Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Moving On...

So this happened last week! We sold our wonderful 1830's limestone house that we have lived in for the past 15 years... many happy memories were made here.  It's where I had my own studio for the first time ever, held happy family parties & bolo tournaments, Holly's wedding, and also where I began my own venture of operating a seasonal porch gallery. Such good times.  However we are happy to be moving on with new plans.  We will be moving into a rental property for the remainder of our time in Ontario.  Our new home will be at 569 St. Martha street in Greenwood Park.  We will be in the Kingston region until Dave retires, unless something else blows in on the wind.  After that our plan is to move to Victoria BC, where some of our family already resides.  My art has been on the back burner all summer while we have had the house for sale, but now I'm happy to be moving and settle in so I can crack out my paints again and get back to a happy rhythm.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Solo Show at James Brett Coiffure

show card for my exhibition at James Brett Coiffure
Tomorrow I hang my solo show at James Brett Coiffure.  There is 22 paintings in the exhibition in all.  A fair number of them are new works that have not been on display anywhere before(except my studio), so it's kind of like an unveiling in a way for many of them.  August snuck up on me; when I woke up this morning it popped into my head that tomorrow is the 29th.  A significant date for me in every way, because that is Jane's birthday...but also this year it is the date that was arranged for me to hang my show at the salon.  
I'm delighted to have 2 whole months to display the paintings here.  It is a beautiful large salon with lots of natural light.  I cant think of a better way for folks to enjoy the artwork, as they get pampered with a new 'do' or spa treatment.  Thank you James Brett Coiffure!  The show runs Aug 29 - Nov 7, 2016.  Pop in and enjoy a little bit of luxury while viewing my artwork.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Surprise Visitor

The thing I miss the most about running my little summer porch gallery is surprise visitors from customers.  But yesterday, the stars aligned... after a busy morning of driving around and completing errands in Westport and downtown Kingston, I arrived home just in time for a surprise visit from a new friend and loyal customer.  
She was in the area and was curious to see what I had in my gallery as they had bought a cottage and she wanted some of my art to decorate.  I didn't open my Gallery at the Porch Door officially this year, as we are selling our house, but unofficially it is still set up for anyone that wants to see my recent work.  

What a joy for me then, when someone loves my art enough to make time to stop in and see whats fresh off the easel.  It made me just so darn happy!...not only because I sold these two paintings, but because it's so wonderful to connect.  Yay!... for surprise visitors.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Saturday Morning, Toy Store

Saturday Morning, Toy Store
oil on panel, 9 x 12
yours truly
Two weeks ago was Princess Street Promenade in downtown Kingston. Traffic is blockaded on the main shopping street, and foot traffic takes over.  Shops have special displays and activities; all in all, it's a rather festive atmosphere.
As a novelty, I was asked if I would paint 'en plein air' in front of Kingston Frameworks for a few hours. I was happy to oblige.  They had set up a tent for me so I didn't have to sit in the broiling sun; nice because Ontario has been HOT HOT HOT this summer!
'Billise' supply the tunes
Live music kicked off near me on the sidewalk by the wonderful Billise (Elise & Bill Bosworth). The joyful tunes really got me in the mood and before long, my brush was swinging to the tunes too.

The view of the toy shop across the street caught my attention...on the sidewalk children participated in activities in front of the toy store, I think they even served a children's breakfast.  I wasn't the least bit surprised to spy several 'Elsa's' from the movie Frozen among them:)  The festive atmosphere and primary colours were fun to do in this genre scene. "What is genre?"  - ordinary people doing ordinary things

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Play - oil on board - 30x30
Having a stretch of time without deadlines and commitments has been fun for experimenting with different ideas and process. I've been fooling around a bit with mixed media...getting the idea down quickly in acrylic, then switching into oils for surface quality and a texture(which you cant see in this photo).  The goal I had in mind was to keep the marks fresh, airy and spontaneous; like a child's outlook on the world.
As far as subjects go, I used to do many paintings of children in watercolor while my children were growing up.  At that time, and as a young mother it was important to me to bear witness to the little moments of discovery that only children make you notice. I haven't painted children for a long, long time, but recently a visit with my grandaughter whet my appetite to give the subject another go in oils. It was fun!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Himalayan Blues

Himalayan Blues - oil on wood - 40x20" - $900
Himalayan blue reminds me of Diana, my father's beloved partner who passed away in 2013.  Diana was a professional ballerina in her first career, which took her on many excursions in exotic places in the world. 

