Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflections on 2009

Roses in the snow
iced watercolour 9 x 12

New Year's Eve.  It does amaze me how time goes past so quickly and how so much happens in that time.  Thank you for everyone who reads my blog, who takes time to comment, who supports my work in any way.  You are appreciated more than you know. 

My wish is that your New Year is filled with love, happiness and creativity.   Newfoundland is the first point in North America that 2010 will land.  At midnight I will wish it well and send it on its way to you, just as others have before me when it crosses the oceans.

This time last year, I shared my plans for 2009 - The Three 'P's and would like to comment on what I accomplished (or didn't)  My plans for 2010 will be revealed tomorrow and I began to share my process yesterday for setting direction.  I believe its important to have a goal, otherwise you flounder around and are unable to assess any progress as you have nothing measureable to judge by.

I also believe its as important to look at what has gone before as to look ahead so what happened in 2009?

My three 'p's were Promotion, Production and Projects.


New marketing materials
I created new business cards that have a cleaner, more professional look to them.  These are included in all sales as well as provided to any networking connections that I make.  I have created brochures that are used for commissions, outlining the process of commissioning a piece of work.

A website
I came to the conclusion that at this time a website will do no more for me than my blog and Etsy store, so I did not move ahead on it.  Research is showing that blogs are taking over a static website and are a newer medium for communication, similar in the way that social networking is working to provide quicker, easier ways to get messages to the world.

My blogging frequency hasn't changed a lot in the last year, even with the addition of commitments to posting on other blogs.  In fact, posts to this blog have increased marginally with 285 posts in 2009, compared to 281 in 2008. I think that may go to show that deadlines or pressure work for me rather than against me.  Either that or I'm a true glutton for punishment!

In 2009 I provided 5 portraits free of charge.  This was part of my self promotion plan and I requested that individuals hang them where there was some traffic and help promote my art.

I accepted paid commissions in 2009, mostly for animal or human portraits.  I don't share these online without permission of the clients and as some were for special occasions, did not want to spoil the surprise for the recipients.


I concentrated efforts on my Etsy shop and posted new items regularly.  Sales came sporadically including art and jewellry, but remained constant during the year. Mostly smaller pieces were selling, but also some larger pieces as well.

I entered three pieces in the Newfoundland and Labrador Government's Art Bank 2009 collection. Camoflaged Rainbow (shown below) was successful in being chosen and purchased to join the provincial art bank.  This piece will be used in government departments and educational facilities around the province.

collection - Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

I created greeting cards and prints from two of my watercolours.  One a Christmas image, the other an image of locally made candy.  These are available from my Etsy store and I have interest from local sellers to stock these.

I have some of my animal portraits on display at a pet groomer's with information on commissioning pet portraits.


I became part of Watermarks in December 2008 and have produced posts there during 2009, trying to meet my committment of a post a month.

 Tapper's Cove

Portrait Study Group
This was a private group dedicated to drawing portraits once a month through references provided by those taking part.  The aim was to provide feedback and critiques, however, interest seemed to dwindle over time and it became a casualty of apathy and busyness of those involved.

Plein and Simple
This was another private blog that had a similar goal to the Portrait Study but concentrating on plein air landscapes.  It too disappeared.

Virtual Sketch Date
I was involved with this prooject initially with Rose Welty and Stacy Rowan as a small more private blog, just getting in drawing time.  This was opened to the public and grew like Topsy with close to a hundred people participating, a Flickr page and lots of work for us as administrators.  After the summer of 2009, we decided we would bow out and let someone else take on the role if they wanted.

Create a body of work
I fell down on the job here.  I was enticed by other subject matter, other mediums and lost focus.  I'm not sure if I ever really had the focus for a dedicated body of connected work.  I produced lots of pieces, but they aren't cohesive enough to call a 'body'.

Learn new mediums
I continued to rediscover and refine my technical ability in oils and watercolours in 2009, as well as refine my skills in gyotaku - fish printing.  I also taught a workshop in gyotaku which was well attended and successful.

