Marianne Morris | Artist

Living Life in Full Colour

Month: December 2017

Eternal Sunshine

Abstract painting in soft yellow and green

Painting #20 of my 100 Square Project. “Eternal Sunshine”, 10×10″ mixed media on wood panel.

I live in Canada. I love Canada… there are a lot of wonderful things about living here that I wouldn’t trade for anything. But there is one thing that I can’t say I love. Winter.

I don’t mind the cold so much. Like many Canadians, I own two winter coats. One for days where the temp hovers around the 0 mark, and another that has special insulated lining and a hood made to keep me warm(ish) when it’s -20° outside. And a brisk winter day when the sun is shining on fresh snow and ice is magical. Everything sparkles. But the time when the sun is actually out is brief, and as we head toward Christmas, actual daylight hours get progressively shorter.

There is a stretch in December when the days seem practically non-existent. It’s dark when I get to work. It’s dark when I leave. It starts getting dark at 4 in the afternoon, and once I’m home the last thing I want to do is go out again. I force myself to go outside on my lunch breaks, because no matter how cold it is, I need to see the sun for at least a few minutes a day. If only to reassure myself it still exists.

A few years ago I bought myself a sunlamp. They are made for treating people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition where the lack of light makes you depressed. Yes, that is a real thing. My doctor recommended it, and I figured even if it didn’t help with my mood, I needed a good light in my studio anyway.  Turns out it does help. I use it year round, though in the summer I tend to work on larger pieces on my easel at the window. I have it on my work table, and it’s on whenever I’m working at the table. Sometimes I’ll even go in there to read, because I need a dose of light.

I’m planning on moving my studio into a larger room in my home at some point in the future. The bigger paintings I have been working on take up so much space in my small room that I can hardly move in there. Since we have the space, I might as well make use of it. My only issue is the room is in the basement, and the lighting is pretty crappy. Once we fix that, it’s a go. Right now I’m wondering if they make those sunlamps so they can be mounted on the ceiling. I could have a sunny studio all year round, even though it’s underground. Lighting has come a long way with the invention of LED lights. I’ll sort it out eventually. In the meantime, I will dream of eternal sunshine.

Rough Patch

abstract painting in orange and teal on a neutral ground.

“Rough Patch”, 10×10″ mixed media on wood panel. Private Collection.

This is my latest addition to my 100 Squares Project. This one started with a color combination, that teal and orange I like so much, and an idea to create some texture by scraping back areas of paint as it is drying. I did manage to get some really interesting bits… as usual, the result of layer upon layer, with parts of the underneath showing through.

It surprised me last weekend when this piece was one of the first to sell at my studio sale. It’s not that I don’t like it, I do. I guess I have my favorites, but it’s hard to know if it’s because they were a “breakthrough” painting, or because they are particularly beautiful. This one didn’t work quite the way I wanted it to and I struggled a bit with the composition. It’s one of my few pieces that don’t touch every side… a thing a professor in university told me I need to do, and I’ve been doing ever since. It’s not easy to break a habit of 20 years.

I work in groupings. For these, I’ve been going in groups of 5 or so, and when I finish up one I will add a new one into the rotation. It’s mainly because that’s how much space I have to lay them flat on the floor to dry. Any more and they are in my way. One of these days I’ll put up shelves… but then I might never finish anything. I really love the beginning part where I’m just instinctively putting paint on the board. The finishing is more difficult. That’s when I evaluate the composition and fix the things that aren’t working. Sometimes it’s not so easy to tell what it is that isn’t working. But the more I do it, the better I seem to get at it. Like anything, practice helps.

The ones where I finally stumbled upon that elusive element that takes a painting to another level are ones I am particularly attached to. “From Here to There” is one like that. That one didn’t sell. But I’m attached to it, and so I will hang it on my wall until it finds that person that loves it like I do.

Thanks to everyone who came out to my Studio Sale last weekend. It was more successful than I had dared hope for. In many ways, it validated that I am on the right track. I now have motivation to keep going. I’m not sure what shows I’ll be doing in 2018, but there will likely be at least one art fair in the mix. Hope to see you there.