In the early 70’s stories of the forest creature flourished when Roger Patterson’s 1967 Sasquatch film reached the masses.
The park where we lived was a perfect setting for tales of ‘sightings’ to go viral among campers.
My Dad applied logic to comfort my fears “There would be scat, skeletal remains, evidence if they existed’. I was unconvinced… because, well, there were pictures. Isn’t that evidence enough?
Living in a vast wilderness, home to all kinds of creatures was a part of our daily life.
To a six year old, it made sense to believe Bigfoot wandered among them, and Roger’s photo haunted me.
One sleepless night, standing on my bed to see out my window, I worried, was it stalking us? Hearing my tearful whimpers, my brother quietly entered my room dressed in flannel Charlie Brown pjs. Climbing up, he peered out alongside me.
Gazing at the inky black moonless night, I whispered my fears. He agreed, “Yes, he could be out there. I feel sorry for him.”
“He is alone in the dark. People are afraid of him and don’t like him. He probably would like to have a friend. He must be really lonely.” I mentioned the scary photo.
Beyond the wisdom of a 7 year old, he replied “Is he chasing, or running away? afraid? We don’t really know.” From that day since, I make a conscious effort to not be drawn into ignorant assumptions. Besides, if fretting about a mythical creature, why not believe he is one of the good guys?
Assumptions without truth can dangerously lead us on a merry mind chase. How we perceive events and others is a choice. Look at face value, or consider possibilities. Seek truth.
Dismissing stereotypes, approaching people and situations with a positive open mind may release unnecessary stress and the negative tizzy we get ourselves into. Even if we don’t know the whole story, shedding positive light widens perspective.
The art world is a commonplace for myths to circulate, and yet, art can offer a world of hope. Art is universal, can increase tolerance and sharpen critical thinking in the viewer.
When we stop judging, we don’t just become open to possibility, we free ourselves.
“Art is about paying attention.” Laurie Anderson
“I shut my eyes in order to see,” Paul Gauguin
“One can only see what one observes, and one observes only things which are already in the mind.” Alphonse Bertillon
“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.“ Rachel Carson
His love of northern forests, pristine lakes, wildlife and quiet spaces drew him to a career in Parks.
In those days the job was physically demanding requiring self sufficiency. Perfect for an athletic person comfortable being alone in the wilderness.
“Note the distinct difference of pine and spruce. Now draw them,” Dad instructed as we wandered northern boreal forest. Happy to be with my Dad in the park, surrounded by the scent of pine, I dutifully turned to my paper.
I don’t remember the detailed lessons of pine & spruce he taught that day when I was a child. But I do recall the spread of his wide shoulders under his kaki shirt swooping down to scoop a pine cone in his calloused hand. I remember the timber of his gentle voice and the easy manner of which he walked. I remember that moment so clearly, my love for him shining in my heart as it does today. Sharing shyness and a love of wilderness, we walked to the sound of chickadees in the bright summer sun.
He is a man of few words, who stands by them. Never to offend, always in respect and kindness. A leader by example. Not once have I heard him raise his voice. Never. Not in anger, fear, or celebration.
He fought forest fires and injustice, broken trail and found lost hunters. He tracked, tended wounded wildlife, and worked undercover to catch poachers. He spent recreational time playing music, sharing it with others. At 86, he still does.
He can still hear the soft call of a crane over forest & village chatter, and is attentive of wildlife migrations. Mom would say, “you can take the guy out the park, but never the park out of the guy.”
Dad’s sensible teachings translate to the work I do, and how I live my life.
When I was 14, Dad proposed a one-time weekend job cleaning the forest fire crew’s quarters. ( paid from his pocket.) Approaching the empty bunkhouse, he said. “Remember, for the summer, this is their home. Do not judge how they live, or them.”
My duties, he explained, were to clean, mop and scrub every room, surface, floor, fixture, appliance, including the communal bathroom. It took two full days and need to develop a strong constitution for offensive odours.
