Sunday, December 28, 2014

End of the Year-

As promised, last blog, here is the Poppy Path.  I used this on my Christmas card as it is cheerful. Interestingly, a friend in England commented that is was especially suitable as this is the 100th Anniversary of WWI. England had a tremendous poppy commemoration of WWI and the lives lost with artificial poppies "planted" all around the Tower of London. I would have loved to have seen it in person but the Google shots were terrific and a good substitute. My father fought in WWI and fortunately was invalided out before a couple of other horrific battles - or else I wouldn't be here. These poppies are not on a battlefield but are part of Richmond's beautification project- wildflowers planted along the bike path down Railway Avenue. Three of us went out pleinaire painting and I also took some photographs. I've since sold the one painted on the spot but the experience helped when doing this studio painting - which is three feet by four feet and took much longer than a three-hour pleinaire session!  It will be interesting to see if the poppies come up as well next year or if they get crowded out by other plants.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

sort of seasonal greetings-

Here is the rest of the image that got cropped for my December Newsletter. Not such a seasonal picture - although it is a recent one. I was going to put the Poppy Path on the newsletter and then realized that I had already used that one for the September Newsletter!  I'll have to check and see if I used it on a blog - if not, I'll use it next blog. It is the one I used as the main picture on my Christmas card as the poppies are cheerful. Bob is a model - we got him dressed up as a fisherman for this long pose night at Life Drawing. He allowed photographs so I may use both this and my photographs as reference and do an acrylic of Bob - just for fun. He has a really interesting character face and the lighting showed his features well. I like to use pastels for the studio poses as I am not a super-fast painter and I feel I get more done with the pastels. ( This is about two and a half hours work. ) Plus, thin sheets of paper take up less storage room- but I still have the fun and experience of working from a live model. I would love to be a portrait painter. I spray the pastels with fixative before storing them.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Thinking about Emily Carr

I've been thinking about Emily Carr lately- for a number of reasons. There are a couple of new books out about Emily - one is for children ages 5 and up called "When Emily Carr met Woo"  by Monica Kulling with illustrations by Dean Griffins. I haven't seen the actual book but the picture in the advertising folder looks like fun. The choice of a monkey for a pet was an unusual one - but then she had a rat pet too- and she certainly was a person who marched to her own drum.  Another new book is "Emily Carr in England " by Kathryn Bridge who "takes a fresh look at the years that Emily Carr spent in England from 1899 to 1904,learning to become an artist" There are humorous illustrations and verses  as well as sketches by Emily herself and photographs. I'll be looking to see this as some of the time spent in England was far from humorous since she had a breakdown and ended up in a sanatorium. I read a novel based on Emily Carr's life - the love for art was captured but the book lost me when a sort-of love interest was added. There was no way that a person of her upbringing and outlook would have been visiting a bit of a vagabond on a boat in Coal Harbour!  I have her own books - Hundreds and Thousands- the Journals of an Artist and Growing Pains: An Autobiogaphy and I've been re-reading them. I had forgotten the bit where  a young Delisle Parker, newly returned from Paris, visited her studio. Later in his life, he was an art critic for a Vancouver newspaper and also taught at Saturday morning classes at the Vancouver Art Gallery. One year, he was my teacher and I remember him as a very dapper man who did not want to get chalk from children's art work on his clothes. We would gather around him as he would point, with his polished shoe, at art work spread on the floor. By that time, paintings by Emily Carr were on the Art Gallery walls.  Her own books really show her dedication to her art. It is really interesting to see the renewed interest in her and the attention  gained by the exhibition of her work at Dulwich Gallery in London.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Untangling Zen

I have been playing in a new book for a week or so... I have been quite fascinated by "zentangles" drawings where people make very complicated and organized doodles. My doodles are usually not  terribly uniform and organized . I thought this book might lead me into more intricate doodling since every page contains a prompt (or starting point) such as the one illustrated above. Each page also has a thoughtful quote that can be thought about while working on the page - sort of a jump-off point for meditating. The example I'm showing here has the hand outline - but whether a person fills it in with patterned doodling or heads in another direction is up to the individual. We are told" It's important to remember there is no proper way to complete each drawing; the prompts are merely guides facilitating your creativity and mind's quiet" The quote on this page is "All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.- Swami Vivekananda". Research tells us that looking at screens- computer or television- before we go to bed is not a good idea as then it is harder for the body to turn to sleep mode. I have found doodling a page (and there are 365- enough for a whole year)  quite relaxing and the quotes are gentle but thought-provoking. However, I must confess that my pages often are more like cartoons or sketches than zen designs. For example, I turned a cat outline into Isabella with her collar on, walking through tall grasses through which birds were peeking.This inspiring quote- "Self-deception often arises because you are afraid of your own intelligence and afraid you won't be able to deal properly with your life. You are unable to acknowledge your own innate wisdom. Instead, you see wisdom as some monumental thing outside of yourself. That attitude has to be overcome- Chogyam Trungpa" inspired me to make one curving line become a mountain for a pilgrim seeking a guru in a cave!  Nevertheless, it is interesting to work on and I find I have moved from just doing black and white with a soft-tip pen to using coloured ballpoint pens - but that is for now. I'm taking it one page at a time and enjoying thinking about the quotes while doodling or drawing and unwinding. It is a nice meditative thing to do.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Who's looking?

