Sunday, September 26, 2010

Another Pothole - Warped Stretcher

I am so looking forward to posting an artistic pinnacle or two on this site; however, I'm afraid I have another pothole encountered in my artistic quest!.

What do to do about this painting? The stretcher has warped and twisted! Do you believe that? It is 18” x 24”, gallery wrapped canvas.

Ordinarily I assemble my own canvases, stretchers, canvas, gesso! Every once in awhile I get ahead of myself and use all on hand and will purchase the odd ‘ready made’ gallery wrapped canvas. I was in a hurry with this scene and just had to get it recorded so purchased a canvas rather than stretching my own.

This is a scene of my mother’s backyard in January; fourteen feet of packed snow, a crisp and cold morning.  My mother turned 92 on August 21st and still resides in Timmins and I usually visit her in January to spend the coldest month of the year ensuring she has all she needs. Well at minus 30 something Fahrenheit I wanted to get this scene recorded quickly.

The ‘ready made’ canvas is stamped with the supplier on the inside and is even numbered! Reputable art supply dealer in business for almost two centuries and world leaders in the manufacture of artist materials.
Defnitely can't go wrong with their products, right; purchased nothing but the best!
I included this canvas in the gallery where I hang my work and a month later received a telephone call. This could have sold three times over but the canvas is warped!  One corner misses the wall by at least an inch the warp and twist is so pronounced.

So now I am faced with the task of repairing. Do I restretch on another stretcher. I have difficulty stretching canvas already gessoed. These old hands just do not have sufficient strength to give that extra pull needed to stretch gessoed canvas.

Some one suggested I would need to purchase a hardwood panel and affix to the back of the stretcher and this will supposedly set the canvas on the straight. Now, this leaves many questions… thick must the panel be to successfully pull the stretcher back on the straight. Must the wood be treated first; does it matter which type of hardwood?

I am about to do some research on affixing a wood panel to the back of this canvas; however no matter how much I read I am certain there will be something not includeded. Some hint or problem anyone having tried this may know about. Any HELP would be so appreciated.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Artistic Challenges - Working from a Photograph

Working a photograph into a painting. Thank you for your suggestions yesterday; I do like the idea of having a canvas copy made! Wow! Think I’ll give up painting completely!

The attached painting was done from a photograph with no intention of altering the image whatsoever. It was taken eighteen years ago and has always tugged at my heart…titled ‘From A Distance’. My daughter had made a decision to become a single parent, leaving a marriage of eight years setting out on her own with her three year old daughter.

She worked diligently to make a new home and life for her daughter and I watched her struggle from a distance always keeping an eye for when she seemed to need support. In the first summer of her struggle I decided to take the two of them on a camping holiday to a favorite haunt; Lake Huron.

Early one morning the two of them were ahead of me on the way to the beach and I couldn’t resist this photograph; the long stretch of sand, such a long way to the water’s edge…hand in hand on a long journey ahead.  My granddaughter's first introduction to swimming in a 'big lake'.  They kept hand in hand on a long road  in the years that followed.

My granddaughter has just graduated from university with a degree in medicine; my daughter went on to complete a science degree at university and married again to an absolutely wonderful partner.

The journey was long and she completed it with determination, hope and faith and belief in her decision and the future; always with the well being of the little girl in hand at the forefront of her journey; just as she did this day.  Of course, it wasn’t my daughter who took the little one in the water, it was grandmother after all…..on hand from a distance. I’ve painted this after many years on the occasion of my granddaughter’s graduation and dedicate it to the long road she will now travel into the future with the determination, faith and belief she learned hand in hand from her mother and with the support of others ‘from a distance’

Friday, September 24, 2010

Photographs - An Artist's Pothole

I am not so sure I am a fine artist so much as I am a photographer. I take hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of photographs. Mostly to record something striking or unique or something to file away as reference material. And inevitably, someone sees a photo and asks …. ‘ will you paint that for me’. I try to explain it may be a lovely photograph but will not necessarily be a ‘lovely’ painting.  And I am having difficulty climbing out of this artistic pothole.

Case in point. This photograph was taken to record the range of reds of the Atlantic coast oak trees. The oak trees we have in Ontario turn a rust colour in the fall and I was struck by the reds of these oaks.  That was my only reason for the feelings, no sensations, no thoughts of recording as a painting or sketch.  Sure enough; a request for this subject as a painting.

I have tried, and tried, and discarded numerous attempts. I cannot seem to stir the feelings necessary to commit this photograph to a painting and have decided I will not make any further attempts.

