Saturday, June 29

Changing Directions

Painting in progress - mixed media acrylic.
Sometimes there is a piece of art that I'm working on that just isn't going as I would like. The process might flow along, but there is just an 'essence' to the piece that is missing. An emotion or a feeling that I want the painting to emit to the viewers. For me, this will eventually lead to me not working on the painting and having it sit in the corner collecting dust until I can figure out a new game plan.
Luckily, for my red-haired girl, I had a sudden 'light-bulb' moment yesterday on how I wanted to continue. It was a major, major change in direction from where I started. I was initally thinking a happy girl with a wreath of flowers in her hair, spilling out...but after working on it awhile, and fiddling with the painting a lot - it just wasn't working for me, especially in the face. I knew that I still had many layers to go, and that it might still turn out how I wanted, but it was no longer a direction that I felt I could carry this painting to. 
The painting before I changed directions
So, last night - after pondering my new painting-plan and direction - I took the major leap of completely painting over the face. All I left were remements of the mouth, and the lower part of the nose, which I adjust both later. But I painted away the eyes, and all shading, and then started anew.

It might have seemed a little drastic, but I needed a fresh start to the face. And yes, it was chancy (if that's even a word, hehe). I could have not been able to illustrate what I wanted to in the new face, and had lost all my previous painting labours on the old face. And I thought long and hard about that. It was truely an artist's gamble. But then, I decided that I knew I didn't like the current face and that I was pretty confident that I would not be able to bring that face, in it's current state, to a point that I was going to be pleased with.

But isn't that what is so great about paint? If you don't like something, just paint right over and start fresh. I'm sure tons of artists out there have done that, and I know when I was a 'fresh' artist, I was always skeptical about it...but it makes you commit to an idea; and it makes you grow and gain confidence in your decisions as an artist. (Or, so I feel).

So now I have a more realistic, and less illustrative, painting. The brush strokes are way more loose and a lot more painterly, which is what I prefer. I think getting caught up with trying to fix something that I wasn't happy with made my painting just too 'tight' with the other piece. There is still tons of work to do on her, but - for the most part - I know what steps and which direction I am taking.

Have you ever completely reworked a painting, or painted over part of a painting to make it work better? Did it turn out?

Tuesday, June 25

Always Exploring, Always Experimenting

Untitled - Painting in progress, 24x27"
Please don't be startled by the artwork I'm sharing with you this week. It is from a Life Book 2013 lesson, where the material is steps away from what I usually create. I will tell you from the start, that what is being 'put forth' in this painting, was not what I had originally thought, or intended to paint. I'm not sure what it all means, or if it even means anything. Sometimes they say that it brings forth inner emotions when subjects just 'pop' into artwork...but even so, what may seem obvious may be highly metaphoric for something else - or might not even be anything. That is why I love painting so much, everyone can find their own and different thoughts in a painting.

So, anyways. This painting. Weird and odd - yes, I 100% agree. But also an excellent experience, experiment and totally painting out of my norm - 100% refreshing and new, and totally exciting. The main idea of the lesson last week - make a background, find faces in the background, and just go from there. We were given the artists, Picasso, Chagall and Basquiat for inspiration. I feel that I pulled the most from Basquiat - loved his work! Here are some of my progress shots:

And...before people start jumping to conclusions...the image of a baby does not mean that we are having a baby, or anything like that LOL. That is what a lot of people thought when I showed them. As I mentioned above, imagery in paintings can mean oodles of things, and I cannot personally tell you what this means, as I'm just not sure myself. I saw what I saw in the background, pulled it out, and yes it's crazy-odd for my usually painting style. But I am loving it.

Saturday, June 22

Purple Valley Hike.

The biggest hike on our adventure last week was in purple valley, hiking along Colpoy's Bay (which is a little "nook" off of Georgian Bay) . This is up the South Bruce Peninsula, where on the other side of it is Lake Huron (which we visited the same day at Stoke's Bay). The Bruce Trail runs through here, and leads all the way up to Tobermory - so we started on the Bruce Trail, and then took a side trail off to make a 7-8km loop. 

That is the limestone cliff edge that we were hiking along. We were in the forest though - not right  on the edge. And every now and then, there would be a "lookout" opening to take a peak. 

