Tuesday, December 15, 2015
acrylic 48 x 24 inches 'My Climb'
I've been working on some iconic mountain scenes, another of my favorite subjects. I just can't get enough of their majestic beauty and I could look at them all day with their changing light and moods.
I remember as a small child, making the trip several times through the mountains in our station wagon with five kids, a dog and two cats. I would lay in the back gazing up at the mountains searching and daydreaming. They were mine, and I could actually feel them. I could feel the rain, the sun and the mist. I could see all the animals roaming the rocks, forests and cliffs, I could see cabins, paths and waterfalls. A whole different world and it all belonged to me. Magic. And then I grew up.
But now, my paintings bring back these memories and feelings.
Here is a sneak peek. This one is called 'My Climb'.
The title is reminiscent my journey from childhood to now and all the uphill battles along the way...and yes I can see my world again. My mountain with all the sights, sounds, and moods, all my animals and waterfalls in all the nooks and crannies through all the mist and rays of sunlight.
Friday, December 11, 2015
Here is some great advice from fellow Canadian Artist Doug Swinton on "Ideas for Keeping Things Fresh in Your Art Studio." To see more about Doug please visit Doug's Website
Your friend in art,
- Keep a large stack of prepared surfaces at the ready - preferably in a wide variety of dimensions. Prepared canvas, hardboard, birch ply panels, gesso boards, sized paper, etc.
- Switch from landscape to figure to still life and abstract. This can mean using different palettes and mark making, helping to spark the imagination. I tend to follow seasonal phases, painting landscapes most of the year and switching to the figure in the winter, but it’s good to change it up randomly.
- Use a different, or even an unfamiliar medium. I use oil most of the time but for a game changer I also paint in watercolour, charcoal, pen & ink. You may not be well versed in all these mediums but changing it up is very invigorating.
- Keep a growing inventory of reference photos. I keep 500+ photographs on my desk at all times and also a large cache of pics on my computer. Create a folder called “Yummy Things To Paint” and add to it constantly. This will become your source for quick inspiration.
- Surround yourself with examples of other artist’s work. Pin up a variety of reproductions of paintings in varying subject matter and compositions, especially of things you’d never think to paint. This keeps your eyes fresh. Reading art books or just flipping through the pretty pictures is another way to stay inspired.
- Paint fast! It keeps the boredom away! Working on the same painting for long periods of time sucks your energy and tends to leave you dry. Winslow Homer tells the tale of painting models on the beach… He was into day four of the painting and got bored, so he hired a kid to pour water on his subjects. Suddenly, after 4 days of attempting to finish the painting, he did so in 30 minutes.
- Practice often with variety of styles, colour themes, subject matter and techniques to expand your repertoire. Use the try and true method (patented by Julie Hamilton) of “Paint and Pitch”. Trying things out, again and again, until you are familiar with the technique and then switch to something new. Don’t worry if you make lots of false starts, just start.
- Thinking and painting are two different beasts. In my studio I keep 2 easels - one is for creating and the other is for evaluation. I create on the painting easel and the other easel is for critique - that’s where you hunker down into the big comfy chair and wallow in the harshness of self analyzation. For this process I suggest a wee dram of Scotch…
- Music. Change it up! If you have the same routine daily expect the same outcome daily. Music is an important detail in setting the mood and shifting your mind into unfamiliar territory. Playing a variety of music genres will help keep you on your toes.
- Treat yourself for your efforts. There is nothing like framing your best artwork in a beautiful exotic frame. When it looks that good it makes you excited to do another.
- Move your finished paintings around. Once you start painting lots, your studio will likely become your own private gallery. Don’t let your work hang in the same place too long. Rotate it and add some of your new work to keep things fresh.
- Put some juice back in the gas tank. Strangely, painting all the time can drain your creativity. You can’t always give without getting something back. Go see some live theatre, hit the movies or dance to a live band. There is nothing more inspiring than seeing someone else create. They give, you receive.
Your friend in art,
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Everyone is familiar with the game challenge that displays two images and you have to see if you can spot the differences between them. This is how I felt with this painting.
I wanted to do a quick study, referenced from photos I took while having a wonderful dinner at the Hardware Grill with Gallery owner Wendy wacko. Our table was right beside the open concept window displayed kitchen. ( Although it was not very polite of me to be snapping pictures while we ate).
I hung the painting beside me as I worked at my computer desk. I kept glancing at it as I worked, critiquing, jotting down and itemizing areas that could use improvement. Mostly to simplify and lose or soften edges. Once I was finished, I took my notes to the studio and finished the painting.
See if you can spot at least 10 differences.
Friday, November 13, 2015
Waterfalls are probably my most favorite subject to paint. I have painted so many that I really don't need any photo references. And when I do use a reference, unless I really need it to look like an iconic scene, I deviate a lot. There are just so many abstract and compositional possibilities. So much freedom and creative play which makes the whole process so much more satisfying!
Many times, I will have a lot of left over paint on my palette which I grab with my palette knife and slather on a blank canvas. Most of the time this paint will have a lot of gel in it, so I will have a canvas already primed with texture. This was the case with these two paintings. A lot of gel, palette knife, glazes and more detailed brushwork towards the end.
