The week ahead is another busy one and with the grey skies along with non-stop snowfall I was grateful to spend most of my weekend painting. This week I have three meetings to attend, work at the library, a Jr Artists' Workshop to organize and a demonstration to share with the Wheatland Art Society in Strathmore. I've made certain to arrange plenty of studio time throughout this hectic schedule in order to keep me grounded...and plenty of reading time (I hope).
For several days I've been working on this piece-in-progress again. On Friday I wasn't happy with the colours and patterns but I awoke on Saturday with the vague idea of incorporating another pattern to connect all the parts and immediately thought of some Martha Stewart lace stencils which I had purchased last year though I had absolutely no idea how I would use them. Instead of stippling paint on them I decided to use an acrylic paint marker to outline the areas I wanted to highlight and as I began overlapping different stencil patterns the entire piece began to come together.
I've continued working back and forth between the layers of background, lace patterns and the canoe and I see a beautiful resolution to this piece in my very near future.
The past few weeks has been filled with medical appointments which means a lot of sitting in waiting rooms which, in turn, means copious amounts of reading (catching up with the books I've been wanting to read) and sketching. I'm thankful for our medical system as they've been taking great care of me these past couple of years and I'm glad to say all is well. I'm also thankful for this creative life...my mind is constantly kept busy dreaming up new images and patterns and I am always happy to get home to paint.
With all the snow we've seen this winter I have been dreaming of prairie summers. We haven't seen the sky for a few days and expect a few more like this but I can envision the explosion of colour over the grasslands...of morning sun rises at dawn and of evening sunsets. From my vantage point on the sofa in our bay window overlooking the foothills and the mountains to the west and the prairies in the east I believe I've seen every colour imaginable.
So this is my homage to community, to this life in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, to the surrounding grasslands which housed buffalo and hawk. This land that sustained those who came before us and who watched the sun rise and set from this very place. After my struggles with imagery last week I've been so grateful that paintings are beginning to come together.
You will remember that leaping stream
After last week's struggles with the large piece I've been working on I decided it was time to play so I used mixed media and modelling paste to create luscious texture on a couple of tiny tipis. In spite of the colder temperatures and abundant falling snow these days, the sun has been lower and warmer and brighter than it has been in a long time, so I attempted to capture the warmth of those golden tones in these pieces. This was fun...now it's time to get back into the studio :)
I'm often asked about the colour palette that I use, and though it used to be straight forward it has changed drastically over the past three years. I tend to snag whatever grabs my fancy and also look for sales whenever I can. I do like a balance of warm and cool colours and also a variety of transparent and opaque. Right now my palette consists of (clockwise from the bottom):
* bronze yellow (opaque)
* cadmium yellow medium (opaque)
* vivid red orange (transparent)
* medium magenta (opaque)
* quinacridone magenta (transparent)
* cadmium red light hue (opaque)
* cadmium red medium (opaque)
* alizarin crimson (transparent)
* titanium white (opaque)
* ivory black (opaque)
* payne's gray (transluscent)
* pthalocyanine green (transparent)
* emerald green (opaque)
* brilliant yellow green (translucent)
* pthalocyanine blue ( transparent)
* brilliant blue ( opaque)
* bright aqua green (opaque)
* brilliant purple (opaque)
* dioxazine purple (transparent)
I usually tend to stay away from cadmiums for my own health but the colours are so vibrant...I tend to use napthol crimson or pyrrole red and yellow medium azo instead but when there's a sale, I take what's available. I absolutely love quinacridone colours, and also like to incorporate quin burnt orange. My absolute favorite colours are alizarin crimson, pthalo or Prussian blue, dioxazine purple, brilliant yellow green, green gold and bright aqua green and they change so beautiful when mixed with one another or with white. Another creamier white I like to use is unbleached titanium. I've added ivory black (I've been enjoying payne's gray but wanted some opacity) as well as pthalo green and bronze yellow recently and I'm not sure about them yet...only time will tell. After seeing so many beautiful pieces by other artists, I've also tried iridescent metallic colours but I'm not that fond of working with them myself.
As you can see, my palette isn't traditional as I tend to prefer luscious, vibrant colour rather than earth tones. I sometimes think it's because I really began painting daily once I had my children and what they were drawn to certainly influenced me. Hard to believe sometimes when I look into my own closet where everything is black, grey, navy and brown. I'm guessing it's the lack of colour in my daily life that demands vibrant colour in the artwork I place on my walls and that I prefer to create.
