My Muse, Miss Clicquot.

To love her is to paint her. ❤️

Oh Miss Monkey Bananas Clicquot. Sweet girl with the biggest brown eyes. She joined our family when she was two years old. Clicquot is the younger sister to Teelo and Riggs. I did worry about her blending into our animal menagerie at first, and how that would go. I remember letting her out of the car her first night in our home and she trotted into the house like she owned the joint. She spent the next 48 hours chasing Beesa everywhere and she placed herself firmly and unwaveringly at the top of our animal hierarchy. Since then, she has ruled over our home like the Princess and the Pea with all of her delicate sensibilities and constant demands.

Like clockwork, every night at 9 pm she cries and grunts until you cover her with a blanket. Hers is a pushy, aggressive type of love. Clicquot thinks nothing of climbing up on an already crowded couch and camping out on top of one of her brothers until they make the sensible choice and leave, vacating their spot for her. Or body-checking her grandmother when she comes to visit (sorry mom!). Or head-butting everyone in sight when she knows it’s “walk time”.

She loves the fireplace in the winter, and sun- tanning on the warm deck in the summer. Sometimes you have to save her from her love of heat – turn the fireplace off or bring her in from the sun when it seems like any sane animal or human would’ve had enough. It is impossible to get mad at her, and that is how Clicquot gets away with it all. Really, all she wants is to be warm, and to be loved, and she is not shy to demand either when her meter is running low. And we – we are so happy to supply her with all the cuddles, blankets, and love she could possibly need.

With her almost cartoon-like features, and that face, Clicquot has been a huge source of inspiration for my art. She’s my little vizsla muse.

I realized I’ve done quite a few portraits of Clicquot and I thought I’d share them with you. Miss Monkey Bananas, below, represented a real level up for me. The solitary figure, vibrant colours, and solid background cutting in with confident lines around my subject – this is a style I returned to and experimented with many times in the latter half of 2018.

Miss Monkey Bananas Clicquot. August 2018. Acrylic on canvas. 12 x 12″.

My husband and I took Clicquot for an epic 35 km backcountry hike at Algonquin Park the summer she came to live with us. We planned it as a bonding experience for just the three of us (the boys stayed with their grandparents and were thoroughly spoiled). Clicquot was such a good little hiker. She stayed right beside me even when we was off-leash, and she was NOT interested in meeting any other hikers, human or canine. We hiked about 17 km the first day and when we arrived at our campsite at Hart Lake we spent the rest of the summer afternoon chilling on the rocky shore. Clicquot was our little lookout dog. This painting makes me want to take her back to the backcountry… such happy memories.

Clicquot at Heart Lake. February 2018. Acrylic and ink on canvas. 18 x 24″.

And finally, this painting was inspired entirely by Edward Hopper’s Pensive Lady in Pink, replaced by our own little pensive lady in red. I went through a bit of a Hopper tribute phase in the first half of 2018, covered in this post. Every time I finished a Clicquot painting, I would think of another painting idea, or take another perfect photo of her that was just begging to be painted.

Pensive Lady in Red. May 2018. Acrylic on canvas. 16 x 20″.

Clicquot 3 x 3

The Clicquot 3 x 3. I love this. This is an ongoing Clicquot project that I started about a year ago and which I would really like to return to and finally complete. My recent sketchbook tour sent me looking through other sketchbooks for fun and I was reminded of this series. This was inspired by a sweet book my husband gave to me many, many years ago: Arty Dogs. In it, dogs are added to famous paintings accompanied by a short story that explains how they ended up there, and it’s just really whimsical and great. It gave me the idea to feature sweet Clicquot in nine different scenes inspired by nine of my favourite artists. Whenever I don’t have another project going on, I try to finish a Clicquot sketch. Lately – that hasn’t been very often and this project needs some attention. I envision finishing all of these on hot press drawing board, with white frames, and hanging on a wall in a 3 x 3 formation (obviously).

This first sketch is inspired by Salvador Dali’s melty clocks and the Persistence of Memory. I absolutely love this quick sketch that I did in about five minutes during lunch at work one day. I hesitate to try to create a more polished, final drawing from this sketch because I think it might be difficult to reproduce the spontaneity.

The Persistence of Clicquot.

This is Clicquot standing outside looking into the old Apollo Grill at Hunter and George Streets. Inspired by Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks it puts a local spin on the classic painting. This makes me think of an independent little Clicquot who took a stroll downtown to get herself a hotdog only to find out, “No Dogs Allowed” inside the diner.

