Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fat Fruit On Lace (7" x 5 1/2")

Just a simple painting of simple subjects... fat fruit. A plump plum and two very plump pears. Tomorrow I eat them...

Session 1: After I got the fruit arranged into a pleasing triangle composition I sketched them directly onto my watercolor paper. Since the light was stable I didn't take reference photos - something new for me.

I began on the pears by loosely painting yellows in and around them. Then I dropped in scarlet lake, cobalt blue and bits of violet. I also lifted out the highlights before it dried. On the plum I began with diox violet washed in loosely around the highlights and I immediately dropped in some cobalt blue and some burnt sienna to dull it just a bit. I softened the edges of the highlights and around the stem dent. Then I watched to make sure the soft edges stayed soft as it dried.

Session 2: I darkened and moulded the pears by glazing more warm yellow and dropping in the reds, blues, and burnt sienna... keeping the edges of my whites soft and lifting out some new highlights. The plum... I did the same colors as in session 1 but this time I kept inside the lines. Also, I extended the size of the plum on the bottom and inside.

I decided I wanted to add the lace detailing and it was as simple as negatively painting the holes in the lace and the shadows cast. I think the lace added something to this one

Hope you like it... Retweet this

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sunshine Climb (~10x14)

This painting features Mount Brett on the left and behind her Mount Bourgeau. I just can't say enough about my day in the mountains. Here's the story...
Today I painted with 38 others at the 4th Annual Plein Air Paint Out at Sunshine Meadows. The day began at 7 am when Sheila picked me up for the drive up. We parked at the Sunshine lifts at 8:30 and stretched and visited a bit before our bus left for the top at 9am. The first thing I figured out when we arrived at Sunshine Village was that my camera card was back in my computer at the house. I was so disappointed and I'd stowed my camera for the day in Sheila's trunk when Rita Rankin offered my her spare SD card. I'm so thankful for her generosity - some of you know how snap happy I am and I really took some gems today!
It was so much fun to meet and visit with the other artists throughout the day. At the top, Sheila helped me repack my gear [we left half with the cook] and we were off to hike up to the meadows. Neither of us realized that the hike up would be required. It took about 20 minutes of stop and go walking/hiking to get to the spot we decided to paint from (not the meadows - too far). Duane Hendricks was scoping the place out when we stopped and we decided to stop and paint with him there. We could have painted from that one spot for weeks there was so much beauty to look at.
The weather was not so beautiful - it blew, rained, snowed, and sleeted between very brief sunny periods. I wanted to quit watercolor on the spot. My hands were so stiff and chapped after two hours of holding wet stuff it was hard to keep painting. But, we kept at it and the time really flew with all the weather changes and chatting with hikers that walked by. By about 1 we packed our stuff up and decided that we'd just walk up a little further and see what we were missing. Good grief! I bet we walked another 20 minutes up the path - we just couldn't stop looking and taking pictures. Wow! We just kept going "around the next bend and over the next hill". When we'd stop so I could get my breath back (thank you Mr Pneumonia!) we'd talk it over and decide we wanted to see more... Anyhow, soon we saw beautiful Rock Isle Lake and it made the walk worthwhile. I could be feeling pretty sore tomorrow but it was worth it.
The walk down was much easier. We ate our lunch while we waited for the bus. Then we heard that there was a waterfall immediately behind the building so we stayed another hour to scope that out. It was a long but very satisfying day... I hope you had a good one too!
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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I have a plan...

No painting done today... although I prepared one for later this week. Watercolor painting is 80% planning and 20% execution (varies depending on your style). These are the steps I take to get started:

  1. get inspired... I keep a e-folder and several folders for "Paint Soon" material. I find that there must be a connection for me to place anything into these categories.

  2. decide on orientation (landscape/portrait), size and format (square, etc). To do this I usually make a black and white photocopy of the subject.

  3. The black and white copy helps me see interesting patterns of lights and darks or boring patterns that need to be changed. I mark the photocopy up with changes, edits, etc. Often I have to include a sky from one photo with a landscape from another photo. I've been doing this on Corel (easier than photoshop) and it works out well. These first three steps are almost "pre-planning" and happen organically as life goes on. Ideas flow freely to the open mind.
  4. At this point the altered reference material is ready to be drawn up and transferred to the watercolor paper. This can take an hour if there are lots of alterations to the references.

