Friday, December 19, 2008

Running Paints

I find great comfort in returning to graphite! It is a painstaking medium with fewer financial returns for the efforts put into each piece, and that's why I have shied from it that the last while. I suppose I could become looser, but I really enjoy building up the layers of tone, making the piece look photographic in appearance. Note I said photographic in *appearance* from a distance, but upon closer inspection, one can detect my mark making. Scribbles, dashes, strokes, cross hatching and the scumblings of a blending stub all make up the guts of one of my drawings.

This particular piece, like many others around here, makes it appearance onto the drawing table sporatically. Though I love the medium, it is really hard on my physical well being to draw for endless hours. Pain and numbness in my neck and fingers are the order of the day if I push it. In an effort to alleviate these problems I have tried drawing on an easel with lukewarm enthusiasm. Frustation sets in when I can't get the marks I want when working in this position.

So, I bit the bullet, and said "F... it", I'm going back to the way it works for me! I make concerted efforts to listen to my body though, and with the voice of my massage therapist's harsh words ringing in my ears, I pace myself now. The concern for the monetary returns are gone...I just LOVE working in the medium! I am running with the enthusiasm built on the high of winning First Place in the Ex Arte Equinus drawing category. Runnin' like the Paints in the piece!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Done the Dawg!!

Those two little words that I crave...I'M DONE!!

Having said that, this morning as soon as I got up, before showering, with coffee in hand, I ended up tweeking the Dawg's ear, and then some of the grass under her ear...all of this AFTER I had signed the painting and deemed it done.

Thus poses the question, is a painting ever 'done' or 'finished'? I think not. Paintings and drawings are merely abandoned. This is not to suggest for a moment that a painting is given up on, or that is is somehow inferior, but that there is always something a painting demands to be tweeked. Each painting 'finished' is merely a teacher at that particular time in the artist's journey of creating. An artist's best teacher is her last piece of art.

I know when I getting close to finishing or abandoning a painting. My view of it becomes distorted somehow, and I start to 'see' the piece become cartoon-like in my mind's eye. My creative mind is tired of looking at it...there comes that point in my process when I start to wipe off more paint than I leave on the surface. Those marks that are removed no longer enhance the piece as a whole, therefore, they are removed. This is when I know I am nearing the finish line.

So, as I throw myself across the finish line on this painting, I am already thinking of the next one to put on the easel or send to Warner Bros....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ex Arte Equinus ll

Received news yesterday that my drawing "Good Girl" was awarded FIRST PLACE in the Drawing Category, in the Horse Art Magazine's Ex Arte Equinus ll art competition!

Judge Sheona Hamilton-Grant (no relation) of Belgium, chose this graphite drawing for First Place over the many fantastic drawing entries. Sheona's graphite work is exquisite, and I greatly admire her graphite artwork as well as her opinion. Not only can this talented woman draw with ease, she has great skill with expressing her thoughts on paper. I on the other hand, as least at this moment, am at a loss for words. So I am going to share her thoughts and comments on Good Girl.

"The chosen subjects together with the composition create a moment of mutual trust and understanding. The impeccable graphite work and honest use of light convey a mood of realism that not only draws the viewers in but gets them to entirely believe in what they see.A beautiful piece of narrative art, rendered with intense love, detailed knowledge and strong conviction.The artist has quite simply been able to take us beyond what we see into what we feel."

Thank you Sheona!

Thank you Juliet and Lyne for all the hard work putting together this incredible opportunity for equine artists from around the globe!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Grass, grass and more grass!

Painting grass, grass and more grass...working on the tangled *mess* of grass on the right today. One would think this mundane task to be an easy one. Not! It is a constant stream of decisions, working out which blade overlaps the other, and which is darker or lighter. Not happy with how some of the blades turned out, I quickly washed them off with a small sponge before they could dry and set up. Funny how a simple thing like a blade of grass can be screwed up!

I can see where I want to place more blades, and where to fix some of the others, but I am too tired and my neck hurts too much to fix them now. I learned a long time ago that too many mistakes are made when I'm tired, and its just not worth it to continue. Best to call it a night.

I decided to use my new Nikon D80 to shoot this photo of the Work In Progress. I am so impressed to see how much of a difference there is in image quality from my little old crap digital camera to this higher end one....*duh*! Why didn't I use it before?! Double Duh!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sick as a Dawg

Fever, sore throat, fatigue, aches, runny nose, all since Monday, I've been sick as a Dawg. Amazingly, in spite of all these setbacks, I was able to work on the painting! Not as vigorously as I would have liked, but I did make progress.

