Elaine Watts
Watercolourist and Printmaker


(posted on 20 Dec 2013)

Season's greetings everyone! With 10 days left til the end of the year, and winter starting in the northern hemisphere, and a fresh load of snow in "Summerland", it's time for the last blog of the year. It's been a good one for me, not quite as exciting as 2012 with all those adventures and travel, but a good solid-type year of living into the life we started designing for ourselves a few years ago. Little did we know how quickly we would grow to love everything about living here--from the beautiful scenery, the climate, the community and mostly meeting and becoming friends with so many new people. Not to mention how amazing it has been to get my studio established and getting immersed in the vibrant arts community here!

I like to take some time at the end of the year and the beginning of a new year to reflect on what has happened, and to set some intentions for how the next year will play out. This last year I have painted more, completed more commissions, participated in more exhibitions, shows, art walks and events than ever before, and enjoyed almost every minute of it! More paintings and prints have found new homes, in places as exotic as the Virgin Islands and Chicago, as well as throughout Canada and Australia, and I've completed my first mixed media painting.

"The Beacon" is 16" X 20" with a 3-D effect on the moon, the lighthouse itself and the rocks, created with gyproc, and on the sea where tissue paper was used to give the lightness and texture of waves.

I love lighthouses and this one is slightly more dramatic in its colouration than many I have painted, taking full advantage of the acrylic paint as opposed to watercolours which are generally a lot softer.

Maybe as I age I am appreciating the drama and symbols of life--at least that was what I was thinking about as I created this work.

The other thing I've been doing a lot during the last half of the year is life drawing (with models, naked as is the tradition--adult content warning!!). The other artists that participate on Wednesday nights are excellent in their own mediums, mostly charcoal, comte and pastel, as well as some pen or pencil. Me, I've been using my India ink with an old-fashioned nib, supplemented with an ink wash and paintbrush--and up to full-on ink (not thinned with water) with a brush, to create some drama in the silence of the studio where we paint. Below are a couple of examples of my latest work there. Let me know what you think!

This is one of the models who is also one of the artists who comes to sketch--what a surprise to see him "on the other side of the easel"!

Thought I'd better put one in from a frontal angle!

I've been enjoying capturing the lines of the human body (it's a little easier than doing people's faces--let me tell you!!) And I'm loving how well I'm working with the ink and no colour--just shades of neutral colour. In January, at my print-making course, I'm going to be experimenting with some figure work as prints and I will likely use some of these drawings as the basis for drypoint etchings, or possibly some solar etchings. Stay tuned to see more!

The other thing I've been loving about this year is just having a studio--painting in my studio, having people into my studio on tours, visitors and doing some entertaining out in the studio. For Christmas we had a bit of an open house and got it decorated up a bit more than usual.

The wood stove did double duty--it was a really cold day and it kept the studio toasty, as well, it made a great place to put some mulled apple juice which seemed to be the hit of the day--the spicy sweet smell hit you when the door opened and the whole pot was gone at the end of the afternoon.

One other thing I've been able to put into place this year, after seeing some of the great art created locally--much of it large and striking--is to have some bigger work available. I started the year with a big winter birch commission--2 20" X 30" watercolour and ink panels making up a diptych that will measure about 6 feet by the time it's framed. It was a lot of work and showed me that people are interested in pieces that make statements. Well, watercolour is a most difficult medium to work that large in so I decided to make canvas reproductions of some of my "signature" pieces. They are now available up to 48" and the response has been very positive, so I will be looking for more work that is suitable for making larger works. Who knows, maybe I'll experiment with some other mediums that lend themselves to bigger works. The image below shows my "Faerie Woods" piece enlarged to 30" X 40". Almost sold it at one show, it was getting great comments in my studio, and it looks so great over a bed that I think it might stay there!

More prints are available--contact me if you want to get a quote for yourself!

Well, the night is passing and I still have some packing to do for the next three months--winter and summer weather both to be expected. My next posting will be from Australia, sometime in January. As usual my year will start off with a bang--I fly through Hong Kong to Australia, leaving Hong Kong at 11:30 pm on New Year's Eve. Maybe I'll see some famous Chinese fireworks as I depart!

As the year winds down, I hope you find some satisfaction in how it has all played out, and make time to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, celebrating and connecting. This world is a beautiful place, and I remain amazed by what there is to appreciate in so many areas. Resonating with my work is a great way for me to capture the richness and diversity of life around us, and I hope you can get some pleasure out of what I enjoy too!

All the best to you and yours, hold people close and let them know you love them. Thank you for being in my life! My wish for you is that 2014 is the best year ever!

Until next year,