Monday, November 12, 2012

Painting on Autopilot

I couldn't resist painting one more leaf. A couple of weeks ago I went for a walk and came home with a fistful of good looking leaves. It was a difficult process of elimination, but I had to make up my mind before all I had on hand was a dried up pile of leafy bits. Working on this watercolour turned into a kind of Zeno's paradox; I wanted to finish the painting but the more I looked at the leaf the more I had to keep painting. When this kind of thing happens and I feel myself getting too persnickety, I turn off whatever music I'm listening to and that helps switch off the painting autopilot so I can wrap it up.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Splendour in the Leaves

My favourite time of year is here. I love the fall, but it's just so short. Knowing it's brief is probably one of the things that makes me enjoy autumn all the more. All those bright and beautiful leaves will shortly blow away. Summer has its moments where you think it will never end. Fall, with its sharp breezes snapping at the sunshine, supplies no such illusions. And really, it's impossible to think of enjoying something beautiful and fleeting without thinking of newborns.

My baby is six weeks old and when I snuggle him in my arms, it's hard to imagine that he won't be so little for long. Trying to describe the wonder of an infant by just calling him 'little' is a wordsmithing injustice, but I'm too sleep deprived to put that feeling into words. Fall reminds me that each season and each stage has its particular splendour that needs to be savoured before it's gone. Which brings me to this watercolour painting: my tribute to fall.

As for the title in the bottom right, there's the obvious Canadian flag reference, but, while I worked on the painting, my patriotic tendencies were also helped along by listening to an interview with Paul Henderson on the 40th anniversary of the 1972 summit series win against Russia.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Website Difficulties

The server for my website is experiencing some problems so my site, www.stephaniesikma, is not loading. I'm working to get this fixed, and in the meantime, my online portfolio can be viewed right here on my blog and also on my facebook page, Stephanie Sikma Illustration. I've been told my site should be back up in 12 -24 hours, so hopefully this inconvenience won't last long. My apologies if you've been trying to access my website.

I'm frustrated with this technical difficulty, so to counteract that feeling here's a photograph of my beautiful boys that makes me smile and think of the finer things in life...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Colourful Times

This week I went ahead and splurged a little bit. I bought tickets for the harvest picnic festival. I debated with myself on the wisdom of buying relatively pricey tickets for a show that is Sept 1, less than two weeks after my baby's due date of Aug 20, but the prospect of seeing Feist and whole bunch of other great performers in a park setting was too much to resist. And perhaps this is fool hardy thinking, but Clarence came a week early so maybe baby #2 will do the same. Alright, so that is completely fool hardy thinking and I'll just see how it goes.

I took a little trip down to Locke Street and purchased the tickets from Pics and Sticks, which saved me the inflated handling fees of ordering them from ticketmaster. Naturally, I used some of that savings to get a treat from Bitten, a bakery that's also on Locke. Uch, so yummy. The cupcakes were delicious and also the whole store has a really fun look which is demonstrated by the box we took the cupcakes home in. From the time we left the bakery to when we arrived home, Clarence held on to the bright green Bitten box with great delight. Sure he knew there were cupcakes inside, but that's also the power of colour.

There are many ideas about colour, its meaning and psychological effect, and whenever I come across some show or article about colour, I usually can't help but check it out. Not long ago, a CBC radio show that kept me company while I was doing some watercolour painting was Ideas with Paul Kennedy. The show did a three part series entitled The Power of Colour. If you have the time and opportunity, it's an interesting listen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Dapper Dog

photo by afterglow images
Ginsberg, watercolour, 11 x 14

Here's a painting that confirms my long held belief that everybody looks good in polka-dots. This watercolour pet portrait was commissioned as a wedding gift for a couple who had their engagement photos done by the photography studio, afterglow images. Fortunately for me, I was able to use one of those engagement shoot photos as my source material, so I had a wonderful image to work from. In addition to the pleasure of painting, the gratifying thing about creating commissioned work is knowing that the work is going to be enjoyed by its recipient(s), and I've heard that this piece was very well received by the happy couple. Booya.

