Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Last Peony of the Season - Oil Painting

Last of July, 6x8, Oil on Canvas
© Cindy Revell
$325 Framed


I'm back to painting still lifes as I finish up the final painting for an upcoming show this weekend. Last of July was painted at the end of July when my peonies were done blooming and there was this one final, lovely blossom left.

This summer I did 3 peony paintings and kept jars of them near my easel. Their fragrance mingled with the lovely scent of oil paint. The smell of the peonies and my paints, the sight of the dried flowers, bottles, and bowls, all set out as I planned still lifes and left them there to inspire me, windows opened to catch the sounds of birds and a crowing rooster. Delicious.

At those moments I forget about the illustration assignments, commissions, and other projects that are waiting for me and just take it all in, such riches of the senses. Looking at that painting a few months later I remember just how it felt.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Combining Illustration and Oil Painting

It's an interesting back and forth process to switch between illustration and oil painting.They're very different stylistically but they each influence the other. Over the many years of illustration I've explored different ways of getting an idea or story across depending on the requirement for each particular assignment, that builds a bit of a mental storehouse to draw upon for subsequent paintings.

The idea of combining my illustration and oil painting has been lurking in the corners of my mind for a few years but it was a vague idea of exploring themes, patterns, and favourite subject matter in the naive style of my illustration in oils. I made a few stabs at it but it wasn't quite what I wanted, the vision was hovering but just not clear.

One day while doing my early morning writing I could see my vague idea become clearer. I was writing about my recent studies and the things that I was learning from them like painting colour more intuitively and much looser and freer brushwork when suddenly I could see how I could use these expressive ways of painting to combine my illustration style with the oils in a way that would be pure painting pleasure.

What to paint? I kept it simple, choosing motifs that I love like pattern, birds, cats, flowers, and still life. I began exploring different techniques and with each painting things began to fall into place. Where are they going? I'm not sure. I only know that it's the pleasure and exploration that's important for now and the joy of seeing how they change over the years. I would never have done this had it not been for all those years of illustration and then the oil painting, it's all the experimenting and the doing that brought me to these new paintings and it reminds me of the great importance of exploration in art.

Bird with Tulip & Vase, 20 x 16, Oil on Canvas
© Cindy Revell

Thoughts, 20 x 16, Oil on Canvas
© Cindy Revell

Spring Songs, 20 x 16, Oil on Canvas
© Cindy Revell

Russet Spring Songs, 20 x 16, Oil on Canvas
© Cindy Revell

Friday, July 23, 2010

Peony Study

Illuminated, 5x7, Oil on Canvas
© Cindy Revell

This little painting was done early one July morning. The sun was hot and burning off the dew, the air smelled fresh and flowery, bees were buzzing happily and so was I. I brought this lovely peony into the studio to paint where it glowed in the light from a west window. Lately I’ve been exploring more complex compositions, sometimes just in drawings for future paintings but so often I come back to simple motifs like this which seem to have so much impact.

This is one of the paintings that will be at the Candler Art Gallery from July 24 to mid August. I’m excited about this show because my still lifes will be hung with several of my new works which I call hybrids since they are a combination of my illustration and my still lifes. This is the first time that the hybrids have been shown publicly.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Barn Cat - Early Oil Painting

Barn Cat, 9 x 12, Oil on Canvas
© 2004 Cindy Revell

This year has been one of much introspection with regards to my art and the hows and whys of life in general. Yesterday I was thinking of serendipity and how the smallest of events can have a huge impact on your life. In 1989 I took a job as a graphic designer/illustrator and stuck around for about 8 years after which I freelanced as an illustrator. Gina, the woman who hired me back then, and I become friends and kept in touch. One day she told me about her oil painting classes and I shared my own first less that stellar attempt at oils which were done to invigorate my illustration by trying a new medium. Gina suggested I try her oil painting class. I did so in May 2002 but I was very busy and stressed with the demands of illustration and a husband with cancer and didn't love the classes right away. They were simply a way for me to learn what was then a rather vexatious medium. I hung in and a year later I was completely hooked and knew that something very special had taken over my life.

So how does the Barn Cat fit in with all of this? When I was working as a designer/illustrator I was sent out on a field trip with some kids to take some pictures for an annual report. I spied this lovely Buddha like cat who was serenely lording it over the chicken coop, I snapped his picture thinking that I'd do a watercolor of him sometime. The photo hung in my office for years and I took it with me when I left, Gina loved that picture. As I was learning the oils it struck me that the time had come to finally paint that cat. At the time it was all I could do to manipulate the paint and the composition suffered from a too literal reliance on the photo. I changed a few things but missed a few critical ones which as an illustrator I should have spotted right off the bat. In spite of it's imperfections Gina fell in love with the painting and became one of my first collectors.

Art had always been a fairly major force in my life and while illustration is still a big part of my days my obsession with oil painting fills nearly every other available moment. How I oil paint has changed hugely but looking back I'm amazed at how it all started.

All because someone needed a graphic designer way back in 1989.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bean Pot with Pens and Brushes

Bean Pot with Pens and Brushes
6 x 8

With this little painting my goal was to paint as fast as I possibly could. My brush was flying and I found that soft edges came easily by painting fast and with thick paint. Strangely enough the colors and the 'feel' of the painting seemed truer in this speedy painting than some paintings in which I've carefully striven to capture the exact color of the light. Funny how painting fast can really shake things up, in a good way.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mandarin Orange - Study in OIl

Mandarin Study
6 x 6
275.00 Framed

Simplicity vs complexity. The straightforward approach to honoring the beauty of a humble orange can have as great an impact as a more complicated one. The small painting a day movement has done much to remind people of the incredibly beauty in simplicity. With nothing else in the painting to distract us we’re able to appreciate the variety of colours, textures, lights and darks in that one little object. Many artists become attuned to these kinds of things after years of close observation. The ability to notice these kinds of things make us very lucky people indeed. How enriching.

A lone orange, so simple yet so lovely and rarely do we notice that aspect of it as we guzzle it’s tangy juices.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Finding The Colour of Light in a Still Life

Plum in Mexican Bowl
5 x 7 Oil on Panel


This little Mexican bowl with it's thin strip of intense blue is such a beautiful little thing. It sits on a table right beside my easel holding holding pebbles. In this little painting I was trying to do two things, work swiftly and create exciting and lively brushstrokes and to capture colour more intuitively. I've been working on this with my studies for some time now. Sometimes when you look at light in your still life set up the colours seem to shift right before your eyes, one moment they might appear orangey and the next more pink. When that happens it causes a lot of head scratching, peering, and squinting. The trick seems to be to look fairly quickly and paint the first impressions of a colour. It seems easier to capture the elusive colour of light with a quick look versus a long analytical look which is invariably when the second guessing starts. Art, strangely yet wonderfully perplexing.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Chapter Book - Grandma and the Depicters

What a great year 2009 was! It's been one adventure after another trying new techniques and methods as well as revisiting old mediums and exploring new ones. I've been painting with gouache, a digital tablet, and pen and ink with watercolour. It's eye opening to explore a variety of mediums and it's amazing how each one affects how you paint with the other.

My final project of the year was the art for Rosalie Silverstone's 11 chapter book 'Grandma and the Depicters'. When I was first approached to do this book I thought it just might be the perfect project for pen & ink with watercolour since the interior illustrations were to be black and white. After working for so many years in acrylic and oils I'd forgotten how wonderfully lively this combination can be and I'm glad have them as part of my repertoire again.

'Grandma and the Depicters' was written for children aged 7 – 12 but I loved it, guess I'm still a kid. You can get this highly enjoyable book at