Saturday, May 23, 2009


I am surrounded by technology that both helps and hinders me in the process of making art. When I consider that perhaps 10 years ago, my ability to use much of this technology was pretty limited, it amazes me how much I come to depend on it.

My old cell phone died a couple of weeks ago and I had to buy a new one. You can't buy a regular cell phone anymore. It has to come with slide out keyboards, cameras, bluetooth, video, internet access - and the most current feature GPS. All this technology in a mobile telephone and I still can't seem to hear it ring when its at the bottom of my bag!

When I purchased the new phone (an LG Dare, for those who are into technology) the clerk told me it came with a Samsung digital photoframe. In pink. Joy. I didn't know one end of a digital photoframe from another. I guess that candy pink wasn't selling well so they were used as a sales incentive - even if I didn't know about until the sale was closed.

However, tonight I finally got around to exploring it a bit. Despite the frame colour, it could be a useful tool for those times when I need to show some art in a slideshow format that is more portable than a laptop. It holds 120mb of space, but does need its powersource to operate.

We have access to so much technology to assist us in art marketing, networking, sales and even creating art or helping it show a better face online. However, when it comes to creating art, for me, I am a traditionalist and technology can't really help me except to create the current products that I use. Even that becomes a source of amazement as I never consider where my paint or pencils come from or the method of creating them. I just buy them and presume they will be readily available. I don't have to mix my own paints or make my own paper, even though the option is there for me. I've tried the papermaking but not creating paints.

What technology assists you or hinders you? Is technology a benefit or something else that moves us further away from reality?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Making progress

As I've mentioned previously, I'm starting a small series of paintings of the journey of water to the sea that will show on the Watermarks blog. I will be giving glimpses of my own journey of developing those paintings here.

The series will be a set of six 8 x 8 inch panels which will be displayed together. Each piece is an intrinsic part of the whole so that the story is told. The first piece has been painted and will be subject to some tweaking. This is about the two-thirds mark for the second piece.

Its still pretty much in rough values and colours right now and will be defined more before it will be complete. The thing that I dislike about the landscape that I chose to represent this panel - The Wetlands - is the palette of the landscape itself. It really does consist of browns and creams with more green coming through this time of year, but not enough to make it look lush yet. The dulled down colours make it difficult to paint and find definition.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You are the daughter of the sea

This is a tiny watercolour inspired by a poem by Neruda - You are the Daughter of the Sea. It has no reality in it. It is based on no place or time. The shapes and colours simply found their own way onto the paper. I was simply the vehicle that got them there.

Pablo Neruda is my favourite poet. His words are ones that bring such strong images to me and it is as if I can see through his eyes, feel what he felt as he wrote some of them. I cannot pick a favourite poem, it would be impossible. I love each and every one of them.

On the Blue Shore of Silence: Poems of the Sea is a collection of twelve of Neruda's poems on the sea, produced in 2004 to celebrate the centennial of Neruda's birth. The book is bilingual in Spanish with English translations and features 15 paintings by California artist Mary Heebner. The paintings were inspired by Neruda's home on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific at Isla Negra.

The title of the collection comes from the poem Forget About Me/No Me Hagan Caso: Let us look for secret things somewhere in the world, on the blue shore of silence or where the storm has passed, rampaging like a train.

Here, Heeber describes her process: "I saturated large sheets of fibrous Japanese paper with puddles of bluish-gray pigment. Hidden shapes emerged from these little seas of color. I used paint and strands of tapa cloth to suggest elements of human form."

While the paintings make a nice compliment to the poems, one has a much tougher time engaging with them on their own. Their color is lush, and at times has a kind of penetrating darkness, all emblematic of the sea, but it seems a wobbly balance between suggestions of the human form and more abstract evocations of water.

XXXIV (You are the daughter of the sea)

by Pablo Neruda

You are the daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin.
Swimmer, your body is pure as the water;
cook, your blood is quick as the soil.
Everything you do is full of flowers, rich with the earth.

Your eyes go out toward the water, and the waves rise;
your hands go out to the earth and the seeds swell;
you know the deep essence of water and the earth,
conjoined in you like a formula for clay.

Naiad: cut your body into turquoise pieces,
they will bloom resurrected in the kitchen.
This is how you become everything that lives.

And so at last, you sleep, in the circle of my arms
that push back the shadows so that you can rest--
vegetables, seaweed, herbs: the foam of your dreams.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Vivien Blackburn of painting prints and stuff put out a challenge last week to draw or paint the skies in your own part of the world. I was a bit slow getting going and the challenge was delayed by a week, so I was determined to get in a couple of pieces.

I guess this could be clouds or even surf, but it was intended to be a study of clouds done in oils on a tiny little ACEO card. I was given a pack of assorted art trading cards that had a few pieces of acrylic/oil painting surfaces, so I thought I'd see what I could come up with in that 2.5 x 3.5 space. Today started out warm with drizzle, then turned to a brilliant blue cloudless sky in late afternoon. By early evening, the rain was threatening again and some large clouds were building. This was the last of the clouds before they merged into a grey curtain.

This painting was more like an interlude, as I'm working on another painting at the same time. I like to have a couple of paintings going at the same time, then take a break from one or the other. I haven't been sleeping well lately, but find that the early morning (4am onwards) is one of my best times for painting or drawing. Perhaps its the sleep that helped. Maybe my biorhythms are good at that time of the day. But for whatever reason, early in the day, my eye/hand coordination seem to be at their best.\

What time of day do you function best? Are you a morning or night person? What affects your ability to draw or paint?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quidi Vidi lock

Yesterday I wandered, needing some fresh air, and my travels took me to Quidi Vidi lake and on to Quidi Vidi village. The lake is quite famous for its annual Regatta that's been going on for close to 200 years. It is fed by the Rennie's Mill river and is home to a large number of ducks, seagulls, the occasional goose, and ever present pigeons.

Just over the other side of the road from the lake, the water heads towards Quidi Vidi 'gut' and the sea. The force of water coming down over the slope of rocks is held back by a small lock that can be lowered or raised so that the water moves at a reasonable pace, never flooding the village below.

Moving water always has me transfixed and besides sketching the little lock, I had to take a small video clip of the sound of the water as it rushed past my feet on its journey to the sea.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Youth - complete

I added more layers, changed more colours, refined the features more and am calling this portrait complete. There is still a sheen of wet paint on this image so the true colours aren't coming through.

I do tend to be stingy with paint and need to push myself to apply it more thickly. I almost feel as if I'm drawing instead of painting sometimes. For those who may have the same problem as me, there's a good thread on WetCanvas that deals with this subject.

This painting finishes my current Zorn palette and I have to say that I do really like a limited palette. It limits my ability to muddy colours too much and forces me to focus. I will be adding some blue to this palette and experiment with it in other pieces.

I have a series planned of 8 inch square panels that will be grouped together and involve land and water. Most of these will be shown on the Watermarks blog, but there will be glimpses of them here too. Enhancing the colour palette will likely be necessary to achieve the effects that I want.