Nov 2, 2009

Hanging at the Flight of Fancy

My latest very exciting news is that I sold a painting at the Flight of Fancy last week. I  blogged about the creation of this canvas last March. It was inspired by the kindness of friendship. I wonder what thoughts or feelings it sparked for the buyer.
The Gift, acrylic, 2009. (above); Peonies, acrylic, 2009. (below)

Like many artists, I  feel awkward about the selling part. I just want to create the art and let someone else sell it.

Jun 15, 2009

Altered Images with Photoshop

Lupines grow all over the Annapolis Valley, especially along the roadsides.

With my shoulders and legs sore from rototilling the garden, I headed for the studio at the end of last week to paint some of the fabulous purple lupines that grow wild around our house. I also wanted to capture the beauty of some masses of Siberian Iris that my friend Pamela gave me from among the hundreds that grow in her flower gardens.

May 10, 2009

Painting with Oil Paint

[caption id="attachment_1524" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Some of these paints are middle aged!"]Some of these paints are 35 years old![/caption]

About 35 years ago when I was an art student in East Berlin at the Kunsthochschule Weissensee, I painted with oil paints. At that time, in the 1970s, it was impossible to buy acrylics in the GDR (German Democratic Republic). I suspect that there was a shortage of raw materials that made plastics. Thus there were absolutely no plastic bags (people used cotton bags) and there was very little product packaging using plastic. It's funny that now, 35 years later, we are trying to reduce our oil-dependancy by scaling down plastics usage.

In that land of socialism, university tuition was free and art students received a monthly stipend to live on. The rent on my little apartment was capped at 8% of my monthly stipend.

Apr 8, 2009

Creativity and You and Me

[caption id="attachment_1476" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="On the beach yesterday, feeling creative."]On the beach yesterday, feeling creative.[/caption]

Recently I've been reading and thinking about 'creativity' and where it comes from. Years ago I purchased Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way, that shows you how to access your inner creativity. I never actually got around to reading it. I was so busy working in an office and at a desk and in a library that when I had any 'free' time where I wasn't dead tired I preferred to paint rather than read about it. I had little opportunity for creative expression in my job and looking at that reality would have been just too depressing. On the other hand, had I been courageous enough to examine my creative needs, might I have made other career choices?Hindsight, as we all know, is 20/20.

[caption id="attachment_1465" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="There is no shortage of patterns in ocean stones."]There is no shortage of patterns in ocean stones.[/caption]

The assumption that we are all creative beings is fairly profound for some people who will say "Me? No, I'm not a very creative person." or, "No, I don't have any artistic or musical ability at all."

But Cameron asserts that creativity is the natural order of life.

[caption id="attachment_1466" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Nature's patterns are infinite."]Nature's patterns are infinite.[/caption]

The life force, as I call it (some call it spirit, the creator, Goddess, God) is present in all living things. This week I've been watching my tomato seedlings push their way out of the earth and transform from round, flat, hard seeds to a tall, fragile seedlings with two leaves. That same life force energy that turns a seed into a plant is in each one of us and it not only propels us forward physically, but it also develops us emotionally and intellectually. That combination is our growth, our creativity. We can:

  • ignore it

  • suppress it

  • use it

  • postpone it

  • drug it

  • numb it

  • deny it

  • postpone it

  • but we can never ever loose it

It is in our DNA and in our every breath. It is part of our being human.


Julie Cameron calls it spiritual electricity. She states that:

  • creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy : pure creative energy

  • there is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life - including ourselves

  • when we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the life force creativity within us and our lives

  • we are, ourselves, creations. And we in turn are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves

  • the refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature

  • our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity

Today I painted in the studio. I started a new piece that just didn't work. The colours were wrong and the composition was weak.


I set it aside and decided to make some changes to 3 other unfinished paintings that have been testing me. Not sure about the results of those either.

Second try after
Before and After 22" x 22"

In the past, I would have felt very frustrated by this and worried that my creativity had left. But now I have that most precious commodity of any human - time.

Outside warm rain pelted the studio windows and the sound of the river tide was wonderful.


  • I listened to some acoustic guitar and percussion music from Ryan LeBlanc who played for us, right here in Bear River this past weekend, to inspire my emotions

  • I burned some cedar incense to please my sense of smell

  • I read some more of the first volume of Upton Sinclair's Lanny Budd series and time-travelled to 1915 to nurture my thinking

  • I drank some tea

And then I planted a dozen eggplant seeds to add to the seedlings that are growing on the studio windowsills.

[caption id="attachment_1463" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Leeks for winter soups."]Leeks for winter soups.[/caption]

Tomorrow I'll try again with my brushes and with my paint in this great incubator of creativity that is our studio. And that tide outside will keep on moving and creating.

