Archive for the ‘#painting tips’ Category

I recently attended an art workshop in Montreal. I don’t attend a lot of workshops anymore, preferring to explore solo in my studio and perfecting my own techniques but every now and then, I try one.

In the case of that particular workshop, we explored image transfers, collage, multiple mediums to give special effects and mix with acrylic paints, stencilling with spray paint and resin application. It was a good blend of mixed media techniques.

I had already tried some of the techniques before, some were new to me and the atmosphere and the group were a lot of fun, the instructor knowledgeable. I am not particularly happy with my piece, especially for the fact that it would be difficult to modify anything at this point after the application of resin which I wanted to try.

My Art workshop experiment

But that’s OK because the point of attending an art workshop is to learn something new, be it a new medium, subject matter or technique. You have to go into a workshop with an open mind and should not be expecting to come out with a finished piece ready to hang on your wall. That is not the point of a workshop.

Often, workshop attendees are afraid of making mistakes, are feeling watched by the others and want to perform. They want to come out with an artwork worth keeping (after all, they paid for it) but this is not what workshops are for! Workshops are meant to take you out of your comfort zone, to let you experiment with the curiosity of a child, without expectations. It is the perfect place to watch what happens with whatever new thing you are trying. It is also the perfect place to learn from the other attendees’ experimentations and to share your discoveries.

The goal is to listen to the instructor, take notes and experiment just for the joy of it. Relax and enjoy the moment without expectations and you’ll really benefit from the workshop. Always walk in with an open mind.

Later on, if you enjoy the results, you can implement what you have learned into your own work or continue pushing what you’ve learned to the next level.  A workshop is a starting point, not an end. It opens up a new door in your artistic mind.



Site web Suzanne Bélair


Enviroart par Suzanne Bélair

Read Full Post »

Here is a piece of information I came across lately that could be useful for fellow artists.


First off I must say that I do browse photos for inspiration like all of us but I take my own photos to work from unless a client explicitly requests something specific or arrives with his or her own photo. It is not OK to copy someone else’s work whether photographer or visual artist unless you have permission and give credit where it is due.


In the sometimes nebulous world of copyright I always thought the best way to handle this is simply to not copy. Unknown to me before, there are two types of copyright notices that give us permission to use some photos. These photos have been posted by the original owners, photographers, artists and they posted these to sites for our viewing pleasure and to give us explicit permission of use if we want..


What you need to know about is “Creative Commons License”. There are several different types of license. One of them is the attribution license, where you can use the photographs as long as you credit the photographer and looks like this:

Attribution license

Attribution license



To find out more about this license and all the different types of licenses, see: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/  and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Commons_license


But what we are interested in is the category Public Domain or Creative Commons Zero (CC0). Typically, an artwork becomes part of Public Domain when the artist has been dead for a very long time. But for these photographers that are generous enough to share their work and give permission to anyone to use their work there is the CC0 license. By attaching this license with their work, they give up their right to come back and claim you could not use their work.

cco-licenseCC0 or public domain license


So here are a few websites where it is specifically mentioned you can use the photographs, add to your blog, modify into a painting, print and enjoy in your office:


Pixabay  https://pixabay.com

Unsplash  https://unsplash.com

Public Domain Archive  http://publicdomainarchive.com


You can also look on other sites like

Flickr https://www.flickr.com

or Free Stock Photos http://www.freestockphotos.biz


that will publish some CC0 licences photographs but some under other Creative Commons licenses also. So you need to be careful and verify the licenses before using anything.


Another item to verify is whether these sites have obtained model releases for any recognisable individual portrayed in the photo.


I hope this short blog helps with your creativity and search for beauty!


Site web Suzanne Bélair


Enviroart par Suzanne Bélair



Read Full Post »

I have not been blogging much lately. Recently went through two surgeries and my husband just had knee replacement surgery. All this went on within 5 weeks and made for a busy and crazy time. Add to this the move of my studio during the same period and I’m lucky I didn’t completely go insane. I am happy to say that all went well I am now reaching my “cruising speed” as my old boss used to say.


When life happens and events prevent us from working like we would normally do, how do we keep up with our art and creativity? What I did was tried to remind myself that hopefulness is necessary and to take things one day at the time. I tried to take one action per day, be it small, towards my goal of being ready for three summer exhibits and symposiums.


Adding one step after another eventually adds up to something and gets you moving in the right direction. For me it was a way to feel like I was still working. When I couldn’t paint, my brain was in high gear noticing things around me for future reference or reading about techniques When I couldn’t think, I soaked my brain with relaxing music and tried visualising future paintings without worrying too much about deadlines coming up or commitments I would not be able to honour because of my temporary limited physical ability.


I especially tried to remain positive which is not necessarily easy for me and reminded myself that the situation was only transitory and I would get back to painting and enjoy creating eventually.

©2016 Suzanne Belair

©2016 Suzanne Belair

Just before all this came about, I had committed to painting a particularly difficult artwork for some clients, a painting where I was unfamiliar with the subject matter and in a style I don’t normally work in. But I really wanted to do it as a challenge even if I had some moments of regret during the process. I had to do a lot of research just to begin drawings, went on the premises and took more than 100 photos. It was a big project and I finally completed it last week.

20160623-IMG_3808 (3)

© 2016 Suzanne Belair

20160623-IMG_3808 (6)

©2016 Suzanne Belair


I ended up with 36 figures in a snowy landscape. I have not found a title yet but it will include Mont Sainte-Anne, Qc. where the action takes place.


20160623-IMG_3808 (5)

©2016 Suzanne Belair

I am including a few pictures of details here since the painting is not delivered yet and the owners should see it in person first.

I always varnish all my paintings so have to wait until it cures a bit more. I spray three coats of retouch varnish so that I can deliver earlier but also because I find finishing varnish ends up yellowing with time.





Read Full Post »

Finally, a bit of time yesterday to write and paint, even slipped in a lunch with a friend I had not seen in a while. Very enjoyable.

©2016 Suzanne Belair

©2016 Suzanne Belair

I started this painting before the move to my new studio and I wanted to express the soft colors of spring we were waiting for. The awakening of nature that always speaks to us.

It is not finished but I felt like sharing some of the steps with you.


To be followed…


© 2016 Suzanne Belair







Read Full Post »

What a difference a week and some hours can do for a painting..

©2016 Suzanne Belair Clivia- the Strenght of Africa Oil on canvas 12 X 12 in

Clivia- the Strenght of Africa
©2016 Suzanne Belair
Oil on canvas 12 X 12 in

Clivia-The strenght of Africa ©2016 Suzanne Belair Huile sur toile 12 X 12 (Unfinished)

Clivia-The strenght of Africa
©2016 Suzanne Belair
Huile sur toile 12 X 12

What a difference a week and some hours can do for a painting.


I was not happy with this painting since I posted it.


I felt it was missing contrast and depth. I decided to rework it last week and am so happy with it now. Notice the difference between the two paintings.


Value contrast is really important in any artwork. The best way to see if your painting has enough contrast is to view it in black and white or squint while looking at it. If you cannot make out the subject, then you have a value contrast problem.


Basically, when we have a high contrast in values, the objects appear closer and when the contrast is low, they appear farther. By increasing some value contrast in some areas, some flowers come forward and the umbel looks closer than the leaves. It brings three dimensions to the two-dimension canvas.
Contrast also gives us information about the type of light we are looking at. High contrast means we are looking at something in bright light while low contrast means distance, a diffused or hazy light. This becomes more obvious in landscapes.


To complete this painting, I not only increased the contrast but also used glazes to bring the colours out and re-define each petal.


To find out more about Clivia plant, click here.




Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: