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2: 1985-1995 < 3: 1995-2005 > 4: 2005-2015

My paintings "Under Northern Skies" and "The Teaching Rocks" became lmited edition prints in the early 1990's but  the original public excitement about wildlife limited editions was lessening..We have to admit that the limited edition reproduction was a new thing - allowing anyone to have a highly illustrative nature image on their wall. But when everyone had decorated their walls and there was no more space left, they had no reason to buy more. The limited edition print phenomenon was not one that regenerated itself regularly like popular music and film. There was and is no culture of 'hits' motivating people to replace their old prints with the new 'hits'. So many people loved my prints but said 'our walls are full'. It was not economic for me to pour money and energy into making and marketing prints. I never enjoyed the marketing side of it anyway.I would rather just create the art.  I however kept my prints, and continued to deal with them as circumstances allowed, carrying them alongside my regular art. I returned to only creating original art. Still, I could not create large serious paintings that took weeks or months and had to be sold for thousands of dollars - there simply weren't many wealthy art collectors!. But I found great interest - as always - in my quick small 8"x10" landscape paintings of the kind that goes back to my teenage years. Public interest in them has never wavered. This then became my new bread-and-butter, while continuing to also make serious large paintings and hoping  to find buyers for them. This Part 3, covering 1995-2005 (more or less) will present some of the larger landscapes, and plenty of the small landscapes .
 I found additional income in website design. With a commercial art and advertising background going back to 1968, I was preadapted to take on both traditional brochure and advertising design, and the new website design as the internet and worldwide web emerged in the late 1990's. I was excited by the creative opportunities and learned html and javascript coding (There was no easy web design software back then) Meanwhile, in my spare time, I exploited the internet to both do scholarly research. My researcj interests are rooted to when I was a university student and had an interest in the little-studied subject of the prehistory of northern Europe.. From about 2002 I developed a theory of the prehistoric development of boat peoples, who as whalers, spread around the arctic. This had implications on linguistics too, as the aboriginal boat peoples were at the origins of Finnic languages. This lead me to explore what happened to the boat peoples who remained in Europe, which to me were clearly peoples known historically as "Veneti" "Venedi" or "Eneti". That lead me to decipher ancient Venetic inscriptions in northern Italy - but that takes me now beyond 2005 and into my most recent period. Another diversion was in fiction writing. Going back to childhood when I tried to creat comic strips, I had a talent for creating stories, so around this time too, I tried to write a novel. (see Abbi)  In any event, these research.and creative pursuits were for my own interest, and gave me no monetary rewards.
Artistically, this period 1995-2005 were mainly about making selling small landcapes, and trying to find customers for the more expensive art.  All along, I did sell my prints casually when people showed interest, even though I no longer aggressively marketed them.



