March, 2019     Volume 3, Issue 2.

I'm not used to being so prolific.

It’s been a very productive month and a half since my last newsletter. So productive that I actually have not one, but THREE new paintings to share with you in this newsletter!

Not only that, I have news about an upcoming presentation, a workshop that might interest you, and a cool new work in progress.


Oh, and I could also really use some advice.


Watercolours by Dwayne

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

Attend my Public Lecture...

On March 26th, I’ll be presenting my recent painting tribute to the Franklin Expedition “Until Called” to the local chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society and talking about what inspired it.
Here’s the official press release for the event:

Ever since his youth, local artist and Trent alumnus Dwayne James has been fascinated with the riddle of the Franklin Expedition, and he certainly has not been the only one. Few historical mysteries have persisted quite like the one surrounding the disappearance of the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror some some 174 years ago. From books to folk songs and from movies to television series, the enigma of Franklin and his men is one that continues to impact popular culture well up to the present day. In fact, the Franklin Expedition casts a shadow long enough that it can even be said to have been directly responsible for scuppering plans for a Monty Python reunion tour.

For the artist, this fascination in all things Franklin culminated last year in what Dwayne hopes is the first in a number of paintings based on this, the greatest of all Arctic mysteries. Titled “Until Called”, Dwayne’s watercolour painting reimagines the classic concept of a ship in a bottle by depicting both of the ships from the expedition as real vessels frozen in ice within their own respective bottles, with both of the bottles sitting on a rocky beach somewhere on King William Island in the Canadian Arctic. To complete the image, there is a “long-forgotten lonely cairn of stones” in the foggy background.

In a public lecture on the subject, and in what the artist very much hopes will be a lighthearted presentation, Dwayne will walk through the creative process behind this, and some of his other paintings, and will share some details about the doomed Expedition that inspired this watercolour in particular.

This presentation is part of the Peterborough Chapter’s monthly Public Speakers Series, conducted with the support of the City of Peterborough and the Trent University Archaeological Centre. Members of the public are invited. There is no charge. Light refreshments will be served.

Artist of the Month...

Stop by the Launch Gallery in The Art School of Peterborough to check out some of my new paintings as well as a few old faves!
I'm here all month!

Presenting "Love Rocks"...

"Love Rocks"
Watercolour, 10.5" by 8"
Copyright 2019 by Dwayne James
This little gem was the product of a workshop that I led at The Art School of Peterborough in painting river rocks. Just in time for Valentine's Day, one of the rocks has been modified to look like a heart.
The original "Love Rocks" inside its custom-made oak frame.

Learn the art of framing...

As any artist will tell you, framing is often one of the most expensive aspects of our profession. Would it surprise you to learn that it isn’t all that hard to do?

Join me at The Art School of Peterborough on April 28th where I’ll take a day to walk you through the basics for matting, framing, and stretching canvases. Contact the school directly to register for the workshop.

Presenting "Rural Reflections"...

"Rural Reflections"
Watercolour, 14" by 11"
Copyright 2019 by Dwayne James
This painting is from a recent "Illustrative Watercolours" class that I teach at The Art School of Peterborough. I like to give students some say in what we paint while still having enough of a subject in common that they can try out the painting techniques that I demonstrate. That's why, when we're collaborating on a subject to paint, we decide on a common theme that each of us can customize in some way. In this case, each of us got to decide what was reflected in the windows of the barn. I chose an abandoned farmhouse with a broken wagon in the foreground.

As I painted this scene, something kept striking me as being "off," in that it couldn't possibly exist in reality. The window glass is acting as a mirror and is reflecting the scene that is behind the viewer, but the conundrum is that there is no viewer! The person looking at the window should be reflected there. It's kind of like it's a view that makes the person looking at the painting invisible. I like it actually. It makes the scene completely unique!

I built a special custom frame for this painting out of a red stained barnwood. I love the effect that the frame gives the whole painting. Almost like your'e looking in a window at a window reflecting what's behind you right back at you. Freaky!

Presenting "Canadian Wish"...

"Canadian Wish"
Watercolour, 14" by 11"
Copyright 2019 by Dwayne James
The Canadian dime has always had a special place in my heart, and not just because it reminds me that I live in a country that celebrates one of our most famous ships, not because she won glory in battle, but because she caught a lot of fish and went really, really fast. 

