July, 2019     Volume 3, Issue 6.

Let's make 2019 the
"Summer of Art"

Today is the first day of what my sons are calling "summer vacay!" so as much as I want to spend time composing a witty summary to get your attention, I'd really much rather be playing with them.

In this, my latest newsletter, you can find out where I'll be on the art show circuit this summer, see my current painting in progress, discover how I plan out my framing, and get introduced to my latest finished watercolour. Oh, and you'll wash the whole thing down with a chuckle!

Now, to figure out why those boys are so quiet and why their bedroom door is closed...

Watercolours by Dwayne

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

Upcoming Shows...

Watch for my display at the following shows. My next two shows will be the Stoney Lake Art & Craft Show in Crowe's Landing on June 30th and the Lakefield Jazz & Art Festival on July 7th in Lakefield.

Hope to see you at some of these events over the next few months. As always, suggestions for new shows and festivals are most welcome.

On the Road!

Have I seen you at any of these shows so far this season?
Here’s what my display looked like at three of them…

The Peterborough Garden Show, April 26th, 2019
The Apple Blossom Tyme Festival, May 25th, 2019.
The Cottage Country Spring Fair, June 9th, 2019.

On my easel...

My wife and I moved our family to the shores of Chemong Lake a few years back on the edge of a tiny bay on the north-east end of the lake not far from the intersection on Buckhorn Road that is Selwyn, Ontario. I had hoped that the environment would provide for plenty of experiences with nature that might inspire paintings (and it certainly has) but what I wasn’t expecting was that it would also provide the inspiration for a painting in the form of old machinery, in this case a derelict Volkswagen microbus that has been slowly sinking into the ground over the last few decades.

According to my neighbours, in the 70s and 80s, the property belonged to a man known simply as “Old George.” He and his wheelchair-bound wife would come up from Toronto every weekend and spend the nights in the little bus. During the days, she would tend to the beautiful gardens (that included lots of grapes apparently) while he would sharpen his scythe and keep the trees, reeds, and weeds under control all along the southern end of the bay close to the swamp.
"Ol' George" about to ring in the new year on December 31st, 2017.

Old George and his wife are both long gone, and the new owners of the property haven’t spent much time there at all since putting up a make-shift “No Trespassing” sign, that is itself showing its age. I was struck by the romantic aspect of the stalwart microbus rusting away on a once immaculate property now well and truly overgrown. There seemed to be contradiction here for me. The juxtaposition of a vehicle that personified the free-wheeling, anything-goes attitude of a long-dead era with a sign rudely and firmly imposing limitations.

I like to start with the most interesting part of a painting first - in this case the impression left on the vehicle after the logo on its front had been removed.

I’ve taken a bunch of pictures of the microbus over the last few years with the goal of eventually painting it. Finally, just last month, I finally got some pics where the light was at just the right angle and intensity. The light made the windows seen through the front of bus just glow, almost like the vehicle was full of water. It’s been a lot of fun painting it so far, but not a painting session goes by where I’m not secretly fantasizing about rescuing “Ol’ George” and restoring him to his former glory.

This one's for scale. I've included my paintbrush, palette, and the edge of my tablet so that you have a better idea as to how big the painting is.

Exploring framing options digitally

Recently, I’ve begun to use Adobe Photoshop and InDesign to create virtual mock-ups of frames for my customers so that they have a much better idea as to what to expect when the whole frame is assembled. It can often be difficult to envision how the colours of the mats and the frame will interact with the art, so this just makes it easier. It’s also easy to try something completely different, something that, in the case of the frame I’m showing you here, worked so well that I’m going to reframe the original!

Here's a full-sized print of "Golden Tears" (11 by 30), double-matted in black and framed in bird's eye spruce.

Here’s a print of “Golden Tears” double-matted in black and framed in some of my rare bird’s eye spruce. I prepared four possible matting colour combinations for the client (shown below) and then, on a whim, I decided to see what a black double-mat would look like. I liked it, and so did she, and I was blown away by the finished product! The black brings out the shadows and texture of the rocks, and the frame matches the colour of the stains.

Expect to see the original on the art show circuit this summer framed to match this beauty!

Here are all five of the mock-ups that I made...

