Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Troller Paintings Finished

Here it is almost 6 months since my last post! I haven't done much painting during that time.
But we did got to the north of Canada - Northern Alberta, Northern BC and the North West Territories - and also to India. I blogged the India trip and am trying to retroactively blog the trip to the North. They were both great experiences.

I also spent about 6 weeks - more or less fulltime - revising the Nanaimo Power & Sail Squadron website. It was very interesting to do - and could probably count as a art work. Here is the link: www.nanaimocps.org

I'm glad to say that when we came home from India I finally finished my two troller paintings and actually put them in Nanaimo Arts Council Show for January. I worked many many hours on my first troller painting which I named "Gulf Troller 1." I struggled to get the boat shaped correctly. It is painted from an odd angle and it kept looking as if it was curling up like a dog. I worked endlessly on the sky, then the sea, then the sky and sea - again and again. Then back to the boat. I finally got the boat looking the right shape and added some distant islands. I''m quite happy with it now.

Once the first troller was done I went to work on the second one. I actually finished it in a total of about 20 hours - a small fraction of the time I spent on the first one. Interestingly, although I obviously learned from the first one, the second one is quite different. While the first troller is set in a flat pale blue sea with flat bands of dark clouds in the sky and distant islands, the second one has a stylized plume from Harmac arching over it, a foggy Newcastle Island behind, and the water is glinting nicely. I did the glinting by painting different coloured horizontal lines and shapes to indicate waves and then was suddenly inspired to try daubs of white paint applied vertically to show the sparkle. I think it really worked.

Both paintings have a somewhat romantic appeal - you might even say sugary. But technically they are an interesting combination of free and loose style - achieved by painting quite a few layers and allowing a bit of the previous layers to show through - while, at the same time, focusing more and more on the pattern of the shapes - while still maintaining a fairly accurate - though simplified - representation of the subject. At least that's what I think I do. There is a lot of stained glass effect in the ship's rigging of both paintings. I started doing that in my two forest paintings.

I decided to put troller paintings in the show - not because I think they will win a prize - but because I think they are quite nice and are part of the Nanaimo seascape. Also - they celebrate Gulf Trolling which is a very sustainable way of commercial fishing for wild Pacific salmon. It is done with barbless hooks and each fish is caught individually and carefully.

Now I am back working on my Boat Basin scene which looks truly awful right now - but that is because I am only on the third layer and I am having problems with the combination of colours - too much pink and brown across the middle with blue above and below.

I will put up some photos of Gulf Troller 1 and Gulf Troller 2 next time. I do this blog. I thought I had photos ready to go - but I actually don't.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Troller heading out


I have spent a couple of afternoons and an evening working on my painting of a fishing troller - with Bowen Island in the background - heading out across the stormy Straight of Georgia. This painting is being a bit challenging because I am trying to make the boat be the lightest part of the painting against a dark background - with a cloud touched by sunshine above it - whereas in the photo I am using for inspiration, the boat (although whitish) is actually darker than the sky.


I love the colours in the photo - so beautifully grey and blue - not at all stormy. Maybe I have a made a mistake with the purple sky in the painting - though I think the photo of the painting is a bit misleading colourwise. Depending on the light in the room, the painting is not really all that purple. Also, I think the photo of the painting looks more purple than it is because it is contrasted against a green pastel of my parents' old cottage in Salt Spring Island and the trees outside the window.

Here is just the boat part - and you can see it is not really all that purple. I am excited by the orange and pink inside the upper steering station and the greenish edge around the top which is actually clear turquoise plastic to reduce glare from the water.

I am trying to put in a suggestion of some of the lines coming down from the trolling poles. This is really tricky since I want them to show up from a distance but not be too strong or too neat. I generally make masts and poles by scratching away the existing paint with a hard little brush and then putting in a suggestion of new colour in the little channel which remains. This painting is supposed to be impressionistic and although there is a lot of precise detail done by a small brush - the overall effect is supposed to be loose, big brush work.

Of course, being a boat painting, there is also the challenge of getting the boat drawn sufficiently correctly to actually look like a troller. I still haven't quite got it. I am eliminating some of the detail - but need enough to give the right effect. For a while the boat looked as if it was curved back on itself (like a dog curled up) because the dark piece of reinforced wood on the hull was giving the wrong effect. I suddenly realized that the wheelhouse and the stern were too foreshortened and this was causing most of the problem. I have widened them considerably - but now need to brighten up the stern again where the sun is shining on it - though - where the sun is coming from is still a bit of a question. Through the clear sky above the clouds I guess. The Straight of Georgia is unusual - since it is a big body of water but you can see across it most days and the weather on the mainland side is often very different from the weather here on Vancouver Island.

The water in front of the boat is rippled in the photo - but I think it need some dark and light streaks in the painting to make it balance with the dark purple sky. As always for me - it is trial and luck that results in a good picture. I never really know how to achieve the effect I want until I think I finally have it.

I have been somewhat sick lately (asthma and sinus) and lacking in my usual energy. I love painting because it is so absorbing - so many little problems to be worked out and only yourself to finally satisfy. I''m glad I am feeling brave enough to paint again. Sometimes something magic happens and it so fun when it does.

New projects ahead. We are going to travel north in our RV starting next week - for a month - and I have bought pastels to take with me. That is why I have the Salt Spring Cottage pastel in my art room. I am hoping it will give me some ideas. I think pastelling will be quite different from painting - since you can let a lot more of the background paper shine through and make the picture more of a drawing. We'll see.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Back at NAC

Here I am back at the Nanaimo Art Council Gallery (NAC). It is a little busier today since art works are coming in for the July Show Case. However, overall this part of the mall is pretty bleak. I particularly find the music that comes from somewhere to left down the hallway to be awful! It is a female voice singing the same boring songs every time - but I think I only hear the odd note.

The music was so depressing that I took a techno-risk and put a Mozart CD into the portable radio/cassette/CD player.It didn't take too long to figure out I had it in upsdie down. The music is so lovely compared to wailing in the hall - but possible a bit loud for Odette who is working in the back office. When she goes I will turn it up!

Well - I decided to put my 2 tree paintings in the NAC July Juried Show Case. I have very mixed feelings about them - they are both so busy! But what the heck - they are now in the show. I don't think they are any more appalling than Faye's paintings of the north some of which I actually really like. They are sitting on the floor with other entries waiting to be hung on Monday. Someone bringing in her own work for the show commented that they reminded her of Emily Carr and Van Gogh. I was astounded - because those are the two artists I have been studying lately. It appears that they have influenced my painting! Probably the combination is Emily Carr forests with a Van Gogh pallette. Very interesting!

One reason I put them in is that I think art needs to be seen. Art is a social medium and it can't just sit at home and still be social. However, I have some questions about jurying. There are clearly standards that can be set - but the great modern artists (including Carr and Van Gogh) did there best to break with the standards of their day. Neither of them made any money with their art - though both were somewhat recognized by the deaths. So - my conclusion - put it up and don't pay any attention to the jurying.

A seond reason for bringing them in is that art is now my main continuing interest. This came to me strongly yesterday when Mike and I went to Vancouver Public Library for a celebration of a new book on BC library history. I realized that I was still very passionate about public libraries - especially the author's point about libraries sharing resources. Public libraries will probably never be well-funded so they have to take the meager resources they have and share them. I don't see this as a problem - I see it as a lovely challenge. Very few of us have all the resources we would like to have - and that makes us more diligent, careful, and caring. I think supporting individual learning, offering escapism from the drudgery and shortness of life, and supporting democracy - through sharing - are the most admirable things about public libraries. However, I am no longer directly invovled in all this great library stuff - so I need something else to distract me from shortness and drudgery of life. There is a lot that does that - family, gardening, boating, travel learning about new things - and now there is also painting and it can be BIG!

