Monday, 28 July 2014

Awake From Summer Lull

I am sure everyone has noticed how seductively deceiving the summer can be, making us believe the time can be stretched endlessly, without a worry on the horizon.  The glorious lull of summer! 

Well, in the past couple weeks I am trying to wake up and smell the studio, because those show pieces for my fabulous October show are not going to paint themselves by the power of my inspiration alone. The studio is busy and there are many things already checked off from the to-do list.

Sneak peek at the easel - no, it's not done yet!

And here is the list, with some of my thoughts about each item,  in case someone would like to know what preparations need to be done for a solo show of (for me) major proportions.

Theme and Title – what do I want to paint this year the most? What body of work is in dearest need of getting on the canvas? Is that something that would engage other art lovers?

Quantity and Presentation - Ask the gallery how many paintings and what dimensions they can accommodate. Also agree about the framing and hanging strategy. Framed paintings look great, but frames are such a pain in the neck. Luckily, for a modern presentation, going unframed can work very well.

Timing - Decide when the show will take place. Now that I know how many paintings I need and by what date, calculate the rate at which the paintings need to be completed. This step may include a major shock and a rude awakening from the summer lull. Its helpful to estimate a ballpark of painting hours needed on weekly bases  and stick to the plan. The wiggle space will be determined by the urgency of delivery – as any master procrastinator worth his chops knows.

Content - The fun part – plan the paintings. This doesn’t need to be very precise at this point. For example, just decide what scenes you want on your large pieces, small ones, verticals, any specific color and composition schemes etc. This is my favorite thing to do – make the entire body of work in my head. Sometimes I make little sketches, but I haven’t been consistent with that. I think that I like to maintain a sense of play and unleashed creativity at this stage of the process.

Supplies and Work-space - Buy the canvases; replenish paint, mediums and brushes. Anything else in the studio that bugs me should be either fixed of put away (e.g. ask husband to remove his junk from the studio).

Quality Control - Prepare a nice staging area for half-finished pieces.  It’s great to see the stash growing in numbers, and look for inconsistencies and things that require fixing up.

Advertising - Take care of any early advertising of the show. Some magazines require a long lead time, so this has to be done ASAP. Make a list of all the places and methods for advertising and plan the timing for each of them, then send them out every once in a while.
It’s also good to get any hanging hardware and packaging stuff that will be needed later, but this can wait for now.

This is all I have to do this time since the gallery eliminates need for many activities I would do if I was organizing the show entirely by myself or in collaboration with other artists, which I have done as well in the past - it can be lot of fun if planned properly.

Most importantly and urgently, it’s the painting time now!

waiting room for canvases

stash of started paintings

I enjoy having a deadline, but at the same time there is a pressure to deliver, which can be taunting. The key for me is to remember that art complements life and that there must be a harmony between the creative time and those deliciously mundane things that make up our ordinary days.  Achieving balance is challenging, but very much worth pursuing - just ask any family member.

Keep enjoying the summer lull until you can!


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Painting The Peaks

After a wonderful painting weekend in Whistler as a part of the Painting The Peaks Event organized by the White Dog Gallery, few things came up as very useful and worth sharing.

Panorama from a Whistler Mountain hiking trail (Harmony Meadows towards the High Note Trail)


 I wanted to fully finish a couple of larger paintings, rather than do several small sketches, so I chose acrylic over oil this time. I feared that my acrylics would dry too fast (it was a scorcher), but they behaved just fine in the shade and with use of a water-sprayer.


 I had my half-Julian easel with me, thinking that weight wasn't important since I was not going on a hike. Wrong - even a short stretch of uphill walk with this beast makes you feel miserable on a very hot day. I had to drag my stuff up a short length of a hill and was grateful that Sinisa was there to help. If you want to paint on larger canvasses, rather than small panels, a pochade box is not an option. But a light aluminum tripod-type easel would work great.

Canvas Prep

I wanted to paint brightly lit scenes with deep shadows, so I prepared my canvases with a darker than usual (~value 7) warm color imprimatura (burnt sienna + black). The plan was to start with transparent darkest darks, then do the mid-tones, and finish with lightest lights.

Whistler Mountain from Creekside


Limited palette strategy worked out well, I didn't feel that I needed anything else. This is what I used: diox purple, pthalo blue, pyrrole red, ochre yellow, medium cad yellow and white.


The locations I selected to paint from, happened to be almost in full sun, so I sketched in the composition, and quickly blocked in the big shapes with main colors/values on location, and then retreated into shade where I completed the painting from memory.  If you paint in expressive style, this works well since it detaches you from the scene and liberates your creativity. Rather than thinking about the exact matching of the values and colors in the scene, you are free to think how to best express what made you paint this scene.

Support Team

Having a kind soul remind you to hydrate, or even bring you a drink, is a super wonderful treat - thank you Penny and Kathi! Not to mention how great it is to have interesting and supportive companions - that is truly priceless!

Kathi Bond, Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki and Penny Eder

The summer adventures continue. Next weekend I am off to a beautiful garden in Belcara village.

Happy painting!


Monday, 7 July 2014

Tip, Reminder and News

Dear Art Friends,

This post has a little bit of everything. I have a tip, a reminder and a piece of news for you.

First the TIP. If you have been searching for a light little paint box which won't break the budget, take a look at my new toy - incredibly light and practical. I bought it here.

Also, from what you can see, I could use a tip about a good wood deck stain product :-). This is how the acrylic stain looks the next year.

If you need some inspiration to go out and do some painting outside, here are a few pics from my recent trip to the beautiful Salt Spring Island.

The quick REMINDER is about two summer art events happening in the next couple weeks. Please come visit if you can, it would be great to see you.

Painting Event in beautiful WHISTLER


And finally the NEWS! The date for my next solo exhibition hosted by the Buckland Southerst Gallery in West Vancouver has been set for October 2-10. The title of the show is YOHO!

All paintings will be inspired by the YOHO National Park, including of course the beautiful Lake O'Hara Park where many artists have painted, including The Group of Seven and John Singer Sargent. This is an amazingly inspiring theme, and I can't wait to have all the paintings complete and displayed in the gallery, ready for their new homes. The next few months in the studio will be very joyfully busy.

I will try to capture some of the painting process for the upcoming blog posts. If there is anything in particular about it that you'd like me to share, please do let me know.

Happy painting!