Sunday, December 21, 2014

Jazz Legends: Count Basie

Did I say I was taking the week off?

I did... but since Count Basie is finally finished I thought I'd share the finished painting with you.

The latest in my Jazz Legends Series: Count Basie. Acrylic on Canvas.
Signed limited edition prints available soon.
As always, if you'd like to see how I got here, all my working photos are posted on my page at Global Vernissage. The next one will be starting soon.... I'll keep you posted. 

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. No matter what you celebrate, I hope it is full of family and joy, and you start the new year with a sense of hope and possibility. See you in 2015.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Art Journaling: Found Poetry

Transformed by experience. Does that explain the big picture?
The wonders of the internet age.

Since I signed up for my first social media account many years ago, I have reconnected with many people I had know over the course of my life... friends from high school and university, one time neighbours, co-workers from jobs held over the course of my life. Some of these people I had been quite close to at one time, but life took us on different paths. After the initial "what have you been up to for the last 10 years" conversation, we kind of settle into something new, and discover who we are now by the things we choose to share.

It's amazing how many people I had spent a lot of time with in the past had no idea that I was into art. I get "oh really? You paint???" And after a while I often will get a "you've really changed"...

Well, yes actually, I have. We all have. We can't help it... things happen and it effects us, and it changes how we look at the world. We are what we have lived, and how we choose to interpret these experiences shapes our outlook. Change, for me, is most definitely a good thing.

I love this found poetry exercise (I posted the details of the exercise on a previous post)... every time I do one of these I look at what I've put together and try to see how it relates to what is going on in my life. It always does.... somehow.


As it is two weeks until Christmas and I've got a whole lot of work to get done between now and then, I've decided to give myself a little blogging break. I'll be back in the new year with my regular Sunday morning posts, and some new work to share. I'll be continuing with my Jazz Legends series on Global Vernissage ... I'm doing 12 portraits in this series, and right now I'm working through number 4 (Count Basie). I've got the next couple planned, but am open to suggestions for the remaining few. I'm trying to keep it limited to the early days of jazz... particularly the black performers that made up the scene in Harlem in the 20s-40s. Leave any suggestions in the comments.  :)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Business Side of Art

The weeks leading up to Christmas is always busy. Usually I spend these weeks making things, but this year, not so much. I just don't seem to have time. What I seem to be spending all my time doing these days is all the stuff necessary to have my art out in the world.

My paintings hanging at CJs Cafe in Bronte. A lovely
little artsy spot right in the shopping area of Oakville. 

Things I've done this week: packaging up prints and calendars and shipping them out. Returning emails. Following up with potential collectors. Hanging a show. Being on Social Media. Meeting with other artists. Showing up at an opening for an artist friend and an open house event for a gallery that supports me. Getting my car fixed so I can get to those events safely. Throw in a 40 hour/week job that seems to want to morph into a 80 hour/week job...

What I haven't done is pick up a paintbrush.

It's wonderful that things are happening. I love getting feedback about my work. It's awesome that people actually want these prints and calendars and want my art hanging in their venue. But somewhere inside me there's a little kid getting ready to throw a temper-tantrum. But I just wanna paint!! Wha wha whaaaaaaaaa!!!

Count Basie portrait in progress
Count Basie in progress... you can follow my
working photos on the Global Vernissage website.
There's a thing about creative work that I choose to ignore at my own peril... in order to have creative output, you actually have to DO something creative. It can't all be about work, there has to be some fun involved. Some play. Too long without it and I won't be able to just pick up where I left off and get back to creating. So... what to do? I really don't know. Hopefully I'll have a little breather soon and be able to get back into my studio to actually paint and not just to find my packing tape or mailing tubes.

In the meantime, you can follow along with my Count Basie painting on Global Vernissage. I intend to finish that up and post all the photos, no matter how long it takes. I just can't leave him unfinished, and I know there are a few people following along that want to see how he turns out. And at least I will get to do that, no matter how busy I get with everything else. That might just be enough to keep my inner child in check.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Finding the Image | One Day Workshop at the Art Gallery of Lambeth

"The Brass", 24x36" Acrylic on Canvas
There was a time when starting a painting was the most difficult thing ever. In all the classes I had taken we did sketches, thumbnails for composition, worked out everything in advance... but for some reason that just didn't work for me. By the time I got started there was too much already in my head, and within minutes I was anxious and unhappy with the way it was looking.

