Category Archives: Commission

RBG Rock Garden – live painting at LUNA

Luna RBG Rock Garden
Setting of Luna, opening reception of RBG Rock Garden, Burlington

I had the honour of painting live at Luna, the grand opening celebration of the David Braley & Nancy Gordon Rock Garden on Thurs night.

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:

Screenshot 2016-05-21 15.44.48

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.

live painting
Donna Grandin painting live at Luna, the opening celebration of the David Braley and Nancy Gordon Rock Garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, ON

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!

Donna with painting
Donna Grandin with painting she created live at Luna, opening of RBG Rock Garden

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.

auction painting
Plein air painting done during the LUNA grand re-opening of the RBG Rock Garden

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!

Portrait commission – Ellie Mae

The artist’s niece, Ellie Mae

I do not paint portraits very often, but this portrait commission came about so organically, I just went with the flow.

At Easter dinner on the family farm, my mother-in-law mentioned that she was looking for something for a particular wall in the newly painted eat-in kitchen.

She pointed to some decorative plates hanging on the wall, one in particular, and wondered if I could paint the girl in a hat, to go with her new theme.

As a professional artist, I did not want to be copying another artist’s image, so I said sure, we could just put a hat on Ellie (the only grand-daughter there at the time), and I can photograph her.

Two minutes later, I turned around to see her trying hats on my niece, Ellie Mae. I knew right away it had to be this hat. But it was all moving so fast.

My mother-in-law is a woman of action, she promptly placed Ellie on the edge of an armchair in the living room, and looked up at me.

There was light flooding in from the large window on the right, but also through a frosted window in the door on the left. It would be tricky to photograph. And my good camera was at home.

Still, timing is everything. So I borrowed my sister-in-law’s camera, and before long I had at least 3 strong contenders. It was difficult to tell, on the small screen, so I just crossed my fingers that they were clear enough to give me the detail I’d need to paint a portrait.

It just all came together so well, from the plates she had shown me, I knew my mother-in-law wanted an innocent young girl with a big hat and flowing hair. Ellie was the right age, with the right hair, and she was right there!

When I e-mailed my mother-in-law the image of the painting for her approval, she responded “Wow… really like it Donna. Love the eyes especially, and the look overall is eye catching and fresh … she looks like she could talk to me. Very happy with it!”

I delivered the painting last weekend, and it looked great against the red-orange wall. My mother-in-law was thrilled with the portrait, and I hope the rest of the family will be too.

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