Since I had struggled so much with the two large paintings which I am now re-working (starting from scratch) I thought I'd try something a little different (for me) and begin with quinacridone magenta...those who know me also know of my dislike for the colour pink. Not really dislike, as my eldest lives in pink (it's always been her favorite colour and looks great on her), but a colour I tend to avoid as it can be a challenge for me. But this is such a lovely rich transparent vibrant staining colour...quite delicious actually. I think I'll have to add this one to my repertoire of alizarin crimson, pthalo or Prussian blue and dioxazine purple for great staining power and rich colour.
Plus, I got to try out my new Liquitex free-style professional artist's brush and I have to say I absolutely, positively LOVE it!!! It's both rigid and soft at the same time and holds a lot of colour and water, which I like to use plenty of to spread the pigment around and to encourage that lovely dripping. I now have two free-style brushes, the no. 2 round traditional and this 2 inch paddle and I know that I will be replacing my other brushes with these as needed. I love everything about them, especially how they feel in my hands as both my thumbs are double-jointed and can become uncomfortable very quickly.
I am a huge fan of Liquitex products, which is actually kind of funny as I remember my mom using Liquitex liquid embroidery when I was young and so avoided the products for many years because I thought they might be more of a craft product rather than artists' grade. And yet, it's the only paint which I've found so far that doesn't bother my family (allergies) and I love the large lids, both for ease of opening (you know, the thumbs) and because they stand upright well. I wish I could be their spokesperson. I know, I know...never judge a book by its cover. Lesson (hopefully) learned.
Empty Bowls 2014
It's that time of year again...Empty Bowls the annual Food Bank fundraiser. I always enjoy the afternoon of bowl painting as I don't always get to spend time with all the people I enjoy so much, the big bonus is that it's for such a terrific cause.
Over the years I've painted chairs, canoes, birch trees and this year I'm planning on lilies. When I lived in Saskatchewan I created a series of mixed media lily and gold leaf paintings that all sold very quickly. I was blessed to live near wonderful neighbors, one who invited the girls and I for iced tea and an afternoon visit to her lily garden. It was a great place to sketch and photograph these beauties for inspiration.
This year I will be hosting the reveal of this year's AIRdirondack Art Project at the Empty Bowls Festival in Nose Creek Park on June 21 and I cannot wait to see all the fabulous new chair art! This is our fifth AIRdirondack project and it just keeps getting better each year.
Somerset Studio Gallery Magazine
Thrilled to finally share that another article has been published, this time in the Summer 2014 issue of Somerset Studio Gallery, which also happens to be the 15th Anniversary, that will be available June 1. This one was a complete surprise as initially I was asked to contribute my heART blox and then there was a new Editor so I was under the impression that it was rejected and then it was picked up for this publication created by Stampington & Company. My copy came in the mail last night and this issue will be available in stores across North America on June 1.
I often feel as though I live a bit of a double life in the art world...one side of me is the artist who creates a body of work, writes about it, exhibits it in a professional environment along with writing articles about art and artists; the other side is the crafter of my youth who gets to experiment and play with craft supplies and then I get to write about my process and share it. It's a perfect balance.
It's certainly been a good spring/summer already and it's only just begun.
I've been working on (struggling with) a couple of large pieces for the past month and I finally realized it was time to get back to white canvas and begin again. One of my favorite tools is a small foam roller which I picked up at a Dollar Store several years ago. That way I can squeeze gesso directly onto the canvas, quickly cover what irritated me in the first place and start fresh. It helps cover a large surface so quickly that I can't change my mind and go back.
As difficult as it can be to cover those previous layers of (expensive) paint, in the end I always know it's for the best. I don't think I've met an artist who doesn't realize that there are times work cannot be salvaged, though I do tend to live with things for awhile just to see how they'll get along. And there are times that the thing that bothered me does get resolved through work. There are also other times when patrons absolutely fall in love with the work as it is. Always a surprise but a good feeling when someone connects with the work.
But, in these two cases, it's been like beating a dead horse (gosh that's a dark expression)...anyway, I breathed a sigh of relief once the gesso began to cover the images and now I can't wait for them to dry well so I can start anew. Oh the possibilities!
I've begun working on a new project which is very exciting for me as through this work I may have stumbled onto my next 52 WEEKS PROJECT. The idea has been simmering for several weeks but suddenly last night I had a clear vision of what it should be...now just to decide whether I begin this summer or wait until January. Though I will begin collecting supplies.
