Monday, December 27, 2010

Della Norta

Della Norta, 36x48", oil/panel (click to enlarge)

These works will be shown in Nashville in a two person show at the Cumberland Gallery beginning Feb. 25th 2011.  The show is being organized by Tanner Hill Galleries.

This painting above (Della Norta) is one in a long series that makes use of large clouds as a spacial device to contrast against the massive clump of trees and foliage.  I like to contrast of heavy grounded form against air and space.  The composition is formal and centred.  The piece has been completed slowly over the last six months with layers  added and allowed  weeks to dry.

Crimson, 10x12", oil/panel

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Serafini, oil/panel, 24" x 60", 2010
Sage Heart II, 18x22, oil/panel
Jassano, 2010, oil/panel, 24" 24"
Sage Heart I, 2010, 0il/panel, 18" x 22"

It's turning into a tough winter here in the snow belt of Ontario.  Shoveling snow most days has a way of turning me grumpy.  However, next week I leave for Arizona for a 10 day visit to the desert.  I've been looking forward to this return to one of my favorite places.  In anticipation I've been painting images based on previous visits there.  Often the idea for a painting is based on months or years of digesting an experience.  It is not unusual for me to produce images that have gestated for a long time.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Over the past 6 months I have taken on a new project in the studio.  It has been occupying about half of my time.  I'm looking at older paintings on hand and re-conceptualizing them.  In many cases I find that the challenge of working with the existing image can be very engaging.  Changing the shapes of trees, the colours, atmosphere, horizon, and so on can produce entirely new works.  Paradoxically, these re-workings of older pieces take longer to complete than something entirely new.  Below is a sampling of these paintings, click on the images to enlarge.

Red Vega, 24x48", oil/panel

Onandagan, 24x24", oil/panel

Quillica, 16x24", oil/panel
Kensington Ravine, 16x16", oil/panel

Chino, 14x44", oil/panel
Mugo Stands, 14x44, oil/panel

Long Point, 20x20", oil/panel
Pony Shade, 20x20", oil/canvas

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On Tour 2011

The Tanner Hill Galleries will be presenting my work in a series of traveling exhibitions in 2011.  First up will be February 25th at Cumberland Galleries in Nashville, TN.  Following that in early April, I'll be showing at the Tanner Hill Booths at the Dallas Art Fair, TX.  Later in April, the works will be on display at Tanner Hill Galleries in Chattanooga TN.  Then in May the paintings will move to Boise ID for a show at Stewart Galleries.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tour My Santa Fe Show

You can link to an online video of my show in Santa Fe.  

Or just watch it here:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Toronto International Art Fair

I attended the Special Gala Preview of the Toronto International Art Fair 2010, held the evening of Oct. 28th. The folks who attend this event pay $300 for a ticket that gets them into the fair 2 hours before everyone else.  This is an opportunity to buy the best pieces on offer at the various gallery booths.  I used a little Flip video camera and shot various items that caught my eye.  This 3:21m video is just an impression of my wandering around.

The Gala evening was good for me.  Looks like a number of my paintings now have new owners!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chanson Rouge

Chanson Rouge, 48x48 in., oil/panel, (click to enlarge)

It's autumn, so I just had to try and get that glorious colour of a turning maple.  It beautiful and melancholy at the same time.  We're having a fantastic colour season this year in southern Ontario.  I'm out in it everyday, either riding my bike or walking.  It's so gorgeous it almost hurts.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Group Show in Seattle

Foster White Galleries is featuring some of my work in a current group show in Seattle at Pioneer Square.  In December the gallery will present "Olive Branch"  another group show that I will participate in. The two paintings you can see here are: "Sylvania Mysteriosa" 36x48, oil/panel, and "Softly" 24x40, oil/panel.  Sales inquiries should be directed to the gallery.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Little Dolen Lake

Little Dolen Lake, oil/panel, 48"x 56" (click to enlarge)

If you watched the YouTube video in my last post, you will have noticed these 2 painting on my painting wall in my studio.  They were in the monochromatic phase.  The glazed colour layers have now been added and the works are finished.  Here's a chance to see the changes to a work in progress.

The paintings will be at the Bau-Xi Gallery booth next month at the 2010 Toronto International Art Fair.

Oritaba II, 2010, oil/panel, 60" x 48"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Santa Fe Exhibition

Reverie in Royal Greens, 2010, oil/panel, 40" x 40". (click to enlarge)

All summer long I have been painting works for my October 8th exhibition in Santa Fe, New Mexico at McLarry Fine Art.  This blog post presents the final four paintings for the show.  These will be shipped from my studio next week.

I began increasing the number of layers of paint and glaze at the end of 2009.  This is a more time consuming process, but yields a richer visual depth for viewers.  By the time of my Montreal show at mid-summer this year I had perfected the technique.  I was reward by the number of my 2010 paintings that sold quickly to Montreal collectors (almost everything sold).  