I expanded my experience using different types of painting and drawing supports including a new treeless paper, Terraskin that has a lot of possibilities still to be discovered.  I also experimented more with Yupo surfaces, handmade paper and brown paper.

I continued to expand my knowledge of gyotaku printing, using trout, capelin, squid and starfish.  I also bought mackerel for more printing experiments later this winter.

The most current technique is the use of ice crystals to shape watercolour pigments.

Apply for a grant
One of the stipulations of grant success is having the right project, the right planning and the right timing to obtain funding.  Without a cohesive body of work and a strong plan in my head for knowing exactly where I wanted to go, I didn't feel comfortable going ahead with this.  I thought about it a lot when application dates were looming, but there wasn't the gut feeling that comes with knowing 'this is a great idea'.  Without that feeling, failure is imminent.

 Tomorrow I will share some of my plans for 2010.  Enjoy your New Year's Eve festivities or if you are already in your new year, have a peaceful day.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Strategic direction

Like many people, I'm doing a little retrospecting as well as forward thinking to plan for 2010.  I always create my art  plans the same way that I do my business plans at work as they are very similar in terms of what principles I use.

Strategic planning is another tool that I use in business but haven't really turned to it in my art, or not consciously.  In a nutshell, strategic planning works by gathering feedback from external and internal stakeholders, analysing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, then whittling that down into several areas of concentration that best meet the needs of the business (art, in this case).

I gather feedback from everyone who leaves a comment on my blog or through email or facebook or twitter or in various art forums.  I'm not directing feedback with questions, so its rather hit or miss as the majority of posters leave positive comments and few suggest changes or direction.  Of course I welcome any comments that you provide in terms of direction, strengths and weaknesses.  All help me grow as an artist.

However, the main strategic direction that I will be concentrating on will be similar to last year:

1.  Production
2.  Publication
3.  Revenue

I will provide more insight into these areas and how I will approach them in a New Year's Day post while tomorrow will look at a review of 2009, its progress and pitfalls.

This little gyotaku capelin print will give you a hint of one of the projects I will be working on next year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Frozen watercolours

Living in a cold winter climate, sub zero temperatures are usually the norm for the long winter months and I'm not a winter person.  However, I have decided that rather than fight winter, I will make use of it in creating my art. This is the rationale behind creating images using frozen watercolours.

I had read some time ago about someone using ice crystals as a technique in watercolour and thought that I'd experiment and see what I could come up with.  Early this morning while it was still cold enough I wet a piece of watercolour paper and added pigment, then  while it was still very wet, put it outside in the garden.  I weighted the edges with stones so it wouldn't blow away, then after about 30 minutes or so, I went out to see what nature had painted for me.

Ice crystals had formed beautiful, delicate, feathery patterns on the wet paper, pulling the pigment into the shapes and blending them.  I took the paper inside to let it dry completely and this image is the result. If you click on the image, you can enlarge it to see the pattern more clearly. I have deepened the colours a little so that the patterning stands out.  I tried a few more pieces, but the temperature rose today and it wasn't cold enough to freeze the water on the paper.  I also put a piece in the freezer, but that didn't have the desired effect.  Air and natural cold seems to work best.  There is scientific research behind how ice crystals grow and at what temperatures at A Snow Crystal Primer.  This morning's temperature was around -2 or -3C so it will be interesting to see what changes in shape take place as the temperature drops.
For example, we see that thin plates and stars grow around -2 C (28 F), while columns and slender needles appear near -5 C (23 F).  Plates and stars again form near -15 C (5 F), and a combination of plates and columns are made around -30 C (-22 F).   
Furthermore, we see from the diagram that snow crystals tend to form simpler shapes when the humidity (supersaturation) is low, while more complex shapes at higher humidities.  The most extreme shapes -- long needles around -5C and large, thin plates around -15C -- form when the humidity is especially high.