    In Central Canada there is plenty of wilderness ot the northern boreal kind,  wilderness whose wildness and healthiness cannot be found anywhere else in the world, other than the least inhabited parts of northern Europe and Asia.  Thanks to the Canadian artists of the early 1900's, the Group of Seven, who sketched and painted the Canadian wilderness, Canada has a tradition in art that captures the essence of the Canadian wilderness  It is not that the public every consciously wanted a tradition of landscape painting that did so - it came about as a result of the prior North American interest in the wilderness experience.
    In the early 1800's as European culture expanded into North America, interest developed in the Native peoples there. In the mid 1800's the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, created a poem called "Hiawatha" which he based on legends and stories gathered by Henry Schoolcraft, when he was among the Ojibwa in northern Lake Michigan. By this time children were already making boys and arrows and putting feathers in their hair as a result of the growing print media. (Newspapers, then telegraphy, were spreading the news about the Native "Indian" peoples), The poem "Hiawatha" and its author became extremely popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Because of this popularity,along with the development of railways, a tourist industry arose. Railway and steamship companies began to promote tourist travel to various locations from which they could experience the wilderness, complete with "Indian" guides. One popular practice that city people sought, was to be guided by an "Indian" guide to paddle canoes into Central Ontario's lakes, to catch fish, and stop on a bank in midday to have a "shore lunch" in which the Indian guide would fry up some fish they had caught. They would then go back to the rustic lodge where they had accomodation - unless they were adventurous and their Indian guide guided them to camp through the night. Sportsmen of course were adventurous, and went into the wilderness for many days and nights at a time. In general, North America celebrated the wilderness. By the end of the 1800's both Canada and America had created wilderness parks to preserve the wilderenss and cater to this public interest in the wilderenss experience.
    Everyone who knows about the Canadian Group of Seven, knows about their friend Tom Thomson (who died in a canoe accident before the "Group of Seven" formed themselves). He hung out at Ontario's Algonquin Park at a lodge there, and while he loved to take excursions by canoe to fish etc, he also liked to capture his experiences on small canvas panels. Note that at this time photography was new - only huge cameras that took black and white - and recording scenes in paint on small panels was the only way of capturing the experience. That was the motive. Tom Thomson, or the other artists, who formed a club to, together, go out into the wilderness and pursue this practice of capturing what they saw on small panels. I believe that when colour photography became simple in the last decades, especially now with digital cameras, this motive of going on an adventure and capturing it in images, would have been much less.
    The point is that the "Group of Seven" began a tradition of capturing the Canadian wild wilderness onto panels. As they painted, they could do some organizing and design as required to capture the feeling of a scene, but done in the outdoors, quickly, they lacked the refinement of serious works of art. So the artists would take some ideas from their small paintings, and develop them later in the studio, resulting in the finished products that hang in art galleries and art museums today.
    The Art Establishment of the day turned up their nose at the exhibitions by the "Group of Seven". By this time (around 1915 or so) the French impressionists were gaining popularity - those were the Parisian artists who painted the scenery around the French countryside with thick dabs of paint, to capture the feeling of the scene. Everyone knows the name Van Gogh. He was one of the more adventurous of them. The aritst of the "Group of Seven" did not imitate the French impressionists, but simply wanted to capture the essence of the Canadian wilderness - whatever artistic way that was achievable was fair game: the ultimate purpose was to capture the scene in a way that the viewer of it understood the subject matter, drawing from their own experiences in the wilderness. These paintings were geared to resonating with the North American wilderness experience that had begun in the Victorian Age, and had resulted now in a wilderness tourism industry with lodges, fish camps, canoe manufacturing, and wilderness parks set aside by the governments.
   The Art Establishment of Toronto - made up of men who probably had never gone out into the wilderness - could not see the relevance of depicting the wilderness in art. This was competely new. The Art World of the time simply did not depict the raw wilderness. Paintings should be of people, farm buildings, countrysides, vases of flowers, gardens, streets, etc. Why would anyone want a painting of the wilderness?!! The Art Establishment, being out of touch of the common man who was now even going to their cottages in the wilderness in summer, simply did not know what was happening, and that the general public could relate to these paintings of the wilderness.
    Art has always celebrated and reflected what the general society was up to. But when elites develop to control the valuing, production and selling of art, the general public changes and values culture in their own unsophisticated ways.
    Thus, to conclude, the 'Group of Seven' reflected public trends towards the wilderness experience - first visiting lodges and hiring "Indian" guides, and then actually getting their own "cottages" and owning their own canoes and boats. Without knowing it, when I grew up - my family going to the "cottage" beside the wilderness every summer and even many weekends - I responded to the relevance of painting the wilderness around me. And the proof of the relevance was in my paintings of the scenery selling to other cottagers on my lake. The capturing of the wilderness in art was not a formal new development in the "Art World". It was simply a reflection of what the general public was experiencing. When you experience the world in a particular way, you want that experience to be captured and remembered.
    And taking photographs was never enough.
        I recall many times a customer giving me a photograph and asking me to make a painting of it. Why not blow the painting up to a framable size? The answer is simple - the camera sees everything coming in the lens, from the suble imbalances of forms, the intrusiveness of random branches and leaves, unwanted logs and such in the water, etc. You can see this for yourself if you compare the actual scene as the camera saw it with the painting. That having been said, one in a hundres photos of scenes, taken by a photographer with a good eye for design, actually look good. But the artist can take a scene recorded in a poor photo, one that most people would consider terrible, and extract a moving painting out of it. And I have many examples.
    I therefore found myself painting the wilderness, for exactly the same reason that the 'Group of Seven' did, to capture the scenery that the public was experiencing, and to which they could relate. While the people a century ago who could relate to the Group of Seven painting from their summer vacations going to lodges, camping in wilderness parks, etc, by the 1960's my similar small paintings were images which resonated with people who went regularly to their summer cottages. This landscape painting was valued and purchased, and still is, since going to the cottage is a strong as ever.
    By the time the 'wildlife art' phenomenon developed there has been another new experience in the general public - the naturalist experience. There was since I went to school in the 1950's and 1960's much conversation about endangered species. There was also discussion of how nature worked.  We all became naturalists in our childhood.  We liked to see not just the landscapes with which we were familiar, but also the animals in those landscapes. While at the time of the "Group of Seven" people were focused on their experience while canoeing, etc., by the 1960's, we were more educated about nature, and adding animals to scenes was like the cherry on top of a sundae. In my paintings when I joined this new trend with wildlife, I would often hide the animal in the landscape, and the viewer would look at the painting as they would naturally experience it while canoing or hiking, and then suddenly they see the animal in the painting and shout "I see the osprey!" in the same way that they would actually encounter an animal in the real experience. I believe my paintings are all fundamentally in the Canadian Wilderness Landscape tradition, and that my adding animals to the scenes is purely an extension of that, completing the scene with expected wildlife, mirroring the experience of the person in that landscape suddenly seeing an animal.
    While I do have a portrait painting background that can lead me sometimes on a path of portraying an animal - as opposed to showing them as part of a landscape -  my paintings in general are in the Canadian tradition of mirroring the Canadian experience of the wilderness, including animals that naturally are found therein.
    Yes, I will explore and experiment in other directions, but my art is rooted in the Canadian experience of the Canadian wilderness based on  my own experience.
    When the "craze" with limited edition reproductions faded away in the 1990's, I still had the landscapes. Although I could not make much money spending weeks and months on my landscape paintings because there was no marketplace of wealthy people available from me, I could still make hundreds of small landscape paintings and do them quickly enough that they had a market among all people who went to a "cottage" in Ontario, or went "camping' in our wilderness parks.
    (Art critics who dismiss landscape painting, and realism, must stop to think of what art is - art is a mirroring of society. In prehistoric times, people were interested in bringing down big game so they put images of them on their cave walls. In ancient Greece, society was immersed in Greek mythology, so they painted and sculpted images from mythology. In Christian Europe everything was about the Bible, so murals depicted scenes from the Bible. In the Renaissance, there was a return to Greek mythological themes, including scenes from the Odyssey. Today,  the cottaging and camping experience in Canada is not paralleled in most other parts of the world, and therefore viewers of my art from elsewhere than Central Canada might have some difficulty relating to some scenes,  the size of the world public that understands and relates to the northern boreal wilderness is substantial. That having been said, an argument can be made that truly universal art uses the universal imagery that everyone understands - sun, sky, land, foliage, the general shape of trees, grasses, rocks, mammals in general, the human form. . If art wants to appeal to all of humanity, then it tries to restrict itself to what ALL humankind understands, and reflect their experience. There has been a trend in art to either become specific to a culture (such as Andy Warhols making a big deal of consumer products like soup cans), or become extremely universal - such as "abstract" art analogous to what a chimpanzee, our closest species relative, will create when given some paints and paper: it is an indulgence with doing things with paint to experience the psychological reaction. I can certainly see there is a relevance in artists creating paintings that have the same effect on chimpanzees and apes as humans, then the art becomes very universal, comprising not just humans but our species relatives!)