Working on the fur was such fun. Sweeping brushstrokes with a round brush, coupled with short quick strokes of a old beat up bright brush, her coat took on shape and dimension. When painting fur it is imperative to follow the whorls, and how the hair lays on the body of the animal. If I didn't like the colour of the hair, thin washes of Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna and Payne's Gray mixed in with the Matte Medium, adjusted it. I still have some issues about how light the hair should be, as acrylics dry darker, and values can be tough to gauge sometimes.

Since the last post, her eyes and face have really taken on her personality. I am really pleased with her cute little mug!!

Still don't like that front leg on the right hand side...gonna cover it with grass!! I have decided to leave my issues with the values of the fur, and wait until I have resolved the grasses. Their relationship with the values of the Dawg will help me decide if I need to lighten the fur more or not. Not the best photograph of the painting. The lighting is bad. To see the image up close, just click on the image and it will open in a new window and much larger.

Oh well...where's my kleenex?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Detailing the Dawg

What fun, finally getting to the detailing of the dawg! This is the fun part! Using a bright brush I started feathering in the hair on her face, bringing up the detail with lighter and lighter shades of paynes grey, cerulean blue, burnt sienna and white. A small round brush was used to start bringing out the hair detail around the eyes. Matte medium was used as a barrier coat to protect some the detail in the event I have to scrub out mistakes. Some corrections were made on the shapes in her face, especially along the left hand jawline.

Lightening the colours further, the fur along her shoulder and chest was started with a round brush to get the sweep and direction of the hair. Acrylics are so awesome for this kind of work! It dries so fast, I can get right back into it without it smudging like an oil would. One has to be rather patient with oils I have discovered. Acrylics are definately for the artist with short attention spans, not unlike myself!

Still have to resolve some issues with the right leg, and some other things, but they will be dealt with as I go. Right now, my neck is tight, a nerve is pinching and I'm becoming irritable because I'm getting some referral pain in my front teeth of all things...better to stop than mess up all the great work so far.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Grass can be a pain in the....!?

One would think grass would be an easy thing to paint. A bunch of green straight lines, scribbled with impunity. Wrong! Grass has a rhythm to it, one that can be a difficult one to tap into if the artist has not painted it for awhile, like ME! Without this rhythm, and sense of randomness, painting wild grasses looks contrived and stiff. Having some sense of control when painting something like wild grass, yet still have it look random and natural can be a pain in the ...grass!!

I found myself *erasing* some of the blades of grass on numerous occasions and even flipping the painting upside down, or on its side to capture the flow of it with my brushstrokes. It seems to have worked so far. Now to tackle the dog again, and let the grass rest for abit.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In The Mood

Appropriate that painting the snow was the order of the day for this painting. Woke up to lots of the *white stuff* outside, putting me in the mood so to speak.

I used mixtures of a tiny bit of burnt sienna, with cerulean blue, paynes gray, white and some pthalo blue to try and capture the texture of the snow. In the process of painting the snow, I had to paint over the grass that I had indicated in the underpainting. Not a problem though, as I can still see where most of those brushstrokes are. The grass had to be started on the right hand side, using burnt sienna, raw sienna, naples and some paynes gray. This grass needed to be well underway, as the dog's body is overlapping it. I try to plan the spacial planes before actually applying paint.

Misty's face, ears and chest were also worked on during today as well. I'm at that horrible stage of nothing being resolved with lots of painting still to come before anything looks remotely finished. Just lots of brushstrokes, one after the other, painting whether I'm in the mood, or not.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Change of Pace - Misty

On to another commission. this one is of a German Wire Hair pointer pup, Misty. Like all my other commissions a looming deadline, is needed to boot me to the easel and get to work. Sorely in need of a change, like so many other aspects of my life, this piece was begging to be done in acrylics and not my usual oils. The last acrylic to sit on my easel was Spruce Baby (see sidebar for image) I had forgotten how nice it can be to work in acrylic. the fast drying time, and flexible application techniques is a huge attraction at this point. I cannot afford to be waiting for it to dry between applications not wanting to leave it to the last minute. Christmas IS coming!

This one is on a 12 X 16" MDF panel gessoed with about 3 coats of Daniel Smith gray gesso. I had forgotten how much I love this surface. Originally I thought the panel was an inch too wide for the drawing, so left the right hand edge blank so a carpenter friend could cut it off for me. after much consideration, it was decided it best to leave it alone, so I painted in the undertones of the grass right to the edge.

