Saturday, November 29, 2014

getting from here to there

Work in Progress - oil on panel - 12 x 16"
"How do you know when to stop painting?"  
It's kind of an age-old question for artists.  

For me it's a gut feeling.  Basically, if the painting is saying what I want it to say, I feel it's done.  BUT there are  times I might start a painting without a clear idea of what it is I want to say.  I'm can be delighted about the sheer joy of my subject or process and I get swept up in the moment, forgetting about focusing on the idea.
stage 1             stage 2                    stage 3
That is okay; we all need our playtime... it keeps the first stage loose and genuine.

When I began this painting I was at my friend Sherry's house, she had invited me for a paint-day get together, something we've been occasionally doing over the past few years.  It is such a fun time.  We paint, do coffee while painting, do lunch, chat, paint some more and our cup runneth over with good times. It's no wonder then that I began the painting in a joyful mood, and didn't bother to focus much. ha ha.  who cares. some things are more important!  It's funny I remember looking at it that day and commenting to Sherry..."What's with this looks like I painted it in grade 4!"  ha ha ha.  I took my little painting home and set it on the shelf in my studio.  I knew it wasn't done, but I didn't know what to do with it...I liked the freshness and simplicity, but it wasn't conveying anything, and I wanted it to.  stage 1.

Two weeks later I woke up and the first thing I thought about was putting a bicycle in that painting, and I was excited; for me, excitement is a good sign! I decided do something about it.  After all, as it was, the painting wasn't satisfying to me. I knew I would have to do major surgery. BUT, I had a PLAN! and hope. The oil medium is so wonderful for allowing changes of heart and direction. I could never have done that with watercolours, and I know I'd struggle trying to do it with acrylics. When I went to bed that night I had stage 2.

Stage 3 was resolved last night. I painted out some of the tulips, created more space around the bike(never underestimate the element of space). I simplified the background tulips so they became a unified shape. I also really paid attention to the edges of the tree shapes.

So that's how I got from here in stage 1 to there in stage 3.  I will let it percolate for a while longer (while I work on another painting) and in a few days I hope to hear it speaking to me.



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Free Wheelin'

Free Wheelin - oil on canvas - 30x36
Not exactly tiptoe-ing through the tulips...but my idea of the next best thing...pedal power through them! I love riding my bike.  I like the scents in the air as I whiz along, being able to hear bird sounds.  Out in the country where I live we have some nice trails that are good for bike riding.  In Ottawa in the spring there is a glorious tulip festival where I saw many people going for rides.  This painting was inspired by that.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sunday things

Such a nice break in the weather yesterday, the warmer temps beckoned me outside. Great day to attend the Fat Goose Craft Fair, held in Grant hall at Queens university.  That is "Purling J's Roving Yarn Co" red truck parked outside the door.   Such a cool idea for a business...Roving J's truck is a walk in yarn shop!  Did I tell you I am learning to knit socks? so excited about that!  I'm already working on the toe of my first one! Hopefully by the time I knit the second one I'll be a little quicker.
It was a joy to have a gander around the craft fair and take in the incredibly beautiful, innovative work of many local craftspeople.  I purchased several Christmas presents!

A great day too for outdoor jobs.  Dave got up on the ladder, replacing an 8 foot roof flashing strip that blew off in the high winds last week. yay Dave!  He also painted 2 adirondack chairs. oooh... time for me to get some jobs done too!  I removed the pumpkins from the garden and winterized my roses.  
Inside the delapidated old relic of a barn, I retrieved my stored easels. Did I tell you it's creepy in there? It is. I'm sure a million bats live there not to mention racoons and other critters of the shadows. It seemed a better place than the garage to store them  when I first put them in there, but they were pretty filthy when I got them outside, covered in cobwebs and who knows what else. A broom, spray cleaner,  long handled scrubber and I went to work. After a rinse and a stand to dry in the weak afternoon sunshine they are actually usable now.  
Here is one of them put to use holding a painting currently in progress;  one from the 'Ride' theme I began last year, which I know I'm not done with yet.  In a way having a theme or an idea to work through is kind of comforting; it eliminates the dreaded "What will I paint?" question. And it's interesting for me to see how the paintings develop through a theme.
the rest of the easels are now in my studio storage, which should make them way easier to retrieve when I need them for the open house at Marga's on Dec. 7th.  Here's the invite for that!  You're invited!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

