"Everybody knows a work of art takes at least an hour!" Lucy to Linus, (Peanuts)

FineArtViews Painting Competition - Twice in the Fav 15%

http://canvoo.com/boldbrush/badge/13203 three times selected for FAV15%, Fine Art Views Bold Brush Painting Competition

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Close up of the change in the eyes demonstrates the particulars of colour and value I spent time on.

Two more days on the painting...

Now the tweaking starts...redrawing bits here and there, changing colours and values in a few places. I redid Sandy's eyes as they looked a little crossed before. That took two hours. One hand is pretty much finished but still have to do the one under her chin. The guitar details will come soon. Also, I decided to forget the window on the left and just made the whole background as the wall with a light source coming from outside of the left of the picture plane (we can pretend the window is over there:-) ) I like the way the skin tones and background colour echo one another, and it is picked up in a few places on the shirt's flower design. I noticed after I began to really pay attention that even the inside cavity of the guitar has the same colours as part of the skin tones. The hard part is figuring out where to place the crucifix and the teddy bears. I don't want them taking over the focal point, which is Sandy! Paying attention is one of the important parts of drawing and painting. It is easy to make assumptions about what is there before you really look. It's ok to follow your early assumptions once you know the "truth" but then it is based on knowledge, not guessing.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Yesterday's effort perhaps doesn't look like much at this point. I never used to let anyone see my work in the beginning stages but now I find there are things to be learned from looking at underpainting. Deciding on composition, basic values, and undertones that will influence the look of later layers of colour tell a lot about how the final work will turn out. Each step is another path taken and a rejection of other possible steps that could have been taken, for better or worse. I always find myself wondering, "what if" regarding those steps I have chosen...suppose I had decided to put a different colour as underpainting, or heightened or diminished the value key, and by how much? Move this shape over a bit...what would happen? I have sometimes thought I would try to make all the versions of a painting that come to mind while I am working on a "chosen" one...do the same piece over and over but each with a shift in mood, colour, composition, etc. It could turn into a life's work as the choices are almost endless. Today while this paint layer dries I will work on a composition for the things hanging on the wall behind Sandy. The large light window area may need something. Perhaps a soft indication of the trees that were outside, a bit of the valance curtain and a slice of the window frame. Right now it just looks blank and meaningless...or maybe I will just continue the wall over. The window may be superfluous. Even after making initial choices more decisions have to be faced. Painting is a form of faith and courage. If I fail, though, no lives will be harmed at least!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The "Hobbler" pushes on...

The doctor says this boot must stay on for another month. I am managing. It could certainly be a lot worse! For now I am getting geared up to work more seriously in the studio again. It is always difficult to find that dedication after having been gone for a while. The painting of Sandy is started, at least some underpainting and I am ready to begin the real work. The weather is a bit lighter and that helps my mood. The snow is mostly melted so getting out to the studio is easier than last week. I have decided on a Payne's Gray underpainting as the light in the room where I photographed Sandy had that cool tone, plus she had painted on her wall that colour and then overpainted a wash of peachy tone with the gray showing through. The texture will add an interesting texture on the upper right side in contrast to the smooth black expanse of the guitar. I am deliberating on where to place the teddy bears and the crucifix; I want them to compliment not distract.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Just had to get back to the Island (Leon Russell)

