Thanks to those of you who came from near and far – especially my supporters from Toronto, Whitby, Hamilton & Caledonia!
Saturday morning was grey and windy … with the first snowfall of the season! So, we had fewer visitors than last year, which was a pity.
However, the first reports coming in are that sales were about the same as last year, so I guess a little snow and rain didn’t deter those who really enjoy visiting local artists in their studios and shopping for unique, hand-made items.
The blue peacock-inspired painting on the top right was painted to live music during the Culture Days event in front of Burlington City Hall.
It was very difficult to photograph (shiny), so I had a professional photographer do it. Then I had technical issues with my laptop and had to go without it for a few weeks, but I still plan on doing a blog post about the Culture Days event later this month.
A few of these little daily paintings sold during the tour, others are going to a new store opening later this month in St. Lucia. More details to come.
Lois Shaw’s realistic still-lifes were very popular on the tour, as were her necklaces with slumped glass pendents. Unfortunately, Louise Young, the jeweller who was supposed to be the other guest artist in my studio, had to cancel. However Lois and I had more than enough paintings to fill the space.
Thanks to Teresa Seaton & all the other Art in Action members who each contribute to making this event go smoothly each year.
I decided I’m going to do a draw for a dragonfly painting (“Watching”), on Christmas day.
There were entry forms available on the studio tour, for those who subscribed to my Blue Roots Art Studio Mailing List.
Look out for other opportunities for you to enter the Christmas contest, through social media.
There is still time to pick up something special for under the tree, just take a look at the paintings still available, and send me an e-mail to arrange pick-up/delivery.
It’s that time of year again, where I give the studio a fresh coat of paint, hang my latest paintings and invite the public in for the Art in Action Burlington Studio Tour. This year – Nov 1 & 2 – my guest artist is Lois Shaw with her realistic still-life paintings. Unfortunately, jeweller Louise Young has had to cancel again.
However there will be more than enough art to view, and perhaps collect. Lois & I will have original paintings in a variety of sizes & greeting cards, perfect for gift-giving – especially if you’d like to treat yourself to something special to put under your own tree!
On Oct 19th we had a reception for the pre-tour group exhibition at the Art Gallery of Burlington. The Mayor of Burlington, Rick Goldring, said a few words, and so did Denis Longchamps, chief curator of the AGB.
Thanks to CHCH for filming – my brother-in-law texted me to say he’d just seen me on the news, I think my street-cred just went up with the family! The AGB show runs until Nov 13th and is a sampling of all the art that will be on the tour. It is not just paintings and sculpture, there is wonderful jewellery as well.
Take a look at the Art in Action 2014 map and plan your route – we are in studio #8. Carpool with your girl friends, or make it a date – or double date – and try to see as many of the studios as you can. You can win $100-$200. towards art by your favourite artist by filling out the ballot on the Art in Action brochures.
It has been a long time since I have posted a new painting, but I do have a bunch to share with you, it’s just going to take a little while to get to them all.
This painting was inspired by a photo shoot I did in my late grandfather’s garden. The tree with the ladder was actually in the overgrown lot next to his. I love the contrast of the man-made object with the wildness of the foliage. An attempt was obviously made to tame it at some point, but Nature always wins, because time is on her side.
I enjoyed painting this, and the more I look at it, the more layers of meaning I discover. The beauty of art is often in what is implied.
I welcome your comments. This painting is currently in my studio & so available directly through me. If it speaks to you, drop me a line … I offer very flexible payment terms, so that you can get the art you want.
Tomorrow, I turn 40 years old. To celebrate that milestone, I have been taking a look back at some of my early work and posting them as the cover image on my Facebook page. Most of the paintings in the collage above are from 1998, and were inspired by a trip to St. Lucia where my husband & I had our second wedding in as many years.