Here are the Burrowing Owls from this year's GuessWho?  Last year I did 22 Owls - this year only three. I wonder if I should do a different owl one next year- or should I go off on a different tangent? These owls were done with added texture  from heavy gel and also molding paste- and a bit of string gel in the grasses. Some gel can help with acrylics. I recall acrylics as holding the thickness and texture of brushstrokes more when they were newer on the market. Now they are more of the self-leveling type and gel is needed to get a feel of paint texture. I took a workshop from someone who is really into texture that is all applied at the beginning. Then he works in layers of transparent paint. It works for him but I like mixing colours and I also like to add gel either part way  through separately or with the paint as the layers are built up. I think I will choose to adapt some of the ideas from the workshop but also to use texture in my own way. I think this 10x10 benefited from the added texture. I've also added some texture to a painting I am working on that has pilings in the water. The texture is helping to separate the pilings from their reflections. You'll see the results later.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dream City 1 - the one that started the series

This is the one that started the series. I had been doing a scene of Finn Slough with a winter sunset and started thinking "what if the telephone poles were minarets?" So then I started this painting, changed the sunset, changed the buildings, turned the telephone poles into minarets - and let my imagination go. I've never been to Istanbul so I was not hindered by reality. Then I started thinking about how much fun it is to imagine places and decided to do a little "travelling" with my brush. So many places  now seem to be homogenized modern cities, yet in imagination they can be more individual and romantic. In the "statement" I posted for the show, I quoted Edgar Degas who said "It is all well to copy what you see, but it is better to draw what you see in your mind...Then your memory and your imagination are freed from the tyranny imposed by nature."

Monday, October 13, 2014

Another Dream City

This one was fun to do with a golden California sky plus a touch of Van Gogh. ----and not a glimmer of fog. I'm told that tourists go out on day trips dressed for summer- then when the fog rolls in, the find themselves buying a sweatshirt yo try to keep warm!  Otherwise, I"d say this is one Dream City that pretty well lives up to its press.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Gateway Show

Well! Talk about a metal lapse! I was too busy with reminders of Richmond Artists Guild group shows and promoting the upcoming GuessWho? show to remember to add that I have a *solo* show at Gateway Theatre for the month of October in my October Newsletter.  The show is called "Dreams and Reality".  When I was painting a sunset scene of Finn Slough, a couple of years ago, I was thinking how magical it looked and then started wondering what would be the result if  telephone poles were minarets?  Eventually this became an imagined version of Istanbul - a place I have never been. This led to thinking about how those "far away places with strange sounding names", as the song put it, are so great in the imagination - before a person arrives to pollution, traffic jams and sore feet. And so, Dream Cities series started.  This one is an imagined Manhattan with the glamour and excitement of a big city.  Eventually, a number of others were completed and they are the "Dreams" part of the show. The "Reality" is life on the lower mainland which is a very nice place to live- and might well be a "Dream City" to visitors.  It has been fun putting this show together and it will be interesting to hear reactions of viewers.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Gulf of Georgia Cannery

Here is the full painting of "The Wheel". Richmond Artists Guild was asked to do an exhibit for the Gulf of Georgia Cannery - which is a national historic site. There are really interesting displays inside and there are tour guides to add to the information.  Several years ago I took visitors from New Zealand through the building and they totally loved it - had fun taking pictures of each other tossing the "salmon" into a bin, for one thing. Since then, even more displays have been added.  When the Grand Prix was on, those who run the Cannery were delighted to find so many paintings being done of the building and they decided it would be a good addition to the indoor Farmers' Market held through the winter. We hung the paintings Thursday and Friday so they were up for the first market Sunday, October 5th. They will remain to be viewed now until after the next market on October 19th. Everything is local scenery - especially the Cannery- or ship-related.  There is no admission charge on Market days - so a good time to tour and see everything- including 26 paintings from Guild members.  I have my little pleinaire painting of the Cannery and also this one of the wheel of the Balclutha.  Shh- it isn't local as the Balclutha is moored as part of San Francisco's outdoor Maritime Museum.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

New shows-

This has been a busy week as I just exchanged paintings for Berenice's Braid with flower paintings now hanging there, then hung "Dreams and Reality" in Gateway Theatre and today two paintings in the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. The cannery paintings are part of a show by Richmond Artists Guild and I've just discovered I don't have photos of *either*. One is the small one that I did in the Grand Prix of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. The other is "The Wheel" which is the ship's wheel of Balclutha which is moored in San Francisco. I sold the companion piece a couple of years ago and I have no idea why I don't have a photo of "The Wheel". I will probably have a chance to photograph it yet. The first indoor Farmer's Market takes place this Sunday October 5th inside the Cannery - with free admission - so a good chance to see the Market, the exhibits and the art display.  The paintings will remain on display through the next Farmer's Market on October 19th. The above painting is "To Each His Own" and is a kayaker amidst larger vessels at Granville Island. It is one of the "reality" paintings from the Gateway show.   More about the show in a further posting....

