Wednesday, December 30, 2015

a good read and Spoonflower!

This is the book I've just finished reading. The Art Forger  by B.A. Shapiro.  A great read for art lovers; it's historical fiction that keeps you turning the page.  Given to me during a visit with my friends mother while I was in Victoria,  it was a treat to have a good read to immerse myself in on the plane ride home, and linger on into the holidays.  

Linen/cotton canvas printed
with a detail of 'Bouquet' by Sally Chupick
Just before Christmas, I spent some time looking at print on demand websites for fabric. I like using my art for hand sewn items which I create in my sewing room and sell alongside my art at shows and fairs.  

I decided to order a sample from a detail of 'Bouquet' into 8 x 8" squares onto a 55% linen/45% cotton canvas.  When I received it I was thrilled with the print quality and the fabric quality.  I have ordered before from other POD sites that have been extremely disappointing, but I'm over the moon impressed with Spoonflower...a North American success, the company prints, cuts and ships around the world, from Durham, North Carolina. I ordered a little fabric swatches booklet beforehand, that way I could see and feel the actual fabrics they offer before deciding on which was best for me...they also print on wallpaper and gift wrap too.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

keeping the energy for painting commissions

compositional sketch along with color palette ideas
Luckily I am not on a deadline for the two commissions I accepted last month, which is a good thing. Woowhee! Christmas was a whirlwind; full of family and visiting which I absolutely loved.  But now that the dust has settled I'm back in the studio and trying to keep energy fresh on the work that I need to complete. 

Commissioned work can be difficult, because there is not a lot of room for play or experimentation which is what artists thrive on...but I have a few tricks that seem to work for me in keeping things fresh. 
two of my watercolors on show in the restaurant
at The Cove Inn, Westport, ON
Firstly, I work in segments.  The first is the composition sketches which I  fire off to the client to approve the design, once that is settled, then I put the sketch away for a while in a colored file folder marked with the clients name, and several photo references of the subject. 

The second segment, I spend time thinking about color and light; how it should  fall/read within the painting, which actually IS still about composition, but less about placement. I know that light can be the extra quality, catapulting a rendering from ho-hum to entertaining, so I really like to find a way to include it somehow, although often the information I'm given to work from doesn't possess it.  So sometimes I invent it. Often I troll the internet looking at works by masters, and get ideas from them about color and mood, and might even print some of them to include in my folder, to stimulate my interest. 

1 of my watercolors on the wall in the cafe
at The Cove Inn, Westport, ON
There is also a segment where I dont look at this collection of sketches, resource photo material or inspiration for a few days while I percolate it.  Yes this is actually an important part of the process.  It is the NOT LOOKING that seems to keep it fresh for me.  Knowing that I have a pile of resource material  in my folder as back up is comforting, but it is the time in between gathering it and using it that really seems to help me stay energized about getting started on painting the commission. After a few days or sometimes even weeks when I decide to make a start, I'm looking at it all with fresh eyes,  and often cant wait to get started.

Monday, December 14, 2015

finding time amidst Christmas prep

Holly sent me this holly
it arrived in a big box last week
This weekend I pledged myself to stay away from the shops. It worked! I pulled in my horns from Christmas prep to enjoy the weekend at home; hoping for some creativity time. It all panned out nicely, I got a jump on two commissions on the go, as well as starts on some small works featuring the Gananoque Playhouse. 
rough layout sketch
If you dont know what that is, you're not from the 'hood, as they say. Their online blurb describes The Playhouse as a "veteran, waterfront performing arts venue with two theaters for plays & musicals, plus a boat dock."  It's very popular with cottage-goers in the summer season, who travel by boat for an evening's entertainment.  Recently when I was at the art fair in Gananoque, I thought about doing something with it, so took an opportunity one morning before the show began to go over to the Playhouse and take some photo reference material.   This weekend was a perfect time to get it out of my head and into 2 dimensional sketch to work out a painting from.  We'll see where it goes from here. I want to be inventive with the colours/light. The two commissions are also only at the sketch/layout stage too, but I do feel good about where they're going.  Taking time away from usual rushing around was worthwhile and very peaceful. 

