Dec 30, 2015

A Special Goodbye


As the year comes to an end there is always a moment of reflection and good bye to special moments.  This year ends with a special goodbye for me.  My little companion, Rusty has finally succumb to cancer. We said our last goodbyes this week.

The painters life can be a lonely life at times. You spend hours in the studio or the field pursuing that moment of inspiration.   Even my husband will abandon me in the bush, as I capture that special light as it reflects off the trees or the sun setting on the water.  But Rusty has always been there. 

He was happy to wonder for miles on the trails as we searched for just the right spot. Clamouring over logs, slugging in the mud, well okay.  He didn't really go for the mud and for that matter he wasn't a big fan of blackberry vines either.  I carried him over that.  But the rest of the time, he was there.  We would find a place and set up.  As long as he had his spot, usually on my lap, he was happy.  Did I mention he was a lap dog?  I think he could have written the book, How to be a Lap Dog.  He know all the tricks.  We would settle in and I would get to work.

Now this can be a dangerous time for Plein Air Painters.  (See my blog-  Beware: 5 Health Hazards of Plein AirPainting).

You are obsessed with the project.   You know what I mean, 'in the moment'.  Time stops. You see and hear only what relates to the goal. You are oblivious to anything else: bug bites, sunburn, thirst,  coyotes, you name it.  Rusty was my watch dog.  After a few hours, he would tell me: time to drink, time to stretch, time to move out of the sun and oh yeah! Time to move, that noise I had been ignoring was a group of coyotoes, howling in the bush.  They were kind of close, definitely time to move!!

Back home in the winter it was studio work for me. Rusty wasn't much of a lap guy in the studio but he did like to sleep there.  He had his own bed, well actually, 3 beds.  When I worked at my drawing and painting stations he curled up and slept.  I could always hear his soft  snoring as I paused to reflect.  His other beds were at my computer desk.  I think he liked the one at my feet because it was close to the furnace vent.  In the evening he would curl up there while I worked on my writing.  In the daytime he wanted up on the counter where his bed faced the window.  He was a real taskmaster then.  Telling me to hurry up as we needed to get out for our walk before the sun was gone. You know how short the days can be in the winter.  Important to get out there as the weather can change in an instant. 

So to my little guy a special good bye.  And don't worry Rusty, I have learned my lessons well. Painting or drawing, take time to stop, reflect and stretch.  And of course go for a walk every day. RIP little guy. 
Rusty - 1996 - 2015
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Dec 24, 2015

Christmas Wishes for Everyone


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Early Morning on the Mud Flats - 7.5 x 13.5 , Watercolour
Every few years the Snowy Owls come south to the Fraser River Delta to spend the winter.  It is an exciting time for bird watchers and photographers.  They settle on the Mud Flats and watch the excitement as people flock to see them.

When they were last here, Steve and I got up early and headed out before daylight to see them.  When we arrived there was no one around and it was still dark.  We headed out on the dyke, not quite sure what we would find or even where to look. We had only walked about 50 feet when suddenly we realized there were soft white bumps sitting on the logs right beside the dyke.  We couldn't believe it. They were not concerned with us and simply content to look around. As the morning light started to filter through the skies it was an awesome sight. There must have been about 50 owls, scattered among the bushes in front of us.  I got some great pictures.  Sad to say as the daylight settled in more and more people came and then the owls were nervous, they moved further out into the mud flats and were much harder to see.  Apparently there is plenty of food in mud flats for them, so they are happy to stay here for the winter before heading north again.

As I looked through my winter pictures I was drawn to my owls and decided this one was to be my Christmas Picture.  Enjoy!

Have a wonderful holiday with family and friends, I look forward to sharing my thoughts and tips on art and art marketing with you again next year,

 Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar) Have a great artful day, Wendy

Dec 10, 2015

Adding Salt to the Mix - Watercolour Technique


Oils have their palette knifes and heavy brush strokes for texture;

Don't think Watercolours are left behind!

Different textures add life and interest to your work, I love to incorporate it in both my graphite and watercolour work.  However, like all things in watercolour, it can be created but not controlled!! There will be surprises.  (But isn't that half the fun of watercolour?!)

Steve and I had a spring holiday on the west coast of Vancouver Island, which is even more of a rainy spot than the southern mainland. As we hiked through a forested area, I was really attracted to the mosses, covering the ground and draped over the trees.  I wanted to paint them.  I needed a star for my show and chose a Stellar Jay, a friendly face often scouting around our campsite.  To get some interesting texture for my mossy look I decided to use some salt.  No, the salt is not mixed with the paint.  It is a step of its own. The salt is the large coarse salt that has large crystals.  

Step 1 - tape paper to a support with the picture drawn out.

Working with salt requires a wet surface, with colours floating so I put frisket over the jay. I didn't want the colour flowing into that space.
Picture laid out with the Stellar Jay covered in frisket

Step 2 - mix your colours for the background.  Paint should be in the mid value range for the background.  Colour can be lifted for the lighter areas and glazed over for darker ones.

Step 3 -  wet the paper - not dripping and puddled but with a nice shiny look to it

use a wide brush to wet the paper down. (note the shine on the paper)
Step 4 - drop in the colour.  I try not to push it around too much but drop it in and angle my paper so colours flow and mix but still leave some pure colour.  I have my reference in front of me so I know where I want light and dark colours areas. Work quickly.

drop your colour in - notice the paper is shiny
Step 5 - If areas are drying a bit, spray them lightly with water. You want the paper still shiny when you drop in your salt.  Again I refer to my reference to see where to put it. 

colour is on and salt is dropped into place
Step 6 - The salt is down so move away from the painting and let it lay flat. (so tempting to fiddle at this point.)  At first it looks like nothing seems to be happening.  Just wait.  I usually leave my picture overnight to be sure everything is dry and had a chance to mix. 

close up of the salt and water - notice the salt is starting to draw the pigment and move it around

Close up of the salt and paint - after 10 minutes - move movement

Close up after 20 minutes - some colours move more than others
The next morning - lots of action happens when you are not looking!

Detail - Notice how some pigments have really been moved and others not so much.  
Step 7 - the next day, use your hand or a soft brush to rub the salt off the painting. You are ready to go.

Your new texture is ready to be left as is or glazed over.  I have done both with my pictures.  Here are some examples of my 'salt paintings':
a. My painting "Caught in the Light" of a barn owl has examples of the salt texture left as is; some glazed over lightly; and other parts have dark glazing so only a bit shows through. 
b. My painting "Fuchsias in the Sunshine" has the salt texture left as is.  I used the large coarse salt for the large "textured areas" and smaller table salt for the subtle "textured area" in the upper left background.  

Sometimes when you use the frisket the paint does not make a nice clean edge next to it.  Since it is the background you can glaze a few light layers to tidy up the edge and if you keep the edges of your glazed area soft it will read as a darker area in the background.  Do a sizable area rather than just a little dab to correct the area.  To see the corrected area in the finished picture go to Jan 14, 2016 post: Have you Considered the Light? - Art Tips on Using Multiple Photos.

No worries if paint is funny around the edges of your subject - glazing will fix this.
So get out your salt and have some fun!!

Extra Note: February is Marketing month for Artists and I have 2 Marketing Workshops scheduled to help you get your art business ready for the year.  Spots are filling up fast for both days so get your registration in now.  For more information see - workshops 

 Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar)
Have a great artful day, Wendy