Earlier this year I was invited to paint a door for a fundraiser for the Yarmouth, Nova Scotia branch of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
At the time I was swamped with painting my musician series and I almost turned down this opportunity. I thought I could be practical and adapt one of my photographs or an existing painting or drawing for the project. That would save time, right? Easy and fast, right? #famouslastwords Continue reading →
“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” – Claude Monet
I just came back from a painting journey to Brier Island. The ocean and meadows were fabulous to experience.. and to paint. Still I couldn’t wait to come home to enjoy the rest of the iris and lupin season. Continue reading →
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.
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.
I 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.
I bring in the work to refine it in the studio…along with some flowers.
Here you can get a better sense of the size of the painting.
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.
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!
Right now, I’m headed outside to paint iris and lupins. Here is a repost of a blog I made in 2010 about painting at this time of year. I will try today to express the emotional connection I feel for iris as I did in this painting.
There were gorgeous, large bearded irises in my grandmother’s garden over 50 years ago. My mother transplanted some to her garden and eventually I had them in my garden. They moved ½ way across the continent with us when we came to Nova Scotia and are blooming like never before.
I know my mom and my grandmother would have loved the yellow variety that I’ve added to the ancestral iris. And I know they would have loved the wild purple, pink and white lupins that grow like weeds here and especially at our place.
I want to show you how I painted and drew these flowers using fluid acrylics over a base of wet matt medium and I’ve made a tutorial for you about this. Enjoy!
I paint from life and in early June, the lupins and iris are in bloom here in Nova Scotia. I brought some into the studio and placed them in wine bottles so that I could have good close-up examples of the lupin in the distance. Although I prefer to paint on location, at this time of year the black flies are biting, so I paint inside.
I started this painting applying watered-down acrylic on a primed canvas. I wanted to achieve a soft, wet in wet watercolour effect.
When that dried, I applied a thick coating of matt medium over the entire canvas and then painted into it with my fluid acrylic paints. I keep them in sealed plastic containers in a muffin tin. That way they are always ready to use.
I try to limit my palette to five colours or fewer because it creates a better colour harmony in the painting. I paint with nylon brushes and I also use a rubber-tipped scraper to draw shapes into the painting.
I dip the scraper into my paint and draw with it much like dipping a pen into ink. I like the calligraphy effects that I can get by pushing the paint away and creating a line and a texture.
If the medium gets too tacky, I moisten it with a spray of water. The water also makes the paint run which adds an interesting softening effect to the work.
As long as the medium is moist, the painting can be worked on and the scraping will reveal the colours underneath.
I love iris and I deliberately choose purple and yellow because they are complementary colours and they make the painting vibrate.
Although I have an easel, I painted this on the floor because otherwise the entire painting would drip and run if I placed it upright. That’s because I have a coating of wet matt medium on the canvas and that is the tip or secret that I am sharing with you.
I came across this quite by accident and now I almost always paint with acrylic this way. For one, it delays the drying period, which I like; but the biggest advantage is that I can create all kinds of textures and linear marks in the painting by pushing away the colour with a scraping tool and revealing the layer of colour or canvas underneath.
I bought a gorgeous yellow iris at a plant sale this spring and I wanted to make it the focal point in this painting. Unfortunately, by the time I painted this, it had finished blooming, but I used my huge purple bearded iris as reference. That’s the beauty of being the painter. You can change the colours of anything in your painting to suit your mood!
I am thrilled to say that Larry and I and 6 others have formed The Bear River Artworks Gallery The opening is this Friday April 17 at 6 pm and we would love for you to join us. If you can’t come on Friday night, then please join me on Saturday 10 am – 4 pm to view the works. I’ll be sitting the Gallery that day. For sure I’ll post some pictures on my website after the event.
Friday, April 17, 2015 6 pm “Bear River Artworks Gallery” opening – Art, dessert and drinks 7:30 pm “Songs of Myself” Animation, puppetry and shadows
@ The Oakdene Centre, 1913 Clementsvale Road, Bear River, Nova Scotia. The gallery will remain open on Sat (18th) and Sun (19th) from 10-5. Open Daily from May 17 – October 11, 2015 10am – 5pm
Snow, Snow and More Snow
And it’s a good thing we had a new gallery to organize because winter in the Maritimes this year was brutal. The snowfall broke all records.
The trick was to not despair.
The upside of it was that I spent more time in the studio painting than I have any previous winter.
What’s New on the Easel?
Since January I’ve been making regular trips to the grocery store in Digby to buy tulips. They have cheered me tremendously. It’s a good thing too because I need new paintings for a new gallery.
My other big news is that my work is included in a new book about how to paint with acrylics. The book is published in the US and the UK and I am happy to be invited to participate. Here is my back story about this.
It is a wonderful feeling to see the fruits of my labour on display in a gorgeous gallery. Sharing the experience with a fellow painter is better still!
Susan Geddes and I hung our paintings and hoped that people would come out to see them. The place was hopping during our opening and it was wonderful for both of us to share our visual view of the world with old and new friends. Thank you for being part of it – in person at the gallery or right now, virtually.
You can still see the paintings daily in Annapolis Royal (closed Mondays)until November 23rd at ArtsPlace at 396 St. George Street. I’ll be there on Saturday Nov 15th from 1-3 pm.
Tulips are a favorite flower (are they ALL my favorites??) This oil painting went through quite a few versions until I arrived at this final one. You can see my progress here.
As attached as I am to that tulip painting, in this moment “Earthly Delights” (below) is my favorite of the show. I think it has an under-water quality and has a depth to it that I don’t usually use.
I started it in the spring using poured acrylic inks in the background. When the lilies bloomed in summer, I added them and in the fall the last ‘poser’ was a brilliant orange Chinese lantern. So really, I painted all the flowers in the bouquet as they bloomed. It represents, to me, the entire flowering cycle, hence the title.
My next favorite paintings are these three and I described in this post about where my inspiration came from to abstract my Bee Balm garden flowers on the canvas.
I can’t help myself. I keep planting lilies and I keep painting them too. I was a little inventive with the colours “In a Field of Lilies”. I WISH there was a blue lily. This painting inspired me to plant a new, deep maroon lily this fall. I think they are one of the happiest flowers in the garden. With their heads in the air they are true optimists.
These are 8″ x 10″ paintings I started at the Historic Gardens in Annapolis and finished in my studio. I got to make full use of the sgraffito style that I like to play with.
I also painted lilies and other flowers using acrylic inks and paint on paper and then adhered it all to boards. These are 12″ x 12″ and are another reminder of summer. I enjoyed combining drawing and painting here.
My artist – friend Susan Geddes flew in from Victoria BC to share this show with me. I love her use of colour and texture. Her paintings have a dreamy, ethereal quality to them as well.
Stop in this week and see her work — and mine. Details about the show are at the bottom of this post.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s like playing “broken telephone” with the brush.
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!