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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Forest confection by Suzanne Bélair

Forest confection
©2018 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic & Inks on canvas 10 X 10 in

 

I am sharing this painting today to make a point about exploration when it comes to making art.

 

As artists we often feel we have to paint certain subjects or in a certain style expected by our viewers, buyers, galleries we deal with, etc. It is true that viewers come to expect a certain type of production from an artist. But we must be able to explore and break these boundaries in the studio.

 

I have been watching some friends that are now dabbling in faux stained glass and this inspired me to paint this small forest. I love working with inks and enjoyed making the lines and defining the areas.

 

I started with a textured background. I use the flexible paste by Liquitex to texture my canvas. This insures it won’t crack over time.

 

When you feel like painting something that is unexpected or new to you, go for it. Especially if you feel some anxiety at the start, you might think, “I could never paint this” or “If I do it, I’ll never show it to anyone”. Well, if you think this way, you must try it because it might turn out to be the key that unlocks your next series or the next step in your painting process.

 

This self-censoring we go through is what eventually leads to a creativity blockage. All the assumptions and self-judgements should be examined and questioned if we want to move forwards in our art.

 

We all get inspiration, our imagination sometimes sends us wild images that we often disregard as unimportant or not “fitting in” with the image we want to project of our art. It is in our best interest to follow these seemingly random suggestions we receive through intuition and imagination.

 

Life gives us a seed and our job is to make sure it grows. Artists often feel like they are carrying the “burden” of creation, that they are responsible for every stroke, for every decision regarding what goes on the canvas.

 

But it is not so, we need to relax about it because it you think you are responsible for everything, then the process of painting presents endless opportunities for mistake and your success or failure becomes your full responsibility. It is indeed a heavy burden to carry. Painting becomes stressful and aren’t we painting to enjoy ourselves?

 

When you take the attitude that you do “what needs to be done” because you’re following your intuition and this is where it wants you to go, you become free.

 

When you listen to the voice of intuition, you are listening to nature, to your own self and it is leading you ahead, always learning and living.

 

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I am presently in Mexico and don’t have much time to paint or even write except for travel journaling.

 

This is a post that I first published in March 2008 and that still rings true to me. It is about creativity and moods, about the fact that we must keep on going no matter what. I still struggle with my low moods and have to push myself but I understand now this is my life and as long as I keep on going, I’ll get through the day and there is another day just around the corner with endless possibilities.

Marché conclu
©2009 Suzanne Bélair
Oil on canvas 8 X 10 in

About creativity and our everyday mood

March 24, 2008 by Enviroart

 

Today’s thought:

“WHEN UNHAPPY, ONE DOUBTS EVERYTHING,

WHEN HAPPY, ONE DOUBTS NOTHING” – Joseph Roux

 

I sometimes wake up feeling like I am not capable of anything and the day ahead will be difficult. I don’t feel like I can produce, either paint or write or even do something insignificant. The important thing when we feel that way is to keep going. Some people have it easier than others. Some people wake up in the morning and they just feel good, full of energy and ready to take on the day. Optimistic people… How I admire them and would like to be like this.

 

I just heard the term “slogging” recently and wondered what does this mean? Couldn’t find it in the dictionary but got all kinds of synonyms that give the idea: plod, trudge, struggle. Anyhow, it is sometimes how we feel in the morning and… so what? We are not supposed to like slogging, in fact we’re supposed to hate it. The only way to keep on going then is that we have to believe that our state of joyful production will return. It always does. We have to keep going in the meantime. In the interim, we have to show up at the easel, at the computer, wherever we create. And we have to listen, ask for guidance and listen and it will come. It always does. As artists, we must be able to see a reality that does not exist yet. We must be able to start with the end in mind. This is what creation is all about. But it is sometimes difficult and when it is, it is better to just start and fiddle with something without really knowing where this is going or what we are doing. We call this practice then and this is necessary. It is always better to “practice” than stay idle, waiting for “inspiration”.

 

Consistency is important. It is what brings about results. We have to be consistent with the way we spend our time if we want results. Once an idea for a painting or a book comes, and we start working on it, it gathers momentum; it fleshes out and becomes real, at least for ourselves. The more real the idea becomes, the easier it will be to transmit and all that practice will then come in handy, having perfected our skills. Once it is real for us, it can become real for others.

