Glazing Class a Hit!

Last weekend I was invited to facilitate an Art Class in Lanigan, SK., just a forty-minute drive from my home at the Resort Village of Manitou Beach.

I felt very well prepared, as I now have a secret weapon in my teaching arsenal.

Last year I created an online course that readers of this blog will be familiar with. The course is organized in 13 bite-sized pieces that very effectively de-mystifies the classical 'glazing technique' where multiple transparent layers are applied judiciously to arrive at a rich, life-like finish that appears to 'glow from within' when executed properly.

Over the years you may have attended 'art classes' where the general gist was 'do your own thing'...'be creative'...'have fun'...AKA FLOUNDER and STRUGGLE without a whole lot of actual hand's-on technical guidance from the instructor. My approach is the exact opposite, as I lay out a specific technical strategy that when followed EMPOWERS and PROPELS you to a whole new level of satisfaction with your technical approach. Having set this straight, you will find that the actual image becomes clarified and dynamic.

My approach of transparent glazing is eminently 'teachable' to anyone with basic drawing skills.

The nine participants at the Lanigan Workshop succeeded in creating beautiful, lustrous still-life studies based on the 13-step method. 

My wife Sharon suggested beforehand that I play the '48-Second Painting' video -that covers the 13 steps-  prior to the instruction and it turns out that this was a great idea! After the nine gals saw all of the steps covered in the video, they could more easily visualize and appreciate the process. This video is serving now as a powerful teaching tool to introduce the scope of the technique, like a map through the territory of glazing to a finished painting in 13 steps.

Here's the'll see what I mean:


After we viewed the '48-Second Painting' video, we set up a sprawling still-life on a table-top and had everyone form a semi-circle around for a good sight-line. We all used a small paper 'view-finder' ( a 5" x 7" piece of paper with a postage-stamp sized hole cut out of the center) to 'zoom in' on a particular detail of the collection of objects on the table.

We set up a sprawling still-life on a table-top with a dark drapery behind it. All of the participants selected a 'detail' of the still-life to focus on for their study.

I asked everyone to focus in on a 'pleasing composition' of just two or three main shapes for this exercise.

This is important, as it takes a lot of concentration to execute the 13 steps so for the most effective outcome, it is best to use the KISS principle. Too many objects in the still life pretty much defeats the purpose of learning the glazing technique. The still-life per se is only there to act as a catalyst in order to execute the 13 steps; a conceptual anchor.

All nine paintings lined up for comparison and analysis after three steps. 
After the first three steps we lined up the paintings top check our progress. We had by now tinted the entire canvas a a golden yellow, then started to separate the dark from the light with successive transparent layers of orange and red.

Carefully applying the second glaze of transparent red.

Progressing into the transparent violet glaze, continuing to 'separate the light from the dark'.

The bustle of an active studio...
Space does not allow me to go into great detail with all 13 steps here, suffice to say all nine participants succeeded in finishing the exercise to arrive at very lovely, glowing paintings. I have it from them that is was very enjoyable and worthwhile.

An excellent example of the rich, deep hues possible to achieve using the 13-Step Technique.
Claire's painting, seen almost finished above, is an excellent example of how rich and lustrously you can lay on transparent glazes to achieve a beautiful 'back-lit' effect. 

The 'objects that Claire paints appear to be in glowing space and also suffused with light from within. Note the characteristic 'surface continuity' of the piece, how no one shape or area appears to be in isolation or 'stitched in' with the composition. 

Rather, there is a 'unified field' that binds the whole in successively more persuasive detail and resolution with each transparent (or translucent) glaze. 

All of the objects co-mingle comfortably with their shared atmosphere, charged with a glowing pallette of transparent colors.

Shauna Johnson was the first to officially 'sign off' on her painting. Note the lustrous glow and the 'back-lit' effect in her painting. Well done if I may say so myself!

Shauna Johnson excelled in her rendition of the rare old teapot that was the sentimental favorite of several of the artists.Turns out that the unusually colored teapot is a family heirloom which a member brought along as a contribution to the community still-life. It is so interesting and precious how a humble object such as this takes on epic proportions when it becomes the subject of a careful still-life painting, with all its intense visual and painterly analysis. Add a daub of sentimental value to the mix along with desire and enthusiasm and you arrive at a result as stunning as this!
If the happy smiling faces are any indication, I would say that this introductory session was a big success! Left to Right: Julie, Claire, Rosalie, Brenda, Shauna, Edmee, Michael, Dianne, Melanie and Lorna.