I now have to wait until New Year's Eve when the daytime and night time temperatures are predicted to be well below freezing again.  Just when I want it to be cold, it won't cooperate! But that's ok, it will give me time to plan various pieces with this new technique.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ryan's meadow

When I haven't drawn or painted for a few days I lose momentum and struggle to find inspiration.  I wandered around the studio today looking for something that would rouse the muse out of her stupor and found it in some photographs that I took last month of Ryan's meadow.  The Ryans have a lot of land in the area, mostly used for making hay and these meadows are use for the same crop.  A couple of years ago, I used a gate to one of Ryan's fields for a silverpoint drawing and have taken a number of photos, one of which I provided under Creative Commons for anyone to use.  It seems Ryan's land holds inspiration for me.

I see this view, slightly hidden by trees, each day as I drive home from work and always promise myself that I will stop and capture it.  But the time isn't right, the weather doesn't cooperate, traffic gets in the way, tractors are going in and out of the field, etc. etc.  I throw up a dozen excuses as why I can't draw or paint this field.

But last month, on the way home from somewhere I purposely stopped the car, barely off the road, and walked into the field to take some photos.  There had been a lot of rain and the field was sodden with water still on the surface as I squelched my way through the grass.  It filled tractor ruts and pooled in dips in the ground and made grass in the distance shimmer with light.

I don't know why this view appeals to me so much.  The land slopes upwards and takes over the sky, while the treeline and brush creates separation lines of colour.  Perhaps those are the reasons. Shape and colour.  Isn't that what inspires us all?

This was done in watercolour, with some pen and ink added for thre trees/brush in the foreground, on Strathmore coldpress 140lb and is 6 x 12 inches.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The day after the month before

There are some things about Christmas that I love and hate.  I feel it is very over rated and filled with fleeting sentiments which descend in December for a few days, then are gone again, like a cloud across the sun.  Maybe its the commercial aspect of the season that turns it into stress or the forced jollity and social gatherings that would never take place otherwise turn it from pleasant into unpleasant.

Before I'm considered a complete Scrooge, I have to state that there are good aspects of the season too. The ancient winter solstice gives people time to relax a little and reflect on the year that's past and what is to come in the future. Gatherings of families are rarer, as people are scatted to the wind these days in all corners or the world and Christmas is more often spent on the telephone or on some computer video messaging program rather than in person.

The lights that accompany the season brighten dark winter nights and roads and gardens look deserted and so dark again when they are taken down in early January.

My season has been quiet as most years are, but more so this year as I scaled back Christmas.  And the thing that I noticed most of all is that I enjoyed the scaleback.  No big indoor tree, no masses of decorations all over the house, no huge turkey with a month's worth of leftovers, no fruitcake.  Oh all the traditional food was there, but just not in quantities enough to feed an army.  For once, I don't feel as if I've eaten too much at any point.  Chocolate consumption has been minimal and I have a bottle of Madeira that hasn't even been cracked open yet.

I went to a Christmas party on Christmas Eve and people watched as I sipped my wine.  I watched and thought how child-like adults become at Christmas, with behaviours that we would not tolerate in children.  Alcohol loosens inhibitions and tongues in adults.  Children simply are born without any social restraints and have no need to imbibe to return to any previous form of behaviour.

I do not deny people their pleasure or celebration of a season that may or may not have any Christian religious significance, however, I think if I could let it pass by without my participation, I would not miss it much.  However, it is rather difficult to do that, as the world pulls you along with it into the season, whether you go willingly or unwillingly.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Beachcombing in December

The last couple of days have been very windy and rainy and the wind direction churned the sea.  Even though I live about 5 minutes drive from the ocean, I could hear it pounding against the cliffs when I went outside.  Lying it bed I could feel it. It became a subtle but rhythmic thud, almost like a heart beat, vibrating through the land.

Early this morning I went to the sea, both in Flatrock and Torbay, to take some photos.  The ocean had calmed a lot since yesterday but was still pretty rough and the power of the waves hitting the land was still very evident.

The beach in Middle Cove was deserted.  I was probably the only one foolish enough to be out at that hour in the cold to gaze at the sea.  There were a few casualties of the storm:  a young seagull who misjudged waves and wind and a small sea star, ripped from its ocean bed and placed on the beach by the surf.  Of course the find of a sea star brought only one thing to mind - gyotaku printing!  I brought the little Christmas star home and am busily making lots of prints with it.  Some are on printing paper, some on tissue, some on cards and some on watercolour paper, ready for washes of colour to be added.

