Monday, November 19, 2018

Guest Post: Brenda Morris-Colley

December 2nd is my 2nd annual Studio Sale! There are details and a map on my website for those interested in coming out. It's a perfect opportunity to pick up that painting you have had your eye on, or a gift for the art lover in your life. My entire inventory will be available, plus calendars and a brand new collection of 10x10 squares, ready to go at studio prices.

As an added bonus, this year both of my talented sisters will be joining me in Mississauga and bringing out some of their work. My home will be overflowing with art! Here is an introduction to Brenda's work, and next week I'll have some images from Sandra, who makes luxurious, hand-woven wearables. 

Watercolour by artist Brenda Morris-Colley
From my earliest memories, art and nature have been in my life.  I was either sitting in my room drawing or out climbing trees.  I was the kid that always brought home the stray dog or a hat full of baby squirrels.

I’ve always loved being out in nature, at the beach, in the woods or traipsing through the creek.  This is where I feel whole.  I love camping, building camp fires, cooking outside, being away from cities, towns and people.  I’ve always been more comfortable in nature or with animals than with people.  I am an introvert by nature and need lots of alone time.  Nothing inspires my creativity more than being in nature.

"Homeward Bound" by Brenda Morris-Colley
My paintings help you return to a place of nature, so you can remember what it was like to be in that space.  You can almost hear the leaves rustling in the wind, the waves crashing against the shore. You can hear the birds singing their song.

Remember what it’s like to stand on the edge of that stream.  Recapture that sense of awe while watching the pelicans fishing or the hawk hunting.

Remember and relax and breathe.

More of Brenda's work can been seen on her Facebook Page, or our FB event page

Monday, November 12, 2018

New Painting: Autumn Path

"Autumn Path", 18x18 in. Mixed Media on wood panel.

This is my last painting of this little "mini-series" of Autumn to Winter pieces. It's not my standard 10x10... its a bit bigger at 18x18". I have a few of these boards hanging around, so I figured I may as well use them. But since it's square, I'm going to include it as one of my 100.

I wasn't sure what was going to happen with this one when I started it. I was two sessions in when I realized it was a landscape. I think this one is an even more obvious landscape than some of the others I've done, but when I'm beginning a piece I try to keep my mind open, and look at it in all directions before I decide.

The foggy sky on the right was something I didn't want to obliterate as I went along. I liked the effect of the veil of white over the colour. Even my pencil scribbles show through. For a while there was no defined edge dividing the sky and the ground, but it didn't look quite right with the earth and sky blending together. Sometimes it works, but here it just didn't seem to. It was the hits of metallic at the end that seemed to pull it together. Up until then it seemed kind of ho-hum... I guess because there was such a large dark mass along the bottom and left. The bronze added the metallic effect, along with lightening the area up a bit to add variety.

I like that this piece feels very much like those grey autumn days, where the vibrant colour of the leaves contrast with the grey, misty quality of the sky. Much like how things have been around here for the past couple weeks. But seriously, stop raining already. We've all had quite enough.

My calendars are now online, for anyone who may be interested in ordering one. I got a great reaction to my advance subscriber link, so now that I'm sure anyone there who wants one has got it, I will make the link public for anyone else. Having an e-commerce site makes life so much easier... I remember when I did this in 2015 I had a spread sheet trying to keep track of orders and which ones I had shipped... it was a bit stressful as I was sure I'd miss something. Now it's all there on the website, and I can mark them shipped as I send them out, and it keeps track of how many I have left! Oh the wonders of technology!!

I've also set the date for my 2nd annual Open Studio show and sale. Mark December 2nd on your calendar! I will have most of my inventory at home (I have a few pieces still at Pixie Blue) and out for viewing. As an added bonus, both my sisters are coming out to help, and bringing a few of their creations with them. I will be posting some of their work next week on the blog. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 5, 2018

New Painting: An Early Frost

"An Early Frost", 10x10" mixed media on wood panel. Available. 
I've been procrastinating writing this week's post. I have new work to post, but I'm feeling a bit worn down so I don't really feel like writing. I'm doing it anyway, because I feel like I should... maybe this is a sign I need to take a break for a bit, but I have a lot happening until early December so it won't be until after that.