I painted most of them sitting cross-legged on the couch in our one-bedroom apartment. Others I painted in my friend’s apartment in Toronto when I went to hang out sometimes during the week. The smaller size of the paintings (compared to the 36″x48″ paintings in the Caribbean Imagery series) made it easy to work anywhere, even when I had to lug it all on the Go train.
I first showed these in a solo exhibition at the Atrium Gallery in the Henderson Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. It was a successful series in every way.
The Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens in St. Lucia was a big inspiration here, I love exploring that place with a camera. There are trees hundreds of years old, tall & covered in vines, creating a canopy. A huge assortment of exotic plants, flowers & leaves … my favourite things. I wanted to share the exhileration I feel in this type of environment.
If I didn’t have young kids, I would love to do a residency there, every day I would set my easel up in front of another plant or view to paint.
Actually, that reminds me of my big news – I am going to be in St. Lucia this summer, and I plan on doing some small paintings on location!
I will post them here first and then share the link on Facebook. So, if you’d like to see them first, don’t forget to subscribe to blog updates via e-mail!
Recently, I have been taking a look back at some of the work I did in my early 20’s. I am closing in on my 40th birthday, so I thought it would be fun to do a countdown, I’ve been posting a painting a day on my Facebook page, as the cover image.
The paintings featured in this blog post are from the series I did in my last year of my BA in Art at McMaster University in Hamilton. When I exhibited the series at Gallery on the 4th, Hamilton Public Library, I named it “Caribbean Imagery”. It was my first solo exhibition in Canada.
Nicole was a Trinidadian girl I met in Psychology 101 at McMaster, she was one of my bridesmaids. I actually had her put on my blue wrap & took reference photos of her against the white door of my room in the student house I was living in. Then I just made up the background.
Not long after I did this painting, the shoreline was wiped out by a hurricane, and some of the residents had to be relocated. Many people commented to me that I had recorded a piece of history, and this painting was one of my most popular of the series.
The collector who bought it had a large collection, but said that this one always drew comments from visitors, and when he relocated to the United States, he took it with him. We happened to meet a couple years ago & he showed me a photo of it hanging over his fireplace, next to it was a painting by my high school art teacher, Sir Dunstan St. Omer.
This painting was included in our graduating exhibition at McMaster Museum of Art in Hamilton in 1997. It was placed on a feature wall which was painted the same yellow as the buildings in painting.
This was the first painting of the series, one of my favourites, so I’ve held on to it.
I apologize for the quality of the images, I did get professional slides made of the series, but I still haven’t scanned those slides in directly, so I’m not sure but these could be scans of photos of the slides, or worse yet scans of photos I took myself. Regardless, they are darker than the original paintings.
I knew when I was painting “Coalpot” that I’d made a breakthrough in my work. This series is why I graduated from my program with Honours. Up until that time I was just full-filling requirements on my assignments, trying to get good marks. This series was more personal.
Also, up until this series I worked in a variety of media, but I only did one oil painting that year, I realized that acrylics suited me best. I could get brighter colours, which suited my tropical subject better, and I could work 12-16 hours straight on the same painting because I didn’t have to wait for it to dry. Then the next day I would do writing assignments, classes & household stuff … basically everything except paint. So that by the time I got back to my painting I was refreshed. I have always worked best this way. But I’ve never had as perfect a set-up as that last year of school where I shared a large studio on campus with a handful of other students, and had no other responsibilities but to do my best work.
This painting was bought by someone working in the St. Lucia Consulate in Toronto, and the Prime Minister of St. Lucia saw it hanging there & asked for me to contact him about , etc. etc. I am not sure who owns it right now … but I believe it was resold in St. Lucia.
The men are playing dominos on their lunch break. The man with the hat has passed away, but he was the father of the man in the painting further down in this post, called “Friends”.
When I was choosing what I would paint for the year, it occurred to me that I may be marrying my boyfriend, and that would mean I’d have to stay in Canada. This series was me exploring the question of what St. Lucia meant to me. I worked on 2 paintings at a time, one figurative and one landscape, and by the end of the year one of the things I’d learned was that I was happiest paintings landscape, especially foliage. You can see in Vivian I was experimenting with how abstract I could paint foliage & have the painting still read as realistic. This was the basis of my next series, Jungle Rhythms.