That all changed when I discovered there was a whole group of painters that worked without a plan. Intuitive painters. They worked things out as they went along, solving problems as they came up. What a revelation for me!! I was fortunate enough to take a workshop with Jesse Reno, who in sharing his many words of wisdom, set me off on the path I've been on for the last few years. 

The time has come for me to start sharing what I've learned. I've put together a one day workshop for painters who find starting the hardest part. We will do a couple short creative exercises, then move on to a small painting on canvas or paper, starting with.... well, nothing. It will be messy, it will be fun, and by the end you will have one more tool to beat that block that comes from staring at a blank canvas. 

Call the Art Gallery of Lambeth (in London, Ontario)  at 519-652-5556 for registration details. Supply list will be sent by email to participants, or you can buy a materials kit directly from the gallery. I want to keep the class small, so registration is limited. 

Saturday January 17
Intermediate - Some Experience Required
10 - 4 pm
$75  + HST

+ material kit available at the AGL

See you there!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The stuff we find when we clean up...

New entry in my Found Poetry Art Journal completed this week... Inspiration approached me, and insisted
on complete freedom. Sounds very appropriate to me.  
I made an attempt to clean up my studio this week. It's a mess... it's a very small room with a whole lot of stuff in there. And I can't find anything. Hence the clean up.

As happens sometimes, I got distracted while sorting through my pile of books. I found one of my old little recycled books that I had forgotten about. I had started it to do a creative exercise called "found poetry". I thought I had posted those images before, but I can't seem to find them... I guess after a couple years of blog posts it was bound to happen. I didn't understand about labels and tags when I started, so most of my first year is uncatagorized. Oh well. It happens.
You look, one more time. Taken inside stories, it's inspired adaptation is but a delicate stretch.
I got this exercise from a book by LK. Ludwig. What you do is this: cut out words and phrases from anything... magazines, newspapers, books, flyers... whatever. I edit when I do this. No brand names or such stuff. I've got a bowl I keep on my worktable full of these little slips of paper. I pull out a bunch of words at random, and try to put them together in some way that holds meaning. Once I have my "poem", I paint my page and collage everything together. It's a pretty fun exercise, and great when I don't have a lot of time but I want to do something.
Sunset intimacies challenge identities lost and found
Beyond sunrise border crossings, everything is good. Finally...

So, now my studio is nice and tidy... or kinda tidy anyway. And I can get back to work. But I might do a couple more of these first...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

2015 Calendars now available

My 2015 music inspired calendar, front and back cover
After much debating, I have decided to put out a 2015 calendar featuring my music inspired paintings. It was not an easy decision... even though I can do all the graphic work myself, the printing alone is not cheap. And to print enough to resell them at a reasonable price means I had to do a decent sized run. Yikes.

So now they're done, and they look fantastic. Better than I thought they would, actually. There's something about seeing a years work reproduced on that glossy stock.... I'm glad I did it. I might do it again next year.

My family and friends have been incredibly supportive of this venture. Thank you so much. I've actually already sold out my first run after posting photos on facebook, so I'm printing 50 more. Then that's it. If you would like to have one, you can order by contacting me by email (you can use the blog contact form, or email me at mariannemorrisart @ I accept paypal or email transfers... I was going to try to add a shopping cart on here and do it that way, but there's a lot of stuff I have to do for that, and I just don't have time right now. You can see this series in it's entirety on my website.

It would make a lovely Christmas gift for a music lover in you life. Just saying.

Edit Nov. 17 - It's been brought to my attention that I've neglected to add price and purchasing details to this post... Sorry about that. Calendars are $20 each + $5 for shipping. Contact me via email to order. Thanks. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Art Journaling: Good Enough

I am a perfectionist. 

