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I have been working on a series for a special exhibit that took place in November. I needed to paint 12 profile canvases sized 10 X 10.

Instead of painting different subjects, I decided to paint all of them of the same subject and with the same primary colors, in effect creating a series.

Echec en folie
©2017 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic and Inks on canvas 10 X 10 in

This is the twelfth and final painting of my contemporary forests series. The previous painting of the series can be viewed here.

I had the best time painting this one and intend to do a large piece with it.

As soon as I looked at the background I saw the horse and it made me think about the game of chess which I used to play on Friday evenings at our country house, but I haven’t played in a long while and would probably loose real quick!

The strategic game is super interesting, I love the tactic and finding out how to make moves that your opponent does not suspect.

I thought I would use the large bottom area on the right side to build a chess board. I so enjoyed going back to basic perspective and build the board with ink and paint. To stay with my concept of contemporary forests, I put some trees in there of course. I thought the pawns were coming late from behind the trees and from the tornado-like spins to join the queen, king, rooks and bishops while seeing there is a knight missing!! Where is he going and what is he running from?

The pawns will follow the leader and defend the queen. I loved the concept! I used the yellow drips to create some background trees and considered doing something with the yellow drop at the top but then decided to leave it. The background trees became more interesting when I added some droplets of blue ink to give them dimension and link them to the trees that are in front, without taking the eyes off the main subject.

Here the trees are coming in and the chessboard is established:

©2017 Suzanne Bélair

What did I find out with this series? I found out that, no matter how I want to go more abstract, I still like details and realism. I like to recognize something, a feeling, an object, something that talks to me in a painting. So it is with my pieces, I like to understand the story, understand the painting, feel it. Each of them is so unique and personal.

I hope you enjoyed this painting journey and wish you creativity and fun painting!

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This is the eleventh of my contemporary forests series.

 

Soleil levant / Rising sun
©2017 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic and Inks on canvas 10 X 10 in

 
The previous paintings of the series can be viewed here and here.
 

By the time I got to the last two paintings, I was really enjoying discovering where each painting could go. This is often a surprise to me to see a painting evolve as if on its own.

 

This one posed a particular challenge since I still wanted to work with the original background and I didn’t want to turn it around:

 
 

 

Here is how it evolved. Using the red at the top left, I decided to do a big contemporary cloud. At first placing it behind the trees on one side and in front of trees on the other side, and then, moving it forward and creating the water and the bushes in front.

 

I didn’t like the effect and went back to the “drawing board” so to speak. I thought the yellow mound looked like a mountain and thought I would go with that concept at first.

©2017 Suzanne Bélair

I wasn’t happy with any of it. This was not working, the bushes looked fake and out of place with the modern feel of the painting and there was too much blue. I put it aside for a while. In the end, I thought I would transform the mountain into a big sun and got rid of most of the red clouds. The bushes were darkened with some black to give it a more contemporary vibe and keep the feel of the previous paintings in the series. Soleil levant was born.

 

I hope you enjoy discovering how these paintings evolved and it inspires you to create your own painting series.

 

 

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la pruche

La pruche
©2017 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylique et encres sur toile 10 X 10 po

Well, the three charity shows of November are over. These causes are very important to me.

I am very happy with the results, two paintings sold by the Shield of Athena and seven sold during the exhibition Color Against Pain by Artistes de Coeur.

Although all my works are dear to me and each has special meaning, one of the paintings sold during the week-end is particularly unique for several reasons.

 

First, I had a lot of trouble with it and it has evolved most amazingly, and ended up serving two causes at once. Let me explain.

©2017 Suzanne Bélair

I like to create difficulties for myself sometimes …

 

I produced my first background with a lot of texture and I absolutely wanted to keep this texture. I wanted the indentations to still be visible in the final artwork.

 

I started by painting some trees, then realized that I had put one in the middle of the canvas. Although the square format is better than rectangular format for placing objects in the middle, it’s still not ideal!

 

During a past painting workshop, I learned that people who suffer from astigmatism as I do, tend to put objects in the middle of their works. It was even suggested during this workshop to put an X in the middle of the canvas and at the mid-point of each side, to make you aware of this tendency. So I ended up cutting the tree to bring it to the side and added a new focal point: the hemlock.

 

I then worked the texture and softened the colors until I had a harmonious but still textured result. Although this painting has given me a hard time, it has become one of my favorites.

 

It was sold during the weekend event, so a portion went to the Federation of Women’s Shelters and the buyer is donating it for an auction where the funds are going 100% to the West-Island Women’s Shelter.

 

It proves that committed art can really help. I am very proud of it.

 

Fédération des maisons d’hébergement pour femmes

West Island Women’s Shelter

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From November 22nd to 26th 2017, a unique exhibition and sale of artworks, unique called De la couleur contre la douleur (Color against suffering) will be held at the St-Lambert Multifunctional Center (81, ave. Hooper, St-Lambert). For its ninth edition, 39 artists will present more than 500 original paintings, all of the same dimensions (10 in x 10 in) and sold at the unique price of 100$ (cash only). This activity will be held within the framework of the 2017 campaign of twelve days for the elimination of violence against women that takes place every year. Part of the sales will be donated to the Fédération des maisons d’hébergement pour femmes (FMHF), that regroups 36 women shelters for those dealing with multiple social issues.

This exhibition and sale is organised by the group Artistes de cœur, made up of about forty selected artists, which I am part of, and mainly coming from the Monteregie area but also from Montreal, Quebec, Sherbrooke and Lanaudiere areas. We wish, with this exhibition, to promote engaged art by making accessible artworks from artists painters to a large public, and also support women and children that live with violence and find refuge in a women’s shelter.

