“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau
Mountainscape is the first complete painting I made outside of a class, the first painting of this size I attempted, and my first landscape. It took an incredibly long time (well over a year) but is still one of my favourite works to date.
It was inspired by the landscape in British Columbia. The orange trees, though reminiscent of changing fall colours are actually the result of a beetle that is common in BC. The Mountain Pine Beetle is known for burrowing into the trunks of pine trees, killing them in the process. The needles on the tree turn orange before falling off as the tree dies. Though beautiful, it is a serious problem in the area.
Most of the reflection, sky, and mountain were created using a palette knife. The rest was done with paintbrushes, adding thicker paint and more texture to the foreground to give the illusion of depth.
Wildflowers By The Pond
This is a small (4x4) representation of some purple wildflowers that grow among the tall grass and cattails surrounding the shallow pond at the house I grew up in. The overgrown pond area draws in all kinds of wildlife like butterflies, snakes, muskrats, and ducks. It is the same spot where I captured the photo of a Monarch butterfly shown on my ‘photography’ page.
The painting took about 30 minutes and was created primarily with a palette knife.
These two small landscapes were created using acrylic paint on sheets of aluminum (intended for photo printing). The landscape on the right depicts hay fields where I used to gallop my horses as a teenager growing up in Hillsburgh Ontario.
Mountainscape - Sold
Wildflowers By The Pond
As a white woman who is passionate about social justice I have spent a lot of time thinking about the best ways to be an ally. I have learned that it is not about using my voice, but creating space for the voices of those who are directly impacted by these issues.
Colin Kaepernick is an athlete-activist who was a quarterback for the San Fransisco 49ers. In 2016 he began kneeling during the national anthem as a peaceful protest against racial injustice and systemic oppression (a protest that continues to be carried out by some of his colleagues in the NFL like Eric Reid). His actions led to a wider protest movement that was met with intense backlash from members of the public and the NFL organization. At the end of the season he became a free agent and went unsigned. He filed a grievance against the NFL and its owners for collusion to keep him out of the league in 2017 that has been confidentially settled as of February 2019. His activism has continued outside of football and includes starting and fully funding a free camp called Know Your Rights aimed at empowering youth. He has also completed his Million Dollar Pledge that involved donating $1,000,000 of his own money to 37 different organizations including Assata’s Daughters, Standing Rock, and United We Dream.
This painting, released hours before the 2019 Super Bowl on February 03, is intended to show my support for Colin’s mission and approach. It took roughly four months to complete and is actually my first attempt at painting human subject matter.
For more information visit kaepernick7.com
Painted by Morgan O’Brien
The paints I use for my fluid abstracts are oil based and often separate in the bottle leaving a thick clay-like pigment that cannot be easily spread or poured. Since I hate wasting any paint, I decided to use the sediment in a painting. Using a knife I laid it across the canvas like peanut butter. That is the thick white parts you see around the edges and in parts of the middle. It created amazing grainy texture and added depth to the piece. Though there are only two colours used, the various textures add complexity.
This piece was made on a 4x5 canvas board.
This is one of my 6x6 fluid paintings on wood, created using Pebeo Vitrail viscous paints. Once poured, the paints take over 24hrs to dry. During the drying process the colours tend to shift and react with each other creating unexpected effects. This painting contains only two colours - dark brown and off white. As the brown settled across the white it created tiny fragments and a dark edge, creating the appearance that reminds me of decaying leaves. I then sealed the painting with a clear resin epoxy that adds depth and enhances the details.
This is the first of what I like to call “process paintings.” The name refers to a painting that emerged through the process of creating other works of art, without its own specific direction or end goal. While painting my fluid abstract pieces I found that a lot of paint was being wasted as it poured over the edge of each canvas. Personally I can’t stand unnecessary waste - probably because I’m on a student budget and let’s face it, paint is expensive! So I began using blank canvases to catch the “waste.” This is the result of dozens of paintings being created overtop of one rather large (36x48) canvas. Pretty cool huh?
It is titled Hidden Figures because after layers and layers of random paint drippings I decided to use a paint paste to add some odd little characters throughout the piece, just for fun.
This is one of the few paintings I created with someone specific in mind. It now hangs in my brother’s Downtown Toronto apartment. The painting itself can be interpreted in many ways but my intention was to create something bold and powerful not arrogant or rude. I also find it quite amusing to picture it overlooking an entire city as though it’s essence is untouchable (like my brother). A reminder not to fixate on the expectations and limitations others project onto you.
I had my own breakthrough while painting this piece. After spending weeks drawing and redrawing the outline only to have the proportions be excruciatingly and perpetually messed up, I finally put down the pencil and decided to wing it (or “f*** it” if you will). Once I started loosely painting the rough shape the proportions came naturally and I was able to refine it with each layer. When I let go of the nagging perfectionism that prevented me from attempting to paint it for weeks I was able to finish the entire piece in a weekend.
Rise is named after Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.” I was planning to incorporate the poem into the background of the painting but decided that it would resonate more with the names of black men and women who have been killed by police. I also wanted to pay tribute to those whose stories of discrimination and police brutality didn’t make it to mainstream media. Each name contributes to a bigger picture that is deeply unsettling and unjust.
We often think of police brutality as an issue that is exclusive to the United States but there are several people listed here that were killed in Canada. The smudging of the background represents the erasure of those stories.
To learn more about Canada’s historic and continued state-sanctioned violence against black lives I recommend reading “Policing Black Lives” by Robyn Maynard.
I have challenged myself to paint or draw every day for some time now. It started out as a means of honing my skills and overcoming mental blocks like “will it be good enough,” and just produce something. As I filled my sketchbook something urged me to dust off the watercolours - a medium I religiously avoid. My daily art practice then blossomed (pun intended) into these 14x17 floral watercolours. These are very different from my typical thick, layered acrylic but I have come to love painting them. It just goes to show how gratifying it can be to push yourself outside of your comfort zone! Here are just a few from the first batches of watercolours.