During this period of isolation I have tried to put something in my sketchbook everyday. My favourite past time is to go out on my stand up paddle board on Mara Lake with my sketch book packed. I pull over on to the shore and see what I can sketch. My travel gear is a drawing sketchbook (not water colour paper), pen, pencil, eraser, water colour travel palette and micron pen. This peaceful time is so great and it feels like time is standing still, a real reprieve from everything going on. These sketches are usually not shared and are meant to capture a moment in time for me. They are a reminder of the sights, sounds, smells and feelings of that moment.
"Invitation To Rest"
Oil on board, 31" x 24" , framed #20014520 FOR SALE
I have painted this view once before but not this large and am equally excited at the final result. The wild flowers and wonderful vistas are a lot to take in while hiking and I usually come home with heart shaped rocks in my pockets and backpack, loads of photos to paint and wonderful memories. Looking forward to when we can hike with friends again.
Before the virus hit Canada, I was in a weekly art class with Doug Swinton. We all worked on our own references and subject matter and Doug walked from person to person as needed with suggestions, and demos. As our class ended abruptly he sent us colour work to do with a suggestion of 30 minutes and 8" x 10" size. I have colour wheels but never did examples to truly learn and boy I had a lot of learning to do. These 2 paintings are the last in that series of learning and are just studies, stopping before or when the timer went off. The shine is from the wet paint. Along with our chosen colours we could use black (to darken) and white (to lighten).
Timer set for this lesson - 30 minutes. Triadic colour scheme (3 colours spaced more or less evenly around the colour wheel). Doug sent us written descriptions, colour wheel examples and paintings using a triadic colour scheme. He also sent us a black and white photo that we were to paint. Well, I did not have much success with this one (above). First off, I did not choose the right colours - burnt sienna, yellow ochre and manganese (or ultra marine blue?). Doug let me know that burnt sienna was in the orange family so it is not a true triadic. I could of gone with a napthol red to make it work. We could also use black and white to darken and lighten our colours.
This is my 30 min (or less) result for the last lesson on Split Complementary. Some of Doug's description: "This is just like complimentary but a tad softer. Instead of going directly across the colour wheel you use the two adjacent colours from the direct compliment. Yellow and instead of using purple, you would use a violet to the blue side and a magenta (purple to the red side.)." I used purple (dominant), mixed green and orange. This was more successful and I was happy with this oil sketch. I may finish it now that I am not on a timer. Strange colours for me but it works. Doug's critique of this one: "Split complimentary, 10/10 colour wise, though, if I could say anything it would be, Some of your purples could be dulled down a bit. Other than that it’s super good."
Oil on board, framed 24" x 32" #20010420 For Sale at Gallery 150, Sicamous B.C.
This is a view I am very fond of and have painted quite a few times. Surprisingly it is the view from the road just before entering the landfill in Sicamous, B.C. I love to stand and paint Mara Lake, there is just so much to take in and so calming. The people going into and returning from the landfill are often surprised to see an artist there, then they look to see what I see, very fun to watch.
Colour Lesson #4 Doug Swinton sent his class members work to do on the colour wheel while we are not attending his open studio classes. I have looked at and read about the colour wheel but never really worked on physically making paintings limited to a monochromatic, analogous, complimentary triad etc. This lesson was on triadics - 3 colours spaced more or less evenly around the colour wheel. One colour needs to be dominant and the other 2 sub-ordinate keeping the colour within their respective value range. We can use the complement (opposite on the colour wheel) to grey our colours plus black and white. Yup, it was as hard as it sounds. Doug sent us the reference photo in black and white.
I set the timer for 30 minutes and begun. My chosen palette was burnt sienna, yellow ochre and manganese blue with burnt sienna dominant. I felt a little uneasy painting with the timer going as it hurried me up and I could not focus on the details (this is a colour study after all). I painted on a 8" x 10" canvas board in oil. Doug's comments: "10/10 Cool the background a bit more and it all come together. Use a more pure dark blue." I will try this one the painting is dry. My palette is below.
I found this second one harder although I thought it would be easier when I started. Again the timer was set for 30 minutes. This time I used Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red Light and Ultra Marine Blue. With only 30 minutes, the time flies and I felt the push to paint faster than normal without time for details. Red was going to be my dominate colour and I put it in everything but it doesn't read red as dominate, not as successful as the first one. I am learning a lot and am grateful for the opportunity, THANKS Doug!! Comments from Doug: "I think you're nixing your compliment in to much. You just need a touch to grey colours down. If you put in too much things start to get muddy." Back to learning.....
Colour Lesson #1 -As our weekly studio classes with Doug have ceased due to the Corona virus, he has sent some "homework" that if we were interested in, we could try. We were sent a reference and then were to paint it monochromatic - 1 colour with black to darken and white to lighten. I really enjoyed painting this which surprised me as I am usually into colours.
Colour Lesson #2: The paintings above were done monochromatic with one colour (red), the compliment to grey out (veridian green), black to darken and white to lighten. The painting on the left, I used to much of the black and used it more as a "colour" in the foreground. The second one I used orange in the intended way in the lesson with a little bit of the complement (blue) to dull the orange. These are meant to be no more than 30 minutes each.
Colour Lesson #3 - In this lesson we were to use a triad (3 colours next to each other on the colour wheel), the compliment across the colour wheel, black and white. In the painting on the left I used to much of the compliment (red) and the shadowed part of the boat is not the triad colours (green, yellow-green and yellow). The second painting on the right I was more successful. These are a lot harder than they seem. These are painted on 8" x 10" canvas board.
"Nine To Five" - Youth Remembered Series
Oil on 1 1/4" thick canvas #20018320 For Sale
This is the first in the "Youth Remembered" series I have been working on. With some of the TV shows being set in the 1950/60's I have been inspired to paint some of the moments of that time.
"Looking For Batman 2"
16" x 20" Oil on canvas, #20003320 For Sale
This painting was so much fun, I am sure I smiled all the way through it! Really fun colours were used including starting with a wild hot pink colour. I used whatever I could find to make marks with the paint (including spatulas from the kitchen)! The #2 in the title is because I have painted from the same photo reference once before and our son has it hanging in his house.
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.
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/