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!

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!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

I Positively Think I Can...

Improving my drawing of people is my primary goal for this year.  Sketchbook Skool has really helped me in the past two weeks.  I think I can, I know I can...I did it... 

Well, I did improve! I finally did it!   It took all week to get my son to model for me.  He was doing his chemistry homework, again, so I thought it was an opportune time to draw him.  It was a lot easier than I thought, thanks to all of the lessons we have had lately with negative space. Our assignment for this week was to draw with a model for fifteen minutes, then use photos to add the details. 

My goal is to improve with drawing hands (yikes) and work on proportions.  My poor son has huge shoulders thanks to my drawing skills.  Oh, well,  my drawings are getting better each day.

I did not allow myself to use pencil.  I used a Micron Pen 0.2, a Copic marker, a flesh tone watercolour pencil, a Faber-Castell Pittpens (shades of grey set) and watercolour paint.


This coloured pencil crayon drawing is of Koosje, one of my drawing teachers....A warm up before getting to the live drawing.


This next drawing is of my granddaughter.  I think I am going to try this one again sometime.  I used a thick brush pen to draw and then missed fine details because of it.

Looking at a photo helped me to build up courage for a live model. See what I mean about the scary hands?  

Thanks, Vin and Koosje for the lessons!  You have helped me to grow as an artist!

Here are a few extra pictures I drew this week, as a warm up to teaching my grade one students how to paint an owl with the Chinese Brushstroke method.

I experimented with making my own paint.  I crushed up shale (ochre) from a path at a local path and I used blueberries.

I hope you all have had an enjoyable artist week.  Thank you to our Paint Party hosts for giving us a platform to share on!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Even Though The First Day of May Was Positively Lovely...

Painting in the field on this first day of May was a positively lovely way to begin the month.  The sun was shining brightly with barely a cloud in the sky.  With my toque on my head, it was necessary to put on my hood to block the wind from the back of my neck.  It is a good thing I always carry a thin cotton scarf in my camera bag.  The wind made my eyes water onto my page.  I actually could use my tears to help the watercolour paint spread across my page.

My dog Lucy accompanied me.  She curiously sniffed about, and later began to whine and bark that a stranger in a truck pulled over on the side of the road.  Meadow larks welcomed us to the morning, a pair of geese flew low over our heads, a bee hummed good morning and a few large ants climbed upon our legs interested in seeing what we were doing.

My Sketchbook Skool assignment  was to do an urban sketch, but since I live in the country, I decided to sketch how our rural setting is beginning to look like an urban setting .  I have mentioned this before, but the recent news of another development directly to the west of us has stirred up sad feelings again.

The development to the south west of us has left a sour taste in my mouth.  The people have put up a huge, ugly black net to block the west winds, and it also blocks the view of the distant fields, prairie, trees and the great big sky.    They have also left huge black piles of dirt laying on the once native prairie.

I love being in the country, and it is hard to share it with others when they keep disturbing the native prairie, the skies and the quiet country roads.

It was wonderful to sit in the field doing what I love, drawing and painting and being in nature.  Even though the spring birds filled the air with their cheerful songs, I still felt sadness, seeing the history of the past disappear.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

My Saturday in a Comic...Positively Ordinary

My homework assignment in Sketchbook Skool was to document a day in a comic.  The day needn't have anything special happening.  This is celebrating a positively ordinary Saturday in a fun artistic way!

Homework :  Create a comic for a conversation you have had.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

13 Kids Would Be Positively Necessary?

My Sketchbook Skool assignment was to create a comic of a conversation.  This comic illustrates our wedding reception almost twenty-six years ago and the birth of our first son on April 7, twenty-five years ago. I am so pleased that having thirteen children was not positively necessary!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Making my own rubber stamps is positively therapeutic!

Making my own rubber stamps is positively therapeutic! I made most of the stamps out of white erasers.  I like the white erasers far better than the Speedball Speedy Cut sheet which crumbles very easily.  I spent the whole day carving!  So relaxing! The horse was made with a big block of colour created with a stencil made with acetate and then outlining with Indian ink and tracing paper.  I can't figure out how to do this transfer method properly.  The ink doesn't seem to want to transfer.

After playing with the stamps, I decided to use Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi lyrics.  I have been looking out my window and seeing my beautiful natural prairie turning into a sea of houses and trees not natural to the prairies.  The city folk want to live on acreages and leave their bright outside lights on all night long making the gorgeous starlit night sky less visible.

"Don't it always seem to go,
That you don't know what you've got,
Till it's gone?
They paved paradise,
And put up a parking lot..."
~Joni Mitchell

I hope to grow in my carving skills, but in the mean time, the process is good therapy!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Experimenting is Positively Worthwhile

Participating in Sketchbook Skool has led to a lot of experimenting and it has been totally worthwhile.

Our challenge this week was to create art related to the theme flying.  I carved a feather stamp first and realized it could also be a leaf.  I used a white eraser, as I didn't have any lino, as was suggested in the klass.   I love to carve.  For Valentine's Day, my husband gave me a trip to California to visit my son, daughter-inlaw and my granddaughter!  I was so excited, I took a lesson detour and created this page:

I am relearning some forgotten techniques and learning some really new fun techniques.  Watercolour glazing and washes.

I also found a really great watercolour painting channel on YouTube called The Mind of Watercolour!  This exercise was to pay attention to the shape of trees and use watercolour washes and glazes.

Below is another watercolour experiment, paying attention to the light to create depth.

On the below piece, our challenge was to create expressive lines.  The large butterflies are created from cutting a stencil into a transparency sheet.  I used a stamp pad to make the print, adding the lines from the pad as texture.  The idea is to create large blocks of colour and then add outlines and details using Indian Ink and a tissue paper transfer.   Actually I didn't have tissue paper, so I used parchment paper. The lines are uneven and chunky, but I actually like the effect. Celebrating imperfections! The lines are called expressive have no real control of the lines and they end up looking like old style lithographs, you know the style in old books?    I am going to try the technique again, now that I have some tissue paper.  I also carved a little flower and a small butterfly.  This time I used the leaf/feather stamp as grass!

Thanks for visiting.  I appreciate your feedback!