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:
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).
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…
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.
At long last, I am going to be in a show! One of my paintings has been accepted for the Tenth Annual Juried Member’s show at the Leighton Centre, south of Calgary. I spent most of the day Thursday running around the house with excitement. It’s been four years since I was a part of a show so I am breathing a big sigh of relief to finally be back in the game. This is the first juried show that I have been in, so I am very, very pleased. There is also going to be catalogues printed for the show, which will have all the paintings from the show in them (I haven’t been in a catalogue since my University Graduation show back in 2003). I am just so excited!
The public opening reception is going to be on April 21st from 2 – 4 pm and the show will run until June 3rd.
Oh silly me, I should include a picture of the painting that will be in the show; it is the oil painting that I did on-site at the Leighton last month (see the blog post here).
Time goes by far too quickly. Today we went out to the Leighton Centre south of Calgary so I could do some en plein air landscape painting. It was a beautiful day with gorgeous winter colours, hazy mountains and it was only -3 degrees celsius (I was actually overdressed and had to take my coat off). I had brought along 4 prepped panels and my camera and journal with high hopes, but when I saw my husband and daughter heading back to the van I knew my time was almost up. I did get one hour and one panel done. I had really wanted to stay out there longer, but I had to get back, get cleaned up, start supper…such is life. For one hour though it was just me and this view and my shiny, shiny oil paints.
And I discovered an amazing new thing! I had two of these fold-up chairs in my camping stuff that belonged to my grandfather and I took one along today to try out for landscape painting. Super comfy and it fits in my purse! Enough of this sitting on the ground to paint. I’m getting too old for that ;)
HaHA—TWO paintings out of $3.99 tulips—take THAT never-ending winter!
I now have a diptych: one painting with the closed tulips and one with the upright, open tulips in their full colour. I wasn’t sure that they would work together since I had chosen to keep the drapery the same and at first they did look a little too similar. The other afternoon when I went into the studio I only had 2 of the 3 lights shining on the still life which changed all the shadows in the drapery and vase and made it all just a touch darker. I adjusted the painting and that seems to be what it needed. They are an interesting tonal and colour study now with the drapery and tulips being different in each painting (and super hard to photograph).
I briefly considered making it a triptych with a painting of the dying flowers, and I may still do that with the next still life, but I don’t have another 24″ x 32″ board and the smell of oil paint is starting to get to me. So as my husband would say, “Another day, Highlander” (which I discovered today is not the actual movie quote).
I did do a diptych with dying tulips way back in 2003, while I was in university. My photos of them aren’t very good so I will have to remember to re-photograph them the next time I visit my sister (where they are hanging in her stairwell). I was feeling so good about these new tulip paintings and feeling like I was “back” until I looked up the 2003 tulip paintings. The 2003 ones are still better. I am getting better and my technique and colour execution has gotten better, but I’m still not “back”. Argh! It’s a funny thing when you realize that all your university professors were right and that it is indeed very hard to get back into art once you’ve taken a break. Though I have formed the habit of making art again, which is something; when I don’t paint for three days it feels like it’s been weeks.
I think for now I need to air out my studio and get out of the house. My studio is very full with oil paintings drying…
Hmmm. I’ve just been comparing these two diptychs and thinking about where I was emotionally when I painted them. The 2003 ones were done just after I moved into an apartment with my fiancée. My mom was coming to visit and I bought the tulips to dress the place up. I felt, however accurate or inaccurate my interpretation may have been, that she was not pleased that I had moved in with him before we were married. I left the tulips alone for a week afterwards and just watched them die. Whereas right now I am just getting back into making art and feeling like it is a re-awakening for me. In that sense maybe the new paintings are completely appropriate as they are.
I’ve managed to stay fairly optimistic about this never-ending winter in Calgary… until now. The April 14th snowstorm was the last straw and today I woke up to more snow. I am now wondering if the tulips in my garden are going to survive this. Last year they were partway up on March 29th, and I’ve been waiting and waiting to paint them.
Yesterday I broke down and bought some tulips, and at 10:30 last night I decided to set up a still life. I was looking at my still life and thinking that I may not get to paint it until Tuesday since we are having company tonight and I work tomorrow. Then I thought, “it’s perfect right now, just paint it now.” I worked until 2 am (that’s when I took the photo at left). It was fantastic! The painting wasn’t quite finished, but there wasn’t much left to do today: mostly detail in the leaves, flowers and vase.
Here is the finished painting, which is now my favourite still life painting EVER! That is, until I do my next painting.
I see now why I did not get into the shows I applied to—it was a bit premature before, but I’m still glad I applied. Now I can get on with making a good body of work and apply again.
Back to studying reflections. I’ve been photographing them in my living room—sun bouncing off of melting snow puddles and shining on my walls. I had been missing them and was wondering if I would ever see reflections on my walls again, or if our new house got too much real sun. Then I saw that the last reflection photos I took were at the end of March last year. I had never really noticed that it was a springtime phenomenon, but I guess it is. I also have photos of reflections when they land on my paintings which I’m finding fascinating to see how it alters the painting, almost abstracting it. So last week I needed to get my mind off some things and I sat down and finally started on a painting based on one of my photos. I’ve had a little colour printout of this image in my studio for 3 years and never done anything with it. It was a very interesting experience to be painting from a photo of my own painting. I like the new version better. It felt like I finally knew how to paint again, like the past 7 months of work for my blog (arguably the past 7 years of work) was all practice stuff. And perhaps it was. And although I really love this one as a painting in itself, I’m not sure how successful it is as a study of relections…but there will be more reflection paintings.
The reflections weren’t enough by themselves but I just didn’t know quite what to do with them. I think the reflections on top of my paintings taps into something more. Just thinking about all the possibilities makes my head spin. First there’s the original paintings, then photos of the paintings with reflections on them, then paintings from the photos… it’s a whirlwind of endless subject matter!
Here’s the photo that I used for this painting. It was direct morning sunlight in the house that we rented. We had just moved in and I was still unpacking and hanging paintings up, and I had them sitting on the table beside the kitchen (this photo was taken just 3 days before I went into labour with my daughter).
Interesting to note this is also the image that I cropped for my Gravatar (the image beside my comments on the blog). I think I knew there was something to my reflection photos before I actually realised it.