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en MacFarlane, a watercolour landscape artist from King Township, is always working on his next masterpiece. I use the term masterpiece, because Ken is a highly respected watercolour painter and instructor, who's accomplishments have earned him a place at the top of his field – a master. Like many artists, Ken uses a formula to ensure his paintings are proportionate, pleasing and tell a story. Ironically, Ken's suggestions could also be implemented as a strategy for living your best life. Find your balance First, Ken told me that watercolour landscape paintings should be balanced – typically achieved by ensuring the skyline is in "just the right spot". He recommends the two top thirds of the painting remain sky. Be Prepared The type of paper Ken uses, and how it is prepared, makes all the difference in his paintings. Ken uses paper from France and prepares the sheet by submerging it in water and when dry, he then staples it to a wooden board. The paper will remain perfectly flat even after multiple washes and the image will last indefinitely. From his experience, Ken knows the composition of the paper itself has also

changed through this process, which provides control in how "the paint is pulled through" the medium, as it now "has no where to go". Some artists consider this unnecessary, since most art quality papers are ready to use. Have Some Vision “You need to visualize what isn't there,” says Ken, using a sample painting, depicting an old farm house blanketed in snow, to illustrate his point. The white is the paper – it is the absence of paint. “When I created this scene I had to envision the finished product, protecting the space I wanted to leave,” Ken told me. “You have to learn to paint around certain areas.” Ken also uses vision when deciding what to paint. The majority of his paintings (landscapes) feature scenes in, and around King Township and the GTA. “I photograph the images I want, and then I sketch and edit a final image,” explained Ken. “This image provides an outline to paint.” Keep it Simple Less is more, according to Ken, especially when it comes to the number of colours on your palette. “Think in terms of simple value,” he adds. “Use only five or six colours and mix them together to create an interesting palette.”

Some artists use 10 to 20 colours. Ken thinks this is unnecessary and a painting can lose its continuity. “Don't get lost in choosing colours,” Ken warns. “Instead spend time thinking about how to use less and achieve more.” Move On Ken's final lesson is something that still resonates with me – "When you’ve completed something, learn from the exercise and move on.” Unlike many artists, who have trouble parting with their paintings once finished, Ken is more than happy to see his paintings sold. The empty gallery space inspires the artist to create once again and opens his mind to new ideas. “The size of the painting and the amount of detail determines how long it will take me to complete it,” he explained. “On average a painting would take me four to five days to complete. When it's done, I concentrate on a new idea.” Ken has created between 300 and 400 paintings during his career. He keeps very few. “Sell your art,” Ken concludes. Whether you sell your paintings from home or through a public gallery - let them go.”

Family First “My wife is my mentor. She has kept me in the art scene,” Ken confirms. Since being diagnosed with a rare and debilitating form of Osteoporosis three years ago, painting has been a challenge for the King resident. But with the support of his wife and family, Ken refuses to give up. “I paint because people like my paintings. But most importantly, I paint because my family has allowed me the time to do so. Painting and the health of my family are important.” Ken begins a new painting by striking the centre of interest first. In his private life he strikes that balance by keeping his family first. Ken is an elected member of the Canadian Society of Painters In Watercolour; Signature Member of the Toronto Watercolour Society; Honourary Member of the Bayview Watercolour Society. Balance, preparedness, vision, simplicity, focus and family values – this is King Township watercolour artist Ken MacFarlane. Ken's gallery is open daily between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. To arrange an appointment call 905833-1179 or e-mail Ken at

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