Just Another Studio Reno… and a Cat and Some Sun.

Finally got the studio fix-up done. In January actually, and I’ve been busy, busy using it since then. I was going to try to get a post done today with all the paintings I’ve done in the last three weeks, but that has turned into a monster post so I’ll try to get that one done for the weekend. For now, here is the new and improved studio.

Putting up the peg board.Finished!My daughter's space.

It may not look all that different, I’ve been slowly cleaning it up over the past year. What we (my parents came to help) did for this part was patch and fill all the holes in the walls, paint all the walls (they were a pale blue when we moved into the house), put up a peg board to hang paintings rather than make holes in the wall,  hang a new stronger curtain rod for drapes, get rid of the brown corner shelf and hang wall shelves for my still life vases instead, and make a space for my daughter. I had already moved all the paintings that I was storing in the closet into our storage room and all the metal shelving that I had in the studio went into the closet.

Here are photos from before I started moving things out back in 2011. What a mess.

Studio beforeStudio before 2

And last, but not least, here’s the first artwork that we did in the space. My daughter’s cat painting and my large-scale watercolour of sunlight on the wall. I’ve done a watercolour of this image before, but for this one I was trying out a large-scale size. It is 30 inches by 40 inches and even though it is paper with a high rag content I think that next time I would still need to get a large board to tape it down and I also might need to stop being so lazy and wet and stretch the paper. Oh well, now I know.

First painting in renovated studio, January 2013Large Reflection Watercolour, Feb. 2013 watercolour on paper 30 x 40

The Caterpillar and the Bubble Blower.

I keep coming back to my daughter being a genius. We did some still life painting together, and she chose to paint her bubble blower and she asked that I paint her pink IKEA cup. I was all game for it until I realised that I had no clue how to paint fluorescent pink in watercolour. I think I actually have to buy fluorescent pink paint. So the colour is way off and I might have to try painting this cup again. Once again she has stumped me with a seemingly mundane subject! Although it was a fun little object study with a new shadow to paint.

I was completely amazed that she did a fairly decent representation of the bubble blower, getting all the basic shapes and colours right (better than I had done), and this all was done through her own observation without any imput from me. Not bad for a four year old (as I said — genius!). Her finished painting veers off the representational path a bit and has a caterpillar added in the bottom right corner (I believe the dots are his footsteps). I think it’s a lovely painting.

Watercolour Wednesday — Black and gold tea-cup.

My mom gave me some money for my birthday so I splurged and bought some professional quality watercolour paints. They are M. Graham brand—the same brand that I use for oil paints—and so far I LOVE them! I’ve decided that I actually really like doing watercolour. My new set of paints also means that my daughter has inherited my old set of watercolours. She did an amazing first painting with them full of super vibrant colours (the dots are all the birds).

I think I was inspired by her bold use of colour to choose something a bit more vibrant to paint this week, and now that I’m looking at the paintings together, I see that I also chose pretty much the same colour palette as she did. Very interesting.

It was my first parent-teacher interview on Friday. I kind of get the feeling I failed.

We met with my daughter’s pre-school teachers on Friday. It was scheduled to be a ten minute interview, ours went for forty minutes. They said that there is absolutely nothing “wrong” with her, but they are “wondering” about her. She is behind in most of the developmental milestones except her fine motor skills and painting where they said she was extremely advanced. They recommended we look into specialized schools. Not as in special needs, but as in art-focused. They said she would benefit from smaller class sizes; because she is so well-behaved and not a problem child at all, it would be easy for her to “slip through the cracks” and get overlooked. Now my head is spinning from researching schools—public, separate, private, charter—all of which seem to have comparable class sizes and all the specialized schools have high academic entrance requirements. It seems far too early to be worrying about her grades and yet that is exactly where I am. But I’ll think about that tomorrow when I’ll need to start calling around to the numbers they gave us. For now back to her being extremely advanced in art; I could have told them that and I wanted to give them a whole presentation on her artwork, had I only taken my laptop with me to the interview… Her teachers had thought that it was a rapid new development because for the first while all her pre-school paintings looked like this: Just big fields of colour. We thought it might be down to the gigantic brushes and paint cakes that they used. Or maybe she was stressed or didn’t like to paint with the other kids. She would come home from pre-school and be right back to doing her intricate paintings.

