Developing an Artist Signature

Developing an Artist Signature: I See Colour and Canada

I love colour and colour has become part of my signature style as an artist. I love vivid, bright and uninhibited splashes of colour. I love blending colours on my palette and right on the canvas. I like building layers of colour painted in thin glazes to achieve depth and harness light. Vivid colour, particularly Naphthol Red and Ultramarine blue,

Day 1: laying down the blueprint, sketching in raw umber on canvas

have become signatures of my work over the past couple decades. Colour alters the emotion of a piece and sets the mood, but I didn’t always love colour. Developing an Artist Signature of Canadian experiences and colours.

From the time I was a teenager to the time I entered college my comfort zone and frame of mind were black and white. All I did was draw portraits and still life in pencil, in sketchbooks of white Canson paper and lined notebooks. I loved playing with light and shadow, shading and depth, I was creating blueprints and gaining experience that would later serve me well in Art School.

Day 2: laying down the underpainting

For me the transition came in Art School and specifically in two classes; painting and graphic design. Graphic design taught me about the colour wheel and colour theory, a practical guide about colour mixing and the visual effects of specific colour combinations. Once my hands grasped those tubes of paint, squeezing pure vivid colour out onto a multitude of surfaces, I never wanted to go back, colour had me and I had colour.

So, when asked why I paint with such a vivid and saturated palette my response is, why not? It feels good, it feels happy, it fills me with joy and allows me to splash my emotions onto the canvas. For the past five years I painted with a very restricted palette of mostly my Naphthol Red and Ultramarine blue with the odd dash of Indian yellow for contrast. With this new body of work, and my more intuitive relationship with the influences of my Canadian travels, I am finding myself returning to the full spectrum of vivid colours that I began using in Art College. My technique is honed , I am in the groove and creating a distinct language that is becoming less representational and more symbolic. My work is becoming less about narrative and more about feeling. I am creating a new language that is all my own and I am letting my intuition lead. My artist instincts have become honed to a point that I feel confident in letting them lead. This is not to say I have no plan, and I do begin with a blueprint for any painting, like I learned to when I was a teenager in high school art class. I do study a subject deeply and formulate numerous possibilities, but what controls my final decisions before I apply paint to canvas, is my ‘gut instinct’ or intuition.

Day 3: Colour blocking and laying down glazes, layers of colour

Both Eastern and Western philosophers have studied the concept of intuition in detail. Recently, Gerd Gigerenzer, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, spoke with Forbes about intuition, suggesting it is the highest form of intelligence. A recent documentary film on Netflix explored the topic of intuition. “The ancient Icelandic word for intuition is “innsæi,” but in Iceland it has multiple meanings. It can mean “the sea within” which is the borderless nature of our inner world, a constantly moving world of vision, feelings and imagination beyond words. It can mean “to see within” which means to know yourself…”

I like this, ‘the sea within’ and to ‘see within’. As my exploration continues and the new works are created I am excited at where this is heading. I seem to be experiencing that ‘full circle’ feeling as I return to my full spectrum vivid colour palette. These photos are a ‘sneak peek of a piece I have been working on for 3 days now, to view the other four paintings in this intuitive series of symbolic landscapes, see my new work here.

Developing an Artist Signature

Day 4: laying down more colour glazes, blending, and defining edges

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