Long time no blog! I was going great guns there for the first few months of 2021, and then starting in March my husband had to put in a lot of overtime, and frankly, it’s been that way ever since! When I’m not working at my own full-time job, I have to stay on top of practically everything else – making sure the kids are getting their homework done or aren’t going out of their minds with boredom (and walking into Mommy’s Zoom calls for work!), cooking, getting a handle on everything we’ll need to prepare my daughter for her new school, and making sure the house doesn’t fall into complete ruin. There are many, many corners of my house that I have not dusted in what seems like forever. Luckily, we’ve had exactly zero houseguests in the last year and a half, so no one’s been around to be horrified at my lax housekeeping.
Anyways, another reason why I haven’t produced much of anything in the last few months is because I’ve been in a period of serious re-evaluation of my own work. When I started this blog, it was to track my progress as I re-taught myself everything I’d forgotten from art school, or filled in what I missed. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but at the same time, I can look at my portfolio pages and not feel that the work there truly represents me as an artist. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy the landscapes, but they also bore me! If I were to set up a website for my art (which I am very much aiming towards), the landscapes would not have any place on it. I consider them as less “elevator pitch” and more “art tool practice” – heavily-involved and elaborate colour wheels, if you will.
So I’m doing a lot of thinking, image-collecting, mood-boarding, and internal pep-talking. Now all I need is some free time, and I might just be able to make this happen!
To get my feet wet again, I upgraded my version of Corel Painter and tested it out by re-painting the Tremblant in the Rain painting. I’m MUCH happier with this version, and my husband liked it so much he half-jokingly offered me a job as a matte painter! (If only… if only…)
Remember the scratchy stretched canvas from two posts back? By the time I realized what I was dealing with, it was too late to gesso the entire image, but since all I had managed to put down was the value study, I did something that (I think) was very clever: I just gave the canvas a few coats of matte medium. Instead of completely covering up all the work I had already done, the transparency of the matte medium allowed the value study to show through AND help to fill in all the little nooks and crannies of this extremely rough canvas.
And it worked! Granted, this is not how I would want to approach every painting. My art-making time is limited, so adding an extra step to store-bought, stretched canvases can’t really fit into my schedule. On the other hand, while researching the viability of painting on matte medium, I came across some artists who say they actually PREFER working on a coat of matte medium over gesso because the paint doesn’t get absorbed into surface as much when you use medium. Food for thought…
Ever purchase some art supplies that fail to live up to the hype, or even sadly disappoint you? I had that experience just recently.
While stocking up on some stretched canvases, I decided to try a different brand. Royal & Langnickel stretched canvases came in economical packs of ten, and I thought “Well, my usual Omer Deserres are just fine, but maybe these are better?”, and, um… no.
I felt like I was trying to paint on burlap that had been given a generous coating of water repellent! Worst of all, I was also testing out a new set of Daler-Rowney water-miscible paints at the same time. How could I tell how the paint was behaving on such a lousy support?
And here is a close-up of the canvas texture, just for fun. Smooth as a baby’s bottom, no?
Ah well, at least I’m happy with how the image turned out! I had started a second painting at the same time, and because I had only put down a value study in acrylics, I gave that canvas a few coats of matte medium in hopes that it would kind of “fill in the holes” – but I think it was only moderately successful. As a final attempt to salvage my investment (and I say that with tongue firmly in cheek because I am a total cheapskate), I slapped two more coats of gesso on two unused canvases. I don’t know if I feeling brave enough anytime soon to give those a whirl, but if they ALSO turn out to be failures, then it looks like my kids are going to inherit a whole bunch of stretched canvases, whether they like it or not! 😉
And I’m right back to that same spot on the shores of Lac Monroe that I love so much! I could paint a million variations of this one view, which is very convenient because I happened to take a metric ton of photos while I was there, so I have reference material for quite some time to come. Last summer’s visit was particularly important because it was our first outing since the beginning of the Pandemic. We were so happy to get out of the city, and so cognizant of the fact that it was probably going to be our only getaway for some time.
Two things I learned with this painting: 1) painting clouds is more challenging than you’d think, and 2) DO NOT rush into overlaying those clouds until you are completely happy with the gradation of the sky behind them. I might tweak a spot or two later on, but for now, I consider this piece done.
When it comes to selecting a seat on the train between Montreal and Toronto, you have two choices: you can either face Southwards and catch a view of Lake Ontario (for at least part of the trip), or you can face North and watch endless farmland and villages roll by. I’m so glad I chose the land side because who would want to miss out on a sunset like this?