  5. With the drawing complete I now turn to planning the painting steps. I'll consider different techniques (wet on dry, wet on wet, direct, negative/positive, glazing, masking,etc) that I'll use, the color scheme, etc. often I make notes on the white tape around the painting as to what my "next steps" should be. [That's the stage that the painting in this photo is at... waiting to do the painting].
  6. Executing the painting takes FAR less time than the rest of these activities if you are working in watercolor. I call it "the show" because it happens quite quickly and there are always surprises. There are folks that MUST be in control of their painting process and if it doesn't happen, they become frustrated and give up. A better approach is to withhold judgement on the "surprises" and come back to them in the next painting session. Often a solution to a problem or a way to incorporate the "surprise" that improves the painting yet pops into mind. I love that part... It reminds me of how God works in our lives. We have a plan, we begin executing it. Surprises happen, we freak out, God steps in to the plan and takes the "surprise" and makes it a wonderful part of our life - His painting.

  7. Flexibility, cooperation (me with the water), enjoyment of process, these are the things that make watercolor a great creative medium.

I'm off to Sunshine Meadows to paint and putter tomorrow. A friend is driving and I'll be able to relax and enjoy the trip. We'll be home by around 3pm. It should be lovely! Have a great day!

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Marla's Praying Angel

Message from my daughter Kimberley McRae: "On September 4th I am repelling 30 stories down the Sunlife building in Calgary to raise money for Easter Seals! I'm scared to death but really it's nothing compared to the challenges the kids with disabilities go through everyday. Camp Horizon is an amazing experience for them they deserve it!I will let you know what time my drop is and you are welcome to come and watch. apparently we are to dress up like superheros so that will be amusing!" Click on Easter Seals for more info...

I had a lovely time today at my friend Marla's luncheon/ garden party. A few mutual friends were there - and we had a nice time catching up. And I gained two new friends by the time I left. It was a great day to be out in the back yard - no bugs, sunny but not too hot. We lounged, discussed books, did nails... and the food was perfect. Marla had little surprise "blessings" for us throughout the afternoon and then gifts for each of us at the end of the afternoon - what a great idea! It was so refreshing and lifted my spirits greatly - thanks Marla! You were an instrument of peace today.

Marla collects yard angels and I just had to sketch this one today. I don't know what this angel is called but he's kneeling in prayer with his head bowed on his arms. I was concentrating on visiting as I sketched and I've made the angel MUCH bigger than he really is. Considering the day, the company, and the conversation it was probably meant to be. I know some of the angels in my life have a much larger role than I've given them credit for - angel friends and guardian angels. I have no doubt that both types have impacted my life for the better today. Enjoy! Retweet this

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tango Anyone? (~8" x 10")

Note: This isn't a great photo and I'll update with a better one as soon as I can get a photo in daylight [cease thundershowers... before my dogs have a nervous breakdown].

Our lovely tango dancer is a huge fuchsia bloom and by the looks of things there will be many more dancers to keep her company. Hummingbirds love the combination of bright red/pink and purple and they hang around regularly in McLellan's yard where I took reference material for this painting. In fact, I had to "freeze" while painting the tiger lily sketch so I didn't scare away the hummer - it was about 5 feet from my head just hanging by the feeder. I read that hummingbirds, well all birds actually, scope out potential feeding sites from as far above as they can get. Safer there I suppose. I'm sure they were attracted by these huge fuchsia blooms.

The delphiniums in the background are a bit of my artistic license at work. Honestly, I wish I'd moved the left one over about half an inch but... too late now. I like how the delphs look kind of misty and hazy. Although I started off by painting them positive/negative alternating, I felt they were too far forward and competing with the fuchsia so I glazed them over with cobalt blue and it pushed them back nicely.

