I’m starting to add paintings to my 2015 folder and it’s fun to see the direction I’m taking in my work. I was looking through my paintings from 2014 and was inspired by the trees I painted over the year. I have a little crush on birch trees, especially the young birches with their coppery bark slashed with black, dark branches tracing spiderwebs in the sky. So while I’m not excluding any subject matter that inspires me, I am thinking that trees are going to be my focus this year. I don’t think it will be boring!
Here are a few of my favourite tree paintings & sketches from 2014:
And here are two studies from 2015. The first is the reason I love cross country skiing; every Saturday in winter we are on the trails and they are so beautiful!
And this is a view from the end of our driveway, looking west toward town.
Here’s to trees in 2015!
I’ve started teaching a series of watercolour classes in my home studio. I look forward to every class as it is so energizing to share watercolour with other lovers of the medium. This class is a departure for me; previous classes were centred on learning technique by creating paintings step by step together, which was great for a realistic style. However, I don’t paint with the goal of realism anymore, so why would I teach that way? We’ve been working instead on learning watercolour by painting loosely, and it’s been great fun.
Last week we started a landscape painting and then spent the rest of class working on a floral. When I’m demonstrating to a class, I find the best way to show them my work as it happens is to hold the painting board propped against the table, and paint from behind – essentially painting upside down. Because I do a lot of talking and explaining the process, I find that most of the time, these paintings don’t turn out to be anything but good examples for demonstration. But every now and then, one of them turns out to be something I love and believe to be worthy of framing.
“Dainties” is a delight. I love the freshness of the colour and the brushmarks. It’s a tribute to the power of suggestion in painting – that objects don’t need to have every detail defined to be beautiful and make evident what they are. And I always believe that loose paintings like this reveal the beauty of watercolour – the fluidity, transparency and movement that can only be found in watercolour and that I love so much.
“Dainties” measures 8 1/2″ x 11 1/2″ and is available for purchase.
You can take my online class on painting florals loosely here.
My studio is in full production mode right now; I’m enjoying a surge of creativity that’s been inspired by the beauty of fall.
The quality of the light in autumn is so inspiring; golden and warm. Every leaf seems defined and haloed by sun on a September afternoon, and it’s irresistible to a painter’s eye. I started painting leaves on the weekend. The painting above was feeling a little too disorganized, kind of a chaos of colour and line, but I snapped a detail photo of just a piece of it before I abandoned it, and when I saw this cropped version on the computer screen, it took my breath away.
Paintings don’t always get finished. Paintings don’t always get finished quickly. I can be incredibly busy painting and full of inspiration and have very little to show for it; letting the kids sleep in and start school later so I can squeeze in a few minutes painting in my bathrobe, stopping in passing to lay a few strokes on the way out the door, setting a painting aside because maybe I’ll know how to finish it later. Right now I have three leaf paintings in various stages of completion/abandonment, a stack of newly completed landscapes to be catalogued and stored neatly, and on the easel right this minute is a sketch of a sunlit forest that I can’t stop looking at. I am so blessed. In delighting in my own handiwork, that sentence from Genesis takes on a personal meaning; “And God saw that it was good.” People tell artists, “You have a gift,” and it’s true, but not in the sense I used to think – a gift to give the world – but it’s a gift given to me. Like buried treasure, as I unwrap it and bring it out into the light, it becomes more valuable and precious as I explore what it truly is that I have been given to hold.
i have a wonderful store of reference photos and it’s pretty fun when i get to paint places i’ve actually been. this is a peaceful little trail along the edge of a mountain at waterton lake. we hiked there in may.
Overlooking Waterton Lake measures 15″ x 22″ and is available for purchase.
Thursdays on my Facebook page, I’ve been playing along with Throwback Thursday, hashtag #tbt , posting paintings that are several years old, and maybe hold a special meaning or memory. I thought it would be fun to let my web site join in, so to start it off I’m sharing this botanical style watercolour, painted way back in 1998. This is the painting that defined the beginning of my artistic career.
When I painted this, I was young, just twenty years old, a few months away from marrying Wade, and I remember clearly sitting at the table in my apartment, carefully shading the petals. It was a tentative process, but exciting, because what was appearing on the paper was, for the first time, nearly equal to what I had envisioned when I sat down to paint. Through my teens I had dreamed of being able to legitimately call myself an artist, and was basically waiting for permission to do so. This painting was my green light, the moment I realized I could be an artist, and not be ashamed to define myself as one.
Years later, I see things a little differently. Art has always been at the core of who I am, and that would have been the case whether my paintings were ever “successful” or not. But feeling capable of creating work of a certain calibre did give me a confidence in pursuing my dream that I might not have had otherwise. It is possible that if I hadn’t had this defining moment painting, I would have hidden my art and my dreams away on a shelf somewhere, and my life would have looked very different in 2014.
But maybe not. I’m not very good at giving up on dreams. And I still love this painting.
