I went on a holiday in Mexico and marveled at the hot and long days the vendors put in on the beach selling their wares. I admired their quiet strength. They are loaded with items they think the tourists will be interested in buying. Often their English is quite good but they hesitate to engage except for selling their wares. I met a wonderful group of vendors and they were so good to help me learn a few Spanish words.
For this painting I was trying to depict the hot sand and sun, the multiple layers of clothes, the long beach walk and the weight of their wares.
"Burdens or Treasures?"
12" x 9" Oil on board, unframed #20024220
"Snowed Inn" is a painting based on a photo my cousin Elaine put on Facebook (above). She takes breath taking photos of her yard and it's views. Elaine is very generous with the use of her photos. I loved this one but narrowed it down so that there was only one tree behind the birdhouse and moved the tree to the side so it did not look like it was coming out of the top of the birdhouse.
I took it to my class with Doug as I found it was to dull and wanted the birdhouse snow to pop more, the values were to dark.
The photo below is the final painting. I etched my name into the wet paint on the bottom right but may have to go back in and paint it in. I loved painting this and was thinking a red bird house would be nice, hmmmm, might have to paint it again!
24" x 12" Oil on canvas in a black floating frame #20019220
I was given money as a Christmas gift from my Mom (thanks Mom!) and decided to take a watercolour workshop with Sharon. I started my art journey with a beginner watercolour class with Sharon. She paints in every medium and can teach them all. With enjoying painting in watercolour in my travel sketchbook, I thought this would be the perfect refresher. Sharon teaches at a high level and then meets each artist where they are in their journey. It was a 2 day workshop and she started at the beginning with supplies (and why!) then did a full demo from a photo. Sharon started with sketching it out first as in the photo and then sketching it as she wanted to paint it, simplifying and moving elements. As she drew on the watercolour paper, she explained what she was doing as well as during the painting process. We then practiced trees using her "Mother colour" method. The day flew by.
Day 2 we started with our own photos going through the whole process from thumbnail sketches, drawing on our paper and painting. Sharon also finished her demo from the day before. It was so great to have colour, composition, brush/water/paint handling all covered. I would highly recommend any classes Sharon teaches, she uses every minute to teach and explain (she even did her demo while we ate lunch, watched and took notes!). You can see the photo she started with in the 3rd picture, quite a change!
My finished painting that I am happy with considering it was a learning process. #20008220
As a learning exercise I tried using ink to do a cross hatching sketch of my husband Gord. I had a photo where he had his glasses off and was leaning forward onto a table. I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable the process was and the finished likeness with out filling everything in - just using short strokes. You always hear paint/draw what you love so here he is. If I was to draw it again, I would trim his back down because without the table and his arms leaning on it, it looks like I made him a hunchback (you have to have a good sense of humour to be married to me). This sketch is 7" x 5"
This painting is inspired by the many sunsets that I witnessed on holidays, each one a dance of changing colour. I did not want to blink as the sun was going down behind these rocks and the shadows were swallowing up the beautiful colour.
"Into The Shadows"
Oil on canvas board 8" x 10" #20019120
I spent this past November and December in Melaque Mexico and loved everything about it except for the initial heat and humidity. In the photo above I am on the left, Elias, then my sister-in-law Marg. As Marg and I are both artists we would bring our sketch book and water colours to the beach and one of our favourite places is Bugambilias restaurant. We would sketch, swim and play in the waves, enjoy cold beer and REPEAT! As we sat sketching at the shaded table; Elias who had served us cold cervesas asked about our art and shly told us he had recently started painting and was very passionate about it. He showed us photos on his phone of acrylic paintings he had completed and that instant an art connection was born. I filled a palette, had an extra brush, mat and water colour and gifted those so he could try them. The painting below is his that he brought to show us. The view is out front of his work. I loved how he captured the colours in the rocks, the pride of adding the Mexico flag and the variety of birds that glide over the water... You can see more of his work on his Instagram account - eliasangel1977. If you are in Melaque, please tell him you saw this post.
I painted this of a woman dancing in a religious street parade in Mexico. The banner carried had "Danza Tonanztzin" with a beautiful sewn painting of the Virgin Mother. "Villa Obregon" was at the bottom of the banner and where this group of dancers were from. They were outfitted in colourful dress from the variety of feathers to the rattling beans around their ankles. The first painting is done as a coloured sketch on computer paper. The second I did on water colour paper hoping to bring out the vibrant colours. They are both 14" x 5" so that they will fit into my Mexico holiday sketch book (hence the fold). #20004120
Happy New Year! I am back from my holiday but still had a couple of paintings to post. The colours for sunrise and sunset are amazing in Melaque, Mexico. It is like a layering and ending of daylight, layering with the evening light as the moon and stars are beginning to shining through. I have had trouble with blending and mixing colours on the gesso'd water colour paper due to the heat and humidity, but as always enjoyed the process. The edges were a little harder than what I was trying to do but am happy with the end result as the colours really were that layered across the fields.
