Under sodium lights

Here's a small portrait sketch in oils from last night's life drawing session. The model is our session coordinator and sometime model, Miss Robin. I've been using far more paint of late--applying it thickly, with almost no added medium except what I need to make the paint workable, and drawing directly with the brush instead of relying on a preliminary underdrawing.  It's exhilarating.

direct painting portrait sketch in oils from life, Shannon Reynolds
A small portrait sketch in oil on panel (detail)
portrait sketch in oils from life, (detail) oil on panel, Shannon Reynolds
A portrait sketch of Miss Robin, oil on panel (detail)

The light in the room where we draw is lit with low pressure sodium lights, which are great for energy efficiency, but terrible for colour rendering accuracy.  Under those lights, I lose all perception of the red spectrum, which isn't a problem when I'm drawing, but is a definite challenge when painting. I always emerge from the room with a far more highly saturated painting than what I'd perceived.  Last night I paid closer attention to my colour mixes and tried to get the tones right, so the painting isn't quite as far off as usual.  Still, it's a little like painting while colour blind.  I love the Cambridge life sessions, so maybe I'll look into getting some kind of clip-on light with high colour rendering index to take with me on painting nights.

A portrait sketch of  Miss Robin, oil on panel, 11" x 14"


Incidental landscape

This landscape painting is not mine, which is to say I painted it, but it’s a copy. 
Ontario landscape, oil on canvas, Shannon Reynolds
Incidental landscape (detail), oil on canvas
I’m painting a corporate portrait in which the CEO, an avid outdoorsman and art collector, is posing in front of a landcape painting which hangs in his office.  The original is a highly finished instantly recognizable Ontario landscape conjuring Muskoka or Algonquin in a familiar language we know if not from actual experience, then from Group of Seven paintings.  I had to stylize it significantly for the background of my painting. As a portraitist, I’ve only painted a handful of landscapes but hope to paint more.  In this case, freed from considerations of composition and subject, I could enjoy sketching the landscape, without being a slave to accuracy (unlike the portrait part in which likeness is my necessary preoccupation).  Here's a larger view, with telltale ear and suit jacket shoulder:

Shannon Reynolds, landscape painting, corporate portrait, oil on canvas
Incidental landscape with telltale ear (still a detail), oil on canvas
How easily a wind twisted pine against pink tinged clouds against a blue sky evokes the northern Ontario (okay, northern, southern Ontario) landscape.  Made me want to trade my brushes for a paddle.


Two reclining nudes

Reclining nude, life drawing study, gouache, Shannon Reynolds
Reclining figure study 1, gouache on paper, 11" x 7"
In Isabella Stefanescu's studio this Saturday we had a rare, daytime life drawing session with the model.  There was gorgeous light streaming through warehouse windows, birdsong outside, some French romantic composer playing in the background--Ravel I think.  It was great, until we were shushed by people in the neighbouring studio...

Reclining nude, life drawing, gouache on paper, Shannon Reynolds
Reclining figure study 2, gouache on paper, 11" x 7"
Apologies to the people next door who were recording something and had probably expected the studios to be unoccupied on the Saturday of a long weekend.


That half of the year, well, we'll never be friends

Black squirrel portrait, oil on canvas, painting, Shannon Reynolds
Local Character Study #5 Black Squirrel with Granny Smith Apple, oil on canvas board, 8" x 8"
My winter-long love affair with the backyard squirrels is officially over.  As in Leslie Feist's lyric from Gatekeeper, this is the half of the year when we'll never be friends.  It's the half of the year when the cute fluffy animals struggling to survive the bitter winter and posing as ready models around my bird feeder transform themselves into wanton destroyers of beauty.  No tulip or magnolia or crabapple blossom is safe from the ruthless biters.  It's the season of anticipation when, when instead of flowers, alas, there are only bare stems and strewn petals. Ugh.
Eastern grey squirrel portrait, painting,  oil on canvas, Shannon Reynolds
Local Character Study #4 Eastern Grey Squirrel Looking Out, oil on canvas board, 8" x 8"
The two admittedly cute squirrels in this post were painted with snow still on the ground.  Future squirrel portraits, at least those painted in the next six months, will be far less flattering.  If I wanted to be truly realistic, they might even have mange.


Thank you Globe Show attendees

Thanks to everyone who came out to see the Globe Studios Art Show and Open House this Friday and Saturday.  It was an intense ten-hour-over-two-days event featuring over 30 artists and hundreds of attendees.

What a great opportunity to talk at length to the public and fellow artists.


Globe Studios Art Show and Open House this weekend

I spent part of this beautiful day hanging my paintings at Globe Studios in Kitchener.  Twice yearly Globe studios opens its doors to the public for a tour of the studios and an exhibition of works by resident and local artists.  I am pleased to be one of the guest artists included in the juried exhibition that will line the halls of the studios. All of the participating artists will be present for the duration of the show. If you're in town this weekend, I hope you'll come by and say hello.

My thanks to Michelle Purchase, whose studio my work is hanging just outside.  Michelle has an exhibition of 40 or so of her beautiful prints hanging at the Red Brick Cafe in Guelph until this Sunday and as a result of having so few pieces left to show, Michelle generously donated her wall space to me, giving me a little extra real estate and allowing me to hang fifteen paintings.


Splish Splash

Common grackle oil painting bird bath Shannon Reynolds
Splash #1 Common Grackle, oil on panel 8" x 8"
Sleek handsome and suave one moment, outrageous posturing goofballs the next: the grackles have returned.  I've missed their strutting, sky pointing, and puffing up to the point of exploding before releasing discordant squawks.  We have a peanut mix in the bird feeder right now and when a grackle picks one out, it parades around with its prize, dropping it and picking it up, washing it in the birdbath, in a sustained effort to break it into smaller pieces.

Common Grackle oil painting bird bath splash Shannon Reynolds
Splash #1 Common Grackle, oil on panel 8" x 8"

I'll be showing these two paintings among others at the Globe Studio's Spring Open House and Art show this Friday and Saturday where I'll be one of several guest artists exhibiting work alongside the resident studio artists. Click here for more information about the show.