Sunday, December 30, 2012

Around The World Before Age One

For our grandchildren, on each birthday, I create a painting.  I was straining my brain over an idea for this one.  Thanks to Amira's Great Aunt Linda for saying "It can't be that hard to come up with something, the child has been all around the world and she's not even a year old yet!" for it was this comment which sparked the concept. 

AROUND THE WORLD BEFORE AGE ONE   mixed media on cradled panel   12" x 16"

The story behind the painting is this; Amira was born in Banff, December 9th, 2011 on a night before a full moon.  To meet her Dad's family, she had her first flight to Toronto in February 2012.  In March, she and Laura joined us in Palm Springs.  And, right on the heels of that trip, she and her Mom went to Amsterdam, where they meet up with her Dad.  It was from there that she got to go to Paris!  In July, Laura, Adam and Amira came to the International Saltiel Family Reunion in New York City.  In September, her Mother took her to San Francisco and in November the young family all went on a reconnaissance mission to Columbia, Maryland (the oriole) because that's where they will be moving to in February, 2013.
Notice that the moon is also the earth?

At the end of day one I had found (glory be to the Internet) all the icons I wanted and was satisfied with the arrangement of them, but I couldn't quit without adding some colour!  The next day I painted what you see below ...

Getting the colour on

... and permanently affixed the components ...

I've enlarged the Eiffel Tower - it needed to be bigger

At the end of the third day the painting looked like this ...

Completely coloured in

It was at the stage above that I decided the Disney fairy was not at all what I wanted for the piece, so I created my own Amira, caricature fairy.  On day four I fine tuned and finished the painting ...

(same as the first image at the top)

In keeping with her jet setting lifestyle, Amira spent her first birthday on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.  Bill and I had the pleasure of being there to celebrate the occasion ...

The gifting; Laura and Amira

... and when Amira kissed her painting ...

... my heart soared.

Now that we're home, I'm thinking I want to add some Kauai sand and a few teeny, tiny shells around the base of the palm tree!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

All Over The Map

Recently, what and how I paint is a reflection of my life, which is scattered all over the place! The mixed media paintings of the past couple of posts have gone to Willowtree Designs.  Please visit my new dedicated mixed media page to see these and other pieces. This iris painting was part of my contribution to the display by Claresholm Art Club members at our local Kinette Christmas Sale.

FANCY DANCER   framed acrylic on MDF panel 10" x 8"  SOLD

Employing the synthetic webbing technique (learned last month) I created the shimmery, iridescent background which was perfect for painting Judy's wild cat on. Blue's features and build are that of an ordinary house cat but he has the exotic, Siamese colouring which is surely random genetics; the result of a farm cat breeding with a Siamese cat!   

BLUE   framed acrylic on MDF panel 8" x 10"   $250.   Available at Willowtree Designs in Claresholm  

In addition to being wildly stimulated by a couple of sets of sleepover guests, we're were away this past weekend and are about to host a Christmas party this coming weekend. Somehow, I will finish a special painting (for a special little someone) before we leave on a short vacation to somewhere new, warm and lovely ... it's in keeping with being all over the map! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Unlock Growth

In New York City this past summer we spent a morning at Hell's Kitchen Flea Market. One of the vendors had a lot of metal pieces including old, rusty keys and this amazing, antique doorplate.   

UNLOCK GROWTH   framed mixed media 16" x 12" $350. available at Willowtreee, Claresholm

In September, at Judy's studio, while my mixed media guru Win Dinn was visiting, I made the piece below. It became the inspiration for Unlock Growth, although, at the time I didn't know it. That's the magic of mixed media, you have no idea how anything will evolve. With acrylics I painted a piece of mat board in gradated greens and using a commercial rubber stamp, with an overall pine needle design, created the underlying patterns. The other gals were running outdoors to grab fresh leaves to use as stamps in acrylic paints, so I followed suit. The irregular, organic patterns of the leaves are delightful. The doorplate looked so well against these colours but it was simply too big for this small piece.

UNLOCK GROWTH study  9.5" x 7.5

The background painting of the larger Unlock Growth flowed effortlessly from the end of my brush. (Oh, why can't all paintings come this way?) With my mind in some imaginary forest, I picked up a fine-tipped rubber pen tool and scraped a steam of semiconscious words into the wet paint on the bottom third of the panel. I don't remember exactly what I wrote. Additional paint layers, the dried leaves and the doorplate obscure parts of the passage so that now only certain words are discernible. I'm all right with that. 