Nighthawks Clicquot

This is Clicquot starring in Edvard Munch’s The Scream and reimagined as, what else? The Howl. Clicquot doesn’t howl much. None of the dogs do. Teelo is the only one who ever really has, but the conditions need to be exactly right. He used to howl when we lived in Downtown Toronto, and he was still Downtown Brown. Sometimes when we were out for a walk, a firetruck would pass us with the sirens wailing. If the firetruck approached us from an adequate distance, so that the sirens were going for awhile, Teelo would sit down, throw his dog head back, and hoooooooooowl along with the sirens. Everyone on the sidewalk would turn to look. It was kind of his thing. This sketch reminds me of that, even though Clicquot is the subject.

The Howl.

Oh this is one of my favourites. I made many drafts of this sketch to get it just right. It is inspired by Roy Lichtenstein. We have three Lichtenstein prints hanging in our house. We spent many months trying to source that perfect trio of prints that explore domestic un-bliss and melodrama. I love pop art, I love Lichtenstein’s primary colour, dot-matrix portraits, and this is a combination of the “I don’t care…” sentimentality of Drowning Girl, and Kim Carnes’ song, “Bette Davis Eyes.” I always think of the line, She’s ferocious, and she knows just what it takes to make a pro blush. I’m pretty sure that Teelo and Riggs think Clicquot is a spy sent from outer space, or from our breeder’s house. Hence the title. 😉

All the Boys Think She’s a Spy.

I recycled this title for my Beesa painting, This is a Cat. I sketched this with Magritte’s pipe in mind – The Treachery of Images. I like it. It’s cheeky, just like Clicquot.

Another Magritte, another surrealist painting, another portrait of Clicquot. A cross between Magritte’s Green Apple and Decalcomania. I like how it pays tribute to three Magritte works in one. This will be the final composition for the Magritte drawing.

Ceci n’est pas un chien.

Below is a rough sketch of my Andy Warhol Clicquot Portrait. I think we all know the silk-screen Warhol Monroes on repeat, and the Campbell Soup Cans. This would be neat as a sketch but also as a mixed-media kind of decoupage that combines a black and white photocopy of Clicquot with multiple contrasting colours. I’ll have to think on its final execution a little more. I remember going to see the Warhol exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario on a wintery weekend with my MOM back in grade 10. I wore high heel boots that really hurt my feet and she insisted on taking the subway. After living downtown for ten plus years, taking the subway is no thing at all now but I was quite concerned for our safety on that first roundtrip into the big city. Anyway, the whole exhibit focused on Warhol’s work as a graphic designer. I loved it – I was really interested in graphic design as a career for myself back then and it was so interesting to see it elevated to fine art at the AGO. The exhibit was partly Warhol’s work interwoven with snapshots and pieces of his life. There was even a little display within the exhibit that featured a bottle of Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion that Warhol used. I used the same lotion then, and I use it now! And I’ve been a fan of Warhol since way back then too.

Candle in the Wind Clicquot.

My husband’s favourite artist is William Blake, the British Romantic painter unwittingly responsible for so much of the imagery in the Red Dragon movie (of Hannibal Lecter infamy). Unbelievably, he was a watercolour painter – I think his works are amazing. This is Clicquot howling along with the dragon in a sketch appropriately title, The Great Red Vizsla and the Dragon Clothed in Sun. Not sure if I’ll take my chances and paint the final work as a watercolour too… it’s not always guaranteed to be a success for me.

The Great Red Vizsla and the Dragon Clothed in Sun.

And that’s the entirety of my works inspired by Clicquot. Now that I’ve had a chance to return to the Clicquot 3 x 3 I hope I’ll be able to make it a priority to finish in the next few months and finally get it framed and on display. I counted and it looks like I’m two sketches shy of having all of my ideas. Kandinsky? Cezanne? Picasso? Seurat? We will see.

Representing my loved ones and my own memories through painting is a huge theme for my work. This is a subject I hope to explore more deeply through portraiture for the rest of 2019. I think it’s interesting to kind of push my own idea of a portrait a bit, paint my subjects from unconventional viewpoints, play with the colour and background and contrast. I have a number of paintings already lined up.

