Tools make the artist?

Christmas came early this past week with the arrival of our much anticipated Alla Prima Pochade Boxes, lovingly made by hand by artist/craftsman Ben Haggett.

Andrew and I are plein air newbies and lovers of art supplies. We decided to forgo Christmas gifts this year and purchase two Bitterroot Pochade Boxes.

And the next day, magic happened as we broke our boxes in on a beautiful sunny fall day in lovely Cowichan Bay. The boxes consolidated the supplies we need to take to plein air paint and focused our art making on just that, rather than juggling palettes and paints and even coffee cups! The boxes are so beautifully made, ingeniously functional and they even smell good. Wood smells good. As does salt air and oil paints. And fresh coffee.

Plein air painting is so lovely. Even lovelier with good tools.

Alla Prima Bitterroot Pochade Box in action.
Alla Prima Bitterroot Pochade Box (and Andrew) on the docks at Cowichan Bay.
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My Alla Prima Bitterroot Pochade Box on the docks at Cowichan Bay.

Practicing Practice

I’ve managed to free up Mondays through the fall for making art. Today’s Monday began with a glowing pink and orange sunrise which made way for our standard fall showers. We need the rain and it is the perfect studio weather. I am learning how to paint again.

I’ve never focused on landscape painting this intensely before and am finding it quite a challenge. The confidence I have with other mediums and subject matter slips away and I find myself doubting this direction. However, I want to paint landscapes. Well. So I continue.

What I really want to do is to paint landscapes en plein air. But for now, for the fall, I practice in the studio, prepare and gather tools for launching myself outdoors and watch the environment around me with an eye for light, value and composition. Learning to paint is one thing. Developing a personal style is another. The studio wall will house the paintings which show some progression, so I don’t get too discouraged. I am determined.

I love people and patterns

image of pattern and portrait

I do.

I love the feelings which come over me when a pattern is revealed. Be it visually in the form of a graphic pattern or rhythm; facial features and expressions; writing or speaking; human actions and interactions; everyday activities or complex rituals. Patterns are satisfying.

And I love the simple focus it takes to create a portrait which reflects some of the complexity of an individual and the joy which bursts inside me when I can pair that portrait with a meaningful pattern.

Yes, I am gestating a new artistic direction. I’ve taken a break from making art (sculpting) to deal with life and an issue with my arm and shoulder (from sculpting without a break! Silly me). And what is developing is a return to what makes me happy – people and patterns.

Since I also love jumping from medium to medium… I’m not sure where the process will start. I do know it will be exciting.

Stay tuned!