Over the last few weeks I've been playing around with painting watercolour on a canvas; not the best mix of medium and 'ground'! If you have tried painting on canvas before with watercolour paint you will know what I mean - there is a reason why paper is the choice ground for watercolour paint. And yet, I was curious to try out the canvas option anyways. I have a pile of blank canvases in my studio, all of which have been sitting silently for well over a year now. I figured it was time to paint on canvas again, and yet I'm still so interested in watercolour paint. I just let the paint drip as it wanted to. For part of the painting I laid the canvas flat, near the end I put it upright. I also tried a newer 'watercolour markers' that Winsor and Newton have put out (in raw umber). All in all it was a fun experiment - another chance to expand my artistic experience.
This week I had fun volunteering in the grade one and grade four class (separately) in the local public school. Of course I was in those specific classes because of my daughters being in those classes :) I wanted to teach them something new, but also incorporate a Christmas theme to the project. So I was thrilled when I found a great idea from: http://www.deepspacesparkle.com/2013/12/13/hear-near-far-winter-trees/. I began by introducing the students to the term Atmospheric Perspective. I explained this in simpler terms - "Near, Here, and Far". I showed them examples from other artwork showing how the artists captured atmospheric perspective in their paintings. We made a chart - trees that were near the viewer are typically bigger, brighter, and more colourful. Trees that are further away are smaller, duller, and generally lighter in colour. I explained how the layering of condensation in the air causes items further away to look lighter and hazier. Then came the fun part. The students began by cutting out three different Christmas trees, using three different sizes and three different colours of paper. They added decorations, etc., on the trees.
Then the students painted the snowy backdrop; they drew two horizontal lines across their paper, dividing the paper into thirds (I managed to work a small math lesson into it …). I dapped blue tempera paint on the bottom third. They spread that around with their brush, then I added white paint to the middle third. The remaining blue paint on their brush blended nicely with the fresh white paint to make it a lighter blue tone. We repeated the same step for the top third. Then they added their trees, remembering that the larger and brighter looking trees are in the foreground, and near the bottom of the page. The smaller, further away trees, are closer to the horizon line which is near the top of the page.
The kids finished their artwork by added lovely snowflakes.
The completed grade four artwork:
The completed grade one artwork:
Friday, July 18th is the opening reception for the "Below Forty" show at the Norfolk Arts Centre. I have completed this new painting for the show.
This past week I had two of my woodland paintings in the juried Norfolk Artsco Art Competition at the Norfolk County Fair. While I didn't place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd with the judges, I did win the "People's Choice Award" (everyone who passes through this building has the opportunity to vote on their favourite piece of art). I found this very encouraging and affirming. While I do not choose my subjects or style based on what I think would 'please the viewer', it's nice to know that people in general appreciate what I enjoy painting. So if you are one of those people that voted for me, thanks!!
I use to dread the bare trees in wintertime. They symbolized dreariness and gloom. However, at some point in the last year I suppose a huge shift occured in what I find beautiful. I am now drawn to noticing how the tops of the trees melt into the skyline. Every tree has a look all its own, which can only be noticed and appreciated once the leaves fall. What once was a drab image has now become a major source of creative motivation.
Late this afternoon, after I was done raking up some leaves, I asked the girls if they wanted to watch the sunset with me. They said yes. And the neat thing is that Ava got all excited and said "we could draw a nice picture of the sky!", so she ran into the studio to grab some paper and a pencil.
I love sitting on our old wagon behind the barn with my girls. It's a natural way to show them how incredible colour is - and even more incredible, how amazingly beautiful God's creation is.
More than ever I am struck by the beauty of colour. I especially notice colour in everyday normalcy - typical agricultural scenes that we pass by constantly on the road and too often fail to notice. I consider it such a blessing and a gift to be able to simply appreciate colour. I hope this is something I can pass on to my daughters.
By the way - while I was having a sentimental moment watching my daughter 'draw the sunset', it turns out she was actually drawing up detailed plans for a mega leaf pile castle. :)
For the last month or so I have been working simultaneously on a portrait and a landscape (amongst other projects here and there). This has really made me curious as to whether or not there is a connection between a portrait and a landscape painting! I have always enjoyed painting portraits. However, ever since painting the large landscape paintings for Acqua, I have had landscapes on my mind. More specifically, large landscape scenes (painted on large canvases) with no real focal point- just wide open spaces.
I have also wanted to work on my portrait drawing skills. So, I had my niece Kara come and sit for me in my studio at the end of summer. Painting/drawing in real life vs. from a photo is a very different experience! It was certainly a challenge. After two hours I set Kara free, and depended on good photographs that I took to finish it off.
My plan now is to work on another 'live sitting' portrait... and start on another large landscape painting. And I will keep wondering about a possible connection between the two different subjects.
I live in Southern Ontario on a farm with my husband, Dennis, and our two daughters. Painting out of my studio on our farm allows me to stay close to my family and to be surrounded by the natural landscape that continues to influence my work.