Country House

Country House
"Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter's soul"

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Some thoughts about art on Christmas Day

Started another painting today. Not sure how it's going to develop but the background is varying shades of yellow. Yellow is one of my favorite colors after green. There is something about this shade that makes me feel warm and happy so I use it a lot, to the point where I'm running low on all shades. Christmas Day is a good day to start a new project given the choice of TV programs. Note to TV programmers: not everyone celebrates this particular holiday! But I digress.

Somebody donated some art supplies to our painting group a while back, which included some 10"x10" canvas boards. They are quite handy and I use them to try out new concepts, rather than waste larger canvases. Throwing out the larger sized canvases denotes failure to accomplish a finished picture in addition to wasted paint. After completing the yellow background, used a palette knife and scooped out a blob of red crimson paint with the intent of creating flowers. Added some thickening paste to make them stand out and accentuate the petals. Once again my chronic syndrome of never-knowing-when-to-stop-adding-itis kicked in and what started out to be a delicate flower ended up, for lack of a better description, a round 3D version of a red textured blob. In an attempt to fix it, I scraped off some of the layers with a palette knife, which made things worse having not allowed enough time to let the yellow paint dry. Red+yellow=orange. After half hour of "fixing", tosssed it into a plastic bag and the garbage can.

My cyber friend, Donna Campbell Smith, has decided to return to painting. I knew she would. Once an artist - always an artist. It's in the blood and even though she is an accomplished children's author, her return is not surprising. It's good in another way in that there is another person in which to discuss art and the creative process, therein. Looking forward to exchanging ideas and suggestions.

Did some touching up on my blue abstract painting, which really enhanced the overall look. Tempted to continue touch-ups, I resisted the urge - thank goodness. It really turned out nice, IMHO.

Seriously contemplating changing to water-based oil paint since the colors achieved are definitely brighter than can be achieved with acrylics. Mind you, I haven't tried all the acrylic brands but visually I like the results of oil paint.

 Once I finish the sky on my small landscape, will take photos of my three new additions and add them to the blog. The trouble with the creative process is sometimes it works and sometimes it don't. Like I always say, when it works, though, it's magic! By the way - if you're an artist and reading this blog and if you feel so inclined, share some of your painting experiences. Sharing is a learning experience in itself.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The easel has an empty space where a painting once sat

"My painting has gone" (insert guitar twangs)
"It was really all wrong" (insert sobs)
"I knew it all along..."(take long gulps of favorite alcoholic beverage)

Once again as has been the case on previous occasions, there is an empty space on the easel. A week ago the space was filled with a canvas that showed promise. Key word here is "promise."

It was one of my larger canvases and perhaps in retrospect, this reality was an omen that things could and most likely would, go awry. One of my recent art supply purchases was thickening paste, which is used as the name implies, to thicken paint. Having experienced fulfillment in the creation of black-and-white tree paintings in the past, I attempted to repeat my success. Not a good idea.

Using the thickening paste and palette knife, a bare black tree was applied to the right side of the canvas. The tree, actually, came out really well but things deteriorated when a whole lot more trees were added. Why? Really can't provide any logical answer except that I'm big on trees. Usually, trees turn out well but these were supposed to be spruce trees, most of which looked anything like spruces. The end result was black, short, curved sticks jutting out of a thick-ish stem. There were many canvas white-outs that followed but the use of palette knives, resulted in former images showing through in which white paint couldn't or wouldn't cover.

Having to part with canvases that showed promise is never easy for an artist. The feeling is similar to having to send off plays in the hope of production, but at least there's always hope of a positive outcome. Rather than share the end result with inquisitive eyes who might spot the canvas in the trash heap, the painting was discarded after wrapping it in a thick plastic bag and placed beneath some discarded cardboard. One shares only one's successes - not failures.

Thing is - in my mind, it was a magical winter scene in white/black/silver. The tree was so real, you could feel the texture of the bark and this aspect was realized. Where it went wrong was when I added the grove. In retrospect, it could have and should have stopped at that one tree and a frozen riverlet or at least trees off in the distance. Succeeding in winter scenes  has always eluded me.

So now I'm back working on smaller canvases - at least for a while. Need some perspective. Just finished a landscape with my palette knives. The end result if really beautiful. I'm also working on another landscape. which is moving in the right direction (so far) and things look promising. Then again, a promise doesn't guarantee success. There's many a side step in creating the perfect image. Don't I know it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's snow joke - the winter scene is no more

Like many others before it, the winter landscape is history. Five minutes ago, we took that final trip that many artists know only too well to the trash disposal. There was an honest and concerted effort to make something with at least six re-do's but in the end, it just didn't work.

It's a larger canvas than  I'm used to working with and in the past this has been known to psych me out. Why - I really don't know! Larger canvases seem to inhibit my creative ability although I have a larger floral landscape that is hanging in the dining room. Florals are a favorite as are trees and pastoral scenes but I digress.