    In the period 1995-2005 I did not abandon my limited edition prints - since most of them are very saleable: I simply have to frame them and present them to the buying public. But I realized the trend was over.  It was no longer possible to hand 50% of the retail price over the the retailer. It was only practical if I was the retailer. I could then even give a small discount. Accordingly I have not stopped advertising my prints online and inviting purchases via the internet - shipped via the postal system.
    But by 1995, my energy was put into the landscapes. While the small landcapes were the "liquid" product, I tried to keep up my serious landscape paintings - mainly to show what I could do if not constrained by the need to make a living.
    The following presents some of the serious larger work, and further below, a large number of examples of my small landscapes.


    But first it is important for me to show that even when my landscapes are very detailed, they are STILL quite expressive. While I don't deviate unnaturally from nature's colours, textures, shapes, what I do is paint in ways that mirror what I am painting.  When I paint water in a scene, I use a brush long bristles and very fluid paint, often as if I am painting with water colour. If I paint rocks, I may make the paint thick, and perhaps use a dry-brush technique to reflect the character of the rock. Similarly I get emotionally involved in the object I am painting, and that emotion is captured in the technique. It is a new approach to impressionism. The colours and shapes remain true, so it still looks realistic, but the surface of the painting, even when the detail is high, is infused with the emotion of the technique guided by my reactions to what I am painting.
    Furthermore, my serious large paintings start out being similar to my small paintings, and then I simply use thinner and thinner brushes, never losing the technique. From a distance and in photos, the technique is not visible, but the real painting up close has a similar feel as the smaller paintings where the technique is obvious.

    The following painting is a good example of my technique, here very visible on a small 8"x10" painting:

For comparison, I show an example of an 8"x10" central portion of a large 48" x 36" painting.....