Her dress was always my favourite part of this painting, but when I painted the flowering bush I really tasted the freedom possible when painting foliage. Up close it’s dabs of colour, but further back they come together to form an image.
These were people I worked with in the summer, they weren’t a couple – he walked by when I was taking the photo of her & just made himself at home. I thought it made for a great composition though. It also says so much about how laid back West Indians can be, even at work.
Each work of art, even if I’ve just had it for a short time, has a story … or a history, made up of several little interesting stories. One story that sticks with this painting for me, is its “adoption” story. I took it in to Arts Etc. Gallery Shop & Art Rental, in the Burlington Art Center (now the Art Gallery of Burlington), and someone rented it for 3 months, then another 3 months before returning it.
At some point I brought it back to my studio, where it sat while I travelled in Europe. Six months later, I got a call from the gallery – the man who had rented it for his office (a city planner) wanted to know if it was still available to buy. At that point I was either in my last trimester or had a newborn, regardless, the painting was still sitting in the studio.
I read years later that the man had taken a position in Thunder Bay, and I always thought that was a curious thing … a Carnival painting in a very northern part of Canada. Then again, I never met the collector, maybe that painting was a way for him to stay connected to/express his roots. That’s just a part of the story that will remain a mystery to me. I might create the paintings, but when I let them go, they take on lives of their own.
It is so strange for me to look at this painting, and realize that the little boy in it is probably about 20yrs old himself now! I actually photographed the two of them at a beach party, watching as our friends played an informal game of cricket, and the background is a view of Pigeon Island causeway in St. Lucia.
This is a large painting, and there is quite the story that goes along with the tear on the bottom right corner (not seen here). However, I’ll save that story for when you visit my home studio & see it in person!
Meanwhile, please follow my countdown retrospective on Facebook, until my birthday on July 8th.
Although I was just doing this for my own amusement – and hopefully yours- I actually did hear from someone who wants to add one of these paintings to her collection. A few of them hang in my house, and a few in my parents’ house in St. Lucia. They are signed with my maiden name, Donna Gomez, and a couple as Donna G. because I thought I was being clever. There were a couple other paintings in the series, but they aren’t available anyway. If you see something you want, let me know.
The life of an artist has its ups and downs, but one thing is for certain – whenever you show your art, you open up the door to new opportunities, and to unique experiences.
I learned pretty early on in my art career that there is a snowball effect that happens when you exhibit, and when you talk about your art. In 1998 I participated in 19 group and solo exhibitions, even though the year before I did not know any of those opportunities existed. As an International student, I knew no-one in the city of Hamilton and spent most of my time in a little bubble on campus, but that had to change once I graduated, because I married my Canadian fiance and needed to start seeing the city as my new home.
I began with volunteer work, and ended up on the organizing committee for Public Hanging, a 3 month long exhibition on the empty top floor of a downtown mall. For security purposes we had teams of 2 participating artists located at either end, and I signed up for two 3 hour shifts a week – a great opportunity to meet and network with local artists. Now I look back I guess it was like speed dating!
Anyway, each exhibition led to another, and before I knew it I had paintings on the set of the morning talk show of a local television station, a solo exhibition in the atrium cafeteria of a hospital, and I was part of a short-lived artists’ collective exhibiting in a pop-up gallery in an empty storefront (long before that became a thing). Even before that I had a exhibition in a library which led to an interview on a Caribbean radio show and participation in a Caribbean Arts Showcase.
Each new person who sees your work has the potential to become a collector or a connector, and there is no time limit as to when that might happen. My best friend from University used to invite her high school friends from Toronto to party with us on the weekends. Fifteen years later she forwarded my exhibition invite to one of those friends who remembered me and my paintings. She came out to the exhibition and went on to become one of the biggest collectors of my work, AND a wonderful friend and supporter.
