Daily Walk

I walk my daughter to school every day. Often she asks me about when she will be able to walk on her own. It’s a great way to start my day and she’s my last little one and so, I wish I could do it forever.

This lovely spot has a view of the Bedford Basin. I have been walking by it almost every day for 10 years. I have seen it in all seasons and all weather. It’s a minuscule dose of nature in our ever growing small community in Bedford, Nova Scotia. I take a moment each time and look out or photograph and thank my lucky stars to live where I do with my growing family.

I have been working like this for a while but mostly on beaches. The truth about my surroundings have changed. School is back in session and I am often staying close to home. I am surprised about how much I enjoy staying near home. I would never have imagined that I would be one to prefer it. It appears that it has happened to me. I am not sure if this occured because of the pandemic we are living through or the fact that I am middle aged. I am glad though because it has been a great source of inspiration.

One thing that has changed in my work over the years is my reliance on reality to express myself. I have abandoned realistic imagery in favour of a more whimsical and imaginative one. This in turn has given me permission to change parts of landscape or adjust any composition to my liking. These watercolours on paper are a great way for me to express myself. I love including patterns and exaggerating colour in my work. They often lead to other larger acrylic paintings on canvas so none of this ends up wasted. It is my way of keeping a sketchbook. It is an affordable way to keep my creativity flowing.

The first image is of the view in the summertime. The second is the fall, and there is my daughter in the right corner. I have been occasionally including her in some of my sketches which is a side series I guess. The third is also an image of autumn. It is funny but when I try to make a bigger 9×12 watercolour I find it too big to make. I have tried several times over the last few months but I prefer working really small in watercolour. It appears that my acrylics are the opposite now. I find doing a really small acrylic not quite as interesting to make.

Every day is a learning experience and as I go I learn new things about myself. I think it’s important to just keep trying and exploring and learning. It’s also important to see the nearby things that are worth making art about.

Dunvegan Watercolour Sketchbook

In July, we spent three nights at Macleod’s Camping Ground in Dunvegan during our pandemic stay-cation. It was the first time we went camping in 8 years due to a number of factors and it was such a pleasure for us. We had not been to Dunvegan in perhaps 9 or 10 years and it still takes my breath away. We were lucky to have beautiful weather while we camped and the camping site is just near Dunvegan Beach.

I now always take my watercolour set to the beach and this was no exception and this time I brought Brigid’s watercolour set too. It was her very first camping trip and I think she was pretty excited. She does get a little nervous about long car rides  because of car sickness but she did just fine.

I loved being in Cape Breton again. When we were first married, my husband and I lived in Sydney. We lived there for several years and our summers involved a little bit of camping along the Ceilidh Trail and along the Cabot Trail.  Cape Breton is a magical place and this year we brought the kids! We did a little sea kayaking, sunset watching, gallery hopping, beach going, wave swimming, brewery pub crawling (to eat), friend visiting and we stayed in a fancy “inn” too.

I was glad to see when I came home that many people took the stay-cation seriously and traveled within the province. It was clear that the Cape Breton Island needed more travelers about while we were there but according to my social media peeps, many we knew did the same vacation.

Here is my little tribute, in the form of a handmade book of a little slice of The Ceilidh Trail:

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Another Series

It is very common for creative people to get artist’s block. It happens and it is not unusual. I have had it and I am terrified of it. It usually creeps up after a show that I have worked on for months or when I am doubting my direction. I know other creative people get it and I don’t know the answer to this problem. I just think I need to put myself through it and quite possibly it might be part of the creative process.

There are times, during artist’s block, where I continue to make things out of fear of never doing it again. Maybe I make curtains for the house, perhaps I make facemasks for the family (pandemic duties), I bake yummy things (also pandemic duties…haha) and I think I continue to produce sketches and paintings in all varieties. I go through a hyper critical view of myself thinking I do not have what people call having “a style”. I have always been very creative and found it hard to commit to one way of working. In art school, my printmaking looked nothing like my painting because the processes were different. Printmaking was a place to explore and painting was a place to learn a skill for me, I guess. Over time, I think I explored more in my  painting practice. But the flip flopping led to mild criticism from one instructor suggesting it would seem like I had a mental health issue. Luckily and surprisingly, I took it lightly as I did with most “art crits”. I am not convinced that someone who is in their early twenties really knows what they want, but I digress.

I have spend the last few years in this limbo state. I did manage to get through a group show and paint quite a few series of things for practice and for fun. It wasn’t a complete dry spell but it was all over the place and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I am happy to announce that I have finally started a series of work I am totally and passionately excited about. I am working on large (for me) mystical landscapes in acrylic paint that celebrate the movement, colour and pattern where I have one foot in reality and one foot in my imagination. This would not have happened if I didn’t decide one day several years ago to take my watercolour set to the beach, and paint in plein air. It would not have happened if I didn’t make my big abstract for fun in January (I am still playing on it) it will go in my house someday. I don’t think it would have happened without the pandemic which gave me time to work though all this stuff in my head. I managed to produce quite a few beach paintings when people were so lonesome for the beautiful Nova Scotia beaches so I know I love it. It might not have happened if I didn’t do The Sketchbook Project thanks to my friend Leah who gave me it to do because her son did not want to do it.

Everything you make leads you somewhere so just go with it.

The Sketchbook Project-Stuck Inside

sketchbook home

This week I bound my little book for “The Sketchbook Project”. Here are the little watercolours I made in the right order of my little handbound book. It will be sent today and will stay in “Brooklyn Art Library” in NY with many other little books to be viewed by the public. It was very fun and I am pleased that I was given this project by my really nice friend, Leah. I hope one day to go and check it out myself.

Back to My Acrylic Paint

Inverness Acrylic

Inverness Beach

 

I have a studio in my basement but for a variety of reasons I decided to take a break from using it during the covid-19 pandemic. It wasn’t a conscious decision but rather one that developed out the desire to work in watercolour and gouache at the kitchen table surrounded by my family. The studio also became a good place for my husband to work from when he had meetings. The little watercolours were a great way to add structure to my day before we had to homeschool the kids online. I continued to paint and bake during the isolation finding myself working on several “Art” projects during that time.

I used my watercolours and gouache to paint interiors, dog portraits, beach landscapes and to participate in the “Sketchbook Project”.  It has been very satisfying to work on all of these things. Now, because of all the work I have done, I have so many directions I can take. I have plenty of reference material and I understand what works well and what I can improve in my work. There is something to be said about working a little each day.

The above landscape is my first acrylic painting in a long time. I really enjoyed working on the texture of the canvas and hope to create quite a few more landscapes like this one. I love the immediacy and the looseness of using the watercolours but there is something about working from an image I painted in watercolour and making an acrylic out of it. The information is all there and ready for me to use and adjust it look how I want. It permits me to be very creative with colour and work larger with a bit of a plan.

To all you folks who want to paint but aren’t sure where to start or have yet to get into a pattern of working, I highly recommend not to worry about it at all. Just get out your sketchbooks, watercolours or whatever else floats your boat and work small. Then you will have an idea of what you wish to do. Just do something small everyday for now!