These are my “everyday tools ” – brushes, heavy duty paper towels (found in automotive aisle at Canadian Tire), spray bottle with water to keep my acrylics paints wet. My staywet palette is in the corner with a red cover to keep the moisture in.
Uncharacteristically, by the end of this session I had 5 brushes with paint on them. I was working fast because I still had a lot I wanted to do, but I knew I had to stop. Today was just one of those busy days.
In the last hour of painting I was talking to the kids when they came home from school, took the dinner out of the oven etc, but you can’t tell that all of that was going on when you watch the video. I think it was about 4 hours, condensed into 20 seconds.
I started painting late today because I was working on the computer all morning, updating documents & adding them to the Arts Council’s website, responding to e-mail and social media – both theirs and mine.
When I stopped painting tonight, I posted the timelapse to Instagram & YouTube, ate dinner, did groceries, put away groceries & laundry & now I’m trying to write this post & share on the 30 in 30 before midnight. But that’s the only reason there are a bunch of brushes in the water. Usually I only use one at a time. And I would not leave them soaking in the water because it’s not good for the brushes.
I was going to talk more about the other tools we use, because I don’t think most people envision painters with drills, hammers, wire cutters etc.
But I’ll leave that for another day.
Tweak, tweak, tweak
Ok, so it’s taking longer than I hoped, in terms of how many days/painting sessions. Each day I estimate it’ll take two more days. Though it’s normal for me to take 3 days to a week on a painting this size depending on the amount of detail.
The rush I’m feeling is really because I’m sure people are tired of seeing this painting all over my social media channels at this point.
So, I’m not posting everywhere now. The truth is that these sessions are two to three times shorter than normal, but I’m very focused, and I’m standing and walking back and forth the whole time. So by the end of the session I’m wiped out!
Tomorrow I’ll have to remember to wear my fitbit.
Ok, stay tuned for tomorrow’s timelapse. In the meantime, you could also check out some of my other paintings.
Recently I went to Frootogo Farm in Waterdown to pick fresh Ontario apples. It has become a family tradition ever since we had kids, to visit a nearby farm in the fall. There is just something so cute about photographing toddlers surrounded by bright orange pumpkins bigger than they are! And it is a great way to visually mark time, as the kids in the photos get bigger each year.
Springridge and Frootogo are the two local farms that we have been to most often, but for apple picking we have to go to the latter. And that is where I got the reference photos for this painting.
I participated in Culture Days Burlington on Oct 1st, 2016, in Civic Square which is just in front of the Burlington City Hall. This year I was one of the artists selected to perform for an honorarium. I was not part of the Art Market, in that I did not have items for sale, but instead I painted live.
This photo shows the painting in progress, near the end of the event. I painted for 3 hours, my hope was that I would have it finished in time to do a silent auction, and that I would donate the proceeds to the Arts and Culture Council of Burlington, but I was still painting when some of the artists were packing away their booths.
I am happy with how much I got done in that short time, but instead of leaving it as a study, I decided to refine and complete it in my studio over the next week.
Painting with a live audience is not as scary as you might expect it to be, because quite frankly the nature of painting on a deadline is that you have to be in the moment as you focus on the immediate painting decisions. When people come up and talk to you, or there is live music and hustle and bustle around you, it all adds to the vibe – the energy that you absorb unconsciously, and then reflect in the art.
When you paint intuitively, you slip into a creative zone, and that crowds out any self-doubt about whether you will be able to pull off a good painting. Or worries that people will be seeing your painting as it goes through the inevitable ugly stages. In fact, people generally come up to you with positive things to say.
Every time I am hired to paint live, it is a memorable event for me, and for the audience who gets to see my painting process in person. So far, the feedback has been very positive, so I look forward to doing it again!
As a painter of landscape, flowers & foliage, I have long had a membership at the local Royal Botanical Gardens, and have been waiting for almost 3 years for the Rock Garden to re-open, to see how it has been transformed & updated.
So I was thrilled to get the call from Jeremy Freiburger of Cobalt Connects inviting me to be one of three artists painting live.
Here is a description of the sold-out event, from the RBG website:
There was also a silent auction – as Sanjay B. Patel and Amanda Immurs & I painted, people were able write their bids down on the sheets next to us.