The little sea star will be washed, dried and popped into the freezer for another printing session after Christmas.  More images from the prints will be shared over on Watermarks tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sweet, rich and undecided

With shopping and cleaning and winding down a bit (read napping) I haven't spent a lot of time painting or drawing outside of some commissions, but have lots of ideas floating around in my head that I hope to put onto paper soon.

One of these is a drawing or painting of the image above.  This is a Cherry Blossom and they bring with it memories of my father and childhood.  My father was diabetic and would at times would go into insulin reactions and need something sweet quickly to counteract the effects.  There were always a handful of these chocolate cherries on top of the fridge and we knew as children they we were never allowed to touch them.  And we didn't.

While I was picking up something at the drugstore today, I saw a line of these along with many other kinds of chocolate bars by the checkout.  On impulse I picked one up and decided it would make an interesting drawing or painting.  I got it home and took it out of its little box and unwrapped it.  It seems smaller than I remember or perhaps as a child it just seemed larger then.

To reveal the cherry and gooey filling, it had to be bitten into.  The chocolate shell is thick and boy it sure is sweet.  Oh the things I do for art... however, I did break into it and did a quick watercolour sketch as well as taking some photos, so now I need to decide on a medium and move ahead.

And no, I didn't eat the rest of the Cherry Blossom.  Its still sitting in its sticky splendour, waiting for me to succumb, find a willing volunteer or dump it.

Monday, December 21, 2009


While in the midst of Christmas preparations, time for art becomes a bit scarcer, but I usually manage to fit something in most days, even if i don't get to blog about it - or even if its fit to blog about!

I was rummaging around in the cold room, sorting out what alcoholic delights were there and thought a little sketch of some of the bottles with the light shining through them would make an interesting compositions.  this is a tiny piece 2.5 x 3.5 and may well translate into a large painting, but that may have to wait a little longer.

The intricasies of painting glass intrigue me.  The subtle colour and value changes as well as hard and soft edges that give glass its unique appearance are all very acheiveable if you take your time and look at it like a puzzle.  Putting one piece in at a time and suddenly you have glass!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


As some of the readers of this blog know, I have several facets to me besides that of an artist.  One of those facets is that I am a herbalist.  This means that I have trained in herbalism which provides me with knowledge of medicinal herbs, how to prepare them and their effect on the body and various disorders.

My herbal side has slipped a bit in recent years as art has taken over, but I still strongly believe in the power of herbs to treat illness and the holistic approach to traditional medicine that western medicine often lacks.  I also still grow and use medicinal herbs in preference to most over the counter medicines.

While looking for something entirely different today, I rearranged some shelves and found some myrhh, yes one of the classic Christmas gifts supposed brought to Jesus by the three wise men.

Myrhh is an important resin the herbal world. Myrhh is a resin which is produced by a small, spiny tree or shrub with knotted branches; a member of the same Burseraceae botanical plant family as Frankincense (Boswellia carteri), myrrh and frankincense essential oils have similar therapeutic properties in aromatherapy use.

The resin of myrrh is naturally found in the cracks of the tree, which sets in brown-red lumps. According to legend, goats used to rub against the trees and the shepherds who tended them collected the resin which had stuck to the goats' hair; today, the collection of the resin is from man made cuts in the tree or by cultivation of trees.

In Ancient Rome myrrh was priced at five times as much as frankincense Roman funerals to mask the smell emanating from charring corpses. It was said that the Roman Emperor Nero burned a year's worth of myrrh at the funeral of his wife, Poppaea. Pliny the Elder refers to myrrh as being one of the ingredients of perfumes, and specifically the "Royal Perfume" of the Parthians. He also says myrrh was used to fumigate wine jars before bottling. Archeologists have found at least two ostraca from Malkata (from New Kingdom Egypt, ca. 1390 to 1350 B.C.) that were lined with a shiny black or dark brown deposit that analysis showed to be chemically closest to myrrh. The Romans were known to use myrrh as a premier additive to wine, though the latter was far more popular.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I'm sure everyone is becoming tired of seeing the updates on this portrait by now but its approaching completion and I have the bones of another piece in my head, and am anxious to put it on paper.

