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.
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.
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.
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.
I discovered some new shadows to paint! And in my studio of all places. Imagine that. I’ve meant to start working in there again and now it looks like I will be. I was in there late last night with no painting done for today, moving things around, and I moved a bottle off of my side table on to my watercolour pad and all these beautiful shadows appeared. Mostly because I have multiple light sources in the studio, but I guess I haven’t noticed them before because I don’t have any white floors or walls or tables in there. Much easier to see all the different shadows on a white surface. I think I’ve got to deal with some of the clutter that’s piled up in there…maybe with some new shelving…and then maybe I’ll paint the walls…hmm I feel “project-mode” coming on! It may also be because the new Ikea catalogue arrived yesterday; I’m itching to do the whole house now.
A bit hard to tell but this is a plastic water bottle resting on my knee. We were driving around on the weekend, on our way to a wedding, and the sun was so very bright and making these spectacular reflections through my water bottle. I used a photo for this one–another one of those captured moments when I didn’t have the time or materials to do the painting right then. This would have been pretty tricky to paint from life anyway since the bottle was resting on my knee…
I am more and more drawn to the shadows and reflections of the objects that I’m painting. This bowl has such crazy shadows and I’ve tried to paint them before but without much success. This one was much more successful.
And speaking of shadows, last week I came across the artist Kumi Yamashita through links that people were sharing on Facebook, and though I wasn’t really blown away by the specific images that were on the Facebook links, I looked up her other work and discovered her shadow art. Now those I find mind-boggling.
Not sure what this is? These are sheets of origami paper with some slight folds on one side. The shadows that the paper cast on the wall are profiles of people. Not only that, they are the profiles of specific people–specifically 22 American Express employees–whom she photographed for the project. Yeah, now just let your mind be blown for a minute or two. Not to mention that all of her other shadow art is just as mind-boggling but in completely different ways. Anyway…back to work now ;)
I’m glad that I photo-documented the painting process for this one because what I thought was happening and what was actually happening were two completely different things. I went to bed after the first day of working on this feeling that I had completely wrecked the painting and had gone too far and that it had been perfect before I did this, that, and the other thing. On the second day I was ready to start over but thought I may as well keep working on it since I didn’t think that I couldn’t wreck it any further. Then it started to look okay. Then I decided to upload the photos that I had taken in process and to my honest surprise there was a real progression and it had gotten better and not worse.
I still think that the bottle is a bit overworked and therefore does not have the luminous quality of liquid in a bottle that I would have liked, but I guess I am still learning the medium.
This one was also a bit different for me because I used a photo to paint from. Whereas I usually paint from life, I was in the middle of making supper when I was struck by the assortment of junk on the dining room table and the reflections in the bottle (which is one part of the painting that I am quite pleased with); I didn’t have time to stop and paint and the light was changing so fast so I quickly snapped a photo. Working from a photo is always difficult for me. One thing that I tend to do is overwork it since I have all the time in the world to paint and am not racing the clock to get it done. Oddly enough, working from life I seem to make better decisions because of the fact that I am forced to work quickly–I am more economical in my decision-making somehow. Though one thing that working from photos does help me with is that I spend more time on the planning out the composition—something that I do need more practice with. The photograph also influenced the exaggerated sharpness of the bottle and softer background in this painting which I like.
This is the reflection my glass of mead was making on the table. Mead is honey wine and I don’t know how I have never had this drink before now. Well, I had it yesterday and the day before that and the day before that, but never before then.
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.
A fairly abstract watercolour this week. It turned into a fun colour and colour bleeding study and is even loosely based on a photograph (shocking, I know). The photo was of sun reflecting onto the living room wall in our old apartment (see below). The apartment was north facing with a loft that looked down over the 2 storey living room and the only direct light we ever got there was in the highest furthest corner of the living room. Seeing that little square of sunshine always made me extremely happy (and then run for the camera).
I still have a yen to compile all my reflection photos into a nifty little book, all sorted according to apartment and date. Just for my own reference and to satisfy my desire to catalogue all of them. Though I think it would also be neat if I were to have a show of reflection paintings (if I first had enough reflection paintings that is) to have a reference book of all the photos as part of the show. Most of the photos are pre-digital so it will require first scanning in all the original photos…which is partly why I’ve been putting it off I think.