Sunday, March 30, 2014

Working from Photographs

On my trip to New Mexico last year I took two cameras with me. I didn't want to risk having one camera conk out. I took hundreds of photos, not wanting to miss anything. When I am in the mood to 'paint New Mexico', the hardest problem is deciding what image to use. I can spend hours going through the photos, happily drifting back into time.

Although I usually work from photos as a reference, at some point the painterly muse takes over. Below are samples of my paintings, with the reference image on the left and the finished piece on the right.

 "Colours of Santa Fe", 8 x 8"

The photo was taken on Canyon Road, known for its hundreds of galleries. The streets are lined with warm colours, turquoise painted windows and doors and mucho big potted flowers.

"Taos Pueblo Traditions", 8 x 8"

A tour of the Taos Pueblos was, for me, one of the highlights of the trip. I was drawn to the simplicity of the lines of this design. In the end, I felt it needed a bit more colour, thus I added some strokes of grass in the foreground plus a design in the window curtain.

"Santa Fe Gallery", 8 x 8"

The curves and colours of the adobe buildings was so inviting, and what I would call the real New Mexico. One could imagine walking through the door and finding a lovely garden studio gallery.

Dreaming of New Mexico ....

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

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why I Love Workshops

I never tire of organizing and attending workshops. This past weekend was no exception.

Almost two years in the planning, it was our pleasure to host David Langevin for a painting workshop; his first on Vancouver Island.

Three days may sound like a long enough time, but the days just flew by. Friday we worked mostly on theory; properties of paint, etc. It's a good idea to have a clear understanding of your materials. Notes were made, great questions were asked and answered and many laughs made for a fun and informative day. We had time in the afternoon to practice glazes and veils.

Day two we worked on a painting using glazes and veils, as the old master Caravaggio painted. David says "Now take the glaze and brush it across the entire surface. Understand? Now you try."

Day 3 we tackled a grisaille painting; a method using different shades of grey. Once you have a strong value painting, you then add the colour.

We all enjoyed David's 'magic' as he went through his process of working on a painting. It  brought on great discussions, conversations and lots of laughter.

Starting with a detailed drawing on the canvas, he puts a warm glaze over the entire surface.
More glazes, more colour, more discussion - the painting quickly came to life.

Looking good now! Asked if it is finished, David says "Nope, not yet."

David is a master of the old masters. As David says "Only David Langevin and Caravaggio paint this way".

I love to organize workshops and bring in wonderful artists to learn from. We keep the class size limited to 12, which makes for an intimate and comfortable group. It's fun to spend the weekend with like-minded artists, a chance to meet new people and to sharpen one's painting skills.

Plus, if the mood moves me, I often make fresh cookies for our morning break.

Check out our website for upcoming workshops. See you at the next one.

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

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2 Weeks - 14 Paintings

This past fall as a way to capture the beauty of my gardens, I decided to give myself a challenge: a painting a day for two weeks.

The challenge was this: to do a painting each day, to paint quickly and not to fuss over details. Sometimes a person tends to over work a painting, which often leads to undesirable results (or as we say, mud). 

When painting quickly, you must make fast decisions, and execute them faithfully.
Here are the results of my two week challenge.

2 weeks -
14 paintings


Brown Eyed Susan

Pears from our Tree

Mr. Pepper

Hibiscus in Vase

 So Gladiola

Bloomin' Calendula 

Fall Cololurs

Apple Pie Anyone

Grape Vine

Maple Leaf

Bella Dona


Each Painting
Acrylic on 
Canvas Board
8 x 10"


I encourage you to try this exercise, even if only for a week.

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

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bird on a Wire

As I sort through some of my earlier work on the computer, I thought it would be fun to paint the same subject, using a different medium. The original "Bird on a Wire" was painted using watercolour paints, as you can see from the texture of the paper.

I've always liked this painting, so this past week I decided to paint it again, but this time using acrylic paints.

I started out, as I usually do, scrubbing a warm colour on the canvas, followed by a quick sketch.