The porch gallery has a lot of roses in it at the moment!  Last night a client came by to see them.  She already has one of my rose pieces Bouquet.  It's JUST SO NICE to have a visit with an art collector.  A feel good moment for any artist, it's like taking a happiness pill or something!   The fact that someone gets so much pleasure out of, and loves what you create is such a gratifying thing!

I dont know if I've bitten off more than I can chew, but I signed up online for a 30 in 30 day challenge starting on Jan 1st, 2016.  I read about these art challenges in Wendy Barrett's book "Grabbing the Muse By The Throat", and thought, why not?  It could be a bit of fun, and a way to stay in the groove. 

Merry Christmas everyone! I'm off to Victoria tomorrow for a few days with Holly & Jeff!  Back again, for Christmas with Dave, Jane, Rachel, Matt and Ella, here at home. Very much looking forward to it. Yay December! Peace to all. xo

Monday, December 7, 2015

fa la la la la ...

 tiny books for friends
"Mistletoe-ing and to-ing and fro-ing has taken the place of my usual painting practice this month.  Well, that's the month of December for you! ... There'll be time enough to get back to the canvas's after the dust settles in the new year.  
In the meantime I'm making little gifty's.  I came across directions for tiny wee books on Pinterest (oh that time sucker!) and made 3 of them which I personalized with a little poem for each of the gals I went to Vermont with, along with images of some of my paintings which I resized on the computer so they were only about 1 inch.  I made the one above for my pal AEmilia.  It's hard to get an idea of it's scale in the picture, but it is only 1 3/4 inch high!

Ella's playtime cloth storybook
 Then there is this little playhouse story book I sewed for Ella.  In case you dont know, Ella's my grandaughter; and she's coming here at Christmas this year, YAY!  She is 14 months old.  She has a big dog at home whom she loves, so I included Asha dog's bed in 'Ella's' room in the book.  The clothes and dog toys have velcro on them so they can be changed or moved around.  It was very enjoyable working on it, and fun doing something completely different. 
Mike the 'mason'
Speaking of doing something different...this guy inspires me! That's my younger brother Mike in the red t-shirt...he and his partner Jen got back from Nicaragua a few days ago. They just spent 10 days on a build with Habitat for Humanity.  It is the third year they have gone to do this.  They travel there on their own, then join up with a group doing small build's for families in need.  It is exhausting work, but he says it means so much to the families that receive these homes; it's worth the toil.  Now to me...THAT is the meaning of Christmas.  Mike is not really a mason, he and his partner are both Ottawa police.  And I am just a little more than a 'tad' proud of them!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

art = apples; teaching art = oranges

Autumn Pasture - oil on panel - SOLD
Over the past couple of years I had started up a nice little flow of teaching one day a week during the fall and winter months in my studio. Teaching in my own studio was way better for me than going out to a school to teach art from, as it meant I didn't have to lug all my equipment back and forth.  But this fall I didn't teach. I felt I needed the time in the fall to catch up with my own work and work on some  larger pieces. 

Autumn Hills 2 - oil on panel - SOLD
Teaching art and art making are two different things entirely.   Not different as in 2 varieties of apples, but more like apples and oranges.  For me, doing my own art means spending time on my own to work it out, think it through, make lots of wrong turns and finally arrive at something that sits right with me.  The whole process of the art making is actually about discovery, so in a way it is like being a student...not a teacher.

As an art teacher, I feel responsible to be able to give 'what I know' to those that are eager to learn. I want to be able to be in the frame of mind to start and work through my process in a comprehensive way.  I think that's why I couldn't teach this year.  With limited time, due to not being able to work over the summer, I wanted to devote all my time to the art making.  So I said no to teaching.

