composition woes….

May 3, 2015

MY GREATEST CHALLENGE when painting anything is composition.  For years I felt I was being a ‘purist’, insisting that I always paint on location, never in a studio setting.  And once at the location, I convinced myself that if a tree was in that spot, then that was how it needed to be depicted.

IT WAS ALL DUE TO my tendency to early-on stop referring to the subject in front of me and become more and more involved in what was happening on paper, to the point where I may as well have not been on location at all.  So in an effort at self-discipline, I decided that not only should I paint what things actually look like, I shouldn’t muck around with how and where ‘mother nature’ placed them.

THE SILLY THING WAS, I ended up choosing a composition by default because of course, I couldn’t paint everything my eyes saw in front of me.  And more often than not, it was not a good composition.  So now, not only do I go to some lengths to study the skill of creating an interesting arrangement, I realise it is the painter’s task to take what ‘mother nature’ provides and make art out of that.  Fences do need to be repositioned, as do trees and hills and clouds.

SO NOW I MAKE thumbnail studies first on matt board before beginning anything . . .

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THE OBJECTIVE is to provide a focal point, a visual way in towards it, then additional visual interest so the eye has more to discover by wandering beyond the subject itself.  These thumbnails are exploring the use of a compositional figure ‘Z’ shape to lead the eye of the viewer.

 

 

 

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ARTIST TRADING CARDS aka ART CARD EDITIONS AND ORIGINALS are popularly known as ACEOs. ACEOs are the size of baseball cards–65mm x 89mm (2.5″ x 3.5″) and are purchased and then traded and sold the way sports cards are.  The ACEO movement originated in Switzerland in the 90s but grew in popularity through eBay, where art cards are now sold and bought on a 24hr basis.

They require precision and are very enjoyable to do.  But then, who wouldn’t be fascinated by the challenge of painting tiny things (smile).  The subject matter can be chosen by the purchaser, and the painting done accordingly.

 

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Spring means….bunnies

April 17, 2015

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Miniatures: Chipmunk

April 10, 2015

 

 

 

 

AS CHILDREN we always gravitated towards Chipmunks, squatting in total stillness with extended hands, hoping one would overcome its natural wariness and take the peanut being offered.  The sprightly flicks of tail and peppy darts forward to snatch the gift–so quickly and deftly we didn’t see or feel it leave our palm–only added more charm to their compact, large-eyed, tiny bodied allure.  On the other hand, the Grey Squirrel was just a nuisance.  I guess size and colour made all the difference in our juvenile minds between one rodent’s mystique and another’s ho-hum plainness.  We didn’t entice Squirrels.  We threw sticks at them.  Their raiding our bird feeders didn’t win them any points, either, I must say….

 

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watercolour, 10cm x 10cm (4″ x 4″),  art board

New bird miniatures

April 6, 2015

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The image sizes here are approximately 5cm x 8cm (2″ x 3″).  I use a pair of rather strong magnifying glasses when working this small–the kind you find on display at pharmacies (around here they’re referred to as ‘cheaters’).  So when working on a tiny miniature they are an enormous help, until I turn to go check on something in the kitchen and walk into the wall, lol.

Miniatures

March 20, 2015

THE DARK-EYED JUNCO ignores the feeders hanging in the red maple just beyond the front window, shunning the bossy finch rabble bumping one another off the perches.  A Junco will head below, delighting in the shower of sunflower crumbs spit from Goldfinch beaks, already shelled, served on a bed of fresh snow.

 

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STELLAR JAYS have the tact and grace of a sociopath.  Self-absorbed to the point of being incognizant there even are other lifeforms, they bray and scatter seed as though perpetually going through puberty.  Once chaos has been accomplished, they go over to our neighbour, Brenda, and do the same with her feeder.

BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES dart in to claim a single seed, flit to a branch, hammer the shell apart, then dart in again–chee-cheeing a mantra as though making merry to themselves alone.

2″ x 2″, and 1/2″x 3/4″ , watercolour on Arches 140 lb. Hot Press Paper

 

 

Arctic Hare

March 11, 2015

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Barn Owl Miniature

May 23, 2012

Whine Alert!  I threw my back out and even my regular swimming routine isn’t helping restore things.  It has been over a week and sitting at the computer only seems to aggravate it.  Oddly, standing offers the most relief, so I’ve been painting.

My apologies for not leaving comments on my favourite sites.  Even this just sitting here is causing shooting pains.

This pair of Barn Owls is from a photo on the BBC Website, without credits as to whom the photographer was/is.  I’m in the process of offering compensation for my using the image as reference.

