Monday, December 20, 2010

Love is like a Glass Rose

I finished the painting today. Painting bigger than full sheet certainly has its challenges but the finished painting, 34 inches by 22 inches, definitely has impact.

so it is...

 Our love for each other is a glass rose. If you don't handle it with care and compassion it will break. The thorns and shafts of glass may wound you just as the hurt can wound you in a broken relationship. If you drop it, it will never be the same. A piece is broken and the glass rose will never be whole again.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Love is like a glass rose WIP 3

I still find it magic when with just a couple of washes something can magically appear out of the paper. This is how it felt with the rose today. The gilt thorns were exciting to paint too. Life just feels better when you have a paintbrush in your hand.

 usually I wait between glazes for the paint to dry naturally but sometimes when you want to control the wash a little more its handy to use a hairdryer.

Time to apply the final glaze on two of the frosted glass petals. 

 ... enough for today I think. It's slowly taking shape.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Love is like a glass rose WIP 2

I've continued to take some photos as I develop this painting. Excuse colour variations. There was no one around to take some of the photos for me and it's hard to take a photo with your left hand while you paint with your right.

Once I removed the masking fluid which was protecting the rose and leaves while I painted the background I then used a pencil to draw in lines to help me see where the light and dark shapes were on the broken leaf. Painting glass is really just painting shapes and my pencil lines just help me to see where those shapes are.

Then I painted in the darkest areas first and gradually built up the leaf with a succession of glazes.

with the broken leaf completed I can now turn my attention to the glass rose. I am really pleased with the high key effect that is developing.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Love is like a glass rose WIP 1

It's been slow going glazing in the washes for the background. James took some photos of me this morning as I was doing the final couple of glazes. You don't often get to see me in action (I'm a bit camera shy) but they give you a good idea of the size of the painting.

I don't really paint at this angle. James was just having some fun.

This afternoon I have been on the shadows cast by the broken rose on the background helping to ground the rose without needing to add any extraneous table details.

I'm pleased with the simple uncluttered look that this gives. It should set the broken rose off nicely.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Love is a Glass Rose

Remember those glass roses?

They are so simple and yet so beautiful, so full of symbolic meaning and yet so delicate and fragile.

Roses have held meaning for us since the dawn of time. Their petals and fragrance almost seem intertwined with our history.  No other flower has been so affectionately held in our hearts.  It is the flower of love and is used to convey the many emotions we have for each other.

so to the glass roses...

I couldn't help but draw a parallel between these stunning and yet fragile glass roses and our relationships with each other. Both are so beautiful when intact and healthy and yet both can so easily be broken by a simple mistake. Our love for each other is a glass rose. If you don't handle it with care and compassion it may break. The thorns and shafts of glass may wound you just as the hurt can wound you in a broken relationship. If you drop it, it will never be the same. A piece is broken and will never be whole again. This is the idea behind my next painting.

I wanted to keep this really simple... the less is more approach, using lighting and colour to create mood. It's going to be a big painting, 22 by 34 inches. For the first time I have stretched the paper and taped it to the board while wet. Hoepfully this will avoid buckling as I glaze in the background washes so I can create a smoother effect. Today I have masked the rose itself and the broken leaf so I can work on the background without worry. Now to begin the first few washes.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Canadian Portrait Exhibition! Where are the watercolourists???

Hi everyone,

Sorry i've been so quiet over the last couple of weeks. I've been battling yet another  infection and had to go into hospital for a while. I had some good news yesterday though. My painting of a very dear friend Denis Keegan has been juried into the Portrait society of Canada on line exhibition. Hope you take the time to look at all the wonderful paintings in the exhibition. You can even vote for your favourite.

Another friend of mine Ellen Catherwood has also got two of her paintings juried into the show. Congratulations Ellen!!

Both of us were shocked though to see that we are the only two watercolourists in the whole show!!! Only 3 paintings out of 91 paintings juried in are watercolours!!! Why don't watercolours get chosen?  Anyone have any thoughts???