I'm sure I'll say yes again at some point.  I enjoy teaching very much when I'm in the right frame of mind.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Recap from the weekend

A friend came by at the Thousand Islands Art Fair on the weekend and said "Did you intentionally dress to match your paintings?"  ha ha ha!!  I hadn't even realized this when I threw on my glad rags that morning...  she took a picture of me , then I saw what she meant.
It was a very successful weekend for me, lots of people came out for the show, and I had lots of sales which was just like an early Christmas present!  Sold 5 out of 8 small panels that I had painted while in Vermont a few weeks ago. 
my set up at the show

There was a very sad and shocking end to the event though(which I didn't find out about until the next morning)...a fellow artist picking up road signs after the show was badly injured after a nasty fall  and had surgery on Monday for multiple breaks in one leg.  Her car ran over her other foot, but surprisingly it was unaffected.  A bad ending to a fun weekend art show.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Je Suis Paris

'Je Suis Paris' - oil on canvas, 30 x30
The second in a series of large-ish rose paintings I've been tinkering with.  I do love roses; heck, I love flowers!

BUT, I was stuck on this one for a few weeks. Today I heard it ask me for something...recent world events whispering in my mind...a  geometric element amid the organic shapes.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

clan of artists

Autumn in Vermont - 6 x 8" - $95
I'm guessing it's about 10 years or so since I started art blogging. I originally began on a Wordpress platform, but switched to Blogger after some hiccups I couldn't seem to solve. I am actually fairly tech challenged, but I enjoy connecting with artists around the world and seeing what they're doing.  Feels a bit like a sisterhood; well that's unfair, because there are plenty of brothers too! Let's just say it feels like a clan.  A tribe.  I get excited when someone new leaves me a comment, and I usually hop on over and link to their blog to check out what they're doing too.  

Pasture in Autumn - 6 x 8" - $95
RLAA is an organization I'm part of.  I don't get to meetings frequently, but when I do it's nice to connect with members of the clan. Yesterday we shared in group discussions in an 'art cafe' type format; discussions ranged from our art making processes, art education, art marketing experiences, and individual art philosophies. All fun and enriching. 

Next weekend, I'll be with yet another clan of artisans, to participate in the Thousand Islands Art Fair (Holly & Ivy TIarts Fair) held in Gananoque at the Arthur Child Museum.  Nov 21 / 22 - 10am -5pm.  Fourteen artists participating all under one roof will be a fun time, I'm sure.  Hope to see you there.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Public spaces and!

Post card for my KGH show
Getting art into public places where even the non-art going public hang out is win/win for all.  Artist's love it because more people see their work, the public loves it because unexpected beauty is brought to sterile boring spaces, and the host space benefits from any art sales commission that may arise from the exhibit.  

I'm excited to tell you that I am the 2nd Kingston artist to be invited to show my work in the Kingston General Hospital.  The 1st was Tim DeRose in Sept/Oct.   
Apple Tree - oil on panel - $95

My 15 painting solo exhibit will be open to all from Nov 7 - Jan 7 in the Kidd 1 corridor at KGH; which is  just about the busiest hallway in the hospital:)  That makes me very happy...because maybe my work will bring joy to someone's day, be it a staff member, a patient or a visitor.

KGH has permanently installed excellent lighting and a great new hanging system in the hallway.  The art committee who selects the artwork has been very helpful in choosing works for this show, which is a good mix of my larger works mostly consisting of landscapes, rural and urban themes inspired from the eastern Ontario region in which we live. 
Three cheers for Kingston General Hospital in taking this great leap to bring art to all within their hallowed halls!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

gooey, squishy impasto

work in progress - oil on wood - 20 x 28
I had some fun building an impasto background of subtle tinted whites, cutting around blooms and streaks of drippy paint.  Sometimes I used a rag to spread the paint, sometimes a knife, sometimes my fingers or a brush. This one's not on canvas, it's on cradled wood panel...retaining crisper lines, brush/knife work than when I paint on canvas .  I smear it with my gloved finger or with a cloth when I want less deliberate edges. I'm working on 3 rose paintings at the same time, trying out different surfaces. Working intuitively, for a looseness, a little bit messy...heh. heh.

