Saturday, 26 December 2009

On to New Years....

A bit more background complete and more layers on arms and shirt.

Christmas Eve and Day were lovely.  That being said, ......Family deaths, lost gift cards, decrepit pain ridden aging people, insanity, freezing rain storms, over tired children hyped up on sugar, Boxing Day advertising, bored family members, turkey, turkey and more turkey.....

I've had enough of this Christmas!  I'm looking forward to the start of the new year!  So....
Happy New Years!

To Very Yucky;

  Had you emailed you're address to me you and Mr. Yucky would have received your Christmas card that is sitting on my counter.  You also would have had a "Merry Christmas" phone call on Christmas Day had we known your new phone number.

 What kind of nuts wouldn't check their front door for the deliveries they were expecting?!!!  Not that Mom's explanation makes any sense since I can't envision your place since you've never sent THE PICTURES I'VE ASKED TO SEE!!!  At least I know you'll see this as I see you popping up on my side bar. [I'm now making an exasperated face at you.  Now I'm sticking out my tongue at you.  Now I'm sticking my nose up in the air (not that much different than it's usual pert position) turning abruptly on my heel and walking away.]

 Blow torches scare me.  I burnt myself just using the hot glue gun at school before Christmas working with the elementary children.  I think the blistering skin and screaming I did scared them.



Thursday, 24 December 2009

Only 1 More Sleep!

How many more sleeps
until Santa Paws comes???

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

More layers.  More background.  Still having problems with her right eye.

I came so close to scrapping this one yesterday.  A "mood" settled in that was the result of dropping children at malls and almost getting shmucked by a bus driver that shouldn't be behind any wheel.  Needless to say when part of the painting wasn't doing what I was imagining I wanted to rip it stomp on it and move on.  I walked away from it for a couple of hours and came back when I had calmed down.  I still may do a jig on it yet....just not yet.

The photo isn't actually this "orange"  bad lighting for the camera right now.

It's -18.4 F (-28 Celcius) with the windchill right now apparently.  This is not December weather but rather January's.  I want to move to Florida.  Anyone in Florida want to adopt me;-)  Even Vancouver would be okay.  Pleeeeeeeease!

Thursday, 17 December 2009


I'm going to answer Sandy's comment in a post and save her trudging though my archives (God help her!)
Mr. P. has been "encouraging" me to write something about myself for my art website.  This will get me thinking.  For everyone else you can leave now.  This is extremely boring;-)

I come from an artistically inclined family.  My father is a painter and I've learned how to work with acrylic paints by watching him as a child.  I used to peel off the dry paint on his pallett to get to the fresh paint underneath and I'd play with that. 

As a teen I did some painting and drawing.  I was offered a job illustrating some Christmas stories for a national news paper by a well known local author.  (no, not Brian Doyle;-)  I did the roughs but became intimidated and behind in my regular studies so I declined.  (Big chicken!)  I quit art just after that.

I became a Registered Nurse.  Hated it.  I became a Library and Information Technician and worked for a number of years for Nortel.  (Somebody please put that dieing horse down!)  I was a full-time stay at home mom for 10 years.  No art.

I felt an increasing frustration and great need to express myself somehow.  I would go out with Adventurer and decorate lawn ornamentation in various neighbourhoods under the cloak of darkness.  You know, put a miniature Santa suit on a gnome.  People seemed okay with it as they generally left the ornaments decorated.  We never knew for sure though since we didn't actually know the people.  This worked for a while.  Next I took up piano and learned to read music.  I took to it quite well, but it didn't satisfy the frustration for long.  I took up quilting.  Same result.  I started writing but didn't see that going anywhere.  I took up art and fell in love again.

