Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I asked myself what I wanted to accomplish. I also listened to my heart to hear what it was telling me.
1. Loosen up. By that I mean get my head out of must look like/ubber tight
2. A consistent or progressive direction.
3. Use supplies I already have. Money being tight and having a gazillion art supplies already. To use what I have on hand.
4. Storage is an issue for canvases. So paper. I have 2 drawers full in my flat file with acid free folio paper. 22x30
A few months ago I bought Steven Aimone's book expressive drawing.
So here is my plan. Using folio paper taped to a large canvas or other support I will work my way through Steven's book.
My month of 30 paintings and exploration into expressive drawing; a departure from realism while refueling my creative soul.
(I am sure my fingers may find their way into the application of medium)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Defining and planning my 30 paintings in 30 days challenge

Yikes. What did I agree to? Was this in a weak moment after a busy Christmas season when I have been estranged from my studio and feeling in need of a creating fix? Really a crazy time to start this. I will be starting full on costume building for theatre this month. I also have some big big art goals. Will this help me or take me away? The last time I commited to painting daily,I felt my work got dilluted and unfocused. Could this happen again? Should I not do this challenge? Or rise up to it and use it towards my growth in art and as an artist?
I have been doing a lot of thinking and planning on paper. I am both clearer in my dreams and more muddled.
The challenge still needs to be defined and contained within boudaries that I need to impose. More thought is needed. I will let you know.

Friday, December 27, 2013

30 Paintings in 30 Days

I have agreed to participate in the January 2014 challenge to create 30 paintings in 30 days. I will spending the remaining days of 2013 preparing for this challenge. Thinking about style, size and medium but most importantly what I want to paint. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Colour Start

What  a busy time of year. A lot of things are pulling me out of the studio. So it has taken me awhile to get back to this painting.
Here is the Nicknack painting with the beginning colour layer. Before I added local colour I stained the tonal drawing with a thin coat of transparent red oxide giving it a warm orangy glow which I hope will peak through.
I will  punch lights and darks as the painting progresses. Trying to not get fiddly yet as this is only the colour mapping and thinking about edges. I am working with some of my scruffy hog hair bristle brushes and leaving my fine sables alone.
Well it is another busy day so I must leave this painting at this stage and hopefully find time over the weekend to continue.
Happy Painting

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Nicnaks in the Greenhouse Window

Sometimes, artists are given little vignettes of beauty in their surroundings.  One morning I was offered one such scene. The early morning sun was shining thorough the Greenhouse window. My greenhouse window is a collector of nicnaks, often randomly placed. I quickly took a picture and went on my way.
While uploading and editing other pics of still life compositions, this lone image again caught my interest. I cropped it to fit a square canvas.
I drew the image onto a 16x16" canvas using the grid method. I am underpainting it in a combo of black and burnt umber with oms as my medium. I chose to underpaint it instead of my usual direct method for a couple of reasons. Because it is a busy composition, I wanted to make sure the play of strong lights and darks works and allows me to check for drawing errors before I apply colour.
Here is the painting with the underpainting partially completed.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Gathering Gems

As an artist who has painted and done a huge variety of creative things throughout my life, I still feel like an emerging artist. I have so much more to learn. I have a vision of where I want my art to go and how I want to paint. Like a video game where one must collect gems to get to the next level, so it is in my pathway to higher art. If you don't know where the gems are hidden or get blocked by demons, monsters and dead ends, the gathering of these gems takes a lot longer. There is no cheating, or shortcuts, only perseverance and diligence.
I will fight my demons, slay the monsters and turn in new directions. Like the video game I will enjoy the journey, embrace the frustration and keep gathering those elusive gems.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Needing to be Returned

Needing to Be Returned
9x12 oil on paper
I finished this small still life today. I am quite pleased with how it turned out. This latest series has been a lot of fun to paint. Working from life instead of a photo I think has immensely helped how I see a subject and to determine what is important  as in what goes into the painting and what gets left out.
When I set up a still life, I may spend quite a bit of time arranging items, adding and subtracting until I am pleased with the look. I make my hand into a spy tube or look  through a paper roll to narrow in on the scene and see if it works for me.
I hope you enjoy this painting. Any purchase inquiries please contact me through www.chrisstusek.ca

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Needing to be Returned a bit further

Altered back ground a bit and started on the 2 left hand jars. Time to do something different today.

Needing to be Returned

I haven't posted must on my blog lately, that doesn't mean I haven't been painting. In fact just the opposite is true. I have been painting most days and posting to facebook. But I need to get back to blogging.
I have been painting some still lifes lately, mostly in the chiaroscuro style, or light from dark. I have a simple set up; a cardboard box painted black inside and a light. I have it set up so it is eye level when I am sitting at the easel.
This morning started of with heavy rain, I did not want to go any where. My canvas supply all seems to be on the big to very big size. I remembered I have some Arches oil paper. I taped a piece of Arches oil paper onto a piece of gator board. It is slightly bigger than 9x12. I can trim and mount it on a 9x12 board later if I want.
After setting up my still life; an idea I had from my kitchen counter which was becoming a gathering place for jars that need to go back to their owners. I did not pencil in but drew directly onto the paper will red oil paint and blocked in a thin layer of paint.
Now I remember! This paper absorbs a lot of the oil paints in the first layers, a tad challenging for my alla prima style of painting. I painted on a layer  of colour. I will let it dry and come back in with more local colours. This mushing in of colour will help me retain soft edges.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Two Ends

I don't know how many other artists feel the extreme polarization of artistic paths. I paint ina realistic style. I have had some success in my current style but to me I still seem stilted somehow. Not sure f this is within me or judgements placed on that style. Lately I have done a few abstracts. They are fun and sometimes very theraputic. And again moderate succss some people liking them others not.