No, the reason that it has always been special to me was because, when I was very young, I went to a birthday party for one of my classmates, and found one in my cake. If this surprises you, then you’re likely very young and should know that it was common practice at the time to put coins inside birthday cakes—back when kids still got excited over being given something as small as a coin. Still, even though everyone did it, my friend’s Mom went one step further by giving out little poems with each denomination. When I pulled a dime out of my piece of cake, she got very excited and proceeded to recite a lovely poem about how the image on the dime was a sailing ship called the Bluenose, and that for the rest of my life, whenever I had problems, all I had to do to feel better was to look at a dime and make a wish that the wind would blow these problems away in the hold of this tiny ship.

It was quite a concept for my young mind (not the least of which because I had no idea what kind of problems a person could ever have), and it stuck with me. Naturally, over the years, every time I held a dime, I thought of that poem, and every time I needed to feel better, I’d follow her instructions and wish my problems away on a dime. 
"Canadian Wish" in progress on my easel.
I like to work from my Surface tablet so that I can zoom in on the image and see lots of detail.
That’s why it was such a thrill to paint such a dime and bring that story full circle, especially at a time in my life when financial concerns over being a full-time artist compete for attention in a brain that’s reveling in being able to follow my bliss. As I painted the tiny ship, I kept imagining all of the current concerns in my life being blown away.

If you’re wondering, the idea behind this painting was to render the Bluenose as if it's real, and then make the rest of the coin look like it’s a weathered old coin from 1937 (the first year that the ship appeared on that denomination) that’s been in lots of pockets over the years. I decided to put the coin on a barnwood background with the hopes that the grains and the knots in the wood might add some scale to the image.
The "Canadian Wish" original in its custom barn-wood frame. 
I'm thinking of donating this painting to the Art School of Peterborough's upcoming art auction. See below for details.
I enjoyed painting the dime so much that I want to do more like it, so I’m planning out my most ambitious painting project yet! I want to do a full set of Canadian coins, all with the image on the front painted to look real. But, I want to take it a step further though, and design it so that the coins are all tied together by the same barnwood background.

I’ve posted a planning picture after this text of what I'm thinking of (yes, that's my finished painting of the Canadian dime in the bottom left, looking so small). I want to have a maple leaf in the middle of the composite that extends out beyond its borders and into some of the other individual paintings so that the only way to see it in its entirety is to assemble all of the images in the correct configuration. When complete, the entire concatenated image will measure over 5 feet by 4 feet!

If I understand my art terminology correctly, the entire assembled image will be a “polyptych” (a painting with multiple parts or panels). Appropriately, the next painting in the series is already underway, and conveniently described directly below…

Work in Progress...

When I was growing up, my Great-Grandfather had a tradition where he would give each of his great-grandchildren Canadian silver dollars on an annual basis. I looked forward to it every year, not so that I could spend it mind you, but so that I could admire the unique designs. By far my favourite design was one that was first used back in 1935, and then revisited regularly:  the voyageur canoe with two paddlers skimming by a wind-swept pine on an island of stone under the Northern Lights.
For me, and possibly because of this silver dollar design, I’ve learned that there are few forms as beautiful as the canoe. It's just so symmetrical. So balanced. So pleasing to the eye. What a pleasure it is to paint. That's perhaps the reason that I keep coming back to it in my paintings, and why I’m enjoying working on this next piece of the polyptych that I described in the previous article.
You may notice that I'm taking a few artistic liberties with the birchbark canoe. First, I’m adding the painted white design on the bow and stern, even though the only thing clear on the coin is the classic circular symbol on the bow. Secondly, tandem canoes like this one, especially those built when the HBC was active in the fur trade, would have likely been built from a single piece of birchbark (it is my understanding that there aren't many contemporary trees large enough to do that anymore) and only the large freighter canoes needed to have the sheets stitched together (that's what the horizontal black tar line is). So a canoe of this size, built during the fur trade, probably wouldn’t have needed to have multiple sheets stitched together. This discussion is a little moot anyhow since I’m basing it on the figure on the coin, and there is a definite horizontal line on it. 

I’m looking forward to painting the figures in full, and plan on using the works of Frances Anne Hopkins as reference. 

I need some advice...

On April 13th, the Art School of Peterborough will be holding its major fund-raising event - the 23rd annual Art Auction (Festa Carnevale). 
I've committed to donating an original painting to the live-auction, but I can't make up my mind as to which one to give up.

Can you help me decide?

I have four options below. Please click on the button below the painting that you would most see yourself bidding on, and send me an email telling me so.

Even better, if you would like to bid on that painting, you can attend the live auction in person, assign a proxy, or bid via phone. 
Option 1: "Jody's Woodland"
Option 2: "Dockside Reflections"
Option 3: "Mother's Watchful Eye"
Option 4: "Canadian Wish"

Got a better idea?

Then click on this button and tell me what painting you think I should donate.
Make a suggestion

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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