The careful and observant reader may have noticed a discrepancy between the title of this post ( 13 -Step Acrylic Glazing Class a Hit! ) and the caption on the poster above  ( ...12 Step-by-Step Lessons) . The reason for this is that the technical part is actually 12 steps...the 13th step is your own creativity!

At this moment we are planning a follow-up session at Lanigan so what does that tell you? The chemistry was great, the reception was warm and friendly and the appetite to learn more about this exciting technique has been whetted! If YOU would like to organize a hand's-on painting workshop in your community, please contact me at to discuss the details.

In the meantime, happy creating!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Refreshed and Updated Mural Portfolio

I am just in the process of organizing a new mural-painting project at an as yet undisclosed site so it was time to update one of my mural portfolios. I have been using the 'Behance' platform for years now and in the past several months they have been tweaking the interface. It's an amazing platform that allows artists to create a great-looking online portfolio with all of the global sharing attributes.

Here is the link to my latest. I have called it "Murals: My Passion and Artistic Expression".

Monday, May 20, 2013

Designing God/dess

The original design of the 'Trinity' that I created in 1981 featured three triangles within a central triangle. This design was the basis for the mural at St. Mary's Basilica in Halifax, N.S. that I presented as an 'unlovely' pencil sketch to the Archbishop of the day, James Hayes. My design was 'approved' with a minimum of fuss at the time and I took that as a good sign that I was on the right track with my imagery and symbolism.

I decided in my first draft that it would be inappropriate to presume that my puny human intellect could deign to present an 'image' of 'God', so I elected to use a symbolic approach...the two hands seen on top in the uppermost triangle that pierce through the ethereal clouds to proclaim "I am." This was as far as I was willing to go in my presentation of that entity. 

'God' is represented symbolically with two human hands piercing celestial clouds over the curvature of planet Earth.
It was only after I was hired by the Liturgical Design Firm Desmarais and Robitaille in Montreal shortly after the unveiling of 'Trinity 1981' and was in the employ of (the late) Father Toby McIvern -renowned Church Architect and Interior Designer- that I was informed of a very interesting anomaly which was intrinsic to my design concept. Fr. Toby told me that I had inadvertently used an 'incorrect' symbolic reference to the Catholic idea of the 'Trinity' by utilizing and inverted triangle as the 'central motif'. That is, the outer triangle mentioned earlier was situated with the base at the top and the apex down. Toby explained that this was in fact a direct reference to the 'devil' and 'hell', as the triangle in this particular configuration symbolizes the female vulva, ergo terms of the patriarchal hierarchy of images that he was well-versed in as a Liturgical Architect and scholar of religious symbolism.

The late Fr. Toby McIvern was a world-renowned Church Architect/Interior Designer who illuminated the true meaning behind the inverted triangle of 'Trinity 1981'.
Well, you can imagine my consternation at the time when it was revealed to me that I had unwittingly created a symbol of the female vulva incorporated into the very essence of the patriarchal 'trinity' (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and that this glaring mis-step was now evident in my mural at the basilica. My reaction was a great belly laugh at the time, as I was intrigued that somehow the female aspect had wiled its way into my design seamlessly for all to see, that had the understanding. It was a lesson that I would never forget...and I was mighty thankful that the Archbishop had not deemed the inverted triangle an abomination when I first presented my concept to him! If he had been alert to the deeper symbolic meaning of the offending triangle, the entire design would have ended up being shunted into utter obscurity and the mural would have never been authorized to proceed. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss!

Fast forward 30 years to the hallowed halls of Sacred Heart Chaldean Catholic Church in Saskatoon, SK. The Chaldean Catholics had recently immigrated en masse from war-torn Iraq, where they had been ruthless persecuted for their religious beliefs by the regime of the day. The parish priest, Father Sabah Kamoura had several foiled attempts on his life prior to his exodus out of Iraq to Western Canada, where he was free to establish his parish in a relatively safe and tolerant society.

