Tag Archives: acrylic painting

Art Classes – acrylic painting techniques with Donna Grandin

Register for Art Classes here …


Preparing for the studio tour

Acrylic painting techniques

Location: Donna’s home studio in Burlington, near Appleby Library

6 weeks – Jan 15th – Feb 23, 2015

Thurs 10-1pm

$150. +hst (materials not included)

drop-ins are $35./class

Registration limited to 4 adults/class, beginners welcome

List of supplies, and general outline will be e-mailed to you upon registration

NOTE – this class has passed, but if you are local and interested in art lessons, just  e-mail me at donna@bluerootsartstudio.com

Torch Ginger Trio – 30 in 30, day 3

Torch Ginger Trio 3, 6"x6", acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. $100.
Torch Ginger Trio 3, 6″x6″, acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. $100.

Here is the third canvas in the Torch Ginger Trio. As I mentioned before, the paintings can be hung/purchased individually or as a group.

They are inspired by my recent trip to the Caribbean, where exotic flowers & foliage abound!

Torch Ginger Trio, a view of all three paintings
Torch Ginger Trio, a view of all three paintings

I enjoyed painting these in a very loose, flowing style, I’m looking forward to doing it on a larger scale, where I stand & use my whole body – painting from the shoulder, instead of the wrist.

Meanwhile, with the painting I will post tomorrow, I went in the opposite direction.

Subscribe for blog updates so that you don’t miss any new paintings, exhibition announcements etc.!

And if you’re in the Burlington area, I will be offering art classes from October.

Thanks for the great feedback everyone, I’m happy to hear how many of you are excited that I’m doing the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge again. Thanks for following along, and please share with your friends!



Torch Ginger Trio 2 – day 2 of 30 in 30

Torch Ginger Trio 2, 6"x6", acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. $100.
Torch Ginger Trio 2, 6″x6″, acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. $100.

This was the first painting I did in this set of 3, but all are inspired by the same photograph that I took of some torch ginger lilies on my recent trip to the Caribbean. They can be purchased and/or hung individually, or as a grouping.

My collection of reference photos has probably grown too large … it takes a long time to choose something to paint!

I’m thinking of heliconia next though … what do you think?




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!


Welcome to a whole NEW bluerootsartstudio.com!

One for all, 8″x8″, acrylic on canvas, © Donna Grandin, 2013. SOLD

If you’ve been to this website before, you’ll be thrilled to see I have FINALLY updated it. The first version of the site was created by my brother & I in 2010, thanks to Skype, since he is in England & I am in Canada. He’s not a website developer, but he does know his way around some code!

In fact, he’s pretty good at it, and that meant he was traveling more & more for his job, and so I needed to get my act together & figure out how I was going to take care of updating my own website. Of course, it wasn’t easy to commit to stepping away from the easel & hunkering down at the computer to learn what I needed to … but I’m happy to say, I’ve finally made some headway!

To be honest, I’m very excited about the opportunity to talk to you in the first person now, to be able to share my creative process and insights with you. Art is a means of communication, it does not exist in a vacuum. Hmm. I suppose that point may be debatable, but I’m speaking for myself as an artist. So, I look forward to hearing from you … let this website be a portal between us!

I’ve migrated posts from a career highlights type blog that I previously had attached to the website as my “News” page, commenting on some of them, just to give a little background to those of you who may have wandered onto this site for the first time.

What I like about this format, is that the website will be a work in progress, mirroring both my journey into harnessing the technology of the day, and my own artistic exploration.

By now, you may have figured out that I enjoy writing. I like to think through words. When I can SEE my thoughts in front of me, they lead to deeper understanding. My writing process is very much the same as my painting process, and I’d love to talk about that right now, but I’ll save it for a future post.

I brought the subject up because I know I can be “wordy”, and the trend today is to be brief (140 characters) – stick to the point and sell, sell, sell. Hashtags instead of sentences. The way I see it though is this is who I am, and if you’re a skimmer, I hope you’ll be engaged by my visuals. And if you love nothing more than curling up with a thick book or even the electronic equivalent, and savouring the words as you get caught up in a story … then I hope to communicate with you through words AND images.

So please, come back often … follow me in the format you prefer – Facebook, newsletter, RSS feed, I’m adding more all the time, I’m evolving, the website is evolving and I expect my art will continue to evolve as well! Take the trip with me, virtually or irl by attending my exhibitions and events. I look forward to connecting with you.

View available paintings




Juried in to Art Gallery of Hamilton Fall Art Sale!

The following is a post that I’ve brought over from my original blog where I wrote about exhibitions, career highlights etc. in the 3rd person.

“A fresh start”, acrylics on canvas, 24×24″, 2010, Donna Grandin. Sold.

Five paintings have been accepted into the
Art Gallery of Hamilton Fall Art Sale, Nov 4-7, 2010.

Donna was pleased to be included in this group exhibition, there is always such a beautiful selection of work. The painting above was apparently purchased by a local couple.

The Square Foot Show at the AWOL Gallery in Toronto, Aug 21-Sept 5, is now over, but it is an annual group show, so if you did not get a chance to see it this year, look out for it next year.

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