finding treasures

Marga Vanderwal and Sue Hale
two of four artists at studio #6
My friend Marga Vanderwal, artist extraordinaire of gorgeous pottery has invited me to show some work at her Christmas open house show and sale!  The show will be held at her lovely home overlooking the St Lawrence river on Treasure Island, not far from Kingston.  I'm excited!  It will be a drop in affair all day on Sunday December 7th.  It's so fun to do intimate house shows and Marga's wonderful pottery is an inspiration for me.  
outside, the weather was frightful
inside, the fire delightful
At the weekend art show in the Rockport, Thousand Islands area, I was very lucky to sell 3 paintings.  Traffic was way down this past weekend compared to last years show,  although it was a pleasant time anyway hanging out with the 3 lovely artists who shared LaRue House with me.  We hung out around the woodstove in the quaint little building laughing and sharing stories.  I dont mean to sound all 'Pollyanna-like', but really... in this life, these moments are the real treasures, are they not?

Last night, I was beginning a group of small paintings, had just loaded my brush with a gob of cadmium red and 'poof'...we lost power! The radiator in my studio died, blackness ensued while the wind ferociously howled outside.  I called to Dave who came up the stairs with a flashlight enabling me to clean off my brush.  The rest of the evening was spent cozying up to the wood stove, knitting by candlelight (Dave playing solitaire on his ipad).  Thank goodness for wood stoves, the house was getting chillier by the minute.  Luckily, about 5 hours later we regained power.  Times like this make me realize how much of a treasure it is to enjoy a warm house and electricity; though sitting by the fire together was also a sort of treasure.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Simple Pleasures

Simple Pleasures - oil on panel - 8 x 12
This painting began as a demo in one of my classes.  Later I felt like working on it some more and bringing it to completion. I had a tricky time with the cobblestones, but eventually got a handle on them...I especially loved painting the cobblestones in the umbrella's shadow and enlivening them with a variety of colour.  I find shadows exciting when they contain reflected colour.  If this painting dries I will take it with me to the art show and sale in the Thousand Islands this weekend. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

A lark still bravely singing...

Remember- 8x8- oil on wood

I painted this last year, but it seemed fitting to post again tonight on the eve of Nov 11th.  Dave and I will watch the ceremony at the war memorial in Ottawa from home on tv tomorrow, taking time to remember them and reflect on the sacrifices of those who serve.

The Thousand Islands 'Holly and Ivy' Arts Fair is on this coming weekend in Rockport. There are 6 locations, each hosting a number of artists.  I will be one of the artists at LaRue House which is on the Thousand Islands Parkway at 247 Old River Road. Click on the link for more information and a map of the area.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Winter Rooftops