In her memoirs which she wrote a few years before she died, I was captivated by one of the stories she told of when her dance group's tour took them from Darjeeling, into Nepal.  
One night a guide for the group offered to arrange for them to see Mt Everest at dawn.  Diana was eager, but was the only dancer from the group who went along with some other tourists.  Arising at 3am  to begin the journey, she was taken from her hotel by small bus, then by donkey up the mountain trails in the dark of the early morning. She couldn't see anything in the pitch black but was looking forward to the majestic experience of viewing the largest mountain in the world crest at dawn above the Himalaya's.
They arrived at the designated viewing spot just as dawn was breaking.  She described it as one of the most memorable moments of her life, but alas, not only for the majesty of the moment.  As dawn broke, light filled the space around her, and she became suddenly aware of the treacherous mountain path they had traveled on for this privilege.  The trip down was death defying frightening, on a rocky 5 ft wide path with a sheer drop off the mountain on one side edge!  
You can see why this story made an impression on me.

When I began this painting, it started as a non representational exploration process working into a gessoed wood surface with watercolors and oils.  Later it morphed into a field of Himalayan blue poppies somewhere during the process and I decided to just go with it.  

Friday, July 15, 2016

Donating and karma

Morning Garden - SOLD!
I was asked to donate a painting to the United Way Fare for Friends a couple of weeks ago, and right away I said yes.   
I like being able to participate in community causes in my own way.   More often than not it works out that it is good for business. This morning was one of those days!  

The person who collected the painting for the United Way event, came to pick it up and then fell in love with another painting: Morning Garden, and purchased it!  Yay!  Well that was a totally pleasant surprise.  
Bright Winter Moon - DONATED to United Way charity event
I guess it's true, 'the more you give the more you get'. 
And here is the painting that I donated:  Bright Winter Moon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer read for fellow painters

 Picked up this book I got from the library yesterday, and am really enjoying reading it. Thought I'd pass that along for any other painters looking for a thought provoking summer read.  The conversations are wide ranging on painting, photography, art philosophy, and in general about how we really see. 
Garden Seat - oil on canvas - 24x48"
I finished this painting yesterday, quite happy with the feeling of it, and it will bring back fond memories of June when the clematis blooms in my 'memory'  arbour; named for the loved ones who are featured there on hand painted ceramic tiles.( I didn't put them in the painting, as they are covered up when the clematis is in full bloom...but it's a lovely sunny spot to sit and enjoy a morning coffee in the garden.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

oh ya... instagram !

two of my recent 'quilt' paintings in the studio
oh no you didn't, I hear you say. oh yes I did.
Holly signed me up for an Instagram account last time we were together, but it was just this week I actually got around to using it. Like any new gadget, it takes a little exploring to figure out how to work it, but actually, it's pretty darn easy! One thing I hadn't realized is how enjoyable I would find it for accessing art...lots of it, randomly,  from artists all over the globe!   That is just fun!

I've been working on a group of paintings in the studio over the past few weeks, a couple of large ones with quilts in the garden, and a smaller one too, which I cant show yet. I  prefer painting the large size, because it allows freedom to play with the fabric patterns on the quilts. The smaller size is presenting challenges, but I think I'll find my way.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Studio work... and old canvas' get a makeover...