Then I started adding light glazes of colour, blocking in the fence post and the prairie grasses. Next I painted in the sky.
The barbed wire was fun to do, twisting it around and dropping in highlights where the light would reflect. On my sketch (above) I had a bottom row of wire, but decided to omit that, as I thought it would block the viewer from entering the piece. Plus it didn't really do anything for the painting.

I changed the bird from a blue bird to a blue jay, with a little bit of attitude, his feathers ruffled from the prairie winds.

The remake of "Bird on a Wire", 12 x 14"
This one and other "Prairie Whispers" can be viewed in my gallery.

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

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Elevating Experience

It all started when I was asked to do a commission painting of the elevator in Kelliher, a small community in south east Saskatchewan.

I was thrilled and gladly took on the challenge. I completed the piece in November and sent it off to the clients. They both loved it. I found that painting it also brought me much pleasure, as I recall fond memories of riding with my dad in our rickety old truck, back and forth to the elevators to drop off loads of grain.

I went out and bought three more canvases, 12 x 16" and started another, and then another and then another. They are great little paintings, each with a character of it's own and each a familiar location for me. For ordering and purchasing information, please visit my online gallery.

If you have a photo of an elevator that you think would make an interesting painting, I'd love to hear from you, as I continue on this elevating path.

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

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Things to be Thankful For

As 2013 comes to an end I look back at the year and count my blessings.

This past year was a super year for art sales, with 75% of my sales going to patrons in the prairies. Thank-you for your support.

February found us on the warm beaches of Mexico, re-energizing and making plans for the new year.

In April we hosted a Mike Svob workshop. Attending one of Mike's classes has been on my 'to do' list for many years. We also hosted workshops with Janice Robertson and Carey Anderson. I picked up a few tips from each, adding to my bag of tricks. Thank-you Mike, Janice and Carey.

In the spring I was honoured to be asked to do a commission piece of these furry family members. It was fun challenge and the owners loved it. "Puppy Love" now hangs in a loving home in Alberta.

In May I had the opportunity to go on an "Arts and Culture" tour to Santa Fe, New Mexico - a place that has been on my wish list for many years. It was a super trip and I met some fabulous folks. Back home I managed to do a painting or two. This one was delivered to a high-school chum in Saskatchewan.

The summer on Vancouver Island was absolutely gorgeous, with each day being nicer then the next. We had the best flowers and garden since moving here. In August a created a painting a day for two weeks, as a way to capture some of the bounty.

September brought a beautiful fall trip to the prairies. The days were warm, the colours brilliant as I spent a week in the Qu'Appelle Valley visiting family and friends, and sketching en plein air.

In October I completed my first YouTube video of my artwork. It was a great learning experience and was well received at our annual Island Arts Expo in November.

As the year comes to an end I am grateful for:
  • the new friendships I have made over the year
  • having the best clients ever
  • the workshops I have attended and the master artists I have learned from
  • my artwork that has been sold and has found new loving homes
  • the support from my patrons, family, friends and my partner Jeff
Wishing you a Happy New Year, filled with Artful Adventures and Colourful Choices.

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

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Why do We Paint?

I've often questioned myself as to why I paint?
It's a ton of work; taking workshops, reading books and studying to improve my skills.

It is costs a lot of money; paints, canvas, books, mediums and brushes, not to mention the costs of framing your paintings.

It takes a lot of courage, especially if you are a serious artist having exhibitions and shows.

It is often frustrating as hell when ideas don't turn out the way you imagined them in your head.

So, why do I paint?
  • because it reminds me of when I was a kid and I got to muck around in the paint
  • because I love the feel of the paint flowing across the canvas 
  • because I love to capture a memory of a place where I have been - like keeping a visual diary
My mother says that I am blessed to have such a gift (but that's what mothers are suppose to say).

Bottom line for me is that painting makes me happy, keeps my mind busy and yes... it is a heck of a lot of FUN.

Why do you paint? 

"Not Forgotten", 10 x 12" acrylic

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