The curiosity & excitement that comes when your work takes on new directions
I’ve been working my way through a self-directed online painting class*. It’s supposed to be a landscape painting class, but since it’s been snowy and cold outside, I’ve been painting any and every scene I can find around our Montreal condo. It’s been an unexpected treat to have these paintings to remember our place by when we move to our farmhouse in Nova Scotia.
I have found this first quarter of the year to be the perfect time to take a course and learn something new – preferably from the warmth of indoors. It keeps the darkest and coldest time of the year from becoming disheartening. It’s been creatively invigorating to learn from an artist I have long admired, Nathan Fowkes – who, as it turns out, is also a wonderful teacher.
The beauty of hand-mixed colours
One of the first exercises was to make several value studies in black and white only. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t actually own any black paint, so I took it as a perfect opportunity to explore the different blacks I was able to get by mixing.
As I explored, I found quite a range of warm, cool, medium-dark, and very-dark tones, each of which felt very different. My favourite one came from a mix that I’d never tried before – and that conveniently uses a few tubes of paint I’ve been trying to get rid of!*
I find that hand-mixed blacks have depth and personality to them that straight black from a tube doesn’t have. The complex ‘black’ of this particular mix is quite stunning when seen in person and there is a luminosity to the black and white scenes that I find especially beautiful. It reminds me very much of my days spent printing B&W photos in the darkroom. One of my favourite paintings is the one of our bathroom sink with the late afternoon light reflecting in the mirror.
Evoking the past
This series of painting studies are all done on a warm-toned kraft-coloured paper. Perhaps it is the warmth of the paper showing through, or perhaps it is the fact that I know we will soon be moving away from this place, but I find even the colour scenes have the quality of a remembered place to them.
Perhaps it is the warmth of the paper showing through, or perhaps it is the fact that I know we will soon be moving away from this place, but I find even the colour scenes have the quality of a remembered place to them.
Exploring new directions in your work
It’s somewhat amazing to me that our modern and sleek city condo can look soft and take on such a vintage quality in these paintings. It’s been a good reminder that sometimes a new teacher, a book, or source of inspiration can lead you to make work you wouldn’t have otherwise made, and that you’re very glad to have! I would never have expected to find so many scenes to paint in our current home.
I look forward to painting more interior scenes in our old farmhouse and barn as we wait for warmer (and drier) spring weather ahead. Once summer arrives, I hope to do many landscapes and scenes from around our garden and farm.
In the meantime, I am grateful, curious, and excited to see where these new directions lead my work.
This is one of many galleries of paintings and other artwork I’ve shared as I go along. You can view past galleries on the blog or see more of my work in my portfolio, which I update regularly with new paintings.
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* For those who paint: The class is Landscape Sketching in Watercolour and Gouache, and I’m taking the self-directed option. My favourite ‘black’ that I mixed was: Magenta Deep, Viridian Green, and Raw Sienna – all in Holbein acryla gouache. I’ll be transitioning to straight gouache over the coming months, so I’ll have to explore what my favourite black mix is once I have my new pigments in place.