Thanks to the gentleman who took this photo of me painting. I was so focused on doing a good job in the time I had, that I forgot to take photos myself, which I regret, because I’d love to show you what the place looked like. You can search #RBGLuna for images online though.
Several people did ask if they could photograph me painting, and there were some video cameras, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get to see their footage. In the photo above I’m calm, but if there is video of the last 20-30min, I probably look like some crazy person with blurry hands and six paintbrushes on the go!
It was almost dark by the time I took the painting up to the main building, to where people would pick up the items they’d won at auction.
There were several names on my bid sheet, but I had no idea who they were, because when I looked up from my easel I’d just see a sea of business suits and fancy dresses. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed painting in public, chatting here and there with people who had questions and comments, but I mostly kept my eyes on my painting or my subject, so I didn’t remember too many of the faces.
Luckily after the light show the couple with the winning bid came by to pick up the painting, and they seemed happy with it.
This photo is a little fuzzy, it was taken quickly with my phone, at night, with indoor lights.
I spent a long time laying in the composition, because that is key, but then I was rushing near the end, adding in colour and detail. I can still see areas I’d like to address. But really that’s the difference between a plein air (outdoor) sketch – painted from life, with a time constraint – and one of my regular paintings which I may spend a week, or two, sometimes longer on, in the studio.
All in all though, I really enjoyed the experience, getting to do what I love to do for a few hours, while lovely people stopped by and complimented my work. I’d certainly welcome the opportunity to do something like this again.
Meanwhile, I have been working on a floral painting from photos taken at the Rock garden when I did the guided tour last week. I will be posting it in the next few days, so look out for it!
I have two paintings in Art in the Workplace exhibition #20 at McMaster Innovation Park, which opens in a week, April 5, 7-9pm.
So, if you are in the area, I’d love to see you at the Opening. Otherwise, the exhibition continues till July 6, and is open to the public.
DVSA 46th Art Auction
I also have a few paintings in the Dundas Valley School of Art’s 46th Annual Art Auction. Many years ago, when I was a new graduate from the studio art program at McMaster University, and a newlywed, I used to participate in the DVSA art auction, but it’s been a long time since I did so last.
It would be really cool if I met some of my collectors from those days, but we would not recognize each other … and my name is now Donna Grandin, they would only know me by my maiden name, Donna Gomez.
Here is a video clip from a segment on CHCH this morning, with some of the art that will be in the auction.
If you like art, and you live in the area, then you probably already know about the DVSA Art Auction, but now you’ll know to look out for some of my art in the silent auction.
I saw some lovely pottery pieces there when I went to drop off, and I was amazed at how low the reserve prices were. Very tempting.
Looking forward to seeing all the art up, and chatting with other artists. We very nearly ended up moving to Dundas years ago before we had kids, it seems like such a great artsy community.
And of course because I am a McMaster University grad, both of these events take me back to the old stomping grounds, of doing my art degree, dating my husband etc.
The mural was installed on the exterior wall of a small building which houses a concession stand and washrooms. The building is in the center of a large park – Ireland Park. It includes several baseball diamonds, among other amenities, and is flanked by schools and residential streets.
I was selected to be one of the first artists to create murals as part of this project for the City. There were 6 murals revealed yesterday at the launch held at Freeman Station. It is an honour to be included in the Burlington Public Art collection.
I enjoyed the Murals 101 Workshop & Project Launch hosted by the Burlington Public Art Program in April. This was a special service geared to Burlington artists – an opportunity for artists like myself who don’t have a lot of experience applying for public art commissions.
This workshop featured Karin Eaton, Executive Director of Mural Routes and mural artist Allan Bender in a lively discussion about contemporary mural making. They discussed a variety of mural techniques and materials using real life case studies.
The community was then asked to give suggestions of locations, and themes for the mural. The theme that I worked with was “Quality of life in Burlington, active living, and families, youth, kids”.
I am not sure what made me choose to do 4 separate images, rather than 1 large one, but right away I thought of the image for panel 3, and then I picked 3 other Burlington locations.
Spencer Smith Park was an obvious choice, it is part of the vibrant downtown, and the waterfront location is ideal for many activities.
