Marianne Morris | Artist

Living Life in Full Colour

Category: Shows

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.

Studio Sale November 26, 2017


Short post this week. Just want to announce a clear out sale I’m having in my studio, on Nov. 26.  I have a large amount of work and seem to be running out of space. Its gotten to the point of selling it or starting to paint over things. That’s not something I really want to do.

I’m putting my entire inventory on sale at 25% off, with an extra discount for my email list subscribers (you can sign up by putting your email in the sidebar area if you are so inclined. There will be a coupon code in next week’s email). And as always, if you already own one of my originals there is an extra special deal for you.

I still have a decent number of my musician/dancer paintings, as well as my entire series of Jazz Legends. I’ve got quite a few small pieces as well as big, statement paintings, some prints and matted works on paper. Something for every budget.

It might not be the easiest place to find… the numbers on the houses don’t go sequentially around the circle part of the street… so here’s a link to a map. Hope to see you there.

Flight of the Bumblebee

Abstract painting in blue and ocre

“Flight of the Bumblebee”, 10×10″ mixed media on wood panel. Sold.

When I start a painting, I generally have no clue where it’s going to end up. There was a time when I planned. Oh, how I planned. But kind of like trying to map out a 10-year plan for your life, shit happens and things go off the rails and often you end up somewhere completely different than where you thought you were headed.

The thing with planning… I was always disappointed with the results. That thing that I saw in my head, there was no way I could translate that into something real and concrete. It looked wrong somehow. It lacked the life other artists managed to achieve in their paintings. It wasn’t just the masters that managed this, even my some of my contemporaries could breathe life into their work. And that was why they were showing all over the place, and I was not.

When I finally gave up on planning my paintings, things improved exponentially. Suddenly rather than trying to recreate what I what I was thinking, I was finding the image that just seemed to appear as I worked. This one started with a collaged image of a bee… which inspired the title. That little bee is in there somewhere, under layers of paint and graphite and scraping and sanding. The bee inspired the color palette, the flight path gave me the movement. This one is all about that bee, even though you can’t see it anymore.

This painting was sold as soon as my show came down, along with a couple others. I am still humbled that people love my work enough to want to hang it in their homes, even after the last few years of somewhat consistent sales.

I have a lot of work in my home. Seriously, a lot. There comes a time in every artist’s life where they have to clear out the old to make room for the new. That time has come for me. I am going to be holding an open studio sale, with everything discounted. I’ve got a bunch of prints, and originals of all sizes and price points. Mark November 26th on your calendar if you’ve had your eye on a painting. And sign up for my email newsletter (see sidebar for signup box), for details on how to get an even better deal. Hope to see you then.

Uma Noite De Arte

University of Guelph Humber event planning student team

Me and the event-planning students that planned my opening reception. They did an amazing job. Photo by Lyn Photography, Toronto. 

It’s done. The show is open, the reception is over and I can relax for a couple of weeks before I start planning whatever comes next. It was a great experience. I committed to something big, I worked hard and managed to put together a cohesive collection of paintings of a decent number. Whew.

Wine bottles and candlelight with seasonal arrangements set the mood.

Wine bottles and candlelight with seasonal arrangements set the mood.

The opening reception was inspired. I was assigned a team of kids learning about event planning, who were really thinking outside the box in terms of the “art show opening” genre. They combed through my blog and extracted bits and pieces that gave some background about the creation process, they created a brochure outlining my inspiration, they created the mood of a European bistro complete with samplings of Portuguese food. No rubber cheese and bad coffee here.

The paintings were grouped together by color scheme and arranged creatively. I had assumed they would just be hung on the walls like in most galleries, but they suspended shelving and arranged pedestals to display the little 10×10″ pieces (since they were on 2″ wood cradleboard, they stood upright with no issues). The larger pieces were set on easels around the room with enough space around them to back for a good look. I had one moment where I watched someone back into an easel and I thought that piece was a goner, but he steadied it quickly and it didn’t fall. It certainly wouldn’t have been the first time a piece had gotten damaged at a show… but the kids would have been devastated so I’m glad we didn’t have to deal with that.

students looking at paintings

Some student visitors checking out the art

Overall we had a really good turnout. Along with friends, coworkers and University staff, a lot of students came out, which kind of surprised me. I figure they came for the food, but most of them did take the time to look around and I had quite a few interesting conversations. It was great to see people so you interested in art. By the time we closed up, the comment box was stuffed full, and I felt like I had been talking for hours. Exhausted, but satisfied with the outcome.

Given that this is a public gallery and part of a course requirement for the kids involved, the paintings could not be sold through the gallery. But I am hoping that the people who inquired about pricing follow up once the show comes down. Because now I have 30 new pieces of art I’m going to have to find a place to store….

part of the art display

The art was placed around the room on easels or pedestals. The mood was created with soft ambient light and spotlights on the paintings.

