Sunday, May 25, 2014

Getting Away

A little bird watching the goings on as I sit and have my morning coffee.

The dirt road my parents
residence is on.
I've never been a landscape painter. I'm not the type to sit quietly for hours sketching from nature or plein air painting. I like to be around people, I like lots of activity, I am truly a city girl however you want to look at it. But lately I've been feeling like all the activity is a bit much, and I'm longing for some quiet... so with last week being a holiday weekend here in Canada, I decided to pack an overnight bag and head out to my parent's place a few hours drive east of here.

To say this place is isolated is really putting it mildly. It's like going to a cottage. I haven't been here for a while... the winter was long and there was a lot of snow, and the last time I was out here in the winter the car got stuck and the tow-truck driver refused to come down to get me out in case HE got stuck. They're on a dirt road. They have a well. They have no neighbours close enough to even catch a glimpse of their existence. My sister (who actually does paint wildlife and nature), came with me, and the two of us went off exploring with my camera.... trying not to slip on the rocks, step into any holes camouflaged by rotting vegetation, or touch anything poisonous.

A large shelf mushroom growing on a rotting tree stump. We looked it up online... apparently we can "eat, with caution". Uh.... I think I'd rather just pass, thanks.
I didn't dare try to climb up here... 
It wouldn't have surprised my parents one bit if one of us had run back needing assistance to help the other out of some kind of "situation". We're both a little klutzy... actually I think my other sister can be included in that as well... and we've all spent more than our fair share of time in emergency rooms. We managed to escape unscathed this time, and I got a few nice photos to add to my growing collection. I'm still posting to my Blipfoto page... albeit sporadically... but I got more shots than my account allows me to upload. I thought I could share them here.

As I was lying in bed this morning listening to the birds through my open window (my favourite part of summer... being able to sleep with the windows open. Of course that means being woken up at  5a.m. by the birds... but whatever...), I was thinking about maybe trying to paint a few landscapes. It would be something different, and it could help with my non-objective work by focusing more on composition. I'm sure I can somehow make it work for me... though it might take a few practice runs to figure it out. Fortunately (??? ok, I will admit it would be better if I had actually SOLD all these paintings instead of having this huge inventory, but at least I don't have to panic when it comes time to hang a show) I have more than enough work around to cover any upcoming shows I've committed to, so I have some time to play and explore something new. It's been a while since I've had the luxury. I think I shall enjoy this...

Oh, and by the way... If you are interested in checking out my musician or dancer series in real life, I've updated my website with all my upcoming exhibits. And if you should see anything you wish to own, please contact me.

This sky... wow. 

This little bird spent a fair bit of time hanging around the bird feeder. He's crazy fast... missed my shot the first few times I caught sight of him, but I knew if I just waited, he'd be back. 

I don't see bees that often these days... but out here the flowers were not store bought, so maybe they are a little safer...
ok, this bird is actually in my own backyard... she has a nest in the tree outside my dining room window. And I've found that she really doesn't welcome spectators... there's a lot of swooping at my head going on. She'll get used to me... eventually....

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Horizon Lines

Horizon Lines
12x24" Acrylic on Canvas
I had started working on this canvas a few months ago but the painting I had planned just wasn't working. It happens fairly regularly, so I put it away and moved on to something else, figuring I'd try again later. I ended up doing something completely different on it, but you can still see remnants of the previous layers showing through. I've only got a couple areas of really opaque paint... these areas were getting too dark, so I went over them with a thick layer of a tinted white.

When I was working on this, I really tried to keep my colours less saturated and the painting as a whole lighter in value. When I look around my house at the stuff hanging on the walls, everything is so dark. I love the richness of deep colour, but staying in a lighter value range gives the piece a different mood. I've hung this up on the wall and will live with it for a bit, and see what i can do to make the next one better.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


The photo I started with... Not even
close to what I ended up with 
So, I figured since I posted all my drawings last week I should go ahead and post my wire "portrait", no matter how it turned out... after all, the whole point of taking a class is to try something I'd never done before. It was interesting figuring out how to bend the wire into the correct shapes (or close, anyway), how to make the connections, what to do with the ends... overall an interesting project. I couldn't manage to make it 3d like some of the other people in the class, but it did seem to take on a life of it's own at one point. I had no intention of making it this big, but I started with an eye and had to keep everything else to scale. It's about 20 inches. And a bit unwieldy.

Here I have a close up of one area so you can get an idea of how the connections look. I've clipped it here to a piece of black mat board, so it shows up better. I may go ahead and mount it to something... not quite sure what. I'll let it stew for a bit and see what I can come up with. 

I have to say I was very impressed with the finished projects in the class. All of them were completely original and showed a lot of willingness to take risks. I think the credit for that has to go to the instructor, Kim Lee Kho. Most of these people have taken classes with her before, and I was assured at the start that this was a judgement free zone. All artists need that from time to time. No matter how useful a good critique can be, sometimes it is just not required.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Refilling the Well

Contour drawing of Duke Ellington. Charcoal on paper.
I've been busy lately. Incredibly busy. Months and months painting, then preparing to show. Four shows in a month. It's been pretty crazy. And I'm tired. Maybe would feel less run down if I'd sold more, but that's how it goes. I got lots of feedback, so that's good. That helps. But.... what now? That's the question. I'm tired, I'm empty, and I need to refill my inspiration well. Best way to do that.... for me it's to take a class. It always works. It gets me thinking in a different way, approaching the image from a different angle. And I get to meet new people and be social, while creating in a judgement free zone. Every artist needs that from time to time, in order to get somewhere new. 

The class I decided on is "Experimental Portraiture", taught by Kim Lee Kho. We're 3 weeks into it, and so far, so good. We've worked with masks, done some collage, and this week we tackled continuous contour drawing. I haven't done that in a long time, and i had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. It was fun. We were working from a photo of an "interesting face". I brought in Duke Ellington... there are some wonderful photos of him online, and his face is most certainly interesting. The exercise was to do an initial drawing from the photo, then draw from the drawing until you got to the essence of the person. How do you know when you get there? Well.... I guess you just know. 


Progression of drawings, 2 through 6. At #3 I switched
hands to try to stop being so analytical. I think its funny
that while none of these really look like him, they all kind of look
like him... if you know what i mean.

Next week we're taking the drawing and working it in wire. It was explained that we would be doing this before we started drawing... and it's kind of a difficult thing to imagine if you've never done it. I tried to simplify so I didn't end up with an unmanageable project. We were looking at the sculptures done  by Alexander Calder as an example. I don't know how that's going to work, and that's good. Nothing like trying something new and different to really get the brain going.