Introduction to Drawing and Painting
I believe I inherited some of my ability to draw and paint from my grandfather. As a sideline, my grandfather painted some very large lettering and signs on barns. He had a curious mind and an insatiable quest for knowledge. I still have some of his old technical drawing implements.
When I was in the fourth grade, I remember copying drawings of old cars from a set of colored plates (prints) that were in the classroom, but I hadn’t tried my hand at painting until I was about 12 years of age when I did a couple of paintings of birds and portraits as gifts for my grandmothers while living in Florida.
Early Experiences Painting and Displaying
It was around that time that I enrolled in a correspondence course from Art Instruction Schools and later after returning to Canada took Art in high school and graphic design during a year at community college.
I began displaying my paintings in the early 1980s on weekends at the Four Corners in Kingsville before the Motorco building was built. Several of us would set up our paintings there. Local Artists were Ron Vermeiren, Fred Gale, (Ron’s uncle) and Ben Jensen to name a few. This is where I made my first non-commissioned sale.
From there I displayed at Art in the Park for several years, as well as the Gibson Gallery, the Leamington Art Gallery, and at many other local outdoor art shows. More recently I displayed at Paint Ontario in Grand Bend, the Fringe Gallery and the Westland Gallery, both in London, Ontario. A couple of my original paintings have found homes in Texas.
Painting En Plein Air
Over the years on vacations and camping trips I would bring along a sketch book and draw outside. Being a studio painter I didn’t do much in the way of painting outdoors until my wife (also an accomplished artist and painter) and I noticed a resurgence in the practice of painting “en plein air.”
This practice was popularized by many landscape artists of the past like Turner, Bierstadt and the Hudson River School of painters and, of course, our own Group of Seven painters.
We began bringing more of our painting supplies with us on our trips to Killarney and Algonquin parks.
I believe that in the same way that drawing practice helps improve your paintings … doing plein air studies can improve your studio work.
Over the years I have been influenced by many artists, both living and dead. Robert Bateman for wildlife, and William Bouguereau for his portraiture and skin tones.
A myriad of landscape artists in turn have led me to try my hand at all varieties of different mediums for drawing and painting, from charcoal to egg tempera, from watercolour to acrylic to oils.
They all fascinate me and they all have their advantages and disadvantages.
If I could paint anywhere I wanted …
I’d probably choose to go out West or maybe I’d go to New Zealand. But really, one could spend a lifetime just painting subjects in our own backyards.
I have issues with that sometimes. That is why I have several pieces going at once. When I find something isn’t working, rather than fight it I leave it and work on something else. Many times when I leave a work and come back to it later, the problem I was having with the piece becomes glaringly obvious.
The Benefits of Belonging
It’s been said that no man is an island and that is one aspect of being a member of an art group. Belonging part to a group such as ASK can be of great benefit in sharing your art, and hopefully getting and giving feedback from your peers. I am also fortunate to have my partner artist at hand for constructive criticism.
I believe that art associations like ASK have much to offer in the same way by promoting growth and encouraging one another. Also the comradeship of like-minded creatives helps to inspire us to keep on doing what we do.
Photos provided by Layne van Loo