"Nobody knows I do abstracts, ..."

I said this to my husband as we drove to Bridgewater one day. And after a tiny bit of research I realized that actually, I don't do abstracts - most of my "abstracts" were not actually abstracts because there's almost always something recognizable in them.
So I am calling them "Bas Relief Paintings".

These paintings are not an easy task for me. ART ISN'T EASY. And if you spend a week or a month watching an artist do their work, you'll discover the reality of that statement.

For an extreme, but not solitary example from my own work of the process it takes to create my Bas Relief Paintings, I'm going to show you some of the stages of ONE canvas.

This painting no longer exists because after it was finished I was so convinced that "everyone" disliked it, that I painted over it in frustration! (And I have no process photos because that was before I found out it was a good idea to make process photos.)

You'd correctly assume that this initial piece (above) took me a "multitude" of hours; Find, cut and glue some Persian lamb fur to the canvas, arrange and glue 99 (count them) leftover LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes that my geek husband gave me), and then try to discover over weeks or months (as it sits in various stages and places), a pleasing colour composition. Yes it's a long and arduous – yet pleasant – painting process.

I'm not sure when this project began, but after a few months (probably more) of finishing it and it sitting around the house in various places, and after the big step of showing it to a small gallery owner who said yes, but never then responded to my emails, and because I thought I also no longer cared for it — I attacked it.

After the white-out gesso process and on the same canvas, this painting below appeared, but it doesn't exist anymore either!

So, still disliking what this canvas had become, I hid it behind some other paintings where it stayed for over a year - hopelessly textured. But this year I went at it again:

One of my greatest colour challenges is working with green - so I thought, "I like a good challenge, why not put a hopeless green on top of a hopeless texture?" Below is what it became next:

Still not happy, I did this next version below - which now that I see it, looks pretty much like "steaming angry!".

I really wasn't angry while doing it, I mean, who doesn't enjoy the process of exploring and discovering? At least I found out I wanted this one in landscape mode, not portrait mode - small yay.

And then to make a long story short ... this one above no longer exists and after two more attempts of finals, I got to where I'm actually finally happy with it. That may be for more than one reason ... but you'll see it here on my website under Bas Relief Paintings. 
  

Making Movies in March


This winter I've been busy experimenting with many different programs, attempting to make videos out of my process photos. Many of those programs have file size limitations or monthly fees and I always shy away from monthly fees (they're like holes in your pockets), so I finally settled on an easy-to-use program I that found for my iPad. It's called "Perfect Video", was 5 dollars to buy, will save all my videos to Youtube and now I can share the link whichever way I want - yay!

The process of making a video is more time consuming than I thought it would be, but my husband is spending another 2 weeks in China so I was free to spend the 6 plus hours it took to get this video together. At 58, I think it's pretty impressive how much of a power-gadget-user I've become!

 This is painted on a board and I fight getting pickier when I'm painting with smaller brushes on a smaller surface.

This is painted on a board and I fight getting pickier when I'm painting with smaller brushes on a smaller surface.

For this latest painting, an early morning winter shot from a webcam set up in the lighthouse area of Yarmouth, NS was posted by a friend of mind on FaceBook and I asked if I could use it. He said yes and I figured it was good for public use.

I took around 40 original photos with my iPhone as I was painting (they're not great quality because sometimes I'm taking pics when there's not enough light, and also I'm normally not that steady with my hands). Well, then I uploaded them to my desktop computer where I chose the 22 photos that I wanted. I straightened and resized each of them in my Photoshop program and then re-saved them all "for web".

 

Then I sent the collection of photos to my iPad where I used the small app I mentioned above - Perfect Video. I re-ordered my pics, then added some music and text, and when it was all close to the way I wanted it (not shooting for perfection yet), I uploaded to Youtube directly from my iPad. Then I went and opened the video on my desktop computer downstairs and could copy the link and add it into my website!

If anyone knows of an easier method to make videos from process photos, I'm all ears! Please DO contact me (via email or FaceBook)!

To see the video of how I go about making this smaller sized acrylic painting, click here or on the photo of the chair above and it will take you to the Youtube video of my finished Yarmouth Lighthouse painting. I'm delighted to be using music that my son created years ago (you might want to turn down the volume!). 

Discovering Colour Therapy in Winter - requests your opinion...

Greetings Everyone!

I've been spending a lot of time packaging my latest shipment of printed cards, and this time they're mostly brightly coloured flower cards. Looking at these cards, especially the collection together, delights me every time I set my eyes on them! 

I think most of you who currently read my blog live in the Northern Hemisphere and are experiencing winter - that cold, grey time of year when cloud cover is more common than sunshine. And when there IS a sunny day, despite the bright blue sky, the colour palette is still very limited.

yellow-orchid-oil-pastel.jpg

Colour can make a difference in a person's life, for example with food. Your choice of coloured vegetables, orange, yellow red or green, may imply that your body is craving certain nutrients. Coloured walls affect our moods.

But this is my new theory: Staring at even painted colourful flowers can cause a refreshing and invigorating mental experience - reminiscent of the effect of spring or even a warm summer's day on the psyche. Actually, Claude Monet's colourful Haystack series can also create this feeling for me. 

