When I started painting pink, purple, and blue backgrounds, I didn’t have a clue where they were going to take me.

I’d already painted “Daylight” and “Afterglow” and thought it might be fun to do a few more similar paintings, inspired by the idea of a “Lover” collection.

I’d saved some reference photos of pink and purple skies in an album with the idea of doing soft backgrounds and then playing with my palette knives to create the details. Big, chunky, bright details.

But once the backgrounds had dried and I spent some time with these paintings-to-be, they seemed to be asking for softer treatment. For something a little bit gentler and simpler. Easier. But ultimately more challenging to create.

I opted for a more impressionist style. Mostly. Fewer hard lines. Painting the feeling of the sky and water and shore, rather than actually delineating each bit.

I worked with some lovely oil from ArtNoise and softened the paint. I’d selected four main colours—Windsor blue red hue, magenta, rose doré, and Payne’s grey—and I blended them with some white without fully mixing the paint. That allowed me to play with the movement on the canvas and shape clouds and the changing colours of the skies.

The first piece in the collection, “False God”, reminds me so much of what it feels like when the sun comes up on our bay in the middle of winter. And I love that it inspired one of my collectors to ask for more of the same but bigger.

“I Think He Knows” takes that same approach of soft, blended tones and adds a small amount of palette knife work to give the shore a little bit more definition. “Cruel Summer” is based on the same reference photo and has palette knife painting for all of the detail.

In building “Cornelia Street” and “You Need to Calm Down”, I took the soft approach to create the bulk of their stories but added the sparse trees in the foreground using a small brush and a lot of loose Payne’s grey. I love how these paintings took on a heightened sense of reality. They don’t really make sense, but they also look a lot like their reference photos. And they feel right to me.

While I was happy with how these five paintings turned out, I was still feeling the pull to do some palette knife painting. I should explain that hese different ways of creating seem to offer different things for my spirit:

Painting details in a deliberate, intentional way, quiets my mind. It brings me focus and helps me centre in. I get lost in the painting and sometimes forget things like food and the tea I just made. It’s calming and meditative.
Playing with blending and a medium and softening the backgrounds really stretches my mind. It can also be frustrating and I go through the range of emotions of “this is great” to “oh no I’ve ruined it” to “crap crap crap crap crap” to “OK it’s going to be alright” to “I’m in love”. It’s a ride. It takes a lot out of me and I am really tired when I’m done.
And then there’s palette knife painting. This is when I feel like there’s a direct line between my soul and the paint. My body doesn’t matter, the tool in my hand doesn’t matter. It’s just me and the paint making something wild and intense and of me. It is a ridiculously cathartic experience and only seems to work when I’d really in the mood for it. When I feel the pull to it, magic seems to happen.

I love the end result of all of these kinds of paintings, but the actual process of palette knife painting is my favourite. I can’t sustain doing it all the time, so it’s great to have a balance. But it is my favourite.

And it’s how I created “Death by a Thousand Cuts”, which is actually based on the same reference photo as “Cornelia Street” but is a far more abstract take on the sky that day. Unlike most of my other palette knife paintings, I actually created this one in two sessions. It didn’t look finished the first day and when I returned to it I was able to add a lot more paint and I think it came out well. It’s very heavy because it’s so thick with paint.

I also used my palette knife to create “Paper Rings”, which is likely my favourite in the collection. It also wasn’t planned and happened because I *needed* to paint with my palette knife one day. I love its energy and its vivid colour. It is based on the same reference photo as “Afterglow” which is now hanging in the home of some very dear friends of mine. I’d made it available because I didn’t think it fit the collection anymore, and now it does. It’s funny how those things go.

I’m including “Daylight” in this collection, even though it’s been available for some time, because it fits and it was always meant to be a part of it. It is named for a “Lover” song after all.

These paintings are filled with love and with energy that gently encourages self-care and growth. I hope they serve to remind you that love isn’t perfect. It can be full of challenges and you might get hurt along the way. Or lose the one you love. But it is always—always!—worth it.

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