Before I started this painting, I thought, "hmm, I should buy some masking fluid, draw in the polkadots and mask them off," but then I started painting and, whamo, there I was, free handing polka-dots. I confess to being afraid of masking fluid. What if it doesn't come off the paper without causing some kind of damage? In case you're unfamiliar with this particular art supply, masking fluid is a substance you apply to a section of watercolour paper that you want to stay white. Once the fluid is dry, you can put washes of colour over top of it and the paper underneath it stays white, which saves you from having to painstakingly paint around areas that are meant to stay light. When you're done painting over the dried masking fluid, you erase it off, exposing the unpainted paper underneath. I should really get a bottle of the stuff and experiment with using it. But in the meantime, if you've used it before, fill me in on your experiences with masking fluid: is it super amazing wonderful? or does it haunt your dreams in a bad way?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hands on Auction

Bluejay in Summer, watercolour,
framed in a dark wood that's hard to see against the background

The other day I was photographing this framed watercolour painting, just before bringing it to the Dundas Valley School of Art to be part of the DVSA 42nd Anniversary Art Auction. In the last shot I took, my little boy put his hand over top of the painting. As he placed his hand on the glass, Clarence said, "I'm going to stop the bird from flying away."  Uch, too cute. And if the bidding at the auction gets opened up to include paying in Lego, Clarence really could stop this blue jay from flying away to a new home.

Come to think of it, this hand on painting photo makes me think of last year when I was also photographing a piece that went to the DVSA Art Auction, and Clarence wanted to touch the bunny rabbit.  And now that has me thinking about the time I was at an art gallery in Washington, D.C. (I can't remember which one because I was very young), and one of my two older brothers dared the other one to touch a VanGogh painting. The dare was followed through on but I don't think the result was as exciting as either one of them had hoped.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Larf Love

I've been meaning to share a recommendation for a great new children's book called Larf. My official assessment is: "I give it a gazillion thumbs up." The illustrations are beautiful and fun, making them the perfect accompaniment to the narrative which is both whimsical and thoughtful. My little fella Clarence is also a fan. "Want to read Larf," is a clear sign of unequivocal 2.5-year-old endorsement. I won't tell you too much about the book, but you should know that  Larf is a sasquatch, or as he's also described, "a hairy, seven-foot-tall, scarf-sporting manbeast..."  Awesome.

And you know what else is great? I went to Sheridan with Ashley Spires, the author of Larf and a number of other superb children's books, and she's great! I'm a completely reliable source on this because, as you can see, I have Quill & Quire to back me up and they're no slouches. Ashley dedicated Larf to her former classmates in the postgraduate Illustration program at Sheridan, something which makes me feel pretty darn special, especially give that Larf is a very special book.

For information about what other's have to say about my favourite manbeast, click here

Friday, February 24, 2012

Orchid Instructions

Orchid, waterolour, 5.5 x 7.5 inches


There's a wonderful purple orchid blooming in my studio right now, and it's a pretty irresistible subject for a painting. I don't think I have my orchid care quite right because the first flower comes out well before the rest of the stem has finished producing buds, but the effect is still lovely. There is so much detail and wonder in one orchid flower that if the plant had given me numerous blossoms to paint at once, I think this painting would have taken me a ridiculously long time. There is also a delight in seeing the flowers in their various stages of development simultaneously. It's a reminder that as much as it would be nice to sometimes just get to the end result that you want, it's the process that makes everything possible.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Beginnings

A new-to-me drawing table, monitor and computer chair 


One of the things that I most love about the city of Hamilton are the kind and helpful people. Above, are pictures of my newly improved studio space which feature the drafting table that I had given to me by someone I met at the Christmas Makers' Market last year on James Street. Bruce was the father of one of the other vendors and after spending some time at my table, he asked if I would have use for a large, antique drafting table that once belonged to an architect. Um, yes, please. He and his wife were moving and Bruce liked the idea of clearing out the drawing table to someone who would get good use from it. So Bruce, if you happen to see this blurb of mine, thank you again! The table is awesome. Its adjustable height has relieved some strain in my shoulders and neck and I love what a huge surface it has.

I couldn't resist including a shot of what the other half my studio room looks like. A plastic partition separates "mommy's art space" (Clarence's term, not mine), from Clarence's play room. We both get to enjoy the sunlight and watch the birds, while also enjoying each other's company. It's a pretty sweet set up, I must say. Admittedly I haven't been doing as much work in my studio in the last three months, including posting new things here, but I have a pretty solid excuse-- nausea and exhaustion. Yup, I'm pregnant. Woohoo! The baby is due August 20th so I still have plenty of painting time before then. These days I'm feeling more energetic and less sick, so I'm looking forward to sharing new work in the months ahead.