I am using matte medium on this one to stabilize the transparent glazes. In the past I used gloss medium. I'm not sure what motivated me to switch to matte, it just seems right this time. Payne's gray is the colour of choice for the under painting. The plan is to use a very limited grayed down palette of Payne's gray, burnt sienna, titanium white and raw sienna with some Naples yellow thrown in the mix.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Double Header

The Wolfe Cabin is done and I'm doin' the happy dance! One more commission out of the way. One step closer to autonomy and freedom to paint what I want. Now to let it dry, varnish it, photograph it, frame it and its a done deal. Contact the client, and its off to a new home.

Momentum rolling, I also delivered a different painting to another client who had paid me an advance in 2007 for a painting. More specifically, *the painting* I wanted to keep for myself. I had total freedom, no requirements, no expectations, no deadline. In the beginning I struggled with this idea of no restrictions. Then one day as I was laying on my couch looking up at a painting I had been reluctant to sell, it became clear that it was the *one* that he must have. It fit all the criteria. It was the right size, right price range, and it was one I wanted for myself.

I delivered it last night, filled with some trepidation. What if he didn't like it? What if it wasn't what he expected? I was secretly hoping he didn't want it, then I could keep it above my couch for me to selfishly admire. He loved it! We celebrated the hanging of "Mutual Support" with a few drinks, and much talk about the creative spirit that musicians and visual artists share. It felt good to let go of this one.

Upon leaving I was feeling a bit sad, and asked that he give my *favourite* a good home. He promised he would. Driving home, the sadness turned to a feeling of release, and joy. My favourite painting was hanging in a new home over a lovely fireplace, and it was then I felt great!! A double header on the art front! On to the next one to liberate me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Calendar Girl

Time ticks on...I'm stuck, too many things to do. Never enough time to do them all. Most of all I seem unable to motivate myself to finish the Wolfe Cabin or to work on anything that remotely resembles artwork.

Here it is November already, and I have hardly finished anything of substance. I am so hard on myself, always judging myself harshly, distracted by *other* things. Things like two cats, a horse, and a very high maintenance whippet Austin whom I cook for now. His allergies were preventing him from thriving on any commercially made dog food, veterinary quality or not. House maintenance, yard maintenance, and all the business end of the art business all take their chunk 'o time outta me. All these things require time, energy and organization. Without my daytimer, I'm lost!

I have become focused on the time passing far too fast. Deadlines past, upcoming deadlines, I forget to celebrate my having my painting "A Good Tail Wind" winning a spot on the American Academy of Equine Art's (AAEA) 2009 Calendar contest! I can now combine my time management with a celebration of seeing my work on a quality calendar.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Snow Way?!..."

Tackled the would think that it would be easy for me to paint snow, having lived on the cold Canadian Prairies my whole life. This is not necessarily so with snow. Snow is not really white. It is comprised of many colour, least of all white! The colour of snow is largely dependant on the time of day, and how sunny it is.

Judging by the strong shadows in the reference photo, I can conclude that the photo must have been taken in the late afternoon or early morning. I recall seeing the most incredibly cool shadows and warm highlights on snow during these times. Taking the little old reference photo, a mere 3 X 3" in size and starting to lose its colour because of its age, I took the liberty of drawing from my memory the beautiful colours of snow.

I added tinted oranges and yellows to the highlights in the snow. Transitional areas from light to shadow, have warm to cool pinks. Wet on wet seemed to work best over the underpainting of blue-violet, then softly blending with a sable brush, juxtiposing it with the more obvious brushwork in the pathway. I want this layer to dry before going into the snow once more to build up the highlights, and push back the shadows more with some glazes of cool blue.

Maybe I'll finally be able to put this painting to rest and finish it before the snow actually flies! I better hurry. It's minus 5 outside.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Wolfe Cabin progresses

After the third session of working on the cabin, I was finding it time comsuming and frustrating to get the lines and vanishing points all worked out. The cabin was looking like it was going to blow down in a strong wind storm! Note to self! Never drink copious amounts of coffee and try to freehand straight lines, even with a maul stick! I felt like an alchoholic with a serious case of the DT's!