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Coloring Animal Mandelas

I have a review copy of this paperback  and I'm just getting into it. " Mandala" comes from the Sanskrit word for "circle". I've played around with creating some, off and on,  but I'm not that good at detailed designs. Wendy Piersall, the illustrator of this collection, has been drawing mandala colouring pages since 2009. For this collection, she has taken her inspiration from the animal kingdom and spun them into intricate designs. Mandalas have been used for meditation and healing for thousands of years. The idea here is that colouring these designs - and thereby turning them into works of art- will bring relaxation, more focus, a higher state of meditation and simple enjoyment.  I've shared mine around a bit and I'll report further on reactions to colouring these designs. I'm impressed with both the detail and the individuality.  They are obviously created by hand as there are often subtle differences. There is a you-tube video of Wendy colouring at  which is fun to watch but since it is time-lapse photography, you don't get the relaxing effect- for that, you have to do it yourself.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Grand Prix show still on-

It was raining on our outdoor painting day, Tuesday, so we headed inside the Seine Net Loft and painted inside. The front part of this building has a museum display and the back part continues the display of paintings from the Grand Prix last Saturday. I had decided to not work in acrylics as I was also going to spend some time going through the receipt books, getting ready for writing the cheques for the artists. So, I picked this artful arrangement of a net with its floats and worked in pen and ink . Then I added colour with water-soluble wax crayons - Cretacolor- and then used water for  a simple little sketch.  I may do some other outdoor work with these materials - and I think I'll do some Life Drawing this way for a change of pace for awhile. Some of the others were much more ambitious and painted the scene out the window. I settled for a few photos and I may try a larger studio painting later, of that scene. In spite of the rainy day, a lot of people came through to see the paintings. With more artists painting this year, we were fortunate that this venue was finished and we are able to use it. There has been a lot of good response to the show - and to the Grand Prix event in general. Wow! this was the fifth year!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

September with the railway matreshkas

     Now it is September, I'll put a matreshka set in the kitchen window. This month it will be "Casey and Crew" - my railway set. I had fun with this original design. The engineer is the most important person so he is the outside doll. Because he is outside, I could have projections - so his cap is an "add-on". He has an oil can  and a screw driver. His assistant has a coal skuttle while the conductor, who feels important in his uniform, has his ticket punch all ready.  His pocket watch is shown too. The porter carries a suitcase while the chef is in his whites planning the meals for the dining car. I'm planning a more modern "travel" set with the crew of an airliner and I'm currently collecting references for the clothing and insignia. Should be fun!
     The Richmond Artists Guild has a show of local scenes showing as of Monday the 8th in Rocanini Coffee Shop at the corner of Moncton and #1 Road. It will run to the end of October- stop in and have a look! I have one piece in the show-" Finn Slough- Western Entrance " - a thin painting to fit a narrow spot. There are paintings of all sizes and all are very reasonable so you have a chance to have a piece of local scenery on your wall.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Report from the marathon

This past weekend, I did a drawing marathon and here is one of the results. The first day was 30-minute poses ( really 25 minutes with breaks for the model) and I worked in black and white on grey paper. The next day was hour poses (50 minutes) and I worked with coloured pastel on smaller paper.  This is one of the poses. The last day was 3-hour poses - about 2 and a 1/2 hours with model breaks and I worked on larger sheets with more pastels.  I thought this pose was quite lovely with the dark hair of the model spread out on the pouf. It was an intense and a bit tiring weekend - but the intensity helps make it worthwhile and I got in some good drawing. I've only just photographed them but I will post more on the blog later and also put them in my Pinterest album on Life Drawing

Thursday, August 28, 2014

plein air painting

 Summer  weather is still with us and plein air painting continues - although I've already decided some were not up to snuff and I've painted over them!  This is one that needed a little fine-tuning as I didn't have time to complete it. I ended up taking  out a cart and adding the tractor to this view painted in Vancouver's Southlands. Summer greens are a challenge - and there is so much of it!  I think I prefer Spring and Fall for painting colours but you can't beat summer weather for actually being outdoors.  This past week, the group did not paint as we had a day tied up delivering paintings to Hollyburn Country Club where the paintings will be displayed for September and October.  We will continue to paint through September so we should be well-primed for the Grand Prix of Art which takes place September 20th. The difference between it and "regular" outdoor painting is that the artist doesn't totally pick the subject. With "regular" painting you choose where you will position yourself and what you will paint. When we are in a group, we are only in the same general area, not all focused on the same scene. With the Grand Prix, the artist pulls a location and has to be within thirty feet of the marked (by a tent) spot. Of course, there is still some choosing - which direction to look? -an all-over view - or a close-up of a detail? Then, even if two people painted exactly the same thing, the paintings would be different because each artist brings his or her own feelings to the scene. And that's just for starters- each one would see colours a little differently and  choose and mix them differently as well as using brushstrokes in an individual way. One artist might start on a white canvas while the other might prefer an under-painting -or "imprimatura" if you prefer that term. One might use glazes, another not.  Then- one might be painting in acrylics while the other might choose oil or watercolour- all with different results. When I look at the photo I often take - just in case I want to check up on something later in the studio (or substitute a tractor for a cart)- I am often surprised to see how ordinary - or even uninteresting- the photo is, compared to the life that the painting has. But then- isn't that some of the value of art? We help people see the beauty in what might otherwise seem to be an ordinary subject.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Animal artists

Lately, in the news, I've read of Mini the kitten who is paw-painting up a storm in New Zealand. Her paintings are going for $1000. The proceeds go to animal welfare but it still is food for thought when an animal commands prices like that. There is even a series of pictures on the web of the 12 top-selling animal artists. Prices go up to $25,000. The higher prices are commanded by animals now deceased. Just like people, apparently prices go up when you are dead... supply and demand... there won't be any more.... Here is Digby, posing with a Lucky Cat. You can tell by his expression that he has no intention of soiling his fur with paint. Maybe I could get him to use a brush - but do I want the competition?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Paintings and interior decorating-

