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She Don’t Look Like No Jazz Player! May 25, 2014

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That got your attention, didn’t it? It was in reference to a conversation I had the other day with another artist and the topic was music. I play the flute, spent three years working on jazz pieces, and had the idea that I might play casually with some other folks. I’ve played the flute for many, many years and somewhere along the way we decide what we are going to specialize in.

For me there was no question; it was going to be JAZZ! I love jazz music, Miles Davis, Coltrane, Django Reinhardt, Claude Bolling…..many others. They are my inspirations and as much as I haven’t played a lot of jazz, I always enjoy listening to it, no matter who is playing.

So in art as in music I look to many other wonderfully talented people for ways to improve whatever I am doing. In art if one continues that journey, people go through continuous cycles of growth and change. Just when you feel like you’ve got a handle on your technique, something in what you are painting ‘asks’ you, no, TELLS you that you have to go another direction. This urge pushes you along, sometimes joyfully and other times reluctantly dragging you into fits of frustration and digging your heels in. This is when we often feel like we don’t know anything. But it is simply a phase of growth and refinement that continually polishes our skills, albeit with some nudging.

In my artistic journey currently I am exploring painting florals, something I have wanted to do since I was a child artist. I just couldn’t enter that field however, because I did not believe I could ever capture the delicacy of a flower. As in music, I dragged my feet for years until now. I decided that I had come a long way and I had become very accomplished with other things I had once felt I would not be able to do, and it was at least worth the try.

I went shopping and came home with pots of pansies, bundles of tulips, and more pots of other Spring flowers. So began the many weeks of failures and even more failures. The paintings were just not coming out the way I had imagined I wanted to paint them. Now lets be clear in saying that I am still not proficient in this, however I stuck it out over the past several months (which is why I have not done any posts since December) and I think I am finally getting there. So I offer this image as a result of my hard work. Oh, and by the way, the music? Well, I didn’t get anywhere with Jazz….I am specializing in Baroque Period Music, and I am a natural at it!

Pansies In the Garden

Pansies In the Garden


Positive Reinforcement December 3, 2013

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Overlook Point, 12in x 16 in, oil on canvas  I have just finished teaching classes for this season, finished a large painting for a new gallery, and now I’m getting smaller projects finished that have required my attention these last few months.

This is a busy season! Christmas music is on the radio again and I am wondering, where did the time go since last year? It doesn’t seem like I got a lot of painting done in this year, but my work has become more complex. It has required that I slow down and pay more attention to what I’m trying to accomplish with each image. Part of that is clarity of values, something which I tell my students is more important than color.

Values are the ‘make it or break it’ factor in representational painting. If your values are off, the image doesn’t read correctly. Each color in your palette responds to a different value on a black/white value key, and it is very important to understand this and to put it into practice. I spend some time almost every class I teach reviewing this principle and applying it to the color charts the students use. Just placing the colors on the canvas is not enough; it is necessary to understand their strength and weaknesses through visual means. I suggest to my students that they take a black/white photo to have alongside their painting image so that they can relate the color to the b/w key. This helps immensely when needing to adjust contrasts with the color.

So, keep this idea in mind if you are having trouble with getting your color selection to read correctly in your painting. Take a photo in b/w and check if the key of the color is properly relating to the actual color. It will show up in b/w. This is the ‘secret’ to a good painting….positive reinforcement using negative color.

3 Things to Refresh Artistic Direction August 19, 2013

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It’s been a long Spring and Summer…I’ve overcome some roadblocks in my painting, learned some new techniques to play with, and I’ve gained confidence in my work…enough that I have set out on a new direction towards getting my work beyond the local arena.

First of all, taking a REALLY GOOD BREAK from everything helped. It is good to step back from time to time and to reassess what is working, what is not, and what needs to be changed so it can. I’ve done some of that. Here’s three things that will force you to change your perspective and maybe your direction; you might not like them and I hope they don’t happen to you, but they will make you look again at where and what you are doing and to perhaps become more clear about where you want to end up.

