Breaking the pattern

I spent the weekend working my first large urban landscape piece.  A request by Kristal to interpret a very special moment between her and her mother, the painting challenged me on a number of fronts.  First of all, the canvas - 36" x 48" - would be largely filled with scenery, as opposed to a face or body.  Secondly, this composition required lots of hours doing the perspective drawing, capturing the lines of the canal, the skyline in the background and the antique lights that run along both sides.

Each painting that I do that breaks the pattern helps me grow as an artist.  Of the five or 10 that would fit this description, this was probably the most daunting and exciting, all at the same time.

I love the image and the relationship that is front and centre.  The Rideau Canal in Ottawa is also an iconic Canadian landmark and a glorious place to spend a leisurely afternoon in the winter with loved ones.

Long into the second full day of working on the canvas, I reached a point where I needed feedback.  So, I sent a progress shot to Kristal and to my friend Grant down in Grande Prairie.

"Looks great," responded Kristal.  "Don't be afraid to use all your colours."

"Composition is great," said Grant.  "I'd play with the colours."

Grant is a sculptor, and a person who has a sincere appreciation for art and a keen eye.  He offered a number of different radical suggestions that took the piece in a new direction, moving it from day to night, resulting in a piece that is more reflective of the style that I've developed over the last year.

It was a little scary standing there with a mostly finished painting and applying that first brush stroke of black to the sky.  In the end, it was the right thing to do.  After a number of different changes, Skating on the Rideau Canal is all done and ready for the client.

I'm really grateful to Grant and other artists who continue to inspire me and help me improve.  I can't thank Kristal enough for having the confidence and the courage to ask me to embrace this project.

"Your piece is a brave new world for me," I wrote to Kristal before I began.  "I'm going to go into it with a spirit of adventure and see what happens."


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