Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Van Gogh Blue, by Canadian Artist Kim Blair

I mentioned yesterday that I have not seen Van Gogh depict this variety of Iris in any of his paintings, but I do believe that he would have enjoyed rendering it in his unique style. Van Gogh changed his palette colours to be more vibrant once he moved to the south of France and experienced the special quality of light in the region. A number of his paintings have lost some of the vibrancy over the years but you can still feel the energy in the work via his brush strokes.

The blue, Dutch Iris paintings from yesterday and today are interpretations of a flower from Vincent's native country, painted with intense colour and bold strokes... with him in mind.

10x8 oil on canvas (needs some drying time)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Van Gogh Double Blue, by Canadian Artist Kim Blair

Saturated blue petals with a splash of bright yellow supported on strong stocky stems make this variety of Iris popular with the floral industry. I have not seen this Dutch blue iris in any of Van Gogh's paintings. Perhaps it was not readily available in his time, or he could not afford to purchase many flowers and instead he utilized the blooms from the local gardens. The intense royal blue hue and streak of bright yellow captured my attention... I felt compelled to paint it.

It was satisfying to mix the various tints and shades of blue on my glass palette. Swirling a tiny dab of walnut oil into the blob of paint created a viscous consistency more appropriate for the texture of these silky petals. Radiant sapphire blue flowers appeared on my canvas, arms opened wide to catch the warmth of the sun, offering it back to the viewer...

12x24 inches, oil on canvas (needs some drying time)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Venetian Too

After researching the Venetian glass industry yesterday I felt the need to do another small poppy painting.
Two hot orange hand blown glass globes streaked with yellow, fused onto long green fragile stems surrounded by the fire of a glass furnace... the glow of the sun and blaze of the summer heat breathing life into the transparent petals of these bright orange poppies, dancing in a warm summer breeze.

Let your imagination decide...

8x10 oil on canvas (needs some drying time)

Thursday, June 25, 2009


For some reason I was thinking of Venice when I painted this poppy...
Swirls of creamy gold reproduced the play of light, while tones of rust created shadows on the rich orange sections.  Open petals moulded into a delicate bowl shape... while the center stamens topped with bluish pollen could have been slender rods of glass filigree. 
Perhaps I should have named it Murano after the Italian Island where the glass blowing industry was moved to in 1291 in order to prevent Venice from catching on fire.  The extreme temperatures created in the glass blowing furnaces were a cause for concern, since at that time, many of the buildings in Venice were wooden...

Thick rich orange oil paint on canvas... guaranteed not to break, and no need to go to Italy to purchase it.

8x10 oil on canvas (needs a bit of drying time)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Enchanted Purple, by Canadian Artist Kim Blair

Enchanted Purple is a larger painting (20x16), which completes the purple and white Iris painting trio. The stem of Iris I cut a few days ago just keeps on going... and as you can see from this painting there is one more bud to open once this flower fades.

The top petals of this variety of Iris have the look of white linen. Linen is a lovely strong, natural fabric that drapes into soft flowing folds, but also creases easily, creating 'rich wrinkles' (as a friend of mine likes to call them) since linen clothing is usually a tad on the expensive side...
It is 2 to 3 times stronger than cotton and the luster we can see on some linen fabric is from the natural wax content of the fibers. Our money is printed on paper made from 25% linen and 75% cotton which creates bills that will last a long time...

20x16 oil on canvas (needs some drying time)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Purple Charm, by Canadian Artist Kim Blair

The Iris that I cut the other morning, and placed in a vase lasted two days. Here it is looking charming from a different angle than yesterdays posting. The fragrance of this particular variety is quite sweet... I did not realize that some Iris have this much scent. Perhaps I have been too quick snapping photos, not taking the time to stop and smell the Iris...
It is not just the gorgeous rose that has a fragrant offering.

Lesson Learned.

