Monday, May 16, 2016

Colour angst

This week I'm still painting--but with a stain brush outside. I'm trying to select a solid stain colour for the fences in the back deck and yard. As usual it's a stressful decision.  I know that for some people this choice doesn't loom that large. They go for a brown or a grey or a taupe and that's that. But I know that I can't live with a colour that doesn't work. Once I repainted my bedroom three times to get the right tone of grey.

So now my kitchen is littered with paint chips and there are four different cans of sample stain that have been tried on different areas of the fence. I'm looking for something that has the same feeling as weathered wood and trying to determine which tonal direction to take?

The challenge is to find a tone that sets off the plants, goes well with the siding of the house and relates to the deck colour and the bricks. 

I'm think that I've now found a colour that works. It's a brownish-greenish grey called Sparrow. Thanks to the help from the amazing staff at the Benjamin Moore paint store. They really know their stuff. The girl told me to choose a colour a lot darker than I first thought and helped me find the undertones and determine which ones would work.  

Whew! Now we can get on with prepping and painting the fences. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Simplifying to create spaciousness in the paintings

I've gone in a somewhat different direction with my painting recently and I've had a very nice time working on some canvases for a commission for a friend.  She suggested some colours and approved my working in the new less geometric direction. The commission was for two paintings for the bedroom, one on each side of the bed.

The first efforts were quite contrasty with a darkish blue dominating. Although they were exciting, they were too intense for a bedroom and not really restful.  This is one of them.

Toning them down required opening up the composition to create more space in the painting as well as using more neutral colours and less contrast in value.  

Here you can see the intermediate stage where I've eliminated the darker stripe on the left and added more grey and taupe and white, plus softened the blues.

Here's the finished painting.

And this is the companion piece for the other side of the bed.  The same process took place here. I took some advice from  Nicholas Wilton, a California artist and teacher whose blog I've been following. He suggests many ways to make paintings stronger and I'm really finding his posts helpful. 

I think both paintings benefited from the simplifying process.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Summer's early

It's only just the beginning of May and everything is blooming early. The lilacs are finished and the dandelions are already going to seed.  Saturday evening it was not just warm but hot on the back deck. I'm loving it ... because so often the weather in spring and early summer is cool and cloudy. But at the same time I'm trying not to think about global warming.

Monday, April 25, 2016

When is a painting finished?

So how do you know when a painting is finished?  Last year I painted this on a cradled panel sized 10"x10" and I got attached to the colours and the form and thought it was finished.

But the other day when I looked at it again I found it quite lacking; a little boring in fact. So I jumped in and pushed it further by adding more layers of colour and scraping back.

The only area I really liked was the bottom left corner so I left that section and kept adding layers.

This is what I came up with....

I like this incarnation much more. I find it more interesting with the additional striations and the soft blue painted over some of the green. I miss the gradations somewhat but overall I think this is a better painting.  

The question is: have I gone far enough?  If I add more to it there is the risk of going too far and ruining the feeling this evokes.

For me it's all about the feeling. I just keep painting until it doesn't bug me any more. This painting has achieved that. But could it be better?

Feedback and comments are welcome.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Travel planning

We love to travel especially in Europe but it's too expensive to stay in hotels. So now that we are without dogs we are looking into the idea of home exchange. We've signed up for a website that allows us to find people who want to trade houses and sometimes even cars with people all over the world.  We've listed our house along with photos and have started sending requests to people in Seville and Sicily.

Part of the process included taking photos of our home from every angle both inside and outside. I had never before taken a photo from this angle. I think it shows our house off quite well.

The home exchange website sounds good but it turns out that not everyone wants to come here at the same time we want to go there. We've sent out about forty inquiries and so far haven't found anyone who wants to exchange with us.  I doubt that the west coast of Canada is as high up on people's travel lists as for example the south of France or Andalusia. That said, I'm sure there are people who would like to come here and it seems we might be better to try for something 2017.

Meanwhile we've jumped in and booked flights to Italy for four weeks in late September and if we don't find an exchange we'll go the Air B&B route. Our plan is to visit Rome again and then head south to Sicily. It looks like a fascinating place to explore. At our age we've decided that we don't want to put travel plans off. Who knows how long we'll be able to travel this way?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Now spring's really arrived

I can't believe that it's been more than six weeks since I posted here. It's the longest gap I've had since I began this blog in 2009. And I don't really have an excuse because "I'm busy" just doesn't cut it when you're retired. I was sick with the flu for a while but that doesn't really cut it either.Nevertheless I've been doing a lot of things and here I am to catch you up on some of them.

Here's a photo of our street taken today while we were out walking Miss Sophie, who is our dear departed Geordie's littermate. We've been taking care of her for a bit while her "people" are visiting Mazatlan.

And here's Sophie up on Knockan Hill enjoying the wildflowers with Harry and my sister. You can't really see her that much. She's the black dot in the background.  The Camas is blooming all over Victoria's Gary Oak meadows and it's just so so beautiful.

Here are a few more flowery photos for your spring enjoyment. The flowering cherries and plums are almost finished. Note the "pink snow" along the edge of the sidewalk.

And here's an amazing arbour supporting Lilac, Clematis and Wisteria. We pass this on our walk to the grocery store. I don't know what the orange flowers are but I think they add to the overall effect.

So what else have we been doing? Well we got rid of our sofa bed in the den and replaced it with a Murphy bed. It makes the room really usable as a dining room, which we totally lacked.  Plus it's a lot nicer for our guests sleeping.  It pulls out from the wall already made up as a double bed. Cool eh?

I've been doing some painting and took part in a show at a local care home. It was an opportunity for me to figure out how to display my work. I found some old bi-fold doors and painted them and stood them up as display racks.  Here's what they looked like:

I made some cards from a few paintings as well. I didn't sell much but it was fun, and a good preparation for the Fernwood Art Stroll, which I'll be doing in June.

Recently I started painting with a friend at her house on Mondays and it's re-energized my work. I was getting kind of bored with the work I'd been doing and have now taken off in a new direction. I've always admired whimsical work so I've launched myself into another approach.

Here are the first two paintings I'm working on. They're somewhat different from the geometric stuff I'd been doing before.

So that's a bit of what I've been doing. Now that spring is really here we're looking forward to some warm summery weather so we can get the deck and garden area in the back ready for some socializing.