Pond - oil on board - 12 x 16 - $450
available at Gallery on Gore, Perth, ON
So I finished this oil on gessoboard painting a few weeks ago. As you can see from the 'in progress' shot a few posts back, I did do a fairly major re-jig of the composition. It wasn't sitting right with me.  Now I feel it 'reads', allowing the eye to wander through the painting in a more tranquil pleasing way. 

First decisions when I begin a painting are never written in stone for me.  I like to sit back; give it some 'mantel time', work out what the painting needs/ is asking me for.  The ability to be able to change my mind, follow a different direction than perhaps my first impulse is very satisfying.  A way for something stale to become fresh again.  Speaking of old becoming new again...

varnish removal is an outside project
scraping down the lumpy impasto bits
VERY carefully, dont want to cut the canvas
this morning, I removed the varnish from some older works.  So liberating!  There is something so freeing about utilizing a canvas that has sat around annoying me for too long!  This work needs to be done outside, as a rag soaked with Gamsol has a lot of fumes, even if you cant smell the odourless mineral spirit.  After removing the old varnish, I gave the canvas a light sanding, then scraped down lumpy paint bits carefully with a blade. 

unbleached titanium acrylic covers the old title
One thing I used to do was write the title of the work on the back of my canvas after completing them.  However I have now learned this is NOT a good idea, especially if the work eventually gets a re-work and becomes something entirely different!  How do I get rid of the old title?  A little canvas coloured (unbleached  titanium) acrylic paint does the trick applied thickly with a palette knife on the back of the canvas.   I now write the titles in PENCIL along the top canvas covered stretcher frame, so that I can erase it down the road if I decide to recycle a canvas like this.

Recycling old canvas's in this way seems to work fine for oil impasto methods because the 'fat over lean' rule can still be followed on the new work.   However, it DOES NOT allow smooth thin oil washes...if I'm going to be working that way, I usually reach for a pristine new canvas!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

new quilt

New Quilt -work in progress - oil -

When I was a young college student I decorated my attic room in bright primary colours. Even then I had a love for quilts. Cheerful scraps of fabric sewn into soft and comfortable friends for snuggling.  Somehow they just bring me home. 

Here's a painting I've been working on, still in progress, but nearly there.  

The quilt itself was made by quilter extraordinaire Annette.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

exploring possibilities

My usual painting practice is rather curtailed during the process of having our house on the market, and consequently so is blogging, as any of you who may read this from time to time may notice. 

Although studio time has been disruptive, there are some advantages...the pressure is off to produce inventory for art shows which is liberating!  Instead I made a conscious decision to go with the flow and use the time I do have to explore new processes and ideas, which means experimentation and disasters too.  

Above left is something on the easel I'm working on, to show you what I'm talking about.  This is a mixed media, watercolors and oils...and I dont know entirely where I'm going with it yet, but am letting it percolate while working on other things.

I shared a special weekend with my daughter Jane in Toronto a little over a week ago, where we trekked around to view many Open Doors Toronto exhibits.  We were especially surprised and delighted to happen across an amazing contemporary art exhibit at the Monk School of Global Affairs.  The exhibit was part of the Mirvish family's private collection and it is exhibited here on a rotating basis.  What a delight that was to see!  We are standing in front of a gorgeous work by Kate Graham(it matches my outfit! ha ha)  and behind Jane is a Jack Bush painting.  It was such a treat to get to spend some time together.  Jane was just at the end of a much deserved week off after filming the 11th season of Dragons Den, where she is associate producer.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

the neurotic nature of re-working

work in progress - 12 x 16
Yesterday I started re-working a painting that I had previously scraped down, because it bugged me...I went in with cobalt blues and glazing 3/4 of the board and I can actually say that I'm liking the direction it's taking now.  There is something that seems a bit neurotic to me about spending all day painting, only to scrape it all off, then spend umpteen hours contemplating if I might be able to bring it back to life in some way.  ha!  I think it's the challenge of ressurecting something that's failed.  anyways.......

