Thursday, March 8, 2012

Swy-a-lana Bridge Day 2

Yesterday I worked on my painting of the Swy-a-lana Bridge. I worked very wet and turpentiney on the clouds in the sky - trying to define light and dark shapes that nearly always appear in clouds. I also blocked out the shapes for Gabriola Island and the Gabriola Galleries and I'm beginning to put in the trees on Jack Point (to the right) and Protection Island (to the left) plus the pale blue of the water under the bridge and around the bright reflections of the lights on the bridge. At this point the picture is various shades of blue - mainly cobalt blue, cerulean blue hue (the turquoise one) and payne's grey. There are also touches of red and a lot of white. Eventually there will be more colours - mainly from mixing in yellow and red. I want the reflections of the lights on the bridge to be mostly white - but with touches of pink and yellow. I'm not completely sure what to do about the beach in the foreground. I think it will mainly be payne's grey, red, yellow and a lot white - similar to the colours in the Gabriola Galleries (cliffs). So far this painting is going really well. I hope I don't mess it up!

Today I worked on our chucklingchimes.ca website - reorganizing and editing the paintings and comments in the "Nanaimo Naturally" section. I had given the same painting different names and some of the photos on the website were poor. I took them before I had a good camera or a photo editing program that had a level function. For example, I had cut the top of "Nanaimo Harbour - Buoy "p12"" off when I cropped it and I had photographed Nanaimo Harbour by Moonlight so the shore line was quite tilted. I think the page looks a lot better now and the names are now finalized.

Now I'm going to organize all the art images on my computer and create some more art cards. I think this is a lot of fun. I enjoy mucking around on my computer as much as I enjoy walking around Nanaimo, photographing the scenery, and painting away.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Here is what I think is the final version of "Swy-a-lana Park - Fall" I finished it today and I think I managed to keep it very colourful - while still refining the sky, the leafless tree, the benches, the bushes by the beach and the cars parked on the hill without getting too tight. The fallen leaves are very loose and so is the lagoon wall, beach and water. I decided not to put in the bar which actually stretches across the curve of the light stands. I think it is more dramatic without them. My final touch was putting in my signature. I think it looks OK on the dark wall beside the lagoon. I didn't paint the edges of the painting because I really prefer the look of a frame - preferably white.

Here are two paintings I love that use a similar vibrant colour scheme:

This one is by Tom Thompson - famous for his west wind painting.

This one is by Brian Scott who lives near Courtenay. The first time I saw his paintings I was just blown away. They were hung in the Nordic Lodge at Mount Washington. Every time we went cross country skiing, I looked and looked at them. I don't paint the way Brian Scott does - but I love his paintings and his colours.

My next project is get my website caught up and then print a bunch of art cards.

I would like to show paintings at the Lighthouse Bistro which is now interested in marine and local subjects - that tourists might buy! I also want to put a painting in the next show at the Port Theatre. the changeover is April 11. I have one there now (Boats in Newcastle Channel) and saw it tonight when we went to see Ladysmith Black Mombazo perform. The painting is smaller than I had thought - but I think it looks good. I like being part of the Nanaimo art scene by having a painting hanging in our theatre!

Oh yes, here is the original photo which inspired "Swy-a-lana Park - Fall."

Monday, March 5, 2012

New sketches

Here are 2 sketches of new paintings.

This is my sketch or underpainting for my Swy-a-lana Lagoon Bridge painting. This is part of seawall walk around Swy-a-lana Park in downtown Nanaimo. The bridge crosses the mouth of the natural lagoon which has had a series of wall built between it an the waters of the Boat Basin - so that there is always water in the lagoon. The bridge is lit up at night along the rails and is a magical place to be in the dark. The photo I'm using for inspiration was taken in the evening and shows up the lights and light reflections i the water.Right now this picture looks as if it was something ancient in Europe - but it's totally Nanaimo and will look like that when I get it done - especially with Gabriola Island in the background below the hovering cloud.

