New painting in progress this morning. Reference photo is from my favourite St. Lucian photographer, I’ll talk more about that when the painting is further along. I don’t really want to talk much about it yet, except to say that the title is Journey to self.
I was done with the timelapse early this morning, but for some reason I really, really procrastinated in writing this blog post.
The peony painting from yesterday is not done, but I usually start something new before going back to finish the first. That’s how I keep the momentum going.
In fact, I got photos to create two paintings based on my friend’s photography, three months ago! But I had big plans with trying a new technique, which involved me taking a laser cutting 101 workshop at the local library.
I’m glad to have finally started this painting, but I have to say that things got out of hand pretty quickly.
I aimed the camera at the figure in the painting, intending to just work on her. Which is opposite to the norm of going from large masses to smaller details. My reason for doing that is that I was planning to use custom stencils to create patterns in the landscape, later on.
But as I went along, I got into a bit of a frenzy, moving to bigger and bigger brushes and working larger and larger areas of the canvas, some of which were out of view .
Also, I had started working with a new staywet palette for this painting, but when I needed a pink, I decided to open up the peony palette. Before I knew it I was like a crazy person mixing colours in a palette on either side of me!
Looks like I’m getting my painting mojo back.
The vote is in
Oh, and the consensus on the peony painting timelapse from yesterday, was to keep the sides green. In fact, EVERYONE voted for green instead of black. I’m happy with that.
“View through the red ginger lilies”
I love this long, narrow horizontal format, I will be doing more of those in the future. I have only painted ginger lilies a few times, usually red, but they also come in pink and white.
While I was in St. Lucia, I took this painting, and several others in to The Inner Gallery. So, if you are local, ask Rachael or Chartal to see my new work. And if not, you can find contact information on the Facebook page, they ship worldwide.
I have wandered the grounds taking hundreds, probably thousands of photographs, and done a couple paintings from them before, but I could easily do a whole show based on this location.
The Pink Plantation House Restaurant
I did not actually get there on this trip, so I thought I’d share a few photographs taken on previous visits to St. Lucia.
Michelle has probably the best set-up I can imagine for an artist, her whimsical paintings on canvas, ceramics and textiles are very popular, and her creative side gets to be inspired by this beautiful, lush setting, while her family background in running a restaurant helps to balance out the business side.
My mom, “Fancy Nancy” always wears bright, colourful prints which reflect her cheerful disposition.
Blue Monkey Cafe
Alison – Michelle’s sister – started up The Pink Plantation House Restaurant with her, but now she has her very own cafe in a very central location in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. I only saw her briefly this trip, but she gave me a little something for my “sweet tooth”.
I took the fudge back to Canada to share with my boys, but from the first bite I knew they were out of luck. The texture, the taste, it was really good fudge.
The boys were happy with the tamarind balls, guava cheese and coloured coconut balls that their granny sent for them, and I did not mention the fudge at all. But I will have to get them some next time I am in St. Lucia.
We held the Peacock Painting Party at Island Mix on Sat 12th March, and it was a great experience. Ten lovely ladies created their own unique paintings, inspired by peacock feathers.
I was so happy to see how they were able to apply my techniques, but add their own personal flair to each design.
Interestingly, some of the paintings had similarities – though, none of them looked like my demo painting. The greatest similarities were between family members, whether or not they sat together. Hmm.
As artist, blogger, bee-keeper, Director of Business Development and Marketing at Cultural Development Foundation, fellow St. Lucian Finola put it on Facebook; “Took big Sis with all her jet lag, to art class… Here are our two peacock paintings. Not bad Huh? Hard to tell who’s the pilot n who’s the artist!!! “
Venue for the Peacock Painting Party
I am getting ahead of myself, first, here is a 48 second video I took just before everyone arrived, to give you a sense of how idyllic the waterfront setting is at Island Mix.
Thanks to Nadia Jabour, of Island Mix, for this opportunity. We were having so much fun painting, that when we neared the 3 hour mark, Nadia offered to order in pizza for us, and so we were able to keep going for another hour.
The day before the workshop was rainy, and I was worried the rain would blow in on us while we painted, but we had a beautiful sunny morning for our peacock painting party.
