Spring Snow Clouds.

I went out and did some plain air painting yesterday! It was a beautiful sunny day, but there were big grey snow clouds coming from the mountains in the west, so I was trying to stay ahead of the clouds…and I ended up painting them in all three paintings. These were done fairly quickly (it took me about 2 1/2 hours)–I am trying to loosen up with my painting again and just have fun with it. I painted right up until the clouds caught up with me and it started to snow, at which point the sun was covered anyway so I called it a day.

The past month I have not been very inspired to paint so to help me out I decided to try some different coloured grounds on my panels. I went with flourescent pink and yellow and I really love the pink one! I have two more pink ones ready to go for next time, and I think I am going to prime a bunch more of them. They are tricky to photograph though, the flourescent does not look bright enough in the photos!

Dining Room View.

This is my dining room view, painted in acrylic. I finished it at the end of January, just before the city replaced the power pole in the alley. I have been painting these sheer curtains a lot in watercolour where I can easily layer them, so this was interesting to paint the curtains in thick paint, section by section. It was a lot of analyzing of tones and looking at what was behind each section of curtain. And then the reflection of the curtains on the table was so much darker–like reflections on water; the table is actually wood, but on a bright day it just looks like a mirror.

The past month I have been painting and sketching this view a lot. Maybe it is the quality of light as seen from the dining room at this time of year, but I am also finding myself just really drawn to the area with all the angled rooftops. Here is a pen and ink sketch and a watercolour of the same view. The watercolour one is my first painting of the new, bright power pole.

Frames and Shows.

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September is always a crazy month for me with family birthdays and back to school, but this year there was a little bit of extra fun (and stress!) with art…that I completely missed blogging about. I did do a couple of posts on Instagram, but Instagram posts feel incomplete to me–like they are just the bookmark to something bigger.

The first thing I should mention is that I have a painting in the juried art show “In The Open Air” at the Leighton Art Centre which runs from September 11th to October 24th. And alongside the show, my four window paintings (that I painted during the lockdown) are available in the Leighton Art Centre gift shop as part of their Members Collection right now. I had all five paintings (the four windows and the landscape for the show) professionally framed as I sadly lack the technical skills for framing. I did learn how to do some framing at University, but I have never been very good at it. Framing is always a dilemma for me. The paintings look so good framed up, but I am always wary of framing them because there is so much personal taste involved with frames. It is almost better to leave them for people to frame themselves, but that does not show off the painting very well. I guess if people really don’t like a frame they can reframe it though it is still a balancing act of doing a frame that suits the painting but also appeals to a wide variety of tastes. I was really happy with the frames for the four window paintings–I chose each one separately, but they still look really good together. I only had them at home for one day before delivering them to the Leighton, but I got to hang them up in the living room to photograph them and see them all together. I really like them as a set.

And here is the Landscape from the show all framed up. I am glad I photographed it in the frame as this photo turned out to be a really good photo of the painting, and when I went to see the painting in the Leighton Centre’s online shop today I saw that it had sold! A very nice surprise!

And lastly, this year I signed up to be a part of their Plein Air paint out that was held on the Saturday of the opening weekend for the show. They did a paint out for last year’s Plein Air show as well, and though I was in last year’s art show, I did not sign up for the paint out last year. This year it was a weird weather day with rain and fog–not a day I would normally be inspired to paint outside on, but it was a good challenge for me. I did two small paintings of the same view: one that I started before the fog rolled in and a second that was basically just a patch of grass with fog. I went back into the first painting after the fog lifted in the afternoon, but I regretted it afterwards; I liked it better as a quick study. The colours that day were also odd. Since everything was wet and just starting to turn colours, I picked up on more of the yellows in the field, but they were also hazy yellows from all the mist and fog. It was really interesting to see all the other plein air paintings from that day, as it looked like I had been painting at a completely different location than everyone else, though really I was just at the side of the Leighton Centre looking at that field rather than the front with the grand vista. Although I guess technically that is a completely different location then. Here is the first painting, the second painting, the first painting finished, and the view that I was working from. I am really glad I did it even if no masterpiece was made–it put me out of my comfort zone and also let me work alongside other artists which I never get to do anymore. All in all, this September was a great, albeit stressful, month!

