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.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
I am so excited about my upcoming exhibition at Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort in St. Lucia. We will be hanging the show in the lobby Tues morning, and I will be painting on location for all 3 days, and talking with guests.
A small selection of my original acrylic paintings, and greeting cards, are now available from the Windjammer gift shop, Island Gifts.
I have only been to Windjammer once before, but it is a beautiful location, and I look forward to sharing some photos of my trip to St. Lucia on Instagram.
Of course this was a much slimmer version of me. I won’t be sporting a swimsuit this time. But I will be taking photos of the beautiful tropical flowers, gathering inspiration for new art.
Valentine’s day is on its way, and again this year I’ve painted a whimsical heart-themed painting … or two. It is fun to add to my collection of images with hearts each year, eventually I will have enough for a nice collage.
I had the idea of using two peacock feathers to create the heart, but the first painting I did came out looking less like a heart and more like a whimsical owl!
So, I painted another one … adjusting the angle a little, and got more of a heart shape this time.
I have been working on several small peacock feather inspired abstracts, and as much as I am excited to share them with you, I think I am going to wait until I have a whole batch done before I reveal.
That way I can work on several paintings at one time, and come back later to tweak if necessary.
Also, I often photograph small work myself, outdoors, but it is tricky this time of year. Don’t ask.
So, I am going to concentrate on producing new art for the Spring market.
And I am filling out applications … so far I can confirm that I will be back at Art in the Park Oakville at the beginning of August, and I will have 2 paintings in the next show at McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton.
I was hoping to get through a handful of applications this week, but I’ll be lucky if I get through two.
I pretty much have two bodies of work right now … on one extreme I have realistic tropical florals, and on the other I have the peacock-feather inspired abstracts, but somewhere in the middle they overlap … the “sky-holes” became “dashes”. The difficulty lies in finding ways to group them together, depending on the show I am applying to – sometimes the available pieces blend well, and sometimes they don’t.
If it will only be a few pieces, I select within one theme. I find myself however re-writing my artist statement to suit. And of course I’ve had to update my biography, and my CV … all while keeping within certain parameters. Each application has a different set of rules; you write a 200 word Bio for one, and for the next you need to cut it down to 100 words, or one sentence (for the brochure).
Image resolution, and size can vary a lot too … another time suck. And all the images and accompanying paperwork have to fit into a 2 MB e-mail. No wait, this one wants it on a CD. That means it has to be done in time to stick it in the mail or else I’ll be driving up ten minutes before the midnight deadline, through a snow-storm, to drop in their mailbox … again.
The process has gotten easier over the years, with practice … though I still need to improve my “systems”. Some artists just seem to whip these applications off. I probably take everything a little too seriously, trying to follow all the rules.
A juror once told me that an artist we knew had submitted a 20 page CV, but she still got in because they didn’t look at the CV’s anyway. Meanwhile, I always try to cut it down to 2 or 3 pages, which means finding new ways to summarize every year, hopefully replacing minor show listings with more impressive ones.
Ok, I apologize to those of you who may have clicked on this link to look at paintings about love, maybe read some mushy words about love. Somehow this post turned out to be nothing like that. That’s how I roll. I post a new painting, I start typing, and whatever is on my mind ends up on the screen. Sometimes I can keep writing until I make a full circle back to the painting, and connect a thread that runs through it all. This isn’t one of those times.
Time to take my son to gymnastics. Life of an artist/mom.
A couple weeks ago, I sent out my monthly (ish) newsletter, with an image of this frangipani painting … as it was then. There were one or two things that kept catching my eye however, so I ended up going back in and making some changes.
That can be such a slippery slope.
How to spot the mistakes
When you paint the way I do – not just doing a drawing & colouring it in, but blocking in colour intuitively & building up the image in layers, pushing and pulling and continuously refining the details – it can be harder to see what you have left to do.
This painting actually started as an abstract, but then I changed my mind, added a few glazes to turn it into a background and started adding frangipani flowers.
It can be difficult to know/decide when a painting is done.
You do get better at this with practice. However, it is always possible to “overwork” a painting. You fiddle around, second guessing your choices, and before you know it the painting has lost its energy.
Then you’re faced with a choice. You can either scrap the painting, gesso over it and start again, with more confident strokes, OR you can push forward. If you persist, you might be able to come out the other side with something even more wonderful than you’d first imagined.
But, you have to be willing to sacrifice certain areas that you liked, because if you hold on to them, treat them like they’re precious, the painting won’t flow, the image won’t come together as a whole.
I’ve developed a habit of photographing my work as I go along, not so much for sharing WIP images, as for me to get a different perspective on the painting.
We artists have several different ways of doing this, I think the most instinctual is to just take a few steps back … then maybe a few more.
When we’re in the act of painting, we are up close – literally painting the bark on each tree – and stepping back allows us to see the whole picture, the whole forest.
After looking at the same image for a long time, we can actually miss certain things that are obvious to a fresh set of eyes, either our own (by putting the painting away for a few days and pulling it out again), or those of an artist friend.
Another trick would be to look at the painting in a mirror, or to look at it upside down, sometimes both!
It sounds funny, but if you squint at the painting, you won’t be so caught up in the details, but can evaluate the values. I have even on occasion photographed a painting and looked at it in black and white, to see if any mistakes jump out.
