Occasionally an interested visitor enters my studio and asks the question: “How do you do that?” One of my greatest pleasures in life is sharing information. I am positive I usually share far more than the poor, unsuspecting person may have expected so when he or she begins to yawn I curtail the details. Details are delightful and meant for workshops.
I get so excited when I explain how I do things. Enthusiasm carries me away at times. I love what I do. I love how I do it. And, yes, I am more than happy to show you the ins and outs of the process I use. Am I worried you may steal my idea? Not really.
Creative people tend to absorb the ideas of others as they recreate them into something unique. My idea is not truly mine. An evolution of acquired information other artists have shared with me along the way give me the results I enjoy. We stand on the shoulders of others. Yet no two artists express ideas in the same way. My results are unique because I am unique; my story is unique. There is no one quite like me. I love the variety of the world in which we live. So many different colours beautify our days, our ideas, our walls. Life is so good.
The Redwater Art Society is offering a one day workshop on Abstracts. I will be demonstrating in acrylics but I encourage everyone to bring their favourite medium. No solvents please. This is an introduction to a vast subject. Scheduled for October 15th, classes begin at 10am.
Painting edges is a way to avoid the cost of framing. Many artists choose to finish their work with a solid colour on the edge. Others like the look of shadow boxes (a frame flush with the surface of the painting and some small distance from it so one can see the edge of the canvas). I prefer to continue the image around the corner.
Mark with an X
Painting around corners poses some challenges as tree trunks, for example, tend to look natural in one position but not in another. One artist suggested I indicate the position on the floor with an “X” so that my viewers would know where the ideal vantage point is located. Yes. Or maybe we can let the trunks go with the flow and blame the breeze! Generally the look of the continued image appeals to my sense of completion.
The disadvantage of finishing the edges by extending the scene is time. Each side requires some thought on how to match what is at the edge on the adjacent side and one must wait for paint to dry. Having several to finish at the same time limits the waiting time. And one can always begin another painting…. Life is good.
Two of this series “Wildwood” will be showing in the Federation of Canadian Artists “2016 Scenes from Western Canada” from September 6th to 18th. If you are in Vancouver do drop in!
I need nine-foot ceilings. Or ten. Or twelve! Eight is a little low…. I selected the image for the four foot square canvas I had already prepared. The first step is splatter and spraying. As I spray I turn the panel to encourage the drips and drops to dribble in different directions.
Therein lies the problem. The table is about three feet off the ground; the frame is four feet. Diagonally it is much longer so as I turn the surface, concentrating on the dribbles and trying to avoid tobbling my open jars of paint, I hit the ceiling. Then the light fixture. Then the plastic splatter wall. The paper clip holding the wall in place snapped off the railing and the plastic sagged onto my painting. This would not do!
Carefully replacing the canvas on the table I set about repositioning the sheeting. I needed more slack. Noticing the lack of splatter to the right I moved the whole sheet to the left forming a corner around the table. That gave me enough material to set the wall further back away from the table and the canvas. Glancing at the wet puddles forming on my painting I decided all is well. Life is good.
Running out of paint has several advantages the most important of which is the chance to experiment with new colours. Mixing new colours leads to awesome discoveries.
A few choice combos
New colours include some I have not tried. Usually the unused tubes are mixtures such as “Teal” or “Hunters’ Green”. Most of the time I prefer mixing pure colours. Pure colours give me a more vibrant and predictable result. In the ensuing experimentation I discovered several definite uglies and a few truly lovely hues. I am still into grays. Iridescent Turquoise with Quinacridone Burnt Orange is surprisingly beautiful although it is very close to the same result using Thalo Blue (green shade). I will be using the Turquoise as a drop colour among the finishing touches. Another combination with pleasant results was Dioxazine purple with Thalo Green (yellow shade).
On the other hand the experiments using mixtures resulted largely in muddy, very unattractive grays. Quinacridone Magenta combined with Permanent Green Light showed up as almost acceptable yet the result with Thalo Green (blue shade) yielded a spectacular blend. All in all I spent several pleasant hours mixing colours. I do have one problem: no more airtight containers for my new grays…. Life is good!
To learn more about my process take a look at my newsletter!
Transitions challenge the creative process. At the moment I am finishing four pieces and refurbishing my colour mixtures. As the exact amount of each colour varies with new combinations I am loath to begin a new painting without a good supply of the basic grays. Beginning something new has to wait.
Watching paint dry, a truly exciting activity, became my principal routine… Once this stage passed I turned to the other little touches that make my work unique: inscribing poetry and bible quotes throughout the image, applying my signature, splashes of pure colour. More waiting and drying. At some point as well I install hanging hardware. I also record the poetry, name of work and code number on the back of each piece.
Before applying the varnish I spray on a workable fixative to stabilize the watercolour pencil and the felt pen. The solvents used to remove the varnish, should the work ever need cleaning, damage the underlying materials. To protect the original painting I add a coat of Liquitex Gloss Medium and Varnish. This product binds with the paint and the various media within the image providing a barrier between it and the varnish. Two coats of UVL protection become the last of the finishing touches.