I think the previous career experiences prepared me well for the art business.  I know anatomy and have no real issues with looking at naked models.  (After you've stuck a thermometer or catheter or your fingers for that matter into peoples orifices, nude models aren't an issue......well, except for the naked Kurt look-a-like;-)

I started drawing with graphite when I was about 40.  I picked up just about every art book on drawing and started studying on my own.  I was afraid to take a course as I didn't believe I had any artistic talent.   I saw a book at the store that had coloured pencil paintings and was amazed that coloured pencils could do that.  As my good friend "Adventurer" said,

"How come my coloured pencils don't do that?"

So I bought a set of Prismacolour Premier artist quality pencils and played around.  I then found Allison Fagan, and took her very informative coloured pencil workshops.  (Well worth the while for anyone local!)  I now knew how to colour, but not to draw well.

I have been taking "Expressive Figure Drawing" classes once a week for the last year and a half at the Ottawa School of Art.  My instructor is Pamela Cockcroft-Lasserre.  She has helped me to loosen up (something coloured pencil artists don't tend to do easily with all of the fine picky details they like to work on.) and be more free with my hand.  I've learned so much from her in such a short time.  She is a truly amazing instructor!

Pamela also teaches an "Expressive Figure Painting" course that I fully intend on taking in the future.  It is my intention and goal to eventually also work with oils as well as pencils. 

I continue to be a voracious reader when it comes to art books and magazines.  I try to speak with artists about their work when I can.  They are a bit secretive I find and sometimes reluctant to give up their knowledge.  At least for free;-)

That's me.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Another Half Day Later.....

First layer of shirt.  More layers on the face, chest and arms.  Still some repair work to do on the eyes.  More on the first layer of the background.  More on the hair with more colours added to the mix.  Reds, browns and yellows as well as some impressed line with a stylus.  Impressed line started on the collar for stitching in shirt (you won't be able to see this at this point.)  Sequins outlined on collar to show positioning.  Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!  Picky, picky little details make my eyes go crazy!

I was approached today while doing my morning sketching at "Bridgehead" in Westboro by a kind immigrant who had been watching me sketch.  She was interested in having a painting of her deceased teenaged son painted in coloured pencil.  I spoke with her for a long time.  It's made me rethink the whole portrait business.  This is not the first request I've gotten for a portrait of a loved one who is no longer with them.  How different it is from what I expected.  Seems that there are many people out there in need of art for healing purposes.  Something to preserve a memory and honour a loved one.  I try to capture people in their "normal" state.  Hair out of sorts, funny facial expressions that they usually make, etc... in an attempt to also capture a glimpse of their personality.  (see side bar for "Canada Day Cookies" as an example of what I mean.)  I think it would probably be different to some degree in how I would work a portrait such as this.  You still want to capture the essence of who they are, but in a more general, lasting way.

Friday, 11 December 2009

I know it doesn't look like much more was done, but the small bits that were have taken a couple of hours.  There are still more layers to go on top of her face as the shaded areas are quite dark.

Her hair has been started.  Already there are 7 different colours worked into the spots I've started.  At this point I've used sky blue, tuscan red, sand, ginger root, mineral orange, and two different browns.  Much more to come!  Even though this child is blond, her hair will contain a combination of many darker and varying colours other than "yellows."  So far I've only used one yellow (sand)!

Today was the Christmas lunch for the elementary school children and my kids school.  Hot turkey, potatos and gravy, vegetables and dessert for about 250 kids.  I came home wearing as much as I served.  One of the other volunteers asked me if I was having a plate myself and I told her, "No, I'd just lick my lunch from off my pants."  Yes, it was that bad!  I suppose it doesn't help that they have them sit on the floor to eat.  Perhaps they should just feed them outside and let the mess freeze to be raked up afterwards;-)

Anyhow, the teachers left the parent volunteers to clean up the mess afterwards while they went on their lunch.  I don't mind though, after all the seconds and thirds of cake we served the children....they'll be kept busy this afternoon until the sugar wears off and they crash.  Then the tryptophan from the turkey will kick in and they'll all be sawing wood by the end of the day. Hehehehehe!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

But she's supposed to look ugly!

Thanks for the kind comments re: yesterdays post.