So... what's going on?

I have been getting my website ready to update with my calendars and my new pieces. There was a wee printing issue with my calendars so I have to have half my batch re-run, which delays my release a bit. The website is ready though, just as soon as I get them.

I'm having an open studio on December 2nd. I've been recruiting some help and trying to get my house ready for visitors, even though it's still a month away. Since I still had some bare drywall from last year's renos, we decided a coat of paint was in order. We painted the entire main floor. It looks great, but we went from a medium colour to a very light one, so two coats were necessary. This led to me going through various closets and cupboards purging. Even though I try not to buy a lot I still seem to accumulate a lot of stuff. And I tend to be a bit of a hoarder... I still had a jacket that I've had since my adult child was a toddler. It's off to the Salvation Army now, because it's still in decent shape. It may even be fashionable again in a couple years.

My amazing co-workers in their "Victorian Gothic" costumes.
My new job is going really well. I work with some amazingly creative people. It's the only place I've ever worked where Halloween was treated like a team sport. The costumes were amazing. I didn't really participate much, as every other place I've worked there was only ever a handful of people who bothered with a costume at all. I thought this would be the same. Omg, no. Departments created elaborate group themed costumes, entire areas were decorated like movie sets, the photo studio set up a backdrop and took professional photos, prizes were given out. I can't even imagine what Christmas is going to be like.

This is my next to last painting in this mini-series of "autumn to winter" paintings. I will be releasing the lot of them for prints shortly after next week's post, so if there is one you love, it will soon be available. The set of original paintings won't be online until after my open house. I still have others to post... I just find that the time it takes to do the photography and create the web page eats into my limited studio time, so I don't update as much as I should. After my studio sale I will take a few days to do what I need to and upload everything.... I don't want to create unnecessary work for myself so I'll wait until after I see what sells. 

Hope you all are having some fun and enjoying the transition of the seasons. It really is a glorious time of year..... once it stops raining, that is.

Monday, October 29, 2018

New Painting: A Glimpse of Winter

"A Glimpse of Winter", 10x10" mixed media on wood panel. Available. 
It's chilly outside. Not -40°C cold, like it sometimes gets in February, but it's getting near zero at night and we've had a couple days where it's not much warmer. With cooler temperatures I feel like I need to add some cooler colours into my palette, and bring those warm Autumn hues a little closer to winter.

I'm not a huge fan of winter. Strange for someone living in Canada, I know. I hate being cold. I don't like the dreary days of freezing rain. I don't like that it's dark when I leave for work and dark again shortly after I get home. I don't mind those bitterly cold days where the sun shines brightly... as long as I only have to see it from inside my climate controlled home.

I do, however seem to be particularly prolific in the winter. It probably has to do with hockey... my husband is an avid fan and spends many evenings in front of the tv watching his favourite teams. Me... not so much. I'd rather hang out in my studio with some music playing, or listening to an interesting podcast. I've found a few I really like and am looking forward to the next set of new episodes (any suggestions? put them in the comments. I'm always looking for new stuff to listen to!). Its not that I don't like hockey, but I don't like it enough to really follow it. A live game can be entertaining on occasion, but on tv it doesn't do much for me.


I know that what is going on outside affects what ends up in my paintings. I can't help it. Maybe if I had something else to do besides work and paint (and housework and the endless chores that go along with living) that would also show up in my work. I read Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" many, many years ago. She has a chapter about "filling the well" and going on "artist dates". I wonder sometimes if I spend enough time taking care of that part of my life. If my daily walks outside are the only other thing I do, that could be why the weather seems to take up so much space in my subconscious.

