I have a love-hate relationship with working on giant paintings! I think the larger works have a presence, they shout at the viewer come, look, enjoy. Many have said that it feels like you could walk right into the scene. They can be dramatic and are considered statement pieces. I think sometimes bigger pieces give the perception of you being a real artist. Not playing cautiously, but going for it. On the downside, it takes a long time to complete bigger pieces. I find myself needing to back up or take a picture of progress made so I can evaluate what needs to be done. Small mistakes, not getting an angle or curve right stand out more. Transporting and shipping larger pieces is also takes some planning.
With smaller pieces, the painting goes quickly, so there is an immediate gratification of seeing the piece come together. They are easier to ship and more people can afford to collect the smaller pieces. However, they are like reserved you have to be willing to slow down and quiet your soul to take in the message that is more of a whisper.
A solo show was coming up and the gallery owner wanted big pieces. I had a few and set about completing this one for the show. The scene is inspired by one of the many restaurants along Beach Drive in St Pete Florida. High-end shops and restaurants, bordered by a beautiful park and beyond it boats sitting in the harbor waiting. When you search online for images of a city you often see skylines. Photos are taken from a distance, trying to sum up a place by its high rises. It shows evidence of man while remaining distant, interchangeable with other places. But when you walk around an area, stay on the ground you are going at a pace where you notice things. A cool courtyard, the flowers planted outside a home. You become part of the scene. And if you’ve been to such a spot all the memories of that place can attach themselves to that image. So this scene invites one to take a seat, enjoy, relax.
Part of my life as an artist is to look for opportunities to show my work in galleries and other venues. I found out about a call to artists at a gallery I’d like to get into. The only problem was the deadline was less than a week away and pieces had to be 10×10 or smaller.
So I grabbed a few canvases and did three sunset scenes. My work wasn’t chosen to be in the show for the gallery I made it for. It happens, for every time my work is accepted someplace there is usually several times it’s been rejected. As the year-end approaches, there are different opportunities to try and sell my work to those looking for a great unique gift. I’d love to see some big pieces, but know for many a small piece is more their price range. I have pieces listed on Etsy, and am doing a few holiday one day shows locally.
When I painted for myself I painted what I wanted. As a professional, I find subject matter I like, but it’s also about what will sell. Living in Florida makes Southwestern Landscapes a hard sell. (So I dream of the day I have enough of an online following, and or gallery representation out west to paint those pieces.) I love painting big, but it’s harder to find collectors for large pieces. So I have some big canvases waiting. I would grow weary of small paintings all the time, but there is a freedom in the small pieces. Not overthinking or getting too caught up details.
A picture might be worth a thousand words, but some places, some events, you need far more than one picture to capture the spirit of the place. Knowing I’d be visiting Niagara-on-the-lake I did some research. Looked on Pinterest for what places to make sure you visit while there, and I took a virtual stroll down the street with the help of google street view. I found the Prince of Wales hotel and knew I wanted to paint it. When I was there I took many photos, enjoying the flowers and architecture. Getting different viewpoints from near and farther away. I looked through the photos I’d taken trying to find that one that would completely capture the hotel and the surrounding beauty. Like past landscapes and city scenes I’d done, I realized sometimes you can’t capture all something has to offer, but you can give a glimpse. You portray a moment. And really it’s not a bad thing to be left wanting more. Perhaps prompting the viewer to go and explore it for themselves. The beauty snags you, draws you in, invites you to more.
As I write a story I’ve read many times comes to mind. About a man who had a big request. He asked for something so amazing he wouldn’t be able to take it in or fully grasp or appreciate it.
The man was Moses, he wanted to see God in all his glory. And God, knowing what Moses could and couldn’t handle responded;
“And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:21-23 ESV
Moses caught a glimpse, not the whole. That glimpse gave him what he needed at the time. And yet it wasn’t over, Moses went up the mountain to talk with God many times. Heard his voice, saw him work, and grew in intimacy. In this age of information and got to have it now, sometimes appreciation comes from seeing new aspects over time. Appreciating each piece as it comes. So here is one small view of the beautiful Prince of Wales hotel in Niagara-on-the-lake.
Wellington and Picton- Niagara-on-the-lake Cafe #2
Acrylic on canvas
This cafe is located at the corner of Wellington St and Picton street in Niagara-on-the-lake. Loved the flowers hugging the white picket fence and the different colored umbrellas. We roamed the streets in the morning before lunch, so most of the cafes were just getting set up.
I do work from photographs, but the advantage of being a painter means I can take artistic liberties. As I’ve been working on street scenes and landscapes for the last few years I’ve gotten more comfortable with trees. Knowing how much detail to go for, using different shades of green, letting sky peek through. So I modified the trees slightly. There was a lamp post in the scene, but you couldn’t see the light so I took it out. All the tables and chairs at this cafe were a black metal, with mesh tops, backs, and seats. I decided to add seat cushions and make the tables solid. It’s still a confusing mess of legs but it makes the scene a little more understandable.
One thing I enjoy about these cafe Street side scenes is even though the scene is a busy one, it invites one to slow down and relax, savor the moment. There will always be more on my to-do list than I can get to in a day. Hard work is good, honorable and necessary. However work needs to be balanced with rest, literal rest
as well as the taking the time for a leisurely treat. It’s no surprise that we are better able to handle all the demands of life when we call regular timeouts.
The Patio at the Charles Inn -Niagara-on-the-lake Cafe #3
Acrylic on canvas
Umbrellas the color of sunshine, this outdoor cafe is part of The Charles Inn at Niagara-on-the-lake In Ontario, Canada. It’s a few blocks down from all the gift stores and doesn’t get nearly as much tourist’s traffic. The greenery surrounds the patio and looks so pretty next to the windows and white trim of the Inn. It’s quiet, shaded and invites one in for a nice lingering breakfast.
What do you do to rest? To recharge the batteries and remember what important versus what’s urgent? To remind yourself that it’s OK to hit pause?
Over the past year or so I delved into painting cityscapes or street scenes. That place where nature and civilization intersect. In most cases sharing space, at times one becoming more dominant. I find the best way to acquire photographs to work from is to walk around an area and take it in. Take the time to examine different angles, nuances missed when whizzing by in a car.
Not sure why, but I find myself drawn to outdoor cafes or restaurants who have some outdoor seating. (Particularly if they have umbrellas.) I’ve never been to Europe to see squares filled with such places. But I’ve found spots locally and in my travels that appeal to me. Maybe it’s the access to people watching, or the intentionality sitting and enjoying the meal and the time spent in fellowship.
As I’ve painted more I find myself asking why? Why does it appeal to me, touch me, have an emotional response? Not sure I have the answer fully for outdoor cafes. They are a reminder to slow down and enjoy. Invest in the moment. How one can survive on very little, yet it’s beauty around us, in us, in others that help us to thrive.
So expect to see more outdoor cafes from me in the future. This one is from The Epicurean restaurant in Niagara-on-the-lake. Loved the small area and of course the lavish flowers. (Took photos of several other eateries nearby that I will explore in upcoming works.)