Sunday, December 29, 2013


This is the new lantern painting and it seems like this dark time of year is a good time to post it. The miner's lantern has been in two other paintings - and probably will be in others because it is interesting, I think. I added the camping lantern to this painting too. I wanted them both to be a little mysterious this time.  I quite like the "Japanese Lanterns" that seem to be getting more popular and more available every year - but I won't grow them in the garden as they are quite invasive. I got a nice bunch this year as they were being sold off after Hallowe'en  for only $1 with the store customer card. They came in a pot that I have used to stick cedar boughs, salal and re-twig dogwood for a door-side  Christmas display - with the dirt in the pot to keep things moist and weigh it down so it doesn't tip over.  A good deal- the lanterns and the pot too for $1.  Maybe I should call the painting "Bargain Lanterns" !  Maybe not a good idea- another artist I know had a painting of some flowers at a market and the painting included the market tag  "2 for $5". A viewer actually asked he if that was the price of the painting. Think I will just call this painting "Lanterns".

Monday, December 23, 2013

Better versions of Mrs. Claus

Apologies for the murkiness of the last photo- I think these are better.

Mrs.Santa Claus

I have a certain fondness for matreshkas and even have made some. Well, maybe not *made* since the blanks are sometimes available, but I have painted them.  The Christmas collected and "made"  ones are stored until the holiday season every year so it is nice to get them out and see them afresh. I have long suspected that Mrs.Santa Claus does a lot of the work while S.C. supervises the elves and the paperwork so, a few years ago, I painted a set of the nesting dolls to show some of her activities. The outside one has her baking gingerbread men, then she is making dolls, organizing stockings, putting up decorations, hanging lights, and wrapping gifts. I put this set in the kitchen window and now have decided that for 2014, I will give the various hand-painted ones a turn in the window.  Not through the summer, of course- I don't think the heat would do the paint any good.  In each case, I gessoed the blanks and painted them with acrylics and then used an acrylic varnish. The outside ones can have hats or extra texture that wouldn't work on the ones that have to nest inside. In this case the only texture is Mrs.Claus' curls.  Just another way to bring play into art....The 12 days of Christmas baubles did not make it onto the tree this year but I did post them all on the blog last December.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Paint and clothing...

Here are the "22 Owls"  from the GuessWho? show. I had fun painting them and they have gone on to a good home. I added them to my inside painting photos of the Christmas card this year. Since the painting is only 10x10 inches, I used a small brush - but I worked on being playful and not tight. I've already had a strong suggestion that somebody else would like owls another year- so I'll have to think of another playful approach - but something different too.  Maybe not even a tree but something else for the "framework" - and a different "feature" owl. Well, one thing about that painting was it was a sitting down,  working on a desk painting and thus, a much neater project. Like most artists, I tend to really get into my work - which can mean paint right up my sleeves. An artist's apron isn't quite enough for me. I do much better in a lab coat. I had a lab coat that was a wrap-around style and that was perfect as it could be simply wrapped looser if worn outdoors over a jacket. Alas, it finally fell apart. I have another one but it is button-front.  Chris Charlebois has a great dark blue mechanic's coat that I covet - and it is wrap-around. He works in oil, which can be messy too. Another artist I know says he seems to attract paint and was merely showing people around his studio when he ended up with a big blob of paint in his hair. I usually work in acrylics and they really stay on fabric. In fact, with a fabric medium mixer  (or even without!) you can paint on t-shirts, sweat-shirts and so on and have designs that last beautifully through washings.  For artist's clothing, the paint is more apt to be spatters and blobs than designs - but the lasting quality is there so an artist has to be cautious on what is worn in the studio. It would be very easy to end up with no "good" clothes at all! ... On the other hand, there are some jeans sold at Holt Renfrew for $340 whose special feature is that they are paint-spattered.  Well, there is one expense an artist need not spring for. After all, if they were worn by an artist, no-one would recognize them as expensive style. Instead, it would be assumed that the artist had mindlessly gone out in public in her studio clothes.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Back View- drawing or painting?

Here is a pastel from a week ago. There is some discussion in the pastel side of the art scene as to whether pastels are drawing or paintings. I usually think of mine as drawings since there is visible paper... as there is in this case. I used a tinted paper, but it is still paper. If a pastel is covered from edge to edge, then it gets considered to be a painting. The pigment that forms the chalks used is the same pigment used in paints. In acrylic paints, for example, the pigment is suspended in a plastic emulsion. Pastel is a combination of chalk, pigment and a binder. Paper is usually textured to hold the pastel in place and finished works are displayed under glass for protection. However, they are as lasting works of art as any other medium. Unframed, they are easy to store and take up less space than canvases. Since I love doing figure drawings but they don't really sell in this marketplace, I'll continue with pastels for figure work on a general basis. They also give a chance to play with colour in a different way. I was pleased to have a good chance to work on a back view.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nice lips - just not red

