Art and Positive Thinking

Welcome to my Renee Loves Art blog!

My focus is exploring, creating and reflecting upon the positives of life and connecting them to my art whether it be photography, pen and ink drawings, watercolour paintings, mixed media, digital media or any other possible media I dive into!

I hope you join me on my art adventure!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Positively Grand Day... A Great Horned Owl Stays For a Day Long Visit

Don't you love it when you wake up on a Saturday morning with a goal in mind for the day and with quick one second look, the entire day changes?  I do.  With a carefully planned work week, I like to go with the flow on weekends.

My plan was to go shopping, do some art and fiddle around the house.  However, when I looked outside my bedroom window at about 10:30 am, I spotted a great horned owl in my gigantic blue spruce tree.  I stood watching the owl for the longest time.  It was interested in my tabby cat that nonchalantly strolled underneath it and plopped itself onto the ground and rolled in the dirt.  I said to him, "Are you crazy? Owls like to use cats as slippers, get out of there!"  The owl enjoyed the show, and fortunately stayed on its roost.  The cat unconcerned, meowed and journeyed around the house to see if it could catch a spring bird for lunch.  Crisis averted.

Being a photographer, I knew I couldn't delay.  I had to get out soon before the owl decided to move on.  My strategic plan of camera attack was on.  I would wear my coat that had the colours of green and brown and would put up my hood to mask the fresh shampoo scent.  I would then sneak out the back door, not slam it, creep towards my garden shed and pretend that I wasn't interested in the owl. Then I would a few steps at a time, and edge my way towards the blue spruce tree in the front yard where the owl was calmly resting.

One step onto a dry leaf, and I was discovered.  I wasn't fooling that owl at all.  It locked eyes with me and watched me creep towards it.  It allowed me to get closer and closer, until I was right under the tree amongst the branches.  I stood there is disbelief.  There was an owl in my tree and it didn't swoop off when I approached and attacked it with my camera.  Click after click, it stayed put.  We played peek a boo for a while, had a staring contest and I told it it was so beautiful and thanked it for visiting.

To not annoy it too much, I backed up and sat on my picnic bench in front of my house.  I sat there in warm spring sun in disbelief.  Two hours had passed and it was still there.

Hour after hour, and camera setting after camera setting, the owl remained.  It was still there at 5:30 when we left for town.

I love owls and the word owl is in my last name!  I am reading Farley Mowat's Owls in the Family to my grade one students.  When ever I read the novel to my students, I seem to have some sort of owl encounter.  Is must be true that  when you through an idea or a question out to the universe, it answers back. There is a great horned owl nesting down the road from us.  All these signs.  We were meant to meet! What a positively grand day!  I still can't believe the owl stayed for a day long visit!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Watercolour Class Was Positively Fun

Picture this:  A June Saturday calm sunny morning, eleven artists gazing and admiring green prairie grass on rolling Alberta hills, yellow canaries singing gaily in the surrounding trees, flowers proudly flaunting their delightful blooms... that is what my outdoor watercolour class was like!  It was positively fun!

Key learnings for the day:
1.  Values are very important, squint to see the differences.
2.  Experiment.
3.  Have fun.
4.  Flowers need little paint.
5.  Backgrounds show off flowers.
6.  Don't over paint.
7.  Ask yourself...What colour is it really?

 I can't wait for day 2!

Using a Photo Reference is Positively Helpful

I assigned myself homework this week.  The goal to try drawing from a photo reference and to convey a new emotion.  Using a photo reference was truly helpful.

I began by journaling my feelings.  I was down in the dumps last weekend and I was trying to work through those emotions.  June is a month of mixed emotions each year.  Excitement that summer is coming and that I will be fortunate to have two whole months of rest, freedom to do what I like with my days without the constant restrictions of a schedule, a time to rejuvenate and recover from working with very energetic little students.  Anticipation puts a little skip into my step, what will the new school year will be like?  What new opportunities will I have? However, it is a month when a I can feel invisible because my needs are pushed aside so that pressing things can be completed. Decisions are being made for the next school year, and sometimes I feel that decisions are being made without considering what is best for students and teachers, and only for the mighty dollar. Sadness also creeps up and flows out, being overtired, emotions can flow very freely.  This is my second birthday and Fathers' Day without my dad and sometimes sadness just consumes my heart.  I feel sad and even depressed often on Sundays, and I sometimes I don't even know why.  