The opening will take place on November 22nd from 6 pm to 9 pm and I will be showing 16 paintings during this unique event of special size, special price, special cause. Why not get a few as gifts or to make an arrangement on one of your walls?

Please forward this invitation to your family and friends.

I hope to see you there on November 22nd!

Suzanne

To find out more about the organisations:  FEDEQ et Artistes de Coeur .

 

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This is the eight and nine paintings of a series of small contemporary forests I am working on.

 

Septembre magique / Magical September
©2017 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic and Inks on canvas 10 X 10 in

 

Le jour se lève / Morning comes
©2017 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic and Inks on canvas 10 X 10 in

 

The previous painting of the series can be viewed here.

 

 

 

The development of “Septembre magique” was quite straight forward as can be seen here, I simply let the background work inspire me and kept the basic design from the beginning.  I loved the splatter and lines and how the paint spread over the canvas.

 

 

 

 

 

« Le jour se lève » presented quite a challenge because I started from a completely different place than the finished product.

 

 

 

 

First off, I didn’t like the background I started with. The color on the top left corner was terrible and had to disappear before I could start again. My aim was also to keep some of the scratches showing in the red paint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So with white gesso I went to make the offending colors fade into the background. My first idea was to have a lone tree reflecting in water on a lighter backdrop but after a while I found it looked like a large lollipop more than a tree and I played with the idea of going surrealist and refining this idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here I brought back the bright yellow and continued on the rocks. I kept on thinking about something I read before pertaining to the dreadful stage of a painting and not to get discouraged. You know, when you think you should just give up and abandon the painting?

 

 

 

 

Well, I told myself to push through and that this stage only means the painting is not finished. I stepped back and put it aside for a few days. When I returned with fresh eyes, I had to admit that this tree scheme was not coming together. Why not make a nice big sun reflecting on the water? I liked that idea and went with it and “Le jour se lève” was born and I am quite happy with it!

 

At this point, I’ll go through the last three paintings to try and find solutions for each of them as they are all presenting challenges.

 

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Here are some thoughts on varnishing and finishing a painting.

When the time comes to finish a painting, my varnish of choice is Kamar Varnish by Krylon. It can be used on oil or acrylic paintings, is non-yellowing and really brings out the colors as well as adjust the shine if you have used mediums for your painting. It also has another big advantage. It can be reworked over without any problem; the new paint will stick to it. When I purchase the varnish, I always put the date on the can (2016-07 in this case) and if I buy several can, I number them (1,2,3 etc).This ensures I use the older product first and finish a can before I start another.

20171016_093623

I always apply a minimum of 3 coats, sometimes 4. Since it is a spray varnish, it is important to shake very well and to wear a mask when applying, especially if you are applying the varnish inside. Don’t take a chance, it is very toxic. I usually apply the varnish inside to be able to control such factors as wind and dust. Make sure you protect surrounding areas and take the paintings outside to dry.

Coats are criss-crossed: First coat, horizontal, second, vertical, third diagonal. If I add a fourth coat, it will be diagonal contrary to third coat. This insures an even finish.

About self-levelling gel:

On a small painting, I tested some self-levelling clear gel by Golden (name changed recently to Clear levelling gel). This gel can be used on top of or mixed with acrylic paints, never use this with oil paints.

It says in the name that it is self-levelling and promises to dry to a clear flat finish but this does not work as you can see. It can also be used to increase transparency and sheen of acrylic paints and claims to impart levelling quality to acrylic paints it is mixed with.

I used this painting as an experiment since I needed to rework it. I applied the gel with a soft clean brush and waited for it to dry.

When it did, the surface was streaked with brush strokes and so were the sides. A real mess!

So in the future, I’ll use this for multimedia techniques, collage or mix with paint, because you can’t expect a good finish from it or use it as a coat before a final varnish if you want a smooth finish.

So this was an experiment and it kind of ruined this painting. Needless to say, I will not be using this product for any step involving finishing or preparing to finish any painting again.

 

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This is the seventh of a series of small contemporary forests I am working on.

Sérénade de chaleur / Warmth serenade
©2017 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic and Inks on canvas 10 X 10 in

The previous painting of the series can be viewed <a href=”http://wp.me/p9FGQ-ke“>here.

Frankly, I am getting tired of working on these small 10 X 10 paintings. It is no longer that much fun to work them. I started the last six of the series with backgrounds I did not plan at all and now I have to toil with these and they are not easy to work with, stretching the working time and making these a lot longer to finish than they should be.

Here are the beginnings of the next six paintings including the one presented here:

I really enjoy working large formats from a “surprise” background but these are aggravating me right now. Where in a large format, textures and drips develop slowly and are fun to work with, the immediacy of the small canvas is making the hues and textures harder to control when you take the same approach.

Where the other six came together fairly easily, I find myself struggling  more and more with these and must increasingly go back to the basics of composition to be able to continue them or sometimes, send them in a totally different direction if need be.

I have been using Adobe Sketch on my ipad to sort out some of the problems but since I am no expert at it yet, my sketches present raw colors and shapes and only provide a very loose direction.

In the case of this week’s painting, can you guess which background evolved into it? Here it is:

©Suzanne Bélair

Tackling one subject only and walking that fine line between realism and abstraction is no easy feat. I find myself wanting to move more and more towards realism, closer to what I used to do. My choice of working in only three colors doesn’t make things any easier but it was my decision for this series.

If you have tackled a series, how did you find it improved your art practice?

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