I want to take my painting up to then next level. I want to fly but I guess I don't now in what direction. Sometimes I feel like I am falling and my wings are made of lead. And sometime i wnt to burn all my paintings and throw my brushes in the garbage.

So here is my dilema, Realism and high realism presents, growth and challenges. I must strive for increased technical understanding. painting Realism is in a way highly abstracted. Realism from life and less from photoreferences.
Painting abstracts is also a huge challenge for the realist in me. There is a lot of technical  knowledge that must be applied in  order forthe painting to look good and have merrit. will sleep on this and then get into my studio omorrow and see what happens.

I guess I

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Reflections, Reflections, Reflections

Some Old Things
Oil on Canvas Panel
 I have been playing with reflections again. I love where my mind goes when I am painting the wonderful mini abstracts that are found within reflections.
An idea for a series has been percolating in my brain, using the textures found on old reflective items. Although this painting is not quite within my series vision it is a really good starting point. And I love the play of textures against the many reflective surfaces.
This chiaroscuro style still life was painted live. Meaning I set up the still life in my studio, played with the arrangement and lighting until I was happy, spiked the floor where the easel was and around the lamp setup. Then I was like a worried mother hen, nagging anyone who came within 10 feet of my studio not to touch my setup. I did take reference photos in the event something went amiss But I never used them.
Right at the start this painting almost went into the garbage. Not because of the image or my painting but because I was using a new to me painting support. This is a multi media canvas panel. It is designed for aqueous mediums so it absorbed the first layer of oil paints like a sponge. The paint just did not move well. I persevered learning how to work with it. I am really glad I did. The surface is very fine and shows no weave texture through the painting. It is only 3/4 in thick, solid and very light.
Happy Painting

Monday, April 15, 2013

VI Music Fest
Oil on Canvas

Good Morning all.
On Friday, I decided to write up a schedule for the day, including 2 long painting times, along with the mundane tasks such as housework. I stuck fairly close to the schedule and amazed at how much painting I was able to do.
Above is a painting that I had been working on in the past week. I was trying a looser style and very colourful. A little looser perhaps but I love the colours. It was a beautiful bright evening last July when I took the photo. The heat of the day was still with us but the shadows and colours were becoming saturated.
The painting below was started as a demo to an art group, Studio 30, here in Victoria this past Wednesday evening. I mostly finished it on Friday. I was using Lucas Berlin water mixable oils for easy clean up. The reference photo was a quick shot from my cell phone this past Good Friday as Glen and I sat in a restaurant in Ladysmith. It was a warm and bright day and the light coming in from the window was like a gift. The shadows created and the wonderful colours created on the metal lids and the glass were amazing. Thanks to Glen for stepping out of the picture.

Printingdum Beanery
Oil on Canvas

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


This dog portrait is the result of a donation for Victoria Adoptables. The winner of the auction lost Lexi this past Friday. I am glad I was able to meet her and paint this portrait.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

3Little Abstracts

This morning for something different I worked on three abstracts. Thinking about the Munsell colour theory. Ok not the huge indepth version but a simple colour wheel using the 5 principle colours. And once again reading Harley Brown's "eternal truths for every artist".
I am liking them very much.

Best art inspiration book ever!

Harley Brown's book is the best!. Always re-energizes my passion to paint everytime I read it.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Messy nights work

Sometimes painting is just hard work. Tonight is like that. Too many brushes, paint getting everywhere. Quittin time before I make an unselvegable mess.

Monday, February 4, 2013

I am Back/ Artist Block

Here is a work in progress. I am calling it The Last Parking Spot. An oil 48x36. Long way to go.

I am back> I want to talk about artistic blocks. I have been avoiding my art studio quite completely since the early fall. I did venture into it before Christmas as I had a small commission that needed to get done but really I stayed away.

I don't think many artists really want to admit that they are suffering a block, or experiencing a prolonged period of procrastination. But I am willing to state that is exactly what I have been facing.

I could give you a million excuses. I have some idea what happened but all I know is that it did. I can honestly say I felt that I had run out of ideas and that I had forgotten how to push paint. I had lost the ability to judge my own work and was relying too much on the outside world. Prior to this happening I was trying to paint daily and also do a lot of plein air.  I suffer from perfectionism and seeing paintings that were less than my standard, childish and amateurish hit me hard. Another thing ,I wasn't creating things that sung to me and that was soul zapping.

Have you ever felt like you were pushing too hard against the universe? I did and it seemed to push back, so I needed to stop pushing.

I don't want you to think that I sat around for months watching the TV and eating candy. I always need to be creating, and in that space of time have sewn alot and have established myself, in a small way, as a sewing instructor and custom clothier. This is a passion I wish to continue.

So what has brought me back? Well the tremendous support of the Victoria Chapter of the FCA. By seeing their artwork and experiencing the friendship I was inspired to create. Another thing that happened was a friend of my daughter, who upon returning from a 4 month vacation asked to see what was on my easel. With embarassment I realized it was the same painting I was starting just as she left and I had not gone any further with it. Thank you Gina.

I cannot guarantee that I will paint everyday, I do have a budding sewing business you know, but I am no longer scared to walk down the hallway and turn right into my art studio.  I am going to let the universe guide (God to me and others who feel the same) me and see what happens.

Well it time to clean my brushes for the night.