The path ahead is never completely clear, which is both daunting and exciting, but when you look back at the way you’ve come, your footprints form a pattern.
So a call out of the blue from the president of the St. Lucia Toronto Association to invite me to participate in the 35th Anniversary Independence Arts Showcase leads to me exhibiting at the Gala event as well, and to an e-mail from Alison at the St. Lucia Tourist Board – which leads to them ordering these plaques as awards. Saint Lucia Tourist Board Director of Tourism Mr. Louis Lewis and Saint Lucia Tourist Board Deputy Director of Tourism Tracey Warner-Arnold presented the award winners with their plaques.
Then I did a blog post about the Gala (which was re-posted on the St. Lucia Consulate website), and I forwarded the link to people who signed my guest book at the event, and one of them contacted me to order “The Sunday Hike” – the original painting of Pigeon Island National Park in St. Lucia that was chosen as the image for the plaques.
And the tale does not have to end there … now there are 8 plaques, 1 original painting, and this blog post all going forth as ambassadors of my art. How can you add to this story?
If any of the travel agents get to read this – Congratulations, and I would love to receive a photo of your plaque on display in your office – maybe I can do a follow-up photo collage!
There’s a pineapple in my studio, starting to smell yummy. In an attempt to start shedding the winter pounds, I bought a high-end blender that will break leafy greens down so well you won’t see a single chunk. Actually, I don’t have a problem with chunky green smoothies, but if I’d like to improve my kids’ vegetable intake as well, then consistency is second only to taste.
It has been fun trying new things in the blender, and when I brought this pineapple home, I decided to let it ripen in my studio so that I would have something beautiful to look at, and eventually smell. A low-cost version of a bouquet of flowers I guess.
I’ve never painted a pineapple before, but like anything else that occurs in nature, it has some wonderful patterns. I painted this one from life, but I also took some photos – the great thing about photos is that you can blow up a section to paint from, and you will see all sorts of details that you never noticed before. You also have more time to study and play with those details, you don’t have to worry about rotting fruit or changing light. There is so much to be learned from each approach.
The other element of this painting is the background pattern. I have always liked playing up the naturally-occurring patterns when painting foliage, visual rhythm adds to the illusion of movement and life in a work of art. However, my interest has grown, and like a woman who has just found out she is pregnant, and now find she sees pregnant women everywhere – I find myself drawn to examples of pattern in art.
Art Nouveau has always been a favourite and I was so lucky to see first hand examples in Paris, Brussels and Barcelona. I mean, talk about cultural tourism, I’m sure I’m not the only person who went to Barcelona just to see Gaudi’s buildings. When I was an art student I gravitated towards Impressionism and Post-impressionism, and I thought that the gold in Klimt’s paintings was just too gaudy (see what I did there?). Now though, I have a deeper appreciation for his work and the way he blended whimsical pattern with sensitive figure drawing and painting, to create art that has both visual appeal and emotional depth.
Now that I am on the lookout for it, pattern is everywhere … my next commissioned painting includes a textile pattern that I’ve used before, and in a recent post I mentioned Zentangle. Also, my prized possession from the trip to Paris in December was a Desigual handbag. Click the link, you’re going to thank me.
Anyway, this little painting is just one more step to finding a fun way not just to highlight pattern inherent in my subject, but to actively introduce it into my work.
If you have any favourite artists/art featuring pattern, please share in the comments below, I’m always open to new inspiration!
Love is in the air this month. I’m stretching it out from one day to one month. Last year my son wanted to know why he had school on Valentine’s day, because what is more important than love?
This is not exactly what I had in mind when I started the painting… initially I was going to use the red hibiscus for the colour and then a black & white Zentangle heart behind. However, while I have decades of acrylic painting behind me, I have zero experience doing Zentangles. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s a sort of doodle, take a look here. You just might fall in love.
