These are a few of the things I’ve been working on. I’m using this time to do a lot of experimenting with media, style and subject matter, though I do seem to be painting and drawing a lot of birds these days! These are finished pieces; I’ve been trying (and abandoning) some mixed media work incorporating some urban photography as well. There are a lot of “aha!” moments followed by just as many “oh never minds”, but I do feel like I’m inching closer to a new direction.
This is the painting I was planning to do at Whistler two weekends ago. When road conditions and other issues cancelled it I spent the weekend at home finishing it up.
It’s definitely been playtime for me in the past couple of weeks. I’ve been experimenting with mixed media and different interpretations of some themes I’ve been working on for a few months. Sometimes it feels like I’m banging my head against the wall.
The little panel to the right hosted three completely different diastrous paintings before I did this one, at the end of a long and frustrating day. I’m glad I tried just one more attempt because it inspired me to paint these two small panels:
This week’s corvid-in-snow painting: a raven on Mt Seymour. I painted this 24″ x 30″ oil painting on cradled panel, but this time I used gesso to prime rather than Gamblin oil painting ground. I learned that the oil ground is worth the cost, time and effort as it’s a much more ‘welcoming’ surface when applied to wood panel. Another thing I’ve learned while painting crows and ravens is that I use far less black paint than I expected to. I don’t adhere to the rigid idea that a painter never uses black paint, but to get the depth I needed, I used more Prussian blue and violet grey (and a little raw umber) than the neutrals.
This week I’ve been worrying, as I have (on and off) for years, about my inability to focus on one genre, one style, one philosophy or direction. My taste in art is also extremely eclectic. I know painters whose mantra is technical proficiency and formal excellence. I also know painters who are completely focused on spreading The Word about process, expression and spontanaeity. And there are countless other philosophies. It’s all good to me, hence my confusion.
We’ve had a winter that is rivalling Edmonton for the amount of snowfall. Since the last year we even had measurable snowfall was 2014, that’s a pretty significant departure. The great thing for me has been seeing the local wildlife in a new and different context. The crows in snow are my favourites, so I felt compelled to work from some of the photos I took out my window. These two paintings are 24″ x 18″ oil on panel, and will be coming with me to Whistler next month when I spend March 18th and 19th as Artist In Residence at Crystal Lodge Art Gallery. The crow in the second photo looks to me like a small-time thug, backed up by his two stooges.
Next I want to tackle ravens in the snow on Mount Seymour. I took some irresistible photos after snowshoeing there last weekend. Ravens are the most playful birds I’ve ever observed, with their barrel-roll acrobatics and love of rolling in the snow. I keep returning to corvids as subject matter, so have decided to just play with it, like the ravens.
I don’t get attached to my own art very often so saying goodbye to it is never an issue. That said, this painting is a favourite that I was happy to hold onto. But when I posted art for sale as a fundraiser for my dog’s surgery, the painting that this person wanted had already sold, so I suggested this 20″ x 20″ painting in a similar style that wasn’t for sale. Now I’m happy to see it hanging, surrounded by other carefully-chosen and sentimental pieces, in her Rhode Island loft.