Monday, 27 July 2015

Blue is What Made Me Beautiful

I have the feeling I shall return to the idea of painting a whale more than a few times. As is always the case with me, I begin with an image and a palette in my mind. I do a sketch, I think of colours. 

This time I would do a blue whale...and originally I wanted to use misty greys, portland greys, violets and muddy blues and beiges and create a very subdued image. I sketched my whale...and then proceeded to paint it tentatively....until along came the perfect blue! Prussian blue, and a whole whack of it....smoothed out across the back of my whale until I turned my round-headed brush in circles upon circles and produced the texture of my true blue beautiful whale. 

Blue is What Made Me Beautiful ~ Oil on Canvas 28" x 22"

So many thoughts went through my mind as I discovered my whale with her spout of butterflies. She is a creature of great strength and fragility, mystery and gentleness. One of the last things I painted was her eye....and I just sat down one night with my brush, and it opened up in front of me and blinked happily....and I was pleased with the wisdom in it, and the joy....the whale is the guardian of the oceans and all the unknown creatures that float within it...she knows about magic that we humans have no access to. She is a singular, confident, never-minding giant, and when she tells us that "Blue is What Made me Beautiful", we know what she means, and she knows us too. 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Red Fox in Winter

It's still summer, but I finished the little painting of the small red fox and have titled it Red Fox in Winter because it seems like a winter scene somehow. Actually, it may not be finished entirely, I still have to paint the sides a bit more....I didn't go very thick at all with the paint, especially in the circle surrounding the fox...I've been tempted to add another lighter layer upon the teal background but I'm liking the wood grain showing through. And he needs a shadow underneath him still...he looks like he's floating! Sometimes I just stop when I think I'm done enough and worry that continuing might wreck the painting. This is another aspect of the "precious complex" I have...another painter pointed out that I suffer from this affliction, and he is so's an uptight inability to really let go and mash through a painting fearlessly with no worry of the outcome...I paint carefully along like a timid illustrator, and more and more I realize my naive style is repeatedly revealing a folk art quality because I like safe shapes and tones and simple portrayal....that is fine....this is the exciting part of self discovery that comes with every finished work. 

Red Fox in Winter ~ Oil on Wood 10" x 8"

I have four more paintings I really want to finish before the Thanksgiving Tour...Blue is What Made Me Beautiful, Grizzly in the Wheat, Miroslava, and Chandelier Lady of the Woods. On top of those I hope to do several more of these smaller works on wood, perhaps an animal series...there is so much I want to get done but it will be a miracle if I can even finish two more works, because I am a SNAIL. I truly am a snail. Maybe I should paint a snail.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Chandelier Shadow, The Lady in the Woods and The Small Red Fox

Well over a year ago, when my father was on his way up from Saanich to visit me, he asked if he could pick me up a canvas from my favourite art shop in Sidney. I said sure, this time why not bring me a bigger one than I usually go for. Well, he showed up with this massive canvas, bigger than anything I'd ever thought of fact I have no measuring tape handy, but I think it must be close to 40" by 60"! My dear father's ambition and faith in my potential....

Well, it sat in various places while I ignored it....leaning against an entire wall in the small bedroom back in the blue house, then shoved mercilessly away in the shed here at Wildwood. But since I plan to renovate the shed for October, I moved it out and let it sit against the wall in my living room, a visible white elephant! I've been unable to get a grasp on what to paint on it....should I go abstract, or do a detailed landscape, or, or, or...maybe even paint the white elephant? 

Then one night, as the sun began to set, a bath of deep warm yellow light washed into the living room, and  the shadow of my chandelier appeared in gigantic form upon the canvas, casting sweeping woodsy curving shapes across it, and then I saw her....a woman gliding gracefully through the woods. I grabbed a pencil and traced her form. 

The Chandelier Lady of the Woods has slowly come to be:
The next night I started in on her face and upper body:

A vision has appeared for the whole canvas...I know almost instinctively how it will unfold...the colours, the entire palette, her green dress.... the only question being whether she will be walking alone or with a spirit animal at her side...either a deer or a fox, I figure.

For practice, I took a small light wooden canvas and began painting a little red fox. On it's own it's a sweet little painting in the making, and this canvas is only 10" x 8". More and more I'm loving the feel of oil on wood, the way it sinks and glides and comes up so vividly, the way the wood grain guides my brush and welcomes my flow of line. 

Perhaps there will be room for such a fox in the big canvas, or a deer or a wolf or other creature. Using the small canvas is a quick way to summon up creatures and ideas. In any case I've added more inventory to my world of unfinished works....and can certainly say that no size remains an obstacle, from teensy to towering!