UNLOCK GROWTH before the tendril 

At the stage above I realised I had done exactly what I preach against; floating, unrelated elements! The key and the doorplate needed to be linked. A tendril was suggested, but how to do that? Wondering about piping heavy acrylic medium (using my cake decorating toys) I went to the guru. She answered "Yes. And you can colour the medium first. But, lay a piece of acetate over the painting and pipe the tendril onto it" Good advice, because I was clumsy with the infrequently used implement and wiped off tendril after tendril until one finally satisfied me. Over 24 hours later, when it was dry enough, I affixed it to the work. I am terribly fond of this painting, sigh.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Moulin Rouge

MOULIN ROUGE   mixed media, 12" x 9"

This fun piece was incubated back in June when, on our first visit to Win (and John) in Creston, B.C., she and I went into fits of laughter over finding a package of garters on the notions wall at Gleaners - the coolest of thrift stores. After that we joked about someday making a burlesque piece. On a subsequent visit, we even went back to Gleaners, looking for the garters, but they were gone! Who buys garters these days? Ah well, they were white and too big anyway. 

Having fun at Gleaners

Then, in July, while I was in New York City, I simply had to seek out this tiny, awesome, shop called The Ink Pad. There I found this sensational rubber stamp and I knew I'd have to buy it for Win. 

In September, when I brought it to Creston more laughter ensued. We came to affectionately call the stamp The Tarts. Clearly, both of us had a load of fun colouring it in as we set to making mixed media pieces with it as focal point. When I departed, mine was in the state below. Unhappy with that big black area, I toned it down and added what more I thought the painting needed.  

MOULIN ROUGE in progress

Win's may have been finished ... but then again, she could have played with it some more.  Let's ask her!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Peacock Called Win

Some of you reading this will know that I have a thing both for peacocks and collecting rubber stamps. In my travels I found an amazing overall-patterned peacock feather acrylic stamp measuring almost 5" x 6". By using a cradled panel I could continue the pattern around the edges and the piece can stand as shelf art. To compliment the colour of the peacock head I chose Golden's quinacridone/nickel azo gold for the background.

A PEACOCK CALLED WIN   acrylic painting on a cradled wooden panel 8" x 8" x 2" deep

I use StazOn stamp pad inks because they are acid free, archival, fast drying solvent inks and the only brand which is permanent. They don't smear when made wet, as in painted over with any water media.  I'm not sure if the other colours will do this but the purple bled through the white which I had used to paint over the area that would be the head. It took many, many coats to stop that. For months, I left this background with a ghostly white head but today I finally finished it!

A PEACOCK CALLED WIN   acrylic painting on a cradled wooden panel 8" x 8" x 2" deep

Yesterday, I consigned several of my small gems (oil paintings) and a few mixed media pieces, including the two below, to Galleria Inglewood. I am proud to say that this Calgary store has been carrying my work since 1988. The selection at Galleria is by far the most extensive and unique you'll find simply because they are the largest independently owned retail arts and crafts store in Canada. And now, fully decorated for Christmas, they are a sight to behold. I strongly recommend you pay them a visit!

             FLY AWAY  framed 8" x 6" $100.                                 WE'LL SING IN THE SUNSHINE  framed 12" x 9" $250.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Experimental Painting Workshop

With my current penchant for experimenting, over the weekend of October 20th and 21st, 2012, I joined eight other participants to learn some new methods to employ in mixed media. The lovely and articulate Ursula Reynolds of River Rock Studio (in the countryside NW of Cochrane, Alberta) came to Canmore and was our instructor.  

Notice the white gauzy stuff draped over the railing in the background; this is what gave the effect in Ursula's piece

Ursula demonstrates the cobweb resist technique

Above the artificial cob webbing (available in stores at this time of year) has been stretched over watercolour paper. With clear water (either sprayed or brushed on) she wet both making sure the webbing made contact with the paper. Then, onto the wet surface, Ursula added colour using a brush, mouth atomizer as well as dropping in some paint. To show how each responds, to the technique, Ursula used watercolours on half of the page and fluid acrylics on the other.  

It is critical to remove the webbing before the paint is completely dry to save yourself from having to spend ages plucking the spidery stuff off of the artwork!