Today in Vermont

Fall Colours - 6x8 oil on panel
I'm on the last day of my Vermont interlude, on the road home tomorrow. Lucked in with sunshine for 2 full days and had a great time hiking the forest trails, hanging with girlfriends and painting too. I didn't paint outdoors cuz the wind was crazy, but I was happy to make 8 small panel 'starts' from the comfort of the chalet east facing picture window.  The blue hills create a dynamic contrast against the fall colours. These panels will no doubt evolve a bit more when I get them home to the studio, will probably work into them again.  The colours on some of the trees are gorgeous, though the majority of the leaves have already fallen.

Monday, October 19, 2015


 Treated myself to a gorgeous bunch of roses on the weekend, which became inspiration for some canvas's  on Sunday.  oh my the smell of these under the warmth of the studio light is luscious.

Roses are so cliche` in art, but how can one resist painting them? 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Gallery Road Trip

Some of my work on display at Gallery on Gore, Perth
Oh, Autumn!  You have bewitched me again.  
Today I set out on a one hour road trip to the town of Perth, Ontario for a visit to Gallery on Gore with the purpose of delivering new paintings.  

Usually I listen to CBC talk radio as I drive along, but this morning was sunny, bright and so spectacular, I wanted to be right in the moment and soak it all in.  Switch off that blathering radio and be mindful!
Canadian shield granite outcroppings among the myriad of fall color, luscious. I ended up taking a detour because of roadworks, but never mind, I traveled down roads never explored before.  I'm glad I could enjoy it today; I heard lake effects snow might be in the forecast for the weekend! ugh.

Johanne, hanging some of my work
Gallery on Gore is a lovely little gallery on the main street of Perth, Ontario.  Gallery owners Johanne and Kevin are professional and enthusiastic about the art, which is such a great feeling for an artist. I also think it's a super important quality when it comes to selling art.  So many people are intimidated entering galleries,they need to feel welcomed when they do.  No problem at Gallery on Gore, it's a friendly little place!
I was happy when they chose 8 of my paintings to restock their inventory of my work.
There used to be an empty storefront next to them when they first opened a few years ago, but now the Perth Picture Framing shop has moved in...perfect neighbor, I'd say!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ride to Work

Ride to Work - oil on canvas 18 x 14"
This painting sprang to life last week.  I was feeling out of ideas of what to paint.  When that happens, I like to go digging in the many folders that contain my own photo resource collection.  I'm not a great photographer, but I can aim and click like the best of them when a light pattern or atmosphere inspires me.  The morning light spoke to me in this one.
original photo, and line sketch for painting

I am a lazy painter. I do not love drawing. I love to paint. BUT, when there is a lot of architectural stuff I do need a guide before I get all excited and lay in the paint.  I cheat.  Yes! I use tracing paper and a sharpie, but I try and keep my copy looser than the actual photo. Basically I grab the main lines and do a quick value sketch.

I stained my canvas with a thin mix of vermilion. Up-scaling the  line sketch with thin alizarin paint onto the canvas (ssshhh, dont tell anyone but I use a light box to do this, because as I said before, I'm impatient, I dont like wasting time drawing, somehow it kills my passion to get to the painting).  

yay! almost painting... but first I'm going to choose my palette.  I mostly choose lively high key pigments... two reasons, I want a light mood to my painting, and I want to play around with colours that I'm less familiar with so I feel like I'm learning something as I go. Learning = more fun!
Here they are:  warm white, indian yellow, cad orange, violet, cobalt teal, cobalt blue, vandyke brown.  I know, I know! wierd, eh?  ha ha.
Blocking in the darker values and lighter values, sets up a push pull kind of thing right from the start.  I like this push- pull, it's what artists refer to as 'a dialogue'.  For me it's the most fun part, because it allows the freedom for interpretation and individuality.  The vermilion creates a nice base for the other colours, as it seems to harmonize them as it glows through the thin paint. 
I begin to analyze the painting...  Here, I felt it might be more interesting with the addition of some life. Like what, I hear you ask.  Maybe a dog walker? Some birds? A pedestrian?  I decide maybe a student on a bicycle...after all, this neighborhood is close to the university, and I'm into bicycles lately. ha ha.

