Painting a Point of View

Title © Flora Doehler, 2015 Acrylic,  30" x 36" $
“A New Point of View” © Flora Doehler, 2015
Acrylic, 30″ x 36″ $1400.

Iris are my favorite personal flowers. The iris in this painting came from blooms in my grandmother’s garden in Toronto over 60 years ago. I paint them every year and think of my mother and grandmother.

P1450850

My paintings always reflect my state of mine. While I worked on this, I brooded about a problem in my non-painting life that turned this into a very purple and blue painting. But as the week wore on I changed my way of seeing my problem and that’s when I (coincidentally) changed the focal point in the painting to an optimistic yellow iris.

irispainting1I actually do have some yellow iris like this one, but they didn’t bloom this year. Well, except for on my canvas. 😉

I started this painting outdoors in front of my ‘model’, the flower bed. I have a wonderful pop-up screened tent to protect me from vicious black flies, who are out in full force in spring.  The orange curtain is clothes-pinned to reduce the glare from the direct sun.

P1450761

P1450767

I bring in the work to refine it in the studio…along with some flowers.

"A New Point of View" detail © Flora Doehler, 2015
“A New Point of View” detail © Flora Doehler, 2015
"A New Point of View" detail © Flora Doehler, 2015
“A New Point of View” detail © Flora Doehler, 2015

Here you can get a better sense of the size of the painting.

irispainting2

Painting in Acrylics – the Indispensable Guide

Sometimes luck and opportunity come knocking together.Painting in Acrylics 3

Over a year ago I was invited to participate in a new comprehensive book–Painting in Acrylics – the Indispensable Guide. The publisher emailed to ask if they could feature a couple of images of paintings from my website to illustrate the chapter on sgraffito painting.

The artist-author Lorena Kloosterboer lived in Belgium and the editor in England. The book would be published in the UK and the US.

In return for my images I would be given credit in the book, my website would be mentioned and I would receive a copy of the finished book.

DSCN3319
Lilies Acrylic painting ©Flora Doehler, 2013 12? x 12? $260

 

I have to admit that my 1st reaction was skepticism. Like many visual artists I’ve been invited to publish my work in the past–but at a cost of hundreds of dollars in ‘books’ that would only be distributed to the participating artists.

But this offer was and is bona fide. The publisher is Quarto in the UK and Firefly Books in the US.

Painting in Acrylics 6

So how did this opportunity come about? The author found my website in an internet search. I had tagged some of the paintings as sgraffito . She was looking for samples of that style.

So if you are an artist, let this blog post be a reminder to you to include detailed descriptions of your artwork and your methods on your website so that search engines–and publishers–can find you.

Painting in Acrylics 8
Even the studio was shown, along with a shot of my set up at Paint-the-town.

It has taken years for this book to go from concept to publication. 12 months ago I submitted many images of my paintings, my studio, and my painting setup to Quarto. I sent high resolution jpegs to the publisher through the free version of Dropbox. It is a server ‘in the cloud’. I uploaded the large images required for printing, shared the password, and Quarto downloaded them. I didn’t have to make a DVD or snail mail anything.

Just before Christmas I received my very own copy of Painting in Acrylics – the Indispensable Guide.
I am so thrilled that my paintings are part of this international book. There are many painters included whose work I admire.

Painting in Acrylics 7

This is the most comprehensive acrylic guide I have ever seen with extensive information about acrylic painting–styles, materials, color theory and so much more.

There are paintings from over 90 artists all over the world.

Artist – author Lorena Kloosterboer writes clearly and is generous with her step-by-step descriptions of her own high realism painting process.

Painting in Acrylics 9

I love experimenting with art materials and this book will show me new ways of working with this versatile medium. I highly recommend this book for artists at all levels. I know that for me, getting my hands on it is a great way to start 2015!

If you want to take a closer look at the book, click on this link to view it and my current favorite art-related books.

On the Road from Realism to Abstraction in Painting

There were years and years when I believed that all abstract work was bourgeois and decadent and wasn’t actually art.   The shift in my thinking has been gradual and unexpected. All I can say for sure is that the more I paint, the more I feel drawn to the work of abstract artists. I notice this when I view art exhibitions or when I look at online works. The bold colorful paintings of abstract expressionists past and present excite and move me.

abstract4
“Garden Chaos”. Acrylic Ink sketch detail. 4″ x 4″ © Flora Doehler, 2014

And yet what I paint still remains literal… That is, the viewer knows exactly what they’re looking at. Even when I try to paint in a non-representational way it gradually morphs into a flower painting or landscape. I can’t seem to help myself.

