Friday, April 29, 2011

painting in stages

As I'm sure any of you who write, paint, or work on any self-generated creative endeavor would agree, sometimes the most difficult thing is knowing when the piece is done. Would a change of syntax, a different word, an extra paragraph, another chip with the mallet, or one more brushstroke make or break the object of so much focus? I have no idea but I do know, well, I'm pretty sure I know, that this one is finished.

There were some stages between that I remembered to scan. My scanner will only accept slightly larger than normal documents so I've lost some of the border but I'm sure you get the idea. Here's how it went:

I'm still not used to showing work in progress but now that I'm relatively, reasonably, possibly sure this one is finished you can see how I got to the one at the top in the past 9 days. I'm lazy; so sue me.

Have a wonderful spring weekend (and if you can think of a title please let me know).


  1. This is so, so lovely! The softness of the colors makes the petals and the woman's dress look silky, as if you could touch them.

  2. It's perfect, absolutely perfect! I love the darkness of her skirt against the pastels.

  3. Let me know if you ever decide to sell this one. I just love it!

  4. She is beautiful now that she's put on her makeup.
    Honestly, it's fabulous. Looks like the tattoo I want to get on my right shoulder/bicep. A mermaid, a Pirate mermaid to be exact. Red haired, green fins and a Jolly Roger headband. Your image is close to that and I love it. Of course I'd have to have a parrot and not a frog. I mean, what kind of pirate captain has a frog for a companion? Then again, this opne has wings, unique, maybe it would work.
    Thanks for showing us the pieces, bit by bit.


  5. Done? Far from it. Where's the careful product placement? You're the worst capitalist ever.

    Of course, as far as hippieness goes, I suppose it's alright. I guess. Maybe.

    Going just by this extra swanky work, your version of the Wind in the Willows would be much cooler than the original.

  6. pagan sphinx - I'm delighted you came by so quickly after it was posted. I kept remembering you mentioning you were looking forward to seeing the poppies in bloom and your sweet comment made my evening.

    nancy - This is a somewhat different painting process for me and I'm glad you like the result. Selling it isn't out of the question once I can find a place to have it scanned properly. Thank you so much for offering such encouragement.

    spadoman - I'm happy she inspired you to such flights of fancy I actually saw her as a pirate mermaid myself. The idea of parrots accompanying one is good so I'll keep your image in mind for a future painting.

    randal - Oh dear, I forgot the 'Eat at Ray's' sign. Maybe I'll remember next time.

    I once considered illustrating 'Alice' but it's been done so many times and I can't imagine outdoing Rackham or Tenniele. Thanks for your confidence in my ability to take on another of the great stories in children's literature.

  7. beautiful..I love seeing the series.

  8. oh susan, i am thrilled to get to see your process, how you get to there from there...this is lovely, she is gorgeous, the flowers are as beautiful as she is and her frog bud is absolutely the cutest frog of it and love seeing your process and if i weren't so lazy, and it weren't late, i would paint, i feel so inspired by seeing your work and lovely colors...yum, as always, i don't know how you do this softness but love it more and more.

    and thank you for coming by and saying hello...i'm there but quiet just now.... xoxoxoxo

  9. I've been waiting for a few days to see if anything clever occurs to me to say about this.

    In the end, I just have to do it simply:

    It is very beautiful.

  10. kay - Thanks for the kind words.

    linda - I'm very happy to see you've been to visit and I do hope you're feeling better with each passing day. I just wish you could see the original as it's really much nicer in person. Color is very important to me and it's gradations so subtle that I get frustrated by not being able to transfer the whole to the screen. I'm sure you understand.

    You know I like coming to visit you. xoxo

    francis - That's enough. Thank you :-)

  11. I can't think of a name either but it is lovely Susan

  12. "Aurora on frogs" - the title.
    I have the same dilemma, when to stop, when to pull out an other blank page and start anew.
    It is the ongoing crisis of a living artist.

  13. I love this post...seeing the paintings in progress is almost as much fun as seeing the finished progress.

    I'm with Randal, couldn't fit a bag of Cheetos or a Coke in there somewhere?

  14. as much fun as seeing the finished progress.

    Meant to say "finished PRODUCT". excuses, just a stupid mistake.

  15. jams - Glad you like it.

    zee - Nice idea for the title. It seems we're all looking for that perfect combination.

    mary ellen - Hah! I knew what you meant. I'm delighted you liked it and glad too to get away from any kind of commercialization. Like you..