I admit it. It's one of those things that I try to change about myself, but I can't. I want things perfect. If I can see that something isn't quite right, I can't seem to leave it alone. It drives me crazy. And it gets in the way. Nobody else is going to notice that this shade of red is not quite what i wanted, or that the shape of his lower lip isn't quite round enough. Nobody can tell. Except me. It's not right, dammit, and I have to fix it. 

As I've been told many times, "the perfect is the enemy of the good". It's true. If everything didn't have to be perfect, I would get SO much more done. But is seeking to improve a bad thing? Shouldn't we all try to be better in whatever we're doing? It's a tough question... when is good, good enough?

This particular spread started out ok. Then, and I have no idea why, I went over all the lovely textural bits with oil pastel. Ick... that didn't really work. So what do I do? I figure I can take it off with solvent. Oh, yes, that worked well. The paint just kind of... melted. It turned in to a big puddle of mucky, grey goop. Not knowing what else to do, I just put it away. Went on to do something else.

Now that I'm nearing the end of this book, I'd really like to finish it up. It was time to deal with the mess I'd made (I really should have taken a before photo... it was really and truly ugly). The goo I had before had dried, so I did my journaling in white paint pen over that and then went over that with acrylic. I set a timer and did a quick 10-minute self-portrait using a phone photo. I had to set the timer because I know I could easily spend an hour trying to get a likeness, when that really wasn't what was important. It doesn't look like me, but for 10 minutes, its acceptable.
Almost done my "Advice from the Inside" Visual Journal. Second to last spread! Yay!!
Not too bad a save in the end. The only real issue is that the paint scrapes off the oil/acrylic mix underneath... actually I'm pretty sure the pages will stick together when I close it and I'll lose chunks when I pry it open again, but whatever. It's good enough...which, oddly, was the initial phrase that I started with.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Jazz Legends: Duke Ellington

The latest in my Jazz Legends Series: Duke Ellington. Acrylic on Canvas.
Signed limited edition prints available soon.
Here is my latest installment in my Jazz Legends series on Global Vernissage. He's finally finished… this one seemed to take me a while, as you can see by my working photos (which are all posted at the above link). The final result turned out decently though, so I'm glad I kept at it.

Anyone that paints will understand about the "ugly phase". It's that point in every painting where you look at it and go "Ick…. I Just can't see how I'm going to make this work". This is the point where a lot of potentially good artwork gets abandoned. I have it with every painting. Seriously. Every. Single. One. I think I had it more than once with this piece. Sometimes all it takes to fix it is a couple brushstrokes. Sometimes I have to tone down the color or add a glaze to an area. I've abandoned many pieces over the course of the last few years, but usually because I haven't noticed some weird anatomical mistake I made at the drawing phase, and I just didn't have enough enthusiasm left for my subject to bother trying to fix it. It happens.

I think so many artists get discouraged enough to stop when their painting hits this point. I understand that, I really do. But if you just keep going and push through it, you'll find you can fix the problem and be satisfied with the finished piece. Try putting it away for a while and then going back to it with a critical eye. Or maybe talk to an artist friend about what you think isn't working. If you think the idea is worth working through, don't give up on it. The results can be worth it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

When Things Get Ugly

It's been a tough week for Canadians. On Monday, a suspected terrorist ran his car into another vehicle occupied by two Canadian soldiers, killing one and injuring the other. Then on Wednesday, an unarmed soldier standing guard at our National war memorial outside the federal parliament buildings was shot to death, leading to our capital city being locked down for much of the day. There's not much I can say about this that hasn't already been said, and said much more eloquently than I ever could. My heart breaks for these men and their families. When they are home, they should be safe. My, how the world has changed.

Photo by Derek Nighbor, posted on Twitter
There are military people in my family. My brother-in-law is stationed in Ottawa right now. My nephew is away on a training exercise. I can't even imagine how this has affected them. Its a tough enough job without having to look over your shoulder when you are home.

The outpouring of emotion by the country these past few days has been incredibly moving. When Nathan Cirillo's body was brought back to his home town of Hamilton from Ottawa, there were crowds gathered on every overpass waving Canadian flags. There have been memorials set up in both Ottawa and Hamilton. There are photos online everywhere. We all want to say thank you.

