Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Finding the path

I liked the shapes of this tree and the stark landscape around it and started a drawing. It may never reach completion, but that's ok. Its the day to day drawing which counts, not a race to the finish.

Of the pieces I start, not all of them reach conclusion. Or if they do, it isn't until months or sometimes years later when I go back and revisit them. There is no shame in putting a drawing or painting that just isn't quite doing it for you, in a back corner and get on with something that you really want to do.

Its also difficult to find your way sometimes. There are so many things calling, its hard to decide on a particular medium or genre and stick with it, perfecting technique and finding your niche, and ignoring the pretty colours and toys in art stores. Finding your place in art - or staying with that place - can be challenging.

I know what I do best and what mediums I am most comfortable with. I love shades of grey in graphite and coloured pencils. I enjoy watercolour, but am not what I'd call proficient. I also enjoy oils, but find the re-learning curve a steep one to climb.

I'm doggedly pursuing it with a 6 part series - Journey to the Sea. Part II is posted on Watermarks and Part I is here. This is closer view of the colours which make up the water in the Part II image - Wetlands.

I will be travelling for a few days, heading to Montreal very early tomorrow morning, so blogging will likely not take place again until Monday. However, if I have some spare time and an airport wait, you never know...

Monday, May 25, 2009


My first love is drawing and always will be, though I seem to be doing a lot of painting these past few months. I started this little drawing in a Moleskine of a trio of boules which was the reference for the Drawing & Sketching forum at WetCanvas last week.

I love trying to draw shiny hard objects. Its almost like a puzzle, fitting the pieces together. This isn't complete and I likely will work on it tomorrow or when I get a chance this week, but even this far gives a sense of how the image will turn out.

The feeling of drawing and the control I have over the pencil is always comforting. When painting becomes a chore, drawing is my fallback. I am so familiar with dry mediums it causes little stress as I know how they will perform, how to correct things, how to apply it to different supports.

What's your comfort level in art? What always relaxes you to create with?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The perils of plein air

The Sentinel
10 x 20 oils

Today was a warm late spring day and I thought I'd try some plein air painting. I never have to go too far to find subjects as I live in the woods, quite literally. At the back of the house there are acres and acres of trees and among the pines, spruces and firs, stands a paper birch that soars head and shoulders above them all. I like to think of this tree as the Sentinel, watching over the forest.

I pulled together my oils, thinners and brushes and brought them out to the patio where I have a great viewpoint of this tree. The sun was brilliant on the canvas, so I quick toned it to reduce the glare and started to lay in some values.

A gentle breeze lifted to a cool gust making me glad I'd put on a sweater before venturing out. The disposable palette sheet started flapping, so I grabbed a rock and put that on the end of the sheet to hold it down. After finishing the sky and starting to build the tree masses, the wind came back again, this time lifting my panel and placing it on me. Great. I now had a brown sweater with blue paint and a lovely imprint of knit fabric on the painted sky.

I secured the panel more firmly to the little french easel and continued to build the image. The sun was warm and I took off the sweater, figuring it would definitely be 'the painting sweater' from now on. But the wind wasn't finished with me yet it seemed. It couldn't take the panel and fling it around, so it chose the palette instead. Even with the small rock holding the disposable sheet of paints in place, the wind took the whole thing and turned it upside down. On me. Guess what? I have dedicated painting jeans now. And shoes too.

I have older clothes that I use when painting and wear an butcher's apron,but its pretty rare that I do get paint over me. Til today.

However, after 90 minutes of work, this is what I came up with. I removed some trees to make the birch more prominent and ignored the line of old willow stumps that had been pruned in the foreground. I may fiddle with it a bit more or will it be classed as 'plein air' then? Isn't the end result what its all about instead of the process?