Yesterday a rather lush home decor magazine arrived with the newspaper.... lots of glossy pages of beautiful kitchens, expansive decks, glass-railed stairs and so on. However, there were very few paintings on the walls. In a number of cases, the rooms were verging on the bleak because there were no personal touches. As a contrast, I love the Saturday feature where some well-known personality shows a favourite room in their home and explains where the pieces came from and the personal significance. As an artist, I love to have paintings on the wall- and I can even switch them around for variety.  I have a friend whose great-aunt had a closet with her "extra" paintings and  enjoyed changing them around. Currently, I have the boats at Steveston in the entry hall- but it could change again. Maybe some people are afraid to commit - but a lot of artists  are willing to have people try a painting out. Maybe some people feel the painting has to be really expensive -like Tobias Meyer's rule in the last blog-  but it is more important to have something you enjoy and can relate to.  After looking at those lovely homes with stunning architecture, I thought this statement by the interior decorator Ghislaine Vinas was applicable - "Art is the nods and winks that give a place personality."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

pricing paintings- another view!

Here is Rudbeckias I - which I did earlier this year and have now posted to a new album on the website- scroll down to "View Loraine's paintings"... So, I actually have some of 2014 posted already- a new record for being up to date. It is priced at my usual rates-haven't got to being a really expensive artist yet. It is interesting,  however, to read about prices for the "superstars". There is a new book out "The Supermodel and the Brillo Box -Back Stories and Peculiar Economics from the World of Contemporary Art"  by Don Thompson that is mostly about big names with big prices and the globalization of the art market. This is a world well beyond life here on the West Coast- where it is all in the name and the hype. One model of art pricing is Tobias Meyer's rule. Meyer said that art prices must be judged against an anchor price like that for a prestigious New York apartment. If the apartment costs $30 million, the Rothko painting that hangs over the fireplace in the living room can have the same value.  Compare that to even inflated Vancouver-area house prices and we are nowhere near that kind of pricing. Even  for a well-known, well-respected artist like Gordon Smith, the price for a large painting might be $40,000.  Many of the Granville Street gallery artists sell for under $10,000  - and you would hardly get a shed, let alone an apartment for that.  In fact, here the painting may well be priced less than the sofa it hangs over. Different worlds and different prices. Here, I think it comes down to people buying what they enjoy and they no doubt get more enjoyment from their purchase than the fellow in a $30 million apartment who is mostly buying a signature in the hopes of impressing others.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Illustrated book

I thought it would be interesting to show these illustrations from Telling Time as we had the artist, Kathryn Shoemaker, as guest artist at the Guild May meeting. She was a very informative speaker and we got some insight into the complications of book illustration. This book begins with a grandmother telling the story of the last Purim celebration she had in Vienna.  The font changes from when she is telling the story to when the rabbi tells the story of Esther from the special scroll. When the story comes back to the grandmother's tale, the slanting dark swastika slashes imply the Nazi threat. The rabbi in his white prayer shawl almost disappears against the snow- was there a miracle and did he get away?  I bought this book for myself as I thought the illustrations were so well done- and I ended up doing a book review for Amazon. Kathryn works in gouache as the colours remain the same on the palette for the next session. She works larger than the finished size will be  and does an incredible amount of research. I think book illustration is important and quality art work is important for children. Too many books are kind of cheap and cartoon-y. ---Not that there aren't good cartoons too - but I think it is a good idea to try to expose children to quality art work. Most people know the classics but it is good to see that work in the best tradition of children's book illustration is being made today too.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Upcoming Midsummer Dream Art Exhibition-

"Let's Play" is one of my three paintings that will be exhibited next week at the CACR sponsored  juried show at Thompson Community Centre.  Midsummer  Dream Art Exhibition  opens with a reception from 6 to 8:30 on Friday, July 18th and continues Saturday July 19th from 10 to 5 and Sunday the 20th from 10 to 4. You can vote for "viewer's choice' which means a cash award to the winning artist. Last year Annie Tsai won with a really beautiful large flower painting.  This is a bit of a fun event as artists from all over enter.  My three paintings are not large ones- and "Let's  Play" is the smallest at only 9" x 12" - but I think the cat would like you to vote for her!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Life drawing in colour

After working in black and white on grey paper for the last sketchbook, I decided it was time to return to colour so I'm using water-soluble wax crayons in the new sketchbook for Life Drawing. The crayons are  Neocolor II by Caran d'Ache. The pictures posted here are actually backwards as the bottom one is the  shortest poses  - 2-minute sketches. I drew each pose in a different colour, using the crayons dry. Then, afterwards, I used a brush with water to wet and set the colours - and added the green around the forms. The next one is a 5-minute pose. Again, dampened afterwards.  It creates interesting effects as some of it becomes a bit like watercolour and some retains the crayon look. The top one was a 20-minute pose and I had time to use more colours. It is fun to work fairly loosely and working in colours is a nice change again.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Soccer and Statements