Nearing the end of my task, while transforming bathroom ‘appliances’ to their original colour, Dad arrived to check on my progress. Leaning on the doorframe he gently inquired. “Did you clean underneath the urinals, wall behind, plumbing hardware ?” I looked at him in slight horror. “Dad, these guys won’t know if I cleaned under the bowl.”
“You are absolutely right…. but you will.” He continued, “Never forget your name goes to every job and everything you do in life. Your name. Your accountability. It doesn’t matter if they notice any of it. You know and that’s what counts.”
As teenagers, Dad didn’t want us to apply for summer park jobs. “It won’t matter if it’s a fair hire, getting the job on your own. You will be treated differently, by staff and fellow workers. You will be seen as the kids who might have had an easy ‘in.’ You don’t want to be those kids, and I don’t want you to be either.”
A few years ago, in preparation for a wilderness journey, I sought his advice.Thou I grew up in nature, I hadn’t tackled anything quite like the expedition I was about to embark on. Traveling fully self supported in remote wilderness with 5 strangers was a little daunting.
I wondered if he would suggest what to pack, portaging or paddling skills, safety tips; yet, it wasn’t surprising his advice involved none of the above.“Do you trust your guides and have faith in your abilities? if you don’t, you shouldn’t be going.”He said.
When you think about it, if you don’t apply due diligence or believe in your skills, it doesn’t matter what you pack. Isn’t this true about so many things in life?
Thou some families aren’t supportive of an art career, my parents have been my biggest champions. They attended nearly every exhibit and bought my work at full price thru the gallery. When I said I would have given them the painting, they were equally horrified. “This is what you do.” said Dad. “If you sold cars for a living would you give them away? It’s your work, and we are pleased to collect it. ” Mom added.
It was an honour to have Dad attend my recent exhibit in Saskatchewan. When a massive snowstorm arrived opening day, I said “Don’t worry, even if no one shows up, we will still celebrate.” Dad replied with a smile, “Yes. You have already done your job. You dreamt of showing here and you’re here, now, aren’t you?”
To the easy- to- hug, ever kind, steadfast man who gave us a life surrounded by nature and support, my Dad, Happy Father’s Day. Thank you so much for always being there for us, for your generosity, gentle honest guidance and deeply enduring love.
“The more the marble wastes the more the statue grows.” Michelangelo
It can be super motivating jumping aboard the self improvement train these days. Embracing growth, improve skill sets, reduce bad habits and seeking joy can be a positive track to discovery.
If not mindful, this journey could become a freight train of constant self judgement, comparison risks and relentless desire for impossible goals of perfection. Art & humanity are naturally, beautifully flawed. A fact, at times forgotten or linked to shame.
When that happens, positive vibes no longer fuel learning fulfillment. Instead, energy depletes, disrupts and hinders progress. Its a no-win situation of push pull ; wanting to improve combined with severe self criticism.
Artists may experience this within ( art is life long continuous learning skill) and externally. People often value art more if it looks like something they have seen before. “… paint like Van Gogh and you will be onto something. ” “ Realism is the only mastery.” Fans express opinions of the art, how the artist should look, or behave. “You need to dress like an artist and brood. Artists are usually moody, right?”
You may have encountered similar circumstance of negative peer pressure, unrealistic demands set by others, or yourselves. The acceleration to be more, driving what makes you special, away.
The wonderful reality is, you are unique from anyone in the world, and this is to be celebrated along a path to evolvement.
As the wise Dr. Seuss wrote:
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!….
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions. Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Albert Einstein.
In the romantic comedy “French Kiss” Meg Ryan’s character is instructed to visualize her happy place to overcome her fear of flying. Breathing deeply she brings to mind an image of a lovely little stone garden cottage.
At the end of the movie( spoiler alert!) she discovers a new dwelling, which just happens to be a stone cottage in a beautiful valley vineyard.
