Painting on a square panel presents a challenge from the perspective of composition. There’s less room to lead the viewer’s eye into and around the painting.  It’s tempting to put the focal point in the dead centre and be done with it, but the result can be boring if the subject isn’t compelling. In this post, I describe three square foot paintings on cradled wood paintings that I prepared for the annual square foot show at the Westland Gallery in London, Ontario.

Alan Douglas Ray, "On the Prowl", 14" x 18", Oil on Linen, Private Collection

This has been the year of studio tours for me. For three weeks in August, I participated in two local art fairs: the 11th annual Tour de Forest Tour and then the Highlands East Art Tour.  Both were in the Haliburton area, 3 hours north east of Toronto. In the latter one, I opened up my cottage studio to visitors for the first time over two weekends.  Some arrived by kayak and canoe. The weather was dreadful every weekend and I was grateful to those visitors brave enough to brave the elements! Click the Raccoon to see my video of the second studio tour!

Alan Douglas Ray, "Red Baron", 12" x 12", oil on panel, $660

Westland Gallery: 2017 Square Foot Show, July 12-August 11. I am exhibiting three recent paintings, all 12″ x 12″, at the Westland Gallery in London Ontario for its 2017 Square Foot Show.  The show runs from July 12 to August 11. I have never painted in this format before and it was a challenge finding subjects that appear well in a square. Compositions with one main object seem to work best (rose, seagull) whereas landscape that are intended to lead an eye to a destination are not as effective.  There just isn’t much room to lead the eye. Here are some specific notes on my three paintings: 1. “Red Baron”, oil on panel. For this painting, I drew the rose and leaves in dry brush, and then I created a grisaille version in neutral greys to figure out the range of values I needed within the petals themselves.  Painting the colour on top was then quite easy. 2. “Seagull”, oil on panel. This subject was perfect for a square foot painting. The light passing through the wings was the primary attraction for me. 3. “Blue Country Road”, oil on linen. I was drawn to this scene by the reflections of the sun on the small lines of ice on the road.

I’ve been trying my hand at what are called “small works”, anything under 12″ x 16″. Here are the first four results, all landscapes based on images I captured around our cottage in Haliburton, Ontario. I am planning to show these back home in 2017. In order of completion, they are:
1. “Turtle Island”, 10″ x 8″ — a deserted island at the end of our lake
2. “Morning Sky”, 6″ x 8″ — a view of a misty morning from our dock
3. “Cottage Leaves”, 8″ x 6″ — leaves captured in the sunlight on a nearby path
4. “Yellow Kayak”, 10″ x 8″ — a sole kayak seen across our lake in the late afternoon.
All four were painted on Raymar Plein Air canvas panels.