Thursday, November 27, 2014


Pomegranates  8 x 8  Oil  $150

I've had a very strange and frustrating thing happening to the URL of my blog. It was changing on it's own to indicate that it was an address from another country. First it was ending with .tr to signify Turkey and my menu bar was in Turkish. Then it became a British URL. When I checked my settings, everything was as it should be. It only appeared this way on Google Chrome, it appeared normally on Firefox and Internet Explorer. The fix was complicated and arduous and I was not even wanting to start the process, when my son came along and within one minute he solved it for me. He disabled Zenmate, which appears as a green shield icon in the right corner of the menu bar of your blog. If you are experiencing similar problems, you might want to try that.

This little painting is a study in red as you can see. It was all about color temperature and value to highlight the pomegranates and push the cloth back. I added some blue and green with the cream in the pattern of the cloth, to add some contrast and cooler colors.

As I was saying in my last post, I've been reading a great book called Color- A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Findlay available on Amazon. Apart from learning about where all the colors originated, it's full of fascinating factoids to share over coffee.

According to Findlay who has traveled the globe investigating the origin of colors, red signifies many things - red is anger, red is love, it represents fire, stop and power. It's also significant in religions. Think Buddhist robes and the Popes red silk hat, not to mention the cardinals. The color red dates back to the Inca's and Aztec's who made red from (are you ready?) the blood of beetles, called cochineal. These little beetles thrive on the prickly pear cactus. During the Conquistador era, Spain discovered the color red in Mexico in the State of Oaxaca and started exporting these little beetles back to Spain, controlling the supply of red dye all over Europe. They shipped up to 160 tons of cochineal bodies each year! That's a lot of insect bodies! Although the whole world was enamored with red, it was fugitive, it would fade or disappear. It was then discovered that Alum needed to be added to the pigment to help it set. It's rumored that Henry VIII married  Anne of Cleaves for her countries source of alum. How romantic! 

One of the artists who had many problems with red was Turner. He loved those sunsets and big skies and used whatever color best described what he wanted to capture. Although warned by Mr. Windsor of Windsor and Newton, Turner was adamant that he would use whatever colors suited him in the moment and consequently many of his paintings are no longer representative of what he originally painted. 

Luckily we now have paints that hold their color and have UV protection, not to mention varnishes that also include UV filters. But when asked, I always tell people that if a painting is subjected to direct sunlight, even for limited periods of time, it will most likely fade. 


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Breezy Bay Farm

Breezy Bay Farm     Acrylic    24 x 36   $975

He everyone, it's been a few weeks since I last posted. I've been really busy getting ready for the Oak Bay Artists Fall Studio Tour, coming up this weekend November 15 and 16, 12:00 - 4:30pm. If you're in the area, be sure to drop to by and say hi! For an online tour brochure click here.

This past August my husband and I visited Saturna Island, a jewel of an island in the Salish Sea just a short ferry ride from Victoria, BC where we live. We stayed at a B&B called the Breezy Bay, pictured above. It's a working farm and the farmhouse we stayed in is the original family home from 1889. We just loved sitting on the big wrap around porch at the end of the afternoon, looking out over the orchard and vegetable garden, and watching the cows, geese, and osprey. Every day when we returned from our daily adventures we came upon this view of the farm, and on the third day, I said "Stop the car!". I just had get some reference material to remember this fantastic view.

I paint mainly still life, and although I love a landscape or architectural piece to switch things up a bit, all this green was a challenge! I find green is a particularly hard colour to mix accurately. 

I'm currently reading a book on the origins of paint, called Color - A Natural History of the Palette, by Victoria Findlay. It's a fascinating read with so many interesting stories to help you work any cocktail party with style! In the 1700's newly invented green paints and dyes became all the rage. Everything from clothing to furniture and wallpaper were done up in green. But unfortunately the green contained arsenic and it was a full 100 years of using arsenic filled green, before a researcher Henry Carr, spoke out, outlining deaths and illnesses as a result of the colour green, particularly in wallpapers. Carr pointed out that just two or three grains of arsenic would destroy the life of a healthy man, and that the country was producing 4,809 tons in one year. Most listeners were shocked and agreed with his call for an investigation. Then a Dr. Thudichum stood up and suggested that Carr was being alarmist. He said his eyes rejoiced at the beautiful bright arsenical paper, and when he looked at the abominable grays and hideous browns and dreadful yellows made without arsenic he could not help thinking that green is what he would like to see on his walls! 

Although we don't have arsenic in our modern paints, (I don't think), it's good to remember that you don't want to hold your paint brush in your mouth, or dry sand paints as there is still the possibility of health risks involved with paint. I remember years ago when I painted in watercolours, everyone in the class ended their painting session by putting their paintbrush in their mouths to bring it to a perfect point - until the instructor suggested that it wasn't best idea, and that Van Gogh, and Whistler could attest to that. :-)