Progress: November woods painting

By popular demand, here is a progress report on this November woods painting, one of the slowest paintings on record. After the last post where I added some berry bushes with string, I did some work on the foreground to add more depth.

mixed media acrylic painting of forest

November woods painting…still in progress

mixed media acrylic painting

Detail of painting in progress

mixed media acrylic painting detail

Detail of painting in progress – you can still see some of the string work faintly, but I did a lot more scratching in and dribbling on top of that. The next step is yet to be determined.


String painting at school

string painting

Step 1: black acrylic drawings

This week, I had the opportunity to help lead the string painting  project in my daughter’s Gr. 1 & 2 French Immersion class. The teacher was able to find everything we needed in the art supply room. We used an almost-empty bottle of black acrylic paint, which I watered down and shook up. We gave each student a small dixie cup of the paint, a string, and a paint brush. I explained the activity in French to the students, and showed them four examples that we had so they could see the different patterns they could make using more or less lines.

The children enjoyed being able to play with the string, dragging it across the paper and trying different curves and lines. My four-year-old came along, and he eagerly helped wash all the paintbrushes while the class waited on the carpet for the paint to dry (they did show-and-tell in the meantime).

string painting project

Step 2: After the black dries, paint in the colours

The kids had to go run around the school a few times to collect themselves, and came back in eager to add colour to their creations. The paint available was tempera cake paint, which created very vibrant colours. The teacher and I found ourselves running a bucket brigade, though, replacing the students’ water as it became muddy.

children painting

Each child had creative and colourful ideas for his or her painting

Look at the beautiful variety of paintings the kids came up with, even though they didn’t have tons of time (there was even a fire drill during the time we intended to start!). This was the biggest group I’ve ever led an art project with; I’m quite used to managing my own two kids. But it went well and was fun!

children's string paintings

Finished Grade 1 & 2 students’ artwork


cube and spoon

Day 27: Shape

When I started thinking about the use of shape in art, I thought of three dimensional sculpture. When I was studying at Emily Carr in 2005, I was assigned to make a cube out of plaster and then “wrap it.” I put a lot of thought into this project, which you can read about in an old post here. It’s hard to believe that was already nine years ago.

The other object I photographed was one of the antique kitchen implements I have hanging in the kitchen. This was an antique from the “old house” on our property that my parents had hanging around our fireplace in the den. I like the sculptural lines and shadows it casts.


asymmetry in mixed media paintings

Day 26: Asymmetry

Here are a couple of my paintings that demonstrate a degree of asymmetry. On the left is a pair of paintings that I display with a space of about an inch in between. While the horizon is aligned, the canvases are not. Read about the making of these paintings here.
On the right, the slope of the landscape gives an asymmetrical feel to the painting.


mixed media paintings

Day 18: I dug up some examples of depth in layering in a couple of my paintings.

Depth is defined as the distance from the top or surface of something to its bottom or complexity and profundity of thought. In my creative process, both of these definitions present themselves. Layers and layers of both thought and media go into my mixed media collage-style paintings.

I love nature and wanted to instill this into our kids as they walk up the stairs to their rooms, so I painted this waterfall scene to remind us of the hikes we love. As I often do, I collaged in some natural objects into the water and rocks at the foot of the waterfall (silver dollar leaves and seeds). You can’t see it from this perspective, but I painted the children into a treehouse on the right, and made a ladder out of broken twigs.

On the right, you can see the detail of a different painting that shows many layers of different papers, paint, a butterfly wing, pastels, etc. One of my favourite parts of creating a painting is near the end when I just add these finishing touches, which often create depth, colour and rich texture.


sun behind cloud and painting

Day 16: Form

Most of my artwork does not feature a strong form; I tend to paint abstract landscapes with a horizon. This painting actually hangs in our laundry room. I liked it more in one of its previous stages, when it featured several smaller circles in a row. For some reason, this form happened. Is it a sea creature? A planet? I don’t know. So to the laundry room it was banished.

The same morning as I was scouting a form to photograph, I noticed that the sky had an incredible radiance. It’s interesting how the sunburst echoes the form in the photo of the painting.

I have to say, for a rainy cool winter, we’re having our share of beautiful skies. I’m thankful for this, and thankful to be able to pause my day to notice things like this.


November trees progress

November trees, progress, wet

November trees, progress, wet

November is winding down – I hope I can finish this painting before the end of the month. I added some espresso grinds to the ground in some acrylic medium, as well as some of my Rousillon pigments.

November trees dry, progress

November trees dry, progress

mixed media painting

November trees detail

painty hand

It’s no secret who got the yellow paint all over the camera.

Rainy day creativity

For the past three weeks I haven’t touched my in-progress painting. But today I woke up with a three-day weekend and nowhere to go on a rainy stormy sort of day. Being Remembrance Day I thought perhaps I should take a stab at painting poppies. Don’t get too excited, because what I ended up with were two more paintings of soybean fields in the works. But I have a plan on one of them to get slightly more realistic than usual and to include actual structures in the field – the well house and ruins of a corn crib.


Soybean fields in progress

But to my dismay, I ran out of gesso. I haven’t had to worry about art supplies for quite awhile, having stockpiled acrylic media and canvases when I had a student discount at Opus and cycling proximity to Granville Island. I don’t find the prices at the local art store very good, so I might just have to plan a visit to Vancouver to restock some things.

Retro step stool chair

I also had time to dress up as a queen upon the demand of my four-year-old, and restore a vintage step stool I found discarded along the street near my workplace. It’s been in the garage for several months, and today my two children and I attacked it with disinfectant and the wondrous thing called steel wool. I think I knew steel wool had magical powers since I had a chrome-fendered bicycle as a child. But I could not believe the transformation to the legs of this stool. I am quite satisfied with the result so it is now in our kitchen – hopefully providing a safer roost for our two-year-old at the island. It is the same type of stool we had at my parents’ house that I was nostalgically online-shopping for, and luckily found for free.

I love long weekends.