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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