It was very high up, but the view was spectacular! As I had mentioned in an earlier post, this is a spot we never would have really known about if it was not for the "Explore the Bruce" scavenger hunt. I'm happy that we were able to explore this hidden gem, and even happier that this gem is just a hop, skip and jump away from where we live. 

It is so very hard to capture just how high we were up on that cliff rock.

It was a wonderful hike, and we had beautiful sunny weather for it! The breeze from the bay kept us nice and cool as well as the shade from the trees.

Friday, June 21

Spirit Rock and Corran Ruins

The first stop on our adventure last week was to Spirit Rock in Wiarton. This photo above is before we started hiking. I just wanted to share with you how lovely of day it was, and how blue the waters were! Those islands you see in the distance, on our hike in Purple Valley - a later post - we end up right beside them!

The story of spirit rock is based on legend from the tribes who were in this area first. It is a sad story, but an interesting one. We were not able to see the face from below in the cliffs, as the trees are now quite lush and grown, and it is definitely some place we would visit again.

The view from Spirit rock.
Another view from Spirit Rock - such beautiful water!

These yellow lady-slipper flowers, which are a wild form
of Orchid were all over the forest - so pretty!

"The Spiral Staircase" - which walks you down one of
the cliffs on the trail. 
 At the top of the spiral staircase, completely unrelated to spirit rock, are the Corran Ruins. They are the remaining stone framework from 1881. This mansion was owned by Alexander McNeill, who was a member of parliament and supported Britain. There was a plaque, and I wish I had taken a picture, that also spoke about how there used to be lots of rose bushes around the property, and one - a black rose bush - was cut and transplanted from a bush that Mary, Queen of Scots, slept under before her execution.

Well, that was part of our adventure - last part I will share tomorrow! :)

Thursday, June 20

Exploring the Bruce

For something local to do this summer, James and I have decided to participate in the 'Explore the Bruce' scavenger hunt. We are both working a lot (me not so much right at this moment with my bummed ankle), but this gives us little day trips that we can do last minute here and there. This may seem like a "kid's thing", but it really isn't. Prizes include boats and week-long cottage rentals.  

Last week, we spent the whole day running around getting punches, and we got 8!! We did a lot of exploring, a little driving and an insane amount of hiking - no, this isn't where I messed up my ankle, that happened the day after this. 

We stopped in Wiarton - and got 5 punches there and hiked about 5km. Then we went to Purple Valley, and hiked another 7-8km along the cliff-coast of Colpoy's Bay. Then, we headed up to Lion's Head and used their viewing binoculars (like those coin-operated ones, except these ones are free to use) and looked for the 'lion's head' in the cliffs - and found it! We had dinner there, and then headed to Stoke's Bay, and got our last punch of the day, and waded in the warm shores of Lake Huron for a little while.

Needless to say, it was quite the adventure, and it was wonderful to explore all this beautiful area around us. I don't think we would have ever known to even hike Purple Valley if it wasn't for this, and the views were amazing!!

There is one punch that is only accessible by boat, and I really hope we find the time get a canoe and go searching for that one :)

I'll be sharing all my photo's with you all tomorrow...stay tuned!! :)

Wednesday, June 19

Sail Boat Thank You Greeting

Today I'm sharing with you a sail boat themed thank-you greeting card that I made for this month's Unity Be Inspired Challenge

I based my design on the card sketch provided for the challenge. The circular element had be a little worried, as I only have one size of circle punch, so any other circles would look 'wonky'...but then I thought, Why not just make them all 'wonky?!'  It took awhile for me to finally piece everything together in a way that I quite liked, I feel that it turned out very well. 

I really like how it ended up looking like the boat was sailing with the sun behind it. The Unity stamp sets that I used were: June Epic Moments SMAK kit, Sail Away kit and the Imagine, Create and Inspire Stamp Set. I also used paper from Glitz's Uncharted Waters (Love all the designs in this collection!), some white embossing powder and some alphabet washi tape. 

I used little 'bump-up' stickers to give this card crazy and beautiful dimension, and really make everything, literally 'pop' :)

Tuesday, June 18

My First Official Gallery Showing!