    And yet, when photographed for this page, you cannot see the nature of the painting up close. That is why photos of my large paintings do not do it the justice - the 'feeling' in the technique is lost in the long distance view or photograph. (Painting is Algonquin Pond #2 and is nearing completion and sale)

    Therefore, do not be decieved when you see on these pages photographs of large paintings that are in highly realistic detail. If you see the actual painting, you will see that the technique is the same as in the small paintings. The larger size simply covers more canvas with the same technique. In real use of the large painting, when on the wall, it is human nature to come quite close to it - say at arm's length - since we are naturally drawn to detail. It is when one gets close that the painting opens up and becomes quite impressionistic     


    The following is the first painting called Algonquin Pond. It so happened that I decided to record the entire process of creating it. As you will see, first photos of the real place are a little chaotic and off balance, but I can use it as a beginning point. Then you will see that unlike many illustrative artist who develop the painting, pencil it out, in advance, and then use the same small brush throughout like a paint-by-number, I begin with a large brush, looking for the design, trying to make the painting appear in my mind's eye in advance. This is also the approach used by Robert Bateman. I believe our methods are the same because we both began our art career trying to emulate the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson with a technique that "bang", started painting the scene right off without any finicky predesign.


Two small 8"x10" paintings of the Algonquin Pond location. They became the jumping off point for the more serious larger paintings below. I refer to these as well as photos of the location that I originally took. My intention is to create a large 30"x20" painting but with the same level of detail - which results in up close there being much more work in the foliage, grasses etc, where in the small original much of it is blurry.

The painting begins by roughing it in using reddish colours that are opposite to the greens that go on top.In the next period of work  I am adding greens and rough forms. It is very loose and rough up close.

You can see that I am beginning to develop the trees in the backgound to give me more clarity as to how the background will look.

  I now give attention to the foreground pond with lilypads- lots of dots! The next period of working on it, I do not like the trees in the background and blur them for now. I work more detail into the background. Note I work no more than 2-3 hours at a time, as the brain gets tired.

When I return to work on the painting I tackle the background trees in the hill again and am more satisfied. I now have a good idea of where I am headed. And then begins the many days and hours of making all the elements in the painting very detailed, because it is designed so that the viewer can study it quite close.


algonquin pond

This painting too is also a portrait of a location, because it describes the location in detail. A portrait describes a specific subject but as in human portraiture someone who does not know the subject matter, can still relate to it.


I continued to explore the subject, with two other paintings based on the same location which I call Algonquin Pond #2 and #3.

algonquin pond
ALGONGUIN POND #2  48"x36"
Note that this painting is different from the original "Algonquin Pond" shown above. But since the painting portrays the same location, if you did not compare the two, you would think they are the same painting. But they are just two paintings that happen to portray the same location.

algonquin pond

ALGONQUIN POND #3  48"x36"
This version of Algonquin Pond is based on the region to the right (south), and here I explored oil painting and impressionistic techniques  Note how this painting captures more of the "feeling" of a scene, while #1 and #2 are more descriptive.


 These three paintings are of the same location. Note how each time I elect to use different techniques. Note too that I am not committed to all details, but allow myself to change things in order to arrive at a good design and impression.


These paintings of generally the same location and subject,. began with the small 8x10 painting to the left above, and later I created a larger more organized version in 16x20 on the left. These lead to a rather large painting on canvas shown below

This is not a "final version" because the two earlier ones are not intended to progress towards this one. Rather all three are different approaches to the same subject matter. What happens is that I find a location so interesting that I need to explore it in further paintings.


    The human mind does not observe the reality in the same way that a machine (ie a camera does). A camera records everything that comes in the lens. That image does also come through the lens of the eye and falls on the retina, but it is when that image reaches the brain, that the brain filters, or sifts, the image, to screen out what is intrusive and/or undesirable. The best example would be a scene of a lake through a thicket of branches. Take a photo of this scene, and you will see all the chaos of the branches in the foreground. But that is not what you, the human remember about the scene. The human mind will filter out the intrusive branches in the foreground and see that nice scene in the distance. The human mind will also overlook things being out of balance, even in the desirable part in the distance. The artist in fact portrays the scene as the human mind actually sees it, not in the imperfect way the lens of the camera saw it. That is why photographs will never replace well-done art, except where the photographer consciously captures just those scenes that by chance happen to already be perfect. A wildlife photographer typically has to take 1000 photos of an animal before by chance he getsclear: both; a shot that is perfectly designed. (The artist can take imperfect photos and MAKE the perfect image from the imperfect source photos!) It is also the reason for studio photography - the subject can be fully arranged and lighted to be perfect for the camera.  
    The following painting is a vey good example of how I greatly I can improve on what is really there, what the camera sees, making the scene look more like the human mind sees with its filtering and balancing.


