Thursday, January 1, 2009

Walter J. Phillips-Master of The Watercolor Wood Cut

Mamalilcoola Villiage B.C.
Watercolor Woodcut 1928
(c) Estate of Walter J. Phillips

I first discovered Walter J. Phillips in the late 1960's when I saw an ad in the local paper in Calgary that a collection of his watercolor woodcuts was on display at the Hudson's Bay Co. store in the downtown area. I went to see the exhibition soon after reading the ad, and was completely awestruck by the work of this Canadian artist. Phillips is another artist in my series My Favorite Artists.

After viewing his watercolor woodcuts, I became fascinated with the watercolor medium, and formed an intense desire to become an artist. My desire was not to become a watercolor woodcut print maker, but to become a watercolor painter. I felt I would achieve great happiness in life if I could paint watercolors with the same skill as he demonstrated in his watercolor prints.

This desire was transformed into action when I applied and was accepted into the Alberta College of Art & Design in 1971. However to my complete dismay, all of the painting instructors were focused on abstract art, and watercolor was not taught as a discipline. Because of this I decided to major in pottery instead.

Walter Phillips was born in the UK, and his family migrated to Canada. He studied at art school, and at some point came across the works of a number of Japanese artists engaged in the Ukiyo-e art movement. The works of Hokusai and other Japanese print makers have also fascinated me over the years as well. I love the uncluttered aspect of this art movement, and in particular the excellent design principles that these artists employed in their works.

The watercolor woodcut print, or Ukiyo-e starts with superb design and drawing skills. Each design is then transferred to a block of cherry wood, as the design is carved out in relief in the wood. A new block of wood must be used for each individual color in the print making process. Cherry wood is the most often used choice for the print maker because of it's hardness. Softer woods often do not yield the desired result, or stand up to multiple impressions, as many as 100 or more individual unique prints.

Phillips as well sometimes used the grain of the wood to indicate water ripples in a print as well.
Phillips captured many everyday scenes of life in Canada, from the shores of Lake Winnipeg to the many spectacular views found in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and BC. Eventually ending on the west coast with great attention and devotion to Haida villages, and the ever beautiful west coast landscapes of British Columbia.

W.J. Phillips was a great inspiration to me, and he has served as a guiding light in my artistic endeavors, and my never ending journey as an artist.

For a comprehensive biography of W.J. Phillips please visit the only website devoted to his work. The website was built and is maintained by Roger H. Boulet, and contains a wealth of information including many images of Phillips' works and history.

The Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta has an extensive collection of the work of W.J. Phillips.

I would like to express my gratitude to Roger H. Boulet, and David Duffin (Phillips' grandson) for permission to use the image Mamalilcoola and to write this article.

More On Walter J. Phillips

Monday, December 29, 2008

Colour, Obsession, Joy and Torment-The Daily Painters Art Gallery 2008


Here is a new book from the Daily Painters website, a wonderful collection of the artworks and stories of artists around the world who have taken up the challenge of creating a painting a day.

I have been following a number of daily painters for about two years now, and I am frequently amazed at their talent and creativity to be able to paint a new painting every day (mostly 5 days per week). In virtual numbers, this can add up to as many as 365 paintings per year. Truly amazing!!!

Some believe the "Painting A Day" art movement began when Duane Keiser was featured in a news article in USA Today in 2006. Most of the artists in this niche produce smaller works from 4" x 6" to usually no larger than about 9" x 11" and many of the works are priced at $100.00/us or less, which makes original artwork more affordable for the cost conscious collector.

Since 2006, hundreds of artists around the world have joined this art movement, and have succeeded in expanding their portfolios, increasing their sales, and gaining more attention and critical acclaim within the arts community.

Below is a list of some of the Daily Painters I follow

Duane Keiser
Jeff Hayes
Carol Marine
Jan Blencowe
Karin Jurick
Darren Maurer
Michael Naples
Priscilla Treacy
Stephen Magsig
Dustin Boutwell
Belinda Del Pesco
Shanti Marie

If you are a Daily Painter, and want a Permanent Link in this post, just leave a comment, with a link to your Website or Blog, and I will expand this list.

Consider adding The Daily Painters Gallery 2008 book to your collection

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What's In Your Wallet?-Your Business Card I Hope

On Christmas Eve I got invited to visit some friends on Boxing day, and I wanted to share my new blog with them and ask them to drop by for a visit sometime. The trouble was that I did not have any new business cards, and of course it was too late in the day to get a shop to print them.

No panic, I make my own. I am a bit of a Do It Yourself-er, and years ago I bought the PrintShop software, and blank business cards so that I could make Greeting Cards, Business Cards, Postcards and more.

The benefit of making your own are;
  1. You can make your own designs from scratch or use the many pre-designed templates that come with the software.
  2. You don't have to pay for artwork which can be expensive by getting a company to make the cards. Even if you supply them with your artwork, they have to scan it at a cost.
  3. You have complete control over design, layout, colors, information and style.
  4. If you want a different painting for example on each card, just print out one sheet of 10 and arrange them in your stack of cards so that each one you give out is unique. It would cost you a small fortune for a company to do that for you.
  5. You only print as many as you need.
The only cost to you is for the software (not expensive), blank business cards, (not expensive), and the cost of the ink for your ink jet printer.

In the example above I was in a rush, so I used a template design (the artwork is not my own), and just input my information in a flash. Total time to produce 30 cards from start to finish was one hour. Not bad!!!!! I liked the design of the drawing so much, that I will do my own, scan it, and put it into my new business card next time.

I hope you found this post helpful, feel free to leave a comment.

Watercolor Tip-Make Your Own Color Chart

My Cotman Color Mixing Chart
copyright Terry Krysak

Have you ever wondered how to mix a particular color, and found yourself at a loss as to which colors to use? Sometimes you end up with mud, or you just can't get it right.

Why not make your own color chart? It takes a fair amount of time and work, but it is something that you will always have as an excellent reference to use when you are painting.

I majored in pottery at art school, and this was the method we used to test out various glazes to see what they looked like after they were fired. It saves you from ruining your pots, if the glaze does not turn out right.

As you can see, it gives you every possible color combination possible, and you can use as many colors in the top row as you wish. However, the more colors you use in the top row, the bigger the chart will be.

Winsor and Newton Color Mixing Guides

Winsor Newton Color Chart

You may download My Cotman Color Chart for your own personal use. If you use it on your website or blog, or for any other commerical purpose all I ask is that you provide a link directly back to this blog and give me credit.

Here is a link to my latest post How To Mix Colors For Oils And Acrylic Paints

Great Book On Color Mixing 1500 Color Mixing Recipes for oil, acrylic & watercolor


Terry Krysak is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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