So out came the straight edge to help my shakiness, and the cabin was starting to become structurally sound again. The windows were wrong in size and shape and they had to corrected, but with oils I had to be patient, let it dry then tackle the corrections. I chose to paint this piece on masonite so I could get the tiny details, and smooth lines of the building. I was soon bored with all these details, so what next? Must push motivation was waning fast.

Trees seemed like a good option to get me interested again with all their randomness, so trees I painted. I had most fun painting the sky and the sky holes in the trees. Yellows, pinks, and blues all made their way into the sky, overlayed onto the underpainting. Res N Gel was the favoured medium of the day, making the colours juicy and semi transparent.

Then back to the details. The railings, motion sensor lights, window trim, stairs, and the metal chimney. Most important, the chimney HAS to be in the painting! This metal tube somehow holds sentiment for the motivation is waning further, daily life distractions keeping me from working on the piece. Now what? I decide to *dangle the carrot* in front of me. I tape the cheque for payment for the painting onto my easel!!

I discover I am not motivated by money.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Wolfe Cabin

The Wolfe Cabin, long gone, mowed down to make way for a new and improved mansion on Lake Windermere, B.C., is being *rebuilt* in a painting. Fond memories were made for the Wolfe family in this little cabin. Memories of swimming, laying in the sand, and campfires long into the night. Winter offered skating and warming by the woodburning stove. Now it is gone. All that remains of the Wolfe Cabin is a small 12 X 14" frame, handmade with the wood from its wooden exterior, embellished with some of the original lichen that grew on it. This little frame is going to house the finished painting.
Commissioned by an investment firm, this is a retirement gift for Kevin, a long time client of mine. I originally painted a portrait of his cat Tabitha more than 25 years ago. I found my original reference photos of Tabitha and my plan is to sit her in one of the the windows of the finished piece, as a little surprise for Kevin.
Working on this piece is a nice change for me, from painting horses, and western scenes. I started this piece in late August. I took my french easel outside onto my deck in the backyard to work, enjoying the fresh air and getting into the *cabin* groove as a refreshing change. The attached image is the end result of this first, semi-plein aire painting.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Finished the Peach panel!!

I am officially finished Peach now!!

I glazed some Burnt Sienna over her forelock and ears, and some in her eye and eyelashes to tone them down some. I also reworked the forelock some more, once it was dry. I straightened the line of the neck more, as it had gotten a bit wobbly. I also glazed in some Burnt Sienna and Alizarin Crimson into her snip, between her nostrils to warm it up and make it more flesh like. I also worked some more highlights into her blaze with a very light mixture of Naples Yellow, Burnt Sienna and Titanium White. Then I signed it! Wooohooo!

This is truly a tribute to a very very special pony who's awesome personality and character will never be forgotten.

I have posted the finished panel to my website under the "painting" category.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fifth session on Peach Panel

Oh MY GOSH...I think I am nearly finished with this piece!

...I need to be done. I need to work on the pieces that bring in the $$ now. I know when I am getting close to finishing because I start to *hate* it, and think it looks like a cartoon...weird, eh? Am I the only one who gets *weird* with their feelings on their artwork once it nears completion? The paint starts to get sticky, the brushes are all dirty, and I wanna be done. Looking at it, I want to get rid of the split forelock, reminds me of the kid from the "Little Rascals" and now I can't get rid of that impression...ARGH! I WANT TO WIPE THAT PART OFF NOW! Having said that, I need a bit of a break from it before I resort to such drastic measures. Think I'll go see my horse, Champagne to soak on it for a couple of hours before I start wielding that Shop Towel. I want to glaze some colour into the white between the nostrils once it is dry, and some burnt sienna glazed into the ear on the right to tie it into the original design.Oh how I hate being the near the end of a painting!

"Paintings are never finished...just ABANDONED!!"

Fourth session of painting Peach

In this installment I worked on the panel for about 3-4 hours, working on the muzzle mostly and trimming down the right side of her face. It had gotten a bit on the thick side, so I cut back into the face with the background colour. I also painted the pink on her nose, but ended up disliking it and wiped it all off. I struggled with the blaze, trying to keep the values close to the panel, by keeping the top part of it darker than down near the nostrils. Having waited for the eye to dry, I darkened the eye white to make it more orb-like, and darkened her scelera, which I had too light to start with. Surprisingly most of the paint had dried from my working on it the day before! The panel really sucks the oil out of the paint, helping it dry faster.

