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Making a Canadian Christmas Painting That Sums Up 2020

Every December I set aside some time to create my interpretation of a Canadian Christmas Painting. While the world is shopping, organizing and hanging Christmas lights; I am enjoying the warmth and mood of my studio. Passionately painting, preparing mail outs, and reviewing the year that is; I am fully immersed in the work and the sounds of the Sonos speaker pumping out colourful tunes. Where this Christmas painting began and where it ended, I think may be interesting to you. It may be one of the most wild ride’s my mind has been on, before landing on the canvas. In late October I made my monthly run to Opus, a place in Victoria where I buy some of my supplies, and always my canvas. All year I have had circles on my mind, maybe brought on by the social bubbles Dr. Bonnie Henry has been speaking of since the pandemic took hold of our news, online and broadcast. With this in mind I walked into my art supplier with one mission, come home with a round canvas, of wooden panel. This beauty was waiting for me, and I swiftly scooped her up, and headed home.  It has been a while since I painted on wood panel, I think the last piece was this self-portrait with Lawren Harris Mountain Forms from 2017. The beautiful thing about painting on a smooth and mostly uniform surface of wood, details can be pin sharp or muted soft, depending on how much gesso (primer) you lay down, and how many times you sand each layer, or not at all. I don’t like too much gesso, I like the muted softness created by a surface that absorbs and is pretty flat.

Having just finished a self-portrait about Remembrance Day 2020, I felt it was important to continue with this theme of self. Carrying the weight of the times and processing my role as a leading Canadian Artist, who has carved my own path, independently.

Staring at this round canvas, and thinking of my Canadian upbringing I began with thinking about round things in Canada. When asking the question of others, ‘What is round and Canadian’ the answer time and time again was, ‘hockey puck’. I actually thought long and hard about making an epic realistic painting in various tones of black to grey, literally making the canvas into a giant dimensional black puck. An epic black hole, kind of fitting in this pandemic year. But I wasn’t willing to give this beautiful new wood canvas to the absence of colour.

My brain kept going and then I received email from Alanis Morissette, well her fan club, telling me about the anniversary of Jagged Little Pill and her new album, “such pretty forks in the road”

alanis-morissette-jagged-little-pill

Then music, the medium in general and the message, and how vinyl has made a huge re-appearance. Yes, that’s it a giant turntable with Jagged Little Pill playing on it, I will paint that, it’s perfect.

turntable

The brain kept going, for weeks I kept staring at this beautiful round canvas of wood, with my painting of Remembrance, and thought where do I want to go from here…what makes sense in this body of work and this year, what am I trying to convey through the work. I grabbed a Hudson’s Bay point blanket throw I had sitting on my studio couch. I threw the wood tondo (round) onto the floor and I wrapped the blanket round the edge and started taking photos. I began to see a wreath, a Christmas wreath.

bay blanket wrapped around tondo

Ok, so the outside of this wreath painting will be an HBC point blanket, what will the inside be, what’s the story? What am I trying to convey? What if I were in the center of the wreath, but you couldn’t see my face, like I am looking at you through the wreath, and my nose and mouth are covered, like they are masked? What if I was wearing a really pointy red toque, like the toque Alanis is wearing in the ‘Ironic’ video?

brandysaturley_1

Now we are talking, here we go….and the rest happened on the canvas, without premeditations.

Beginning with a sketch on the wood tondo I picked up from my local art supply, OPUS.

sketch on canvas

Then some neon gouache colour blocking.

colour blocking gouache

Then some more colour blocking and underpainting. The blueprint of this painting is well underway.

making a Canadian Christmas painting

painting in progress

Over the course of two weeks and daily painting, this painting is realized and the tondo becomes more than a round panel of primed wood. What once was a panel of wood, is now a work of art. Marking history, telling a story, and asking the viewer to SEE. To look at the world through another set of eyes, the eyes of the artist, who makes their full-time business watching and seeing. The things you have not time for, the artist sees and puts into their work. That is my job, for lack of a better word. I know it is my duty, my solace, and my purpose. It has been as long as I can remember.

Brandy Saturley with her art in her studio

Please enjoy this ‘Canadian Christmas 2020’ painting. This is ‘Wreath of Irony‘. Isn’t it a wee bit Ironic?

