Monday, August 22, 2011

Never Open an Umbrella Indoors and Other Superstitions Defied!

Cute and curious and not afraid of no umbrella!
This week I put together a "Daily Paintworks Challenge" to the online community of daily working artists that I belong to. The subject? Superstitions. OooooOooo. I did one of my favourites, opening up an umbrella indoors and to boot, had the cat sit under it. Actually being the curious critter she is she came right up to it and sat underneath it giving it a good sniff over. I decided not to make her all black but I was tempted.  So I took the shots, selected the one you see above, and then did the painting from it. 

"Superstitious Shelter" 6" x 6" oil on canvas panel
Click to Purchase
You can see I changed a few things, like taking out the red table which was too distracting from the red umbrella and modifying the background. I also punched up the value differences to bring attention to the cat underneath and in the middle of the umbrella. I wanted to image to have that drama and pop value but without being garish. I loved the rich flooring and the reflections I was able to pull. 

I am quite happy with this little oil indoor still life. One of my favourites!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nothing Says Summer Like Dutch Dream's Ice cream!

Some lucky Torontonians cooling off with some Dutch Dreams ice cream. 

I decided the other day to finally get out and get some reference shots of my Toronto neighbourhood and lucky me, the Dutch Dreams ice cream shop is down and around the corner. THIS is THE ice cream shop in Toronto. It is city-wide renowned and it's literally in my backyard. I am so lucky I am allergic to dairy (and have steel willpower on this) or I'd be getting my latest apparel at the local tent and awning shop.

Just enjoy this little splash of colour and summer and look forward to some small format paintings based on it. I mean, it's got a four foot sunday and creepy Dutch carhop at the entrance, not to mention the gnomes sprinkled on the side of the walls and other dairy paraphernalia. It really is something to behold and people line up down the block on a hot weekend summer's night. Ahhhhhh, summer.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Magnificent Mushroom!

"Magnificent Mushroom" 5" x 7" oil painting
on canvas hard panel
Click to Bid

I just had to paint a mushroom. Just had to. It had to be one of those mythical orange tops - the ones that fairies rest and play under. So here it is, my homage to that most glorious fungi! I finally was able to use one of the canvas panel hardboards that I hand made a while back. I love the weight and feel of it.

So enjoy this one. It makes me smile and laugh when I look at it. It just feels good and reminds me of those great hikes I use to take decades ago back in Prince Albert National Park. This painting would look great in a little study, a corner nook somewhere with a desk and lamp or even in the kitchen. Enjoy!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fantastical Sunflower

"Leo Sunflower" a lion of a little oil painting - 6" x 6" on canvas panel
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I went out the other night and took reams of photos in the neighbourhood. I came across some lovely sunflowers and black-eyed susans and they were the inspiration for this painting. I tried to do realism but it was like a horse wanting to gallop that was barred behind the barn door. I finally just had to let it out and just paint this image the way IT wanted to be born, not how I wanted it to be born. It can be a really frustrating process, this tug o' war. Once I relinquished, I just felt it "flow".

So here it is. It's not what I had in mind but it really pleasantly surprised me. Gallop on muse, gallop on!

Friday, August 12, 2011

What is True?

Sarah Kay on presentation on TED

I found this today at the site and Ms. Kay blew me away. I have turned a poetic phrase or two but she took me places my mind truly delighted in. Any artist will be riveted, healed and inspired by her words. Amazing, amazing talent, this young woman. Listen to her here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

NEW! "A Way Out" 8" x 8" Oil on Canvas Panel

Even in the swirling darkness there are portals to peaceful blue skies.

These are the dark clouds of summer, specifically those big, beautiful swirling towers of clouds that develop over the prairies. Awe-inspiring and sometimes, terrifying. I just love them. This painting is taken from some shots I took after a huge prairie summer storm. It really resonated with me. It's like life. Times where are hell has broken lose, it's important to know that just like in a storm, blue sky is still there. Peaceful blue sky and there is always a way to it. That's what that little break in the clouds is, the portal to peace. Sometimes you have to go through one heck of a storm before you find your way out. That is what this painting symbolizes to me. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

BAM! Sexy-Cute Red Little Shoes

"Sexy Little Red Heels" 6" x 6" oil on canvas panel
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I saw these and thought what cute, sexy little red high-heeled shoes and I'd never wear them. First off, cause I'd twist my ankle and secondly because shoes like this need a whole ensemble ($$$). And red shoes just scream for notice and I am a more laid back kind of gal. So, unless I needed to click my heels to find my home after being relocated by a tornado, I don't think I'd ever don these. However, I think they are so cute and attention getting I gave them front row and centre in this painting. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Painting Favourite Coffee Cups and Raising Funds for Alzheimer's Art Auction

"My Blue Cup" 5" x 6" Oil on panel - part of the proceeds going to
Alzheimer's research
Click to Purchase
This weeks DPW painting challenge was to paint your favourite cup. Well, mine just happens to be this blue one, partly because it IS my favourite and partly because I have broken all the ones I like. So I did this painting last night. I wanted to add some excitement to it and placed the blue mug on a yellow drying dish cloth. I love the brilliance of the yellow against the cobalt blue of the mug. Makes me think of blue birds of happiness set against sunflower fields happily simmering under the summer sun. 