1.  Have Your Major Gallery Close Their Doors:

Yup, that will force change on you. It did me and it was the best thing that ever happened. It doesn’t mean you won’t be upset, have doubts about your work, and want to dive into a large black hole. But when you crawl back up out of it you can and hopefully will look at things with a new perspective and realize how important it is to keep going. You are an artist and there will be more galleries. Count on it.

2.  Your Health Changes:

Yup, that works too. When you spend more time in bed being forced to rest and heal, you spend time thinking (at least I do!). I didn’t think about what I was going to paint next, I thought about if I would ever paint at all again! I thought about if I had wasted time and efforts and what it all meant. It meant that I still had plenty of opportunities ahead of me to move into the direction I had wanted to go towards in the first place because they were still out there to explore. And I also realized that I had allowed too many distractions to get in the way of personal development.  I vowed to change that once my I had recovered from being ill, and I did.

3.  Drop Your Ego on Fixed/Rigid Thinking About Your Place in the Art World:

Okay, that was a tougher one! I realized through the above two experiences that I was just another artist in a big artsy world. I care about what I do and I want to share my work with others who will enjoy it and possibly pay to have it! However, I also had to realize that there were both better and worse artists than me AND that no-body really cares how I do what I do. This might sound negative, but it is entirely the opposite. Reality dictates that most people think about themselves first, and this is a good thing in the right places. Its not a good thing when that’s all they think about! So to change my perspective on my position, I took a very good, intense, grueling workshop from a very good European instructor who made me work very hard. It also had the advantage that I was able to let my years of experience and skill take a backseat (in a way) to a new learning process that challenged my skills and patience. It worked! Paint because you love to…not for anything else. Don’t compromise yourself either because there’s no winners when we do that.

4. Now the Good News! (You didn’t expect a #4, did you?)

The bottom line is that while it is important to set goals, work towards them, and hopefully reach them, life is going to throw you a few curve-balls on occasion. You can either avoid getting hit (which is difficult because we don’t have control over everything external that happens to us), or you can accept the changes and make new choices because of them. I realized (on some of my worse days) I was resisting enjoying what I enjoyed….and nothing else other than my own mind was behind it. Knowing that I did not have control over the events, I realized that I did have control over what I did with ‘ me’ in the event and after the event! I could make choices to move forward. I did.

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but we have today to do our best. This IS a choice. We can come from any direction, but we will always end up ‘here.’ ‘Here’ is where you are now, and will be again and again. How do I want ‘here’ to look? That is what holds the answer. Opportunity is always there. We just have to be aware and open to see and hear it. Don’t give up when it looks dark, because it isn’t going to stay that way.

'The Last Chapter' - my work in progress

‘The Last Chapter’ – my work in progress

Doing What Comes Naturally March 15, 2013

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Proud Woman, 14inx20in, oil on Belgian Linen (Mar. 4, 2013)Since having four solo shows and five group shows in the past five years, I have decided I needed to take a break! An artist can’t just stop painting…that won’t happen with me, but I felt there was a call-back to what I used to do.

Portraiture and figurative (narrative) works were my first love and seemed to come naturally to me. It had been over 10 years since I did the last figurative painting and I felt a need to rediscover doing them. I decided last Spring that it would be in my best interests to connect with a mentor who was really good in this area to work with me. I contacted an artist friend of mine who runs an art school locally and we made arrangements to meet once a week for the next year. I have been doing a lot of studies under his guidance. It felt good to draw again, first with graphite and charcoal, then moved into drawing with paint. In the Fall last year I finally began to paint the portraits in full color.

I can honestly say that it isn’t easy. There is a lot to consider and I was grateful for my many years in art school to have done lots and lots of figurative work. I remembered anatomy and the structure of the human form…this came back to me quite quickly. However, I had not done anything at that time with oil paint as I was only working with water media.

My skill painting the portrait and figure is coming along. I’m not where I want to be with them yet but that is part of the process; persevering, working at the same subject matter, learning new ways to explore this genre, and to continue to get down into the nitty gritty of it all – all of these matter. And there can be a lot of frustration. So while I still continue to work at landscape painting for the galleries that carry that work from me, I need to fill my own cup with what moves ALL of me. This painting is called “Proud Woman” – 18in x 14in, oil on Belgian Linen panel. Salut!

