Thursday, May 21, 2015

West Coast Mini-Series

After painting prairie images for almost a year, I was ready for a change of scenery. I had four canvases on hand, each 16 x 20" and thought hmm...I can do a West Coast mini series.

When working on the "Prairie Whispers" series, my palette was very different. I used lots of warm colours: yellows, browns and maroon. Now back on the west coast, I am back to intense blues and greens. It was a definite mind switch.

Having taken a recent workshop with Nicholas Pearce, I also wanted to try using his limited palette: phthalo blue, cadmium red light, cadmium red dark, cadmium yellow medium, plus black and white. Because I absolutely love the warmth of Quin gold, I included that in my palette as well.


Heading out to Sea

The first in the series was a painting inspired by a trip last summer to Friendly Cove. This depicts the feeling and view when leaving Gold River aboard the ship. The misty totem in the background welcomes visitors to the island.



 A Quiet Moment by the Lake

The second painting was inspired by a photograph taken in the BC interior that one of my Facebook friends sent me. I was intrigued by the reflections of the trees and mountains.



 Yoquet, Where the Wind Blows

The third painting is also inspired by our trip to Friendly Cove. In this painting, it was all about the tree and the rock. The background is secondary, that is why I pushed it back with misty washes.



 Come, and Sit Awhile

The last painting evokes a sense of peace and tranquility. I added an Adirondack chair, to invite the viewer to sit back, relax and enjoy the view.


Now that my min-series is finished...what to paint next?


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

Monday, May 11, 2015

Picking a Title for your Artwork

Often the hardest part of painting, is not the work itself, but the title that comes later. Sometimes the titles just pop into my head, even before I start the painting. Other times, not so much.

This is the case with this painting.


Last summer we drove up island to Gold River BC and hopped aboard the MV Uchuck III. We were were on a day trip to Friendly Cove, also know as Yuquot - the ancestral home of the Mowachaht / Muchalaht people.

Yuquot translates to “Where the Winds Blow from Many Directions” and is reputed as being the ‘birthplace’ of British Columbia.

It was wonderful to sit back, relax and enjoy the breath-taking scenery. Once we got out to sea, it was quite chilly and yes, the winds were blowing from many directions. I was so glad I had a heavy jacket with a hood on it.

Now, back to the issue of the title:
I thought I would see what the internet has to say about picking a title. One suggestion was to name them from a feeling that you had, or a feeling that you would like the viewer to experience while looking at your artwork. Other suggestions include: factual, abstract, mysterious, sentimental and numerical.


When I look at this painting and remember our trip, I feel an immediate sense of peace and magical tranquility. I used a limited palette giving the painting a sense of cohesion.

Some of the titles I am thinking of are:
"Magical Rock", "Tree of Life", "Tranquility", "Yoquot"
 
Since the paint is barely dry, I think I will give it a day or two to resonate.


I'd love to hear how you title your pieces?


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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How to Ship Artwork

Prairie Whispers - on the Road

Last fall I confirmed an art show for May / June 2015 in Weyburn Saskatchewan. Now that I live in BC, the challenge was how to get the paintings to the gallery?

When I agreed to the contract with the Signal Hill Gallery, it was stated that they would pay for shipping one way, plus pay me an honorarium. I stated that I would be sending between 15 - 17 paintings, the size would not exceed 14 x 18". I wanted to keep the sizes medium for two reasons: first - they would be easier to ship, and second - it keeps the selling prices in the mid-range.

Once the contract was signed, all I had to do was create a body of work. The show is called "Prairie Whispers...depicting the quiet beauty of the prairies." 

After researching shipping prices and insurance, I decided on Canada Post. They not only had the best rates, but there was no limit to the amount of insurance you could add. If you are a business and have a Venture One card then you get a discount. I found that sending individual paintings with Canada Post had always worked in the past. The trick I believe is to purchase additonal insurance, that way you have a tracking number and you can follow the path of your shipment.

I scouted out blue boxes that would fit my sizes, leaving a little room around all sides. Each painting has a piece of Reynolds parchment paper against the painted side so it won't stick (yes it has to be Reynolds as it is the only one with silicone). There is a piece of foam core (cut to size) between each painting. Then I took 3 paintings and wrapped them with bubble wrap. This 68 litre box contains 9 - 14 x 18 inch paintings.

More bubble wrap on the sides and top, makes it a nice snug box.

My smaller pieces, 12 x 16 inches, went into a smaller blue box. I didn't want to force them in, so the last two 12 x 14 inch paintings were wrapped in a cardboard box.


We put gorilla tape around the lids of the blue boxes. We also invested in a strapping kit ($55) from Staples. The boxes are marked with fragile stickers on several sides, plus each box has two shipping labels. The cardboard package is reinforced with copious amounts of clear packing tape. Can you guess that I use to work in a mail room?

Safe and secure the three boxes went out with Canada Post for $166 (below my budget of $200).

Note from gallery: Shipment arrived. All is fine. Will hang show next week.
I'd like to also add that is only took 4 days.


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

Monday, April 13, 2015

Voices in my Head

When I paint, I am constantly hearing voices in my head. I have taken many workshops over the past several years and I recall tips that I have learned.

Before starting a piece, I hear Brian Buckrell saying "Pick a battle that you can win." Hmm, can I do this painting justice? I often joke that 'I survived Brian's bootcamp', but in all seriousness this was the most comprehensive class I have ever attended. I think about foreground, mid-ground, background all the time, even when I'm NOT painting. Thanks for the good start Brian.


