My staywet palette is starting to look like an abstract version of the peony I’m painting.
I mostly use heavy body acrylics with it, rather than fluid, otherwise the water in the palette soaks through the sponge and through the porous paper to dissolve the paints even further. Eventually the paints become transparent like watercolour paints, which would be fine if I were working on paper instead of canvas.
The danger really is that if the paints get too waterlogged they will flow, and the colours could get corrupted, and even slip down the sides and get on the sponge.
If they then harden in the sponge when it dries, they will of course form non-porous plastic, which means areas of your sponge won’t adhere to the wet palette paper, resulting in air pockets, and your paints drying out, rendering the the whole system useless.
I do use some fluid paints with it, but strategically. For example, sometimes it is just easier to drip some fluid titanium white in to mix a tint.
Okay, okay, now the non-painters reading this are starting to glaze over (hee hee).
Push and Pull
Timelapse #4 of 30
This middle stage of the painting is the part that makes me question my sanity. This is where I have to dig deep to continue past the hard bits, as compared to the beginning which has the energy of a fresh start, of inspiration. Or the end stage where I’m loosely adding flourishes, and have a growing sense of accomplishment and awe at the magic of creation.
Assuming you’ve got the drawing sorted out already, the push pull stage is all about tweaking the colours, values and edges. So the changes are probably too subtle to catch in the timelapse, but I can get quite obsessed with … perfection?
I take photos of the progress because some of the changes I make don’t work out, so I walk them back.
This is where you can become a slave to your photographic references. And I have to remind myself that any realism in my work is a by-product of my way of working, but it is not my goal.
The goal is to do work that moves me, and the viewer.
And sometimes what makes me really love a painting, is just an unexpected or pleasing combination of colours, virtuoso brushstroke, or what is left out (semi-abstraction, or enigmatic subject matter).
Hmm. Maybe I need print that up and place it next to my easel so I remember, next time I’m spinning my wheels to get a passage just right!
When I paint more frequently, and have 2 – 3 paintings on the go at a time, the momentum gives me more confidence, and I can move through the middle stage much, much faster.
If you want to just see the timelapse videos, I usually upload them tomy YouTube channelfirst.
I took the reference photos for this peony painting from a trip to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington. I have a membership, because then I’ll make sure to go several times a year to wander around with my camera looking for inspiration.
The painting is coming along, it should only take another one or two sessions to complete. I’ve been painting faster, and been more focused than I would normally be painting in my home studio, because the camera is on me.
That’s what gave me the idea for doing 30 timelapse videos in 30 days.
I noticed when I did my first timelapse video, that I would listen to a podcast while I painted instead of binge watching Netflix, or checking social media, e-mail etc., which made me much more efficient.
Though to be honest, watching movies while I paint, is hella fun way to spend my days. Escapism at its best.
All it took to fix the glitch (camera slipping) from yesterday, was to tighten a knob.
I’m still not thrilled with my set-up. An iphone attached to a selfie stick duct taped to a filing cabinet. I’ll have research a better solution, something sturdier.
Meanwhile, today when I checked the video after my painting session, I discovered the whole thing was recorded at a 90 degree angle!
Luckily, I remembered an app on my phone that I’ve used before to help my son prep videos for his YouTube channel. All I had to do was upload the video to Videoshop, and click on rotate, and problem solved.
The video does seem a little smaller though, but at least it was usable. This is after all an accountability tool, I’m not looking to become a viral sensation with these videos.
Another observation is that my first video was 25 seconds, and about 1 hour of painting, however today was about 3 1/2 hrs, and the timelapse video was 20 seconds long.
AND it looked like I was a bee, or a humming bird, zipping around the peony on the canvas. It was not easy to make out what I was working on, because there was a longer duration lost between stills, which the camera strings together into the video.
On the plus side, you don’t catch all my mis-steps, colours & brushstrokes added and removed. Or every time I walked back to view the painting from further away, or to refill my water container.