Poppy’s home painting 1, Oct. 2011.
Poppy’s home painting 2, Oct. 2011

So they were surprised to hear that she had been doing these for a while and told us it was very advanced for four years old. I wanted to talk more about her painting because not only does she have incredible concentration and focus while she paints, and talk about exactly what it is that she is painting, and she has started to draw whole figures as well as faces, but I think she is also starting to pick up on what I am painting beside her and copy it. She seemed to be doing it a bit in the summer but I wasn’t sure if it was a fluke or not.

My June 1st painting.
Poppy’s June 1st painting.

Here are the June 1st paintings that we did when I really started to wonder if she was picking up on what I was doing. Then last Saturday we had studio painting time together and again she seemed to pick up on similar colours and compositional elements  (my November 19th one is still in progress, I’ll post more on it once I finish…). I do feel very excited that my suspicions about her artistic ability have been somewhat validated and I guess we’ll just take the rest one day at a time. I do believe that it will all work out. And that I will stress and worry far more than I need to throughout the entire process.

My November 19th painting.
Poppy’s November 19th painting.

Makes me wanna get out a shirt to splatter paint!

I’m so excited about my daughter Poppy being in playschool! I really love fall. Though I must admit that one of the things I love most about fall now is watching everyone else head off to school while I drink my coffee in my house coat (and giggle).

Poppy is settling right in with all of it. After doing a second pure orange painting, she is now back to doing more “detailed” works. It started with her school bag that the playschool gave each child to decorate as they please at home. We went to the dollar store and picked out 5 fabric paints and some blue gems that Poppy fell in love with. For the most part we just let her go to it though I helped her to glue on the gems as she directed me with exactly where to glue them.

The next day she asked to paint another school bag, so I thought hey, why not one of those plain white shirts she has!

She told me that this is a painting of a monster chasing birdies (the monster is the big blob, obviously). Poppy herself is also in the top left with green hair and green ears and large shoes. The feature colour in the monster, birds, and Poppy is gold with sparkles (not gold—but gold with sparkles). And I have to put a detail of the monster up because she made the blue and green dots by putting small drops of paint into areas where the gold paint had pooled. Phenomenal. I LOVE watching her paint!

Stress case? Who, me?

My daughter Poppy did this painting at her playschool orientation day. None of her usual nuances of colour and line. She also took the orange paint and kept it as far away as she could from the other two girls that were painting. I wonder if she was a little bit stressed.

Her teacher told me a couple of times that the children will pick up on their parents stress. She must have been watching me hovering around Poppy and clenching my purse. Blasted teachers.

My daughter is cooler than I am. Or at least groovier.

So last Tuesday while I was back in 1899 with the Impressionists, my 3-year-old was up around the 1960’s with Morris Louis. And a bit of a departure for her colour-wise! Such bright summery tones! Up to now she has favoured teal, burgundy, green, and brown. I can’t help but wonder if she was actually painting the colours from the garden that currently has orange day lilies, yellow snapdragons and baby blue eyes in bloom. Before we started painting we were looking at the day lilies and that’s all I see in this painting. She has started drawing faces with eyes and noses, so you never know.

Here is a page from her sketchbook (at left). She tells me the bottom face is her “Yellow Birdie”.

And, just for fun, I’ll leave you with this beautiful work by Morris Louis.

Morris Louis, Point of Tranquility, 1959-60

My daughter, my muse.

My daughter and I did some watercolour painting out on the deck today and, as ever, I am fascinated with her paintings. Take a look at the similarities between our paintings today—the colours and the compositional elements of the view that we had of the backyard. The odd thing is that she started her painting first. She has the orange rectangle where the orange deck chair is and the blue shape up top is reminiscent of the arching honeysuckle tree branches. Is it by chance that she painted it the way she did or did she, at only 3 years old, pick up on colours and compositional elements in front of her? Maybe she started imitating my painting once I started, or maybe I was actually influenced by hers, who knows. Regardless, I am finding myself artistically inspired by her more and more.

Blue night-time, Orange sunset, Green turtle.

It’s snowing again. My daughter and I had a studio day; her lovely spring colour choices temporarily made me forget that it’s a white-out outside and I just uncovered all my plants yesterday.

It was interesting that she started with orange and kept asking for more orange paint. Perhaps she was influenced by the studio full of orange paintings and drapery. Likewise I would like my own work to be influenced by her looseness and vibrant colour choices—she does such beautiful paintings.