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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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Enviroart par Suzanne Bélair
 

 

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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.

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

Vers le haut / Moving upwards
©2017 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic and Inks on canvas 10 X 10 in

The previous painting of the series can be viewed here.

As I am tackling numbers 7 to 12, I am hoping to look at the subject with new eyes and find new ways to design my contemporary forests. Some things I could explore are putting more emphasis on shapes or changing the color relationships. I find myself thinking about values and intensity of hues and playing with this.

I also want to explore how I could apply the Notan principle in the next paintings. I could also play with the value contrasts. The key is often to just forget the subject and play with the shapes.

I’ve also thought about adding patterns in the background or adding calligraphy. The possibilities are endless when you think of it, all you need is to jump in and commit.

Perseverance is the answer. Working on a series is a great exercise for any artist wanting to move to a more personal level in his or her painting. I realize, even as I am resisting the exercise at this point, that it is neither a waste of time nor useless to continue down that path.

Working on a series often becomes a requirement in order to progress in our art, the whole purpose being to tap into our feelings and imagination. It goes without saying that since working on a series is all about discovering our own creativity, we should do so without any outside influence, either from another artist or from a teacher.

Let me know if you have tackled a series and if so, how you found it improved your art practice.

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

Le pic
©2017 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic and Inks on canvas 10 X 10 in

The previous painting of the series can be viewed here.

As mentioned in my previous post, after these paintings, it seems like I’ve run out of ideas to depict my contemporary forests in primary colors. Despite wanting to, I won’t give in and change either my subject or the colors I decided to use (how tempting).

On the contrary, now is the time to keep going and explore the “old” idea and see if a new original way comes to mind. So this is where I am today with this series as I am starting numbers 7 to 12 of the variations.

Surprisingly, as I aim to simplify the subject, I find myself adding more and more details with each painting and increasingly defining the trees, thinking of some of the abstractions not as colors and shapes but as clouds and background grasses. I see figures popping up in most of the completed paintings and I find myself wanting to emphasize these and characterize a story.

For some reason, my wanting to take a more abstract approach to painting seems difficult for me. It’s hard to take the realism out of me!

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

Lumineux / Luminous
©2017 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic and Inks on canvas 10 X 10 in

The previous painting of the series can be viewed here.

So how did I start this series and how can you start a series? It all sounds quite simple: all you have to do is pick an idea or subject and paint it repeatedly in as many ways as you can or choose a set amount like I did. Put your imagination to work and don’t let anything stop you from starting another painting and then another until you feel you have exhausted the possibilities or you’ve reached the amount you set for yourself.

At first it will seem like there are hundreds of possibilities and combinations and these are indeed endless, but at some point you find yourself getting bored and feel you’ve run out of ideas.

I must admit after six paintings, I have already hit “The Wall” and would be very tempted to quit if it wasn’t for the commitment I’ve taken about the series. I could easily switch to a new and fresher subject but I won’t. Like everything else in life, when it becomes harder, you can’t quit for this is often when a breakthrough is around the corner. So I won’t quit and continue, I will…

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

Faisceau bienfaisant / Beneficial beam
©2017 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic and Inks on canvas 10 X 10 in

The previous painting of the series can be viewed here.

Like the two previous ones, I took inspiration from a previous painting for this one but reworked the composition by turning it around. I find this one quite exciting and love the way the background turned out.

 

After working on realistic and hyper-realistic paintings for years, the new venture of painting more abstractly is turning out to be interesting to say the least. By limiting the pigments, I thought I had the elements to easily create this series into a more personal style.

 

What I found out was that is was not as easy as I thought, where I believed I was moving towards simplicity and abstraction, I found that each painting demanded more details and I could not get away from spending hours playing a little more with each of them. Where I thought it would be easy to develop different compositions, I found myself struggling to find ideas and relied more than anticipated on some of my previous work.

 

Where I thought of using different approaches for the backgrounds, I found I moved more and more towards one type of background I favoured.

 

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