Feb 27, 2011

Lost and Found - Painting all Over

Painting details. Click on the images for a larger version.

In my continuing attempt to deal with unfinished paintings, I came across one of an amarylis flower from last spring that lacked the energy that I found in that beautiful bloom. I loved the reds and I felt attached to the colours in the painting, but not to the outcome.

Amarylis 2010-2011

In the end I felt my painting was overworked and I work very hard at painting in a loose and free manner. It requires concentration and confidence. If I allow doubt and hesitation to take over, the marks and strokes reflect that and the work looses it's fluidity. My painting confidence comes from regular painting but also enough sleep, feeling good about other things, great food, company, music and surroundings. A painter friend of mine said it perfectly: "I live in a state of constant angst about painting covered with a thin patina of confidence." There is so much that goes into a painting! It is a mysterious alchemy.

Waiting for the thaw.

I've been admiring for months the colored bottles in my windowsill that hold seed pods from last year's fields. My friend Pamela came by the other day and said “Why don't you paint those green bottles?” The question had occurred to me as well – I just wasn't sure how to approach it.

And then as I was going through my pile of "unfinished paintings",  I came across the Amaryllis. I decided to use it as the background for my painting of the bottles because red and green are complementary colors and are very exciting together.

A chose a pthalo green for this painting which I rarely use. Honestly, I'm not very fond of that green at all (although I love it in this painting!). But I wanted a contrast for the red underneath. So against my emotional judgement, I smeared a combination of the green, a touch of zinc white and gel medium over the entire canvas.

Scraping the green paint reveals the painting underneath.
The gel medium delays the drying time and enables me to scrape the paint away right down to the color on the canvas. I use a rubber tipped “color shaper” for this.
The big advantage of painting over another painting is that it really eliminates the “fear of the white canvas phenomena” :-) It also creates unintentional surprises when the two realities of two different images combine or collide.
You can see in this photograph that the Amaryllis is still showing through the green. That transparency is because of the gel medium that I added to the colors.

I really liked the intensity of the red against the dark green.
Because of the green, I was drawn to put some blue highlights into the painting in a cerulean blue colour that I also rarely use. I also added a red oxide. In other words, because I had stepped away from my usual palette with the green, I was compelled to use colours that I seldom use. 

Some strategic opaque greens obscure the flower head.

I'm very happy with the looseness of this painting. I like the feeling of a woodcut and the suggestion of a drawing as well. The 'hidden' painting has brought this canvas to life.

Hidden in the Shadows. Acrylic painting by Flora Doehler, 2011.

This photo gives you an idea of the size of the canvas. 

Painting seed pods with a creamy colour bring the stalks forward.

If you are interested in purchasing this painting, please contact me at 

Cleaning up my Act - the Unfinished Paintings

It's time to clean up my act...the procrastination act.

Detail of painting in progress.

Out in the studio I've noticed the canvases are multiplying. Yet when my gallery owner friend Rob Buckland dropped in the other day to see my “new work”, I stalled him with lunch and conversation. Finally, we ran out of time to visit the studio.

“You're painting a lot! I see that from the blog. I'd like to have a look at what you're doing.”

Part of the "Work in Progress" pile.

I have been painting consistently this winter, but when I took a long hard look at it, I realized much of my work is unfinished.
I took this opportunity to look at why this happens to me. It's nothing new. I dragged lots of unfinished watercolors with me to Nova Scotia over three years ago to “finish some day”.

My ever changing palette of fluid acrylics.

Like so many artists, the part of painting that I like the best is the beginning. Why? Because beginning is full of endless possibilities , fresh color, new ideas and pure joy. I also really like the actual process of painting–it's far more enjoyable than the end product.

Transforming an unhappy painting.

When the work gets to the point where I'm unsure how to proceed, I set it aside rather than overwork it and kill it. But often during that critical waiting period, a fresh idea for an entirely different painting will come along and off I go on my new adventure. Then I think that I can't get back the feeling that led me to the original painting. Mixed in with this is the fear of ruining what's already there. It's complicated and it's also universal. In the book Art and Fear, the author talks about this phenomena in this book for artists and creative types.

