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!

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!

Time for the Real Thing.

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It has been a long time since I have been in an art show. I have been painting the whole time, just not showing my paintings anywhere other than on social media. But there really is no substitute for a real live art show. Maybe it has taken the time we had in quarantine and all the restrictions and closures for that to really hit home. This pandemic has shown us all that we can accomplish virtually and online, but it has also highlighted what we are missing. Paintings always look better in real life. I can take photos and photos and photos, and even when I think it is a near perfect match to the colour of the real painting, it still just looks better in real life.

These four paintings, my newest plein air pieces that I painted over the last few weeks, have been accepted into a juried plein air art show at the Leighton Art Centre south of Calgary. We drove out there this morning to deliver the paintings, and I got to browse their gallery space. All the artists and paintings that I have been enjoying on social media as everything shifted online, now there in front of me; the pleasant surprises of seeing the scale and colour of the paintings in person, and names that I recognized from virtual shows, was a treat for my senses.

If you live near the Calgary area I highly recommend visiting the Leighton Art Centre, not only for the art, but the property also sits on a piece of land with amazing panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains and the foothills.

The show that I will be a part of is called In The Open Air and it will be running from September 12th through October 31st, 2020.

Facing south, 8 pm, Aug.5, 2020, acrylic on panel, 12in.x12in.Facing north, 6 pm, Aug.5, 2020, acrylic on panel, 12in.x12in.Fields, Aug.12, 2020, acrylic on panel 12in.x12in.The View from Highway 734, Aug.19, 2020, acrylic on panel, 12in.x12in.

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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Why can’t I share my gift?

A friend from work passed away just over a week ago. He was younger than me–only 32. I thought I knew him fairly well, even though I was just getting to know him. But now I feel like I did not know him at all.

There were sides to him that I knew nothing about–he had a radio show on the local college radio station, that I knew nothing about. It was all pre-WWII music, all 78rpm records. I have been listening to it now, and I am in awe that he left such a legacy. That he was able to share his passion with the world. I still can’t believe he’s gone. It feels like he is just on vacation. Anytime I think about it I cry.

I have never quite figured out how to share my paintings with the world in any meaningful way. Did Jeff ever feel his radio show was pointless? I don’t know. I feel like I am only doing half an assignment. I go out and I paint, but I can’t get further than that. I am trying to remember back to my University days–what the next step is.

I missed the memorial they had for him at the King Eddy in Calgary–I had pre-booked a mini vacation for my family in Drumheller that week. So I went to Drumheller and I did a watercolour there and I thought about the stupid randomness of life and of who lives and dies.

I apologise for the bleakness of this post. I have not figured anything out.

Spring Green.

A study of greens, May 2019, watercolour on paper

A beautiful, beautiful week. I had some days off and I spent them all in my yard. Not a lot of blooms yet, but a whole lot of green coming up after the week of rain that we had. I did this watercolour study of one of my flowerbeds over two of the days. Soon this will be full of phlox, cornflowers, and alliums.

I am gardening a bit obsessively right now–I think Thursday was the first day that I just sat and enjoyed the yard without getting up to weed this or that, or transplant or prune something. I sat out on my patio on a perfect day with a book and a drink in the dappled shade of the Honeysuckle tree…it was glorious. This corner of my backyard that I turned into a patio garden last year is my favourite place in the world right now.

 

Neighborhood Paintings: Summertime – Day 30

Beer on the Patio, Jul. 5, 2017

There it is! My 30 days of summertime paintings are done! Yesterday was another hot day and I could not bring myself to sit out on the street, so here is the view from my shady patio. Today is going to be even hotter than yesterday, so I am glad I am done for now. It was a very interesting 30 days. Very different from the painting in the spring. Painting every single day means you don’t get to pick the optimal weather conditions for painting, you paint in all of it or you make it work somehow. The hottest days were the hardest, even though I was always longing for sunny views to paint. And I don’t think I’ve ever dealt with ants while painting before; there were two days of the 30 where I had ants crawling up my legs and into my paint–yesterday on the patio was one of them. So now I will plan for my next project and hopefully keep painting regularly in the meantime–it is too easy to let days and weeks slip by without doing any painting. And I need to keep painting.

Neighborhood Paintings: Summertime – Day 29

Flowerbed, Jul. 4, 2017

Yesterday I painted my front flowerbed, which was trickier than I thought. The groundcover Sedum is in full bloom right now and it is super bright yellow. And many of my Hen and Chicks are about to flower–they are those tall weird cactus looking plants. Lately I sit at this spot a lot to watch and photograph the bees, who are all over the Sedum and the tall blueish purple Speedwell plant, and yesterday while painting by the front walk I got to chat with a few neighbors as they walked by. Putting a patio and flowerbeds in my front yard has been the best thing for getting to know my neighbors.