"Nova Scotia Blue"

One of my favourite national Canadian icons has always been the Bluenose schooner. A few months back, I finally realized my long-time dream of painting the classic Nova Scotian ship as she appears on the Canadian dime, and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to do it again!

"Nova Scotia Blue"
Watercolour, 22" by 14"
Copyright 2019 by Dwayne James.

As much fun as I had painting her on the dime though, it was still fairly restricting because I was limited in how the ship looked on the coin. Not only did I want this new painting to be another in my series of boats inside bottles, I also wanted to have the Bluenose in full sail in deep water. I also wanted to have a background that was just as iconically Canadian as the ship, so I chose the famous Peggy Cove’s lighthouse. If you’ve ever been to Peggy’s cove, you’ll know that there are as many nooks, crannies, and puddles in the rocks as there are tourists, and that those holes are all full of water. Because of that, one of the most popular ways to photograph the lighthouse is to line it up so that the tall building is reflected in one of these small bodies of water. I decided to do the same, namely in the puddle located on a flat rock that is located just to the North of the lighthouse.

I composed the painting so that the Bluenose would be sailing inside the bottle, as the bottle itself is perched just to the side of the puddle, with the neck of the bottle and the tip of the lighthouse reflected therein. Then, I designed it so that the foreground would be in focus while everything in the background would be just slightly fuzzy. I also composed it so that most of the natural lines in the painting (from the rock edges to the clouds) would point directly towards the ship inside the bottle.

I had to flip the painting upside down on my easel to get the reflection of the lighthouse just right.

I used a few tricks in Adobe Photoshop and InDesign to combine elements from about a dozen different photographs. Then, where I didn’t have good source images to work with, I made my own. Such as putting the bottle in front of my TV with an image of the rocks so that I could see how the curved bottle distorted the background, or when I shone a light through the bottle with a cut-out of the ship pasted to it so that I could see how the glass would cast a shadow.

All in all, this was a painting that came into my mind simply demanding to be painted. From start to finish, it took a mere three weeks to conceive of, compose, and then create it, mostly because I just couldn't seem to stop! I’ve never been this single-minded about a painting before, to the point that I put off a number of other projects just to finish it!

I'm very happy with it, mostly because it's unlike anything I've done before. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, using much brighter blues than usual, and it really felt like everything came together just as I needed it to, like seredipity.

The "Nova Scotia Blue" original, quadruple-matted and framed in solid oak lightly stained.

This serendipity didn’t end after I’d finished the painting, but even affected the framing process. I had decided to make a thick oak frame with a light golden stain, and I really wanted the wood to look like it matched the wood on the Bluenose II. I even went so far as to sand the stain irregularly to make it look like it'd been worn, but I was still not sure what kind of wood had been used in the construction of the schooner. Was it too dark? Was the grain wrong?

Then, not ten frikkin’ minutes after I began to wonder this fact (and before I'd even had a chance to look it up online), I got a message from somebody who wanted to buy a print my painting of the Bluenose on the dime "Canadian Wish." The ship was important in her family because her father-in-law had a bunch of wood from the Bluenose II (the schooner had been refurbished a few years back and they had wood leftover, presumably because they couldn't remember where it had come from), and he made and sold souvenir pens out of it.

Talk about timing! She sent me pics of her pen, and informed me that the wood was "angelique." If you're not aware, angelique is an exotic wood often used in the construction of wooden ships and is dark with a strong grain - not that far off from the style I'd chosen. I had not gone too dark after all!

If you’re interested in ordering a print, the following graphic has all the information you’ll need.

If you’re interested in the original, click the link to send me an email and contact me directly.

Buy a print on my website
Buy the original "Nova Scotia Blue"

Leave 'em laughing...

Back when I first start putting out newsletters, a woman at a show told me that she would only sign up to receive them if I promised that they’d be funny.

“Of course they’ll be funny!” I promised.
I lied.

Thus far, I’ve not put anything in my newsletters beyond techniques and self-promotion, so I thought I’d close off this issue with something different. Here are some slides from my book “Amuzings”. Hope you find them funny!

I have two books available for sale. Click on the links below to get them digitally, or visit my website to order hardcopies.

Gingers and Wry - digital copy
amuzings - digital copy
Watercolours by Dwayne - for hard copies

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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