Compare the painting with the photograph to see what I have done - made the trees more vertical, stretched the scene sideways for a more aesthetic rectangle, made the branches follow simpler design - note how the foreground branches are waves working together and integrating into the abstract design. The original scene is full of chaotic randomness but my mind's eye can see how, like a gardener, I can subtly rearrange nature to look simpler, more powerful, and with a stronger abstract design.


PICNIC ISLAND  about 24" x 16"

'This island is a central focus on Eels Lake, and called "Picnic Island". I caught this amazing lighting in the later afternoon.

PINK ROCK   20"x16"

MARSH GREYS  16" x 14"

I was attracted to this scene in a nearby marsh and this tries to capture the feeling and the abstract design

  MORNING SUN  16" x 14"

I encountered this scene one early morning at Bon Echo Provincial Park


This is an instance in which I painted with a thick brush on a large panel in the same way I paint with a small brush on a 10"x8" panel. Since price is based on time taken, this only enlarges the art, but does not add to time. But the disadvantage was that most people did not have the wall space for a large painting, and always chose the smaller version.


This island in Eels Lake is very photogenic. Its windswept trees and granite rocks are very attractive. This became my norm for larger paintings - to paint with the same detail as my small 8x10's


This shows the same island as above, but in a quiet fall afternoon. (The water level is lowered in fall, revealing ore of the pink granite rock.)


This painting was actually based on a scene I saw near Thunder Bay. It's beauty lies in the way the eye can meander into the distance.

EAST SHORE  30"x20"

I was attracted to this shore scene not far from where I am located because of the attractive pines. I added the kingfisher in the foreground as a surprise element - however it has a significant role in creating interest in the foreground.

I painted this scene several times, based on a cliff at a nearby lake. It was an interesting pursuit of textures and shapes. Each time I tried to improve the design and effect.

LAZY RIVER  24" x 24"

I painted this on canvas in a traditional 'painterly' style mainly to remind myself of the traditional technique which I learned as a teenager.. Although it is quite large, it's price is not high because it is done in a loose style.

PINK ROCKS 36"x 24"

Pink rocks covered with pines and junipers etc is common across northern Ontario, In this case I made the distant shore thin, very far, in order to keep attention on the foreground. As with the above painting, it is painted large and not in the normal detail level


This painting is mostly subtle colours intended to capture the feeling of a hot fall day - Indian Summer.


I found this scene located along Lake Ontario near Brighton  as having an interesting design of colours

RAIN CLOUDS  about 24" x 16"(?)

This scene scene in southern Ontario farmland, become a narrative painting by the presence of the farmhouse.


    When more information and detail is introduced into a painting - also of larger size - the painting becomes more storytelling, has more narrative - and that additional content takes the painting to a new level.

teaching rock
This painting, more than any other wildlife painting, is also a portrait of a real place. The rock carvings in the image are accurately positions and painted. While it portrays a specific place, someone who does not know that can see it in general terms as 'Native rock carvings' 


driftwood shore

    The above painting is also more a description of an actual place, but it anyone can relate to it, because its elements can be found everywhere - sunlight, driftwood, rocks. 

lilypadsLILYPADS  ABOUT 30" x 20"
I was fascinated how a lilypads formed an interesting pattern that even if you do not know what the reality is, produces an interesting abstract pattern with the white flower as the focal point. And when you know what is being shown, symbolism and metaphor enters the art.

EDGE OF THE EARTH  48" x 36"
Based on flat rock edge on the east coast of the Bruce Peninsula facing Lake Huron, I saw the abstract and symbolic design in in, contrasting rock with water with sky. The figure at the edge gives a human context to it. It is also part of my exploration of adding humans, instead of wildlife, into landscapes (see later for more about my putting humans in landscapes)

This painting originated from a photograph, but I was already familiar with such scenes. I adjusted the scene to make it more balanced, and more interesting - the usual technique.

  Many  of the paintings shown on these pages actually portray a real place in the background, and the animal has been worked into the scene. Thus to one degree or another all portrayals of nature are portrayals of real things the artist sees. Nature scenes cease to be portraits, if the artist revises, changes, modifies the scene which was the original inspiration. Some of my paintings are like that for the simple reason that nature is not perfect. If you saw the actual photo of a particular scene in a painting, you will see that the photo is quite chaotic and unpleasant. I have redesigned nature to make it more 'perfect'. It would be analogous to painting a portrait of a person, and making that person look more beautiful that they really are.


    When one thinks of landscape, one things of scenes receding into the distance However, just as in the traditional art there are closups of bowls of fruit or vases of flowers, etc, so too it is possible for a painting to study an interesting section of nature up close. Here are some which are clearly that.