Sometimes you just gotta have fun! February 16, 2013

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Freedom's CallingOkay, dead of winter..cold, white or grey….I need some color (other than in my hair!). One of the galleries that represents my work decided to have a ‘Small Works, GREAT WONDERS’ show of miniature paintings from selected artists within the gallery. I usually do landscapes for this gallery, however, for this show I decided to go with something different. I love spheres and small things that look like spheres; that could be tiny boxes that are circular in shape, small colored balls out of those machines in some shops where you pay 25 cents and out drops one of them, and then there’s marbles. I love marbles! When I was a child the marble games were popular just around this time of year when the snow started to melt. It’s rather nostalgic but I decided to take a few photos of marbles in different lighting and with props and choose a couple of those images to make as my contribution of mini paintings to the gallery. This one is called ‘Freedom’s Calling’….(escaping from the jar!) and is 5 inches x 7 inches, painted in oil on gesso-board. The style is ‘hyper-realism,’ very similar to photorealism. I enjoyed the process of painting them, a departure from my usual realist/impressionistic style. I hope you find this little painting brings you back to your childhood days and gives you a chuckle. Cheers!

Catching a Few Rays November 30, 2012

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Winter in the prairies in Canada has its own beauty as do all seasons. However, there is something really quite special about being able to catch the light reflecting off the snow on a sunny winter day. It is often quite breathtaking. Here is my recent painting of one of those times. This is taken close to our river valley. We have a lot of parks with walkways where people can stroll along for miles. Mill Creek is my favorite. I grew up as a child, playing in the wooded areas just behind our house. This area was my playground and I knew every nook and cranny of it for a few miles around. Mill Creek is pretty much dried up in most areas now, but there is still a trickle of water that finds its way through the lower areas. Enjoy the winter no matter what it brings. It is a season of slowing down, relaxing more, breathing in the beauty of seeing the pristine sparkle of freshly fallen snow, and eating a little more rich foods. Have a Merry Christmas as well!

Catching a Few Rays, 22in x 28in, oil on canvas

Catching a Few Rays, 22in x 28in, oil on canvas

Selling Right Off the Easel October 11, 2012

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Cool Water II, 24in x 36in, oil on canvas

Its really a wonderful testament to the validity of your work as an artist when a painting, just finished, isn’t off the easel and is sold, especially when it is being created for a solo art show. This recently happened to me. I was thrilled and exhilarated, but here’s the rub; the work I was painting was to go in one of the galleries that represent my work. This particular piece was on my easel in a location I was painting in as a result of an emergency, being that my own studio had some water damage and was being attended to by my loyal Mr. FixEverything husband.

People never get to visit my studio while working on a show…never, never, never. I will touch and re-touch too many times before I’m satisfied with the final result. Only then will the painting be done. If someone sees it (as happened recently as well), and if they are another artist, they usually like to make helpful comments such as “maybe you should brighten that area up” or “maybe you should dull that area down” and so on….you get the idea. However, in this situation all the remarks were ‘oooh’ and ‘wow!’ I took this to mean that the painting was working.

So Mister and Missus walk in and see the painting and immediately fall in love with it. Lovely! But there’s a problem. They want to take it home RIGHT NOW. I can’t do that since the painting is for a show and MUST be up at least for the opening reception. Also, the other thing is that it hadn’t been sold in the gallery! This means that the commission doesn’t have to be split (ordinarily).  Now this is where it gets tricky.

Mister and Missus want to take the painting home NOW and they can’t. I have to retain it and let the gallery know it has been sold even before they have seen it, and it must go through the gallery for sale and removal. This is the right thing to do. So I contact the gallery first, explain the situation and then contact Mister and Missus. Their disappointment is abated when I tell them it needs to be up for the Opening Reception of my show and will be the HIGHLIGHT of it. They are delighted and everything goes ahead.

