Fresh off the easel: the lights of Christchurch as seen from the Port Hills. The paintings are lightly textured and best seen from a bit of a distance. I was going to varnish them but I am really liking the subtle shifts in colour and texture of the unvarnished canvas and so I’m not going to risk it.
I have been thinking about painting this landscape for a little over six years. When I took the reference photo, the rainbow appeared to be shining directly into our neighbourhood, showing us the way home. I liked that : ) The only thing that made me reluctant to tackle it was also one of the things that made me want to paint it in the first place: the out-of-focus raindrops on the car windscreen. I wasn’t sure I could do what I had in mind ~ something representational but not too realistic. I needn’t have worried; the raindrops almost painted themselves (at least they look like raindrops to me). No, it was the painting of the rainbow that was the most difficult thing because I wanted to paint a rainbow that was not too ‘rainbowy’ (i.e. to paint a painterly painted rainbow and not an emoji 🌈 ).
I got there in the end by overlapping layers of translucent rainbow colours, blending the cooler colours with the clouds and sky (which is why some of the colours have almost disappeared), and using subtle lines to suggest reflected and refracted light.
‘Chasing the Light’ is an old painting that I’ve almost completely reworked ~ and it’s bonkers! Only the road and the sky are relatively untouched. I was spring cleaning the studio when I discovered this painting which I thought I’d already painted over. It used to go by the name of ‘Summer Roads’ (see below) and was painted in 2016. The subject and composition still appealed to me but I no longer liked the colours or tonal values, so I renamed it ‘Chasing the Light’ and painted over it, adding lines and highlights with acrylic paint markers (oh so much fun) and gold paint (probably not real gold) and even more paint.
I listed it on Trade Me (NZ) last week and it only took two days to sell! Admittedly I didn’t have a big price tag on it… (I am still spring cleaning, after all) but even so, I think two days must be a new personal record : )
New Zealand, you inspire me!
“By the time it came to the edge of the Forest, the stream had grown up, so that it was almost a river, and, being grown-up, it did not run and jump and sparkle along as it used to do when it was younger, but moved more slowly. For it knew now where it was going, and it said to itself, “There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” But all the little streams higher up in the Forest went this way and that, quickly, eagerly, having so much to find out before it was too late.” A.A. Milne
If, like me, you are feeling a little older and a little less like running and jumping and sparkling these days, that’s okay. “There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
‘Travel With Me’ and ‘We’ll See the World’ are two small paintings inspired by the mighty Waimakariri River, a braided river that flows 151 kilometres (94 miles) from the Southern Alps across the Canterbury Plains to the Pacific Ocean. I took the photograph that became the reference for this diptych back in February… which seems like a lifetime ago now… back before we really had any idea what 2020 had planned for us. It was a wonderful trip. We spent the weekend at Lake Brunner and performed at a music festival. I felt much more like a little stream back then.
While painting this scene, I thought a lot about that trip away and about how so many of us are having to travel vicariously and virtually this year. I have also been thinking about what it means to ‘travel’ and about how we travel when we are stuck in lockdown ~ hopefully we are making good use of art and books and music and videos and conversations ~ and that is what the titles of these paintings are intended to reflect.
My travels this year have included watching online tutorials and time-lapse videos of artists producing the most wonderful landscapes and portraits ~ I thoroughly recommend Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year and Portrait Artist of the Year and also the Put Some Colour In Your Life series.
Safe travels, everyone.
P.S. Below is the reference photo that I used for the paintings ~ a quick snap taken through the car window on our way to the festival (and no, I was not driving).
This little landscape was inspired by a detail of my coloured-in Port Chalmers colouring page ~ now completely reimagined.
I really didn’t like my first attempt (see previous post). It wasn’t fun to paint and I didn’t feel connected to the end result. So I stopped painting from the reference and started looking at what was in front of me on the canvas… exploring shapes and colours and remembering how it felt when we first came upon this view back in 2017. And I had a ball.
I was at the point of deciding whether or not to paint the house in the foreground a brighter red when my husband walked in and said “it’s finished” 🎨 …and so it is.
The inspiration for this painting came from a detail of my coloured-in Port Chalmers colouring page but I have been struggling with how I want to paint it. If nothing else, it has been useful as a background for a great quote by Rob Bell (my painting study WIPs are included below).
It looks better on screen than it does in real life and even though it is what I set out to paint, I really do not like it. What worked as digital art simply has nothing to offer as a painting. It feels very ‘meh’ to me. Which is great. Because now I know what not to do. Meanwhile I have already painted a second version of this little landscape and it is COMPLETELY different, but I’ll write more about that in the next post : )
It has been fun making these teeny tiny art prints and turning them into magnets (that’s proper magic, that is : ) I have listed a few over on Etsy and will make more if they are popular.
The hardest thing about the process was deciding on the colours for the stick figure magnets (final image below) and then coming up with names for them. Happy colours deserve happy names, so I have ended up with Sky Blue, Violet Blue, Strawberry Pink, Pumpkin, Sunshine Yellow, Spring Green, Lavender, and Midnight Blue.
And now that I have the little magnets all sorted, I think it must be about time I started painting again…