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.