There's no place like home...there's no place like...especially there's no place like your own bed! Grueling trip through the high plains of N. Dakota, Montana, and mountains of Idaho and BC. Snow, blizzards, only stopping to sleep for a few hours at waysides in the middle of the night, one meal in a restaurant a day (nibbling on nuts, cheese, apples, and rolls the rest of the time). Poor Bob had to do all the driving as I was unable to "clutch" with my foot in the cam boot. When he was beginning to get delirious by end of day two I suggested we make the sacrifice and stop at a motel! They kindly allowed all four dogs in the room with us and they were good. It was the noise of the shuttling around of trains across the road that was not so good...some kind of Montana train hub. I don't remember the name of the town. We did get some rest in spite of everything and managed the next two days stopping at a wayside again. Our island home was beautiful to see again and as I hobbled in the door I realized how fortunate I am...our efforts to bring some character and beauty to this basically straight forward tract house have paid off. Sometimes you have to go away for a while to appreciate what you have. A stop at the Burnaby IKEA proved a futile effort. I had planned to pick up 30 gallery Clip frames, 18"x24" for my upcoming solo show of life drawings but they had sold out of that size and it was now discontinued! We were tired and cranky and had to negotiate the maze that IKEA forces on one (I normally love going there but it has to be for the fun of just looking at everything, not so good when you have ONE specific item in mind and not a lot of time for hanging out). Oh drat and heck. Oh well. I have now ordered the glass from a local glass guy in Campbell River who will cut all 30 pieces for me at a fair price. Still waiting to hear from Opus about cutting up eight 48"x36" mounting boards for me. The Moore gallery clips are on their way from someplace in Conn. I have a little over three weeks to pull this show together. And so followers, view above two of the photos of my lovely sister-in-law, Sandy Hahn, singer and musician extraordinaire, who is the subject of my next portrait. She has on her sequined jeans and shiny hair ornament and sits by her hand painted walls adorned with teddy bears and crucifixes - she and husband Phil have an old farmhouse, situated on several acres in the rolling southwest Wisconsin hills, and it is full of fascinating bric-a-brac and wonderful colour. Her performance costumes are mostly retro and shiny...very fun. You can contact her for a CD of her singing at ridgenvale@msn.com. I appreciate the notes of sympathy over my broken foot and am glad to say that it is almost healed now and I should be free of this boot by week's end if the doctor ok's it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

news from Wisconsin

Bob and I have traveled to Viroqua Wisconsin to visit his family. While here I plan to start a new painting of Bob's sister Sandy to have ready for the "Telling Stories" exhibit in January. Then I went and broke my left foot so a lot of things I wanted to do have been put on hold or postponed. I did manage this morning to get to Sandy's charming, funky house in the beautiful WI hills and checked out clothing and settings for her portrait. Sandy is a musician and singer so I want to pose her in a performance garment and with one of her guitars. She also has a special, very personal decorating sense which every room in her house reflects. Choosing a place to pose her presents many possibilities but I think I have found a small corner in her bedroom that will work beautifully. I placed various of her costumes in a chair in that spot and photographed them to see how the background and lighting work. Later next week, as I can manage to hobble around with more dexterity I will spend a while posing her in those clothes:-) (she is grateful she gets to wear clothes for this painting!).

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Big Fish in a Little Pond

So now I have made the North Island newspaper without having to send them a press release and beg for some notice...the best kind of publicity. I am very pleased the painting is going over so well but it makes me wish it was better than it is. Next time. And the next one is probably going to be of my sister-in-law, Sandy, whom I'll be seeing in a couple of weeks in Wisconsin. Bob and I go down there about once a year to visit his parents and see Sandy and husband Phil.
My next blog will be from there, in Viroqua, southwest part of the state and not far from the Mississippi. Nice area and it should be beautiful right now with the Autumn colours. Anyway, Sandy is a singer/songwriter and has some very cool performance costumes that I want to use in a painting of her. I'll know more when I see her and the costumes and the environment. If
I can pull it off I will put it in the "Telling Stories" exhibit at the CRAG next January. It feels so good to have some inspiration and I need to follow up on it...not let it simmer too long as that is when I begin to lose impetus.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Driving by the Comox Valley Art Gallery on tuesday I noticed in the window that my painting
of Josette was propped up, apparently in readiness to hang. Now this is exciting, I thought.
The painting will be available for viewing any time day or night for the duration of the show.
The opening is tonight but I can't make it, unfortunately. It is quite far from where we live and
the night time drive back home through the mountains, in the rain and fog, is fairly treacherous. I am just pleased that the curators like the image well enough to give it this
kind of attention. Giving pleasure to others through my work is quite truly the best reward
of all.
The grant proposal is written finally, (and thanks very much to David Peto, of Vancouver, who kindly did some review and editing for me), and now I am putting the budget figures together and gathering the information for the CV and listing of all past exhibits and mentions in the press, etc. Since I have done this kind of thing before I already have it fairly well organized, but I do not have most of this information on my computer so I think that is a step I need to take. The grant committee is apparently interested in past work so I will delve into works from quite some time ago that is relevant to the project I am proposing. Some of it is only on slides so those will need to be scanned as all images are to be submitted on a disc. I haven't kept much of the work from a long time ago and now wonder if that was a mistake. The best pieces were sold, for the most part, and I have no idea where they are. It is like having children whom
you send out into the world but then never hear from again. They stay in your heart though.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rethinking Damien