I'm continuing to build the background for this piece and am at the point where I wonder if I've screwed it up or its simply at the ugly stage and I need to push further ahead and let it come together more.  My initial need to make the background recede is apparent in this update as both it and the portrait are competingn for attention.  I need to address that with out losing the effect that I'm after or compromising the paper's surface.

I really should have thought out the background first on this one then worked it before adding the figure.  It would be the logical way to proceed but I'm not always logical.  The symbolic images are becoming part of the background but I need to fade the hare especially.  Animals or people tend to pull in my focus and I overwork the detail where I should not have. 

Luckily I am using 300lb paper which is pretty forgiving in terms of scrubbing back so I should be able to fade the background images and made them recede more.

One more day and I hope it will be complete.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Symbolism in portraiture

I've made a start on the background of the portrait.  It may well change the overall values of the face, but I'll see once its in place and tweak as I go along.

I like symbolism in portraiture.  It makes a piece personal and gives the viewer a talking point as they try to interpret the symbols.  I rarely explain the symbols to others for exactly those reasons and because they are personal to both the sitter and to me as the artist.  Symbolism has been used in portraiture for hundreds of years.  Some of the most famous portraits of Queen Elizabeth I contained many symbols to represent her view of herself and her power and virtues to the world.

So these are the initial layers for the background which outline the drawings that I have placed there.  I don't want them to be focal points, but almost shadow images that the viewer has to examine closely and to decide if they are really there or just imagination.

This portrait is of my brother in law by the way, who I hope I don't perturb too much during this process.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sales - when to have one

Over at my Etsy shop, I'm having a Half Price Holiday Sale on select necklaces created with semiprecious stones, sterling silver and other natural materials.  The sale will last until December 24th  - or until they all sell, whichever comes first! 

Like most artists, I usually have an inventory of stock, in my case consisting of paintings, drawings and jewelry.  So when do I decide that its time to have a sale to encourage people to buy and to make room for me to produce more? 

Length of exposure is a strong factor.   If a piece has been around for awhile and hasn't generated a lot of interest it can go back into stock or can be reworked into a new piece.

Orphan work.  By this I mean something that isn't part of my general style of work or theme and as a result becomes a stand alone piece.  This can be good or bad depending on whether it catches someone's eye or not.  If not, then off it goes to tempt someone with  a sale price.

Lack of storage space.  When my studio shelves and storage areas are getting full, I know its time to make some things available at a reduced cost.

New projects looming.  When I have ideas for a series of pieces or want to experiment with new media or supports, I need a clean slate to help that happen.  Moving old stock out to make way for new is always a good reason for a sale.

Encourage new clients.  A sale is often the introduction of a new buyer to the purchase of original works and can be the making a long relationship between artist and buyer.

So go and browse.  Perhaps you'll find something there that tempts you or may be the temptation of someone else.

Meanwhile, this little pup is slowly coming together.  Time is against me in the lead up to Christmas, but as of tomorrow I'm off work for two weeks, then I can catch up again.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Portrait update

Time for a quick portrait update inbetween turkey sales.

I'm still building layers on this piece and its starting to get some depth now.  The pointillistic approach that I have taken for the last few portraits seems to give more life to the skin tones.  Except in the very young, there is rarely a smooth tone to the skin. Colour variances and shading show the bluish thinner layer of skin over bony areas, while areas with more flesh have pinker tones to them.

I'm still struggling with decisions over a background.  Inspiration isn't happening on this one.  I have ideas rolling around but nothing is gelling right now. Technically I should have completed the background first, as it will likely change the values in the portrait.  However, I'll deal with that when the time comes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Down on the farm...

Last night and today all the Christmas turkeys went to the processor. Tomorrow they will return and be picked up by their new owners. Now there's no one left in the barn except BD and Lucky, the duck who survived a mink and and owl attack.  What else could the poor little fellow be called??