As an artist, I did what I do when life gets to be a bit much.... I went into my studio, closed the door, and painted. It's not exactly pretty, but I think it says what I was feeling.

Art journal page created in response to the Ottawa shooting. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Advice from the Inside: An Art Journaling Exercise

So, I've been working away in this visual journal for the last few weeks, but seems I have been avoiding the cover. Not really sure why... but as I went along and filled page after page, the cover stayed white with the ghost image of the original illustration showing through the gesso. The book is almost done now... I have two pages left to finish up. I figured it was time to finally tackle this.

I really have no clue how most people go about deciding what to put on the covers of their journals. I've read blogs where the cover is done first, articles on how to cover your book with interesting papers, and seen store bought journals that had the cover ready made. The only other book I've worked on I used a stencil and molding paste for a raised pattern and put in some hand lettering. But that was years ago, and my style has evolved since then. I wanted this cover to reflect what was inside.

Cover of my 2014 visual journal. I committed to doing this early this summer, and I'm almost done. It's taken
longer than I thought it would, but it's been fun. And maybe I've stumbled on a new direction to take my work. 

I decided I should treat my cover the same way I worked on the inner pages. I started with a black marker and did my writing directly on the gesso. Subsequent layers of paint has completely obliterated it. That wasn't intentional, it's just the way it worked out. The colours were what I had on my palette already, as with my other pages. The image had been cut out a few weeks ago, but I never used it for what I was working on, and the words were already cut up and sitting in a little bowl (I know that's kind of weird... it's something I use when I'm stuck. I pick a word at random out of my bowl, and use that as inspiration to draw from. I've gotten some interesting ideas this way). Put together, it seems to work. And describes exactly what this book is about.

So to the journalers out there: how do you handle the cover of your books? Post links to your own blogs or facebook images... I'd love to see how other artists determine what should go on the outside of their journals.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Things that make my life better....

I'd had one of "those days" at work.

You know, that kind of day... I really, really didn't want to be there. People who normally didn't bother with me or the account I worked on were suddenly hanging around, having meetings, asking questions. Projects I'd worked on months ago were landing back on my desk with issues. Everyone around me was in a mood, the atmosphere was tense, and people (myself included) were getting snippy.

I couldn't go home... piles of work on tight deadlines meant I was going to have to stay late, not leave early, regardless of how crappy I felt. Ugh. It was one of those days where I seriously question how I make my living. There has to be something better.... right?

Then I did this.


Mixed media includes collage (type written text and the face), Tar Gel, and acrylic paint. The hand writing is
in white acrylic paint pen in between layers of both fluid and heavy body paint. I think I may try this kind of thing
 on a large canvas, maybe incorporating some transfers... it will be tricky, but could be lots of fun. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

4 small abstract paintings

"Undertow" 1-4, Acrylic on paper. A continuation of my abstract painting series focusing on the landscape.
Thanksgiving is next weekend, and so my painting time is going to be curtailed a bit this coming week. Working at an American corporation on an American account while being situated in Canada has it's drawbacks. Specifically, the general chaos that ensues the week before a long weekend that Canada and the U.S. do not share. Thank goodness there's an extra day off involved... I'm sure I'll need a bit of time to myself after the busyness of it all. 

I've been trying to find time to get back to doing some non-objective work. As much as I love painting people, it's nice to not have to be concerned with anatomy or realism in any sense. Doing completely abstract work I can focus on emotion, colour and composition.... expressing something without traditional form. I had started these 4 small pieces while I was in Dunedin in August. Now that I've had a bit of distance it was good to take a second look at them and figure out what I needed to finish them off. 