The 1995 film isn’t about manifesting reality, rather turning the idea of destiny on its head. The film was created long before Rhonda Byrne’s best selling book “The Secret” that induced mass popularity of ‘the law of attraction’ was published. Yet, in an indirect way, that’s exactly what Meg Ryan’s character did.
Visualization techniques are successfully applied in sport, weight loss, business, goal setting, even medical science. ( click on highlighted words for further reading in each category.)
My brilliant physiotherapist friend discusses her training with me. She says “We thought patient activity during treatment was fairly passive. We would treat, manipulate, etc, send them home with exercises. We are discovering a key to success is for the patient to create a mind body connection. By having them visualize correct body movements during treatment, or specifying where the body needs to be active, we see immediate different in body function, sometimes, with no or very little manipulation from us. It’s remarkable.”
She says her biggest challenge in this method is many people don’t know how to visualize. We discuss props, visual aids etc to assist patients.
It isn’t necessary to be an artist to learn and perfect this skill.The act of visualization is a form of directed energy. We can use this tool in a variety of positive ways individually and collectively.
Jack Canfield shares a step by step process how to visualize desired outcomes. Thou his ‘mental rehearsal’ technique is a little abstract for me, the article delves into benefits of visualization, and further easy practical advice.
In addition, users of FIT lost 1.6 more inches (4.3cm) around their waist circumference in six months – and continued to lose weight after the intervention had finished…The study showed how – after six months – people who used the FIT intervention lost an average of 9 pounds (4.11kg), compared with an average of 1.6 pounds (0.74kg) among the MI group…..
“It’s fantastic that people lost significantly more weight on this intervention, as, unlike most studies, it provided no diet/physical activity advice or education. People were completely free in their choices and supported in what they wanted to do, not what a regimen prescribed,” said Dr. Linda Solbrig…”
As well as sport, business, innovation, and health, visualization can be used effectively in communication. Picture a challenging conversation with a positive outcome. See the other party and yourself smiling. Focus on specific positive words that apply to the situation before your meeting like ‘cohesive, inspired, adaptable, success, integrity, authentic, collaborate, connectedness, happiness,” etc.
“To bring anything into your life, imagine that it’s already there.” Richard Bach
Whatever category visualization is directed there are common ‘how-to’ similarities:
1. Details: think up as many details are you can, be very specific on the outcome. Props like vision boards, collages, text magnets on fridge, etc can be very helpful.
2. Bring in all your senses, how you feel, smell, see, hear, the environment surrounding your event/ outcome.
3. Believe. Believe as thou it has already happened: picture yourself doing the activity, in the new job, completing the project, having lost the weight, on the vacation, etc.
4. Practice DAILY. This is key and where many fail to recognize the importance. Visualization practice is like a muscle you continually build and train.
~New Years eve often brings a host of resolutions and visions of future possibilities. People may visualize how this new lifestyle/ goal will make them feel and perhaps see success in their minds. Once the plan is in place, Jan 2 arrives and they never visit the concept in their minds again.
While getting in your workouts, visit the brain gym too.🙂
~“Create the highest grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” Oprah Winfrey.
“Your thoughts create reality. The most pragmatic way to create world peace is to use your power of visualization. Think Peace, Act Peace, Spread Peace, Imagine Peace. Your thoughts will soon cover the planet. The most important thing is to believe in your power. It works.” Yoko Ono.
P.S ~ Visualization is handy in painting, thou perhaps not in the way you may think. Visualizing the exact outcome of a painting can inhibit creativity and stall brushstrokes. Instead, mindfulness in the midst of subject matter helps mentally & emotionally ‘transport’ to the scene later on in the studio. Impressionism is about capturing experience of feeling. Ability to bring that energy to canvas & palette boosts success.
ARTWORK~ available for purchase!