This Elena from a two-weeks ago Friday painting/drawing session---- most of them paint, I work in pastels. I think Elena has lovely lips and I worked to do them justice - only they aren't the exaggerated red lips I mentioned in my last post! Maybe I should play with this and do another drawing from it, to copy that style and see what happens???
Around here, some effort is being made to prepare for Christmas- just used the pot that had the Japanese lanterns in it for a base for a pot of greenery - salal, cedar and red-twig dogwood - by the front door. I think the lantern painting is finished and will post it later. Not much to do for gift-shopping as gift-exchange has been cut back. I wish I had some kids to buy books for as there seem to be more exciting and imaginative books out for younger kids these days - as well as some of my favourite picture books still around. Ezra Jack Keats "A Snowy Day" is one I've long liked. A new one out called The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywell for 2 to 5 year old's looks like a lot of fun and could lead to some interesting chats about colour. I'm excited a about an upcoming book by Sophie Benini Pietromarchi about colour. She teaches workshops for children in Europe and this  new book is aimed at children 8 and up and artists of all ages. More later- I anxiously await it! In the meantime, there is a delightful book by the same author - called The Book Book- with all sorts of imaginative projects. For one thing I am going to sharpen my pencils by hand (especially coloured pencils) and save the shavings to try something different to play with in my sketch book play projects.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Warts and all...

So here is the pumpkin and the gourds- a bit of fun because of all the warts. They are still sitting in my studio but I guess they are destined for the compost box soon. Interesting to see the different shades of orange. I think the "Lanterns" painting is done now - although there will be one further "mull" and then I'll also see what the comments are at the critique. I'll have to buy some more mandarins if I want to paint some- the others have been eaten. I've been using pastels, rather than painting for figure studies again and I did two this past week - which have yet to be photographed- then I'll post them. The paper is easier to store than more canvases. Strangely, figure studies seem to sell in New York but not here on the West Coast. I wonder why? I was looking at some paintings by Milton Kobayashi. I like the way he crops the paintings tightly and has interesting space with the flat dark areas. I wonder why he exaggerates the lips so much? They have very red lipstick, very bowed mouths and quite full lips- basically all the models seem to have the same lips. -and then Malcolm Liepke has pretty well the same lips. Is this a male fantasy? I  might try tighter cropping but I think I"ll stay away from those lips.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The cards are here!

A bit of excitement as my cards for Christmas are here! I did them on the computer and then they were printed off at Apple. Originally, I decided to do the sunflowers on the front - but I couldn't have a vertical card and also pictures on the inside- and I didn't like it really chopped horizontally - so I ended up with it being one of four pictures on the front. The others are the dahlia bouquet, Isabella, and Nicola Valley. It looks quite good - if not terribly "Christmas-y". I don't do really overly "seasonal" paintings anyway.  So there is Isabella on the front- but Digby made it at the top of the left-hand column inside. It is fun choosing a selection of paintings and drawings. I put two pastels in too. I guess it will get harder to choose another year- unless I really produce a lot. Who knows? I can include pastel drawings again another time too.  Right now I'm working on a different "Lanterns" painting. I used one a few years back and it was a good painting of the miner's lantern but the lantern "flowers" were too much on one plane. This time, the miner's lantern is more obscured - and there is even another lantern there too, not too visible - and many more of the lantern plant going back in depth. I think it is a more interesting and complex painting- even if, currently,  not completely finished.  I think I will take it to the critique at our Christmas meeting and see what the verdict there is.  The Sunflowers, above,  are 40 inches by 30 inches. As a tribute to Van Gogh, I signed my name on the vase, as he did on his painting. They were painted from life- only the vase has been changed a bit. I painted it for myself and have it over my desk downstairs. I suppose I would sell it - but then I think I'd have to get more sunflowers next year and paint a different picture for myself. Cross that bridge when I get to it.... I think I am getting more into a floral mood again - although I keep looking at mandarins and thinking I'd like to paint another mandarin picture. Maybe I am in an orange-colour mood as I recently did a small pumpkin and some gourds. Those are too recent to be on this card. On the card, inside- Digby, a Roman street scene, floats hanging at Finn slough, a section of the "pots" painting, pastel of Wanda as a '30's singer, pastel of Ariel in a costume--right hand column, my Grand Prix painting, a small Terra Nova painting recently re-done and recently sold, the Danish Danish pastry picture, seedheads -alliums, Helene in costume, pomegranates, "22 Owls" from the GuessWho? sale. Definitely a variety of subjects! No card shark or rum runner as those paintings are still down at Phoenix art store and haven't been photographed. So maybe next year there will be the rum runner- there is a certain seasonality to that!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

