A wonderful place to paint

Canadian Painting Experience


We call ourselves the ISS bandits. That's because we met at an amazing workshop called Intensive Studies Seminar in Taos NM, now defunct.


We are six like minded individuals who are determined to progress our art so we meet up each year to recall the philosophy and to emulate the ISS experience, It works!


This year we met up in a remote part of Canada for ten wonderful days to paint, critique, drink some margaritas and to eat occasionally.


This post is to record my work and learning experiences specifically. The other bandits are invited to follow, so more to come.

My objective was to paint less formally but to retain my content (what the painting is saying) in a fluid composed way.

I wanted to explore edges and different ways of applying the paint. I wanted to move towards non-objective paintings all with the intent of enhancing my content. 

I believe it worked. I am excited about my painting journey again and have much to do.

This first painting was inspired by a visit to the McMichael gallery where I saw work by Lawren Harris and others by the Group of Seven.

I loved the close values and high key colours of one in particular and wanted to emulate that in my own painting. I found the biggest challenge was to not use bold colours which has been normal for me. It made me pay attention to those gentle shifts of hue and intensity. 

The next one was more familiar to me. Sharp edges is what I do but this time the paint is sometimes patchy and look at those scratches, now that is different for me.

different aviation paintings by alan brain Spin II

genuine abstract flight paintings

The challenge here was to keep the colours close in value, hue and intensity, varying all three elements to keep the interest. However the bold red and blue flash were irrisistible to me. I hope they enhance the more subtle passages. Glazing, I tried that on the large left "wing" shape with some success, more to do though.

Half way through the ten days and I cannot get a Georgia O'Keefe painting I saw at the McMichael gallery out of my head. Her gentle changes of hue and texture are amazing, I just have to try it, not to copy but to do it my way. This is the result - I've a long way to go even to start approaching that lady!

textured art in watercolour

art about a simple beautiful shape - Hijab

This one was a serious learning experience which helped immensely by so called happy accidents.

I love that shape (the lozenge type one) so I carefully drew it before masking it out with tape. Then I painted in the blue. The tape lifted and runs got underneath - disaster - but no. In fact the result was amazing to me. Those beautiful unplanned lines and edges, they must stay. Nothing needed to be added except a little colour in places. A very happy accident! 

Non objective painting is a goal of mine and this one is an example. I find them a real challenge but have learnt to imagine recognisable shapes in my mind and describe them on the paper in colour and, for me, mainly rectangular shapes. The more organic shape here appeals to me however, its boldness and colour makes me happy.

abstract painting with that certain feeling

This last one astonished me. I just went for it in time between packing to come home not intending a great result. I almost threw it away but on seeing it at home I thought it had something. So I added a bit here and there and yes, I am very happy with it.

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  1. Terri

    All look great! I particularly like the Georgia O’Keefe inspired one and your last one. I was blown away when I first saw an exhibit of the Group of Seven many years ago in Vancouver!

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