Lavender Farm 24×30 oil on canvas ~ $1,980.oo
Northern Sunset 8×10 oil on canvas ~ $500.oo
SKY 4ftx3ft oil on canvas ~ $4,345.oo
Nocturne Waterlilies ~ in progress ~ 24×36 oil on canvas
She was unaware the lens that filled with flowers now focused on her.
My brother captured the fleeting moment so perfectly, a pink swath of morning light illuminating her, head bent surveying new buds saturated in colour. Her clothes blended her with sky and earth, holding her anchored and free.
I love to think of her this way, in her masterpiece, surrounded by wildflowers, immersed in the garden of her creation. Her feet firmly planted in the earth, strong hands capable of building rock walls and mending hurts.
The builder, who had constructed their home on the hill above the lake, (a design by her brother & she) suggested an added garage may not be possible. She confidently disagreed, ‘oh it can be done.” Gathering a clean paper napkin at the restaurant table, she spontaneously drew & designed it to size. He joked later it was perhaps the first garage he built from a concept on a napkin.
The self sustaining xeriscaping garden design and rock tiers were all in her head too. Each of us helped gather & place rocks with her instruction when we visited home. There was no lawn. ( Lawns are one the largest waste of our water on earth, she said.)
It was the best project she & Dad achieved together, she claimed with a grin “ I know I am supposed to say you two are, but it’s the garden. ”I couldn’t argue, it’s magnificent, and , after all, they had won Community in Bloom awards.
Joining her to help build the final wall was a gift. The two of us worked side by side in the quiet late afternoon light. By then unable to stand, she worked on her hands a knees, building the last third of the garden this way. I can still see her rolling rocks along as she crawled in the dirt. Witnessing completion of a masterpiece that lives on. She knew it would.
Over the years she trusted me to prune and help decide & replace plantings. “Come sit for an iced tea with me!” she would call from the deck above. We would sip our tea, barefeet stretched out in the warm in the summer sun. Hummingbirds visited the feeder close by while dragonflies hovered, often landing on us, and we’d laugh in delight.
Perhaps she knew, one day, it would be me, alone in the garden, planting, rebuilding rock walls, pruning, finding treasures, while dragonflies fly near by.
Every once in awhile, I’ll pause to breathe and feel the swath of colourful skies above and bright palettes rising from the earth below.
Miss you so much Momma. Thank you for your inspiration, humour and friendship. You showed us the true meaning of courage, strength and kindness.
Thank you for the colours.
~ To all the Mom’s, Happy Mother’s Day.
The Gardener 18×24 oil on canvas- email to inquire
Wildflower series of 4 , each 5×7 oil on canvas ~ SOLD ( Commission)
Solar Dragonfly & friend 8×8 oil on canvas $450.oo
“Wake up as an artist; be an artist each day. Do what is before you to do. Be still, open, and willing.” Aliye Cullu.
I feel the strength of my Norwegian roots more apparently when hanging out with my Dad.
Along with ancestry and eye colour, I also inherited his love of routine.
Not to burst the fancy free artist image… in truth, I relish comfort of familiarity in daily regimes, a fondness for surprise only at the easel.
My Daily work habits are on many of your minds.
1. “Do you work only when you feel like it, you have to be inspired to work, right?”
2.“Do you paint all the time, every day?” “ It’s your job to just paint, right?”
3.“If you have a dog, may I rent it? your dog would be a happy dog. Very zen.”
1. When in the business of inspiration, it’s best to find inspiration in everything.
Therefore, its easy to get to work.
2. Painting all day, every day, wouldn’t allow room for the business portion of my career, which would bring creating to a screeching halt.
Ideally, a handful of ethical established dealers nationally & internationally promoting/selling the work would unburden me of some tasks. Until then its a daily balancing act between creating and business.
Conscious how much paint I am exposed to on a regular basis, I also make an effort for activity balance for health & wellness, creation endurance and my longevity.
Art is my livelihood, as a business owner, daily structure depends on variety of work commitments.
