Marianne Morris | Artist

Living Life in Full Colour

Month: July 2017

My Inspiration is revealing itself

Abstract cityscape in violet and green.

“Borrowed View”, 10×10″ mixed media on wood panel.


Abstract cityscape by Canadian Artist Marianne Morris

“Echoes of an Ancient Time”, 10×10″ Mixed Media on Wood Panel

I’ve written before about how I’ve taped up photos from my Portugal trip around my studio for inspiration while I’m working. For the most part, you can’t really tell what I was looking at from my finished pieces. It’s vague… a colour here, a shape there… things picked from an image and put in an entirely different context.

I wanted to incorporate all the arches I saw there into my work somehow. If you look closely, you’ll see them appear here and there.  The craggy rock cliffs appear more in the textured areas than in the shapes, but they are there. The way the concrete goes from smooth to eroded inspired many an edge. These two pieces are a much more literal interpretation, although still very abstract.

In “Borrowed View”, what I see (which is probably not at all what someone else will see), is a representation of my view from the villa balcony. The church is at the highest point in the city, the grove of green between where I was and the town, the cliffs are there, and a vague reference to the city emerging from the rock.

“Echoes of an Ancient Time” reminds me of Lisbon, and how coming around a corner suddenly revealed the amazing aqueduct rising from the city. Not literal of course. The aqueduct is enormous. I tried to get the feeling of awe I had when it came into view.

I’ve been working at breakneck speed the last few months. I imagine when I arrive at the gallery once the show is hung, I will be able to see things I haven’t noticed so far (and will possibly want to change once I see it). How much will it feel like me? I know that so far my pieces have primarily been light. As in a feeling of light as opposed to the deep, heavy colour of my previous work. I should probably try to complete a couple darker pieces for balance. It’s difficult for me to think of these paintings as a group because I’m so focused on each individual piece as I’m working on them. But as I’m nearing the end of my time limit (hubby has already started ripping stuff out of my kitchen), it’s something I can’ t put off any longer.

Fugue State

Light abstract painting in orange and blue by artist Marianne Morris

“Fugue State”, 30×40″ mixed media on canvas.

Here it is, my first “large” piece for this show. Although at 30×40″, it’s not exactly enormous. But certainly a step up from the 10×10″ boards I’ve been working on. I don’t know how many big pieces I’m going to get accomplished. I’m hoping for 4 more. That would be a pretty amazing feat to accomplish, given where I am now.

I actually have no idea how this painting came to be. The initial stage of putting paint on the canvas produced a big mishmash of colour. No composition to speak of. But there was something… so I made this bit darker and that bit lighter, a bit more orange, fix some edges, and remarkably, there was a painting there. Still took a few days to refine some things and add some details, but overall, it seemed to happen fairly fast.

I’ve started a couple at an even larger size, 36×48″. It would seem my studio is a bit small for this. I can’t have two in there at the same time or I can’t really move. When the paint needs to dry and I want to switch to the other piece, I have to move it out into the hall. Pretty sure my husband isn’t too thrilled with how I’ve managed to take over that section of the house. He’ll have to live with it for another month.

I’ve been trying to figure out if I can combine these paintings I’ve been working on with some of the stuff I’ve done over the last couple years… just to take the pressure off. The gallery has 3 large walls (about 25ft) and a smaller one (there are windows across one section). Arranged together, the older pieces could fill a wall. The 10x10s could fill a wall, and then whatever else I manage to get accomplished would fill the remaining space. Maybe not ideal, but a possibility. A backup plan, of sorts. Always good to have a backup plan. If for no other reason, to keep the panic at bay.

Earthbound, Part 2

Abstract painting in orange and teal by Canadian Artist Marianne Morris

“Earthbound”, 10×10″ Mixed Media on Wood Panel.

I don’t expect anyone will recognize this painting, even though I posted it a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t particularly enamored with it, but I needed something to post, and it was the best I had at the time. This being a blog chronicling my growth as an artist, I will explain what I did, and why.

abstract painting by Marianne Morris

My first attempt at this painting. If I saw this in a show, I’d probably just walk past it. It’s not that engaging.

So here is a photo of the “original” painting.  I had seen enough in it to set it aside, although “finished” wasn’t what I was going to call it. I knew if I found my way I would go back and change it. It was good enough, even if I found it boring, for me to give it a title. The only part that seems to have been spared is the blue bit that is bleeding into the ivory on the bottom. Now on the top.