I can hear Donna Baspaly saying "Paint painterly and loose those edges." Yes Donna.

At the same time Mike Svob is reminding me to 'Look at the big picture and keep it simple."

Next comes the glazing technique that David Langevin embedded into my consciousness. Should I use a glaze to bring everything together or to push something back? "Learn to handle your tools", David says.


It's a wonder I can get any work done with all these voices in my head. One at time please.

Suzanne Northcott reminds me that I have something to say, that is why I paint. Hmmm...that's deep. There should be a dance moving between background and foreground, thick and thin.

Inevitably half way through the painting my own voice pipes up and says, "What were you thinking?"

But by the end of the painting, I have put my own twists on the painting and it is my signature at the bottom of the canvas. It is my voice that says "Good job. What should we paint next?"


Whose voices do you hear while you are painting?


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

Friday, April 3, 2015

Finding Inspiration in my Gardens

As far back as I remember, I have absolutely LOVED gardening. My house has always been full of plants, starting seeds early in the spring.


I thank my mother for my passion for gardening. Growing up on the farm, my mom always encouraged me to have a little flower bed of my own. There I could plant anything that I wanted. My usual choice were marigolds, possibly because they bloomed for a long time, but also because I have always been attracted to warmer colours. (as you might know if you follow my artwork)



Several years ago I made the move to Canada's West Coast. A good part of the reason to move from Sask. was in search of better weather. In terms of growing zones I was leaving a 2 and heading for a 7 zone. Now I can putter around the yard for 10 months of the year. Spring comes early on the west coast.


I often check my yard a couple times a day, just to see what I can see. It's also a good break from a day of computer work. I get up, stretch, walk outside and breath. Often a quick walk in the yard ends up being an hour or more. A little weeding, some transplanting, plans for future beds ....


If I have a difficult decision or puzzle that I can't quite figure out ... I go outside, start working in the yard, and like magic the solution pops into my head.

Gardening provides endless inspiration for my artwork.


Not to mention that I absolutely love it when my dinner plans includes something fresh from the garden. Plant something today.


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

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Another Great Art Workshop

This past weekend, Island Arts Magazine had the pleasure of hosting Nicholas Pearce's "Limited Palette" acrylic painting workshop. With an almost full class of 11 students, our weekend began.

First thing Saturday morning, Nicholas told us that we were going to listen to music, sing and dance while we paint. The idea is that if you are singing, then your brain does not get hung up on every little detail of your painting. The music was cranked up loud as we began gridding our black canvas.

Gridding wasn't new to me, but I just hadn't done it since art school. It was one of those simple techniques that I had forgotten about. I quite enjoyed the process while singing to the tunes.



After lunch, with our 1.5" brush in hand and using our limited palette of 4 colours plus white, we started blocking in colours. Let me tell you, that brought about a lot of moaning and frustration, from myself and the other students. Threats of smuggling in smaller brushes on Sunday ran rampant. At one point Nicholas left the class room to take a call. I said, "Ha, the teacher's gone." Without missing a beat, most of the class replied "Get out the small brushes."

For myself, painting this way was a test in trying to remember how to mix a particular colour, mixing on the canvas and trying to get your darn brush to work properly. I suggested to Nicholas that perhaps my brush was faulty ... and NOT operator error?!




Sunday morning, we came into class with fresh eyes and thought "Wow" these really aren't too bad. Perhaps Nicholas had stayed all night and worked on our pieces? How nice!

We all worked really hard cleaning up our paintings, while getting into our musical groove. Nicholas walked about giving us encouraging direction. By the end of the weekend, we had a group showing of really spectacular work. BRAVO everyone.


I love organizing and participating in workshops. There are always tricks and tips that come about, from the instructor and also from the participants. In this particular class, I was re-united with the process of gridding; a wonderful tool for working big. I was frustrated with a limited palette and realized that I need to work on my colour mixing skills. I love the idea of down-sizing my palette to only a few colours.

Thanks to Nicholas Pearce for providing us with an energetic, thought prevoking and FUN weekend. Special thanks to all the artists who took on the task of working big with a "Limited Palette".

Check our website often for upcoming workshops.


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

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Designing a Business Card

The start of the new year is a good time to design a new business card. I always have cards handy; in my purse, in my jacket pockets and in the glove box of the car. It is an inexpensive and very effective marketing devise and you never know when you will have the opportunity to hand out your card. I have been known to hand them to someone sitting next to me on a plane. Over the years I have had many different business cards. They have always been very colourful, printed on both sides and on a nice thick card stock.

The first group are some cards from my Toronto graphic design days. I liked having my photo on the card, which I felt gave it a personal touch. In those days I went to many 'business after hours' events for networking. There were usually door-prizes and 8 times out of 10 times, my card would be pulled out of the fish bowl. The luck of the draw, possibly, but more then likely because my card was made of a heavier card stock.


Once I moved to Saskatchewan I started putting my own artwork on my business cards, as you can see by this next bunch. I liked to take advantage of using colour.


This is my latest card. As I am wearing two different hats, the front of the card represents Island Arts Magazine and the back of the card represents Young at Art and my artwork. I like this format very much. For my new card I think I will design something very similar, just using new images.

My advise when designing your business card is:
  • Keep the design clean.
  • Don't put too much text on the card.
  • Don't use too many different font types. Even though a script font may look lovely, it's often hard to read.
  • When using text on a dark background, the text should be bold, otherwise the background ink will bleed into the text, making it hard to read.
  • Keep it simple.

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