All Images Are Copyright Protected

Please respect that any posted images are copyright protected. Please feel free to contact me directly for possible permission to use images from my blog.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Some Painting Progress - Beginning the Face

Got in some painting over the Christmas holiday days. Not a ton but began establishing the darks and lights in the face. I did go a bit further in the face, at this early stage, than was planned, but am happy with its beginnings.

Still the painting has a lot of the look of an under painting, but with a year and a bit to work on it still, it will go through a lot of transformation.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Bit of Painting in Today

Had to skip last weekend as I had some things to do and had a nice lunch out with a dear friend I don't see often.

Managed to get an hour and a bit in today. It will be the last I can do until after Christmas as I need to clear all my work stuff away for guests. It'll be nice having all the kids here and my Dad.

I needed to find some sort of basic reference for the menu as pretty much the whole thing was blown out in the way the phone camera handled the white of the menu, in the original photo. So, found a menu and had to take it into Photoshop and change the perspective plus do some blurring of it. I have it roughed in. It may change later on, depending on what the surrounding elements do to its values once they are more complete. One thing that will be difficult to work out just from my head is the reflections or any shadows below the hand and fingers, on the menu, as her hand in the original shot was not there. A new reference image of my own hand on a reflective surface in the same lighting condition may need to be produced.

Bear with me with the not so fantastic cell phone pic of this weekend's progress :-) Cell phones have teeney tiny sensors and they tend to smooshy smooshy the image and have lots of noise..

Thursday, 3 December 2015

More Portrait Progress

Had 2 days holidays left from this year's work holidays that I get. Got some painting in on my portrait on the one day, and am going to see the Turner show at the AGO the 2nd day, with my Dad and my hubby. Should be nice, I have not been to the Art Gallery in Toronto for a few years.

I bought a really nice size wide size 10 filbert brush at Curry's and I am happy to say I chose right! It is really working well for rubbing and blending my soft layered background shapes. So, I made some progress, albeit a small amount, in my background. I also widened her arm on our left, her right.

There is quite a long ways to go but so far I feel confident it will work out in the end to my liking, hopefully.

my palette laid out, ready to begin

Monday, 30 November 2015

Portrait Painting Progress

The last couple of weekends, I have gotten in 5 - 6 hours on my personal portrait of my daughter. It's slow going but I feel happy painting again.

There are some issues with the arm on viewer left, which I will need to solve still.

The biggest obstacle I am facing is I do not really have a work space, a studio space if you will. I have been basically sitting on the floor but this does not allow for comfort, sitting cross legged on my pillow on the floor of the living room. I don't have the painting up high enough to work on the bottom of it. To sit at my drafting table, I would need to angle my board at such an angle that I cannot put my paints, my plate that I use for a palette, nor my mug that I have water in to rinse brushes. I used to have wire coat hangers bent in a way that I could hang my canvas off them from the top edge of my board, but I'm unsure where they are since having moved a few years ago. New ones would need to be made.

In any event, it so far is going ok. Background will be what I work on for a while. Though, always, I stray.

Sometimes a colour I mix for one area, intended for a different part of the painting all together I end up by instinct using it in the skin, and it tends to always work. I feel that this happens, especially with neutrals, because we tend to Think we know what pigments should work to mix skin tones and hone in on those, when really, skin tones have way more neutrals in them than we think. Therefore, when Not intending the colour I mix to be for the body, I end up mixing something that just Works. But I know I do this, from so many portraits in the past, so I in a way now lead myself down this same very path every time intentionally :-) Mix my background colours and neutrals, mix my hair neutrals, and voila, use them in the skin too.

The canvas I used to buy, from Curry's, I could no longer find after a while, one where I could rub such a soft layering of velvety dry brush blending with colour over colour. This canvas I can purchase now does not have quite that finish on it so I've had to adapt to the difference.

It will be a long go, probably over a year, but I am happy so far with the beginning progress stage.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Under Painting Stage of Current Personal Portrait

Have managed to get to the under painting stage of my daughter's portrait. I've been managing by sitting on a pillow on the floor with a borrowed light off to the left side, clamped to a tall iron candle holder stand, a light my husband has lent me. I'm basically just working with burnt umber, a bit of cadmium red medium and a tough of raw sienna, with a large soft brush, rubbing and dry brushing the pigment in a circular motion onto the canvas surface.

Once I establish the built up tonal values in the background, then colour can be begun to be dry brushed over top, as well as highlights. Edges will get cleaned up the further the painting process goes.

There are still a bit of issues with the arm and hands drawing, but it should get solved in the painting stage. After having drawn the one arm 3 times, and the other arm twice, I decided to leave as is for now and tackle the minor corrections in the painting stage.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Lots of Migrating Birds!

We did a walk last weekend, at East Point Park, off Kingston Rd. in Scarborough, as well as a visit to Rosetta McClain Gardens yesterday. Mainly we went to see what interesting birds we could spot at both locations, and secondly, for the enjoyment and exercise.