I have a bit of a thing for skies. Talk about an unlimited canvas of ever-changing, amazing wonder!
“Breaking Through” watercolour, 15″ x 22″
I have four paintings in various stages of completion, using photos from our road trip into northern British Columbia last weekend. Stunning scenery! When my reference photos turn out so well, it’s hard to imagine improving on them in a painting. But of course, painting isn’t about copying photographs. In my paintings I want to draw out emotions, to show a bit of the awe I feel at the beauty in the world, in tiny and not-so-tiny moments of splendor.
“Breaking Through” is available for purchase. Email me to inquire.
We have been enjoying a very dry summer here in northern British Columbia, and while the wildfire risk is very high right now, and the air is filled with a haze of smoke (again), it is idea weather for weekend adventuring. A week ago we drove out past Tumbler Ridge, BC to Kinuseo Falls. It’s a beautiful spot, and we especially love the solitude. Only the most determined traverse the ridged gravel 40 km into the backwoods to enjoy Monkman Provincial Park.
Along the way I was struck by the beauty of the fireweed, in full flower. Fireweed gets its name from being the first bloom to carpet burned-off wildfire zones, and it’s ubiquitous in our forests and roadways in summer, arching magenta spires above the sweet clover and wild grasses, twined among baby spruce trees and huckleberry bushes. In some areas it enveloped acres in a misty fuschia swath.
Of course I had to paint it when I got home, using a fresh tube of Opera Pink and my beloved Rose of Ultramarine from Daniel Smith. The violent pink dots are where I actually scraped the mouth of the open tube across the page, aiming for the fullest saturation of colour.
I recently bought a jar of Golden Watercolour Ground. This medium can be brushed over almost any surface to give an absorbent, paper-like finish that can be painted on with watercolour. Very exciting to try out and see how it reacts to my watercolour methods. I brushed it over a 12″ x 12″ canvas and painted a second fireweed-inspired painting. I added in a few individual blooms this time, and a burned out tree trunk. The watercolour ground really absorbs colour – I find that the first few layers of paint dry to a bit of a chalky finish as they soak into the ground, and the edges are a little different than I’m used to on paper, but I love the possibilities for painting on canvas – with a coat of finish, this watercolour won’t need to be framed under glass.
“Fire-Kissed” measures 19″ x 22″ and is available for purchase.
“Fireweed & Stump” measures 12″ x 12″ is available for purchase.
I love seeing my watercolour students step out independently! While you can learn a lot by copying the tutorials on my YouTube channel and online courses, it’s in trying your own subjects and compositions that you engage your brain in “working out” a painting. There’s a lot of problem solving in painting, and it’s the best way to learn. The following paintings are from my watercolour students, posted in the online student galleries. I check in regularly to comment and critique, giving guidance to help my students build stronger paintings, and encouragement to help them stay positive and passionate about learning.
“Runs with Paint in her hair” posted this imaginary flower. Imagination is a wonderful thing, and using it can help us be more creative. I love these colours – probably because I have such a hard time sticking to earthy tones in my paintings.
Anthea D is a girl after my own heart – I love painting rose hips too! These have such a lovely glow. I used this painting to demonstrate how a grouping of similar objects can create a visual path for the eye to follow. See how the outer rose hips form a triangle? Very visually pleasing.
Berries by Susan D. This woman is on fire! Since Susan started taking my classes, she is painting up a storm, and the results are evident in the growth of her skills as an artist. I enjoy seeing the new paintings she comes up with, and feel only a little insecure that this student might one day become my teacher!
Not all my students are beginners. Lindsay A is an artist by profession and used my watercolour workshop as an opportunity to try a new style and subject matter. I enjoy doing the same thing – it’s always healthy to stretch yourself as an artist, and this portrait of her daughter is lovely.
Patricia K has done several versions of this interesting composition. I also like to work out a composition by painting it over and over again, learning from each attempt. Every version has different aspects to love.
Helen S is another watercolourist using my courses to try out a looser style. I love how she’s taking fluidity and incorporating it into her realistic style.
Check out all my online workshops by visiting this page. My new floral workshop is on sale until July 31st.
My hometown, Dawson Creek, has chosen for its colours blue and yellow, and they have a good reason for doing so. These two hues would have to be the defining colours of our region. Blue for our skies and the shadows on snow six months of the year, and yellow for the autumn gold of aspen trees and the swaths of canary that are canola fields in bloom in summer.
The canola is blooming right now and I keep thinking the only thing that would make it more lovely is if we grew flax alongside. Darkness falls around 10pm and I often find myself driving home around 9, just as dusk is deepening and the light is rich and glorious. Sometimes I just have to run up to the studio as soon as I get home to try to capture a little of what I saw in my rearview mirror. Our skies, our land, such richness!
“Dusk over Canola” watercolour painting, 11″ x 14″
available for purchase