"Daylight's Last Hurrah"
11" x 15" Acrylic on water colour paper #20001120
After struggling with acrylic paint along the ocean side in Mexico, I have been painting in my sketchbook with water colour and enjoying the quick results on the 5 1/2 x 7 1/2" pages of water colour or computer paper. I decided to paint larger in water colour instead of struggling with acrylic in the heat and humidity. I had already painted the house on the left in my sketchbook. I loved these two small houses painted in the wonderful colours they choose. The home on the right was decorated for Christmas. As electricity is very expensive, most of the homes decorated with Christmas lights are non-Mexicans. I loved the contrast of the beautiful and bright homes to the unfinished concrete building as their background.
11" x 15" Water colour on water colour paper #20126219
This painting is from a photo my friend Sue took of an outdoor stall filled with every variety of Poinsettias in Melaque, Mexico. Gord and I are wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas celebration from sunny Mexico.
"Nature's Christmas Decoration"
15" x 11" Acrylic on water colour paper #20125219
I have been getting up early walking down to the ocean to watch the fishermen and sunrise. I found the pre-sunrise, sunrise and views of the fisherman were breath taking. The fishermen were so busy working that the beauty around them was not being noticed which is the case when most of us are concentrating on something, everything else is secondary. The billowing clouds are very different than I am used to in Calgary, Canada. Holidays are such a wonderful time to reconnect to nature and our surroundings (especially with a paint brush in hand!).
"Sky Lit Waters"
15" x 11" Acrylic on water colour paper #20124219
"Beautiful But Prickly"
14" x 11" Acrylic on water colour paper #20120219
This plant was by the pool at Bungalows Bahai in Melaque Mexico. I loved how the new flowers were blooming so vibrantly while the older ones were duller, there was so much symbolism in that view. The shadows were like a blank canvas and changing the view depending on how much you moved. This plant was beautiful and scary at the same time with all the spikes - literally look but don't touch.
The heat and humidity were really high with the temperatures in the high 34 - 38 degrees Celsius and the humidity make it feel over 44 - 47. The paint was interesting to work with as it stayed liquid until it hit the gessoed water colour paper then it gummed and dried almost instantaneously, great for dry brush work but not much else. I am happy with the final painting but learned a lot about painting this heat.
Marg, Ken and I walked through town and looked at what the vendors had for sale in Melaque Mexico. I was intrigued by the shapes and colours at the fish vendors. With the acrylic paint reacting so strangely in the heat and humidity, dry brushing really worked for this scene.
"Catch Of The Day"
Acrylic on water colour paper, 14" x 11" unframed, #20115219
"Fishing At Sunrise"
11" x 14" Acrylic on water colour paper #
The sunrise's are absolutely stunning with a new light show every morning in Melaque Mexico. Some mornings the colours are orange and purple and other mornings a mix of pinks, blues and purples, really breath taking and amazing - especially through an artist's eye! I am still trying to adapt to how strangely my acrylic paint reacts in the heat and humidity - very hard to move on the gesso'd canvas paper as it dries immediately. Even using water just separates the paint. I am happy with how I captured the view as so many men were working in their boats with a single bulb or no light what so ever. Very intriguing to watch.
"Not A Selfie"
11" x 14" Acrylic on water colour paper, unframed, #20108212
It was interesting to watch this young Mexican girl up early enjoying the sunrise as I do. It was refreshing to see someone trying to capture the beautiful show nature provides without making themselves the centre.
I was able to check a piece of luggage so filled a carry on size with my travel easel, acrylic paints and palette and headed to Melaque, Mexico. I usually enjoy painting with oils but thought the speed of drying, acrylics made more sense. Here is what I found. My palette stayed moist but when I mixed colours on my palette and tried to adhear the paint to the surface, it completely dried so it was almost impossible to get a proper brush stroke!! The temperature was in the mid 30'sC and the humidity had the weather sites reading "feels like 46C". Any movement made my body react like I was in a shower from the inside out, very strange. Any woman who has gone through menopause knows that feeling and it is not comfortable at all. I decided to mix and put my paint on with a palette knife and that worked better. Below is the first pass while I was trying to figure it out and then mid point with the finished painting at the bottom.
14" x 11" Acrylic on water colour paper #20101212
I painted this once before and had so much fun and a heartfelt time that I decided to paint it again in a larger size. This painting could really be anyone but the unknowing model is our daughter Kristen who's friend took the photo on her phone. There is so much I love about this one, the open sky, tumultuous water and her still, contemplative stance as well as her shadow seemingly grounding her to that spot. A very happy, heart full painting.
40" x 16" Oil on 1 1/2" canvas with sides painted (no framing required) #20119119
Currently hanging in Gallery One-Fifty, Sicamous B.C.
32" x 26" Acrylic on board, framed #20110119
For Sale, please contact me
I just realized that I had not posted this painting that I did this summer. I really enjoyed the experience of sketching poppies in Rigmor's yard then creating a variety of sizes of paintings from my reference sketch and photos. This painting hung for a month in the Salmon Arm Credit Union in Sicamous, you can see it in this blog post.
