Keeping an Artist Logbook

The thought of keeping record of what I do each day has been in the back of my mind for a week now, as I have been blogging the progress of my paintings.  Against my own advice, I took a glace through some of the art books I have purchased throughout the years.  What would you know?  One of the books I picked up at Value Village (great place for books by the way) had some amazing information that I had no clue even existed.   How can you ask the question, if you don’t even know that you could be asking the question and looking for that knowledge in the first place?  How would I know that this artist died at the age of 39 from a shooting accident?  Not me.


George Browne listed the date, name of painting, time, price, location, purchaser and date sold, size  and remarks in his logbook




These are the logs while he was doing his artwork.  He wrote a brief description and the date.  Brilliant!  His are much simpler than mine.  I reflect too much and am not painting enough!




An Edmonton Urbanscape V

Today I had to take a look at the contrast of the paintings.  If the correct color is there but the contrast is not…the painting will look terrible.  The solution I go towards is printing off a black and white copy of the image and compare it to the reference.




Change in the tone in the buildings, lightened the river and started working on the LRT bridge.


Detail of bridges.  The train with the highlight reminds me of something out of a graphic novel!  The initial brushwork that I did on the left of the box I am not going to touch…it’s gorgeous.


The Sketchbook Project Limited Edition 2012: Create and Capture

Received the long anticipated book from the Sketchbook Project yesterday evening. Haven’t had the time to look through it at the moment, but from what I flipped through there are some brilliant sketches. Some have a well deserved page for their own work like Kathryn Kirby Mcdonnald from Roswell, GA. I also discovered that the 2013 sketchbook (that I have only filled with two sketches) is due January 15, 2013. For some reason I thought it was January 30th. I’ve been thinking that I will use my new method of capturing people via the web beginning next week. I have much confidence that this will go over very well.


Front Cover of the Book


Can you guess where I am?


Kathryn Kirby Mcdonnald Roswell, GA

Kathryn Kirby Mcdonnald Roswell, GA


Travelling through Crowsnest Pass by Train

Counting the hours…shouldn’t be doing it, but it gives me a good gauge where I am time wise.  I won’t linger in the details when I need to simply paint without over thinking it.  This painting definitely has a different feel to it compared to the bridge.  Much more organic.

Layering a simple glaze down to get a good idea of where I should be places the various shades.

Added the tape so I could go loose on the underbrush without messing up the glaze on the train.

The basic structure is beginning to appear.  I have to remember to work on the picture as a whole so it looks “complete” in a sense at all times.  Becoming fixated on specific areas can ruin you.  If you’re having a good or bad day the painting will look like it was completed by different people.  (The  High Level Bridge painting is doing this to me.)

This is going to be it for today.  I’ll be completing the 48x 36 painting  over this next month.

Detail of what is occurring with the glazes and layering 


An Edmonton Urbanscape IV

Painting from yesterday

Painting after today.


Detail of the bridge.  Trying to figure out how I will do the pillars and if I am happy with the river before I do all four of them.

Another detail on the left side of the painting.  I think this part is pretty much complete.  Just this image in itself is strong enough to stand on it’s own.  I recall my instructors telling me how I could cut up my paintings and put them on their own stretchers.  I can hear my instructor’s voices continually when I am painting…it’s quite annoying as there are things I wish I could ignore but that’s not the case anymore….


Below are examples of other artist’s work and the possible techniques that they used.


In this painting the simplicity in the sky and then the details in the bridge and water is a beautiful contrast.  It emphazes the detail that much more with this technique and it also allows the viewer to have a place to rest their eyes.  If the painting was detailed everywhere it would simply be too busy (for my taste at least).  I’m not into busy style paintings.


Yesterday I was browsing various ways in which artists decided to complete bridges, as  I’ve been struggling with the bridge…especially  the cables.  It seems that this artist has really simplified the structure.  The only method I knew was to be placing the main cables using the tape method for achieving straight lines, afterwards  filling in the rest  of the  cables free hand.  Decisions decisions.  Thankfully the Paint Spot off of Whyte has employees that know what they are talking about when you ask them for advice.  One of the ladies recommended the “Liner” style brush.  In the photo, the brush is the one with the clear handle.

 It works amazing for freehand painting and does quite long lines before I need to grab more paint.  Super impressed.  While I was using the brush, I thought how it helped me get back into the state of flow.  Prior to this I was incredibly frustrated and had no clue how I was going to solve the bridge issue.  Not going to lie…it’s a bit of a challenge following the lines and counting to see if you’ve done one already or not…and to make sure that the perspective is correct.  The idea I need to continually remind myself about is that I am doing a painting…not a photograph. The brush marks is what makes it that much different and beautiful than a photo.