Another reason is that I put up my problematic paintings is that am taking prednesone for my asthma and sinusitis and it is beginning to make me a little hyper and insensitive to risk. So, just before it was time to come in for my 2 shifts today, I saw my paintings on the mantel piece and decided to bring them in.

The odd thing is that most people who come in won't look at me. I guess they just want to look around or maybe they are afraid I will try to sell them something. That is a problem - especially when you think art should be social!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bastion painting


Today I worked for about 4 hours on my painting of the Nanaimo Boat Basin - featuring the Bastion. I have pretty much covered the entire canvas with oily paint - it is no longer the wash I did yesterday.

I think the photos looks very good - actually better than the painting! The stairs up to the upper level are beginning to look realistic and I like the look of the Coast Bastion Hotel. I think I will simplify the area where the ramp meets the dock by eliminating the curly handrails that are hard to indicate correctly. I will also put some yellow green at bottom left side (on the floating palapa) to carry thate colour through the painting. I'l probably also deal with the bare piece of wall below the Bastion by covering it with oak branches - which are actually there in the photo. That will bring the reddish colour right across the painting - but I may make it a bit more orangish to contrast with the turquoise of light poles. Those turquoise poles - a real feature of the Nanaimo Waterfront. Then I need to work on the flags - which will be a main feature of this painting - a windy day in early spring!

I took it on my Samsung Android and emailed it to myself. It came as a read-only file - but - we now have new photo editing software by Serif. This is the first time I have used that software and it allowed me to save the read-only file as a regular jpeg. So here it is!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Photos of Recent Paintings

Last evening I thought I would put up photos when I got home. However, I was a bit to tired and hungry after my stint at NAC. Here are pictures of all my recent paintings.

First, here is a photo of the revised painting I formerly called "VIU Forestland." I think I have done all I can to this painting and am calling it DONE. As mentioned yesterday, I think it is too busy. My usual style is much more simplified - but it has been a big learning experience working on it. I now have it sitting on the mantel piece in the living room and I find it quite mesmerizing. I am renaming it "Ammonite Falls Path - December."



Second, here is a picture of the final version of my maple in bud painting. I had thought I had taken the photo I was using as my inspiration in Linley Valley a couple of years ago. Every time we walked in Linley Valley I would search for that maple - but I could not find it. Then, in May, I found it when we were walking on Newcastle Island. I happened to be thinking of my maple in bud painting when I suddenly saw it in front of me on the trail near the lake. I was completely blown away!for such a long time I had thought of the tree as being in Linley Valley. I had even sent the photo to the City of Nanaimo in support of making the Crown Land in Linley Valley part of the Linley Valley Park. Anyway - it is on Newcastle. This painting is also very busy - probably because I was using smaller brushes than I usually do. It is also on the mantel piece and, in a strange way, I quite like it. Like it or not, it is DONE! I am calling it "Maple Tree in April."


Thank goodness those two forest paintings are now done. They were so hard to do! The fact I couldn't achieve my vision for them made me feel as if my first 5 paintings and my art show were just a fluke.

But they are DONE and I've now moved on to 3 new paintings.

Third, here is the initial painting of a fishboat with Protection Island behind it. I started it on June 12.



Fourth, here is the initial painting of a fishboat with Bowen Island in background, also started on June 12. I actually started it first.



Fifth, and here is the initial painting of the Nanaimo Boat Basin with Bastion. I started it today, June 25, 2011.

I hope I will be able to do a good job on these three paintings. I want them to be simple and structured with no busy detail and lots of light - but, at the same time, I want them to fairly accurately represent the subjects without being to cliched.

As I was waiting for Blogger to upload these images I was thinking how lucky I am to live on the West Coast of Canada. When people working in my time zone go to bed (as I need to do) there are very few other people up working - because - until you get to Japan, hardly anyone lives to the west. So - my idea is - I get much better internet service working here late at night than I would anywhere else on the continent!

Friday, June 24, 2011

June 24 - and what do I have to show for it?

It's true. It's June 24 and I have hardly done any art for almost 2 months.

But - here I am at the Nanaimo Arts Council Gallery putting in my first of three shifts for June. That must count for soemthing. Or maybe it just takes away from my painting time.

It is pretty quiet. 2 hours have gone by and only 2 people have come in. One was a most interesting woman. . She is newly arrived from White Rock and may join the Arts Council. She is about my age and interested in things people my age like - art, gardening, eating... She is so mad that the deer are ruining her garden. We had a great chat!

Well, I did do a bit of art during the past 2 months. I can't put any pictures up becuase they are still on my camera and I didn't bring it to NAC - so I will just write about them.

First a reworked my painting of the VIU Forestland. I spent a lot of time trying to make it more interesting and finished. I mainly put a lot more mauve in space between the trees trunks and changed the point from where the light was centred. Then I worked for days and days on my April Maple. I made the light between the maple trees quite orange and worked hard to get the firs and cedars working. I now declare both those forest paintings done. They are sitting in my art room and they are driving me crazy. They are so busy! I know the forest is busy and full of details - but - up close - this is too much! I think my problem is that the brushes I used were too small - so I ended up with too many brush stokes and squiggles.However, they are done and that is the end of it.

A couple of days ago I started 2 new paintings of a fish boat which I photographed from our boat off Protection Island a year or so ago. I used a large brush to sketch it in and was very careful to get the proportions right. For example, the trolling poles are much longer than the hull - which I didn't realize at first. That meant I had to redo the excellent sketch I had made of the first boat to make it the right size for the poles and canvas I decided the paintings could be a pair. That meant I had to redo the second boat to get it at the same level of the canvas as the first boat painting. I also worked at roughing in the sky and islands in the background on both paintings. I actually like them both a lot in their preliminary state.

My next plan is to start a third painting. This will be of Nanaimo Harbour with the Baston in it somewhere. Once that is sketched, I will work on all three paintings at the same time. Hopefully I'll be able to make a good job of all of them. My aim is bold and calm - so busy as my 2 forest paintings.

The other art thing I did over the last 2 months was the read the life of Van Gogh. My book has copies of all his paintings interspersed with his life story. I love the colours in his French paintings and I love his sense of design. But I don't think I will ever paint like him. I read this book whilel we were out crusing on our samll boat for 3 weeks.

The rest of my time was spent working in the garden and working on my parents slides. I moved a lot of plants around int he garden - and it looks good. I think it will look even better next year. Having the deer fence has made a huge difference. I figure my parents took and kept about 5000 slides and the slide carousel boxes were cluttering up my art room. Mike and looked at every slide and threw away about 2/3s. of them. The next thing will be to get them put on a CD so we can actually look at them occasionally and share them with other family members. I guess both things sort of count as art - but I need to get back to actual painting if I still want to be an artist.

I will put up photos of my forest paintings and preliminary boats paintings when I get home. That will be after supper - I am already starving and still have 1 hour and 20 minutes to go and no-one else seems to be dropping in!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

End of April




Suddenly it is the end of April. Painting took a back seat to gardening most of this month. We had a new fence put in to keep the deer out and the dog in - at the back anyway. The newly fenced back garden gave a place to move all the "deer-candy" plants (that used to be protected from deer on our upstairs deck or hidden in the front garden) into the back garden. It also meant moving what we think might be "deer-proof" plants into the front garden. That was a lot of digging and moving and it all needed to be done while the plants were preparing to burst into life - but before the actually did. At the same time, I tried to clean up the newly sprouting weeds and all the fallen branches and fir cones. I spent days grovelling in the dirt and loved every minute of it.