These turkeys are about 15 weeks old and there are some large birds this year.  There is no reliable method of determining the final weight of a bird, only the length of time they are kept and when you can get into the queue at the processor's. Temperature also plays a role and if the weather is colder, the birds expend more energy in heat production and less in growing.  Up until the last week or so, the temperatures have been mild.   There are still a few turkeys available if anyone needs one.  Sorry, no shipping, farm gate only.

The birds are raised as naturally as possible, even if they are inside.  The weather is too harsh and there are too many predators to safely raise Christmas turkeys outside in Newfoundland. I always feel sad when they go, but know they've had as good a life as can be provided with enough food, water, clean pens, radio and ball games. Yes, they are party animals in the true sense...

Meanwhile back in the studio, thoughts of a wintry sea took over inspired by sketches at a local beach then a crop of one of those waves executed in watercolour as twilight settled over the scene.  You can read more about it, see the beach sketch and read a story of shipwrecks and phantom dog heroes at Watermarks.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I've made a little more progress on the portrait that I started the other night.  I've added additional layers, but they are still quite light and I haven't really started pushing the shadows yet.  It seems that the only time I can make progress is very early morning or at night.  The time inbetween, even when I'm not working, is consumed with other tasks that take my time away from creating.

Here's a closer view for those who like to examine the layers in greater detail.  Lots of people have a bit of anxiety when drawing glasses, but I quite enjoy them.  Most eyeglasses these days have non-reflective lenses in them so there isn't a lot of external reflections that mask the eye shape or colour.  If the shape of the glasses is correct, then it all falls into place, very much like a puzzle.

I'm working on a couple of pieces at once as I often do.  I like being able to keep in painting mode so while one dries, I move to the other.  As long as its the same medium, it seems to work out well.  I also have sketchbooks scattered around the house so when I get a moment, I make little thumbnail sketches of things that interest me.

I'm working on a drawing tutorial that I hope to have available by Christmas Eve.  I haven't produced one for awhile and have had the makings of it kicking around for months.  I came across it the other day and thought it was time to complete it and make it available.  Here's a little teaser of where it is so far.

I find the hardest part of creating a tutorial is putting into words what I do without thinking.  And remembering to scan pieces regularly as I get so caught up in the process of drawing, it moves ahead more quickly than I realize.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Glimpses of winter

Snow squalls happened on and off during the day.  Late this afternoon the sky was heavy with snow, with glimpses of yellow, pink, and pale blue as the sun started to set.

I started pulling out some Christmas decorations and found them good fodder for practicing with my camera.  I was focusing on a mountain ash tree in the garden and caught the lights of one of the window decorations.  I like how the camera created the perfectly round shapes out of focus and pulled the berries on the tree into focus.  I still have so much to learn with this camera.

A ceramic angel lit by candlelight was my next experiment.  Shutter speeds are still something I need to practice and this image isn't as clear as I like.  When in doubt, read the manual....

As the afternoon closed in, juncos gathered at the bird feeder to stock up for the winter night ahead.  Such funny little quarrelsome birds.  Its nigh on to impossible to take a good photo of them as they move so fast and so much.  I caught this little fellow perched on the hop vines by the thermometer.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Portraits and technology

Last night I sketched the next portrait and started adding some colour.  I still need a background for this and haven't quite decided what it will be.  I have some thoughts floating around but there is no 'aha' moment yet.  As the painting develops as well as the background a title may come to mind. I should have a better image tomorrow as I'll have some decent natural light.  Well, provided it doesn't snow too much.

This piece is done on a half sheet of 300lb arches paper.  I'm waiting for more of this paper to turn up as I got a good deal on a mailorder price.  Everyone else must think so too, as its backordered.

I've been setting up a new printer tonight.  I had an early Christmas gift of an Epson Artisan 810 that virtually stands on its head and spits nickels.  The reviews of this printer are excellent and I haven't found anyone to say anything bad about it so far.  It has a six color process (Black, Cyan, Light Cyan, Magenta, Light Magenta, Yellow) and with the appropriate paper, produces the artistic, “giclée” level prints that Epson’s higher-end inkjets have built their reputation on.  And its wireless technology so I can lose some of my spagetti junction in the studio.