"Undertow | 1"  9x12" Acrylic on paper

"Undertow | 2"  9x12" Acrylic on paper

"Undertow | 3"  9x12" Acrylic on paper

"Undertow | 4"  9x12" Acrylic on paper

One thing I was consciously trying to do is tone down my colour palette. I am drawn to intense, expressive colour. It's been pointed out to me, more than once, that by toning down some areas the bright, saturated colours will have more impact. Given that these pieces are inspired by nature, specifically water, highly saturated colour didn't seem to fit... a perfect instance to experiment with neutralized hue.  I think these were pretty successful, and they feel more like my "style" than some of the other pieces I've done. And they look quite good matted and lined up as a series. Happy.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Creativity from the Subconcious

I've been playing in my journal again.
I have in my possession a Golden Medium sample set. It contains some cool stuff... different kinds of pastes and gels in small jars so you can try them out and see if you like them without laying out over $10 for the only other size jar available. I've had it for a while, and I haven't used any of it. I've been busy, sure, but how am I going to know what awesome things I can make with them if I don't actually open the jar and try it?

First project, I get out the Tar Gel. I've never actually heard of this before but I'm curious. I look online first... just to see how to apply it. First suggestion I read is... with a spoon? Ok... lets give it a go. It has the consistency of... i don't know... caramel maybe? After it's dry I put some paint to it. Interesting. Looks kind of bone like. Let's go with that....

The thing about art... when you work intuitively, ideas will come out when you're otherwise occupied with things like colour and composition. I had a bit of a shock last week when I looked at my self portraits over the years and realized that by looking at the image I knew exactly what was going on in my life at the time. I may not have been able to remember the date, but I remembered the events. A couple months ago I had a little accident that has left me in pain for what has seemed like eternity. I had some resulting inflammation in my joints that just doesn't want to go away. I'm on the mend now... finally... but obviously my subconscious is still very much concerned with the state of my bones. Can't really get much clearer than this.

I'm almost at the end of this particular book, but I think I shall try to keep an art journal going now as part of my practice. It's tough to find time, what with the job, the family, shows and other work that I've committed to. But I am seeing the value in doing it. It keeps things fresh and new, a place to create and experiment without judgement. Maybe this is what will lead me to my next thing...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Artist and the Self-Portrait

My 2014 version of myself, completed during a painting
class on abstraction taught by Steve Rose.
To the artists out there: Have you ever painted a self-portrait?

I take classes now and again, for various reasons. Sometimes I want to try out a new medium, but have no idea where to start. Sometimes I'm feeling bored with what I'm doing and need an injection of something new. Sometimes I just need a kick in the butt to get me back on track. Over the years I've been given a lot of assignments, and creating a self portrait seems to be a favourite of instructors everywhere.

I did a week long retreat in August that focused on abstraction. One of the first exercises we did was a self-portrait. We had looked at a few abstract expressionist painters and were to do one in an "expressionist style". I think it turned out decently, and very different from ones I've done in the past. I thought I would dig out a few of the older ones and compare... just to get the sense of how I've changed over the years.

This one was painted, I think, in the late 80s/
early 90s. It wasn't dated so it's hard to know.  I am much
better at documenting my work these days.
When I was in school... many, MANY years ago, this was a regular assignment. I can't tell you how many times I was up late, mirror propped in front of me, trying to get something vaguely resembling a likeness. I had quite a few in charcoal on paper... smudged,  shadowed, line only, close up, far away... depending on what that particular teacher was trying to drill into our heads. Unfortunately I don't have any of those. They were in a portfolio in my basement, and destroyed during last year's flood. I did, however, find a painting that I had done around the same time.

When I look at this I see the dreaded "one brush painting". Ugh. Why didn't anyone tell me not to do this? Well... I suppose I couldn't have been much older than 20 and had only been painting for a couple years, so I shouldn't judge it too harshly. I did notice this though... the artist that painted this was timid. The colour is blah, the expression is unsure. There's a hint of something... in the brushwork maybe, perhaps in the bit of red and blue peeking out from the background. The recent one has me boldly looking out at the viewer. There is nothing timid about that one. At all.

