One of my favourite places to be is in my studio in the basement of my home, lovingly called The Artcave, or for short, The ‘Cave. Apron on, fresh water in hand, I dive into my projects to the tunes and smooth voices of the DJs on Jazz FM. It is the quintessential “my space” for all of my art activities, whether starting a fresh series, putting the finishing touches on some almost-finished pieces, or laying the tables for some fun pour painting. Come see what I’ve been up to…
Donc, le Papier (posted August 1, 2019)
… and so, you take the paper…
I have cleared the table in the Artcave and laid out paper for some new paintings using the donc-le-papier method. The first two of the Parade Series are done.
I have started more in a Garden Pond Series; here are three in the early stages:
A Visit to the Studio (posted April 30, 2019)
I donated a painting recently to Community Living North Halton for their upcoming fundraiser “Mad Hatter Tea” (May 11, 2019, 1-4pm, Milton Bible Church). I am very happy that Olde Roses will be finding a new home.
When the representatives came to my studio to select the painting, they were treated to a space filled with most of my artwork on display – both finished and unfinished. It was then that one of them spied my most recently completed painting in the Sea and Sky Series, XV. Safe Passage, and wished to purchase it. It was a case of love at first sight.
I believe there is nothing like a visit to an artist’s studio to get a true impression of where and how a painting comes to be. I welcome everyone to come here to look at the paintings where they are created, in my studio. The ambiance, the lighting, and the gallery feeling all come together to provide an easy and relaxed viewing. You never know, that special piece just might be waiting there for you.
A Few Series Extended (posted April 29, 2019)
Of the several paintings I began at the beginning of March, the only one I finished in time for the Fine Arts Society of Milton’s annual members show, From Heart to Hand, was the large red one which I have named Enchantment. The others are waiting for another magnificent burst of inspiration!
Meanwhile, my activities have veered in a different direction, and I have found myself adding paintings to some series that I had begun a year or two ago. There is something about having a pre-existing theme that has helped me start and finish paintings more quickly.
A Parade of Paintings (posted March 7, 2019)
The 4th Annual and highly successful Art Lovers’ Affair Show & Sale has left me, one of the main organizers, flush with excitement and ideas for next year. As much as I would love to continue to work on that show (so much fun!) I have packed it away for another year. Still, I have managed to channel some of that residual energy toward my painting. Here are some peek-a-boo glimpses of new pieces near completion:
Looking forward to adding these, and even more, to my portfolio soon!
Dressing up Paintings (posted November 28, 2018)
Finished? Frame ’em then name ’em! Once the paintings are complete, I love the process of dressing them up.
First, I love to frame my paintings. In the last while, many people have told me that they prefer paintings to be framed. While I believe large, non-representational abstracts look better unframed, I must admit that my smaller paintings do look better framed. I find the whole process, from choosing the right frame to fastening the painting inside, to be calming, reflective, and deeply satisfying.
Then, to name them. All of my paintings emerge from something inside of me – memories, feelings, observations, experiences – but I like to tilt their titles in the direction of storytelling. A short paragraph and perhaps a line of prose or poetry if I am so inspired is all that is needed to lift a painting from image to imagination. What’s in a name? A story.
Preparing for Artful Treasures 2018 in NOTL (posted November 26, 2018)
I love the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre’s annual artisan gift show called Artful Treasures.
I first discovered it as a visitor and came away with my Christmas shopping done for the year. Now I am one of the participating artists, hoping to help others fill stockings and, in my case walls, with artful treasures.
Each year I prepare smaller paintings, starting very early in the year, and then scrambling in the end to add frames, ribbons, and more.
Every horizontal space in my studio is filled with paintings waiting for touch-ups, the signature, perhaps a frame, wiring, and then packaging.
Not quite Santa’s Workshop, but perhaps more like one belonging to a moonlighting elf…
New Abstracts (posted August 3, 2018)
I took a break from representational work recently to work on some old and new abstracts. For me it is like doing yoga – contemplative, meditative, and creative. I feel I can breathe again.
“It Happened in Hawaii” required just a bit of tweaking and a rotation (see July 3rd post), but Heavenly Pursuits was a fresh (and heavenly) endeavour.
Meanwhile, I have begun a new set of smaller paintings that are in their early stages. Stay tuned for more about these in Easel Tales soon.
