I originally had only two elements in my painting, the ship and the falls. I was happy with how it looked, but I knew I could do better. I added some rocks and trees. It was better, but I still knew I could push myself further. I added the twisted pine tree to bring more life to the painting. I wanted to make the atmosphere seem windy and salty. Now I was getting somewhere. The painting was coming to life at last. I work in a before and after school care, and knew that the kids would love to climb all over the tree I just painted. Following my desire to add life, I thought, “Is there anything more alive than a bunch of kids playing?” So I made some sketches of kids. I was not sure if I could come up with the figures without any reference photos, but I knew that my brain should remember exactly what kids look like since I spend every day with them! This painting was a huge confidence booster for me. I drew the kids and put them in the painting. It only took about a day and I was surprised at how quickly I was able add that extra life.
I came up with the name “Setting Sail” for two reasons; this is the story of a ship leaving the inlet and heading to some place unknown, and my journey as an artist as I apply these new principles to paintings of the future. This painting wasn’t 100% out of my imagination. I did use a few photos to help me out, but I didn’t start there. I started with picturing something in my head, and translating that to paint. If you have ever imagined something and then made it a reality then you know how great the reward is. My aim with this painting and future ones like it is to inspire others to use their imaginations. I hope to encourage kids to think outside the box. Everyone is unique and has something to share with others.
There is a very specific approach to creating a painting. For as long as I have been serious about my art, I have used this process: go somewhere, take photos and possibly sketch, come home, look at the photos, choose a few for references, and create a new painting. I didn’t realize it, but I was putting a huge limit on what I allowed myself to paint.
A few months before I started “Setting Sail”, I found a youtube artist, MuralJoe, who helped me come to the conclusion that I needed to use more imagination in my paintings. As an experiment, I decided to start this new project. Could I picture a place in my mind, and apply it to canvas in a way that I was pleased with?
I wanted something to remind me of my sailing trip in 2017. I remember we stopped at Chatterbox Falls in the Princess Louisa Inlet along the West Coast. This was our first opportunity to shower since we set sail. The water was absolutely freezing! There were hundreds of pounds of water splashing down, so you could only stand in the mist of the falls. I remember noticing about a dozen rainbows as I looked through the almost rain like drops of water. This was one inspiration for “Setting Sail”.
The waterfall I visited was tiny compared to the ones in my painting, but I wasn’t interested in capturing reality. My aim was to create the same feeling I had when I was surrounded by that mist and the roar of the water. I painted the falls on the canvas and I knew right away that this was going to be a fun painting to work on!