But for the past week I have been working on my painting of a maple tree in Linley Valley. It's at the top of this blog. I am trying to capture a big leaf maple just beginning to burst into life in the mid-April sunshine. The early flowers look like a golden-green halo in the dark green woods. I took the photo I am using as an inspiration a few years a go. It is tough to paint because I am not that good at trees and forests are so complicated. Do you try and put in every twig and leaf or just give a suggestion? Obviously a suggestion is better - but it has to be accurate. You can't have some nice fir branches up at the top of the painting without something further down suggesting the trunk. Then - what is around the trunk. Ferns, moss, salal, huckleberries, dead trees ... Emily Carr abstracted to a green swirl - almost like water - but I haven't tried that yet.

Strangely, the moment I was trying to capture when the maple leaves burst into the sky has now past for 2011. I think it only lasted a day - about 2 weeks ago. Now the leaves grow larger everyday and the halos are now getting quite dense and tree-like.

I spent 3 shifts working at NAC and part of the time I looked long and hard at my VIU Forestland painting where it hung on the wall. I concluded several things - lack of contrast is still a problem, the light in the forest should be at the end of the road (I think) rather than at the centre of the painting, the green background trees should be on the left as well as the right, it should be a bit more twiggy. I am going to revise my painting to make these changes and when I do I will rename it "Path to Ammonite Falls."

A woman came into NAC while I was there and we had a bit of a chat. I told her I was planning to modify my painting and she said - authoritatively- that I couldn't. The painting had been displayed and I would have to start again if I wanted to make it different. Well - hmmm- I disagreed - politely. It's my painting and I can do what I want with it. If it had received an award I would agree it was finished - but since it didn't - it must be a work in progress. So I will try to make those changes and see how it looks.

One thing I have learned - you can't know if a painting is finished until you have lived with it for awhile. No-one can tell you it is done.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

After the Spring Show Case

Tonight was the awards night for the NAC Spring Show Case. I had kind of been hoping I would get at least an honourable mention for the painting I submitted - but I didn't. The painting that was awarded first prize was very beautifully executed and interesting - an almost photographic water colour of a moose in the middle of a modern city. It is very dramatic and well-related to the the theme of Earth Day if you think of it as showing the changing earth. Moose country is being replaced by cities - only the image of the moose remains. The second prize went to a drawing of some roots and dandelions - again very realistic - almost like a photo and beautifully executed. Honourable mention went to a large stunningly colourful and dramatic acrylic of a scene on the Dempster Highway. I think all the winning paintings were excellent - but I don't want to change my painting style to be more like theirs. There was only one painting in the show that I really wish I had painted - an impressionistic interpretation of tree trunks with a lake behind. It didn't win an award.

Some VIU students were at the show when I got there after Dog Obedience Class. One of them commented that he liked my painting and we had a chat about Ammonite Falls. He was a forest fire fighter. I'm OK with all of this. Phew!

I bought some new art books from Chapters today - two on Emily Carr and one on Van Gogh. They are all old books and out of print I think. I can hardly wait to see them - especially the Van Gogh which is supposed to include reproductions of his complete works. Poor Emily and Vincent both had troubled difficult lives. How lucky I am to be living the life I do!

On a more practical note, I changed the name of our company today from Enablink Enterprises Ltd. to Chuckling Chimes Ltd. It was a fairly simple online process. The concept is that I may actually make some money from my paintings and cards and would therefore be able to charge my expenses to the company. The company has been more of less dormant for years - we only really used it about 20 years ago when Mike was working in third world countries helping people learn how to set up credit unions. We have paid our annual report fees every year since - but nothing else has happened. I would like to get the company active again. Of course, that means I would have to sell somethingt!

I haven't done any painting for more than a week because I have been busy "gardening." Now that we have deer fencing around the back of our property, I have been moving deer-proof plants to the front and deer "candy" to the back where it will no longer get eaten. Already (one week) there is much more growth in the back - particularly snowberries - than there would have been if we hadn't had the fence put in. The deer often come up to the fence and stand looking at it. "Where did this come from?" The dog loves the newly fenced area - and races up to the top of the hill to check out what is going on and bark at the deer. We hope our back garden will become a green oasis in an urban deer desert.

One of the best things about having a new dog is learning about the new ideas on dog psychology. People now think that dogs instinctively assume that they are living in a pack. They are always ready to take on the role pack leader if humans give them signals that this is what they must do. Most dog problems arise from dogs thinking they are pack leaders. The most important thing, according to Cesar Millan, is to be "calm assertive" and follow a few simple processes that give the dog the impression that you - not it - are the leader. Being "calm assertive" means that you decide who you want to be and go about your business without getting yourself and everyone you know all riled up. You send out positive energy. Mike and I are working hard at being pack leaders and finding it to be a whole new very interesting world! Also it is working - Lexy is a changed dog.

So - back to calm assertive painting soon!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More on the maple

I worked some more on my maple picture today. I seem to be having the same challenge as I had with my VIU Forestland painting. I am trying to suggest a lot of trees without wanting to paint each tree individually- but unless I figure out which branches belong to which tree and paint them accordingly I just have a mess. This means I have to simplify somewhat - but not too much or I will loose the sense of a lot of trees in a fairly dense forest. I had a similar challenge with my Boats in Newcastle Channel - trying to paint boats in the foreground and the background so that they were identifiable - while still suggesting that there are other boats where only the masts are showing.

Yesterday we went to Victoria and were able to spend half an hour at the Royal BC Museum looking at a display called "The Other Emily." It depicts the young life of Emily Carr based on early photos and a few of Carr's own works. The artist had reproduced the photos as fairly large paintings. I had seen most of the photos before and wasn't overly impressed by the contemporary artist's impressions mainly because the show seemed to focus more on her than on Emily Carr.

One of the paintings was a sort of reflection of Carr's large painting of three totem poles and several cedar lodges in Haida Gwai - and, because it was based on an actual photo, it showed Carr herself at work in the middle of the scene. It was a cool idea to have the actual Emily Carr painting and the photo together - separated by a piece of totem pole - but the contemporary painting was terrible. The brilliant green of the forest was completely unlike any green ever used by Emily Carr or any green ever seen in a BC forest.

The other thing that bugged me was that there was so much fuss made about the young Emily Carr going out into the bush to paint - because this just wasn't done in those days. I don't believe this is quite true - since Carr always seems to have stayed with missionaries when she was in the bush - so there other women out there ahead of her doing their thing. Also, people seem to think it is odd that Emily Carr didn't marry - but neither did her sisters who pursued their own careers.

I was glad to get close to some of Carr's actual works - she was a very smooth, neat painter - quite lovely - but the display itself didn't quite work for me.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Maple in Linley Valley

Last week was Spring Break, my son-in-law and two oldest grandsons came for a visit. We all went snow-shoeing at Mount Washington. There is still a terrific amount of snow up there - 7 meters to be precise - and it was snowing most of the time we were there. In the evening we watched The Matrix - a pretty artful and awe-inspiring day!

On Thursday I took my VIU Forestland painting to Open Studio at Island Girl Art Studio and, with encouragement from Penny, I dropped it off later at the Nanaimo Arts Council Gallery for the Spring Show Case. I am happy with it after having not seen it for a while. Talking about VIU, the faculty strike is still going on - more than two weeks now.

Another great art moment last week was that we repainted my art room - pure white. Mike had painted the walls golden yellow when we set the room up about 12 years ago - for me to work on my PhD and I spent many, many hours working in their golden glow. But once it became an art room, I found I couldn't see the colours properly at night - so it was time for a change.