What with cleaning up and putting away from DoorsOpen, getting out to paint outdoors and having our last sessions on Fridays before the summer - when kids' classes take over the art centre- I haven't photographed the new model drawings. This one was done a couple of months ago and, while it is on my Pinterest Life Drawing folder, I hadn't used it for a blog. It seems appropriate now with the World Soccer Cup going on- so here it is. We had Darwin wearing a soccer uniform for a long pose on a Wednesday night. So that was bit of fun. I tried using vine charcoal to fill in the black pastel more - and it worked.  I also cleaned up some pastels and tools with shaking them in cornstarch - again, a hint that does work. I try to keep the pastels as clean as possible so as to keep the colours fresh. I felt the drawing turned out reasonably well and the light source - an indoor lamp- even was at a good angle to suggest the outdoors.
-Another project is to re-write my biography to bring it up to date and also write an artist's statement. For one upcoming exhibition, I need a one-pager that essentially combines the two. Like a lot of artists, I find it a challenge to get the words right. I often think of the statement by Jean Cocteau-"An artist cannot speak about his work any more than a plant can discuss horticulture". Nowadays, I think they must teach statement-writing at art school because some art is accompanied by a lot of words -or, as Hilton Kramer put it, "The more minimal the art, the more maximum the explanation". Robert Genn states,"there are people out there who think that heavyweight words are most in need for lightweight work."Pablo Picasso's comment was, "Those trying to explain pictures are as a rule completely mistaken. "..... and yet, something has to be produced....

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Finished the Iris painting

I started this one just before DoorsOpen- having it roughly blocked in and intending to work on it during the Open Studio. Well, I did not get very much done. Then, the Irises, which had looked so great earlier, decided to "finish" -leaving only two survivors. I picked one - to have it as a close-up to paint by - and it promptly died!  Fortunately, I had taken photos earlier so I was able to complete the painting- in spite of lack of cooperation on the part of the models. I used some quinoxidine purple, some cobalt blue, some Azo yellow and I was wondering what a medieval artist would think of the colour assortment that I have- especially the man-made colours. We, in this age, are very fortunate with our colour selection and the studies that have gone into it. The National Gallery in London, England is opening a new show called "Making Colour" with the galleries arranged by dominant colours in the paintings. The history of what was available is then clearly visible. At one point, blue was very costly as it came from the gemstone Lapis Lazuli . It was often reserved for the robes of the Virgin Mary. Today, we have Ultramarine - in red or green shade, Phthalo Blue, Cerulean, Cobalt--- a wealth of blues. Van Gogh used some yellows - one of his favourite colours- that have unfortunately darkened but today we can read lab tests about permanency and see samples for transparency or opaqueness. We really have a tremendous wealth in current available pigments.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Gettin ready for DoorsOpen

Just sent out the June Newsletter with this painting on it. This is the second plein air painting of the season. I think I'll call it "Out to Pasture". The machine is an old baler, I think, but I chose it for the contrast with the field of buttercups. As I said in the newsletter, I seized a bold approach and emphasized the yellow. It was a beautiful day at Harold Steve's farm and it might have been nice to paint the cattle but they were constantly moving. They were very peaceful - a good thing as they are so big. They have big faces, lovely eyes and furry ears and are all black except for a wide white stripe around their middles. They reminded me of sumo wrestlers with their wide belts. And, my goodness, I never knew that crunching grass could be so noisy! I used a bit of retarder with my acrylic paints so they didn't dry too quickly in the warm outdoor air. There is something magical about being outdoors and seizing the moment to complete a painting. Most outdoor painting tends to be smaller in size because of time limitations and ease for carrying. I think this one is 11" by 14". This time I worked on getting the edges painted too. The Bunkhouse bothered me until I painted the edges at home afterwards. I think it gives the paintings a more sculptural look - and you don't have to frame them. The Group of Seven used to do small paintings outdoors and then work on larger versions back in the studio. That is something I might do with some paintings but I think this one is a small subject and works best as a small painting.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Reclining again...

Here is another pastel on "tobacco" Mi-Tientes pastel paper. There is something quite special about red hair, I think. One problem with drapery is that it isn't quite the same after the model takes a break- so you have to block it in and then just go with what you have. The same goes for a slight shift in a hand position or similar. We have been fortunate to discover a few new models lately. Not that we don't have some long-standing favourites, but it is nice to work with a new model too. It keeps a person on their toes. I've been enjoying soft pastels for getting the softer effects of skin. They cover and blend more easily than hard pastels, I find.  It is possible, however,  to work hard pastels in underneath touches that bring more depth to the pastel. I'm still really enjoying working with pastels for figure work. On the other hand, plein air work speeds up the painting process so maybe one of these days I may just paint a figure and get it done while the model is posing- because- of course- no photography allowed . Therefore, no reference for "finishing" later.  Then again, piles of paper take up less room than canvases and figure studies are not a popular subject to sell here on the West Coast. I just like to do them as part of the ongoing learning process. I have been posting them on my Pinterest site under "Life Drawings" (what else?). I am amazed at some of the beautiful and extensive Pinterest sites that so many people seem to have. It must take a lot of time to accumulate all those Pins.  I'd rather draw and paint!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Plein Air

It is outdoor painting time again and the group , Men in Hats, is painting plein air every Tuesday, weather permitting. The group seems to be expanding and does include women although it just started with guys. The hats are a necessity in the sunlight. This is my first painting of the season and is the Bunkhouse at Britannia Shipyards, a heritage site.  I had a sketch of boats in my sketchbook but then I turned around and loved the shadows on the white building - so here is the result. Why plein air? There is nothing quite like the challenge of being there, having to zero in on a subject, work to get the lighting right and pretty well complete it on the spot.  Outdoor painting goes back to the impressionists who were freed from the studio because paints were available in portable tubes for the first time. This was also possibly a reaction against the industrial revolution which had changed living conditions so much. The artists wanted to get out into the outdoors and capture outdoor lighting. For quite some time now, plein air has been a bit on the back burner although there have always been some artists and groups of artists who have been active - literally  "in the field".  Now there is quite a revival with many major outdoor painting events and conferences. The theorists say it is a reaction against the technological revolution.  Whether it is or not, there is nothing quite so spirit-lifting as getting out there to paint. Here is to a summer of good weather on Tuesdays!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The grey sketchbook

I just finished the last page in a grey sketchbook that I was using for regular sessions at Life Drawing. This is Mark, looking suspended as the stool doesn't show up. I was drawing with black and white Prismacolor pencils. Good practice for studying light and shadow - but a controlled medium. Next book will be working in colour with a "looser" medium for a change. Good to switch things around every now and then.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Reclining Nude

Reclining nudes are a very traditional subject - but always different each time. At the Art Centre, we don't have a couch or even room to store one so we have to improvise with cushions, benches and drapery. So, this pose was put together with what we have, following the inspiration of a pose from a book. Of course, once all the cushions are piled, we end up with something different--- and the comfort of the model has to be considered as she can't end up in a pose where, say, circulation got cut off to an arm. Drapery is always a challenge as the model, of course, must take breaks - and then the drapery is never in exactly the same folds. I find that once I've got the drapery blocked in, I have to stick with what I have -in spite of any changes- so I try to get the basic shadows and highlights in quickly. Again, I used Mi-Tientes "tobacco" colour pastel paper and a mixture of hard, soft, and pan pastels. The pan pastels are good for blocking in light and shadow to start with, I find. I really like pastels for skin tones and am currently mulling getting some more soft pastels plus a different box to carry them in.... and then I need a different box, other than my old tackle box which is just too big and has unusable space, for my acrylics.  I'm always thinking, as I trundle my supplies, that some people could probably go on a world-wide trip with less stuff!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Richmond city Arts Awards

Here is a picture from last night at the city Arts Awards - I was the winner in the Volunteerism category and received the framed certificate. These are some of the Guild members and friends there- Jeanette Jarville, Bonita Ruttkay, Penny Talbot, Marvin Skelton, Margreth Fry, Joyce Kamikura and Gail Arrison. It was a very nice evening and it looks like things are on a bit of an upswing for arts facilities in Richmond in the not-so-distant future.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Pirates for May

Here is "Pirate Crew" which I painted/created in 1997. The blanks were made in China and they are a smaller set than last month's Gypsy Family.... both in size (the Captain is only 6 inches tall to the top of his feather) and in number. The Captain's hat and feather are paper mache' and he has some additional modelling on his lustrous locks. I used metallic gold acrylic for any coins and for the shoe buckles.  The Captain. of course, has a parrot and also the chest of gold and a nice sword. All the crew have swords or daggers and different head scarves. Again, they were gessoed, painted in acrylics and finished with acrylic gloss varnish. This set fits nicely and comes apart nicely - with beeswax on the joints. I'm working on another set that was Russian made but has flaws - I had to use plastic wood filler on a couple of bad spots on the outside one. Currently, it is slow going - but I won't put any nesting dolls in the window over the warmer weather anyway. They are of a more recent vintage than the pirates- but a bit back in time. The pirates were just a fun fantasy. A bit of fun to see the full crew out - usually they are nested in a cabinet.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

from April 25th

Here I am back on "tobacco" coloured paper and doing a bit of cropping. I went with cropping so I could have the face larger and be able to work  more with the shadows.  In the actual drawing, there is a little more space about her hat and her hand is not cropped.  After I did the general outline, I put blue and purple in the shadow areas with hard pastels.  I put white on the lightest places. Then I used a sponge to apply a flesh tone on all the areas of skin with pan pastels. Then I worked with both soft and hard pastels to bring in various colour notes, layering. One of the interesting things with pastels is that even when another colour is layered over, little granules of what is underneath show through and add to the richness. I took my little binoculars and found them useful for discerning detail in the mouth and eyes, especially. Sometimes, with the lighting, it is hard to see everything you want to see. I also used a bit of vine charcoal in the black areas - as well as regular conte' and black soft pastel. So there was a lot of mixing of the various pastels. I find the pan pastels are nice as an under layer as they fill the paper indentations quite easily- making it easier to have richer layers on the top.We had a few quick warm-up poses first so this was about two  hours of work.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Seems like only a week ago-