Subscribe to my blog (the widget should be on the left if you’re viewing this on your computer), so that you can follow this 30 in 30 challenge.
Have you done, or are you doing a 30 in 30 challenge too? What theme, or what parameters have you set for yourself?
Scroll to the bottom to see the 27second timelapse video of me painting this pink peony.
One January a few years ago, I did Leslie Saeta’s 30 in 30 painting challenge to paint (almost) 30 paintings in 30 days. It was a a lot of work, but fun, and about a quarter of them sold within an hour or two of posting on Facebook!
I did the next challenge that September – she usually does it twice a year and artists from all over the world participate. That time I used it as an opportunity to try out some ideas for painting subjects, and techniques, which resulted in some of my first peacock feather-inspired abstract paintings.
If you do a search on my site for “30 in 30”, you’ll see some of the paintings I did previously.
This time I’ve set myself the challenge to post 30 timelapse painting videos in 30 days.
My main objective is to build up some painting momentum, because in the last year or more I’ve been struggling to put my art practice first.
My second objective is to get back into the groove of marketing my own art, because this is my business, my career, my passion, my creative outlet, my legacy all rolled into one, not a hobby.
Years of volunteer work in my local Arts and Culture community has led me to the point where I’m lucky enough to be able to help create opportunities for other Creatives.
And instead of slowing down, now that we’ve started an Arts & Culture Council, and helped develop a Grant Program, partnered with local organizations to do some fundraisers … bigger and better projects to help develop the Arts & Culture scene, and spotlight fellow artists, are coming our way.
I cannot let this be at the expense of my own art-making, my own business.
So, this February, I’m going to show myself some love. I’m going to put my art first.
It has not been easy so far. Yesterday I was on my laptop for most of the time from 9am to 9pm going between meeting notes in Evernote, and my Membership spreadsheets etc, to prepare for the first AGM of our Arts & Culture Council, as well as doing some social media for the not-for-profit.
Thankfully I had done my first timelapse video some time before, (technically it was my second time working on this peony), and I was able to create yesterday’s blog post and add the link to the 30 in 30 blog a few minutes before midnight.
I had a late start this morning, at first spinning my wheels not sure what to tackle first. If it weren’t for the challenge, today would have been just another day lost to a never-ending to do list.
There is something magical about telling people you are going to do something, especially if you then have to do that thing in the public eye.
When I first heard the concept of accountability as a motivational tool, I knew I’d struck gold.
Why it works
It does not even matter if no-one ever reads this blog, if no-one ever watches the videos. Just the threat of letting someone else down by not following through with what I’ve promised, is enough to keep me on track.
The beauty about the 30 in 30 is that it isn’t just one big deadline, where I procrastinate for weeks, eg. cleaning and organizing the house. Then pull an all-nighter just to come through in the nick of time (a skill I perfected during 4 years of University).
It is a series of 30 smaller deadlines. The idea being that somewhere during that month, the little things you do start to add up to greater insights, and even change.
Someone like myself who has to fight through analysis paralysis at times, has no time for perfectionism when fighting this clock.
I can’t spend all day refining each post, I can just let the words flow, try to clean it up a little. Then move on to the technical aspects of preparing the pics, videos etc. for the blog post, and then share the link on social media etc. Hopefully before everyone has gone to sleep!
I believe in the process.
Timelapse video newbie
This video makes me laugh. I had a technical malfunction with my tripod, but my husband fixed it in 2 seconds flat & I have higher hopes for tomorrow.
I do need to change my camera position though, because so far I’ve been working fast, and sitting close, right up in front of the peony painting.
At some point tomorrow I’m going to need to stand at the easel & walk back & forth as I evaluate how the values in the painting are working as a whole, and make the necessary adjustments.
I hope you’ll return tomorrow to check on the progress.
While you’re here, take a look at the menu to see some of the flower/landscape/abstract paintings on my website.
I’m doing a 30 in 30 painting challenge. I’m hoping to post a new timelapse video of me painting each day for 30 days. I hope you will follow to see my progress.
