Thursday, February 8, 2018

Painting and Organizing my Studio

I decided that February was the perfect time to clean, paint and re-organize my studio / office.

I started the arduous task of taking everything out, so I could strip the wallpaper trim (ugh), and wash the walls. The wall colour was a minty green.



Once the room was emptied, and cleaned, my husband Jeff lovingly painted the walls. I struggled a bit choosing the perfect paint colour.

I did a google search; 'best colour for studio.' Some sites suggested a plain colour like beige, other suggested neutral grey. What? Then I thought "Ha, this is my space, I spend the most time in here, so why not paint it a colour that I like?" I choose the same warm terracotta that we used on the bottom half of our living room. It's from my favourite colour palette and ties in nicely with the rest of the house.



The reorganizing took a bit to figure out. I didn't want to put everything back the way it was. This was also a good time to go through and get rid of 'stuff'.

The wooden bookcase was moved over to the left and became part of my paint station. It also blends in with the wall colour.

Behind the bookcase and out of sight is a shelving unit that Jeff built specifically for my canvas.

Last but not least, I thought that I could eliminate the white book case from the room, freeing up some more space. I asked my husband to retro fit the bookcase, so it would slide into the closet. It is usable, but once you close the closet doors, voila it is out of sight.


I absolutely love the new look. Now...back to work!



Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...
Susan

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Doing Something GREAT!

Each new year we flip our calendars to January. A new year - a fresh start. It's a year of doing something great!

As I go through my day, a thought keeps popping up - this year I want to do something GREAT!
What shall I do?

When walking with my spouse one morning, I told him that I wanted to do something GREAT this year. He said, It won't be any different then last year. You do something great every year. Ah!!! Thanks honey.

That got me thinking...what do I do?

I paint, and paint and paint. When the painting is finished, sold and off to it's forever home, I am filled with gratitude, knowing that it makes someone feel GREAT!


I design my publication, Island Arts Magazine. I try to make each ad design individual and fantastic. When I put the issue to bed, I say to my husband, "This is the BEST issue EVER." And it should be, shouldn't it? I've been doing this for 10+ years and I still love the process. That's GREAT!

This year instead of having thoughts of doing something GREAT, like climbing a mountain (ugh) or going on a pilgrimage (no thank you), I will just continue to go through each day...doing the best I can ... and being the best person I can be. And I think that is GREAT.




Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...
Susan

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Bringing a Painting to Life

If you can imagine one of those animated flip books that we had as kids, then you will imagine how this painting came to life.


First I covered the entire canvas with warm colours, making such no white was showing.



Next, I mixed up some paint for my sky, and worked on the negative shapes of the background, which in turn defines your positive leaf shapes. This was a bit of a mind game. It was also rather exhausting and took a long time. Slowly the painting started to come to life.

Once the leaves took shape, I danced back and forth between the background and the foreground.

At some point I decided that I wanted to add a bird into the painting, so I made a nice space for him to perch on a stem.


Adding the blue bird gave the painting more character.
Then many many more dabs and brush marks and dah, dah....

"Fall Palette", 20 x 16", acrylic on canvas

To see more, please visit my online gallery

Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...
Susan

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Using Photos for Reference

I wanted to show you how I take photographs and use them for references for my paintings.

I usually have a camera with me, ready to take the shot.
I was drawn to the simplicity of this photo - the understated beauty of the prairies.


When it came time to teach a class at the Chapel Gallery on "Barns, Elevators and Old Sheds", I knew which image I would use for my demo painting.

I felt the foreground needed some motion. I came across this photo. I liked the movement that it offered.


Using the two photos for reference only, this is my interpretation.


To see more "Prairie Whispers", please visit my online gallery.


Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...
Susan

Monday, April 11, 2016

My Warrior Dog - Cheyenne

Each April I feel a little sad, as I recall saying good-bye to Cheyenne 6 years ago.
This year, instead of reliving the sadness, I am going to tell you how great he was.

I rescued Cheyenne from the Regina Humane Society in Sept. 2000. He was 6 months old and had been locked up for the first 6 months of his life. He was a scared little boy. Driving back from Regina to my acreage he stayed curled up and whimpered the whole trip. I thought "Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into?"

I put him in the sunroom which was to be his bedroom. He had his own full sized couch, food and water and lots of windows. The next morning, when I looked at my dog, I saw a total transformation. He was alert, curious and full of joy. Taking him outside the first few days was quite funny. It was all new to him. He was curious about butterflies, he hopped the hills chasing grasshoppers and literally smelled the flowers.  Look out for the bees!



I quickly became aware of what a gift Cheyenne was. His intelligence was none that I had ever experienced with a dog before. I would tell him something once or twice and he just GOT IT. I didn't train him. He just knew. He picked up on the slightest nuances, often knowing what I was going to do - before I did. He had an old soul of a re-incarnated swami.





We became quite the team in the Qu'Appelle Valley. My dog was always with me. His job was to protect. I had no problem leaving my vehicle unlocked with my purse in it, as long as Cheyenne was there. You know that old Peter Sellers movie where they say "Does your dog bit?" "Yes, my dog does bite - if he doesn't know you." As soon as I would tell him "It's O.K." then he would relax.


