Saturday, June 5, 2010

Art in the land of Oz

This April I took a trip to Melbourne, Australia. I brought a suitcase full of paintings and had a very successful show in a studio in the St Kilda area. You can read all about it in my article in the latest issue of Island Arts Magazine. I also spent much of my time there painting the incredible eucalyptus trees and exotic flowers that are native to the land of Oz.

The climate, during their autumn, is about as perfect as it can get – nice and warm, with clear blue skies. That's the number one thing I would have liked to bring home with me. But I did bring home something of equal value – a greater knowledge of the art of Australia. And I only scratched the surface. Besides what one would expect, the fascinating aboriginal art, Federation Square has a wonderful collection of 19th thru 21st century art. And then there is the street art – wild and colourful graffiti that brightens walls in the downtown area as well as the suburbian shopping districts.

When I think of Melbourne, my vision is one of red brick, architecture that ranges from Victorian to ultra-modern, lush overflowing gardens, the bare-barked gums, and the dance of graffiti through it all. The question isn't, am I going back? The question is, when?

Monday, May 24, 2010

When Oil and Water Mixes

About a year ago I was given a starter set of water miscible oils. I had last used oil paints in art school – given the choice between traditional oils and acrylics I'd gone with acrylics and stuck with them through the years. Oil paints actually scared me – it was not so much the fumes and toxicity of the solvents as the difference in handling, slow drying time, and difficult clean up. I'm all for keeping things easy and simple. But there were things about acrylics that were getting to me too – I wanted to do more blending, and the quick drying time was becoming frustrating – especially while trying to paint outdoors in the summer sun. And it has always sort of bothered the latent hippie child in me that acrylics are essentially plastic.

I think I took to water miscible oils so easily because I never had to compare them to traditional oils. They do everything that I want from paint right now. They have a lovely, buttery consistency and can be used effectively thick, or thinned down with various mediums, some that quicken the drying time. The colours are rich and luminous, and are more alive than acrylics. They work very well with the mosaic and stained glass styles that I'm currently developing, and most importantly, they fit into this crazy lifestyle I am living better than any of the other paints. I take care of my 4 year old grandson on a regular basis, and with water miscible oils I can leave palette and wet brushes sitting for hours while I deal with distractions, so I can paint in fits and starts and not lose my momentum. I also like to paint plein air and the slower drying time is convenient there as well. And as for clean up – not only do my brushes, hands and face wash up with soap and water, my clothes come clean in a normal laundry cycle.

I'm loving these paints and excited about exploring the many different ways they can be used and the effects I can create with them.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jumping in With a Paintbrush in my Hand

I wasn't sure I wanted to blog, but when I found out my friend Carey was doing it, I saw it as a challenge. Like when we both did the 100 paintings in 100 days challenge. It's not that I'm super competetive, it's just that I gained so much more from that challenge than I expected. So I see this as another way to grow and share, going beyond limits and making new discoveries.

This blog is going to be mainly about art - my paintings, the motivation behind them, the painting process, painting materials, but who knows - I might post recipes, make simple observations on daily life, or get poetic. One thing I know - it'll never be profound. You'll have to visit my friend Carey's blog for that.

I've made a lifestyle choice to live on less, but live the life I want to live. So I keep it simple and paint because it's what I do. I write when I get the urge. I spend time with the people I love. I sit in the sun, enjoy spring flowers, look up through the patterned branches of trees. And I can't help but smile.