These two lovelies of mine were sent on their way to a gallery in Alliston, Ontario yesterday. They are going to be part of a special art show, showcasing women and agriculture. I come from a dairy farm background, so it is not unusual that some of my paintings have showcased fields / nature. 

They specifically requested these two paintings, Stormy Highway and Delicate. Others were listed in their request, but they had since been sold. Both of these paintings are 12x12", and painted in oils.

I'm very much hoping to visit the gallery while they are showing. This will be the first time that my artwork has been officially displayed in a gallery, and it's just way too exciting! Definitely a big step :)

Monday, June 17

Lazy Sunny Days

I spent the only sunny and warm day this past weekend on an old duvet lying on my lawn soaking up the sun with dear Oreo while I was nursing my ankle - can't do anything else, so may as well lie in the sunshine! :)  He 100% embraced the fact that he could not only lie outside, but on a comfy duvet as well.

You can't see it, but he does have a harness on. Yes, yes I know I know...crazy cat lady and all. Being that I'm somewhat incapable of chasing after a cat if he spots the neighbourhood feline 'friend', I wanted to be sure he couldn't get too far on his own if he made a dash for it.

Sunday, June 16

This Sprain is a Pain

Late last week, I sprained my ankle going through a small hiking path behind my house, and I slipped / tripped on a bunch of loose rocks / branches and hurt my ankle. Of course, first thought since I could not put any weight on it at all was that it was broken. Luckily, it is just a 1-2 degree sprain - so slight ligament tear, but not full - Phew! Still, that being said, I am hobbling around on crutches and trying to get better asap so that I can get back to work at the hospital.

When people say things get worse before they get better, they are usually right. Above is my ankle the day after my dance with the trail: it was super swollen, but not too colourful.

Now: it's turning more vividly purple by the day, although I am able to walk around without crutches in the house; it is still a hobbling battle. Isn't it a lovely purple though? I think I would like it and appreciate the colour more if it was not a bruise on my foot.

Tuesday, June 11

On My Bookshelf Lately

I thought I'd take some time today to share some of the books that I have read in the past month, or so, with you. Let me warn you, the genre of these books are all over the map. I like everything, and so some books are just fluff (which are perfect for after a rough day at work), and some make you think a little bit more.

The first book, The Magic of Reality, by Richard Dawkins was an interesting read. It is simplified science - and having gone to school for science, it was a bit of a repeat. But it had funny statements, and little facts that I never really thought about, and some of the topics did make me just stop reading and ponder if for a little bit. I especially enjoyed the subjects relating to space, as having studied biological / medical sciences, I didn't touch very much on astronomy.

Next we have, The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory. This is the author who wrote, The Other Boyleyn Girl. I love reading her books - as do I love watching all the movies about the royal families (whether they are true, or solely based on fiction).  This book was not directly about a women who ruled, the main character - Jacquetta, is a married into the position of 'Lady'. There is a lot of politics in this book, but my favourite part I would have to say is the touch of magic that is introduced - especially since this is a time when magic was not something people took lightly. 

The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood, take place in a distant (but maybe not too distant) future. It is the story of a society which has reached a sort of 'utopian' standard, but to have achieved that, not everyone can benefit from it. There are the very, very sociably high, and then the very, very sociably low. There seems to not have much of a middle class anymore. The higher side of society keeps playing with genetic mutations - trying to better everything, taking chances they probably should not. On the lower side, is a group called 'The Gardeners'. They believe that a sort of flood will come and cleanse the world again, a dry flood - since it was promised in their remaining literature (their Bible), that the world would not be flooding with water again. Everyone is controlled by a corporate government, but of course, this corporate government gives everyone the 'idea' that they are free - but they are just so easily bought off. 

The last book I'm going to share with you today is, Dead Ever After, by Charlaine Harris. This book is the last instalment in the Sookie Stackhouse series - which the HBO television series 'True Blood' is loosely - so very loosely - based off of. I did very much enjoy the earlier books of this series, but must say I was sad how the last 2-3 books were. I do fully enjoy the television series, and I must admit I'm happy that they have branched off from the book series earlier on, because that means I just get that much more story out of it. And now that this series has ended, and I see how she has ended it - I really hope it continues to branch of. In this story, all the loose ties are knotted. There is still some wit in the writing, but not as much of the 'romance' of the earlier novels. Everyone sort of makes one last appearance, and I suppose I'll admit - as much as I did not like how it ended, at least it ended. It wasn't some fuzzy ending where you are not quite sure what might happen. It's a very black and white ending.   

