Thursday, 25 September 2014

Inspired by New Life

Some of the "other projects" I have been working on are graphite portraits of the new babies that have joined our family. With a population explosion happening within the family, this is going to keep me busy for the next little while.
I was able to finish a few and give them to the new parents this past weekend so now I can post photos of them.
The first one is the son of our nephew and niece that they named Hunter and the second is our new grandson, Samuel.

These were both done in the same way on the same paper. The reason they look different is due to the different lighting used when photographing. I frame all these portraits the same as well. I use a cream coloured mat with a border of black (the paper is creamy coloured) and the frame is a thin shiny black.
Here is yet another portrait I did this year of the daughter of another niece and nephew. Her name is Emma.
I really enjoy doing these and they also serve to keep my drawing/shading skills up. It is also my way of praising God for the new life he gives us.
There is one more still on my drawing table.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Sketchbook Skool Session #2 "Seeing"

In the winter months at the beginning of this year, I had enrolled in Sketchbook Skool and I blogged about it here. When the second session started, I was really busy with my bookkeeping due to the Spring season and I decided not to enroll at that time. Now that summer is coming to a close (boohoo) I think I'll have more time to take the course and do the required homework so I've enrolled again. The second course is titled "Seeing". As with the first course, which was "Beginnings", there will be 6 different teachers from all over the world sharing their expertise and art with us via video feed on the computer. I really enjoyed the first course and it got me sketching again.

There is actually already a third course which is called "Story Telling". It also looks interesting and it may be one I'll enroll in as well in the future.

I think it is really great to be able to take courses in your own home, however, it is a bit isolating and I think at some point it would be nice to get out with others to sketch. I don't know a lot of people who are into that so it may be a bit difficult to plan. In the Beginnings Course I was doing some sketching at our Garden Centre and that might be the compromise; scheduling sketching sessions there will give me people contact as well as practice.

Below is the latest sketch done at the Garden Centre.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Progress on the Latest Acrylic Painting

I am working on many things at once at the moment so the acrylic painting is taking a little longer to complete. I am making some progress on it, however. When I work on it, I am transported back to the place the photo was taken and that's such a nice perk of painting landscapes. As soon as I begin to paint, I become relaxed and the worries and busyness of life falls away. It is definitely true that making art is therapeutic.

Below are some of the progressions from the last few weeks.

Middle ground trees are being developed.

Details in the rocks and the weedy bay are added.

I decided to go with the white canoes although you can see
 that with the reflections of the sky light and the water,
 they are not really white.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Fibre Content Show and Cottage Sketches

This weekend I'll be delivering my "Algonquin Rapids" Art Quilt to the Art Gallery of Burlington for it's Fibre Content Show which runs from Tuesday, September 9 to Tuesday September 16. This show is comprised of various fibre and textile art. If you are in the area, why not drop in there to see the show. Below are more details.

Here are also some sketches I did on my week at the cottage.

This sketch was done in the cottage owner's guest book.
I wrote about our stay in the middle of the two sketches.

View of the cottage from the dock.
Here it is painted.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Gaining Inspiration from a Good Read

I was given an art book by my brother-in-law that had me intrigued. It is called "Painting the Ontario Landscape" and is written by artist Jane Champagne. Jane was born in Toronto in 1930 and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Toronto.

Jane was a "plein air" painter meaning she painted outside on location. She loved to paint the Ontario Landscape especially and she painted primarily with watercolour.

I am an artist who believes there is beauty to be found wherever you are and you don't have to fly to exotic destinations to find it. I also love our Canadian landscape and Ontario has such a variety. I have done numerous sketches and paintings of this landscape but mostly from photos I have taken. I am interested in what Jane has to say about "plain air" painting.

Here's a little excerpt from her book. It really speaks to me.

"It is, as the environmentalists say, the 'primary experience' that counts. For the painter and consequently, for the viewer. Primary experience? Yes. What happens when you get out of your car, stretch, look around, and see, really see, what you're looking at, a landscape stretching out limitlessly, there, bright or overcast, the smell of the fields, trees, the hot earth or cold snow, the feel of the breeze against your face and hair...the total, sensuous, breathtaking experience of being in the middle of a never-painted vista, at a country-dusty crossroads or by a limpid pond, surrounded by autumn colour, or anchored in an escarpment snowdrift, ready to capture on paper in a way that no one else can... that wondrous first impression.
That's what you're after. You look forward to living the experience fully -- and you want other people to see what you're looking at, grasp it, feel the elation, love it, cherish and want to keep whole this piece of earth, this corner of Ontario that next month may be paved, subdivided, turned into a dump, or otherwise taken from you."

I feel like this urge lives inside of me sometimes. I just want to get out there! I just don't, at the moment, have the luxury of dropping everything and escaping outdoors with my art gear.

Currently, I am on vacation in Ontario's North Country and am trying to accomplish that "primary experience". My art gear is here with me and I am doing my best to use it to capture my surroundings.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Sun Printing Continued

Last Friday started out cloudy and cool but by 3:00 pm the sun was intermittently shining between fluffy white clouds. So I decided to try the sun printing. Working quickly, I saturated a few pieces of fabric with dye solution and brought them outside. Because it was windy, I had to utilize a couple of pieces of glass to sandwich my fabric and toppings in between so they wouldn't blow away.
As I was beginning on the second piece of fabric, the sun was already starting to develop the dye in the first one. It had begun to turn pink and then purple and the longer the fabric was exposed to the sun the darker it became. It was really neat to watch.
On the first piece I placed buttons and safety pins, the second piece was covered with feathers and the third with plant material.
You can see that the top left was placed first by the
different grades of colour on each piece.
 I did three sets of fabric that took me about 1.5 hours to develop.

Plant material

Lace, stencils, string
Once the fabric was developed well enough the glass top was removed as well as the toppings of plant material, lace, buttons etc. The fabric was taken out of the sun and placed in the washer and washed to remove the left over unexposed dye and set the dye in the fibers. As you can see below the finished colour is blue.

Most of the toppings worked well. The feathers didn't work.
I think this was due to the fact that the feathers were not flat
against the fabric and didn't block the sun's rays effectively.

 I love the designs the plants left behind. I learned that if the plants are moved during the development stage you get little shadow-like shapes. I kind of like that effect. I will most certainly try this technique again.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Sun-inspired Fabric Printing

For a long time I have wanted to try "Cyanotype printing". This is a method of printing or dying fabric with sunlight. The effect is quite unique and I think it would be a really interesting background for some of my fabric cards.
I found some of the dye chemical in an art store not long ago and it looked like an easy, mess-free way to try this method. The brand of dye I bought is called Inkodye and is a water-based formula, designed for household use. What I liked about it was that it doesn't use PVC, toxic solvents, iron or silver in its formula.
Basically, Inkodye is a range of mixable, water-based photosensitive dyes that develops when exposed to the sun.
So, naturally, I needed a sunny day to do this. This method works best on natural fabric such as cotton so I prepared some white cotton I had by washing it in a soda ash bath which helps to accept the dye and bind it to the fibers of the fabric.
Then I gathered some items that I could place on the fabric which is saturated with dye solution. These items include feathers, plant material, buttons, ribbon - anything that can be laid across the fabric to create a shadow. Where the items cover the fabric, the sun cannot expose the dye so those areas remain the colour of the original fabric.

Much to my dismay, the sun has disappeared and I am not able to try my sun printing today. Hopefully, tomorrow will be sunnier and I can try it then. Stay tuned for the results of my experiment.