I receive a weekly newsletter called the "Friday Roundup" from Ken Blackburn, through the Campbell River Arts Council. There are often intriguing bits of information about art and artists from around the world and this week in particular. Alexander Boldizar has recently interviewed Damien Hirst in his current Bali home where he has begun a series of paintings. Damien has apparently decided to quit his usual production of formaldehyde encased animal sculptures, etc., and concentrate on his first love...painting. I had long sloughed off the work of Damien as being publicity generated, unattractive, blatantly obvious "commentary on our society" sort of stuff. His DOT paintings did not impress me. I didn't know the man it seems. I still don't but now after reading this fascinating interview I have rethought my initial unkind assumptions. The guy is a serious thinker and has some very worthwhile things to add to the society, plus his new paintings are very beautiful in a dark, neo Gothic sort of way. Go to: www.boldizar.com/blog/nonfiction/damien-hirst-new-paintings-interview/ for a fresh look at this man and his work.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Debbie's feet worked out perfectly. I finished up and got the painting into the Comox Valley Art Gallery on tuesday afternoon. Some of the background colour was a tad tacky yet so I had nightmares about paint rubbing off on the work of other entrants...so hoping that hasn't happened! How embarrassing. I did let the girl taking the work know about it and asked her to place it away from other work for a day or so. The show doesn't open until next week. Now it is time to concentrate on another revision of my grant essay. I haven't looked at it for several days so I should be able to immediately see what works and what doesn't when I look at it again. I also need to start planning for the mounting and framing of the 30 drawings I am putting in a show in January. That date will sneak up on me fast. I also have to consider what to enter in the "Telling Stories" show I have been invited to show in. One has to be a self portrait. I do have one from about four years ago...very small coloured pencil. Do I feel ready to embark on a new one? Staring at my own face is often less than inspirational...

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Ok, I hit the inevitable "don't know what to do now" syndrome that is a part of every single piece I do. The model wore black socks & jeans for the sitting and I was thinking about painting her legs and feet bare but kind of liked what was an initially unplanned, unexpected and fun juxtaposition of the classic draped figure with the peek of contemporary iconic costuming. The black of the socks seemed to be too dominant, though, so now I am going to try showing bare feet, but keep the jeans. I need to find a suitable foot model...posed my own feet but not the right look. My 64 year old feet aren't bad but not youthful enough for this model, plus I inherited my mother's very flat feet and they aren't terribly graceful, (see photo). I think my next door neighbor, the talented watercolourist, Debbie Reusch, will pose her feet for me. She is lovely and athletic and much younger than I am and I think she has good arches:-) You can go to her blog for a visual treat of beautiful watercolour paintings.
Anyway, if I can get this finished in the next couple of days I will take it down to the Comox Valley Art Gallery to submit for the 35th Anniversary Show, a gallery fundraiser worth participating in and going to see; October 24th to November 7th. I just hope the pale background colour is dry enough to the touch when I bring it in...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Girl in a Kimono

I have wanted to do this painting for quite some time but always got distracted by other issues and a couple of experiments in the past few months working in other styles and trying on some different subject matter. This is more of a return to a way of working that I feel more comfortable about. Getting out of that comfort zone has been a good learning experience, however, and always good for shaking up the stale rut I sometimes get into. I like working with a single figure with a simplified background and only minimal props. Here, too, I can concentrate on the flow and drape of fabric which is especially appealing to me. This kimono is an antique that I bought years ago in San Francisco; not a particularly valuable kimono but a decent, heavy silk and a lovely, subtle hand painted pattern on it. I used to wear it with a purple obi and felt very elegant in it. I have since given it away to a young woman singer in a band who wears romantic and funky costumes. The model in this image is the cousin of my ex, with whom I am on very good terms...Josette has posed for me a few times and I have used her in other works. She has a classic face and timeless expression, plus all her curly hair makes for fun painting. (I know about curly hair as I have a mop of it myself and it is NOT always fun to take care of).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Comparing Lisa and Lisa...