FALL SPRING  20" x 20"
While I start with a real scene, in order to create an organized, interesting, system of shapes, textures and colours, I have to slightly 'redesign' nature to remove the imbalance, etc. This image could not be achieved with a photograph - well, maybe if you spent a week and took 1000's of photos you may find one that is perfect - or the photographer carefully set it up in studio.

DECORATED ROCK 20" x  28"(?)
I saw these interesting autumn colours at a rock beside the road, and used it as a jumping off point for a painting. Note, as always, I basically redesign the actual nature to make all its elements form into a moving abstract design. As I say again and again, nature is never perfect. The artist has to rearrange things, add and subtract, etc. (Or a photographer has to spend a summer taking thousands of photos to find a perfect design occuring naturally - all MY photos are imperfect, and my job is to make them perfect.)

I painted the action in the lower portion years ago, but I also had photo records of the upper portion. So I had the idea of creating a long painting showing more of the small stream . In this case, there is more from my imagination. It is also a looser painting.

RAPIDS 20"x12" (?)
This painting was a challenge to myself to see how real I could make moving water during spring melt, inspired by the rapids of Clanricarde Creek.

This scene occurs in early spring when suddenly the weather is very warm and snow is turning into streams everywhere, and then in some weeks it is gone. This is a case of me trying to capture not just the warmth but also the lively action

This is a painting unlike anything you have seen before. It shows how a new tree can grow out of a decaying stump.  This gave my a symbolic idea - showing how nature regenerates itself, recycles itself, whereas pollution does not recycle.  As a final touch, if you view the  original, you will see a wren on the forest floor.


  I have two large 48"x48" paintings which, altough depicting nature, highlight the abstract side of the painting. Some people seeing them for the first time do not realize immediately that it depicts a real natural scene.

PATCH OF ICE 48"x48"
I was intrigued by the 'feeling' of the trees in a bay - subtle greys.  To enhance it I imagined a pack of wolves there. To give a strong sense of the third dimension, I wanted some detail in the foreground, and decided on showing a region of the ice that was blown clean of snow by the wind. Overall, you will note that this is an abstract design as well.


I saw such a misty scene when I travelled south from Temagami,. Ontario, at about 6AM. I stopped and took many photos, and those became my source of inspiration to develop a painting that portrayed a real event, but also, overall had the same effect as an abstract.


This may make you ask the question whether this validates "abstract art".  The answer is that ALL good art has a good abstract design underneath it. Abstract art is about the psychology of shapes, colours, lines, textures etc. But this psychology has developed in humans through a million years of experience in nature. Thus abstract design is born of our experience in nature, and so by using natural elements to create good abstract designs that create particular emotional and intellectual responses, we return to the very origins of abstract art. All humans will understand abstract art if it is created from real natural elements, because the realism puts the viewer into the context. When abstract art is removed from any reality, then the average person has no way of interpreting it. Sometimes abstract art attempts to help the viewer by the title - such as calling alot of vertical black lines as "a forest".  Without the realism on top of abstract art, it is merely a meaningless bunch of lines, shapes, colours, etc. and no different from what can be produced by a child or a chimpanzee simply playing around with artist supplies to achieve "interesting effects". Perhaps there is a place for "interesting effects" but they should be priced accordingly. When the Art Establishment is confronted with art produced by apes or chimpanzees, they say "it is not art because the ape or chimp does not intentionally design the painting. Instead, the ape or chimpanzee generates them one after the other and it is the human art dealer who selects the ones that look interesting." My response is that human artists do the same!! They generate painting after painting, and then select the ones that 'work' and hide or paint over the ones they reject. The only difference is that while the chimpanzee has not context by which to select the best, the human artist does. But when either man or ape creates interesting lines, shapes, colours etc, they are both doing the same thing - achieving results that resonate with psychology, which originates from evolutionary experience in nature. If a chimpanzee artist learned what kind of art his human master likes, he too can select which of his wild explorations to show to his human master. In my opinion, EVERY painting I create is an abstract. The fact that I make the abstract coincide with real elements from nature, does not alter this fact.  The only difference is that the human being can understand it when the abstract has reality on top of it, as it gives a real world context, while if it doesn't it is just a jumble of lines, shapes, colours, etc in limbo, without any connection to reality - except if it is used for giving interesting design to walls, furniture, carpets, etc.
    I selected the two large paintings as the best examples of simple abstracts, but ALL paintings have abstract designs underneath them. The trick is to use the abstract design to generate the psychological responses suitable for the subject matter. (For example, one would not want to have bright, happy colours if the painting shows a pack of wolves. ) As you saw in my demonstration above, all my paintings are abstract paintings within a couple hours. Developing the painting to put the realism on top, complete with additional symbolism and narrative, can take another hundred hours. Thus it is outrageous that art dealers will try to sell abstracts that take a half day to create for the same price as a realistic painting that took further weeks.


