Saturday, December 29, 2012

Still life with daisies, oil paintings

When it's snowing deeply outside on this winters day, I'm working on still life in my studio, and listening to an Agatha Christie novel.  Gotta love those who-dunnits. I also love white creamer jugs.  Here's two little ones modelling the daisies.  Each is painted on 6 x 6" wood panel.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Painting a present

Ginger - 8 x 10 - oil on canvas
It's an honour to paint a request for something specific for someone.  In doing so, the artist enters a contract with the client.  

There are always expectations.    Expectations of the client are to what the outcome might be.  Rightly so...a client should discuss with the artist their vision if they have one, before the work commences (sometimes there are design decisions, that  trump the clients expected vision). The expectations of the artist are to paint with integrity.  An artist must follow their own instincts making their own judgements and decisions as the painting progresses.  Personally I get quite delighted to work with clients on any ideas they might have, but design decisions must be mine.

'Ginger'  is a recent commission.  She is a beloved pet who passed away; the client wanted to give a portrait of Ginger to her parents for Christmas.  We discussed size, price and a special request was to paint in Ginger's name on the painting. Well, why not, I thought...and so Ginger's name was included in the design as the painting progressed. I used a stencil to keep letters tidy, and glazed over it all afterwards with raw sienna to harmonize it with the other tones of the painting.  After the glaze dried i painted in some lighter areas and tweaked a few highlights.  It was a real pleasure to paint her for such a sweet client.

There is another part of this story.  The client went in to labour on Dec 23, and was delivered of a first born son on Christmas eve!  I think her parents got two presents for Christmas.  And I think 'Ginger' just might be playing second fiddle.  ...heh heh...thats just fine by me.  Congratulations to the proud parents.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Snow Day today!

If you live in Canada, you will know the term SNOW DAY.  When you're a kid it can mean all kinds of wonderful things; not least among them, school is cancelled!  That's always cause for celebration.  My brothers and I would don our snow gear and trudge out into the wintery wonderland to play, building snow forts and snow men, sliding down any small slope in the neighbourhood and eating snow balls from our mittens...yep gross... i know, but all kids do it.  

It is SNOWING out here in the countryside near Elginburg today.  It snowed all night. We have not had a deep snowfall for a long time, so for me it was a treat to wake up to this morning.  "Snow day!" I thought, when i woke up and looked out my bedroom window.  Dave and i are both lucky that we dont have to be anywhere today. Because if you have to travel on snowy roads, it can be treacherous. The girls got home safely yesterday from Christmas when the roads were fine... all good.  Christmas for us is family time; games, food and sharingWe certainly got that in spades.  Here's Dave and Jane and Holly engrossed in a board game.  I wish everyone a healthy and prosperous new year! 
Christmas 2012 - fun and games


Friday, December 21, 2012

Evening Light

Evening Light - oil on panel - 8 x 6 inches
Well so far so end of the world in our neck of the woods as far as I can see!  We are gearing up for Christmas though.  The shops were kind of crazy today... good thing I only needed to make one stop. whoa!  the parking lot at the liquour store was nuts. I've never seen the place so busy, everybody getting their holiday cheer in various quantities. I bought rum, i love the Cuban sort, nothing quite like it with eggnog.  

After the shops,  i met the train; my daughter Jane arrived home from the big smoke in Toronto...lots to chat about...she works on CBC's Dragons Den.  January will see her  going on some audition tours, they do a lot of them, 40 cities in all, though she wont do them all. She'll be going on the one in Ottawa and one in St. Johns NFLD.  She's excited about it. I'm excited for her too.  I've never been to St. Johns, but I'd love to go sometime...but maybe not in January. heh heh.   

Above is tonights effort in the studio.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

