I finished this piece today while keeping my booth at the Annual Canada Day Flea Market, in Shawville, QC. I thought by setting up my easel and working away while customers browsed my table would be a great way to generate interest in my work – boy was I ever right! I had so many compliments on the work in progress, and questions about potential commissions.
The little mad spark of an idea behind this was to let people see that art like mine is a process. It’s layers of colour, blending, more layers, more blending, and finally those precise little details: a dash of white to highlight the head, dots of brown to give depth the the grassy foreground, smudges of yellow to texture the bricks. It was a little mad spark that said, “give people something to connect back to,” so that when they buy a print, or a card, or even a little original, they can reference the moment when they saw creation of another piece of my art. And maybe they’ll wonder about the moments I spent on their piece.
I spent a few hours this afternoon knife painting the sky. I had initially laid a flat colour of blue, and had a dark orange horizon line for a sunset, but today I took out the thicker acrylics and palette knives and got done to the very serious business of creating texture.
I have never painted a canvas so large. I have painted a commissioned sign that was larger, but never a painting for my own series. And to me, this is a huge canvas – 3 by 4 feet! Working the paint onto the canvas with the knife was such a physical task that every fibre of my being felt spent.
I’m still in the early stages of this piece, but I’m already so deeply attached to it, and that’s probably because it has been so laborious to create. I know I have to display it, and I know I may have to sell it. I makes me wonder how some of the great artists parts with their work. After labouring over the Mona Lisa for almost a decade, did DaVinci feel as though he was giving away one of his children?
When I first moved into my home, I knew the large living room would be my painting studio, despite the suggestions from most friends and family that I use the second bedroom to keep it contained. I could not give up the thought of painting in front of that beautiful floor to ceiling window on a sunny afternoon. I know that most artists will argue for morning light being the best, but I’m really quite taken by the warmth of the autumn afternoons here.
The countdown is on for my exhibition: 20 days left to go! I want to finish off five more 8×10″ paintings, do my main 3x4ft centrepiece, and a couple miniatures. This means pulling out all the stops. This means soaking up every second of afternoon sun, absorbing it for all its worth, and creating something magical.
I love going through vintage children’s books for papers to use in print making and multimedia. I found a Golden Book Encyclopedia from the 1950s with some terrific illustrations for my constellation theme.
I started off with my silhouette painted in India ink. I was going to leave it as is but the more I watched the painting, the more it spoke to me. It wanted more.
So I took out some embroidery floss and created some French knots in the paper to act as stars. I’ve never done embroidery on paper before, but I’ve always wanted to try it. I enjoy regular embroidery on cloth so why not spread my wings a little?
Art is fluid – changing. The piece started out simple, and I may have been content to leave it so. Perhaps on another piece, I may be more minimal. One thing I’m learning as an emerging artist is that I have to listen to my intuition when it speaks. It’s usually right.
It’s quite rare indeed that at the ebbing of October, one can spread a quilt on the ground in the afternoon and enjoy the day with some soft pastels and an easel. After about three hours, I finished my latest constellation series painting, titled Perseus and Andromeda, and was finding the cold beginning to stiffen my fingers. But it was hard to ignore just how beautiful it was to be able to enjoy creating art in the fresh air. Even though my subject matter wasn’t something in my environment, there is something in the crisp air that heightens one’s creativity.
I’m at the beginning of a new Constellation painting: Perseus & Andromeda. I see them as dancing an Argentine Tango. Sharp, controlled, sexy. I like that the subjects in my paintings – when people – have an unreadable expression. It’s impossible to tell what they’re thinking, so it’s up to the viewer to interpret. It means there’s a sort of silent partner in this dance.
I always block my colours in this way, then blend. Sometimes I’ll put in some detail to give myself a direction – but according to highly academic pastel artists, this is methodologically incorrect. Unfortunately, it’s a rule I have to break. I need to place some detail to act as an anchor. Oftentimes I’ll go back and change it, but it gives me a starting point. And we all need to start somewhere.