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Posts Tagged ‘#arttips’

Last week, I decided to do my research for the Silent Skies project and find some pictures of the selected birds to give me ideas I will rework. In the afternoon, I went to the studio with the intention of playing with my brushes which must feel abandoned since Christmas …

Strange how this New Year’s theme is gradually emerging and moving towards birds with the mural project and the children’s book that I started that will be about a woodpecker family …

But entering the studio and after putting my music on, it is not my brushes that caught my attention but the room where I store my half – finished and new canvases, my working and packaging material, etc. I should have taken a picture before, it was a disaster. It is also the room where I varnish when it is too windy or cold or rainy outside. I need a good central space on the floor to do this especially if the artwork is large. Since the move of the studio, I had not yet managed to tidy up and make this space functional.

After an afternoon of work, everything is now organized and clean, a great way to start the year. Here are a few photos :

While doing this cleaning, I found a list of projects dating from 2012. It gave me the idea to remake one for 2018. I don’t know why I lost the habit of making my list of art projects at the beginning of the year since the move of the studio. I often complicate my life by entering my ideas in different notebooks when a simple list strategically placed is so much more effective.

There are many benefits to keeping a list of projects in the studio. I like to put it on a prominent wall where I can consult it regularly and everything on my list usually get done during the following months.

A list of projects is very stimulating and helps to keep focus on priorities in the studio where you can easily lose your attention. My problem is that I want to do everything at the same time, everything attracts me, colors, new techniques, my paintings that are started and need finishing, new ones to start, so a list of projects brings me where I am more productive.

A paper, a pen and a few minutes are enough to create a list of projects. It’s a wonderful tool to keep control of your day and your attention and it only takes 5 to 10 minutes.

No electronic tool for me when it comes to making a list of projects because I want to have it in front of me at all times especially when I start checking what is done. It definitely works for me, it gives me an overview and a impulse of optimism.

I also use it to set my priorities, including deadlines for exhibitions, symposiums, orders.

It also allows you to optimize your time, such as preparing several canvases with gesso at the same time depending on what is planned.

It helps to stay calm because you feel more in control and it eliminates the stress of thinking you have forgotten a project or a date.

You can easily guess what I’m doing as soon as I am finished writing this post!

I hope this short article will motivate you to make your list of projects for 2018!

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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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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 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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