Clown and Balloons Surface (posted July 24, 2018)
If you have ever wondered what it means “to layer” in painting, have a look at a few of the early progress images of my painting for the Poets and Painters event this October. This technique is by no means typical, but it is one that I use to help inspire me from one layer to the next as the composition and images build in my mind. In this particular case, I wanted to include pattern but did not want it to show in any prominent way on the surface, so I slipped it in underneath, in the early layers.
Now that the main characters of the poem have emerged, I cannot post anymore until the event is over. However, you can expect many more passes as more of the colours are added and the images take shape according to the details in the poem. Who knows, I just might restore some of the earlier patterning. But in keeping with my leanings toward the abstract, as I near completion I will strive to un-define the images however much will be possible, and can only hope that the end result will bring satisfaction to both Poet and Painter. Wish me luck!
Commission Has Arrived (posted July 21, 2018)
It has been exactly one year since I wrote that I had chosen the colour palette for the commission piece for my brother- and sister-in-law (see July 21, 2017 below).
“A Break in the Storm” has finally been hung in its place over the fireplace at their home.
I usually paint in duplicate, mainly in the hopes that the outcome gives me a set of companion pieces, but in the case of a commission, so that the client can have the option to choose one over the other. Originally, my sister-in-law had chosen the companion piece to A Break in the Storm when they were both at their intermediate stages. To experiment with different approaches, I continued to work on what would become A Break in the Storm until I decided on the final outcome. She was so happy with how it turned out, she changed her mind and requested to have it instead. How exciting for both of us! It is so satisfying to know when a painting has found a new home.
I look forward to working on its companion when the hustle and bustle of art shows, exhibits, and travel is over, or at least, when there is a break in the storm … 🙂
Garden Inspirations (posted July 7, 2018)
When everything seemed to be happening at once – must-see World Cup matches, year-end parties, newsletters to write, exhibits to plan, websites to revamp, and all the while doing damage control in my gardens with the hot and dry weather we’ve been having – I actually managed to sneak into the Artcave one day and whip up a companion set of paintings…
… none other than garden irises. No surprise there! Irises are my favourite flower.
It seems nothing has been on my mind more than flowers, especially since we have had to baby the gardens with morning waterings, setting out the soaker, and even hosing the dusty trees (I could almost hear them gasping with relief!).
I am looking forward to showcasing them at my upcoming solo show at Figg Street Co. in August and into September. Click here for more information – I hope to see you there!
The Time In Between (posted July 3, 2018)
I have often thought, “what can I do in the studio when I only have small snatches of time between having more pressing activities that I must do?” Especially when I really want to get some painting done?
In the past I have just cleaned up my studio. (Okay, in all honesty, that was rare!).
Or more likely I would prep some new canvases with gesso or work on underpaintings (a bit hohum). The last thing I would do is try to finish a painting that was almost done – I would surely ruin it! So, prepped canvases piled up and many paintings remained unfinished. The Art Ledge was full!
Recently I have discovered something about myself. I have found that if I just allowed myself to switch to Play Mode and just do anything, not only have I started getting into the studio more frequently, wonderful things have started to happen.
In one case I have taken an old canvas that has been stuck at “stage one” for years. I’ve also plucked a painting that has been “okay” and impulsively added a flare or two. For me, these have been the most exciting because I’ve pushed paintings out of their ruts, and there is the hope that I can do it with others, too.
Still, trying something wild and different on a fresh canvas or paper is a very liberating feeling. I do spend a lot of time turning different techniques over in my head, especially after I have been inspired by stirring paintings at art exhibits and, with no restraints except time, I have found some success with just taking a stab at it. In a way, this impulsive approach has pushed ME out of a rut.
Where I used to believe I should only go into the studio if I was in the perfect mood to paint, I now believe this “time in between” has turned into a valuable opportunity to put me in just the right mood for stirring things up in the Artcave.
Many of these could change… let’s just wait and see!
As Diverse as the Weather (posted March 8, 2018)
Now that my work with the February art show is done, I have been free to get into the Artcave and paint more frequently than I have been in some months.
And the weather, which influences my mood and my painting so strongly, has been all over the place. There have been as many blasts of heavy, wet snow as there have been warm and sunny days, beckoning the blooms from their slumber. I am finding it difficult to return to both of these paintings until the weather makes up its mind and settles down again.
But these are just two of the many I am working on. Stay tuned for more Easel Tales coming your way soon.
