Canvas Clones

I was talking with my husband over dinner last night.  I was lamenting that I had sold my second painting but I was finding it hard to let it go.   He said, “Well you can always do another like it.”

But really can you?  For instance, when I painted “A Jury of your Pyrs.”

A Jury of Your Pyrs: View from the Dock

I was watching an old British TV show called Silk, learning about the British Court system and inspired by the pun, “A Jury of Your Pyrs.”    Would I have the enthusiasm to do it all over with as much interest and attention to detail?  I don’t think so.

Another thing that moves on is abilities and techniques.

I love the image of a Great Pyrenees Mountain Dog happily rolling in the freshly fallen snow.  Such joy!   So I did paint one canvas to portray this about a year ago.

Spirit of the Snow Angel

Snow kept falling and I kept learning and painting.  I painted may other subjects and then returned to the same concept again.

I find that how you view a concept and how you attack it changes.  Below is this year’s take on the same concept.  I’ve refined my brush strokes.  I still have problems with perspective.   But it is a “finer” image.  Could I return and to the first over again, and if I could, would I want to?

Snow Angel of Joy

Perhaps I should paint a Pyr making a snow angel every year, just as a record of how my abilities and outlook change.

Part of what I love about painting is the exploration of different styles and topics.  I don’t think I made a post about my chaos paintings where you just paint as the spirit moves you and go back the next day and try to refine shapes you see into images?

Dance to the Music

These two images are done on canvas paper and are very free and spontaneous.  Interestingly enough, the Mermaids below were actually purchased from my Etsy shop, also called “My Muse Calls“.   So the first painting I sold was of mermaids and not a Pyr.  As usual, an unexpected turn!

I’ve recently discovered the visionary artwork of Alex Grey and much to my delight he has a center where he holds what he calls “Art Church” and workshops only 30 minutes from my home.   I’m going to take a workshop he and his staff offer on visionary painting this summer.

The road twists and turns and keeps taking me new and interesting places.  I don’t really want to do another painting exactly the same.  And I shouldn’t lament if I am able to sell a painting.  I can use the money to buy more art supplies.  And the person who buys it hopefully will be cheered on daily basis by having it around.   The more I travel down this road, the more doors seem to open and the more interesting the sights become.

Snow Angel of Joy

Dan took a wonderful picture of Tila making a snow angel.   Dogs have an amazing ability to live and enjoy the moment to it’s fullest.  It’s the sort of thing some people strive for with so much effort in meditation and more.   Snow!  Joy!  Roll!  Sniff!  Roll some more!  I must make a note to enjoy each moment as it comes.   Here is the painting that inspired.

Snow Angel of Joy

Return to the Flock

I was sitting and reading a book on modern art.  I don’t always “get” modern art.  I do try.  I was looking at a picture of a lamb in a tank of formaldehyde called “Away from the Flock” by Damien Hirst.  He also placed a 14 foot tiger- shark in a tank of formaldehyde called The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.  Now if this sort of thing is up your alley but you don’t have room for a lamb or a shark in your living room, Carolina Biological offers some delightful preserved cats for only $42.95.  All you need then is a tank of formaldehyde to complete the exhibit.  The shark in the tank, on the other hand originally sold for 50,000 pounds and was 14 feet long.  But all that aside, let’s turn back to the picture of that lamb in formaldehyde.

Tila was reading over my shoulder.  “Humph”, he said, as Pyrs often do, having a complex language of huffs and snorts and whines and more types of barks than you can count.

“We must do something about this, free this sheep, return it to the flock.” he stated matter-of-factly.  After all he is a guardian dog.  And that is what they do, guard flock animals from dangerous and sometimes unusual predators.

“That might be a problem.” I told him.   “Someone did try to mess with it at one point, in fact a man called Mark Bridger poured ink into the tank and was convicted of an art crime.   He tried to say he was contributing to the art, and renamed the work ‘black sheep’. ” 

“Snort!” said Tila. “I wouldn’t call this art, supper maybe, but not art.”

“You know, this is funny, ” I said, ” Someone stole pencils out of a Damien Hirst installation and they may be charged 10 million pounds in damage to the artwork.  You think that someone would just buy a few more pencils.  And look at this, some other folks claim that Damien Hirst stole some of his ideas from other artists.  But really can you own a bunch of dots or a skull if you paint or use the image once? But it isn’t nice to speak ill of the dead as he died this year.  Oops, maybe they were wrong, he didn’t die in January 2012.  Maybe that is just the ultimate angry art critic.   The author did seem a bit wound up stating Hirst  “died last Thursday, January 12, in New York following complications from acute diverticulitis brought on by a swinishly speculative, grossly cynical, intellectually constipated effort to pinch out 11 concurrent exhibitions of rehashed expensive crap.”

