I was watching the hockey playoff game between our Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers with our family. In between what I call cheering (our daughter calls "yelling at the TV"), I pulled out a piece of paper and started doodling zentangle patterns. Then, because there was more game left, I started colouring them in with pencil crayons. The irony here is that zentangle is suppose to be a meditative practice and perhaps that is exactly what it was doing for me as I kept my eye on the game and my ears on high alert.
What I found interesting when I took photos for this post is that in the black and white photo, the lighter colours did not show up at all - a true lesson in viewing values!
More fun and learning in my homemade sketchbook. Week 15 (top left) with Dina Wakley was mixed media, abstracted figure and really worked wet! (@dinawakley). Week 16 (top right) PLACEMENT - Angela Kennedy This was fun using a very old image and reworking it anew. The whole piece was painted in a watercolour background with salt drying to make the pattern. Ink, black and white gesso were also used. (@pennystamper). Week 17 (bottom) Tara Roskell had a fun, abstract and colourful story-telling class. She abstracted the face, shifted features and used them to tell a story. She did hers with neocrayons (water soluable) and I did mine with watercolour pencils. This was certainly fun! (@tararoskell)
This art gallery of surrounding area artisans is a hidden gem. Just a block off the TransCanada highway, it is certainly worthy of a stop. Artists brought in new work to the gallery and the design and hanging committee is hard at work setting everything up. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The hosts are artists or artisans so questions and "art speak" is welcomed. My five paintings below are in this show. Enjoy a visit!
Update: Lower left painting is SOLD (Thank you!!!) The purchaser has decided to leave it in the Courtyard Gallery for a period of time for others to enjoy (Another thank you!).
I have really enjoyed this weekly demo by a different artist of their process. I was in Mexico with sparse art supplies so the demos were done in my homemade sketch book with whatever materials I had on hand.
Week 11, Top left, Juna Biagioni demo was a monoprint with a pencil and soft pastel, something completely new for me! His nose got a little heavily coloured but enjoyed this messy fun art. Week 12, top right demo was by artist Katrina Szyszkoski (@katszyszk). I was delighted to find she started with a black calligraphy pen called an "Elegant Writer" which I had with me as well as a pencil and a thin black pen but that was it. Katrina also used India Ink for the darkest darks, white pencil for highlights and a couple of coloured water soluble crayons which she diluted in some areas with water. Loved what I could do of the process and watched the rest. Week 13 (bottom left ) was a demo done by Dylan Sara. He used handmade inks in various earth tones. I did not have any inks so to get the similar colours I layered on coffee. I could not get the darks that he did as the coffee just loosed up and came off the brush when I tried to add layers. I watched the rest of his process. Now, to look up handmade inks and how lightfast they are - who knew?
Below are some of the sketches I did while in Mexico following along with different artists showing different ways of working in a sketchbook. These artists all teach classes so if you were interested in learning more you could. I had very limited supplies so used what I had and did the best I could to follow their process. I am certainly going to add this to my calendar for next year (and have a few more supplies on hand!). The classes are open for viewing until April 30 so you can check them out for free/
This is the first year I have watched and worked from (free online course) Karen Abend's Sketchbook Revival 2022 (in it's fifth year) where different artists show or teach an art process that can be done in a sketchbook or daily practice. As I was in Mexico and had very limited supplies, I tried to do something similar in my sketchbook and really enjoyed the challenge of trying to be similarly creative with very limited supplies. Below are some of my sketches done in my homemade watercolour sketchbook. These artists are very inspiring and all have an online presence with art classes and art for sale. It ends tomorrow and I am not sure how long it will be online for but you can check it out here and then put it in your calendar for next year.
This year long course of a weekly demonstration of an artist's process has been really fun. With travelling I have very few supplies but try to do something in my handmade watercolour sketchbook. Week 9 was a lovely demo using a craft clay, sculpting a head and then painting it. The artist is Kathy Lewis aka KJ Allison (@stampagirl) and she was making a head she called "Poindexter's Other Brother". I have never worked with this clay and only have my watercolours and a black pen to work on my watercolour paper. Kathy layered the colours as she painted and I tried to do the same, what fun!
Week 10 artist is Jennifer Bonneteau (@jenniferbonneteau) and her demo was called "Silly Selfies". She took a fun selfie, manipulated it on her computer printed it out and then traced it out on watercolour paper. She used a wonderful assortment of Sharpie felt pens and a lot of cross hatching. Alcohol helped to blend the colours like a painting. Once again, I have no photocopier, Sharpie pens, or alcohol but I did have 5 Zebra fountain pens that I found if I added water after cross hatching, the colours bled but once dried, could not be manipulated. This was fun and because it started with a selfie, I was not worried about the end result. Another colourful entry in my travel sketchbook.
