Tag Archives: 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

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A watercolour inspired by this summer’s trip to Jasper

On our first full day in Jasper National Park this past July, my daughter and I did some hiking.  In the morning, we started the Pyramid Trail, which I will no doubt be painting scenes from in the future.  Pyramid Mountain was one of my favourite mountains to look at and has so many colours when the sun shines on it.  The instructions we were following eventually revealed themselves to be outdated, so we ended up doing the trail in a direction opposite to the way we meant to do it, and our hike was a bit longer, but it was such a scenic hike!  Beautiful birch forest against blue sky (will be painting that too!), panoramic vistas of the Athabasca River valley and the town of Jasper, and the mountains on all sides of us provided a constant stream of visual inspiration.  Granted, it was a little smoky because of all the forest fires happening in B.C. at the time, but in some ways that added to the depth and made the lighting more interesting.  It turned out to be one of the clearer days we had.

After some rest and a late lunch, we set out for the Valley of the Five Lakes hike.  These lakes, which are such a lovely emerald green and turquoise colour, were a treat to hike around, and the small creatures that revealed themselves to us were adorable.

Least Chipmunk, venturing onto my daughter’s shoe…

At one point, we reached a couple of red Muskoka chairs (Adirondack chairs to some of you :)) “Parks Canada placed seven sets of red Adirondack chairs in quiet and scenic locations throughout Jasper National Park for visitors to enjoy the exquisite mountain and lakeside vistas. Each location shares a great story about the landscape and history.”  So we enjoyed a nice rest in those chairs and the view before us.  Someday I’ll paint that too! But I wanted to start with a painting that showed off the colour of the lakes, (not so easy to capture by photography, I found) and actually showed the red chairs.  As you may recall, I recently did a painting of Four Chairs that actually exist very close to my home – I can almost see them from my window – so I thought it would be fun to do another painting with red chairs in it from far away.  Here is the end result of that painting adventure.  It was fun getting the atmospheric colour right and setting the large mountains off in the smoky distance.

Two Chairs in Jasper, July 2017. Watercolour on paper, 15×22″. Artist Lianne Todd. $450.00

 

And to finish the story, here is a photo of my daughter and I with a portion of the lake as a backdrop.  I am so thankful to her for inviting me on this trip!

Painting Holiday in Italy!

I do apologize for the months of neglect.  I didn’t even wish you a Happy Canada Day but with it being our 150th perhaps I’m allowed to say Happy Birthday Canada all year long.  More on that later!  I did participate in an art show in June with our Artists of Oxford group at The Arts Project in London, Ontario, called ‘Canadiana’  I had three paintings there and one of them was a new one.

My husband and I also took a trip in June, to Italy.  It was a big deal for us, celebrating a milestone birthday and a milestone anniversary!  In fact it was the first time the two of us have been overseas together.  We had a terrific time, and while I’d love to share with you the many photos I took (over 1000) I am sure that is not what you’re here for.  So, instead, I will share the paintings I did and tell you about my painting holiday!

You see, a friend of mine had recommended this place called The Watermill in Posara, Italy, which holds painting holiday workshops.  We visited Florence first, before being picked up at Pisa airport by the Watermill staff, and spending a week there.  Later, after we were dropped off there again, we visited the Cinque Terre, Milan, and Venice, driving our own rental car (tip:  don’t do that, take the trains!)

But The Watermill will stay in our hearts and minds as the true holiday.  Okay maybe one or two pictures are warranted:

Courtyard of Watermill

Side of Watermill. Our window was the far one.

They  were so welcoming, catered to our every need, and we made lovely friends there from all over the world.  And I got to learn some painting techniques from master watercolor artist Keiko Tanabe!  The countryside around Posara is absolutely beautiful.  Every day had an excursion to an interesting place for us to paint or just explore.  So many interesting things in a short distance, that most tourists would miss.  (If only we could have stayed in Lucca a few more hours for the outdoor Green Day concert!!!).

Anyway, I gained some great plein air painting experience and instruction and best of all, we two both had a great time!

Here are the paintings I completed during the week:

Vernazza, painted using Keiko’s photo reference and following her demonstration. Later, after the painting holiday, I was able to actually go see this place!