Thinking of Spring (posted February 3, 2018)
I love the snow but my mind has been on flowers.
In the Artcave I am surrounded by unfinished snow scenes that have definitely stalled. Tired of banging my brush against these canvases and getting nowhere, I decided to change up my palette and try something different. Et voilà! Flowers.
I will let this sit for awhile before I decide what to do with it. Should I stop? fuss some more? Add some more colour? I hope the wait will bring me answers…
Dashing Snowmen (posted December 21, 2017)
In my early painting days when my work area was still a small table in a cramped spare room, I created my very first painting on canvas. It was early December and the house was already decorated for Christmas, so naturally I was thinking snow scenes. Over the next few days, as I explored paints and brushes, I created my snowman painting, Night Skiing, and it has remained one of my favourite paintings ever since.
This year as I prepared for the annual Artful Treasures show at the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre, I wanted to make something special. Inspired by my earlier work, out trotted four new dapper snowmen. You can meet them all in the Snowman Series under Abstracts on Canvas in My Paintings.
No Peeking! (posted July 21, 2017)
Shhhhhhh… I’m keeping it a secret. The caption colour is the only clue.
I am currently working on a large commission piece for another sister-in-law, to put over their new fireplace. Because it is so large – the canvas is 2′ x 4′ – and also because I am working on it in duplicate, it is taking up much of my time in the ‘Cave these days.
And much of the room. My normally ample, if not large easel, can barely hold it, nor is there much room for the other one to stand drying, tilted on its corner, on the tarp on the floor.
Wish me luck on this extravagant, albeit exciting and at times daunting, venture!
During the lengthy drying times, I have completed another painting in the Big Sky Series. It was inspired by an early morning and wintry arrival time at Logan Airport in Boston for a New Year’s getaway a few years ago. Let me know what you think!
What a Little Moonlight Can Do … (posted May 31, 2017)
… and a great paint combo! Lucky for me, the slump I was suffering before the Pelham Art Festival was short-lived. It snapped when I set aside the stubborn projects I was working on, cleared off my paints table, and pulled up a set of canvases that I had prepped just a couple months ago, each with a moody underpainting of charcoal and mauve edging around a buttery white centre.
I love using anthraquinone blue and cobalt violet with black and white to create night skies, but feeling like I needed something more fresh and bold and fully of energy, I then chose a brighter palette of primary cyan, cad yellow, and cad red to illuminate the sky and foreground. The result was what appeared to me to be night scenes, each suggesting lively sea shores illuminated by moonlight.
This trio of new paintings received a great amount of attention and admiration at this year’s Pelham Art Festival. These were such a joy to create I am keen to make more soon.
As for the paintings that have stalled… well, perhaps a bit more than the magic of moonlight is needed for them, but I am sure when the time is right, I’ll be able to finish them.
Many Beginnings … (posted May 9, 2017)
Odd how some paintings can be started and finished in a day or two, and others can take months. Lately, many of the paintings I have started are as yet unfinished, including a couple large ones that I have been working on in response to the Pelham Art Festival’s art challenge: create a piece inspired by your favourite Canadian Artist. Despite this persistent slump, I have completed “Steeltown Memories” and renamed it “Across the Bay.” Perhaps I will have more luck in the Artcave once springtime gardening and show preparations are over. Here’s hoping!
Welcoming Spring and Fresh Ideas (posted April 18, 2017)
I love winter – without a doubt more than the average Canadian. But when another gorgeous and shimmering spring arrives, glistening with refreshing rain and warming temperatures, I feel a bit more gutsy with my painting. Steeltown Nights and Citrus Spring are just two examples of some new and gutsy direction in my painting.
Steeltown Nights has a companion piece in the works (shown here) – I might call it Steeltown Memories. I like the layering of the shorelines, but it still needs lots of work!
The final painting in the Big Sky Series still needs some work, too. I love the pink in the sky over a snow-covered scene, but I can already tell that it will be difficult for me to feel like working on a snow painting now that winter is behind us. Or, perhaps it should be an early spring snowfall? The snow does look a bit heavy and wet and, well, temporary, doesn’t it?
Another painting is quickly becoming a beach scene, something very new for me, but inspired by the brighter blue that I picked up recently and have not used in a long time.
