Friday, November 30, 2012

A Deep Study of Anatomy

   Over the past month and a half I have had the great opportunity to attend an in depth drawing anatomy course. I have been painting and drawing the human figure for more than 15 years. Sure, I know about the general concepts of anatomy, more than most, and enough to teach figurative drawing and painting classes. I have a bit of a library when it comes to Anatomy for the Artist books. I did not know all the names of the actual structure, beyond the major bones and muscles that makes up the human form (well, not committed to memory), and I didn't really know why this bulges when that's bent, or how the muscles in our body operate (especially the feet and hands). Sitting in a class, focused on something that I am extremely interested in and hearing and following a lecture and watching someone else tackle and point out details is more informative than trying to figure it out on one's own. What do all those lines that are depicted on the muscles really indicate in my anatomy books? Well, now I know. During my university years and after I have been focused on color theory and studying tonality. I have studied them so much that all that information is lodged into my subconscious and I can mix any color quite precisely without thinking about it. I would like to be the same way with anatomy and my understanding of the human form so it comes automatically. There are so many images that I wish to paint and so to speed up my process I am educating myself where I sometimes get hung up. The human form is difficult and I don't think it will ever be easy to portray, but I can educate myself to get a better understanding of it. The reason I enjoy painting the human form is because I find it so intriguing. Everyone is so different and we are more than just our bodies, we are alive full of spirit, personality, and life experiences. I will never know everything about painting people. People are amazing creatures.
   The course was interesting in so many ways. It was taught by Justin Ogilvie who is a vast pool of knowledge concerning portraying the human figure. I found his lectures invaluable. I could have listened to him all evening. For those who already have quite a bit of figurative experience I highly recommend his courses. He is very informal in contrast to his structured complex curriculum. I soaked it all in. I made sure I went to the washroom and had everything I needed before the class started because I didn't want to miss a single word. It was fast paced and intense. Time whipped by.
   The body of students in the class I attended was interesting as well. I haven't been in an art course with so many men since my university days. There were about 6 tattoo artists and a bunch of graphic artists as well. It was interesting to see different art forms come together. We all work with the figure in our artistic careers but in different ways. I love learning from others and to go around the room at the end of class to see how others interpreted the same figure while given the same instruction but with different life experiences and artistic careers was inspiring. Also being around men covered in tattoos made me want to paint their portraits. I wish that I wasn't constantly pressed for time, I would have loved to hang around after the classes to chat with them. (If you are reading this and are from that class and would be interested in modeling for a portrait, please send me an email.)

The following are some of the drawing that I did during the course. Note that they are just exercises and not, what I would consider completed work, and done in the span of 5min to 45min each.



Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Artist's Studio

Since the Studio Show and Sale in October I have been finding time to paint almost everyday. Honestly, even I am amazed. I don't foresee myself slowing down either. I feel like I have been given a really fast car that runs on air and I want to stick my head out of the window and scream WooooHoooo! I am thoroughly enjoying myself. I am extremely grateful that my significant other has supported me, encouraged me, and has sternly told me that I must pursue my career as an artist/painter. Without him I wouldn't be able to focus or be on the successful path that I am on now with my work. He has given me the push and shove that I needed. I get a rush and a grin that must make people think I'm crazy when they ask me what my profession is and I get to say "I am a professional artist". When I was a child and I didn't really know you could draw or paint pictures for a living (and most adults currently don't think it's possible either), I would say that I wanted to be a professional chocolate taster by day and an aerobics instructor by night. My life has turned out close to that. I do have a bite of dark chocolate with my tea when I am on a break from painting and I think I get the same high from the act of painting as I would off of eating chocolate for a living. Then I get to chase and play with my children, which in my opinion, is similar, if not equivalent to aerobics.

I finished a self portrait last month and I am currently working on two large paintings both of a reclining female figure, with two more paintings lined up and I am eager to start their under paintings.

I have included the photo of my studio as a bit of a gift. I have recently watched two wonderful films about practicing artists. Beauty is Embarrassing, about Wayne White. The other, Gerhard Richter Painting. Both were very different and fantastic. If you get a chance to rent either, please do. If anything you get a really good look into their studios and how they work. There were things in both films that seemed to tell me that I am on the right path, which is always encouraging. Not often do we get to see a painters studio, or a painter working in one. There are not many professional painters in the world. Also, a painters studio is often their most private space where they create a den or cave that they work the best in. It reflects a lot about an artists inner most being. I've seen studios that are  spotless and meticulously organized with labels on everything. Then there are studios (such as the late Lucien Freud's) that are beyond a health and safety concern. So here is mine, read into it what you will.

