Tag Archives: 30 in 30

Daily Painting Challenge, 30 paintings in 30 days. Day 8

Nature Walk, 11"x14", acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. Sold
Nature Walk, 11″x14″, acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. Sold

A tropical landscape this time. I’ve been holding on to a few photos I took of flowering Royal Poinciana trees at Pigeon Island National Park in St. Lucia for some time now, so I was excited to finally get a chance to work on one. I have of course painted the flowers before en masse (see some at www.bluerootsartstudio.com/portfolio), but this is the first landscape which features the trees.

I was trying to listen to some meditation sounds & music while painting, but for some reason the kids were just so loud last night, I kept getting interrupted. Still, I think I’m on to something… that zen feeling was so close I could taste it! When my little guy came by to ask for his 12th snack of the day (he’s part hobbit), I put the headphones on him & he tried to run off with them, he didn’t want to give them back!

I enjoyed taking a much looser, painterly approach to this painting, though I did get caught up in the trap of noodling around with it too much, and only really stopped because it was 1:30am! That could be due to the size (another 11″x14″), or because my flow was disrupted so often. I really do need to start earlier in the day for this to really work for me, but it’s tricky because I prefer to photograph the painting by natural light in the morning, then I write the blog post, and put the link in several places, answer some e-mails etc. Have lunch, do errands, get started on a new painting, get kids from school … madness ensues … paint some more … dinner, activities … paint some more … what the kids are still up?

Then I either put them to bed & go to bed myself, or in the case of a larger painting, I try to get back to noodle a little more. One thing that I hoped to get out of this challenge of daily painting … of finishing a small painting every day … was that I could paint while the kids were at school. Usually I spend a couple weeks on a painting, and I can get obsessive, painting an area over & over (noodling), until I’m relatively happy with it. I’m hoping to find more balance, not be such a perfectionist. Not that it isn’t a valuable trait for a painter, and not that great paintings don’t need time to evolve, but I want to be more decisive with my strokes. Economical but effective brushstrokes … that’s something to aim for.



Daily Painting Challenge, 30 paintings in 30 days. Day 7

The way home, 11"x14", acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. $250. + tax & shipping
The way home, 11″x14″, acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. $250. + tax & shipping

My first snow painting … I think I did ok. Though I did noodle away at it a little longer than I wanted to for a daily painting & I’m tired this morning. We’ve been having a lot of snow lately, and it’s very cold … I wish I could stay in & hibernate & paint the winter away!

The painting is also larger than I’d planned for a daily, but I felt it needed to be a little bigger. The location is very close to the swing set in “Five more minutes” from day 3, and the palette is very similar, but that was taken later in the day, in the summer.

Thank you to those of you who have left comments, liked and shared my posts through your social networks. This is one of the reasons I’m doing this challenge, to increase the eyeballs on my art! If you haven’t yet, please like my Fb page, and sign up for my mailing list!



















Daily Painting Challenge, 30 paintings in 30 days. Day 6

Ixora, 12"x23", pastels on board, © 2013 Donna Grandin
Ixora, 12″x23″, pastels on board, © 2013 Donna Grandin

Today is a cheat day … this piece is from Spring ’13, so if you’re on my newsletter mailing list you will have seen it already.

That’s not to say I didn’t do something new yesterday, just that I’m not going to show it.

Yesterday was a day for catching up on errands for many of us doing Leslie Saeta’s 30 in 30 challenge, so I know I’m not the only one not submitting something new.

I even took the groceries for a drive in search of something exciting, but all I found was snow & more snow, which doesn’t bring joy to my heart!

In the evening, I took supplies to the event I had to attend, and did a small pen sketch of a little still-life I set up & added some watercolour paint. I was rushing, and I’m not happy with it, so I took a long hard look up my sleeve to see if I had any tricks, and I found this one!

Last Spring I took a class on pastels at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, with Clarence Porter  and I really enjoyed it. I’d used pastels for years, on & off, for figure drawing or portraiture, but I don’t remember ever using it for landscape. And I really liked one technique he showed, I think it’s called visual vibration, where you just add strokes of colour, and when you stand back they seem to blend together to describe the form. It’s similar in concept to Seurat’s pointillism. For some reason, it just seemed right for me when using pastels.

The reference picture I used was from my HUGE collection of reference photos from my island home of St. Lucia. I am shutter-happy when in a tropical setting, so my collection should be able to see me through many winters!