My challenge now is to manage the longer time periods required to finish a painting.  Planning shows means considering smaller numbers of paintings on the walls.  It also requires me to have more pieces in progress at the same time in my studio.  Since I also work at a Canadian College, budgeting my quality time towards studio work is not easy.

But the works are going well.  In "Reverie" above I composed a simple single tree.  This kind of composition can sometimes result in a "lame" boring painting.  But if the proportions among all the elements, colours, textures, light, and detail are "just right", the piece can really have presence.

Hidden Springs, 2010, oil/panel, 24" x 24".

This painting explores a recurring dream.  I often dream of water coming out of the ground.  The imagery can take many forms, from pastoral to scary (floods).  Springs seem to suggest a creative source in my life.  In this work I have added the play of light and dark, suggesting mystery and a hidden source for the flowing water that comes out of a shaded gully.

Buckthorn at Desert Flats (Morning Moon), 2010, oil/panel, 16" x 26".

My travels in the desert represent some of the most inspirational vistas for me.  It seems that the experience of vast open space, with a huge sky, detaches me from everyday reality.  I go into a "mental zone" of being without boundaries.  But I also take great interest in how this huge natural canvas frames the bits of living plants that survive in the harsh climate.  In order to live, these brushy plants spread out vast root systems that help to keep them separate from each other - again, emphasizing their unique properties. Thus, for me, these desert plants take on a sculptural form that is aesthetic. I always get down on my hands and knees to view these from "coyote height".  This POV increases my perception of the plant's mass and shape.  Finally, there is a metaphor that has meaning for me.  The idea of a tiny scrap of living shelter situated in a vast harsh deadly open eternity of sandy gravel.  I imagine myself, small, running under the plant's shade, looking out at the "big scary" and feeling a bit of safety.

Gamlino, 2010, oil/panel, 40" x 40".

The painting plays with how hazy skies can provide a lovely environment for presenting shapes and forms.  I've contrasted the detailed tree shapes / surfaces against the soft distance.  It's hard to see the subtle plays on a computer screen over the Internet, but if you get a chance to see this painting in person you will sense a kind of magic in the place.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dallas Art Fair

A large group of my recent paintings will be on show next spring (2011) at the Dallas Art Fair in Texas.  The works will presented by Tanner Hill Galleries.  The fair runs from April 8th - 10th.  The preview gala is on April 7th.

"Located at the Fashion Industry Gallery – adjacent to the Dallas Museum of Art in the revitalized downtown Arts District – the 2011 Dallas Art Fair will feature over 50 prominent national and international art dealers and galleries exhibiting paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, and photographs by modern and contemporary artists.The exhibition space comprises approximately 55,000 square feet within a mid-century modern building in the heart of downtown Dallas. It includes an adjacent promenade next to a private park located across from the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center. "

It's still very hot and humid here in southern Ontario.  My studio is uncomfortably warm.  Nonetheless, the autumn season approaches and that means I need to buckle down and create some new works for the Toronto International Art Fair (Oct. 28th - Nov. 1, 2010) where I will have paintings displayed in the Bau-Xi Galleries and Gallerie de Bellefeuille booths.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Buttonball Tree

Yes, this is the "widest tree east of the Mississippi River".  I had to get out of the car and hug this monster.  We were on our way to photograph the New England Peace Pagoda in MA.  As we drove through the town of Sunderland, this enormous tree stopped us dead in our tracks.  Turns out it is pretty famous.  There is even a Wikipedia entry about it.

"The Buttonball Tree is an American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) located in Sunderland, Massachusetts. Though the nickname "buttonball" has been used for all like trees, this tree retained the name, mainly because of its pure size and popularity. The tree is over 113' high, with a girth of 24'7" and a spread of 140'. It is a remnant of Sunderland's forests. Because of their longevity, during the 17th and 18th century sycamores were sometimes planted at the door of new house for newlyweds as "bride and groom" trees. Though the age of the tree is unknown, it is estimated to be well over 350 years old, many estimates say that the tree is closer to 400.[1] The tree is well known and is one of the larger tourist attractions of the town. The tree is believed to be the largest tree of its kind on the East Coast, or as locals put it, "The widest tree this side of the Mississippi.""

Monday, August 9, 2010

Van Ruysdael

While in Boston I visited the Museum of Fine Arts and discovered a painting by the Dutch painter Salomon van Ruydael.  I was so engaged by his painting of trees and foliage that I spent half an hour studying and analyzing how he was able to so masterfully make the trees come alive.

