“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.” George Orwell

“Anyone who says he has finished a canvas is terribly arrogant” Claude Monet

People always ask me what is the process for a painting, how does it come together. Where do you start, how do you finish?

I will make an attempt to tell you. All my paintings are based on something I have seen, and it may be an amalgamation of ideas or scenes. I do a lot of observing, sketching and traveling outdoors. All of this is in my paintings. I also study many great and not so great painters work, and this also influences my ideas when thinking about how I will paint something. However, it is all finally distilled down into a single thought about the subject, and how it will be painted.

Then the process of getting there begins. It usually starts with reference, this could be a sketch or a group of sketches I have done. It may be a photo or number of photos. Photos tend to provide subject matter, sketches provide tone, colour, and feel.

On the large canvas a loose sketch is made in outline – a free, bold handling of the brush – at this stage the image is given movement, depth, composition and focus. And it is amazing at how challenging it is to maintain that throughout the painting.

Then the real painting evolves, mistakes and redirections are hidden, light effects are captured, colour is balanced and details are added where necessary. This happens in layers over a number of days or weeks. And finally the finished painting emerges.

I consider the painting finished when it is a reflection of the original idea. I am not looking for a particular pattern of brushstrokes, style, or any other technical aspects in a final painting. I am looking for a feeling when I look at it that says it is a complete idea. I understand that it could always be better. But I have never like perfect things.

Here are a number of new paintings in various stages of the process.

bark canoe in progress

heavy snow 1in progress

under cedars in progress

crossing the lake in progress