Choosing Compositions continued

Paper birch trees photographed by Glenda Savard








Paperbirch trees photographed by Glenda Savard

Here is an image I’ve taken on a walk that depict how cropping photos can create that form. It then becomes a more interesting shape and it creates depth and layering. Now from a painters’ point of view that can translate into endless possibilities by simply adding or subtracting parts of the image.

As you can see by how I play with the image one needn’t paint everything that is in the photo, only what adds to the composition one is after. Here I use an opaque white to cover the portions of the photograph I do not wish to keep and then before long a simplified version appears. This is the key to a good painting. Simplicity. The more one simplifies the colours, shapes and imagery the better the outcome.

I hope you enjoy reading about the little tricks I use when I wish to paint from my photos.

Happy painting.


Choosing Compositons










Autumn is my favorite season. For me it means new beginnings. The air is fresh and the world seems to come alive. I was out walking about my neighborhood the other day taking photos, and just fell in love with the views, everything around me is so vibrant it puts so much passion into life.

What I’m looking for when I’m out taking photos is a variety of compositions and shapes as I go through the groves of trees, and nature gives us such an endless supply that my walk makes slow progress.

I have a favorite composition which is the Cruciform. Like nature it’s endless in the shapes it can create and it can be used in anything from landscapes and figures to still life. It’s such a fluid shape and in the examples I created above you can see the endless possibilities.

Cruciform quite literally means cross, it’s a way to use verticals and horizontals in a cross shape which engages all sides of the picture plane. It doesn’t mean that each arm of the cruciform has to touch the edges of the image, only that the forms are strong and grounded.





Do You Know What Suiboku-ga Is?

Hello! It’s March, almost spring and I can hardly wait. In fact I’m looking forward to it so much I’ve created a series of paintings with that in mind. But it’s more than that….being an expressionist painter I look for colour, form and shape all the time but I wanted to add more to my work and quite by accident stumbled upon Suiboku-ga and my mind exploded with ideas. It was like the missing piece.

Suiboku-ga (Japanese) is the monochrome ink painting technique where bold use of black ink strokes and washes allowed the artists to eliminate from their paintings all but the essential character of their subject, an aim closely related to the pursuit of Zen Buddhism.

The goal of Suiboku-ga painting is not simply to reproduce the appearance of the subject, but to capture its’ sprit. To paint a horse, the artist must understand its temperament better than its muscles and bones. To paint a flower, there is no need to perfectly match its petals and colors, but it is essential to convey its liveliness and fragrance. Suiboku-ga painting may be regarded as a form of expressionistic art that captures the unseen.

Suiboku-ga has long inspired modern artists in the West. In his classic book Composition, American artist and educator Arthur Wesley Dow wrote this: “The painter…put upon the paper the fewest possible lines and tones; just enough to cause form, texture and effect to be felt. Every brush-touch must be full-charged with meaning, and useless detail eliminated. Put together all the good points in such a method, and you have the qualities of the highest art.” Dow’s fascination with ink wash painting not only shaped his own approach to art but also helped free many American modernists of the era, including his student Georgia O’keeffe, from what he called a ‘story-telling’ approach. Dow strived for harmonic compositions through three elements; line, shading, and colour. I’ve added a fourth which is texture, perhaps because I’m a latent sculptor or maybe just because I like to touch things.

The above painting depicts red hibiscus in a sunny afternoon in the most simple of that method. And as I began to play around with this idea I couldn’t help but be reminded of intricately beautiful kimonos. This then led me to treat the canvas as though it were a sculptural element by making it into the shape of a kimono. This series and other works are available for purchase at my studio or during my upcoming show at Azuridge Estate Hotel.

Spring is in the Air: April 11– 14, 2013


Celebrate Art & Community at the 2nd Annual Spring is in the Air Art Exhibit and Fundraiser!

Everyone needs a little help now and then and this organization has worked very hard to support local and international charities. Come by for some great music, wonderful art and fun family activities.

VIP night is Thursday April 11th and tickets can be purchased at

Or bring the kids on any other day for fun and games and drop by and say hello! I’m in booth 22!

Cochrane Ranche House
101 RancheHouse Road
Cochrane, Alberta

Spring is in the Air Art Show and Fund Raiser

I know it’s still the middle of winter but here’s something to look forward to in the spring. Set your calendar for a fun date from April 11 – 14th for the second annual show and fundraiser set in Cochrane. Here is the link

Check it out and come by for beautiful fine art and help us support our charities, have a chance to win some amazing door prizes, listen to great music and just have a great time. See you there!!!