At this early stage the paintings are at their worst and are supposed to be hideously bad looking.  The trick is to remember that what is laid down are just the undercoats and aren't expected to actually look anything but "ugly."  Once the basic few layers are down, the real work begins and the actual final painting will start to show through.  It's a gradual process and I haven't had one yet that's looked "nice" at this stage.  This was always a problem when I first started using coloured pencil because I didn't realize that things get better as they are worked.  Now knowing that though, I trudge through to a later point before judging whether or not the painting is likely to be sucessful.

All of that being said, I wasn't excited about doing this one from the start as it is a painfully difficult one in the first place!  A character builder perhaps;-) 

I do actually use "greyed lavendar" in the paintings.  The reason I mentioned purple not being a colour to use is that it is not a very light fast colour.  Purple pigment in coloured pencils has a life span of only a few years, from what I've read.  I've always used a workable fixative over my finished works so hopefully they won't fade too much!  But I generally shy away from drawing models that contain a lot of purples, such as certain flowers, etc.....

We are in the midst of our first snow storm of the year, so going out photographing wasn't possible due to the high winds and well, snow. Digital SLR's and wet don't mix!  Hot chocolate (probably trying to get out of having to deal with me this week so suggested this day not realizing it wouldn't stop me from getting out;-) suggested we go out today. We went for coffee instead and did some blind contour drawings.
If you've never done one give it a try.  They are a lot of fun!  Pick something and draw every little line you see without actually looking down  at the paper.  This trains your eye to draw what you are seeing instead of your mind to draw what you think something should look like.  It helps to train you to pay more attention to the shapes of models and with things such as forshortening when drawing an outstretched figure.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Help! I'm Ugly!

I'm at the stage of the work now where I hate it and want to tear it into small little pieces and throw it off the roof, stomp on it and mush it into a puddle.  I go through this with every painting, so I know it will pass once I get past the "ugly" stage. 

All of the above being said, the shading on this one is a killer!  The shaded flesh tones are actually shades of grey which one should not use when working a portrait in coloured pencil.  Anything but grey.  Well, grey and black.  Probably purple too;-)

This is the first time I've done eyes that don't actually show any pupil colour.  They're all squinty and basically black blobs.  This picture sure doesn't do this kid justice!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Ready, Set, Go!

Time to start another picture.  A portrait this time.  This isn't one that I'd choose, but it's the one that's been requested.  We'll see if it works out.  The shading is a bit wonky on it and the background difficult.  Never know though if you don't try!

I've also started another hand.  These aren't the things that are of interest to sell at La  Vieille Alliance in Aylmer, but I've not got any food related photos that I'm really happy with to do something a bit more fitting.  I'll have to work on those over Christmas when food is in abundance! 

My morning sketching is going very well.  I sit in a neighbourhood coffee shop in the mornings for about an hour and draw something, or a bunch of somethings, to keep in practice.  It will be especially important now that my drawng classes are finished.  I drew a Christmas planter that was sitting outside the window since there weren't any nudes lounging around the sidewalk.  It's snowing so they're all wearing coats today;-)

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Brian Doyle - It seemed like a good idea at the time!

I had noticed that Brian Doyle was coming to do a book reading and signing in the neighbourhood.  He is the author of many award winning books and particularily, "Angel Square" which 2 of 4 is currently reading in school.

A number of  Mr. Doyle's works are set in the neighbourhood during the same time period in which my Father grew up.  One of which is "Angel Square."   Mr. Doyle was also my highschool English teacher about 25 years ago.

The kids and I set off for the pub.  Yes, I said the pub.  At the time I didn't realize we would be going to a reading at a pub, but eventually as we stood outside the door realized, yes, it was indeed in a pub.

His manager assured me, even after one of the waitresses said the kids shouldn't come in, that it would be okay for the four of us to come in because it was also a family restaurant.  He had already started to read as we took our seats. Not long after we were seated he read the name "Lipschitz", one of the names used in his book.