One for sale-

This is the third painting from GuessWho? I have it back at home and will sell it to the first bidder at $100 with $50 going to the Food Bank - just the same as at the GuessWho? sale. While we made over $2000 for the Food Bank and had some fun and even excitement, I think we would have done even better if we had not had the horrible rainstorm. Anyway, we'll give the fuschia a chance to add to the good. This 10" x 10" painting is in acrylic with some added collage for more drama. Acrylics are good in a kitchen as they can be wiped off if necessary - so are very durable.  However, this also might be what a powder room needs to brighten it up. Fuschia flowers are a bit like exotic dancers. The tender ones that you see in pots are more like ballerinas. This kind is perennial on a shrub-like plant. It was another of my "taking risks" pieces of art.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cat from the GuessWho? sale

There was only one cat painting  in the GuessWho? sale - and this is the one.  (Yes, I painted it) It sold and has gone on to a good home.  I couldn't part with the paintings of Digby and Isabella so I found another cat to paint. "Chi" is Mike Hughes cat - and a very handsome one. The lady that bought the painting especially liked his blue eyes. The sale was a lot of fun with a lot of excitement and, hopefully, hooked people on the joys of owning original art. The weather, however, did not cooperate. There was an absolutely horrible rainstorm which interfered with some people coming out. However, we sold 44 paintings and one photograph and made over $2000 for Richmond Food Bank.  One quote  I once read, from a collector, said "What does it matter if my children inherit a few digits less if I leave them the art that touched my soul? What was important to me will remain in their homes all their lives. I know of no greater gift."   ....and with Christmas not that far away, maybe some of the paintings will be gifts now size fits all....

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Digby and Hallowe'en 2013

Hallowe'en Greetings from Digby - who declined to actually sit in the pumpkin to duplicate the Real Simple magazine cover. Digby is just wearing his usual collar and is not in a costume. Somebody commented that they like how the cats are "dressed".  However, it is not a fashion statement but collars to warn the birds and impede hunting prowess.  Collars are available from BirdsBeSafe and definitely seem  to work. Digby looks a bit critical - perhaps he thinks he could have done a better job if only I had handed over the knife.  ...Reminder... the GuessWho? sale is on November 2nd in the Pioneer Church at South Arm United, #3 and Steveston Highway.... lots of terrific paintings at only $100 each. None of Digby but there is another cat, several dogs, sea otters, various birds and other animals as well as landscapes, flowers, abstracts.... a great variety. One day only - 10 to 4

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Playing with sticks

Yesterday a group of us were drawing and painting with a model. I had decided to just play. Adrienne Moore has done some terrific work using sticks dipped in ink. I tried it once and thought it seemed like fun because you just don't have quite the same control.  The sticks are pieces of dowelling that you break -preferably with holding your hands not too close together so you get a more jagged break. I also took some pieces of dried daylily stems to try as well. I wanted to work with sticks again- not to copy Adrienne, but to use the tools in my own way. I planned to use diluted ink with a Chinese brush as well.  I played around on some cheap paper - even for the one-minute quick poses. I did one on brown wrapping-type paper and put some white gouache on it as well- a bit different.   Then I  decided to try the back of a "failed" watercolour. What a difference good paper makes! On the cheap paper, the lines pretty well stayed put, but on the watercolour paper, coming back in with diluted ink on a Chinese brush, made the lines bleed in an interesting way. I like the bleeding lines in the hair and the drapery at the lower right, especially. I like the face although it is not a good portrait since the tools don't give enough control for real precision.  - but I felt that it was a successful experiment and made for an interesting morning.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

More playing with colour

After doing two black cats in a more colourful way, I decided to do Adrienne's bird.  A white (mostly) creature but also done with lots of colour. The actual painting is a little more pastel - somehow it has darkened from I-photo to desktop to here.... Strange.... I did a little printing with a piece of mesh -for texture but also because this is a pet bird, not a free and wild native. I have a couple of "creature" paintings for GuessWho? but I can't show them yet as they have to remain a surprise for November 2nd!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I'm thinking about risk today as, yesterday, I saw "The Highest Step in the World" at Gateway Theatre. The theme was said to be "risk" and, while I enjoyed it, I'm not so sure that came across as the main idea. The centre story was about Captain Joseph Kittinger and Project Excelsior but it also told the story of Icarus and the air stewardess who survived a plane crash with a long fall- Vesna Vulovic. The staging was very well done - I enjoyed all the  projected visual effects and the actual "flight" out over the audience. The acting was very good too. Mainly, it was the story.   I question whether Icarus - although interestingly portrayed as a bit of a young punk- belonged in a "real" story, since that is a myth. And, if we were to have him in the story - the grief of the father was a touching bit- there should have been, in my opinion more made of *why* he flew too high. Then we have Vesna, whose story has since been discredited by Guinness. (Not that it is *her* story since she has no memory of the crash- it may have been Soviet propaganda.)  However, even if it was really that high a fall, it was an accident and not planned. It was interesting how the incident made her a "heroine" -- a role she felt she did not deserve .  Instead, I would have liked to have more made of the motivation behind Kittinger's decision to take part in three parachute falls, especially to continue with the third when the compression glove on his right had failed. In fact- maybe I missed something- but I wasn't sure it was the third flight until I looked him up. I also wanted to know more about how his hand was- hands being a bit of an obsession with artists! Anyway, it was an interesting play and it did provoke some thinking about it afterward. I've also been thinking about more "risk" in art - as in -"why the heck not try this..."  Friday, we had a model and I decided to really push the colours. It seemed extreme and risky at the time, but the results, as seen above, don't seem that far out. So, I think more "risk" is what I'll be pursuing for the next while.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Paintings on display

