The difference a paper can make

March 22nd, 2010

Daisies I by Kendra Smith
I was inspired by Dora Themelis to write this post. (You can find her on twitter at http://twitter.com/DorasPaintDrips.) I commented on her post about painting with watercolours where she compares two wonderful portraits she has done. Thinking about the importance of the materials behind every artist prompted me to write more of my own experience in a blog post as well.

Watercolours aren’t easy at first and especially for complicated subjects. The more detail you are adding to a painting the higher the possibility of roughing up the paper surface causing streaks, lines and smudges to appear in your painting. This is very discouraging for the beginning artist and can deter some people from painting with watercolours. Watercolours are known for their pure luminous quality so it is extremely frustrating when all you end up with are dull overworked paintings.

It can take a lot of practice painting layered transparent washes but with the right paints and techniques it is possible to end up with a glowing rich painting. I also believe that the paper you are using can make a world of difference.

For example, a heavier paper would make the whole process so much easier. I use 300 pound cold press paper and it really helps. It’s hard to explain how much difference a paper can make but it can truly be a huge factor in the success of the painting. The cold press paper has a rough texture which gives the painting a “tooth” for the paint to grab onto which is great for dry-brushing texture such as ice, bark, pebbles, a roof, etc.

The weight of the paper makes it less susceptible to curling and puddling. It also makes the paper more forgiving which means you won’t be as likely to rub off the surface fibres of the paper as you apply multiple brushstrokes in one area.

It’s also important to note that the brand of paper you are using can also a big difference which in my opinion can be night and day. I love Arches paper. The colours seem to blend a lot smoother. It has just the right amount of sizing which is applied to these cotton papers so that they won’t absorb the water too quickly. I guess it kind of protects the paper from getting waterlogged in a way. I have used other papers which have been nearly impossible to paint a smooth clean wash on without getting streaks or run-backs, cauliflower like stains in the painting.

Here is an example of two washes I made using 140 pound paper of two different brands. I used the same technique in both examples.

As far as painting styles you will develop your own as your familiarity with the medium increases. Watercolour can be frustrating for sure, but I absolutely love the medium. When I lay down the perfect wash it makes my heart sing.


Unveiling the Magic of Watercolour

March 18th, 2010

Kendra Smith demonstrating at the Sun Peaks Winter Wine Festival 2010In January I was a guest artist at the Sun Peaks Winter Wine Festival. To attract people to my table I demonstrated intriguing watercolour techniques using ordinary household items.

I can’t say I ever had a massive crowd lined up at my table; however, one man did wait 15 minutes to find out how to paint a birch tree with a fork! In fact, the organizer of the event came and told me that people were talking about my birch tree with a fork demo all the way up the village!

Here I will share with you the tricks behind the techniques: the unveiling of the magic!

1. How to Paint a Birch Tree with a Fork!
birch tree The first step is to paint in the background around the area where you want your tree to go, leaving that part white. Next, wet the paper along the tree trunk and drop in your shadow colours. Then use the handle of the fork to create the birch bark along the tree by pushing it into the paper and dragging it across the tree in various parts of the trunk. This will cause some of the paint to be lifted revealing the white birch, and some of the paint to seep into the crevasses which makes the dark lines of the bark. You can then dab in a few drops of dark paint for contrast. If you paint in any branches, use one of the prongs on the fork to scratch along the branch to create texture.

2. Turn Salt into Snowflakes!
This one is so fun, and literally quite magical.

As with the birch tree you must save your whites, so paint your background colour around any white areas, such as the snowmen in this example. While the paint is STILL WET, sprinkle some salt onto the painting.

At first you won’t notice any change, but slowly as the paint dries the salt will absorb some of the water and as it does it will also draw some of the colour towards it. This will leave magical little snowflakes in their wake. The wetter the painting when you drop in the salt the bigger the snowflakes (you can actually get quite a blizzard going), and the drier the paint the smaller the snowflakes will turn out, which works great if you are trying to create stars in the sky!

3. Paint Under Water with Cellophane!
To clarify, I am not actually putting the paper under water and then painting it using cellophane. This is what my dad thought when he read my last blog post. I thought about changing the title to be more clear, but then since the purpose of my titles was to intrigue people, and my dad was immensely curious, I decided to leave it. What I am actually doing is painting an under water scene with the aid of cellophane.

This is also very fun and a great exercise for giving up control since you never know how it is going to turn out. What you do is paint on your background very wet.

Make sure the paint is a lot darker than what you want it to be since a lot of the colour will be lifted off by the cellophane which you then place over the painting.

Press the cellphane into the wet paint and then let it dry. When you peel it off you will see the abstract pattern that it created in the painting. In this case it is meant to represent the light refracting through the water.

4. Use a Candle to Make a Moonlit Reflection
moonlit reflectionIn this exercise take an ordinary white candle (I used a tea light) and rub it gently over the dry paper where you want your reflection to appear. This is a little like using a magic pen to write a secret message which will not be revealed until you paint over it (another great idea for a demo!).

Since you want your horizon to lay flat it is imperative that you use horizontal strokes to create the reflections. The harder you press the whiter the reflections will be. Make sure you don’t get any candle wax above the edge of the water since you won’t be able to cover it up later. Now you simply paint your picture. The darker the colour you use for the water the brighter your reflections will appear.

In this case I waited for the paint to dry and then I used a damp brush to scrub some extra vertical highlights to make it really sparkle.

