Friday, January 31, 2014

On painting

works in progress - each 24 x 24 oil on wood panel
'Shape' was the focus yesterday in my Time to Paint  afternoon class.  Training oneself to see figures, buildings, trees etc, primarily as shapes first, and what they actually are as secondary, helps to organize a painting composition into a sound design of abstract elements right from the get go.  It's just way too common to get bogged down into painting details too soon...which usually results in tight overworking.

Everyone works on something of their own interest in my groups.  It's exciting for me to see what inspires each person, and to share some tools that might aid them to find their voice through their painting process.  I don't give a lot of instruction on technique, because I never feel like there is one solution or one rule to be followed.  For me, a painting is a conversation, and you can't tell someone what to say.  How to say it, now that is something that can be learned.

Demonstrations are probably the best way to find out how an artist employs techniques that work for them.   I think when you're learning painting, the best thing you can do is study from a variety of artist teachers.  My experience in taking workshops myself is that you absorb especially the techniques and methods that resonate with you.  You take from it only what's really important to you... perhaps using it and employing it yourself for a while, til you discover what to keep and what to let go.  There will most certainly be techniques and methods that you want to let go of, just as much as there is those you value.  Taking workshops is a good way to build your own handy toolbox of techniques and philosophies to use as you need it.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

indoor pursuits

I go through a dry spell at times where I just don’t know what I want to paint, but I know I want to!  Yesterday I thought I'd approach things in a different way to stoke the fire.  So I am focusing on the elements of shape making and placement and seeing how that might change things up a bit for me.

Mice in the studio! eeek! heh heh Instead of tv last night I painted this rock while listening to the radio. I often use it as a door-stop, and sometimes a weight for my easel, but it was pretty ugly, not anymore!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Winter Spirit

Winter Spirit - oil on panel - 12 x 9 inch

Glimpses of wildlife toughing it out through the long winter can remind us to pluck up our own winter spirits a bit. That's what I was thinking when I was painting this little fellow. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014


With the Current - oil on canvas - SOLD
Art, being a language, things often get lost in translation.  An idea is a cerebral thing. Through the language of art it gets translated; made manifest in the art form. It's always unique.

A viewer comes to the artwork with their own life experiences, which influence their interaction with a work. What they take away from it may be entirely different from what the artist set out to communicate.  That doesn't matter.  What does matter is that something is communicated, and the viewer is richer for the experience.

Sometimes when I'm teaching, I struggle with the translation of the art language into my primary language; EnglishThrough practice I'm getting better at it. It's always easier to show a concept rather than to talk about it if I can.  Sometimes I show a concept by demonstration, which can be helpful.  Showing examples in works by other artists, especially the great ones is useful too.   It's important for people that are learning the language of art to see how diverse it can be; so much room for individuality, and that itself is something to be treasured and embraced.  Finding one's own voice is what it's all about; while at the same time learning when and what tools to reach for in order to get that voice to sing.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Seaside cottagescape

cottagescape of folded paper
So yes I am fooling around some more with the paper and the scissors! heh heh. here is a tiny folded cottagescape similar to my little town that I made, only this one is with seaside/holiday cottages.  I am drawn to  miniature things. One day I will build a miniature beach house or cottage  somewhere in my garden to inspire my fancy.

Here's a picture I took many years ago.  Rachel and Holly are peeking through a gate to someone's garden at a house in Switzerland...can you see the little castle? 

Friday, January 17, 2014

a happy hum

acrylic painting demo
Yesterday was the first day of my winter six week 'Time to Paint' sessions.  We discussed the role of values in the painting process, stepped through a demo to a painting by simplifying into a 3 value study first.  Soon a happy hum of creativity filled the studio. 
This term I have 5 students in the afternoon and 2 in the morning. The small group is perfect for a cozy creative atmosphere.
I rearranged my studio which created more space for everyone to be in the same room, as last term we were split into 2 different rooms.  I like this arrangement much better.   
Below you can see the demo process I went through to take this photo resource to a painting...first a graphite value sketch, then an exercise we did taking the image to a 3 value study in one colour...then the painting itself.  The purpose of the exercise is to simplify the information within the photo resource to make it easier to interpret.  Well, that's the theory, anyways!
acrylic painting demo process

Monday, January 13, 2014

art distraction

I get distracted a lot by art. That is, when I'm supposed to be paying attention to what is happening in other realms, like tv or movies for example.  Instead I am attracted to what is on the walls. For example last night on tv I'm watching 'Lady Mary' glide up the staircase in 'Downton Abbey', and I catch sight of the frame of a gargantuous painting hanging on the wall behind her, anticipation builds in me and I find myself transfixed by what is to come in that it a portrait(yes it was!), and from what age...what artist? ...oh darn! the camera doesn't linger long enough for me to get a satisfying look! 
Painting in progress - oil on panel -
 The same thing happened recently when we were watching a super BBC series called the family house of the murder victim there was this interesting painting on the wall behind a dresser, and every time the camera was pointing in that direction I lost interest in the plot, and was transfixed by that piece of art!!  It was, I'm guessing, a contemporary(semi abstract?) landscape, but I never really got a good long look enough to satisfy my painterly curiosity.  I'm guessing this is a fairly common kindred painters experience!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Autumn Market

Autumn Market - oil on panel - 12 x 9 inch
Kingston's market changes frequently depending on the season; which vendors are out. It's a fav painting subject as its usually a hive of activity.  
I started this piece before the holidays, with a limited palette of warm colours(cad yellow pale, cad red, burnt umber, ultra blue). Then I lost my way and life got busy! 
While it sat on the easel drying, screaming for attention, I gave the whole thing a glaze of indian yellow just  to shut it up.!! ha ha ha! Sometimes it just feels good to give it the old wipe over!
Besides, there's a magic with glazes that often can add depth and completely change a paintings direction(I was hoping!)  
Today the glaze was fully dry, and I thought "No time like the present"...I added the figures of the mother and daughter, which improved things...Eureka! The whole thing was hideously yellow from the glaze, but I began the process of juggling tones/colours and applying them over the glaze... finding what was right... The sky went through a transition of at least 3 different tints before I felt good with it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

tiny town

Tiny Town - accordian folded paper images
I made this little folding town out of architecture from some of my paintings...and when I stood it on the shelf in the gallery the twinkle lights behind reflected in just the right places to imagine a tree or a moon in the night sky. heh heh. I really don't know what use it will serve, or what I will do with it, but I thought it sort of magical, all the same. I think I might also make a row of folding houses from some beach house images I've painted too. Would have a different look. Clearly I have a little too much time on my hands! 
Kind of brought back a flood of memories while cutting around the paper shapes.  I have this one memory when I was about 6, confined to bed with a childhood illness; my mum gave me a paper doll book. I hadn't had one before, and I was so happy with that book! I was so excited to play with it that I hurriedly took my little scissors and cut out all the dolls and the clothes!  Then my mum came back into the room and noticed that in my excitement and haste I had actually cut off all the tabs by which to hang the clothes on the dolls! O dear, disappointment!! "Never mind" she said, and patiently helped me tape all of the tabs back on.