The amount of glazes and veils I used, made photographing these paintings very difficult...you just can't see the delicate intricacies ,subtle color changes and vibrancy.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
I guess I'm still holding on to Fall. I'm really not looking forward to all that ice and freezing cold weather. So, a few more Autumn paintings will be coming, as I really hadn't finished exploring this subject. This is a study loosely based on a scene from Vermillion Lakes. acrylic 20 x 10
Friday, October 30, 2015
Leighton Center's 'Christmas In The Country', November 7-15/2015, is their popular annual fundraiser and art sale. This non-profit organization nestled in the beautiful foothills of Calgary boasts a vibrant and open space for creativity, connects you to art, history, and landscape. To learn more about the Centre and directions please visit their Website
'Christmas In The Country', features over 100 local artists each offering up to 15 unframed art works for you to flip through. From abstract to realism, a variety of mediums, from professionals to armatures, there will something for everyone.
I will be offering 15 small works including landscape, figurative and animals. I will be volunteering Sat afternoon Nov 7 and hope to see you there. Here are a few samples of the small paintings I will be offering.
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Leighton Centre's Christmas In The Country is an event I haven't participated in for a few years. I thought I would enter a couple of Equines in a looser style. I'm quite happy with these two. 11 x 14 and 12 x 12, yet to ne named.
The 11 x 14, is a complete overhaul of a previous equine I had done a few years back. I can't believe how much better it is now...such a transformation. I might even keep the title of 'Gentle Nudge'.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
My husband doesn't like my figure drawings/paintings. That's totally fine. It took him a long time to appreciated my landscapes also. However, he is so very supportive of my work and my career even if he isn't an 'art' person as he puts it. When I first started bringing home stuff from my live model sessions, he would comment, "Where are the faces?' or "I guess you don't know who to draw faces." I tried to explain I was drawing figures and shapes, not a person. I wanted to create mystery and have the viewer insert their own idea of who it represents.
His comment got me thinking...do I know how to draw faces? I tried a couple small face paintings of family members and totally bombed! I was being to literal, too tight, too picky, too realistic, too everything and I spent hours on these little paintings. This is not how I wanted to paint. What happened to me wanting to experiment with more abstract work? Maybe I couldn't paint faces after all. I decided to study other artists whose worked I liked and admired. ( Michael Maczuga, Ingrid Christensen, Scott Burdick, Nancy Guzik, and fellow acrylic painter Chantel Barber, just to name a few). I wanted a more painterly, loose and free feel to my faces, and of course working in acrylics makes it even more difficult.
I gave up on my family members thinking I was trying too hard to achieve a likeness which was not my goal. I found some free stock models, used a larger brush, decided to paint faster and not make any lines...only shapes. I know my proportions are a little off but painting this way allows for more freedom from painting within the lines. I have a long long way to go but I am beginning to see the light. A lot more modeling sessions and studying for me. But I am not giving up on my faceless paintings either, sorry husband.
I thought I'd share a couple of faces and faceless paintings I have been working on.
Sunday, October 4, 2015
Some of you may disagree but, I felt this painting needed a revisit. Simplify, Simplfy Sinplify! And add some mystery. This was a small painting (12 x 12) with way too much information. All that busyness from the bicycles was distracting. And too many details and hard edges on the foreground figure. I also toned down the color and made more use of the greys. Now with less detail, more mystery, softer edges and larger dominate shapes, it is a more unified painting. (Although, now as I write this, I can see it still needs a few minor adjustments.)
Thursday, October 1, 2015
While exploring figurative work is fun and refreshing, it is also very challenging as I continue to try and find my voice in this genre. Mostly, I draw and paint 'figures' not 'people', so I have been leaving out the faces. I prefer the viewer to fill in the missing pieces so they can identify more with the work and not concentrate on the face of a particular person. Down the road I may tackle portraits. However, in this particular piece I blurred the face, but found it lacking. Because it was not so much abstracted, I felt it needed a face. I like it much better now...you be the judge. small 20 x 10 acrylic. I call this 'Tapestry', because it reminds me of a little girl who is trying on her new tapping shoes for her Tap dancing lessons.
The challenge here was to create softness and keeping the brush strokes loose, difficult with acrylics but made a little easier by adding texture to the surface and lots of glazes. I'm curious to see what you think.
Friday, September 25, 2015
While doing a demo for the Cochrane Art group , I decide to paint a painting similar to one I had done before. I understand this is a common practice for many instructors. It is easier to talk, and more relaxing to be able to explain techniques, choices, etc., when you are comfortable with your painting. However, in my demonstration with a palette knife and using gels, it is impossible for me to finish a painting in the allotted time. So I started a new canvas and went as far as I could, half completing the painting. It need several hours to dry, so like those cooking shows, I magically produced another similar half completed dry painting to continue with my demo.