Daphne Cote's Studio
A view from standing in front of my desk.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Successful Show and Sale

Thank you to everyone who made it to my studio for the Show and Sale on the 19th and 20th. I was pleasantly surprised at how wonderfully it went. I feel so encouraged by how successful the weekend was and the amazing outcomes that came from the event.
Since the show and sale I have been working hard, painting every free minute I have. Letting the creativity flow. Emboldened with courage to pursue my passion.
I would like to turn the studio show and sale into an annual event.

I know that several people wanted to attend but were unable, you can always make a private appointment to come to my studio and check out either past or current work, or to discuss commissions (by the way I am still accepting commissions to be done before Christmas).
You can contact me by email at: [email protected]

Here I am taking a photo of the two portraits I did in December 2011.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Studio Show and Sale October 2012

Studio Show and Sale
October 19th 4pm -7pm
October 20th 10am - 4pm

I will be hosting a Show and Sale at my personal studio. I have covered the walls of my studio with all of my past work that is still in my collection. I am putting most of the work up for sale at discounted prices. Why am I doing this? -To raise funds to ship a portrait to the International BP Portrait Competition in London, England. The other reason is that I need space in my studio to work.

This is a great opportunity to add or start your art collection. Prices range from $50.00 to $3,000.00. Much of the work in the Studio Show and Sale is posted right here on my blog website (though there are several older pieces being shown that are not posted). I encourage you to browse through my many paintings posted on my blog. I post the dimensions, when they were created, medium, and price (but that price will likely be discounted during this sale), and if the work is already sold. When browsing through my blog keep in mind the versions you see on your screen lack much of the energy, texture, and overall quality that can only be experienced in person.

I really look forward to this event. I am sure that many will find it interesting to see this large body of work that spans over a decade. I love answering questions and talking about art. I will also be be working on a painting in progress as well. I encourage all that are interested in art to come and take a look. Children are welcome to come.

If you would like to attend or have any questions, please email me and I will send you an invite with directions. [email protected]

These are just a small sampling of what you can see in the studio.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Alberta Culture Days and upcoming events

Alberta Culture Days

I will be at the Stony Plain Public Library this Saturday September 29th from 10am-3pm showing and working on paintings live. There will be other arts and cultural figures from the community there as well.
You can come down and see my latest painting in progress, chat and ask me about art, and find out more info about my upcoming studio show and sale being held on October 19th and 20th that is raising funds for me to ship my work to an international portrait contest. You can also inquire about commissioned work as well ( I am still accepting commission requests for Christmas).
I am really looking forward to it. I love sharing my passion of painting with others. I had a great time last year and I know I will this year as well.

The above photo was taken by my 4 year old daughter. In the photo I am working on my latest painting that I will continue working on at the library this upcoming weekend.

I hope everyone gets a chance to celebrate art this upcoming weekend.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Confluence - The Sleeper and the Insomniac Series

(from The Sleeper and the Insomniac series)
September 11, 2012
Oil on Canvas
20" x 16"
$400.00 CAN

   This painting is a continuation of The Sleeper and the Insomniac series. I started this painting before my son was born and have been dabbling on it ever since.  I finally got to finishing it. I constantly think about furthering the series. I have to find somewhere to show a larger collection of the work and find willing models (if you are interested in filling either of those roles email me! [email protected] ). I itch to paint another set of sleeper paintings.
   Now that the dawdling lazy pace of my care free summer is over, I am finding a consistent painting/working schedule. I didn't even realize how relaxed my summer was until September hit and the rigid schedules and routines of the school year commenced. It caught me quite off guard this year. I found myself waking up and laying in bed questioning why we have to be at school right at 8:30, would 8:34 be ok? This whole summer I was late and early by whole hours with not a care in the world. I marched to the beat of my own drum. Now the drum is pounding down the minutes and I swear my life is run by timers, alarms, calendars, and reminders. I know in my rational thought process it will become an easy routine that will feel more natural and in the near future I will need less caffeine and wine.
   I have started to schedule in my working/painting time. Creating a solid routine has already been beneficial for my growing painting career.  It's hard work being an artist. It's not just playing with paint all day, although luckily some days it is. I have to do a lot of correspondence work, which is often quite encouraging and inspiring.
   I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to pursue my art career as a painter. Thank you to all the wonderful people in my life that support me especially my Significant Other and my many patrons that make what I do important. I hope you stay tuned as to what happens next. The sky's the limit in my heart and mind. On and Up!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Painting Fire

