Tag Archives: Watercolours

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!!


Oxford Studio Tour

May 6 & 7 is only two weeks away!  Some of you may have taken the opportunity to drive around the countryside of Oxford County, Ontario in previous years, so you know what a fantastic selection of original art can be found.  You also know how much fun a daytrip or weekend jaunt like this can be if you pair up with a friend or family member, or gather a carload of them.  We have 18 locations featuring 38 artists, and our brochures are available all over the county in libraries, tourist offices, and businesses, as well as at each studio.  Admission is absolutely free, and all you do is follow the maps and the red signs to get to each studio.  Then you just wander in!  The artists will be there to answer any questions you have (we love when you ask questions), and will leave you alone if all you want to do is enjoy the feast for your eyes.

Below is a small sampling of my own art, in case you are new to it.  I paint traditional subject matter with watercolours and I also do fractal art, all on various surfaces.  Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll stop by my open studio/gallery, at the back of my home which is Location #3.  I’m in Otterville, which is a little off the beaten track for many travelers but it’s worth the drive.  I’m easy to find, on Main Street near the historic mill and waterfall.  And my good friends Sue Goossens and Rhonda Franks, whose work I admire very much, are nearby at Location #4, along with Ashley Beecraft.  I’ve never met her but she makes really cool looking ‘misfit beasts’.

See you soon!

Lianne Todd Art Samples

Oxford Studio Tour basic information

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.