Here are some of the paintings hanging in the Living Cafe.  A lot of the little apple ones have the stickers from the "model" on the back of the canvas.  They have been having fun at the cafe, flipping the canvases over to show the stickers.  It is nice to see the canvases spread out, yet showing as all of one theme. Lately, I've been thinking of some other ways I would like to paint fruits and vegetables and I may do some. At Cultural Days, I finished painting Adrienne's parrot. She is a white parrot with a yellow crest.  I thought it would be fun to do a white animal in a colourful way - just like the black cats got to be colourful. So that was my latest. All the fruit and vegetable paintings are for sale - from $75 for the small apple ones. It would be nice if some moved on to new homes. In the meantime, I am told that they are really being enjoyed in the cafe.

Friday, September 27, 2013

At Living Cafe

The Iconic Edibles and other food paintings are now all hanging at the Living Cafe and looking very colourful. The server told me that her favourite one was this one of the Gelato . She recognized it as real Italian gelato and said how much she had enjoyed gelato when she had the opportunity to visit Rome. There was a cooking demo for Cultural Days but I didn't stay for it ( although I would have liked to - it looked really interesting!) as I had another Cultural Days event to get organized for. Sometimes time seems too short to fit in all the art and activities a person would like.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Grand Prix of Art

September the 21st was the Grand Prix of Art and it was pouring rain the night before and, although sunny in the morning, the hourly forecast looked grim with thundershowers predicted for 11 am - one hour into painting time. However,  that forecast was wrong and we had a wonderful "summer" day. Lovely fresh air, enough sun for nice shadows- a perfect day for a plein air competition. I had a 12 x 16 canvas and an 8 x 24  one. I drew location #1 which is out by Garry Point. After spending some time peering through my viewfinder to see which direction I'd look in and which shape I would use, I decided to go with the tall narrow canvas so I could have lots of sky. I painted the rocks and driftwood along the shore leading up to the fishermen's memorial. It is like a needle for mending nets.
It was a beautiful day with lots of people out walking. Many were interested in the Grand Prix and quite a few had been looking forward to it. I was set up ready for the whistle at 10 am and managed to complete it before the 1pm whistle. I had pre-wired it and did not frame it- just painted the edges - so it was ready to turn in for judging. Then we got lunch,had entertainment, and got all the results.  Stephen Chen had been at tent #1 with me and painted in the opposite direction- he was looking at the river mouth and I was looking towards Vancouver Island. His was the top award as picked by the judges. However, I was fortunate to sell my painting. It isn't the actual sale that matters as much as the fact that someone likes it enough to buy it. There was a great turn-out to see the paintings - and lots of people came out in the rain today to see and buy paintings too. The popularity of this event continues to grow. This was the fourth year. - and a really successful one.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Paintings delivered

The paintings were delivered today- this one is one of them. It is called "radishes" - what else?  It is 8"x 10" and is $95. One of the neat things about acrylics is that they are okay to have in a kitchen. Even if something got splashed on one, it could be wiped off - because you have a durable plastic surface. I got a gluten-free apple and cranberry muffin that was really good and I have heard from a friend who had lunch at the Living Cafe' and said it was delicious. I'm looking forward to seeing the paintings hanging in the cafe'. Right now, I'm not sure if they come out at the end of this month or at the end of October- but, just in case it is sooner, rather than later- pop in to have a look!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Iconic Edibles

I have some interesting news. There is a new restaurant in Steveston  "Living Cafe'" that has lots of good choices for special diets - Gluten-free, vegetarian and so on. They are going to participate in Culture Days this year - with a cooking demonstration. Also, each month will have a different artist's works on display. Excitingly, my "Iconic Edibles" will be the first up. Tomorrow, I am taking them in so it will be exciting to see a whole display of them.  I'll feature some of them here - and maybe get a photo or two of how they look hanging in the "Living Cafe"  - on Second Avenue just by Whale Watchers. This one is "Bok Choy" - I'll show more over the next month.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September Art News