Sometimes, you keep tweaking a painting, until you realize that you’ve pretty much painted a new version of the same thing. Different, but not necessarily better.
Or maybe even, you look back at the earlier version, and it does not actually look as bad as you thought. Or maybe there are bits of each version that you want to keep.
How to get it wrong, the more you try to get it right
This is where perfectionism comes in.
Many wonderful works of art would not exist if it were not for the artist’s attention to detail and obsessive focus.
But the process can be quite unhealthy for the artist who skips meals, sleep, hygiene, a social life and more in pursuit of their vision.
Excuse me for a moment … I really should go grab some lunch!
Ah, that’s so much better. Now where was I? Yes. Pushing through perfectionism.
How life is like a (frangipani) flower
If I were to try to paint the perfect frangipani flower, it would be symmetrical, each petal fresh and exactly the same as the last. An ideal.
However, if you spend any time really looking at a bunch of frangipani flowers (or any other flowers), you would realize that there are always imperfections.
One flower of the bunch is still opening out while another starts to fade, its edges browning. One’s petals have insect bites while another’s are torn from the movement of branches rubbing against it in the wind.
Reality is not “ideal”. A single flower might be perfect when photographed/painted in full bloom. But perfection is fleeting, and therefore not a worthwhile pursuit in of itself.
The wild, overgrown garden, often bears exciting visual images that you won’t find in the well groomed one.
This little croton beauty was my last painting of 2015. I was considering doing the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge for January, but this painting helped me to decide against it.
Doing a painting every day means you have to work fast – which is a good exercise for so many reasons – but at this time I just couldn’t get myself to jump on that hamster wheel.
For 2016, I want to take better care of myself. That means getting more sleep, eating better, exercising more etc. It means not stressing myself out unnecessarily. Having more time to spend with my family, and friends.
This painting holds a special meaning for me – similar to the adage “stop and smell the roses”. It reminds me of a larger croton painting I did a few years ago, “Exuberance”. I spent almost 2 months on that painting – the longest I have ever spent on one image. The longer I painted, the closer I looked at my reference photos, and the more details I added to the painting.
Then one day I realized something. I realized that in the midst of all of the colourful leaves, there was the occasional stem covered in tiny white flowers, like little starbursts. I had seen the stems with the buds before, but for some reason I never noticed the flowers.
Growing up in the Caribbean, there were croton bushes of all sorts surrounding us. Striking, and yet common place. But it was only when I slowed down, I could really see what was in front of me the whole time.
That is what I want for 2016. To be able to slow down, and appreciate the beauty already in my life.
How about you, what are your hopes for the new year?
I painted this peacock fantasy triptych earlier in December, but only got around to photographing it today. It has been a strange month. I have to admit that I was caught up in the mural project and did not plan far enough ahead for the Christmas season.
I did have more Art Cards printed, and I shipped some of those and some original paintings out this month.
I also ordered a tote bag and cushion covers from with my images from Pixels as samples. They are in St. Lucia right now, you can view/purchase at Island Mix if you’re fast!
I have a few images uploaded on that site, you can order prints and greeting cards as well as a few home decor items, and they will be shipped directly to you, wherever you are.
The small peacock abstracts were popular this year – I only had one left, so I thought I would create a pair for it. I started with the same colour palette, but then I decided to add some light blue and little by little a whole new triptych emerged.
The individual canvases do not have to be installed quite so close together, each can be displayed on its own. I just like to paint in series, especially if I hit on a combination of colours etc. that I like.
There is an air of fantasy about this series, and so maybe it is appropriate to release it on New Year’s Eve. It reminds me of feather boas, champagne & fireworks. Celebration.
It’s a teaser for the main launch put on by the City of Burlington, which I hear could be on December 1st. I am looking forward to seeing the 5 other murals.
The theme for mine is “Active Living in Burlington”. Once the murals have been revealed at the launch event, I will post proper photos of each panel. Of course, if you happen to be walking your dog in Ireland Park, you can stand in front of the actual thing because it was installed a few weeks ago.
I am grateful to have been part of this project. This is only my second mural – the other one was for the City of Toronto – and I learn so much with each one. Although I am a fine art painter, I think it is important for an artist to always be learning, and growing.
Also on Sunday …
That is why I went to an Ontario Arts Council Artists in Education Seminar Sunday morning, where we got to be on a mock jury & get insight into how applications are judged.
A bonus was getting to reconnect with a classmate from art school that I hadn’t seen in 18 years! And maybe I will be exhibiting at the arts organization she is affiliated with, later next year.
Another bonus was that the seminar was held at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and we were given free entrance to view the art after the seminar.
So I wandered through the gallery with another artist friend, while we discussed the best strategies for a future visit with our sons. They will love the Bruegel-Bosch Bus by Kim Adams.
“Flowers ‘n Fruit”
And speaking of my sons, last night was the first time I enlisted the help of my 13 year old in hanging a show.
Curator of Allegro Cafe Gallery, at Whole Foods Market in Oakville, Dawn-Angela Seeley, of course played a bigger part.
However, it was great to have my own assistant … who gets paid in brownies!
The Meet the Artist Reception for “Flowers ‘n Fruit” is November 29th, 5-7pm. Whole Foods Market, 301 Cornwall Road, Oakville. The exhibition will be up till January 24th.