More from Rome Nights

Rome Nights II - oil on canvas - 24" x 18"
This one is all about mood, that feeling of strolling  glorious piazza's on sultry warm evenings. It brought back heaps of memories while I was painting it. You could nearly always hear accordian music drifting along in the night air. When dining at outdoor cafe's,  street vendors come right up to your table to try to sell their rose's.  It's a little intrusive, so we didn't buy any that way.  There were a lot of street vendors in the piazza's at night.  Dave bought some slingshot laser rockets from one guy. Back at home, they were a hit outside after Thanksgiving dinner around our campfire in the evening.  One thing I loved about Rome was trying different food, it seems every outdoor cafe is a gourmet's delight.  We didn't hit a bad one the whole time we were there.  Without a doubt, the pasta and the pizza is the MOST devine.  My favourite is the Napoli pizza, just tomatoes, cheese and anchovies on a super thin crust cooked in a wood fire oven. yum!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

yuletide fun and Rome Nights painting

Rome Nights  - oil on canvas - 24" x 18"
Lots going on this weekend, but yesterday in the afternoon I worked on this painting in the sunshine in my studio.  It's a result of a trip to Rome this past September. I loved the evenings when it cooled off and we would wander through the old streets of antiquity.  Sampling the culinary delights was a big part of that experience.

Last night we attended a Christmas party with the group that my husband works for.  There must have been nearly 200 people dining, chatting and kicking up their heels in the spirit of the season.  Calian, (the company) put on a truly marvelous evening of festivity, in the style of good old fashioned Christmas cheer.  It's so good to see old friends and meet new ones too.  I wore my red dress, and had a great time...even got in a few dances with the old boy, which always makes my evening:)
Today we will drive to Ottawa and share a little Christmas with my dad and his partner Diana.  They are not able to get out much due to health issues.  We hope that an afternoon visit with them will brighten their holiday season a little.  My daughter Holly and Jeff will also meet us there. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

art shows

The Fine Tuners played at the SCA Halifax exhibition opening reception, I really enjoyed their lively music. I must confess nearly every time i hear fiddle music it makes me want to do a little clog, jig, or reel. ( in private of course, because i really dont know the steps!)  Nova Scotia is in my blood, I was born there. I think that leprachaun is in the blood of the fiddler from The Fine Tuners.  They were nice lads, and chatted to us after they played.

I will be starting off the new year showing some of my works at the Mill Street Gallery and Cafe in Sydenham. I'm looking forward to hanging the pieces Dec 29.  The show will run for a few months, I think until end of February.   I will be one of 3 artists showing work there for a few months.  The others are Frankie LeMonde-Meunier(fibre art) and Vera Donefer(abstract works).  The Mill Street Gallery Cafe is showing original works on a regular rotating basis.  I for one love to see original works on the walls of cafes and restaurants when I'm enjoying a meal.  Hooray!... for the Mill Street Gallery Cafe.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday back and forth on the easle

I'm working on two paintings concurrently from my Rome experience.  I've been going back and forth between them a lot, changing compositions and restating passages.  I thought I'd post their progress, as it's a slow painting process.  My notion is to express a mood of delight in the city; I'm not at all interested in actually recording landmarks.  The cafe culture at night was especially fabulous.  That's what these two paintings are going to be about...the coffee,accordian and gelato, which make up the forgrounds, should get the idea across.  You can see the picture of the accordian (to the left of the easle) which I'm using as a painting resource. That's because, not being very musical, I dont actually know what an accordian really looks like.  I had a great photo I took of an accordian player one evening, that I initially used, but in the end, I didn't like the addition of the figure.  It seemed to take the focus off the main after repainting him twice, I decided to scrape him off. That's when I decided to add a giant accordian instead. I think it will work.  My gut feels happier about it, so that's usually a good sign. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bella Roma

I'm excited to finally get working on my Rome experience. It's been knocking about in my head every since I got back from my trip, over 2 months ago now. All good though, things often happen for a reason.  I've had all this time to savour it, and only today i began to extract  what my week in the eternal city meant to me..   My idea is to paint like I'm feeling the experience... the experiences that I loved most about it that have stayed with me.   Likely that will  translate into meandering the curvy backstreets, gelato tasting, capuccino sipping, antiquity loving, accordian playing, botanical adoring feelings.  Stay tuned and see what happens:)  You can see one painting I'm working on, on the easle, but it's only beginnings right now.  I'll post again when i get further with it.  

I also framed my little nochturn of the Grand in the snow.  What do you think?  I love the black floating frame choice this time...the drama of it.  You can also see my latest audio book choice, which so far is just luscious!  I'm loving "The Professor" by Charlotte Bronte.  I haven't read any of her books, just her sister Emily Bronte's works.  I've only just started this one, but already i know i'm going to LOVE it. woo hoo for audio books...i think i'm becoming a literary geek. ha ha.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Purchasing Art

Sydney Heads - watercolour- 15" x 22"
   I read a blog post by Sandy Askey-Adams, PSA  and it struck a chord with me today.  She talks about "What art is not, and purchasing art that is" 

 I couldn't agree with her more. 
As an artist it means so much when another person makes a connection with your art. Making the connection, then acting on it by purchasing the art is icing on the cake!

