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Sunday, July 12, 2015

What Happens When You Paint in Sacred Places

"Glacial Tarn - the Bugaboos" oil on linen - 8x10 (sold)

I used to think the goal of plein air painting was to come home with a successful painting. This misdirected intention has messed with my joy more times than I can say. Fortunately I've gotten a bit smarter about joy, and how to create more of it in my world.

I've discovered that being 'present moment' rather than outcome focused is what sets the stage for fun instead of angst.

Now I like to think of painting outdoors as a quest to gather colour and value notes that are a reflection of what's in front of me, and let the energy of the place I'm standing fill me up so that it too informs my painting.

When you paint in sacred places with an openness to receive from them, they speak to you in their own language, and they change your perceptions as a painter.

The Magic of Leaving Your Studio Comfort Zone

There are countless reasons why studio painting supports your work as an artist. But something unique happens when you get yourself outdoors in the right frame of mind.

Interestingly, the value seems to be exponential the farther away you get from the house, the car, your phone and other immediate creature comforts. Add to that some days of it linked together, and real magic starts to happen.

If you allow yourself to sink into a place, all that you "know" about painting becomes secondary, and you begin to paint more instinctively. As you're painting, your intuition is taking in all of the changing elements that are happening around you.

It's noticing the elusive things that are emerging, captivating you and then disappearing - perhaps to return, perhaps not. Either way, through your intuitive perception of them, they are becoming a part of you and your experience.

The landscape is also informing you. "Hey" it says, "notice this rhythm that's dancing from the foreground through to the sky. Don't get caught up in all the detail, squint down and notice what truth is here under the "busy-ness". It whispers to you: "a little more violet here, play up the light in this spot, let a shadow fall over the foreground in exactly this place...."

There's a dance in plein air painting that calls forth a part of your artistic soul to engage with the environment you're standing in. And there is an understanding of place when you go out repeatedly over several days that has it become a conversation about an experience.

The more you let go and receive, the more your paintings become a clear reflection of that experience, and a gift to others who view them.

Heli-Painting in the Bugaboos

This fall Stephen Quiller and I will once again be carrying on the tradition that Robert Genn and I started 6 years ago. We'll be taking a group of spirited painters into the Bugaboos for some unforgettable painting adventures, learning opportunities, wining and dining over art talk and hot tubbing under the stars.

The dates of the trip are August 31st to September 4th.

Here are some things to consider if you have a toe in the water but aren't sure if you're ready to dive on in:
  • the Bugaboos is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth
  • there is a special bond that's created when a group of artists get together for this kind of experience - it's more than a workshop, it's a captivating adventure and a fabulous shared learning opportunity
  • being lifted by a helicopter into stunning mountain places is a unique and super cool 'once in a lifetime' kind of adventure
  • Stephen and I are committed to helping you get the very most from yourself and your art. You'll go home with new tools and approaches to painting the natural world through immersing yourself completely in it, as well as raised awareness about where you will most benefit from focusing your attention in your quest to continue building your skill as a painter
  • if you are a professional artist, the trip will provide you with a wealth of valuable reference material - and of course it's a business write off
If you're ready to leap, we'd love to have you join us for a truly remarkable experience. Come and explore what shows up in your work when you surround yourself with like-minded souls and put yourself in the space for magic to happen.

More info

PS: If you have a partner who loves the mountains, bring them along. They can have a fabulous adventure heli-hiking while you're painting with us!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

You Don't Wanna Miss This (*Note: offer self-destructs May 23rd.)

"Valley of the Lakes" - oil on linen - 10x8" click here to bid

If you've had it on your radar to purchase one of my paintings, now is a fabulous time!

I'm currently making fresh space for a new direction in my art (more on that in a future post), and I've created an unusual and rare opportunity that I'm not planning to offer again.

For two days only, I am offering a selection of my work for sale via eBay auction - with the bids starting at 40% below retail. I'm changing studio locations, and the goal is to move the work on out!

This is a time limited window. The auction is live NOW and ends at 5 pm on Saturday May 23rd. Once it closes the paintings will return to their regular full retail price.