"Well if his Lipschitz....what does his asshole do?" yelled out a patron from the audience.

The bar came alive with laughter.  Mr. Doyles manager went over to let the patrons know that there were children in the establishment.

About halfway through the final reading Mr. Doyle stops, leans over and asks,

"Excuse me, am I disturbing you?" politely to a man sitting square in the center of the pub.

"As a matter of fact you are!" He replies in a heavy French-Canadian accent.

"Just perfect!  This is perfect!" Mr. Doyle laughs and continues on.

"I just want to sit and enjoy my meal without having to listen to you!  Just some common courtesy for me during my meal is all I ask!" the French man continues.  He apparently wanted Mr. Doyle to immediately stop the reading and pack up his books.

Mr. Doyle continued to read as the waitress went over to explain that this event has been booked for weeks and that she's sorry he is not enjoying the reading, but he is welcome to leave should he wish.

He continues to grumble, others get up and start to yell at the French patron.  Brian Doyle jokingly yells,

"Break it up boys!" and continues to read on.

The French patron and his wife leave in a huff, the gentleman tossing his man purse over his shoulder as he leaves.

"Nice Purse!" Another patron from the crowd yells.  The bar breaks out into heavy laughter.  Even Mr. Doyle stops to regain his composure.

Finally as the door slams someone yells,

"And stay out!"

All in all I think it was a good experience for the kids.  They were able to attend their first book reading by a  famous Canadian author.  In a bar (family bar//restaurant).  Now they know what family bar/restaurants are like.   We got a book signed.  He says he remembers me, although I wonder.  I barely remember me from highschool.  And now I have a new joke for the next time I meet someone named "Lipschitz."  I'm sure they'll find in funny when I tell it;-)

Friday, 4 December 2009

Slartibartfast Comes Home

I got my painting back fromt the framer today.  Usually they don't make it to my own wall, but I hang them at La Vieille Alliance or where ever their new home will be.  One of my other paintings just went to it's new home the other day.  I sometimes find myself left with a wall full of naked charcoal people (currently men) taped up with blue painters tape.  Very attractive. 

This time I decided to actually hang the art in my livingroom since we're about to pass through the Christmas season and people may not appreciate their visiting children sharing in my love of the human figure, unclothed, in art.  Plus it's nice to have something a little more "formal" looking than taped up paper.

That's not to say I'll take down my drawings yet.  I just want to be prepared!

I just realized they were up still as "White Mocha's" kids came over for a visit a few minutes ago.  I asked her oldest if White Mocha showed the kids her drawings from Wednesday's "bring a friend" art class.  The child replied:

"She didn't offer to show them and I didn't ask!!!" in a dry comical voice.

Kids are such prudes;-)

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Wednesday's Expressive Drawing Class

Today was a bit surreal!  White Mocha was kind enough to come to "bring a friend" class today.  This was the first time they tried this and happend to also be the last class of the semester.  It was a lot of fun to have her there drawing with me.  She did a wonderful job despite the fact that she thought she drew something akin to a bobble head figure.  I think hers turned out wonderful.

I had a pretty big mental block to get over with this one.  This model looked a wee bit too much like photos I've seen of a certain blogger on one of the blogs I read regularily.  Mind you, I've never seen this blogger naked, or in person for that matter, but the face carried a pretty close resemblance and the general shape of the body from what I can tell.  It seemed to me that they also seem to share a similar personality.  I kept telling poor White Mocha how much this looked I can't say.  Any guesses?

We had a party/art show after with hors d'oeuvres and wine and cheese.  It included the painters from the "Expressive Figure Painting" class as well as all of the students from the "Expressive Figure Drawing" class.  Pamela gave a speech and was brought close to tears.  Some of the models were there.  Boy do artists know how to throw a party!

Anyhow Xxxx is now hanging on my livingroom wall for the time being until I get uncomfortable enough to take him down.  Even though I know it's really Mr. D, I can't stop seeing him as Xxxx.