 The truth in the art is the intangible thing, responsible for the communication,...the connection. 

Monday, November 26, 2012


acrylic on wood - 6 x 6
acrylic on wood - 6 x 6

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Harbour Celebration oil painting

Harbour Celebration - oil on canvas - 24" x 18"
Here's the latest painting.  A view of Portsmouth Harbour from a balcony looking over it...a la moi !!  I had fun painting this one, inventing and twisting perspective to find the mood.

Monday, November 19, 2012

letting myself get zingy

This commissioned piece has been in the works for quite a while. I met with the client a number of months ago, and we chatted about her requests and my vision. (She lives overlooking the lake at Portsmouth harbour) I've worked on a few small (6x8) oil sketches in preparation to get myself ready for the mood I wanted to capture in the final painting.  Above all I wanted to keep it light, breezy, fun and zingy. I began with a plan, but kept flexible to change the painting as it needed it.  

I cant show you more than this right now because it's not quite finished, but thought I'd share a sneek peak. I've been listening to a few audio books while painting this one. Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island which was a funny but a tad cynical review of the authours experience living and travelling in England. Last week it was the Biography of Jane Austen, and this week it is Margaret Lawrence's "The Stone Angel".  I'm in good company:)

Winter window boxes

The gallery entrance is looking festive. On Saturday i was Sun Harvest Greenhouse which is located in Glenburnie, not too far from me.  They have some great ideas for Christmas outdoor garden decor. I treated myself and bought this window box. That inspired me to get cracking and make some myself.

It was such a beautiful November Sunday yesterday, that at 3 o'clock i took a break from painting.  I ventured outside to see  about adding a few more window treatments.  I found some old barnboard near the barn behind the house, it was great to cover an old plastic window box.  
I added some spruce and some dried hydrangea heads from the garden, and... voila..!  I used an old apple basket for the smaller window box.  I'm going to keep my eyes peeled and see if I can find a little holly with berries on it for the final touch.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Follow your nose

me in blue dress, grandma is behind me, shop window on right
Kinloss Station
Our sense of smell  recalls memories.  When I lived in Kinloss, Scotland as a child, we lived across the meadow from a station. I smelt coal in the air on my morning walk to school. On our trips to the bakery shop, the scrummy smells of scones and pork pies lined the shelves. My grandma and grandad owned a tiny grocery shop in Stamford, England.  On occasion, my grandma would let my cousin, my brothers and I (pictured) into the shop to pick out a favourite item as a special treat. I usually chose a gorgeous purple plum, or sometimes a sherbet fountain with licorice.  To this day the taste of a ripe plums takes my memory right back to being seven years old again!

Yesterday I baked Christmas cakes.  My friend Janet (who makes the best one in the world) gave me her recipe, (really thrilled to get that, thanks Janet!) so after a thorough soaking of the fruits and nuts in brandy overnight, yesterday afternoon I began.  oh wow.  I was right back in my mothers kitchen again as a child smelling that cake batter! hmmm mmm.   

As some of you may already know, I sell teas from my summer Gallery at the Porch Door. This week a new variety I ordered arrived.  It is Long Island Strawberry Green tea. Oh my goodness the smell of this tea!!... brings back memories of strawberry picking in Sag Harbour....well that's what the label says...I've never actually picked strawberries in Sag Harbour, but I'm sure I would love it by the smell of this tea.  It tastes divine too.  And we all know we need to drink more green tea. 
This morning as I type this I am sipping Lovers Leap orange pekoe tea.  It is awesome for an after dinner tea, but good in the morning too.  I will never go back to the Tetley tea man again.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Play it again...

One of the requests I had recently received was for a repeat of a painting that I had painted a number of years back... the customer had a print, but wanted a painting of the same image.
I used a giclee print from my original painting(right) as a resource for my new painting(left)

I'm thrilled when people recognise the value in a real painting. It doesn't matter whether it's a second visiting of the image or not, somehow it lives. To me, real art has a power beyond the image, possessing the artists hand(and a bit of their soul) within each brushstroke; a signature of sorts.   I always think about this connection from artist to viewer and the power of it, when I view (real) works at museums and galleries. I think perhaps it's energy.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Homage to Bits

Bits and Bites, Bits on the perch, Bites in nestbox
Bits died last week.  He was such a sweet little guy.  If ever there was a little bird who wanted to be your friend it was Bits. He was my daughter Holly's lovebird. He liked to perch on her hand if he heard the water running while she was washing dishes... to take a quick splash under the running tap.  And he liked to be talked to and stroked.