Like many other local families we have made numerous good memories there; we have walked, jogged, biked, skated, flown kites, attended festivals, had picnics and used the playground. In fact, when my husband and I first moved to Burlington in 1998, we lived in walking distance to the park.
Ireland Park itself was my next choice, partly because it was the site of the mural, and partly because it is such a Burlington way of life to have the kids in organized sports, like baseball. Green spaces are also an important element for quality of life in this city.
The next panel is my favourite for a number of reasons. It was the first image that popped into my head when I read the theme for the mural. I love to take the family to Mount Nemo to go hiking.
Just being in a beautiful wooded spot like this makes me feel connected to Nature. Not only is that beneficial to our physical, mental and spiritual health, but I always find it is a boost to my creativity. Also, there are often teachable moments with our kids, and the whole experience is good for relationship building.
In this panel, my two sons make a cameo appearance as they look down at the turkey vultures riding the thermals.
Then I painted Sherwood Forest Park which is also used for organized sports like baseball and soccer, and informally by runners, cyclists, people walking their dogs, or families just out for a stroll.
I wondered if this location was not identifiable enough, and yet to me it was also iconic, both my boys played 3 on 3 soccer there, and it is a common sight in the summer time to see soccer fields filled with kids wearing their team colours.
As it turned out, one of the men who installed the mural recognized the location right away. He said he plays soccer there all the time, and he seemed so happy to have that connection to the mural.
That is the kind of reaction I am hoping for … that Burlingtonians who stand in front of the mural will be able to identify with it because they have had similar experiences.
The launch for the event was held at the historic Freeman Station, which is undergoing renovations, hence the visible insulation & subfloor. One of the artists, Clair Hall, unveiled her mural on the outside of the building during the launch.
I brought my ten year old to the ceremony, and he took these last two photos for me. He did a great job, listening to all of the speeches, talking to the Mayor, and not getting underfoot of the press!
Here is a list of the artists and mural locations:
Judy Mayer-Grieve: King Road Underpass, Ward 1
Claire Hall: Freeman Station, Ward 2
Teresa Seaton: Amherst Park, Ward 3
Hannah Sell and Liam Racine: Port Nelson Park, Ward 4
Tamara Kwapich: Orchard Community Park, Ward 5
Donna Grandin: Ireland Park, Ward 6
You can read more about them on the Burlington Public Art website here, or view the artists with their murals here.
I’d like to thank the City of Burlington for this commission – specific to Burlington artists, and to Mayor Rick Goldring, Angela Paparizo, Adam Louis and anyone else from City Hall who were involved in this process somehow.
Thank you, to the jury who selected me and to Kim Selman and Jeremy Frieburger of Cobalt Connects for guiding us through the process. Thanks to Burlington Signs National for the installation, and to Burlington Post who posted this preview, with a photo of me in front of the Ireland Park mural.
And above all, thank you to my family, who have been dragged into this artistic life of mine kicking and screaming, and sometimes applauding.
Bonus: Click here to view the other mural I painted, 5 years ago, for the City of Toronto.
Update: here is a new article about the mural launch, from the Burlington Post.
This weekend we celebrate the annual Culture Days across Canada, and I will be doing my part in Burlington, ON.
On Saturday I will be setting up my tent to display my art in Civic Square (426 Brant St.) – in front of Burlington City Hall – from 11-4pm.
Burlington Student Theatre will be creating a “Burlywood” atmosphere with theatre, music, dance, film and photography. It should be a fun time.
I will also be working on a collaborative painting – inviting any and everyone to express themselves with a few brushstrokes – and at the end of the day I will do a draw, and the lucky winner will get to take home the painting!
As a Culture Days participant I am required to provide an “activity” at each event, not just a display/sale.
“Founded in 2009, Culture Days is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a national network of cultural connections devoted to providing Canadians with opportunities to participate in, and appreciate, all forms of arts and culture. Through an annual three-day national celebration each September, hundreds of thousands of artists and cultural organizations in hundreds of cities and towns come together and invite Canadians to participate in free interactive and “behind the scenes” activities to discover their cultural spirit and passion”.
So, my activity for Sat is listed on the Culture Days website here.
On Sunday, I will be in the lobby of the Burlington Performing Arts Center (440 Locust St.), from 1-4pm, as part of the Celebrate Burlington: Artist Showcase.