If you have been following along, you may have noticed that last week I incorporated some doodling into my “Flights of fancy” painting. I am still at the stage where I can visualize something cool – using this new technique – but not quite manifest it. Right now I’m preoccupied with a couple of upcoming exhibitions (the St. Lucia Toronto Association Arts Showcase is in 2 days) and applications that are due soon, but hopefully by next week I’ll have some further progress to report.
There is also an idea for a more serious body of work brewing, or maybe stewing, in the back of my mind. It revolves around my experience as a Third Culture Kid, so it is very personal to me, however each year our numbers increase and I like the idea of using my art to connect with others. I’ve been in flux for some time now, and I’m curious to see the effect of taking my creative process public. I enjoy painting foliage, and I have no intention of abandoning it, but this onion has many more layers.
It is time to embrace the internet and push back at the old-fashioned “the butcher, the baker OR the candle-stick maker” mentality. It’s like I tell my kids, now you can be the butcher, the baker AND the candle-stick maker! In fact, we’re probably a generation behind the times, at this point it feels like you HAVE to be butcher, baker & candlestick maker (have you read or written a bio lately?). Artists have long had to wear several caps, but these days with the rise of Entrepreneurs, it is becoming the new “norm”.
Ok, back to the painting, I actually painted my way through several variations which were equally interesting. I might go back & do a few more later. Or it might just be a stepping stone to the next plateau. Time will tell.
Update: Someone bought this painting as a wedding gift, which I think is just perfect!
So, I’m feeling kind of rebellious lately. It might be the February blues – I don’t know how much more of this d$#% snow and bitterly cold wind I can stand. I’ve already started an informal petition on Facebook to move Canada to somewhere warmer …. but the winter sports enthusiasts & kids are jamming up the works!
Or it could be because this week I had to turn down an opportunity for my art to be included in a book of 50 Canadian painters who paint flowers, because it would cost as much as a non-discounted flight to St. Lucia! A little less than I made in art sales while painting my heart out last month during the 30 in 30 challenge.
It probably does have something to do with hitting a milestone birthday in a few months.
Anyway, the painting I was working on earlier this week turned out to be a very dark landscape, a gloomy reflection of my mood. Technically it has potential, but it just doesn’t feel like me. So last night I took it off the easel. Then at 11pm, when the last kid was asleep, I pulled out a fresh canvas.
While I was reading to my kids, several old themes had mingled with influences from the week, coming together as an image in my mind. Then the image permutated into a possible series. I felt more excitement than I’d felt in weeks, so instead of heading to bed, I returned to the easel. The last time I glanced at the clock it was 3am, and I woke up this morning in my clothes from yesterday – not for the first time this year.
From my bed, I could hear the reaction to the painting … “it’s a fish”, “Mom let her mind go wild last night”. Harrumph! Not what I was going for. Though, when I took another look, there was no denying it looked like a fish, underwater. I was about to make a slight change that would have made it less fish-like, when I realized I liked that added dimension to the painting – the multiplicity of meaning. In fact, for now at least, I’m not even going to go into my own interpretation. I think as I do a few more of these, it’ll become obvious.
Traditionally, an artist goes through the process of developing a series in the safety of their studio, occasionally seeking feedback from those whose opinions they trust. Then when the work is done, they edit out the dead-ends or out-right failures, select the best work to document and then promote through exhibitions or portfolio websites. A blog is a whole other beast.
There is a beauty, and a danger, to making this creative process visible to anyone who chances on to your blog. Ultimately though, I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
I just returned from France where I exhibited my painting “In the Shade” in the 152nd annual Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts – an exhibition with a long, prestigious history at the Louvre, in Paris. It was an amazing display of artwork by about 500 international artists, working in various styles, media, subjects etc, and there was lots of networking, and of course sightseeing & gallery-hopping in Paris. I will write more about this soon … for now I’m settling back in, doing some follow-up & Christmas prep etc.