Thursday, January 17, 2008

La Balançoire

Acrylic polymer emulsion on gessoed hardboard, 11 x 15"
Created- August 8-15, 2004, #75.
Private collection- Toronto, Ontario.

I've always found it difficult to paint during the month of January, and this year is no exception. I'm a bit slow getting out of the starters block. Each New Year is like a renewal for life itself; I'm wiping the slate clean and getting another shot at it. I'm not the all-consuming painter and wouldn't pretend to be. Life itself is a window of opportunity, and as much as I like to paint, I also want to expand my horizons in the grander scheme of things. I took a month off from my brushes to spend more time my family, to see a lot of the critically acclaim films that always comes out pre-Oscar time, to do some skiing, to renew my passport, to start planning our family trip to California this spring and to tie loose ends. It's not the easiest thing to juggle a full-time job and a painting career on the side.... your always chasing deadlines.

I've just started my first painting of the new year, and it will be a while before I post it. It's my first figure study since 2004, and a complex one at that. When it takes a few days just to do the drawing, it usually translate in many more days than usual to paint.

I won't be having a solo show in 2008, but I do have several projects planned. I'll be submitting works in juried exhibitions, I have several commissions lined up and will do my best to provide new paintings to the galleries that represents me.

In the meanwhile, I'm posting an older piece of my last figure painting. The model is our niece Gabrielle. I took the photo study on her backyard swing in Québec, and transported her to this farming field on Prince Edward Island. The image was used on the cover of a CD released last year by the Montréal musical duo Christel. We have two other nieces on my wife side of the family who will be featured with our son Jean-Luc in my upcoming painting.


  1. Alvin,
    I am so glad to see you back - I was beginning to get concerned about you! :-) Life is certainly sounding full for you this year - adventure and opportunity combined. I wish you the best in 2008. I know each piece that you paint will be worth waiting for, and will be better because of the balance you have in your life.

  2. Swinging on a bright summer day looks like fun. This painting is very nice. Your work is interesting to look at.

  3. Nice having you back, I can relate to the January hibernation or holiday hangover month. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.


  4. Alvin,
    It's good to have you back! I know what you mean about painting in January. This painting is nice and I can't wait to see your new one. Take Care!

  5. Alvin, I thought it was just me who had a problem with January, but apparently not! Some days I feel like I can barely get out of my own way. Your painting certainly lifts the spirits, though! I'm always happy to find a new post here!

  6. I use acrylics and was thinking about using oils since they say that oil colors are more brilliant, but I cannot see how oils could possibly be more beautiful than the way you use acrylics. They look airbrushed! I only wish I could come close to painting as well as you do!

  7. I don't know, but I can't see why you shouldn't be commanding five figures like John Sanden, Margaret Sargent and Simmie Knox! I thought I was painting pretty good until I happened on your paintings tonight. I would have a very long way to go to get to your attention to detail. I just don't see how you get so much detail on a 6x6. I can't even imagine the detail you could get on even larger canvases than the one you did recently. You mentioned that you water down the acrylic, but the water is not breaking the color down at all! They all look like glazes...true beauty.

  8. Thank You Joanne, Michelle, Todd, Jean & Liz for your visit and comments. I wish you all a most productive and meaningful year.

  9. Hey Carolyn,
    Thank you so much for your comments and comparing me to those fine artists. Their profiles are much higher than mine...I have yet to leave a mark on the artworld.

    My process is very much one of building up the image gradually, and applying layers upon layers of paint until the correct saturation is achieved. You have to let each coat cure for about 20-30 min. after the paint dries before moving on. I usually will dab my brush on a paper towel to absorb excess water from the thined down paint, leaving mostly pigment on the bristols. The luminosity comes from reading the light properly and painting in transparant layers without adding white to the colors that would then make them opaque. The airbrush quality comes from dabbing the wet paint with a dry scruffy brush before the paint dries, eliminating all visible brush strokes. It is a technique that I have developped along the way. My technique works best on hardboard that has been primed with 5-7 diluted coats of gesso (heavy cream consistancy) and sanding between coats with a 320 grit sandpaper. I use Grumbacher Gesso (525-32) and Liquitex professional high viscosity paints. I found that the best way to apply the gesso is with a foam roller. When a coat has completely covered the surface, just continue to roll ever so lightly and it will eliminate all the surface bubbles.

    Comments like yours always lifts my spirit! Hope this helps.

  10. Hey Alvin!
    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! I just opened my Feb/March International Artist magazine - and there you are, featured as a Master Painter on page 59!!! That is awesome. Truly a great accomplishment. Again - congratulations!

  11. Alvin, Congratulations on the CD cover and the International Artist magazine article!
    Hope you enjoy your newest figure study for 2008.

  12. I add my congratulations on your featured painting and article. Very exciting!
    Painting is very much a mood thing and I admire the patience and discipline required in working on something for 5 weeks!
    Nice work.