Do any of you get the Sunday blues?  If don't get up right away and make myself shower, get ready for the day and either go outside and visit nature or sit at my art table with my favourite music on, I am usually toast for the day.  I also have to stay away from sappy sad stories on Netflix or I find myself consumed in depressing movies that make me weepy and even more depressed.  

So to make a long hormonal story short, this visual journal entry is disguising some of my depressing thoughts I have been having this month, but also showing some important questions I have been asking myself... Is anybody noticing that some days my smile isn't really how I am feeling?  Are they truly seeing me?  Are they truly hearing me?  Are they truly understanding?  Am I even truly seeing and hearing and feeling what others are going through?

When I drew this picture, I was actually over feeling blue,  but I wanted to keep working on my reflection.  I took several selfies and thought it captured how I was feeling on the weekend.  My recent Sketchbook Skool classes focused on drawing the contours and paying attention to negative space, to not think about what subject you are drawing, but to pay attention to shapes and spaces.  In the interest of letting go, I didn't allow myself to use a pencil and eraser.  My goal is to improve in drawing people more realistically, to not draw always from the front angle.

I let the acrylic paint flow down my page like tears.  Placing random lines here and there to cover up words and feelings that I know longer wanted in common view.

I couldn't decide when I was done.  The colours were so neutral and depressing, but I wanted to have a few bright areas to show that my downs are not totally downs and that there are bright moments to celebrate.

I added some textures, painted over the highs and lows bottle, and then added some bold journaling over top with a china marker and coloured markers and pencil crayons.

In the end, I had to decide if I wanted my portrait to be integrated into the background, sort of like how I was feeling or to make it emerge more into the foreground.  I decided on a balance of the two. I added a few muted colours to add a little life to my hair and shirt, but left the rest really blended into the background to keep how I was feeling represented.

I am experimenting with my new scanner.  I can't decide if I prefer to take digital photos of my art or to scan it.  The lighting throughout the day keeps changing as I paint, so it is difficult for me to capture the actual colours.  My art lamp has bit the dust, so I was having troubles showing the true colours that way too.

I think it has really helped me to use my own photo reference to convey emotions in my drawings.  I did have  a very good busy birthday week, so my process of letting go of certain feelings and figuring out why I was feeling that way, truly did help me.  Isn't that what art is all about?  Letting go? Having fun?  Expressing a message?

Happy week to you all!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Evolving is Positively My New Mantra!

Evolving is positively my new mantra!  Let me explain. Last week's Sketchbook Skool assignment for Polishing Klass was to take art I already had created and modify it.  Other than that, there was to be no planning ahead, just trusting the process, and a theme would evolve.  

I struggled to find a piece that I wanted to modify, so I dug through all my bits and pieces of scraps and thought I would start there.  The little rectangles are what I chose.  They are pieces I had cut out of a previous journal to make windows. 

Juliana Coles, our instructor, challenged us to fill in our journal pages with writing, then circle words to emphasize and paint out areas that we didn't want to emphasize.  I chose several words, but ended up settling on the word "evolving".

Next, we were to add layers of pictures, drawings, and words until a theme evolved. I took a picture from a pamphlet from the de Young Art Museum in San Fransisco. The artist is Pierre Bonnard. I rotated his photo upside down and decided to use the colours from it to build my page.

Since these are the first two pages of my new journal, I was hoping to see a theme develop that could represent the journey I hoped to experience in this new visual journal. I want to see my style and technique and skills evolve.  As the page evolved, I also became more excited about the assignment.  



I thought I had completed the pages yesterday, but in the true spirit of evolving, and in following Juliana's advice of continuing to evolve as an artist, I decided to continue to add onto the page today. 