My webbing resist technique on watercolour paper

My webbing on Yupo (plastic) paper using acrylic paint. The mauve is a pearly metallic ink

Ursula also demonstrated painting, thickly and boldly, with heavy bodied acrylics. While this was still wet she created texture by scraping, stamping and lifting paint. It was left to dry overnight. On day two she showed us about masking selected areas using painters tape, contact paper and flat objects. With all that in place and using a roller she lightly spread a thin layer of opaque paint over the open areas. And, when the tape, etc., was removed this was the result ...

Dog's Breakfast turned into You Can Make a Pig Sing!

Another of my webbing pieces rolled with opaque paint over masked areas; all acrylic on MDF panel

Above is my least favourite work. I'm unhappy with the colour I used to roll over the webbing start and I'm not sure about the shapes, especially those on the right.  Think I'll cut it down and keep only the left side.

With heavy bodied acrylic I painted the piece below. I don't know if I want to mask parts of it and roll opaque paint on it. I don't know that I want to do anything more to it at all!

Heavy bodied acrylic on canvas.  Unfortunately the camera can't pick up the texture or the metallic steel blue

Sharing a table with Dana Roman was a lot of fun!

Now, here I am at home wondering just what to do with these starts? I don't think they can be considered finished pieces. Should I hand paint something on top them and if so, what? Stick things on them? Oh, decisions, decisions!

To see the entire photo essay about the workshop please click here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Creating in Creston

A couple of weeks ago (on my 3rd visit to Creston in as many months) I'd hoped to paint and finish my annual birthday gift for our granddaughter's 4th birthday. A hummingbird because that's what Bill calls her. He is so right in his choice of nicknames; she is rarely still! Now that she's had her birthday party (October 14th) I can post about her present. Her actual birthday is today. 

HUMMINGBIRD FOR AVERY   mixed media on cradled panel, 12" x 9"   -    in progress and finished

This time Win taught me the technique of wet paint and plastic wrap. So enamoured with it, it showed up in the backgrounds of almost everything I did! Including the hummingbird. The green at the bottom of the unfinished piece was applied using fresh leaves as stamps. Under the applied dried flowers I also used commercial stamps and there is micro, transparent glitter (which the camera can't pick up) on and coming away from the wings as well as in a curved swoop beneath the tail feathers.

Win demonstrating the wet paint and plastic wrap technique

Our husbands (enablers) have been collecting old watches and taking them apart for us so that we can play with the bits ... I mean incorporate them into our mixed media pieces ...

Win's time piece

My time piece on a 12" x 16" cradled panel

We are both seeking a satisfactory way to affix beautiful, coiled watch springs to our work. Mine will go to the top left, slightly overlapping the sheet music.

We're happy with our combined, mostly unfinished, efforts at the end of 3 days

On these visits, we are learning balance. That is to say we are not spending all of our time in the studio! While Bill went off to Nelson one day, Win and I took a long break. We walked around the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area, visited the Creston Museum grounds (it was closed) and Win took me on a drive in the countryside. With Bill, we visited the Columbia Brewery, home of Kokanee beer. John was away, so he wasn't able to join in on any of this and it was especially unfortunate that he missed out on our decadent lunch ...

Lunch on the exquisite patio at the Skimmerhorn Winery

Many thanks to Dinns for always welcoming us and especially to Win for continuing to give generously of her knowledge as I make my way in the Magical World of Mixed Media!

For the complete photo essay of this Creston visit please click here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Grand Teton National Park and Jackson, Wyoming

I wasn't born in the mountains, and I don't live in them anymore, but my 30 years of being cradled in the Canadian Rockies has made me need to see them whenever I can. Grand Teton National Park is just to the south of Yellowstone (which hasn't got any real mountains) and being this close we knew we'd go there too.

Dawn of September 13th, 2012 at String Lake

There were forest fires all around and the clearest time of day to see the peaks was at dawn. Those of you who know me are aware that I will drag myself out of a warm, cozy bed on any clear morning if there is the promise of catching the fleeting minutes of alpenglow.

Along the Schwabacher Road is this delightful backwater of the Snake River

Recall that this was a camping trip and know that at Grand Teton's Signal Mountain Campground there are no showers. Happily you can buy them at the coin laundry in nearby Colter bay Village where we got spit-polished clean for my birthday and our anniversary dinner at Jackson Lodge.

