Life Model, Clothed

Life model, clothed. charcoal pencil


As I mentioned in a previous post (Life Drawing. 2011/09/22) I belong to a life drawing group which meets once a week. The models, male and female, are usually nude and as we meet in a small community hall the heating is not always that great. It was especially chilly during the cold snap we had a few weeks ago. During this particular session the model braved it out for the first half of the morning but after the coffee break she asked if she might keep her clothes on for a while. We agreed of course.

She is a very petite girl and was dressed in a long scarf,  layers of draped tops and a full, flounced, long skirt which made it difficult to see the structure of the figure under all the layers. In order to show the solidity of the body I needed to concentrate on where the light hit the parts of the body that pushed out against the clothing, for example the knees and the hip. Another clue to the underlying anatomy was how the folds were formed and how they fell away  from the body. There are many different types of folds and each one is the result of the solid mass beneath it. 

I originally studied as a textile designer and was also a quilter for a few years so I have a particular liking for fabric and how it moves. The opportunity to draw this model in her romantic style of dress was an interesting and pleasing challenge.


A New Year To Play With

More ideas


Ideas for "Cakes" series

Even more ideas


Ok, so it’s taken me a while but here’s my first post of 2012.

The new year is a great time for new projects and I’ve already started. I’ve begun thinking about a series of paintings for an exhibit in May, and even though the deadline seems a long way off I want to give myself plenty of time. I’ve learnt from previous experience how all too quickly time can pass and I don’t want to find myself panicking at the end of April. If I had to make a new year’s resolution (which I usually don’t) it would be to become more aware of when I’m procrastinating. There, I’ve said it. It’s all about applying the butt to the chair (or the brush to the canvas in this case), no matter what.

I have a number of ideas for groups of related paintings and each subject on my list is challenging and interesting in its own way. So which to choose? I’ll need at least ten paintings for the show, depending on size, so I’m thinking I should choose a subject that I won’t get bored with after the first three. This will be an interesting exercise as it’s my first real series.

After mulling it all over I’ve finally decided to paint cakes or, to be more precise, fancy pastries. It may seem a strange choice but when I see some exquisite chocolate creation in a baker’s shop window I see a mini work of art. Sadly this creation is all too transitory and impermanent. Any minute someone will buy that gorgeous confection and within hours, or even less,  it is consumed, leaving nothing but a few crumbs. I’d like to think of each one of these paintings as a portrait – a permanent record of an impermanent object. I’m planning to do a series of six and see how that goes. I may also do a smaller series of less elaborate snacks such as muffins and doughnuts, although these are just as attractive in their simplicity.

Caring friends who know about my endeavours to eat healthy have remarked that I might be tempted to eat my subject each time. There are a couple of reasons why this won’t be likely to happen. The first has to do with how I see any subject I’m painting. I look at each object as an image made up of shapes, colours, light and dark values, texture etc. Painting a cake is no different than painting a cup, a flower or a tree. Secondly, by the time I’ve finished each painting the cake will be so stale you’d be able to use it as a bookend. 

I’ll keep you posted as each “portrait” develops.

A belated happy new year to you all.

Merry Christmas!

Red Pears. Acrylic, 8" x 8"


It’s been a while since my last post and I’d like to tell you that it’s because I’ve been busy painting but that’s not the case. Well, lately it hasn’t been.

A couple of weeks ago I was one of 19 artists on a local art tour. It was a two-day event and I did very well selling five pieces and making connections that hopefully will bear fruit in the future. I had planned to start on a new project once the tour was over but Life and Christmas have been knocking on the door of my studio. I don’t actually have a door as such, unless you count a sliding glass one, in which case Life and Christmas wouldn’t have to knock because I can see them metaphorically waving their arms at me through the glass. My plan now is to begin the project in the new year. 

Meanwhile I will enjoy the festive season and take time to savour the flavours and aromas of the Yuletide. I began my savouring last week while at a friend’s party. I ate my first ever oyster – a raw one! I’ve never been a lover of seafood or shellfish but having had a couple of glasses of wine and feeling adventurous I thought, “what the heck?” Apparently they’re supposed to slide out of the shell and down the throat without hitting the sides, but as I tipped the end of the shell towards my mouth nothing happened. This one was still attached. Being a novice oyster eater and not sure what to do I resorted to freeing the grey blob with a combination of sucking and chewing which was not very sophisticated to say the least. I didn’t know what to expect taste-wise but it wasn’t too bad as the oyster was very cold and very fresh, and anyway I had previously drowned it in lemon juice. Can you drown an oyster? Well, that’s one more thing I can cross off the Experience List. Raw oyster – done!