    The truth is that there is a spectrum of techniques that range from pure non-representational abstract (lots of lines, shapes, etc) that produce emotional reaction) to suggested reality in the abstracts (such as an artist creating alot of vertical lines and calling it a 'forest') to more and more reality, leading to the impressionistic techniques. When the abstract designs are noticable in the painting technique, we call the work "painterly". As I have said elsewhere, traditonal realism strives to make the painting technique invisible. It is similar to how handwriting is invisible - the reader seeks what the handwriting says, But if the writer writes with crazy flair, the handwriting begins to intrude. Note that it is not necessay to be realistic for the painting technique to be invisible- if the viewer is familiar with the technique and is looking beyond the technique in the same way we look past the handwriting to its message.
    If the abstract design, thus, is not noticable, and the purpose of the painting is to offer a visual narrative, then that form of art will be the other end of the spectrum. But there is always the abstract design underneath all art, whether or not we notice the handwriting, or painterliness, or not.
    The following are examples in which I leave some presence of the painting technique, where this helps convey emotion. (Detail has the problem of making a scene cold and technical, so sometimes blurring, etc to avoid obsessing on detail is desirable)


The background is blurred and suggested, partly to keep the viewer's attention on the foreground.


This scene had a great mess of foreground trees, so I decide to blur it and show it impressionistically so that the foreground would not be made more important than the pond we are actually looking at

This is the scene on the opposite shore from me. It is the same location as the painting of the deer when I was 14 or so

All my paintings start more or less like this, but this is an established painting style for final works - most commonly used by illustrators. Usually I consider this stage to be the beginning of a painting I develop into more detail. However, this one happened to be very lively and interesting at this stage, and I realized I might leave this painting as is If I want to paint this scene in more detail  I can start another painting. It is easy to see that it could also be a detailed scene perhaps containing a heron in the water - or a moose.  An artist has to know where to stop.

    The above examples merely show my flair and emotion in my brush technique found in all my paintings, taken to extreme. These are only some examples where the technique is especially noticable.


    I have already spoken in detail about the small paintings by which I first capture the images of nature I encounter. This section will present many of these small paintings. Many were sold in galleries for prices up to $500 framed. It depends on the success of the result and the level of detail. When I was a teenager in 1964, I remember selling a small painting for as little as $95; but if we investigate inflation since then, that price would be as much as $500 today. As money loses its value, people remember how much things cost earlier. The pressure was on me to keep selling my small paintings as if in 1960-70 Canadian money. I had a major row with someone who wanted to commission a portrait from me, and pay about the same as his grandfather paid back in 1964 which was I believe $65. That one had two hour sittings five times, totalling 10 hours, or $6.50 per hour. Even a teenager cleaning floors in a fast food joint will make twice that amount. In reality, adding preparations before and after, the proper amount of time would be more like 15 hours and if I demand a more reasonable $35 hr, then that gives roughly the $500 that inflation suggests. So I insisted it had to be $500. Nothing irritates me more than the lack of respect for original painting and customers trying to make me accept less than minimum wage for my lifetime of experience and talent. I got so fed up by the person who wanted a portrait of himself for the same as his grandfather spent 50 years ago, that I was prepared to let that commission pass by. It took him a year or so before he contacted me again. What an insult! I should be making $50 per hour. In Toronto there is a portrait artist whose head-and-shoulders painting starts at $1000. That is very reasonable, and only possibly because he deals directly with the public and does not have a gallery commission subtracted.
    So the following paintings took - all time considered - about one per day. What is a day of work worth? Minimum wage is $100/day. To make a living I allowed art dealers to buy small paintings for that, in effect treating me like a minimum wage earner. I later raised it to $200, which was better. The dealer puts a frame around it and sells it for $500-$600. You can see who gets paid and who gets screwed. If you are interested in art, do not buy from art dealers, especially since now you can contact the artist directly, visit them to see the art, and study their art on the internet. It all goes to show that there are three types of people in the economy - those who make things, those who buy things, and the middleman or middlewoman who tries to screw both.
    You can see why I hate marketing my art. Let me create art and recieve buyers directly and then I am happy. We live in a new world today where this is becoming the case - where the middleman or middlewoman is increasingly unnecessary. If a painting on this website has a green border, you can contact me directly, negotiate, and obtain the painting - especially now that shipping has become very streamlines and sophisticated with the development of internet shopping.


Here are two small paintings that I framed and put on my wall because of the success in my technique.