So tell me, how do other artists handle this type of situation. I would have loved to paint the canvas as requested; nor for any profit, but because a friend so wants this as a painting. I now will enlarge the photograph and they can do what they will with that.

Should I have been able to see a painting in this photograph? Can an artist always see a painting in a photograph? Nothing happens when I look at these crimson trees….except to say ….. ‘ well, look at the red trees’!

Am I missing a message here that I should see as a fine art artist?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Artistic Visiion - The Spirit Within

I am not producing any new work right now but am busy looking back at where I’ve been, trying to identify where I’m going with this journey that is visual ‘art’. Listening and analyzing comments from other artists and generally ‘learning’ about art. And thank you all for your comments, they are all so helpful

I am looking at artists who produce something meaningful on canvas or paper every day and have for the past thirty or more years.  This road into producing art is fairly new for me; only two years ago did I embark on doing what I love best....producing visual art.  So please bear with me as I take this journey and try to figure out just where it is I am going down this road. 

What motivates an artist to produce the exquisite paintings I see on other blog sites. Jennifer said when she paints a scene she becomes the scene, when she paints a tree she becomes the tree. Another artist friend says he creates while listening to music; and, by the way, he creates wonderful, colourful, alive and  happy images that always leave me smiling and with good feelings. 

I’ve been turning various comments over in my mind. I tried listening to music as a creative tool; perhaps I need to reevaluate my musical selections; I haven’t quite mastered the knack of using music to develop and interpret my visual images.  I do have background music when painting or working in my studio but I am not certain the music is a contributing factor to the end results.

As artists I believe we have a commitment to transform the visual, the immediate vision into a work of art that is not only inspirational for the artist but also for the viewer; that moves the viewer from the everyday mundane to an inspired, free spirited, timeless plateau.  This is what I eventually hope to achieve in my meanderings on  canvas.  The 'how to' do this is my current quest.

Looking back through my small portfolio … again looking bac iin order to move forward; I can identify  what Jennifer describes as becoming one with the scene or one with the object – when painting a tree, for example, she becomes one with the tree; becomes part of the scene.

The two selections here today represent what I fear I have lost in my current artistic attempts.  They both represent a part of 'me'.  They were both conceived while on the Atlantic coast visiting an aunt who was hospitalized for a long period of time. Both scenes are from the area around the seniors complex where she hoped to live after release from hospital. Both were painted with her in my heart and the love we had for one another.

The Silent Sentinels were the guards at the entry to her new home, the Misty Morning was the river behind where she would live. With these two paintings I did insert myself into the paintings. Both were inspired at the break of dawn as I made my way to the hospital to spend the day with my aunt.  I knew I wanted to include the early morning opalescent sky in the sentinels, and the quiet of dawn breaking over a misty river as it wound its way with a frenzy to the ocean.  As I painted I could feel the misty morning, the colours of the sky; as my brush worked the canvas I could feel every detail of this painting, the mist, the smells of the earth; the gentle brush of salt air about my face. In Misty Morning I could feel the flow of the rushing water, I was living in the river mist of the morning. And they worked; at least I think they did. My spirit infused both these paintings.

How do we hang on to this creative process; the ability to envision, to translate the spirit of our self into our canvas.  I fear I have lost this ability -- I have many, many subsequent paintings which lack the spirit within.  I find I have been painting for the sake of painting and I do not like what I am producing.  If what I see on my easel isn't moving me, I certainly don't expect it to move others!

Someone, I don’t know who, said: ‘the painting is always there waiting for the artist to release it’. I don’t want to just ‘release’ what I see, I want my paintings to ‘fly’ with an unfettered spirit and towards this end I keep searching.

Thanks for your comments; they helped me through a difficult day yesterday undergoing various medical procedures. Back today to the world I love….the world of art!  And thank you for taking this journey 'back' with me.

Enjoy another artistic day!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Again Katherine is the inspiration for my artistic musing.  Her blog today included a sketch of ‘ clock and hand’ has set me thinking about ‘moments in time’ and the question of how do we as artists capture those special moments in time.

A special light effect that lasts only moments, a certain way a person tilts their head for just a moment; a momentary smile. I have struggled with this and am still struggling. I look at many other artists and know I am lacking; but here for your enjoyment are a few of my moments.

Hoar frost on the twigs and branches of trees along a northern Ontario lake at day break captured my mind and spirit. It was much too cold to stand outdoors and paint so I captured with a photograph. I am so familiar with this scene that the snapshot was all I needed to return me to that moment in time. Didn’t quite do it justice -  didn't translate the sparkle and glow of this scene.  I  may have to return to it again on another canvas identifying methods to translate the light and glow in this scene. 