Any comments, views etc. will probably help motivate me, though really my reasons for doing this are selfish, I’m using it as an accountability tool.
I’m starting off with this painting of a peony, the first time I’ve ever painted this type of flower.
You can see this timelapse video and more on my YouTube channel.
I’ll write more tomorrow …. I’m racing against the clock to post this right now. The whole point of me doing this is to use it as an accountability tool, as I’ve been caught up in volunteer work and I need to carve out painting time to create a new body of paintings.
This painting of the pink peony is not part of that series, but it is the first timelapse painting video I’ve ever done, and so it’s all part of the process.
Subscribe to my blog so you can see what progress I make tomorrow.
In 2010 I painted & exhibited a series of acrylic paintings I called Hibiscus ‘n Banana. Every now & then I return to paint another hibiscus. Instead of trying to paint the most perfect flower, I’m like a portrait painter striving to pull out what is unique in each subject. The beauty is in the variations.
Thanks to my cousin, Patrice Esper for letting me use her photo of a an orange hibiscus as reference for the painting. I very rarely paint from someone else’s photos, but the lighting on the hibiscus was so beautiful. I started to paint it in my head as soon as I saw it.
In the interim
There were many months between the start and finish of this painting, and between this post and my last. A variety of projects & distractions took me away, and the truth is, I’m not sure if it’s worth the time to blog anymore. I’ve been posting work-in-progress photos on Instagram, as well as other things that inspire me, and this “micro-blogging” is much more immediate, less time-consuming.
This summer I took the family to St. Lucia for a month, and it was an epic trip – first time my parents, my brother & his wife, my husband & our boys, and even my mother-in-law were in the same country at the same time. So we crammed as much into that trip as we could, and some of the highlights were climbing Gros Piton, Carnival, seeing an octopus while snorkeling, volcanic mud bath, and standing under a waterfall, hanging out with family & friends, having a pop-up art sale at The Inner Gallery. Then I did a 2 day side-trip to Barbados to deliver paintings to Gallery of Caribbean Art for CariFestArt, an exhibition of artists from 11 Caribbean islands, a fringe event of Carifesta.
I also took many wonderful reference photos, and I’m looking forward to painting some of them for a solo show (more on that another day).
Summer is over, but there are still a few water lilies lingering in ponds here and there. “Pink water lily” is a shot of colour, a bit of cheer as we head into what promises to be a long winter. And since it has been a while since I blogged, I thought I would write about some alternative spaces to hang original art.
Originally I had this painting in mind for someone specific, I thought they wanted a close up of a water lily, but it turned out it was too bold, too bright to go with my other paintings in their collection. So, now it is available for someone new.
And this got me thinking about the places where people hang original art.
Alternate places to hang original art
Where do you hang your original art? In your office, your cottage, your home? In the front foyer, at the top of the stairs, above the bed, the dining room table and the inevitable couch?
How about in the eat-in kitchen, or the she-shed?
This summer I had the nice surprise of discovering one of my small paintings in the powder room of a collector and friend. Of course, I am not recommending anyone hang original, valuable art in their washroom. The steam from the shower could ruin it over time.
However, I think few of us think of using the powder room as a mini-gallery.
My friend Bridie is an artist, and like many artists, over the years she has collected a few small paintings that she has fallen in love with. Some she acquired in a show of support for a fellow artist, others she may have received as gifts.
However, as an artist herself, wall space is a premium. Home is the one place you are always guaranteed a solo exhibition!
Powder room exhibition
Recently, I popped in for a cup of tea and a chat, and as I went to use the powder room before leaving, I discovered Bridie’s solution.
She hangs a few of the small paintings on the walls of the powder room, rotating and refreshing her selection every now and then.
I already knew that she hung art in there, I always enjoyed stopping in to look at the little treasures, but it was only when one of my own popped up that I realized she changed up the art. And I wondered how many other artists had been in there and discovered their art on display? How many other people looked forward to a trip to her powder room when they came for a visit?
