One of the huge advantages to art and painting is it allows for easy presents. It’s not that the presents are valueless; most people value them highly but they can be so easy to do, they also allow for experimentation and the opportunity to try new things. Sometimes I don’t try anything new because I’m not sure how to go about it or how it will turn out; not that I have a great deal invested in any one painting but there is still the cost of the painting panel and paint.

Presents are different. This is a 4” x 4” canvas and I bought it with the idea that I would produce less costly animal portraits using it. I’ve since decided that I won’t be doing this because the canvas is just too small. At some point I may give it another try but my painting style needs more space. It was fun regardless and family will appreciate a small gift that I can produce quickly. I worked on this for a couple of hours. I experimented a little so it was certainly worth doing.

I did this as a Valentines present for my wife along with chocolates. It has been our agreement that all of my paintings are hers and she puts up any that she likes. At one time my paintings were my mother’s and she was a little choked when I moved out. I impart very little value to my paintings; I simply enjoy painting them.

My oldest daughter paints greeting cards for friends and family and my family love them. My wife and I have the ones she has given us on top of a cabinet in our front room. She does many more small works and sells a great deal more than I do.



I don’t usually sketch, I just start painting. I think I’ve always done this but sometimes I’ve found it necessary to do a couple of preliminary sketches in pencil just to solidify the layout. I’ve done some pen and ink drawings but the necessary sketching and subsequent tracing was tedious at best. I like being able to just load my brush and start painting. Although I’ve occasionally sketched onto the canvas I don’t find that it adds anything that I can’t do with a few quick brush strokes. I’ve often found that these quick strokes need to be corrected but it’s easier with paint than pencil so I just start painting.

FREE Books

I recently finished my latest art book. I’m a graphic designer and have put together a number of books, so to keep busy while the paint is drying I have been putting together books. It’s incredibly easy on the computer since I don’t need any other equipment or space. So no mallets, book blocks, glue, saws or knives. I have put together several physical books and I enjoy doing it, I am planning to get or make a book sewing jig; but none of these tools are required to make the file that could be sent to an offset press.

These books are FREE and available in PDF. I could have put them in one of many other e-book formats but PDF seemed the most useful. I have the ability to use many different formats except some of the exclusive ones like Kindle. Even though I can’t save a book to some of the proprietary formats there are applications (usually free) that will, but the PDF standard appears to be the most universally used and can easily be viewed on your computer which allows images to be seen in colour. Sorry, those of you who like to view things on your phone might be a little out of luck.


Portraits are one of the things I wanted to do most with painting; unfortunately they were the most difficult. I discovered that doing a portrait of someone I knew was almost impossible, however if I didn’t know them it was usually relatively successful. I didn’t twig on this immediately and as a result I had my share of failures. Now after 50 years I’m trying it again and it’s going relatively well.

I’m approaching portraiture differently this time. I print out an image of the subjects face at about the correct size, then tape it to my painting surface and proceed to paint the image onto the painting using the printed image as a guide. This initially strikes me as a cheat but if that’s what it takes to get a likeness then I will do what it takes. I’m using dividers to take measurements off the printout and transferring them directly to the painting surface. Once I have a likeness, or something close, I can select other areas of the painting to work on.

Gesso So Boring

I gesso all of my painting panels for a number of reasons: It seals the panel that I’m painting on, it smooths the surface, paint applies better over gesso, and paint colours are enhanced and easer to achieve. Applying gesso is annoying. Gesso is usually thin so you can pour it over the painting surface and spread it with a large taping knife or trowel which makes the surface quite flat and smooth. This works great except that there will be drips, which can be problematic depending on the floor surface. I’ve finally ended up applying the gesso thinly by brush.

I play with the idea of adding colour to the gesso but I usually add a colour wash to the panels after I’m finished with gesso. I’m rarely sure of the colour so I usually don’t bother adding it to the gesso, instead I use a colour wash over the entire surface. Many artists apply the gesso with some surface texture. Sometimes it just looks layered but I would be afraid that would change the look of the painting. On the examples I’ve seen it adds to the painting, not detract from it. I’m thinking that I should try it; I might like it.

I don’t think I’ll add as much texture as this but it’s still interesting and it would eliminate how much time it takes to brush on a thin coat. It certainly wouldn’t be boring.