Clicquot has such an easy face to paint – I’m in the middle of a portrait of her and her brothers right now, and as soon as I filled in the darkest parts of her eyes I sat back and thought, I’ve got it! Those expressive features, and her fierce and pushy and lovey personality – we are just so lucky to have Clicquot in our family. I always call her my sweet girl. I feel like she’s been my little girl forever. There was no warming-up period, it was just an instant bond. That first weekend with her in our home my husband had to work. So I ventured out for a solo walk with all.the.dogs. It was unusually hot and when we got home it was quiet in the house. I lay down for a rest after the triple-dog-walk excitement (um, mayhem) and I remember distinctly that Clicquot just jumped right up beside me on the bed and curled close in next to me. It was love. It’s been her spot ever since (not counting her first few nights here when she was crated to stop her from hunting Beesa while we slept 🙄).

And there you have it – Little Miss Monkey Bananas Clicquot. Thank you for reading everyone and happy Monday!

Week in Review.

Sunday, January 20th, 2019.

It’s been awhile since I did a week in review! I think a lot of people start the New Year with big plans for how it’s going to be the best.year.ever. While I’m cautious to make too many grand plans, I know I’m usually as excited as the next person to get a fresh start and plan out my time. Unfortunately Christmas and New Year were a little rough around here this year and it caught up with me in the past few weeks. I’ve spent a lot of time at home, cuddling with the dogs. I haven’t had the feeling of wanting to start any big projects for a couple weeks, and I had a bit of writer’s block. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back, but also sometimes I personally need a bit of a kick in the pants to get back to it when the step back goes on for too long. For anyone out there whose New Years are not going as shiny and sparkly and positive as your favourite celebrity Instagram feeds – I hear you!

Now let’s get to it and on to the week that was. We’re hunkered down this weekend, in the middle of a snowstorm and avoiding the extreme cold temperatures as much as possible. We did venture out for an extremely refreshing run on Saturday afternoon and the three little vizslas were total troopers. Everyone is happier after a little bit of exercise, dogs included.

Teelo, showing extreme caution about our impending cold weather adventure.

And away we go! Quickly dogs because it’s cold AF.

The vizslas are genetically programmed to lie in front of fireplaces when the temperatures dip 🙂

The gruesome twosome.

I kind of waded back into painting and writing this week after taking a bit of a break from both. I did my favourite combination of personal and art instruction posts. In case you missed something:

  • I talked about my favourite artist Edward Hopper and my painting Vizsla and the Sun in an Empty Room here.
  • I finally published a massive post all about colour mixing and colour theory – it’s the second post in my Painting for Absolute Beginners series.
  • I finished a sketchbook and gave a tour of my favourite drawings and paintings.
Starting a new oil painting! Step one: Transfer sketch to canvas.

I also spent some time early this week transferring this sketch to a prepped canvas for an oil painting I hope to get to this weekend. You can see the time-lapse video of me working here above!

I always love watching these and I hope you do too! They are definitely fun to film and edit.

And to round things out, I did get some painting done, just nothing too serious. A bit of a fear of commitment right now, lol. Felt good to shake the cobwebs off – they gather quickly (actually, painting is a LOT like exercise in that it requires the same level of routine to make progress – if you workout every single day, you’re more likely to keep working out everyday. And eating healthy. Miss one workout and I’m a ball on the couch eating an endless stream of Jalapeno Cheetos. Same for painting lol).

This week’s work:

Oh, and lastly I started a Pinterest account for evachristensenart – I’ve never used Pinterest before, ever (apparently that’s weird?) but it seemed like a good idea for getting my ideas out there, especially my how-to posts. Please check me out on Pinterest and let me know how I’m doing. I’m not sure how things are supposed to look, or how I avoided knowing about Pinterest for so long (I swear I don’t live under a rock!), but I definitely feel totally out of the loop now. Thank you to my Pinterest-loving sister-in-law for checking it out for me and helping me to navigate 🙂

Next week is all about getting back on track – exercise, painting, life (hopefully).

Hope you all had a great weekend. Any big plans for next week, art-related or otherwise? Comment away below. Thank you for visiting!

Sketchbook Tour.

Happy Friday all! I finished a sketchbook yesterday! It feels great! This was an especially good one so I thought I’d give you a little tour to celebrate. I used to treat my sketchbooks a little too preciously. I was afraid to start something unless I was sure it would be really good. I was always worried about wasting any of the pages. I just ended up with a lot of half-used, not very interesting books gathering dust. I’m in a place now where I view it as more of a visual diary. Don’t get me wrong – if something is downright awful, I’ll probably rip the page out – there’s no need to keep a drawing if it makes you cringe every time you look at it. You may not be able to crumple up any other types of life mistakes and toss them in the trash, but you can certainly rip creepy/ugly/awkward/what-were-you-thinking? drawings out of your sketchbook.