Working through the weekly demo in the "Let's Face It, 2022" by Kara Bullock Art has been interesting, challenging and fun. I am in Mexico and have very few art supplies which make trying to work through the demo difficult. The portrait on the left was my rendition of a demo by
Christa Forrest. I only had a small sketchbook with cheap rough watercolour paper, water colours and pencil. Christa is a mixed media artist and used all kinds of wonderful art tools. I was pleased with how this turned out considering the tools I had.
The second portrait on the right was week 7 and the artist demo was by Nadyia Duff. She had a very expressive way to do this portrait and it involved layers of hatch marks and painting with felt pens, gel pens, markers, pens, acrylic paint watercolour paint. It was a very expressive way to work. I only had a pencil, felt pen and water colours. I did have a very small jar of clear gesso so I put that over the first couple of layers to hold them in place which worked well and will use that process again.
Last week I chose my location as I was the only one available to sketch so back I went to Ancora beach bar. Looks like I just missed a huge event/party/wedding the night before as bags with sand still had lit candles marking the walkway and tubs were still full of bags of ice and cases of large pop bottles. There were flowers on the bar so that was my first sketch and the second was a very tipsy palapa and beach chair which struck my interest considering the state of the venue.
Yesterday Amy, Gail and I met near the recently emptied lagoon to sketch and paint. We did not take a group photo of our work but Amy worked in oil, Gail in gouache and I in watercolour. The first photo below is a two page spread in my homemade watercolour sketchbook of the lagoon view. The second is of a very tall plant just in front of me. Wonderful chatting and creating with these two!
This painting started out as a "Mining" exercise in an art group I belong to on Mightynetworks called 4C. We were to take a photo and break it down into shapes, rework and come up with a better image to paint. This one surprised me as I mined it right down to the basics and loved how it came out. The working sketches and painting-in-progress photos are below this painting.
"Se Vende, Fruita"
10" x 8" Oil on canvas board
My third and fourth week, we went to Rita's restaurant, sketched/painted the views of the lagoon then had brunch. This week the mediums were watercolour, crayon, pen and oil, what fun! Each week I have been able to meet a couple of different artists, like me, that hear about it and are brave enough to join in the fun. The two groups of art are the paintings in progress (some finished). My finished sketchbook paintings are below.
We have been in Mexico for awhile and I finally connected with a group of artists that get together to plein air (on location) sketch/paint once a week (thanks Carla and Deb for connecting with me). I had such fun with these artists! As always with plein aire, there were different levels, mediums and interests. Top right to left: we worked on our art in La Ancora beach pub for a couple of early hours and then went for brunch at a walkable restaurant. We enjoyed ourselves so much, we went back on my second week. It is intimidating to have your work photographed when it is not finished but so great to have all the different views and interests from the same place together.
Top left, week 1 Ancora Beach bar. Top right, week 2 Ancora Beach bar. Bottom paintings are the sketches completed.
I have signed up to do a 50 week course with Kara Bullock School of Art called "Let's Face It 2022". This class has a different instructor doing a short online demo once a week. My goal is to try each one and post it to keep myself accountable. I am in Mexico and am limited to the supplies that I have brought so will make do with what I have. I have a homemade concertina sketchbook 8" by 6" with a rough textured thin watercolour paper (you can see the textured paper in the first sketch).
Week 1's lesson was by Lauren Rudolf. As I am not a portrait artist, I found her process very interesting and detailed. Lauren used a lot of different pencils to render the form's lights and darks as well as details. I only have one 4B pencil and my paper is a homemade concertina sketch book with rough water colour paper. I quit on this one as the one pencil was not adding any more details in the dark areas. The hands were roughed in just to give the face placement on the paper.
Week 2 was a completely different process with Robert Kelley. He used powdered charcoal with a cotton ball to block in the face shapes and worked from there. Again, I did not have the correct supplies but did have a charcoal stick that I rubbed a Q-tip on with a some success. As these classes are for learning, I am not so concerned about the finished product. I loved how he was able to get really dark areas working this way. He also used acetone to spray on the background to make a mottled look in the charcoal. No acetone in sight for me but when I am back in Canada I definitely want to try that again. The great thing about this course is I will have access to all the lessons for the year so I can try some again.
This is the end of the month long art challenge put on by Opus Art Supplies in B.C. I really enjoyed this challenge and am happy I completed each daily prompt. Having the list, I it was fun to keep my eyes open for what would work with the day's prompt. I look forward to next year's event, thanks #opusdailypractice!
