Painting Like Crazy for Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

For artists and makers, it may actually be the busiest time of the year. For the past two weeks, I’ve been focused on painting two small works for the Petit Noel show at the Alex Dufresne Gallery in Callander. There are tons of small works to choose from, and they’ll all be priced at the entry level. This year, I decided to submit two pieces, both inspired by Northern Ontario.

the Nuthatch

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a self-described Bird Lady. Even as I type this, I’m positioned by a window so that I can watch the birdies goof around by their feeders. 

During the Christmas of 2013, we had a big ice storm go through most of Southern Ontario, which left the trees covered in thick layers of ice. I was staying with my parents at the time, who have the largest collection of bird feeders you’ve ever seen, and I was able to take a few nice photos of the white-breasted nuthatches. I’ve called the painted result Nuthatch, 12″x12″, oil on canvas (2017). I know, it’s the world’s most original title. 

Something I’ve been planning on experimenting with for a little while is the concept of aperture in paintings. In photographs, you can adjust the aperture of the lens to blur the background and sharpen the foreground. Photography has influenced painting enormously in the past century, and I wanted to try mimicking that same blurry effect. I’ll be doing it again next month on a large-scale painting of peonies.

lake nosbonsing, fire and ice

I had put out a call for wintry reference photos to paint for Petit Noel. I wanted something snowy, but also something with a fair amount of colour saturation to play with. One photo in particular that was submitted to me was just dazzling. I’d like to introduce you to Lake Nosbonsing: Fire and Ice, 12″x16″, oil on canvas (2017). 

This was a very challenging piece to create. The most difficult part, hands down, was layering all of the frozen branches. There’s about five or six different layers of colour that have been laid into that nest of branches, and each layer required overnight dry time. The trees in the original photograph were almost exclusively black, which when painted just looked dark and chunky. I had to do a little inventing with colour, but I’m happy with how they turned out. 

the new painting – wave study

I have one more painting that I’m going to be working on over the next few days, and it’s probably the tightest time crunch I’ve faced (self-imposed, of course…I thought I’d have more time, but that was before I got bogged down in branch details). The WKP Kennedy Gallery is running their Annual Christmas Fundraiser, this time with the theme “Spirit of the North.”

Confession: I totally forgot about the theme when I started planning my piece. By the time I remembered I’d already purchased the canvas size that I wanted and had prepped it, sooo…it is what it is!

I’ll be submitting a 10″ x 20″ painting of a wave, based on a reference photo that I took last month in the Hague, the Netherlands. My husband and I were visiting the northern coast, and with it being early October, the skies and seas were incredibly intense. I’m considering turning one of the paintings I took into a much larger piece, and this painting is part of a study I want to do better work with and understand water. Water is by far my most favourite subject to paint.

support local

You’ll be able to view this piece during the Downtown Christmas Walk on November 24th. 50% of the proceeds from the sale of the painting will go directly to the WKP Kennedy Gallery. Be sure to check it out! 

Additionally, there are a bunch of other markets going on, including:

  • Another art sale during the downtown Christmas Walk at the Sons of Jacob Synagogue (with funds going to an exterior renovation),
  • Makers Market at the new North Star Diner on December 17th from 11am-4pm (coming soon to the old DeMarco’s storefront on Algonquin Ave).

Of course, if there’s any others that I’m missing, let me know and I’ll put the word out on my Facebook page!

There are so many awesome opportunities to support local artisans and artists, because North Bay is chock full of wonderfully talented people. Be sure to check out all the makers’ markets coming up, and definitely make a point of attending the upcoming Christmas Walk. And as always, I’ll have my classes running in case you want to go the homemade route and create a painting for your nearest and dearest. Check out my classes page to stay up to speed on all upcoming events and subscribe to my newsletter to hear about December dates in advance. Of course, you can always find me on Instagram or Twitter, in addition to Facebook. Feel free to follow, I’d love to connect!