Consistent hours spent in the studio make a difference. Last week I put in twenty hours. They were not all spent at the easel. Planning the next show in my gallery “Inspirations” then hanging it filled some of them. A few guests are arriving this Wednesday and I wanted something new on the walls. Some of the hours hosted the exercise of storing clutter.
Space is at a premium at our place. The only usually open space is my gallery. It becomes the transition zone following camping trips or storing materials for the latest project in one of the rentals or temporary catchment of personal affairs for passing friends. Sigh. I am not sure I will get the mud off the floor before our party. Nonetheless I do have some new work to show.
Consistent easel time
Two other paintings near completion as well as these latest two snow scenes. The new work area for a completely different painting project is ready to go. Ten smaller canvases are all lined up with their perspective photos. Time to let the paint fly! Consistent easel time makes all the difference. Life is good.
Drastic measures are sometimes required. Gesso is the perfect solution. I love working on several paintings at the same time. Helps me stay fresh. There are occasions when this strategy fails to keep me from falling into the pit. Yes, indeed, I dig holes for myself as I desperately search for solutions to visual problems while not noticing obvious errors. And so it was this week.
Although I really like the image in the photograph there are several adjustments in the shapes and value areas needed to render it perfectly. Since my process is rather random the habit of creating same sizes repeated at same intervals is an ongoing foible. So while I rearranged the dark water shapes, adding more “snow” and thereby covering the lovely accidental colour happenings, I completely missed the evenly spaced branches climbing the left side of the canvas. Sigh. It would not do.
Gesso: the perfect solution!
Taking a large brush I reached for my base mixture of gesso, gel and complementary colours and covered the whole surface. Gone! Although some would argue the previous image will influence the next I trust the underlying chaos of the method. The texture remains. The thin layers of colours are creating glow once more. It is time to splash paint again. New trails, new accidents, new challenges. Life is good.
Easel time makes backing up so much easier. When I am not puddling I enjoy adding the tonalities while standing in a vertical position. Often my back complains as I bend over the table. To look at more of my process you can take a peek here.
A change in plans
My November show has been moved up one month. Actually the gallery wanted August instead. I said “yes” and all hell broke loose. When the email came to ask if I was willing to change I jumped at the chance. We just got back from our annual family campout so the living room is full of boxes waiting to be repacked and stored. The sink is full of dirty dishes. The washing machine is on full-time duty with the sleeping bags etc. And our new renters are very unhappy with the state in which the old renters left our house…. Sigh.
A serious distraction
Did I mention I wanted to get out of the rental business? I slept most of the morning (camping is exhausting!) and then we spent the afternoon and evening cleaning our rental. My favorite job (the stove) will be finished tomorrow along with a multitude of other necessary details the worst of which I will not even talk about!
Returning to work
And when do I get back to my easel? Well…. That remains to be seen. I suspect it could be as soon as Wednesday or as late as next week. All is well. Life is still good.
Hosting has become really important in my weekly schedule of late! As a member of Harcourt House I very much appreciate the opportunities afforded me by the cooperative. Volunteering as host to the Naked Show helps pay back a little. “Oh the Audacity” runs until July 5th! I may be on duty in the morning of the last day too. The time slot remains open. We will see once we get back from our annual family camping trip.
Why volunteers are needed
The staff and volunteers in the two galleries on the third floor of the main building cannot cover the Naked Show. The Annex, next to the main building where the Member Show “Connect the Dots” hangs until July 9th, harbours the Naked Show. The people who do life drawing on a regular basis are responsible to “man the post” in the annex. Not everyone who draws volunteers.
Why bother hosting
Drawing from life is important to me. It improves my skills in all aspects of my creativity. With that in mind hiring a model is an expensive proposition. Being a member helps reduce the cost significantly as I buy blocks of time which last a couple of months (or years!). Other artists do the same. Maintaining a more consistent schedule these days I use the blocks more quickly. What time slots are left will be gone in September once the Monday sessions begin again. We take the summer off. In the meantime you will meet me on occasion hosting at other shows throughout the year. I like meeting the people! Life is good.
Creativity takes many forms. Today at the clinic I chitchatted with a chocolatier. He was very enthusiastic about his form of creation. Unfortunately he cannot guarantee his chocolates are nut free so I did not ask him about purchasing any.
Another aspect of the creative process is happening in our street. The city is replacing the old lampposts, gutters, sidewalks and roadways. I tend to prefer the weathered look, however, it will be safer to have pathways that drain instead of creating ice rinks and are even so as not to trip the pedestrians.
The city workers are not the only ones to be busy this week. As for me it has been a hectic time filled with delights, distractions and projects. Consequently studio time was at a minimum. I still managed to get some painting done and I will share the results next week. In the meantime a long-awaited task received some attention. I like flowers. I have no beds. The flower/vegetable beds are other dreams on the long to-do list. However, I do have several pots. With a few recently purchased bedding plants I created five new arrangements in various sized containers. At the moment they cluster around the entrance to my studio. Perhaps they will stay there… Beauty inspires creativity. Life is so good.