Monday, November 29, 2010

Glass Roses

I had great fun this weekend doing reference photos for one of Ona's future paintings. She is going to use some glass roses in the composition, and Giuseppi Crystal ( very kindly provided us with some samples. Each rose is hand made and very beautiful. The combination of shiny curved surfaces, translucent glass and gold accents makes them fascinating (and difficult!) to photograph, so as well as the reference shots for Ona I did a few for myself as well.

I tried a few on a white background, but my favorite is the black, which really lets the roses pop!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

New paper test

I've been testing out a new paper for printing watercolor reproductions, Elegance Velvet from Breathing Color.

First there was the test chart for creating a custom color profile...

Then there were a series of test strips to see how the paper behaved with different images. But you never really get the feel for a paper until you start printing full prints, so tonight I did a 16x20 from Ona's "A Child's Delight"

I've angled the paper to the light to emphasize the texture in the paper, under most lighting it's far less obvious. Here's a close-up

So how does the new paper compare to our existing favorite, Somerset Velvet? Color and detail seem very similar. Elegance has slightly more texture, but both are lightly textured on the scale of traditional watercolor papers. The biggest difference is that Elegance is a noticeably heavier weight paper, although this isn't of much significance once the print is matted and framed.

Which is where this one is now, and hanging on the wall for Christmas. I guess that makes it a successful test :)


Saturday, November 13, 2010

A little press coverage :)

It was kind of neat to see Ona's entry in the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society's exhibition get a couple of mentions in the press. The first was a general piece from when the show opened, where hers was one of the paintings featured in the photographs

The second was a follow-up about the people's choice award which mentions Ona's work as one of the runners up in the voting.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Wings of Freedom

'Wings of Freedom' ...I'm not sure if this is going to be my final title or not. Let me know if you have any other suggestions.

Anyhow, here is the finished painting.

and here are some close ups of the main centres of interest. Firstly hand hand closing the canopy in anticipation of take off

and secondly Wayne's face and the reflection of what lays before him in his sunglasses

Thank you Wayne for all your help as I paint this and for your inspiration words

"I have always been drawn to activities that change the perspective of our world. Not long after my spinal cord injury in 1999, I chose to keep searching. While pursuing my single engine licence, I was introduced to gliding.

From that first flight I knew there would be no other sensation to parallel the freedom of motor-less flight. Navigating as does a silent bird under pillow top clouds and being silently whisked to greater heights was intoxicating. My prey was the thermal. my reward was the dizzying heights that could be achieved and the time to see the vast landscapes that I soared above. I love the challenge that gliding presents along with the ability to leave my problems as many thousands of feet below that my skills and the day will allow."


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wings to Freedom WIP 3

The painting is coming along slowly. I've now almost finished Wayne's face. It was such fun painting the reflections in his sunglasses.

Here is a close up so you can see the wonderful reflections. Its so cool being able to see in his sunglasses what he was looking at.

his hair and beard were fun to paint too.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wings to Freedom WIP 2

Between the many hospital appointments this week I've been working on Wayne's face and arms. Firstly underpinning all the features and then adding in the layers of skin tones. I am happy to report that Wayne now looks healthily suntanned. There's still lots to do though.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what gliding means to Wayne. He kindly wrote the following and for me it just sums up so beautifully what this painting is all about.

Thank you Wayne

"I have always been drawn to activities that change the perspective of our world. Not long after my spinal cord injury in 1999, I chose to keep searching. While pursuing my single engine licence, I was introduced to gliding.

From that first flight I knew there would be no other sensation to parallel the freedom of motor-less flight. Navigating as does a silent bird under pillow top clouds and being silently whisked to greater heights was intoxicating. My prey was the thermal. My reward was the dizzying heights that could be achieved and the time to see the vast landscapes that I soared above. I love the challenge that gliding presents along with the ability to leave my problems as many thousands of feet below that my skills and the day will allow."


