Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday, March 30, 2012

Portrait of the female model

Carol Berry, Portrait of the female model. graphite on paper, 24 x 18 inches. ©2012.

I am happy to say that I've been enjoying the company of my DVAC fellow Tuesday nighters for 3 weeks in a row, I might just be getting back into a regular habit of making art. 

Sometimes I think that drawing different strangers, week after week, is a waste of energy, that I should be spending my time more productively by painting in my studio. But to get back to painting more regularly, I have to get back into a habit of making art more regularly, and so I draw strangers, with the added incentive of being with my friends.

Last Friday I went to see the DVAC Friday night speaker, the talented photographer, Craig Boyko. Photography and painting are so similar and yet so different, I love doing both and I left the talk feeling very inspired. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Portrait of the model

Carol Berry, Portrait of the model. graphite on paper, 24 x 18 inches. ©2012.

A benefit of the change to Daylight Savings Time this past weekend is that it was still light out after dinner. This gave me the will to get out to the this week's Tuesday evening life session at the Don Valley Art Club. It was great to see my friends and my eldest came with me which is always nice. I worked on this drawing for an hour and a half and am pretty happy with the result, especially since I was feeling pretty rusty!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

peace on earth

Here is my season's greetings to you and yours! Copyright Carol Berry, 2011.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Laneway at Cedar Valley Resort

Carol Berry, Laneway at Cedar Valley Resort. oil, 8 x 10 inches. ©2011.

I felt a bit silly and public when I ended up painting a scene right across the lane way from our own trailer at Cedar Valley Resort. I had lots of visitors who passed me on the way to and from the swimming pond. Everyone's comments were supportive and I soon relaxed and finished this up in a couple of hours. 

My goal this summer is to learn how to be decisive with my brushstrokes, meaning I have to get the colour right before I paint it. In my mind I liken this approach to my old marker rendering days.  

This spring I googled pochade box and the first entry was a local Kijiji ad for a EasyL Lite pochade kit for a hundred bucks. I was lucky enough to buy it and I love this new set up, can't say enough about how well this box is constructed and its accessories planned. Special features that I like is that the painting panel is high, allowing the palette to be low and my shoulder to be kept in a relaxed natural position. I also like how the tripod (which came with the kit) has a wider setting for its legs making the whole kit more stable. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Swimming Pond at Cedar Valley Resort

Carol Berry, Swimming Pond at Cedar Valley Resort. oil, 8 x 10 inches. ©2011.

This is my first plein air landscape painting of the summer, done in a couple of hours, a month ago at our trailer park. Cedar Valley Resort is much more like an Ontario Provincial Park and is the opposite of average trailer parks, I love that each lot is quite private, surrounded by trees and tall cedar hedges. 

Last summer I painted my landscapes in the hot sun on the side of lonely country roads and I got a few nasty sunburns. I have decided to park my plein air setup in the shade this summer and so far I am loving it! No sunburn and no need to attach my easel umbrella, vastly simplifying setup and reducing the risk of having the wind topple everything over. This was my first test with my new EasyL Lite pochade box, it passed with flying colours - it is a very well made and thought-out kit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Perrier Water

Carol Berry, Perrier Water. oil, 8 x 10 inches. ©2011.

After a whole year of planning and making a homemade pochade box, I finally used the kit and immediately found a critical flaw, I was tensing my shoulder because the palette was too high and close to the painting. I paid a severe price the whole following week with an immobile and painful shoulder. 

Did this indoors at our trailer on a rainy Sunday, grabbed what ever was around, the goal was to get painting!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Time keeps marching on

Carol Berry, Computer Virus. Digital, ©2000.

It was never my plan to take a break from posting to this blog, but it seems that is what I did after all. Besides relaxing and spending lots of nice time with my family, since Christmas I have been busy selecting, buying and setting up my new Mac computer. 

I've had Macs since 1992, in fact my graphic design career was shaped by the computer skills I learned on Macs. I have owned and worked on the PC, but I have always earned the majority of my income on the Mac. When my current computer was just over 2 years old, I started planning to buy my next one.

This March I moved into my new Mac Pro 6-Core tower, with its two awesome 2TB hard drives and its 12GBs of RAM. Since January I have been living in geek heaven, deciding on which new model to buy and which peripherals would need upgrading. I have to boast about the specs of the new computer, cause I am a real geek but in reality this thing is so much faster than my 2.5 year old Mac tower, it is a real speed demon.

Here is more geek speak, skip ahead if you don't have any interest! I also ended up buying an extra 2TB internal hard drive for my TimeMachine backups as well as a matched pair of LaCie 2TB external hard drives for my SuperDuper! backups (I swop them every week, moving one offsite). I even had to buy a more powerful UPS (battery backup) because my current one is five years old and isn't strong enough to run the new computer. 

