January, 2019     Volume 3, Issue 1.

How did you start the New Year?

They say that you should begin every new year engaged in the thing that you want to be doing the most often in the following 365 days. Naturally, I spent a good deal of time on January 1st painting, and have kept at it for almost every day since. The result of this effort is that I managed to finish a large watercolour (30" by 22") in record time! 

Read all about that watercolour below, as well as news on an upcoming workshop, and details on how I'm capturing my art digitally now.


Watercolours by Dwayne

Offering the following products and services:
Original paintings
Signed GICLEE prints
Custom framing
Gift Certificates and eGift Cards

Presenting my latest...

"Mother's Watchful Eye"
Watercolour, 30" by 22"
Copyright 2019 by Dwayne James
Presenting my finished watercolour painting titled "Mother's Watchful Eye." The original is still available (DM me if you're interested) and prints can be ordered on my merchant site (

I have always wanted to paint a wolf, but I just didn't know how to do it in a way that hadn't already been done a hundred times over. Then, not long ago, it occurred to me that I could make it into some kind of family theme.

My wife and I have twin sons who are nine. When they were born, they were a handful and didn't much like to sleep, so my wife and I had to grab our rest whenever and wherever we could. Even so, that rest was often fleeting, and easily and frequently interrupted.

This painting is meant as a tribute to my wife, who fought hardest to get the sleep she needed because the boys, to this day, go right to Mommy whenever they need anything.

In the scene that I've created in the painting, Momma wolf is trying to have a nap with the pups, but that nap has been interrupted by the unexpected arrival of a chipmunk, who clearly wants to be anywhere else. Wearily, Momma is opening one eye to see what's going on.

From a technical standpoint, this painting was an experiment. I based it on about a half dozen different photographs that I arranged in this particular composition so that the natural edges would all point towards the wolf pups. In terms of the photographs, there is the image with the mother wolf, then another with the bodies of the pups, and another with the wolf heads I wanted, and then another with the shocked chipmunk. 

As for the rocks in the foreground, I chose something appropriate for the family-theme. If this sounds confusing, let me explain. These particular rocks are located at an idyllic campsite on Bentshoe Lake in the Haliburton Highlands. Starting in the early 90s, my friends and I have gone camping there many times over the years, and always found these particular rocks useful because they were both flat and elevated, making them a perfect “table” for preparing food. I’ve camped on this site in summer, a few times in the winter, and even one Thanksgiving when we cooked a turkey over a campfire. It really is one of the nicest places I’ve ever pitched a tent. 

Then, in 2013, I took my wife and four-year old twins there, and it was magical. One of my favourite pictures from the trip, and the one I used as a source image for the painting, was of my sons sitting on the rocks eating oatmeal. I composed the finished image in such a way that they boys were hidden, but one of them still snuck into the painting anyhow without me even realizing it. Take a look under the left leg of the wolf pup who is howling. See that line of white and the splotchy, greenish wall just below it? That’s the white shirt that my son was wearing as well as the pattern on his pajama bottoms. When I was painting that area, I thought the white was a pattern in the rocks, and that the pajama design was lichen!

Here's the picture of my sons on the campsite that I used as reference. In it, my sons are eating oatmeal out of their camp mugs and asking each other if they'd found any dinosaur eggs.

What are you doing Sunday?

River Rock Illustrative Watercolour
with Dwayne James

Yeah, I know that this is ridiculously last minute notice, but I tend to isolate myself from everything else when I'm finishing a watercolour, so I've been a little behind because of the wolf family painting.

But, anyhow, if you're free this Sunday, why not consider a one-day workshop at the Art School of Peterborough on how to paint river rocks?

In this six-hour session, I'll be leading students in the composition of the source image (we'll arrange river rocks in a basin and take a picture), then work from that image to create our very own 8" by 10" watercolour masterpiece!

There's still plenty of room, follow the link to register. Materials will be provided.

This course is suitable for beginners.

Register for this workshop

Photographing my art...

As much as I liked the digital image of the wolf family directly above, it's not of a suitable quality for prints to be made from it.

Up until recently, a local printing company had been using a high quality hybrid scanner to digitally capture my paintings. This is no longer an option unfortunately, since the company has gone out of business, so I've decided to finally take the opportunity to capture my paintings the way many other professional artists do: via photography.

For many artists, especially for those who work on canvases that are either thick or large, photography is the only way in which they can reproduce their art. There is a specific technique to doing it properly, and although I'm not yet an expert, I do know that everything has to be square and level, the lighting has to be just right, and the white balance in the camera has to set correctly.

Using my daughter's 18 megapixel DSLR camera, I'll be taking a series of small pictures of the whole painting, and then stitching them all together in Photoshop. Then I can play with the settings to make the image a perfect match to the original.

It's a learning process, but once I get it right, I can offer this service for other artists. I will also post instructions in my next newsletter if you want to learn how to do it yourself.

About Dwayne...

Watercolour artist Dwayne James lives near Lakefield, Ontario where he paints as often as he can, that is when he’s not spending time with his daughter, twin boys, and his very forgiving wife.

Dwayne studied archaeology in University, and as a result learned how to write creatively. “The most important skill I learned in University,” he says, “was the ability to pretentiously write about myself in the third person.”

With no formal art training, Dwayne has always preferred the self-guided, experimental approach. In fact, he taught himself how to illustrate archaeological artifacts while completing his Master’s degree at Trent University. Said his thesis supervisor at the time: “There might not be much in the way of coherent theoretical content in Dwayne’s thesis, but damn, it looks pretty!”

After working for close to a decade as a technical communicator, Dwayne chose to look at being downsized in January 2009 as an opportunity to become a stay@home Dad for his newborn twins and pursue his painting and creative writing. It is a decision that continues to make him giggle with wild abandon to this very day.

A self-taught painter, Dwayne’s  highly-detailed watercolour paintings have been described as “unconventional” yet “absolutely authentic.”

Fascinated by both texture and dimension, Dwayne channels nature to create personalised images that are not easily captured with conventional photography.

Dwayne seizes a moment in his paintings that shifts every time you view them. You may have seen watercolours before but, chances are, you have never seen watercolours like Dwayne’s.

Copyright © 2019 Watercolours by Dwayne, All rights reserved.

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