  16. Nice pics of a foggy Halifax in previoue post.
    I’m sure you know when you finished your paintings just as the writer knows what to call the story after it’s finished rather than worry too much beforehand. You seem to have a new lease of life since settling down there – pictures are all full of life, skill, colour and you own unique blend of creativity.
    Best wishes

  17. i thought of you as the election results from Halifax ran across the t.v. screen last night.

    she is lovely, summer brown and gracious. frogs and poppies are 2 of my fav garden things. my old church reno home years ago had volunteer poppies all through the yard, and loads of frogs liked to hang out there. no pirate mermaids of the air that i ever came across, though.... and don't let those who have gone before stop you from illustrating Alice! Think of your fans!! we'd love to see your Alice!

  18. I also say Yes to Alice!

    And connecting to gfid's comment - I DID see pirate mermaids in Nova Scotia! Let me see if I can dig up the link to the photos I took.


  19. lindsay - We have seen a lot of fog around here which makes photographing it easy.

    Yes, you're right that I do know when they're done. What I have now is more time to focus rather than losing the drift of intention by spending the largest part of my day in an office. It's a blessing not to be interrupted.
    Best to you too.

    gfid - When I saw the results this morning and the Conservative influence remaining in place in the west I thought of you too. Of course now it's everywhere and we're going to get hit with a lot of regressive social adjustments and austerities. Why ordinary people vote against their better interests is a mystery to me but then again, stupidity is viral and, in general, the further away from big cities one gets the more likely we are to find reactionaries. I'm glad Megan Leslie kept her seat but only wish the NDP had come a bit closer to making up a true opposition in Parliament.

    btw: Hurray for Elizabeth May.

    Thanks for your thoughtful words about the painting. I only wish I had that much confidence about my skills for facing the challenge of 'Alice'. Then again, perhaps I'll try a favorite scene or two one of these days.

    pagan sphinx - Well, maybe :-) (see last paragraph above)

    What with all the students around I've certainly seen some girls who'd like to be pirate mermaids. I wish I was brave enough to take pictures of people :-) Please do send me some of yours.

  20. This is really beautiful, but then, I knew that from the start! ;)

    I like seeing the process, too - not being an artist, I'm often surprised at the order in which things progress. Thank you for sharing that!

  21. You are really a lovely and gifted artist susan. She reminds me of that song the Rolling Stones sang about being a rainbow. She has soft beautiful colors that are really gorgeous to behold. I think since she is flying she is really from the Beatles song "Lucy In the Sky" but she is accompanied by a frog with wings. A Frenchman perhaps ? :)

  22. cr - Thanks so much. I don't always paint this way but it's a nice method to use when I want to layer the colors slowly.

    liberality - That's very sweet of you - I wish you could see it for real since it's even prettier. Both of those songs come from a very magical time and I'm very touched she made you think of them.

  23. LOVE THIS, Susan!!!! Agree wholly with my friend Linda (Vulture Peak--or should it be "Peek"???)--grin!

    I am the proud owner of one of Linda's prints: "THE FARM" Or "Vulture Peak"! which hangs immediately above my monitor.

    My first thought for title of your own painting here:

    "...and on the NINTH DAY..."

    Steve E

  24. steve e - I'm glad you like it. Linda is a wonderful artist and I'm sure her print brings much gladness to your heart.

    Good idea for a title. It's close to mine - Restoration.

  25. I'm glad I waited until I was alert enough to really enjoy the sequence. Your method on this piece is so different from my own - it was wonderful to see it change, and as the Cunning Runt mentioned, see what gets laid in first, and what next. I think she is beautiful, and the frog is wonderful (how delightful that you gave him a long curly tail in addition to the wings). I particularly like the arch of her back, the way it's mirrored by her finger movements, and the way the selective palette makes the pinks warm at the same time they are so subtle.

    My favorite thing, however, is the handling of the leaves of the poppies in the lower left... I love the veins in one, and the way another is just a flat light shape against the darker background. That kind of game is played in other places, as well - I love it.

    The fold in the lower poppy is another beautiful detail - so soft - and it sets up more rhythm with the dancer's hands, body, and the frog's wings. Even the curve of the moon is part of that series of echoes, since the top of the moon is hidden, and thus the bottom sweep is accentuated.

    And the tendrils under the larger blossom are your monogram...

  26. steve - I'm very grateful you returned and saw the painting so beautifully. We are each of us unique in our approach to expressing the beauty in what we are able to see. The frustration comes in only being able to capture a tiny part of a vision.