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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Painting with Acrylics in my Living Room.

Tree Shadows, Mar. 2019, acrylic on panel

I did an acrylic painting! I haven’t worked with acrylic paints since 2017. It was fun. It was also fun to be able to rework areas and add things after the fact. Watercolour kind of just gives you the one chance to get it right.

I did this over two days and was very lucky to get two sunny days in a row that happened to be on my days off work. I am fascinated with how the shadows here are never the same. It depends on the time of day, the weather, the time of year, etc. I had done a watercolour of this same view, but it was painted in the morning so the shadows were stretched out longer across the yard. This one was painted between noon and 3pm.

And now I can can put all this away–the living room is pretty cluttered with my painting stuff set up right in front of the window. It makes me a little crazy.

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It was me who asked for the White Christmas…sorry Calgary!

Fresh Snow, acrylic on panel, Dec.20, 2017Calgary got a huge dump of snow and it is beautiful. Not so good for anyone having to drive, but lucky for me I didn’t have to leave the house today. Seeing as I didn’t have to go anywhere, I decided to get out my acrylics and do a “real” painting of the view from the dining room of the back alley with all the fresh snow. I don’t know why watercolour paintings always feel like studies to me; I think I actually paint better with watercolour, but I LOVE painting with acrylic! And what I mess I made too. I even put down a shower curtain where I set up my easel in the kitchen, but I still managed to get paint on the microwave.

It was so much fun. After working in tedious watercolour for so long it was glorious to just slather on the paint like I was icing a cake.

Painting set-up.

 

The end of a road and the beginning of summer.

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I finally finally finally went out landscape painting. And it was a very beautiful day. It has been too long. No matter what I do in my art or how long it’s been, I always come back to this–my absolute favourite thing to paint is en-plein-air landscapes. There is nothing like it.
I drove out of town, past the pavement, to the end of the gravel, and there was still quite a bit of traffic on that little gravel road–even a bike rider. At first I was a bit worried about dust kicking up onto the painting, but I was pleasantly surprised that every vehicle that passed slowed right down and I had no problems. Two people even stopped to compliment me.
It took me a little while to get going, and I re-did the sky 3 times before I was in the zone, but then it all came back to me. Hopefully this is the start of a very productive summer of painting.

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Learning to Love Yourself Again Begins With a Painting.

Painting at the Leighton Centre, May 1, 2014

It has been a looooong time! I almost forgot how to do a blog post! Plus, I think the admin layout has changed…or maybe it has just been that long.

This past year was rough. I had to come to terms with some things–the biggest one being that my daughter is on the Autism Spectrum. I had thought I was doing good at first, but I guess these things need to happen in their own time. Maybe I still needed to go through all the steps of grieving, but at any rate I am at last able to look past the autism and move on.

I had not intended to pull away from people so completely and did not realize how hard it would be to rejoin the world, so to speak, once I was ready. I also didn’t realize how much a part of me my art was. I did not paint for nearly a year and it made me feel like half a person. When people asked me what I did I would still reply with “I am an artist.” and then I would feel guilty that I wasn’t painting. But it seemed to be a chicken-or-the-egg scenario. Did I not feel good because I wasn’t painting? Or was I not painting because I did not feel good? I thought that getting back to painting would help me, but every painting I tried was “off” and just seemed to perpetuate how negative I felt. I had to be in the right place mentally to paint. I had to be ready to paint again. I am now ready to paint again.

I took advantage of my studio day and the gorgeous weather this week and spent three hours painting at the Leighton Centre. I started with a watercolour sketch and a small cloud study to shake out the cobwebs.

May 1, 2014 Watercolour study, watercolour on paper 9in. x 11in.May 1 2014 Cloud study, acrylic on masonite 11in. x 14in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I did two larger landscapes–one facing west where the mountains were clearly defined and one facing south where the mountains were hazy. The second one started out as more of a cloud study, but then I ended up filling in the rest of the landscape and playing with colour a bit more.

May 1, 2014 Facing West, acrylic on masonite 12in. x 16in.May 1, 2014 Facing South, acrylic on masonite 16in. x 24in.

I just made it to my daughters school in time to pick her up at 3:30 with paint covered hands, where she informed me that the next time I go out landscape painting I have to take her along too.

Big Beautiful Mess.