This one is 18 x 14 inches on canvas.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Summer Marina

Summer Marina - oil on linen - 18 x 14 - $450
click here to purchase
Finding a painting subject can be a  battle for me, so I settled in this week to utilize some of the many  resource photos that I took this summer.  There was one of the marina, which kind of suggested I give it a go, so I got busy.  All the boats and reflections did a number on me and I was really losing my way, so I decided to accentuate the lateral design aspects of the scene.  That kept the process a little more interesting to me, gave me a little room to play; venture down some un-travelled paths.
I made a point of going down to the Agnes Etherington public gallery yesterday as the Hart House collection is on view, and it's luscious... a good sized collection with about 30 odd works, there's some lesser known Lawren Harris's and A.Y. Jackson's.  There is also an interesting little exhibit of Carl Beam's and Ulrich Panzer.  It was a great little interlude for a painter on a rainy Tuesday.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Foot Down, and Ready To Go

'Foot Down, and Ready to Go' - oil on linen - 18x14"- SOLD
I'm happy to post an image of my most recent painting commission, as the owners came by yesterday for the 'unveiling' and to pick it up. Happy to report they really liked it.  It was commissioned by a friend whom I hadn't seen in about 30 years, as a surprise gift for his partner.  I was delighted to oblige. Both of them are avid cyclists.  The painting was created from a supplied photo from their recent cross Canada bicycle tour.  It shows Helene checking the traffic in her mirror and about to push off on a highway climb through Ontario.  
Yesterday they were in Prince Edward county doing a 100km bicycle tour.  On their way home to Ottawa, they stopped in at my little porch gallery...although we kept the surprise, Helene did catch on that something was up when they made the detour to my place.  As soon as she saw the painting hanging in the gallery, it all became pretty obvious!  They both were happy with their new painting.and we enjoyed a nice cup of tea and a catch-up.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Great Grandad's palette

A few weeks ago while outdoor painting I gave my great grandfather's palette a whirl.  A compact little mahogany one, it's perfect for packing light.  It's been hanging on the door of my studio ever since I inherited it from my mum over 25 years ago.  I don't know if mum actually ever used it.  It's been my practice in the past to use disposable tear-off paper palettes for easy clean-up, but a painter friend gave me a tip about using steel wool with a little solvent to remove dried oil paint, and it works like a charm.

Sunny Break -oil on panel 6 x 8"
I don't mean to sound all "whoooowheee..." or anything but there was an energy in that palette!  YES.  A sort of mental connection.  The whole time I was painting I thought about my great grandad.  What inspired him? How often had he actually got to paint for pure pleasure?  Let's face it, life wasn't a breeze in rural Lincolnshire back in 1880.  A day's living would have been a lot of hard physical work.  But for some of great Grandad's life, he did work as a restorer of art...paintings of antiquity...BUT I'm guessing that's not all he did to make a living. I wish my grandmother were still alive so that I could ask her more about her dad.

I never knew him, but somehow I felt his spirit around me while I painted that day.  He would have been pleasantly enjoying the surroundings, I'm sure he never made it to Canada in his lifetime.  I think I felt what he might have felt as I worked.  That pure pleasure of manifesting my landscape observation with a few gobs of colored pigment.  No technology anywhere, just the same little palette 125 years later.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Art Noise for Kingston artists

Very happy to spread good news for Kingston artists: Kingston is getting a new art supply retail shop in the same spot that Wallack's used to be located on Princess Street.  ART NOISE will be owned by Tri-Art, a local art paint manufacturer based here in Kingston. On Saturday I was downtown and while there I happened to notice the sign posted on Wallack's old store window, which says ART NOISE will be opening at the end of October.  They will also carry other art supplies besides their own products such as canvas, boards, paper, encaustic supplies.  Super happy that we're going to have an art supply store again in downtown Kingston.