Digby wanted to be a colourful black cat, just like his sister Isabella in a previous post and on the August newsletter- so here he is. He is a very sweet little cat although a bit high-maintenance at times. He got scared by a dog the other week and went up a tree before realizing that he doesn't have the greatest balance as he has no proper tail. He  has condensed vertebrae and has no real neck either and is generally a bit boxy looking. So he had to be rescued.  A few nights later, he was keeping me company in my studio when he heard the new neighbour's dog bark. Digby growled to express his opinion of dogs in general.
Next major event is the Grand Prix of Art- billed as the top painting event  of the year in Richmond. It really is. As many as 100 artists will be out painting in a three-hour "race" at locations that have been drawn by lottery. I keep hoping I'll get Prickly Pear nursery and I carry kibbles in my pocket  to bribe the resident cats to pose - but no luck so far!  The public can walk around Steveston to see the artists in action and then view the finished paintings at the Bunkhouse in Britannia Shipyards afterward. The "race" day is September 21 and painting is from 10am to 1pm. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery whistle will be set to blow again at 1pm.( It blows every day at 12 noon. )There are prizes awarded by judges as well as a People's Choice award that won't be known until the exhibit finishes on the 29th. There is more information at

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

More playing...

Here is  a very small one (I think it is about 7 by 9) that I was playing with a bit more- adding more flecks of colour to liven it up. I think it is richer looking now. I wasn't worried about actual colours - just trying to create a mood of a fairly warm summer day turning to evening. For those who know the area, this is along the dyke near Terra Nova - but definitely not a photograph.
I've found a new toy on the internet- it is Golden Paints virtual mixer - all the fun of creating colour mixes without actually opening your own tubes. I'd like to make even lighter tints than is possible, but you still get a very good idea. The "lighter" was because I was mostly playing with the idea of skin tones.  I like doing people and am sort of a frustrated portrait painter - no paying clients. Still, I enjoy our models. I've had one person, at least, say why would they want a painting of  someone they don't know? Interestingly enough, it doesn't seem to bother us that we don't have a personal connection to a  portrait subject if the artist is well-known. Well, I'm not Rembrandt or Lucien Freud, but some of the paintings have turned out reasonably well. I've actually given a few away to the models - better to have them out there in the world being enjoyed by somebody. My current "model" - not always willing- is Digby - Isabella's brother cat. So my fun of creating colourful black cats continues. ...another way of playing...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Absolutely the last version....

This is definitely the last version of "Pots and Shards". After I got it back from the show, I decided that it did need a bit more detailing and shadows on the left hand side- so, acrylics being acrylics- I was able to adjust yet again. I think I am definitely an acrylic painter, not an oil painter, because I do like being able to make adjustments after a period of time- if necessary.
I still like the smell of oil paints - whether it is healthy or not- because it smells like the old Art School to me. I've been reading about  various people's art school experiences - some good, some worthless. I'm glad I went when I did as I had a classical education. We had to learn to draw first, we had classes in composition, learned some fundamentals of graphic arts (called "commercial art" in those days) and generally received a good background. We  went out as groups for plein air work. Oh yes, we drew from plaster casts too and were taught contour shading. I think it was a good background - we even had some art history- but I don't necessarily think it made me a better artist than people who have learned on their own or in workshops. I think it is a good idea to see yourself as a perpetual student. I'm still watching demos, reading books, studying art history and going to occasional workshops - as well as doing Life Drawing regularly. I would say that the one thing- maybe a downside?- I got from Art School was that people think if you went there, you should be able to **paint** period and that includes house painting!  And, yes, I have just been doing some of that which means I am not at the easel!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Into August-

Just got my newsletter done - and I used this new, experimental painting of Isabella in her BirdsBeSafe collar. She likes the collar and it makes her visible to the birds. So I had fun with using lots of colour on a black cat. I wonder what the reaction will be to the newsletter!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Midsummer Show - next week

This is one other for the Midsummer Show at Thompson Community Centre annex this next weekend. The Opening should be extra nice as there will be a string trio playing to add to the  festive atmosphere. The Reception starts Friday, July 19th at 6pm.   I thought the dahlias would be good as they are a midsummer flower. Still thinking  about new directions in painting- but right now I'm organizing my art books and tidying up supplies sort of clearing the decks for action....

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Midsummer show

The Community Arts Council of Richmond is having a Midsummer Art Show - both paintings and photographs- at Thompson Community Centre from the 19th through 21st of this month. The reception is Friday evening- the 19th- and the show closes Sunday afternoon. It is a juried show and will also have voting for a People's Choice award.  I entered three paintings and have had them accepted.  This is one- Autumn, Nicola Valley - 20" x 26"-  that I am showing. I hope there is a good attendance- and I get some votes for People's Choice!    ----Also,  the floral show at Rocanini is now hung. Rocanini is the coffee shop at the corner of #1 and Moncton. I have three larger paintings in the show and three smaller ones. Jeanette Jarville, Adrienne Moore and Shirley Rampton are also showing six each- so it is a colourful show - drop in for a view......