In the beginning it was my intention to make something entirely different than a winter scene. Living in a climate where winter lasts too long, a snow scene isn't exactly a popular image (although hockey is). Having taken a liking to using palette knives, I decided to limit my shades to white and black with touches of silver. The addition of silver paint was used to accent the mountains - I'm big on mountains - and that worked nicely and the main focus was a bare-branched black tree. Using the palette knives for the tree really gave it a 3-D effect and thinking back it should have been left that way but nooooooo. Somehow, the canvas looked bare, like it needed something more...something to give it a filled look.

The decision to paint spruce trees was not wise. I'm not good at making spruce trees and in the end, the lower part of the canvas was wall-to-wall dark grey and black spruce trees. Visually, they look like curved sticks jutting out of vertical line. After six attempts, a half of a container of white paint and the canvas surface displaying failed attempts,  it was time to cut my losses.

Rather than share my artistic boo-boo with the condo residents, I placed the canvas in a large plastic trash bag and placed it inconspicuously beneath a pile of boxes in the recycling bin. Still, all is not lost. I've already started working on a summer landscape on a smaller canvas. Big is not always better and smaller, at least for a while, anyway, seems to be a good fit. There are still two larger blank canvases of which one will be used to create an abstract painting. Maybe. If I'm lucky and the stars are aligned.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Art knows no age limitation

Always amazes me how many people seem to discover and explore latent artistic ability as they near or are in retirement. Just came back from an art exhibition at a local seniors centre where two floors of rooms were devoted to a plethora of art mediums.

As expected there was a large representation of all the traditional forms of painting ranging from acylics, oil paint, watercolors, mixed media created by members of the seniors centre and an intricate display of what appeared to be Japanese art embroidery. Very beautiful delicate and definitely an art that would test the patience of the doer. Not for me but "wow!" inspiring to the eye.

Mixed in with the paintings were wood carvings of animals, name it, chances are it was carved beautifully with precision. This is a craft that requires patience but most of all, talent, which the carvers seemed to have in abundance.

Having spent an entire morning working on my black/grey/white tree/landscape painting, it was inspiring to see the work of so many artists. Not that it will help in the end. Re-did the trees over (again) and although there is some progress, not sure when if ever I will experience that inner "click" that indicates a finished painting. Also started another small landscape painting using palette knives. Love those palette knives when they don't cut through the surface of the canvas. Wonder if Van Gough or Monet had the same problem. I like to think so. Misery likes company.

Here's an article (in French only unfortunately) that focuses on the show:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Of palette knives and cut canvases

These days I'm into using palette knives. It's strictly one of those learn-as-you-go educations. Started using the knives along with brushes when I first started painting a few years back. Although the effect is really interesting, have to admit that there have been boo-boos along the way. C'est la vie as the French so quaintly and non-chalantly phrase it. I wonder if Monet and his group experienced my latest problems.

Using palette knives is tricky and requires angling the bottom part and side to get the desired effect. While in the learning stage pressing down too hard on the blade end caused some slicing into a/some canvas(es). In the end, one was salvaged by turning it into a still life with the help of thickening paste. Actually, the painting turned out quite nice if I may say so myself - and I do.

I've continued to use them on-and-off and as mentioned in my blog, it's been a very interesting experience. I'm now working on a larger canvas that has already been "re-born" three times. Larger canvases are my nemesis in that for whatever reason, the size intimidates me causing undesirable results. I'm using shades of black, white and silver along with thickening paste. Maybe it'll work and then again maybe it will end up in "canvas heaven." Who knows - but the trip to discovery is very exciting.

Tomorrow I'll be evaluating the direction to take and hopefully not one that will result in an empty space on my display easels. Some of the leaves on the trees don't look right requiring some fixing. As my husband frequently reminds me that I never know when to leave well enough alone. He's right. I do the same thing in my writing. It's that internal inner artist sending me a message that the painting could still be improved. However, when everything does come together - it's a magical moment.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Re-birth of my art blog

So here we are again, same subject but different blog title. I'm now me, an artistic creator. I encountered a problem with the title of my last blog, which shall remain nameless, after being notified that the blog title was infringing on a registered trademark. I mean - go figure! Certainly not moi.

In as far as my painting output is concerned, just finished a smaller canvas using palette knives to create a landscape. Love - and I mean love - the end result. There is something about using these tools and the raised texture they create that thrills me. That is, when a painting works. For example, painting on a smaller surface, at least for me, is safe. On the other hand moving to a large canvas presents a problem, most likely psychological but a problem nonetheless. Any other artists reading this share this dilemma?

This morning marks the third "white-over" whereupon I take a 2" brush along with lots of white paint layers to cover blechy boo-boos that just didn't work. In my mind they did but reality hit when things didn't turn out as I planned. My husband asked me today if I sell my paintings by the pound. That thick. Since I started out using a palette knife along with paint thickener, there was no way I could eliminate the strokes. Instead, I returned to my faithful brushes while attempting to add to what exists. Not quite sure how or if it will work. Will report back.

Also finished a larger canvas using shades of blue done with palette knives and brushes. I like. Will be sharing some photos of them eventually.

And so it goes. Some successes - some not-so-successes. Then again, that's what art is about: the creative process. Right?