His partner's name is Bites.  Bites has an appropriate name.  She is a bit of a bitch.  Bits & Bites came into Holly and Jeff's life about 3 years ago shortly after they moved into their house in Orleans.  They have a huge cage in the living room, near the window in summer months, so they can look out at other wildlife in the backyard; and in the centre of the room in winter months so they can stay cosy.  They were definately busy little lovebirds; they had lots of babies which grew up and found new homes with friends and co-workers.  At the moment, Bites is still busy raising 2 babies born last month...but she has noticed the passing of her man.  Holly tells me she has mellowed a bit.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Building my ETSY shop

In between working on some commissions, in the studio, which I"m not ready to share yet, i've been on the computer quite a bit, as my eyes and my head are letting me know! Often I'm getting into bed at night, with a case of screen buzz.  Maybe you know it? 

The reason is, I've been working on building my ETSY shop for some of my smaller art pieces. I started with 4 pieces and am slowly adding 1 item a day until I get enough to call it a 'shop'.   It's been fun learning about it, but at the same's a bit of a time eater!  ha ha. heh.  Etsy has all kinds of newsletters and helpful ideas and suggestions to help promote your etsy shop.  Today I photographed my little 'Lighhouse at Dusk' painting for the shop, and as suggested I photographed how it could look in various ways, including how it would be received if a person orders it as a gift...  That is to entice gift givers at this time of year. heh. 

I'm not going to say i'm not  a little proud of the way it looks in it's gift box, all dressed up for the party! heh.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Kindred Spark in the Dark

Yesterday I ventured off to Chasing Lightning Bugs studio, about a 10 minute drive into the heart of Portsmouth village, in Kingston. I've been following her blog from time to time, enjoying the rhythmic ramble of day to day creative musings, when I noticed that her studio would be open between 11am-6pm.  Good, I thought,... my opportunity to go and see those lovely quilts and crafts for myself!

What transpired was the most delightful visit to a 'step back in time' studio in a tiny little heritage house; a showroom and gallery for everything handmade or vintage.  Well, I just loved it! Meeting Annette, who is the creator behind Chasing Lightning Bugs was yet another joy. We totally connected.  We chatted about everything artsy-quiltsy-textiley-small businessy.  She is an accomplished blogger, Etsy retailer, and small business owner, it was so enlightening to chat about mutual interests. After our chat yesterday, in the evening I decided I would try Etsy too, so I set up my Etsy shop with 4 paintings to start. You can click to  see it on the right side bar of this blog. 

And yes....I treated myself.  I fell in love with and bought one of her delightful farm quilts, and a vessel made of fabric.  The quilt is the cosiest.  Last night I wrapped up in it on my reading chair while waiting for supper to cook, and immersed myself in a book. I told myself that the vessel would be a Xmas gift for somebody, but then of course, when i got it home, well, it perfectly fit on the shelf in my kitchen and looks great holding a Christmas cactus. You can see it on the shelf next to the empty milk bottles.  sooooo... well i decided to keep it too! naughty Sally!

I better run along and get back to the studio...I actually have 3 commissions on the go, (a good thing I'm very grateful about)  so I better get to work.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Glazing 101

Still Life with Fruit - oil on panel - 16"x12"
Last evening I picked up my friend Bonnie Brooks, who lives nearby,  and off we went to the class we're taking on glazing with Dan Hughes.  It was good to get back to the class as I had missed one session while I was away in Vermont. We worked on paintings from a still life that Dan had set up, and last night I painted a thick glaze of van dyck brown over my previously painted but now dry painting.  After the glaze was applied, and waiting about 1/2 hour, I began to wipe out the areas in light with a clean rag revealing the underpainting in areas.  Next we painted back into the tacky surface.  It was fun to learn how to work with the glaze when it's still wet like that. 

