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Since last Saturday, the Circuit des Arts Memphremagog event has been taking place and my studio-gallery has been opened to all that show up at my door up until 5pm this afternoon. Today is the last day and as this exhibit is ending, I though I would share a few photos of my paintings set up in two rooms of my home.

 

Weather-wise, the week was eventful, with strong rain storms and hot sun, a mix of everything. Today for the last day, all is quiet, sunny and cool.

 

I always enjoy that event that puts viewers directly in front of my art without any distractions and helps them understand what is behind it, the motivation for creating it, the difficulties and joys encountered during the development of each painting.

 

For me, there is nothing like direct contact and conversation with the viewer. This exchange is enriching on both sides and more interesting than during a group exhibit or a symposium where the person is trying to see as much as they can in a very short time.

 

This was a wonderful 9 days and I feel I learned a lot about art lovers and their needs and expectations.

 

A big THANK YOU to everyone who visited me!

 

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The Circuit des Arts Memphremagog is just around the corner and this year marks its 25th anniversary.This event gives visitors the opportunity to admire and purchase artworks from professional artists, see their creative space and admire beautiful vistas along the road. I truly enjoy this event and meeting people that show up at my studio door during the Circuit.

 

As usual, I will have two rooms full of paintings and many new works. Situated at 123 rue Du Lac des Sittelles in Austin, my Township studio will be open from 10 am until 5 pm starting July 21st to the 29th . There is also a collective exhibit at the Magog Visual Art Center, located at 61 Merry north in Magog where each artist is showing one piece of artwork representing his or her production.

For more information, go on the Circuit’s website: Just click here.

I am also participating in the 20th Edition of the Bromont en Art Symposium that takes place in the Old village of Bromont from August 24th to 26th from 10 am to 6pm. For more information please click here.

There is also an exhibit from July 7th to 15th at the St-Patrick cultural center in Bolton East where I will have one piece of art showing with other regional artists.

Everyone welcome!

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I have been having wild dreams lately. Some leave me happy and delighted and others, anxious and worried. I guess my brain is working out some stuff.

 

Trajectoire oblique
Oblique trajectory
©2018 Suzanne Bélair
Oil on canvas 10 X 10 in

Lately, I have been listening to Quebec singers and one of them has this song that says: “I thought when I grew up I would always know what to do, like my father” (1). What a great comment on how we view our parents. Now that I am grown up (supposed to be anyhow) I see that life is full of questions and uncertainties and that often, most of the time for some, we don’t really know what to do or in which direction to go. Of course, it all depends on which area we’re talking about but I find myself increasingly questioning my smallest decisions for some unknown reason.

 

We live in a world full of instability and insecurities and, especially lately, full of hate. It is sometimes difficult to navigate through all of it while keeping focus on our own life and keeping hopeful for a better future or at least a peaceful one for our children. This is what I am working on, trying to keep my mind above the bad and the ugly that is plastered all over the news, invading our daily lives.

 

This morning though, some wonderful news as the Thai boys from the soccer team and their coach have been brought out of the cave where they have been prisoners for over two weeks. Wonderful news! A great show of human resilience and cooperation as the world watched the courageous rescue mission and prayed for the safety of the boys and their rescuers. An event that reconciles all with hope, love and goodwill.

 

On another front, I am happy I found some time for painting amidst all the preparations for three exhibitions coming up this summer and other obligations and chores of everyday life.

 

I pretty much decided to go back to my beloved oils I so enjoy working with. Since my time is very limited these days, I have decided to work on small paintings. I still have my two large paintings of Italy that are moving forward even if they are turning out to be real puzzles and I can only work on a small section at the time but they are coming together. Here is the progress so far, obviously not finished:

Work in Progress
© Suzanne Bélair

Work in Progress
©2018 Suzanne Bélair

And here are the links to the beginning of these paintings:

https://enviroart.wordpress.com/2017/05/06/work-in-progress/

https://enviroart.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/work-in-progress-bis/

 

This is why I don’t want to start anything too big. It just seems daunting right now with all the exhibits coming up, my new granddaughter arriving soon and my precious little grandson I want to see as often as possible.

 

I now consider my contemporary forests series in reds and yellows finished (except for one painting still in the works) and am going for something else all together. A complete change of palette is interesting and I’m going even more abstract with these new ones. I had explored this style last year and really enjoyed it so here it goes!

 

“Oblique trajectory” is the first of the series and has softer colors. The painting reminds me of all we have to go through in life and how we often have to travel in an oblique fashion to get where we want. Nothing in life is in a straight line but we get there eventually. I completed this small 10 X 10 a few weeks ago and am now working on a 12 X 12. I really enjoy the process, the colors, everything.

 

When I start a new painting, there is an excitement, a panicky feeling almost overtakes me until the first coat is pretty much finished and the canvas is covered in colors. Then I calm down and start relaxing while putting each touch of color where it belongs.

 

In a similar manner, starting a new series is exciting and scary at the same time but I love the challenge!

 

(1) “Tout simplement”, Album “Qu’on se lève”, Jonathan Painchaud, 2007

 

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Golden Watch
©2017 Suzanne Belair
Acrylic on canvas 30 X 30 in

 

From the corner

Golden warmth is keeping watch

Over the forest and its inhabitants

Have no fear

There is protection

For all that live within

Its boundaries

As long as you submit

To nature’s laws.