- but actually almost two weeks now.   Time has been flying - this was the pastel done on April 11th. Gail posed in an Egyptian gown. The shadows were quite dramatic. I used a deep gold pastel paper but lightened it slightly on one side while deepening a bit on the other. The gold with the turquoise accents on the gown made a nice contrast. I didn't have too much trouble getting the black deep enough but I am told that it is possible to blend in vine charcoal first and then the black pastel will cover better. I must add a stick of vine charcoal to my kit ... in case of.... Tomorrow we are drawing again with a different model and a different theme - "On the town". It is planned to have the model on a bar stool, so that will be interesting.  I think - along with the vine charcoal, that I will put a pair of bird-watching binoculars in my bag. Bird-watching because they are not *too* strong. I think they might be handy to check on details - especially facial features and hands. Sometimes it is hard to see everything clearly - depends on where the light hits - and where your position is, of course. And it makes a difference what scale you are working on.  Here, the face is not too large because there had to be room on the paper for the whole body, O course, that was just my decision - I could have cropped it at the waist and then put more detail in the embroidered accents.  Cropping can be more dramatic- but then it is always tempting, I think to draw the whole figure and whole costume. Decisions, decisions - what will I decide tomorrow?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An exciting new colour book

I have quite a few books about colour. Some have  lots  of information about the colour wheel and mixing, information about the history of colours- where do different pigments come from and when were they developed- , and  some about what colours turned out to be fugitive. All in all, lots of information and good reference material. However, Sophie Benini Pietromarchi's book, The Colour Book, is different again. Sophie conducts workshops in Europe -mostly with children- and has a very imaginative  approach. This would be an excellent book for anyone teaching children but it is also of interest to adult artists in an adult world because it brings the artist back to feelings that colours can create and gives a lot of ideas for a musing and artistic approach. The author states that she looked at colour as discovery, as individual awakening and as surprise. She awakens the experimenter in the artist and leads into what she calls "The Colour Dance".  Sophie said that the book starts from the premise that colours in their colour boxes are like caged birds that must be freed. Anyone wanting to free up colour in their work would enjoy this book - and maybe find new directions in which to dance. Older children could use this on their own if they have a good reading vocabulary but the book could be read to younger children and used for creative play. The collage illustrations are beautifully done and alive with colour. It is a beautiful book.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Gail as a flapper

This was done Friday, April 4th. I decided to try using red pastel paper - and it turned out to be a bit of a challenge. Some of the skin tones I used initially went on looking quite murky. So I had to keep testing out different colours and building up layers as well as placing strokes of different colours side by side.  I used quite a few of the soft pastels for this. Some of the pastels are getting a lot smaller- but it is quite amazing that I've had them since art school. I'm thinking about buying a few more although lugging them around can be a challenge. Gail didn't really have a cigarette holder - Marvin loaned a brush for the effect. I didn't put any pastel on the background at all- just left the red pastel paper. I still think of pastels  as "drawings", not as "paintings".  I could decide to call it a painting if I did the whole paper in chalk- maybe someday as a plein air experiment? One good thing about pastels on paper is that they take up very little room in storage. I think  the extra practice of working on capturing light and shadow on the planes of the face  in pastel will be a benefit when painting in acrylics. When this was photographed, the underlying red shows through somewhat more than it does in physical reality. Nevertheless, it definitely makes it a warm pastel. Done on blue-grey paper, it would look very different. I think I'm leaning towards using darker paper - but if I was doing a baby or child, I'd probably use a warm cream colour, not "tobacco". Here, I think the red implies artificial light, maybe neon, possibly a nightclub- as well as signalling  excitement and a certain amount of drama. The colour choice of the paper was a bit instinctive after I saw the costume but it became an interesting experiment.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

"Checking Nets"

"Checking Nets" is the painting I put on this month's newsletter as it is the painting that has been donated to the Daffodil Ball ( Cancer Society). If you want to be on my newsletter list, please e-mail me and I will add you.
      Freshly up to date - well, at least as far as the end of 2013- there are two new "galleries" added to the website. Go down the right hand column and click on "View Loraine's paintings".
     I have a Pinterest board that shows my life drawings and I work to keep that up to date - but I still have a few older ones to post there. Another board is about matreshkas, or nesting dolls, and I'm adding a set of my originals each month - as well as some other purchased nesting dolls. Also, I'm posting the originals on this blog as they get photographed. I'm still thinking of ideas to finish the blanks I still have.
   "Reflections" on Pinterest will change as I've changed the main painting of "Glow II" - a few years after the fact. But then, that is one of the great things about acrylics- you can change. I just felt I could add even a bit more "glow" to it by pushing the colours even more.  So changes in the air for Spring!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Gypsy Family Nesting Dolls

Well, here we are for April. This was painted  in 2001 on a set of blanks from Russia and is an original design---- just having fun with my imagination.  The largest one is 9 and 1/2 inches tall. From the side view, it can be seen that modelling paste was added to both the nose and the lips and a paper mache' crystal ball is held in cardboard hands. I also used twine to outline her wavy hair and her earring. Then I gessoed the forms before painting in acrylics and varnishing with acrylic varnish. Although these blanks are better made than some, I used beeswax on the joints - just in case. The second doll has a similar blouse and skirt but has a red flower in her hair and carries a tambourine. The mustached third doll wears a red cap and vest,  has a yellow scarf and a red fancy handkerchief in his pants pocket. The fourth, somewhat younger girl has the same blouse, skirt and shawl and carries a cat. The mischievous-looking young boy is dressed like his Dad  right  down to red handkerchief in his rear pocket and has a grey pet dog. The younger girl has her hair in braids with red bows and has a pet monkey. Last of all is a baby wrapped in a purple shawl and carrying a rattle.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Drawing Ariel