Now the moral here is, if you have gallery representation and you sell work outside the gallery that is meant for a show with them, your moral compass will point the way to do what is right for both of you. I told my gallery up front about the situation. Yes, I split my commission with them, that’s just the way it has to be. And what I got out of it was that my gallery worked very hard to sell a few more pieces of mine. They were happy I was honest, I was happy and carried no guilt. And the people who bought it? Their painting highlighted my show, got great reviews and comments, and it now hangs happily in a home where these people enjoy it.

Being Here Now, the Present Moment August 18, 2012

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August is the peak of the summer, a time when the season brings almost-fruition to the previous months’ endeavors. I am speaking of my own work completed as an artist this year so far. All the work I had to do for my recent solo art show was completed at the end of July, delivered, framed, and catalogued. The show went on and was a huge success with around 300 people coming out to see my work. Yes, there were sales as well as countless favorable comments. But this isn’t the reality of success.

Success is the path itself, the path leading to one’s own personal vision. It includes all the trials, failures, frustrations, and tears along with the insights, the ‘ah-ha!’ moments, the joys and well-wishes from those who support our

Art Show 2012

process. It can’t be any other way…this is life, the reality of struggling and staying with the process. Never give up. Never give up, and again, never give up! Each moment is a brilliant moment no matter what it looks like to others. Being present in the here and now is the only way to attain the richness of your own journey in the incremental moments that lead to inspiration, revelation, dedication and achievement. Without all of this in place success is only a wish.

I don’t wish away my life, I show up every day with a thought to attend to whatever this day alone will bring. I keep working at what I love doing. For me, there’s nothing else I would rather be than who I am, doing what I love…being an artist.

Places in the Summer Sun July 15, 2012

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Cool Water 1

 My newest show ‘Places in the Summer Sun’ will be featured at the Art Beat Gallery this August. I have painted several locations capturing impressions of the height of the season’s light during summer. These paintings are showing a new turn in my artistic development. I had always been attracted to pattern created by light/dark, cool/warm contrasts. In my years as an artist, I had tried many different ways to capture what I was seeing and in the process had tried to emulate other great painters’ styles. Well, this works to a degree but it just wasn’t satisfactory.

In my journey, what I have learned is that passion, perseverance, and not giving up even when the going is very frustrating is worth the effort to stay the whole way. My work has, I feel, now become my own voice. In other words, I am now singing my own song. I have learned from many great artists and all have contributed to my skills and development. I no longer paint pictures of nice places, etc. I paint from my heart. I let the painting tell me what it needs to say. This is my expression of what I see. I am fully engaged with my creative process utilizing everything I know to this point in my journey, how to get that painting the way it needs to be stated. These new pieces in my show are the result of my  believing in what I know to be true for me.

A Short Note May 19, 2012

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Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl EarringI’ve just returned from Europe and have been freshly inspired by all the wonderful art and paintings I saw. It is overwhelming in some ways, simply because there was so much to take in. However, since I am currently painting like my hair is on fire for my upcoming exhibition in August, and for a new gallery, current work I have done is still on the easel and/or drying. As I get closer to the opening day, I will post some of these paintings into my gallery sections.

What I did discover in Europe was how well preserved many of the famous paintings were. The art museums that own them have gone to great lengths to recover, through careful cleaning and specially finishing the surfaces of many of them, the original state these paintings would have looked upon completion. For example, the saturation of Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ was outstanding in its freshness, color intensity, and emotional appeal. It could have been painted yesterday. It was certainly one of my favorites in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The brillance and skill of these artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Eyck, and so many more of the Dutch and Flemish masters in particular, still defines, to me, the importance of classical training. Their understanding of all the elements of what makes a great painting is still the standard we use today. Viewing their work has re-inspired my direction and the seriousness of how I wish to pursue my own work. I can say with certainty that I wlll be re-acqainting myself with these great works over and over again.

Always Being Challenged March 20, 2012

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Apple Blossoms, 8x10in, Oil on Canvas Spring is here. I had to post this little painting I did some years ago simply because it reminds me of why I love to paint. The sky was a radiant, clear blue and made the blossoms appear the same color. It was a little notification for me about noticing details. This awareness brings more realism and believeability into anyone’s work. It reminds me to pay attention to what I see, not what I know.