A moment captured plein aire was Reverie. I set up in the dunes and painted. It was so serene and beautiful, a moment of absolute peace. This one has a special light I couldn’t have recreated in the studio.

Another moment, and this had to be captured first with a photograph and a return to the site to sketch the landscape. The sunset was so quick and momentarily gone I had to rely on the photograph for colour.

Quite frequently I will sketch outdoors, trying to capture a moment.  They don't always translate the same however in the studio.  Like the next two .... The sketch was done on the shores of the Atlantic during a gale....and as you can see the painting became somewhat different in the studio; although the colours are somewhat true.  I started the painting with all the waves and ripples from the sketch and it simply did not 'say anything'.  My memory had dark clouds a threatening storm and heaving waves.  Thus the final 'Moody Blue'.

How do other artists capture these fleeting moments? I would be so interested in hearing; and thank you Katherine for your blog which has inspired me to look for more of those special moments; especially now that fall is upon us. One moment I hope to recreate this season is the early morning effects of frost and fog.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Artistic Ventures -- Exploring Different Mediums

Reading Katherine's blog this morning and her experience learning how to use watercolours.  Made me think of a student watercolour I have kicking around here.  And here it is Katerine for will notice all sorts of 'wrong' stuff in this one ... at least if you are a watercolour 'purist'. 
Well, I consider these 'purists' to be somewhat snobbish.  Seems to me no matter how the paint behaves or how you apply it, it will always be your expression and that is what is so important about art.....your expression and the freedom to do so!
Don't let watercolour frustrate you.  Take your time and enjoy.  Love what you have done already and the more you do the more confident you will become.
The market is ever changing to assist watercolourists....there is now a stretched canvas available that allows you to paint in watercolour and seal with acrylic longer requiring framing under glass.  So maybe I can afford to look at watercolours again.
In my 'sneaky sneakers' shown here you will notice the floor area around the shoes looks rather messy......I had to wet the area and blot out excess paint with a cloth.  But that's okay, it was a learning experience and the picture still conveys what I wanted to say; albeit not in a gallery fashion
I recently tried to use acrylics.  ... Look at my earlier blog 'Acrylic Failures' for some really bad painting using a different medium.  Wish I had done half as good as you with your exploration of watercolour.  Congratulations on your latest them all.

See my other blog where I talk about television when it was 'new'.turningpointsandidentities.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Up Close and Personal - Coloured Pencil

Today I though I'd include a coloured pencil sketch.  I have very few of these remaining as they seem to have been scooped up as soon as they were completed.  This one has survived, because it is not yet completed!  Think I just may leave it this way!

This was not an ‘up close and personal’ in the sense I was not sitting close to the subject. I did however attempt to understand and ‘feel’ the images seen through an old farm house window....cozy and warm inside; cool and crisp outside.  Love cold crisp days when the sky seems so pure and blue, the snow so white and shadows so wonderfully dark.

Don't know that I captured all I wanted to say in this one, thus it sits incomplete.  I may have overworked it now and lost the vastness of the snowy fields.....the crisp edges we see on clear, cold days.  Any comments or help you can offer would be so appreciated.

I do want to do something with the window muntins and plan to cut matting in two layers, one on top of the other and sketch in the putty, missing putty, chipped paint…..all the good ‘stuff’ that makes old wooden framed windows so beautiful.   The photo here is just a suggestion, contemplating size and placement of muntins over sketch.  It is slightly askew; don't know if I will leave that way or not just yet.  We shall see. 

I seldom sketch in pencil anymore except for working sketches; it is so costly to matte and frame sketches I tend to stay with the cheaper presentation methods of oil on canvas.  I have purchased a couple watercolour ‘canvases’; new on the market.  These allow the artist to paint using watercolours and to ‘glaze’ the finished work eliminating the need for framing under glass.

Will look into these on another day also.  Seems I have quite a bit of 'another day' lying about this studio.

Hope you enjoy today’s sketch.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Artistic Visions - Up Close and Personal

Having some difficulty today staying with the topic ‘up close and personal’ using my earlier, self-taught sketches and have finally decided on the two included here today.

I've selected these to demonstrate my exploration of different art mediums.  The first one was done using conte stick. I parked myself at a local antique store and asked if they would let me sit and sketch. They were delighted to let me do so. I selected an old wooden dresser, an antique lamp with broken shade and a glass goblet. Using the conte stick was such fun as I tried to articulate the different textures of the objects.

Unfortunately, the art of translating the glass goblet went slightly amiss and looks like a silver goblet. Drawing glass took many more attempts after this. You will also notice the areas with reflected light look rather smudged. I was too heavy with the conte in the areas of light – actually poor planning on my part. I should have identified the light areas at the onset of sketching.

