Explanation Owed

I Feel I Owe an Explanation

In February I stopped posting new artworks on Face Book because I moved the focus to making my art website into a fully operational e-commerce site. The goal was to launch on April 1. By the end of March it was obvious that the timing was not good.
The site is ready, but on hold until the economy moves again.

With the site done, shifting gears from full-on computer work, testing dozens of image files for prints and long-term planning, etc., etc., all “left brain” work took a few days to unravel before returning to “right brain” work at the easel. There was also a rather large and ominous glut in my mind and the minds of all – Covid 19. I stalled for a few days and couldn’t do much of anything.

I looked at the last two paintings I did and couldn’t help but think that while I may have had personal ideas for painting them, there appeared to be a bigger message forecasting from the ethers – death and space (social distancing).


HAPPY EVER AFTER, 16×24 Acrylic on Canvas



SPACE  20×30 Acrylic on Canvas

Last Monday, (Mar 30) I decided I had had enough of this Covid 19 darkness entering my home (not literally) and my psyche, ruining perfectly good days. So I unplugged from the news adjusting to a maximum amount of 10 minutes a day and then aimed my thoughts upon creativity. A lame looking sketch of the sofa was all that materialized.

I had to tap into a subject that would prime the pump. My mind dug down to the bare bones of my being, into the Indigenous depths and there I found the push and desire and connection. Earlier this year a new Indigenous painting was drawn and sitting unfinished, but I wasn’t up to that level of work yet. I searched for a new image that felt simple to do as a segue into the art flow.


One session to draw it, the next day tweaking and visualizing the colour interpretation from a B/W photo. I saw the angle of morning light and wanted an orange green sky to play a role, so on the third day the breakthrough came into full-on painting.
The orange sky went up, green did not appear and then a mauve impulse landed on the tipi. I said to myself, “Don’t try to be real with colour, instead open up and feel, play, allow inspiration to be the guide.” Here are the results.

two tipis and a man and a horse

BLACKFOOT TIPIS 12×16 Acrylic on Canvas

For me, these colours are day and night, light and shadow, transcendent, and timeless bringing a deep level of fulfillment when I bring them to play against one another on the canvas.

Feeling opened to the flow I turned to the earlier start, see below:


DONT’ LOOK BACK – APACHE  14 x 22 Acrylic on Canvas

It may be the opening of a new chapter, or a new series, time will tell.

*The source photos for the above paintings were taken by Edward Curtis. His 30-year passion to capture the traditions and life ways of North America’s Indigenous tribes is in my opinion, a gift to us all.

There was another unfinished painting that may have set up the palette for the Indigenous ones, but it was not in my mind when this all unfolded. It too is now finished – a view I see from home every day.


CANYON BLUES 15″ x 30″ Acrylic on Canvas

So that’s why I haven’t posted new works for many weeks. I’ll just keep painting in this “new time” we are in and when it’s right, the website will launch.

I wish you all wellness and positive adjustment.





Painting the Girl with the Pearl Earring

Close up painting of the Girl with the Pearl Earring by Mairi Budreau

Close up underpainting

Girl with Pearl Earring - the underpainting stage

Girl with Pearl Earring – the underpainting stage

drawing by Mairi Budreau of the Girl with the Pearl Earring

Drawing “map”

I’m in the underpainting stage of the Girl with the Pearl Earring and this morning I think it’s getting close to where the painting needs to be left to dry before the next stage. Comparisons are made and more painting is needed. More comparisons and more painting, adjustments and squeaky tweaks – this repeats about 8 more times and 6 hours go by. The lesson here is, I don’t go far enough in my own paintings.

Mind you, making a copy of a painting is not like originating a painting out of your personal lens. Copying is, well, copying and valuable as a learning tool.

For example, drawing a painting poses questions, do I draw the obvious paint strokes or the subject represented? I went for both.
She has nebulous lips, especially the lower one, don’t think about how it looks, just keep going.
Her nose is not well rendered and Vermeer minimized it shifting focus on her loving eyes, ok… do that.
He put shading where I would not have – check!

Not long ago I went with friends to the local theatre to see the film “The Girl with the Pearl Earring.” It was an Art Museum production, very high quality and superb imagery! The film touched on many aspects of this painting but it did not talk about the earring with respect to what I saw on close inspection of it. The neck of the girl is actually viewable THROUGH the earring.
For me, this discovery has shifted the meaning of the painting title from a descriptive label to a direction: look for the magic “there.”
In 1665 Vermeer was leading the eye with a line into space and the brain filled in the rest.

Artists today still use this visual tool, any of you art historians care to comment on how far back it is to it’s origins?