Studio Show

Also on Saturday May 23rd, I'm having a one day only show at my studio from 12pm to 5pm MDT. Come and view the paintings live! We'll have computers set up if you want to place a bid while you're there.

eBay Links

Here's a link to the paintings on eBay.
Here's a link with info on how to bid in an eBay auction.

Because the sales will be handled through eBay auction, you don't need to be in town to purchase one, but if you're local, we'd love to have you come by and say hello!

Feel free to contact me with any questions:

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Painting Wisdom from Jill Carver

6x8" Oil - field study
The scene I was painting. 

I just got back from a fantastic 5 day plein air workshop in Texas with Jill Carver.

I have taken workshops with  some super fabulous painters, but I was especially blown away by this experience. Jill is one of the hardest working, generous, fun, HUGELY knowledgable painters I have studied with - I can't recommend her enough!

In addition to what she brings as a teacher, she created an intensive retreat setting by having us all stay at a ranch together for 5 days (with no other guests). This created an intimacy and depth of shared experience that made for rich conversation and connections that fired up our passion and learning.

Jill and I are very much aligned in our teaching styles - what I loved most about the workshop was that we did many, MANY exercises that built on each other, and were never striving for a finished painting. It was the perfect container to stretch as an artist!

Key Steps to Designing Your Painting

Here's what Jill suggests as the best way to set yourself up for success. Walk through these planning steps, in order, before you start the actual painting:

  1. What is your idea/motif?
  2. What is your focal point?
  3. What are 4-5 key big shapes?
  4. Create a notan (black and white) to define what is in light and what is in shadow
  5. Decide darkest dark and lightest light - and the value spread they cover
  6. See if you can keep the painting to no more than 5 values, and decide how many of those will describe the light, and how many will describe the shadow
  7. Stick to your plan!


She also brings a philosophical perspective to the act of creating paintings (hello soul sister!) - here are some of the greatest gems she shared with us:

As a learner - you aren't going to hear the answers until you have the questions in your mind.

We go outside to be a student of nature, to learn how to see, and to gather ideas.

Don't go outdoors to 'claim' a painting, go out to have an interaction and a conversation with nature, and to receive what it has to share with you.

You're not painting a 'scene', you're painting a singular idea. You're making a personal statement.

If you're not frustrated, you don't care about what you're doing. (Amen)

Don't think of yourself as a journalist, you are a poet.

My Final Studio Workshop

I am lit up from the learning and have all kinds of great new ideas to bring to my students! 

On that note, I have just decided to let go of my Canmore studio (will share more about that soul searching decision in a future post) and will be teaching my LAST local workshop this weekend - April 10-12th. 

There are still a couple of spots left - here are the details if you're interested in coming.

The Bandera gang

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How's the Quality of Your Painting Relationship?

"Snow Dance"
Oil on linen - 24x36"

If you step back and look at your relationship with painting as if it were a partnership with someone that you really cared for - how are you showing up?

Spring is a time of renewal, cleaning out the dust, opening the windows and letting the fresh air in.

What about some spring cleaning for your painting mojo? Could it benefit from a little tune up - or is it perhaps in need of a major overhaul?

Toxic and Constricted 

Here are some warning signs that things are not vibrant and fulfilling. How often are these states of being present in your studio?

  • bored
  • formulaic
  • judgmental (of yourself and/or your painting)
  • in angst
  • agitated by frustration
  • struggling
  • overcoming
  • controlling
  • forcing
  • tight and rigid
  • strongly attached to outcome

Time to lean in and get clear who you're being, and what you want in this relationship. These energies do not support your growth and joy as a painter, but the good news is - you are in charge!

What do you need to do to change it up?

Thriving and Expanding

On the other hand - you may be in the relationship of your dreams! How often do you find yourself in this place in your studio?

  • curious
  • exploring
  • playful
  • open
  • free
  • spacious
  • respectful
  • non-judgmental
  • vulnerable
  • taking risks to stretch and grow
  • fully present and in the moment

If this is you, you are really bringing it in the realm of painting. Bravo! Your heart's all in, the energy's clean - you're good to go!

Upcoming Workshop:

On another note (and it will also help with the spring cleaning! :-), I'm teaching a 3 day workshop in my Canmore studio from April 10-12th. We'll dive in to the key things to focus on in order to to create great design when working from photos. All mediums welcome. More details here.