When I have a day to myself, which is rare, I do those chores that I tend to put off. Sorting through closets and scrubbing out the fridge come to mind. I have a list. Right now the thing I've put off until it's almost too late to do it is dividing my perennials. I don't even have many that need it, but I really, really don't want to. I'm fine with gardening when it's lovely outside, but it's wet and dreary now. Yuck.

What I should do is make a list of things to do outside the little bubble of my home. But to be honest, I think I've forgotten what kinds of things I like to do. And my tastes have changed... I used to love seeing live music, but now it just seems way too loud, and too late, and other than seeing my son play live I just can't be bothered. I enjoy it on the odd occasion when I actually get myself out of the house, but that might be once a year. Even going to a theatre to see a movie seems like too much trouble when I can see one on Netflix in the comfort of my own living room. At a reasonable volume (why does everything have to be so damn loud?).

So.... what do I do about that?

I think maybe I'm just in a bit of a rut. I need to get out and do some new and different things. Not sure where to start but I'll figure it out. And if you have any suggestions, it would be appreciated.

Monday, October 22, 2018

New Painting: The Bridge Home

"The Bridge Home" 10x10" mixed media on wood panel. Available. 
I love Autumn. It's one of those seasons where you never know quite what to expect... one day it's like summer, the next you wonder if it's going to snow. My favourite days are when there is a nip in the air, the sun is shining, and there's that crunch underfoot from the fallen leaves. 

I've been working on a few pieces using an Autumn inspired colour palette (see my last two posts). Ok, maybe I'm not quite sure where the teal fits in, but it does... brown, gold, red and turquoise just seem to say fall to me. The red oxide and the teal mixed together make a warm, muted green that I'm in love with. And for this piece I've included a metallic copper that I've had sitting on my work table for a couple weeks that just didn't seem to fit in the other pieces I was working on. I do love it though... it's got a rich, shiny glow that reflects the light wonderfully. It is not particularly easy to capture in a photograph though, so this piece does look quite different in person. 

I have decided to do an art calendar this year (watch my website for availability). It's been a few years since my last one, and I feel like my work has progressed to the point where I have a definitive, recognizable style. I didn't want to do another one until I got to that point. If I'm going to shell out the money to have the calendars printed (and potentially be stuck with them... do people still use wall calendars??), I want to be sure I'll still like to look at it a year from now. I want to be able to give one as a sample of my work and not be embarrassed because I feel it looks amateur. It takes a bit of time to get to that point. 

Abstract is harder than it looks. Well, maybe not just painting abstract. Technically, yes, anyone could do it. You slap some paint on and call it done... there you go. The first abstract painting class that I took was basically just that. But painting an abstract that works as art... well, not so easy. Composition is SO important. If you're creating a piece where your focus is something realistically drawn, a well done drawing can compensate for less than stellar design. The piece will still work. Not so much with an abstract piece. If the design isn't strong the whole thing falls apart. There may be interesting areas and a great colour palette, but it won't draw you in quite the same way. 

I have spent time studying work that I think is successful and trying to figure out WHY I like it so much. I've had help... I took a class with Lila Lewis Irving a couple years ago that really helped me, and I am lucky enough to be friends with Kevin Ghiglione, who helped me enormously when I was really, REALLY frustrated. I am trying to pay it forward by helping people who are a bit behind me on the path, by sharing what I've learned. Because I do believe it is a skill that can be learned, and that "talent" really doesn't have much to do with it.

Monday, October 15, 2018

New Painting: Crashing Waves

"Crashing Waves", 10x10" mixed media on wood panel. Available. 

The plan was to be in Quebec this past week. We had decided on it after we got home in June, and I had booked the time off and started to make arrangements. But then I decided to change jobs. So, no trip. We had wanted to go, because apparently the Eastern Townships are incredibly beautiful when the leaves change colour. I've never been out there in the fall. But in my mind, I can take the autumn colours that I know and love, transpose it onto a spot where I have been, and almost see it.