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wings to Freedom WIP 1

 Painting a detailed background for this portrait has taken me a while. I decided to make quite big changes from the original reference photo because I wanted to add more atmosphere to the piece and to show the sky and clouds to make it feel more open.

With the background and glider now basically done I can now focus on painting Wayne.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Finished Commission

It was so much fun painting in Rossi's wrinkly face. I'm definitely in love (grin) I never could resist a cute puppy. Anyhow, here is the finished painting.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Commission progress

I have now finished working from the first reference photo. It was a challenge making Jim's hair spikey. I havent painted spikey hair before. I always like exploring and finding ways to meet a challenge.

Now I will start working on the puppy. As I look into his face on the ref photo I just wish I could reach out and cuddle him. He is just so adorable. I will need to think very carefully when painting him though because I need to add in the extra light from the right that was not there in the ref photo. I will also need to add some more shadowing to Elisha's hands which will be cast by the puppy. Its these sorts of things that make working from two photos a challenge but to me, its far better to have to think about this than try and guess information from a poor photo. I will post again when the painting is complete.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Choosing photo's for a Commission

I am currently working on a commission and my client has given me permission to share the process with you all.

Very often a client will commission a painting when either it is difficult to get a decent photo of what they would like or when a memory is very special to them. It is important to remember though that I, the artist, will have not met the people or animals that I am going to paint. So in order to capture that special moment or group shot I need as clear a set of photo's as possible. It is no problem for me to work from multiple photo's. This commission is a good example of this.

My client wants a painting of her son and his fiancee with their new puppy. She was unable though to get a clear photo of the three of them together. So I am working from two photos. One of her son and his fiancee together and a separate one of the puppy. My client did, in fact give me three different photos of her son and fiancee and two photos of the puppy. I then played around with the composition using the various photos to find the most natural group composition of the three of them together.These are the two photos that I chose to use from the selection.

I then created this outline from aspects of both photo's, just shifting odd details to make the piece gel as a whole.

I am now busily painting it. It is being painted on a 16 by 20 sheet of Arches cold press paper. I am working from the photo of the son and fiancee at the moment although I am changing clothes colours to make them less formal looking (you probably wouldn't wear your best clothes with a young puppy around)

They still look older than they really are at the moment (its the white hair that does it especially on Jim as he also has a receeding hairline at the moment because I have had to take the skin tones up further so that the skin shows under the hair at the edges)  I need to finish the clothing before I can paint their hair though.

Thank you Marietta for allowing me to share the process here.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Going BIG in a special way!!!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks; I’ve finished one of the commissions and am just starting the second. I have permission to share this next one with you all and I will post more about it in a couple of days

Today though I would like to tell you about another painting I am starting.
Before I tell you about it though, I have to tell you how James Rebecca and I tried to tame the wild beast otherwise known as a roll of 44 inch wide Arches cold press!!! It’s wonderful having the flexibility of size and, as in this case, being able to paint bigger than a full sheet, but wow!!!! The curve on the paper as you unroll it agh!!!! Anyhow, it took three of us and 6 hands plus a couple of elbows and heavy objects to keep it flat enough to cut to size. I wish there had been a spare hand for one of us to take a photo. It must have been a sight to behold!

And now to the painting itself... It is going to be a portrait of Wayne Macdonald. Wayne is a very talented musician and songwriter who became a paraplegic after falling fourteen feet from a roof. He belongs to the same gliding club as my husband James and this club is also the base for a charity called Freedom’s Wings. Freedom’s Wings Canada provides people with disabilities the opportunity to fly and it has a couple of specially adapted gliders so that people with disabilities  can experience the freedom of flight in a glider and, like Wayne, learn to fly. It is well worth spending a moment looking at the Freedom’s Wings website and in particular reading some of the testimonials from disabled people that have experienced flight in a glider.

This is the reference photo I am using for my painting. It was taken last year by my husband James.

  I love the moment in time that the ref photo captures just as Wayne is about to close the canopy with the reflection of the front of the plane and beyond to the horizon in his sunglasses.

