Seascapes and Transitions

Things have been a bit strange on my island paradise for the past few months. There are numerous transitions to pass through in changing locations. We’ve been here since June and the first two months were spent painting a few pictures and unpacking. I had enormous difficulty in becoming grounded here.

Not only because this is an island surrounded by water, but I had no friends here, except my husband. We’re slowly but surely acclimating to island life and beginning to get acquainted. I’ve been devouring root vegetables, walking barefoot, and practicing yoga while sitting on our one-ton rock overlooking the sunset (that my husband hauled all the way from Orlando) and doing all that I know to do to get grounded and tuned into my dharma. Some of the things I love most about island life are the absence of clocks and calendars (for the most part), the sound of silence in the night (except for the fish jumping), and the gorgeous skies (constantly evolving). The stars are nice, too. I can’t say much about the people here, because we’re just getting introduced. There is a huge amount of community spirit, but we haven’t had much chance to be social. We joined the Matlacha Civic Association because we are trying to stop the City of Cape Coral from illegally annexing property on our island.

Feeling myself slipping into depression, I decided to throw myself into a big project that allowed me to focus on something beautiful. Eva Volf is an artist that paints fantastic seascapes in oils and I received permission from her to attempt to recreate one of her paintings in acrylics. I fell in love with the composition but knew that I do not possess the skills to paint such realistic impressions in acrylics. I was determined to give it my best shot. I don’t usually post reference photos with my paintings, but I want to give Eva full credit for the original. Isn’t this gorgeous? Keep in mind, I wasn’t trying to copy her, but to use her painting as inspiration to create one in my own style with acrylics.

“Awakening” 48X60 oils on canvas by Eva Volf

 

Unlike oils that are easily blended, acrylics take layers and layers to achieve results. They dry super-fast, like within minutes, instead of hours into days. And this was the largest canvas I have ever worked on at three feet by four feet. This presented many challenges. Acrylics dry much darker than they appear as applied. It’s difficult for me to color mix keeping this fact in mind. With experience, I know I will learn better how to judge. The project took me 2 ½ months working 4-16 hours a day. Many times I had to repaint, or even gesso over dark areas with white and start anew. I worked in distinct sections for days into weeks until I was comfortable enough to move onto a new section. In the end, I was quite satisfied with the results. I am having it framed for Christmas. Eva’s is much lighter, softer, and less dramatic. I don’t really like comparing my work to someone else’s, because we are all doing our own thing. Suffice it to say, her beautiful pieces are such an inspiration to me.

“Light on a New Day” 36X48 acrylics on canvas Susan K. Nicholls

I have always wanted a seascape to hang in my living room. Now I have one. I tried fluffier clouds surrounding the sunrise, but good ones are not in my skill-set as of yet, so I opted for a fog bank burning off. I can always go back and update the painting if I improve and feel so inclined.

Hung in the living room

The frame I picked out is to be made from whitewashed sea-weathered wood. I think it will look very nice. The painting has been curing since mid-November. Today I will put on the first two coats of varnish, one more coat tomorrow, and then after a few days of drying time, it will be ready to take to be framed.

on the wall

Finishing this monster project was bittersweet. I’m feeling accomplished, yet I know I have so much more to learn. I started this project exactly one year from the day that I picked up a brush and decided to paint.

First painting-Kate Jobling tutorial, last painting-Eva Volk inspired

I am painting a cup for the local breakfast diner, “The Perfect Cup”. That should only take a day, or so. Then I have a train to paint for my step-son’s Christmas present. Beyond that, I am hoping to commence with painting more original artwork inspired by the island life. I will still be doing a few tutorials because I learn so much from every little one. My favorite instructor has been in school in Italy for the past two months. I am looking forward to his return.

Abbey-The Water Dog

We attended the local tree-lighting get-together on Friday, with Abbey, the water dog, where we met many locals, snowbirds, and other doggies. I’m beginning to feel like I belong here, despite the fact that there is a tRump flag flying in front of every other house. (Okay, I won’t make this a political post, but sheesh…suffice it to say, I share the world view of this man with those beyond our borders and at least half of the world within them.)

If I don’t get back to you before Christmas, have a Merry one, Happy Holidays, and a wonderful New Year filled with love and light and joy! Peace be with you and yours.

I almost forgot! Here’s a quick boat tour around the tip of the island if you need something to warm you up today. It’s 85 degrees here today.

Art Space

When I was writing, we would often share our writing space online. I still have my desk in a corner under a window in my new place and I’ve also set up a makeshift studio for painting.

 

This is a guestroom. It has a Murphy bed that’s closed in this photograph. The futon usually sits along the left wall, but I had to move it for this large three-foot by four-foot canvas. Nothing sat level on the thick carpeting, so hubby went out and bought a smooth sheet of plywood to go on the floor. Even with sunlight coming in through the sliding glass doors, the light in this room was horrible and I was straining my eyes. We found a nice lightbox set-up on FB Marketplace and put that to good use.