One of the first orders of business upon purchasing the former St. Timothy's Anglican Church property was to upgrade and beautify the austere interior with an ambitious mural that would cover the entire sanctuary wall. Fr. Sabah was adamant that this project must proceed as a top priority so that the interior space could reflect the power and majesty of the Chaldean liturgy. It was Fr. Sabah's belief that a visual testament to the scriptural aspects of his liturgy must be of paramount importance at the outset to enhance the spiritual lives of his flock. 

The first inclination of the parish council was to recruit a muralist from the USA, as it was their understanding that this was a very specialized field and they must have nothing but the most qualified expert to take on such an important project. As fate would have it, I had recently completed a fairly ambitious mural for the owner of a Saskatoon sports bar who happened to be a parishioner at Sacred Heart. He recommended my services as a muralist to the parish council and they contacted me shortly after. 

Father Sabah stands with Ilara Stefaniuk-Gaudet in front of the fabricated uppermost panels before they were mounted at the apex of the mural.

One of the first things I found out about the Chaldean Catholic faith is that the clergy is permitted to marry! This came as a revelation to me as I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic tradition. I was always mystified as to why priests may not marry and have a legitimate relationship with the partner of their choice. Surely this deficit has lead to a catastrophe of scandalous proportions throughout the history of the RC church as we are all acutely and painfully aware of. But alas, this is not the case for the Chaldeans, so you can imagine my relief and profound appreciation at this realization! Father Sabah has a wonderful, loving wife that he clearly respects and adores. 

Father Sabah and his wife were recruited to model their hands, respectively representing both the male and female aspects of God for my Trinity design.
So it was not much of a stretch when I suggested to him that I would like to represent the symbol of 'God' in my representation of the 'trinity' as a male AND female aspect. My concept was to include a male and female 'hand of God' to honor both healthy aspects of a complete Godhead.  My aim was to include a powerful reference to the feminine nature of God alongside the masculine nature. Rather than use a generic photo reference, I elected to recruit Father Sabah and his wife to pose as 'hand models' for the mural. Without hesitation they both agreed and we created a dossier of images. Fr. Sabah suggested that the male aspect be shown 'blessing' creation while the female aspect would be shown 'molding creation into being'. What an enlightened and profound approach!

The original mock-up that shows the male and female 'hands of God'.

As a matter of protocol, the early draft of my design was forwarded to the Archbishop's office and from there to the Vatican for 'approval'. Fr. Sabah and I were innocently ignorant of the repercussions that were to immediately come crashing down on us! We received a curt response from the Archbishop's office that the inclusion of the 'female aspect' in my rendition of the 'hands of God' was a HERESY and would not be permitted to grace the sanctuary of Sacred Heart Church. We were to cease and desist in our delusions of a unisex God. God forbid! We were told in no uncertain terms that this reprehensible act must not be allowed and that the design must be altered or the blessing of the Holy See for the project would be retracted.

Revised design shows two 'male' hands of God.
Not to be so easily dissuaded from our commitment to show the male and female aspect of the Godhead, Fr. Sabah and I made an executive decision to eliminate the offensive female hand from my design while maintaining the symbolic reference to the left hand 'blessing creation into being' and the right hand 'molding creation into being'. In addition, I had decided early on to flip the triangle onto its base, as this symbolizes a 'pointing to heaven' or simply 'God'.

The revisited rendering of the 'Trinity' at Sacred Heart.
As a brief aside, I incorporated the three 'primary colors' ie: red, yellow and green into the inner triangles to honor and respect the 'visual arts', as these are the three colors that when combined potentially create all of the colors of the spectrum. Without the primaries, there can be no visual art. But I digress. Something about the very idea of the 'powers-that-be' of the Vatican hierarchy demanding that the female aspect of the Godhead be banished from the mural design did not sit well with me as an artist presumably working in a free society. 

Mary is shown as a Goddess figure with cosmic rays emanating from her hands and held aloft in a 'nimbus' or halo.
Traditionally, Mary is shown with her foot on the neck of the serpent to symbolize that she has vanquished the 'devil'. I made a conscious decision to have her in harmony with the serpent, as the older pre-Christian meaning of the serpent is centered around the reverence for the serpent. The serpent is the symbol of the kundalini. In addition, Mary stands on the 'crescent moon' which is also an ancient reference to the Goddess. She, along with her accompanying symbols, is held aloft in the branches of a glorious 'Tree of Life". The "Tree of Knowledge" is really the map of the human soul. It is seen in nearly every ancient religion pre-dating Judeo/Christianity. The trunk symbolizes the spine, and the branches symbolize the chakras and the kundalini pathways. 