For the best possible solution for my computer needs, I chose to install the new tower from scratch, forgoing Apple's easy Migration Assistant. It has been a lot of fun, although time consuming installing softwares and transferring data. The extra care paid off, the final move was seamless.  

I did the illustration above a long while ago. I scanned my pencil linear and painted the colour in Photoshop. It was great to be paid while doing it, as the piece was for self promotion piece for my employer at that time, not my current one. Lots of fun and I was happy how it turned out.

And now it is almost summer, I want to get outside painting again, it is time for a different kind of fun!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

All the best in the New Year!

Gingerbread house decorated by Angela Berry and photographed by Carol Berry, ©2010.

Life and paintings evolve. I wanted this year's home made Christmas card to feature a still life painting about Christmas baking. That idea filtered down into a painting of a gingerbread house. 

One Sunday last month my eldest daughter decorated this gingerbread house. Early that afternoon, while bright sunlight beamed onto our dining room table, I hurriedly took what I thought would be a series of photos to be used as back-up references while painting the gingerbread house from life. I really enjoyed this photography process, even improvising a fill light with a white bristol board. 

After loading the photo series into Photoshop, I picked the best photo and started to clone in a sky, a frivolous but fun exercise. I had the real gingerbread house to paint from and I didn't really need a perfect photo reference. I was having fun and one hour of Photoshop turned into three. The next thing I realized, the real sun had set and time to paint the gingerbread from life was done. 

That night at dinner my kids teased me about my self indulgent right brain processes. I had totally let the Christmas card evolve on its own accord. We all agreed that the photo said everything I had originally wanted, nothing more could have been added if I had actually put brush to canvas. I was glad to have the card match my original vision, even if that was accomplished quite differently than planned.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Carol Berry, Tangerine. Oil, 8 x 10 inches. ©2010.

This is another still life that I painted in our trailer one rainy Sunday last August. I was really pleased with this painting. I have always been in love with form and volume. Years ago I worked a lot in clay, always mindful of the play of light on the form I was creating. Back in my darkroom days, hovering over the trays of chemicals, I loved watching the shadows develop first, establishing the relationships between the objects. My still life paintings are all about light and form, the opposite of my landscapes, which are all about flat planes and space. I am going to challenge myself to include more forms in my landscapes.

When I look back over this year I realize that I have been on a journey of growth as an artist. I especially love being freed from using any reference photographs when I paint these small studies. I have finally learned how limiting photographs can be. Photos can still be references for future paintings, but only as one part of the whole process. I finally see that the act of applying the paint is not just a means to an end, but as an enjoyable process, rich with the potential of my growth as a painter. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Corn and Tomato

Carol Berry, Corn and Tomato. Oil, 8 x 10 inches. ©2010.

I set this still life up in our trailer during a rainy Sunday last August. I have really enjoyed working on smaller canvases this year, this is new for me. The reward is that I can manage to finish a piece in an afternoon. I now have to think through what type of still life subjects to paint, random pairings such as these don't always work well together.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Coffee Cups

Carol Berry, Coffee Cups. Oil, 10 x 8 inches. ©2010.

I haven't painted a still life since university, but have really been enjoying following many excellent daily painters such as Carol Marine and her wonderful still lifes. So when the weather was too wet this summer, I was inspired to paint a few still lifes that I setup inside our trailer. I really had fun and will continue painting still lifes this winter. 

I see lots of opportunity for growth, I am challenging myself to work on being more decisive with my brushstrokes. I remember studying marker rendering as a graphic design student, and how with regular practice you went in just once with your colour. This is similar, with the added challenge of mixing the correct colour myself, compared to my student "palette" of 60 markers.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Concession Road 4, Late Afternoon

Carol Berry, Concession Road 4, Late Afternoon. Oil, 8 x 10 inches. ©2010.

I painted this right at the entrance to our campground. I had motivation problems that Saturday and only finally started painting in the late afternoon. The downside was that the sun changed a lot more than I was used to, but the greater upside was that I spoke to lots of nice folk, which was ok since I was still having trouble focusing! I met and had a really lovely chat with a neighbour who walked over to see what I was doing on her land. I later spoke with an outgoing family with two teens who stopped their car and all piled out to see what I was doing because their son really enjoyed art and was considering it as a career. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

View from Newcastle Harbour

Carol Berry, View from Newcastle Harbour. Oil, 8 x 10 inches. ©2010.