8x10 oil on canvas (needs some drying time)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Purple Jewel, by Canadian Artist Kim Blair

On Friday and Saturday I was out taking hundreds of Iris photos for my inspiration file.  I am not exaggerating the numbers.  Besides wandering around my wonderful neighbourhood I had a couple of people call me to tell me they had some gorgeous Iris out in their yards or near their homes.  These calls are always appreciated.  I snapped photos of mahogany, purple, blue, yellow, peach, white, rust, gold, cream, and all the subtle shades and tints within these hues... My mouth dropped at the exquisite beauty of each unique flower.  Even if I have seen a particular colour many times before, it always looks a bit different in each garden.

Huge peach, pink, orange and red poppies shouted at me as I passed by them, making me stop, stare and of course snap numerous photos of them too...  This morning I am off to see if the storm last night left some dark orange ones standing.  A painter can never have too much inspiration.
Thank you to everyone for keeping me informed about what flowers are up in your garden or neighbourhood... please keep those emails and phone calls coming.  Winters are long here and I need all the reference photos I can get.

10x8 oil on canvas (needs some drying time)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Figure Study

The figure class I attend off and on over the year has postponed the Monday afternoon session for the summer months.  I can still attend either of the two evening classes per week, but somehow  I find it more difficult to set aside the time to attend in the evening.  Having an art buddy to motivate me to attend an evening session now and then would be a good idea.   For me it is similar to exercising my body... I prefer to go to the gym in the morning or sometime during the day rather than the evening, but have been known to stray from that pattern.  It is good to stray from your routine once in a while... makes life more interesting.  Perhaps I will see some of you at an evening drawing class... or the gym.

This sketch is not for sale.  

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Curtain Call, by Canadian Artist Kim Blair

This is the last sunflower painting in my Parisian, Toulouse theme.  Toulouse Lautrec created numerous posters to advertise many of the night clubs and performers in the Montmartre district of Paris; in fact, he seems to have created the standard for poster quality in the late 1800's in France.  It was his poster of Jane Avril that helped to propel her to fame during her time as the cancan queen of the Moulin Rouge.

Curtain Call, is a view of the backside of two sunflowers with purple statice, again enhanced by the foot-lighting as they turn and acknowledge their appreciative audience...

8x10 oil on canvas (all my oil paintings are on stretched canvas, finished on the edges with wire or hook attached to the back for hanging, so there is no need to frame them, unless you want to)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Yes, one more in the Parisian night life series...
The purples, rusts, greens and shades of yellow combined with the foot-lighting technique created the feeling (at least for me) of rich textured fabrics of the costumes, painted props and backdrops of the cabaret scene in Paris.
Touslouse Lautrec sat at the same table every night at the Moulin Rouge sketching everything that caught his fancy, particularly the dancers. At the end of a long night he would go home and the next day he would make paintings from his sketches.

These sunflowers and purple statice painted against a rich rust backdrop are waiting to entertain an appreciative audience...

16x20 oil on canvas, (needs some drying time)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Show Girls

Following the Toulouse inspiration from yesterday, I used the foot-light technique to give more intense ilumination to the underside of these sunflowers, creating a theatrical glow... Show Girls kicking up their heels, doing the cancan on stage in Montmartre, Paris. If you saw the movie Moulin Rouge with Nicole Kidman you might remember that she played Jane Avril, a famous French cancan dancer from the end of the 1800's, who lived a colourful, vibrant stage life.

These flirty sunflowers will light up your home with their dramatic presence... all they need is an audience and a wall.

20x16 oil on canvas (needs some drying time)

Friday, June 12, 2009


Today is going to be warm, and the weather prediction for the weekend is hot.  Perhaps that is what got me thinking about gelato...
What attracted me to paint this poppy was the striped/variegated quality of the bloom, which was created from the way the light played off the crinkles and folds in each petal.  Maybe it was the warmth of the studio yesterday (I had to turn on the ceiling fan), but as I was brushing on the tones of orange and yellow paint, leaving thick bits here and there I had a vision of gelato. Delicious fruit flavoured Italian Ice Cream packed into long stainless steal tubs displayed in a glass front cooler on a hot summer day.  The special gelato scoop creates long troughs as it is   scrapped across the top of the frozen dessert... troughs of lemon, cantaloup and orange dug deep into the surface of the delicious fruity treat.

Three centuries ago Northern Italy developed a milk, cream and sugar based gelato and Southern Italy created a water-based fruit gelato... take you pick this weekend, they are both yummy!