Every evening, I make a daily list of duties/ activities for the following day, maintaining separate lists for ongoing or future projects. Some projects are years in the making.
My work responsibilities include:
Art growth evolvement/ originality
Client communication/ correspondence
Retail studio management
Proposal submissions/ applications ( Ie: Artist in Residences/ Art Installations, etc)
Presentations/ speaking engagements
International & national market research
Commercial/ Clinic/ Corporate & Residential construction research
Entertainment studio prop contractor connections
Dealer/ gallery negotiations
Packaging & shipping/ logistics
Tech department :website update: social media update
Blog writing & posting, advertising, billing, taxes, etc.
Researching architects, designers, corporations that I want to work with, where my work would be a good fit. Establishing these relationships & sending proposals for future projects.
~ When I am painting, other than ‘creator’ all of the above tasks need to disappear from my mind.~
That can be challenging when many things are pressing, my day almost always includes some of above duties.
This is where routine and mindfulness come in handy.
3. No dog, thou I grew up with one and loved her so. She was pretty zen.
~“Get on a daily routine… Working is a process not a product. Success comes from the word, succeed: Latin: ‘to under go.’ You must keep moving.” Nicoletta Baumeister
“Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.” Shunryu Suzuki
What’s one activity I do every day, no matter circumstance or location? Meditate.~ Dawn
“Island Lake” 12×24 oil on canvas $1,030.oo
“Mountain Winter Sunrise” 14×24 oil on canvas $1,210.oo
Other Photos above: Studio/ Dad, Grampa’s flag & lefse/ my brother, Dad & I with our little dog, Tuff.
“I didn’t want to be a lucky climber, I wanted to be a great climber.” Alex Honnold.
The 2018 academy award winning documentary film Free Solo directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin features rock climber Alex Honnold in his quest to climb of El Capitan, Yosemite, ‘free solo’. ( alone, without aid of ropes or equipment.)
The documentary also offers a rare glimpse & perspective of the film crew. All athletes & climbers themselves face physical, creative and morale challenges in the midst of their creative efforts to capture Alex’s climb.
One might assume those attempting death defying acts like Alex are without natural fear, perhaps driven by some inexplainable force.
Yet, Alex is not without fear.
He thought about the climb for 8 years, saying it was ‘just too scary’.
Within intense training, he would choreograph each move up the 3,200 foot granite face. Every… single… body… movement.
Alex would train for 2 years, climb El Capitan 50 times with ropes, using what looked to be a large toothbrush to find indentations in the rock face.
His handwritten journals overflowed defining every single move, where each thumb would be placed,… thru the entire climb.
He rappelled down the face days before climbing after a rain, making certain there were not wet spots where he might slip and making certain his chalk marks were still present.
The extra challenging route portions were climbed over and over again. Falling with the ropes, he would immediately review on site what went wrong, change a movement, practice practice practice.
Preparations to this degree aren’t accomplished by someone with a death wish.
On a giant, slightly – less- than- vertical slab near the summit, he came close to falling. Although he completed the climb, it was not the experience he wanted. “ I was disappointed in my performance because I had gotten away with something,” he said. “ I didn’t want to be a lucky climber. I wanted to great climber.”
The climb of El Capitan took him 3 hours and 56 min.
While researching this post, I discovered European American artist Hermann Ottomar Herzog traveled to & painted El Captian in 1873. His beautiful golden renditions of the area are still in circulation today, found on pillows, wall art, prints, beachtowels & free wallpaper.
It’s the first time I have tackled my own rendition of a Master’s work.
To make certain it wasn’t about ‘copying’, I didn’t allow myself to wear glasses, his image a fuzzy mass of shapes on my laptop. My own canvas became a blurry application of colour & texture. Out of my comfort zone, it was equal parts scary & freeing.
I chose a horizontal closer cropped composition, using large brushes and mostly guess work with colour. ( no glasses restricts me from seeing colour detail) Working quickly I gave myself a time limit, so the work would have a plein air feel. I didn’t look at the final piece until I returned with my camera.