Drawing today at the art centre. We were in the Fabric room because the painting room was being used for a kid's event.  So we had to bring in our stand, lamp and so on - and move all the tables. However, it is a nice bright room. Of course, the model had to be fully clothed as there are windows from the hallway. Ariel is a good model with a lively personality so she is fun to draw and paint. I used "tobacco" mi-tientes paper again.  More and more, I am thinking that I like to work on dark paper. Somehow, it brings up the lights better. It might be possible for some people  to stay clean and work in pastels - but it doesn't seem possible for me. I end up with pastels on my clothing, even when wearing an apron, and every "break", I need to wash my hands. Still, I'm really enjoying working with pastels- especially working with lights and shadows.  Wednesday, I did another pastel so I'll post that soon - but I have already put it up on Pinterest. I've made a board of my Life Drawings as it seemed a good idea to show them somewhere.  I always show some at DoorsOpen but I'm wondering if I should think about doing a book of Life Drawings with Apple.  Could be fun....

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Drawing this week

      Drawing again this week at Adrienne's- with Gail being our model. We had a small group and all went well. I'd just got some more paper in "tobacco" colour and it seemed the right choice for the red and white outfit Gail wore. I used some pan pastels for a bit of an underlay- worked mostly in hard pastels but I found a few soft pastels were good for specific colours - especially a rich warm red. It would be nice to have a big selection of soft pastels - but, then, more to carry around. Mine are rather ancient and down to mostly nubs. However, they don't change in consistency and are as rich in pigment as ever. It was a good session and I'll also post this to my life drawing board on Pinterest. I've been reading "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon . Yes, same fellow who wrote the book on priming your creativity "Steal Like an Artist". Kleon thinks you should do something **every day** to show your work. Well, that it isn't going to happen but my aim will be to blog at least once a week.
      Recently  I looked at an interesting piece on logos and the meaning that colours carry for us. Since this is art that we see everyday- and often don't think about much- I'll include the link here.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Life Drawing

We were drawing yesterday at Adrienne's with Bob for a model. I felt he had an interesting character face so I concentrated on mostly the head for the long pose. Again, I am using "wilder" colour - and really enjoying it. Actually the pastels work together nicely and the colours are quite effective. I'm beginning to think I prefer the darker papers to work on-- I think this colour is called "tobacco" so I will have to pick up more of this shade. It is easier to get the edges to stand out when there is a contrast with the background. First, I work on the drawing- placement, proportions and so on. Then I like to block in some lights- figuring out what is the lightest light- and then the shadow areas- and keep on working from there. This is a two-hour pose and I think the timing was right. That is, I had enough time to get as much done as I wanted. The background is just paper colour as there was enough contrast. This was all done in hard pastels with just a bit of pan pastels at the beginning to block in lights and darks. I didn't use pastel pencils at all as I was working large enough that I didn't need them for fine lines. And, I forgot the few soft pastels that I have- so they didn't get used on this one. It was a good drawing session- with the usual variety of styles and media by the different artists - all good, all different!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Counting cats

I've now counted the cats on the "Sisters and Cats"set. The biggest one has eight kittens- three are in the basket, five more outside and then a mother cat - for her total of nine cats. The next one is holding one cat  awkwardly while a mother cat is carrying a kitten with another following - for a total of four more cats. The third sister holds a Burmese - looks too long-haired to be Siamese- and a grey and white hat is washing itself on the back. The fourth sister has a basket with two black,white and orange cats. The fifth sister holds one cat while another one sleeps at the back. The sixth and seventh sisters just have one each.   So we come to a total of 21 cats. Interestingly, now that two black cats live here, none of the cats on the matreshkas are black. Most are multi-coloured and most look like they have short or medium hair - no real long-hairs - and only the one that looks like a pure-bred. I really had
 forgotten all those details and I don't remember on what basis I picked cat colours... maybe I painted them pretty well at the same time and had the colours mixed! Definitely these Russian-made blanks are a lot better than the last set I just painted - which won't be shown here until October- and which don't join as nicely.
      I'm currently painting a bouquet and wishing Spring would hurry along. In the meantime, there are lots of snowdrops out so cheers for them.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sisters and Cats

These are my "featured" (in the kitchen window) nesting dolls for March - "Sisters and Cats".  I painted them in 1999. They were planned to be quite traditional - all with matching kerchiefs and the only "protrusion" being a slight bump out for the nose of the largest one. They wear matching clothes and all have blond hair with one braid showing and all have a curl in the middle of their foreheads - like the little girl who was "very  very good except when she was horrid". These look to be of a  very sweet nature but possibly at least with minds of their own. All of them have extra cats going around the backs. These are on Russian blanks and I think the quality is better than the ones from China. All were sanded and gessoed before being painted in acrylics and varnished with acrylic varnish. As usual, I rubbed beeswax along the joins to keep them easy to separate. I have two other Russian blank sets and a couple of the smaller sets from China. The largest one of this set is almost 8 inches in height.  I'm thinking of possible new sets to make using the last two Russian blanks to start with- one might be a farm family - with grandparents as the first ones. Another idea is a small shopping centre and the stores- butcher, greengrocer, pharmacist, pet store- not sure of the rest (ideas welcomed!) but probably a nail salon for the last one. They are a fun way to just let creative ideas flow- and end up as part of my matreshka collection.  I see where blanks are available on Etsy and E-Bay but I think prices are up since I got these from Lee Valley.