Resonance: musician inspired paintings by Flora Doehler and Wayne Boucher

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I’m very excited to be 1/2 of a two-person show in Bear River at the new Sissiboo Coffee Bar and Gallery. The show opens this weekend on Sunday, May 22 at 2pm and displays until the end of June. My good friends Jon and Erin asked me if I would like to be the first artist to show in their beautiful space. I am touched to be asked and very happy to celebrate with them. I asked artist Wayne Boucher to join me and he agreed! His large paintings are gorgeous and luminous. I think our work will look great together. Yeah! Continue reading

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.

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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.

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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.

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Flora’s Painting Newsletter – June, 2015

Right this moment, the iris and lupins in my Nova Scotia garden are in full bloom. The landscape is green and purple. I am so inspired and want to share this with you.

..and the posing model. ;)
..and the posing model. 😉
Lupin painting in progress (detail)
Lupin painting in progress (detail)

So, I’m taking you with me! Through these peak painting months, I’ll send you a short newsletter every third Monday to share my art experiences – painting iris, painting on Brier Island, co-founding the new Bear River Artworks Gallery. Whew!
On the weeks in between, I’ll send you an image of a recent painting with a little background story.

Just add your contact info at the bottom of this page to subscribe.

Thank you so much, for your interest in my painting news. I’ll talk to you on Monday! 

– Flora ❤

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  • email me at flora.doehler@gmail.com with your comments or questions.

“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.” ~ Francis Bacon

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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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

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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.

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

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

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“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!

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Painting to Music

Do you listen to music when you’re creating?

I do and I want to share with you two of my favorite websites that are always playing my music.

If I don’t have specific music in mind, but just a rough idea of “electronic mood music with no lyrics” or  “introspective” or “hypnotic ocean waves” or “drinking at a dive bar” 😉 , then I select the website songza.com

All the music is “made by an expert team of music critics, DJs, musicians, and musicologists” and includes over 2 thousand playlists.

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Painting a series of musical events from the Rebekah in Bear River.

When I am concentrating on my subject; especially in the beginning of the work, I prefer instrumental music because I find lyrics too distracting. There is a certain amount of tension about getting to a place where there is only color and texture and a creative flow. Sometimes, the music can help me get to that place faster.

Starting with a feeling of colour.
Starting with a feeling of colour.
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I work with fluid acrylics in plastic, lidded containers in muffin tins. And LOTS of medium. This is a tulip series that I finished and delivered this week to Catfish Moon in Annapolis Royal.

If I have a specific band in mind, then I go to jango.com  Like Songza, they bundle playlists and match your chosen musician with similar music.

The work of Marconi Union is ethereal and moody and it really helps me to get in the ‘zone’. If there is a musician reading this perhaps you have the vocabulary or understanding to tell me why this is. All I know is that their music helps me enter a creative space where nothing exists but my close observation of the subject and the moving of the paint on the canvas or paper.

My daughter Emily introduced me to this group several years ago. The kids are good for that. 😉

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Drawing into wet watercolour paper with charcoal and watercolour crayons.

Sometimes even music is too distracting. Thats when I open the window and listen to the birds or the frogs/peepers.

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I started this large painting outside last summer and am working on it this week.

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.

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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.

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