[caption id="attachment_1468" align="aligncenter" width="499" caption="Tree lichen."]Tree lichen.[/caption]

Mar 30, 2009

The New Vase

This winter I've been printmaking using easy-peasy materials. I enjoy the high contrast and the textures that printmaking presents, and I wanted to bring that same feel to my next painting.

Inspiration comes from different places all the time. In the case of this painting the color, the tulips, the pears, the spring season, and the friendship behind the vase all combined to inspire me.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="351" caption="Spontaneity."]Spontaneity.[/caption]

Mar 12, 2009

Printmaking with Foam and a Ballpoint.

Tulip print and print source.
Tulip print and printing block.

I have always loved printmaking. Maybe I have in my blood. My father was a Linotype operator and my mother was a writer and an artist who painted with oils and pastels.

Feb 28, 2009

Fibre Arts Course -- online from South Carolina

While my main form of artistic expression is painting, working with textiles has a big appeal for me too.

Playing with fibres in the studio.
Playing with fabric and fibres in the studio.

Feb 7, 2009

Evolution of a Painting

Painting in the studio.
Starting a painting.
I like to paint from life, which means painting on location or with the thing that's being painted actually present.  Painting from photos just isn't nearly as satisfying for me because I can't get as close to my subject as I would like to. You see, not only do I like what happens when paint goes on a surface - the explosion of color and movement of the brush over the canvas or paper and the mixing of colors, I very much enjoy looking at my subject and really, meditating on it.

This Peony is stunning and so is the shadow. The scent is also out-of-this-world!
This Peony is stunning and so is the shadow. The scent is also out-of-this-world!

If I'm outside I can listen to the sounds around me of birds singing or the sound of the wind rustling leaves or grasses blowing in the wind.  I enjoy the smell of the air and the fragrances of the earth and plants.

These 12 tall hollyhocks were so inspiring and called out to be painted.
These 12' tall hollyhocks were so inspiring and called out to be painted.

I like to watch shadows flit across a field when clouds move across the sun. I enjoy the many shades of green in the landscape. Painting becomes a truly sensual experience.

The painting is 3 feet high and was started on location and finished in the studio.
The painting is 3 feet high and was started on location and finished in the studio.

If I can't go outside because of cold weather or rain, I can still set up a still life and paint indoors. In that case I am often examining flowers close-up and checking out the petals and the shapes of the blooms. When I lived in the city it was possible to buy fresh flowers, even in the winter, for a very low price.  Unfortunately, that is no longer the case for me here in Bear River.  Fresh flowers are very expensive and the choices are quite limited.

Last summer I had a flower subscription with Cheryl Stone of Bear River Blooms.  Every week Cheryl would deliver a fabulous bouquet to the studio complete with vase. Cheryl grows the flowers herself and will cut for you a totally custom-made bouquet.

Flowers by Bear River Blooms
Flowers by Bear River Blooms
Cheryl would call me in advance to find out what my colour choices were and ask what type of flower I preferred. Talk about being pampered! I wasn't able to paint all the beautiful bouquets she delivered but I did take photos and now I am printing some of them out to use as inspiration for my new paintings.  It's certainly not like working from the original bouquet but because I staged the photos in the first place with a painterly composition in mind, it's the next best thing.

This photo of mine has inspired me to paint.
This was one of my favorite bouquets last summer.

 I love peonies, in part, because they remind me of my dear mother and my grandmother - two wonderful, clever and witty women who passed on their love of flowers and of gardening to me. What I also like about this photo are the colours. The contrast of the lime green in the lupines with the dark pink of the peony are very appealing. Red and green are complementary colors which I like to use in my paintings.  I decided to use that pale lime green as the ground or the background for the canvas.

Here is a video of my first approach to painting this bouquet. It morphed quite a bit until I felt OK with the results.

When I work on a new painting, I do so as long as it gives me pleasure.  If I start feeling like I don't know where to go next or I feel a sense of frustration, I stop.  It is possible to look at the same piece of work on different days and feel different levels of satisfaction with it.  Sometimes the only way to know the next step with a painting is to put it away and to work on something else.

This week I returned to the painting and was so excited about working on it, that I thought of different ways to express "peony" and started 2 more paintings!

I'm very happy with the painting. I like the textures and the colours and the feel of it. However, the real thrill was in the making of it and now that it's over, I can't wait to move on to the next.

Last Summer. 30 x 36, acrylic.
Last Summer". 30" x 36", acrylic (sold)

This painting, inspired by Cheryl's flowers has inspired more paintings from me. And inspired is a wonderful state to be in.

Painting detail.
Painting detail.

Jan 12, 2009

Inspiration. Where does it come from?

Creative inspiration.

Where does it come from and where does it go to? Like all eternal questions the answers vary from person to person and the reasons are complex.
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