A bit of flower trivia for you - the symbolism for these two flowers is interesting. The fuchsia symbolises confiding love while the delphinium represents heaven (one source) and dolphins - root word is the Greek "delphis", or dolphin.

This Wednesday I am planning to attend a paint out at Sunshine Meadows. I'm going to carpool with a friend. I've got this paint out thing a bit more organized now - in this case I'll add a blanket so I can have short rests up there. What a place for a nap! It'll be a great day!

Enjoy your day tomorrow! I'm excited as I'm meeting several friends for a garden party - we'll see what that means... I'm taking my painting gear and I may have a chance to use it, time will tell. I hope you enjoy your Monday. Retweet this

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Little Bighorn

I've just finished touching up "Little Bighorn" today. I've added another green shrub in the right above the sheep. I've used some darker colors in the grasses behind the sheep as well. I think it's a bit more balanced now and I hope you like it.
Now that I know where this herd lives I'll be sure to visit and paint there whenever I'm in Fairmont. These bighorn sheep are really quite fascinating to see up close and I'd love to be there when they come down for drink again. I've done a bit more reading on these sheep - apparently this little fellow must have been born this year. If he was older than that he (or she) would have little horns.
Here's a close up of the little guy...
Have a great evening and a lovely, restful Sunday!
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Friday, July 25, 2008

Garden Sketches

I just had time for a couple of ink and watercolor sketches of my clematis and my flower baskets today. There was a breeze and I found the watercolor drying much faster than usual. The flowers really are amazing this year! I hope you're enjoying yours as much as I'm enjoying mine. Blessings to you!

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Spirit Island, Jasper National Park (18"w x 14"h)

It's been a busy day today so I'm opting to post a painting "new" to my blog but painted late last fall.

I visited Spirit Island in Jasper National Park (Alberta, Canada) last September and I highly recommend the experience! Spirit Island lies toward the north end of beautiful Maligne Lake and is accessible only by boat. 90-minute interpretive tours run frequently and are very informative. Although old, the boats are safe, comfortable (with room to stand if you need/want) and most importantly they are heated!

The day we visited, the fog lifted slowly to reveal a gorgeous mountain landscape... in this view the fog is still gentling the rocky slopes and it set Spirit Island off just beautifully. I used artistic license with my choice of colors, particularly in the mountains, but I rather like how this piece turned out.

Funny story related to Spirit Island - I have it on good authority that the Canadian Government erected the new, small public restrooms a few years ago for the astonishing sum of about $250,000. The need for solar power, remoteness and need for near-zero servicing (honey trucks not an option), and the cost of getting building supplies and workers to/from the site were cost factors. I was happy to utilize the facilities if for no other reason than to get some use out of my tax dollars. I recommend all Canadians attend at least once in your lifetime if for no other reason than putting your tax dollars to work! Enjoy! Retweet this

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Still Standing (6"x6")

Late this afternoon I was driving home from a meeting that I found very... long. For some reason the memory of this "survivor" tree came to mind and I decided to make a quick painting of it for a bit of an outlet tonight. This particular tree grew way up high on the west coast of the west coast... Ucluelet, British Columbia to be exact. The winds howl, the rain beats down, and this little tree just goes about the business of growing. It's growing where it's planted... which is all we're asked to do. Often we don't chose the place and circumstances that we find ourselves in and we just have to do the best we can and keep growing. Painting this was a good little exercise for me tonight.

Have a great night! Retweet this

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Scattered Storms in Central Alberta (10"wx7"h)

On our trip to St Albert last Friday I took quite a few photos of the landscapes, skies, even a train! For this painting I sketched a combination of the fields from one and the sky from another. These towering clouds had many hues including a deep blue, light red or pink and quite a bit of yellow. It was a glorious drive... good company, great scenery, the feeling of "getting away" to relax. This little painting is about (10"wx7"h)... and I'm not sure whether I'll do a larger one of this view... but hey, at least I painted some trees!
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Tigers Do Best in Full Sun (6"x6")

These amazing lilies are just a small selection from a huge clump of Tiger lilies in McLellan’s garden. There were 38 buds and 10 open lilies the day I took this photo. Wow! These lilies remind me of one Christ’s great lessons – one I can certainly put into practice this week. Could the biblical “lilies of the field” have been tigers? Jesus taught us that the Father clothed the lilies of the field more luxuriously than King Solomon. We are not to worry about material things because He cares more for us than lilies that are here today and gone tomorrow. If you’d like to read the complete passage click here.