A collage and charcoal self-portrait from sometime in the mid-90s.
This one I did a few years after I was out in the working world. I had given it to a friend shortly after it was finished, and she had recently given it back to me. Since all my other drawings were destroyed, I was happy to have it back, fully intact. Stuff was going on in my life at this time... I had a job that was really demanding and I was working stupidly long hours for little reward. I hated my job, I thought my boss was more than a little bit insane, and felt like my life was going nowhere. I know when I was working on this I was taking a class on mixed media, and playing with collage and transparency, but not really thinking that much about the subject matter. When I look at it now, I see someone drowning. No wonder my friend didn't want that hanging in her living room. I've put it away myself.... it's not really something I want looking at me every day.

A self-portrait done in an art journal. I was playing with carving stamps... the turtle was one of mine, but as a stamp
it didn't work all that well so I went over it with white paint pen. This was the first paint pen I'd ever purchased, and
I used it a few times, put it away and forgot about it. I pulled them out again a few months ago, and have been
using them constantly ever since.
This one I did in my very first art journal... maybe about 3 years ago. I had discovered art journals online, and after a bit of hunting around, found a video by Teesha Moore on how to make your own book out of watercolour paper. I couldn't paint in a traditional sketchbook (the paper just seemed to disintegrate) so this seemed a great format for trying out painting techniques. Can't remember exactly how I did this... I think I gessoed the paper first with black, then with white and used plastic wrap in the wet paint to get the texture. I find it interesting that I chose a turtle image for the opposite page. Again I hadn't really thought about symbolic significance, but looking at it now... well... I can see how relevant that was. Like a turtle, I was keeping most of myself well hidden. I was shortly after that I decided to put myself out there, create some sort of online presence, and try to turn my "hobby" into something more in line with my authentic self. It's amazing the difference a few years can make.

So, has anyone else gone through this exercise? Artists all through history have done this... If you haven't, it's certainly worth giving it a go. If you have, leave me a link in the comments... I'd love to see how other artists see themselves and what those images reveal.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Southside Shuffle - 2014 Edition

Saturday's Street Shuffle. Pretty good turnout, as usual. And no rain.
One of the things I love about where I live is the festivals in the summer. There are three that happen just a short bike ride away from my home. The Southside Shuffle is one of the big ones, and one that I make sure to get to every year.

Horn players from the band "The Jive Bombers".
I bought a CD... I can't resist a horn section.
This year I decided I would help out. I haven't volunteered at a music festival for quite a long time. I was beginning to feel like I was jinxing the event. It never seemed to fail: if I volunteered, it would rain like hell. Well... seems that still holds true. I only signed up for Friday night, and at about 8pm a storm rolled through that was blowing over tables and sending performers and spectators alike running for cover. Figures. Saturday morning the sun was shining, and the rest of the weekend was beautiful. Thank goodness I didn't sign up for all three days.

One of the "Stilt Guys" dancing in the street.  They are regulars at
Port Credit events.
Saturday afternoon the crowds come out for the "Street Shuffle". Lakeshore Road is closed to traffic and there are bands set up on both sides of the street. The music goes for 6 solid hours, alternating sides so they don't interfere with each other. One band finishes their set, turn around and the next band is starting up. The last couple years I've taken the opportunity to get a load of working photos for potential paintings... this year I was trying to get photos that were decent as actual photos. It gave me a chance to play with the settings on my camera if nothing else. I'll never learn how to use the thing if I don't get out and actually use it. And some of those shots will undoubtably end up as reference for canvas. I just can't help myself.

Steve Strongman on stage Saturday evening. Big crowd for Steve this year... last year he did an acoustic set and there were maybe 30 people there. Obviously winning the Juno has gotten him a bit of attention.
The evening acts after the sun went down were interesting to shoot. The stage lighting in particular gave some cool effects. Most of my night shots didn't turn out that well... I still need to figure out how to do low light shots of people. If you are interested in seeing the rest of my pictures, I've signed up for a flickr account and have uploaded more there. I still have a load to go through, so I will probably be adding to the library for the next week or so. And maybe I'll upload some of my other shots as well. I seem to have a large collection starting...