The serpent is vital and alive in harmony with the Goddess.
I wish to acknowledge the salient fact that I invited my daughter Ilara to work as my mural-painting apprentice for parts of the project. As fate would have it, Fr. Sabah elected at the last moment...after the changes as described above with the 'hands of God' include a very prominent vision of the so-called 'Tree of Life' at the base of the design. This was to be an auspicious decision that I willingly complied with, as the 'Tree of Life' is yet another powerful symbol of the Goddess and as it turns out, Ilara was charged with almost all of the rendering of this element. As a feminine influence on the course of this project, Ilara was a perfect compliment to the energy of the Goddess that ended up being infused mightily into the entire design as we will see.

Ilara applying one of multiple transparent glazes to the leaves on the 'Tree of Life'. 

Once we had established that the 'tree' would be an important part of the design, it dawned on all of us -Ilara, Fr. Sabah and myself- that the branches would permeate throughout the entire mural as a kind of powerful embrace...the essence of the Goddess would be evident to all that have the understanding of the original meaning of the archaic symbols. As a discreet act of defiance, it was decided to rev up the presence of the Goddess so that She resides in a natural harmony with the masculine aspects of 'God' in the design. 

Months before we realized that the 'Tree of Life' would be included in the design, Ilara had this motif tattooed on her left arm. Talk about pre-cognition.
I thought it was very fitting and evocative that months before Ilara was charged with the rendering of the 'Tree of Life' in this mural, she had a lovely design of the exact image tattooed on her arm. There is something quite undeniable about the synchronicity of this inexplicable chain of events!

...the branches would permeate throughout the entire mural as a kind of powerful embrace.

While I always respected the wishes of my patron and friend Fr. Sabah...he is a great man of the utmost integrity,,, I felt that I could not abandon my own conviction that the concept of a 'higher being' or God must include both the masculine and feminine aspects in order to be honest and authentic to my artistic spirit.

The planet Earth...Mother Earth...hovers in space above the center of the Tree.
Yet another sublime reference to the feminine nature of God/dess is evident in the prominent placement of 'Mother Earth' at the base of the design as it hovers in space above the center of the Tree. This was an element that the good Fr. Sabah suggested for his own reasons; suffice to say that the circle and the sphere are decidedly feminine attributes that parry in a dynamic tension with the triangular aspect of the apex high above. 

Resting in front of 'March of Trinity' shortly after its completion with Ilara.

She (the Goddess) is 'grounded' at the base of the mural, She is coiled as a serpent at the foot of the Goddess in the form of the transcendent Mary who stands on her crescent moon, She spreads her earthy branches throughout the entire cosmos of the design to bind together the sexy, messy business of creation.

I don't think that a male 'God' with healthy self-esteem would raise any objections whatsoever to the presence of His female counterpart in this context. I find it impossible to fathom for a moment how a sole male God could hope to foster creativity into being without the womb of his female companion as a vessel for the maturation of the process. 

I will be eternally grateful for the intellectual traction from the Holy See that motivated this robust response and I pray with all sincerity that the balance of power between the sexes is appropriate and timely in our enlightened age.

Monday, April 22, 2013

HAPPY EARTH DAY to my fellow Earthlings!


To catch up with my art and art projects please drop in to say 'hi' at my new Artist's Page on Facebook.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Near-Death Experience Fuels Quest for Immortality: An Artist's Story

Today I was excited to hear that my guest post " Near-Death Experience Fuels Quest for Immortality: An Artist's Story " is published at the . 

As you know, I have recently launched into an exciting new venture with, one of the world's most dynamic and successful online academies of higher learning.

Just before Christmas 2012 I was recruited by one of their sleuth-y staff members who apparently has common connections on the LinkedIn network with moi.

I decided to take it on as a serious 'project' at that time and after some technical upgrades I have succeeded in creating my first course "Art of Acrylic Glazing with a Modern Master"

You know, it was a very useful and self-instructive exercise, as it meant I was obliged to set things down in a very logical, systematic way so my students will have a great experience with my 12-step painting curriculum.

The course is set out in easy to digest bite-sized pieces that take you all the way from a blank canvas to a finished painting, without the use of black!

But I digress.