And the last one, which I began soon after completing Citrus Spring, suggests the aftermath of a crashing wave of sea water draining away over the rocky shore. Wow, do I ever love crashing waves, especially their cool and refreshing effect in the hot, hazy sun.
None of these are finished. Who knows what will ultimately become of them? I can hardly wait to find out…!
More Big Sky and a Touch of Love (posted February 11, 2017)
Painting, pre-show promotion, posting – how do you fit it all in at once?
In my case, the more on my plate, the busier a bee I become, and preparing for this year’s Art Lovers’ Affair at Hernder Estate Wines just outside of St. Catharines kept the “honey flowing” for a couple very productive months – what a rush!
Hard to believe even for me, but I was able to include an even newer painting than my live auction entry (below) in this year’s show, which I completed just days before I had to pack up all my paintings and cart them down to St. Kits. “Any Ole Port” seemed to just fly off the easel. My brother (“Coach”) was over for Super Bowl weekend and, once again, gave the advice I needed to make it work so quickly. He’s a genius. I wish I could keep him tucked away on a shelf in the ‘Cave and pull him down whenever I need him. Or, he should just visit more often!
Plus, as early as December, I began the process of creating a special set of paintings for my new exhibit for February at Mama Mila’s Café, here in Milton. Knowing she likes exhibits to be as uniform as possible for the long, thin ledge of a display shelf, I chose 12″x12″ canvases that I would later put into wide, black frames. I had a lot of fun creating the multi-layered paintings, first with washes and then pours, later knife, and then a slick of glaze. But something was still missing, until in late January I decided to add a touch of red to each one – like Cupid’s arrow adding some love. I hope you like my new Touch of Love series. Better still, go to Mama Mila’s if you are in Milton for her delicious soup and a grilled sandwich, or her homemade pierogies. She’s quite the cook, and her Café’s quite the find. Café special: each painting is on for $15 less if you’ve been to her café and have seen it there.
Art Lovers’ Affair for some Big Sky, Mama Mila’s for a Touch of Love, I’ve got it covered.
My favourite song? A Taste of Honey!
Upcoming Art Lovers’ Affair Live Auction (posted January 16, 2017)
I will be auctioning off When Sea Meets Sky at the Art Lovers’ Affair on Saturday, February 11, 2017. It will be your big chance to bid on this latest piece in my Big Sky Series. Don’t miss it!
Some “Easel Updates“ (posted January 5 ,2017)
This past Holiday Season has been a very busy and productive one for me in the Artcave:
New Series Named
After some great input from family members visiting over the holidays, Persian Nights came up as a possible title for the series and quickly became the overwhelming favourite, suiting the consistently dark, mystical, and magical atmosphere of the paintings.
Coach says, “It’s time to frame!”
My brother is my best art instructor and coach. A trained artist himself, he is a gentle but firm critic, and is able to pinpoint why a painting isn’t working yet, or can offer many suggestions for next steps if the painting has stalled. It was Coach who suggested I put a moose in the wetlands painting now called “Good Morning, Moose.” That simple addition made all the difference!
When he saw a few paintings I had held off on since the summer, his only comments were, “Done. It’s time to frame!” Talk about a great Christmas present!
The Renos Have Begun! Phase One: The Art Stack
My husband has built and installed The Art Stack (a stand-alone shelf unit from Ikea!),
and I just have to get the boards and trays to use as portable art tables for my paper pieces. Stay tuned for the next phases of my reno!
New Series – Still to be Named (posted November 28, 2016)
Painting with the restriction of 3 colours, plus black and white, has been
so enjoyable and rewarding with the Big Sky series that I wanted to see if I could get something going with a new palette.
I wouldn’t call it at all similar – the new colours really do take it to a different place in the imagination – but I like it! Have a look at the others I did (click here), and perhaps you can decide what this “New Series” should be called.
Latest in the Big Sky series… (posted November 9, 2016)
Yesterday I had a few hours on my hands before my husband and I would have to leave for dinner and a play in Toronto and I was in the mood to paint. The day was grey, soon to be drippy with rain, and I was feeling like shaking some life into any of my unfinished paintings. The almost-finished version of Rocky Shore greeted me once again over in that corner by my easel. I can assure you it was not with a smile, but rather the usual impatient, what-about-me pout.
I know, I know, I certainly had left this dear painting for far too long, over 6 months, but I knew it needed some big adjustments, not to mention the right state of mind.
Huh! It looks like I was in just the right mood to make the big changes needed.