This is my outline. I have cropped in on the right but also extended the left to help create the feeling of space before him, of a journey, an adventure about to begin. It doesnt matter what is behind, for this moment in time it is all about what lays in front of him.

  It seemed such a fitting subject for a painting as my first experience of painting larger than full sheet. I hope you will enjoy sharing in my journey and learning more about Wayne and Freedom’s Wings along the way.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Child's Delight

I've finished the painting for the card.

I wanted to try to capture that joy of a child when they dress up in a new 'costume'. A few simple pieces of organza and a pair of angel wings and glittery headress is all that is needed to become an angel, a fairy on top of the christmas tree or a magical princess. Mind you, my daughter who was only 3 when I remember her first dressing up in this homemade costume will always be magic to me.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Canadian International Open Water Exhibition 2010 Acceptance!

I had another exciting letter in the post yesterday. My painting 'Rations' has been accepted into the Canadian International  Open Water Exhibition 2010. This will be my second major juried watercolour exhibition this year! I am so pleased this one has been accepted because as well as being such fun to paint it also has such an important message to tell.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Planning ahead for Christmas!

As I was looking through old photos last month to find photos of Nan to use a reference I also found one of Rebecca when she was young that I knew would make a wonderful reference for my christmas card this year. I have a couple of commisssions in the pipe line before christmas too so I thought I would begin the painting for the card now so it was finished in time this year.

I have drawn out the outline  idea this morning  and am now deciding what colour scheme to use. Meet our very special Christmas fairy.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Bleeding Heart, framed

I spent most of the day framing A Bleeding Heart for Ona. Had a bit of a disaster and wrote off two full sheets of conservation grade mat board. That's a lesson learnt the hard way! Still, the final result looks great and it's all ready to ship off to the PWS in a week or two.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Guardian of Ra

This was a fun exercise and hopefully will make a popular card design. Its nice pushing the boundaries and trying something new. I hadn't tried such a high key painting before but it seemed so appropriate to show a cat capturing the glow of the sun in her eyes.

You will have to imagine that the paper is white. Unfortunately the camera did not want to play today.

I am also still working on the background water effect for my self portrait. I have finished the wave section and am working on the water above her head. I will post my progress on this once I have finished the water completely.


Monday, August 2, 2010

The Guardian of Ra WIP 1

I'm still experimenting with different ideas for the water section of the self portrait so while I am deciding which approach to use I thought I would begin the other painting that I have drawn out.

I had the idea for this painting when I was sat outside a couple weeks ago in the sunshine and a beautiful white cat came over to say hi. Looking at her in the sun she almost seemed to merge into the brightness of the sky behind her as, facing the sun and capturing the light in her eyes she basked in the sunshine. It made me think about the Ancient Egyptian beliefs.

The Ancient Egyptians believed that cats captured the glow of the sun in their eyes and kept it's power safe during the hours of darkness.

They believed that at sunset, Ra, the sun god, would die and descend through the underworld in the west, to be born again in the east, at sunrise. During the night, however,they believed that Ra was in great danger, as his enemies, headed by the great serpent Apophis would not hesitate to attack him, thus putting the whole universe in danger. They believed that cats who looked into the sun in the day would keep its rays in their eyes throughout the night until the next glow of light lit the sky, for they have eyes that reflect in the dark. With that fire burning in their eyes, they would go forth and kill the serpents of the night and keep Ra safe until morning.

I just had to convey this idea in a painting and... well you know me... i just can't resist painting eyes... I LOVE them.

You will have to imagine that the rather grey paper is white. I couldn't get a good photo  in the lighting conditions I have at the moment. Its grey and overcast and I think we are about to have a storm.  I wanted to experiment 'high key' style and maintain as much of the white paper as I could, minimally suggesting the cats outline while really focusing in on her eyes.. I have now painted both eyes and suggested her nose and mouth. I am starting to add in suggestions of her fur in the shady areas. I have a lot more of this to do on the shady side. Her whiskers on this side will be the white of the paper. They are just masked at the moment to help me preserve the white while I complete the fur.