This is our neighbor’s crab-apple tree with the leaf buds just beginning. The tree hangs over the fence beside our deck and I love it; I find it mesmerizing. I did this painting last week on one of those gorgeous sunny days and in the course of only one week the tree has now all leafed out and the pinkish white flowers are starting to bloom. I think I want to paint it again in full bloom, but this week it has been rain, rain, rain and I have not been very motivated to paint. I hope the weather and my days off will line up again before it is done blooming. Still some time yet.

This is also done in acrylic rather than watercolour. I was feeling a bit rusty with the acrylics and at first I was thinking I should re-do this it in watercolour, but after looking at for it a bit I realized that it actually looks very similar to my watercolour paintings, just messier.

Crab-apple tree, May 9, 2013, acrylic on masonite

Things On the Walls.

I am now doing Studio days in my home studio on Thursdays. We decided to put my daughter in a full day childcare for one day a week to give us all a bit of a break. I get the full day to paint, my husband goes to work early to get some store work done and Poppy gets a full day of playing with some of her classmates, which has already given her a huge boost in her social skills. One girl in particular has bonded with Poppy and her teacher says it is quite magical to watch them.

Last week I went down to the studio to start painting and realized that I did not have enough panels prepped so it became a prep and blog catch-up day.

Here’s my work from the last couple of weeks:

March 7th studio work.March 7th

I went back to my reflections and shadows as subject matter. I am still a bit obsessed with the subject, still taking a lot of photos when I see them on my walls, and I think I need to just go all out and explore it as a subject. These three paintings are based on photos that I took of reflections in my dining room and living room. The dining room ones are from the sun hitting the neighbors’ windows across our back alley, bouncing back into our dining room through the china cabinet and onto a landscape painting I had propped there. The living room ones are from the sun bouncing off a car windshield and through our venetian blinds and into our entry, where I had my red still life sitting up to look at.

I find the results of these moments so beautiful but they are so fleeting, and I am still working on how to paint them. I don’t know why I am obsessed with painting them, but I am. On this day the first painting I did was just a watercolour study in my sketch book to loosen up. Then I did the small acrylic painting on board (the red drapes with sun) and after lunch I did a 24 inch by 32 inch oil painting (the landscape with shadows).

Shadow watercolour study, Mar. 7, 2013Curtains and sun, Mar.7, 2013 acrylic on panelLandscape With Shadow, Mar. 7, 2013 oil on panel 24 x 32

And here are the photos that these paintings are based on: the first is what the straight reflections that the watercolour was based on, the shadow by the china cabinet without the landscape painting, then the (very faint) light from the living room blinds onto my red curtain still life painting, and the last is the shadows by the china cabinet with my landscape painting propped against the wall. I am in the process of gathering all of my reflection photos and I want to print them in a little book chronologically, even if it’s just for me. Although if I ever get to the point of having enough of these reflection paintings for a show, the book would be a nice little companion to the show… I just wish I was a better photographer…

008 cropPhotograph of the real reflections on the First Tulips painting (darker) 012

March 7th and 14th studio work.March 14th

After doing the last week’s paintings and photographing them, I had a thumbnail of the red painting on my desktop. Every time I looked at it I saw the painting as being bigger. It needed to be bigger. So for this week I had decided to do a 24 inch by 32 inch painting of the red curtain reflections in oil. I was a bit nervous so I started with a small acrylic study of  the sky and shadows–a closer crop from the same photo as last week. I like the closer cropping of the red drapes painting and I thought I might try something similar with the sky of the landscape. I still like the red painting better.

Sky and Shadow, Mar. 14, 2013 acrylic on panel 16 x 24Curtains With Sun, Mar. 14, 2013 oil on panel 24 x 32

100 Years.

My tulips are finally up! I actually painted this to submit for a show at the library where I work; this year the Calgary Public Library is celebrating its 100th birthday and they have invited staff members to submit art for display at the central branch for the month of June. I was planning to do this still life set up anyway, but then since it is (hopefully) going to be for the library show, I decided to add the paperback and coffee cup.

It is also an invented scene since the reflections on the curtains behind the tulips didn’t actually exist in the still life. When I thought I was finished the painting, I took it in the living room to look at it; and a reflection from the venetian blinds in that room was cast onto the painting. I thought it looked phenomenal so I decided to paint it into the painting. This is something I have been playing with for a while–photographing reflections that land on my finished paintings and then painting them–but this is the first (what I call “reflection painting”) that has been this successful.