Daily Painting challenge, 30 paintings in 30 days. Day 5

Fast food, 8"x8", acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. Sold
Fast food, 8″x8″, acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. Sold

Choosing what to paint next is starting to get difficult, but not because I don’t have lots of ideas I’d like to try out. There are sooo many things I could paint – from life or photos, or even just a concept, but it can take a while to find a subject I can connect to at that very moment. The other ideas that come up may eventually get painted, but for now they just don’t have that spark that excites/motivates me, even though they could well make a great painting. I guess I’m more concerned right now with personal development, than painting something I think people might want to buy (shh, don’t tell my husband)! I’m enjoying journalling here even though I don’t have a clue if anyone’s actually reading this.

With this painting I retreated back to my comfort zone … plant life/landscape, but it’s still new territory. I’ve never painted this type of plant before, I’m ashamed to say I don’t even know what it’s called. That surprises some people, they think somehow I should be an encyclopedia on the plants I paint, but really I’m just in it for the eye candy. The shapes & colours & patterns that light creates when it falls on or through the leaves and petals. That, and the connection to Nature, that feeling you get when you’re alone in a wooded area or garden and you can breathe deeper, think clearer.

If you can just be in the moment, push aside thoughts of to do lists and listen … you’ll hear the sound of your own inner voice. And in my life, that’s reason enough to choose to paint Nature, to have to go outside to seek inspiration, to gather reference material. I have to admit, I do wish I wasn’t doing this challenge in the middle of winter, because it would be fun to paint outside. I think I will carry on after the 30 days, and maybe I will devote one day a week to painting something small.

I would never give up my large paintings though, there is something cathartic about throwing your whole body into it, and many of my fans/collectors say it’s the big works they love. However, as an artist it can be useful to try out ideas on a much smaller scale. I’ve never been a doodler, my sketchbooks turn into journals, and  I am more of an alla prima painter, thinking through the paint, so the ritual of daily paintings has always appealed to me. Taking it the next step and putting it out there on the internet – instead of just a censored collection of my best work – takes some courage.

Daily Painting Challenge, 30 paintings in 30 days. Day 4

Ants in his pants, side B, acrylic on board, 6"x6", © 2014 Donna Grandin
Ants in his pants, side B, acrylic on board, 6″x6″, © 2014 Donna Grandin

Getting a likeness in portrait painting is not my strength. I have a friend who is kicks ass at getting a likeness, check out her Facebook page, Shauna Johnson illustration.

That being said, I can usually get about 3/4 of the way there … so this painting isn’t my best attempt. I could have taken the easy way out and painted from a photo, not that that’s any guarantee, but considering my model is an active 8 year old, it would have made sense.

Still, I’m taking this month and this challenge to stretch myself in a variety of ways. I know from experience that each time I do this, I end right back on my original path, but usually with more insight and focus.

Anyway, although he stayed in the chair for an admirable length of time, my little model was constantly moving, picking up nearby objects etc. I let him do what he needed to, just trying to center him when I was working on something specific, because I didn’t want to turn him off of modelling for me. This was our first time together, and he is a budding artist himself, so I wanted to paint from life so he’d see what the process was like, ask questions as I mixed the paint. I turned the portrait to him every now & then as I made adjustments.

There was no fixing the crazy eyes though, and the nose is at the wrong angle … well, it doesn’t really matter, the point is in the doing. I cropped the painting in half, the eyes don’t look as crazy then, and I’m sharing the side with my initials. I’ve been signing these daily paintings with my initials in a new way, to distinguish them from my previous miniatures which could have taken a week to paint, because the price-point is different. Though some, like this one, won’t leave the studio, and will eventually be recycled (painted over). That’s okay though, it’s called quality control.




Daily Painting Challenge, 30 paintings in 30 days. Day 3

Five more minutes!, 8"x10", acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. $125.
Five more minutes!, 8″x10″, acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. $125.

Until my kids go back to school on Mon, I probably won’t be able to fall into a comfortable routine with this daily painting. Again yesterday I didn’t start till after 5:30pm, so instead of starting something new, I picked up this little experiment I started in the summer.

The whole reason I took the photo, the reason I was excited to do the painting, was the silhouette of my son on the climber. However, it was getting late last night and I had to put the boys to bed, and I just couldn’t get the proportions of the figure right, so I decided to leave it out. I could see doing this painting again though, on a larger scale, with the figure.

