Monday, 18 January 2016

Back on Track

Morning Glory
acrylic on canvas - 24" x 30" - $450
This painting came together easily after weeks of struggling, and that made me really happy. The subject is based on several photos I took years ago while driving on highway 118 east towards my cottage in Haliburton and features a landscape that I like and have painted numerous times in the past - coniferous trees, creeks and marsh lands. I love the palette and abstract looseness of the foreground. It's good to feel back on track once again.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year. Yes, it’s that time of year to set art (and other) goals and just, well you know, think about how one can ‘do better’.  Today’s letter from Sara Genn of the Twice Weekly Letters at The Painters Keys was about ‘Making a Plan’ and I found it helpful and timely. I have been in a bit of an art funk lately (feeling uninspired and bored with whatever I was painting) and have tried to get out of it by continuing to just ‘jump into painting’ (but mostly wasted  a lot of paint and time), without the preliminary work that is often necessary for a successful outcome. These failures have not been fun, and I have known for several weeks that I needed to try something else.

Sara writes 
            “……if you’re going to make a plan, why not work backwards? Begin with your dream. Be as specific as 
              possible……. Imagine, for example, the art you always wanted to make. Visualize in detail this reckless,
             heightened expression of your creativity……...Make a long list. Visualize anything, everything; let your 
             imagination soar. What’s needed? What do you really want? What’s practical? Throw in some luck”.

In order to get back on track, have fun and enjoy painting again, I need to do some thinking, maybe re-focusing, some experimentation, and more drawing. So I am going to make my list and a plan. Whether I share it or stick to it is another question, but it seems like a good thing to try on this, the first day of 2016. I hope that you and yours have wonderful day and best wishes for a healthy and happy coming year!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

One Dog - Four Dog Portraits

Blake Three  
It has been over a month since my last post. In that time I did some travelling south, and lots of painting. One of my projects was to complete four commissioned dog portraits of a golden doodle named Blake. I get these commissions every once in a while (you can see some here)  and generally quite enjoy the change from painting landscapes.  I took lots of photos of the dog and looked for head shots that were clear (especially around the eyes) and poses that were interesting. I went back and forth between the first three, finally finishing them, then going back to the first and re-working it entirely, then re-checked proportions on all of them, and so it went. Finally finished them late last week, and I can say that I am happy with the results and hope the client will be also when she sees them on the weekend! And now I can't wait to start a landscape. Cheers.
Blake Two
Blake One

Blake Four

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Another Theme - Another Variation - Provence Meadow II

                                            3                                              1                                                 2

In May I was plein-air painting here (1) and back in the studio later that day, I painted 2 and 3 based on this particular scene. What had intrigued me about the location was the dappled light through the trees, and the light and dark value pattern on the ground leading back to the dark tree verticals with the light behind. It was a view full of artistic possibilities, and I knew that I would return to it as a subject for further exploration.
After working on several larger canvases this fall I decided to try a larger interpretation of the scene. I began by drawing lines denoting tree shapes and areas to suggest shade and foreground on the white canvas with the intense pencil crayons, then applied water with a brush to soften and obliterate the lines and created a watery effect.  Then I a started to add some acrylic and basically kept painting.
As I painted and at the end added more intense pencil lines where I wanted some graphic emphasis - which you may be able to see in the details below.

The finished painting looks like this - and I was pretty happy with it - having achieved a painterly, abstract, loose version of the field. And I love the colour too.

Provence Meadow II
40" x 30"  acrylic on canvas

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Variation on a Theme: Saignan Valley II

Saignan Valley II
30" x 24"  acrylic on canvas
While working on a larger canvas featuring this same view looking down over the valley from the village of Saignan in Provence, I started this second 'variation'. My idea, once again, was to (try to) keep it loose, painterly and more abstract than the first canvas, which you can see here. 

After doing a very quick drawing in my sketchbook, I roughed in the design on the canvas using Inktense pencil crayons - they are like watercolour pencil crayons but the colours are more intense and permanent once dry. I then painted clear water on the pencil lines achieving the blurry, watery effect you see here. I really liked my start but had no idea what to do next. I knew that I would lose the graphic quality through painting - so I left it alone for a few weeks.
When I finally returned to the work, I added colour and paint, filling in a few area and leaving other parts alone. I began to really enjoy the white parts (actually unpainted canvas) and decided to maintain them, but did add white paint. Slowly I added more colour but kept the shapes big, while playing with perspective.

Knowing that the foreground flowers would be various shades of magenta, I wanted to tone the entire work down with a chromatic grey elsewhere.  And so it went. Final touches were added with the inktense pencils, outlining shapes for emphasis and adding surface detail. 
Fun! And fairly loose and abstract too!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Variations on a Theme: Below Saignan

During the summer I painted several variations of a particular image that I found both intriguing and inspiring. (Truth be told, I have probably always done this.) This fall I  have been re-visiting images and scenes that I have painted in the past - and that has resulted in a number of related works and variations on a theme. 
The first theme or subject was inspired by a particular view looking over the Luberon Valley (in Provence) from the small village of Saignan. I was there is 2014 and painted this watercolour in situ, at the time. 

Of course I also took many photos and thought that I might do another version in acrylic once home. 

Looking around for a subject in October, I re-discovered these photos and decided to try a much larger version of the same scene - and this is how it evolved.

I quite liked what I had by stage 2, however it really didn't look as good as it does here in the photo. I needed to resolve the middle ground, and the foreground flowers - and keep it loose. Easy! Hah!

Stage 3 was tighter, and by stage 4 it felt like a disaster. At that point I felt quite discouraged and ready to white it all out out and forget the whole thing - or - try something really different  - and turn the whole thing into a mixed media work with collage papers and acrylic paint. This approach sounded like a lot more fun, so that is what I did. I have a very large collection of textured Japanese rice and mulberry papers, in various colours and patterns and began to apply them over the painting, leaving lots of painted areas exposed. Then I painted over those papers to blend them into the painted areas and to soften the colours of some of the papers. I continued working this way until it was finished.  The final work looks like this. It has a wonderfully varied and textured surface, protected by several layers of medium and varnish. I am delighted with the result and will definitely do this again.

The Valley Below Saignan I
40" x 30"  - collage papers & acrylic on canvas 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Lake Reflections and the End of Summer

Lake Reflections
16" x 16"  -  acrylic on canvas  - SOLD
I actually finished this painting at the end of August, but never got around to posting it - so here it is - a reminder of summer, being near water, rocks and trees, of warm air and summer sounds. It's already feeling like long ago!