Merry Christmas, Georgina

Lavender Field (Finding My Way Back III)

Lavender Field

"Lavender Field" This began life as a wheat field but became something else. (See previous posts)


“Lavender Field” Acrylic, 24 x 48 

Finally – I’ve finished the painting that began as the wheat field. It took me a little longer than I thought but I’m pleased with the result. Working on this has been like taking a vacation in Provence. I could smell the scent of the lavender in the air and feel the warmth of the sun. The deep shadows and saturated colours added to the atmosphere.

This painting had a complete makeover and I’m glad I listened to its clues as to where it wanted to be. I find that when a painting wants to go one way and I want it to go another the result is not very successful. The more I fight, the worse it seems to get until, eventually, I have to grab a big brush, look and listen, and make the necessary changes. Allowing myself to let go and follow the path of least resistance leads to “The Zone”, and when I’m in “The Zone” things just seem to flow. In those times I feel like the art is using me as a conduit to manifest itself, to bring itself into being, and there have been the rare times when I’ve almost been in a trance and something else was in control. I have learned that when I give up resisting and start to listen that’s when the joy happens.

Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice, Acrylic 24 x 24


This is one of my first ventures into the world of multi media artwork. It began with a layer of pieces of paper towel that I had been saving after cleaning brushes, palettes and containers. They were stained with beautiful blends and mottles of various colours and they were much too interesting to throw away. Alas, they were soon obliterated by several layers of paint. As I continued working, the painting  became more and more textured. I scraped gesso over the surface with a palette knife and smudged it in places with my fingers to create light areas. I added various images and then painted over them because they weren’t working. And so it went on. I found the process very liberating, I was having fun. I loved how the painting started taking on a richness and dimension, and I began to follow the hints it was giving me. 

Before I began this piece I thought it would be done after maybe two or three layers, but it wasn’t that easy. I could see that early on it was still too lightweight, too “thin”. As I kept adding layers it became more interesting and developed more depth of colour and texture.  What I see on the surface now seems to bear no resemblance to what lies beneath, but what went before has created the “personality” of my painting. 

I’m struck by how similar this process is to how we develop as people. We might think that our pasts, however colourful or varied, don’t show on the surface, but they are influencing us all the time in ways we may not recognise or admit – and it’s also true that as we get to know people better they become way more interesting than we could have guessed at first sight.


Finding My Way Back, II

Work in progress

Work in Progress

This was the wheat field from a few posts ago. It has decided it wants to be a lavender field. I started back working on it a couple of days ago and I’ve made some drastic changes. I’ve covered over half of the trees and put in some different ones. I’ve begun to map out the rows of lavender bushes and darkened some of the colours. I figured I had nothing to lose by just jumping in and making major “renovations” with a big brush. It feels satisfying whenever I notice an area where things are starting to work, and as I continue the journey into this painting there are more and more clues as to where I’m going. I still have a long way to go but the painting is beginning to talk to me, and I’m feeling more sure about the lay of the land with each brushstroke.


Joshua Tree Park


Joshua Tree Park, California

Joshua Tree Park, California

I finished this painting a couple of weeks ago. It’s called “Joshua Tree Park” and is based on a photograph I took on a visit to the park a few years ago. The colours I used are quite different from my usual palette. They are much brighter and more intense. Joshua Tree Park is located in high desert country overlooking the valley that contains the San Andreas fault, and even though the sun was shining that day, with no sign of a cloud in the sky, the air was very cold. Everything was highlighted with the clear, crisp light.

Music While I Work

Old Red Book. 10 x 8


Like a lot of artists I usually listen to music while I paint, and I like most kinds of music. From world and jazz to rock and classical, I like it all. Except hard-core rap, and apart from Patsy Kline, I’m not too keen on sentimental country music either. I know that might upset a few people but there you are – the country genre has lots of fans so it sure won’t miss me. It never occurred to me before but lately I’ve become aware of a corrolation between the subject I’m painting and the kind of music I choose to listen to at the time.

When I’m working on a landscape I seem to gravitate towards classical composers. These can be from any century, I’m not particular. I think maybe I associate classical music with the classical tradition of landscape painting. Music and art have always followed parallel paths. In the 19th century composers such as Debussy, Ravel and Satie were composing alongside the French Impressionists. Their music is an audible version of the play of light and colour in the works of artists such as Monet, Manet, Degas and Renoir. English composers inspire me too, especially Delius and Vaughan Williams, who’s sweeping orchestrations conjure up images of the English countryside in my mind.