He quickly warmed the heart of my mother, who would say "No dogs allowed in the house. O.K. maybe he can stay in the porch. " Next thing you know, he was in the kitchen and it didn't take long till he was stretched out on the living room carpet doing some doggie yoga moves. "But don't tell the others", mom would say. I recall one Christmas when there were three dogs bounding across the furniture in the living room, and my mother just threw her arms in the air and laughed.

He was also the avenger of all things unjust. If a neighbourhood dog was getting picked on by another dog, he would quickly take down the bully. He also did his best to keep the coyotes off the property, often chasing them down the road. Cows were allowed only on the other side of the fence.


When I went to Mexico for a month and left him at the farm, I must say I was a bit concerned. My nephews were young and I feared that he might bite them if they got too rough. I obviously had nothing to worry about, as Cheyenne had such a gentle side to him.


My neighbours Ken and Irene absolutely LOVED Cheyenne and he loved them too. On another trip to Mexico I left Cheyenne with them for a few weeks. On my return, I went to pick him up and Irene said "I hope you don't mind, but since it was his last night with us, we gave him a burger for dinner and ice cream for dessert." No I didn't mind. There was a bit of a hesitation from Cheyenne when I told him it was time to go home. He was probably thinking, "Hm, maybe I could just stay one more night?"


Cheyenne got cancer. When I had to say goodbye to my beautiful dog, it was one of the hardest things I have had to do. You may say that I rescued Cheyenne - but in truth he rescued Me.

Thanks Cheyenne!

(oh dear, and now I am starting to cry).


Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...
Susan

Monday, April 4, 2016

12 Steps - The Art of Packaging ART

When shipping artwork, I like to go above and beyond when it comes to the packaging. Perhaps it comes from my government employee years of working in the mail room. I like to ensure that the artwork will arrive safely.

Here are my 12 easy steps in the "Art of Packaging."

 1) When packaging acrylic paintings, I always place Reynolds parchment paper on the top side of the paintings. This gives a layer between it and the cardboard, without sticking. (must be Reynolds as it is the only one that I know of that contains silicone)

 2) Cut a sheet of cardboard the same size as the painting, and place this on top of the first painting.

 3) In this case, the second painting is smaller then the first, but the same applies. First Reynolds parchment, then the artwork goes front to front on top of the larger painting. I always like to send a few cards of the image, plus my contact information placed in a plastic sleeve at the back of the painting. It's a great marketing practice.

 4) I have rolls of plastic that I wrap around both paintings, making them nice and secure.

 5) I find a box that is slightly larger then the biggest piece. If the box is oversize you will need to cut it down, which is what I've done. You want to have at least an inch on all sides of the paintings. Do a rough pack for positioning and height.

 6) Cut a piece of cardboard to fit snugly on top of the paintings for protection. You don't want to have any wiggle room.

 7) Measure the distance from the top of the cardboard (step # 6)  to the top of the flap. Mark with a pen. This will help you figure out your fold line to create the box. As Norm on This Old House would say, measure twice and cut once.

 8) Remove the paintings from the box. With a crochet hook, and ruler, I make a score line around all four sides of the inside of the box.With an exacto knife carefully cut down the corner, to the score line.


 9) Carefully fold in all sides of the box. You are almost done.

 10) Place the paintings back in the box. Put the packing around the sides. Remember to place the cardboard on top of that.

11) Fold in the two end pieces first. Secure with tape. Then fold in the sides. Everything should be nice and tight. Don't spare on the tape. I like to go at least twice around the entire box with tape going over the label. Remember to tape the corners as well.

12) Last but not least, I add some bright fragile stickers. This package is ready to go to the post office for shipping, and insurance.

Easy...eh. Any questions?


Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...
Susan

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Art of Distraction

I was off to the store to buy some mushrooms. I had requested turkey tetrazzini for supper - a tasty way of using up some of our left-over turkey.

I decided to make a pit stop first, so I pulled off the road at Nile Creek.

The view was spectacular. When I saw the magnesium blue sky, the titanium white clouds with the mountains in the background, I wanted to drop down to the ground, bow to Mother Nature and, as artist Brian Buckrell would say. "Knock off a painting." But remember I was on my way to buy mushrooms, and I didn't have any paints or canvas with me. I did have my camera! (never leave home without it)



I walked around took many shots, sat down and breathed. Nobody was there. I had this amazing spot to myself for a time. "I am so blessed to have this kind of view in my backyard." I watched the birds for a long while as they splashed and squawked about who knows what.


I stopped and picked up a piece of drift wood. I took more photos, squished through the sand, turned over a sea shell...and then remembered "Mushrooms!" Oh ya, I was suppose to go to the store.


It's very easy for me to get diverted off my original course, especially when you live on beautiful Vancouver Island. The Art of Distraction is everywhere!

Yes, I did get the store, I did buy some mushrooms and the tettrazzina that night was delicious!!!


Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...
Susan