I finally had the chance to set my easel up to plein air paint this railway bridge in Sicamous B.C. this summer. I snuggled up close to a metal shed for shade and sketched the view in my sketchbook then planned it out on my canvas. At this point the Rocky Mountain Rail Tour train slowly went by and I waved and people waved back, then I waved with 2 arms vigorously and they waved back the same way, back down to one hand - same response. I was laughing so hard it was such great fun. About half an hour later I had a CP worker come and tell me (in the nicest way) I was on private property and had to move. The road was about 20 paces behind me but the shed blocked my view.
There was no place to stand and finish the painting off their property so I packed up at this point. Still wanting the outdoor experience I opened my vehicle hatch at home and finished the painting based on the photo I took (standing outside painting). I loved the whole experience (never been asked to leave before) and especially all the people in the train moving slowly by happily waving! The finished painting is bright and cheery as my experience had been.
20" X 16" Acrylic on canvas, en plein air + outdoor studio time, FOR SALE #20103119
The last stop for our group was biking around the Abergavenny Wales area. We were on canal tow paths, railway paths and very narrow, tall hedge lined roads. Travelling around town was hair raising, especially the round a-bouts for biking on the opposite side of the street. We had to keep reminding ourselves to "STAY LEFT!!!". We biked in a lot of rain and some really heavy down pours but still went out as planned (I am in the orange coat huddled under a bridge). It sure helped to have the right clothing. One day we stopped in a pub for lunch and we turned it into what looked like a laundry we had so many wet clothes hanging on the back of chairs. The 8 of us biked together for the most part but broke into a couple groups a few times to bike what we wanted. We celebrated Shelly's 60th birthday, making memories all around. Our accommodation was wonderful and Pat greeted us as well as saw some of us off. The people of Wales were very accommodating, friendly and welcoming. Gord and I were the first to leave and headed off by train to stay at Barbara and Peter's home for our last night. The old truck belongs to Peter and I enjoyed looking at it in the backyard or garden as they refer to it. Peter and Barbara drove us to the airport the next morning. Once again Barbara and Peter, thanks for the wonderful hospitality!! It was a wonderful, busy and active holiday filled with good friends and a lot of laughter.
Gord and I traveled by train from Bristol to Bradford On (or Upon) Avon, UK to meet up with our friends. They all arrived by train at different times on the same day. Again I filled my sketch book with train tickets, photos, sketches, daily log entries and anything else that interested me (tbelow are some of the sketch pages). I left a small painting for the owners of the house we rented as a token of our gratitude (blog post). He was wonderful, letting us drop off our luggage early as well as storing them on the last day until it was time to take the train. We biked all around along the canals and old rail beds that are part of the nation wide cycle paths. Our friends Barbara and Peter also joined us in the evenings to go out for dinner, drink wine and play dice games (with a lot of laughter).
My husband Gord, myself, and 3 other couples planned a cycling trip in England and Wales. Gord and I went to explore Bristol UK on our own before meeting up with everyone. I brought my trusty sketch book with me to remember the trip. I put tickets, photos, writing and anything else that interested me in it. When we met up with our friends after Bristol, we also met up with Barbara and Peter (from UK). Barbara had made us each a gift of a quilted bookmark, tissue container and cup coaster to choose from. I used the bookmark to go around this sketch book (in 1st photo), perfect, thanks again Barbara. This slide show are some of the pages with sketches in Bristol, UK.
When I travel and we stay in a friend's or rental home that I feel an affinity to the home or the owners, I leave a thank you gift of a small painting of their home. I found 4" x 6" plexiglass magnetic photo frames that I can take easily in my carry on luggage. The top painting is an AirBnB home that we rented in Bradford Upon Avon in England on a cycling trip with 3 other couples. It was very comfy and made us feel like we were in an English "Harry Potter" style house with bedrooms going off in different directions on different levels. The owner was wonderful and let us leave our luggage inside prior to our check in and after our check out while we toured the town. We had a great time here.
This wonderful home belongs to Pat and we rented it for 5 nights in Abergavenny, Wales as the eight of us continued our biking holiday exploring all the canal paths, narrow roads and rail beds now turned into cycling routes. We all had a wonderful time exploring and living comfortably in her former home, very grateful for the location, hospitality and room.
This was the view across the Salmon Arm Nature Park from the Wharf Park. I decided to en plein air paint the scene I have admired all summer while waiting for the band to get ready for the last W.O.W. (Wednesday On The Wharf outdoor live music). They started playing as I was finishing up which added to this wonderful experience.
MUSIC TO THE EYES
11" x 14" Acrylic on canvas panel, #20113019, AVAILABLE FOR SALE
This was a wonderful time en plein air painting with my (blister-in-law - as she calls us) Marg. She sketched and painted the scene in water colours and I in acrylics. We had many, many laughs and shared our delight with passersby as they enjoyed a stroll on this raised paved boardwalk. We ended our day with a picnic supper watching and listening to the wonderful musicians playing at "Wednesday On The Wharf" in Salmon Arm B.C. (a must do on summer Wednesdays evenings).
Karen Oliver's Art Journey
Thanks for stopping by to see my art journey and what I am currently working on. If you are looking for previous posts, they can be found on my old blog: http://karen-oliver.blogspot.com/