My original painting felt unfinished.

I keep the hot drink on the left side so I don't put my paint brush into it!

A couple of weeks ago, partly driven by the many canvases in the studio and motivated by wanting to give Rob work for the Flight of Fancy I decided not to start anything new until the “almost finished” canvases are painted, signed, sealed, have their edges painted and are ready for hanging.

Inspired by a Geranium blooming in the studio.

Surprisingly, working on them has been like visiting an old friend in their presence I remembered what drew me to them in the first place along with the thought “why didn't I do this sooner?”
Do you have unfinished work? How do you handle it?

I'll let you know about my progress this week.

Feb 13, 2011

The Round, Brilliant Gemstone Ring

Hello I'm Larry Knox.  I spend part of my time faceting gemstones and then I design and make custom settings for them.  I want to show and tell you about the ring I made with this round brilliant green gemstone that I faceted.

 Diopside  gemstone faceted by Larry Knox.

 I enjoyed the entire process of making a ring but the most exciting part is to cut the gemstone.  The thrill is  cutting the stone in such a way to bring the light in and to make it go back out again so that the stone sparkles. It's like performing magic. 
 Like all round brilliant cuts  this  gemstone has 57 facets. The finished stone is 22 carats which is a weight measurement reserved for gems.

I wanted to design a setting that would look elegant and show us much of the gemstone as possible. I introduced more curves into my initial drawings.    I drew inspiration for my final drawing from the arts and crafts movement and their organic shapes. 

Next,  I made a model of the ring setting which I carved into wax.

 Sizing up the wax ring.

The trick  in making a wax model is to design it  as closely to the finished product  as possible because  the cast silver will include every mark,   and every finishing touch that is on your wax model.

 Carved wax ring setting.

This is silver casting grain that will be used in the lost wax method of casting.  The wax will be destroyed in the process of make in the ring so the setting is truly one-of-a-kind.

 Silver grains will become rings.

After the casting process is complete,  the setting comes out looking dull.

 There is still work to be done!

The next step is to saw off the extra silver called 'the sprue'.

A lot of time is spent cutting, and filing.

The piece must be resized because the casting process reduces the ring size ever so slightly.

 Here is a video with some of the steps taken to make this ring:

 While I finish the details for the ring, Flora paints and we listen to music and podcasts on our iPod.

Green Willow Studio, Bear River, Nova Scotia.

 Measuring the setting for the gemstone.

The next step is to fasten the prongs around the gem stone.

 Setting the stone.

But we're not quite finished yet!  Because of the weight of the gemstone, I soldered a flexible gold band inside the silver band to help prevent the ring from 'flipping'.

 Finally, I polished the ring and off it went to her new owner.

 Round brilliant green diopside gemstone in a silver and gold band by Larry Knox, 2011.

And now it's back to the drawing board for me. Thanks for visiting!

 Pondering the next project.

Feb 3, 2011

Painting on a Snowy Day

Snow has been falling all day and all night. Fortunately, our commute to the studio is a shortcut through the barn and down a snowy path. Creativity calls!

The lumps are wood piles for the wood stove.
Inside the studio Larry is busy putting the final touches on our enameling kiln and I've been painting bright colours.

painting by Flora Doehler  8" x 8"   Please take your Seats.
This acrylic painting "Please take your seats" was inspired by the old chairs in our former studio. The Oakdene Centre was the community school for many years and still has some of the old furniture. I took many photos of chairs and their cast shadows when we worked there.

Inbetween working on some landscape painting (which I will show you when they are finished), and an entry to a local upcoming show here 'Pirates and Outcasts', I worked on this little piece. Step into the studio and take a look at the life inside our former garage.

Green Willow Studio is tucked down our long driveway. We are open by appointment or by chance.
Its actually a pretty good idea to be snowed in. We can get lost in our work and there is nowhere else to go.

An old cherry tree and the barn seen from the studio.

The snow keeps falling.
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