This is a portrait of my friend, Michael, whom I managed to photograph in a quiet moment last fall. He looked so regal that he reminded me of a saint in a stained-glass window. Since he’s a stained-glass artist himself, it seemed like the photo was screaming to be made into a painting with a stained-glass theme.
This is my most recent finished piece, which I was thrilled to exhibit at the Novah Gallery for International Women’s Day:
This year I’m working on blogging more often, and I thought monthly progress reports might be a good way to do that, if only to document what I’m working on, to help me date my own art later on.
Also, as of yesterday a selection of my paintings is available for sale at North Bay Oddfellows’ store, at 126 McIntyre Street East in North Bay, across from Alger Furniture.
Here are the two pieces I worked on last night:
The Day of the Dead painting is one of the largest ones I’ve painted to date, at about 2 feet by 3 feet. The stitching in the fabric is turning out to be quite a challenge, since I’m used to painting more loosely.
The fighting fish has been interesting, in that I’m using a modelling paste for texture and am having to add the pigment layers on top. If I were to start this one over again, I’d get some cake-decorating nozzles to control the flow a bit better, but overall I’m happy with how this one is coming out.
As of January 1st, I’ve had dedicated studio space for four years. It’s really helped me paint more, and improve my skills. Before, I would paint in a corner of my small living room, and it was a real challenge to keep the space tidy (in case clients dropped in), and to keep my cats out of my supplies.
Going into year 4, my goal is to complete a couple of really large, detailed canvases and to keep working on my realism and general painting skills. Here are a few pieces from the end of 2018 that I’m really proud of:
And this is the piece I started over my holidays, which is the most finicky thing I’ve ever attempted:
I’ve wanted to be a painter since I was quite young. If it’s true that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, I’m still an enthusiastic amateur at art. (By comparison, I’ve got almost 30,000 hours into my website development career–but people pay me to do that for a living, so it’s easier to find time for it).
Even though I don’t get to put in as much time as I’d like to, necessarily, I can see how my own technique has improved over the years.
Case in point…my early efforts to be a painter:
These two pieces are attempts at painting a “hermit’s lamp” scene, separated by about ten years. The one on the right is still in progress, and is on my easel right now. I did the one on the left about eight to ten years ago.
I can see a quality difference, and I’m interested to see what another ten years of trial and error brings.
The main things I’ve learned are:
get good reference material,
study the material closely
be prepared to put in a lot of time.
Also, never get lazy about observing the reference material, because as soon as you get sloppy and start imagining the shapes of light and shadow, rather than actually seeing what the real image looks like, that section is going to start looking cartoonish.
Also, it’s a really good idea to push yourself. While working on this painting, I bought skinnier brushes than I’ve ever had, and used them to painstakingly work on his beard, and the tree branches. It’s my first time aiming for serious realism with the trees (not photorealism, which is a whole other can of worms), and I’m also hoping for the ground and the rose to come out looking like I put some major effort into them.
Tip: if you like to paint flowers, go to Michael’s and pick up some of their very realistic artificial ones. Being to control the light source, pose the flowers, and change the arrangements is really helpful.
Happy New Year everyone! It was just around a year ago that I made the deal to move into my studio space. At the beginning of 2015 I set myself the goal of 12 paintings over the course of the year, which was way up from my pre-studio output of, perhaps, two canvases.
Thanks for following my art journey this year. If you’re interested in artists’ progress photos, you can find quick snapshots from the studio here on my Facebook page.
I surprised myself by exceeding my own expectations, but thought I’d do a self-indulgent retrospective post to show off what I think were my best 12 paintings of the year. In addition to developing my “stained glass” style, I wanted to play with realism, and to refine my technique in capturing certain things like feathers and leaves. One of my friends recently said it looked like two different artists had been working in my space; I have to agree.
The beauty of having a dedicated studio location is the time and room to work with multiple canvases at once, and to experiment wildly with style and subject matter. I’m looking to do more of the same in 2016.
With thanks to everyone who offered compliments and suggestions, and extra love to those of you who bought pieces. I truly appreciate your support.