 

As for optimism, we have to work at it sometimes, we have to cultivate it, we have to choose to be optimists and we have to make it a habit. Each day that we manage to shift our mood in the right direction will make the next one easier and bring the confidence necessary to keep on going, to keep on creating.

 

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A little over ten years ago, in December 2007, I started this blog. My original intention is reflected in my tag line: This is a blog about art, the environment and the angst of life and creation. This has not changed since and I still hold the views I was presenting in 2007.

 

I am leaving on vacation for a few weeks and thought that instead of posting while away I will revisit some of my earlier posts.

 

I used to write a lot about the environment, climate change and air pollution. I also wrote a lot about painting, feelings and life.

Magnifique
©2009Suzanne Bélair
Oil on canvas 10 X 8 in

 

So here is the first post I would like to share with you. It was first published on June 5th 2008.

 

Reflection on painting

June 5, 2008 by Enviroart

 

Today, I am reflecting on the art, on the work of painting, on the world of painting. It is often difficult to get going and start a new painting. The famous blank canvas… Some say that if you put a coat of background color or rather an undercoat, you erase the stigma of the blank canvas. But this is not true. If it can be useful to judge the tone or unify the painting, it remains a blank canvas. The blank canvas might be yellow or brown or blue or white, it still represents a challenge. Will that first touch of paint, that very first brushstroke be right? Will the color show how my mind’s eye expects or sees it or will it be totally wrong and send me in a tailspin of wondering, of corrections and self-doubt, of inquiring and research?

 

True, there is technique and we can learn to mix colors. It is an art in itself to be able to do this properly and rapidly, but the best way to learn and reduce this anxiety of the first stroke is really to practice, practice, practice. Some days are better than others but all days spent painting, each minute, are a step on the path the painter wants to follow, meaning forward, learning, progressing.

 

Just like writers are told to write everyday no matter what comes out to exercise the writing muscle, painters, sculptors, artists must practice their craft everyday even if we can give it only half an hour. When you love painting, this anxiety is mixed with expectations and questions. Expectations, because you want this new painting to be better than the last one, to be truer, to expose you a little bit more. Are we just asking for people to understand us a little better? Difficult to say…  Questions, because you just don’t know how your painting will be received.

 

Unless you are a really experienced artist, that knows what his public wants, it is hard to judge how the painting will be received. This depends on so many different ideas and criteria, that vary according to the individual staring at the painting. When you offer a painting to an audience, you are trying to touch the onlooker. To go deep into his or her soul and somehow touch a part of them, light a switch, create a “Ah !”  moment before the analysis takes over. Before they wonder will this fit in my living room, in my dining room? Is this the right color?

 

I think we are looking for understanding, for people to peek into our heart and soul, to share something joyful we feel in our core, or sad in some cases. The only way to do this is to paint first and foremost for ourselves. I think this is the main difference between doing artwork and doing “decorative art” or “crafts”. Unless you create, you don’t normally see the difference. Actually a friend of mine said one day that decorative artists are only “good technicians” and I felt a bit insulted by this statement. But now I see the difference. It is true that decorative art is all about technique except for those that actually create patterns and designs. There is a bit of sharing when you pick the pattern you want to reproduce or paint. But is nowhere close to the opening of the soul that happens when you create from your core.

 

I am speaking for me but there is no emotion when I simply paint someone else’s design. There is the satisfaction of completing a project but none of the excitement, no skipping of the heartbeat, none of the quiet joy of just working at transferring your soul to the canvas.  In conclusion I would like to say that the main thing is to make ourselves happy with what we are painting. I don’t mean to be 100% satisfied with the finished product but to paint for ourselves, about things we like and appreciate. It is not about painting what is trendy now if we hate it (unless we are painting strictly to make money). There is so much talk about finding your style and being unique, but each of us is unique and it is by painting what you believe, what you are, what you like that your uniqueness comes out. We have to live with ourselves, we are the only constant in our life and painting first and foremost for this individual that inhabits our body is a good way to start. So paint what YOU like and do at least a little bit everyday.

 

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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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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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