Thanks for the inspiration Hermann, indirectly encouraging me to try something new, solo and free.
~ NEW Work~
“Sunday Sunset” ( Sunset Drive) 14×18 oil $910.oo
“Hermann’s El Capitan Sentinel” 24×36 oil ~ email me for availability.
I felt it standing in the shadow of Ayers Rock and underneath star filled skies in Australia’s outback. It echoed near a legendary stone circle surrounded by green meadow in Scotland.
Unexplainable and indefinable.
I was mindful of it’s ethereal quality on Vancouver Island’s East Sooke Trail among old growth cedar overlooking the Pacific. It infused me on Kenosee’s forested shores and the Yukon’s crimson arctic tundra corralled by stoic granite mountains.
It’s essence filled in silence by snow-covered pine overlooking Skagway Alaska, and waterways in Ontario’s northern boreal forest.
Yet, there is a creekside forest trail leading to wild grass hilltop overlooking a salt water lake I most feel its strength of power.
Wind currents swirl and dip in the valley below with an energy that is difficult to ignore. Being immersed in the vista never fails to fill me with awe, in every season, any time of day. Locals and tourists alike attest they feel something magical, ‘something sacred’ a visitor said.
Certain animals have superior hearing, intuition, sight capabilities and energy sensitivity than humans. What do you think lies beyond what our senses tell us, to what we may intuitively feel?
Your paintings bring ‘immortality to the landscape’, a client said, ‘you are a conservationist’ of land and human engagement.
An artist seeks what may be swirling in morning mist and vibrant skies overhead. Ancient recognition in the quiet spaces of the day and places held dear. Your refuge, wilderness sanctuary to reflect, restore and find renewal. It’s having awareness in the earth beneath your feet, air that surrounds & fills, basking in shadows and shafts of light.
Art communicates by emotionally reaching beyond blurred edges and human eye. Motion and energy, abundant life in full colour.
A photo can capture existence of a place, a painter captures the experience. Not only to what is, but what could be, what may be. Art poses possibilities of the indefinable.~
Cloudy Sky 18×24 oil on canvas $1,210.oo
Wild Grass at Sunset 20×24 oil on canvas $1,400.oo
Sunrise Above the Valley 18×24 oil on canvas $1,210.oo
All photos above Manitou, Sask. To see a movie of the location check out my instagram @dawnartworks – December video, link here https://www.instagram.com/p/Br6mI6fHb8X/
“Cherish the things you love, and you cherish yourself” Marie Kondo
Everything he owned had to fit in his 1982 honda civic hatchback. A self imposed rule.
My brother has been a minimalist before it was trendy.
Maintaining the lifestyle thru his career, he pared down possessions even more before working overseas for 3 years, choosing to store a handful of precious items like special papers, photos, musical instruments at our parents home.
Returning from China 6 years ago, Mom called shortly after he had arrived. “Of all the things he had stored, which do you think he missed the most? what do think he first opened?” I suggested music, photos, books?
She replied. “The first thing he had to see was your art from his collection. He unwrapped them with such joy, oh, Dawn, the gentle care he took with your paintings.”
With encouragement last December, Mr. Shurniak shared the story of collecting his amazing body of art for decades. He stored much of his collection while working overseas, purchasing art where he traveled. Eventually returning to the province of his birth, he built a gallery to house his collection.
My cousin Susan wisely commented, “It must have felt quite emotional, to unwrap them and have them together, all here.” He responded with tears in his eyes, “It was like finally bringing all of my family home.”
Art collections do more than decorate our space, they become intertwined with our lives. Beacons of familiarity. While life can be transient and fluid, art remains a constant for generations.
Lately, several clients are on the move. Relocating for work, retiring, off to new homes and adventures. It’s such a privilege to hear how your art travels with you, the comfort it brings. A part of your home & family wherever you go.