Sundown, viewed from our table in The Mural Dining Room at the Jackson Lodge

For more photos of Grand Teton click here.

Dinner was the perfect ending to an already sublime day. That morning we had opted to go to the National Museum of Wildlife Art a place I didn't know existed, until the day before! Such lucky timing; as part of the museum's 25th anniversary celebrations, this was the day of the grand opening of their outdoor sculpture trail and the unveiling of Richard Loffer's 64 foot long, 1.5 times life size sculpture.

Bill insisted I introduce myself to the Saskatchewan born sculptor of The Buffalo Trail

In the museum's auditorium, Richard gave a marvelous talk and slide show about this five-year, epic project.  The museum is absolutely top notch and exquisitely grand. Their collections span three centuries and include over 5000 pieces, by more than 550 artists. My photos of our museum visit are here.

Rungius Gallery

They boast the largest public collection of Carl Rungius paintings in the USA. Richard told me that they have 95! For a long time, I've been an ardent Rungius fan; imagine my delirium at seeing so many, live, after years of drooling over book reproductions? Consumed with photographing close-ups details of wildlife paintings I give you one of Bill's images of a complete Rungius oil ... 

And then there were the abundant commercial galleries in the quaint town of Jackson which are filled with more delights! I came home with this burning desire to paint wildlife again. Better catch it quickly before the fire goes out!

Mountain Trails Gallery, Jackson

A photo essay of our time spent in Jackson can be seen here.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Yellowstone National Park

The Midway Basin with the Grand Prismatic Spring (left) and the Excelsior Geyser Crater pouring into the Firehole River

On September 6th, 2010, Bill hitched up the R-Pod and we set out on a 12-day road trip to see, for the very first time, Yellowstone National Park. It has five entrances (we arrived from the west) and a road system in the figure of eight. The Visitor Centres and Museums are very well done. We saw a great deal, but not all of the park.

The colour of some of the hydrothermal pools is remarkable!

To deal with the huge number of visitors it gets, Old faithful has its own overpass! The Rangers are very accurate in their predicted times of eruptions which happen anywhere from 40 - 126 minutes apart.  Along with 300 other people we saw her blow only minutes after the predicted time of 5:22PM.

Our shadows cast on a bacteria mat of one of the geyser pools at Midway Basin

Mammoth Hot Springs was just that

Odd and magnificent as they are we tired of the geysers rather quickly and went looking for something else.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River ranges in depth from 800 to 1200 feet. Climbing in the canyon is not permitted and for just reasons; it is steep, gnarly and dangerous. There are many drive up lookouts and descending trails on both the north and south rims - with steps, to take you down, about 500 feet, into the canyon. "Uncle Tom's Trail" on the south rim has 328 steps!

Stunning view of the canyon from Grand View Lookout, north rim

We loved the canyon so much we went back two days in a row! From the Red Rock trail on the south rim, this is as far down into it as you can safely get. And, as it was we were somewhat off piste here ...

The exquisite Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River

For the entire photo essay please click here.

And then we went off into Grand Teton National Park ... that story to follow!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Guru Drops In

On September 4th, on her way home to Creston, our mixed media guru, Win Dinn, stopped in for a quick overnight stay.

Win demonstrates distressing a photograph

I made a bid for Win to spend an afternoon with me and a couple of students from her May workshop here in Claresholm. Kerry Hart joined us at Judy Dahl's studio for a few delightful hours of mixed media. Win gave freely of herself even though she was just plain tuckered out after an action packed, whirlwind week in Ottawa.

Judy is like a sponge, ready to soak up anything about mixed media

Playing with colour, we pooled and splattered paint, we stamped, stuck bits and pieces on here and there. While the three of us started one piece after another, only Win made a single finished piece. I neglected to photograph any of our work ... perhaps that was because we cracked open the wine?

The following morning Win showed me what she had recently learned about how to adhere a layer of paper napkin to bond paper or card stock. It's a wonderful little trick with plastic wrap, parchment paper and an iron which Win explains rather well here.

Notice that the floor easel is gone from The Anne Frank Room; more horizontal space is still being sought out!

And voila ... now we can cut, paste and alter this delightful type of paper imagery!

To be sure I knew what I was doing I had to give it a try!