Anyway, I date everything in my sketchbook and it ends up being a really nice journal and a great way to look back on work in progress. Some stuff may stay in the sketchbook, other drawings may have been the spark for a great painting or phase of art (my Clicquot phase, my Hopper phase). I love it.

I purchased this sketchbook from Endeavors the Artist Shop in downtown Fredericton on Monday, July 30, 2018. It’s just the best little art store packed with great supplies on Queen Street right across from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design and Garrison Square (double love!). When my husband used to live in Fredericton he would go to Endeavors when shopping for presents for me 🙂 🙂 :0 so my history with this great store goes way back. I was actually walking around Fredericton all by myself on Sunday, July 29th, during the hottest summer ever in history. The scenery is so nice on Queen Street and you’re close to the water. I was waiting for my husband and I thought, I should find that cute little art store and buy a sketchpad and pen – and a fancy iced coffee! and find some shade to sketch the city. I thought that would be so artsy-chic of me.

Well, Endeavors was closed that Sunday (wuh wuh) and my plans to look like a fabulous artist sketching in the park like it required no effort at all were foiled. We returned the next day, and I loaded up on sketching supplies (including this book) and then had lunch at my favourite lunch place of all time, The Abbey. As an aside – We ate there almost every single day that we were in Fredericton last summer and I couldn’t get enough. Local art work on walls? Check. Creative vegan food served in big bowls? Check. Air-conditioning? Check. I still love that place so much but I digress… (sketchbook tours will make you do that, all the happy memories just come flooding back and you go off on a tangent).

So this sketchbook features a lot of east coast drawings, most from pictures that I took on site, and a few randoms too. What are sketchbooks without the randoms? I started the book on Monday, July 30, 2018, and finished it yesterday, January 17, 2019. Not bad!

Here’s a selection of my favourites 🙂

Owl’s Nest Bookstore, Fredericton. I’ve been visiting this place every time I visit Fredericton with my husband for nearly twenty years now! We were both distressed to see that there was a closing sign up last July. This store was just always absolutely crammed with books, it was actually kind of claustrophobic for me. A downtown institution nonetheless. And an obligatory stop on our semi-annual trek around downtown. We did give it one last wander last summer before I insisted we leave because it was too warm and I felt like bthe store was closing in on me.

The Citadel, in Halifax Nova Scotia. Did I mention that the summer of 2018 was literally the hottest summer on record, like everywhere on earth? Including the Maritimes? Oh my god, it was intolerable. This really came into play when we went to visit the Halifax Citadel atop the treeless Citadel Hill and I forgot to put on sunscreen. We hung out in these tunnels a whole bunch until we felt like we had got our money’s worth. This is a view from one of the underground tunnels, looking out into the blinding sun. That’s my husband at the top of the steps.

My husband at Moxon’s Country Pumpkin. My nephew was in the other half of the drawing but he took on an unfortunately creepy sort of Chucky-like appearance so he’s been cut out of this picture for the sake of my pride. I don’t know what it is about drawing/painting kids – when it goes wrong it goes really wrong.

Backstreet Records – also on Queen Street, Fredericton. My husband has been shopping @backstreetrecords forever, and this is another one of our usual Freddy stops. This drawing was pretty good but then I feel like I ruined it a bit with my limited pack of pastels that I bought on a whim when I purchased this sketchbook. Not a huge fan of pastels to begin with so I don’t really know what I was thinking??? these ones certainly didn’t do anything to convert me to a pastel artist, they just made a mess.

Le Coq Bistro in Halifax. Of the few days we were there, this was hands-down the best meal that we had. It didn’t hurt that the air-conditioning was perfect and it was a great escape from the heat. We drove east in search of seafood and authentic donairs. I never would have guessed our most memorable dinner would have been French food. But @lecoqbistro was so lovely, we just couldn’t stop talking about it. I loved the food here, loved the atmosphere. My sketch is a little busy, but at least the dinner was very good, and looking at this reminds me of our really nice Haligonian date night.

I saw this little dog chilling out on Richmond Street in Charlottetown, PEI on another horribly hot day in August. His people were having brunch and he seemed pretty happy out beside them in the shade. I imagine that his name was probably something awesome like Milkbone. Our dogs are always on high alert so they would never chill on a curb like this, ever. I’m jealous of people with really chill dogs because they are living my dog fantasy. We don’t do stuff like this with our dogs, ever.