   Portrait of Lt.Billy Cummins
August 27, 2012
30" x 30"
Acrylic on Canvas

   I was given the wonderful opportunity to create this commissioned piece. I was unable to post anything about it until today, which is the fire lieutenants birthday. This post is published to coincide with the receiving of his portrait ( his wife and I didn't want to ruin the surprise).
   This portrait of  Lt.Billy Cummins was an absolute joy to work on. As soon as I saw the reference material that Billy's loving wife Megan showed me I knew that it was something I had to do. Immediately my eyes started to draw out how I was going to make the composition, which type of canvas I was going to use, that it would have to be done in acrylic paint, and which colors I was going to use.
   What I love, just as much as creating the painting, is the reaction it has gotten from first time viewers. I know that I have done a good job when a piece renders people a bit speechless at first and I can see that it hits them with emotion before their language skills can even calculate what is going on. Many viewers first physical reaction to this painting was a slack jaw. It always makes me shout "YES!" inside, knowing I have gotten it right. It is very hard to judge one's own work, so I have to rely on others. When people have a bunch of comments to say right from the start, then I know I have more painting and tweaking to do to complete the painting.
   I just wish that I could take a photo of this painting that does it justice, but it's impossible. That is the great thing about owning original paintings is that they are there to be physically experienced. I did several layers of paint and acrylic gloss to create the fire in contrast to the figure which was left matte. When you walk in front of the painting from one side to the other the fire shimmers and the figure stays stoically still in it's midst. This helps to give an illusion of movement.
  Thank you to Megan Cummins, you were a joy to work with and I hope that the painting brings as much joy to your family as it did me in creating it.
   (Thank you, also to all of Billy's co-workers that helped by sneakily taking photos of his new Lt. helmet so that I could accurately portray it.)


Sunday, August 19, 2012

My Sketchbook

Laying Female Nude
Sketchbook graphite drawing
Summer 2012

I have always had a sketchbook. I don't really remember a time in my life when I didn't have one. I think the first 'real' sketchbook I received when I was about 9. Well I think it was my 9th birthday when my parents gave me a pink hard plastic briefcase full of 'real' art supplies. There was nothing with Crayola on it. There were 'real' brushes, a 'real' pencil set, 'real' paint, 'real' artist paper, and a 'real' sketchbook. Before that I had little notepads that I jotted down drawings and ideas or practiced my writing skills. I started keeping a sketchbook long before I had any titled art classes.
Recently, I have been reading the 'Ramona' series of books by Beverly Cleary to my young children. I remember reading them myself as a child. No wonder I loved them and felt liked I connected to the Ramona character. I was not boisterous and I never got in trouble at school but I did feel the same passion for art as Ramona did. I loved her commitment to originality and self expression. Like Ramona I was fortunate to have parents that encouraged my need for self expression and made sure I could seize every creative opportunity that came my way.
I have filled so many sketchbooks over the years that I have lost count of how many I have. I have also gone through a variety of types and sizes over the years. I am greatful to my parents for funding and providing me with so many sketchbooks. I don't know how I would live without a sketchbook. I would probably write on various pieces of paper and staple them together. I have in the past been without a sketchbook and then find any scrap of paper, napkin, kleenex, or anything that I can draw on and later attach it into my sketchbook.
Now I work in three sketchbooks. I have a small sketchbook that fits into all my bags easily (the drawings shown here are from this small sketchbook). The small one I take with me everywhere, it holds all my random ideas, quick sketches, names of artists I need to look up. It also documents inspiring experiences I have had that fuel my work. I have a medium sized bound sketchbook that I take with me when I know I will have time to draw. I take it on vacations, pull it out to study various still lives, I take it when I know I may have a chance to do at least 5 drawings. Then I have a large, higher quality paper sketchpad of paper that I can easily remove the sheets from. I use this for longer model sessions, extended drawings, softer pencils, or preliminary sketches for large paintings.
I have been teaching and painting so much that I have found, when looking back, that I started putting more notes in my sketchbook than actual sketches. This summer has been full of family and kids so while I am working on a commissioned piece (that I can't share yet as it's a surprise for the client's spouse), I can share this little project I've been working on. I have been making time to sketch. I have been trying to draw more often to exercise my skills of seeing. I have been looking at other artists drawings and copying them in order to learn from them.

