If there is a higher being it is an unconscious one. A tree never worries about the house it blocks from view. — Ken Kewley Artist Ken Kewley has remarkable insight into colors. "Pure colors are rare," he says. "Look at great paintings. Look for primary colors, colors that...

Mistakes are the portals of discovery. — James Joyce In a painting class this week, I confessed to "wiping" a lousy still life, an admission that triggered a 15-minute discussion of the upside of mistakes. "Wiping a painting is a badge of honor," the teacher said. "It's also...

A perceptual approach to painting is not synonymous with rote observation. — Matthew Ballou "Perceptual painters," artist Matthew Ballou says, dwell on two surfaces at once: the surface of the object and the surface of the canvas. The artist daubs paint on one surface (the canvas) in order...

Others have no data for computing our orbit other than our past acts. — Ralph Waldo Emerson Twenty years ago, a business coach recommended I read the now out-of-print Nichecraft. The book convinced me to specialize—a lesson I've carried with me into my move into professional painting. Specializing...

I'm rereading Somerset Maugham's The Moon and Sixpence and am struck by the scene in which the narrator begs Charles Strickland to explain himself. Why has the stockbroker abandoned his wife and children for la vie de bohème? "Do you mean to say you didn't leave your...

Most artists trust their intuition. Sometimes it leads you to make mistakes, but that hardly matters. There is no such thing as failure, you just learn from it and go on. — David Hockney One advantage of oil painting resides in the medium's "forgiving" nature. You can wipe...

Twenty years ago, I attended a lecture by the renowned architect Frank Gehry. Meek and plain-speaking—like most Canadians—Gehry described his signature design process: "First, you get the building  right. Then, you make it weird." Gehry meant a building must be structurally sound and functional first; a Gehry...

I'm often asked what the term in my artist statement alla prima means. It's Italian for "at once." I painted "Jug and Friends," for example, all at once, in a two-hour time-span. I painted it directly, seamlessly, or, as the Germans say, aus einem Guss—literally, "from a single...