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Monday, 28 March 2016


Vaseux Lake in January
It was a surprise to me that paintings do not often begin with a swipe of colour across a page or canvas. Some do but, most don't. Many artists use reference photographs they or a friend have snapped.  The photo inspires and can even be combined with another photo or two to evolve into a painting that exists in the artists head and heart. Special colours, light, emotion take shape and a painting is created.
Vaseux Lake Reference Photo

I paint with watercolours and have found, with experience, that my painting usually starts with the reference photo nearby inspiring colours and shapes, but over time as the painting evolves, I refer less and less to the picture and more and more paint from my head, my memory, or even my heart. I believe my best paintings are those that tell a story. Maybe that is because I am a writer. I often describe feelings as colours in my writing; perhaps the colours in my paintings expand on the feelings the painting evokes in my heart: wonder, excitement, tranquillity, serenity - and the list goes on. My painting and my writing connect at some point and truly, I have my laptop on one end of my desk and my paints on the other - long and narrow so I can zip my chair from one media to the next with the spin of the wheels on the office chair.

Xien Muslim Market Reference Photo
I have shared the reference photo, my planning sketch and my almost finished painting for your perusal. You can see that I chose a more naive format for the painting, with my main focus to capture the light reflections on the wet pavement in a night scene. This was the most memorable time from our visit to Xien and the Muslim Market there. I loved this place at night even in the rain!

Sketch for painting
Although the prep is not so pretty and I have SO much more to learn about this and every other aspect of painting, I believe that as an artist or writer your main purpose is to connect with another human. Here is when you re-design the picture in your head, tweak the slant of the sidewalk, re-position the tables, add people in clusters or groups from your memory. I made sure I included umbrellas - they were everywhere when we visited this spot! Seeing the basis for some paintings may open up that window a little wider! Maybe you too will grab a brush and create your own windows into your world!

The Charcoal Seller
This painting has a naive approach, shapes instead of details, coloured light flowing throughout the landscape, images of faceless people scattered throughout, enjoying the market at different levels of interaction. Do you see it? Feel it? Does it make you smile, seek, wander? Do you wish you could see what is behind that tree, where are those people going, who is this guy selling charcoal to the market stall owners? Can you imagine the smells: steaming mutton soup; lamb, beef and chicken kabobs; roasting walnuts - well, maybe not! But I can! (just think Chinese food!)

My next painting is sketched! Stay tuned!

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