Sunday, February 7, 2016

And This is How It's Done

 I'd like to show you a few steps on the process that I use when painting.

The first thing, and I find this very difficult, is picking a subject. Because I work from photographs, I can (without exaggerating) waste hours going through thousands of images. Plus I can can totally change my mind from the evening to the morning.

Once I have the subject, then I look at the image and pre-paint it in my mind. As one of my instructors, Brian Buckrell always said. "Pick a battle you can win."

O.K. let's go for it...
This is my subject image: a beautiful rocky walkway among the mountain tops.

The first think I like to do is to make some marks on the canvas with a liquitex paint marker.
This gives me a sense of direction and provides some guidelines.

Next I paint a warm undercoat, mixing the acrylic paint with gloss medium. 

Time to start blocking in some colour. I like to do what I consider the easy parts.

Many thin layers of glazes, mixing paint and gloss medium are applied to the canvas. At this point, you are just putting in the time as you build up the layers.

I sometimes call this the "What was I thinking?" stage. The inner chatter starts: I'll never make this work, maybe I should paint over it. A few curse words might enter this stage of the process.

O.K. so you can give into the voices, or if you are stubborn, like me, you try to work through it.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but as long are you have learned something...then what the heck.


If you do make it through to the other side, you will see the results and be happy that you persevered.
And you will inevitably announce that "This is the best painting ever."

To see more of my paintings, please visit my online gallery.


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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

5 Reasons Why You Should get your Coffee ready in the Evening

If you are like me, you absolutely LOVE your morning coffee.

After dinner, my mother always gets her coffee pot ready for the next morning. She pours the water in and measures the coffee. Then she carefully places it in position, ready to push the button early in the morning. I often wondered why?

1) If you do it in the morning you might pour water all over the counter top as the coffee pot overflows. Your hand is shaky and weak from lack of caffeine.

2) You might forget to add the coffee (yes I have done it), which makes for very weak coffee.

3) The container holding the coffee grinds often gets lost, as you sleepily put it in the wrong cupboard with the peanut butter or in the fridge with the milk.

4) Coffee grounds always end up getting spilled over the counter as my hand is shaky and too weak from lack of caffeine (see item # 1).

5) You'll have a better night's sleep knowing that all you have to do in the morning is REMEMBER to push the button.

As usual, mother knows best! 



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

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Applying to an Art Gallery

I am interested in having my series "Prairie Whispers" tour across Canada, so I am seeking gallery exhibitions. The gallery that I have sent a proposal to is booking shows for 2017 - 2018.



I like to have a professional gallery exhibition once a year. Usually the gallery has a deadline for submissions. Make sure to get your proposal in on time.

First I research the gallery to see if my paintings would be a good match. I need to know the size of the gallery space and how many paintings I would require for a proper showing.

If it is a public gallery, then they usually have a budget to help the artist with expenses. Some will help pay for shipping (one way or both), plus give the artist an honorarium or CARFAC fee. These are important elements to clear up beforehand, so you know what costs are involved.

Now back to the proposal. I include a cover letter describing my intent for the exhibition. Next I send an updated bio or CV, which I usually have on hand, but sometimes needs updating. I make a list of the artwork that I would be showing, with dimensions and pricing. These documents all get printed to paper. Then I save them as a pdf and along with the images are burned onto a DVD.


I design and print a label for the DVD cover, using my artwork. Then I assemble the hard copy package. Using a clean folder, I include all of the above, plus a business card and copies of any newspaper clippings that are relevant.

The whole package is mailed to the gallery. I then send them an email to let them know that it is on it's way. I also will give the gallery a follow-up call in a couple weeks just to make sure the package arrived safely.

Sounds like a lot of work? It is, but well worth it in the end.
How do you prepare for a gallery show?


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

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Enjoying the Process

When emailing a friend, I told her that I was starting a new painting. After seeing my reference photo instead of saying "I can't wait to see the final painting", her comment was "Enjoy the Process".

That really struck me as a great thing to say to someone. Enjoy the process! How often do we start a painting, work through it, only to get to the end? It's like that old saying "It's not about the destination, but the journey that matters."

To me the process begins when I get the idea of what I am going to paint. I then either go to the art store and purchase the perfect canvas, or, if I am lucky, I have the right size at home.

The moment I take the plastic off the canvas, the process begins. The next step in the process might take several days, as I mentally create the painting before making a mark on the canvas.

Trying to slow myself down, I enjoy each new layer of paint that goes on, embracing the magic that appears or twists my mind, as I stumble over roadblocks.



I'm going to write that phrase down and post it in my studio, as a reminder to myself to "Enjoy the Process".

Are you enjoying the process in everything you do?


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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Shipping a Painting to Mexico

"The Lady with the Yellow Fan" was sold months ago. The client has a condo in Mexico and wanted to take her down south. After much discussion, we agreed that the best course of action would be to take her off the stretcher bars. That way the client can take her on the plane with them. Once they get to their destination, she can easily be re-stretched.

Never having done this before, I was a bit nervous at the start.



1) The canvas is 30 x 40" with a total of 70 staples on the back (yes I counted them).  With a few curse words, and a couple of stabs in the hand with some tools (ouch), I got the job done.



2) On the front I also put down a layer of Reynolds parchment paper. I rolled her up carefully with an old bedsheet for padding.


3) We made a triangular cardboard tube. Tightly rolled up, she easily and securely went into the tube. Did you know it costs less to mail a triangular tube then a round? I guess the idea is that the triangular tube is easier to stack for shipping, while a round one just rolls around.






4) Off to the post office for her journey to Saskatchewan - enroute to Mexico, adding insurance to the package, which will give me a tracking number. 


5) Go to Mexico to visit her (hopefully)




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

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Just for Today

As I was doing my yoga practice this morning, under the blue sky, the warm sun and the gentle ocean breezes, these thoughts came to mind:


Just for today - breath a little deeper
Just for today - expand your heart just a little bit more 












Just for today - be the best you can be
Just for today - paint just for the pleasure of painting











Just for today - look at the beauty of nature, with the eyes of a child
Just for today - laugh a little bit louder


Tomorrow - repeat today.


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

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