Check out more photos from the show, taken by Lyn Photography based in Toronto.

Force of Nature

abstract painting in blue and teal by Canadian artist Marianne Morris

“Force of Nature” 24×24″ mixed media on canvas

Been a busy week. I’ve finished up all the last minute stuff for my show and have dropped off all my paintings to the gallery. I have a team of university students taking care of the opening reception. They are getting business degrees, and this is part of their event planning unit. They have a budget (!!!) and have been working hard on making the evening memorable.

Join me for an evening of art at University of Guelph-Humber Art Gallery in Toronto.It feels odd to be at the center of this whole thing. I’m really not used to being the center of attention. I usually find openings pretty exhausting. I’m introverted by nature, and while I enjoy meeting people and getting to know them, it really drains me. For a while, I thought if I just went to more I would eventually get better at it.  Hasn’t happened yet, but I keep trying.

The kids have pretty much free rein for the event. I don’t feel the need to be involved with all the little details. I’ve given my stamp of approval to the brochure they’ve created, and am cool with the theme they came up with. I think the whole night will be pretty fun… I hope they get a decent turnout. I think they are graded on how things go. Little unexpected things always happen, but if you just go with it things usually work out fine.

I don’t know if I’ll have time to take photos, but I will have a few friends there who I hope will get a couple. I’ll try to post a few shots next week. And if you happen to be in the Toronto area and free Thursday evening, come on out.

Join me October 5th at the University of Guelph-Humber

Join me for an evening of art at University of Guelph-Humber Art Gallery in Toronto.

Join me for an evening of art at University of Guelph-Humber Art Gallery in Toronto.

Just a quick mid-week post to make sure all my subscribers get the official invitation to my show opening next Thursday evening. On display will be paintings inspired by my trip to Portugal last January. The university has a lovely gallery and the Event Planning students have been working hard to make this a special opening reception. Parking at the school is free after 5. Hope to see you there!

Finding Direction

Visual Journal abstract entry in blue and gold

My intent here was to create a background that I could draw on with ink and white pastel. But I got a bit carried away with the paint.

Somehow I’ve become a carrier of a sketchbook. It’s not something that I’ve done regularly over the years… I’ve always had a sketchbook, and I’ve worked in it now and then, but it’s never been something I always had with me. It would usually take me a year  or more to fill one up. I think it’s because I paint more than I draw, and instead of going out and drawing the world around me, I would take a more “visual journal” approach with a book that could stand up to a bit of abuse.

I’ve been carrying this book around with me for the past two months. It’s almost full. All the practice has been good… I’m most definitely seeing improvement. But I have a show in October, and I need to figure out what I’m going to paint. So I went back to my tried and true, and made myself a little book out of watercolour paper, and started to paint.

Since I’ve been drawing in ink, my first thought was that I could do some mixed media kind of thing, using paint and india ink. I got out my paints and started, thinking I’d do a background, then add in some kind of abstract drawing, and take it from there. It didn’t quite work the way I had planned. I got totally absorbed in the way the paint flowed. I was mesmerized. I had painted something very much resembling work I’ve done before.

Back to the drawing board… this time I started with the drawing. I tried to draw one of the many stone archways I have in my sketchbook, only this time using a stick so I would have very little control over the resulting marks. I just ended up making a mess. The ink spattered and caught, but the shapes were interesting. Once it dried I used paint to try to pull the random marks into some kind of composition. It’s not bad, but a bit too chopped up. I did manage to capture the feel of a passageway though, so that’s encouraging.

I still have a bit of work to do. If somehow I could manage to combine the two approaches into something cohesive, I may have a something I can work with.

Abstract painting of an archway

Again, I thought I’d do a background and draw over top. Again, it didn’t quite work out that way.

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.

Spending a day with Lawren Harris

Last week, after seeing my last specialist, I figured I would probably be going back to work this week. I felt pretty good, I was up and around, and my hands were better, for the most part. But since the weather was still lovely, and I was still off, I thought I should take advantage of the time and go do something I had wanted to do but couldn’t seem to manage. So I went downtown to the Art Gallery of Ontario, and saw the Lawren Harris exhibit.

I have never been much of a group of seven fan. I think their work is interesting and can appreciate the obvious skill displayed in their pieces, but landscape painting has never really been my thing. The exception to that is Lawren Harris. There is something about his landscapes that seem to transcend landscape painting. They are calm. Serene, even. Seeing them in real life, it’s even more so. It was a really fantastic show and I’m so glad I didn’t miss it. But for those of you that did, here are a few of my highlights. Not the best photos in the world… I used my phone with no flash, and the lighting was not ideal, but you can still get the idea. (Click on the first image to go through the slide show so you can see the pics at a decent size. It’s worth it).