East Point was an overcast, windier walk the weekend we went. One thing about East Point, is you do need to be a bit mindful of what small man made paths you may choose to venture down. Lots of birds to see though the light wasn't fantastic. Weather wasn't overly cold but the winds were a bit gusty. Lots of Golden Crowned Kinglets, an Eastern Towhee, warblers, woodpeckers, and a red tailed hawk. Our biggest thrill was seeing a female Black Throated Green Warbler for the first time, and managing to get at least a semi ok documentary image of it. What a little cutie! Lots of gorgeous dried Fall vegetation to see as well.

It was quite the enlightening walk that day, to say the least lol!

Yesterday, our visit to Rosetta McClain Gardens was had on one of the most ideal of days weather wise. Thanksgiving weekend here in Ontario can often be gorgeous, warm, sunny, and have just the right mix of summer and autumn in it. Well, Saturday was the epitome of perfect Thanksgiving weather.

There were megatons of Kinglets, peeping and feasting in the trees on the East side. We got lucky and saw one Fox Sparrow though not in great lighting conditions enough for a good shot of the little guy. He was with the White Throated Sparrows, foraging and digging through the ground cover for food. We saw a Hermit Thrush high up in the medium sized Mountain Ash trees near the washrooms, eating the red berries on them, along with robins and sparrows. The dying roses were also quite beautiful in many ways and the gardens still had blooming flowers.

There were Still the odd Monarch flying around and Still wedding photos going on lol!

East Point Park Birds

Rosetta McClain Gardens Birds

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Beginning Stages of Portrait Drawing on Canvas

Well, not the most ideal of work space set ups but it works. Began the drawing of my daughter onto the toned canvas last weekend and will be continuing it today. It should take about 3 to 4 Saturdays to draw it on. I can only sit for a couple hours, cross legged on the floor, holding my tablet with the gridded reference image in my left hand, drawing with my right with a 3b pencil, so it'll be some time before it gets done. Once done, I will need to work out how I'm going to get this canvas at the right angle at my drafting board, to paint, as I cannot lay it flat, it's too large. The whole drafting table will need to be angled up, therefore I will not be able to put my palette, reference images, water, and paints on it. I will need to make hangers for it again too, something I had years ago, out of old coat hangers, to hang the canvas from the top of the drafting board edge, so that I can sit in front of it to paint. The things one will go through lol!

 the progress as of Sunday Oct 11

Monday, 28 September 2015

Beginning a New Portrait

surface of canvas prepped with a tone
Having finished a commission recently, I will be beginning the painting of my daughter on canvas, 20"x30" in acrylic which I had put off when the commission came along. I do have another small watercolour to do, but can take some time with it.

It turned out to be a good thing that I got waylaid from beginning my portrait in the end. I decided to change surfaces from primed hardboard to canvas, and work larger, plus a different aspect ratio :-)

This original image was taken on my cell phone, not a great way of shooting a reference photo for a painting, but I just could not resist the shot. We were at a Mexican restaurant near my Dad's place in Toronto, and Shaun was sitting across from me and the light from the window I just loved on her. Her pose was just what she was doing and I asked her if she could just hold it, may I get a pic. My kids are used to that since they could walk so she agreed.

So, since the image is minus info I would have gotten with my Nikon, especially in the highlights, I will most likely need to keep this portrait more stylized, painterly, as opposed to highly detailed.

The thinking can often be that working from photos is somehow less than working from life, but that is a bit of a myth in many ways. I do have 30+ years of life drawing behind me which help plus I don't see well so reference images are better for me. Plus, no way can my daughter sit for this. In any event, to be quite honest, our drawings from life are still not a representation of real "seeing" because we artists tend to focus on each specific area of the figure/still life we draw, during the whole drawing time, therefore will draw everything in detail. If we were to draw exactly as the eye sees, then only one small area which our eyes are on should be in focus in our painting, and the rest just off that few inches where our eyes choose to specifically sit on the figure/object be a total blur. If I draw with no glasses, my whole image would just be abstract and blurred texture lol!

To work from a reference, one needs to be aware of the short fallings that the equipment may have caused. One, the lens will often create distortion beyond what the eye would create. One example is that a nose on a face in a pic can be too large as it being to close to the lens, or the particular lens and distance the figure was from the lens, will cause the nose to be larger in comparison to the face than it truly should appear to the naked eye. A forward arm can have the same issue.

In the case of my reference here, I had to reshoot her arm months later as it was not in a good position in my original photo. I mocked it up but when I have to draw and paint it, I'm going to need to pay close attention to melding the 2 references in the original drawing, plus make sure I don't make her arm and especially her hand too enlarged and focal. Right now, to keep the reference proper, I had to allow her hand too be too big in it and not foreshortened quite enough. Her face will be most focused, the rest will be less so, the background quite loose and blurred. It will all be played by ear as I paint lol! As well, the table wood will be the gnarled knotted wood of the original table, not the striped veneer of the 2nd ref image.