Verrucola. Painted mostly en plein air. Finished in studio with my photograph as reference.

Market Day in Fivizzano. Painted en plein air at beginning then finished in studio from memory.

Convento del Carmine. Painted mostly en plein air, finished in studio with my photograph.

It wasn’t all fun and games, we worked hard!  🙂

Painting in Verrucola

Sketching in Lucca

Discussing progress in Convento del Carmine

And now, I’m off on another trip!  This one across Canada, by train, with my daughter!!

Achieving All the Bright Colours

Here’s a question for you:  how many of you artists out there still consider the primary colours to be red, yellow, and blue?  It is what we were taught from day one in school.

What baffles me is why it is still being taught as the standard, even in art school, apparently.  Even though we know that if we want a giclee print made from one of our paintings, it will be made with the ink pigments magenta, yellow, cyan and black.  Even though if you pick the most primary red (i.e. 100 percent red) you can think of from your computer screen (which we know uses red, green and blue as its primary colours because these are the additive primary colours of light), you can still print that red out and your printer is programmed to mix that red using the only pigments it contains: magenta, cyan, yellow and black.  Does it make any sense to you that we use red, green, and blue light to get all the colours on the computer screen, but somehow only the yellow colour is the different primary on the traditional painting colour wheel?

Have you ever been trying to make a fuschia or magenta-coloured flower look right using what is commonly taught as a primary red?  Let me guess – you gave up and went out and bought a colour of paint (possibly magenta…) that was as close as you could get to that flower colour.  The reason?  Magenta and fuschia are synonyms, essentially, and in order to get a nice, saturated fuschia, you cannot start with a ‘traditional primary red’ pigment.  That is because magenta is the actual primary colour.

If you search magenta on the internet, the first thing that comes up is a definition.  It describes magenta as “a light purplish red that is one of the primary subtractive colors, complementary to green.”  We also find, further down in that same box, that the natural dye named magenta was not discovered until the 1850s.  From Wikipedia, we learn that paintings featuring the colour magenta soon followed.  Why do you suppose that is?

Cyan is what most of us would describe as a greenish blue.  In fact, if you mix green light, and blue light (additive primaries), you get the colour cyan.  Interestingly, the use of the word cyan has also increased significantly since the 1850s (search cyan, then click the ‘Translations, word origin, and more definitions” button below the definition.)  I am not sure why the name for this colour was based on the Greek for “dark blue” and the Latin species name for cornflower.  It certainly isn’t a dark blue OR the colour of cornflowers.

So, why are artists so unwilling to let go of the red, blue, yellow model for the colour wheel?  It does have its place in art history.  Historically, artists had to use the limited number of pigments that were available to them.  Certainly, we can get purple from red and blue, we can get green from blue and yellow, and we can get orange from red and yellow.  This works.  And of course we can get to the tertiary colours as well.  But the results are sometimes unsatisfactory.  That certain really bright green – that’s a difficult colour to mix, isn’t it?  Unless you start with a greenish blue, i.e. something at least close to cyan, you are not going to get there.  And that really bright purple you want?  Unless you start with a magenta, you aren’t going to get there either.  Of course, we are not restricted to the traditional primaries when we are mixing colours on our palettes, are we?  We have the luxury of purchased modern paint pigments that are already very close to the colours we want.  We can cheat and use these or at least mix with them.  But what if we were restricted to only three of these paint pigments?  Which ones would you choose?   Mastery of colour theory as taught by modern science will give you the tools you need to mix most of the colours you want using a minimum number of purchased pigments.  Knowledge is power!

If you search primary pigments on the internet, the first link that comes up explains modern colour theory in a very accurate and succinct way.  I would say it may be the best explanation I’ve seen yet.  It even has a link to a demo near the end in case you are having trouble wrapping your mind around it.  And if you still have more questions, read the Wikipedia page on colour theory… it does have a lot of explanations as to the history and the reasons why the traditional artistic way of understanding colour has been slow to catch up with the scientific way of understanding colour.