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Last day of June-

Here is one other from Pots 'n Paints- based on a pastel drawing of a model- I called it "Morning Coffee". We had a great turn-out during the show and would like to do something similar again. The "resident groups" miss having our shows in the Art Gallery. I am on a clean-up and sort-through of drawings and other art work. You can't keep everything- but it is time-consuming .... Some flower paintings have gone to Rocanini Coffee shop -more details later...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Opening Night a Success!

Last night was Opening Night and reception for Pots 'n Paints and we had a great turnout. The show looks very "gallery" in the Performance Hall - especially with the lights adjusted to set everything off well. Jennifer Heine did a great job of organizing the paintings by warms and cools and everything came together well.  Pots in the paintings and the beautiful pottery on the plinths complimented eaach other and added up to an impressive show.

This "Pots and Shards" - which I have shown in progress in past blogs- is one of mine that is in the show. More pots than any other painting! ...well it was an interesting challenge.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

No more news-

Well, here's towers at Cesky Krumlov - the church tower with its weathered copper roof in the foreground and the clock tower of the castle behind- but no more word - even after a Google search -on the floods in the Czech Republic. It seems they have peaked and abated in Prague - but no more word on Cesky Krumlov even 'though it is a World Heritage Site. Funny, a person realizes how limiting our news sources actually are. You can certainly understand why people have subscriptions to hometown newspapers ... although one wonders how long that will go on, given the cost of mail. Maybe it will be possible to have all the newspapers on the internet after awhile. I hope this medieval town did not suffer much damage. It is quite a magical place.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Concern about Prague

Reading about flooding in Central Europe brings concerns about Prague.  When we were in the Czech Republic a few years ago, high-water marks and destruction from the previous major flood - 2001, I think, were still evident. It is so sad to think of the historical areas being threatened again. The Charles Bridge has been closed but the latest news seems to be that the waters have crested in Prague but not downstream. The Vitava flows through Cesky Krumlov too so I'm worried about that town we so enjoyed. This painting is of the rooftops of old Prague as seen from the clock tower. I hope the sun shines and the waters subside!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Forty-minute factor

This past weekend, I had the excellent opportunity of taking a workshop with David Goatley, the well-known portrait painter.  I will be giving some more of the bits of wisdom that I noted down in later blogs too. One statement that I especially noted was that David says you should only work forty minutes at a time before you take a break. The reasoning is that you stop really seeing at that point and are just "polishing your mistakes". I found this quite liberating because it is often possible to grab a forty-minute time slot  for painting rather than waiting to see if a whole longer period might be feasible. This pastel of Shelley was actually done in 30-minute sessions at Adrienne's. One 30-minute period before coffee break, then two sessions with a break for the model in between. I liked the colour that happened in this one!

Monday, May 27, 2013

"Morning Break"

This is a painting I did a few years ago but it remains one of my favorites and I just chose it to go by my name on the website of Canadian Painters. I accidentally found I was listed there- apparently the list is a hobby of Francois Lareau- and is really quite amazing!   I'm getting a bit more organized after DoorsOpen although I still don't have the stacks of additional paintings all  properly set up yet.  Wednesday night is our "long pose" for Life Drawing - a model in a costume so I have to sort out what papers I have for pastels. I think it is time to restock my supply. I used to like cream and buff a lot - but lately I've been enjoying working on darker colours.  Then, this weekend, a workshop to look forward to - portrait painting with David Goatley . I have to catch up on my photography too as  finally decided that the "pots" painting is finished and I'll have to photograph  its final incarnation plus the last "long pose" from Life Drawing, etc.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

One week later

It is one week after DoorsOpen and I am still reorganizing.  The laundry room wall had a "food wall" this year and some of the small paintings have moved on to new homes.  I will be re-hanging the gardening tools on that wall- actual loppers and clippers, not paintings,  but I thought it might be a good time to post a picture of the sixteen varieties of apples when they were displayed as a group in a show in White Rock. I call them "Iconic Edibles" because they have gold backgrounds like icons and are the focus of attention.  DoorsOpen was really busy this year as our group of three nearby artists was on the bus tour. It also seemed like some cars were following the bus as a lot of people arrived at the same time.  This year's Arts Awards ceremony was this past week at City Hall and I was a finalist in the Volunteerism category.  Lots of art activity in Richmond - but we still need display space for local artists.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Tomorrow is the day...