I'm always fascinated how ideas come, at times they come slowly, simmering and brewing and requiring so much research along with trial and error. At others, they pop up suddenly and disrupt my sleep, in a good way. Though in every case I find that once I stop thinking about it, things tend to come to a perfect resolution on their own.
I've been told I tend to over-think everything, which I believe I do and yet I know better. The more I try to push for resolutions which is followed by panic wondering if I'll ever be inspired again, the more the inspiration seems to elude me. But once I stop thinking and just get to work...on anything...the ideas begin to flutter and all I have to do is reach out and pick one...or two. Any more and I become easily overwhelmed.
So, once again, I put aside any thoughts of the project and set down to work and suddenly everything fell into place. Oh I like those days.
When I first began documenting my work in photographs before the digital era, I used a Minolta SLR and tripod with a backdrop and proper photo lighting and took a ton of photos all the while adjusting the lighting, tripod and settings on my camera. I never knew how they would turn out until they were developed and at times I would have to do it all over again, or live with a slightly blurry photo if the painting had already sold.
Now, with digital media life is so much simpler. I began with an inexpensive point and shoot camera but have since moved up to a Canon EOS Rebel T3i but still use the same basic principals...lots of pictures in different settings...though I no longer use a backdrop and photo lights.
Natural lighting tends to capture the colours more faithfully than anything man-made that I could set up previously, plus it's so much simpler. At different times of the year and under different weather conditions I tend to move around. Man-made lighting tends to cast an orange or yellow or even blue hue on everything.
The top photo is in my south facing front yard by mature evergreen trees which is ideal in spring and fall. Underneath it, the photo on the far left is taken on my dining table with a west facing window and seems to work really well in winter. Beside it is my north facing back deck and I love the colours I can capture in summer, though I prefer a sunny day with me in sun and the painting in light shadow. Since our house is higher than any of our neighbors, I don't have to worry about shadows cast by any other buildings. Depending on cloud cover, rain or snow, the third photo shows my south facing living room floor. We have a large bay window and those large evergreens that filter light. And, finally, almost any time of year and under most weather conditions, my north facing kitchen tends to capture the colours best. In the room we have a west facing window that is shadowed a little by a roof and north facing French doors...the ideal light. It would be a perfect studio.
I will often move the piece around to photograph it under several different lighting conditions to see which shows the truest colour, which can sometimes be a challenge when the work measures 5 feet but it's always worth the effort. And from there I will do whatever it takes to get an accurate photo...crouch, lie down, stand on chairs or ladders...my neighbors are quite familiar with seeing me in unusual situations and chalk it up to living near an artist.
Then, I set my camera to its highest settings, center the image, and zoom in as much as possible so it won't require much cropping and will retain a high resolution (both pixels and dpi). I have taken a couple of photography courses to learn more about photography, but I tend to let the camera do most of the work and did read the manual in order to learn how to change the settings. I brace my elbows against my body, take a deep breath and hold it, then shoot the image. I often take photos both on the manual setting where I can focus the image and on automatic - I have to admit, the eyesight just isn't what it used to be and the camera's automatic settings are fantastic.
Finally, I install my camera card into my computer and open a (free) photo editing software to view and crop the images. Some of the free editing software are IrfanView, Gimp, Picasa, Picnik, and Pixlr though I haven't tried them all and there are many more. I personally don't edit anything but cropping or dpi and pixel size so I prefer to use something that isn't too challenging. Plus, I don't tend to spend too much time at my computer. Like everything, I always do suggest research.
When I'm taking other 'fun' photos for my blog, I still use natural light as much as possible and take them from many different angles and I've found that I can get some very interesting images this way. I hope this helps!
I've been having so much fun painting with acrylics in my journal...don't know why I haven't done this before, instead drawing or painting with watercolours and yet acrylics are my favorite media. I think I'll add some writing to this page which includes the first three houses my husband and I bought at different stages in our marriage. We are now in our fourth and it's been a record for us, going on nine years.
Our first home in Winnipeg is where we lived when our first daughter was born, where we walked along the river with her and our first pooch, Phoebe (our pets have always been rescues so they tend to come with interesting names). Though we lived in the city, our yard was massive, like a small park, and we found out that the home was the original farmhouse in the area with a couple of small additions added throughout the years. It was only 1000 square feet and yet a family of ten had been raised in it during its time as a farmhouse. It was quaint with beautiful features like French doors, bay and palladian windows.