Canadian Christmas Painting

Sincerely Yours,

Brandy Saturley (#ironiccanuck)

Making a Remembrance Day Painting in The Pandemic Year

Talking about making a Remembrance Day Painting, and looking at the artist process behind making a painting in 2020.

In Canada, red poppies seem to conjure thoughts and feelings about Remembrance Day and family that has served, or is currently serving in our Canadian Forces. I have painted red poppies a number of times over the years, but none seemed to touch Canadians as much as this piece created in 2014, inspired by the women of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps.

Perhaps it is because many of us had grandmothers, mothers and even great-grandmothers serve. Many people have sent me the most lovely notes about this piece over the years, it seems to connect with Canadians widely and on a deep level, with many seeing their own mothers in the piece. I have been interviewed about the piece, shown it in public and private galleries and will be offering a print of it in the coming weeks.

remembrance day painting sitting on art shipping crate

A New Painting with Poppies: with this new painting my focus is Remembrance Day, as it is approaching and it has been 6 years since I have referenced the day in my artwork. I am mindful of how this day will look in this pandemic year. As this year is quickly coming to a close, I am looking at the paintings which I have made this year. I feel that this piece here, right behind my bowler hat and white gloves, is my very best of the year.

This piece brings together my pop aesthetic, realistic details, and symbolism – it is striking and simple in my design. I begin painting by sketching an outline of my idea on stretched cotton canvas. Then I outline again and add shading in a complementary colour, to the final colour I will be painting on top. In this case I am using variations of green for the outline and shading details, as the final colours in the piece will be variations of red.

Next, I begin to colour block and lay down big swathes of reds and oranges, using vigorous brushstrokes.

I continue adding layers of colour from background to foreground, repeating the process with more care each time. This part of the process adds depth, fine textures and various tones and shades. I am creating dimension as the piece begins to come to life and pop off the canvas. I also add the flesh tones to the face so that I can assess the overall tonal balance of my palette and within the piece.

I continue to repaint the entire painting, until the desired tonality is reached and definition is achieved. Then I go into the painting with a finer brush and lighter touch and work on the details, linework, and highlights. In this case metallic and interference paints have been added to bring reflective elements to the piece, adding to the overall ‘glow’.

Remembrance Day Painting detail Brandy Saturley

Time for the final review: which has become known as my ‘chair of contemplation’ moments. The time when I stare for a long period of time as my eyes roll back and forth across the canvas and in differing lights, until I am satisfied that the piece is complete.

It has been said that Picasso created 50,000 works in his lifetime, and is known for about 100 of these. Not every painting is a masterpiece, and you must put in the time and make a lot of bad paintings to reach the masterpieces.

I am very happy with how this piece has evolved, and I hope you will enjoy it as well.

I’ll Carry That Weight (Spirit of Remembrance) Original acrylic painting on canvas honouring Remembrance Day 2020 – by Canadian Artist Brandy Saturley. The painting measures 36×36 inches, and is made with acrylic paints on the finest cotton canvas.

painting of woman with red poppies on a wall

You can see more paintings celebrating Canada on my website.

Sincerely Yours,

Brandy Saturley

A truly West Coast experience, Tofino is a place for Artists.

fine art photo Tofino

When I break from the studio, I do so in search of adventure, and connection with nature. When I am looking to immerse myself in a truly west coast experience, the most ideal representation, can be found in Tofino. A place for Artists and art lovers alike.

Recently I escaped to this Vancouver Island surf town known for it’s long sandy beaches, great culinary experiences and rainforest surroundings. For an artist, the visual and aural stimuli sets your mind dreaming. Tofino comes with sounds of crashing waves, ravens, crows and eagles and a random rain storm tapping on your roof. For the very first time I was treated to an escape at The Wickanninish Inn. From top to bottom and inside out, every detail is distinctly west coast and thoughtfully executed. From the large cedar beams to the local art, which is plentiful throughout the resort, you are immersed in a finely crafted cultural experience. If you are a foodie, The Wick (which is how regulars refer to the resort) will set your taste-buds on a wild ride from which they may never recover. I suggest the tasting menu with BC wine pairing, after which you will really understand what makes Vancouver Island a province all it’s own.

