Outdoor Art

‘Tis the season to pack up the knapsack and roam without a care, painting with ease all day while roaming the friendly outdoors, returning at end of day with charming sketches and, indeed, spontaneous masterpieces…

Reality check.  Ants.  Wind drying up your wash.  Sunlight glare.  Mosquitoes.  Falling debris.  Sitting on rocks.  Sunburn, stiffness, moving light source, spiders, curious onlookers.

“Outdoor painting is &%#@! hard!”

What a pleasure to hear someone else voice one’s frustration 🙂

Outdoor painting is not indoor painting.

After a couple of hours of annoying myself with a rose bush (I don’t paint flowers well at the best of times; why would I choose such a subject for outdoor painting?!), sketching with some wild, heavy lines was a restorative action.  Here’s my 30 second sketch of Pippie, who knows looking for gophers is a far better way to spend some time outside.

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Sketching People

Sometimes I get a great urge to paint something in particular, a subject rather than a scene.  Horses, clouds, water, portraits; challenging subjects that can enhance a run of the mill landscape painting or a show full of scenery alone.

This time the drive is to be able to recreate the people I see.  I want to be able to capture the natural expressions of movement, the distinctive characteristics of people.  I really get annoyed with myself when my drawings are stiff and unnatural.  People look at people.  They can tell when they don’t look they way they are supposed to.

The only cure is hard work.  Practice makes… ease of line and confidence of shape.  I began with the pen, because that’s what I had in my hand, got frustrated and moved on to pencil and finally dug up an eraser too.  Drawing with the pencil will translate to drawing with the brush.  I used the work of Rien Poortvliet to practice with, since real people don’t stand still, nor do they hang around the neighbourhood on a weekday.  Poortvliet is a prime example of practice paying off.  He drew everything, and he was confident enough to leave in lines he didn’t like to show that he didn’t just pick up the pencil and create perfection.IMG_0615

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Looking at these drawings from the perspective of the day after I can see some things that are obviously out of proportion, some limbs of unlikely lengths, some awkward poses: but I know that being able to see such things means that I have studied my subject and will be able to amend the imperfections to something that will pass inspection.  More practice coming soon!

Studio Tour

Judy, Carolyn and Joshua were pleased to be featured in the 2018 Beaverlodge Art Club Studio Tour!  Each year a band of merry art fans signs up for a cross-country discovery tour, visiting Places Where Art Is Created.

This June the group travelled all the way to Fairview, stopping first in Spirit River to see our studios.  Judy welcomed everyone to her house of art rooms, where all three of us, but mostly Judy, create using a variety of media.  The basement classroom, supply warehouse and library became a demonstration theatre as alcohol inks and Elegant Writers made their appearance after having been tidied away for show.

Squares and coffee squared away, it was time to move on to Carolyn and Joshua’s studio.  We’ve moved into the space just for the tour and then everything will come out again for some renovations.  In the meantime, it looks great filled with Joshua’s themed show and a display of our brushes and paint.  We also happen to have the school mosaic project in our garage, waiting out the rainy spring weather before it moves into it’s permanent home.

On to Fairview, where the Beaverlodge cohort were met with a contingent of members and representatives of the Fairview Fine Arts Centre offering open doors to the spinning and weaving, pottery, painting, drawing and quilting rooms as well as a well-stocked gift shop of local art.

Visitors were also  introduced to an area author of spooky snippets from local people.  Her book cover features the painting of a formerly local artist: his painting of the Ghost of Dunvegan Bridge was also present to be admired.

Our Show, Things Great and Small, is on at the gallery right now (good timing!) and there was plenty of time to wander, chat, and consider the watercolours, felted pieces and miniature books.  Newcomers remarked upon the fact that punch, goodies and chairs were made available right in the gallery, encouraging discussion and lingering attention to the show.

It was, altogether, a lovely way to spend the day and we received plenty of great comments on our work and artistic environments.  We have been inspired ourselves and hope that our guests were also touched by that magic that creative possibility brings to our lives.

Selections From the School Show

Our time at the local school with students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 seems like a long time ago already!  We very much enjoyed drawing the creative sense from all the kids and were pleased with the results as well as with the reception of the art from staff, parents and students.  Below are some of the great pieces that were created by the students, on display at the school’s art show.

The trees were drawn and painted using Elegant Writers by Grade 4s, who also sketched trees in pencil.

Here and there is a tinfoil turtle sculpture.  The Kindergarten class made sure there was a lot of bling on their shiny turtles.

The balloon cartoons are pen and ink and watercolour, created by Grade 5/6s.  The scratch board fish are also Grade 5/6 work.

We were blown away by Grades 1 and 2, who produced translucent marbles with shadows using pastels.

Grade 3s arranged lovely flower bouquets using water soluble pencil.

The 7/8s are responsible for the moonlit acrylic scenes of northern lights and and spruce, as well as the detailed drawings of birds (with the odd giraffe, goalie and crocodile).

Paint Out at Kleskun Hills

Our chosen destination for the first paint out of the year was the Kleskun Hills, a geological anomaly just north of Grande Prairie, Alberta.  It is the site of the northernmost badlands in Alberta (maybe in Canada, I’ll check).  The flora, fauna and soil is very different from the expected. Besides the hills, the place features vistas of farmland, distant hills and even the Rockies, a forested campground and a museum full of pioneer buildings and equipment.  There was plenty to photograph and paint.

Here are some of the sights at Kleskun Hills:

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