This is my sketch or underpainting for my Port Theatre painting. The theatre is across the street from the Boat Basin floats and this view is from the end of a float looking back toward the theatre. There are 5 fishboats, a small runabout and cruiser in the picture. Because I want the boats to look good, they all have the correct proportions. So far I am happy with the sketch. I have painted quite a few boats during the past year - so hopefully I have a better eye for what is important. The water is full of reflections from the boats and should be cool to paint. Mount Benson sort of looms up behind but is cut off by clouds. The clouds don't have much form in the photo - so this will be a bit tricky. Maybe I'll put the whole of Mount Benson in and have a clear sky. But that will change all the colours - so I better keep a cloudy sky with a puff of cloud over Mount Benson. The real challenge with that is not to look too cartoonish.

I really do love doing this part of a painting. You start with a pure white canvas and after a couple of hours of drawing - you end up with something very recognizable. Almost a water colour. Almost a miracle. I feel as if I know how those ancient cave artists felt when they drew images of animals. I don't get too worried because I think I can change it easily later - so the sketch is loose and free. Also - no colour issues - just light, dark a lines. Lately I have actually been starting with pencil on canvass and then sketching over the pencil drawing with paint. It's almost a shame to take the next step.

Today was the first day of the 2012 teachers strike. It seems a bit hopeless given that the supreme court found that the teachers have the right to negotiate class size and now the government seems to be planning to change the legislation so that they loose that right. We went over to the Departure Bay Elementary School and walked along the sidewalk with 4 teachers carrying placards. They are not exactly picketing (since that is illegal) - just doing a protest. We took Lexy with us - she loved walking back and forth - our protest dog.

Swy-a-lana Lagoon in Fall Painting

Here is my Swy-a-lana Lagoon Park - Fall painting after about 5 days of work. My goodness it is colourful! But that was my whole idea. I wanted a beautiful fall picture of the ornamental cherries growing along the edge of the lagoon.

I love the yellow, red, purple and pale blue and the touches of white. They are right out of my book on Tom Thompson. What a wonderful painter of fall in the Canadian Shield he was! I am also mad about some of his winter paintings. Great patterns and white on white.

I also love the way the lines in this painting intersect. The painting is really a starburst. Talking about stars, all the planets are currently visible in the night sky. Isn't that wonderful. Unfortunately it has been cloudy here - so we haven't actually seen them. but I think it is extremely cool.

To me painting seems to be about (1.) Finding a great subject to interpret - a scene in Nanaimo. (2.) Getting the colours to work together - the brighter the better in this interpretation. (3.) Creating an exciting overall design - this time a starburst.

I still need to refine my painting a bit - mainly a little sharpening the leaves lying on the pathway. I hope I can let it stay brilliantly coloured and not get the idea that I have to tone it down a bit. I was thinking I could put a bit of Mount Benson in the background - but we checked today and you can't see it from there. it would probably just ruin the design anyway.

I had a real boost to my confidence last week - when someone emailed about buying my Gulf Troller 2 painting. I like that picture. I gave the water such a sparkly look and the boat itself is graceful and accurate. I also like my interpretation of the Harmac plume in the background. It didn't get any recognition from the Winter Show Case judges. I wonder what they think makes a good painting.

I am so encouraged that I am now starting on 3 new large (40"x30") paintings. I spent a couple of days searching through my photos from the past couple of years. I'm always taking photos that I hope will inspire a painting. I've wanted to do a picture of the Swy-a-lana lagoon bridge with it s reflection in the lagoon for a long time and I finally found a photo taken in the evening. The reflection in the lagoon is actually from the lights on the bridge. The photo reminds me of one of Van Gogh's night paintings - but I won't put stars in my painting.

I also found a great photo of Harmac Mill with the chimney stacks, wood chips, and so on taken from our boat. And I also found a really complicated but great photo of the Port Theatre - taken from the floats in the springtime last year. There are lots of fishboats in the foreground and some small pink cherry trees between the boats and theatre. The theatre is a little barrel-shaped but it has such glorious greeny -b;l windows. They will look wonderful against the pink of the cherry trees. So now I have 3 new paintings in my mind and 2 are partially sketched out.

With all these new plans I think I will be able to save myself from over-working the fall lagoon picture!