Have you ever thought about how an artist sees?


If you have ever watched an artist paint…at an art demonstration or outdoors or in their studio, you’ve probably noticed something a little odd.  We squint…a lot! Doing this actually helps us to see. When you look at a painting you may get the impression that every hair on the head, branch on a tree or blade of grass has been carefully included to create the beautiful image you see before you but in reality that rarely ever happens because we squint.

Reference photo vs painting


The squint is our secret weapon. It allows us to reduce the subject to its bare essentials…the darks - or shadows, the lights and the highlights.  Try it now…almost close your eves and look through the veil of your eyelashes. Do you see how the world is reduced to those elements that allow a painting to ‘sing’? Some things in the shadows practically disappear and the artist can decide whether to include them, just suggest them or ignore them altogether. The thing we never ignore is the highlight. 


As I look across my kitchen to a canister of standing utensils I know that if I vaguely amass those near the rear painting with the right shapes in subdued shadow colours and then paint in a few of the pieces in front with more detail and brighter colour that my image is almost ready.  Finally I add the highlights and the viewer’s eye will fill in the rest of the details to ‘see’ what I do.  


Suggestion is a very large part of the viewing experience.  Look at a distant forest, it’s really just a dark mass, paint in 3 or 4 suggestions of trees and the viewer knows what kind of trees they are and…of course…that that’s a forest. So the next time you look at a painting, take the time to squint…and be amazed!


Photo compared to finished painting!


I’m Jeanne Urban, a Canadian artist living in Calgary, one of the Passionate Painters Art Group.


Please visit our website passionatepainters.ca to see our work, and don’t forget to squint!!


Jeanne Urban


   This time has shortened my activities and slowed me down to think about the direction I am going with my art.

   Recently, I have been producing sensual paintings that provoke deep meaning.
What moves me?

The skies - a cloud formation, the colours of the glorious sunrise or sunset, the ever changing shapes that hover like a blanket.

Water - it’s reflection and movement, providing thirst, sustaining growth, a place to play.

Trees- how they can be comic, heroic, tragic to sensitive, mysterious, their place in producing fruit, nuts, shelter and shade.

The human connection - to living creatures and the earth.

Plein Air - getting outside to immerse myself in nature and paint in the great outdoors.

Will the viewer see the joy my painting can bring as much as I do?

Will it evoke emotion in a place in time?

Painting is an never ending journey that keeps me challenged and satisfied. I feel grateful that I can take this gift and produce something meaningful.

Check out my collection on my website.  emilylittlefineart.myportfolio.com

If you wish for me to produce a painting meaningful to you, please contact me at
  emilylittlefineart@ shaw.ca.   403-660-2830

What drives me to paint…by Marie Flynn




  Inspiration can have an influence on all kinds of art forms. Artists are generally inspired by what they see around them. Whether it can be taken from nature, objects, past emotions or from other artists, the desire to find what drives you to paint can be a daunting or an easy experience. 


   Inspiration comes primarily in the form of close observation of what is around me. I tend to notice things that perhaps some may not immediately see and that comes with having the “artist eye”.  There are several ways in which I can develop my creative ideas. One is my ability to take reference photos with my camera as it can open different possibilities of working from life. I like the process of figuring out on my computer what to leave in, crop out, focus on, darken to see values and what is less important from the photo in order to use it for my paintings. This is especially helpful if you are mostly an in-studio artist like I am.  When not using reference photos, I enjoy finding unique objects for painting purposes. I love going to thrift stores, antique shops and the like to find objects that are both interesting and colourful. I often include the use of flowers for my Still Life paintings. I currently have a fair number of objects in my studio which I can use.


   I’m known as the RV painter. I love travelling in my travel trailer with my partner Bob who enjoys photography as his main hobby. Together we look for inspirational subjects to which I can use in my paintings. Subjects of interest to both of us are often found on location in various places we visit. I also enjoy sketching and art journaling, which helps keep the creative thoughts flowing. I’m constantly writing down ideas in my notebook to quickly record what I’m thinking. I used to have subscriptions to several art magazines until many of them ceased publication. However, I still browse through them for inspiration.


   I can’t stress enough the importance of one particular place in order to help drive those creative juices and that is the Public Library. This is one of the first places that I have found with the most information needed to help with getting inspired in any medium. If you are self taught as I am, this is a great resource. And lastly, who doesn’t keep various inspirational art books in their own studio library. To see more of my paintings and those for sale, visit my gallery here and at mypassion4art.com. 


Reference photo of Lake Newell


Birch Trees at Lake Newell, 20x26 Acrylic on canvas $800


Reference photo of Peony flower




Enormous Peony, 30x30 acrylic on canvas $600

Bold and Bright


Donna Carter  


 I was the kind of kid who lived in their imagination more than in the real world. My favourite solitary activity was drawing. I spent hours at it right up until the time I went to Mount Royal University to study Interior Design. Do you know how much drawing that involves? A lot, but it’s mostly technical drawing with a bit of water colour architectural rendering thrown in.


  Somehow in that process, drawing stopped being fun for me. The only drawing I did was for my design clients for more than 20 years. In a strange twist, I ended up publishing a non-fiction book that was successful enough that I was suddenly in demand as a speaker and found I had no time for my design practise.


   A few months after my abrupt career change I began to really miss creating, so I joined a painting collective. My first day exploring acrylic painting I didn’t even know how to hold a paintbrush, let alone use it, but only a few months later I was selling paintings.