In order to correct this I tried using a white conte stick to indicate the light areas and then rubbed with a paper stub.

I learned what a mistake this was; rather than rubbing with a paper stub the light areas would have worked better if I had incorporated light strokes into the darker conte at the time of drawing . At the time I was patting myself on the back thinking I had honestly completed a fine drawing. Amazing what we learn as we follow the journey that is art. I have since learned to handle the medium a little more successfully than this sketch. I do love working with conte.

The second sketch includes an attempt to include colour into the sketch. I gathered autumn leaves selecting different types and floated them in a shallow bowl …. thinking I would capture leaves floating on a stream. Well, the stream part went by the wayside but I did manage to capture some of the colours of autumn leaves.
I erased all pencil marks from the original drawing....I have since learned that 'you don't do this'.  Pencil marks should be retained as they are considered spontaneous inclusions in the finished product!  Who would have thought!

Actually looking back at these I feel I have come a long way in my artistic journey, have learned much; but maybe lost a bit of the original, uninitiated freshness of exploration..

Hope you enjoy.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Up Close and Personal - Early Sketches

Just sitting and contemplating art …. My contribution to the world as an artist …. And the why bother question.

Looking at early sketches I can at least answer the why bother part. I will continue to persue my artistic skills because I want to become the best I can be. Maybe never make the list of the masters….neither the links nor gallery types….but will be my best.

I may never paint again either. I may just keep on drawing, sketching and enjoying the spirit of translating the images I see.

I remember drawing some of my early sketches. I was so concerned about translating the actual form, the space it occupied, the volume, the inner core or nature of the object. When I sketched I would allow my being to penetrate the object, to mentally embrace and 'fee'  with my eyes; as my pencil went into action.

I use the attached drawings to explain what it is I am trying so ineptly to say. I would sketch anything at hand in my home and did a series of plants. I tried to feel the nature of the plant, to recognize the way the leaves filled out, the plane of the leaves and how they caught and reflected light, the way they grew from the stems; tried to articulate the volume of each leaf …. Was it fleshy, coarse, succulent, flat, oval, round. The list continued. And finally I tried to identify the growing behaviour of the plant.

The sketches included here represent my attempt to understand the plants I was drawing. I think in the first two I managed to translate the fleshiness or thickness of the leaves of this particular plant, the pattern of growth in the twisting stems; the space occupied by the plant.  The third plant had velvet surfaced leaves; had some difficulty with this one and still don’t feel I did well, but here it is.

Finally the corn silk plant. Just a small one, some dead leaves. I attempted this one using straight pen and ink. There are areas here I was not satisfied with but didn’t quite know what to do with. I feel if I sketched it today it would be different….but would not equal the first impression captured in this sketch.

This was a happy time of learning for me…a time of learning to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ what I wanted to say with paper, pencil and pen.

I have difficulty translating these interpretations with paint; perhaps I am destined to sketch instead. It is a journey I will continue to explore; and this period of looking back is blazing a trail for me to follow in the future pursuit of my art endeavors. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Up Close and Personal - Artistic Vision

I’m going to leave the ‘up close and personal’ sketches until tomorrow. I feel the need to expand on some of my comments yesterday. It seems I misled when I stated fundamental sketching skills were inherent in people with an artistic spirit.

I did not mean ‘you either have it or don’t as an artist’.  My apologies if this is what I implied

.An event to clear this misconception. I took my aging mother on a trip from Northern Ontario forests to the Atlantic Ocean. I was so excited. Firstly, taking my mother to see what she hadn’t a chance of seeing before and second for being on the ocean. “Look mom, the Atlantic”. Hmmf said she….”it’s just water”. Knocked the wind out of my sails I must say.

But you know, to her it was just water. Didn’t matter that the inland lakes she had seen never experienced the rise and fall of swelling tides, that the ocean spanned the world and joined continents, not merely shorelines, that a giant wave on the Atlantic could overturn and sink a sailing vessel or that iceburgs floated on the surface. Never mind that the texture of the water was different…it was salt. That the colours of the ocean were so different from those found in inland northern lakes or that the light bounced back differently than that on forest lakes. An artist would inherently discern the difference.

Or moss on a tree or rock, or rooftop!. On my last visit to Timmins to visit mother, I noticed the moss build up on the old garage roof and became quite enthralled with it taking pictures. Those pictures are part of today’s journey. Notice the colours of the moss, the sparkling dew drops….and if photographed from a certain angle looks like a landscape. My brother on the other hand is concerned about tearing the structure down, my mother about the cost of replacing. They missed the beauty the artist instinctively sees and feels.