A few photos from Tofino.

Photo from room at Wickaninnish

View from the room on the East wing of the Pointe building.

Brandy Saturley at wickaninnish tofino

A glass of Taylor Fladgate Port and a Hudsons Bay Point Blanket by the fireplace with a view

Wickaninnish Inn

A shower with a view – now feeling fully immersed

Tofino photos at Wick Inn

Down to Chesterman beach, chairs provided

brandy saturley photo wickaninnish beach

The lines and the light – a painter and photographers delight!

making art in Tofino

Stretch and surf!

Tofino inspires artists

The job of the Artist, is to make you SEE. Mountains in the tide pools.

Tofino fine art photography

Until next time!

Tofino artists making art in tofino

You can’t do Tofino without doing sunset at the Pier. Whether in Tofino or Maui, it is a ritual to honour the end of the day.

tofino artists paintings of tofino

Symbolically Yours,

Brandy

Painting an iconic landscape in Banff, Alberta – all hail Lake Louise

In summer 2019, my art career led me to London England. My time in London coincided with the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth, which meant the opportunity to open the monarchs’ archives and share the mementos and stories of her personal life, a side not often seen and certainly not on this scale. What intrigued me most during my time in London was the exhibition at Kensington Palace, Victoria: Woman & Crown. The exhibition offered a peak behind the royal curtain, and included many stories of her and Albert’s love of the Arts and included many of her own personal paintings. There are many connections between my home town of Victoria, Canada (named after the monarch) as well as the Province of Alberta (named after the monarch’s fourth daughter, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta) the name Alberta itself, the feminine of Albert and derived from German carries a meaning of bright, noble and famous.

In their public lives, both the Queen and Princess Louise were strong proponents of the arts. Louise was an able sculptor and artist, and supporter of the feminist movement. Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta was named after the monarch.

I have visited Lake Louise on many occasions; during the summer when the lake is reflecting hues of tropical turquoise, and in winter when the ice is so think you can skate, snowshoe, ski, hike and even build castles on the lake. I have painted this iconic Canadian landscape and her accompanying peaks nine times, and at different stages of my art career. Most recently, upon my return from London, I began painting immense landscapes on unstretched duck canvas. The first landscape being Princess Louisa Inlet, on the sunshine coast of British Columbia. Princess Louisa Inlet is rumored to have been named for Princess Louise or maybe even after Queen Victoria’s Mother. My second large landscape, measuring seven feet wide, was completed in December and honours the view of Lake Louise, from the Fairmont Lake Louise eastern shoreline facing west.

While working on this large Canadian landscape painting, I filmed my daily painting progress in the studio. Filmed in time-lapse mode (super fast painting) the film shows the many layers of acrylic colour; applied in repetition until the desired hues, form, and depth is achieved. I paint using music, it helps me to set the tone in my studio. When editing this short film together, I had to find music to accompany the final piece, that not only matches the tone of the film, but also the tone of the final work itself.

Watch the entire process of painting, Lake Louise Swish here:

See more photos and read about the painting here:

Canadian artist landscape painting Brandy Saturley

See past works inspired by Lake Louise on the artists’  website here:

painting of Lake Louise with red poppies

Poppies For Louise – by Brandy Saturley

Vimy Jam – A Serendipitous Painting Experience

Serendipity is defined as; the phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for, meaning something beautiful coming together, that was not forced or planned in advance that put smiles on the faces of all affected and in doing so alters future events.

In the past few weeks, serendipity found it’s way into my art, through a portrait project I began over four years ago, thanks to a very enthusiastic Canadian.

The People of Canada Portrait Project is a crowd-sourced, collaborative art project, where I ask Canadians to send in photos of themselves and share a bit about their ‘Canadian’ perspective. Initially this project came with a very ambitious goal of completing 20-25 painted portraits for Canada 150. This could have happened had I not been called on to exhibit solo exhibitions in public galleries in Alberta for Canada150. As the project is completely self-funded, and with me being the only artist painting the portraits, I decided to extend my deadline and allow the project to unfold more authentically. I wanted to take my time to paint these portraits and honour the stories of the people who had taken the time to send me creative snapshots of themselves. A new plan emerged and I included one of the portraits in my travelling exhibitions in 2017, and used these shows as an opportunity to spread the word about the project.