'Recovery I' was designed and painted while a dialysis patient in 1979 at Sunnybrooke Medical Center in Toronto. 

I was excited to see my post  Near-Death Experience Fuels Quest for Immortality: An Artist's Story in today's Udemy Blog! I was challenged to write a post that would surprise, delight and even intrigue my readers and this is the theme I came up with. Didn't somebody once say "Write about what you know"? 

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of a busy life one forgets the accomplishments that really mean something, have an impact in the grand scheme of things. I decided to settle in to composing  this story that has been tumbling around in my mind now for over 30 years. 

After all, if I don't tell the story, who ever will? 

And I think it's a good story...that I hope will inspire people who are going through a rough patch of their own to persevere, even if things look grim at the moment.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Near-Death Experience Fuels Quest for Immortality: An Artist's Story

To live or to die, that is the question.

In 1979 at age 19, while living and working as a freelance artist in Toronto my health was dramatically imperiled by End-Stage Renal Failure. If the term 'End-Stage' sounds ominous, it's because it was

Without emergency medical intervention I would've been a dead man. The toxins had accumulated to such  lethal levels that the team of ER doctors  were shocked that I had even managed to make it into Sunnybrooke Hospital on my own two feet. 

Depiction in pencil of the 'Shribner Shunt' to initiate emergency dialysis. (10:48 am, April 4th, 1979) 
After my timely diagnosis I was outfitted with a 'Shribner Shunt' that allowed emergency dialysis therapy the very next morning. Once I had received the dialysis therapy for about five months I started to feel more human and less like a walking toxic waste dump. Kidney failure is an extremely precarious state of being!

My neighbor on the dialysis ward with my machine in the foreground, April 1979.

Making the best of a crappy situation.

A wonderful resource person at the hospital arranged for me to take over an empty room in the hospital as a make-shift studio and even supplied me with a budget in order to outfit myself with paints and canvas to enable me to start painting again as a way of getting back on my feet to regain a sense of normalcy in my shattered life. 

I decided to create a mural that I called 'Recovery I' as a salutation to what I hoped would be an eventual return to health. You might say that this mural was an 'invocation' for my own recovery from what was a shockingly horrific disease.  As a small token of appreciation for the excellent medical care and life-saving intervention I received at Sunnybrooke, I decided to donate this mural to the institution.  It hangs in the main lobby there to this day.

"Recovery I" was designed and painted as an invocation for my own eventual recovery from the ravages of End-Stage Renal Failure.
Extreme adversity leads to a life-long commitment...

Although the onslaught and aftermath of this disease was a huge setback that caused a lot of negative impacts in my life, I can now in retrospect say that the net benefits of the whole experience far outweigh the deleterious. Although I certainly would not recommend this trial by fire to anyone, for me the experience set me on a path to self-discovery though my path as a life-long artist that I would never regret. 

Sure, there have been times when I almost wished I had settled for a more financially secure career but all in all, it has been a great ride and just keeps getting better!

Inspiration or Delusion? Let History Decide.

Very soon after my eventual kidney transplant...which freed me from the exhausting routine of thrice-weekly dialysis treatments...I was a recipient of another kind: a powerful vision came to me in a vivid 'waking dream' of three triangles hovering in space. They contorted and rotated to join together to form a single design of three triangles 'within' a single triangle. Lest I sound like a total nut-job in describing this as a 'mystical experience' I will share with you the exciting development of the following days.

With the confidence of one 'inspired', I took my crude pencil sketch of my three triangles to the Archbishop of Halifax at the time, professing to him that I believed it to be a 'mystical vision' that encapsulated the mystery of the 'Trinity', which in Roman Catholic terms is the 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit'.

Much to my delight and amazement (but really, not a huge shock or surprise; I was THAT confident) the Archbishop made an executive decision on the spot and assigned the parish priest to oversee the execution of a mural in St. Mary's Basilica which I proceeded to work on with vigor!

Applying the first few strokes on 'Trinity AD 1981' at St. Mary's Basilica in Halifax.

After about three months I had completed the mural which I called "Trinity AD 1981" in the modest setting of the Parish Hall of the Basilica. My dream at the time was to someday be commissioned to design and paint a much larger and grander mural in the Sanctuary of a sacred space. Alas, this was not to be...until exactly 30 years later!

