I spent some thinking about what might be in my toolkit that I rely on the most. Brushes, paints, panels? Then it occurred to me that what I use the most, and is the basis for creating any work are my eyes. When I began to learn about painting and drawing, I realized I needed to look at the world differently, not just gazing around, but looking carefully, studying light and shape and colour and how it all came together in something that would be interesting to paint.
Now, it has become second nature to be looking for that special combination of light, shape and colour that I want to paint and share with others. And it can be anything, from the jars of marmalade I had just made, sitting on the counter when the January sun came through the window to light them up, to the beautiful giant lotus blossom I came across at Boffin’s gardens on a walk there. I just never know what I’ll see next.
I love playing around mixing colours to find just the right hue or just to see what a different variation of red will do to one of my many favourite blues. The problem I would run into after all this mixing was trying to recreate a favourite and not remembering what I used to make it. So, I keep track of all the mixes that I have created in my “Paint Recipe Book”. I can flip through my book, find the swatch of paint I want and voilà! The inspiration and the mix is there for me. Maybe I shouldn’t be confessing to this, but last count…. I have 170 colour mixes.
Here’s my hot tip of the day. When I began painting a few years back I was really at a loss as to how to achieve the colours that I wanted. I knew the obvious, yellow and blue make green but there are so many different yellows and blues and throw in a touch of red and … well, the results can vary quite a bit. I found Golden Paints Virtual Paint Mixer . Upload a photo to their site, place the cursor over the area in the photo that you want to match for colour and the site generates a mix for you. I learned a lot about mixing colour and experimenting with hues that I may not have tried had it not been for this site.
I am a mark maker. Always close at hand in my studio are buckets of mark making tools. I love the act of applying paint to a surface. Creating is at its best when the marks suggest the next direction. I also prefer to not be fully in control of my painting tools. Discovering, often by accident, a new way to move paint by flowing, scraping, rolling, scratching, dripping, and so on is endlessly satisfying. Texture builds up in rough layers that hide and reveal the layers below and offers direction for what to do next.
My favourite things in my artist toolkit are my irons. Watercolour batik is all about the wax, and to be useful the wax needs to be melted. First I have a small encaustic iron that folds down to make a small skillet for melting the wax. I then use sponges, brushes or stamps to put the melted was onto my paper. This keeps the colour and allows me to build up layers of wax and watercolour until I finish the piece. Then, I need to get the wax off. To do this I put the piece between layers of newsprint and iron so that the wax comes off onto the newsprint. This is the most exciting part of my process!
I will have an iron at our Open Studio Show & Sale on Monday, November 26th at Grace Westminster Church 505 – 10th Street East. Come see it in action between 11 am and 9 pm!
As a textile artist inspired by the landscape, I credit my camera as being the ‘favourite thing’ simply because it is how I bring back inspiration to my studio. The images I collect are personal memories which form the basis of my art. Because the prairies are ever changing with regard to light and seasons and weather, capturing moments in time that fill my heart is absolutely instrumental to the creation of my art. If you blink, you’ll miss it. I don’t want to miss a thing.
Though I don’t always work from photographs, I believe the act of years of obsessive picture taking certainly has helped train my artist eye. I am inspired by texture and pattern as much as I am by the big open landscapes and living skies. The best thing about heading out with my camera is that it provides me a good break from sitting still in a studio. Even if I don’t feel like it, I never regret these adventures. They always fill me up with awe and inspiration, getting me excited to create new and better work every time.
I am so fortunate to have a studio with a window of a big Saskatchewan sky. This lighting is crucial for enriching the process of my watercolour paintings. The natural light not only makes me feel healthy and happy but inspired. It allows me to “read the paper” when it’s time to drop, splash or brush the paint on. There’s a tiny window just before the water is absorbed as it momentarily sits on the surface. A sheen that can only be really seen using natural light. For the upcoming show I have changed up my pallet using reds, blacks and blues against the ultimate contrast of crisp white. Just like a bright and sunny day of winter casting dark shadows on the snow. Mark your calendar for Monday November 26th at Grace Westminster United Church 11am – 9pm.
I am a fickle artist. If you asked me what my favourite item in my art toolkit was last week, it would have been raw canvas. This week I am on the alcohol ink band wagon. The colours are vibrant and luminous but I find myself quite often toning them down. It is interesting to just dab the ink on a ceramic tile or yupo paper and watch them move but to manipulate the ink is wonderful. I do this by cutting into the ink on the paper or tile with a brush dipped in alcohol. To protect my art, I spray it with a vanish. I find Kamar by Krylon to work best. Many vanishes will make the ink bleed and discolour. Come and see me dabbing on Monday, November 26, 2018.