On the weekend my brother and sister-in-law and my sister and partner all came up from Victoria to see my art show. I was so happy - thrilled really - that they came all this way just to see my paintings. It has been wonderful to get so much support from my family and friends for my art show. While we were at the show I realized that most of my cards have been purchased, so I printed some more and will take them in tomorrow.

Yesterday and today I worked on my painting of a shimmering spring maple in Linley Valley and I am pretty happy with how it is turning out. It is a fairly challenging painting because it is all trees and everything is basically green. So far I am only using blue, payne's grey, yellow and white. I will probably add a tiny bit of red in the foreground to give it a bit of depth and sense of dead maple leaves lying about. Here it is:


The strange thing is that walls in the art room look mauve in the photo! A very pretty colour but very odd! They really are pure white! the other odd thing about the photo is that the trees outside the window almost look as if they are an extension of the painting. Hmmm.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Post-Birthday

Yesterday was my 69th birthday. This seems pretty old to me! But I think I have felt the same way about every birthday - so it's not a surprise.

I feel great (except I have a cold) and know that I am one of the luckiest people in the world. I wish I could do something about the serious issues of life - like the earthquake in Japan, the freedom fighters in Libya, and even the street people in our city - but I guess I had that chance when I was a librarian ... Now I will try to celebrate life - which I think is also important.

I finished my painting of the trail to Ammonite Falls - at least I think I did. I think it is OK - but I haven't lived with it long enough to know what it's really like.

My plan is to enter it into the NAC Spring Showcase - which is in April and has Earth Day as the theme. Earth Day is intended to remind us about the environment and I am going to use the painting to try to make a positive statement about Nanaimo. The trail to Ammonite Falls actually goes through the VIU Wood Lot. The VIU Forestry Program advertises itself as teaching students how to "manage and protect the environment." So, in honour of Earth Day and Nanaimo's contribution to the environment, I am naming my painting "VIU Forestland." Here it is:


The main difference from last time is that the centre of the light in the forest is more emphasized, the side of the trail is rougher and there are more branches on thearbutus. Also, I have signed it and have painted the sides and the top and bottom so it doesn't need a frame.

Now onto my big leaf maple in Linley Valley. I think this painting will be much more impressionistic and free - but who knows. I met get hung up. The painting should be impressionistic since it is more about atmosphere than a real object. I'm using Emily's Carr's "Clearing" to inspire my colours - sort of.


I realize that the photo is not a good representation of the colours in the painting since there is actually no pink in it - yet. Everything is just a turpentine wash right now - while I try to get the shapes and values organized before I go full tilt.

If, by chance , I get this painting done by March 31, I will put it in the NAC Spring Show Case too. The picture is actually of a tree in the Crown Land adjacent to the Linley Valley Park - not int he park itself. I once sent the original photo to someone (NALT or DBNA) to support making the Crown Land into a Park - so the painting would be appropriate for Earth Day but in a different way from "VIU Forestland."

It is a little nerve racking to think of entering a contest after having had my own show - but that is part of being in the art world in Nanaimo. I'll try to focus on appreciating the other paintings and being part of a community of artists and forget the fact it is a competition.

We often walk in this part of "Linley Valley" and it is beautiful any time of year. Hopefully we will soon have Lexy well-enough trained that we can walk there again without fear of a dog-ruckus!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

After the Reception

My Reception at the Nanaimo Arts Council Gallery was a wonderful day! My kids and their spouses, my three grandsons and my sister and brother-in-law all came over from the mainland on Saturday morning. We had a nice festive lunch at our house. Then some of us went to the Gallery to set up the coffee and tea, nanaimo bar, dates and grapes. A fellow Arts Council volunteer, Paul, took charge and set everything up. Vi and a student worker manned the counter. At two o'clock, people began to arrive. I had invited quite a few people but had no idea who would come.

The first to arrive was Robin Field my first art teacher from Cowichan Valley Days! I was so happy to see him! Soon after that many friends from ice-dancing, my dentist, my investment guy, Penny Maday my new art mentor, my neighbour, a friend from the Yacht Club, and a friend I worked with for many years arrived. Also some people I had just met at Everybody Sings, our morning singing "cluster." It was wonderful that so many people came. While I was working for VIRL, I was so busy working that I didn't have much time for friends. Since the library served the whole island (almost) I always felt I needed to be interested in all the communities on Vancouver Island - not just Nanaimo. It is so freeing to feel that I am actually becoming part of Nanaimo. That's why we live here! Plus - my families' support was the greatest!

By 4 o'clock everyone had gone home. I, Paul, Paul's sister, my son-in-law, and my my sister-in-law and brother-in-law sat in the folding chairs among the pottery - waiting for 4 o'clock to strike - while Paul's sister told us about events that had been happening at the nearby Subway store. She had been sent by Paul to buy him a couple of subs. It was the Subways grand opening and they had a two-for-one sale going on - so there was a long line-up. Apparently, while she was standing in line, a teen-age boy collapsed into her arms - having had much too wild a time the evening before and not enough food today. His low-slung jeans fell off - much to her embarrassment! 911 was called and the ambulance came. His father was not impressed! Neither was she!

Today I got back working on my painting of the trail to Ammonite Falls. I had been feeling at loss about what to to do about it. To me, it had turned to mud - well, maybe more like gray clay. I really could not figure out what colour I had painted the space between the the trees trunks. I had originally planned to make it mauve - but had put on so many different colours that it had become a very strange yellowish-blueish-mauvish-pinkish-greenish mix. The sky above had been pale blue, strong pink and was now muddy blue again. Because the trunks were all reaching skyward, the painting seemed way too long. I was seriously worried that I had lost it. I would never do another good painting.

However, wonderful Penny Maday pointed out that the problem was not so much the colours as the values. I needed stronger darks and lights. She recommended making the sky above the trees almost white and picking out bits of white light further down - plus making the shadows under the salal shrubbery and arbutus much darker. I have been working on that and I think it is much better. I also think that part of my problem is that, although I have excellent flourescent lighting in my art room, the walls are yellow walls and the reflected colour distorts the colour of the picture. Mike painted the room for me when I was working on my PhD and it was an excellent colour for thinking postmodern thoughts about public libraries - but I think I need white walls if I am going to keep on painting. It is a rather odd sensation not to be able to see the colours in a painting.

Here it is.

By the look of the photo, I think it may be almost done. Can you see the shiny leaves in the salal and arbutus? It may be a bit too neat - but maybe neatness is my style. Whippee! On to my big leaf maple in spring in Linley Valley. It will be a real challenge to get a good composition as there is no path to give it a focus.

On a dog note - we are working hard to teach our dog to be a willing partner with us. She is very loving and incredibly obedient in the house but she is really tough to take on a walk. She wants to be the leader and gets over-excited (reactive) when she sees other dogs. Last night we took her to her/our obedience class and she pulled and lunged trying to "attack" the other dogs instead of sitting nicely on her mat. We know we are the ones who have to learn how to communicate with her - but it is a challenge.

Boating friends from Chemainus came for lunch today - and to see my art show. What a great life!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More on Ammonite Falls


I have worked for a couple of hours each day on Ammonite Falls. Yesterday I had the sky a beautiful pink with golden pink at the top. It was a great colour but the picture looked awful - so bad, I didn't even take a photo. I was worried that when my family arrive on the weekend they would know that I had lost it as an artist. Like I said - pride goes before the fall.