"Possession of a Lyrebird" pastel 18"x25" "Lisa" oil 22"x28"

Possession of a Lyrebird

I began this pastel a few months ago and stopped before completion when I felt unsure of how to proceed with it. On a whim I took it with me to an outdoor art show early in the summer and a very lovely lady saw it and fell in love! She called me last week and asked if I had finished the piece because she wanted to purchase it . The period of time I had left it "fallow" was more than sufficient for my brain to be working on it in the background, apparently, because I was able to complete it in one day. It is a sort of companion piece to the "Lisa" oil painting, being the same model, but the intention for the portrait was different. In the first Lisa piece I concentrated on the quiet but intense confidence I saw in her expression and her holding of a vase of silk Hydrangeas seemed a confirmation of that expression in that the flowers are delicate yet permanent...no wilting was going to happen. In this piece, done in the more fragile medium of pastel, she cradles a rare and wonderful Lyrebird. All in life is elusive and possession of anything is temporary - Lisa's wistful , almost weary expression conveys that sad knowledge. She wraps her arms around the bird, his tail embraces her head, and they share a comforting, if fleeting, connection. This tells a story, as do all portraits, and I am pleased to be part of an upcoming exhibit in January, 2010 at the Campbell River Art Gallery on this very topic. Titled appropriately, "Telling Stories" the works will include several artists who deal with portraiture but in very different styles and mediums.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Originals Only Exhibit

Last weekend's Originals Only show went off pretty well in spite of having to batten down hatches to fight the wind which threatened to take off with canopies and art work a few times. The first day was also overcast and very cool but it didn't keep people away. I truly appreciate all those who took the time to stop by my tent and really look at the work with insight and kind compliments. There were only a couple of "buyers" but my cards and brochures all went by the end of the two days and I have already heard from a few people who are interested in portraits and/or classes. For artists making these contacts is the important part of such venues as outdoor shows. I have known people to contact me quite some time after an event (even years after!) to buy a piece they kept thinking about or to commission a portrait. It is tougher in this downturned economy to make the decision to put money down for something that has no real use except to enrich one's life by having it around to look at! Thanks so much to all those who do.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Originals Only show this weekend

This coming weekend is the Originals Only show at the Comox Marina. Over 50 artists from Vancouver Island participate each August in this show and attracts a large audience for the two day event. All works are "original only" paintings, drawings, and sculpture. No prints or craft
items, although small art cards are permitted. I will be in booth 39, (near the food booth!) so
hope to see you there if you are able to attend. The weather is promising to be fair and mild with
less heat than we've seen this past couple of weeks. Please come out and support the artist community! For more info go to http://www.originalsonly.ca

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Viewing closeup details of work has its own fascination. Does the feel of the larger piece change or does it allow for more insight to the process? A bit of both I think. These recent pastels have been teaching me to let go more. I am going to be working back in oil paint for my next painting and wonder if I will utilize any of the lessons from the pastel process. One of the exciting things about making art is that even when carefully planned there are surprises that result in the final work.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Finished Poppy Pastel

Finally finished the latest poppy piece. I was sidetracked by a lot of other things going on. We have our grandson, Tyler visiting now and the days are very filled. I am happy with this newest piece...it is looser and more spontaneous than my usual work...could I be developing a more mature style? I am losing patience with finicky, highly detailed things in my work, at least for the moment. I don't like to box myself in by saying that I have changed what I do and will never go back - each work calls for what it needs and I try to be faithful to that.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Online Instruction