Friday, September 18, 2015

plein air & studio

Sunny Shop - oil on panel - $95
click here to purchase
Some of my panel paintings begin life as plein air studies.  Often there is something that catches my interest enough to start a little painting but when I get home, and put them up on my shelf to dry, I'm not always enamored.  In the excitement of interpretation I get clumsy (especially when painting straight lines) What I often think looks fine in the field, is pretty lack luster back in the studio. Maybe it's because I get caught up in all the other stuff that is going on outside (birds singing, people passing by, wind, bugs) and I'm not as focused on what I'm creating, tending to just lay down what's in front of me, without really asking myself what could make it sing.
This little painting, 'Sunny Shop' came together in the studio for me this afternoon.  Here's (left) how it used to abandoned shop in small town Ontario on a hazy afternoon. That's more or less how it really looked, but as a painting, it wasn't really speaking to me at all.

Maybe I could
tell a little story? It would be a fib, it's true, but so what.  The idea of a friendly open flower shop was way more fun than the blah boring empty storefront.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Chair interior and a visit to Toronto

Reading Chair in the Morning - oil on canvas - 36 x 30
$900 click to purchase
I'm pretty happy with how my reading chair painting came together this afternoon. It's the first larger painting of this theme(I did some small 6x8" size  interiors before when I was in Florida on holiday) but this is on canvas, and it took more time to figure out. My artist friend Sarah came by last week, it was nice to have her perspective at the point where I was flailing around a bit. ha ha. It confirmed my thoughts, helping me to find a resolution.
I didn't know what category collection to put it in on my website.  I stuck it in with the floral paintings for now.  I can always start a new collection of 'interiors' if I do others, which I'm sure I will as time ticks by.  I enjoyed finding a balance between hard and soft edges while suggesting the forms. What was on my palette for this one? Cerelean blue, cadmium orange, vandyke brown plus white were the basis for most of the painting...I think the ground was a red/pink tone. I used to use burnt umber  a lot when i wanted a rich dark brown, but these days I'm really loving the transparency of vandyke brown.  I love this corner of my kitchen, can you tell?

Jane and mum at the aquarium
I just got back from 2 nights in Toronto; woohoo! A perfect chance to get in some special mother/daughter time with my darling daughter Jane (Janie-bear). We went to visit the aquarium, which was spectacular, even with the crowds.  
Jane in the control room
Jane's an associate tv producer on CBC's Dragons Den, and as the aquarium is close to the CBC building, afterwards she took me over to where she works; it was thrilling for me to get the grand tour of where it all happens...production studios, control room, Jane's own desk. 
As a mother I had a few teeny weeny nostalgic thoughts...after all it was Labor Day, (typically the day before a new school year starts here in Canada) and I was getting a tour of my daughter's workplace.  A little poignant for me, but very satisfying a mother our job is teaching our little birds to fly, and it's gratifying to see them finally do so.  Hope you don't mind a proud mum's millions of pics! ha ha.

one of my fav galleries - Bau-Xi
giant thimble, buttons
on the street
in the fashion district
Next day was shopping and some gallery visits.  I was on foot, and it was hot(32 degrees), but I managed to cover a lot of territory, checking out old haunts in the fashion district and some art supply shops too.  It was a relief to get off my feet for a while, and indulge in afternoon tea and macaroons at the espresso bar in the Art Gallery of Ontario after 2 hours of exhibition viewing!

Here's a Lawren Harris for you...not his iconic northern landscape, but a beautiful urban Toronto winter scene...that master of design!