So today I thought about what I should do and this evening, I painted over the pink with white and cerulean blue and - lower down - cobalt blue. I muted the very pink interior of the forest with cobalt blue and made a brighter patch behind the central very small douglas fir. There are some really cool spots on my painting that look sort of like stained glass. However, it is not yet working as a whole. I think the current problem is the path - which is the wrong colour and looks humped up in the middle rather than well-worn. Also the shrubbery is the wrong colour and big tree trunks are way too messy. However, I don't want them to be too neat - as the rest of picture is intentionally messy. Well- we'll see what happens tomorrow.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

More on Ammonite Falls





I worked on my Ammonite (Benson Creek) Falls picture for a couple of hours yesterday and a couple of hours today. I changed the shape of the road and put more pink and gold into the sky. I started to work on the tops of the Douglas firs - the hardest part for me. I find it really challenging to envision how the fir branches should look when they are painted. Emily Carr blends the branches together into rolling sheets or green teepees - but that's not how they look to me. She does a wonderful job on tree sillouettes - but this painting is not about sillouettes. Other painters show the individual branches - but that doesn't seem right either. At this pint mine are separate branches. I need to experiment - based on looking at real firs -we have many in our garden - and the firs in the photo. Maybe I can find another painter to inspire/inform me.

I also redid the fir trunks - partly to show more clearly which ones show up as having light coloured bark and which ones are in silouette - and partly to get the tops of the trees to line up with the bottom of the tree trunks. I was quite surprised by how far out the bottoms were - and had to change a lot of them. I am still really working on shapes and not colours - so my mauve mistiness between the tree trunks is not the final colour - though not too far off. I also worked on the shrubbery beside the road. By the time I got to working on it, I was much freer and less worried about making them correct. I think they look really good in the photo - but probably not as good in the painting. I will have another good look - to see how they are turning out. The shrubbery on the left is salal, dead bracken and small firs. The main shrub n the right is a young leafy arbutus. It is not at all like the first arbutus I painted.

We took our new cocker spaniel Lexy out on our boat for the first time today - and walked 10 km around Newcastle Island. I took lots of photos - the best being of the Harmac Mill and Dodd Narrows, the ferry coming across the Strait (from Giovandi Lookout,) and boats in Newcastle Channel. I have already done paintings of the mill and channel - but I think these photos will allow me to do others - sort of variations on a theme.

Dodd Narrow and the Mill. Grea sky and water. Strange smoke on Gabriola Island.

Ferry coming across the strait. Looks like a postcard for BC Ferries. Too bad you can't see Bowen Island. Maybe I can fake it.


Fabulous boats and buildings. It will be worth the struggle to get them right.

Question: Why do I want to paint these scenes when I already have pretty nice photos? It's fun I suppose. You really get to know a scene better when you try to paint it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

To emulate Emily or not to emulate Emily


Today, I finally got back to my painting of the trail to Ammonite Falls. I think the first go-through with colour and the first attempt to create the design is lots of fun. I know that the final painting will look quite different in all the details so don't need to get too worried about how it looks now. But I also know that the first layer of colour will sort of be the "bones" of the painting. Everything can be changed - but chances are some of the original will remain.

Right now I think the overall design is good, but the road is too red - it was more pinkish - and the trees and bushes are too green - they were more misty blue-green. The mauve haze behind the tree trunks is put on too solidly and the tree trunks themselves are not very graceful. And the sky is the wrong colour. It needs to be hazy like the forest - maybe a bit mauve. Maybe the pink road can give way to the mauve forest and then to a blueish-mauve sky - stronger in colour than the the current pale blue sky - with the greenish/blue forest encroaching onto the painting from both sides.

Right now everything is pretty sketchy. I don't want to make too much detail (e.g. no individual leaves) - but I'm probably not prepared to go quite as far toward abstraction as Emily Carr. Her many forest pictures depict the west coast underbrush as green eddies and swirls around the base of the trees and totem poles. I like them a lot - but... That being said, I think that it is quite proper and respectful for a west coast artist (which I am trying to be) to emulate Emily - our best known BC artist. She worked so hard to try to depict our huge forests. Maybe swirly underbrush and shafts of light from above will be the answer. Or maybe that will be another painting.

Eventually the picture will sort of take off on its own - so I'll wait and see what happens then.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What a great A Day!


Today was the day I hung up my art show at the Nanaimo Arts Council Gallery - 10 old paintings and 5 new ones. The hanging committee figured out where everything should go and the result was a great arrangement of colours and themes. Here is a picture Mike took after everything was hung.

I think it looks terrific. Do I sound proud? I think I probably am! But hopefully in a good way.

We were watching our Teaching Company dvd on The Passions (Emotions) tonight and the subject was "pride." Apparently the old Greeks (i.e. Homer and Socrates) thought that pride was a virtue. For them "pride" was the opposite to "shame."

By the Middle Ages, the Christian Church had decided that pride was one of the deadliest sins. For them "pride" was the opposite to "humility." I was raised on a variation on that view of pride and remember being told that "pride goes before the fall." It was almost a superstition - as soon as I felt really good about something I'd suffer some kind of a come-uppance.

Nowadays, pride seems to have come back into favour - as in "gay pride." I think the opposite to to our current idea about pride is "humiliation." Today we are proud of what we have accomplished. I have been trying to get over old superstitions - so will boldly say in this blog that I am proud of my show (and -oops- I hope that doesn't mean I never finish another successful painting).

Probably the best thing about my show is the way it is helping me connect with new people and reconnect with people I used to know. I was a bit nervous about sending out invitation emails and cards and am bowled over by people's great comments.

Friends from boating reminded me that last May, when we all cruised to Otter Bay on Pender Island, I spent a lot of time at a craft fair buying beautiful cards from a local artist. I had told them I was hoping to get back into painting - and, as my youngest grandson would say, " I did it!".

Truly a great A Day.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

2 days to A Day

Today, I finished sending out email and printed invitations to my Reception on March 12. I also made 4 posters - one for each VIRL branch in Nanaimo and one for each ice rink. I can print more if I need to. This means that, at least for now, everything is ready for A Day on Tuesday, March 1.

What a great February this has been! Last February, Mike's mom and my dad both died. They were both very old so we knew it was coming - but it was still very sad to see them go. After all, we had known them all our lives.

This February, we had planned to RV to Mexico but postponed it because my mom was not well and cancelled because of warnings from the Canadian government about crossing the US/Mexico border. Instead (in no particular order) we went to the Opera and Art Gallery in Vancouver, we went to a performance of the Getting Higher Choir (which my sister belongs to) in Victoria, we learned that a new grandchild is on the way, I started knitting a green baby blanket, we decided to have all our windows replaced and a fence built to keep out the deer, we joined the Everybody Sings Choir in Nanaimo, we helped out with the Power Squadron Boating Course, I helped with some changes to the Yacht Club policy on records management, we got a new dog, and the opportunity for my art show came up! Wow! Did I mention, we GOT A NEW DOG! Now that's a change after about 15 years of being pet-free and proud of it. Instead of a painting - here is a photo of Lexy!


Back to paintings trees in a couple of days!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It Really is Happening

It really is happening! My paintings are really going to be in the Featured Artist Show at the Nanaimo Arts Council this March! The news release came out today in the Nanaimo News Bulletin and online in Harbour Living at http://www.harbourliving.ca/event/nanaimo-arts-council-feature-show-penny-grant-looking-back-and-looking-forward/.

During the last few days Mike and I worked on framing my new paintings. They look pretty good but I think in future I will simply paint on the sides of the canvas and avoid a lot of extra work. If a painting needs framing later, it can be done professionally. I also cleaned up the ten old paintings for the show - all of which I painted at least 28 years ago. Again the frames are all home-made - but they look OK. Some of them were pretty dusty but now they are clean and solid and ready to travel. I was glad to get that job done.