Winter Rooftops - oil on canvas - 16 x 20"
Winter Rooftops came about from a photo I took about 4 years ago from my window in a room at the Four Points Sheridan.  The scene certainly didn't look like this, the photo showed a drab winters evening, but I knew I could use the perspective as a springboard and create the atmosphere in my own way.
This one took more time to dry than usual with  thicker paint on it, but it was kind of juicy working on it!  
I often admire texture and thick paint in other artist's work, and it is something that I would like to get in my own work, but it's a slow process getting there, especially when I'm a painter who's natural inclination is to blend a lot.  BUT, it is a goal of mine to incorporate more texture.  It's funny,  I feel like there has to be a purpose for texture in my own work, like it cant just be slapped on willy nilly;  texture always grabs the eye, so I feel it works best in focal areas. 
AND may I say is ALWAYS easier to get texture and interesting brush strokes when painting 'daily paintings' that are usually no bigger than 9 x 12.  That is because one sweep of the hand with an average sized brush can carry a thick gob of different toned paint which allows interesting passages and transitions.  The success of the whole daily painting movement kind of proves this, and I've always been pleased with the textural brushwork in my own small paintings.
It IS more difficult to get a similar loose textural result on large paintings. The tools incorporated for producing larger paintings to create similar effects are large palette knives, big brushes, giant spatula's...whatever one can creatively think of in application is AOK.  More than one palette might be necessary, many artists who work large have several.  Having a large space in which to paint is a must needs to be able to move around the work and stand back from it often to take in the progress of it.  This is also NOT the time to be stingy with paint.  Have lots of tubes on hand.  Heaps of paint must be at the ready to be squeezed out of the tube frequently, because one goes through a LOT of paint when painting this way.
Recently I was in Vermont, I had the opportunity to pop into a gallery where I admired some gorgeous large contemporary landscapes by an artist(Craig Mooney) who obviously worked with huge brushes... they had the magic that small paintings do, and I was very inspired.  
This winter I'm making a push to create larger works (for me) more often, and getting a little more textural in the process would be very satisfying too. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pub Door and a pastoral...

Pub Door - oil on canvas - 30 x 30"
I've been working my way through different stages of several paintings this weekend so feeling happy about keeping ahead of the eightball(so to speak).  After a wonderful few days hiking and visiting friends in Vermont, on Sunday Dave and I made the most of our quiet weekend. I enjoyed a wonderful painting day listening to some gorgeously inspiring opera music, with the sun streaming in the south window of my studio. Dave went for a motorbike ride, so he was having fun and so was I. 
I was going to take my Pub Door painting to KGSGallery along with 2 other paintings on Saturday for their December exhibition but it wasn't quite dry and I'm glad I didn't rush it.  I had a chance to resolve it a little more, and now it reads to my satisfaction.
My arm is still quite tender, but I'm taking it gently and trying not to squeeze with force on the brushes when I'm rinsing them...that motion is just the worst for aggravating my tennis elbow.
Greener Pastures - 9 x 12 - SOLD
During my classes I illustrate various concepts about painting design through demos, so I start many small paintings for this purpose and then leave them lying around on the shelf unfinished.  Yesterday I thought why not develop some a little further and see where they go.  Here's a pastoral acrylic in progress...(I still want to strengthen the shadow under the white cow).  This lesson focused on 'shapes within the painting'.  I painted the cows upside down to illustrate the brain's ability to read shape more accurately when looking at it as an abstract element and not what it actually is(in this case, a cow).  
I jump started the season yesterday and made my Christmas cakes. I have to do them quite far in advance because they need lots of time to steep in brandy wrapped in cheesecloth (about 4 weeks), then I package them up and include them in my family's Christmas parcels.  Smelling them cooking brought me right back to my mums kitchen in December! xo


Saturday, November 1, 2014

one day acrylic painting workshop in my studio NOV 20

Thursday November 20th I will do a one day workshop from 9:30am-4:30pm for acrylic painters in my studio.  The fee is $50 for the day,  paid on arrival.  The day is limited to a maximum of 6 participants; 4 participants need to confirm for the workshop to go ahead. Students bring their own painting supplies,  table top easles are provided.  Confirm by Nov 15 by email or phone if you'd like to be included. 

Lake Edge Sundown - acrylic
There will be an acrylics painting demo in the morning, plenty of class painting time, and 'one on ones'.  Bring a packed lunch, morning coffee and tea/ snacks are supplied.  After lunch we will have a 'group share' where you can bring along samples of 'art that moves you' or pieces you're working on or have finished that you'd like some feedback on.  This may take 1/2 hour -1 hour, afterwards there will be plenty more class painting time.   If you are interested in this workshop and would like more information, please don't hesitate to call me at 613-531-4545