South Facing Window, North Facing Window.

South facing window (with evergreen tree), 2021, acrylic on panel, 10in. x 12in.

North facing window (with lilac tree), 2021, acrylic on panel, 9in. x 12in.

I finally finished off these two little bedroom window paintings last week. And just in time, as the lilac tree in the black curtain room is about to leaf out. The light has also changed quite a bit from the time I started them a month ago. I set up at the end of the hallway and these are the two bedrooms at the end of the hall so I would start on the north facing room and then turn my easel to paint the south facing room in the afternoon. When I started painting them I would start on the north facing room painting around 11:30 in the morning, and then turn my easel to paint the south facing room around 1:30 in the afternoon. Last week in order to get similar light I had to start the north facing painting around 2:30 in the afternoon, and then start the south facing room around 6:30. That slash of sunlight in the red curtain room that fell at 3:30 in the afternoon a month ago, is now closer to 7:30 in the evening. The quality of light is also warmer now, so I ended up completely repainting the grey walls in a warmer grey.

Here is my set-up at the end of the hallway. I set a plastic shower curtain down to contain my mess, and at the end of a painting session would just gather up all the paints into a bundle (like those circular Lego mats that fold up into storage bags) and move the whole bundle into the spare room until I was ready to paint again.

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Patio Doors With Sheer Curtains.

Patio Doors, Feb. 2021, acrylic on masonite

Here is the second painting in my windows project. This is the view from my patio doors with the sheer curtains closed in front of them. I actually started this one before I did the living room window painting, and before I had decided exactly what I was doing with these. I painted the background completely and then it sat for a week while I debated if I should add the patio doors or not. I knew it needed something, but it was *almost* a finished painting without the doors and curtains. The composition was a bit off though and adding a bit of a frame with the door and the curtains seemed to fix the compositional problems. I think I had subconsciously left space for them. I do really like how much is going on in the painting now.

Here is the painting before I added the doors and curtains on it. It looks like a lot of paintings I have done of the powerlines in the backyard. I think it was time for something different, even though I love this view and will undoubtedly paint it again.

Patio Doors Before curtains

Living Room Window.

I have started a new project! I have been thinking about doing a series of window/curtain paintings for many, many years, and then that last painting I did of the window for the commission really inspired me to get going on it. It is interesting how things come together sometimes. Last year when I was at work one night at the library I discovered the most beautiful art book on the American artist Lois Dodd, and she has the most amazing series of window paintings. Just google “Lois Dodd windows” and you will see what I mean. Soon after that was when I was contacted about doing the commission piece of the Radium condo window. It was funny because I was immediately excited about it, as it was in line with what I had been thinking about, but then my husband asked if I was sure that they wanted the window frame in the painting. I had not even considered that they did not want the frame in the painting, so it was good that I asked. I can’t imagine if I had done the painting only to find out they had meant something completely different.

So I finished up this painting in acrylic this week–painted from life in my living room. I do much prefer working from life so I feel like I am back in my element. This one took a few days to do, and I was ready to paint over it at one point before I added the venetian blinds. But the blinds was what it needed. I am planning to do all the windows on the main floor of my house and I am actually on the third one right now, but I am behind on blogging about them. It has turned out to be the perfect time for this project, and very much a snapshot in time, since I am currently off work and mostly stuck at home right now. I have been painting them on sunny days which I think makes them more optimistic and hopeful even though they are paintings of being stuck in a house.

Radium Painting.

Radium Window, acrylic on masonite, Nov. 2020

So I didn’t actually go to Radium to paint this–it was a commission painting that I did at the end of November and it was painted from a photograph. It was an interesting challenge for me and very different from the way I usually work. I ended up setting up my easel in the living room so I could still paint in natural light, as if I was still painting it from life, and I used my laptop to view the photo while I painted. I painted it over several days and in the same time period every day which turned out to be between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm as it was the best light in the living room. Also maybe because I imagined that the light in the photo was more of a morning light, although I could see it being afternoon light as well.

