Thursday, April 21, 2011

Two Quick Little Studies!

"I have a horror of people who speak about the beautiful. What is the beautiful? One must speak of problems in painting!

~Pablo Picasso
April Showers bring May flowers!

One of the problems with travelling so much is that I often get caught between two (or in this case three) places. Paints are in one place, brushes are in another. Before I left for Vancouver the last time I decided I wouldn't bring any art supplies with me in order to focus on writing. That resulted in a trip to the art store and a duplication of art supplies because I was hit with the inspiration bat. And like a home run I landed far from the writing field and firmly in front of the inks at Opus!

I started painting in gouache in Turkey. Why? Because that's what my sister had on hand, and truthfully, it seemed like a safer bet than watercolour, which has the reputation for being transparent and tricky. But as I started delving deeper into painting, I switched over to watercolour because that transparency was something I wanted to work with. And I don't really find it much different than gouache to tell you the truth, and most people don't notice the difference. But then my artist/writer friend Chris Wikman suggested I try ink. (Chris does seriously nice work- check him out here.)

I can't resist trying new things, as you may have notices from the spazzy nature of my blog. One week it's block printing, the next week it's glass, the next week I'm back to painting. So I went to the Kelowna art store, and they only sold one shade of colour of each bottle of ink. Hmm. I'd never really looked closely at inks, so I bought the shades in front of me, brought them home and started to play. Painting straight out of the bottle, I messed around, adding a little water here and there, wondering what got Chris so excited. I liked the transparent nature of the inks, but I hadn't really worked out what I wanted to do with them, and I had to pack the inks away anyway because I was on my way to Vancouver.

But in Vancouver, I found myself down in the vicinity of the art store. This was dangerous territory for me. I didn't need any art supplies, knowing some were in storage and some were in the Okanagan. But it wouldn't hurt to look right?


Opus Vancouver had not only three different brands of ink, they had a multitude of colours! (All except alizarin crimson. What's up with that? Surely these inks are synthetic! Mix me up a batch, please!) I tried to limit myself to three. but then I'd need brushes, right? And what would it hurt if I bought ink colours I was pretty sure I didn't own already? I've been looking at Rie Munoz paintings lately, and she makes a lot of use of the overlapping technique and she does an amazing job. These inks would help me study Rie's paintings! What colour suits trees the best? Sap green or Oive green? Or green gold? Oh the selection!

So I spent a lot of money on inks and I started to play with them. Of course, I came back to the Okanagan for a week and didn't bring my Vancouver supplies with me. And I can't show you what I did because it's a surprise for someone who may read this blog from time to time. But I do have my orignial (limited) Kelowna inks and here's what I've done between organizing my stuff for the big Vancouver move now that I have a place.

First: These are studies, So I've painted them to play with how the inks work. I don't think I'm there yet. But so far I've learned that inks are even trickier than watercolour in the sense that they are so transparent and permanent that you need to work pretty confidently. This meant I worked quite small and controlled, using tiny brushes. (I also only have a few hours at a time to work right now so I'm keeping it small!)
Little Peach Tree! I have a story about a peach tree I may try to paint this spring. But you can see in the branches and the leaves that the inks are darker where the inks overlap. This also means that trying to paint something and shade it with anything other than water can be difficult with a limited palette. But I did get red and yellow in those peaches. But the leaves were painted and thinned out with water and overlapped a la Rie Munoz (Who does trees like this too.) I like this technique a lot. Thanks, Ink! Thanks Chris!

But after I was finished, I decided that I am too controlling, and that the inks are pushing me to be more spontaneous with my decisions. I haven't quite caught any spirit in these paintings- this is what makes Rie Munoz's tiny paintings fun! They are full of spirit! The inks are also full of spirit. It's just me I need to get on board.

Flowers in a mason jar. I was trying to think of things that spell spring in a small town. But now I get why our teachers in art school would say, forget the mason jar. Paint the spirit of the mason jar. This here, is a study of a mason jar. Though I still think it's a cute little painting!

So though they may be tiny studies that were done on a kitchen table at night, these little studies have taught me how to be a better painter. I can't wait to see what they teach me next time.



  1. (At first glance when I saw the name Picasso over the delightful vase of flowers I thought he managed to pull off a style I'd never seen him do before!) I was surprised to read you did that with ink. Love it!

  2. Ha ha, thanks, Kate! I went to a Picasso exhibit in Abu Dhabi. Some of the stuff was amazingly brilliant, and some of it was not so great! So I have room for improvement! Thanks for the comments though! Working on two compositions for paintings now. ; )

  3. My art teachers told me to forget the spirit of the mason jar and paint the damn jar - that EXACT jar. Uff. Teachers. What a bunch of flakes.

  4. Ha ha! I painted another one. Mom loves the mason jar, but I don't like the flowers. Too much spirit!