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.