November 9, 2014

From lily pads

Yeah okay, not a great photo.
Because I'm still not ready to paint the girl, purse and water painting, I decided to get going on it anyway. I figure the poor result will be my punishment for procrastinating for a year on collecting good reference photos, designing my pallette, and doing more practice sketches.

Also, yeah.

I shot a few frames of Ada on the porch with my purse today and I think that tomorrow night I'll use them to help me paint the girl into a landscape I finished a few weeks ago. I realised after painting it that the composition was empty, the painting uninteresting, and the whole thing needed a radical do-over. Blair Paul, my teacher, gave me some ideas for sprucing it up...



...but after three weeks on it, I just wanted to put it aside.

Maybe he'll advise me against it tomorrow. I'll bring an extra canvas in case.

November 6, 2014

Energy, precision and Blair's show

Gatineau Park, looking north from Des Allumetieres
I spent over seven hours on this latest landscape and, if I keep painting this slowly, I'll atrophy. I can paint only during my 2.5 hour art class each week. Back when I was firing off bus portraits four times a week, this space was a bit more exciting, eh?

I have learned two things since I put the first nail into my own style a few months ago.

  • Thing one: I don't know much about painting. The farther I go with it, the more of it I realise I don't know how to do. Pretty standard realisation for anyone not completely full of themselves to make while doing anything worthwhile at a given time. Nothing much to see here, moving along.
  • Thing two: Following on paragraph one, my brushwork needs work, and, I don't know how to blend on the canvas.
My art teacher, Blair Paul (who has a HUGE art show this weekend), says that artists each have a distinct way of using a brush that is tied to their nervous system somehow. After he said this, assuming I am remembering it right, I paid more attention. I noticed that I generally take quick, distinct, long brushstrokes of disparate colours and I use them to build up areas in a painting without doing much blending.

I think my brushwork is unpolished and full of energy. For this painting, I tried to take more control of each stroke without losing a sense of movement. I also began trying to blend areas a bit more, something I only ever tried a few times.

You probably can't imagine how exciting this is. It looks so dull from the outside! Treeline, river, autumn brush. Or, maybe you also have a fiendish hobby that stonewalls you with slow progress and its own endless vista of unattainable mastery?

October 7, 2014

We keep going

Over the Rideau River

I painted these two paintings earlier this summer. They look the products of two different artists, neither being me! I painted Hog's Back at a later time and, like all my previous paintings, I had to paint these to get to it.



My husband's father passed this week after 8 years of severe illness. The Celebration of his Life is Friday. We'll reflect on what was and try not to imagine what might have been. My father-in-law was a special man, and he deserved better.

In the same week, my own father rejected the latest of my olive branches. Not only will there be no reconciliation, there will be no speaking terms to smooth things over for others. After two and a half years, I know it's over for us.

Funny how things set down at the same time. My husband and I have received surprise promotions and raises on the same day three separate times. There have been other coincidences, and here we are again. Two fathers, finally gone.

Gatineau Park

I've been listening to Allison Kraus' Down in the River to Pray over and over during the drive to and from Ada's school lately. It's her favourite song. She wants it on repeat. Afternoons the drive is long, the sun is in my eyes. The long grasses by the river shine green and the water is a curl of silver. Each giant tree seems a more majestic monument than anything downtown. Sometimes we see the black swan and her two white friends where the river turns near Bank Street. The cars are slow, the red lights are unyielding. We keep going until we get home.

October 2, 2014

Following paths

Looking over the park
Most lunches nowadays I run through the neighbourhood or in the woods, stopping to take pictures as I go along. My employer moved me temporarily to a new building. Its proximity to the Gatineau Park goes far to console me for the time I spend each day commuting, near three hours. Everyone must purchase a self-driving car once these come out, I'm here to tell you, or to do some work on their driving. Me included.  

Poplar leaves 
 I have just started work on sketches of local flora. Hope it goes somewhere, as I've been hoping to do it for years.

On the drive home, the Experimental Farm

Fletcher Wildlife Gardens

Ada in the labyrinth

Some photos for you to enjoy, and that I may use for art reference. I am taking (for the third time!) art with Blair Paul again. Wrestling with a painting of a tree line - it's going to take a while.

In the last picture, Ada is playing in the Red Oak Labyrinth, an art installation dismantled later that day. Artist Barbara Brown built the labyrinth from trees felled by the Ash Borer. Yet, in all four guestbooks found around the oak at the labyrinth's centre, comment after comment dwelled on the peace of the setting. The books were stuffed with them. Honestly, how often are people moved to write in guestbooks? Something about the place stirred people, and they wrote at length about much-needed tranquility in the heart of the city, etc etc. I could sense that myself but I also felt it was a meditation on death and human destruction, and it filled me with a familiar desperation.

July 19, 2014

Parc! OmegAAH!

Parc Omega, May 2014

Come on, doesn't it sound like that in your head?

A spring day trip to Montebello, Quebec led to this painting. Parc Omega is a safari park and I loved this tiny island in its lake. If you've never been, the ferry route from Ottawa to the park is more picturesque than the road one, and the kids love the car on a boat thing.

Apart from the lake looking a bit nuclear, this one's alright.

July 13, 2014

Paint like draw

Hog's Back, June 2014
I took an an art class this spring and am proud to show off one of my latest paintings! With a busy job until the fall, there isn't much time for all this, but I figured I could get closer to working on the purse painting by taking another landscape course with Blair Paul. Since that painting will mostly be landscape, something I've got little practice with, this course was useful practice.

From talking to Blair about developing my own style, I realised that I already had a style in the media I use a lot - pencils, pens and markers. To discover my own painting style, I had just had to paint the way I drew. As easy as all that. Who knew?

Once September begins, I move to a new, more relaxed assignment and I will prioritise my favourite pastime again. But until then my focus is on the kids and work. They made me a manager earlier this year, something I had some experience in but not much, and there's a lot to learn. It's wonderful, frankly. I'm not one of those people who'll ever moan about managing, but it is hard and I have some miles to go before I will be comfortable.

This painting is of the torrent that is Hog's Back.