Down at the Khyber! I love this sketch. I love this building. Down at #thekhyber is one of my favourite albums of all time, steeped in personal happy memories and feelings and finding the actual Khyber was so awesome. I took many photos at many different angles of this awesome building. The above drawing led to a great little watercolour painting that was part of a really productive week last fall where I felt like everything I touched with my watercolour brush was awesome.

Another great view of The Khyber 🙂 Just loved those angles and the pretty architecture.

St. Paul’s Church in Downtown Halifax. We were walking around one evening and this striking building just called out to be photographed. This sketch is one of my favourites! Now that I’m writing about it here in my sketchbook tour I’m wondering why I didn’t paint this with the rest of my east coast watercolours??? I especially like all of the horizontal lines and how simple it looks. It was really easy to draw which is always the way with sketches you end up liking most. Love the perspective. Maybe this one is worth another look for a painting? The tough part is, any attempts to reproduce this will lose something in the reproduction process and I have a feeling that the spontaneity of the drawing is part of what makes me like it so much.

Cavendish Beach at sunset in August. We got to PEI after driving over the terrifying, vertigo-inducing bridge, we had a traditional lobster dinner, we got Cow’s Ice Cream, and then we drove up to Cavendish Park and dipped our toes in the ocean and called it a day. I loved these little red and white huts along the beach.

When we got to Halifax we walked all along the Harbour as the sun was setting. The reflection of orange light from the pier on inky blue-black water was so pretty. I took a ton of photos for reference and returned to them recently. It’s nice to reminisce about summer from the depths of winter. These harbour sketches inspired two paintings in one evening which is kind of a record for me. I was particularly happy with the perspective of the sketch above, and the resulting painting which I talk about in this post.

A few more studies of the pier at night.

These drawings turned into a fun little painting session and time-lapse video captured here.

Oh, and here are the dogs:

I’ve been doing these random cartoons of my funny little vizslas for awhile now. It started when Teelo and Riggs were the original gruesome twosome and continued when Clicquot joined the mix. They just have the most hilarious little personalities and facial expressions. This particular cartoon is just an illustration of their random food-related nonsense nicknames. OMG I love my dogs so much.

More vizsla cartooning. I imagine that in addition to being totally crazy Clicquot is also very stern and scares the boys.

I didn’t paint in my sketchbook very often but this view across from Garrison Square in Fredericton turned out pretty nicely I think and I really should return to this for a painting. I love Maritime architecture. Brightly painted wood in a rainbow of colours and all sorts of interesting lines and designs. I also love pen and watercolour paintings but I have yet to find a totally perfect pen. I tend to use fine Sharpies which are pretty good. My Micron Pigma pens, although highly rated, have been pretty disappointing. Most pens are good at first but once they start drying at all… that’s it, they’re of no use to me.

And here we are, the last few pages from my sketchbook:

The past few weeks were a bit of an artistic slump. It was so busy, busy, busy right up to and after Christmas, and then a bit of a rough time caught up with me. So even though at first I felt like I wanted to be busy and was painting and writing and running and cleaning and getting everything done… all of a sudden over the past week or two I felt like I had just had enough, and needed a bit of a break. So my incredibly prolific run came to an end and evachristensenart endured a bit of a radio silence as a result.

Anyway, two weekends ago my husband and I visited downtown with my idea of wanting to walk around and get some great pics to continue my watercolour and ink series closer to home. Not the best idea in a mid-January deep-freeze. We walked pretty quick, it was painfully cold, but I got my pics and my notes. I liked my east coast series so much my idea was to do the same with local landmarks and interesting-to-me places. These two paintings are my favourite downtown stores. I love the perspective in the painting above and I have tried three times to reproduce this as a more polished, final painting – each time was a huge fail. Not sure if I’ll try again as I’m just wasting my favourite Canson artboard at this point. Stay tuned I guess…

This particular sketch below was one of my most popular ever on Instagram. Maybe it’s the perspective? I like it quite a bit myself. Not sure if I’ll try another version outside of my sketchbook as that hasn’t been going too well for me recently. We will see. Sometimes I will put something away for a few months and then when the time is right I’ll be able to come back to it with the right perspective.

I finished the last pages of my sketchbook with notes and illustrations for my post all about colour theory. The art nerd in me thinks colour charts are so pretty and it was so much fun to create these for the post. It’s true – you know you’re doing something you love when it doesn’t feel like work. That’s how this blog and creating teaching-type posts feels for me.

I’m hesitant to take any pages out of my sketchbook but I’d love to frame some of these drawings and paintings. Especially now that I’ve had a chance to do a bit of a retrospective with this tour.

