recent paintings and news

recent paintings and news

Sunday, December 28, 2014

'my witness is the empty sky'

Although not much snow, there have been lots of high winds here in Niagara. One thing about the wind is it sure makes some interesting sky (at least to me).

I like the monochrome in winter and the challenge to push greys. The subdued nuances of tones and textures in the land cast by the sky- greys intrigue me to no end. 

Winter is a quiet place in time.

 oil/cold wax on canvas
 20x24in, copyright Jan Yates 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

breath of winter

Although currently working on studio paintings indoors, at the end of each session I try to make a plein air sketch -luckily I can just step outside. This direct observation work helps me immensely when addressing middle tones/values/edges in the larger studio works.

 *and I just really love the subtle breath of winter light

 December, remains of the day, oil / cold wax on canvas, 16x20in, copyright Jan Yates 2014

and on a field note:


Friday, December 12, 2014

the force of gale

In staying tuned to all things Shetland, news feeds have been showing gale force winds wreaking magnificent havoc along the coastline. In watching web-cams and videos, I was compelled to respond...

Gale force 8
 oil / cold wax on canvas, 16x20in
copyright Jan Yates 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

love what it loves

This time of year I tend to be reflective, melancholy-longing for those not near...

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

November, remains of the day
 oil & cold wax on canvas, 18x18in, copyright Jan Yates 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

lights in the sky

many years ago child-spirits appeared in my encaustic work. i recently came across one 'in progress' while cleaning out the studio- embellished her with some new found hawk feathers and for some reason I want to call her a 'mirrie dancer', although if you read the description it's a wee bit gruesome:

'In Scotland, the northern lights were known as "the mirrie dancers" or na fir-chlis. There are many old sayings about them, including the Scottish Gaelic proverb "When the mirrie dancers play, they are like to slay." The playfulness of the mirrie dancers was supposed to end occasionally in quite a serious fight, and next morning when children saw patches of red lichen on the stones, they say among themselves that "the mirrie dancers bled each other last night". The appearance of these lights in the sky was considered a sign of the approach of unsettled weather.'  

 to be featured this Saturday @ the pop up show:

Monday, December 1, 2014

encaustic painting workshop

more shameless flogging.....

Art Therapy To Help You De-Stress This Holiday Season: Opening tomorrow for Encaustic painting:

Ancient and intriguing, this method of painting originated in Greece, where it was used for the earliest easel and mural painting. A heady combination of colour, melting wax and heat, encaustic mixes dry and oil pigments in hot beeswax. Encaustic painting is safe and non-toxic.

images (sold) copyright to Jan Yates

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Upcoming cold wax and oil workshop


Exploring the Surface: Painting with Cold Wax

Whether brushing, drawing, scratching, scraping, rubbing, pressing, pushing, pulling or employing knife techniques, this ancient medium fosters versatility. Its translucent qualities allow light to penetrate into the paint surface, emphasizing rich and vibrant colour, depth and tone. 

November, oil/cold wax on canvas, 18x36in, copyright Jan Yates 2014

Texture, movement and fluidity can easily be achieved via working with cold wax , oil paint and drawing materials and I will share techniques and tools used with this tactile painting medium. Recommended for artists with some painting experience.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

New Studio Course

Looking at Landscape


Drawing (charcoal, pastel) and\or Painting (acrylic, oil)

This series of classes will delve into the art of seeing and responding to the land. Guidance will be given in the form of technique (composition, brushwork, paint handling, colour and value) as well as address how to bring an individual voice and personal style to your work. Participants are encouraged to bring their own reference material; either photographs or a still life set up from natural elements.

A materials list will be provided

Monday, November 3, 2014

making the time

I am in awe of those blogging artists that make the time and effort to edit and upload images, as well as write entries, on an ongoing (some daily) basis.  At the day's end I find myself to be spent-sometimes in a good way from art-making-sometimes not so good because of business or personal issues.

Even more of a reason to applaud those that, no matter what else is going on in their lives, take and make the time to write and share on a regular basis. I may be too tired (lazy?) to comment, but I do enjoy reading your posts-Rhonda Carpender and Celeste Bergen, a special hat's off to you.

In the meantime, here are some 'peerie' leaf-keepers..encaustic, copper, maple and elm leaves.

  peerie leaf keeper 1
encaustic mixed media & copper wire on panel 
4x7in, copyright Jan Yates 2014

peerie leaf keeper 2
 encaustic mixed media & copper wire on panel
 4x7in, copyright Jan Yates 2014

 You can make your own 'keepers' with anything you fancy-recipes, photos, found objects, glass, beads, etc. I have just updated my website with new workshop dates:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

the mean season

Everyone I know says Fall is their favourite time of the year. Personally I have a love-hate relationship; her dazzling beauty steals my heart yet, inevitably, her guise steals my light.

oil on canvas, 48x60in
copyright Jan Yates, 2014


Thursday, October 9, 2014


The leaves were falling on all sides like the last illusions of youth under the tears of irremediable grief. A brood of chattering birds were chasing each other through the shrubberies, and playing games among the branches, like a knot of hiding schoolboys. Every landscape is, as it were, a state of the soul, and whoever penetrates into both is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail.

- Henri Frederic Amiel

oil on canvas, plein air, 16x20in
 copyright Jan Yates, 2013

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


milkweed, grape leaves, feathers, wild asters, copyright Jan Yates, 2014

milkweed,  copyright Jan Yates, 2014 

milkweed, wild asters, robin's nest, copyright Jan Yates, 2014 

On September 27, 2014, as part of the Grimsby Arts Walk, I invited the community to join me in getting our Monarch butterflies back. Passersby were asked if they would like to help the Monarchs by saving and planting Milkweed in their garden. I provided a limited number of locally harvested milkweed seed pods.