Our second home was another old farmhouse, this time on an acreage outside the city near a small town whose name translated to 'Little Field'. It was quite idyllic living there, an abundance of garden vegetables with cantaloupes that grew the size of basketballs and watermelons triple that. It was where I learned to can tomatoes, pickles, salsa and jam.
Our third home was in Alberta, in Airdrie, named after a Scottish community and Gaelic for 'King's Heights'. It looked like a tiny cottage, which I loved, but once inside it seemed to keep going. Plus it was surrounded by Nose Creek and the park so we had plenty of wildlife around us...hawks, foxes, herons, mallards, muskrats, the occasional beaver...and our yard was massive. Plus, this was where we had our second daughter. Very special memories.
Now all that's left is to paint our current home...probably my favorite of the bunch. I have noticed that each of our homes looked a bit like English cottages, which is interesting to me as I'm always drawn to British programming and design...over-stuffed leather chairs, book cases crammed with reading material, and over-grown gardens. And here I've always believed I wanted to live in a log cabin. Hmmm...very interesting.
in·spi·ra·tion noun \ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən, -(ˌ)spi-\ .
Last weekend as I was sitting in church I kept thinking how fortunate I am to be living in North America, where I have the opportunity to not only survive but to thrive. We get to pick and choose what it is we do daily, to select the food we get to eat, the clothes we get to wear, and yet the human condition is that we all struggle. If not for just basic survival, then to find our place in this world. To discover that thing that makes our hearts sing.
I had the most wonderful conversation yesterday, about empowerment and how that comes from taking a small step, sometimes by just being brave enough to ask a simple question. Two years ago when I submitted a query to Cloth Paper Scissors magazine I really didn't expect immediate acceptance, and yet from that stemmed several other articles until the most recent request to write for Artful Blogging magazine, which has already led to two more articles. And I realized, that this has nothing to do with marketing or selling myself but rather to do with following that thing inside that leads me to create art and to write about it. It just clicks for me.
Words and art have both always been important to me. I remember when I was growing up I never felt like I had anything to contribute but my art and English teachers felt otherwise...thank goodness for the encouragement of those teachers. But I also often felt that painting felt like a selfish act - I wasn't creating something that could physically help someone else.
Thankfully, that feeling has shifted as I hear from patrons who live with what I create and I learn how much my work affects them, inspires them, and touches them deeply. And I hope that the articles I write will inspire someone to create something for themselves or to share with others because what I get to do is such a blessing for me, it heals me, and hearing from others inspires me, too.
The word, inspiration, comes from the Latin root inspiro meaning 'breath of God'. It's how I feel every time I pick up a paintbrush or pencil. I'm often surprised by the results and though I know my work isn't like someone else's, which really is a good thing but I sometimes get caught up in comparison, I am so grateful for daily inspiration.
So as I face challenges in other areas of my life, I know how wonderful it is to spend time in my studio or outdoors and to breath in inspiration. To allow experimentation and play and to breath out any anxiety. It really is a good idea.
In spite of the weather we had a wonderful weekend...picked up a few treats at Michael's, perused some fantastic art books at Indigo for inspiration (planning for a new year-long project), spent the afternoon in Cochrane beginning with a lovely Yak tea (market spice tea latte) at Coffee Traders and culminating with a visit to Tyrell Clarke's new gallery.
Plus, a project I've been working on is finally coming to fruition...it's been one of those 'oh it looks great...never mind' kind of processes. That seems to happen a lot. Especially when I'm specifically working on something to share. That's the kind of thing that I hope to communicate whenever I teach, that everything has its ups and downs. That even artists who have been creating for years experience challenges. And that each layer adds to the final product. Trust the old adage of 'never give up'
Anyway, I'm excited to play with the Liquitex spray paint and happy to finally get a Liquitex free-style paintbrush for adding large washes of colour. Already tried it and it feels terrific in my hand. The bristles are both flexible and firm, just the way I like it.
The Naked Leaf
The Naked Leaf is a wonderful tea shop in Kensington in Calgary and I'm excited to share two of the tea tin labels that feature my work. Not only do they carry the most wonderful teas, they also have sweet or savory scones which they serve daily. A perfect place to warm up by the fireplace, enjoy a pot of tea and a delicious snack.