The Pentalic Nature Sketch Sketchpad was pretty good! The paper is 130 lb, acid-free, and has a cold-press texture. You have to have a light touch with any watercolour or wet media that you use because the paper does warp pretty easily. I loved the heavy chipboard back – It makes the sketchpad really sturdy, substantial. The texture is really nice for pen work. Like I said I usually use fine tip Sharpies and those worked really well here. I still feel like I haven’t found my pen soulmate but I suppose I can check out the pen situation this weekend when I go out to get a new sketchbook. Exciting!

I hope you enjoyed my sketchbook tour. Lots of east coast memories here @fredtourism. I may not be a real Freddy by geography, but after nearly twenty years of visits, I like to consider myself a Frederictonian by heart – or in the very least by marriage. Shout-outs to all of our favourite places: New Brunswick College of Craft and Design #NBCCD (if only I could be a student again), The Abbey Café #theabbycafe, @backstreetrecords, @beaverbrook_ag, @chesspiececafe. #Downtownfredericton we will be back soon 🙂

Thanks for reading everyone and welcome to the weekend!

Day in the life.

Or, how I try to fit a day’s worth of art work around everything else going on in my life!

I thought this would be a fun post, so here we go, here’s my Thursday:

4:50 am – Night table alarm goes off for first time, followed by phone alarm 5 minutes later. Alternate snooze between the two alarms so that they go off approximately every 2-8 minutes for the next twenty minutes. 

Teelo says “Go Away MOM”!

5:10 am – I’m awake! The dogs look at me like I’m crazy and go back to sleep, taking over my spot in the bed. I clean the house from top to bottom, laundry, Dyson for a bit (there’s no better way to start my morning), pack our breakfasts and lunches, shower and get ready for work. 

Wake the dogs up and force them outside to take care of business. Feed the dogs. 

Out the door! Oh yeah, it snowed. Clean the car then off I go. Wait, I forgot my coffee. Now I’m off. 

7 am – Work! 

10 am – Take a break. Yesterday I was messaging with my Swedish cousin about creating a painting of her house. Doodle her house on the back of a scrap paper while I eat an apple and a banana. Excited to start this project – something different. Check my blog and I’m shocked to discover today’s post is my most popular yet – thanks for reading everyone! I feel motivated. Reapply lipstick. Back to work.

3 pm – Done work. Get home and Dyson the house again in an ongoing battle against dust and dog and cat hair. I vacuum constantly. I will prevail!

3:30 pm – Take dogs for a run. It’s really cold. It starts to snow. I feel crazy. The dogs get spooked by a little kid walking by with his fur-trimmed hood pulled up. Much barking ensues. We continue on our way. 

Clicquot warms herself by the fire.

4:30 pm – Vet appointment to check on Teelo after his procedures last week. He hides under the chair and the vet sits down on the floor to examine him. I join her on the floor. We love our vet office, they are so kind. Teeth are pearly white, stitches need a little more time before removal.

5:00 pm – I’m home, and I have the whole evening to myself. I debate going to kick-boxing but ultimately decide that an evening like this, with a clean house (even *most* of the laundry is put away!) and tired dogs hiding and resting, is too good not to paint. I feed the dogs because now Riggs is crying. He cries a lot.

She’s outta here!

I grab some coffee and head to the art room. Clicquot joins me in her moose sweater. There are antlers on the hood. She gives me side eye when I take her picture.  

I got to this point with Big Beesa on Monday night:

The painting is 24 x 30″. I drink some coffee and consider my next steps. I get myself set up with all of my references images and sketches. In addition to the sketches I always keep my iPAD with my reference photo nearby. As I paint, I constantly look back and forth between painting and references. Like when you’re driving and you’re supposed to check your side and rear-view mirrors every 3-5 seconds or something like that. It’s really important for staying on track. In art and on the road. 🙂

Reference photo of little Beesa.

My palette for this painting leans heavily on burnt umber, yellow ochre burnt, transparent oxide yellow lake, gold ochre, and titanium white. So much titanium white. Red gold lake and Payne’s grey for some of the details, and Scheveningen black for the darkest areas of Beesa and background. All Old Holland Oils. I love this paint. Great investment.

I work for nearly two hours and take another reference pic:

6:45 pm – Take a break to bring my husband a coffee at work. It’s difficult to bring my car window back up after the drive-thru. Worry for a bit that this means the entire driver-side door will have to be replaced. Remind myself to Google this problem later. 

