Painting Places

Over the summer I have hiked to some of my favorite places- like Lake O`Hara, and visited new ones- like Bow Summit Lookout. It`s all part of a landscape painters “Sketch Quest“…to seek out the places that speak to you, inspire you and keep you warm through the winter months in the studio!

Favourite Places

As an artist, in the Canadian Rockies, I frequently revisit favourite areas. I have been to Lake O’Hara every hiking season for the past 22 years, and I have been to Lake Agnes almost every year since arriving in 1976. Why? Because it is always different, or I see something- a view, shadows, weather, a flower, a colour- I had not seen before. On this special day, it was an avalanche across the area where I am standing as my son and I were halfway across the lake. Some artists like to get to know their subject intimately, O’Keeffe had the desert, Charlie Russell cowboys in Montana, Andrew Wyeth had Chadds Ford. An artist has to find their “angle of reponse”- the pace where they come to rest and makes them the best they can be.

Advanced Watercolour Class

On the last day of the class, we looked at some of the completed works of the session.

A lot of work and thought went into these pieces and it shows! Each year they get better…

all who submitted had at least one piece accepted into the Whyte Museum Watermedia Show

opening January 19, Saturday, from 1-4pm, Banff. Music by Joy and Vlad Kaitman…..

Put it on your calendar! New classes begin January 9 and 10th, 2013…

Happy New Year…


Painting on Top of the World

We took a bus up 7 miles to the Sunshine Meadows Lodge and began hiking
-more up! White Mountain Adventures calls this “hiking on top of the world” and our view overlooking the mountains and Healy Meadows was spectacular. We painted surrounded by golden Larches. I am working on a large painting of this view for the Canada House Gallery “Joy” Show on Nov. 24th.

The North-South East and West of It

Speaking of directions, I have attached a photo of a recent hiking trail at Sunshine Meadows- it is the Twin Cairns, Simpson Overlook trail….happy painting and brushwork!

Historically, the cardinal direction points have been important in navigation, direction, mythology, religion and now…. art.

In class I was helping someone create a shadow under a log -but she was okay going from left to right with the brush in her hand but when she tried to go back over the shadow she couldn’t change direction. She was trying to keep her hand in the same position and still move from right to left over the top of the shadow giving it a lost and found edge- it wasn’t working. And the time she was taking trying to figure it out meant  that the  shadow color dried and she was unable to get that lovely transitional value.

Instead, when you get to the right-hand side of the page turn the top of the brush to face West-  the opposite direction-   your wrist will also turn…. now you can move the brush smoothly along the top of the shadow.

Practice moving your brush in the  four directions…… point the top of the brush East, West, North and South…bend your wrist as you do this……..

The Art of Class- Know Where You’re Going

Forrest Gump said life is like a box of chocolates. I think life is like a box of paints and in the class of art, life and art often overlap. If you’re going on a trip somewhere don’t you want directions, don’t you use your GPS or a roadmap or ask a friend how to get there? So, if you’re going to do a painting don’t you want to know where the lights and darks are going to be, where the center of interest is, how your eye is going to flow through the composition? In the advanced class I get people to  do several eight and a half  by 11 black-and-white copies of the resource material or photo they want to use. On one take a black magic marker and outline the main compositional features, try not to use more than four lines-for example, one for the edge of the outline of the mountain, one for the edge of the trees, one for the lake and rocks, the sky will appear above the edge of the mountain. This will help you simplify your composition. Take another black-and-white copy and actually cut out all of the main compositional features-the mountain, lake, mid-ground trees-and rearrange them on another sheet of paper. Perhaps the mountain should be more to the left, or change the point of view – take the mountain closer to the top of the paper, have more foreground. All things that can help you find your way around the composition of a painting, and don’t we all like good directions!

Weekend workshop-March 24-25, 2012-Canmore

Kathy Horan pulls her first monoprint

In this weekend workshop the participants painted mountains, light on the snow and, by request, we did an afternoon of mono prints. I had forgotten how immediate and exciting mono prints can be. It is a system I devised when I wanted the effect of mono prints but did not want to use oil paints. Painting on glass, pressing the paper, and lifting to see the effect are all very organic. Then, you have to find those images-trees, streams, rocks, lakes-on the pulled paper and add and subtract paint before the first wash dries! Needless to say, this process works best when you can do several at one sitting. The more you do the better you get-isn’t that the way with everything in life?

Larch Valley-2012 and The Class of Art

“Larch Valley” by Donna Jo Massie

My latest painting at Canada House Gallery in Banff- “Larch Valley”. Personally, I love painting mountains and enjoy my summers hiking the trails. One of my students, who paints flowers beautifully, was struggling with her mountain landscapes. I asked, why don’t you paint flowers because you do them so well? She replied that she felt she should be doing something that she wasn’t good at. An admirable trait, but remember those artists that found the place or the subject that they love and that is what they painted…..this would be painters such as Andrew Wyeth and Chadds Ford, Georgia O’Keeffe and the desert of New Mexico,and Charlie Russell and the old west.