Softly comes the Morning Light February 12, 2012

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Morning Light on Turtle Cove

  A Georgia morning is soft and cool with light mist rising up from the lake. This is the scene from a place I stayed at and which captured my attention and heightened all my senses. I can still smell the magnolias just starting to bloom in the Spring. The irises have all grown up to almost full maturity. The morning light gently and softly touches every bush, tree and knoll of grass as the sun slowly rises. I can hear the frogs calling to each other, and hear the calls of the cardinals and little finches flitting from branch to branch in this idyllic setting. Georgia on my mind……mmmmmmm, yes.

Romantic Nostalgia on a Winter Theme December 9, 2011

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I was given a recent request by one of the galleries that carry my work to do something with a winter/christmas theme. What to do? I had many ideas and many photographic resources to choose from. I wanted to try to do something with a challenge.  My work this past year seems to have been charged with back lighting, a difficult thing to paint. I decided to continue to pursue this direction as I still had a couple of paintings in my mind I wanted to accomplish. “Winter’s Glow” is my newest addition, 20 in x 24 in., oil on canvas. It is a romantic interlude, a dreamy nostalgic reminiscence. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Winter's Glow

A Painter’s Painter – John Singer Sargent October 8, 2011

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One of my favorite artists is John Singer Sargent. He was born in 1856 and died in 1925. He was a very talented and prolific artist having done over 900 oils and more than 2,000 watercolors along with countless charcoal sketches and endless graphite drawings, all between 1877 and 1925.  He painted 2 United States Presidents, aristocracy of Europe, and barons of business – Rockefeller, Sears, Vanderbilt, along with gypsies, children, and tramps, all with the same passion.

Carnation Lily, Lily rose

I would like to have you share in this wealth of great works. Here is the link to probably the most comprehensive collection of John Singer Sargent’s works spanning his entire life. http://www.jssgallery.org

Click on ‘Major Paintings’ – here is where you will get a quick look at some of Sargent’s major pieces which link to essays explaining why he did that painting.

Click on ‘Chronology Thumbnails‘ – here is the main body of this site gallery. It starts the year he was born (1856) and runs until his death (1925). It concisely outlines his life story and show the paintings he did each year.

If that doesn’t give you enough of him, here’s another link, The John Singer Sargent Method of Painting – YouTube – www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyVCfMdKxWs – Paul DuSold, a Philadelphia artist, explains the John Singer Sargent method.

10 Great Painting Inspirations In Your Own *Backyard* September 5, 2011

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Getting stuck on what to paint next can be very frustrating. We tell ourselves that ‘there’s a world out there to chose from’ and yet we can’t get any inspiration to start something new. Why not start looking at what’s nearest to you in your immediate area – your own ‘backyard’? Keep your mind open and don’t have any set idea of what to do next. Look at pattern, light, color combinations, movement in skies, same places in different times of day and seasons. You’ll find something!  Keep your camera handy.

To start, take a local walk  or ride a bike, whatever works for you. Have your camera with you and begin to shoot pictures at whatever spontaneously appeals to you. Don’t think! Just aim and shoot! Here’s my list of 10 ideas, all which have worked time and time again for me.

  1. Backyards: your own preferably! But ask friends or friends of friends if you think of someone who has done an aweseome job in their own backyard or has landscaped in some unique way.

  2. Back Alleys: a wealth of great images can be gotten from older area alleyways. Look at the light hitting garbage cans, patterning from picket fences, junky cars still behind old garages….just be open. Here’s a link to a gallery from a friend of mine whose work in back alleys is always in demand. Click on ‘Kari Duke’ to see her paintings here: www.theavensgallery.com

  3. Cafes: outdoors anywhere….and indoors!

  4. City Streets: main street, residential streets, industrial streets….keep looking!

  5. Gardens: always a hot spot. Check out friends who love to garden, greenhouses, botanical gardens, even displays in local stores. Here’s a link to another artist friend of mine who looks at vegetation and paints them with a different point of view: www.judyleilaschafers.com

  6. Farmer’s Markets: another hot spot. There’s always so much going on here that it would be hard to NOT find something worthwhile to consider as a painting. People walking, viewing, tasting, playing music, laughing, visiting….there’s lots of color and energy in these places!