This July he  offered a statue of a pregnant woman wielding a sword to a town in Devon England.   He appears to be alive and well. 

Tila sighed.

“This is why I find the modern art world so confusing.” I said.

“You know, this would make a great subject for a painting.”, nudged Tila the muse.

 And here without further ado is “Return to the Flock”, with apologies to  Damien Hirst and the modern art world.

 

Prints for Sale!

Yes I now have prints for sale of the two paintings below.  Click on Items for Sale!

No I Won't Come In!

 

Tila Meditates

 

Garden Play

I have always been an avid gardener.   In the spring I love to start by filling colorful pots on my deck with fresh plants from our local garden centers.  When Tila was a puppy, I was happily potting away, turned my back for a moment and found my puppy in a whirl of lavender plants.   In reality, there was only one plant de-potting puppy, but in this painting I thought it was more fun to have two.

The Pyr in the Moon

In my imagination, Pyrs have a secret life at night we don’t know about.  They hear the conversation of owls and mice, smell the scent of moonbeams, and more.   This painting came out of that part of my imagination. 

A little Pyr puppy wakes in the dark of night and is frightened by the shadows and the sounds.  His mother comforts him with “Don’t be afraid of the dark, the Pyr in the moon will watch over us.  

 And look very carefully at the moonlight that comes in the window!   It lights part of the wood floor and lights the Pyrs up in its beam subtlety changing the colors of the rug as well.  I worked very hard on that!

Moonlight Play-Glazing techniques.

 
Glazing with Walnut Alkyd Medium

I had an idea, a dream of a painting I could see clearly in my mind.  A little Pyr puppy who was woken up at night by the light of the full moon and decided to play.  I picked up my brush and realized I had no idea on how to paint light.  Light is hard.  So I read up on glazing.  That is what the great painter Vermeer used and many other great Masters to show light and make their paintings glow.  Me, I’m starting with the basics.

First take a large serving of patience.  Glazing involves using transparent paints and a special alkyd medium (I used walnut alkyd oil) to dilute the paint.  Then after putting a thin light layer, you must let that layer dry before you can do anything else!  That’s right….a few brushstrokes and ..come back tomorrow.  Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock sigh.

So in the painting below I only used red, yellow, blue and white.   I wanted the hand to look like ghostly moonlight.  First I painted the hand white and the red bar at one side and the top stripe of yellow.  Then I painted the square over the hand a dilute blue and then a dilute red and I got purple.   Then I painted the stripes at the side.   Then I pained the hand a light yellow (my original yellow mixed with a little white).  Of course I had to let everything dry in between and then the red heart and the blue paw.  Where the paw overlaps the red it is a dark purple, where it over laps the yellow hand it is blue.  The same with the other colors.  The paint that is used is classified as transparent or semi-transparent and it is diluted with walnut alkyd oil medium rather than linseed oil or turpentine.

 

I like to paint wet over wet where you paint with layers of wet paint over other layers of wet paint.  Sometimes I wait to let a layer dry so I can have a pure color and it won’t mix with the under-layers of paint.

But glazing you have to let each layer dry.  But it is worth it.  The next layer you put on, like putting one pane of stained glass over another, is blended by your eye to give you a new color, and more depth and luminosity.  You really need to see the result with your eye on the canvas because it doesn’t photograph well. 

So I did two somewhat abstract designs, Hearts and Paws, and Hands, Hearts, and Paws.   I used only three colors, red, blue, yellow and white.   Any other colors you observe is what you eye sees after one layer of one color is laid over the dry layer of another color. 

So finally, I had the technique to do moonlight.

And here is my little Pyr at Moonlight Play.

 I am now working on the largest canvas I have ever used.  It is 18 inches by 24 inches.  It has a theme again of Pyrs in moonlight.  I hope to make the moonlight in the next one a little less intense yellow and make it look a little more like real light rather than a “beam me up Scotty” Star Trek beam.   Getting better takes practice and trying new things.  But it’s fun to branch out.

No, I Won’t Come In!