“Local artists and artisans will demonstrate skills, showcase their latest work, and offer interactive activities. A celebration of the city’s Mundialization partners, Citizen Committees, artistic guilds, musicians, photographers, fine artists, and new media artists.” Culture Days Burlington brochure
I will have a small display of my available paintings, and paper and pencil crayons for anyone who wants to practice drawing peacock feathers with me. See my event on the Culture Days website.
Last year I had a fantastic time at the Culture Days event in front of Burlington City Hall, where our Mayor Rick Goldring helped kickoff the celebration with a clip of Burlington artists talking about Arts and Culture in Burlington – in which I was happy to have a 2 second cameo. That day I painted to live music, shared my art with the public, and enjoyed a celebration of the local arts scene.
This year, there will be a lot of different arts professionals/organizations etc, but I think it will be equally exciting, so if you’re in the area, please come on out!
Well, now I have another experience under my belt – outdoor art fair. It is something I never thought I would do, because I had visions of scrambling to keep my paintings dry as it poured with rain. I’ve exhibited my art in group and solo exhibitions since 1996, but with the exception of a few paintings in a shared tent for a few hours, they have all been indoors.
However, at some point I realized I’d been concentrating on the painting side of things, and not enough on the “getting the art seen” side of things and the studio was filling up. So I decided to apply to Art in the Park, after all, it was around the corner, and just a one day event, and maybe I wouldn’t even get juried in.
Except I was. Enter the panic … I need a tent, a waterproof one in case of rain. And a display system.
Luckily I know other artists who have been doing outdoor shows, so I reached out to them. Lois Shaw was a really great help, and pointed me in the right direction – I LOVE my mesh walls for hanging the art, even though they cost an arm and a leg.
This was actually the 50th annual Art in the Park, organized by the Oakville Art Society, and it is held at Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park, by Bronte Harbour.
The location is amazing as you can see, and there was live music, and so much great art. The whole event was well organized, everything went very smoothly, I will certainly be applying again next year.
It rained a lot the day before … I swear the clouds formed a black arrow towards the park! However, by the time we arrived the next morning to set up it had stopped raining, and the ground miraculously was not soggy – but my husband was said it made putting in the tent pegs a lot easier.
Also I think someone’s vehicle stalled, and so we were blocked in in front of our spot, so their bad luck was our good luck because instead of having to drop everything off, park the minivan and then set up the tent trying not to trip over everything on the ground, we were able to do nearly all of our set up before my husband had to go park it.
There are definite differences between showing in a gallery setting, and showing in an art fair, and it will take some getting used to as I learn the psychology behind it.
The first thing is that in a gallery you want the focus to be on the art, so you leave a lot of space between paintings, and you have easy to read white labels with title, size, year created, artist name, and price. The idea is for people to be able to linger in front of a painting and contemplate it, and then maybe imagine it in their home.
In an art fair, people are walking through way faster than you would expect them to … they have their dogs with them, maybe their kids, and it seems as if they’re in a hurry to “get through” so that they can cram something else into the beautiful day.
I’ve seen them push strollers pass booths without even looking in. Maybe they’re engrossed in conversation with a friend. It can be discouraging.
So a photographer friend, an art fair veteran, suggested I put one of my paintings out front, to attract attention. It was near the end of the day, so I gave it a try, and I think it did work, but I had to stay close because I saw one slobbery dog start to veer towards it and if he had swung his head more to the left as he passed, my painting would have had a shower!
Anyway, I have some new ideas to try out for the next time. Like everything about art and an art career, this is going to be an ongoing process.
I made this 39 sec video to show you my booth and what was around it!
One of the reasons I did this art fair was to get feedback on my new series of peacock feather-inspired abstracts. And I also brought florals because I had mostly florals on my site when I was juried in.
I really did think that one series might be more popular than another, but surprisingly throughout the day I had people commenting on nearly ALL of the paintings! From peacock feather abstracts to fiddleheads, from water lilies to tulips … it seems there was something for everyone.
Anyway, the next step is to find some other outdoor shows to apply to – probably for the spring. Meanwhile, I have a big project to start working on …
Although my interpretation of the peacock feathers is more plant-like in Moonlit, I think you still get the feeling of them being swooshed around in the currents.