 

©2017 Suzanne Belair

 

 

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Indomptable
©2017 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylique sur toile 30 X 30 po

Man wants to subdue the forest

To his power, to his needs

Man wants to tame the forest

But the forest is fighting

Each time it resists

After each attack, it regenerates

Indomitable, secret, new

Each time it reveals itself

Despite the assaults

Every time it relives

 

©2017 Suzanne Belair

 

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This week, I am living a second adventure outside of my comfort zone. I am taking a workshop with Pat Dews, an award winning American artist that started off as a realistic watercolour painter and is now an abstract and mixed techniques painter.

I signed up after taking a previous workshop exploring Abstraction in May, which I enjoyed so much and thought this would bring my art forward.

I meant to share my thoughts every night when I got home but found myself too tired and drained by the time I sat down at the end of the day. Let me tell you the experience is novel and quite tiring. Fun, yes, but speed of execution, noise and lack of space were difficult to deal with the first 2 days, not to mention working on paper which I never really did before.

So here is what I learned so far. I summarized each day with one main idea I felt needed to be integrated completely to move forward. I heard these main ideas before, we’ve probably all read about them, but now, they were demonstrated to us in quite an enlightening manner.

Here is my take on the workshop so far and what I learned:

Day 1- On the first day I learned that I have to look at the world in terms of SHAPES, first an foremost, Small, Medium and Large shapes. You need the 3 kinds in your painting.

Day 2- On the second day, I learned that “It is only a piece of paper” (or a canvas), it’s not the end of the world! I knew that already but it finally sank in. Don’t worry, relax and enjoy the ride and if you hate the result, don’t lose sleep over it, cover it up tomorrow. We were told to make a failed painting on purpose, to put anything any which way on a piece of paper or a canvas, so that we could rescue it later, to get rid of fear, you know, that fear of failing.

Day 3- Today, I learned that you can go beyond a failed painting and make it good if you keep working at it, especially with acrylics. Cover it up, change the focal point, make up shapes, don’t get discouraged and go with it. Invent, create, do anything and think composition. The possibilities are endless! A lot is about attitude. Don’t worry so much about it, don’t give up !

Here are a few tips:

1- One of the most important thing is SCALE – make sure not everything is the same size and that your shapes are not too big or to small for the size of paper or canvas you are working on.

2- In abstract, you must show depth by overlapping your shapes, so overlap what you want to come forward, decide what you want to come forward.

3- Texture adds a lot to a larger shape: add grids, use wax paper, newspaper, saran wrap, texture, texture, texture your larger shapes unless you want it to be an absolute quiet space.

4- Make the eye travel through your painting by using leading elements. One dot can add a lot

5- Use a picture for inspiration if you want, but look for shapes, not details.

The “Failed painting” concept:

A very interesting few days indeed ! Here is a work in progress I started with putting yellows and reds any which way and that I had used to protect my table while painting a previous smaller piece, in order to create a “failed painting”.

20150826_112107

Second stage on my failed painting, trying bland colors to put over the yellows and oranges. You can use white chalk to plan the next stage.

20150826_133018

Stage 3 of the failed painting, I gessoed over most everything, sprayed and textured, it’s starting to take shape and I really love the patterns over the mauve-blue on the left side. How do I keep this while creating harmony?

20150826_164527

Step 4 of the failed painting. It is starting to look better and better, more variation of shapes, more contrasts but not finished yet . It is no longer a failed painting !

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During the last week of May, I took an Abstract workshop with Jadis, an artist from France (http://www.jadis.weonea.com/). The group was fantastic to be with and extremely talented. We had a great week ! Here are two artworks I produced during this week.

 

The first evening, I came back so excited and energized!  Ready to paint all night to finish my painting, my head filled with ideas! But, we need to rest at one point don’t we…

Fall @2015 Suzanne Bélair Acrylic on canvas  36 X 36

Fall
@2015 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic on canvas 36 X 36

 

Jadis works with acrylics so I had to get new supplies since I don’t usually paint in acrylics and had none of the brand she wanted us to use.

I learned a few things about abstract art, first that we can split it in three categories according to her, even if most literature will divide it in two.

1) Geometric – often considered the easiest form

2) Lyrical – where gesture and colour mixes prevail

3) Pared down – considered the most difficult, where we try to convey an emotion with nothing or a minimum of elements on the canvas

In general we consider that representational art tells a story while abstract art wants to convey an emotion. However, representational art also transmits a lot of emotion while telling its story and it all depends on the artist’s rendition and how he/she can transmit it to the viewer with colors, contrasts and atmosphere.

The second day was a bit more difficult, The beginning of the second painting introduced problems I could not foresee but with positivism and the will to plough ahead, I was able to bring it close to finish by the end of the third day.

Accélération urbaine ©2015 Suzanne Bélair Acrylic on canvas  36 X 36

Accélération urbaine
©2015 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic on canvas 36 X 36

I found that when you work with acrylics and abstract art, the speed of execution is dazzlingly quick compared to oil painting and my usual work process, even if everything is thought out and each colour is applied judiciously and in a thoughtful manner. I found this surprising.

I was very excited but still had a few misgivings when I registered. After all, I am a representational artist and it is what speaks to me most and is, for me, the ultimate challenge. But pushed by the need to get out of my comfort zone and to give myself the means to learn more about abstract art, to construct a painting based not solely on an object that can be observed, a landscape, a body, but on colour harmony, technique and emotion taught me a lot.

It was a fantastic week, everyone was interesting, captivating and ready to share, from the very first day. Challenges were numerous. What pleasure we had in working together and what a beautiful opportunity to recharge my creative batteries!
Getting out of our comfort zone is very rewarding and I believe I have added a new dimension to my art. I am curious to see where this will all lead.

 

À suivre…

 

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