There's something about this colour combination that just feels like autumn to me. It's that deep rusty red that does it. Mix it with teal and it makes the most beautiful greens. The temperatures have dropped here... finally... getting me into the mood for a fall painting.

I started this one much the same way I start most of my pieces; by just laying down paint and making marks. I had something that resembled a waterfall at one point. I could have stopped there, because it didn't look bad. Actually, it looked pretty good. Years ago, maybe I would have stopped there. But now I know better. I don't like to settle for  "pretty good" anymore. I will keep going until I really like it, no matter how long it takes.

Sometimes that means a small 10x10 painting can take months to finish. I'll work on it then put it away for a bit. If I don't know what to do with it anymore I'll stop, wait a few days or a week, then get it back out and carry on. Sometimes if it's just not working, I'll glaze it with some completely unexpected colour, and carry on from there, creating something that doesn't even remotely resemble what I started with. I'll go from dark to light and back to dark, sanding back the top layer to show some of what has happened underneath. It's a process I enjoy, and I feel like it makes my paintings more interesting than they would be if I just stopped at "pretty good".

The final touch for this piece was a hit of metallic bronze over some of the dark sections. It pulled it all together in a way that just made it feel complete.

I have people asking me all the time how I know when a painting is finished. It's weird I guess, but I just know. I look for certain things... are my shapes all different? Do I have light and dark areas? Do I have variation in my lights? Variation in my darks? Does it need something to make it better? Is there interest in all areas? Does it give me a distinctive feeling? I ask myself these questions continually when I'm working, not just at the end. It's when I'm saying yes more than no that I know it's almost done.

What process do you use? How do you know when a painting is finished?


I've decided to do another open studio this year! Mark December 2nd on your calendar. I'm still working out the plan, but I'm sure it will be fun. Like last year, I will have my entire inventory out and for sale. I will also have art calendars available featuring 12 of my abstract paintings. Watch my website for details. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

New Painting: A Distant Storm

"A Distant Storm", 10x10 mixed media on Wood Panel. Available. 

I've been watching the news out of the US. I try not to overindulge, but it's like a train wreck in the making and almost impossible not to look.

This week was particularly bad. Kavanaugh. Wow. Let me sum it up... Reasonable sounding woman claims sexual assault by a high powered man, man gets very angry proclaiming a conspiracy to destroy him, other angry men dismiss her, and powerful man becomes more powerful.  Not the first time it's happened.

I have, however, noticed a change in how everyone is reacting this time around. Women are pissed. Really and truly furious. I have quite a few female American friends, and it seems to be all they can talk about. I spot the occasional dissenting opinion in the comment section (usually from a man, I have noticed) but for the most part everyone agrees that this situation is intolerable and must change (I understand I am seeing these things from my Social media echo chamber. If my friends were not mostly artists and somewhat left-leaning, its possible my take on what's happening could be quite different. But I do follow the news from reputable sources, so I think I have a pretty good idea).

So... I read about all this and listen to the radio newscasts and follow along. Then when I get into my studio, I paint a stormy sky. I know everything I experience outside the studio effects what I do when I'm in there. I can't help it, I am a whole person and I cannot separate one thing from another.

This painting reminds me of a time, years ago, when my family and I were out on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, for the annual music festival. The stage faced inland, and we were seated on the ground, facing out to sea. We watched a storm come in as we sat there in the sun... dark clouds gathered, there was lightening, torrential rain... but it was all "out there". It got closer and closer. At one point I leaned over to my husband and said, "I think we should go... that looks pretty nasty". It was rolling in fast. As we were packing up most other people suddenly had the same idea, and it was a rush to get indoors before it got to us. We ran back to the house we were staying at, and hit the driveway just as the clouds opened and the deluge started.

The situation in the US reminds me of this same storm. The anger is palpable... it's gathering steam. At some point it's going to reach a boiling point and you better run like hell if you hope to escape the wrath. I don't know what will be the tipping point, but I can see it coming. Good luck, my friends. Something tells me you are going to need it.