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It was very different from life painting–a completely different skill set. The biggest difference, aside from the light and not being there in person, was the sense of time and urgency, if that makes sense. With a frozen image, I could work forever on it, but that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. I think I have honed a skill of making snap decisions on site, and editing, and working quickly. With this one I constantly felt I was close to overworking it. Now I don’t think that I did, but I had to keep stepping away from it and stopping myself before I went too far. This is something I have always had to work on, even when painting on site. One of my University professors once told me that I should always stop just BEFORE I think I am done because I had a tendency to overwork things.

And just for fun, here is a lovely and loose in-progress shot :)

 

Road Trip Paintings.

Fields, Aug.12, 2020, acrylic on panel 12in.x12in.The View from Highway 734, Aug.19, 2020, acrylic on panel, 12in.x12in.

I meant to do a blog post last week, but I completely missed it so I will just have to blog about both these painting days at once.

The first painting was done August 12th during a little day trip we took south of Calgary. It was on a little side road just off highway 22. I was sitting right next to a field and there were swarms of these tiny flies that got into everything. Quite a few of them lost their lives in the painting as I couldn’t get them all off so I just painted over them. The joys of plein air painting! I must admit though, I have never had an experience quite like that one. I am pretty proud that I kept going until the painting was done, inspite of the flies.

The second painting was done this week on August 19th when we decided to do a little road trip from the “hump” to the “gap”. I had never heard of either of these spots until I got a book out from the library all about the Cowboy Trail. The trip started with highway 532 west of highway 22, then went south down highway 734, and then jogs back along highway 517. The “hump” refers to a high point along highway 532 where you can see seemingly forever, and the “gap” is between two mountains on highway 517. I initially thought I would paint the view from the hump, but it was super, super windy, and it was a small, somewhat treacherous road with no real spot to set up and paint. The road is closed in the winter and there are signs that no trailers are aloud. I don’t think a vehicle with a trailer would make it up that road. However we did sit and eat a picnic lunch by the road there and it was beautiful. The painting I did was done along highway 734 when it was around 6:00. It was also pretty windy there, and at one point the painting flipped off of my easle and landed on my shoulder while I was bending down to clean a brush. I was so frustrated and ready to quit, but again I kept going. I had to repaint the sky when I was frantically trying to capture the light, and I now have another studio shirt, but I finished the painting!

Here is a couple of on site photos from that second painting day–one in progress with the light I was trying to capture, and one with the finished painting, but the sun had gone behind the mountains by then. Both photos were taken from where I was painting in the shadow of the van so they are not accurate to the colour of the painting, but I like that they show the quickly changing light.

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Day Trippin’.

Facing south, 8 pm, Aug.5, 2020, acrylic on panel, 12in.x12in.Facing north, 6 pm, Aug.5, 2020, acrylic on panel, 12in.x12in.

We took a day trip through southern Alberta on Wednesday. It was a beautiful hot and hazy day. We took a cooler full of food and stopped at a few spots to picnic along the way. First we stopped at the candy store in Nanton, then went to see the Frank Slide and then on through Pincher Creek. We stopped along a secondary highway just west of Pincher Creek for me to do these little plein air paintings. The first one was the hazy one with the little fence posts–I was facing north and it was around 6 pm. Then I stood up and turned around and the view behind me had completely lit up in the dusk evening summer light with bright yellow fields and hazy purple mountains. I sat back down and did a quick second painting of the view facing south. It was around 8 pm by then and the light was changing fast. By the time my husband took the photo the light was much more orange, but I didn’t want to change the intense yellows I had captured so that is when I called it a day. I don’t know if I have ever painted on site with this type of light–at dusk in early August during a heat wave. It felt like a completely new experience for me. Like I was not in Alberta. I think most of my plein air landscape painting has been done in the middle of the day in June or July although I would have to go back through my records to make sure. It makes me want to go back to that same spot at all different times of the year and day to compare.

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