The best way i can describe the process is to compare it to having a conversation.  The painting reveals something...and I respond with my brush...when that response is applied, it sets up other areas that need working out, and so on. I will be delighted to ad this method to my own work when i feel i can use it.  It's a  meditative way to work, and i enjoyed it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I See Shapes

Recently Barbara Muir and I were chatting, and she asked me how I went about painting trees...I got to thinking about it. I dont draw much...but I do notice shapes. Pretty much anything I paint, it is the shapes that speak to me first. Are they angular, or soft? Do they have incidentents at the edges, do they flow together or are they isolated? It's not only tree shapes...but shapes of large expanses...shapes of clouds, shapes of shadows.  These things pretty much determine whether I'll be interested enough to start a painting. After shapes it is light that I notice.   Is it fleeting? Is it brilliant or subdued? The light determines my values and my palette.

It's the same when I'm painting the outdoor landscape en plein air, as it is when I'm working in my studio.  I first look for interesting shapes and values, and then wonder about creating a painting from them.
Usually it's not representation I'm after, so to speak;  it's a mood, a feeling, a response to what I'm viewing. 

I've been looking at the  plein-air 'starts' I did on my Vermont trip last week.  I was struck by how clearly evident this is in all of them.  They are begun with that principle of shape-making first.  I will develop them further to clarify their intent after the initial block-in has dried, and after I contemplate them a little.  But the abstract shapes are the bare bones, and what everything else gets built on. If I dont like the bones, i dont go further.  If I like the bones, i really get into developing the idea!

All three were painted while experiencing unsettled weather conditions. Hurricane Sandy was wrecking havoc elsewhere, but we were lucky to only get high winds and rain.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Artists Way, and Indoor painting

CLICK TO BUY 6x8 inch oil on panel
Last month I had a birthday, and my middle daughter Rachel, surprised me with an online gift card from Chapters!  I had never heard of an online gift card before, (such a great idea!) but of course I was delighted, and went right to the website and ordered myself a book that I've hankered after for a while; The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. Looking forward to enjoying it.

During the bad weather as the hurricane skirted us last week in Vermont, instead of going out to paint, i stayed in and painted instead...hydrangeas are always a favourite, so I did two little ones.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Vermont vacation, painting trip

 Setting out for Vermont last Saturday morning it was with more than a little trepidation.  The 'storm of the century', or the 'frankenstorm' as it was dubbed in the media was coming, and it preoccupied our thoughts. I was heading to Stowe with 2 friends for a week and was planing on  painting...preferably outside in the hills of Vermont, en plein air. I have to admit, I'm a fair-weather painter, not a dedicated plein air one.  But we were lucky.  The first two days we were there was definately the calm before the storm; we had sunshine and nice warm temps.  But on Monday night the gusting winds began and the rest of the week was  pretty unsettled, although thankfully we had no power outages or storm damage. The hurricane skirted Vermont. We were all very grateful!  I  painted, although more inside than out, on account of the wind, and we enjoyed our trip.  The "hills were alive"!  We stayed at a chalet with spectacular views, on the property of the Trapp Family Lodge.  Wonderful! I would definately recommend this spot for anyone who loves nature and an active lifestyle.

During the week, we found time for a little sightseeing, browsing and sampling Stowe's highlights.  We went in a fantastic artisan crafts and design gallery there which Sherry and I especially enjoyed. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

One of my Favourite Things

Glorious, glorious, Autumn!  It is definately one of my favourite things, not only because of it's gorgeousness, but also it is the time of year of my birthday, and the crunch of the crisp leaves under my feet brings back floods of happy memories.  This year has been particularily spectacular for autumn tree foliage due to the warm days and cool nights we've had for 2 months.  Just this evening, Barbara Muir and I were chatting about that on the we have been noticing the carpet of golden leaves under most of the trees and how when the light hits them they appear to sparkle like diamonds set in gold. 
Tomorrow I am heading to Stowe, for a week to paint and to relax with 2 of my good friends, AEmilia Jarvis, and Sherry Pringle.  Unfortunately there might not be much plein air painting happening, due to the torrential rains that are forcast for the entire week, but hey I'm not complaining.  I like doing interiors and still lifes too, and hey I'll be in Vermont !  AEmilia has invited us both as her guests at her time share cabin at the Trapp Family Resort. ...yes that's the very same Von Trapp family singers from the Sound of Music!! Cool huh?  I simply cant wait!
Autumn 'mums' in the little village of Westport