Top left - Day 25 "Preservation" is capturing a moment with art instead of a photo. I was amazed how many people I saw walking looking down when it was such a beautiful vista. Top right - Day 26 "Growth" Just before sunset, teenage boys would gather to perfect their skim board agility which was really exciting to watch. A sport for the young with bendable bones. Bottom left - Day 27 "Sustain". We were lucky enough to buy tickets for a sailing parade and morning sail. The price paid was to help sustain the local school's upkeep and supplies. It was a wonderful adventure! Bottom right - Day 28 "Energize" is over two pages in my hand made watercolour sketch book. I enrolled in Kara Bullock's "Let's Face It 2022" course and this week was a demo by Emma Petitt. Although I did not have the fast drying acrylic and Sharpie China marker, I did the best with watercolours and pencil. It was very fun and energizing! I love her style of art and teaching. Thank you Opus Art Supplies for an inspiring month of sketchbook fun!
Still working on the #OpusDailyPractice art challenge for February. Happy to say I have been able to complete each day's sketch with the suggested word prompt. Day 21 " Together", Day 22 "Discover", Day 23 "Transformation", Day 24 "Nature"
Day 21 "Together" kind of cracked me up as I was looking to see if anything fit. I was leaning on an outdoor counter that these were all nested together on - the old phrase "Can't see the forest for the trees" came to mind! Day 22 "Discover" for me was a discovery of a new artist - Nadyia Duff that taught this class in "Let's Face It 2022". I did not have the tools, such as coloured pens, felt pens, acrylic paints but did my rendition with what I had in my travel case. She used a lot of layers and a lot of "hatching" marks, really fun. Day 23 "Transformative" was done on location at the Ancora beach bar early in the morning. This site is filled with sculptures made out of drift wood. People walking the beach wanted their photo's taken in the heart, beautiful. Day 24 "Nature" was not hard to find. The lovely home we are staying in has flowering pots around the courtyard filled with interesting shapes and colours.
Still working on the February Challenge put on by Opus Art Stores in B.C. They have given a prompt word for each day or you can use your own to draw, sketch or paint daily. Below are mine for Days 17 through 20. #opusdailypractice
Day 17 "Progress" is a small sketch of a vendor making a sale of mangos freshly cut in an intricate design. Day 18 "Uniqueness" (top right) is the wild looking flowering bushes that are in every boulevard and most yards, some trimmed nicely and others in ragged despair, Day 19 "Present" is a sketch of our neighbour's home that is having some difficulties and the construction has taken a forced break. Day 20 "Heritage" is of a relative new planting of banana trees which hopefully will be a heritage for a farmer's family.
Continuing with the Opus Daily Challenge for the month of February. These are the sketches for these 4 days. Day 13 - Self Love, Day 14 - Connection, Day 15 - Blossom, Day 16 - Delicate
Top left - Day 13 "Self Love" included fresh toenail polish and a cup of fresh hot coffee, ahhhhh- Top right - Day 14 "Connection" is an overview of the pickleball court on my paddle. This game and the wonderful people we have met has been a highlight and gave us a real sense of connection., Bottom left - Day 15 "Blossom" some of the flowering bushes outside the brightly coloured cement walls, Bottom Right - Day 16 "Delicate" is a closeup of one of the many flowers that are in boulevards and outside houses.
As the month long challenge by Opus Art Supplies continue, so have my sketches. I have been fortunate to be able to travel to Mexico so my daily sketches are something in my surroundings as that is usually my inspiration - the view, item and feeling. Having a sketchbook while travelling is such a great visual diary. I often glue things that mean something to me or a ticket receipt, travel boarding pass etc. I find few words are needed. Here are the next four sketches in my homemade watercolour paper sketchbook.
Top left- Day 9 "Daybreak" a sunrise view; top right- Day 10 "Glow" Looking up at the spinnaker sail on the beautiful Catatude catamaran; Bottom left - Day 11 "Play" I happily joined a sketching group that go out every Friday, yup, a play date. This is a view of the lagoon side and the dry hills behind; Bottom right - Day 12 "Ethereal" is a view of one of the amazing driftwood sculptures in the Ancora beach club. We were here the night before and there were lights on the driftwood sculptures with the Mexican band Musica Verde playing - absolutely magical or ethereal.
As the #OpusDailyPractice continues. I had completed the following four. Day 5 "Evolve", Day 6 "Collaboration", Day 7 "Indulge", and Day 8 "Balance"
Day 5 "Evolve" is a sketchbook page that I pasted bits of receipts, beer label, toilet paper roll cover and advertisements in Spanish down first and let this dry. Then I painted the early morning sunrise beach scene overtop in watercolour. A fun note, the fisherman piled up some sand, put his flip flops on top and under his pedal - a perfect kickstand! Day 6 prompt "Collaboration" came to mind as I watched these fisherman put this little boat in the water at sunrise to catch small "bait fish". Day 7 prompt "Indulge" was the perfect descriptor for the extra large cappuccino I ordered and enjoyed at Fer Latte Café. Day 8 prompt is "Balance". The vendors selling fruit from a tray carried on their head always amazes me as they walk in the deep sand.