The question posed to me was, 'Do you or clients have a problem with producing the same paintings over and over again?' Good question. First, with my technique none of my painting are ever identical. Second, when I have a commission based on a previous painting, which happens a lot, I explain that I will only use the original as an inspiration, not to copy. Thirdly, very often I will do a smaller study of the same scene and if I still feel the need to explore the subject I will paint a few, but in different sizes and orientation. And lastly as in my demo, since I was using the same size canvas I decide to make one warm and one cool.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
While demonstrating one of my mountain scenes, for the Cochrane Art group, I found myself with some extra time. So I pulled out a painting I had planned to make better by adding a few things here and there. But after a few flopped attempts I scrapped it all off and proceeded to paint over the whole canvas using a lot of bright colors very abstractly. Eventually I had an idea where I wanted to go with it. I promised I would finish it and post it on my blog. So here it is. I also made a little video clip to show the process ( However, I didn't do any color corrections on the stills, so they are a little off). I hope you can open the clip.
Monday, September 21, 2015
Acrylic 11 x 14. This little guy was hanging around my studio for quite sometime. I liked it, but it wasn't quite right. Something was missing or wrong. I like trusting my gut. Today, a light blub went off, I realized the foreground branch really wasn't saying too much, what was the reason for it and was it important to the painting? I decided to make it my focal area and give it some 'punch', or pizzazz. I like it much better now.and I'm ready to part with him.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
It was a beautiful misty drive through Jasper National Park with the sun peaking through the clouds and the autumn color in the foreground. The mountains were so majestic and looming. Acrylic 22 x 28
Saturday, September 19, 2015
I was working on a landscape painting to be completed at a demo I'm doing for an art group in Cochrane on Tuesday, and I had mixed too much paint. So I grabbed a 11 x 14 canvas to use up the rest of the paint. This little painting emerged in less than an hour...gotta love it when that happens!
This will be my study for a larger and longer orientation painting.
Friday, September 18, 2015
Calgary Figure Drawing group hosted a 3 hour long live model session. What a treat to have only one pose all night! I definitely will attend this one on Thursdays regularly. Check out their Facebook group page if you are interested. Link. I did a reference sketch first in case I needed to do some touch ups in my studio. Now that I see it online, I realize I was a little tighter than I would have liked.
Don't worry, I'm not going to show every little sketch and painting I do. This will be it for awhile. It's just exciting to venture into this new subject matter and try out various techniques. I hope to develop a quality body of figurative work over the next year or so.
I still love my landscapes though and will be switching back and forth.
Below is a detail of the painting ( click to see larger )
Tuesday night was live model drop in Drawing/painting at Swintons. It was very busy with 21 artists. I managed a lot of sketches but was more excited to paint. But, the only long pose was the last one and it was only 25 minutes. I'm normally a fast painter but I was even more so that night. I was quite happy with the results and only did some minor tweaking when I got in my studio which was difficult without the model and light source. Here is my 25 minute painting( 25 x 22 inches) and a couple of my favorite sketches, and a detail close up.( click on it to see larger view )
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
I went on a week glamping trip with three painting buddies a few months ago, to do some plein air painting and hiking. My knees were bad so I didn't do much hiking and it was raining so I didn't do much plein air. But we did paint in and around our cabin. However, these two paintings are not them. I started these shortly after in my studio and just got around to finishing them. Both from the same reference. A little tighter than I would have like and very hard to see the texture through the photographs.
It's time to get back into some figuring drawing with a live model. When to the Calgary School of Art ( Cactus Art) last night for their first drop in session of the season. Only two of us plus the model...kind of nice having all that space. So heads up all you interested figure drawers, every Monday night from 6-9 at the Calgary School of Art, here is the link
I'm a little rusty at this but I plan to go regular to hone in my skills. Tonight ( Tuesdays) is Swintons drop in and Thursday is Calgary Figure Drawing see link
These are all quick sketches with graphite, conte, and watercolor marker. The watercolor marker I had never used before and really enjoyed using it with a wet brush. eventually with longer poses I hope to use paint. Again quick sketches, so please excuse the wobbly anatomy as many of the proportions are off.
Monday, September 14, 2015
Acrylic on Paper, 30 x 22 inches.
I just finished an abstracted figurative workshop with the amazing Brian Smith ( web site ). Brian is a very considerate and knowledgeable instructor, and his teaching skills are superb! I would highly recommend him.
I needed a little break from my landscapes and have been wanting to explore some figurative work for quite some time. I found this workshop very refreshing and confirmed my desire to venture deeper into this genre. I loved working with a live model! So much to learn and so excited to get started. I just have to figure out how to manage my time and my creative brain: maybe one week landscape...one week figure. Discipline, Organization and Passion!
Here are the results of a few of the exercises from the workshop. I won't go into any details of the exercises...you'll just have to take one of his classes to find out.
Monday, September 7, 2015
acrylic 18 x 36
Here is another from the 'brush series' at Fish Creek. Using the same photo reference ( as seen in the previous post), I wanted to explore a more cooler setting and a different orientation.
Thursday, September 3, 2015
acrylic 30 x 30,
How very satisfying this was to paint. Without being too literal, you can still get the sense of the scene AND I got to play. Not sure I'm completely done with this but happy so far. I have posted my reference photo ( enhanced and cropped) along with yesterdays WIP and this morning's effort.