Don’t worry if it doesn’t sit well with you.  It took me a long time, too.  The dogma of red, yellow and blue as primaries is surprisingly entrenched, although there are other notable scientific theories that come from the 1850s that many  people also find difficult to accept ;).  Hah!  Just found out I’m not the only one to make this comparison.  And I guess the new cyan, magenta, yellow model didn’t really develop until sometime after the 1850s.  So maybe I shouldn’t actually be so surprised.  These changes in paradigm take time.  Eventually, if you keep testing out the theory, and trying to disprove it, you will accept it – like any good theory.

Refreshed!

Welcome to my revamped site.  I’ve kept the same overall theme but now the home page is a static page with examples of my work, and this blog has its own page listed in the menu at top.  I am hoping this will make the site more appealing to those who are primarily interested in finding out quickly what kind of art I do, rather than reading what is going on in my creative experience.  It will also be easier for people to find a piece of art quickly, see its availability, and its price.  Part of my Twitter feed will be visible too.  If you’ve got more ideas for how to make the site more user-friendly, I’d love to hear them!

I’ve had a really nice summer, with my adult children living at home temporarily and a whole bunch of wonderful warmth and sunshine.  It has done a great deal for my mood and I feel ready to paint so much more than I have been in the past year!  I spent a few days at the end of summer at Killarney Provincial Park, camping, and took in some beautiful northern Ontario scenery – always good for the psyche.  I took lots of photos to inspire me this fall and winter.

It’s not hard to bring watercolours on a hike, you just need a little paint box that includes a palette in the lid (mine is the Van Gogh brand), some brushes that have water in the handles (Koi water brushes are great!), and a little journal of watercolour paper (Strathmore Visual Journal).  And a hiking partner willing to wait while you paint!

p1040210 view-at-top-of-the-crack001

Then we took a short another short trip to Rochester, NY and I bought a tube of my favourite – Schminke helio cerulean blue – and another new colour I will be trying out.  While there I visited the Memorial Art Gallery and spent several hours, while enjoying the sounds of the pipe organ as someone was given a lesson.  One of my favourite pieces there was Galaxy by Fritz Trautmann.  I may pay homage to it in watercolour sometime soon… stay tuned!

Festival of Creativity

Last year was the first year of the Halls Creek Festival of Creativity, and it was a really good experience.  It’s coming up again already this weekend, and I’m looking forward to it very much!

There are a lot of activities for everyone, over 60 artists exhibiting, lots of classes and demos happening, live music playing, delicious food to taste, and even an instrument petting zoo where you can try out all the musical instruments on display.

I will be exhibiting a variety of the art that I have currently available in my home gallery – traditional watercolours, watercolours on alternate surfaces, fractal watercolours, digital fractal original metal prints, even one of the scarves I designed.  I’ll also be painting at my booth – might as well absorb some of that creative energy around me and put it to good use!

Check out the website for details – for some of the workshops you need to sign up ahead of time.  Just a reminder – Ingersoll is only about an hour and a half from downtown Toronto, and only a half hour from London!  Why not make a day of it?

halls-creek-poster-2016-sm

Wistful Landscape

It has been a while since my last post.  You may have noticed I haven’t been painting so much in the last couple of years…  so much so that when I began my most recent painting my husband looked at my studio table and said “Oh.  I thought you’d given that up!”  He was only teasing, of course.  I would never give it up.  But there are times in life when you just don’t have it in you.  I am really hoping that all the recent losses, surprises, and changes in my life are finished for a little while.  There have been some really good moments too, and they have kept me going.  As I mentioned before in this blog, one of the really great highlights in the last year was a trip my daughter and I took to Scotland.

As I looked out the tour bus window at this scene, I tried to imagine what it was that made some of my ancestors decide to leave that beautiful country.  I felt quite wistful that it was far enough away so I wouldn’t be able to visit it regularly, and it’s not even my home.  I think they must have been pretty sad to leave.  It’s hard to know what someone from a couple of centuries ago would think… life was so different then.  People probably had to adapt to change and strife and loss all the time.  They were probably tougher.  But this is a landscape that really pulls at you.

HIghland Afternoon II. Watercolour on Paper. 11x15". Lianne Todd

HIghland Afternoon II. Watercolour on Paper. 11×15″. Lianne Todd