One thing I did not change was the palette. I had made a promise to myself to use only 3 paints, plus white and black, for all of the paintings in this series. I have rather enjoyed painting with this restriction, and in this case, it was a life saver to approach the piece after so long knowing I at least had the colours right!
I’m going to leave it for awhile, but I believe it is done, or very close to done. Tell me what you think.
Cruising Through Europe (posted September 2, 2016)
As everyone had told us before my husband and I left in the middle of August, a river cruise is the best way to travel in Europe because you unpack once. But believe me, it is much, much more than that. The ship has become a happy and very comfortable home to go back to each day, leaving us free to mingle and shop and learn and live in the moment with happy abandon. While this is the trip that I wish would never end, still I am eager to get home and resume my painting. The charming villages, towns, and cities along the Danube have filled me with so much inspiration I am bursting with it. Below are just a few of the sights that I hope will find their way into my paintings when I get home:
A Happy Return to Pour Painting (posted August 16th, 2016)
A friend was over recently to learn how I do “pour painting.” She took away two small creations and lots of big ideas! Below are my three small pieces in their initial stages:
which I am tentatively naming, in order from left to right: Summer Sun, First Bloom, and Rise to the Occasion. Naming is a big part of the fun for me. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Then, and especially after the recent sale of Evening Ball, I found myself re-inspired to create a much bigger “pour,” which I have tentatively named Delight, in large part because that was how I felt when I was creating it. I love the theatrics of this one!
I am looking forward to finishing these and making more. Stay tuned!
Another Big Sky Painting… (posted July 28, 2016)
… dare I say “on the horizon!”
I won a beautiful frame fitted with a blank 16″x20″ canvas in a draw last year and realized not long ago that the colours I have been using in my Big Sky series match the frame quite well. I’d been meaning to use the canvas for my Big Sky series and hadn’t got around to it until recently. I have just finished it and named it “The Narrows.” I plan to bring it to the Art by the Lighthouse art show this weekend at the Pumphouse. Send me a comment and tell me what you think.
Latest Commission a Success! (posted July 13, 2016)
While remarkably different than the painting it was meant to resemble (In the Midst, below), the painting I created recently for a commission was a resounding success! The homeowner just loves it! She had had a place in mind for it, in her newly painted family room, but decided to try it in different locations just in case. It seemed to suit the colouring in every room, which surprised her – she hadn’t realized until then how well she had kept the same tones throughout the house and was simply thrilled to discover that through this painting. For fun, I have left it up to her to name and will post it when she has decided.
Captivating Favourite (posted July 4, 2016)
Working with a new wide brush, I used the same technique as my Big Skies, Low Horizons series, but to brighten things up for a more floral feel, I used primary cyan instead of azurite hue, cadmium yellow instead of iridescent gold, and threw in some dioxazine purple. While I hadn’t planned to stop at this point, everyone who has been in my studio points to this one as their current favourite. I have since received a commission to create a similar painting but with the azurite hue subbed back in. I am very close to finishing it and look forward to posting the result very soon!
Oh, and Orcas Arriving is now done. See the caption in the photo below.
Big Skies, Low Horizons (posted June 19, 2016)
I had seen a set of 3 large paintings, all with big, cloud-filled skies and low horizons at a friend’s house a few years ago and was instantly covetous; I wanted to do that, too!
When I set out on this grand scheme, I started on smaller canvases to practise, and decided to restrict my palette to just Azure Hue, Primary Magenta, Iridescent Gold, and of course, white (titanium) and black (mars).
Here’s what I have so far, only two of which I can say are finished:
The iridescent gold is quite transparent and perfect for being able to warm things up with subtlety in both of these finished pieces.
I am happy with how both of these two pieces have progressed. I’m looking forward to getting them done soon, hopefully in time for my show at Figg Street Co. (in Thorold) in August.
I have not returned to this one in awhile because it is so different from the others, I need to be in a special mood to work on grasses and wildflowers.
The Progress of “Gumshoe” (ongoing)
In addition to several smaller pieces throughout my studio, I usually have 1 – 3 larger pieces on the go. Gumshoe is one of these larger paintings – it is 4 feet by 3 feet. I haven’t been able to work on “him” as much as several months ago because the springtime has brought with it many exhibits, shows & sales, sitting in the local gallery, and more. Check out his progress, from most recent to least.