8x10 oil on canvas (the fruity gelato troughs on this poppy are for visual consumption only ... enjoy) 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Champagne, by Canadian Artist Kim Blair

While I was out photographing some Iris yesterday, I met a gardening friend who was walking her dogs.  She mentioned that she had a gorgeous champagne coloured Iris blooming in her back garden.  Off we went to her (fabulous) garden to view this specimen...  She was right.  The flower was a creamy champagne colour with bright orange beards and green toned veining near the base.  Here is my impressionistic version of her exquisite Iris.

8x10, oil on canvas  

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sun Up, by Canadian Artist Kim Blair

I am getting myself ready to go and see the Van Gogh IMAX movie this weekend. At lunch I have been pouring over (and reading) a book called Van Gogh's Flowers by Judith Bumpus. It contains many Floral paintings by Vincent (we are on a first name bases...) that I do not remember seeing anywhere else. He was a very prolific painter, and even did copies of his own sunflowers, but not exactly... you can never reproduce the exact same brush stroke hard as you try, there will always be a slight variation in colour tone and or mark making. This fact is precisely what makes each painting unique and special.

are 8x10, oil on canvas. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Red Curves

Saturday I was at the Strathcona Farmers Market buying food and inspiration... Look what I found, my favourite variety of red peppers. These three have wonderful lines... lots of soft curves, smooth lumps and cute bumps. This still life set up has a yoga feel to it... the peppers look like they are doing the yoga stretch where you lay on your back, knees bent and raised off the floor, then you twist over to one side, trying to touch your knees to the floor. You can see how each of them are doing their own version of this twist...

 20x16 oil on canvas (these peppers need some drying time after their intense workout...)

Yesterday's posting will probably show up with this one... technical difficulties; but that posting of three pears, was sold before I put it on my blog so in a way it was ok that there was a malfunction.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pastel Pears

Pears come in a number of variations of the hour glass figure...  like women.  The Bosc pear is longer with fewer curves... The Anjou has a thicker shape with slight curves and the Bartlett is a bit bottom heavy with a small top end.  But within these descriptions many exceptions abound.  One can run into trouble generalizing about anything...

While shopping a couple of days ago my eye spied this variety of Bartlett pears from Argentina (the little sticky said so).  Looking lumpy and cute I carefully placed them in a bag,   already visualizing them in a painting...  
Before I could get them painted they were semi-spoken for.   Imported then Exported...

8x10, oil on canvas

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Delph Blue

The delphinium are starting to grow in my back garden, even though it has been rather cool weather here in Alberta, the garden is determined to thrive. Various tones of blue are scattered around the other plants. Spikes of rich royal purple blue through to a soft powder blue sway and dance in the breeze. The Ancient Greeks thought that the flower buds resembled a dolphin... thus the name delphinium. Later on Tudor England called some of them larkspur, referring to the flower's supposed similarity to a lark's claw. All parts of this plant are poison so don't try tossing any of the pretty blooms into your salad.
The variations of blue bring to mind the Delft Blue pottery from Delft, in the Netherlands, where Vermeer lived. It is there (the city of Delft) that most of the finer Delft Blue ware came from. Today Delft Blue is the brand name hand painted on the bottom of ceramic pieces identifying them as authentic and collectible.

My Delph Blue collection will be authenticated on the back... and collectible.

24x12 oil on canvas (just like pottery... the paint is still drying before it can be exported...)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pink Ruffles

The Peony flower conjures up visions of garden parties, Victorian homes, strawberry socials... a tranquil atmosphere... sitting on the porch or swaying in a hammock with a nice cup of tea, plus a plate of delicious baked goods fresh from the oven. (It's a good thing that day dreaming is calorie free!)

Peonies can live over 50 years, are hardy to zone 2 (Edmonton is mainly a zone 3), drought tolerant, low maintenance and deer-resistant. Who would guess that this delicate looking blossom with her frothy pink ruffles could hold her own in the gardening arena...

Strength and beauty are a wonderful combination.

16x20 inches oil on canvas (once she has a bit more drying time she will be available for your summer garden fete...)