When to Stop

when to stop blogpost.jpg

Every now and again, if you’re lucky, you experience a rare gush of creativity. It erupts out of the blue and when it does, you drop everything and dive for the brush, pen, or whatever so you can seize the magic. When you’re riding this wave, each tone you pick is the right one, and inspiration flows like an open stream. It is lovely, perfect, sexy magic.

Under the influence of this rare tide, with these pieces, I managed to do something that is usually a hard won victory in my creative process. I put down the brush and walked away at precisely the right moments.

Now gouache and watercolour are particularly tricky in this regard. With acrylic or oil, you always have a second chance should you misstep. With gouache or watercolour however, you can over work it in a heartbeat. One false dot of pigment and you have to watch your mistake bleed through the piece – forever muddying what was once crisp. When you overthink forms your brushstrokes go from bold and pure to wobbly and insipid. In each of these pieces, I felt that moment come – where my urge to blather on was held in check by the voice of experience that said – “no – it’s time to walk away” or “yes – put that brush to paper and trust where it goes”.

I’m going to continue working at this size (5″ x 7″) for a while longer. I feel that there’s a series happening here and I like its vibe. Also, now, after working on 300lb watercolour paper – I am forever spoiled. I can’t go back to 140lb. I am hardcore geeking out about it.

Black Fish

acrylic on canvas, 16x20

acrylic on canvas, 16×20

Friday night I watched a documentary called Black Fish. It’s a really moving documentary about the dysfunctions that develop in Orcas when kept in captivity By extension they spoke of the injuries and deaths of Orca trainers over the past 40 years. They spoke a bit about the intelligence of Orcas. Apparently they have a  highly evolved sense of communal intelligence.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about these animals and the pain that we put them through for our whims. This painting came from thinking about free Orcas. There’s something quite magical about them. I hope I’ve captured a sliver of that beauty.

Undulating Memory

24 x 24 acrylic on canvas

24 x 24 acrylic on canvas

I finished this piece last night. My previous post ‘Lost’ was inspired by this canvas. Since writing that post the canvas has been at least 2 other beginnings of very different paintings. The same major undulations however remained throughout. In this piece I used a range of colours I haven’t tried before. It took a while to figure out how they made me feel and how they’d fit in. I haven’t painted much with browns before so that was one thing I wanted to do when I started out. In the beginning the lilac tones were a happy accident and when I realized they worked with the browns it changed the whole piece.

It took a little while to realize where the piece was going. I was walking to work yesterday morning and looking at birds flying far off against the colour of the sky when it hit me that this piece was an abstract landscape.

While doing this piece my boyfriend said that I should try having a few canvases stretched and ready to go in the studio so that when I get frustrated and lost on one canvas I can just move on to another without majorly changing what I’ve started. I suppose that would take the pressure off the one canvas so I’ll see if that works.


I want the freedom to be ugly.

Social expectation, misogynistic bosses and generations of mothers echo in my mind.

From my mother – brush your hair, clean your shoes, dress properly or what will the various men in your life think of you?

From Men – Look pretty or I won’t give you the time of day. Wear high heels, be charming to me and laugh coquettishly at my stupid sexist jokes or I will simply cease to see you.

From Society – Look pretty, dress pretty, buy more, make yourself up – it doesn’t matter who you are, provided that you’re trendy.

I look at women my age and how trapped we are in trend, conformity and social expectation. Consumerism meets patriarchal advertising campaigns and we think we are making individual decisions about how we present ourselves to the world, when in fact we are playing a game – falling into a scheme – often to our financial ruin.

How do I push past pretty? How can I step over into the sublime with my work? I feel like i skim the surface of pretty and hardly reach into the grotesque which is often the most beautiful to me. As a woman, how do i reach ugly, without my instinct to beautify it? How do you reach into crazy when I have built a world around crazy – I have corseted its miscreant strands and pasted down its wildness with a thick layer of beeswax. That step is difficult. It’s terrifying.

But my work is too safe. It’s like there’s 2 artists inside of me. The one who is instinctual and terrifying and then her sister who follows close behind neatening edges and mopping up muddy footprints. How do I get miss bliss to take a hike for a little while so i can get some work done?

Yellow Morning

Yellow Morning, 2’x4′, Acrylic on OSB

I finished this piece today. It’s been on my easel for the past month. This piece came very easily after a couple weeks of sketching. It was born out of a poem I wrote a few weeks ago after sketching at Horse Palace. The poem was a memory of visiting the horses at Union Park (racetrack near my house in Marabella) with my Dad. It’s been a very fun painting to work on. I made a new brush to make some of the effects I wanted.  

Hope you enjoy it.