Being creative means taking the time to learn your craft. For me that means picking up my brushes and being present at the easel. Once in a while a little inspiration is useful. Thanks to a travel grant from the PEI Crafts Council, I was able to attend a Portrait Painting Workshop with Carolyn Anderson in Lowell, Michigan in the fall of 2019.
Carolyn is a well received American portrait artist from Montana. Each day we were given a demonstration of her approach, colours, brushwork and then we faced the challenge of putting all that into practise in our own session with a model. I was reminded to stand away from the easel so the details become less important, to look for interesting passages and to experiment with colour (if something doesn't work, try again) As a group we benefited from Carolyns' experience and understanding of her subject matter. I have a lot to think about and absorb (21 pages of notes). Slowly the tips about using a bigger brush, standing back, relating one colour to another,
finding doorways from one passage to another will become natural reminders in portrait
painting. For the past few years I have been working on a series of Sixty Women and this workshop has given me the courage to finish and present this group of paintings.
Carolyn Anderson demonstrates painting from a model
Carol Andersons painting
My work from the workshop
This painting of French River was originally painted from a photograph in the winter time. When I returned in August to paint 'en plein air' it seemed that there was so much more to say about this stunning Island vista.
I took out my oil paints and happily made my changes, later returning home with a better painting.
The end result. "French River" 20x30" Oil
Every week has a new project! Last week I made a large sign 48x96" to advertise The Art Shack from the road. First we hung the board on the back of the house for ease
of painting. Pieter rolled out an undercoat of outdoor primer for me and then I put a grid on the board to help me plan the drawing.
A small sketch on an index car taped to the board helped me find the shapes on the larger space. The underpainting is shown painted with alizarin crimson.
Voilà, the final painting using three primaries and white. A final coat of urethene and the sign is ready to go up!
Come visit us at 18 Broadway Rd, Hope River (just off of St Mary's Rd RT 224) and you can take your picture with the advertising board!
On a sunny day in June, I was invited along with friends to see the Vanco tulip fields on Prince Edward Island. A great moment to sit and sketch and take in the colours after a long winter of white and grey.
Sketches of the field. Planning out rows and colours.
Why paint outdoors if you can paint from a photo? For me, painting outdoors is a direct response to my immediate environment. While I am looking and recording I am also listening and observing the natural world
Come along on this 'Road Trip' to the National Park in PEI and be part of the process! Elaine, my friend, photographed the process and helped me carry my supplies to the beach.
Many daily painters paint on 6x6" or 8x8" panels. But on this beautiful June morning,
I wanted to try a large canvas (16x36"). After setting up my french easel, I took a minute to do a quick sketch in my sketchbook. Thinking about the composition before I paint helps me to focus and also to memorize the scene. I am looking at the chain of dunes, the sand, the energy of the waves and the light of the sky on the seascape.
The canvas has been primed at home with a layer of gesso tinted with orange.
This takes away the glare of the white canvas and provides a mid ground tone from
which to begin.
A few strokes in burnt umber help me place the dunes, cloud and shoreline. I realize I have forgotten my paint thinner. This could be a crisis. Do I go home and pick it up or depend on my Liquin and change brushes. I decide the liquin will work and good
brush cleaning seems to do the job. ( I always forget something even though I prepack my knapsack. I think it is a test in resourcefulness!)
Halfway point. Time to step back, assess and and rehydrate.
Two hours have passed. The painting is coming together. I feel I can leave the location and finish it at home or leave it as is. Fortunately, two days later I was able return to this spot at the same time of day and finish the foreground and the waves. It is tricky to go back into a painting and not repaint the whole scene. Less is more!
Painting outdoors, on location (en plein air) gives me enormous pleasure and I learn so much from direct observation.
Time to head home. Another happy painting day. The french easel supports the canvas on the way home.
June Shoreline 18x36"
Final painting, for viewing and for sale at the Art Shack, 18 Broadway Rd. Hope River, PEI.