I traced this onto my watercolor paper about 5 hours ago and I’ve been puttering off and on since. 30 minutes here, 20 minutes there, etc. - probably around 2 hours total. I used standard watercolor technique in this painting. I began by loosely painting gamboge (warm yellow) on the two larger lilies and dropping scarlet lake, quin red and touches of blue and green into the yellow. Gradually I worked the lilies shape with LOTS of almost white highlights because these lilies were in full sun and their shiny surface reflects light so well. I loosely painted in a darkish blue green for the leaves at the bottom before painting a few darker green leaves positively.

I painted the background at the top a light, dull purple. I lifted white lines with my scrub brush after it dried to indicate the fence boards. After the whole thing dried I realized I needed more of the spiky, light leaves... they were reflecting the sun too! So, I taped around those shapes with masking tape and lifted out the leaves – just one more way to paint “negatively”. Some of the highlights needed a glaze of my cool yellow (Aurelian) to indicate the warm sunny reflections.

Have a great day tomorrow! Don't worry - be happy!
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Stumo's Tigers

I sketched and painted these tiger lilies (4x6) this afternoon at the home of Maureen and Stu McLellan (aka "stumo"). They have a wonderful backyard full of all types of perennials, shrubs, and annuals including these amazing lilies in St Albert, Alberta. I had my sketchbook and paint out for about an hour this afternoon and I enjoyed it so much. I think I'm becoming addicted to this daily painting business - I need the outlet. We also had a nice relaxing visit but we forgot to sign Stu's cast (sorry).

Maureen and I took the opportunity to visit a couple galleries in St Albert yesterday. What an amazing art scene they have in their town - just lovely.

I hope you enjoyed your weekend as much as I enjoyed mine!
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Frank and Mary's Lilacs

Back in May when the lilacs were in full bloom in Minnesota, we in Canada were waiting impatiently for spring to come. It was a cold spring and we waited until late June to see our own lilacs. Frank, a friend of mine from Minnesota took pity on me and sent me photos of his amazing lilacs. I used those photos along with some of our later Canadian ones as the reference for this quick sketch done last Friday. Enjoy!
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

back tomorrow with more art

My husband and I decided to take of for the weekend... just needed a break from the city. I'll be back with another post tomorrow. Hope you are having a good weekend.
Cheryl Retweet this

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sheep and negatve painting

The painting of the sheep is done... for now. I’ll be tweaking a few things on this painting before I sign it. This is normal for me – most of my paintings are at about 90% done when I park them on the wall or my table. If I knew what I wanted to do it would be simple. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and I’ll know, but probably not. I used to push until I finished TOTALLY – something I learned to do as an accountant. But, I don’t have to do that with paintings. I can let the back of my brain think about this while I do something else. This has been a huge learning for me – it’s true about paintings (for me anyways) and it’s true about life. I’m much more relaxed knowing that everything does not have to be finished today. And it’s a good thing too because sometimes life isn’t predictable, is it?

As I said yesterday, I want to make a bigger version of this painting sometime soon. I’ll take what I’ve learned on this little painting and, I hope, apply it on the larger one. Look for it here over the next weeks.

For those interested in the “how-to” this is what I did today... I painted the backs and rumps of the sheep by painting either the grass or the dark bits of the sheep body behind them. This is called negative painting... There are a few terms that I use in my posts that require definition. “Negative painting” is one of them. And no, it does NOT mean painting with a bad attitude. I had a hard time with this concept (maybe just me?). It’s as simple as this: the leaves on the left are positive and those on the right are negative. I painted the left leaves positively. Those on the right I painted around and I defined them by what I left white. We end up painting around lots of things to make them show up. Today I painted around grass and around sheep. I also dry brushed (dry paint onto dry paper) some grass areas in front of the sheep. And, that’s a wrap... I'll be sure to post the absolute final painting... but now I must get back to trees. Retweet this