I once pointed out moss on the trees to a fellow traveller. Their remark…”so, its moss”., and moved on. But look, just look. It is not just moss; a botanist would tell you it was Spanish moss and describe why it was here, its composition. I saw, the colour, the texture, the way it floated in the wind and clung to the branches. I saw a thousand possibilities in that moss. See it clinging here to a birch tree.
Only one other instance here….love the possibilities of a foggy day as am I certain all of you with artistic skills do… the lighting, the way it subdues outlines and shapes and engulfs all around. These are the inherent instincts I meant to define and they do not need fundamental formalities for description They are part of the artists vision; free for interpretation however we each may envision.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sketches - Up Close And Personal

The displayed sketches are what I call ‘Up Close and Personal’. A technique I used eons ago when I was a self taught artist.

Let me explain.

Looking back through years of sketches I’ve currently stopped at the late 70’s….before I embarked on formal art studies at a local university. When sketching during this period I was intimidated by what I did not know. I was so certain what I produced was all wrong, strictly hit and miss; I had no formal training, what did I know about producing art?

Well, as I look at these sketches I now discover I did know the fundamentals….fundamentals I later studied very hard to learn and describe for four years in formal studies. Fundamentals which I now realize are iinherent in anyone with an artistic spirit without knowing the formal definitions. Composition, scale, proportion, rhythm, shape, form, texture, line, emphasis and focal point. These were always there but just lacked the oral vocabulary, but certainly not the visual vocabulary.  I've even added notes on the drawing and indicated the angle of the sun!  Wow!  Haven't done that in years!

Analyzing these sketches today I also see a quality which was not formally taught….the ‘up close and personal’ attribute which I today find lacking in my work.

I worked hard at these sketches, staring for long periods of time trying to sense the vitality, the basic composition of each piece I sketched…..was it wood, did it have a life, how was it formed, how did it flow in space, what made it unique… did it ‘feel’, how did it make me feel? I carefully followed the rhythm created by falling branches, felt the volume of the tree trunk, the strength and character of the object and my sensitivity to its being; and would simply draw and draw and draw!

I guess my 92 year old mother was right….I produced better art work when I didn’t know what I was doing; simply studying ‘up close and personal’. This is a tactic I intend to refresh and renew in coming days in my artistic pursuit…..a journey back in order to move forward….. an ‘Up Close and Personal’ journey.

The old apple tree with remains of a tree house was also sketched with love and remembrance. From the time my four year old son could hold a little hammer and saw he built tree forts. Most destroyed by the local bully, but this one in a friend’s yard remained. I could see him hammering and sawing away in utter contentment as I sketched this tree ….this later became a painting which someone grabbed right away.  Remembering my Jamie.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reviewing Artistic Past

Here I've been agonizing over my artistic development - rather,  lack of!  Complaining to the 'powers that be' and anyone else who might listen - about this and that and the other!  Feeling I am going nowhere and my art is becoming less and less expressive of my visions.   Feeling that I am merely painting for the sake of painting and really saying 'NOTHING'.  Recent health issues have pulled me up short and lacking stamina to begin any new artistic ventures has given me the opportunity to constructively review where my art expression has been and where it might  be going.....rather than simply complaining and whimpering!

What a blessing in disguise.  I now have time to simply sit and leaf through old sketch books and drawing scraps.  It is an interesting  and enlightening journey; and hopefully will bring me back to my visions by the time I am able to pick up brushes again.  

In the next little while I'd like to share some of my past artistic journeys with you.  Hope you enjoy as much as I enjoy looking back.

The attached sketch was done on site; an old decaying cedar precariously situated on the edge of a sandy dune.  Earlier this year I revisited the site hoping to paint this in oils.  Unfortunately the tree has either fallen away or been removed.  So no oil of this tree.  But I think it was meant to be simply a sketch that tugged at my vision for a moment in time.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Throw Away Paintings - A Different Vision

While painting I reach a point where I take a photograph of the work; this sometimes helps me see the painting in a different perspective.  Recently my grandson was looking through my photos and commented on one I was about to 'throw away'. 
When I reviewed the actual canvas and the photo I was convinced it needed trashing.  However, when my grandson looked at the photo he saw a different perspective and vision.
There at the bottom of the photo was the edge of my easel; the tray covered with a cling wrap which I use to collect any stray or misguided paint.  He suggested I incorporate this area into the bottom of the painting.  And it worked, it gave the painting depth which was so lacking in my vision. 
Some times all we need is a different perspective!
My thanks to Ryan without whom this painting would not exist!.