  7. Heritage Sites: don’t discount old buildings and historic sites. There’s a lot of interesting architecture here as well as old materials used to build these places. They often have nooks and crannies that make for interesting light/shadow plays on walls and in corners as well as on their situated lots.

  8. Parks & Trails: beautiful scenery here. Take a leisurely walk or bike ride along and in these places. Park yourself on a bench and watch people as well. If you don’t find inspiration here, you’ll at least be relaxed!

  9. Cultural Events & Activities: out here where I live, there are several ethnic villages that have been reconstructed for tourists. Again, walk around and take lots of shots. These places love you taking pictures! They also often have the staff dressed in period or ethnic costume which can provide you with some wonderful portraiture or figure ideas. Another friend of mine loves to paint rodeos and similar, so here’s her website: www.rileyart.com to check out.

  10. Seasonal Activities: if you’re fortunate to have 4 distinct seasons in your location, there’s plenty to inspire you all year ’round. Check out sporting events in all seasons and catch great moments for painting inspiration from skiing, skating, tobaganning, swimming, surf-boarding, fishing, kayaking, boating, air shows, etc.

I hope these ideas give you something to get out of a painting rut. Don’t look for something to inspire you, find inspiration whereever you are. Have fun! If you do any paintings following any of my ideas, email me your images at bev.bunker44@gmail.com and I will put them up on this site. I’d love to see how you were inspired.

Palette Knife Magic Workshop with Bev Bunker August 20, 2011

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Leighton Art Centre

Bring vitality and interest into your paintings by using a palette knife along with your brush. Select areas of interest that you wish to enhance with texture and inject the “wow!” factor. This will be a fun and informative workshop.

Location: Leighton Center, Calgary, Alberta
Date: Saturday, October 15th, 2011
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Cost: $65 + gst

Contact: www.leightoncentre.org   OR phone (403)931-3633 to register. Class size is limited.

The Leighton Art Center is situated on the beautiful 80 acres of magnificent foothills landscape just 15 km southwest of Calgary, Alberta. The Leighton Art Centre site features the historic home of renowned artist A.C. Leighton and his wife, Barbara.

Plein Air Painting in a Nutshell August 16, 2011

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Its been a very busy summer! It was my intention to take a holiday out to British Columbia to paint en plein air. I wanted to get as much done as possible in the short time I would be there. I did accomplish doing 8 paintings in a week and each one had something interesting about the image. As plein air goes, they are meant to be information gatherings. You get as much as you can paint in approximately 1.5 hrs. depending on the time of day because you need to catch the light. Early morning may be as little as 20 minutes before it changes. I found that after 3:30 pm the same situation presented. My best time of day was from 11:00 until around 2:00 pm. if I wanted to work longer. I personally like the longer amounts of time, but I love the light when the shadows present the greatest length to give more contrast.

During my painting times I was fortunate to experience mostly sunny days. I set up quickly and began to work. There was no noticing any conversations or other people being around me once I got into that zone. I really enjoy that place – it is focused, intense, and absolutely meditative. All my decisions for use of color are intuitive (it helps using a very small palette or only about 5 colors plus white).  There simply isn’t time to debate ‘what color is that?’ Compositions are simple with as many large masses as possible, and details are kept out of the work. Plein air painting is a record of that day at that time. I have personally found that doing this kind of painting has really helped my studio paintings because one must really pay attention to what nature is holding out to the artist – a complete package. I didn’t look for inspiration, I found inspiration wherever I was.