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Blue Mountain Pottery and more Sheep WIP

This little painting is 5"x5" and was completed last year. I'm including it here as I'm currently side-lined from my usual painting time and I thought you'd enjoy seeing a painting as a reward for your "click".... This pottery was given to my paternal grandparents by my parents a LONG time ago. About 5 years ago Grandma M gave it back to my folks for one of the grandkids... I'm fortunate to have this tea/coffee set. Of course it reminds me strongly of my grandma who is still living in Fosston, Minnesota at the age of 102. And now... the sheep. As discussed yesterday I reworked the top right section and I like it quite a bit better now. In order to clean off the mess I made yesterday I wet the area I wanted to lift with clear water and then I took my dampened elephant ear sponge and gently agitated the paint until most of it lifted. I did a couple of rinse/repeats and by then I had removed the amount of paint I wanted from the paper. In this case it wasn't necessary (or possible) to lift all the paint... leaving the faint stains provides an underpainting and hasn't detracted from that area (IMO). I let that dry while I had another rest (back trouble, long story).

Later today, I repainted the top right much more loosely than before. Then I had time to round out a few sheep bodies... which has begun to define my centre of interest - the little male with his head upright. I hope to finish this tomorrow... this small painting (~10"x8"), if successful, will be one of the learning steps on the way to a larger painting. I might even try a half sheet (22x15") if I'm feeling brave. This is my first painting of animals... so, we shall see. Ciao! Retweet this

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Work in progress - sheep

Hi all... after several hours reviewing medical records today I came home exhausted. After the obligatory rest on ice I decided I'd better do some art therapy - I needed it! And what a gift it is to putter with photos and sketches until I get an idea for a painting. I enjoy it so much b/c it reminds me that I have just oodles of ideas to explore in the future. For now I'm working on sheep.
I transferred my sketch to watercolor paper & decided to get one round of paint on it today. So you are seeing a WIP here... I based this on a "failed photo" that I took of the bighorn sheep herd that hang out at the head of the Columbia River in Fairmont, BC. I call it a failed photo because only one little sheep had his head raised above the herd - in a photo I want more. but in a painting, especially one for the purpose I have in mind (check later for more info), he's all I need.
I started out with a pinkish wash diagonally from left top to right bottom. As I watched this dry I softened it in places, lifted out some sheep rumps, and put down the first darks for the tree trunk and rocks in the right foreground. Next I (over)did the tree area in the top right - I can see that's going to take some work to fix tomorrow. Finally, I washed in the grassy area and the shrubs on the left and puttered darkening the shrubs. Stay tuned and have a good night!
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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Watermelon sketches (5"x5" each)

I found a nice hollow sounding seedless watermelon at Co-op this week and we devoured it today. I enjoyed eating it so much that I decided to do a couple of small studies to explore the subject - my primary interest was the color and texture of the flesh.
The reflection on the knife fascinated me BUT it wasn't quite so vicious looking as these turned out. The placement of the knife in the sketches is such that a reflection of mostly green with just a tiny bit of red placed properly would have been a big improvement. Freud might have had a grand old time interpreting these sketches.... lol!
Until tomorrow....
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Saturday, July 12, 2008

a promise is a promise - trees

Greenspace and blue spruce as viewed from my deck. This little study helped me "see" into the trees, shadows, etc but I struggled with the changing light. Every time I lifted my head from the study everything had changed. Great life lesson - don't get too focused on what's going on in your life this minute because it is sure to change in some way.
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Puerto Vallarta Out of the Sun

Puerto Vallarta Out of the Sun 9"x14"

This painting was completed about an hour ago. I did all the painting today but the more difficult part was the planning and drawing which I had done about a week ago. I based this piece on a reference photo taken in March 2007 in Puerto Vallarta when I visited Mexico with Maureen and Stu McLellan.