The finished mural 'Trinity AD 1981' in its humble setting at the parish hall of St. Mary's Basilica.
Although the mural was a fairly modest size and scope, it generated a lot of notoriety in the local media. I think the main reason for this was the audacity of an 'outsider' taking his unlovely pencil sketch into the hallowed offices of the Archbishop with the confidence that it would be honored by a designate wall on which to flesh it out to a full-blown mural. Take that!

My mother Shirley Gaudet stands with the Archbishop James Hayes and myself on the occasion of the unveiling.
Success ALWAYS leads to more success!

In my experience, one success ALWAYS leads to more success and this was a good test for that theory. Soon after the completion and unveiling of this early mural, I was recruited as a 'liturgical design apprentice' to the eminent Interior Decorator and Architect the (late) Reverend Father Toby McIvern with the Montreal design firm Desmarais and Robitaille Inc. where I worked for two very formative years. 

Indeed, Fr. Toby's glowing letter of endorsement was key to my much later commission of 2011/12  to design and paint a huge, ambitious mural in the coveted 'sanctuary' of Sacred Heart Chaldean Catholic Church in Saskatoon. 

(The late) Reverend Father Toby McIvern posed for a quick pencil sketch on 11/05/85. The decorative 'doodles' in the background were rescued out of the wastepaper basket as Toby tossed them out after a chat on the phone.
I have chosen these particular artworks to drive home the point that artistic vision and 'inspiration' remain potent and powerful forces even in today's world; they are not outmoded artifacts of a bye-gone era. 

Working high up on the scaffold on the upper right-hand side of 'March of Trinity' aka 'Trinity 2011'.
Imagine my state of mind working on the ambitious mural that covered the entire sanctuary wall of Sacred Heart Chaldean Catholic Church fully 30 years after the humble 'Trinity AD 1981'. Words like 'ecstasy' and 'euphoria' come to mind...if only things were that simple.

If you want to take a closer look at the work-in-progress of this 2011 mural, check this video which pans across the entire surface and proffers some intimate views obtainable only by high-definition zoom lens, as the artwork soars to a height of almost fifty feet at the apex.

30 years after the creation of 'Trinity AD 1981' in Halifax I was honored to stand with His Excellency Roman Catholic Bishop of Saskatoon Donald Bolan and Father Sabah, parish priest of Sacred Heart Chaldean Catholic Church in Saskatoon, SK. on  03/03/2012, the day of  the official unveiling ceremony of 'March of Trinity' aka 'Trinity 2011'.

Not wanting to be typecast in any way shape or form as a 'religious' artist, I have created a prodigious number of murals across Canada over the past 30 years in the secular realm. Here is a selected mural portfolio with The Urban Wall in Saskatoon to give you an idea.

In case you were wondering, I remain to this day a successful kidney transplant thanks to the 'Gift of Life' from my loving brother Steven. He is doing well after 33 years too! One of my long-term goals is to be recognized as the World's Longest Surviving Kidney Transplant Recipient and at over 33 years I am definitely in the running. Just sayin'.

Monday, March 18, 2013

"Art of Acrylic Glazing" online course goes LIVE!

Hi all! 

I am excited to announce that after climbing one of the steeper learning curves in recent years I have succeeded in creating my first online Art Instruction Course.
It's called "The Art Of Acrylic Glazing".

Just before Christmas 2012 I received an email from recruiting me to create the course.

I was impressed by the very fact that they have people on staff who are trawling around the net seeking out potential candidates that they 'like' as a 'world expert'. 

I went ahead and started nibbling on the elephant, one bite at a time and now, after about 10 weeks of slogging through all the Curriculum requirements, it's happening!

Want to learn how to paint like the masters? This art course shows how!

 It was a real pleasure to work with the amazing staff at Udemy, who shepherded me through the whole process from the word GO!

Although I have painted hundreds and hundreds of canvasses, not to mention many many large murals in my day, it was an extra challenge to create this course. EVERY step of the way -12 in all- were carefully documented by HD video and then each of the videos were transcribed as lecture notes to clarify and emphasize the lessons. 

The 12 videos take you ALL THE WAY from a blank canvas through to a finished piece.
The course is set up and designed so that you -the painting 'apprentice'- can follow along at your own pace. You can go back and repeat view any or all of the material as often as you wish. The lecture notes are also printable so that you basically have a full-blown textbook to go along with the video demonstrations!