I've also been making cards of my five new paintings. I bought Avery cards from Staples and used a template from Design and Print that I had bought awhile ago. My paintings are printed right on the card stock - not on glossy photo paper. I tried using a cheaper card stock from Gartner but the picutes looked very dim and dull - no matter how much I lightened and brightened the photos or set the printer to "best photo" and "enhanced photo." So I had to go back to the more expensive Avery products. I found little clear cellophane envelopes or "archival bags" today at Michaels - to put them in. I think they will look pretty nice.

The other thing I have been doing is making invitations to the reception will be March 12, 2-4. I am using the Gartner card stock to do that - and because the pictures are smaller they look OK.
I am also sending emails and people are being so supportive and great.

Odette at the Arts Council told me that this project of art shows is a whole different side to being an artist. It does use other skills. I think my years at the library and teaching online gave me some insights into how to go about it. The main things seem to be to keep very organized and don't panic when you think your technology might fail.

Tomorrow I have my first training session working as a volunteer at the Gallery. Another new adventure.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Exciting Week

This was a very exciting week! I had hoped to show one or two of my new paintings at the Nanaimo Arts Council Gallery but, because the artist who was supposed to be the Featured Artist for March had to cancel, I was invited to be the Featured Artist instead.

This is a whole new world for me. I did put some of my paintings at the Malaspina Gallery Juried Exhibitions back in the early 1980s but I have never done anything like this. I am pretty nervous about putting my paintings up for everyone to see - but the biggest challenge is trying to figure out what the prices will be. The NAC Gallery is sales gallery so everything has to be for sale. I think I will set the prices relatively high - since I was advised that art patrons don't like it when artists suddenly raise their prices. I would like to sell some paintings - but on the other hand - it feels a bit like selling my children! However, there is really nowhere else in the house to hang the new things I have been doing.

Now that I am a member of NAC, I will need to volunteer three 4 hours shifts a month. I think it will be interesting to meet the other members. I am very excited to be part of Nanaimo's Arts scene and can't quite believe how suddenly this has all happened. In fact, to be honest, I am completely blown away by the fact that I am now actually an artist!

I have decided to show 10 of my Cowichan Paintings and 5 new ones. The name of my show will be Penny Grant: Looking Forward and Looking Back. My next job is to write my bio and finalize my paintings list. I will work on that tomorrow.

This month is the first anniversary of my dad's death and Mike's mom's death. I can't help thinking about them as I start this new adventure.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

MIll Painting - Again

Here it is again. I decided that the horizon clouds were too high and floating cloud was too weird. So I had another go at it. In the process I introduced some swirly lines in the spirit of Emily Carr's later works - which are full of shimmering swirls. I think it might be done and am ready to move on to my trees - armed with more experience trying to use ideas from BC's iconic Emily Carr. BTW - The horizon cloud is intentionally going up on the left - because that it what it does in one of my photos - but it may look like a mistake - which wouldn't be good.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Harmac Mill Reworked

Here is my latest work on on my Harmac Mill painting. I spent about 5 hours working on it today. I thought it might be a good idea to put some smoke stacks and other buildings into the painting to make it clear where the plume is coming from. I was happy to find a photo that I had taken that really helped. Although the photo also had the red container loader on Duke Point and a yellow ship in it - I only needed two stacks and some large vat-like things to suggest the mill. So I put them in.

The next thing was expand the funny little balloons and pipes at the base of the plume. I enlarged them and gave them some shape. Then I worked on the sky to the right of the plume. I mixed up various combinations of cobalt blue, cerulean blue, yellow and white and dabbed away to keep the strokes coming inward toward the mill buildings - but darker and stronger than they were - to be equal with the plume. I did a lot of brush work on the low cloud on the horizon and some more darkening of the main plume itself. The horizon cloud is a common feature of our landscape and I wanted to keep it as a repeat of the horizonal shoreline.

Mike suggested that I make a reflection or a shadow of the plume on the water. I thought a shadow would give me the opportlunity to make a triangle coming up from the bottom of the painting to meet the point of the big plume triangle. I made a separate shadow for the small side plume. Then I made several attempts at adding a cloud on the right side of the sky - based on the high clouds in my original photo and in the same style as the clouds in my red buoy painting - pointy. I couldn't think of anything else to do - but still wasn't completely happy. Then it struck me that I could weave the plumes together. This allows the plume to open at the bottom like a flower and then come back together in a satisfying, almost architectural way. I didn't change the two shadows on the water. The bright space between can now be read as the reflection of the plume or the space between the shadows. I think it is nice to be a bit ambivalent.

To get inspiration for fixing this painting I had a look at some of the paintings by Van Gogh. What a fabulous artist he was. He didn't paint much water as far as as I can see but his paintings are absolutely stunning. Of course I knew about his sunflowers, starry skies, irises and self portraits but there is so much more. Here is a link http://www.vangoghgallery.com/

As far as other artistic efforts recently: On the weekend we went to Vancouver to the Opera - The Clemency of Titus which had great sets. We also went to the Vancouver Art Gallery to look at We:Vancouver and Ken Lum's work. All this art had some social value. Here is a link to the exhibitions: http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/the_exhibitions/current_exhibitions.html

As result of visiting the Art Gallery, I had an interesting thought. It seems to me that celebrating the beauty of Nanaimo is a good aim for my painting - but maybe I should also put in a tiny bit of social comment. Although I did not want my mill painting to be an environmental protest, I am quite concerned about all the plastic bottles that float around in the ocean and I thought I could paint a tiny plastic bottle somewhere in my paintings - floating in the beautiful water, lying on the glorious forest floor, hidden in other shapes. I'm not sure. I don't want it to be gimmicky and spoil each individual painting - but it would tie the pictures together and I think it might give a bit more meaning to what I am trying to do. Before I try it, I need to paint a picture of a whole bunch of bottles. So I will leave it for now - while I work on my tree paintings.

If you are interested in looking at my paintings on my website got to http://www.chucklingchimes.ca/painting/painting.html

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New ideas and forest paintings

Today I went to Island Girl's Open Studio to ask for a crit. Penny liked my "moon painting" and my "gap painting." She pointed out is that they are both water and sky paintings and that the sky and water in both pictures have almost the same strength - so the sky and water balance each other out but there is also an interesting tension between them. She pointed out how in the gap painting the sharp swirly clouds above are reflected in the dark swirly waves below. I hadn't realized that - but will try to keep that in mind in the future. There are lots of things that make a painting work - and that is one of them.

Penny had some ideas for improving my "mill painting" which made sense to me. Although the painting is currently a pretty good representation of the two photos, the plume is too strong compared to the sky. Or to put is another way, the sky is not strong enough. It needs to be strengthened - probably by adding more darks, thickening the paint and defining the soft bands of cloud. She also pointed out that the small plumes at the base of the main plume are not finished. I can now see that they look like pieces of pvc pipe more than clouds! This was very helpful and I will make the changes soon and see what happens.

I also showed her my inspiration photos for my two new forest paintings. I have actually started to sketch them. They are both on quite big canvases (24" by 36") .

One will be the trail to Ammonite Falls. I took the picture a couple of weeks ago. The interesting thing is that someone else at Penny's studio is painting the same scene but in acrylics and with a little dog on the path. I am trying to get an Emily Carr feel to this scene.


Here is the photo.


Here is the preliminary sketch. I think I may do a real Emily Carr thing and put some sunshine on the little trees that appear directly above the path.