Just think of it. What a great opportunity to curate your own mini-exhibition for your friends and family!
Can you think of any other unusual places or alternate spaces where you could hang original art?
If you live in Hamilton & surrounding area, then come join me at the wine & cheese art opening tomorrow night at McMaster Innovation Park!
This is the 17th juried exhibition put on by MIP, and several of the artists I know have participated before, and they’ve encouraged me to enter. So, I did, and I’m excited to see the following 2 paintings on display tomorrow, along with a great selection of art by a variety of local artists.
If you’d like some fresh art to enliven your home, or workplace for Spring … come take a look at the selection available!
In 2009 I started painting a series simply called Hibiscus & Banana, and it all started with a close-up of a red hibiscus flower.
The image came to mind immediately when I tried to select a flower that represented St. Lucia to me personally.
Technically, and culturally, the rose and the marguerite are the National flowers of St. Lucia. However, they were not as abundant, and did not have as much of a visual impact on me.
In fact, the association may persist for me because my family has always grown hibiscus bushes in the garden, so I saw them every day as a child. However, they also grew profusely around the island in those days.
Here is my artist statement from an exhibition a few years ago …
Hibiscus, Bananas ‘n More
Summer 2009, I went home to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia in search of reference material for my latest series of acrylic paintings. I wanted to focus on what I felt were two of the most iconic images of St. Lucian plant-life … the banana tree and the hibiscus flower. As a child, the banana industry drove the local economy, and although tourism has upstaged it, the island is still covered in banana trees – farmed, wild and decorative. Islanders take pride in being able to eat off of the land, and most properties boast a variety of fruit trees. On the other hand, the hibiscus flowers were harder to find. In recent years many plants, including the one at the end of my parents’ porch, were lost to the pink mealybug, and drought. The best specimens I found were on the grounds of hotels and restaurants. In 2010, I travelled to both St. Lucia and Trinidad, and have since expanded the series to include croton and flamboyant images.
I paint living plants interacting with their environment, sun shining through the leaves, wind blowing the petals, other plants in the background adding contrast. I try to express the atmosphere, a specific moment in time, and my feelings about the place. Although my paintings are representational, my actual focus is on the abstract rhythms of Nature. I play with the organic shapes and vibrant colours to create uplifting and engaging images. I paint because I love the creative process, however it is my hope that the finished paintings bring joy and beauty into our everyday lives.
Although I have gone on to paint other imagery, every now and then I find myself returning to this motif. I just took a look at my records and out of the last 100 paintings I’ve done (not including small daily paintings), about 1/5th of them feature hibiscus flowers!
The interesting thing about hibiscus flowers is that I encounter them here in Canada all the time too … they can be found year-round in green-houses, or as potted house-plants, and in the warmer weather they are available as large flowering plants from anywhere that sell plants (even grocery stores!). And that’s just the traditional hibiscus, not counting the hardier varieties that are now available in colder climates.
I think the allure of the hibiscus flower is partly due to the bright colour … certainly that cheerful red is why I have been painting hibiscuses lately, as a weapon to combat the winter blues!
Subconsciously, I think we are also drawn to hibiscus flowers, like so many birds and insects, because of the erotic design. The generous petals open wide like out-flung limbs promising an embrace, but really are just there to draw attention to the pistil, to play their part in the survival of the species.
For all their glorious beauty, hibiscus blooms only last a day or two, and are delicate, which is why they do not show up as often in tropical bouquets.
In fact, hibiscus flowers are a common choice for tattoos, especially in women, symbolizing delicate beauty, fragility, as well as love, passion, and a laid back life-style.
I mentioned in my statement earlier, finding hibiscus flowers growing mostly at hotels and restaurants. That is because even during the dry season when the general public will hold off on watering their flowering plants, these businesses have to try to keep them alive. They help create “atmosphere”, and it is not just that they are decorative and make the place more attractive to patrons.
