My Painted Ladies
Top Row: Finding My Way (36x36), Visitors (36x36)
Bottom Row: Gathering Place (24x30), Travellers (40x30)
The first group of 4 painted ladies are finished and I'm very pleased with them. They have been an interesting challenge and I am so happy to be working on another series once again. It really is wonderful to be working toward something that I feel strongly about and to see a body of work growing, also scary to gauge one piece against another. The colours are beautifully vibrant and I'm glad to be working toward something again, to combine the street art style of graffiti with historical fashion. I love connecting the present and the past in this way.
After studying Art & Design in Alberta many years ago, I was on my way to Toronto to study Fashion Design but met my husband in the prairies and didn't continue. Over the past two years my daughter has been designing and creating beautiful clothing which I have been photographing and now have been drawn to utilizing those photographs in this body of work. I believe fashion is about pursuing a life that is not about appearance but rather self-empowerment. It is a form of self-expression, a way to share who you are without words. On its own the clothing we choose to adorn ourselves with and the way it moves can convey a feeling. This is a way to remember my personal history and to collaborate with a new generation of woman. To view my daughter's work please visit her website here.
This is actually the third painting I began even though I haven't finished the first and am almost done the fourth. Sometimes this is often how the creative process works for me. I love how this looks as it is but I know it's not done and I'm not sure what colour I want the dress though I am thinking of a creamy white as the original dress had a cream background with red patterns.
The other thing is that these dresses are printed fabric but I really like the look of solid colours against my patterned backgrounds. The challenge with that is that I have to be careful about painting over an area with pattern that I'd like to keep, though working with acrylics gives me a little time to wipe an error back using water and a rag, especially if I make sure to give the background plenty of curing time so that I don't erase that lovely under painting.
Now that I've spoken about it, I think I might be ready to commit to actually painting it! Or maybe I'll begin another one. :)
The past week has been amazing...this autumn weather is my favorite and being able to paint outside is a real treat. Daily my easel has been transported into our kitchen and back out onto the deck which has been such a wonderful way to work. I can see the easel from a distance our livingroom which has been helping me to see little adjustments that are needed as they are needed. I'm beginning to think the easel along with my little pochade which holds my art supplies will stay in here throughout the winter or at least part of it as there are two natural light sources (a window and French doors) and they face the north which is the best painting light.
I'm still struggling with titles for these paintings but have been getting some great ideas such as using names from vintage fashion plates, books or the historical names of grandmothers. Sometimes the naming can be a bit nerve wracking but collaborating and getting input from others is making this process much more pleasant. Hmmmm...I can't wait to see where this leads.
I'm often asked for advice on how to become a successful artist which is strange in that I feel like I just paint. But I get it...in the past I have wondered the same thing. I think the first thing to figure out is what success looks like to you. For me it is painting every day, having time to spend with my family, travelling, buying art supplies, and putting some money aside for the future. In that regard I do feel successful.
But it can also be difficult. Very difficult. My work has gone missing, been damaged, there have been times I haven't received finances that were owed, and there has been much criticism both about my work and about me personally. Over time I realized that what matters is that I get to do the work (it is a privilege), that I receive amazing support from family and friends and those who have become friends because of this work that I do, and and that I get to pay it forward by sharing some of the lessons I have learned over the years.
I learned to trust my instincts, to work in collaboration with others, to volunteer my time, to build relationships that are valuable to everyone involved. I love that...I love that I have these opportunities. I also learned that probably half of what I create doesn't sell but that's okay because I love to create a lot, and I don't share everything either, sometimes it's just for me, to learn or to have fun (or both).
At one point I tried to give this life up but became so sad. I know that what I do is important for me. And in the end that is all that matters.
eCourse: Altering Books
I finally did it! I created a short online workshop which consists of a PDF and links to two short 15 minutes (or less) videos. I love little 'art bites' and learning something new without spending hours in front of a computer screen so I thought I'd share what I've learned about altered art over a number of years. I've been fortunate to be involved with teaching both in person and as a contributing artist online through 21 SECRETS and Creative Retreat and have loved it each time.
I was really happy to begin my foray into altered books and art journaling with an incredible group of talented artists - Supria Karmakar (who was the brilliant mastermind behind the Inner Works Collaborative, Seth Apter, Roxanne Evans Stout, Rita Vindedzis, and Jill Zaheer. It took awhile for me to find my voice working in altered books and it really wasn't until I began taking what I was doing on canvas and transferring it to this substrate that I began to trust my inner voice and have fun.
The workshop is now available through my Etsy shop here.
So, I've had a chance to try out more of these acrylics and I think I like them. They're not as thick or as opaque as the Liquitex Heavy Body acrylics that I've been using for years but they have a kind of oil paint consistency and blendability that I enjoy. So far I have been mixing them with some of my Liquitex colours and am happy with how they mix together. I'll keep working with them and maybe I'll create a little video as well. I'll definitely keep you posted.
Thinking of titles...
As I've been working on this series that I'm currently calling 'Fashion Plates' I am stumped on titles. Because my work was more about feelings and a bit of a story or fairytale in the past, it was easy to use my imagination, but since these are based on photos of my daughter in period costumes that she created, I'm uncertain. Do I give them the titles of books that they remind me of, in this case Anna Karenina or War & Peace, or do I give them names of women...the other painting I've almost completed reminds me of Marie Antoinette...or do I give them variations of my daughter's name? She's Katherine Anna which is a regal and European name, which this image reminds me of, and other names like Kit or Kitty, Kissing Kate, or some other old western variation for yet another painting I'm currently working on. There's also Katya (which I think would suit this painting), Kay, Kat, Katyusha, Kasia, Katherina (who she is named after), Katriona, Kathleen, Katrina, Katelynn, Tina, Trina, Wren...and it seems the list goes on. Perhaps the pieces in this series won't be named until there are a collection of them. Oh the possibilities!
I've been very curious about the Artist's Loft professional grade acrylic paints and with a great sale this week I decided to purchase a selection from my personal basic palette. Sometimes I throw a couple of other colours in the mix such as unbleached titanium or turquoise and like to switch out the blues between pthalo and prussian blue and the reds between napthol and cadmium red medium. I have really been trying to avoid cadmium colours because they're not great for me but sometimes they're just so pretty. Here's my list:
So...after stating that I've decided not to work in series, it seems that these 'fashion plates' paintings have got me very excited to think about painting another series. We spent a lovely weekend with my eldest daughter and her extended family in Lethbridge for Thanksgiving and, as the weather has turned, it's been wonderful to spend time in my studio again. I keep thinking I'll go back into the first one I painted but I think, just like the 52 WEEKS::Heroes paintings which focused on portraits, the first few weeks of the series takes a bit of adjustment and a period of a testing of the waters until I'm happy and comfortable with the process and the end result. I'm thrilled because I finally feel like I have a direction again. I'm going to try to work slowly and not rush this process but I am happy. And it's lovely as these are based on the photos I have been taking of my daughter's fashion designs. Not only is she a talented tailor/designer, but a wonderful model. too. If you'd like to see her work, visit her at The Modiste.