I modified the female's lips and made her smile to show more happiness about evolution.  I also added a border around the outside perimeter of the pages, my rubber stamp self-portrait, outlined the boxes and words and added a relevant Ojibwe quote...
" Life continually gives us opportunities to grow and become.  For the most fragile flowers push and grow out of the hardest rocks."

I am positively going to enjoy this new mantra and art journal!  I don't know if these pages are finished.  I wrote the starting date and will add the journal completion date when I have filled the entire journal.  Most likely I will add more journaling about the journey at the end too!

Happy Paint Friday! 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Time Will Positively Pass

Have you ever painted a painting and decided it wasn't finished, then put it away, pulled it out over time and then decided it wasn't very good or it didn't look finished?  It happens to me often.
This weekend, I purchased the cutest little cabinet and decided it was time to gather all of my art supplies and put them all in my art studio, aka, my dining room.  It was time to reorganize and purge. I was digging through my art desk and found an unfinished watercolour painting. I was about to cut it up to use in my visual journal, when I stopped and decided to add more layers. The original photograph was in black and white, but I decided to add colour.

The horse is Doc, the kindest, most curious horse we have ever had. He would follow us around like a puppy.  The boy is Bryan, my son, also curious. He was opening the gate to see if the horses would follow him around the corral. He liked to tease the horses, pretending that he had a carrot or a horse cookie in his pocket.

I am now pleased that I didn't cut this up.  I think I am starting to figure out layering and shading with watercolours.  I am glad that I let time pass and took the time to improve my skills and this painting.  It also allowed me to remember one very fun, sunny summer day, many years ago! Time did positively pass!

Happy Paint Party Friday!  May your days be art filled and may you continue to grow as an artist.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

You Can Positively Learn From It!

This week's Sketchbook Skool Polishing Klass homework was to draw my food.  I can honestly say that I would rather eat my food than draw it, but since I signed up for the course, and I am determined to keep growing as an artist, I forced myself to sit down and just do it.  I told myself, "Renee, you are going to learn new skills by doing it, so get to it!"  I listened to myself and learned the following:

  1. Accept it as it is.
  2. Try it even if you don't really want to.
  3. Overlook the mistakes, move on ...grow.
  4. Fun will occur even if it isn't your first choice of drawing amusement.
  5. Eat your food and only draw it on occasion.

I am addicted to drawing faces.  On the way to Calgary on the very bumpy highway, I drew these faces... still learning how to shade with markers.

The funny thing is each time I drew a face, I looked at the tiny mirror on the sun visor, and all of the faces turned out differently with their own personalities!

I have now completely filled my visual journal that I started on January 5, 2016!  It feels so great that I stuck to my promise to myself to be dedicated to what I love!  I am so proud that I totally filled it from front to back, seeing my style evolve and skills develop!

This drawing above without the eyes, actually looks most like me!

I somehow ended up a male in the above drawing!  This time, my goal was to try drawing different emotions.  That was FUN!  I think my husband thought I was off my rocker  making faces in the mirror at myself.  I wonder what my son's friend, who was sitting behind me in the vehicle, thought I was doing?  He was probably thinking, "What a weirdo!  I got up early for this trip to see my friend's wacko mother making faces at herself in the mirror!..."

Oh, well, I enjoyed myself, and the three hour drive flew by!

Each time I draw a face, I keep reminding myself..."You Can Positively Learn From It!" Go, Renee, Go!

May your life be filled with things you love and don't be afraid to be a weirdo!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Drawing Faces is Positively Fun!

Another week in Sketchbook Skool.  Our assignment was to have fun!  Now, who can argue with that type of homework?  We were to draw at least one face a day... Are you kidding me?... I couldn't stop at one... It was too much fun!!!

Here are some of the ideas we were given:
Turn letters into faces.
Try different emotions.
Use pieces of magazine pictures and make them your own.
Try different lines, shapes, angles, faces, cut outs, facial expressions, even try utensils.
Try cutting out bodies and adding faces.

Why not do the homework for a birthday card?

Why not make a Mothers' Day card?

See, drawing faces is positively fun!