Monoprinting with Acrylics

This last month or so I’ve explored combining monoprinting with painting and collage.

A ‘monoprint’ is a one-time image painted or rolled onto a surface and then transferred (printed) onto paper. It’s not even possible to create a copy of the original. Continue reading

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Painting in Luscious Colour – one step at a time

As I prepare for a solo painting show in Bear River April 15 – 23,  my 1st step is to create a colour archive of all my acrylics.

There are so many ways to approach creating a body of work for an exhibition. I have to tell you that my head space up until late December was far away from painting. Our elderly cat was very sick. She’s quite a bit better, but time is catching up with her.  She is such a sweet kitty, it’s hard to see her age. And, like the rest of you, I was and am still distracted and distressed by the political scene south of the border. Continue reading

Acrylic Painting Tutorial – Iris

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.

irispainting2010There 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.

Bearded Iris from my grandmother.

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.

Lupins ring our land and the colour is often deep purple.

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.

There are lupins growing in the distance.

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.

Golden fluid acrylics are transparent and have a high level of pigment.

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.

Painting on the floor.

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!

Airing out the painting. (sold)

Check list for this painting:

Golden fluid acrylics

Rubber tipped scraper

Matt medium

Spray water bottle

Ancestral flowers

Painting detail. The purple bearded Ontario iris transforms into a yellow Nova Scotian flower.

Nurture and Nature Paintings – one more week only!

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.

The Colour of Longing ©Flora Doehler, 2014
The Colour of Longing ©Flora Doehler, 2014 Oil, 24″ x 24″

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.

Earthly Delights ©Flora Doehler, 2014
Earthly Delights ©Flora Doehler, 2014 Acrylic, 48″ x 36″


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.

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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.

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In a Field of Lilies ©Flora Doehler, 2014 Acrylic, 30″ x 30″

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.

painting by Susan Geddes
Jump for Joy! ©Susan Geddes
painting by Susan Geddes
Bubbling Up ©Susan Geddes
Acrylic, 16″ x 20″
Paintings ©Susan Geddes
Paintings ©Susan Geddes
Painting ©Susan Geddes
Painting ©Susan Geddes
©Susan Geddes  &  ©Flora Doehler, 2014
Painting ©Susan Geddes Painting  &  ©Flora Doehler, 2014

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Painting Lupins

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Two weeks ago I was interviewed for the Halifax newspaper “Chronicle Herald”. They ran a piece on Bear River focused on the culture and small town revival in Nova Scotia.

photo by Ryan Taupin of the Chronicle Herald.
photo by Ryan Taplin of the Chronicle Herald.

The painting on my easel that day was this one of lupins. They are still blooming on the edges of our property and their arrival every year is stunning.

I love the shapes of the pods and the intensity of the purple colour. Although I usually paint outside in front of my subject, this canvas was so large and it was more practical to work in the studio with samples of lupins posing in empty wine bottles.  

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The article in the newspaper had wonderful quotes from friends who live here and are very happy to have the opportunity to explore their cultural side in a beautiful corner of Canada.

Wild Lupins © Flora Doehler, 2013
Wild Lupins © Flora Doehler, 2013 (sold)

Painting Sumachs

It’s been raining here for a few days so it was wonderful to see the sun today. It is lovely to go outside again to capture this sumach scene in front of our house.

The reds, oranges and greens are stunning.

Just like painting other plant out of doors, the time to capture this brilliant display of colour is just a few short weeks.

I start the drawing on canvas with watercolour crayons.
Next, I fix the drawing with matt medium.
My set-up was on-the-fly so I sat on the ground and leaned my canvas against a tree stump. That way, I was ‘in’ the sumachs. I felt a bit like Alice (in Wonderland).
Painting detail showing my sgraffito marks.
I like the dark patterning that goes through the painting. When this is dry, I’ll have a better idea about how much of the original crayon colour is showing. Then, I’ll make my final changes.  Painting by Flora Doehler, 2012. acrylic. 36″ x 36″

I narrowed my pallet of Golden fluid acrylics down to yellow, green-gold, purple, pyrole red, and a cerulean blue mixed with white.

I can’t wait to work on this tomorrow and to finish another Sumach painting that I started ‘in season’ last fall and is waiting to be finished this week.