I'm still sorting out  for DoorsOpen but I will put out some of the fruit and veggie paintings. They were all painted from "life" a few years ago and some have gone on to new homes. I have three apples up in the kitchen - on my very limited wall-space now that I have more storage and less walls. It is nice to have a bit of art up in a kitchen and this is where acrylics shine . If they get dirty in any way, they can actually be wiped off with no damage to the painting. This pomegranate painting got a bit of a re-do after the colour workshop as I worked more complementary colour into the background.  This is another neat thing about acrylics - you can make changes well after the fact!  I felt the background change brought out more vibrancy in the cut pieces. I think when pomegranates are in season again, that I may very well paint some more.....Off to fix up some labels.  I'm trying a DoorsOpen "special" of 25% off.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Magnets on the furnace and rock-moving crows

I've created more display space by posting a few pastel drawings on the furnace - with magnets. This is Monique with a bit of exaggeration to draw more attention to the shoes and pose.....Still more work to do to get ready but I did finish clipping the edges of the garden beds. They need a bit of shape-improvement as some edges are a bit wonky where grass grew in or where plants grew out and obliterated grass.... and that won't get done this week. I found a few more rocks that the crows had moved- always nicely arranged at the base of a plant. I wonder if they are voting for favourite plants...or perhaps are frustrated landscape designers who think some of the front garden rocks should be in the back garden. I've picked up a couple of buckets of rocks just this spring. I see that they only take the smooth river rocks - never rougher-finished gravel chunks. I hope they are only moving them from front to back and not taking them into other gardens - after all, this is Richmond, we are on pure clay soil,  and all those rocks in the front yard were bought and brought into place. I wonder if they will continue with more rock moving or if it was a passing fancy? I did read of a shrine in Japan where the crows move rocks to such an extent that warning signs have had to be posted to warn visitors of the dangers of falling rocks. I think the crows  must do the arranging in the very early morning as I've never caught the would-be landscapers at their task.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

still working on it...

I am not ready yet for DoorsOpen. Today is a nice day so I want to finish trimming the edges of the back garden which will make things look much neater. Of course, it is never as simple as just clipping grass- there are always those stray weeds that catch your eye - or more twigs to be picked out of plants. From the amount of twigs gathered, a person would think we would have branchless trees by now but the trees look fine and the branch shedding continues. I'm organizing inside too.  I'm thinking of putting "Danish Danish" in the laundry room with other "food" paintings when I take the garden tools off the wall. Things will look different this year as I painted the laundry room turquoise- quite a change from the white walls. Still too many paintings- most of the figurative work is going to end up leaning in stacks, I think. Yesterday, I had a visitor who didn't realize it is next weekend for DoorsOpen but she said she would be back. I promised cookies for the open studio.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Getting ready for DoorsOpen

I've just moved "Winter Pond" to a new location in my studio as I get ready for DoorsOpen. I painted this a few years back and I still like it! It is a scene from just up on the nearby dyke - from a winter when we had snow. So often around here, if we do get snow, it is grey skies and then it turns to rain and there is no time to really enjoy it. But that time, we had snow and then a cool but sunny day. I liked that the bull-rushes of the marsh added some warmth to the scene. Needless to say, I did not paint it on the spot (too cold!)  but used references. Then it was built up from a beginning where it was blocked in in monochromatically. Paynes Gray and white.  Somewhere under the layers there is pink on the snow in the sunlight.  There was also a glaze of blue.  I did a series of snow paintings and some have moved on to new homes. For DoorsOpen, I am going to mark prices 25% less - since I can't normally just reduce prices without having a gallery mad at me! We'll see if it makes any difference. One of the problems with all the doom and gloom talk about the economy is that people hesitate to buy art - but it will last longer than a fancy meal out - or a hockey game. There are not as many artists with open studios for DoorsOpen as there used to be for Artists Among Us- but maybe it is just because some artists have moved out of Richmond or have downsized to condos. This year, the city-owned bus is doing some tours- four different itineraries. The Sunday afternoon one is to 4 artists studios - and I am one of them! It will be interesting to see how that goes. I'm still figuring out what to hang *where*.  This will actually be the first DoorsOpen I will be showing the European paintings as they have been elsewhere since I completed the series. I'll also have a free draw for an original painting.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Another take

This version of Helen in the peasant costume was done in 2 hours at the colour workshop- from a photo. We were allowed to use our own mediums, not  necessarily watercolour that we had been working with. I used a limited palette - but with added white, of course. This is a small painting- 9"x7". I was interested in working some neutrals into the background and more colour into the shadows. However, I wasn't daring enough to go with the vivid green Matisse used in the portrait of his wife. I can admire more abstraction in figures and portraits but it doesn't seem to be my thing. Funny, a lot of figurative work seems to sell in New York but not here. I've been admiring work by Margaret Bowland which is imaginative, yet realistic too. She is in a New York gallery.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Helene in peasant costume

So here is the full picture of Helene in a peasant costume. It was interesting to paint the shadows and the reflected lights. As I mentioned in my newsletter, the colour course I was taking at the time made me really think about the neutrals- mostly evident in the skirt. The real background was a window with a closed Venetian blind so the colour choice for the background was just that- my choice. I felt the cooler background sat behind Helene and let the warm colours of the skin and the cloak come forward. The warm light made for cool shadows. It was great to have the space and time to get in a day of painting. Marvin had been thinking Millet-type peasants but Helene's curls and mischievous expression had me painting her more like Little Red Riding Hood. However, just like a Millet peasant, she is holding a potato.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Drawing today