We needed a rest break after riding the blue bus into downtown Puerto Vallarta, walking a few blocks to the beach area and visiting some shops. It was quite hot for Canucks like us... around 90 F I believe. We descended to the River Cafe on a wide, curving staircase which opened out in front of the restaurant. The relief of the shade was immediate and the fans felt wonderful as we were seated. We were in luck - Arthuro (an old friend of Stumo's) was there and he served us like royalty. After eating (delicious) we took our time looking around... what a great location beside the river. Just then one table of diners spotted iguanas lounging lazily in the huge trees above. As I looked toward the commotion I was drawn to this sunlit staircase in the corner. The light was streaming down through the shade of the trees and dappling the stairs and floor below.

For comparison I am posting the photo reference for you below. You'll see that I've used my artistic license to move the niche as well as adding the plant to the corner. I like how the greenery on the overhanging branches turned out - very soft. The left hand wall and the overhanging leaves were painted at the same time. After I laid a wash down for the wall I bled it out to white at the top with clear water. Then I shielded the wash and sprayed the leaf area and waited for the wetness to be "just right" before dropping in new gamboge/pthalo green (some mixed, some pure) with a little bit of ultramarine blue for shadows at the end. Then I sat back and watched to see whether the watercolor would do what I expected and, low and behold, it did.
Alrighty... this has been extremely long-winded. I promise I won't inflict this every day... Hasta Luego!
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Friday, July 11, 2008

Stretching Watercolors - Finally!

Alright, so I'm not painting trees yet as promised. I overdid things physically in the energy department early this week so I've been laying pretty low for a couple of days. However, I did manage to accomplish something I've put off far too long. I bought a 3'x4' sheet of plywood (good one side if you care) and some 1/4" staples. Last night I stretched both Sorrento II and Sorrento III (see July 7 & 8 posts for images). Today I stretched 5 more paintings... and I have a bunch more to do. I'm afraid that I've just kept painting and those that I've given away were stretched, or not, by their new owners. It's remarkably easy to stretch these paintings, which were all painted on either Arches or Winsor-Newton 140 lb paper. I must say that stretching the first two was quite a nerve wracking experience for me last night. I was concerned that I'd destroy what I'd worked so hard to paint AND it was quite noisy. The dogs ALL ran for cover - I had to go hunt Kassie out from the back of our big walk-in-closet upstairs when I was done! So, for those of you that have an interest the process is spelled out below. For the rest, see you here tomorrow! I will have a tree study done which, regardless of the outcome, I will share here (how's that for motivation?).

I'm sharing this information because I found it helpful AND because I didn’t see anything like this described when I googled. All I found were instructions on how to stretch watercolor paper BEFORE you paint. That's not what I'm talking about here... This method is for stretching completed paintings that have a ¼ to ½ inch border reserved for stretching (see photo above) . Sharon Williams shared it with our class so credit goes to her. When you stretch only successful paintings like this you save time AND when you paint you are much less worried about making a mistake. The paper is less precious and therefore you can unlease your creativity more freely.

One disclaimer – you do this at your own risk and I recommend you practice with a painting you are not terribly attached to until you get the hang of it. And now, the steps:
  1. Place painting face down on an absorbant towel. This is critical as the towel will catch any excess water that may otherwise run on to the front of your painting and ruin it.
  2. Wet a sponge (my hake brush worked well too) and apply clean water to the BACK of the painting. The watercolor paper will absorb that water easily and you will need to reapply water several more times to ensure a good wetting to the BACK side only. The painting will not dissolve and run off the paper as you fear [I did]. The towel will keep that from happening.
  3. When the paper is thoroughly dampened from the back, turn it over on to a horizontal, flat, clean piece of plywood [I used good-one-side fir]. Your painting is now right side up and unscathed.