To Really See June 28, 2011

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Mount Rundle

I haven’t had a lot of time to be in my studio in the past couple of months. I’ve been enjoying the experience of painting outdoors, directly on site. This is called en plein air. I had encountered a few opportunities in the last two years to experience plein air painting, and although I didn’t have any knowledge of what to do I still tried it out. To my wonderment I really, really enjoyed it!  After getting all my gear together and setting out, then getting sunburnt, getting eaten by mosquitoes, having the wind blow my easel over and dump my wet palette into the dirt, I decided I loved it and wanted to do more of it. This is precisely what I have been attempting since then….as weather conditions suit me. (Wind is not your friend!)

To really see color in the landscape is to be in a natural surrounding no matter what the weather, spending some time just looking before I start with the paints. I was amazed at what I could see especially in the shadow areas. Light really changes the hues in the varying greens and pulls out the subtle yellows, oranges, purples, blues, etc. that a photo cannot record.  A photo will also record shadows as mostly dark but without distinctions.  Paying attention to these nuances quite literally makes everything come alive in a painting. These nuances, when carefully added into your work even when in the studio, bring excitement, vibrancy and interest into the scene with only the correct placement of color.

I am learning to capture these natural essences as directly seen by my eyes, as often as I can get out. The point is not to have a great painting but rather to record everything I see as an expression of a present-moment experience of mine, obviously through the use of color and texture with paint. These small paintings (I generally work 8″ x 10″ on gessoed, toned, masonite boards) can be used as references for further paintings in the studio or just be kept as they are. I record the date, location, time of day and year on the back.  When viewing them at other times all the remembrance of the experience comes back. I anticipate my studio paintings to get better because of these plein air excursions. The thing to do to really see is to get out there, no excuses, and just look.

Transitions in Brushwork April 13, 2011

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Starting this month and in the following months I’m taking the time to seriously work on developing my brushwork….becoming more direct with the marks and leaving them alone as I place them on the canvas. Sounds simple but its not that easy. I came out of a style of working as a graphic artist where everything was very carefully, precisely placed and viewed and reviewed over and over. A lot of my work had to go into publication, so to get things right for the printers I had to be certain that everything was exact.

Coming into painting as a fine artist at the end of the last decade was a largely undefined process for me.  My work has recently moved away from carefully blended colors to create shape and form into brushwork that is responding intuitively to values and shapes in the landscape. I am seeing what is there and working on directly placing those ‘impressionistic’ marks as my color notes. This process is extremely exciting and renewing for me. I don’t pick my subject matter the same way as I used to which was by what the subject itself was. Now I let the subject choose me by responding to the light/dark contrasts and emotive first impression.  In order to advance this learning,  I will be undertaking en plein air painting….painting outside directly from nature.  I’m looking forward to it come rain or shine!

Calm Before the Storm

Idle March March 19, 2011

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This is my lazy month…I’ve been painting very regularly since just after Christmas and barely taking a break. Its time for some renewed energy to happen. What I’m doing now is looking at art….lots of it! I am getting revitalized about improving my brushwork these days. That happens naturally, but one has to make time to let it come through. I am spending afternoons making very small studies of particular aspects in landscapes where I want my brushstrokes to stay directly placed as they become painterly notes on my canvas . This is a very important part of an artist’s development.  I often say that we are only as good as our last painting. In other words, that’s what it was – then. This is now. Now is new. Transitions are a regular part of growth. So here is my last painting, just recently finished for our city’s 150th Anniversary – my contribution to my gallery’s upcoming show to celebrate this time period.

Sturgeon View

A Gift From the Heart February 4, 2011

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There is something a little nostalgic about this painting called ‘Rachel’s Girls’ and the light that played upon the children’s clothing as they stood in the hayfield. I recalled times when I was a child and our family visited the farm of a relative. My personal joy was to go out into the field by myself and just stand there and smell the hay or flowers – sometimes even a whiff of cow poo! It was, in my recollection, the best of days when we were able to leave the city and go there and I could just run to that area, sit in the sun, and soak up the country farm atmosphere. When I saw the photo of these little girls, I felt I had to make a painting of it.

