Tag Archives: original painting

The Cats of Italy, number 1

Everywhere we went in Italy, we encountered cats who seemed to have a great deal of freedom.  Some obviously had someone who they answered to, and others were definitely feral.  At some point during the trip, I decided I had to do a series of paintings centered around the cats of Italy.

This first scene is appropriately named Cats of Lucca, as that is its location.  Lucca is a beautiful old walled city, (the walls are very thick, with tree-lined pathways you can walk or cycle on all the way around), with many sights to see.  There are towers to climb, beautiful churches to see the inside of, an oval plaza on the site of an ancient Roman amphitheater, the Piazza Napoleone (a Green Day concert was being prepared for later that day when we were there), and lots of shopping!

But this is an ordinary street scene in Lucca, with the warm Tuscan sunshine angling in and cats lounging and gazing into the distance.  I hope you like it.  If you’d like to see the painting in person, don’t forget our studio tour here in Otterville is next weekend, the 18 & 19 of November!

Cats on the streets of Lucca, watercolour painting

Cats of Lucca. Watercolour on paper. 15×22″. Artist Lianne Todd. $450.00


Under the Milky Way

There’s a new juried show opening, at the Elm Hurst Inn in Ingersoll, ON.  It’s called Spectacular Skies.  The title of the show immediately made me think of the night sky: in particular, the night sky in places where light pollution hasn’t destroyed the ability to see the Milky Way in all its glory.  In spite of so many nights away from cities, I’ve yet to really see the night sky in its full splendour, and I hope to do that someday.  I was pondering where, in the world, might be a good place to do this, and my mind went back to this lovely and somewhat isolated cottage at Glen Coe in Scotland.  While thinking about all this during a car trip, I happened to be listening to SiriusXM’s 1st Wave channel, and ‘Under the Milky Way’ by The Church came on.  Complete with bagpipes mid-song.  So, that settled it, I was definitely going to paint this scene.  I dug out my photos of the cottage, changed the composition a little (the photos were taken from a tour bus), imagined it at night, with the Milky Way above it, and got started.

I photographed my work as it progressed, and put all the photos together in this little video.  I hope you enjoy it.  If you’d like to see the framed finished piece, which is a full sheet watercolour on paper (22×30″), it is hanging at the Elm Hurst until May 17.

Opening night at Paint Ontario

If you haven’t been to the Paint Ontario exhibit in other years (I hadn’t) this is really an exhibit worth driving to.  Such an amazing array of really good art portraying so many aspects of Ontario life.  Some really large pieces, some quite small…. mine fell somewhere in the middle, size-wise.  Maybe I should paint larger more often – the large pieces have such an impact.  I loved all the bright colours in many of the pieces, and some of the innovative mixed media.  Very inspiring.  I was also especially glad to see some watercolour pieces winning awards – and congratulations to all the award winners regardless of medium!  I don’t know how a juror would be able to choose, it must have been very difficult.

Anyway,  here is a little picture of me with my two pieces.  I was really happy they decided to hang them together.

Paint Ontario

I recently entered the juried show Paint Ontario with two of my paintings, and to my great delight, they both were chosen for the show.  I’ve certainly been painting Ontario for a long time but this was the first time I’ve entered – partly because it’s a bit of a distance from my house to the venue, and in other years there wasn’t the option of entering online via digital photo – you had to physically bring the painting.

Aside:  In the olden days 😉  juried shows often had you send slides of your paintings.  Remember slides?  And there was special tape to crop the slides with so that only the painting showed in the projection…

Anyway, the digital age is here and I’m really glad.

The two paintings I have in the show are ‘Four Chairs’ (which I posted in ‘A Beautiful Fall’) and a new painting ‘Resting, Killarney’, which I haven’t posted anywhere yet.  I think I will wait to post it.  I like to have people see the real painting first, sometimes.

Opening night is March 10 (this Friday) from 4-9 pm.  Admission is free for the opening night, and there is a cash bar.  Here is an invitation to the exhibit itself:



I was feeling the need for some uninhibited pure creativity recently.  I needed to begin with barely an idea and let the painting process direct me.  This piece is the result of that.

It’s about light and dark.  Without the dark, we would be unaware of the light.  Without light, we would be unaware of darkness.  We as humans really like it when we have the right amount of both, because then we can see colour in all its beauty.  Some of us actually see more colour than others, and others just prefer more intense colour, while still others prefer muted colours or shades of grey.  Either way, a perfect balance of light and dark is what we need for our best vision.

I mean all of this metaphorically as well as literally.  Take this imagery, in the context of your own life, or of current events, and make of it what you will.

Radiation & Absorption. Watercolour on Paper, 22x30". Lianne Todd.

Radiation & Absorption. Watercolour on Paper, 22×30″. Lianne Todd.

Lofty Thinking

Happy New Year to all.  I hope you were able to enjoy the holidays.  If you weren’t able to do that, I hope you’ll find new and wonderful beginnings this year.

Prior to the holidays, I finished this painting I’m introducing to you today.  I spent a lot of time in haylofts as a child.  I don’t get to do that much anymore.  So when a friend in the Artists of Oxford – Kristi Osinga – invited us to her farm for a paint-out a couple of years ago, I took advantage of the photo opportunity which gave me the reference for this piece.

