Acrylic Paint on Canvas Board
In 2008-09 I was teaching my ‘Art For Earth’ environmental workshops in four of London’s elementary schools. The Ontario Arts Council had provided much of the needed financing for this program, but not as much as I needed.
These workshops are divided into two parts. The first part is taught by a professional from a local Conservation Authority. If my class is learning about trees, I’ll have a speaker who knows everything about trees. If my class is about turtles, I’ll have a speaker who is a turtle expert. After this introduction to the topic of the class, I’ll then take over and teach the students different painting techniques as we create a painting inspired by that class’ topic.
From the OAC, I had requested a small amount of funding to pay for my guest speakers’ time and preparation for these classes. Since I didn’t receive enough funding I had to find a solution.
|Art For Earth Workshop - 2004 - Central Library, London, ON|
One of my guest speakers was Denise Beiga – seen here on the left side. This photo was taken during my 2004 Art For Earth workshops where Denise and I both volunteered our time to teach London’s youth about the importance of protecting our environment for future generations.
Over the next few years, Denise and I have worked together on a number of other related projects and our friendship grew.
|Art For Earth - 2008 - Learning about grasslands and butterflies|
I couldn’t imagine not working with Denise during the 2008-09 classes. Denise is a great speaker, full of lots of knowledge on many subjects. The students learned a lot about grasslands and wetlands and the animals, birds and insects that inhabit these regions. Denise would teach them important lessons about these unique environments and then I would take over and teach them important lessons about how to be a great painter!
Since I couldn’t pay Denise for all of her time, we made a deal. I told Denise that I would create a unique and original painting, just for her, in lieu of a cash payment for her involvement in my classes. She quickly agreed. I didn’t know what I would paint for her…. or exactly when I would have time to create an artwork…. but I would figure that out later. For now, we concentrated on the Art For Earth workshops.
Months passed and eventually, the art workshops were finished. Now, I had to find inspiration for Denise’s payment!
It was very easy for me to choose a subject for Denise’s painting. During my art classes, she would tell the students that her favourite insect is the Dragonfly and that her nick-name at work is also Dragonfly. Well, that was easy! Now, I just had to figure out how I would create a painting of a dragonfly, for her.
I decided to create an image using mosaic rendering techniques- using a grid. This would create a final image that would be interesting and slightly abstract – my favourite kind of painting to create! Instead of simply filling each small square with its corresponding colour, I used another technique that I teach quite often in my classes.
When I teach art classes, my greatest focus is on teaching ways to create interesting textures. I often share how textures are created by painting individual lines – be them straight or wiggly – while leaving spaces in between. Once these lines have dried, the spaces in between can then be filled in. It’s that simple!
By painting one line, letting it dry and then painting another line right beside the first one, small hills and valleys are created by the paints. These hills and valleys create the texture.
This is what my art studio looks like, when I’m painting!! My furry friends always like to inspect my work. Whenever I’m in my art room doing something it doesn’t take long before (my dog – RIP 2013) Koly’s lying on the floor sleeping, (my cat - RIP 2018) Guido’s curled up in a nearby chair with (my other cat - RIP 2012) Elly sitting on or near the work that I’m doing. I loved the company!
So… this is what I mean when I talk about texture. You can see hills and valleys along the edges of each painted line. You may also notice that each colour is actually about three or four different colours, although created using just one colour. In some areas the paint is very thick and the colour is very dark. In other areas there is not as much paint and the white of the canvas shows through slightly, creating another tone of the same colour. In my eyes, this makes for a more interesting image!
From a distance all of these different tones blend together creating a unified colour. By creating textures, you make the viewer curious as to how the image was created and they have to get very close to see all of the flavours that are involved.
About a month after this painting was finished, I made plans to visit with Denise so that I could give her this painting! I had it framed with glass and it looks great! She agreed! She told me that she was going to hang it in her office to enjoy every day!