‘Rachel’s Girls’ are in fact the ‘real’ Rachel’s children….the sister-in-law of my daughter. Sometimes in an artist’s life we feel we have to gift someone with a painting because of various reasons….this is one of those times when it felt ‘right’ to do so. I was very happy with it when it was completed, but I also knew I could not let someone else own it – me included. So it was a delight for me when I surprised Rachel and her husband with the announcement that this painting is to be theirs. Rachel and Les…enjoy!

January Blues January 21, 2011

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Weeping Willow

This has been an interesting month for me. It is the first time I can recall of having enjoyed being snow-bound! What that has done is enable my time in my studio to perhaps be one of the most productive months I’ve ever had with my painting. I’ve completed three paintings this month so far, and the month isn’t over….although a little break….as a ‘reward’ for all my hard work is currently happening. But a small break it will be.

What I discovered I really enjoyed to play with this month is the color ‘blue.’ Why blue? It’s a color I only used in skies and making greens – in the past. That has changed. I have discovered a new line of hand-made oil paints called ‘Michael Harding’. They are wonderful and so saturated with color that only a small amount can go a long way.

In the late summer when I was finishing up my final paintings for my on-coming exhibition of new works is when I discovered this paint. I felt that my work needed more ‘oomph.’ Upon explaining my plight to one of the staff in the art store, I was quickly directed to try this oil paint as a new line just brought in. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” I thought. After purchasing a couple of tubes of paint, I could hardly wait to get home and try out the new ‘King’s Blue’ and ‘Light Yellow’ colors I was now so preciously holding in my hands.

I wasn’t disappointed when I put the first touches on my canvas. The painting I was working on came alive! I couldn’t believe that only a few touches in a couple of places could do so much and propel my enthusiasm into another level of experimentation. There it is….such a small thing to create such a big bang! So January – you aren’t making me feel like I have the blues….I am loving the blues, and playing and playing and playing with them. Have a great month!

Winter Wonderland December 10, 2010

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What a beautiful season winter is. I love the soft sound of gently falling snow…especially those fat, fluffy snowflakes. The sound of snow crunching under your feet….the crisp bite of cold air, the mist around your face when you breathe….it is all part of this awesome season.

It is also a time to hibernate, at least for me, and to consider new painting themes, explore more push/pull with color (Spring will come!), and just take a bit of personal time to evaluate upcoming projects. I would love to paint outside doing plein-air paintings, but oils just don’t cut it very well when it is minus-17 degrees Celsius – in fact, neither do my fingers! I have been able to get out for photo references…I’ll see what happens.

As I write this, I’m bundled up in my favorite red shawl my young daughter gave to me as a gift and drinking my Irish Cream flavored coffee. I’m looking out my window at the snow gently falling and adding to the 6 inches we received in the last day. Everything looks one color today, and everything feels very still. I am slowly working myself towards my studio to finish my last commission of the year, a project I’m enjoying to do and also will be happy to complete. My reward for finishing…a long warm bubble-bath, a couple of chocolate truffles, and then settle down to read a good book. Merry Christmas everyone!

Welcome April 2, 2010

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Thank you for visiting my website! This is my online studio, expressions and thoughts for friends of art, artists, and those curious enough to explore my work.  I paint because I must…it is my inborn curiosity of life around me and the people within it that inspires me to begin.  There is always a work in progress even if it is still in my mind.

My Latest Exhibition ‘Rural Alberta Landscapes’, October 2010:
The opening reception of my recent art show was very successful. The attendance was strong and many people had great comments about my work. Here is a short excerpt from Scott Hayes, a Staff Writer for the St. Albert Gazette regarding his comments on my work: “Of Local Interest is the latest exhibit at Art Beat. It’s a loving homage to the diversity of the Alberta landscape and at the same time, it’s also a tribute to the talent of the artist(s) themselves.” Also, ” I loved her warm palette this time around but what really sruck me is how well she captures depth of perspective in some compelling situations. One image of hoodoos in the Badlands shows sandy rock in front of sandy rock but somehow she manages to make my eye see the distance between the two. Another paintng of a series of birch trees amplified this effect 10 times.”

All pieces are available for sale. Please go to my Contact page for details on purchasing, framing, etc. My gallery will be very happy to hear from you.