I'll be writing more as this thing develops...can't you tell I'm kinda excited about it?

In my happy place.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

My first online Art Course about to go LIVE!

For about the past six weeks I've been working away on a new painting.
What's so remarkable about that you ask?
Well, for the first time ever I've been chronicling every step of the way with HD video with the intention of creating my first ever online Art Instruction Course through the world-famous, one of the most respected and successful online Academies of Learning in business today.
I got an email from one of their administrators recruiting me in early December 2012.
After the extreme learning curve that I have surmounted since then it seems like that was a life-time ago.
First thing I needed to get started was a high-definition video camera, because at Udemy they take the online learning experience very seriously.
After a bit of comparison shopping, I settled on a Panasonic Lumix model camera, based on the advice from a friend in the biz.
Between the camera and Corel Video Studio Pro X6, I have managed to pull all the moving parts together into a semblance of order.
The first trial by fire was the creation of an 'Intro Video' that promotes the course...oh yeah, called "The Art of Acrylic Glazing". 
Here's what I came up with:

The painting I referred to is finished and so is my first series of 12 demonstration videos that make up the 'Art of Acrylic Glazing' course.
It was really interesting to put that much thought and energy into not only trying to clearly explain the technical aspects of glazing, but also all of the technical considerations of creating a legible video document of the process as I went. It was quite the balancing act!

At first I must admit, I was a bit overwhelmed by it all. 

But as time went on and I got deeper into the process I started to find my groove.

It was a big help to be on the receiving end of all of the generosity of time and expertise that was offered by the staff at during those early moments of sheer panic. They have likely heard it all before and lots besides from their rookie instructors.

The pain was kept to a minimum thanks to the studio that they've set up on Facebook where instructors are invited to field any questions and anxieties they might have when starting up. That has been a huge help!

I'll be writing more as this thing gets hatched aka goes live in the next little while. 
I think it has a lot of potential to do well.

While I'm here I may as well show you the 'demo' painting that I decided to create for my first course.
I love the great out-doors and our yard with the flower gardens, so I decided to tackle a painting of 'Tiger Lilies' that grow every summer just outside our big picture window.

This painting was created in 12 organized steps for the 'Art of Acrylic Glazing' course.

Once I get my 'Art of Acrylic Glazing' course authorized by the administration of it goes LIVE. 

The plan is to roll out a series of demonstrations that offer a variety of genres for you to choose from as your introduction to the glazing technique: landscape, still-life, floral, portrait, etc. I've found that this 'technique' lends itself perfectly to the whole spectrum of genres, even large mural-painting.

As a little bonus (and to experiment with my new toys) I built this 1 minute video for you:

And try this next one on for size while you're here...12 steps from a blank canvas through to a finished piece in just 48 seconds. But who's counting?

This is me experimenting with some new toys.

So long for now, thanks for all your support!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Nfld-based G. Matthews Painter/Philanthropist

No man is an island , even if he happens to live on one. 

Newfoundland-based visual artist Graham Matthews has

long been a strong advocate for artists worldwide in his role

as creator of the wildly successful artists' resource website That is, when he is not busy creating

his own distinctive blend of surreal and abstract oil paintings

that depict the iconic images of his home and native land.

Graham Matthews at work in his Newfoundland studio.

Name: Graham Matthews
Region and Country: Newfoundland, Canada

Mediums: Oil on Canvas, Acrylic, Graphite

Style: Surreal, Abstract, Abstract Realism

Please tell us about your first experience creating:
For as long as I can remember, I have had an inclination toward creating. Art was my favorite subject in elementary school. I can remember everyone saying I would be an artist someday. As a child, I would often doodle and sculpt with play doe. Unfortunately, art was not part of the curriculum from grades 7 to 12, but I did draw often during my teenage years.

How long have you considered yourself an artist?
I think I only considered myself an artist since I completed my first painting. Before art school, I did not have the confidence, encouragement or know-how to paint. But, I had been drawing for years. My first painting was completed in my first year of art school in 1996. My professor was the Canadian artist Harold Klunder. He gave us a painting project where we were to construct a huge 4x5 feet canvas with the theme of “octagon”. It was up to us to interpret this word any way we wanted. I still have this painting in my home. It’s not the best technically, but for me it’s the painting that initially gave me the confidence to say “I can do this!”