Normally when I’m done with something I am done with it. Even if I know I can improve it, I just can’t muster the enthusiasm to go back in and change it. I have a painting hanging in my hall that has these two red blocks side by side that drive me nuts every time I see it, and still, it has been hanging there for a year and I haven’t gone in and fixed it. I suspect I will just paint over that entire piece when I need something to do one day. I’m not in that place anymore, mentally, and I don’t really want to be. I much prefer where I am now.

I try not to get too attached to my work. Yes, it does express who I am at the moment of creation. I think all my work does that. But a year later, am I still that person? I’m at a point now where I’m ready to paint over a pile of work because I now see it as mediocre. A good learning exercise, yes, but not that great as art.

Now that it’s mid-July and the countdown is on, I know I’m not going to have time to write a post for all the paintings in this show. I may not really have time to post at all. I have a mere 6 weeks before my kitchen reno starts (yes, a month before a show we are ripping out my kitchen. Just to add a bit more pressure). I better get on with my large works, because of course, they take longer. I can fit the remaining small boards in between. Just noting that I only have 6 weeks makes my tummy a little queasy. Nothing like a deadline to get ya moving… right?

Hope In Dark Places

Abstract painting in orange and teal by Canadian Artist Marianne Morris

“Hope in Dark Places”, 10×10″ Mixed Media on Wood Panel.

I think I’m in love with orange. It’s been a long time since I’ve used colour. I’ve spent almost two years in a gray and brown world, with the odd splash of something. It went with how I was feeling. Things are better now. Not just in the studio, but life in general. My mom has settled into her new digs and is spending time with family and friends. My son is thriving in University, and has seemed to find his voice with his music (check him out on Spotify… he is “The Harmful”). Even work has improved somewhat, now that I have a great pair of headphones to block out all the ambient noise.

Pushing through a block has to be one of the toughest things an artist deals with. Every painter will go through it at some point… I’ve had it happen every time my style shifts. I imagine writers would have the same issue from time to time. This time around I’ve had help and encouragement, and it has made it infinitely easier to keep going. To my artist friends who have given me critiques and talked me through the low points, thank you. If I can return the favour at any time, I will.  The online community that let me hop in and out of group conversations, join in group painting sessions and willingly answers all my technique questions has been awesome. Even the friend that looked at what I was doing and said “meh, I’m not feeling it” has helped (if you’re wondering, I have not shared any of those images). Having someone tell you the truth instead of lying to spare your feelings is a necessary thing when trying to find your way.

I’m hoping I’m in a groove now, but that’s something only time will tell. I’ve started a large piece… mainly because I don’t think I can produce enough of these little 10x10s to fill the gallery… and so far it’s going ok.  It’s bigger than I’ve done in a very long time. Probably since university. Kinda intimidating. But whatever. Onwards I go.

From Here To There

abstract painting in orange and dark blue

“From Here to There”, 10×10″ mixed media on wood panel.

This painting was a real turning point for me. I was so frustrated. SO frustrated. I had painted and repainted and nothing I did was speaking to me. The few successes I had seemed to just happen. The remaining panels I had started all changed dramatically with each session, but they just all seemed so… well…. boring.

I’ve always believed that the boredom of the artist will show up in the painting. The artist has to be totally engaged, or the painting won’t be better than mediocre. That’s why as soon as I start to get bored with what I’m doing, I change direction. I had managed to get to a place where I just didn’t care anymore, I had to do something different. I pulled out a tube of orange a friend had given me… a colour I didn’t think I would ever use, and just slapped on the paint. I got out my soft pencil and scribbled on the board. Then I moved on to the next one.

Imagine my surprise the next day when I looked and saw not one, but THREE panels that were working. They weren’t perfect. They still needed adjustments. But overall, there was something there. Some emotion was showing. Even if it was frustration, there it was.

I know that the other pieces I have stacked up will get there if I just keep going. Sometimes it doesn’t take much, just a few strokes and it pulls together. I feel a bit more confident that this show in October isn’t going to be a disaster. I still have a lot to do… my social life is practically non-existent at the moment and I hope my friends understand. As soon as I have a reasonable number of pieces completed and can resume my life and anything else I get done will be a bonus. I know things will be fine however it works out. Worst case scenario I can take every piece I have in my house to the gallery. But I know I can do better, so I’m sure as hell going to try.