The other forest painting will be a tall big leaf maple just beginning to leaf out and catching the April sun within the dark evergreen forest. I took this picture at Linley Valley in 2005 and have thought about it ever since. I sent it in to the City as a reason that they should make Linley Valley a park! The new leaves are just gleaming against the the darker backdrop. I don't think the photo completely captures the amazing sight - perhaps the painting will.

Here is the photo.



Here is the preliminary sketch.

Again, I will try an Emily Carr approach.

I asked Penny about the Nanaimo Arts Council and she gave me a name to contact.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mill Painting Done

I think my painting of the plume of the Harmac Mill is done. I ended up using the image from my photo of the plume on a dull grey day and the the colours from my photo of the plume on a sunny blue day. I think it turned out quite well. I particularly like the way the blue and turquoise of the sky are not quite blended together. You can see the individual brush stokes. I think this makes the picture more scintillating.

This painting is not intended as an anti-pollution picture - like the Jane Cole image of a duck in muck that I saw on exhibit at the VIU Nanaimo Art Gallery. I think the plume is an important part of the Nanaimo skyline and beautiful in its way. Harmac was closed down for a couple of years and I was glad to see the plume come back when the mill was bought by the employees.

So now it is time to move on to something else. I have gone through all my digital photos of Nanaimo and Newcastle Island and think I will do (1.) a painting of the trail to Ammonite Falls in Benson Creek Regional Park, (2.) a painting of a fishing boat heading out across the gulf, and (3.) a painting of a beautiful golden wintery sunset looking from Newcastle Island toward Nanaimo with Mount Benson in the background. I had thought that it was time to move on from water and sky - but almost all my photos of Nanaimo include water and sky and that is what I think about when I think about "the beauties of Nanaimo." The photo of the Ammonite Falls trail does not include any water and only a small patch of sky - so I think I will start with it. It has a lot of tall Douglas fir trunks which should be interesting to paint.

I'm going to start by looking carefully at my Doris Shadbolt book of Emily Carr paintings to see if I can learn anything from her approach. Emily Carr was about my age when she really got going with her paintings of BC. My mother was a huge fan and Emily Carr has been part of my mental landscape since I was about 12 years old. I think she did some wonderful iconic paintings that should inspire anyone trying to paint the Vancouver Island landscape.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Two Paintings Done?

I did a bit more work on my "moon painting" - mainly changing the outline of the mountains which had got too far away from the real thing, adding some more white to the moon's reflection, and adding a few more pinkish street lights. I think this painting is really finished now. In fact, I "declare it finished' - no more mucking about. I hope it is not too sweet. I'm going to call it "Nanaimo - Summer Night."


I think my "gap picture" is finished too. I went a little wild on the sky. Partly I was motivated by the cool sky in my moon painting. Partly I was inspired by Emily Carr's fabulous skies in her later paintings. However, Emily did not provide any ideas for the water - since she hardly seems to have painted water scenes at all. Now that I am rereading her biography by Maria Tippet, I think the glare of sunshine on the ocean gave her a headache. So, as you can see, the sky and the clouds are quite dramatic. Of course, the main thing that catches your eye is the red starboard hand buoy in the middle. So, I "declare" this picture finished too - no more mucking about with it either.

The name of the buoy is P12 - so that is what I'm going to call the painting - "Nanaimo Harbour - P12"


Today we joined a community choir. My sister is in a choir in Victoria and we went to her concert on the weekend. I am listening to the CD right now. It is wonderful. Our choir seems great too - especially for non-singers like Mike and me. It meets in the basement of St Andrews. I am upping my asthma medication so I can actually sing a few notes. Skating, painting, singing - who needs to go away when there is all this and more to do in Nanaimo.

Next week I will get back to work on my "mill painting." Right now I cannot see in my mind how it could look. My two photos don't really fit together. I like the bright summer colours in one and the big upside down triangle of a plume in the other. However, I suspect that a good plume only appears when the sky is overcast and the air is very damp. My original idea had been a lot of towering clouds in shades of green - but now I don't think that would work. There is too much sky and, once again, a lot of water. It wouldn't work if it were too green. I will look at some more Group of Seven paintings and see if I can get an inspiration from them - though I don't suppose any of them painted a pulp mill.

Anyway - I have achieved my target milestone and more. I said back in November that I would consider myself back to painting once I had done three paintings - and now I have done four!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Moon Painting


I think my moon painting may be done. I have been working on it for the past couple of days and I think it is OK. The sky turned out really well. I had to reduce the mountains - they were way to dominant. I had a bit of a struggle with the reflections in the water and also a struggle to find the right colours to go with the cobalt blue which is the main colour. I ended up just using payne's grey, a bit of my usual yellow, a bit of my usual red and a lot of white. Here it is.

I have been looking at some of Emily Carr's paintings that are int he Vancouver Art Gallery online show. There are a few I just love. Her skies in her later paintings are fabulous. I suppose they influenced me slightly in my moon painting - though I didn't have a good look at them until tonight. I must get some of her skies into my other paintings. why not be influenced by Emily Carr? she is BC's most famous painter and I started to try and draw like her back in the 50s - my mother was a huge fan.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Old Wine in New Bottles

Last weekend we went to two performances of the Vancouver Island Symphony called Old Wine in New Bottles. I don't know whether it is a good idea to rework old paintings - but, day before yesterday, I decided to take the risk. I reworked two pictures and now have my own version of old wine in new bottles.

Splintered Image #2 was based on a water colour I did in a life class. The water colour has long disappeared. This painting is not very realistic. When I first did it, I decided to make it more interesting by making it part of, what I thought might be, a series of splintered images. The two nudes are each looking into mirrors in which their images are splintered. The background is golden and and there are some decorative flower/berries around the mirrors. The problem was that, while the hair of the nude on the right was amazingly fabulous, the nude on the left was having a bad hair day.


Yesterday, I fixed her hair. I think it is better but it much too neat. It's kind of "Hair Spray" picture. I darkened up the lines around the mirrors to make them more consistent with the dark lines around the nudes.


Splintered Image #3 was a concept picture. It was a woman looking at herself in the mirror. However, the part of the picture representing her was splintered and the image in the mirror was not splintered. I didn't like the way the splintered part looked.



So I decided to splinter it a lot more and add some whites and yellows to make it look more glass-like. It is an odd picture and only makes sense as part of splintered image series (of which there are only 3).


I also decided to add an image in the little hand mirror - so now there are three ears with pearl earrings - one on the real person, one in the image in the large mirror and one on the image in the hand mirror. I put a pearl in her hand - representing an earring for the ear you can't see. Maybe she is looking into the mirror while she puts on her earrings. I think it is still an odd painting - but it looks better.

I don't think I will try to fix any other old paintings. Maybe I will try some more splintered images when I finish the three Nanaimo landscapes that I currently have under way.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New approach to mill painting




I have taken a new approach to my mill painting. I didn't like the little cartoonish puffs of steam in my Day 1 version so I washed them off as much as I could with turpentine.

To get some new ideas, Mike and I went out on the boat and took some new photos. It was a grey and white day, but I could see from home that the plume was going way up into the sky. From the Yacht Club, Harmac Mill looked much more the way I had envisioned my picture. Going out into the harbour on the boat helped me realize that I'm not just painting the mill. I'm also painting the low Jack Point peninsula that extends out between the Nanaimo Harbour and the mill. Out in the harbour, you you can see the big red crane and some of the buildings at Duke Point that you can't see from the Yacht Club. Here is the new photo:



The colours are cool but the plume is terrific. At first I thought it would be interesting to emphasize how the the different puffs in the plume seem to extend into the clouds on the left of the photo. However the result looked very unbalanced. I eventually realized (thanks to Mike) that the dark clouds on the left left are actually just part of the the same clouds on the right. The plume is a different layer in front of the other clouds - sort of the inverted cone shape of a tornado.