I wonder if this happens for everyone, or maybe I'm just having fun making and printing flowers? 

Would you do me the favour of browsing through the flowers on my website and letting me know if the same thing happens to you? This blog then, might become a mini study into the effects of painted flowers on the human mind. 

My flower (garden) section is here: FLOWERS and for more colour infusion therapy, please spend some time at my website browsing through all the colour - I hope you have an encouraging experience!

Before you go, I'd like to share more colour - in my first ever Youtube video below! It's a short demo of one of my oil pastel drawings, only 14 seconds long. 

Thanks for your help!!

Dorothea



 

 


The Process of Becoming an Artist

 
 Two Girls on a Chinese Swing. This is an interesting swing that we'd never see in Canada because of little hands getting caught in the odd spaces. But it sure is a good exercise machine!  Acrylic on board

Two Girls on a Chinese Swing. This is an interesting swing that we'd never see in Canada because of little hands getting caught in the odd spaces. But it sure is a good exercise machine! Acrylic on board

 This is a chalk pastel that I made at the University of Guelph, of me as a child standing in front of a University of Guelph building.

This is a chalk pastel that I made at the University of Guelph, of me as a child standing in front of a University of Guelph building.

 Far left part of a Triptych I made in art school.   It's 2x4 feet wide - made from c ement fondue painted to look like bronze.

Far left part of a Triptych I made in art school.  It's 2x4 feet wide - made from cement fondue painted to look like bronze.

 China Painting - "Boy sleeping on a motorcycle". He's obviously not yet enough to ride it, so he's probably guarding it for his older brother or father or uncle while they pick something up in the store.  Acrylic on board

China Painting - "Boy sleeping on a motorcycle". He's obviously not yet enough to ride it, so he's probably guarding it for his older brother or father or uncle while they pick something up in the store. Acrylic on board

 China Painting - "Men playing Chinese Chess" in the middle of a busy street, on a homemade paper "board" game.  Acrylic on board

China Painting - "Men playing Chinese Chess" in the middle of a busy street, on a homemade paper "board" game. Acrylic on board

 China Painting - "Two sides of a Chinese River" Rivers support a community - people meet, wash their clothes, get water for cooking, socialize and plant food anywhere there is free ground. Acrylic on board

China Painting - "Two sides of a Chinese River" Rivers support a community - people meet, wash their clothes, get water for cooking, socialize and plant food anywhere there is free ground. Acrylic on board

China and my return to art after 26 years

I studied art for 4 years at the university of Guelph from 1976-1980 but because I suffered with an auto-immune disease, by the time the year 2006 rolled around, I had totally forgotten that I had the ability/gift of art making! it took me until 2007 to begin dabbling with art again. 

My father was probably the greatest influence in my life as an artist. He was a sculptor and would go to flea markets and have the occasional show of his beautiful work, but nothing came of it other than a few sales here and there. He never seriously pursued a career with his art; he had a family of six to support. Everyone always admired his work and whenever I could, I spent hours in the shop with him, just watching face, body or animal-like forms emerge as he chipped away at his creations. (see his work here)

When I went to university, I had no plans to do a degree in fine art because in high school I was discouraged from "wasting my time" making art. But one little "art and design" course slipped into my first year amidst all the courses on computing, science, and languages; and that one little "art and design" course took hold of me; I then dove into as many art courses as possible.

Even though I REALLY enjoyed making art in school, and it was well crafted, somehow I was convinced that I was not very good at it - maybe because at that time all the praised students made conceptual art. 

After graduating with a 4yr art degree (in 1980) I managed to get married and raise two kids despite struggling with MS symptoms (from the age of 19). The interim years until 2006 became a blur even though I tried to create a large drawing which was taped and screwed to my kitchen wall - for a slow 5 year drawing process. 

As I mentioned above, over the years, I'd totally forgotten that I could actually draw, sculpt and paint. The thought that I'd ever make art again in the future had not entered my mind until out of desperation with my poor health, and a last ditch effort prayer of exactly this, "Help me Jesus!", I began a 7 year, expensive process of hard core cleansing with serious lifestyle changes. My health slowly improved.

It was a year into this 'getting healthier' process when I had a eureka moment - I suddenly found myself thinking creative thoughts! They were so foreign to me, I remember being startled at this new thought process. Praises to God because what slowly began emerging out of the mess of my life was a joy and purpose in making art like I'd never had before!

Traveling to China in 2008 with my husband was a kick-start-art-creating event for me. Still regaining my health, our China trip was an arduous journey with airport delays and more, but the 3 weeks I spent in Zhumadian, Henan Province, were almost magical - everything was so different. I took thousands of photos with my digital camera and suddenly had subject matter to paint for decades!

Through all of my life's experiences Jesus Christ is my guide, my stand-by, my strengthener, my joy-giver and my hope. He was there when there was no hope from anywhere in the world. I am forever His.

If you're an artist inside, it will eventually come out of you - no matter what struggles you go through in life, no matter who discourages you, no matter where you happen to be.