It also has to do with the connotation of rest and relaxation, “fun in the sun”, and everything else positive the world thinks of when they think of a tropical vacation.
Images of pretty girls with hibiscus flowers in their hair (which is only ever done when posing for a photograph), or as part of a pool-side scene with umbrella-drinks and lounge chairs.
I have painted hibiscuses in a range of colours – pinks, yellows, oranges, reds, and white, and I think of them as portraits. I try to paint the individual flower, or grouping of flowers, with its unique environment, rather than a generic, formulaic version.
While there may be stylistic similarities tying all my hibiscus paintings together, there are so many different kinds of hibiscus plants, and so many ways to present them – varying the positions, backgrounds, lighting, stage in cycle of life, painting techniques and media etc. – that I am sure I will return to this motif time and time again, and I will find something new to explore each time.
You can find some more of my hibiscus paintings here.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Here is a little something I’ve been working on, to show my appreciation to those who support me in this love affair I have with painting.
Hot off the easel … ok, on the easel right now. This painting, and a few others that I’ve been working on since my last post, will go to the photographer soon, then I’ll post the official photographs when he gives them to me.
As you can see, I’ve continued exploring the blue patterning that started out in my fernscapes and peacock abstractions. I’m having fun trying out different ways to incorporate it in my painting. In this case I started out just placing random strokes of blue, but quickly saw the potential for a floral pattern and so took it in that direction.
This is the first time the background is so separate from the rest of the image, but I’m enjoying the boldness of this painting, it’s strong, cheerful and romantic.
If you have fallen in love with this painting, and want to bring it home to live with you, be the first to contact me about it at email@example.com.
One of the things I love about tropical landscape is its resilience. Even with drastic weather – drought and hurricanes – Nature persists, it finds another way to exist. If a big tree comes down, it lets light in for smaller plants to flourish.
On one hand you have beautifully manicured lawns and flower gardens, which take regular maintenance to upkeep or else the wild will take over! On the other hand, left to itself, it turns into a big tangle of bushes, trees and flowers that are strangled by vine and bloom anyway! There is a intensity about this lush vegetation, the sunlit leaves and bright colourful flowers scream with optimism, with a great gusto for life.
The landscape endures natural and man-made changes, and outlives us all. You can stand under a coconut tree and look out at the seascape, and the view, the feeling of the gentle breeze on your face, the sun on your skin and the sand between your toes is the same that someone would have experienced hundreds of years ago. Being in Nature makes you realize how small we are, how insignificant in the flow of time, and it gives you perspective.
This painting is based on photos I took in an elderly friend’s garden, when I visited the island many months after she had passed. The aging house had been left to rot away, she didn’t have family or means, and only minimum maintenance was done in her later years. New owners had plans to level the building to the ground and build something new and big in its place. Her beautiful and bountiful garden was left untouched, except for neighbours and passersby picking fruit off the trees. The roses, ginger lilies, bird of paradise flowers etc. that she used to make bouquets as gifts for friends were strangled in vine.
It was sad, and yet so beautiful.
I took so many photos that day, and then on subsequent trips. Later, I did the same thing with my Grandfather’s garden, I was drawn to it. As an avid horticulturalist he had some amazing things in there, and although it has not been completely neglected, little by little the magic slipped away.
At one point I was going to do a series of paintings based on this theme, but I guess I got busy with some project, followed by another project and it’s just been sitting waiting for me.
I feel as deeply about this idea for a series as I do about the one yesterday. And although the theme/sentiment is different, the paintings seem to go together. I think it has to do with the personification of the flowers. I’ve always maintained that I’m not just painting a flower, the image usually has more meaning to me that that … which is sometimes reflected in the title.
Hmm. The cogs are turning … time to figure out what I’m going to paint for Day 30!
BLUE ROOTS ART STUDIO – acrylic paintings of Caribbean & Canadian landscape, flowers & foliage. Burlington, ON, Canada. 905-639-3419