Wednesday, 13 August 2014

North Thompson River Landscape

North Thompson River, Looking South
24" x 36" - acrylic on canvas - $600

I have been meaning to paint this view of the North Thompson River ever since I took the photo on a road trip in western Canada last September. The terrain along the river as we drove from Kamloops in BC towards Jasper in Alberta was really interesting - sparse and even scrub-like. Despite liking the the muted colours of the real landscape I chose a palette of blue, violet and green hues for the painting. I really enjoyed the process of simplying the landscape elements, and working large - and I really am happy with the results.

And, just a note about the painting - the colours in the actual painting are deeper, darker, more varied and therefore richer looking than in this photo. 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Summer Pines

Summer Pines
30" x 40" - acrylic on canvas  - $600

Like two recently posted paintings, this large canvas was inspired by a photo I took while visiting my friend MK at her cottage on Weslemkoon Lake in Ontario. 

After the visit I explored a few of these images in my sketchbook, simplifying and exaggerating basic shapes. 
I quite liked this drawing in particular, but I put it aside as I had no idea how to paint it. Sometimes, however, you just have to 'jump in' to figure out the 'how to, and eventually that's what I did.  

I coated a canvas with some cadmium yellow and then roughed in the line drawing image with a red pastel, then added some white to define the trees and foreground rocks, knowing that they would be the lightest areas in terms of value.

I wanted to use a palette with lots of pink, yellow and turquoise, so began to add those colours, attempting to define the always-challenging tree foliage, further. Though I liked the white trees, I added some blue just to see how they looked.

At this point my husband thought it looked like the forest was on fire. As this was not what I was intending, it seemed like a good point to stop and take a break from it.

When I did return to it after about 4 days, I decided to outline the smaller abstract shapes of colour I could see within the large colour areas, with a paint marker. That gave me a way to work with the foliage, and I liked how the whole image was becoming more abstract.

Then I just kept painting using both opaque mixtures and glazes, building up a rich, multi layered surface. I really enjoyed the process and watching it come together, and I love the finished piece. So while the sun may not be shining where I am - in fact it has been a cool and wet July, I have been basking in colour and light. 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Weslemkoon Pines

Weslemkoon Pines
16" x 20"  - acrylic on canvas  - $300
This is the second painting based on a photo I took while visiting my friend MK at her cottage on Westlemkoon Lake.

I worked on this painting at the same time I worked on Mystic Light, and while this one may look less abstract, it is similar in its pared down simplicity. I was really happy with how this one came together. I love the pine trees, and despite the absence of signs of growth and life (green pine needles), they still appear vital and strong through colour and light.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Into the Mystic

Mystic Light
16" x 20"  - acrylic on canvas  - $300

Earlier in July we spent a delightful weekend visiting my friend MK and her partner at their cottage on a small island on Westlemkoon Lake. It's a large lake with many smallish single dwelling islands, featuring wind-swept pine trees, and large flat rocks that are great for swimming from. While there I took lots of photos of the many wonderful views and they in turn have inspired a number of recent paintings. 
Mystic Light is based on the photo below. You can't help but be struck by the beauty of nature in such a setting. My challenge was to try to paint the sunlight shining through the trees. I took my cue from the great colourist Hans Hoffman who said  "My aim in painting is to create pulsating, luminous, and open surfaces that emanate a mystic light....In nature light creates the colour. In the picture colour creates the light."

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Olive Trees in Sunshine

Olive Trees in Sunshine
16" x 20" - acrylic on canvas - $250

The 'Olive Tree' series of 3 expanded to 4 last week with this painting. It is another based on a photo of olive trees from my recent trip to the south of France.  Probably the last one for now. It took a while to finish (and post) as I was working on three other paintings at the same time.  I have moved on to pine trees and lakes in cottage country, my current surroundings, which are just as beautiful as France.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Highway 7 Revisited

Highway 7 Revisited
16" x 16" - acrylic on canvas  - $200

Highway 7 - just where is that? Well it could be anywhere, but in this case it's the two lane section of that highway  in southwestern Ontario, linking the small cities of Guelph and Kitchener. The former is where I have lived for most of my working life, and the latter is where (well, near there) I worked when I was teaching visual art. It took me a half hour to drive the distance from home to school and then back again each day. I was always struck by the the way the fields and open spaces lining the road, appeared throughout the seasons and at different times of the day, and I always wished that I had the time to stop and at least take photos. Eventually I found the time and did take photos one fall, but I am not sure they really do the views justice. 
Combing through my photos last weekend I came across some of these images again and decided to paint a bold and colourful version in honour of summer. I take great pleasure in the words of Matisse (I think it was him, though I can't tell you where I saw the quote) that 'nature should inspire colour, but never restrict it'.  

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Olive Trees in the Luberon
16" x 20" - acrylic on canvas - $250

This is the third (and last for now) of paintings featuring olive trees, based on some of my photos from Provence. I have used essentially the same palette, but this painting is less abstract, and even feels a little Cezannesque. The colours make me think of spring, and the beautiful Luberon valley.