work in progress - 12 x 16
While waiting on glazes to dry I got interested in some resource photos I took at Frontenac Provincial Park on my ipad a while back, then before I knew what was what I was squeezing out oils onto another palette to start on this beaver dam.   It felt good to just follow where the muse led.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Canadian shield rock pool

watercolour - 11 x 15  -$250
Thought I'd post one of my watercolour's from the weekend workshop in Westport.   Doug Mays was  instructor and he did a marathon of 4 demonstrations throughout the weekend ranging from watercolor landscapes to florals.  We all got to paint too, and I found it relaxing and pleasurable splashing around again. (it's been a while since I got out my watercolors) This landscape feature, near Eel Bay, is a glistening little rock pool completely surrounded by mossy Canadian shield, situated high on a granite cliff.  The brilliance of the water reflecting the sky was fun to paint, and the point where I started.  I may have over-exaggerated it a bit.  The challenge for me while painting this one was to leave some whites of the paper, which is something I have gotten out of the habit of...but I feel I managed it.

Monday, May 2, 2016

galleries, moving and other fun stuff

One week ago I dropped off a bunch of new paintings with Johanne at the Perth, Ontario gallery 'Gallery on Gore'It's always such a treat to make that gallery delivery!  Johanne is enthusiastic and excited to see the new work.  Usually I trade my new pieces for my current work that she has in the gallery, but she's sold most of it, and so didn't want to give me back the pieces that are left.  All good for me, because I'll be needing storage space anyways for some of my art while our house goes back on the market next week! Yes!  It's back to a return of cleanliness and tidiness for showings again.  aaargghh!
Porch gallery this morning is
squeaky clean and almost empty!
My porch gallery got an overhaul yesterday!  I needed to make it suitable as the primary entrance point to our home for showings, so I spent the entire day removing all other work in the space and now it holds only a sampling of my own work(stuff that is not out at other galleries).  I wont be operating The Gallery At The Porch Door as a seasonal gallery now.  It was bittersweet for me cleaning it out yesterday, because it was such a fun venture for me...but 5 years since I opened it, life brings changes, and I'm happy to roll along with them and try different things.  It's going to be a big downsize (think Kijiji will be my new go to site for a while!) for us getting ready to move into a smaller rented house than this sweet 200 year old charmer of a house.  Dave and I have been looking at rentals to prepare ourselves for making stage 1 of our move (we will move to a rental here in Kingston, then when he retires in 4 years we will move to Victoria), and have seen a couple of suitable places already, we are looking forward to when we'll be able to commit and sign a lease...but first we must sell our own place.  As you can guess there is not a lot of painting going on with me these days... too much other stuff on my mind with the impending move.
I am however,wearing the cap of coordinator for workshops for RLAA this year, and will be attending a watercolor workshop with Doug Mays this coming weekend in Westport, which I'm sure will be enjoyable, especially as I'll be meeting with a few close art friends for it, and will be painting with them.
I just returned from a week in Halifax  with my daughter Rachel, Matt & Ella(grandaughter).  I was needing my Ella fix...20 months old;  pure joy for Grammie!  A perfect distraction it was. We painted a birdhouse, and did lots of other fun stuff.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Camellia's for mum

Camellia's - oil on canvas - 30 x 30" - $900
That is an expression my mother used all the time!  She would say it after a cup of coffee & the newspaper, while hoisting herself from her chair, she would say it when she jumped out of bed in the mornings; she summoned it loudly and joyfully!  I came to know that it meant she intended to go forward in some way to tackle a project or the day or the next few minutes with renewed vigor.
This painting was languishing in my studio for the past few weeks needing some sort of resolution.  I was all out of ideas for where to go next with it.  I kept procrastinating for two reasons, one was a good one, it needed to dry before I worked into it again, but that only let me off the hook for a week or so...the other reason was I really didn't know what to do next! 
That's when I realized that I was totally missing the point.  Painting is not always about knowing what to do next.  It's about allowing the play to begin, and trusting it's enough,  finding my way for a few more hours or minutes or whatever my heart thinks is right for now.    I squeezed out my paint.  "Onwards!"  I could hear those words plainly in my mind's ear.  It will be my mother's birthday tomorrow, she always liked the fact that she and the Queen were born on the same day (2 years apart).  My mother would have been 92!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Emily's grave

