To get ready for a Christmas sale, I've been doing a series of cards. Each festive little piece is a pen and ink drawing --with hits of gold paint and red watercolour-- done on 140 lb. watercolour paper, and mounted on standard size, quarter fold cardstock.
I played around with cheery, simple images, tucking Art Deco embellishments here and there.
I would like to share with you a quick sketch I did this fall.
It was a sunny-crisp Saturday just after Thanksgiving. The leaves were a riot of colour, the sun igniting their blazing hues. I sat on the sand and got out my watercolours, enjoying the shapes of bridge and buildings and valley.
For me, that moment was a sigh in my busy autumn, and this picture reminds me of the peace and pure enjoyment of that special Saturday trip to the park.
I've been having a ton of fun with a quirky project a friend asked me to tackle! "Could you please paint a roaring bear on my guitar?" he asked, and then left it at that.
What a great assignment!
I played around with a few ideas, and got several books out of the library (real bedtime literature, with titles like "Bear Attacks" and "Bear Survival" --full of gory tales of camping trips gone wrong... and of course when my eye would catch a word like "severed" or "crazed" there was no way I could keep myself from reading the rest of the page).
Finally, I decided to use as inspiration the picture from the front of a magazine: perfect profile, great lighting, amazingly wide jaws--just what I had been hoping to find!
Jordan had already sanded down his guitar, so after painting the bear, I finished the whole guitar with a water-based, matte varathane (he explained that super-shiny finishes on guitars are a thing of the past --think of the blindingly glossy guitars of the 1990s).
Thank you to everyone who stopped by my show at Art Walk this past weekend! Your support means more than I can say. The weather was great--which isn't a given this summer-- and people absolutely poured past each day. With the sweltering afternoons, my location by the Marble Slab turned out to be gold; there was a steady line in and out of the shop, which gave people time to stop and look at my work. I met some great art enthusiasts, encouragers and gallery owners. While exhausting, the three-day marathon turned out to be a great opportunity to meet people and sell art. Thank you to all of you who bought a painting!
I've been thinking a lot about underpainting. The Old Masters would paint in monochromatic tones beneath their paintings, and then build them up with layer upon layer of washes, carefully mixed with egg to allow them to have just the right translucence to let the richness of the underpainting show through. Then, along came other schools of thought-- like Van Gogh, who would dash paint onto the canvas in the heat of the day, breaking rules left and right, using paint right out of the tube, portraying the sun as a round orange in the middle of the sky. His underpainting was nothing more than a quick outline in black. Maybe what got me thinking about this was a workshop I took this winter... the course instructor taught about painting "hot" colours beneath the light sources. Like how a blue sky (blue is a shady, "cool" colour) is actually, when you look out your window, the brightest part of the view. So how do you make your canvas "read" like real life? Her solution: paint pink (a warm colour) beneath. Underpainting. I've been honing this a bit, trying to use her wisdom without stealing her style. So when you look at this cow number 25, I thought you might be interested to hear about the underneath layers... the purples beneath the red of her coat, the blue in the eyes.
This latest installation comes after a treasured trip to catch up with friends. Our gloriously relaxing day finished with a visit to the family farm. Feeling a little ridiculous, I asked if I might take a few pictures [caption: City Tourist Visits Real Farmyard for First Time], but knowing that I'm an oddball-artist-type, they graciously hung around while I snapped picture after picture. The evening was still, and the cattle clustered together in the glowing late sun. Everything was dappled in shapes and shadows. When I got back to my easel, I tried to capture the warmth and peace of that night. It being a long, narrow canvas, I encountered several unexpected challenges in painting three "points of interest" in such a long line--keeping the eye moving through the whole painting while at the same time creating a feeling of unity and oneness through such a wide angle was a new dilemma for me and I enjoyed tackling it! With these dimensions, this would make great piece to hang above a sofa or dining room sideboard.
In the midst of road trips, guests, cookie baking marathons and de-shingling a roof, I snatched at the quiet hours here and there to get some paint onto canvas.
This is a face that reminds me of so many people-- that way of pressing in her top lip like she's about to chuckle; her nose is remarkably similar to my college roommate's; her eyes take me back to the liquid look of a girl I once babysat.
I really played up the sun patches on her face and studied the bounce of reflected light from the sunlight warming her turquoise kameez.
This painting is from a sketch I did this past summer (which you can look at in my pen and ink section). It is a study in shapes and shadows, with something of a 1950s Pop Art feel. I was inspired by the expression on the face of the woman--so hopeful and serene.
A landmark event: my new camera arrived-- yay for Air Miles! To celebrate the occasion, here are three paintings.
The first is an English garden, with a climbing rose tangled through an apple tree: thoroughly pink and lacy.
The second is a profile that mingles skin with landscape, since the nose itself is over four inches long. I did it as a study of contours, and tried to approach it in the same way I would the profile of a cliff edge.
And the third is a a stand of poplars I painted on location this past summer. What caught my attention was the unexpected contrast between the trees, dove-grey in their own shadows, and the backdrop of sunny foliage.
These two acrylic paintings are on the smaller size-- 8"x10" and 9"x12". They're studies in warmth and shadow, and I hope you enjoy the scenes from my summer vacation. The old poplar tree was from our holidays in the Rockies this past August; I was struck by how the afternoon sun silhouetted the poplar against the sky, and since I was madly painting something else at the time, I took a few snapshots to keep me busy during the winter months. The serene porch view was from a trip to New Brunswick. My uncle and aunt have a storybook home there --nestled against a lake, with lush trees and peonies and shrubs-- our visit was drenched with peace and beauty.
Over the past year, I have been involved with a project called “52 Weeks: Sketchpad and Shutter.” It was a friendly, rather relentless challenge a photographer and I took on, in which we produced a finished picture each week for an entire year—she with her lens and I with my fist full of pencils and paints.
Of course being involved in an all-out project like this creates a lot of energy and out of this has come many paintings, studies for my larger works at Artwalk 2011 as well as painstaking pen and ink drawings.
Join me on this outpouring of the past 52 Weeks—through winter mornings curled up with my sketchpad and tea, springtime adventures in puddles and rain, and sun-saturated summer holidays spent in the Rocky Mountains.
You’re invited to see the whole collection this summer at Artwalk! I’ll be selling my work right in front of Marble Slab Creamery, and I look forward to meeting you!