Tag Archives: fern

Welcome to my Peacock Garden

Peacock garden, 24"x36", acrylic on canvas, © 2015 Donna Grandin
Peacock garden, 24″x36″, acrylic on canvas, © 2015 Donna Grandin

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.

A few of the paintings I worked on last year had this Night Garden feel to them. For example, “Choices” and “Behind the garden gate”. 

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.

Two more days till Art in the Park Oakville! I’m getting excited now.

Abstracted landscape painting – Fernscape 2

Fernscape 2, 24"x48", acrylic on canvas, ©2014 Donna Grandin. $1800.00
Fernscape 2, 24″x48″, acrylic on canvas, ©2014 Donna Grandin. $1800.00
I’ve been blogging for a little while now, and depending on my mood, sometimes my writing can get very personal, or intense and other times when I’m in a rush, I keep it brief, just stating the facts so that I have a record of what’s going on in my art business.To be honest, I really enjoy blogging – putting my words and my images together – once I am able to focus, to get into the zone, it’s pure bliss for me. And when I hear back from you, and realize that my words have landed on fertile ground … I get a little thrill.

My favourite thing in the world is to really connect with another person …. you know, those deep, meaningful conversations that go on for hours. In the 90’s I lived for those long, juicy hand-written letters my friends and I exchanged when I first left home to go to school in Canada.

Writing a blog is a more public arena though, and I cannot see your faces to read your expressions, your body language … so I appreciate it when you comment here, or e-mail me. When you participate in the conversation, it evolves, is becomes more and more interesting to all of us.

So, please continue to send me your questions, comments, suggestions, requests!

Ok, I’m going off topic. What I wanted to say is, after all this time blogging, it’s only just occurred to me that I have NOT been writing an individual blog post for each painting that I complete and add to this website!!!!

I also realized, that I should be adding a Paypal button to these posts – such a fundamental thing in this age of online sales – I feel like a such a “ninny-headed-nincompoop”!

This painting was inspired by the first Fernscape painting I did, I’m still really in love with it, and hope to do many more. In between the two, I did work on the peacock-inspired paintings, and I think you can see some of that influence in this painting. It’s looser, more whimsical. I pretty much painted it freehand, just used a chalk at the beginning to lay in some flowing lines.

There is a happy, fun aspect to this painting because of the abstraction, you can feel the rhythm. It’s not as serious and laboured as a purely realistic painting can be, and I think some days we all need some of that lightness.

I especially feel that now that there is a wicked winter chill in the air – I can hear the wind howling outside as I write. My intention was to start a new series of Fernscapes this month, but I’m hesitating – usually when the winter blues hit I counteract them with bright sunny paintings.

So, I may push the Fernscape series onto the backburner for a little while. I have another idea that I might pursue first.

Meanwhile … I’m preparing for my ART CLASSES to start on Jan 15 !

Fernscape & artistic voice – new painting

Fernscape, 16"x20", acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. $800.
Fernscape, 16″x20″, acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin.

It seems that whenever I let my heart take the lead, instead of my head, I do my best work. I have said for years that what I love to paint the most is foliage, and my artist statement always mentions organic shapes & patterns, and mood created with dramatic lighting and vivid colour, but not all of my paintings hit the nail on the head the way this one does.

Painting technique can be learned, but finding one’s own unique artistic voice/style has no predictable timeline, no guarantee. Some artists are lucky to discover it right away, but I personally think that that is the case when they already have strong opinions, and a clear idea of who they are – OR, they have someone nurturing  and mentoring their progress.

Some artists, especially those working on commission, may never discover their own voice, because they are essentially allowing themselves to be a channel for their client’s voice. I am not saying that there is a right & a wrong, or even a finality about this decision. Making a living as an artist takes as much creativity as the artwork itself.

It is possible however to do good paintings, that do nothing to move you down your own artistic path. I suppose I am talking here not of art as a commodity, but as a spiritual practice or art therapy. A creative process like painting can be a vehicle for personal growth, if the artist is mindful. Like writing “morning pages” (google Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way if you don’t know what I’m talking about), the painter can sometimes gain clarity & insight by being in the moment.

Painting pushes everyday worries out of my head because it is like slipping into a stream of constant decision making. When I stop, it is a struggle to keep my head above water, which is why I try to have a couple paintings on the go at any one time.

Canvases as mental life-rafts, I might be pushing the metaphor a little. Then again, I have heard authors say that writing a certain book saved their life, either due to the toxicity they were able to release, or to the positive energy it brought into their lives.

The arts are how we connect to the rest of humanity, even our most desperate times. And it isn’t just a benefit for those of us creating. The general public may not be able to relate to my story of being moved to tears as I stood in front of a gigantic Sorolla painting in the D’Orsay Museum in Paris, but we have all laughed and cried because of a movie, we have all felt the grip on our hearts as music dragged us up and down through an emotional roller coaster.

In fact, the chances of a viewer being deeply moved by a painting is partly dependent on personal taste, partly due to the sum of their life experience – the more experiences the more points of reference they have to connect with the work – and above all it has to do with how truly open they are to being in the moment, to contemplate, to feel, to trust in their honest reaction to the work. Appreciation for the arts is a gift we give ourselves, and others. It is a portal to receiving and sharing joy, peace, truth and a sense of belonging.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...