I loved painting this on location. I set up my gear on the breakwater near the lighthouse at the mouth of the Newcastle harbour. Besides the curious seagulls, a steady parade of large sailing cruisers motored past me while I painted which was exciting for me, a sailor, and of course the boat crews were happy to see an artist depicting a view that they loved so they all said hi to me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Concession Road 4, Orono

Carol Berry, Concession Road 4, Orono. Oil, 8 x 10 inches. ©2010.

It has been a fantastic summer, highlights include my new iPad and the dry, very warm weather we had in Ontario this summer! I'm very glad that I got out sailing in my little Mirror Dinghy at least a dozen times.

The biggest thing that happened this summer is that I put into practice a completely new painting mindset, one that took a year to wrap my head around, plan and put into effect. All my painting tools and methods are new compared to a couple of years ago. Previously I painted on medium sized stretched canvases setup on a French easel, using regular oil paints and solvents, following photo references and carefully made linears. I would only set out the paints colours I needed for specific parts of the painting. This summer everything changed! I now paint on small canvas panels setup on my fantastic new homemade prochade box using Windsor Newton Artisan water-soluable oils. I squeeze out all the colours of my limited palette into my prochade box before I set out to paint en plein air. I paint directly from my subject, both landscapes and still lifes. I now see firsthand that photo references handicapped me by limiting my understanding of a scene. I can honestly say that from hard work comes growth.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tuesday night model

Carol Berry, Tuesday night model, oil, 24 x 18 inches. ©2010.

This was painted during a Tuesday night model session at the Don Valley Art Club. For these life paintings I have been sticking to the limited palette of Ivory Black, Cad Red Light, Cad Yellow Light and either Titanium White or Zinc Mixing White.

I never expect a polished painting after these sessions. Painting from life is a time honored ritual. The act is in the doing, and reward is the successful capture of the human form. Many of my fellow Tuesday nighters also feel the importance is in the act and not in the product, they regularly paint right over their fine masterpieces that were painted just the week before. I paint my life paintings on sheets of canvas taped to gator board. When dry, I remove the canvas sheet from the board and store because it does not take much space.

Toronto survived the G20 summit held last weekend. I stayed away from downtown but watched the disturbing vandalism and the face-offs between the police and protesters on TV. Now the local businesses are left repairing the inexplicable damage to their property. This is in huge contrast to joyous Pride celebrations taking place in Toronto this weekend, where a million people party and the police protect everyone, wearing rainbow coloured hawaiian leis.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Walsh Road No.2

Carol Berry, Walsh Road No.2, oil, 8 x 10 inches. ©2010.

It is another rainy Saturday, so instead of painting I am finally writing this post. So much of my life is geared towards the summer month; sailing, camping and plein air painting. These major activities have to compete for my time with everyday chores, volunteering, friends, family and work. Priorities change as events evolve, but there are constants as well. I love the total peace I feel when out sailing. I love sitting around the campfire with my family. I love succeeding with a difficult visual challenge both in graphic design and in painting. Being able to combine any of these activities is a higher level of success, plein air painting while camping is at that level.

I painted this from the same spot on Walsh Road as the previous post. I framed that painting and gave it to my Dad for Father's Day. This view is facing more to the south. I tried a slightly bigger canvas, my new challenge is to work faster.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Walsh Road No.1

Carol Berry, Walsh Road No.1, 6 x 8 inches. ©2010.

Finally, painting outside! It was an unusually warm day for the first weekend of June, so I wore short shorts, a tank top and crocs. I remembered sunscreen but I thought it was too windy for my fancy new plein air umbrella so I took it down. Big mistake for two reasons. Although I was very happy with my painting, the mid-tones are a bit dark when viewed indoors, because the strong daylight light was so much brighter when painting without my umbrella's shade. And because I was in the direct sunlight, I myself got fried by the sun, but only where I missed with my sunscreen. Particularly horrible are the small circle tan marks on my white feet where the holes in my crocs let in the sun.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Marco's Dynamic Pose

Last week one of my fellow Don Valley Art Club members offered to fill in when our model did not arrive. His pose for the whole three hours was very dynamic, he stood holding a staff and had his body all twisted, even kept his mouth open and his head tilted the whole time, very Michelangelo.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Concession 4, Orono

Carol Berry, Concession 4, Orono. Oil, 11 x 14 inches. ©2009.

Here are two paintings I did in the studio of a scene I love. Something so simple as grass, grown and cut, all orderly and so satisfying. I see the influence of my formalist art school years, many years ago - simplifying the elements and enjoying the lines of the new green grass, alternating with the lines of the cut hay. The strong compositional elements of the hay fields are an awesome display of mankind's mark on this earth.