So I decided to create a series of works that would challenge my way of approaching a painting.

Flora Doehler
“Garden Chaos”. Acrylic on Canvas. 20″ x 20″ © Flora Doehler, 2014

This series that I created for my October 2014 show in Annapolis Royal is my way of abstracting flowers. Instead of painting live flowers, I painted from sketches of mine of live flowers. The “big deal” for me was to use a previous drawing as a point of reference rather than the actual plant or flower.

abstract1
“Bee Balm”. Acrylic Ink sketch detail. 4″ x 4″ © Flora Doehler, 2014

The original drawings are ink and ink stick on watercolor paper. I cropped them that I would be forced to paint a larger-than-life version of the flower which is also not my usual way of painting.

 "Bee Balm". Acrylic painting on Canvas. 18" x 18" © Flora Doehler, 2014
“Bee Balm”. Acrylic painting on Canvas. 20″ x 20″ © Flora Doehler, 2014

20″ x 20″

The finished paintings are one painting removed from the original subject and have morphed into an abstracted painting that suggests a floral theme. I would like to experiment by cropping these paintings and developing new and changed versions of them.

abstract3
“Breathing New Life”. Acrylic Ink sketch detail. 4″ x 4″ © Flora Doehler, 2014

It’s like playing “broken telephone” with the brush.

abstract5
“Breathing New Life”. Acrylic on canvas. 20″ x 20″ © Flora Doehler, 2014

I’ve very excited to explore a new approach to a favorite subject and I can’t wait to hang these in a couple of days at my show in Annapolis Royal. Please come, if you have the chance!

poster

DSCN4194

 

 

 

The Birth of a Painting and the Coincidence

Today was the anniversary of my dear father’s birth (1910) and death (1996). I don’t know how he managed to enter and exit this existence on the same day, but I think there is something unique, even profound about it. And speaking of coincidences, I know that some of you believe in them and I want to tell you about one that happened to me today that is connected with my father.

The Ambush detail

When I was about 6 my father came home with a book of the Brothers Grimm Fairytales. It’s the only book my dad ever read to me and when he had time, I’d ask him for the same stories over and over again.

Going for a walk in Cabbagetown, Toronto.
Going for a walk with my dad in Cabbagetown, Toronto.

He wasn’t a perfect father and I certainly wasn’t a perfect daughter but we loved each other and I cherish those memories of being read to and still have that book in my collection.

Fast forward to February. There was a call for submissions to a community art show in Bear River called “Fairy Tales and Fables”.  At the time I was organizing a retrospective and sale of my watercolors and had set aside lots of experimental paintings to use in  collages.

photo
Fairy Tales and Fables in Bear River. photo ©Larry Powell, 2014

As well this winter I was frightened by a couple of dogs one of  whom had (in my mind) a wolf-like appearance. But did he really? Or was I creating my own fairytale?

I also took this photograph during the January thaw and I loved the perspective of peering into the woods to see people on a path.

Walking down in Kniffen's Hollow, Bear River.
Walking down in Kniffen’s Hollow, Bear River.

I drew (pardon the pun) from all of these elements to form an idea for my submission to the art show.

I sketched and cut and pasted a mixed media collection that combined my dog experience with the Red Riding Hood tale.

In my version, the viewer of the painting watches the story from a very safe distance, and from the point of view of the predators, which is why I called it “The Ambush”. I had a nightmare as a child that there were 2 suns in the sky. It was terrifying because it presented a dystopia of an alien solar system. For this painting, I put several moons in the sky to ad a surreal feeling to the work.

Assembling the pieces.
Assembling the pieces.

Sometimes our fairytales are self-created. My father’s Canadian fairy tale was about the winter he spent living with his 2 German buddies in a log house they built on their homestead  in Alberta in 1931. That experience was so rich for him that he told this story and the details many, many times over until I felt like I had been there.

Horst Doehler, 21 years old and friends in northern Alberta, 1931
Horst Doehler, 21 years old and friends in northern Alberta, 1931

When I was thinking this morning about my father and his brief experience in Alberta, the telephone rang.

“Hi Flora. I was wondering if you had sold that painting from the fairytales show. It was my favorite and I’d like to buy it.”

The caller is originally from out west. And do you know what else? I had forgotten that Red Riding Hood is in my Brothers Grimm fairytale book.

Happy Birthday to the man who taught me how to swim, how to tell time and how to imagine a fairy tale.