Opus Art Supplies has art stores in B.C. They are very art community minded and have everything from free demos, outdoor plein air celebrations, and this challenge to name a few. Art supplies are often in random draws during these events and art at every level is encouraged. The #OpusDailyChallenge is for the month of February and they have supplied a list of suggested "prompts" but if those don't interest you, you can do your own. Again, art at any level is encouraged to be put on Facebook or Instagram with that hashtag. The four below are: Day 1 - Action, Day 2 - Dawn, Day 3 - Curiosity and Day 4 - Power
The top left prompt was "Action". The vendors on the beach are in constant action, walking the hot beach, talking to everyone in the hope of a sale and greeting other vendors. Day 2 (top right) prompt was "Dawn". and this sketch is of an early morning. watching the sun rise and all the people busy fishing. Day 3 (bottom left) prompt was "Curiosity" and I am always curious as to the vendor's conversations as they greet each other on the beach. Day 4 (bottom right) prompt is "Power" and the power of words came to mind in this colourful and wordy sketch.
This was so fun to paint. I started with a canvas I keep in my studio to try colours on, use up the paint on my palette and just play on, no plans, just play! I had been working in my sketch book and doing studies on canvas paper of birch trees. When I looked at my play canvas, I thought WOW, that would make great trees if I can tame the rest.
30" x 15" Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas with painted sides
#20029122 On hold, sale pending
I wish I had taken a photo of my play canvas before I started! The photo on the top left (below) has the birch trees taped out and the background painted over top. I tried to use dull colours but for me that is really hard. The top right is with the tape pulled off to see what I had. On the bottom left I am trying to define and dull the colours so they drop into the background. I had the painting against the window in my studio and the sun was shining through it. The colours don't really show in the photo but the trees were in brilliant jewel tones and I thought, thank you nature for showing me just what my vision was, now to paint it....!
I came into my studio and my painting was against a window. The sun was shining through it and the trees looked like jewelled stained glass, just what I wanted! Okay how to make that happen...I need to dull the background further and add more light to the trees (easier said than done). Loved working on this one and the final result!
I am happy to have my little painting "Sonic Echo" in the upcoming Federation of Canadian Artists "Works on Paper" Exhibition from January 25 until February 6. This little gem is painted with acrylic and inks on water colour paper. Water is very important to me and is often found in my work. This painting depicts the sounds heard underwater, in nature and manmade. Click Here to preview the show.
Even on a short flight, I take a sketch book to pass the time. If the seating area is not full, I can usually quickly sketch people around me. So many people are focused on their phones that they don't notice me or think I am writing as my homemade concertina sketch book is only 8" x 6". If the seating area is full, I concentrate on the footwear I can see, that way I don't have people making eye contact and wondering what I am doing. Occasionally it stirs up an interesting conversation. My flight was delayed so I had extra time. I also will take my sketch book and sketch on longer flights.
Meet Marley. This is Marley as a new puppy. He has grown and fulfilled his earthly life. Marley was commissioned by Brent for his brother after Marley passed away. I had previously had the pleasure of painting Brent's French Bulldog Pierre. Hopefully this surprise Christmas present will warm his heart every time he looks at it.
"Marley" a commissioned pet portrait
10" x 10" acrylic on gallery wrap canvas with the painting over the sides and bottom
#20007122 NFS (not for sale)
The pictures above are the painting in progress. The first (top left) is the photo reference I used. The second (top right) I am working on the underpainting and trying to figure out the background. The 3rd photo (bottom left) is more progress on Marley and the background. The bottom right is with his eyes painted in and more details. Sometimes I don't paint the eyes until later as it can feel like the dog is watching me! More details on the eyes and nose. Thanks Brent for the pleasure of painting such a cute pup and for sharing the reason behind it.
What fun this puppy was to paint!! This commissioned painting is of a young pup with a steady focused and learning gaze. This Christmas present was a delight to paint as the gifter had commissioned other paintings, I felt quite free to paint Louie as I saw him.
I have process photos at the bottom of this blog for those interested. I used Red Iron Oxide as an undercoat and to get started over the intimidating white. I then drew Louie in with the same colour just not with thinned paint. Then the fun with colour began!! I often will not paint in the eyes or finish the eyes until later as it is unnerving to have the pet "watch" you paint, strange I know, but when you are intensely looking, they start coming to life. It was a joy painting Louie and this Christmas gift was a hit. Merry Christmas and may you enjoy new art in 2022!
"Louie" a commissioned pet portrait
8" x 10" acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas, #20125221 (Not For Sale)
Karen Oliver's Art Journey
Thanks for stopping by to see my art journey and what I am currently working on.