I am working on a new brochure for my latest project - an online art class. I have been mentoring a few portrait students online for the past year or so through the Canadian Institute of Portrait Artists and it seems to work pretty well. Aha, I thought - a new venture to develop! I am offering classes in six week increments and the $125 fee will include weekly assignments and personalized demos, suggestions, critiques, and encouragement. Each student can decide on the area they are interested in studying and work at their own pace. No traveling or packing or extra expenses for accommodations, food, transportation, etc. You do need to be able to send and receive jpegs.
I want to continue to offer in-house, in-person workshops and am planning another draped figure class for this September, weekend of 19th and 20th. Emphasis will be on drawing and painting the costumed figure with model fee and Bob's famous vegetarian lunches included in the fee. To register for this workshop email me at ksampson@saywardvalley.net or call 250-282-0134.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Another pastel poppy piece in the works. This one has been a bit more of a struggle but I think I have got the upper hand now. It won't be done in time for tomorrow's Art in the Park show but I can be working on it while at my canopy. This often brings people over to the booth since many enjoy watching the work happen. Bob wants me to do charicatures of people for $15 each but I don't do charicatures! I could offer to do 15 minutes quick portrait sketches. I have done this in the past - WAY in the past - but I suppose I could try it again. I found a very interesting artist's site that I recommend perusing for a delightful time online...www.artbybruce.com This guy has a fabulous sense of humour and is pretty talented with his coloured pencils. More wondering where I am going with what I do. A lot of us are rethinking things right now I guess. This morning I feel new resolve to continue on and make the best art work that I can. A new figure painting is in the works and that cheers me. The canvas is stretched, all coats of Gesso are sanded - it is ready to start. Starting is the hardest part. Put the first stroke down and then the pure white surface is marked - the possibilities become more focused and less overwhelming. It is only paint.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Another summer meadow

This is a record for me. A finished piece in a week. The Wallis paper forced me to work quickly and directly with no finicky details. Part of me rebels at this. Part of me is enchanted by my willingness to allow stuff to just happen on the paper. I went directly to matting and framing this piece as soon as I decided it was finished. Am I turning over a new leaf? Summer is upon us and yard work takes up time; a small hummingbird hangs out at the feeder outside my studio window every ten minutes or so. Breezes blow, the sky has puffy clouds, and the temperature is perfect. The paintings yet to be done are sitting in the back of my mind. It will be hard, as it always is, to begin the next piece. I am very sincerely trying to not think of the elephant in my studio, that is the tendency to lean toward what might be commercially viable. Keep to the inner vision and forget about who may or may not like it. A long time acquaintance going back to art school days has a website that I strongly endorse. David Peto's work is geometric, energetic, off-the-cuff, sometimes humorous, engaging, and now returning to realism with his own twist on what that term means. www.davepeto.com.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Island Poppies

A new poppy pastel painting  is nearing completion. The Originals Only outdoor exhibit in Comox at the marina is less than two months away and I have decided to concentrate on getting some things ready for that market. The poppies grow all over the island and are extremely appealing to paint and art collectors love them. I haven't done any for quite some time and suddenly felt the urge to return to a subject that has done well for me in the past. I wouldn't attempt this, however, if I were not in love with the subject. Any time I have tried to work strictly "for the market" the results are less than stellar. 
I am working with a paper that is new for me, Wallis sanded paper.  I usually use a toned drawing paper such as Canson.  Wallis is white and I am experimenting with allowing some of the brightness of that white to show through.  The surface is very different from other sanded papers I have also used.  I am finding that I need to work in a more "expressionistic" way...fine detail is difficult on this paper. The pigments layer in a more painterly manner and blending is less subtle.  I wasn't certain I liked this at first but now I am enjoying the new way of working and the results are striking, I think. I have also been using a new barrier cream on my hands, Gloves in a Bottle.  Non-toxic, replenished every four hours if need be. I have to be careful with pastel as I am prone to illness from the dust if I allow it to enter my pores or breathe it in.  I work outdoors if possible and do not blow the dust around. I tap the paper gently and let the dust fall into a paper tray I put at the bottom (see in picture).  I sometimes wear a mask. This has definitely been a year of breaking away from many of my old working habits...not a bad thing!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

This shows a bit of the process used to complete Nicole's face. I added and subtracted colours and values for quite some time. There is a strong yellow green light on the left side which at first seemed garish but ended up working very well. I had to be careful not to allow the strong patch of light pink light coming through the trellis and rose stems on her cheek to seem like a bandaide or some other foreign substance on her face. I must have worked a good ten hours or more just on the face over a week's time. The entire painting took about three months.