7:30 pm- Home! I let the dogs out again. Clicquot gives the dog next door a warning bark. Back to painting Big Beesa. I didn’t intend to work on Beesa again tonight, but her left eye is really irritating me and was on my mind the whole time I was out. I have to address it. I can’t live like this. 

I trace Beesa’s eye from the same-sized transfer sketch onto an acetate transparency. I hover it above the painting and can see the issue with her eye loud and clear. I decide to finish painting her eyes even though I vowed I wouldn’t bring out the green until the very end. The pigments to make green are so potent they can infect the whole palette like an illness if you’re not careful, casting everything in a queasy green hue – I am very careful and use a totally separate brush for her eyes. I avoid turning Big Beesa into Big Sick Beesa. For this painting “cat eye green” was mixed with Scheveningen blue, Scheveningen yellow medium, burnt umber (this may be the most used colour in my palette ever), and varying amounts of titanium white for highlights. 

My workspace. Just call me the crazy cat lady…

8:30 pm – iPad with reference image dies. I write this blog post until it gets to 10% charge – just enough time to use up the paint remaining on my palette. I’m not usually so economical with paint, but for the price, I don’t want to waste any Old Holland paint. 

Using up my leftover paint takes all of five minutes. I decide this is a good place to stop anyway. I probably won’t be able to visit Big Beesa again until this weekend, but maybe it’s good to have some time to think and give the painting some time to dry. I will miss her in the meantime. 

9:30 pm – Clean up. Walk around putting things away around the house. I have half an hour before my husband gets home from work. I sketch some ideas for our Christmas card. I realize I am quickly running out of time for Christmas 2018. 

Christmas Clicquot.

By now Riggs is in the art room crying because Clicquot won’t share the bed with him. I call it a day. 

10:15 pm – My husband is home from work. The dogs go nuts. I let them out for their bedtime business. It’s cold and I have to force them down the deck stairs. I realize I didn’t eat dinner because I was busy painting. We make a snack and talk about our days. We watch a few episodes of Season 1 of Friends on Netflix. We’ve had it on a loop for the past few weeks. I like to listen while i paint. I write the rest of this blog post, tidy up, and get organized for tomorrow. 

12 am – Bedtime.

Thanks for reading everyone 🙂 Happy Friday! I will be back on Sunday with a recap of the week. Have a great weekend.

My first video!

My first video is up! Please excuse the awkwardness! 😱 I wanted to say hello in person, and introduce my upcoming video how-to content via – what else? – a video! 💁‍♀️ The dogs make a guest appearance throughout 🙄🙄🙄, and you can hear Beesa in the background 😻. Happy watching!

Four-legged inspiration.

Teelo, Clicquot, and Riggs, aka my little monsters. 

Now that I’ve ripped off the proverbial Band-Aid by publishing my first few posts, I feel like it would be a good time to let you know a little more about myself. I think if you asked someone who knows me to describe me, they’d say I’m the lady with all the dogs. This past Halloween one parent remarked (as I handed out candy with one foot hooked on the back of our front door, bracing the world against my curious gaggle of barking dogs): “So this is the dog house!” But I would have to correct them and tell you that I’m also the lady with some cats too-and they aren’t wallflowers 🙂

We have three dogs and two cats – Teelo, Riggs, Clicquot, Beesa, and Wiggis. They are the center of our little family and we kind of orbit around them making sure that everyone is healthy and happy (and for the dogs we also make sure they are tired so they will be extra good). They all have very specific likes and dislikes and wants and needs. To give you a taste: Beesa likes her senior cat citizen appetite-stimulating kibbles to be served 1 tbsp at a time with warm water (she’ll let you know when she’s ready for more). Clicquot likes to go to bed every night at 9pm. Wiggis likes to sit with my husband in the evening on the green couch. Teelo is scared of rolling dice and shuffling cards. Riggs will growl at you if you try to move him when he’s napping.

Our animals have really been the basis for a lot of my painting inspiration, especially over the last year. I take so many pictures of our pets, I love action shots (usually napping shots work best however) and there will be one in a million that I will look at and think – that really captures the entirety of their personality in that one photo… That would be a cool painting… And then I let that kind of park in my semi-subconscious while I mull it over and when I’m ready… TADA! Well, it’s not always that easy but I do find that some of my best paintings (and sketches!) come about from months of thinking about a particular image and how I would work that out in a painting and then when I finally put brush to canvas all the work of thinking is done and the painting just flows…

The Persistence of Clicquot 😉 Ink on paper. 2018.
Vizsla E. Kandinsky/Three Vizslas on a Wednesday Afternoon. Watercolour on Paper. 2018.
Riggs slinking away from his portrait.