View of Beverwijk
Salomon van Ruysdael, Dutch, 1600/1603–1670

75.2 x 65.7 cm (29 5/8 x 25 7/8 in.)
Oil on panel

The museum visit was actually a wonderful day spent wandering around the collections in a very open mind state.  This allowed me some great opportunities to synthesize ideas for my own paintings based on hundreds of "wow" moments in front of such great works.

While driving, (actually while my wife is driving), I love to look at the landscape slide by, especially the trees.  I think it is during these times of creative passivity that I find my own visions.

I just learned that my exhibition on now at Gallerie de Bellefeuille in Montreal has just about sold out of the new 2010 paintings I sent there.  Must be something I'm doing this year that collectors like.  There are a number of older pieces from 2008 still at the gallery that seem to not be destined for sales.  I may have them returned to my studio where I can re-work them with some of my new vision and techniques.

Kurukulla Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies - Boston

(click to enlarge)

We're in Boston to view the nearly completed Kalachakra stupa being built at the 
Kurukulla Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies.  The structure is nearly done and when we arrive we found a swirl of activity as about a dozen sanga members rushed to bring the project to completion for the August 28th consecration ceremony.  I took about 50 pictures and will need to get one of the finished stupa next month.

Tomorrow we'll travel to Leverett MA to photograph the Peace Pagoda located in the country side near the town.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lokachantha Pagoda

Robert Marchessault and Ven. Pyinnyathiha (photo Teresa Cullen)

We are continuing to work on our stupa project.  Today we visited the Lokachantha Pagoda in New Jersey.  The weather was perfect, though on the hot and humid side (to say the least).  This Burmese style structure was a treasure to visit and photograph.  It's beauty and elegance captivated us.  We were met by Ven. Pyinnyathiha who kindly received us in the meditation hall and told us about the building of the pagoda which is a part of the The America Burma Buddhist Association .  Without a doubt we will include this pagoda in the book we are developing about stupas of North America.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Cumberland, oil/panel, 48" x 48" (click to enlarge)

Galena, oil/panel, 30" x 60"

Two new paintings for upcoming shows.  In "Cumberland" I was striving for the classic maple tree shape that I see so often.  The work was painted in a very gestural manner with a lot of adding and rubbing out until I had the shape that said "maple" to me.

I'm off to New Jersey and Massachusetts  tomorrow to continue work on the stupa photography project.  There are three Buddhist stupas on the one week drive.  The weather here is very hot and humid.  That's OK, hopefully there will be no rain to wash out the photo shoots.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer work

The Knoll, 30" x 30", oil/panel (click to enlarge)

It's full summer, it's really hot and humid here in Ontario.  I'm working in the studio, there's no air conditioning, so I've got the ceiling fans going full blast.  However, I never complain about the heat.  Our winter's are too cold and snowy for me to ever get bitchy about warm weather.  

I've been getting paintings ready for various shows and art fairs.  Some of these will go to Santa Fe (McLarry Fine Art) for my October show.  The painting "Windswept Akka" will be sent to Montreal for my July 31 show at Gallerie de Bellfeuille (where pre-sales are going great guns with more than half the show already sold before the invitations have been sent out!) 

I had a wonderful email exchange with an actress/screenwriter in California.  Her comments about my work seemed to pick up something that I often try to make happen in paint.  She said, "I find that I attach your work with an inner sadness...  There is something very spiritual about your pieces for me."  In the painting above, "The Knoll", I think I expressed her perception.  Thanks Amy!

Windswept Akka, 46" x 40", oil/panel

Colony Farm Virginia, 30" x 30", oil/panel

Galestta, 12" x 15", oil/panel

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Harvest of Light

Harvest of Light by Paintings 2007 - 2008

This book is available for sale at or you can preview it right here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gently Into The Bright Land

Gently Into The Bright Land, 20" x 60", oil/panel

Light is important for me.  This painting uses a simple landscape and brook motif, but "simple" can be used to emphasize a strong sense of bright mid-day light.  The light in this work is almost omnipresent, emanating not just from the sky, but from within the plants, fields and water too. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Merillo Revisited

Merillo Revisited, oil/panel, 60" x 40"

Well the original "Merillo" painting sold before it could get to the Montreal exhibition (July 31 at Gallerie de Bellefeuille).  I'm pleased that the collector was so excited by the piece, that it had to go to their home ASAP.  But that left a bit of a visual hole in the grouping of works I've imagined for the Montreal show. This meant Merillo needed to be revisited as a subject.  I narrowed the shape of the surface slightly, forty inches wide instead of 48 inches.  This permitted me to "squeeze" the composition.  As a result I needed to simplify the distant cloud and bring the horizon in closer a bit.  A horizontal shadow band sets off the rule of thirds.

While this version of Merillo shares much with the previous one, it is unique and presented me with a pleasurable challenge nonetheless.  Now the Montreal show will feel like it has the right mix of works.  Below is a smaller piece that will also go to the exhibition.  Extra layers in the sky, deepen the sense of light and space.