Still lifes seem to call for something a little more modern and less romantic. I go for jazz, blues or so-called “pop” from any decade. I have to admit that I don’t know a lot about jazz, but I do like the sounds. I’m very partial to Ella and singers from the forties and fifties, but I also enjoy bands from the eighties. Mozart or Vivaldi are a must when I’m painting flowers. The pure joy of their music is a perfect match for the exuberance of nature, and I have to sneak in some Bach or Handel for their exquisite clarity.

I’ve read that there are some people who have the amazing ability to “see” colours when they hear music. It’s called synesthesia. What an amazing experience that could be. Then my art really would be an extension of the music I’m listening to.


Finding My Way Back

This is a painting I started a while ago and due to life taking a “busy” turn I’m only just getting back to it. The working title is “Wheat Field’ and  it measures 24″ x 48”. I have no photo reference for this landscape because it’s a place I’ve cobbled together in my imagination. The scene is vaguely English but could also be anywhere in the more eastern provinces of Canada or the US. The question is: where do I go next?

When I’m painting a landscape I usually begin from a photograph, but by the time the piece is finished many changes will have taken place. I’ll have added or removed things, moved objects around or changed their size, so that often the final landscape bears little resemblance to my original photo. As I work on the painting I begin to feel myself “entering” the picture as if I’m physically standing in that field or on that river bank. I can tell what’s around the bend in a road, and “see” the little farm on the other side of a hill. It’s been so long since I’ve worked on this painting though that I’ve lost my connection with it. I have to re-aquaint myself with this world.

I’m considering a few options on the future of this particular scene. The wheat field may disappear and  become a lavendar field, and with the addition of a few different trees the scene would be in Provence.  I could continue with the wheat theme and add a red barn and it would definitely be north American, or I could add a medieval church steeple in the background to make it a typical English country view. Until I place myself back into that other world I’m at a loss to know where it’s going.

It’s not impossible to re-enter this alternative universe, it just takes time. Finding my way back begins with just applying the brush to the canvas and exploring. Have you ever revisited a place you knew as a child, your old house or your elementary school? Everything looks so different at first, but gradually you begin to notice little things – the house’s front door is a different colour but it’s the same old door, your old classroom feels so much smaller but the tiled floor is still the same. That’s how it’ll be for me getting back into this painting. As I rediscover the lay of the land it will tell me where it wants to be, and then I’ll know where I’m going.


Welcome to My Studio

My work desk, a 19th century Danish piece bought for my 50th birthday by my husband.

One end of my studio where I do the painting

This is pretty much my whole studio on the balcony of our apartment


First of all I want to shout hallelujah! I can finally add pictures to my posts. I was getting frustrated because some technical glitch wasn’t allowing me to do it.

I don’t know about you but I’m always fascinated to see how other artists work and how they’ve set up their work space. So if you’re interested, here’s mine, ta-da!

It may be small but it’s perfectly formed and everything has a home somewhere. I don’t have a lot of drawer space, which is good, because if something gets put away I instantly forget where it is. That’s why I like to have most of my stuff out in the open where I can lay my hands on it. I don’t know whether that has something to do with being an artist – responding to the visual – or whether it means my memory’s shot. Either way it works for me. I’m a bit of a pack rat too. I know I’m going to need all those coloured candy wrappers for that cool collage I’m going to do one day, and I know I’ll regret it if I don’t keep all the lovely paint stained paper towels I’ve used for clean up. I do have a problem storing my paintings though. There are so many now that they’re overflowing into the dining area, and beginning to line up behind the couch. I need to sell more. Are you listening Universe?

Occasionally I have a tidy-up. Well, I call it a tidy-up. Actually all I do is move things from one place to another, but sometimes I find things I’d forgotten I had, which is always a bonus. I find these tidy-ups very therapeutic. I have so many ideas about what I want to paint that it’s often hard to decide which one gets to go next. So when I’m in this mood or when I’m stuck with a painting a good putter around my studio seems to help. Rearranging my stuff gets me in a different frame of mind. It’s about changing my perspective – seeing things in a different way. If I can change my surroundings I can change how I look at my problem, whatever it might be. If something is bugging me about a painting I’m working on and I’m not sure what it is, I have a couple of tricks for discovering what it might be. If I turn the painting upside down, or look at its reflection in a mirror, the thing that needs fixing usually becomes very obvious. Life can be like that too.