I'm also drawn to cool colours more than warm, but I do realize the need for both. Of the entire colour palette, I would say that adding yellow to my repertoire has been the greatest challenge and I'm not certain why. It's even harder than adding pink, which I had an aversion to for years...and, oddly enough, it has always been my eldest daughter's favorite colour. Though I do like yellow for brightening up greens and oranges.
My basic palette used to be just that...very basic. Primary colours in their cool and warm shades along with white, which is great for travelling. These days I find that utilizing a larger colour palette and working straight from the tube has its advantages...something that was discouraged in art school. I like working quickly and can grab a tube to squeeze directly onto my canvas or brush...or on many occasions, my fingertips. Keeps the intuitive process humming along smoothly.
What an artist is trying to do for people is bring them closer to something, because of course art is about sharing: you wouldn’t be an artist unless you wanted to share an experience, a thought. I am constantly preoccupied with how to remove distance so that we can all come closer together, so that we can all begin to sense that we are the same, we are one.
Time in the studio was fraught with joy and frustration. There are often days I have a love/hate relationship with my work, yesterday was definitely one of them, and yet it began with such promise. I started working at 6am and by noon my body was aching...what I thought was amazing wasn't anymore and I knew I'd have to sacrifice something I loved to pull this piece together.
So, after a break, I bit the bullet and decided to add large spots of opaque colour as I found there was too many transparent layers which weren't solidifying the work. And then I hated what I'd done but wouldn't allow myself to wipe it back...every time I do that the original piece is changed in any case, sometimes for better and others for worse.
I kept working and within a couple of hours the piece had transformed. My body's aching and my eyes are tired and I think I've made progress so it was a good day. I'm not sure if it's done yet but I know I have to put it aside and work on something else today so that I'll have fresh, uncondemning eyes to look at it again in a week. I hope.
There is a voice inside of you that whispers all day long, "I feel that this is right for me, I know that this is wrong." No teacher, preacher, parent, friend or wise man can decide what's right for you - just listen to the voice that speaks inside. ~ Shel Silverstein
This is one of my favorite parts of painting, that time when the image begins to emerge and yet there is still so much possibility ahead. It's interesting how much fun the beginning of a piece can be...no expectations, no judgement, just fun and play.
Then I get to the part where I know it's time to begin adding images but I sometimes begin to get a little nervous because I don't like to cover all the lovely pattern and colour and yet I know I must. There isn't a plan that I follow at this point, but I spend quite a lot of time sitting and staring, reviewing sketches and imagining what could be. And then, I pick up a brush and start drawing with paint. Stepping away from the canvas from time to time as the image begins to emerge.
And I stop once again. This is the point I start to consider which colours I will use and, as often as not, choose something totally different as I approach the canvas to work once again. This is where I really have to trust my intuition and something fun happens...and then I have to sit and look for awhile again. The bison I initially thought would be part of this piece have become swallows.
Finally, the finishing touches. As I paint the painting just begins to resolve itself. Shadows and highlights and final marks...fingerprints, circles, lines, handprints...and then the work is suddenly complete. At this point I live with the piece for awhile to see if it calls for any more additions or changes and then it's ready to wire. Trusting that voice inside. All done. And so much fun.
Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
A couple of small canoes are on their way to the Okanagan (hope you love them Colleen!) and I wish I was traveling with them. Great weather, beautiful vineyards, delicious foods and good friends...what could be better?
I'm so glad to get this little 're-fresh' while I'm currently working on two large canoes. Sometimes moving between large and small helps fill the creative well...even though I'm using different marks and colours in each piece, it seems that the act of switching back and forth just tends to get those creative juices flowing.
Sometimes it's necessary to change media or subject matter while I'm working on a series just to keep things fresh, to keep them moving in a good direction. I also tend to learn as much from my mistakes as anything, in fact, sometimes it's those mistakes that end up being a catalyst to something new and interesting. At other times I need to take a break...go for a walk, read, sit in a café for awhile. It's all necessary to continue on this creative journey.
P.S. 'Kanata - the Village' has traveled to its' new home on Manitoulin Island...sigh...I want to go there, too.
AIRdirondack Art Project