Capelin Run  By: Graham Matthews. Oils on canvas.

What are you trying to convey to viewers through your art?
There are different levels to what I am trying to convey. On one level (outward) I am trying to show the beauty of my own surroundings. This province is filled with so much inspiration. I grew up near the ocean and fishery, so this has become a dominant part of my work. My artwork is filled with scenes and images which I have seen all my life and are a part of me.
On another level, I am trying to draw viewers in, and get them involved in the artwork. I do this by shading, creating a sense of space and movement, repetition, use of perspective, and sometimes using high contrast. I also try to pay attention to every part of a painting, not just the focal point.
On still another level (inward), my artwork has become my personal autobiography. I have used it in different ways: to release anger, overcome frustrations, express love, show my inner pain. Many times, because of the personal nature of some of these themes, I sometimes “hide” them inside my paintings. It is my way to release frustrations, without expressing them outwardly.

By: Graham Matthews. Oils on canvas.

Tell us about your creative process, from the beginning of a typical piece to its completion:
My paintings begin in one of two ways. With an idea and sometimes a photo reference, or trying to cover the blank canvas as quickly as I can… many times it depends on my mood. This may seem chaotic, but I do have my own reasons and approaches in both cases.
When I begin with an idea, I plan out the painting. I first sketch on the canvas and then establish basic tones and composition. I let this dry and work on another painting. When I return, I work on contrast between dark and light areas, then let this dry. Next, comes brighter color and definition of areas. Most of my paintings involve several layers and a long process of reorganizing the composition until I am satisfied with the result. I have been known to make big compositional improvements in some paintings when I thought they were close to completion.
When I begin without a set plan, I cover the canvas as quickly as I can. I work with what I see on the canvas, creating forms and imagery. The painting comes to life through several layers, and the theme evolves with what I see on the canvas. The approach is the complete opposite of the other way I paint. This is typically for my psychological themed artwork though.

Meeting of the Titans 
By: Graham Matthews. Oils on canvas.

What things inspire you to create art?
There are many things that inspire me to create art: my own experiences, nature, culture, things I see around me everyday, life, love, disappointments, successes, heartache, loss, etc.

Have you sold any of your artworks?
Most of the artwork I have sold are commission based and sold locally - portraits, animals, landscapes, paintings of houses, and more.

How do you promote your art on the internet?
I have a website/blog as my central location on the web. I also have many profiles at portfolio type websites, and make sure to link my main website with those. I have a Facebook page, newsletter, Twitter profile, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google + and more. Read Artpromotivate.. you will see the other things I do.. :)

I have many influences. Most of my influences come from my own life, experiences and surroundings – province of Newfoundland and Labrador. As for artists who have influenced me, these are: Salvador Dali, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Harold Klunder, Tom Thompson, Monet, and more.

Reflections of the Past 
By: Graham Matthews. Oils on canvas.

What is the most annoying thing someone has said to you about your art?
I have heard many things said to me over the years. I shared some of this in my post here. Although some of the things have discouraged me, I am now at a point where it does not affect me.

Ice-Berg Flow
By: Graham Matthews. Oils on canvas.

Do you have any regrets in your life as an artist?
I have many regrets, mainly that I listened to people who discouraged me from becoming an artist early in life. I tried many other things besides art, but always was unhappy with what I was doing. I think different people are born to do different things – I was always meant to be an artist!

By: Graham Matthews. Oils on canvas.

What plans do you have for the future of your art?
I have many plans. Creating many more paintings, creating more series, bringing more focus to my work, writing more articles for Artpromotivate, helping the online art community as much as I possibly can.

Squids hung out to dry
By: Graham Matthews. Oils on canvas.

Do you have any good advice for emerging artists?
I would say to stay positive, and don’t let disappointments and setbacks hold you back. Keep creating art no matter what people say to you. Make art even when you are not selling, and through all your ups and downs of life. If you have a day-time job or are raising a family, do it in your spare time. As long as you are devoting time to your dream, even if it is one painting a month, you are still growing as an artist. One day when you retire or the family is raised, you will have more time. But, if you have not been creating art all along, it will be like starting all over again.

I would like to thank Michael Gaudet for giving me this opportunity to be spotlighted! He has been such a great supporter of Artpromotivate and an encouragement to me from day one, and I am very grateful for that.