Thursday, February 25, 2016

Take an Art Retreat

Last fall I was invited to attend an art retreat. Living on Vancouver Island, surrounded by beauty, we often forget about the wonder that is in our own back yard. I jumped on the idea!

Being the organizing junky that I am, before going on the retreat, I made a list of intentions.
1) Have FUN
2) meet new artists
3) don't expect end results
4) Have FUN ...

I painted and sketched and wandered around nature. As a self-directed retreat, all we had to do was  show up for meals. Sitting in the sunny meadows being one with nature, and taking a trip to the mountain tops was absolutely glorious.

I became very aware of shapes and negative space. Something clicked in my brain, as I sketched like crazy, keeping the designs simple and loose.

In the evenings, I put some of my design ideas to canvas, keeping in mind simple design and negative spaces.

By Sunday morning, I had met all my objections and ready to return home.

Spending time with like-minded folks was inspiring. Some of the best conversations I had with the other artists was often over morning coffee.

I want to remind myself to take min-retreats, whether it's just a nice walk by the beach, or an afternoon in the garden. It's good for the creative soul.

Have you been on a retreat lately?

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

Friday, February 19, 2016

Simple is Best

As I mature (as opposed to getting older) I've noticed that it is the simple things that bring me the most joy.

I love it when friends pop in for coffee or tea, knowing that they are welcome anytime.

I enjoy spending time with my parents, being goofy and laughing over nothing.

It warms my heart when I receive a birthday card, thank you note or Christmas letter in the mail. Most notes these days are sent electronically so getting a card in the mail is a real treat.

I love watching a chick flick in the middle of the afternoon. It seems very decadent.

Trying on jeans and finding a pair that fits on the first try. Awesome!!

Going to bed early as you have a great book waiting for you.

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

Monday, February 15, 2016

Letting Go

Over the years as my painting skills develop, I sometimes find it hard to let go of certain paintings.
Each painting reminds me of a time and place in my life, so letting go can sometimes be difficult.

What I like to do is move them onto the next stage.

With a ruler and sharp blade, I cut them off the stretcher bars and use them as table covers (placemats). That way they are still functional and take up less room in the studio.

They can be changed seasonally.

And yes, I actually do have a candy dish on my coffee table. It reminds me of my dear old aunt, who always has a full candy dish on her coffee table.

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

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What Brings me Joy

What is Love if not Joy?

I love to garden. Watching the flowers make their way through the earth in the spring brings me joy.
Taking a bowl out into the garden and picking fresh greens and a ripe tomatoe for a salad...that brings me joy.

Playing with my nieces and nephews...that brings me joy.

The love of creating, whether it is designing the Island Arts Magazine, or moving paint around a canvas until it emerges into an image. That brings me great joy.

Travelling... the feeling I get when I step off a plane into a new country...that brings me joy.

Spending time, sharing a meal and laughing with the ones I love...that brings me joy.

As Valentine's Day approaches, take time and remember what brings you joy and you will find love.

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

LIttle Things that Make a Difference

Sometimes it's the little things that make a big difference.

This is a painting called "Fall Forest".
I painted it awhile back and was happy with it.
As time went on there was something bothering me, but I just couldn't put my finger on it.

Then all of a sudden it hit me. I was reminded of a lesson that I picked up in a Janice Robertson workshop. The background was competing with the foreground.

Just by lightening the background I believe that it is now a stronger piece. 
I also highlighted a few bits here and there.

You can see the difference with the before and after photos (keeping in mind that it was photographed at two separate times with two difference camera models.)

Experiment, and if you need to ask one of your mentors for help!
To see more of my west coast art, please visit my online gallery. 

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

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...