Most likely this portrait will take me 1 1/2 yrs to complete, on weekends, as I can only work during the day, before 2pm or so, because I work from natural light by my north facing sliding glass window.

I chose this portrait for her casual pose, the beautiful light and shadows on her face, as well as the warm spicy atmosphere and palette coupled with her porcelain skin tones.

reference specifically for

reference ready for me to begin
drawing onto prepped canvas

Sunday, 13 September 2015

More Sunsets from our Balcony View

We didn't use our balcony as much over this past summer as last year. Not sure why, possibly because we didn't have as warm weather evenings as last summer. Okay, and well, it took me longer into the season to go out and do the cleaning of it lol!

In any event, we still had the pleasure of viewing some magnificent skies this year again. Gorgeous sunsets and one faint rainbow after a rain.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Mom and Baby Deer Sighting!

Always nice to get out for a walk and it's quite a treat to have a place that is only about a 10 to 15 min walk away, the Birkdale Ravine in Toronto. Late afternoons are a great time to go for a nature hike or walk. The light is pretty and many butterflies and dragonflies tend to be out in the late sunshine.

We'd heard that people have spotted deer in the meadow area but I can't recall if we've seen deer there before ourselves.

As we walked, I noticed that the clouds looked slightly ominous. We reached the meadow just as it began to come down. We had just spotted a wolf spider in it's web when the rain started. I grabbed a couple photos as we don't see one of those every day, rarely ever. They are creepy looking yet fascinating at the same time. We ducked under a huge maple tree and the leaves were dense enough to keep pretty much all the rain off of us and my camera. Mosquitoes loved it too though lol!

It was about 20 mins or so before the rain finally let up. It stopped 2x and restarted during that time. Right near the end of the wait, I was looking ahead around the direction of the path we took in and jumped slightly at the sudden appearance of a deer. I knew there'd be more so we stayed still. Another stepped out, munching a flower as it did, and both stood near each other in the clearing of the grassy path. The what I now saw was a Mom deer, a doe, was alert and saw us, the second deer, what turned out to be an older fawn, was not so nervous. It was such a wonderful sight getting to see the Mom and baby deer, and the fawn even reach to nurse from the Mom. Then, they decided enough was enough of being out of the cover of the woods and turned and walked back in.

Such an enjoyable walk.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Cool Walk at Toronto's Rouge Park!

Last weekend, we decided to hit Rouge Park again! Last time, we enjoyed the first ever sighting of a Pileated Woodpecker!

There were clear warning signs near the odd patch of giant hog weed or cow parsnip plants we saw, but most of these plants had been already dead and were a bit in from the paths, some very far in.

Upon entering the park, we heard what sounded like a bird of prey in distress or upset about something, continuously calling. Soon enough, looking up, there was an adult red tailed hawk circling and circling the large same area radius. This went on as we got out of ear shot and it was a bit upsetting as we couldn't really do anything for the bird, which was quite far away and looked to be over an unreachable area up an incline. The bird seemed physically fine through my lens but it was continuously calling and in a high pitched drastic sort of distressed way. Our assumption, uneducated I must add, was that possibly its juvenile was missing, injured or its mate was missing. Later on, on our way out 3+ hours later, we came close to the area again, could still hear it, then suddenly there were 4 hawks, 2 in pursuit of each other, so we figured it was some sort of  not welcomed stranger thing or territory argument, which in a way did help to alleviate most of the upset it caused us to feel, thinking some horrible imaginings.

There were lots of butterflies around and a few awesome dragonflies. We saw red admirals, an Aphrodite frittilery, and lots of white butterflies. We saw dusky brown coloured butterflies too, the name of those I forget.

As for birds, we saw red breasted gros beaks, cedar wax wings, black capped chickadees, cat birds, song sparrows, the pileated woodpecker,

The most exciting plant we saw, and it has to be real cool for me to get all worked up about a plant, was the globe thistle. They were actually in bloom with little purple flowers! First time we've ever seen that, The butterflies and bees just Love them it seems.

The Rouge Park also has a camp ground, which is a municipal camp ground, owned by the city of Toronto. I've never camped there, considering I lived in Ajax which is next door practically, and now live only 20 mins away in Scarborough, but it is always full, fire wood smoke smells are often detectable as one passes it on the 401 Highway lol! Many of the campers though were out on the trails along with the crop in hikers like us. It is a lovely conservation and hiking trail park, with a mix of a bit of short rugged inclines in spots of the paths, which are excellent for exercise if one wants to go those directions. There are a couple more advanced hiker paths, steep inclines, lots of rugged uneven gravel ground, but there are lots of stretches of mainly flat path trails too. We encountered no mosquitoes the late afternoon/evening walk we did, although part of the trails go along the river.

We do enjoy this park and its trails and will be going back in the fall again for the autumn leaves and raptors hopefully.