When I draw or paint or spend time in my art room focused on my art, I really find that’s a form of meditation. I never really understood that part of yoga – being still and focusing inward. I was always more likely to fall asleep on my yoga mat than achieve a higher level of personal awareness. I’ve realized that when I’m painting, all I’m doing is being absolutely focused on my work. And when I am painting something that I love it’s a way to meditate on something that makes me very happy. I have found that to be incredibly fulfilling and I also find that it has resulted in me creating the very best work of my life. I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves over the coming months and years and what subject matter I may turn to next and how this will all develop. I hope you will enjoy following me as I do :).

What inspires you to paint? Leave a message in the comments below 🙂 

 

Welcome to my art room.

I love my art room. I just love it. It is my favorite room. One of the very first things I did when we moved into this house was to claim one of the bedrooms for my new art room. The animals usually move freely around in here and while I’m painting I usually have one to three dogs sleeping around my feet. Riggs is sleeping on the floor beside my desk as I type this. There is a permanent dog bed that gets moved around depending on where I’m working and a few blankets too now that it’s getting cold (vizslas like to be covered at all times).

We lived in a one bedroom condo for ten years and even if I wanted to paint, nothing really made me feel more lazy than the idea of having to dig out my art supplies from our storage locker in the basement. And the cats. Oh the cats. Two wild bengals with a magnetic-like attraction to batting paintbrushes and pencils off the table. And then painting at the dining room table where we threw our mail and winter coats? No, the mood to paint didn’t strike often. 

Vizsla chilling in the art room. 

My art room is one of the key factors in my productivity. I have all of my art stuff organized, in one location, and I can close the door if needed (keep cats away from drinking paint water, keep dogs away from licking delicious-to-them oil paintings). And I can literally be in the middle of a project and get up and walk away and know that everything will be there when I return, ready to go.

I have two easels. Once I started oil painting I realized I really needed one easel for oil paintings, and a second for acrylic. The reason? If I have a few acrylic paintings on the go I’ll regularly prop one on the floor against a wall to dry while I work on another. Not really a feasible option for oil paintings which dry markedly slower. I started having nightmares about Beesa and Wiggis (the cats) marking the paintings by rubbing right up against them. So two easels it was. I set up a caddie in between that houses all of my oil paints and mediums, brushes for oils and acrylics, and odds and ends like transfer paper (white saral paper! just the best recent discovery!), masking tape, coffee filters (for filtering used paint thinner), paper towels, and some other odds and ends. I try to really maintain a minimalist working area – the caddie only houses supplies that I use all the time. 

I have a big dining room table opposite from the easels. This was a great purchase. This is my multipurpose work area. There’s so much space. I use it for paperwork, writing, watercolour painting, everything. The desk light is an LED TaoTronics lamp, another great find. It has five different light colour settings and ten brightness settings. I never turn it off. At night I just put it on its dimmest setting and that way if I walk past my art room in the middle of the night for water or to let a dog outside I can peak in to check on everything 🙂 I have projects everywhere. On the floors, on the walls, everything in varying stages of completeness. I find it really inspiring and motivating to surround myself with my work in progress like this. 

Between my easels and my dining room table I have a wood drafting table that I only use for drawing. All of my acrylic paints live in a big tupperware container underneath the drafting table. And all of my paintbrushes and pencils and pastels are housed on my wooden bookcase in the corner. You can see more projects scattered about here, ready to go. And you can also see my acrylic palette propped against my easel. I found that scrap of wood in my dad’s workroom in grade 12 in a pinch and I have used it for every acrylic painting ever since. It’s getting kind of heavy with old paint but it’s also kind of neat to see it changing colour depending on what I’m painting. I think about retiring it and hanging it up in the art room like a my own Jackson Pollock-inspired acrylic splatter on wood… but then I wouldn’t have a palette so I don’t. 

I have art hanging up everywhere. I used to be really afraid to hang anything up permanently but I have a hammer and a jar of picture nails in the art room closet and I just hang paintings now as I please. If I make a mistake I just pull the nail out and try again and don’t tell my husband :). I like being surrounded by my old paintings. Even the ones that I used to cringe about. There’s a bunch of those. It’s kind of nice to be surrounded by where I’ve been while moving forward into new directions with my art. 

So that’s my art room. Welcome! I’m really looking forward to letting you in on some of my upcoming projects really soon. Stay tuned! 

Thanks for visiting!