Fast forward to June 2018, now ten portraits towards my goal. I had a window of time in my studio schedule, an opportunity to paint more People of Canada portraits. Feeling the energy of Canada Day coming around the corner I looked through the submitted photos and felt a good story, energy, and message emanating from one photo. Submitted by an enthusiastic piper hailing from Sherwood Park Alberta, RCMP Pipes & Drums ambassador Bridgette Hardy-Crytes. The photo features the piper caught by surprise by the brush of eagle feathers to the head by Jeff Ward, an Indigenous performer with the Sons of Membertou, from Cape Breton. The photo was taken at Vimy 100 celebrations in Vimy, France where the two were brought together by the events of the day and their musical talents.

I began to sketch out the painting and think about creating a unique background to capture the day and place. The painting began, I emailed Bridgette to let her know I was working on the piece and that I had some questions for her to answer, I also asked about the man in the photo and if I could contact him for his perspective on the day.

So, here comes the serendipity. Bridgette tracked down Jeff and spoke with him on the phone after not seeing him since Vimy. The call lead to Jeff sharing a video of the day that had been uploaded to YouTube, and Bridgette sharing this information with me, now I was able to enjoy the mood of the day and story behind the photo, as if I had been there myself. What happened that day the photo was taken was an impromptu ‘jam session’ while Indigenous performers and the RCMP Pipes & Drums band were waiting in the wings to perform. Vimy was a pivotal battle which saw Canada and the Allies, including Mi’kmaq soldiers, win an important battle of World War I. This video shows musical artists collaborating, it conveys the spirit of coming together. A coming together on what once was a battlefield, where many lost their lives. A coming together that symbolizes the spirit of reconciliation, likes and not differences, the spirit of love.

The tone of that day was the tone in my studio, and I listened to the ‘jam session’ on loop as I finished the painting. From my studio on Vancouver Island to Sherwood Park, to Cape Breton, to Vimy Ridge in France; thanks to the Internet and technology our miles apart were erased, allowing me to capture the emotion of the day on canvas.

There will be more to this serendipitous story as I work to compile the answers to my questions from both Bridgette and Jeff.

For now, you can enjoy the painting, a little video of my process in creating the painting

and this fantastic video of the ‘jam session’ that inspired ‘Vimy Jam’.

It was a celebratory Canada 151 indeed! And a great contrast to my experiences painting Canada over the last decade. A new chapter in this serendipitous story influenced by my travels across Canada. For more about the People of Canada Portrait Project visit http://www.peopleofcanada.ca

A Day in The Life: documenting the creative process

An artists diary – inside the studio of Brandy Saturley

At the end of the work day, I take whatever paint I have left on my palette and I use it to make a small abstract painting on a torn out page of high-gloss magazine paper. I think I began this ritual about five years ago. I found that it gave me a time at the end of the day to break concentration and freely create something loose and immediate, a mental stretch of sorts to end a day of highly concentrated painting. Instead of scraping the paint off my palette and saving it, something that is very hard to do with acrylic paints, the leftover paint was helping to birth a new creation. Each page has come to represent a ‘day in the life’ of a painting, a painting diary of sorts. These 8×10 abstract paintings were forming a diary and a dialogue about working as a painter. Over the years I have saved thousands of these pages, most survived, not all as some became stuck to one another and i was unable to save them, and some I cut into shapes that I am certain will be used in future paintings, perhaps paintings with collage elements worked into the composition. A painting diary is a wonderful thing, it offers a record of my palette over the past few years, painting swatches if you will, a journal of colours.

From Vincent Van Gogh to Georgia O’ Keeffe, keeping a diary, or journal,  has always been a crucial part of the artist’s life. For some, it helps formulate a better conceptual understanding of works created through sometimes intuitive processes. For others, it can be a reference for future art making. Whether a detailed written journal like that of Van Gogh, or a more visual diary of sketches, studies and even colour swatches, journals are a necessary part of the creative process and provide fuel for future discovery.

I recently gathered most of my ‘abstract palette pages’ and arranged them for a photo shoot in my studio. I spread the pages from floor to ceiling, running up my studio walls, integrating them with paintings in progress, the result is a vivid and energetic environment. How I imagine the inside of my mind looks at any given time. These photos show a glimpse inside my creative process, which heavily relies on intuition these days. A peek inside the artists’ process. 