Drawing again today with the-every-other-Friday group. This was our model - although this pastel was done on another day. I'll post today's drawing when I've photographed it.  It is always a challenge to figure out what will be a good composition as well as to try to get the lights and shadows. Nadine has a flair for bringing interesting props and getting into acting the part. I've been enjoying my new set of  hard pastels as well as the few very soft ones that are applied with a sponge. I was tidying a drawer in my art supplies desk and re-discovered some old  "regular" soft pastels. There are some nice ones that could be good for nude studies so I"ll have to remember them when we have a Wednesday night long pose- and I'll have fun with a full range of skin tones. The last long pose was Steve in a Mike Hammer mood. I found it took some thinking so it didn't end up like an ad for men's clothing. Again, one to be photographed and posted at a later date. The chance to do longer poses makes an interesting change from the shorter ones. Our usual sessions start with one minute warm-up poses and then go up to 20 or 30 minute ones. The drawing above was about one and a half hours- less breaks for the model.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Finn Slough Spring

Here's the latest Finn Slough painting- I had a bit of fun pushing the colour on this one and adding the boots. I was going to also paint a skunk cabbage - or to give it a fancier name- Swamp Lantern - but I didn't get to that - so I made the suggestion of a few growing just below the house. Maybe next year I'll have a painting done. They really are a lovely shape.

I've also been working on those flower pots- especially on the shadows so I'll get that posted in a bit. On Sunday, I  did a figure study with Helene in a peasant outfit - although with her curly hair and the cape she had, she may look a bit more like Little Red  Riding Hood than a Millet-type peasant! One result of the colour course I have been doing was that I used a very limited palette and  put a lot of thought into the neutrals. Then, a result of that is that I'm going back to work on the previous workshop figure study to change the background and work more on the flesh-tones. I still, at least, like the tea-pot and the lace tablecloth.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Wanda, Finn Slough and more-

These are three minute ink sketches - colour added with pencil crayon afterwards- of Wanda being a 30's singer- lots of action and personality here. These were from the recent Drawing Marathon. Tonight I was over at the reception for Art About Finn Slough. If you haven't seen it yet, it runs Saturday all day and then Sunday until 3. It is a good show with lots of variety- maybe a little more  sophisticated  than some years. There is a nice tribute to Mary Gazetas there, owls by Shirley Inouye, some excellent models, photography and painting. It was also a relief to see that tracks have been installed on the walls so that paintings can be hung with chains- so we will be able to use them for the June show of Pots 'n Paints.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Painting Progression

Since I was getting lost with the piles of pots, I drew- with paint- the shapes in again. I managed to sort myself out - and then, pretty well had to start eliminating all those outlines while keeping order of which pile was where. The challenge will be to keep a sense of the light and also have a slight variety in the colour of the pots - while keeping them all still obviously clay pots.  They have to be enough the same to have a unity but then have some variety for interest. I'm not sure who such a painting would appeal to - well, I like the idea because there is  a story in all the possibility of what grew, or is still to be grown, in those pots- but what will someone else see in it? Next, the ivy needs more work and I'll have to develop the moss on the pots to convincing texture and colour as well as work on shadow areas. It is definitely more of a puzzle to solve than some paintings.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"Pots 'n Shards"

-and started to think about where the light was hitting- The brick wall is clearer and the plastic bins more established. However, at this point I felt like I was getting a bit lost in the piles of pots  and decided that the next step would be going back in and "drawing" - with paint- the shapes some more. I decided to post the steps of this one as it is such a challenge. This way, I will finish out of sheer stubbornness. It is one of those paintings where you think"what a neat idea" - and, obviously it will fit the theme of "Pots 'n Paints"- but then you start wondering about your sanity for having started it. I'll check the measurements as I forget - had to get a canvas stretched to the size I worked out - I think it is 16 or 17 inches wide and 30 inches tall. My aim is to have it  done for the show in June that we are having with the Richmond Potters. I'm also working on another one - for consolation?- of a model with a coffee cup. More posts will follow...

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Free models?

Here are a couple of pages from my sketchbook, done in waiting rooms.  I find that people involved with their portable devices are so involved that they have no idea that they are actually posing.
As usual, I just draw with a pen and make a mental note of what the "model" was wearing as well as hair colour and then add in the colours with pencil crayons when I am home. It definitely might cause a stir if I started spreading out a set of pencil crayons. So, tomorrow I am off to the car dealership for the car's semi-annual overhaul. I'm hoping I get what I consider a prime seat - one with a good angle for viewing the other people waiting. I'll take a book to read just in case but I"m really hoping to just get in more drawing! ...and no model fees.