I was very pleased to learn that a painting I have in the Campbell River Art Gallerly 27th Annual Members' Exhibition has won an Award of Merit. This is always a gratifying experience, although I have learned not to place too much significance on awards. Rejection is not pleasant but can't be taken personally as a different jury would likely choose a different show and give different awards. I have had the same work accepted in one place and rejected from another. Non-the-less, being recognized is very encouraging! "Nicole in the Rose Trellis" is 16"x16", oil on canvas. I had a neighbor child pose in my garden two summers ago and I loved the light on her face when she stood under the trellis. The greens and reds reflected back gently on her skin and gave her an ethereal, otherworldly look which was quite a challenge to capture in paint. I think I might show the sequence of painting this piece in a new posting as the skin tones went through several changes before I felt I had it right. Skin tones are of particular interest to me and no matter what overall colour a person looks to be they are, in fact, a rainbow. If you look intently at your own hand or face, for instance, in different lights you can see reds, blues, yellows, greens, and purples no matter what your heritage. Some colours are more prominent obviously, but whether light, medium or dark the total spectrum is right there.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On the Cusp

I haven't been working on paintings in a day for a while as I wanted to complete this 30"x40" piece in time for Painting on the Edge, a show with the FCA (Federation of Canadian Artists). It is open to artists world wide so I don't know what my chances are of getting in but one has to try! I call this "On the Cusp" as it is a self portrait of my aging self (minus just a few sags, bags, and wrinkles).
I also went to Rochester, NY to see my son, Tristan Tomaselli, graduate with honours from college. The photo is with me, Tristan, and his Dad, Michael. Exhausting, exciting, fulfilling trip. Travel isn't what it used to be! Someone told me it is like being moved along in cattle cars. I am of the age where I remember gracious service and complete meals (not great food, but food non-the-less; now you are lucky to get something to drink). The world is more dangerous, though, now and all the security measures are necessary I suppose. I doubt I will be traveling again for a while.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Turquoise Ribbon

After more false starts yet again I came up with this small piece.  I feel I may be making a tiny bit of progress with choosing subjects and painting directly without over planning. Working more from intuition is revealing some surprising tendencies . I seem to be doing better with a mid value tonal range using blues and grays, which is a colour scheme I do not generally use in my large, thought-out-adnauseum work. It is almost grisaille, and perhaps a logical return to some basics while I practice this new (for me) faster approach.
The rest of the week has turned up some interest in my workshops and weekly classes in my studio - good news.  I need to follow through.  I have also been asked to teach a class through
the Kelsey Rec Centre on photography. This would be for basic point and shoot cameras most
likely, but there is a lot you can do to improve photo taking even with limited camera functions. The biggest issue seems to be concerning composing a shot. 
Now to choose my next paint-in-a-day subject...any suggestions?

Friday, May 8, 2009

My first try at a decorate small box was not worth completing.  I worked with a lot of magenta and reds, which are very transparent and don't have the full body I like.  I layered colour upon colour but the results did not improve.  Sometimes you have
to admit it isn't going to work and move on. 
This painting utilizes colours that suit my temperment better, at least in this point in time.
I enjoyed the smooth, pink glass as compared to the fussier embroidery and connecting the two with
the plain ribbon seemed to work.  In the setup the background fabric seemed to unify everything but I am not certain it entirely works in the painting.  I may change this.  

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Little Jugs Together

Viewing the little jugs all in a row reveals a process that I have to get more in touch with. I don't normally work in a series but it is something I want to do more of.  The next small series is involving little boxes that I have around.  The first one is almost completed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I decided I didn't like the last jug painting with the dark background so I painted
over it and think it is better - not great - but better.  I have trouble with dark backgrounds. Almost every time I try to paint one it just doesn't work for me.  I study the old masters and some contemporary painters too, who seem to have a special flair for utilizing darks. They manage to impart life to the dark atmosphere whereas I just achieve dead space.  Something to work on in future. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Another white jug painting

