Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's About Time

I've always said that TIME is somewhat irrelevant, and I still think it is.  It varies depending on where you are in the world, the season you are in, and even, historically speaking, the culture you live in.  I know, a bit of a quirky take on something that we all live by. Time is a magician, it makes years vanish in one gulp, or so it seems as we get older. Older, I said, not OLD!  And Time changes us; the way we look, the way we feel, the way we connect with things and people, the things we want. For creative people, it changes the way we do things too. The photo below, is the Me I was  . . . well, some time ago.  I loved dressing up, going to the theatre, and to large, rather sophisticated parties, and I put a lot of thought about how I presented myself at work. I had an image of myself that I wanted to maintain.

That was at the beginning of my art career when I was still only painting at nights and on weekends.   I was still searching for the path I needed to take, the subject, style, and mediums that were best for me.  I decided to go with the subject that was deeply a part of my heart, the things I felt I needed to paint even though they were 'hard sellers' - the dogs, cats and horses that I loved. I couldn't have made a better choice!  I've been so happy painting these little characters, but my style has certainly changed.  Back then, I focused on the animal, and just the animal.

It was a nice, clean way to work, but as time went on, I needed more from a painting.  Time changed my life too -  the way I lived, my views on things, the things I wanted, and my image of me.  Today I live in the country, something that I always knew at some level, was the right thing for me.  I seldom dress up, or go to  parties, and I work at home.  I'm more often found wearing  dog hair, paw prints, and paint than pearls, and standing in a field taking photos than at the theatre, and I LOVE it!  

 I could never go back to the old me, even though I was happy with my life at the time.  My painting has changed so much too.  Now the animal isn't enough, unless of course, I'm doing a straight portrait.  Now I want to tell a story, and the back ground has to be as imporant as the subject.  (Not as dominant though, and I'll talk about that next week).  

Time has a way of putting us through a crucible, to refine us and hone our spirit.  If you can embrace the changes it brings, both in yourself and in your work, especially if you work in the arts, life can be very good.  Oh, and I still wear my pearls :D

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Water, water, everywhere . . . .

I'm sure Coleridge had enough of water, judging from my title line borrowed from his poem,  but when it comes to painting, I'll never get enough of watercolours.

                            Shetland Sheepdog

I love the clarity and brightness of them, sitting as they do, on white, white paper that shines up through the often translucent paint.  I love the challenge of them.  They are not an easy medium to master - not that I've done that yet, but after so many years, I have a pretty good idea how to make them behave and do what I want.  There is still a lot for me to learn though, as it is a tricky medium full of surprises.  So I study the works of some of the major watercolour artists, - two American and one British gentlemen in particular to see what they choose for colours to create atmosphere in any given scene and how they apply the paint.  Then without any sense of copying, (horrors!) I struggle to apply what I've learned from studying their work, to my own paintings in such a way that I am creating my own path through the water world.  Life is an ongoing lesson, in paint and in real time.

                            Australian Shepherd

I love the wonderful washes of juicy colour I can achieve with this medium, and it's just as great at doing the detailed work I love to add to each painting.  
Occasionally I dip into another medium for a change to help keep me fresh, but I consider myself a watercolourist first and foremost.  It's only by putting in consistent, long hours that you can move forward with something - anything, that you want to do well. 
The only thing that bothers me just a tiny bit about watercolours is that in some circles, it is looked on as a slightly inferior medium . . .  that artists who paint primarily in watercolour are not "as much an artist" as those who choose oil, acrylic, etc.  Well, I politely DISAGREE!   Watercolours are quite permanent if they are done with quality pigment on a high quality linen "paper" such as Arches (or a few other fine watercolour papers), and if  they are properly framed/stored.  We (collectors and museums) still have some watercolours from the 1700's when the medium first became popular and advances were made in the paint's production. This medium takes skill and dedication to master, and though I don't feel I'm quite there yet, that's where I'm heading, or as close to it as I can get.  It's a demanding, challenging medium that tests the mettle and skill of the artist and totally enchants me, and I hope I can pass that enchantment with them on to you, the viewer.  I'm a Water-girl, and proud of it!

Heather Anderson

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Looking At Winter,

Are we tired of Winter yet?  I'm tired of the cold and the wet and the grey.  In the words of one of my favourite authors, (Albert Payson Terhune) ". . . . there comes a time in late winter when the cold stops thrilling and begins to hurt." Oh yes.  But although I 'm shivering and wishing for Spring like everyone else who lives in a cold climate, I never get tired of the incredible beauty Winter brings us.

Wake up one morning to a world covered in Hoar Frost and you feel that you've awakened in Faeryland.  You must get out quickly to enjoy it, because as soon as the sun is high enough in the sky, the icy magic will vanish.                                                                            The light on a late Winter afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky, and just before he begins  his descent to below the horizon is often nothing short of spectacular.  I love being out between 4 and 5 o'clock in February when the show begins.

And night brings it's own  frosty beauty.  That's when the deer slide out of the dusk to come to our garden for food.  They are amazing creatures.  One minute they are there, and the next they have become part of the shadows again. (This photo was taken just at dusk, but they usually come later in the evening as well.)

And the Winter moon is incredible - icy white and shining down, spilling silver across the fields and lighting the night with enchantment.

 It's looking for these lovely images that helps me get through the freezing times, so I'm not tired of Winter's beauty, but am I ready for Spring?  Oh,  YES!!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Line by Line

There's a new painting on the drawing board today.  I love that - "the DRAWING board".   I love to draw, always have.  And I'm good at it.  Put a pencil in my hand and I'm happy.                                

It seems to be the fashion today for many artists to say, 'well I know I can draw the image, so I'm not going to waste my time, I'll trace/project it instead.'  Well,  . . . . OK.  If that's what works for someone, go right ahead.   But for me, that would feel wrong, and it would take away at least half the fun and satisfaction for me.  I take pride in doing something that I worked hard to learn how to do.
When I draw something, putting pencil directly to white paper, I am able to connect with the subject in a way I couldn't do if I was confined by tracing paper or a projected image.  Oh, I do my initial drawing on newsprint (finally learned it's better to beat up a sheet of newsprint getting the image right than to ruin a sheet of watercolour paper!) and then, when the image is finally correct and the way I want it, I transfer it to the watercolour paper, so yes, there is a tracing step for me, but I'm tracing the image I've just put hours, sometimes a day or two, into drawing.
I love the painting process too, I'm addicted to soft, juicy colour and love to sweep watercolours onto paper to bring my image to life, but I need to think out the entire painting before I begin.  I didn't always do this, I'd be very careful with the main image and let the background take care of itself, but once I started to take the entire image seriously and draw everything but the tiny details before I started into paint, my overall painting took a leap forward.

So I willingly take the time to draw my images for a painting, I draw to work out ideas, both in art and in life, and I doodle or sketch when I'm waiting on the phone or as passenger in the car.  I'm enchanted by lines.  Pick up a pencil and have some fun :)