This was the first painting I created in my Hamilton studio during my 3 month “self-hosted residency”.
I remember there was a little happy dance involved. I shut my door, turned on the radio and stood at the easel. I was euphoric with the possibilities ahead … I’d carved out the space, privacy and time to work on a new series of abstracts. Freedom from photos, and any preconceived notions.
It was exhilarating. As I moved to the music I sketched a whimsical image in charcoal, and wrote down lyrics that resounded with me.
Eventually I started adding colour and the painting evolved, but I did take a photo and will show it to you … if you are the one who ends up collecting this piece. Otherwise, it’s WAY too embarrassing to put out there!
I will have Moonlit at the art fair tomorrow, but it may not be on display, so if you want to see it specifically, just ask!
Have you enjoyed my week of Peacock Painting Previews?
If you are on my Blue Roots Art Studio Mailing List, even if you’re reading this blog post now, take a look at today’s e-mail because there is something special in it for you!
I will probably not post for a while, as I will be wiped out after this event, and I will have some follow-up items to take care of … not to mention hanging out with my boys. Summer is flying by faster than I thought it would.
There is a big new art project on the horizon, I don’t want to announce it until all the signatures are on the contract etc, but it will keep me busy for the next 2 months. Just a hint though … it does not involve peacock feathers OR tropical foliage.
I am looking forward to seeing some of you at Art in the Park Oakville tomorrow. I will be in booth #143.
It looks like there will be rain, but the show will go on. I invested in a waterproof tent, to protect my paintings, so just dress accordingly and come on out!
I love the mysterious, magical quality of this painting. It started out as a follow-up to “Fernscape 2”, and was supposed to only have ferns in it, but it just wasn’t quite working. So I put it aside for a week while I worked on something else, and when I returned to it, peacock feathers started appearing.
You are not imagining it, my art has become darker over the last couple years. For so long my attitude was that I just wanted to paint upbeat, joyful images to increase the beauty in this world, and not dwell on negativity, which would just be feeding it.
At the time, that meant bright, vibrant, “sunny” colours … sometimes I literally painted on yellow canvases.
But the times we live in have a dark undertone, and I am not immune to it. As artists, it is not just our nature, but our job to FEEL, and to be a channel – through our art – to make others FEEL.
And a big part of that is in being honest, and open. To be sensitive to our surroundings. To be vulnerable. That is how we make art that people can truly connect with … because they recognize the truth in it.
Yes, there are people – artists and non-artists – who will manipulate. And there are times when the price of being honest is high, but I think for an artist especially, the price of remaining “on brand” is even higher.
I am thinking of Robin Williams… or rather the idea of him, someone who brought joy and laughter to so many people, people who had no clue of the darkness he was going through.
And what does this have to do with the painting?
Well, I’ve often thought of the Caribbean landscape as being a metaphor for life … the bright sunlight creates long dark shadows.
On one hand there are the vibrant, happy hibiscus flowers that I have painted so often before – reminiscent or maybe even symbolic of lazy days by the pool of some tropical resort. Some days I just need to paint hibiscuses.
But life has more nuance to it.
The thing that grips me, that I discovered when I painted my Jungle Rhythms series years ago, where I played with the organic shapes and visual rhythm of tropical foliage, was an abstract sense of “growth”, the cycle of life, being swept up in something that is bigger than oneself.
It is that spiritual connection you feel when you are mindful in a natural setting.
And there is so much life in the shadows.
So much beauty.
Not the kind of bold, in your face beauty of a close-up of a detailed realistic painting of a flower, but the overarching flow and harmony of an impressionistic landscape, semi-abstract, or abstract painting.
The interesting thing about blogging, is that there is a flow to it too. Some weeks or months I only get on to post about upcoming events, and it is all about the facts.
And other times, when I get into a daily posting habit, my reserve wears away, the words slip by faster and faster, from a trickle to a flood. And all sorts of flotsam and jetsam is dragged along with it.
There isn’t time to edit and polish. I upload an image of a painting, and I begin typing this “stream of consciousness”.
I hope that you find it entertaining if not insightful, but if you have read thus far, you are certainly in the minority as most people these days seem to just skim through to look at the images.
So, thank you for joining me today, for this walk amoung the ferns in my head.