The Murphy bed unit has shelves and cabinets where I keep art supplies. There are various painting mediums in there; gels, pastes, liquids, thinners, and such. Three hundred-plus paintbrushes live in Mason jars on a handy shelf.

I have no idea how many tubes of paint I have. Painting is done mostly with three primary colors, reds, blues, and yellows, which are mixed for various shades, along with whites, blacks, and umber. I keep some secondary colors and a few tertiary colors to speed up mixing certain shades and provide small amounts of quick color. Hanging shoe racks make a good place for keeping the colors organized where I can find what I need quickly.

I’m painting in acrylics and they dry extremely fast. This makes blending a challenge and I use goat hair mop brushes for large areas of blending. Glazing liquids help with blending smaller areas. I recently purchased a line of “open” hard-bodied Golden paints which have a slower drying time, the drawback is that they also have a longer tacky time, which is when your brush strokes can lift all of the layers off of your canvas, so there is a lot of time spent waiting for paint to dry, even when using a blow dryer to speed the process.

 

I like painting in early mornings when the light is good through the sliders that allow me to gaze out onto the palm-lined canal whenever I feel the need.

Morning time is when I feel most alert and focused, unlike late evenings when I felt a deeper connection with my writing.

There is a lady, Lisa Timcak, who owns a local gallery and shop, Island Visions. She has expressed some interest in displaying some of my work in her place next door to the ice cream shop. Inside of her gallery, there are tables and chairs to sit and eat your ice cream, which everybody who visits Matlacha has to do, so this is good exposure. She will be coming back to the village in October, so we shall see how that pans out.

The sun is coming up and I will be back to painting soon. I have been working on this large canvas for a few weeks now. It’s a slow process from start to finish, but quicker than writing a novel. And once the sun starts to set, I’ll be off to take my evening walk.

Let me know how your creative endeavors are coming along. Besides Alejandro, is there anyone else who has tried their hand at painting? I just picked up the brushes for acrylic painting about a year ago. I find it most relaxing and the minor frustrations are relatively easy to cope with. Have you thought about giving it a try? You may be better at it than you ever imagined.

Busy Making Art

I have been painting more than I have been writing. Some of it is just for fun, and some of it is hard work. It’s all enjoyable. Thought I would share some of the things I created since my last post. I’ve really challenged myself to step up my game.  There are about 19-20. I didn’t want to put them in a revolving gallery because the images are too small and I wanted you to be able to see and appreciate the detail. Enjoy.

11X14 on canvas board acrylics: “Face Flower is my take on a Concha Jiménez Puente painting

 

16X20 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Autumn Reflections”

 

16X20 on pro gallery wrapped canvas “Misty Tropical Treefall”

 

18X24 acrylics/textured on student grade canvas: “Steelers Pumps” –Irridecent paints on shoes. Gift for friend and Steelers fan.

 

11X14 Acrylics on pro gallery wrapped canvas: “Maya Angelou” Gift for yoga instructor, Jai Dev, who often quotes her.

 

16X20 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Sailor’s Delight”

 

16X20 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Appalachian Waterfall”

 

18X24 acrylics on student grade canvas” “Books are Magic”

 

11X14 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: 1st commissioned piece for Mark Paxon, “Stronger Than Hate” Inspired by Ben Roethlisberger’s cleats after the Tree of Life Sanctuary shootings–gift for his son.

 

18X24 Acrylics on student grade canvas (I hate this one…my sky didn’t go as planned.) : “Stormy Rainbow”

 

18X24 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Sailing Regatta” This started out as a cloud study, but I liked how it turned out, so made it a painting.

 

16X20 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Spring Gardens”

 

11X14 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Winter Train”

 

16X20 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Wild Horses”–I don’t like how the middle horse’s chest and legs came out so it needs a touch-up.

 

6X16 acrylics on gold-leafed hardboard: “Seven Sand Hill Cranes on Takeoff”–These are new techniques I have been experimenting with.

 

16X20 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Tree of Life in Enchanted Forest”– This was a special project I did for my daughter. It had to show day and night, have mother earth (in the treetop) a man, a woman, and a baby. It was my first fantasy painting. It also uses some luminescent paints, gold and copper leaf, and glitter, but you can’t see the shiny in a pic.

 

16X16 metal leaf on hardboard: “Tree of Life” This was my first try at metal leaf and I had to stencil the adhesive. It took many months and was also a gift for my daughter.

 

11X14 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Kitty” Commissioned piece for a gift. I have since changed some of the colors on the forehead from grays to brown/beige.

 

12X12 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Rose”

Hope you enjoyed your tour thru my little studio.

On a scale of 1-10, I would say “Maya Angelou” was a 10. “Rose” came in a close 9.

All of these pieces are for sale unless otherwise specified (except the “Winter Train”–it hangs in my bedroom)