Some are enthusiastically in the throes of paring down, embracing Marie Kondo lessons. Each one of you have mentioned the thrill of purging and embracing a similar lifestyle, yet, not only keeping your art collections intact, but adding to them, infusing your lives with colour and light.
Conscious consumerism, mindfully collecting that which you love is a reflection of self care. Surrounding yourself with healthy inspiring environments not only improves energy, quality of life and engagement, it reflects on your work, relationships and those you invite to your spaces.
Purging what no longer serves you can be empowering and cleansing, whether it be clothing, toxic relationships, occupations or guilt. Renewal comes with organized spaces, clutter free minds, positive perspective and open hearts.
I haven’t read Marie’s book, or seen her popular videos, but I do agree with her philosophy, keeping close that which sparks JOY.
When joyful, we create a ripple effect, spreading happiness to the world.
~“People cannot change their habits without first changing their thinking.” Marie Kondo
New Work! “Red Canoe Awaits” 18×36 oil on canvas $2000.oo ( two photos)
Sundance “5ft x 3.3” ft oil on canvas $5,940.oo ( shown with Marc Banning handcrafted chair).
First & Second photos- my brother with my gift painting of his birthplace. Mr.Shurniak & I Dec. 2018.
“Turn every challenge into a jigsaw. Before you know it, all these small pieces add up to something pretty amazing.” Peter Bray
Some believe creating is mindless, when in fact, it is the opposite. It’s extremely mindful, solving problems, decision making and very hard work. It’s understanding you will never know it all, but dive in anyhow.
When he first emailed the Arctic Char photo, I could have declined the work, but I was intrigued by such amazing colour. In fact, my use of colour is the reason the client chose me.
Revisiting the photo nearly daily for 6 months, I have been pondering how to execute it. Ideas have been simmering for a long while.
With most commissions I require several high res photos. In this case I had one lower res photo reference, purposely not requesting a higher resolution, to not be tempted to paint realism. Thou not my typical genre, it needed to still look like my work.
It was a challenging composition to capture with the focal point directly in the middle of the photo. The Char, while colourful, lay on mostly blue grey rock. Compose it as such, the fish would look cartoonish, not a part of the rock bed, or even a part of the picture. It would feel fake.
I needed to change the composition, placing the fish higher in the canvas, and make the tail fin flow off the canvas to invoke movement. I enhanced light & shadow on & under the fish making it feel less direct middle ground point of interest. Creating rock colour to give the painting balance, feel real, without being fussy with detail was important. That’s so tough, because one itches to paint every scale, be fussy with fins and rock contours.
It’s one of the hardest aspects of impressionism, to not overwork. What information to leave in, what to omit.
In landscape, one can soften the scape without challenging the viewer. It’s a whole other story with a fish someone needs to recognize, needing to ‘pop’ with colour, look somewhat real, and a part of its background.
I also needed to create a whole new series of colours for the fish.
A mixture of 4 blues, ochre, umber, green, magenta, two cad reds, alizarin crimson, two cad orange, 2 cad yellow, 2 whites to create the fish alone.
The idea for purple was a motivating factor and my starting point, if the purple rocks would feel right as the bed for this lovely fish, it could work. The painting evolved and 1/2 way in I knew I had it.
Interestingly, it may be the first painting I have created in complete silence without music in the studio.
“Indeed, your biggest challenge may be to fully harness your strengths. You may be so busy trying to appear like a zestful, reward-sensitive extrovert that you undervalue your own talents, or feel underestimated by those around you. But when you’re focused on a project that you care about, you probably find that your energy is boundless. Susan Cain “Quiet”.
The work, thou challenging, was incredibly energizing and joyful.
He is thrilled with the result as am I!
~The simplicity of form, the drama of rich, intense colour, the joy of challenge, and the challenge of endurance… The piece, when it is over, is not what is made, but how it is made. Andrew Kuntz