Revisiting Past Work

Carolyn has been looking back to some old work that is still kicking around. These are up to 20 years old! It is nice to keep these around because old work is a sort of diary. We can remember where our work was going at the time, what materials were new to us, what seemed important to paint or what was within our skill level. We painted from our experiences, our travels and our thoughts. Sometimes events and people are painted right into a piece even if no one else can see them.

A summer morning in the Alberta Badlands. There are so many horizontal stripes in the geology there it felt good to emphasize a vertical fence post.
Probably the most famous hoodoo in the Alberta Badlands. The way the shadows draped across the terrain was fascinating. So much dimension to be explored and only three or four colours.
Here is an attempt to seek out the overlooked details, the story within the story or, well, its just the artist wondering what people would like to see a painting of. Just the forest again, or would you like something on the same theme but a little different?
Simplicity. Not many colours, a sky without detail, a misty background, and a foreground in silhouette. What learning artist doesn’t whip off this satisfying cheat once in a while?

This was a fascinating subject after a visit to Newfoundland. The fog was so thick the enormous lighthouse could barely be discerned until were were upon it. It was looming and strong, packed with symbolism and tragic history… and yet, not too many people here in Northern Alberta were interested.

Just dabbling. This was an exploration of colour more than anything, a quick and mucky painting to express the carefree meditation of being out in the wind and water and mud.

Quin Sienna

Judy is dabbling with her paints, in particular Daniel Smith’s Quinacridone Sienna. That’s the orange-red part of this sweeping sunset. Isn’t it a nice colour? It is really effective for creating Peace Country sunsets. It really gives a nice glow that is very warm and realistic.

Why Are Flowers Difficult to Paint?

If you have ever tried to paint flowers and found it incredibly challenging, give yourself a break. Just look at these tulips and realize how intricate flower anatomy is! No clothes or hair or trees to cover things up, no easy cheats for dramatic shadows… the artist is competing with the perfection of form and light here. Whew!

Not to worry though, because the other side of flowers is that they are recognizable to everyone (it doesn’t matter so much if the shape is exactly the way it really looks to someone, as it does for a horse, a face, or Mt. Fuji). Flowers are often associated with cheeriness so people like them even if they aren’t perfect in a painting. The eye enjoys a play of colour and light, jumbled shapes and vague patterns. That’s why we all love a field of poppies, a scattering of rose petals or a floral print.

Tackle those flowers, but don’t aim for perfect reproduction so much as feeling, light and essence. Because flowers are difficult to paint.

Ink and Watercolour

Carolyn was sketching sheep with ink one day, which was quick and relaxing. Then when that new palette needed a test drive, the sheep were available for a quick dip. The ink, just a cheap writing ink, turned out to be quite active in the water and it blended nicely with the watercolour. The top two are Daniel Smith’s Hematite. The bottom one is Lunar Blue (all the brown is the ink). The combination has a very nice effect.

Snowflakes on a Scarf

We’ve had some snow in the Peace Country at long last. The flakes were big and beautiful the second day, sparkly and soft. These pictures were taken the next day. It was a little harder to isolate the big, whole flakes. And it was terribly cold for cameras and bare fingers!

In the Eyes of the Beholder

Have you ever done a painting that you thought was pretty good – technically challenging, pleasing in composition and colour, portraying something peaceful and beautiful – and nobody ever liked it, or even mentioned it at all? Well, sometimes you find out why. A friend with an open personality came by Carolyn’s “Harebells” and said knowingly “ah, it looks like a funeral”. Hmm. Point taken. It is so rare to have an honest opinion on your work!