  4. Place a staple approximately ¼” in on the centre of one of the long sides (position 1 on photo) of your painting. Now, carefully lift the opposite side (position 2) of the painting and stretch gently. Place a staple to hold that position.
  5. Next, staple the centre of the short side (position 3) of the painting... and stretch that length before fixing the staple on the other side (position 4).
  6. You will need to staple approximately every 2 inches all around the painting. So, follow the process described above first stapling on one side of the painting and then gently stretching the opposite side of the painting before placing a staple to hold it.
  7. Ensure that all corners have been stapled so that the corners of the painting don't curl up as it dries.
  8. Leave the board FLAT overnight and let the paintings thoroughly dry. Then, remove the staples CAREFULLY to ensure you don’t tear the painting. I used a thin, flat screwdriver to tickle under the paper and lift gently to loosen the staple. Another thing that worked for me is a very delicate plier to pull the staples up.
  9. You’re done! The painting is now ready to frame. Good luck!
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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Chippy Waiting 6"x8"

Today I'm posting a page from a sketch journal that I've been puttering in this summer. In June we sat out on my veranda with the dogs - our two are Kassie 14 yoa and Farley 3 yoa, plus Kim's dog Chippit 4 yoa. On this particular day, Chippy was watching and waiting for Kim to return. He was patiently waiting on the love seat and I quickly drew this up with my trusty sharpie and added some watercolor later. I think I captured his "slumped" mood.
I have some very exciting news to share. I had a call from Artpoint Gallery this afternoon and they have accepted three of my paintings for the "Unseen Art Exhibition" which runs this August!!! I submitted 10 images and they want me to decide between my 3 landscapes or 3 of my still life paintings. A conundrum for me - decisions, decisions. I'll keep you posted as I go through the process - this is ALL new to me. I've never exhibited anything and I have no idea what to expect. Fortunately, this show is all new artists so we're in the same boat - all newbies! Wish me luck!

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Plein Aire at Lloyd Park

The birds were very busy yesterday. Whole families of ducks were making grand forays into open water (training little ones?). The reeds were quite colorful from bleached out to intense burgundy and greens. I needed to do a warm up sketch and this is it. Notice there really are no trees here. I've been working for a little while today on trees... I hope to have a little painting done that would prove that I'm breaking out of my "tree funk". My goal this week is to paint trees, paint trees, paint trees, etc you get the picture. I'll be hard pressed to put a landscape out there that doesn't require trees. Quite difficult....

To close, another quote from Winston Churchill's "Painting as a Pastime" "Painting is complete as a disctraction. I know of nothing which, without exhausting the body, more entirely absorbes the mind. Whatever the worries of the hour or the threats of the future once the picture has begun to flow along, there is no room for them in the mental screen. They pass out into shadow and darkness. All one's mental light, such s it is, becomes concentrated on the task. Time stands respectfully aside, and it is only after many hesitations that luncheon knocks gruffly at the door." Retweet this

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Plein Aire painting & Sorrento III (12"x12")

This afternoon I met Sharon Williams (see at Lloyd Park just south of Calgary and we painted. I learned something very important... there is no substitute for painting outside or, as painters say, en plein aire! No books, photos, magnifying glass, etc. Just your own eyes to take in all the shapes and colors of the great outdoors. What to paint? Good question - at Lloyd park you could go every day and paint something new. Trees, water, reeds, birds, farm yard and/or fields in bright greens and yellows, rolling foothill slopes... and more.

It was a gorgeous day with enough breeze and repellant to keep the bugs at bay. The birds number in the thousands there and they made a lovely, relaxing din for background music. This was all good... and then I realized that I can't paint trees! Furthermore, when I look back on my paintings I think I have actually been avoiding trees as subjects. So you can guess what I'm going to be working on - trees, trees, trees. And from life too... not photos.

If you are interested in learning more about plein aire painting click on the link below and/or check back here over the summer and follow my progress up close and personal. I plan to paint lots of real life trees and landscape in general this summer and fall.

Now for today's painting - as promised yesterday I finished Sorrento III (aka "The Last"). This has been a tough painting to work on because it has been 15 months since I took the reference photo and, as discussed above, painting en plein aire provides more energy and more information. I know I'll have another chance to paint this view and I'm excited to do that - some day. For now, this is it... movin' on, etc.