I'm trying to keep a similar colour scheme to the one I started with because I love it and don't want a cool washed out picture. I hope this will work. Here is my mill painting on Day 2. Oops! The waterline is a little crooked!

Tomorrow I want to get back to my moon painting. Mike is a great help with my painting and very encouraging. I do hope I can make some good pictures that will show Nanaimo as the beautiful place that it is.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Trying to paint the Harmac Mill

Yesterday I suddenly got a picture in my mind of a great painting of the Harmac Mill. The picture I saw in my mind's eye was practically all towering clouds of steam in shades of green and yellow. Sounds kind of gruesome - but I think it would be a great picture. Howe3ver, I couldn't find a photo in my collection that pictured the mill that way. The best I could find was a photo I took last fall from the Yacht Club floats. In it the mill is quite far away and it looks pretty small. However, the photo hasd other qualities - a lot of great sky with interesting clouds and lovely smooth gleaming water. I decided that I would try to use it as the basis for another new picture. Here is the cropped version of the photoc:

I'm only trying to paint the outlined part in the middle. This will be a challenge because I don't have much detail to follow.

Here is my first underpainting. I think it looks very cartoonish at this point - though that isn't a bad thing since the old masters used call their initial drawings cartoons. Here it is:

Part of the problem right now is that colours are wrong and columns of steam are outlined. They need to be painted properly against the sky and land. I don't feel as optimistic about this underpainting as I do about my moon painting - but I'll give it a shot. I am quite amazed how great the water looks right now.

I thought I would put a picture in today's blog of a Roy Vickers' print of the moon shining over Victoria's Inner Harbour. The photo is not very good - but in the real thing, the moon has an First Nations design inside it. I think it is the head of an eagle. I like Vickers' picture very much and I think it may have influenced my to try to do my own moon painting. Here it is:

I am quite happy that I have now figured out how to put my uploaded pictures in the right part of my blog. When I first upload them, they appear at the top. I simply cut a photo and then controlV it where I wantit to appear.

I now have three unfinished paintings. My plan is to start working on the moon painting tomorrow. The gap painting is still wet - so will still need to wait awhile. Tonight we are going to the Symphony - "Old Wine in New Bottles."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nanaimo by Moonlight


Today I started a new painting. My Newcastle gap painting is still very wet - so needs to sit for a while.

My new painting is going to be a picture of the Nanaimo waterfront in the moonlight. So far I have only put on a very diluted wash of oil paint and turpentine but I think it is already very cool. Doing this under painting reminded me of the way Henry does finger painting. What fun!

So tonight, after the Power Squadron course, I sloshed on a lot of paint and covered the whole 24x30 inch canvas. I used a pretty big brush - but I don't know the number. My colours were the same as the ones I'm using in my gap painting - so far: paynes gray, cobalt blue hue, cerrulean blue, cadmium yellow pale hue, and permanent alazarin crimson and titanium white. In my gap painting I'm also using cadmium red light and yellow ochre. I will likely use some of those colours in this moonlight painting when I get further along. (So much blue - the painting after this one is gong to be green!)

The scene is the view from the anchorage at Mark Bay on Newcastle Island. It is based on a two photos I took last August. Nanaimo looked beautiful with mountains in the distance. However, the moon was actually further to the south - shining over the opening between Gallows Point and the Nanaimo Boat Basin. I think the moon shone over Nanaimo later that night - though by then it was probably higher in the sky. Anyway - this is a painting of what I remember - not what actually happened.

Here is the composite photo I am using as my inspiration. It is tacked on a piece of cardboard.


Starting a new painting is a bit like jumping out of an airplane. (Not that I have ever done that!) I still have very little idea of what is going to happen - and just jump in with gay abandon - hoping I will notice the happy accidents as I go along and have the good fortune to keep them and end up with a painting that I like.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Caught up with technology


I liked the title that popped into my head for this post. It is a bit of a pun. I intended it to mean that I had finally got my computer system up to date (caught up) but I also think it could be read to mean that I was totally immersed in fixing my computer (caught up by it) for the last week. Both are true.

I have been mucking around with various part of my computer for days and days. I wanted to put my paintings on my website. So I photographed them - which seemed relatively easy - since it was snowey outside and there was lots of natural light. Then, because none of them looked quite rectangular, I needed to crop them. Straightening and cropping was relatively easy. Then I needed to compress them for my website. I tried to compress them using Coffee Cup Pix Converter and it worked fine for all the photos I had taken on our old Olympus - but not for the one taken on my new Kodak Play/Sport. I then decided that, in case someone actually decided to look at my website, I needed to update our 2010 summer cruise and our 2010 trip to England. But once those photos were uploaded - the new website pages were really slow to open. I needed a better way to compress. In the middle of all this I realized that all my digital photos were in a muddle - so I did a lot of sorting and weeding. I also realized that I hadn't backed my photos up anywhere. I tried to back them up on my regular backup drive only to eventually figure out that there was not enough room. That led to buying a bigger drive and many hours of WD backing everything up. Mike tried using the export function in Picasa to compress photos and found that it worked fine for the Kodaks. Great! I compressed everything again. When that was all done and everything was re-uploaded to the website, Norton announced that I needed to optimize my computers space. The automatic defragging process took all one evening and late into the night.

Of course, all this meant - no painting. Not that I wasn't having fun and actually being pretty creative. Not that any form of creativity requires some knowledge and use of some kind of technology. But now my website is caught up.

Today I worked on my Newcastle Gap picture for about 3 hours. I just sloshed away with the paint and tried to simplify and capture the photo I am using. I first did the sky - I made it too dark. I hate French ultramarine. Then the clouds. The clouds looked way to round, so I tried to flatten them by putting streaks across them and making the edges less well-defined. Then the evergreens on both islands and then the bare branches oak trees and yellow grassy hillside. The oaks are not good yet. They look like tufts of grass. Then the water with it reflections. I just painted away following the photo as best I could and discovered that I had put in a wake from our boat - a nice big wave diagonally across the water part. And finally the red buoy in the middle of the gap. I had tried to get rid of most of the red underpainting but then had to put some red back in so the buoy didn't stick out too oddly.

I just put a photo of today's painting on this blog and there it is at the top. I have no idea how to put it further down so that it will be a nice surprise at the end. I guess I need to figure out the technology of how that works.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Paintings on My Website

For the last few days I have been spending all my spare time working on www.chucklingchimes.ca which is the website I share with Mike. I decided that I wanted to display all my paintings on our website so I reorganized the whole thing by adding a new main tab called "Penny Grant Painting."

I also updated the boating section with photos of our summer cruises and and the travel section with photos of our wonderful six week fall tour of England. I think the revisions came out fairly well. But I must have made all the new photos files a bit too big as they do not load instantaneously. Mike says they are not too slow on his computer but I'm used to all pictures popping up immediately. I convert digital photos to an appropriate size for our website using Coffee Cup Pix Converter. I set the converter at small (640 pixels) when I should have set it smaller (maybe 400.) I guess I will have to do something about it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Photos of the Gap





Here are two photos of my painting started in January 2011. The top picture is Day 2 and the bottom picture is Day 1. I hope the painting will be a lovely interpretation of the unnamed drying gap between Newcastle Island and Protection Island. Tomorrow I will add some more colour and probably get rid of most of the red - though I do want hints of red here and there to make the red buoy fit into the rest of the picture.