(Included are images of drawings of myself and my significant other -the cheap models, the rest are studies I drew of artwork done by other artists - Daniel Graves, Steven Assael, Juliette Sristides, Pierre-Paul Prud'hon.)

Self Portrait
Sketchbook graphite drawing
Summer 2012
Portrait of Wes
Sketchbook graphite drawing
Summer 2012
Female Seated Nude
Sketchbook graphite drawing
Summer 2012
Water Glass
Sketchbook graphite drawing
Summer 2012
Self Portrait
Sketchbook graphite drawing
Summer 2012
Standing Female Nude
Sketchbook graphite drawing
Summer 2012 

Sunday, July 22, 2012


February 2012
30" x 30"
Oil on Canvas
$600.00 CAN

  I have experienced more life changes and made some hard decisions. Now life is reverberating the positive effects of those changes making my changes prove to be positive improvements.
   There was the birth of a son. The decision and incredible support from my significant other to shut down the classroom and to take a break from teaching for the purpose of focusing more on my career as a painter. If I do teach in the future it will not be to the same extent as I have been teaching in the past.
   I was teaching up to ten classes a week. I was quiet sucessful at teaching but it meant that the rest of my life suffered. Sometimes we are really good at things that we shouldn't be doing. Teaching comes naturally to me, it is easy (because I'm bossy and like to chat about art), and I would get a lot of outside praise for it. Just because I am good at it doesn't mean I should be doing it. I saw my own career as an artist start to suffer. I wasn't able to focus on improving my technical skills and work habits because I was having to focus too much on improving others. I'm too helpful to a fault, I guess.
   The word 'quit' is often equated to failure, but that was not what was happening. I am incredibly grateful to have been able to teach private lessons successfully. It provided the funds I needed at the time and I gained exposure for my work as well. Teaching was turning into a world wind and there were so many teaching opportunities for me. It was taking me where I didn't want to go. I am an artist, specifically a painter. I want to paint, I have lots to say with endless ability and skill behind me. Doing what comes easily is not always the path we should leap onto. Part of creating a phenomenal meaningful career is the journey on the way to being successful. I'm stepping onto that path that leads me on that journey to be a successful artist instead of the superficial easy path. My teaching would mean a lot to others but not to myself. Painting would mean a lot to me and the world forever. I want to be apart of the Canon of Art History not the person who introduces others to the artists in it. I don't remember the names of my all my art history profs and I am indeed grateful for all of my instructors and teachers that I have come across in my life. However I will always remember the names of Cassat, Picasso, Matisse, Kahlo, Freud,Warhol, Saville, Okamura, Barber, and others that have changed my life and made me want to be a painter.

   As soon as I had made the decision to focus more on my painting career I immediately received a call to do a commissioned piece (which I just started working on and am thoroughly enjoying paintings it). When I was toying with the idea of letting teaching go I was asked to be apart of two art shows.
  The above painting 'Grip' was shown at the Madplatter in Spruce Grove, AB this past spring. When I painted it I was in the throws of pregnancy hormones. It took longer than usual to complete because my back was very sore from my body being unproportionately heavy in the front. This painting reflects the changes I was facing in every aspect of my life, the relationships with everyone around me, I quit two of my day jobs that I no longer needed to pay the bills and eat up my time, and I was wondering if it was just my imagination or was my body that huge and distorted. (To my surprise, my body somehow magically reformed it's shape).
   While showing 'Grip' I received several comments and all seem to enjoy the work. I love how it meant different things to different people. It could be seen as holding on or taking action. For me it meant both.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Female Figure Paintings and Driven Landscape