I just need to figure it all out, one function at a time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

One complete. Many more in the wings

I was up before the snow flew this morning and finished off the tiny watercolour portrait that I started last night.  I don't think I could work on this scale for long periods and its a lot more challenging that you first think.  I seem to want to fill the space and over run it, fearing that I'll never get it all in, which I usually don't.

I am starting a drawing for a new portrait.  I have the face blocked in, but need to work out a background now and that may take a little research.  It will be another watercolour on 300lb Arches paper. I always feel a surge of excitement starting a new piece.  There is something amazing to see a face appear out of a sheet of white paper.

I also played around with some photos using old-but-new blocks that I ordered after seeing some of Neil Hollingsworth's paintings using them.  I asked him where he found the blocks and he let me know, so I ordered some of  these rather sweet reproductions for myself.  I just need to get some natural light to paint or draw them.  The mornings are too dark to see a thing before I head to work.

I have so many ideas in my head and they sometimes come out in a jumble with projects and pieces all vying for attention.  One at a time.  Mostly.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A handful


I wanted to draw or paint something tonight, but didn't know what.  I've finished a few projects and commissions and find that I have a bit of a lull after that, as if my brain and body slow down for awhile. But I still needed to create something.  Funny how there's something inside that insists on certain actions.  Probably similar to the same voice that makes you get out of bed for ice cream at 3am.

I browsed through images that I have and came across a photo of Geoff Meeker.  Geoff is an independent communications consultant and writes a blog, Meeker on Media, that is published in The Telegram.   I know Geoff on Facebook and had asked him awhile back if I could use this image that was on his profile there.  I liked the lighting and the colours that the computer screen he was facing reflected back onto the skin.

So this is a tiny version of Geoff that I started tonight.  Its artist trading card size 3.5 x 2.5 in watercolour on Strathmore cold press.  I thought I'd show the initial sketch as well as where I am so far. I have the base layers of colour and shape in, I just need to clean up edges and intensify the shadows.  At this size, watercolour pencils come in handy for the details, as I never seem to have a lot of luck with those teeny tiny brushes with two hairs on them.  They frustrate more than satisfy.

But that will have to wait til tomorrow. For now, a little knitting of a cowl, then some sleep. With more snow predicted, it will make the drive to work interesting no doubt.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

29 years later

Today marks 29 years since John Lennon was fatally shot outside his apartment in New York City.  There was stunned silence around the world, then outrage, then sadness that one of the world's most talented musicians was silenced forever.

While most people think of Lennon as part of the Beatles and the amazing musician that he was, his first love was art and he did attend art school at the Liverpool  Art Institute for three years (1957-1960). His primary medium was line drawing which became illustrations for three books that he published in the 1960s.  Lennon originally created a portfolio of drawings in 1969 which he entitled "Bag One". These drawings depicted John and Yoko's wedding and honeymoon and he presented them to her as a wedding gift. The Bag One suite represents the only hand signed prints available by John Lennon.

His music lives on.  His art lives on.  Isn't that something we all hope for?  A little piece of ourselves as a legacy to the world.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Experiments and snow

An experiment on Myrna Wacknov's blog, Creativity Journey, inspired me to try it myself.  Myrna was trying watercolours on regular printer photographic paper and I just had to join in the fun.  The slick surface has similarities to yupo, in that it doesn't sink into the paper, but pools on the surface.  You definitely need a loose style to work on this and I enjoyed trying to create a face on the surface. 

I love the way the paints run into each other depending on how much water I use or pigment.  I may go back into this with some inks to add definition or perhaps add another medium to it.  With a big box of photographic paper from a large box store, it gives me an economical way to experiment with the surface.

Yesterday was a day full of snow.  Today was a day full of snow clearing.   This is my little car sitting in 16 inches of snow waiting to be dug out this morning.  The snow on the window made me think times when artificial 'snow' in a can was used to decorate windows inside years ago when I was in the UK.  I guess I don't need that effect here do I?