My painting in the window of Imagemaker Gallery in Port Credit. Perfect spot along Lakeshore Rd. for my work to be
during the festival.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Art Journals: Round 2

So... I've been trying to get the hang of this art-journaling thing. It's not supposed to be a painting in book form, so while those can be pretty fun to do, I'm trying to stay away form that. I've been doing the actual journaling part, then trying to make the image work around it. Not as easy as you might think.

 This page actually took quite a few sessions to finish... is that normal? It also started out really dark and took a bit of thought to get it lightened up and still work. I really didn't want it dark... It didn't go with how I was feeling. The journaling was done with red paint pen, which smeared all over the place when I went to put acrylic paint over top. I suppose it wasn't quite dry... patience never really was my strong suit. But being determined to live in the land of the happy accident, I just went with it. I think I'm pretty happy with this page.

This page was a complete mess from the get-go. First mistake: I didn't sand and gesso the page. For some reason I thought it wasn't really necessary and by doing it I was just wasting my time. I discovered this wasn't really the case... the varnish that they use on those kid's board books I recycle is remarkably resistant to paint. The first coat peeled off in patchy, uneven pieces, which may have looked interesting, but left me wondering if I'd end up with a mess if I just kept going. Yep... that's exactly what happened. So now I know.  I don't think it will peel off now... there's about 20 layers on there. It's way too dark for my liking, but at some point you just have to let it be what it is. I'm not nearly as happy with this one... it feels a bit sinister, especially since words that still show read almost like words of warning (even though they didn't start out that way... strange how that happens). 

I have started a couple more pages, but I don't know when I'll have time to finish them. I seem to be ridiculously busy all of the sudden, and I have to be sure to keep on schedule with my Jazz Legend portrait series. I'm posting working photos of Duke Ellington over on GV's "Artist at Work" page... if you log in and leave a comment, you could be eligible to win a print of the finished painting. And if you are interested in purchasing a print of the ones already completed, the team at Global Vernissage will be able to help you. Just click on the "Just Ask" button. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

New Direction

Series of work created at my retreat last week. "Sound of the River", 1-4.
Each canvas 24x24", Mixed media. 
 For me, part of the lure of going on an art retreat, like the one I was just at, is the potential for learning something new and exciting. This one wasn't quite as far outside my comfort zone as the last one I did, but it was a good opportunity to do something different under the guidance of an artist with a different aesthetic. The weeklong workshop gave me uninterrupted creative time, and Steve Rose gave me some great new tools to work with. Last week I posted photos of the location, this week I thought I'd share what I did while I was there.

Our only real requirement for the week was that we work in multiples. He was aiming for a diptych/triptych kind of thing, but he got more of a series from me. They go together, but they don't necessarily have to stay together. I've got these ordered more or less how I produced them, although I worked on them all at the same time, working on one while another was drying. Right near the end of the week I had a hilarious conversation with one of the other participants... she hadn't actually realized I had 4 canvases on the go. She thought I had been painting over the same one day after day. And she wasn't alone... a couple others had thought the same thing!

"Sound of the River | 1"  24x24" Mixed Media on Canvas

"Sound of the River | 2"  24x24" Mixed Media on Canvas
"Sound of the River | 3"  24x24" Mixed Media on Canvas

"Sound of the River | 4"  24x24" Mixed Media on Canvas
You can see I was getting bolder by the day. The first one is pretty much paint with a bit of texture medium added here and there. By the end I was attaching stuff, troweling on drywall compound and using found objects to print with. If you click on them you will get a bigger image... you can see it better. I haven't decided yet if I actually like these or not, but I really did have fun making them.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Week Away

The main house where the retreats are held.
Studio space on one side, b&b on the other. 
I spent my vacation from my day job this year at Creativity Art Retreat, in Dunedin Ontario. I live only about an hour and a half away from Dunedin, but I had to look on a map to see where it was... I'd never heard of it. There's not much there, but for a week of uninterrupted creation time, that works extremely well.

