Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Night Garden

Carrizo © 2010 Janice Mason Steeves

I think one of the things I love best about painting is play. I love constantly trying out new techniques and materials and using them to push my work into new and unexpected directions.

Robert Genn in one of his recent newsletters, suggested a project encouraging play. He encourages an artist to: "Line up a hundred or so small inexpensive panels, papers or canvases and have them ready to go. Give yourself a more limited palette--perhaps half your normal range. Put all reference material and prior works out of sight. If this is not possible, work in a new environment such as a hotel room or friend's cottage. In preparation for starting the program, bring yourself to a mentally uncluttered, dream-like state. Now, over a relatively short period of time, fill the first support with a limited number of strokes. Get your subject matter from the deep well of your memory. Don't finish, move on to the next."

I think I'll try that, but meanwhile, I have been playing, and my work is branching out in new directions. I've been working lately with cold wax medium. When I was in Santa Fe last fall I saw the wonderful work of Rebecca Crowell in Darnell Fine Art on Canyon Road. Her beautifully poetic and understated abstractions are created with cold wax medium. Always interested in learning new techniques that I can incorporate into my own work, I contacted Rebecca and have emailed back and forth with her. I've also signed up for a workshop with her in Wisconsin this spring. When she sent me the list of supplies required, I went right out and bought the lot. And after she kindly replied to a few of my questions, I'm off and running with my own version of paintings using cold wax medium. After trying to work like Rebecca for a number of unsuccessful paintings, the method finally incorporated itself into my work and the painting above is one of the first ones that I am happy with. I found it quite astonishing that my imagery has gone back to pull from my older work-images of flowers. Only this time it is revisiting an old image with different eyes.

I'm preparing for a show at Wallace Galleries in Calgary, Alberta, which opens April 24th. I'm calling the show Night Garden.


  1. Gorgeous painting! I am so excited to see what happens when you come to the workshop.

  2. Beautiful work Janice. I love you rich warm palette and now I'm curious about cold wax medium.