The countdown is on to my first outdoor art fair, the 50th anniversary of Art in the Park, Oakville, ON.
It is so strange to still be a newbie, considering my first solo exhibition was in 1996, and I’ve exhibited numerous times in galleries & (indoor) shows in the Caribbean, Canada & even Paris, France since then!
However, it is true, although I’ve had a couple paintings outdoors before, as part of the Burlington Fine Arts Association’s tent during events at the Burlington Art Center (now the Art Gallery of Burlington) and even recently at Car Free Appleby, this is the first time I’ll have my own outdoor booth in an actual art fair.
The two biggest deterrents of course are the unpredictable weather (this same one-day art fair was hit with a bad rainstorm last year), and the tedium/hard labour of packing up kit & caboodle (what IS a caboodle anyway, and why does it always come with a kit?), unpacking at the fair (with a strict time limit) setting up, then repacking later to take home, & unpacking again when I get there. I think this gets easier once you have a few shows under your belt & have developed a system, but for now even just preparing for the event is a big deal, breaking into my regular painting schedule.
Part of that is all the research & shopping involved … I just ordered 3 table covers for my 6’x6′ table and that took all morning. An artist friend, Teresa Thompson-Martin (who will also be at Art in th Park Oakville) recommended this site, as she had just ordered black tablecloths online and they were at her door 2 days later. I wanted a plain white rectangular tablecloth, but they were sold out. After considering several alternatives, I decided to get a white fitted tablecloth.
At Car Free Appleby I used a taupe tablecloth from home, and I tacked my coroplast sign to it with small bulldog clips. At the end of the day, my husband went off to get the minivan & I packed up the artwork in a hurry so I’d be ready to just place them in the vehicle when he arrived. I put away a few small paintings that were on the table, and then lifted up the stand with the greeting cards … and the weight of the sign immediately started pulling the tablecloth to the ground. I quickly put a hand out to stop it, but a pile of newly printed postcards hit the wet ground (it had rained on & off all day)! Luckily the postcards were glossy, and even though I was only able to wipe them down when I was home (5 min away) and had unpacked the minivan, most of the cards were actually undamaged! Anyway, a fitted tablecloth should eliminate this from happening again.
I also ordered a black fitted tablecloth AND a royal blue one. Their royal blue is the same colour as the Pthalo blue acrylic paint I’ve been in love with for the last year or two. In fact when I did the Culture Days event last September, the City of Burlington had provided a canopy & table with a royal blue tablecloth & table skirt.
It was a great accent colour, and serendipitous – the colour of the peacock-feather inspired painting I started that day, “Flow”, and the colour of the sign I made for my business – Blue Roots Art Studio. So for now, my plan is to use the royal blue tablecloth. If it competes with my art though, I’ll have the more neutral white or black to fall back on.
The thing is, no matter how much research you do beforehand, it seems you still end up having to go through some trial & error, which is why most art fair veterans say that that this too is an “ongoing process”. I am wishing now that I didn’t make the last change to my order … from a regular black 90×132″ tablecloth to a fitted black tablecloth.
It turns out that the way you get into the fitted tablecloth to get to whatever you have stored under the table, is through the single slit which I was planning to place up against one of the tent walls … which might be awkward if there are people near the table, and things on it that might fall over when I move it away from the wall. It would have been smart to have had a regular black tablecloth as a backup. I was just thinking of how great the fitted tablecloths would look if I did an indoor event with just a table and a few grids. Then there’s the issue of signage … and the possibility of digitally printed tablecloths … you see, it never ends!
As it is, there is a slight chance that the tablecloths won’t get here in time (when you spend over $49., shipping is free, but it could take up to 2 weeks … I’m taking a gamble, I’m almost certain they’ll get here in time). In which case I’ll probably end up using my light taupe tablecloth, but at least I’ll be prepared for the next event.
Anyway, I’ve decided to post a new painting every day, from tomorrow until Art in the Park, Oakville on August 3.
I have been very silent on this blog for the last couple months because I have had a number of projects on the go, and just didn’t have the time to write about it, but I’ll be able to give more details in the next few posts.
BLUE ROOTS ART STUDIO – acrylic paintings of Caribbean & Canadian landscape, flowers & foliage. Burlington, ON, Canada. 905-639-3419