Saturday, January 07, 2012


Sleep was evading me last night so I was up well before dawn and could see it creep in across the sea and land.  I grabbed a couple of quick shots with my iPod camera and once tweaked with Instagram they almost become a pastel painting in the making. 

I thought I'd try my hand at the scene with the light just visible, sillouetting the trees.  Its not what I saw in my head and my skills with pastels are hit and miss, mostly because I use them infrequently.

I'm using a variety of mediums lately to try to get out of this slump, who knows what it will be tomorrow.  Inspiration - the kind that fires me up and has me anxious to get into the studio - is missing right now.  It will return and meanwhile, I'll potter and tinker with things I don't usually do and before you know it, I'll be back in the swing of things again.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Sleeping Beauties

 Sleeping Beauties
5.75" x 22"

While looking for something else, I rediscovered this long gyotaku print of some small perch that I had completed last year I believe.  

I had done several gyotaku pieces directly on heavy watercolour paper as I wanted to add a lot of washes of pigment to the paper without it being at risk of buckling.   The process of taking the fish to the paper instead of the paper to the fish makes it a slightly less reliable technique as you have less control with a heavy paper that you can't manipulate, unlike thin Japanese papers.

The prints didn't turn out exactly as I wanted and I see why I put it to one side, perfectionist that I can be at times.  But as I'm doing my best to finish off abandoned pieces I thought I'd add some more pigment to it and see if it could be salvaged.

I stayed with the fairly sombre colouring of these fish then gave them some shots of bright turquoise as highlights.  Sleeping Beauty turquoise from the Daniel Smith range of watercolours is one of my favourites.  Its semi transparent and a beautiful shade that's perfect for my aquatic pictures.  The link image really doesn't do justice to it.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Straight Sailing - complete

 Straight Sailing
15" x 30"
oil on canvas panel

Despite the muse being AWOL, I pushed myself to finish the last strokes on the Straight Sailing piece that I posted on New Year's Day.  If I let myself stay away from it too long, my palette will change and so may my interest in completing it.

Its not the best image, even with good lighting which seems to wash it out a bit.  I can't seem to get far enough away or close enough, if that makes sense.  I'll try for another shot when its dryer at the weekend and some daylight will give a truer reading.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

When the muse is away...

Abandoned in the Garden
7" x 9"   oil on canvas panel


When the muse becomes less than amusing or takes an unexpected leave of absence, its like hitting a wall.  You have a need to produce, but the connection between brain and hand doesn't exist.  Inspiration is nowhere to be seen, packed up and taken away in the muse's overnight bag.

I'm museless at the moment and its frustrating.  I know it will pass.  And when it does, I'll go to the other extreme of being overwhelmed with ideas to the point of not wanting to sleep so I can get them all down.  So what to do?

When this happens, I look in a couple of directions.  I browse art sites and artists' blogs.  I create other things in the form of knitting, cooking, and heaven forbid, cleaning sometimes.  I also try other subjects or mediums that I'm not as comfortable with to  allow myself to get colour on canvas but not think much about it.

This piece is one of those free thinking, abstract pieces that allows me to thumb my nose at the muse's departing back.  Inspiration came from some photos of the garden one summer.  Hot reds and oranges against dark foliage tipped with sunlight lit up the spot.  A brush was soon abandoned in favour of a palette knife and thick smears of oil paint.  Abstract meets floral.

Take that muse!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Straight sailing - in progress

 2012 is here, and with it, a fresh page on a new year.

New Year's is often seen as the chance to make resolutions to improve some part of your life.  For me, resolutions are meaningless unless they have plans attached to them.  They are simply dreams and I prefer to base my plans on something more concrete.  For the last few years I've been posting the 'business plan' for my art career for the coming year and analyzing progress at the end of the year.  Its beneficial in keeping me on track to have objectives to aim for, otherwise I wander in circles, never accomplishing what I intended.   I can still do that from time to time, but less so knowing that there are measurables involved. 

In looking back over 2011 several things jump out at me which help me plan for the coming year.  Time - or lack of it is one and stretching myself too thin is another.   I want to do everything, but seldom accomplish that, then frustration sets in.   So in 2012, I will set myself very similar goals as to the previous year, but limit myself to areas that I know will be fruitful.

I will still work on the body of work with water as the subject.  It has a lot of potential.

I will continue to hone my painting skills in oils.  Using acrylic works sometimes, but I find myself turning more to oils for application ease and predictability of use and colour.  Also, oils sell.  Its an age old conundrum for artists as to what medium to use, but collectors seem to continually lean towards investments in oil paintings, no matter how beautifully other mediums are used.

I want to try more still life exercises also, more classical pieces.  I enjoy the challenge they bring in creating detail and form.

Our local art group will have a monthly painting/drawing session, nothing formal but a learning exercise for all of us, I'm sure.

Visibility & Marketing
A marketing plan for my reproductions and note cards will be created.  I need to have them travel a little around the province as well as the world.

Another couple of group exhibitions are planned for 2012, but I am looking at a solo exhibition in the summer.  There are local juried exhibitions to enter and this time I will ensure I have prepared for them in time!

With a renovated new in-house studio in the works for 2012, I will have the capability of offering small workshops in-house.  Time has been the challenge to deliver more in 2011, even with demand growing.   I prefer teaching workshops over weekly classes.  I like the concentration of a longer session to really explore technique with students. A gyotaku, a drawing and a painting workshop will be on the cards later in the year.

I'm leaving my goals a little looser this year and allowing for opportunity to present itself, with enough flexibility to act on it.   Many artists are considering a word or phrase to be their guiding force during the year.  Its a good practice to do so, to print it in large letters and put it on the wall of your studio to act as inspiration and a reminder of your direction. 

For me, the phrase would be 'straight sailing' as in this painting in progress.  The painting has one foot in 2011 and one in 2012 when it will be completed.  It will remind me to face forward and move ahead without getting sidelined.

I've created a little slide show of the creation of this piece from sketch to its current stage.