Participants were fascinated to see the seeds in their natural state, encased by protective pods. Upon opening them, they  removed the seeds and were asked to write their name, or a message, on the remaining seed pod. I kept the pod. They kept the seeds.


Milkweed seed pods are extremely durable and weather tolerant, so I presented each signed pod in a tree at the entrance of the Grimsby Public Art Gallery and Library. The project continues to grow.

 Start a project in your region

If you or your organization would  like to see this project take flight in your area, please contact me as I love spreading the word-and seeds, for our Monarchs!   

This project can not be used without written permission from Jan Yates, 2014

Milkweed seeds for sale

If you are interested in purchasing Milkweed seeds to plant in your garden to attract our Monarchs, I have some available and ship throughout Canada, US and parts of Europe. Seeds are $6.per pod, with each pod containing 50+ seeds. Shipping is extra outside of Canada. To order, please click here.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Taking Flight
sumac, encaustic on panel
12x36in, copyright Jan Yates, 2014

 sumac, encaustic on found panel 
16x16in , copyright Jan Yates, 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

-the milkweed project

If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.
~Author Unknown -

For the Monarchs-the milkweed project

For 14 autumns I have cast Milkweed seeds into empty fields like stardust and over the years,
like magic, more and more plants are appearing. 

I begin by plucking their pods, and then gently pull them open to reveal silken white fluff anchored by flat brown heads. Each time I do this, I marvel at their perfect design; made for the wind to throw them to life.

 I would like to invite the community to help get our Monarch butterflies back by having a similar experience.'''''

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September ‘en plein air’

I will be teaching this special outdoor painting session on Saturday-why not join us? Purple asters, yellow fields, red trees….

Thank you to the Grimsby Public Art Gallery for arranging this workshop.

September ‘en plein air’
presented by the Grimsby Public Art Gallery

The sun-gold colours of September are here -let’s get outside and paint them!
In this special workshop, you will work 'en plein air' in beautiful golden fields with vineyard views.

After a demo, talk and question period, there will be lots of time to immerse yourself in making art.
Learn about simplifying your pallet, working fast in the changing light, mark making/ brushwork and paint handling, as well as colour and value relationships. You will be responsible for your own supplies (oil or acrylic paint) and a list is provided upon registration. Some outdoor easels are available.

This afternoon workshop is enjoyable for those with minimal art-making experience as well as more seasoned artists. In inclement weather, painting will progress in the studio with fresh fall cuttings as inspiration.

Saturday,  September 20
1:30 - 4:30

1 Session
$40 members/$50 non-members
(905) 945-3246

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fall plein air painting workshops- classes

Plein Air Painting
for the outdoor enthusiast

held on the Niagara Escarpment, a Unesco world biosphere reserve

 October, thinking of you, oil on canvas, 18x18in, sold, copyright Jan Yates

Paint the warm sienna's and saturated purples and yellows of Fall fields, orchards and vineyards in this painters' paradise. For those preferring structures, there are barns, fences and wonderful fallen down sheds for inspiration.

Painting outdoors improves your skills when working back in the studio. It is a great exercise to enhance observation and make sound choices when it comes to composition.
Learn about packing light, preparing surfaces, simplifying your pallet, mark making, brushwork, paint handling, colour / value relationships and how to work quickly in changing light and temperature. Painting tools as well as mediums will be addressed. You will be responsible for your own supplies and a list is provided upon registration.  Some outdoor easels are available.

Ongoing Tuesdays and /or every other  Saturday throughout September and early October. 
info/registration here

Friday, August 29, 2014

an August day

So here's an end of roaming
On eves when autumn nighs:  
The ear too fondly listens
For summer's parting sighs,  
And then the heart replies.  
-AE Housman

at the end an August day, absent voices accompany me

 remains of the day
 oil on canvas, plein air, 20x24in
copyright Jan Yates 2014


Monday, August 25, 2014

ever lasting

Laura and her two brothers grew up on a peach farm and last month she approached me about a commission. Her parents ‘sadly had to recently sell the farm because it is too much work now for my Dad. They have lived there for over 40 years and will be moving after this last harvest.'

  ‘My Dad has said numerous times how he will miss the view of the peach trees, escarpment and sky from their back porch.’

As some may know, Niagara farmland is close to my heart, as is the story of the family farm, so I welcomed the idea of making this painting. 

It was to be presented as a surprise for their parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary. 

It was held this past Sunday. I waited with baited breath, then, an email: ‘They Love It!’ 

oil on panel
24x48in, 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

peerie plein air painting


I just checked the Kickstarter campaign and see more of you have backed me-THANK YOU!

It seems the peerie (meaning 'small,' in the Shetland dialect) plein air paintings are popular -now there are only 2 of those rewards left.

This painting was made during a residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland.  Although a different land will evoke a different response, I think it represents my 'approach' when painting on location.

It might give you  idea of the type of paintings that I will make during this residency in Shetland, Scotland.

If you would like to back me  and own one of the paintings, just follow the link below, and please feel free to share.  I really do appreciate your support!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wild in Shetland

an artist residency in a far away land

I have officially launched a campaign to make art in a wildly remote place steeped in nature, culture and story.

If you'd like to own some of my work and help make a dream come true, please consider this Kickstarter campaign.

* even if my work doesn't appeal to you, perhaps you have a friend that might feel differently?