Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 22, 2012

It's hard to believe that I haven't written anything in my art blog since March - 5 months ago! We've been away a lot since then - our 5 plus weeks in Portugal in April and May and our 5 plus weeks traveling through the prairies to the Grant reunion in Winnipeg in June and July. I did some work on my painting of the Swy-a-lana bridge while we were home in June - but it wasn't any good.  I gave up and just turned my painting to the wall so no-one (including me) could see it  while we were away

However, for the past four days I have been working hard on it. Today  I'm fairly happy with it - so here is a photo.

My aim was to make the bridge itself glow in the twilight and water below is supposed to really gleam where it reflects the lights on the bridge. I think I have made that happen.

When we were in Porto in Portugal, we had a beautiful view of bridges from the window of our elegant posada. In the evenings, I tried to look carefully at the bridge and the lights to remember what the reflections did. Of course the scale was completely different. The Swy-a-lana bridge is just a small pedestrian bridge while the bridges in Porto are huge traffic and railway bridges towering into the sky. But there is something wonderful about a white bridge lit up against evening sky no matter what size it is. Strangely  I can still remember the Porto bridges when I think about my Swy-a-lana bridge painting.

This photo isn't quite the right colours. I took it just now in my studio after dark without a flash and did a lot of fixing - but it's close. Tomorrow I'll probably take a better picture with a better camera in the daylight and crop the edges and make it look nice.

My biggest challenge with this painting was trying to get a consistent style. I had painted the sky way back in the spring and I quite like it - but the paint is thin and there are no real brush strokes showing. I painted the water several times using lots of paint and brush strokes but I wiped everything off each time because it was a mess. The painting has ended up with a lot of thick paint and brush strokes on the Gabriola Island hills, the Protection Island trees, the bridge and the water - but the beach is thinly painted like the sky. .Oh well...

My second biggest challenge was the overall design. I wanted to paint the bridge and I wanted the cool lamps and flags on each side - but this means the painting is really a big oval with squared off ends and no real centre. Well - the arch of the bridge is in the centre - but it is more of a zip than a centre. I hope the painting is sophisticated enough for viewers to realize that I was taking a risk with the design.(No triangles or  rule of thirds!) The design is unsettling on purpose. maybe not completely on purpose - but I am aware what has happened.


Another challenge was a simple drawing issue. I was so keen on the reflections that I painted them without reference to the lights on the bridge. This didn't matter when I wasn't trying to make the lights show up - but eventually I had to brighten them up. They were out of line with the reflections and worse still the arches of the bridge did not line up with lights. I think I fixed that successfully.

Then came the question: What colour to use for the lights and light reflections? For the longest time the lights and reflections were mainly pink and white.  Then I got the daring idea of using yellow. I had seen a painting at the NAC gallery of yellow boots against a blue background and lI oved the colours - even though the painting itself wasn't quite right. I decided to try the same thing. So - yellow lights and reflections.As with the design,  there is a risk that the colours look like a naive mistake and maybe they are.

Art - isn't it all about pushing the boundaries and making "mistakes" and getting away with it?

If I still like the painting this fall I will probably put it in the NAC fall showcase - just for the fun of it. I no longer expect any recognition but it's a chance to put stuff up in public. I have no idea what criteria the judges use to evaluate the paintings in the shows..

Next - on to my sketch of the Port Theatre from the water. Am I an artist? I wish I was. I need to be something.