The Ambush. ©Flora Doehler, 2014 Mixed Media on canvas 24" x 30"
The Ambush. ©Flora Doehler, 2014  SOLD
Mixed Media on canvas
24″ x 30″

 

The Patterns in the River

I am very excited about these images of the foam on the river as the tide came in today. There are so many patterns and variations.

I want to play with these in Photoshop and see what I can do with sandwiching the layers together to come up with a new interpretation.
I have spent the last few weeks immersed in colour after organizing for my art show in the village. After spending last weekend talking to friends and visitors about my colourful watercolours, it feels good this week to experience  the absence of colour.
Yesterday I pulled out my watercolours  and painted this remembered lake. The marks are created with epsom salts! It turns out to be the perfect type of salt to use for creating this effect.
It was exciting today to see this type of patterning repeated in the river.

P1390622

 

 

You’re invited to Hearts and Flowers

Art - Hearts and Flowers

This show is a thank-you to my community and admirers for your wonderful support of me and my paintings. I have never shown my watercolours in Nova Scotia and the vast majority of these paintings have never been exhibited. A few of the works are watercolour monoprints. (also one-of-a-kind) At this point in my career as a painter, it’s time to say goodbye to drawers of work to make way for new works. For this reason, the works are for sale this month only at “thank-you” prices from $20 to $175. Shipping is extra.  Please email me if you have questions.

Here is a slide show of all the works. Where no ruler is shown, the pieces are about 11″ x 15″.

Here are photos from the show:

P1390597

DSCN2565 DSCN2564 DSCN2563 DSCN2562 DSCN2561 DSCN2558

DSCN2575

An Artist’s Toolbox Must Include Self-Promotion

What I love about January is that it always brings the promise of a fresh start.

It’s a chance to look back and to look ahead and to take stock of life.  And this is true for artists too.

Last year's wishes and dreams are carried away by the wind.
Last year’s wishes and dreams are carried away by the wind.

I spent 6 years on two continents at art schools in the 1970’s. I practiced weaving, printmaking, painting, life-drawing, sculpture, and pottery;  but there was one subject that NEVER came up. That subject was Art Promotion which could include grant writing, approaching galleries, planning a show, finding venues for art and craft, pricing the work and more. It was all a big mystery and I now believe that many graduates abandoned hope and went into other fields. I hope art students today graduate with tools for promoting their work.

Playing with watercolour on a slippery yupo surface.
Playing with watercolour on a slippery yupo surface.

Fortunately we have the internet where there are many resources on the web to help artists learn marketing and promotional skills and today I want to tell you about 3 of my favorites.

The studio is a marvellous place to be.
The studio is a marvellous place to be.

THE marketing and organizing guru for artists is Alyson Stanfield. I used her ideas to good success from her book I’d rather be in the Studio when I organized my own pop-up art show a year ago.  Alyson is very practical in her advice. She recommends a purposeful tracking of the previous year’s art income.

I did this recently and broke it down into income streams – galleries, online, markets, holiday shows, teaching. The results truly astonished me. I discovered that the galleries are doing the hard work of selling my paintings because even with their 35% – 40% commission, over 60% of my art income is from galleries. But also surprising is that 40% is self generated through sales at the studio, a self organized art show and to a very small degree, sales through markets and craft shows. I’ll use the data to strategize for this year.

Enamel pendants I made. I love the colours and textures.
Enamel pendants I made. I love the colours and textures.

My other planning method comes from British writer and artist Susannah Conway who shares a workbook to help artists plan their art direction in the coming year. The focus isn’t about income, it’s about what feeds the soul, the mind and the spirit so it’s a nice complement to Alyson’s suggestions. I wrote in my workbook yesterday and by the end of the afternoon, I had a clearer sense of  my art path this year. There is a very cool exercise where you imagine the advice your future self will give your present self.

One of my art goals this year is meditation that is focused around imagery.
One of my art goals this year is meditation that is focused around imagery.

Another supporter of artists is painter Keesha Bruce who divides her time between Paris and New York. Her tweets are full of links with great articles about support for artists.

All three women also teach classes and seminars off and online. Their newletters are free and each of their websites have signup forms.

In progress.
Acrylic painting in progress.

I think that anyone who is self-employed or is self-directed could benefit from these exercises. Are there January rituals that help you plan your new year? Please share.

Two paintings in the studio.
Two paintings in the studio. “Good Vibrations” and “The Green Table” © Flora Doehler, 2014

PS: A shout out to artist and beekeeper Shirley Langpohl who let me know that my youtube video on monoprinting was mentioned in last October’s Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. What a lovely surprise that was! Sometimes promotion comes from unexpected places.

wc monoprinting