This will be the last jug painting for a while.  I need to move on to something different but haven't decided what that will be as yet.
My interest in a subject begins to wan after a while and it affects the quality.   In this case I limited the palette to indigo blue, naples yellow, Grumbacher red, burnt sienna
and flake white.  Oh, and a touch of cerulean blue for some
of the colour changes in the white jug. I loosened up more and did not get picky with detail or touch ups. 
Not using a figure in my work always feels as if something is missing.  I need to get over it!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This is the place where I do my work. I built this studio (not with my own hands, obviously) a year ago. It is the result of a life long dream, set at the back edge of our two acre property on the lower slope of Mt. H'Kusam in Sayward valley, near Kelsey Bay, north Vancouver Island.
I give occasional workshops and classes in this studio and can accommodate up to eight students at a time. It is wonderful to watch the expression on a student's face who "gets" what you're trying to tell them and give them. As I am still a student myself I can especially appreciate the feeling of elevation that learning a new skill or concept can bring. As for those who privilege me by commissioning a portrait of a loved one, I am always grateful for their trust in my ability and happy when they see the finished result and return that gratitude to me.
It is a reciprocal arrangement when you paint a portrait. It isn't just about the subject - it is about the artist and model and the dance they choreograph together.
A good portrait tells as much about the artist as the subject. Someday I may paint one that I feel is truly masterful, but until then I strive to be better with each subject and often feel humbled by how far I still have to go. I believe it was Renoir who said in his 80's or 90's that he finally felt he was beginning to know how to paint.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Little White Jug On A Doily

I've decided to stick with this little white jug subject for a while. I can see a lot of possible ways to paint this and for now it is something of interest for me. I love the shape and the way the light reflects around
the surface.  I found this jug in a flea market in Viroqua, Wisconsin two years ago and almost didn't get it as it was $22, more than I really wanted to pay. I went back to it twice before deciding that I would be sorry if I didn't get it.  So glad I did!  
The motivation to continue is strong for the moment but knowing me, well, that could change.  I have to battle with inner demons sometimes who ask me why I keep trying to be an artist and what do I expect to get out of it, etc., etc.. I already get so much that the question doesn't really need to be asked.  I get to follow my dream and be independent. Even if it never makes me rich or famous I am blessed.  Still, there is a struggle with each work that every artist knows about.  Will this piece turn out well?  How do I make my
inner vision appear on the canvas the way I want it to?  What am I trying to say
with this subject or am I trying to say anything at all?  And who cares?  That is a big hurdle sometimes - justifying my efforts when the world is already so full of
tremendously talented artists.  
One thing about this lifelong effort, I am never bored!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Little White Jug

Finally started

It has been a week of frustrations and false starts but I finally made a small
painting today. This is a new experience for me since I tend to make endless
sketches, rethink my ideas, etc., and then spend a long time producing the
finished art. I feel like a new student again and it is kind of refreshing -
"beginner's mind".
I started one earlier in the week but was not thrilled with the result so wiped the little canvas clean and began again. I do not want these works to be too "precious" so I do not feel pressure to force the result. I recall Milton Glaser, the graphic designer/illustrator who started the famous PushPin studio, saying in a documentary I saw about him, that he found working on a piece of paper that cost four dollars a bit intimidating so he did many of his illustrations on less costly materials and felt free to be really creative and even ruin them if need be. I am feeling the same way about these little canvases. There is much less invested in a 5x7 canvas compared to say a 20x30 size. Of course, what if that illusive masterpiece shows up on the cheaper paper or canvas? Well, thank goodness for archival preservation methods available these days!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Welcome to my Blog

I guess I am finally getting around to being a part of the 21st century. I have a functioning website for my art, and now a blog! I remember when I first heard the term about three years ago - I had no idea what it meant. Something about an airline server who put inappropriate photos of herself on her blog and got into trouble for it. I don't intend to put any "inappropriate" images on my blog so I may lose some followers right off the bat. Those who remain will, I hope, find my posts to be of some interest and possibly informative too. I welcome any comments from you, (just please be gentle!).
In the following weeks I am going to stumble through a new group of works and see if they appeal to anyone. Whether they do or not isn't the issue really, but it would be great to have universal, unstinting approval. In case that doesn't happen I will at least be learning some new things - always good to exercise the little grey cells.
As I work on the new pieces I will examine and explain as best I can what I am thinking and what my process is. This is not rocket science. Much of art is intuitive, but there are some tried and true techniques that can serve to promote better understanding of how "art" is made. Please enjoy and perhaps learn from the small gifts I have to offer.
I will post more as I become better acquainted with this new method of communication.
Oh yes, to see more of my work go to my site at www.karenmartinarts.ca। Thanks.