The place is like going to a country cottage. There's an old claw foot bathtub in the upstairs bathroom... and a door that opens onto a balcony. Yes, from the bathroom. The place is right beside the river, and they held daily yoga classes outside on the deck where you could hear the river rushing through. The owner, Lynn Connell, is quite the powerhouse. She is not only an accomplished painter, but she also founded the art retreat, AND an orphanage in Africa. Pretty inspiring person to spend a week with. Shelly, who handles all the day to day stuff, is really warm and welcoming. Within a day or two it felt like I was visiting with a friend instead of a paying guest. I had an overwhelming urge to help with the dishes. She wouldn't let me.

The artist that worked across from me for
the week.
Lynn and another participant working away.
My workshop was with Steve Rose. "Freedom of Expression: Abstraction to Non-Objective painting". I have a lot of good things to say my instructor. He reads people extremely well... He's one of those people who takes about 5 minutes to figure out what you need to get out of the course, and changes his approach to suit. There were a couple people who were new to abstract painting, and to those people he gave a fair bit of guidance. For those of us who have been on the path for a bit, it was more of a question/answer session... did you try this? What happens if you do that? He gave me some problem solving skills that will help when I run into my usual compositional issues. Light or dark? Tear a page out of a magazine and stick it on... which way looks more balanced? Stuff like that... it was immensely helpful. I left with four, good size paintings in my car that were more or less finished, along with a few smaller ones that were done in my usual less-than-planned way, but utilizing what I'd learned and making them work. And while I wasn't really sure about them at the time, they've grown on me. And I'm feeling a bit more confident that I can continue on, and maybe actually get somewhere.

The "living" room. Books everywhere, and all art books. Must have
taken years to amass such a collection. I could have spent the week just in here. 
The kitchen of the main guest house. There was another house on the property,
and a group of participant stayed there.
The main studio space. Lovely and bright with lots of windows.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Series Completed

I've been away. I needed an infusion of creative inspiration, along with a bit of guidance from an artist with more experience as to what makes good abstract art. This week has been very intense. I'm exhausted and achy, but feel exhilarated at the same time. I will write about my retreat next week, once I've had a chance to unpack my carload of stuff and sort out my photos. For today I thought I'd post the last couple pics from my series of little 8x8" abstracts.
The series completed. I haven't decided on a name yet... something to do with summer. I think the ones I've been working on this past week will fit the same theme. They're also loosely inspired by the landscape.

"Rebirth"  Acrylic on Canvas  8x8" 

"Desert Fire"  Acrylic on Canvas  8x8" 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ella Completed

"Jazz Legends | Ella"  16x20" Acrylic on Canvas
I've just finished up the second of my Jazz Legends series over on Global Vernissage's "Artist at Work" website. I've got all my working photos posted, as well as a bit of a running commentary about my process. When we first started talking about this project, I have to admit I really didn't think anyone would be that interested in seeing how a painting goes together... particularly that ugly stage that every painting goes through. Mistakes happen, things get corrected, it gets ugly, it gets better again... it happens all the time, but usually I'm the only one who sees it. I was surprised at the response. I've gotten so many lovely comments from both jazz fans and other artists... it's really quite wonderful.

Louis Armstrong, the first of the series
I'm in the process now of doing my photographs and having prints made. I'm doing a limited edition of 100 signed prints, the first three of which we are giving away to people who have commented during the process. That is something I'm sure will go a little quicker and a little smoother than the first time around, now that I know what to expect. My first set of prints looked lovely... after I learned a few things about paper choices and archival inks. That's saying nothing about shipping. But I think I've got it down now. Good thing, because I've got 10 more paintings to do.....

If you like following along the progression of a painting, there is a new artist over on the site, Giedre Anuskeviciute. She paints in a completely different style and process, and its certainly worth a look.

Over the next week I am going to be away for a bit of uninterrupted painting time. I'm doing a 5 day retreat workshop with Toronto artist, Steve Rose. I intend to be completely unplugged. Who knows how that will go.... I'm told there is no cell service where I'm going, so that part should be easy. I probably shouldn't even take my laptop, but I will. I've got a few things to finish up, and I want my family to be able to contact me somehow. I'm still hobbling around a bit from my recent accident, so I'm a bit concerned that being in pain will be a distraction. Ice packs and Advil are going in the bag.... and maybe some wine. If one thing doesn't help, the other should.