I will be working on both this painting and the self portrait over the next couple of weeks and will post updates on both as I progess. I really enjoy your company as I paint and love reading all your comments  whether you write them by e mail, on facebook or as a comment on this blog.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Thanks again for all your support.

I've finished the goslings. They were such fun to paint but this painting is intended as more than just a painting depicting their cute fluffy characters...

‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…’

is the opening line of a Joni Mitchell song.

for these young Canada geese, along with many other animals, their habitat is being destroyed as a result.

This new family of goslings are on ‘Rations’. They have found a Dandelion growing through a crack in the parking lot but it is the only piece of vegetation in the sea of tarmac.

here are some close ups of the little goslings


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rations WIP 2

Firstly I would like to thank you so much for all the congratulations that you have posted on the blog and sent by e mail. I really appreciate all of your support.

I've been busy painting some of the baby geese over the weekend. They are such fun to paint, their tiny fluffy bodies and their legs and feet which seem so out of proportion and then their cute faces.

I have now finished 4 of the 6 goslings so let me introduce them to you by showing you this close up of the finished section of the painting.

You have already met the good little gosling on the left who is patiently letting her brothers and sisters have their turn. Beside her is the eager gosling who is more than a little determined to have more than his fair share. Next to him is his brother who has toddled a long way to get his share of the rations. His wings are outstretched because they just seem to help maintain balance whilst trying to walk. His younger sister on the far right really would like some food too but the whole business of standing up is prooving to be quite difficult.

As you can see below I have the two geese on the far left hand side still to paint. Hopefully I will get then done over the next couple of days..


Friday, July 16, 2010

Updates and Exciting News!

Hi Everyone, It's been a busy and exciting couple of days for me.

I've finished the labrador drawing. I was going to call it 'Missing you' but as I have been drawing it 'Waiting' seems to fit so much better. What do you think?

I've also begun working on the little goslings in my watercolour painting 'Rations'. They are quite fiddly to do so it's taking me a while but I'm really enjoying it. I've finished the good little gosling of the group. She is sat nicely beside the food and doesn't mind sharing with others. I am now working on the other gosling who is near the food. He is a little more forceful in his endevours to have his share of the rations. I havent taken a photo of the whole painting, but cropped in on the section I am working on so you can see the little goslings themselves. I am trying very hard to convey that cute awwwww factor whilst painting them because I want this to contrast to the more serious message I am trying to convey. I hope it works.

And to my exciting news...I received a letter in the post yesterday saying my painting 'A Bleeding Heart' had been juried into this years Pennsylvania Watercolor Society International 31st Juried exhibition.

This was painted after I researched the legend of the Bleeding Heart flower. I loved the story and immediately went out into my garden, found a bleeding heart flower and used Rebecca's lovely long eye lashes as my reference. For those of you fairly new to this blog or who do not remember the story that goes with this painting here it is again.

You have to imagine that I have a Bleeding heart flower in my hand as I tell you the tale.

Once upon a time there lived a beautiful princess. Young men from far and near came to try to win her heart. But the princess was very vain and would have nothing to do with any of them. A young prince from a neighboring country fell deeply in love with her. She ignored him like the others, though he tried and tried to win her love. One day the prince found a pair of pretty pink rabbits at the market. At this point, I pull off the two outer pink petals and set each on it side to show the animals. He sent them to the princess thinking,"these will surely melt her heart." But the princess went right on ignoring him. Then the prince sent her a pair of beautiful earrings. Next I separate the two inner white petals and hold them up next to my ears. Still the princess would have nothing to do with him. The young prince was so heartbroken that he took his dagger and drove it into his heart. The remaining centre of the flower in my hand is shaped like an outline of a heart with a line down the centre. I hold the heart up, remove the dagger-like line, and plunge the "knife" through the heart's centre. The princess, realizing too late that she did love the prince, cried out, "My heart shall bleed for my prince forever more!" and her heart bleeds to this day.