I have to consider how I will achieve the illusion of depth through:

  • atmosphere
  • concentration in the hues
  • persphective
  • size
  • opacity
  • warm and cool

The warm and cool may be the biggest struggle for me as the painting is quite “warm” in a sense…but it is cool at the same time with the blues and even the coldness of winter!  Another challenge for me is to remember to change the size of brush that I am using.  In this painting I didn’t use the acrylic to my advantage.  I could have really used thin glazes and gone over in certain areas to play off of that.  There is always a next time that is for sure!  If you have any comments or questions, I am always open to answering!


An Edmonton Urbanscape III


Woke up at 5 this morning in attempts to complete the painting before I go off to work.  Didn’t happen.  There are many exciting things happening in the painting though that is for sure.  I realized that the image that I got printed out is much more purple than the image on my screen.  Trying to blend them together somehow and get a happy medium.  The back of the bridge looks like it’s not advancing, rather than receding…good sign.  And the trees in the background are much less strong than they use to be.  Go into the sky at some point and do some glazing and fix the pillars as there is no contrast with them whatsoever.  The purple has been balanced which is good…oh ya…and the train.  Who could forget that?..and the lrt bridge still looks like its floating towards me.  Hmm.






An Edmonton Urbanscape II

After looking through my paints, I realized that I should pick up some purple.  I suppose I could have mixed some but I thought it would be best to get the closest pigment.  I understand that I have an artistic license to do whichever with the painting…but sometimes I get lost in being so literal.  I know that this is something that I need to continually need to work on.  I’m hoping that when I go back into the painting tomorrow that I will be able to add a bit more something, something to it.  Thank goodness I don’t have much time left to work on it.  The more time I have to work on a painting…sometimes leads to me over working areas that I need to stop touching.  The purple is a bit overwhelming…but I think I can solve the issue *crosses fingers* Sketched out image onto the canvas. Starting with the blue.  General outline and using the blue as a bit if an under painting.

Finished the brief outline of the bridge and the roads.  Trees here and there. Preparing a variety of shades and colors prepared to get subtle color mixing for the purple. The sky on the right has been filled in.  (Time for a half hour break and have dinner). The grass has now been added in.  It’s a bit too splotchy so I will use a glaze to pull it together. The transition from the colors in the very foreground from the initial colors to the more prominent purple…I don’t think I am found of.  Definitely need to go back and rework.  Pretty much need to go into the bridge…do the details there.  Add a variety of colors onto the pillars of the bridge and glaze the painting as much as I can…as I leave for work at 10:30 tomorrow.  Painting must be complete.  Not a fan of the red I chose to use in the upper right either.  Gotta work on that. The thing is…I can get all the colors right…but the beauty really arrives when the layers and transparencies start to come together.  I’m at what I would call the base stage.



An Edmonton Urbanscape

The beginnings of a 60 x 20 painting.  To say that I am excited would be an understatement.  Is it h x w or w x h?  The easel was made this year in a construction summer class completely solid oak!  It took about 16-18 hours to build and the project, was an amazing experience.  The plans for the easel were $10 from etsy.  $10 for the pdf.  I have to put a tarp down to protect the carpet of course when I begin the painting.  The next step is to do a general out line of the image.  I don’t think I’m going to get too detailed, as I will be painting over it anyways with a base to bring the image together.  Although, I am wondering if I should use lots of medium and use the white canvas as an artificial light to brighten things up.  I’ll see how things go and make a decision later.

Sketching again

I’m going to try a new method of sketching…capturing strangers.  Thanks again Nicky G, Philip and  Sanjib for allowing me to sketch you!

Neglecting the Innate Talent

Don’t put off exercising, eating right, or leave your spiritual life to the wayside.  This I know.  Yet I thought my talent was innate and magical…a superpower that was there when I called upon it.  I’ve realized just how much I have forgotten how to look at an image and break it down.  I’m not seeing the lines and shapes, I see a girl and a horse that I cannot figure out for the life of me.   So I made a mistake.  The importance of a gift and  yet there is the complete and utter foolishness of not putting it into action.  It’s time to break out the liquid plastic and begin painting tomorrow.

So maybe today there is no flow but that’s not going to stop me from trying tomorrow.  A week ago I had a dream that I was painting with the artist down the street.  As I poured the paint on the canvas, we were comparing notes and ideas.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had a dream about my passion.  What have you been putting off?  Just like that  treadmill you thought would get you in shape…neither will new books, fancy pens and paper get you through this one.  Stop talking and dreaming. Stop searching for inspiration.  Don’t worry about getting it right.  Probably the first time it isn’t going to happen…but I can almost guarantee you that if you keep at it…you will get it.  Knowing this though still doesn’t help me like that horse.