Johbana, oil/panel, 24" x 24"

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Vertu, 2010, oil/panel, 54" x 48", (click to enlarge)

Spring is presenting me with some interesting atmospheric conditions.  The air is more humid and hazes out differently.  This painting uses that effect to inform and set off the dark masses of foliage.

I like the challenge this presents me.  So I'm working on a few other pieces where the air is rather saturated with water.  Vertu will be in a small exhibition of 10 new works at Galerie de Bellefeuille in Montreal, opening July 31.

Last night I watched a movie, Georgia O'Keeffe (Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen star).  I liked the film a lot.  The scenes from New Mexico made me want to jump on a plane and rush back there.  I do so miss the place.  However, one line really made me smile.  Alfred Stieglitz says to Georgia, "what we do is work, when a rich person buys it, then it becomes art."  Right on!  Well said.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New Book

The new book about my recent work from 2009 to 2010 is now available.  The book may be ordered online.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Albero di Massima

Albero di Massima, 2010, oil/panel, 30" x 60" (click to enlarge)

Form and structure using trees as subject continues to absorb my efforts in the studio.  When travelling in what some might describe as very boring country (flat fields) I often discover gorgeous trees set in the open.  The "boring" fields act as a perfect foil for the complex shape and mass of the tree.

In this piece, I worked carefully at the shades of the sky against the tree foliage.  It doesn't show as well as I'd like online but the close range upper key description of the clouds plays with the eye as one bounces between reading foliage and sky, foliage and sky.  

Cedars, 2010, oil/panel, 11" x 14"

There are lots of beautiful eastern white cedars in this region.  They make lovely subjects.  I return to them time after time.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Shaputaan, 24 " x 48", oil/panel (click to enlarge).

Arkat, 48" x 48", oil/panel.

These two new works are technically, still in progress.  That's because I leave them against the wall in the studio where I can "sneak up on them".  My evolving technique in oil allows for a lot of continued adjustments, sometimes minor and hard to see, sometimes major.  I am enjoying the opportunity to live with the work for longer periods as a way of thinking through what it is that I want to happen on the surface.  

Some artists use a mirror to view their pieces (in reverse), this is useful, thought I don't do it.  I find that while painting on one piece, I may glimpse out of the corner of my eye a drying work against the wall - ...and all of a sudden something about it will "itch" me.  Then I get a sense of what needs to change.  I get these insights when I'm not thinking about the work in question.  It's like getting a set of fresh eyes!

Friday, April 16, 2010


Allegeny, oil/panel, 30" x 60" (click to enlarge).

On return from the recent driving trip to photograph stupas, I had time to reflect on some of the things I saw while travelling. The mountains in Virginia near Charlottesville impressed me.  This prompted a new composition based on a variety of views.

The weather was beautiful and summery.  Temps in the mid 80s and rather humid.  I was interested in the clumps  of trees that form sculptural mounds of foliage in the foreground.  These can be arranged like chess pieces on a board with overlapping.  Then these elements are played off against aerial perspective, and distant sky/clouds.  The key to making these paintings work is the relationship of contrasting areas and levels of detail.  

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Stupa Book

The Kalachakra Stupa at  The Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, IN

We're on the road again continuing with the stupa book project.  We'll swing around from Indiana to Virginia and New Jersey to photograph 2 more over the coming week or so.  In June we'll visit a stupa in Vermont and the stupa at Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton Nova Scotia.  Later in the year we'll fly out west to finish the project by covering stupas in Arizona and California, maybe Oregon.

Stupa at Samchen Choling Retreat Center, Charlottesville, Virginia

Monday, March 22, 2010


Merillo, 60" x 40", oil/panel, (click to enlarge)

This posting shows three new paintings that will be exhibited in Montreal on July 31, 2010 at Gallerie de Bellefeuille.  I will have a small exhibition there consisting of seven new works.  My new techniques have made smaller exhibitions the norm.  The time to complete each painting has more than tripled in the last two years.  That's OK, because the extra layers and drying time are worth the effort.  I have been able to achieve a richer luminosity.

Where Redwings Sing, 2010, oil/panel, 24" x 24".

There is a wetlands area a few miles from my studio.  I like to ride my bike over there and stop on a small bridge over the stream.  I get off my bicycle and stand very still for a while; just being there, soaking it in.  Often the sound-track for this experience is the sound of redwing blackbirds declaring their nesting territory.

High Valley Near Chama: Pond, 2010, oil/panel, 24" x 48"

Last summer we drove from Taos to Pagossa Springs in Colorado.  The trip was over a mountain range with a high valley.  Stopping for a picnic lunch, I had time to look at a small pond under a clump of trees.  This painting is based on my memories of that day.