The Artists’ Diary – in the studio of Brandy Saturley

Behind the scenes – in the studio of Brandy Saturley

Photo Shoot – in the studio of Brandy Saturley – image courtesy the artist

Photo Shoot – in the studio of Brandy Saturley – image courtesy the artist

Photo Shoot – in the studio of Brandy Saturley – image courtesy the artist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I See Colour – developing my signature style as an artist, through intuition

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.

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.

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

Behind The Painting: from inception to creation, the process of making original fine art

 Originally published May 15, 2017

Goalie’s Mask: red, white and Dryden, acrylic on canvas, 2011 on art shipping crates in the studio. Brandy Saturley, Canadian Painter

This is a big year for Canada and a big year for my art career. With one solo exhibition behind me and another on the horizon, I am preparing to share my stories of Canada on canvas hanging in the art galleries and in person. What inspires the art? What am I trying to convey with my paintings? Here I will share the intent behind a few of my most celebrated pieces, and how I feel about the job of the artist and that of the viewer.

Behind the Painting: Is Canada the Goalie of The World? During the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games the city was punctuated by Canadian stereotype and the air thick with smells of maple syrup pride. I came home from the experience with visions of red, maple leaves and hockey. All these experiences zipping across my temporal lobe. I have always loved the works of American painter, Georgia O’ Keeffe. She was known for painting animal skulls on the landscape and in 1931 created a painting featuring a cows skull on a blanket of red, white and blue. The piece represented the enduring American spirit. I began to think about this painting and it began to inspire my own comment on my country, referencing the enduring Canadian spirit. I came to rest on the image of a hockey goalie mask on the iconic Canadian flag. To me, the goalie mask speaks of us standing guard, it is a symbol of resilience and protection. In most cases a masked human, taking the shots and not shooting back, the goalie plays the role of protector and watcher, much like a mother grizzly over her cubs. This painting was the beginning of this body of work, my ‘Canadianisms’, and set me on a journey of realizing the Canadian spirit on canvas.

Saint Kanata, acrylic on canvas, 2011 – Brandy Saturley, Canadian Painter

Behind the Painting: An #ICONICCANUCK

#ICONICCANUCK was the title of my first exhibition of these paintings, as my ‘Canadianisms’ referenced so many icons of Canada, including the landscape and wildlife of the country. The first human icon I painted was, Shania Twain, a celebrated Canadian singer and songwriter and best-selling female country music artist of all time. ‘Saint Kanata’ references the strong and resilient Canadian spirit and the composition for the piece was inspired by the work of famous polish Art Deco painter, Tamara De Lempicka. Lempicka was the first woman artist to be a ‘glamour’ star.

Behind The Painting: With Our Hearts On Our Sleeves

Hearts On Our Sleeves, acrylic on canvas, 2016 – Brandy Saturley, Canadian Painter

‘Hearts On Our Sleeves’ has many influences, but I will begin with the initial intent. When I began thinking about creating this new self-portrait I had an image in my mind, that of ‘Rosie The Riveter’. An iconic war-time poster image, the image did not really hit it’s full stride until it inspired a social movement that increased the number of women in the workforce, and became a symbol of feminism. I wanted to paint a self-portrait for all, but also for Canadian women from all walks and in all professions. As I began painting I came to focus on the eyes and began to see the Mona Lisa on my subliminal horizon, a horizon influenced by the landscapes of Lawren Harris with muted tones and almost abstract forms. The heart on the sleeve quite literal in it’s placement and meaning. As with all art, ultimately what you see is based on your experience, so even though I began with an intent, it becomes your place now to bring your story to the finished piece.

During this half-decade I have found inspiration across the country and through the eyes and minds of the people I have connected with on my travels. We have talked about Canada, about what we love and the future of our great country, of reconciliation, of acceptance, of equality and of protecting the environment. We have talked about what we create and why we create. We have talked about ideas for future collaborations. On each journey I write daily, record video, and photos. Coming home each time to Vancouver Island filled with new ideas about Canada. From the most rural to the grandest; I am cultivating a visual language that is distinctly Canadian.