Marianne Morris | Artist

Living Life in Full Colour

Month: December 2016

Fixing a screw up…

Abstract painting in sunshine yellow, turquoise and violet

“With Apologies” 9×9″ Mixed Media on paper. Private Collection.

This week I got an email from a client informing me that a painting I had shipped out to her had arrived…. damaged. Crap. A week before Christmas, and it had been purchased for a gift. It was obvious to me that I had screwed up… I didn’t pack it well enough to survive the trip from Ontario to BC. I could make a bunch of excuses. I’ve been busy, preoccupied with the chaos at work, getting ready for Christmas, dealing with issues at work and home. Beside the point. I knew this wouldn’t have happened if I had just been more careful. What an awful feeling.

Carelessness isn’t in my DNA. I’m the artist that is the last to leave a show, carefully wrapping all my paintings in bubble wrap so they won’t get damaged in the car. I’m good at my day job because of an OCD level of attention to detail. I contacted my client and asked how I could make this right? I offered a refund, or I could paint her something similar and get it in the mail within the next couple days. She opted for the replacement piece…. so with just 6 days until Christmas eve, I was in my studio painting.

Abstract painting in sunshine yellow, turquoise and violet

“Second Thought” 9×9″ Mixed Media on paper. Available.

I painted two, just in case one of them was a failure. I knew I couldn’t duplicate the original. That piece was done last summer and I was in a totally different state of mind. But I could use the same colours, composition, the same basic shapes and get close. Actually, I think they both turned out better than the original. I’ve learned since then. All the work I’ve done on composition and value since this summer has given me tools to improve on my original image. I sent photos off to my client, and constructed a package that hopefully can survive the trip. Once she made a decision off it went, expedited of course, and hopefully arrived in time. Fingers crossed.


New Bird Painting: Intermission

Abstracted painting of two birds flying through a turquoise and lavender sky

“Intermission” 14×18″ Acrylic on Canvas.

If you read my newsletter, you know that I am on going to be heading to Portugal in January for a month-long painting trip. It’s very exciting for me… I haven’t had a vacation in quite some time that didn’t include madly trying to get some project or other completed. To give you some idea, 2016’s vacation time included Arts on the Credit, moving my mom, assorted doctor’s visits and illness recovery, and a week long immersive painting class. This trip is going to use up every minute of my vacation time. But it will be time to focus on myself and gathering inspiration to use in future work. I hope to come back fully rejuvenated. Might be a lot to ask for, but I can hope.

The arrangement with my host is free accommodation in exchange for a certain number of artworks to become part of their collection. When I saw the initial posting online asking for submissions, I didn’t even consider applying. I thought I wouldn’t have a chance at getting it. There is so much competition for any kind of residency, and so many artists out there that are better than I am. Why bother? By the third time the post came up in my feed I had changed my mindset to “why the hell not????” I may not be the best painter in the world, but I’m good. I’ve had shows in galleries and have sold a respectable number of pieces. I have exhibited in one of the best art shows in my home city for the past few years. I have collectors. Someone is going to Portugal, and if I don’t apply, I would never know if it could have been me.

As a mother, I can’t tell you the number of times I have told my child “if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no”. This goes for me as well, though sometimes I don’t always remember it. The first year I felt like I had accomplished something with my art was the year I had decided I would accept any and all opportunities that would get me more exposure. I had paintings hanging all over the place. It was exhausting. I had a calendar printed out and taped to my wall to keep track of where everything was supposed to be, with drop off and pick up times. I applied for shows that I knew I didn’t have enough work for, then worked like mad to pull it off. I went to shows where I knew no one and forced myself to talk to strangers (many of whom are now my friends). I joined an art group. I painted like a fiend. It got me out there, and now people around here know who I am. The last couple years I’ve had a lot on my plate with family stuff, so I’ve scaled back what I’ve taken on. This trip something I had on my wish list, so if I didn’t even apply… well, I just couldn’t let the opportunity pass by without at least trying.

I probably won’t have a whole lot of new stuff to post between now and January. There is Christmas, and the usual craziness that goes along with the holidays. I leave at the beginning of the month. There will be many new things to write about, and new work to show. I will be posting here, as well as to my social media feeds. My intermission is over…. stay tuned….

New Bird Painting: Pilgrimage

Abstracted painting of a lone bird flying through a turquoise and lavender sky

“Pilgrimage” 14×18″ Acrylic on Canvas.

I felt like painting something with an actual subject this time. Often, I just enjoy working with colour and shape, but I feel like I need a bit of practice with my realism to get me ready for an upcoming trip. Not that this is particularly realistic… I don’t really do realism, but I do sometimes like to paint a slightly less abstracted image of an actual thing. I often paint birds… quite often a single bird in an abstracted landscape. There’s something about the way they look in flight that I find calming. I did a small painting from this drawing before, but this time I was much more deliberate in how I wanted it to look. Choosing the blue and turquoise to get the feeling of water, I added the hit of orange to bring attention to the details.  I felt better when it was done. So I did a companion piece, just because I had another canvas the same size (not quite done… stay tuned next week).

Photographing this piece was somewhat difficult. If I got the whites white, my turquoise came out dull blue. That won’t do at all. The photo above I actually took with my phone, instead of my expensive DSLR. Not as sharp, but the colour was better. I really should take some kind of photography course so I can learn how to deal with stuff like this. I imagine the next one will be the same deal. I’ll save myself some time and just take the photos with my phone.

When my father passed away last year, I had planned to do a piece to donate to the hospital in his memory. They took such good care of him I wanted to give something back. Then my sister suggested we do something together, so I put the idea on hold until she had some time. Of course that hasn’t really happened. We live a 2 hour drive apart, I work during the week, she works weekends, we both have kids… it’s busy. After I finished this I sat looking at it for a while… it feels peaceful. Calm. Most of my bird paintings feel this way to me. That’s why I do them. I think this may be the one I give to the hospital for their palliative care wing. It has the right mood. And it would be nice for the families who sit in the room reserved for them to have something to look at other than the empty walls. Unfortunately, with winter coming, it will be spring before I can get up there. The weather out that way is more severe… they’ve already had a load of snow while here in Toronto we are still enjoying the above freezing temperatures. That gives me lots of time to figure it out. A luxury I don’t seem to get very often.

Spending a Day with Dale Chihuly

This room got a lot of attention. The patterns created by the light on the walls were almost as interesting as the forms in the ceiling

This room got a lot of attention. The patterns created by the light on the walls were almost as interesting as the glass forms in the ceiling

Toronto has been home to many excellent art exhibits in recent years. Right now there are actually two big shows worth making a trek for: Impressionist landscapes at the AGO, which I hope to get to this week, and Dale Chihuly at the Royal Ontario Museum. I’ve heard so much about this show… even people I know who are not really into art have gone. But time seems to be in short supply these days, so the only way I was going to get there was if I set aside everything else. So glad I didn’t miss it.

In the past, I have to admit the only thing I really knew about him was he made these huge blown glass chandeliers. The photos I had seen of those were enough to make me want to go to this show. But when I heard there weren’t any there I lost a bit of enthusiasm. Of course he did other stuff but it hadn’t really caught my attention. But seeing a photograph and seeing the real thing are two very different experiences. The pieces the ROM had gathered were truly breathtaking. Amazing how he takes blown glass to a totally different level. The things that struck me was how he used reflections and light as part of the pieces, often with the reflections being as or even more important than the glass itself. Very inspiring.