In fact it was so bright when we took our group photo at the end, that the details of the paintings are hard to make out. Next time I will try to photograph some of the individual paintings.
Meanwhile, artist, jeweller and art teacher, Alcina Nolley, sent me a clear image of her painting to share in this post.
And can I say how lovely it was to have such a diverse set of artists for my first group painting session? The age range was about 60 years, from a teen to a retired art teacher.
Some of these ladies were new to acrylic painting, others have graphic art backgrounds, or paint on fabric and glass etc, and sell their products – one of them even had a painting of hers sell in the shop area while she was taking the workshop!
I knew a few like Kim, whose daughter had attended my semi-private art lessons the last time I was in St. Lucia – this time they both came. However, many of them I really only know through social media. And there were a couple new faces.
However, St. Lucia is a small island, so we ALL had mutual friends and many of the ladies knew each other very well, so it was a fun group.
Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and based on the success of this event, I plan to book another workshop when next in St. Lucia.
There are several people who have expressed an interest, they are just scattered about – St. Lucia, Burlington, Cobourg, even Texas!
If you would like to attend a Peacock Painting Party, contact me at email@example.com, and I will let you know if/when I am planning something in your area.
Also, more of my peacock feather-inspired abstract paintings can be seen here.
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 is one of my favourite paintings right now, but I’m not sure you will get the full effect looking at it online. There’s more subtlety to it in real life, it is feminine without being obnoxiously so, and exudes a lush, luxurious and exotic mood.
There is something of all of that inherent in peacock imagery – long before I created this painting, pretty girls have been wearing peacock feathers to enhance their own beauty. However, for my peacock series I really am just taking the motif for a drive, with no particular destination in mind … trying to remain in the moment, painting intuitively. So I am as surprised and delighted as the next person with what evolves from these painting sessions.
There is a sensuous, erotic quality to this painting that I’ve never noticed in my work before (although, a certain St. Lucian artist-writer did touch on it when reviewing my solo exhibition “Floravision”), words like passion, seduction and warmth come to mind when I try to describe the mood.
Although it would enliven any room, for some reason I really envision it in a bedroom … which is why I just had to name it “Boudoir”. I think it will really appeal to someone who wants to create a romantic atmosphere, someone who would like to “feather” their nest, create a cozy nook full of inspiration and excitement, as well as comfort, safety and indulgence.
Ok, I know I’ve gone overboard with the adjectives in this post, but there is something about this painting that makes me want to gush …
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.
This painting is inspired by a photo shoot I did at The Pink Plantation House Restaurant in St. Lucia. The family that owns the property have both cooking & gardening in their blood it seems. They also know that maintaining the gorgeous gardens brings value to their business just by adding to the atmosphere. You can’t help but have a positive experience surrounded by all that nature. And, as with their other businesses, the artwork of one sister Michelle Elliot can be found all over. This is just one of the places I visit when I go home to St. Lucia, to gather inspiration and reference photos for my paintings.
This is actually another view from the grounds of The Pink Plantation House. There is just something nostalgic about a tire swing. What memories or feelings does it bring up for you?
This view is looking out of the original stone archway to the King Louis XVI mineral baths at the Diamond Falls & Botanical Gardens in St. Lucia. I love these old stone buildings, especially the ruins, covered in tropical foliage. Not for what it stands for … the turbulent history of man on the island … but for the reminder that Nature overcomes by outliving us all.
If I’m looking at the same landscape that my ancestors did hundreds of years ago (I belong to the 5th generation of my family born in the Caribbean) … then it puts all the fuss & worry over everyday modern life into perspective.
We are but flowers blooming for a short time on this planet.
Let me know what you think of the recent landscapes, I think of them as moody or magical, someone said “dreamy”. I am enjoying this expressive way of painting, compared to my more realistic paintings of hibiscus etc. It is nice for me as an artist to be able to go in either direction, depending on my subject and my mood.
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.
BLUE ROOTS ART STUDIO – acrylic paintings of Caribbean & Canadian landscape, flowers & foliage. Burlington, ON, Canada. 905-639-3419