This is quite different to my regular work … no leaves in sight. I’m curious to know what you think. Please leave comments here, or e-mail me at donna@bluerootsartstudio.com.








Daily Painting Challenge, 30 paintings in 30 days. Day 2

philodeondron leaf
Blue skies ahead, 8″x8″, acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin.

My intention was to paint another hibiscus yesterday, but when I went to pull out a canvas, I came across this one which I had already added texture to some time ago. It called for something different. The texture made me think of either the veins in a leaf, or trees in the winter with no leaves (I always think of them as dead trees, even though I know they’re not).

I started with a layer of light blue, wiped some of it off the tops of the ridges, then lightly added brown to those ridges, and it did look like a closeup of tree branches. I layered in some white, a darker blue … now it was depressing. It looked like winter to me. So I dry-brushed in a little orange at the top of a “tree”.  My younger son peeked over my shoulder “So, what is it?” I wasn’t sure, but I had a title “Set winter on fire”.  He raised his eyebrows & backed away.

Well, now that he’d called me on my bullshit, I knew I’d have to dig a little deeper. I covered the canvas in a mid green hue and immediately felt relieved, and excited. I started layering in some lighter & darker greens on the ridges. Then I looked over at the huge potted philodendron in my studio.

I identified it in a plant book once as a Monstera, but I like Philodendron, it sounds less likely to be able to creep up behind me at the easel and gobble me up! Sometimes it does grow into a monster though, we’ve had to cut it down drastically a few times over the years when it’s grown as tall as the ceiling and its feelers were sticking to the ceiling & walls. My husband brought it home from work when we were newlyweds in 1997. He said it sat in his boss’s office for 2-3 years before that and never had more than 3-4 small leaves. I decided to move it to a larger pot, fresh dirt, a little fertilizer … and it’s been growing like crazy ever since.

Anyway, I cut off a large leaf that was dragging on the floor and put it in a vase next to my easel. I started painting blue sky holes on my green canvas. And the rest of it, you can see for yourself.

Sometimes I play movies while I paint, this time it was “Life of Pi”, which is such a visually rich story I couldn’t believe I’d waited so long to see it … but by the time I got to the twist in the end, I realized I probably won’t watch it again. I loved it, but it was such a dramatic, emotional journey … I like light-hearted movies to paint to. For some reason, “The fifth Element” works well for me, I’ve done long sessions where I’ll play it on repeat as background noise. It’s funny, and I don’t have to look at it to know what’s going on, keeps my head company while my heart paints.

Tune in for more tomorrow … you’d never guess what’s on my easel in a million years!


Daily Painting challenge, 30 paintings in 30 days!

Hibiscus & snow, 8"x8", acrylic on panel, © 2014 Donna Grandin. Sold
Hibiscus & snow, 8″x8″, acrylic on panel, © 2014 Donna Grandin. Sold

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you’re all on track with your new year’s resolutions, if you made any. I’m making a slower start this year than I’d planned, but for the best of reasons … time spent with family.

I’m taking a flying leap at 2014 by accepting a daily painting challenge … I’m one of the 370 artists who have already signed up to do Leslie Saeta’s 30 paintings in 30 days. I will of course also be posting my painting on here each day, so if you’d like to follow along, click the RSS button to subscribe to my blog.

The painting above is my first one, which I started yesterday, but finished today because I stopped first to catch up with a good friend, and then to spend time with my boys. It involved air-popped popcorn &  an impromptu New Year’s eve “Justice League” cartoon marathon on Netflicks, so you know it was a decision made out of love & it wasn’t easy!

I still have to start the painting I’m going to post tomorrow … every now & then a little head pops up to check on me “Mom, you haven’t started yet? What if you FAIL the challenge?”.

The next painting will be of the same subject, the flower just died but luckily I took several photos I could work from.

My word for 2014 is intuition, and as it applies to this challenge, I’m going to follow my intuition as to what to paint next …. I haven’t planned out the 30 days, and I’m not setting rules, except that I work on something new each day. I actually have loads of ideas that I’d like to try out … so expect a variety of subjects to show up. And I would love it if you’d share this with your friends, and make comments … I look forward to hearing from you!

Also, I will be writing the long “Louvre” blog post I promised soon, once I’ve settled into a comfortable pace … I have sorted through the thousands of photos (the good, the bad & the ugly) already, but still need to whittle my selection down.

Meanwhile, enjoy this video snippet I uploaded to my new youtube channel last night of the Eiffel tower lights blinking.










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