 Figure on Blue
Oil on Board
January 16, 2012
$200.00 CAN

Figure on Orange
Oil on Board
January 14, 2012
$200.00 CAN

Driven Landscape
Oil on Canvas
12" x 10"
January 14, 2012
$250.00 CAN

   This past January The Paint Spot in Edmonton had an excellent idea to raise funds for new lighting for their gallery space. The Naess Gallery has been promoting local artists for a long time. Many years ago they gave me and a few of my peers at University the opportunity to show our work. It was a great experience as a fellow artist and myself were in charge of organizing the show. It taught me a lot about how to submit work to galleries and how to talk to the public about my work. It was an invaluable experience that I will never forget.
   This painting project was very interesting and I hope that they continue and make this an annual event. The Paint Spot asked artists to bring in their unfinished paintings and exchange them for other unfinished paintings which you then take and use as a ground for the creation of a completed painting to contribute to the show. I love the idea of someone creating a challenging ground to work from.
   The above paintings I see as great successes. Figure on Blue was originally a wiped out landscape which was mostly a gray blue with a bridge in the middle. I left bits of the gray blue in parts of the figure. Figure in Orange was originally just the orange background which I put a very thin layer of green on the top to give it depth and make the skin colors glow. I enjoy how the colors vibrated against each other. The last, Driven Landscape, was a landscape with a winding walking path down the middle. I kept the trees and sky and emphasized them, manipulating the sky line, added a road and placed my car in the foreground.
   I have always found that it is harder to work from a white canvas. Now with plenty of years of painting experience behind me I know that I always need to start by creating some sort of ground to work from. I cannot start a painting from a white ground, it needs to be loved up first. It doesn't matter if you just smear a bunch of paint on it no matter what color or how many colors, you just need to start of with something. White is too bright and in painting especially in oils, one usually leaves the white highlights to the end of the painting process (though there is always an exception to the rules).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Back to Blogging. Yup, I'm still here. Busy Painting and Instructing.

   I have had an amazing past 6 months. Unfortunately blogging about it has been the last thing on my To Do list, which I am going to take as a good sign. I have been painting instead of blogging, which, for me is always a good sign of productivity.
   I have been very busy with the new school. I am very proud of how the past 6months have gone and I am looking forward to how the next 6 months will go. It seems that every month the school is moving, changing, and growing like flowing water. I am now fortunate enough to be contracting other amazing art instructors as I take more time to focus on my own work and the art business end of things.
   There is of course my growing family as well. I have to mention my lovely family that is constantly supporting me. My children that are quietly doing their own thing as I am busy in the studio. My incredible man who encourages me to stay on track and do what I truly love to do -PAINT!

   The above painting is a work in progress. I started it in June 2011. I have never let a painting go so slowly in progression before. This self-portrait (I can hear my mother growning right now 'Not another painting of Daphne!'), was inspired by reference photos that I took in a hotel washroom in Canmore, Alberta. I hauled my children on this particular trip to Canmore to the Art Speak festival, where they celebrate artists. Anywhere that celebrates artists, especially painters, I felt was definitely calling my name. Canmore is also, one of my favorite little towns and I find it very inspiring.
   I continued to paint this painting as part of demo and show during the Alberta Arts Days here is Stony Plain.
   There are a few more tweaks I want to make to it before I call it done. So you can look forward to seeing it posted in its final state soon.

  Rig #59
Acrylic on Canvas

On the spur of the moment I did this commissioned painting of an oil rig that's located in Northern B.C.  In an unfortunate accident it burnt down in the summer of 2010.

Gold Bow
Oil on Canvas
8" x 10"
$185.00 CAN
Gold Bow was painted after many drawing studies of this metallic golden bow. I had my adults drawing class drawing these bows under dramatic lighting. They got right into it and were so deep in the process there was nothing for me to do. They were in the 'zone' and it would have been damaging and cruel to disturb them, so I grabbed my sketch book and joined in. The next day I did this painting after dreaming about golden bows. I had to get it out of my system.

 Demo Portrait
December 2011
Oil on Canvas
8" x 10"
$200.00 CAN

Self Portrait
December 2011
Oil on Board
10" x 10"
$200.00 CAN

These two portraits were, again, inspired by one of my classes. In my oil painting class, the painting assignment for the day was to use a limited pallet to create portraits. Only three colors of paint were used to create these paintings. I am trying to stress to students to start out with a limited pallet, learn those particular colors inside and out and then add another color to your pallet, having your pallet grow slowly. I have run across many students that bring in a wide variety of colors beyond my supplies list and try to use them all together without knowing anything about any of them and then they get frustrated when they end up with a gray puddle of mush. Sometimes I am a 'meany' and I come along and take away their paint or supplies. We are not going to use that today. Keep it Simple! is a good way to start.