Also, it reminded me of a notice I got from the Alzheimer's society a while back about doing some fundraising by hosting a coffee break (one can do it at their place of work, or in their apartment block, or health club, wherever). Here's the link for more info
So, when I got this challenge it reminded me of that and since I can't host anything I thought at least I can donate something to the cause. 

Again, I liked this challenge this week. We'll see what next week brings!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Turning Black and White into Colour Without Photoshop!

This was the challenge, to turn the black and white photo on the left
back into colour using your artistic skills. Yikes!
As you can see I altered the photo to strengthen the composition,
take out the distractions. The top right is the eye entry point (I got rid of
the dangling blind cords) and decided I really wanted the plant
to be the focus. I added more room to the left side of the
paintings, so we could see the left side of the glass decanter and
to properly frame the subjects within in the frame. Also I changed
the position of the lock from the centre of the window to the side,
that way, the elements balanced themselves better in the frame.
"On My Windowsill" 4" x 6" oil on canvas panel
buy this painting here
As part of the DPW artist community I have been looking into their painting challenges and decided to take up the latest challenge of taking a supplied black and white image and then turning that image into colour. Much to my surprise it was actually fun! I'd always wanted to do this but never seemed to give it the time. Not until the challenge that is : )

So here is my colour solution. You had to ascribe the right colour values to the corresponding grey scale of values in the original photo. The colour I utilized was basically a blue/green and orange - so I believe that is a split complementary coupled with mother colour theory. My palette was ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, cadmium lemon yellow, alizarin crimson, and titanium white. 

Oddly the terra cotta planter was what attracted me. Guess I wasn't a crow or raven in another life (glittery, sparkly things attract those feathered critters, as people have found all kinds of bobbles and bright things in their nests). Probably just a mud thrower (pottery gal). Love pottery, and terra cotta has a special place in my heart. 

This was a rewarding experience. Glad I took the time to do it. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

NEW! Moon Ascending Blue Mountain

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After the control of execution of yesterday's painting, "Summer Moon Over Venice", I just had to bust out and the result is," Moon Ascending Blue Mountain". It's on a bigger panel (6" x 6") and the subject matter lends itself to a more rugged application. I don't know if you can tell, but I have always admired Inuit art, and also if you have heard of him, Nicholas Roerich (you can learn more about him here He was part of the Theosophist's movement and spent many years in Tibet doing these amazing paintings. All gouache on cardboard/canvas, if you can believe that!

Himalayas. Morning. 1937
Tempera on canvas - 44 x 78 cm
artist Nicholas Roerich

I so love this painting that I will probably do a larger one on stretched canvas. Maybe a 10" x 10" or 12" x 12". It would look fantastic on a 24" x 24" but that's better done in my new studio in September. I love the yin and yang of my painting, the rugged masculine if you will, mountains with the yin (feminine) moon ascending behind them on a light magenta/lavender night sky. It's a nicely balanced and strong piece. Did I mention I loved it? Lol!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Moon Over Venice - Beauty Meets Discipline

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This painting was not finished in an hour. Oh no. More like 5 hours. Yes, this little 5"x 6" oil painting took over 5 hours. Why? Attention to detail my friend, attention to detail. That and finding it face down in the palette - mysteriously it had toppled over, over night, and did a perfect face plant in my wet paint palette that laid right underneath it. I just laughed. I wiped it off and went back to work.

Alla prima painting (wet on wet) oil painting requires cleaning your brushes constantly to keep the colour true. Because this is a small painting and there was so much detail that made for slow going, but the results are are very much worth it. This was also a good exercise in subtle color values. There wasn't a lot of high drama in this painting to get your attention so it really needed to be well designed, and a good understanding of colour values and their placement had to be implemented. My colour palette consisted of ultramarine blue, cad yellow light, raw umber, cassel earth, a smidge of viridian and burnt sienna and of course, titanium white.

So here it is. I just LOVE the peacefulness of it. The barely rippling water, the full moon over the Venetian architecture with blue-tarped gondolas swaying back and forth gently on the surface of the water. THAT is what kept me working on this painting. If I didn't love the subject matter, then when I found it face down in wet paint that would have been a wrap. If you love what you are doing, what you are working on or for, that can carry you through some tough or tedious times my friends.