What you will notice about the following small 8"x10" paintings, is that I will paint anything that appeals to me. Not everyone cares for everything I paint, but the constant truth is that if I am personally excited about the subject then that excitement will enter the painting, and the viewer will feel it. In addition, I actually enjoy the experience. Everybody wins.


Thus anything that interests me is valid to paint. It also allows me to get ideas that will lead to major paintings. It also constantly trains me to adjust my subject matter to produce strong underlying abstract designs that make the painting rise above the mundaneness and chaos of the real wilderness.

The rule in all art - paint, write, etc what you know - also applies. If you know subject matter better than the common average person, then you can show things that the average person does not know. All viewers want to gain something from a cultural experience. If you merely repeat what they already know, you are boring.


I travel through nature and then see something that strikes me as interesting. I stop and wonder what it is that is captivating me, and then I can explore making the painting capture that special thing that captivates me. If successful, I transfer the special thing to the viewer.

In some places in my area, the wilderness has grown on the remains of clearing and farming a century ago. This two paintings are such areas - where there are grassy clearing or meadows.

     What becomes subject matter for my paintings is often totally unexpected. I simply see something interesting that can be captured in a painting. Sometimes the attraction is the play of light on water, sometimes it is the abstract shapes in the remains of a past fire, that I can arrange into an abstract design.

The above two paintings are of the most unlikely subject matter. They are studies of things in the forest that we normally would not expect has any beauty, but I then see the beauty and extract it. In the painting on the left, I was attracted to the misty feeling of the scene. In the right, I was fascinated by the interesting textures of the broken birchbark.

In these examples, I became fascinated by the character of birch trees in one and driftwood in the other. What happens is that I in effect give these object livingness. In a way you could say that in giving life and importance to things in a landscape, I am expressing the original animistic view of nature found in all humankind who lived or still live integrated with nature.

These two are studies of light and water. Sometimes what I find fascinating is unique to me. As much as I like the painting on the left, not many people can see it on their wall.

These two paintings are of the same pond-like area beside the highway near Buckhorn Ontario. I cannot understand exactly what appealed to me about it. Perhaps it is the variety of detail, and the strong colours reflected in the water.

Two paintings inspired by rapids or falls. In one case I wanted to see if I could paint the falls in such a lively way that it looks real. (Bad painting fails to make water feel fluid). The other painting shows rapidly moving water in advance of rapids and falls, but it is made more interesting by the variety of elements in it and colours.

Both these paintings lacked variety of objects, but in one, I worked at capturing the character in the trees, and in the other capturing the liveliness of sunlight making leaves sparkle

90% of my small quick paintings is of the wilderness in my environment no more than maybe 4 km away.. But now and then I go to other places, and see something interesting. The painting on the left is a design I saw at Sandbanks Provincial Park in the afteroon sun. The painting on the right is of the ridges west of Burleigh Falls.

But most paintings are from not far away. One only has to keep one's eyes and mind open for the ideas to appear unexpectedly. The painting on the left is in the bay just a km to the south, and the painting on the right is a rocky cliff I saw from my boat a km or two to the north on the lake.

These two paintings feature roads. The road on the left is Eels Lake Road. The painting on the right simply shows some trees etc to the left of a narrow dirt road that used to lead to my property. I think the painting on the right is a remarkable capturing of the scene

Winter does not reduce the opportunity for attractive subject matter. The painting on the left is interesting from its great variety of elements, including grasses. The painting on the right is a little n the simple side. I thought that  adding an animal, like a wolf or bobcat, might add more subject matter, but I left it as is.

An interesting scene can appear anywhere. The left scene is late afternoon at the snowcovered pond made by beavers, and the right scene is the play of sunlight on leaves and branches at a clearing. Both paintings use the device of having a way for the eye to recede into the distance.

The scene with sunrays falling on an island is something I saw. I am inspired to possible develop a large painting with such a sky effect. The other painting, the old burnt stumps was a natural subject for study.

Two scenes involving water, captured while I was travelling.

The paining with the maple leaves is somewhat designed to form an abstract arrangement. The sunset scene attempts to capture an unusually golden situation on the water.


     It is clear that painting these small paintings was invaluable to me for exercise, for getting ideas for more serious paintings, and for making a living - since people loved most of them and because they took less than a day each to paint, they were affordable.  There was a time between 1995 and 2005 when I had maybe as many as a hundred of them that I took around to galleries. It was exhausting, and I needed to take breaks, and work on more serious paintings too - such as those shown ealier on this page.

written April 2016
by the artist

2: 1985-1995 < 3: 1995-2005 > 4: 2005-2015

contact: A.Paabo, Box 478, Apsley, Ont., Canada

2016 (c) A. P��bo.