The Barn Owl (Tyto alba)  is, oddly enough, common in a great many countries but not here in Canada.  From Wikipedia:  “. . . It is known by many other names, which may refer to the appearance, callhabitat or the eerie, silent flight: White Owl, Silver Owl, Demon Owl, Ghost Owl, Death Owl, Night Owl, Rat Owl, Church Owl, Cave Owl, Stone Owl, Monkey-faced Owl, Hissing Owl, Hobgoblin or Hobby Owl, Dobby Owl, White-breasted Owl, Golden Owl, Scritch Owl, Screech Owl, Straw Owl, Barnyard Owl and Delicate Owl. “Golden Owl” might also refer to the related Golden Masked Owl (T. aurantia). “Hissing Owl” and, particularly in the USA, “screech owl”, referring to the piercing calls of these birds. . . ”

Work in progress . . .

The finished piece–a birthday gift for my friend Shiela

“Barn Owls”, watercolour on Hot Press Arches 140 lb. Paper
image: 2.5″ x 2.5″
framed size: 4″ x 4″

Thank you for your patience and support.  I’ll be seeing my doctor soon, and hopefully we’ll get to the cause of the problem.

Please read this . . .

April 5, 2012

If you follow this blog, you are aware that my favourite subjects for miniatures are birds.  At this time of year the male American Goldfinches are moulting from their muted Winter coats and emerging as the amazingly-yellow, black and white stunners they are in Summer months.

They, and the other Finches and Juncos, are the overwhelmingly-frequent users of our feeders in the big Red Maple in our yard.

Junco Miniature

Because songbirds are so precious and lively and lovely, I feel compelled to ask you to please link onto this story from ‘The Guardian’:    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/grrlscientist/2012/mar/21/2

[Be warned:  this is NOT a feel-good article–but it is an important one]

Forgive me for this departure from my norm in postings.

Teeny Weeny

March 11, 2012

These two frames were recently given to me by my friend Shiela, and truly are the smallest I’ve ever come across.  Measuring 1.5″ x 1.5″, or 3.5cm x 3.5cm, the paintings themselves had to be 1″ x 1″  or 2.5 cm x 2.5 cm in order to fit within the glass.

teeny weeny and weeny teeny

I used as subjects, birds based on the photographs of Cornel Apostol at http://apostolcornel.wordpress.com, who has introduced me to species we don’t have here, but ones he has at his feeders in Romania.  I believe the first one is a Chaffinch or ‘fringilla coeleb’ and the one on the right is a Great Tit, or ‘parus major’.

Little Bird Miniatures

January 29, 2012

My home, Kamloops, British Columbia, is one of the locations in North America where the Mountain Bluebird nests.  They are stunningly blue–shockingly so, and are appreciated by birders the world over.  A monogamous species, the Mountain Bluebird mates for life and prefer nesting boxes which local people here build especially for them.

Another favourite bird of mine is the American Goldfinch which is startlingly yellow and black in the Summer, but moults into a very modest olive green shade in the Winter.  They are rampantly at our feeders these days, up to sixty at a time.  They are acrobatic in their jostling for position and make me smile to watch them nudge one another off the perches.

There are many Ravens in our region which are larger than Crows and stir many feelings within me when I hear their calls.

Perhaps my most favourite bird in Winter is the Junco, because they appear to be timid (they don’t generally feed at the feeders, but prefer to pick at what’s on the ground) yet won’t be bossed around, especially by Goldfinches.  I absolutely love their grey, white and brown feathers and their pert, quick ways.

Junco, Raven, Mountain Bluebird, Goldfinch Miniatures

Raven Miniature (closeup)

I hope some of you will give some thought to framing some miniatures of your own.  The two frames on the left were gleaned from flea markets, while the two frames on the right were imported from Italy.  Of course, photos are equally pleasing in these tiny frames–and are perfect for Valentine’s Day.  In case you’re wondering, I usually sell these at $25,00 each, depending on the quality of the frame and the length of time it took to paint the bird.  That doesn’t make for huge profits, but it means being able to provide an original watercolour for not a whole lot of money.

Miniature Watercolours

January 4, 2012

I usually spend my painting days alternating between very large watercolours and tiny, intimate pieces.  The miniatures sell exceedingly well, for after all, even if collectors truly can’t fit yet another painting on their walls, there’s always room for a wee one on a table, desk or mantle.

It’s birds which often become my subject of choice because many species are small and lend themselves well to the petite oval frame, or tastefully-tiny square.  It’s such a joy depicting the finches and juncos I glimpse just beyond our living room window, attacking the feeders, nudging each other aside in order to get at the goodies.

"a gathering of miniatures"

Here’s a close-up of a landscape based on our British Columbian, mountain-surrounded Interior:

'A 1" x 2" Kamloops Alpine View'

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