Whenever I feel resistance, whether in a painting or a series or even in an exhibition opportunity, I have learned to listen. I used to forge ahead, not paying attention to how I was feeling, but that often turned in a struggle. My heart wasn't in it. Now I know not to push myself and, it is very interesting to learn that the resistance helped push me into a new and better direction. Surprisingly not saying 'yes' to something often leads to better things for me. Whenever I feel pressured to do something, I stop and give myself time to think it through. My husband gave me great advice years ago, and suggested that I always give myself time by looking at my physical calendar in our home, and it really works well for me.
I have been really surprised at how much I've been enjoying plein air painting with watercolours over the past two years. Whether it's been extra warm or bitterly cold, I've been so happy working in the outdoors (in winter I bundle up and, at times, work in my vehicle). I think a big part of the joy of working outdoors has been the medium...it's much easier to transport than oils or acrylics and it's also nice to be able to pop different sizes of sketchbooks into my waist pack. That makes everything so much simpler. I've also learned to switch vodka for water on the especially cold days to stop the water from freezing...though I'm only a sunny day painter in that instance. :)
When I began painting seriously, my favourite subject matter was a still life painting so I thought it would be nice to try it in watercolours. I selected my favourite mug which was a gift that my husband brought back from Germany, and decided to create a basically monochromatic piece. I love how the colours and the application of paint just seems to glow. I enjoy teaching introductory workshops with mugs as the subject as it is a comfortable image that is fairly easy to render, especially if you choose a straight-sided mug. I enjoyed creating this so much that I have a feeling more will be on the way.
Though I don't exactly repeat the same steps whenever I paint a portrait, there is somewhat of a pattern in the process. In this miniature watercolour portrait of Bauhaus artist Anni Albers, I created a sketch using a fine point mechanical pencil followed by painting the shadows using a mix of red and blue to create a shade of purple. Since my palette for this project was minimal (Joan of Art primaries), I layered washes of warm colours then finished with a higher concentrated mixture (less water, more pigment. This 3.25x2.25 portrait on watercolour paper was part of #the100dayproject it was exhibited as part of my artist residency at Sparrow Artspace in Calgary during the month of June.
Mini hearts & moons are now available at
Mukluk Magpies in Airdrie, Alberta. <3
On June 21 I joined a host of professional artists with the Ontario Society of Artists. My presentation focused on how to get your work out there in your local area through print, radio and creative exhibition spaces. My favourite topics! There was a 1-1/2 hour talk followed by a 1/2 hour Q&A. The OSA was founded in 1872 and is the longest continuing arts society and I really enjoyed speaking to another wonderful group of artists.
As often as I paint my daughters, I do tend to struggle a bit more with portraits of my eldest and I'm not sure why that is...but I do find it interesting that no matter how often I 'practice' I am still challenged by certain subject matter. And I don't think that's a bad thing, as it pushes me to keep trying. One thing that I have been enjoying is working on a pearlescent ground and using softer colours, which is another challenge as well.
Recently I stumbled upon this fantastic antique toolbox that had originated in Hamilton, Ontario. When I did a little research on the company, I found that the Jobborn Tool Co. created tools for mechanics. It happens to work perfectly with my watercolours so that I can access them all in between workshops. After adhering magnetic sheets to the back of each pan, I am able to easily pop them into Altoids tins for sharing whenever I lead watercolour workshops...it's so great to be able to use them regularly and so nice to see them in such a beautiful vintage box.
I've really been enjoying painting on a watercolour medium that is traditionally applied to a different substrate like wood, metal or glass but, instead, I've been using it on paper which I then mount to a deep cradled wood panel. This particular base is a pearlescent medium by Daniel Smith and I love the sheen. I wanted to capture a picture of Walter, our family cat who has lived with our daughter at university for the past 4 years but will be moving back home for his 'retirement' years as she's heading off to Europe for her Masters' Degree. It will be a shift for all of us, I think. We always call him a grumpy old man but he really is sweet and loving.
I found it interesting that Mastrius captured this quote in one of our conversations as it is something that is at the top of my mind quite often. The best way to overcome that lack of self-confidence is to get into my studio. Forget what is happening in the world, stop looking online, and just focus on the work. I realized over the years that everyone feels this way sometime, and that personal success is different for everyone,even though we may slightly envy someone else's journey. Grounding myself and taking a step away from any outside influence tends to be the best for me.