Copying a Masterpiece

CU of Budreau's Bather

CU of Budreau’s Bather

I’ve often read of the value of copying from a Masterpiece and since a major art museum is several hours away, I haven’t done it. I’ve considered copying from a coffee table book but the Graphic Designer in me knows the colours and even the density isn’t going to be accurate. I went on-line and selected a painting that I thought might be really close to the original, and threw any further concern for dead-on accuracy out the window and started sketching the BATHER by Jean-August-Domingue-Ingres, 1780-1867.

Below Left is Ingres’s and on the Right is my version of the Bather.

Ingres Bather

Ingres Bather

Budreau Bather

Budreau Bather

I chose it to, once again, develop better flesh colours, be more subtle.

Ingres had a reputation for manipulating anatomy (right or wrong) to fit his sense of composition and he was skillful at it. He was criticized for his classical painting style but over time he blew the critics away.

An artists vision is persistent and worthwhile and is often appreciated much later.

Anthony Salituro – completed

Painting of Anthony Salituro

Anthony Salituro 16.5″ x 20″ oil on canvas

Completing a painting is a satisfying feeling. Some artists keep going and going – like writing a book – it’s never finished, but I don’t seem to experience that – and I’m thankful! In the closing hours while adding little touches or crisping a line, the energy for the piece falls off and a balance is experienced, when I feel that I know it’s time to lay down the brushes.

This painting will be displayed at the TRU Foundation Gala next Saturday and I hope the auction bids for the next commission raises a goodly donation for the University, then off to it’s new home with Anthony.



Kanaka Creek in Maple Ridge holds a high place in my favourite places in the world. A deep canyon of smooth shale shrouded in emerald moss garlands and spunky ferns that grow on the canyon walls as well as in trees 50 feet overhead. Tea coloured water collects in quiet pools and for brief moments the canyon cracks open with sunlight. It’s a magical place, a soothing spa in nature. Painting it reminded me of all the dreamtime I spent there.
Inspired by a photo taken by Randy D., my friend.

12″ x 14″ oil on canvas

You’ve Come a Long Way Baby, But You’re Not There Yet!

Anthony Salituro portrait in progress by Mairi Budreau

There is a lot going on in this piece, and many days have been put into it to reach this point. Because of the window display and reflections in the glass and some landscape, this painting has been a very good challenge. Somedays when the weight of the challenge is pressing on me I wonder why I do this! But the answer is no mystery, it’s for the experience of learning by observing and interpreting the world.

Anthony and the landscape still need a lot of work, I haven’t even touched his teeth yet, they are still at the underpainting stage. With two weeks left to have this finished and on display at the TRU Fundraising Gala on Valentines day, it’ll be on the easel most days.

Anthony Salituro – underpainting

Anthony Salituro underpainting by Mairi BudreauPainting in monochrome is simpler than full colour and I’m finding that building this base to a painting is work but it really maps out the whole piece. There’s a lot going on in this painting and in monochrome, it’s all competing for your attention. Colour will push and pull and modify this so that Anthony triumphs as the subject.
The sun, and the window reflections are new painting subjects for me.
I like a challenge, so fingers crossed – forward ho!

Warmth of a Fire

wood fireHave you read the passage by Henry David Thoreau about his woodpile? If you haven’t, he says with fine elegance that the effort of splitting wood and then burning wood in his little cabin warms him twice.

We enjoy – and I do mean enjoy – the warmth, beauty and aesthetic experience of a wood fire most every evening throughout the winter.

To honour the pleasure it brings, I let my thoughts meander in the crevices and scales of wood bark, spent grey ash below, and undulating yellow orange transparent flames and think how a fire, like the sun and the moon, have been constant companions throughout man’s experience on earth and this thought warms me a second time, that’s how close we are to our ancestors.

Fatal Flaw

Self portrait in studio

Trying out new methods of painting is both challenging and exhilarating and this painting has been just that. The subject, my face, is flawed, in fact it’s pretty awful- ha ha. I made a fatal error along the way. I could have changed it, but I kept on making it worse and worse, funny how that goes. Having done a fair number of portraits, changing to a new method was the hardest of all – and I failed! Accepting this ill-conceived face is ok, since it’s mine, some paintings fail and in them are the riches of learning.

There are advances in other areas of the painting so I kept going to the finish line. “The Artist in Studio” painting has been on the to-do list for awhile, and it’s still not done. There is little reality shown here, it’s a fantasy and it was fun to set up and photograph.
The importance is the learning from this piece and for ‘punishment’ I assigned myself to paint 3 faces, in progress right now, using the new method. I will eventually achieve a portrait in a whole new way!