It seems there is nothing a Pyr likes better than a full moon, a brisk wind and the soft delicate first snow flakes of December.   I took a photo of Tila shaking off the snow, reveling in the blowing snow and used that as the inspiration for this painting.  

In the same spirit of “Nothing is White” I tried to give this painting the reflected blue light in the snow we often see in moonlight. 

This original will also be available at the Great Pyrenee’s National Show 2012 at the rescue table with the money going to help rescue dogs that lack a “Forever Home”. 

 

My Muse Goes to Work

 

 

Tila Meditates

I have this wonderful photo I took of Tila.  On a warm summer day, after helping me garden and grill on the BBQ, he came in and parked himself in front of the candles and sat down and to my astonishment, looked as if he was sitting and meditating.  I’ve always thought Pyrs had a spiritual and mystical side.  And this proved it to me.  This is the photo I used as the basis for my first painting.  I have to say that this inspired the painting rather than me trying to copy it exactly.  There were things in life (like the drool and dirt on Tila’s chin from the garden) that I didn’t want to make into the painting.  I also wanted it to have a warm tone rather than the harsh dark background the photo has.  So I had a vision of the end result as well as a mystical pyr to help me find my way.

Of course Tila helped by nudging me for treats from time to time to make sure I took enough breaks to step back and take a good look at my painting.  He was absolutely right, you have to step back, assess and sometimes just stop until you figure something out.

The one thing I found out after “Nothing is White” is there are more shades of tan and brown and grey on a white Great Pyrenees than you can imagine.  Let alone mix the colors.  I had palettes with nothing but brown and badger and tan and various shades of cream trying to match those few hairs under the nose or over the eyes.

I did my planning and made a few preliminary sketches.  And finally after days and days of working on it and letting layers dry (believe me this Pyr painting has an undercoat) I was done.  Well not quite done…

Before I could start showing off my painting to my friends I had to get muse approval.

So after a proper examination, I was approved.

 

 

 

 

 

And at last I can say Ta Dah!  Done the final work Tila Mediates. 

 While I know I’m just taking my first steps as an artist, I’m happy to say that the original painting is going to the rescue table at the Great Pyrenee’s National Show 2012.  So hopefully some kind person will buy it there and the money will go to the rescue of Great Pyrenees Dogs that have not yet been located in their “Forever Home” yet.  

Nothing is White

One day, while sitting around just looking I finally felt like I really “saw” for the first time. After you have a car accident and break your leg you have lots of time to look,  But enough of that.  I looked and saw nothing is white.  Now that may not sound like much, but if you look at a shadow it may be shades of grey.  A tree, shades of brown.  If you put all those little shades next to one another, you have a picture.

I got it!  But could I do it?  I started just drawing with pencil.  After a few false starts I decided that what I was doing, while not great, wasn’t all that bad.  When my husband asked me for what I wanted for my birthday, I asked for oil paints.  I haven’t picked up a brush in over 20 years, but am I having a ball.   I decided to work through a book of oil painting exercises. 

 

Color theory, mixing tints, tones and shades.

Just mixing the colors was lots of fun.  In the past I just jumped in and tried to capture what I could but learning a bit was advancing what I could do as well.  In the first column you have the color out of the tube, the second column is the color mixed with white, the next is the color mixed with black, the next is the color mixed with grey.  The last two colums are the color mixed with it’s opposite on the color wheel (I may have played with this a bit rather than being exact) then the opposite and white.  So this entire large block was made from 7 colors.  The last one I threw in there as the exercise only had 6 as I was in search of shades of Pyr fur.

Of course I posted on Facebook that I recieved my oils.  Not only did I recieve my oil paint set and easel, but my husband, showing great faith in my unproven ability bought me enough canvas to fill an art gallery.  Next my dog’s breeder asked if I would paint a picture of my dog as a charity donation for the Great Pyrenees rescue booth.  I wasn’t sure I was up to it.  But I decided to try my best.  So I jumped from exercises to dog portraits.  

It turned out having a furry muse around really helped.   I had been taking pictures of him for years and looking at Pyrs for a long time.  So it was subject matter I knew well and loved and really wanted to show him off well.

Surprisingly, people actually liked what I did and even wrote to me asking for copies and cards and the like.  And an idea was born. So I’ve skipped from exercise 2 in the painting techniques book, to being a painter of Pyrs and other things my furry muse Tila brings to my attention.