So that's some of what I read in the past month or so. Of the four, I'd say 'The Lady of the Rivers' was my favourite! 

Friday, June 7

Dancing Shoes

Just a quick 'Hello' before the weekend! I wanted to share with you this little tag I made for a celebration with friends. The 'legs' are from a full-sized girl stamp, but since she is far from fitting on a tag, I just used the part that went best with the sentiment "Put Your Dancing Shoes On"

I embossed the sentiment, and then used red glitter for the heels - since red heels are just too much fun! I think I might just be sporting hot pink ones this weekend...still thinking of outfit choices, hehe. :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Unity stamps used: Fashionista stamp (Claire), SMAK kit (April 2013) and Sassy Pants Sentiments. 

Wednesday, June 5

The Key To Dreams Mixed Media Dimensional Artwork

"The Key To Dreams" - Available

Today I'm sharing my most recent mixed media art piece. In between working on commissions and going to work I managed to piece this dimensional art piece together, and titled it "The Key To Dreams"

I wanted to show you sort of how it started out - to really show how much you can alter and change random bits to create a 100% unique piece of art. I added more bits from my personal stash to complete the piece, but the bird on the fence started out as plain-jane. 

I love how the 'faux wood' turned out. The crackle paste with the gel medium worker perfectly and to plan! Sometimes crackle paste can throw you for a loop. I was able to wire the piece in the back as well, so it will be perfect to hang on the wall!

This piece is so very dimensional, and so very colourful! I wasn't quite a fan of the yellow / orange flowers in the package, so I painted them all red! :D I did some embossing as well on the piece with some of my Unity stamps, and used one of their texture stamps for the butterfly. 

And of course, a very mixed media project like this will leave quite the mess. There is so much randomness that I cleaned off my desk. 

This original piece of art is available for sale in my shop, here.

Tuesday, June 4

Spring Tulips Art Journal Page

"Spring Tulips" - Mixed Media Art Journal Page
Happy Tuesday everyone! Today is my Saturday - a mid-week day off for working the weekend :) I would like to share an art journal page today that I made a couple days ago. It started off as just a stamped background as you see below, and then I just added more and more layers. I finished the background with a semi-transparent layer of yellow-green paint. This colour is just so fresh and screams spring and summer to me :)

After getting a good background, I added a layer of clear pastel ground. I stamped a little bit, and then drew in the flowers with pastel pencils. Being softer than pencil crayons, they cover wonderfully and are so very vibrant.

I finished off with some script, also in pastel pencil.

Fresh flowers in the house really do make me so happy. I love that for the past month, I've been able to go out and cut different flowers for my vase: tulips, daffodils, lilacs and poppies.

Materials used: Unity stamps (s April SMAK kit, February Kit of the Month, ikat love and Jar of Sunshine), archival stamping inks, aquamarkers, acrylic paint, Golden clear pastel ground, pastel pencils.

I have also entered this piece in the Unity Inspired Challenge :)

Monday, June 3

The Beginnings of some ATC's

As an artist, not everything works out all the time. Or gets finished. Sometimes, you just know it'll never get finished. So, take for instance, a background I made a while back and it sat and sat, and I just could not for the life of me think of something suitable to put on it. So, a solution - I chopped it up! Yes, that's right! I cut it into 2.5x3.5" pieces to make ATC's!! These little pieces of art are wonderful for trading, and super affordable for buyers. They're great to experiment on, and are a challenge in themselves just because they are so very tiny. 

Above are pieces from that background sitting for tomorrow - for when I can take some time and create with them. I have them sitting in front of me now, so that I can start gathering inspiration, maybe sketch a few marks on them for when I'm ready tomorrow :)

We also have some regular visitors at our bird feeder - a set of male and female cardinals! They always come to visit together, it's too cute. They have a very distinct chirping noise that I have come to recognize, and so I always know when they're around :)