Peace - oil on panel 'en plein air' - 9 x 12 - $250
Emily Carr's grave site in the Ross Bay Cemetary is very close to where my daughter Holly lives in Victoria.  
deer wander freely
in the Ross Bay Cemetary

When I was there in March I took these photos of the grave site markers.  She is buried with members of her family there.  It is a peaceful place; and lovely to see the humble little art curiosities and gifts that are frequently left leaning up against her grave.

When we were out walking in Victoria along St. James street on Good Friday, we happened across the family home of Emily Carr, where she spent her childhood.  It is a museum now, and it was closed on the day we were there, but the gates were wide open to the property.  Jeff and I were curious and went into the grounds to explore it and peek into the windows.  I enjoyed imagining what it would have been like growing up there.  

As we came around the yard, there was an old grey shed-like building in disrepair quite close to the old house.  We opened the unlocked door to reveal all sorts of artists paraphernalia jammed inside, alongside a small bed-shelf and other items of living.  

inside ' the Elephant'... brushes, photos, etc.

It dawned on me that this was a replica of "The Elephant", which was the nickname that Emily gave to her trailer that she would camp in when out painting in the woods.  I wonder if it was one that was created to be used in the movie 'Winds of Heaven',  perhaps left with the museum to be used for display afterwards.  It seemed odd to me that it was so exposed to the elements;  there was a large hole in the wall next to the open door, where rain and animals could easily have gotten in.  Whatever the reason it was there, it was like finding a treasure, albeit a faux one.
Canada is currently working a new paper bank note that will feature a 'prominant Canadian female figure'...I hope it will be either Emily Carr or another favorite Canadian artist Pegi Nicol McLeod.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Camellia's - work in progress

work in progress- 30x30 oil on canvas
Camellia's were blooming everywhere in Victoria this past week!  Nice, because I was able to spend a lot of time really looking at them, as well as get heaps of photos.  We just got back from our trip there last night. I so enjoyed being in the temperate climate with so many millions of spring blooms everywhere.  I was thinking about those Camellia's the whole time painting this evening.  Tender flowers with a tendency to expire quickly; the white ones quickly turn brown, then drop.  This is where I'm at now...will be letting it dry for a bit, then let it speak to me again.
  My mother once told me a story about Camellia's on her wedding day.  She was married in Jasper, Alberta and she had ordered her wedding bouquet of (pink) Camellia's from a shop in Edmonton.  When the flowers arrived on the train the morning of the wedding, she was very disappointed to find that they were all wilted; a sorry specimen for a wedding bouquet!  In the end she had to hurriedly replace the bouquet with a bunch of pink roses from a local florist.
...that's Teri, me,  Linda & Dave's mum, Julie, last Thursday in Victoria at Butchart Gardens.  Such a special treat.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Plain air by the sea

 Posting this 9x12 plain air I did on Tuesday morning. When I began the mountains across the strait were visible, but after about half an hour the clouds formed over them blocking their peaks, so I went with that instead of my original intention. Truly the pleasure was in the experience.  No wind and sunshine with a high of about 14 degrees.
I have never been in Victoria in the spring before, it is gobsmacking to a girl from Ontario!! the blooms of hundreds of different varieties of flowering shrubs and bulbs turn my head in all directions.
 Above is Dave's mum's garden which greeted us on Sunday when we popped in for a visit. She is 85 and she does all the work herself! She is an amazing woman, and such an inspiration.
 I'm not sure what this purple flowering shrub was, but it caught my eye while out walking yesterday morning.
This painting is the little 9 x 12 panel that I worked on in the Ross Bay cemetery on Monday.  This cemetery holds the grave of Canada's beloved artist Emily Carr. I forgot to take a picture of it but will get one tomorrow.