   These days I enjoy painting abstracted florals and gentle looking animals. I use vibrant colour and lots of texture. I’ve been told I am a bold person. I think my paintings reflect this.


   “Painting has become my therapy and my passion. I can’t imagine my life without it. Some people are just born to create!” ~ Donna Carter



Tangled"    By Donna Carter                                              Acrylic  -  30" x 48"     $780

"Spring in the Air"   by Donna Carter       Acrylic   -  Mixed Media  24" x 36"      $600







A Day in the Life of Oil Painter Ray Swirsky


I often get asked about my painting process. Today I’ll share some photos that show the progression of a commission I created for a very wonderful couple in the Yukon.


First I start with the composition. I rarely sketch on my canvas for landscape paintings or animals, but for a composition more complicated with many elements, sketching it out first is a good way to start.


Game Night


Initial Sketch


I begin by blocking in areas around the painting, then going back into each area to correct the hue, values and temperature.


Continue on the underpainting adding each of the subjects. On the dogs I worked the dark and light planes in at the same time while blocking in.



Underpainting complete. Now refine all the areas, working around the painting


The completed painting! 

This painting is a 24” x 30’ on canvas created from photos supplied by the client. If you would like to have a painting created from one of your own photos, Contact me anytime at ray.swirsky@gmail.com or call me at 403-404-6692 to discuss.


If you would like to see more of my work, please visit me on this website, my art website www.reswirsky.com, or come out to the Painted Moose in Bragg Creek where I always have some pieces on display.


Diana is a contemporary artist who has a passion and energy for art that is in constant motion. She enjoys diverse subject matter including figurative , landscape, animals, florals, pet portraits, and abstract in both acrylic and oil.


Diana is a member of PPAG , Parkland Painting Collective and most recently she is a member of Burns Visual Art Society where she has a working studio. A collection of small works are available for sale at the Okotoks Art Gallery.


Current exhibitions include the Calgary Public Library and the little free “Red Door Gallery” at Burns.


Please contact me at harrismg@telus.net  if interested in any of these pieces or others including those on display at the Calgary Public Library or Burns Red Door.


I am always open to commission requests at any time.

Twighlight Song 8 x 10"

First Snow 8x8"

Autumn Reflections 8 x 10"

Red and Orange 8 x 10"

Sunflowers 8 x 10"

Larch at its Best 8 x 10"

Hot Pink 9 x 9"

Fall at the Lake 8 x 10"

Autumn is Here 8 x 10"







































Let's introduce you to Jacqueline Warkentin


“Owl in Flight”  24 x 48 Framed Acrylic is one that I collaborated with my son Jarrod who is an accomplished artist in his own right and played a big part in my inspiration and desire to start painting. I especially like the fiery background in this painting from which the owl is approaching from.




“Foster”  16 x 20 Gallery Wrap Acrylic, my latest pet portrait, and a much loved Bouvier des Flandres breed. I have been painting pet portraits for many years and I would have to say what I find most rewarding, is to witness the client's strong emotional reaction upon seeing the finished painting(s). 

“Addy & Wonky Donkey”  22 x 33 Framed Acrylic. I think I can speak for most when I say, we as artists are continually striving to better our techniques and to challenge ourselves each time we pick up a paint brush. As one who primarily paints animals, I feel capturing the emotion, spirit and soul is key to a successful painting. I wondered if I could achieve that whilst painting a portrait of Adelaya and her donkey.  Along with the challenge, I enjoyed the process as it evoked mixed emotions of sweetness yet poignancy as I couldn't help but think of my own 3 boys at this age and how quickly time passes! Her mom tells me she is a "real princess"! The dress has passed through 5 little girls and after Addy, it will probably never be worn again.


                                   Louise Hall

   The Passionate Painters Art Group has been Louise’s “baby” since it’s inception.  As owner of Leading Edge Art Workshops, Louise offerred a critique group once a month during the winter months so that artists could have a means of learning and improving their work. Louise was so impressed with the level of accomplishment of artists within the group that she put the idea out there to have a small group of committed, passionate artists who show their work together while supporting one another in the process.  As the first president of the group and working through some growing pains, Louise is very pleased that the group is now functioning well together and has big plans for more shows when we get through the Covid situation.


   Louise started painting in watercolor, has tried oils, and now is in love with acrylic and mixed media. She is drawn to pattern and likes to paint somewhat abstracted landscapes, such as her bird paintings that have soft, abstracted backgrounds and then more realistic images of her feathered friends. 


The Flight 22"x22"


   Louise also sees and enjoys the patterns of nature, as seen in this image below called Winter Sun. It’s a very meditative painting and is another example of how she merges abstraction and realism.


Winter Sun 24"x24"


   Sometimes Louise likes to work in mixed media and collage as in the painting below.  She paints in all sizes from small 12” x 12” canvases up to larger 30” x 50” sizes.


Three Amigos  12"x12"



   Non-representational work draws Louise’s interest and she often just lets the colour and pattern flow in an intuitive manner.  She enjoys painting in layers and will let one layer dry before apply another, as she uses transparent, translucent and opaque paint to create different effects.


Meanderings 22"x30"



   Colour is another of Louise’s interests and she likes to work with a limited palette in her work and often uses contrasting colours to create richness and excitement! 


Forest Impressions 22"x22"