A Place for Lofty Thoughts. Watercolour on Gessoed Paper. 15x22". Lianne Todd. $450.00

A Place for Lofty Thoughts. Watercolour on Gessoed Paper. 15×22″. Lianne Todd. $450.00

Some of the best times of my youth were spent in the hayloft.  It was my job, for several years, to go up there after school in the late fall, winter and early spring, and throw down several bales of hay for our dairy herd to eat.  Dad would be down in the barn cleaning out the stable, and I would be up there singing any song I could remember the words to at the top of my lungs.  Some of the bales would be dense, and others would be light and fragrant.  All of it was scratchy.

If I was lucky, in springtime there would be kittens to find in the hayloft, hidden in a corner or a cave created by stacked bales.  First they would be so tiny they were barely distinguishable from one of the mother cat’s paws, then they would grow into little soft blue-eyed waddling balls of fluff.  And then later they’d be braver than they should be and scampering everywhere.  I always hoped to have them fully tamed by then, but alas, there was the occasional litter I didn’t find in time and then it was a real task to ever get hands on them, let alone tame them.

Less enthusiasm was given on my part for the finding of hen’s nests.  We had a large number of free range chickens on the farm, and it was also my job to find the nests and gather the eggs every day.  This consisted of a mental battle between me and the sitting hen.  Some were less than cooperative about moving off the nest so I could get the eggs (always leaving a nest egg so they would come back).  I can still picture some of them giving me the one-eyed “I dare you” look, and feel the fear of having my eyes pecked out deep in my heart.

Every summer I savour the smell of fresh hay being mown if I encounter it.  Summer had its own joys in the hay mow – that of hard work, sweat, and camaraderie with the local kids my age who were often hired to help with putting the hay in the loft.  And the satisfaction, like piecing together a puzzle, with a well built stack – the efficiency of space usage was appreciable.   We often commiserated about the work – the heat, the humidity, the fact we had to wear long sleeves and pants to keep from getting completely scratched, the heaviness of some of the bales (most weren’t bad, but some felt like they were filled with lead), the blisters on our fingers from baling twine (the farmers’ equivalent of duct tape) even though we were wearing gloves… but the fact is, we loved it.  Time teaches you a lot of things, and makes you appreciate that which made you who you are.

If I needed some time alone to contemplate life, the loft was a good place to go.  It was peaceful, quiet, and soft.  You could relax, breathe in the aromas, lift your eyes to the light coming in, and things would become a little clearer.  I tried to transport myself to the hayloft of my youth while I painted this one.  I can’t actually go there anymore – that was one of the things I lost in 2016 – and even though I could have gone I didn’t, for a number of years.  It wasn’t the same anymore once the cows were gone, and the cats were less abundant, and the hay wasn’t put in fresh every year.  It just wasn’t.  It’s the animals and the work that make a barn a nice place.

It happened that just before I began painting this, a podcast was recommended to me by the social media I find myself unfortunately addicted to.  I don’t often pay attention to those types of recommendations, but the title intrigued me.  It was called ‘Finding Our Way in the Cosmos’, one of many in a series called Waking Up by Sam Harris.  I had never heard of him before but he’s a neuroscientist and an author.  He was having a conversation with physicist David Deutsch, who I had also never heard of.  I had, however, heard of several of his other podcast guests in the Waking Up series.  Near the beginning of the recommended podcast episode, Sam recommends listening to a different episode first – a previous conversation with David Deutsch called Surviving the Cosmos.  What better way to stimulate lofty thinking than listening to this while painting a loft?  Well, it took me several different podcast episodes to finish the painting and I have to say, there are few people in this world who I find more agreeable to listen to than Sam Harris.  I’m now a huge fan.  His outlook may not be for everyone but if you listen and find him as intelligent, reasonable, logical, thoughtful and humorous as I did, I am sure we would get along very well.

A Beautiful Fall

We have been so lucky here in Otterville, as in many parts of Ontario this year, to have a beautiful fall.  We’ve had such warm temperatures and pleasant sunny days to enjoy all through September, October and November, right up to this past Friday, when I was out in my shirtsleeves digging up canna lily bulbs to put away until spring.  We reached a record high temperature that day – 20.7 degrees Celsius!

Well, that all ended on Saturday, as the rain came down and the temperatures dropped and the wind picked up.  I woke up early Saturday morning to the sound of our smoke alarms making the tiny beeps they make when the power goes out or comes back on.  In this case, it was coming back on, but that was not to last.  Pretty soon it went out again, and was out until about a quarter to 10 in the morning.  Back on just in time for our Welcome Back to Otterville studio tour to begin!  Quickly I got the cranberry wassail heating up in the crockpot, and the lights on in the gallery.

I didn’t have a lot of hope that many people would venture out on such a morning, but they did!  And many of them were new people who had never been on the tour before.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone who came out of their cozy houses and looked at what we had to offer.  I hope some of you, if you are reading this, will be back soon!

For those who didn’t make it out but who follow me here, I appreciate your ongoing support, and here is a new piece of my art that I had on display this weekend.  It features a portion of Otterville this beautiful fall.  I truly hope whoever owns these chairs has had a chance to sit in them with a coffee or a glass of wine once in a while and enjoy the sun.

Four Chairs.  Watercolour on Paper.  15x22".  Lianne Todd.

Four Chairs. Watercolour on Paper. 15×22″. Lianne Todd. $450.00