I like this painting better than the one I posted yesterday because it reminds me strongly of the 3 days I spent there with Elaine in April 2007. The values (dark to light) are close to what we saw that day. It was a day from heaven (if you don't count the contractor woes). The sky swirled above and reflected deeper color on the water-mirror of Shuswap Lake. It was a GORGEOUS April day!!! I'm willing to bet there would be at least 20 boats in the photo if you snapped it today - maybe more. It's a busy place in the summer but April was very, very quiet. I felt like painting it on the spot but unfortunately we were heading home to Calgary and the photo had to suffice. Paintings are successes if they bring you back immediately to that day in your life, to the light on the lake and the company of friends. This one does that for me... I hope it does it for Elaine too.

I leave you with a favourite quote: "Happy are the painters, for they shall not be lonely. Light and colour, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end, or almost to the end, of the day." Sir Winston Churchill, from his essay "Painting as a Pastime" which he published in his book Amid These Storms in 1932. Retweet this

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sorrento II (12"x12")

I snapped the reference photo for this painting in April 2007. What a gorgeous view over the lake that day!!! Absolutely no waves, nothing breaking up the huge heavenly mirror that morning. I was surprised at the brilliance of the color reflected in the water. That said, I don't think it was quite this bright. So, I'm half done Sorrento III and I should have that for your comparison tomorrow. I do believe I will like it better as it is just a bit calmer and less hectic than this one.

Speaking of less hectic, my daughter Candice and her girls Kiera (4) and Kalista (2) are off on their Japanese adventure tomorrow. I wish them well and we will miss being in the same time zone and within 4 hours travel time - sigh. They visited last week and things around this house have definitely been less hectic since then. I've had time to paint and read and think about the fact that the girls and I got in only one painting session.
Until next time...
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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Grandma J's Egg Cups (14"x10")

Grandma J's Egg Cups (14"x10")
Hi all! Here I am again with a painting new to this blog but not really new. This one is based on a still life that I set up this spring for my art class. The orange pillow that you see in behind was made by my Grandma Matson. She's 102 years old...
By the way... I painted today and would have posted that landscape but there was no decent lighting for taking a photo tonight. So, you'll see that one tomorrow.
I hope you had a great Sunday and are all ready for a new work week. I plan to do lots of painting this week so keep your eyes peeled for updates...
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resting and reflecting

Rest and Reflection (2007, 8"x11")
I'm posting a small painting completed in 2007 for 2 reasons:

1) My daughter left yesterday and I'm in "rest and reflect" mode which is the title I gave to this painting. I'm thankful that we had a great visit and excited that Candice & Doug and their girls have such an exciting adventure before them. It's a great time to exit the North American commercial flying scene (oil price fallout) and Doug has a wonderful career opportunity in Japan. BUT... they'll be SO far away ;(

2) I've had no time/energy to paint something new...

This is a nostalgic painting for me because it features my wedding china and the "brown betty" teapot that my mom gave me a few years ago. These two items put me in a restful mood and looking back on one of my earliest paintings encourages me to get with it and get those brushes wet.

Speaking of wet brushes... I'm excited that my sister-in-law Karen is going to be taking a watercolor class this fall. She'll be in the Wednesday morning class at Rosscarrock school and my class is in the afternoon at the same place. We'll be able to meet at the mall for coffee or lunch those days. I hope she'll enjoy this as much as I do. Go Karen!

Okay... no more excuses for me. I'm off to paint! Have a great day... Retweet this

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Manitou Day Lilies

Manitou Day Lilies (9 1/4x9 1/2 inches)

These lilies were EVERYWHERE in downtown Manitou Springs, Colorado when I visited there last month. What a cheerful, sunny greeting they waved to tourists and townsfolk alike. I hope I've captured it in this little painting. I need lots of practice working with yellow... it's easy to muddy and dull it. I can relate to Lawrence Calcagno who said "As an artist, it is central to be unsatisfied! This isn't greed, though it might be appetite." I never quite get it as I imagined it in my head. I feel somewhat like I used to when I golfed... I hit a good one once in a while and that keeps me painting. The enjoyment of the act of painting is something that cannot be explained... it must be experienced.

In an hour I'm back on Grandma duty for the next 5 days. I intend to enjoy them as much as possible. So, I will be back here at the end of the week..
Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canucks... and happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans (yes, I'm a dual citizen).

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