Working with layers

This mixed media work has just been started.  The first layer consists of watercolor washes.
This mixed media work has just been started. The first layer consists of watercolor washes.

It’s been busy here in my studio lately.  I am on a roll.  Painting and drawing and building up layers.

The walls, where I tack my work in progress so I can stand back and get a good view, are finally filling up with new work.  It feels very good to have so many pieces there, but now I need to finish some so it feels like I am really making progress.

Looking at what is up on my wall and the incomplete canvases stacked around the studio made me realize that although my style has changed over the years my way of working hasn’t ever really changed at all.

I have always built up my images with layers of paint and drawing material.  Starting with a layer of watercolor washes keeps me in my comfort zone. When I work on canvas I am not nearly as comfortable as I am when I start with those washes on paper.  It seems to be easier to go back to the beginning, back where I started to experiment with mixed media.

But no matter where I start, I will build up those layers until I get to where I want to be.  Or sometimes until I realize that I won’t get there at all ever, with this particular painting.  And that’s okay too.  We all learn from the pieces that don’t make it and trust that our work will just keep getting better because of it.

Mixed media work on paper on the studio walls.
Mixed media work in progress is pinned up on the walls of my studio.





My Camera

It is fall here in Alberta.  One of the nicest examples of the season that I can remember.  The days have been mostly sunny and bright and I believe warmer than average for the season.

The last couple of hours before the sun sets are so full of warm light and color that I now know that the love – hate relationship that I have had with my camera for years and years has finally come to an end.  The hating part has completely vanished!  These days I just want to keep it close.

Being able to get out there and grab an image that evokes a special moment in time during this perfect fall weather and save it for later now seems like a gift.  My camera lets me do that with barely any effort.

My photo of fall treetops in evening light.
My photo of fall treetops in evening light.

Even during the coldest, darkest days of winter I know that a glance  at one of these pictures will bring back good memories;  the mood, the feelings will all be there to experience once again.

Later on I’ll decide just how to use them.  I am sure that I’ll find many ways to express myself with these images.  For now it’s enough to get out there and make sure that my trusty camera is at hand as I enjoy the last of these golden days of fall.

Whyte Ave Art Walk

My first Whyte Avenue Art Walk is over and luckily I made it there with my new display tent, nine of my largest paintings and enough energy left over to enjoy the experience. I did not implode while packing the car even though it took most of Thursday to decide what to take and to carefully fit everything inside.

Even though I had outdoor Vancouver Island art shows such as the Originals Only shows and the Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens Art Festivals behind me I really didn’t know what to expect. Setting up a tent in the city, on pavement where visitors were expected to number in the tens of thousands had me thinking that the experience was bound to be different.

Setting up, hanging paintings and taking down wasn’t really different from what I had experienced. It’s always a hassle to get to your site unpack, find parking and then do everything in reverse at the end of the day when fatigue is taking over.

The flow of visitors was much the same, though the numbers were much higher. Many people looked in for a moment then carried on, but those who stopped in were interested and here I benefited more than ever before from their response and feedback.

So many people of all ages really seemed to enjoy my Plastic Fantasy series which I was showing for the first time as a complete set. This is the painting that I finished just in time for the Art Walk;

Plastic Fantasy #5
Plastic Fantasy #5

The five paintings each include an original piece of post card fiction that tells the story of a couple’s journey together through strange lands. My largest painting, ‘Colors #1′ drew a lot of interest as well and the youngest set especially enjoyed “Ladybug Flower”.

Now that it’s over, I need to rest and recoup, at least physically. But mentally I feel encouraged and refreshed by the whole experience.

So before I close here, my sincere thanks; to my patient daughter who gave up her weekend to help me, to Kim Fjordbotten and everyone at the Paint Spot who worked so hard to make this event a reality, to the kind and generous volunteers who were there to help, to my neighboring artists and their friends for their support and to all the visitors to my display who shared their thoughts and ideas with me and gave me more than enough encouragement to carry on.

To frame or not to frame?

I only have a few more days to get ready for the Whyte Ave Art Walk. It is coming up way too fast starting on July 11th through to the 13th.

A couple of paintings need finishing touches but thankfully the only one I needed to frame is ready to go. I’ll be bringing mostly canvases, with only one work on paper and one on a cradled wood panel.

With canvas and cradled panels the artist’s wrap, a technique where the artist continues the painting over the edges of the canvas can avoid the need for a separate frame. Edges might also be painted in a color that enhances the art work.

Frames and matts are expensive. But what I like least about them is how easily they can be damaged during transit. I haven’t yet found an alternative for work on paper other simply packaging it in a protective sleeve. So even though I’d like to, I’m not ready to give up framing yet.

"Flying Orchid" mixed media on cradled panel by Elma Schumacher
“Flying Orchid” mixed media on cradled panel by E.M. Schumacher
This “Flying Orchid” was created using photo transfer, metallic foil and acrylic paint and will be at the Art Walk with me. Hope to see you there.

An artist’s work is?

The road to town. . .
The road to town. . .
Today is rainy, windy and would normally be a great day to lock myself in the studio and paint away.

If only it were so. Today is yet another errand day; sandbags to pick up, a couple of last minute art supplies, a used wooden frame if I can find one the right size is needed as well and the list goes on.

I remember the days when I thought all an artist had to do was make art. Then some wonderful, slightly magical gallery or agent would come along and take care of the rest. So for all the young hopefuls out there, don’t let anyone tell you that whopper. Degrees in business, web development or marketing wouldn’t hurt either. So get busy, you will need it all.

As well as those pesky supplies there are sales to make, accounts to keep, photographs and scans to take, a website to maintain and social media to keep up with in case there isn’t enough to do.

But I’m not complaining. A day in the world is a wonderful thing. It’s just that when the list gets long, and I’d rather be in the studio making art, I have to remind myself to get out there and enjoy myself too. As long as I don’t forget to pick up the sandbags!