So I still need to paint in the ears, which will be light to correspond with the values on the panel, and work the forelock around the ears. I was wanting to let the mane dry some more before doing the forelock...we all know how long white can take to dry, and if it isn't totally dry, its like painting on glue or boogers.... The neck still needs to be trimmed down too to match the original design of the panel.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Third session on the Peach panel

This is after the third painting session on the Peach Panel. I musta spent about 4-5 hours on it, wiping off some of the problem areas as I went. Luckily its easy to do with oils on a panel! I struggled alot at first, trying to find my painting groove. Hoping to be mostly done in one more session, or two, I needed to work on the ears, some detail on the face and right eye, the muzzle and some more work on the neck to adjust the values and shape. The forelock also needed to be addressed to match the mane. I also had to double check the background with the digital photos I took to make sure they are close in direction, colour and values. Peach was a very light palomino, but due to the nature of the panel, I have had to make the adjustment of painting her darker. Pretty happy with it so far.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Second session painting the Peach Panel

Working on this panel has brought many tears to my eyes.It was my hope that painting it would be part of the healing process for myself, of the loss of a great little horse! I hope that this painting will touch those who have shared in the suffering on the passing of our equine family members.

I worked on Peach's eye in this next installment for most of the time and am very happy with how it turned out. I have been using Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, a tad of Alizarin Crimson and Naples Yellow so far in the palette. For the black of Peach's eye I used a mixture of Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue. I then worked on the cheek and face around the eye, cheekbone and then the muzzle. I will be adjusting the muzzle somewhat for tone and shapes, but am happy with the results so far. I am definately going to have to get my main reference photo of Peach blown up at Costco eyes are killing me!

I am concentrating on getting most of the tonal range and colour the original panel had on it, as well as the shape it had on that diagonal...once I get this down, I can adjust the painting as I go. I am going to have to sacrifice the light palomino colouration of Peach somewhat to make the panel work as a whole, but I feel I am capturing her character which is most important.I was blocking in some of the colour with my synthetic brights, and then working with my sable brushes for the application of the rest of the colour and some blending on the panel. I find the oil paints are SO JUICY on this panel. I had forgotten how much fun it is to paint on panels with hardly any texture to them. I am having a wonderful time with this piece!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mosiac Mural Panel "A Tribute To Peach"

When I received my panel for the Le Cadeau Du Cheval -The Horse Gift I was excited that I received my first choice! When I originally chose it, I thought I knew what I was going to do with it. My first vision was to paint a generic palomino horse throwing its head up, a roughstock horse, one loaded with attitude. This is what I saw in the tonal values of the panel...but when the panel arrived, I had already been considering an image that meant a whole lot more to me emotionally. This mural will be travelling the World and I felt the need to pay tribute to our beloved pony Peach.

Peachy Keen, fondly known as Peach, died in December after a heroic battle with colic and the surgery that followed. She and my daughter did so much together through all the years they shared. They were in pony club, participating in Prince Philip games, jumping, cross country, dressage and lots of trail riding. I wanted to capture the free spirit and Alpha mare attitude she had. She thought she was much larger than her 13.3hh stature. A Shetland/Appendix QH cross, Peach LOVED to jump! She could easily do a 3'6" jumping course, and she and Laura made it to C level in Pony club. She loved it so much, that on numerous occasions she would jump while at liberty, or follow Laura across the cross country course jumping along side Laura.

So I dragged out all the photos I could find of Peach and Laura. It was hard to do, it bringing so many mixed emotions, so many great memories of the two of them and reminding me of the great loss.

I found the photo I was looking for, one of Peach the day we first brought her home to the farm where we boarded. We had set her loose with the herd, and she galloped, played and teased the geldings relentlessly, showing the character and attitude to which we would come to love about her!I found other reference shots I would use, wanting her in summer coat, not the motley coat of late spring. To use the eye and muzzle from another, and lighting from another to better suit the design of the panel. I fiddled with the drawing part for a couple of days off and on. Then the other night I started to paint Peach at about 11:00pm, just wanting to block in the basic tones and ended up putting about 2 hours into it. I will be sorry to send this little panel off and not keep it, but I want to share this wonderful little pony's spirit with all who view it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

diving into the realm of blogging


I have just dived into the realm of blogging! I thought I would never do this, I have far too many 'other' things to do in my life, let alone allow the Computer to drag me away from my artwork with yet another distraction.

Its all Mosaic Murals doing. I wanted to be part of the online sharing and interaction that will be going on with the Le Cadeau du Chavel project.

Having said that, I need to find my towel and climb outta this 'pool' and go get some stuff done!