5. Turn a Carrot into a Person!

I can’t remember where I learned this trick but it is the best thing for painting natural looking people walking in your landscapes. This one works just like it sounds. First you paint a carrot. It doesn’t have to be orange, but I made this one orange for good effect. Don’t paint the greenery (unless you are painting someone in a Mardi Gras parade). Next add a head. Don’t paint the neck or it will look awkward. That’s pretty much it, but then it’s up to you if you add arms or props like skis and poles!

Here is an example where all the people started out as carrots:

I can’t say I had as many onlookers as I hoped, but I can say that I certainly garnered a lot more interest due to these tips and tricks using everyday items. I also had a free draw which helped attract people over to my table. The highlight of my whole weekend was the delighted reaction from the grand prize winner. She couldn’t have been happier and that absolutely made my day.

Here I am with the winner of my Sun Peaks limited edition giclee.
Grand Prize winner of Kendra Smith limited edition giclee of Sun Peaks


Manifesting Goals

March 12th, 2010

This week I experienced firsthand the power of saying goals out loud. When you say a goal out loud the Universe immediately begins to conspire to bring that goal to life. For example, last week I said that I was going to try and drum up some graphic design work and I made a plan to call one of my old clients the next day. When I sat down at my computer in the morning there was an email in my inbox from that exact client and I hadn’t even called him yet!

Did my saying it out loud make it happen? I don’t know, but I love the idea that it could have. I’m tempted to believe it did. There’s more. That very afternoon my lifecoach introduced me to one of her friends who needs some graphic design work done on her website!

I did not even seek this out! All I did was say out loud that I wanted to do more graphic design work, and ta da! the Universe hands me 2 clients the very next day!

This gets even better… last night my studio partner and I said that we want to expand our territory and then today I met for coffee with one of my friends that I graduated with a few years ago and she is opening her own gallery! She invited my studio partner and I to be two of the artists in her gallery Wine Valley Accents!

Wine Valley Accents

If all of this can happen just from saying my goals out loud, imagine what will happen when I start to write them down.


Attracting People with Watercolour Magic

January 21st, 2010

Tomorrow night I am a guest artist at the Sun Peaks Winter Wine Festival during their progressive wine tasting event. I had no idea until the other day that they were going to be selling 600 tickets for this event! I also found out that I wasn’t going to be giving an introduced presentation like I did this summer at the Wine and Culture Festival where I had everyone’s undivided attention for 5 minutes. This time everyone will be meandering to and fro at their own pace between wine venues. It is going to be up to me to attract people over to my table.

Oh my gosh! At first this made me very nervous. I had visions of me calling people over to my table to see what I am doing. Nervewracking!

Then I had an idea… what if I could ATTRACT them to my table without having to say anything. What if I could peak their interest and make them just curious enough that they might come over to my table on their own accord?

Brilliant! … but how to do this? I decided to make a big poster with a schedule of demos on it so people would know when I am doing what. But is this enough to attract them to my table? Not everyone is interested in learning how to paint. Maybe if I demonstrate the watercolour secret tricks of using household items to paint landscapes it will intrigue people. Maybe I’ll even attract a few who don’t have any interest in learning how to paint, but simply want to know how the heck I am going to paint a birch tree with a fork!

This is what I have so far:

Unveiling the Magic of Watercolour5 minute demos showing how to:

6:15 Make a Birch Tree with a Fork!

6:45 Turn Salt into Snowflakes!

7:15 Paint under water with cellophane!

7:45 Use a candle to make a moonlit reflection!

8:15 Turn a carrot into a person!

8:30 Win a Prize! Enter the FREE DRAW before 8:30! Lots of prizes to be won! Grand prize is a limited edition print of Sun Peaks village valued at $270.

I am still nervous, but now in a good way. Even if no one comes over to my table, at least I have a plan. I won’t be painting aimlessly for 3 hours! And if people aren’t interested in my demos, maybe they’ll be interested in my free draw! Everyone likes to win a prize!

So there you have it, this is how I am going to attract people using the magic of watercolour. I’ll let you know if it works. Now only if I knew how to attract people to my art show on Saturday…

To read my follow up blog post about this event, go to “Unveiling the Magic of Watercolour”


Art Show at Sun Peaks Winter Wine Festival

January 16th, 2010

On Friday I’m heading to the Sun Peaks Winter Wine Festival to present at the Progressive Wine Tasting event. Then on Saturday I’m having my ninth annual art show! This year it is in the lower lobby of the Delta Hotel.

Sun Peaks Art Show
Saturday, January 23, 10am-2pm
Lower Lobby of the Delta Hotel


I’ll be displaying originals, reproductions, art cards, magnets and bookmarks. Find me in the lower lobby of the Delta Hotel along with artists Ken Farrar and Sol Metal Designs. This art show is presented by the art gallery Tree Line Studios.

Sun Peaks Ski Resort is located north of Kamloops, BC. You can read more about my art show on my website at http://www.kendraart.com/exhibit.html.

Hope to see you there!

Kendra Smith

www.kendraart.com
Art for your lifestyle


Paintings En Route for Jasper and Whistler

December 8th, 2009
Whistler After Dusk

Whistler After Dusk, Whistler, BC. Watercolour painting by Kendra Smith. Available at Mountain Galleries.
I am so excited. I just sent the largest number of original paintings to Mountain Galleries that I have ever shipped at one time. I was so nervous to let anyone take my parcel. No one will insure art! (Now maybe if I had purchased the art they would insure it for me, but since I painted it, there is no such luck.) So here I am trying to find a company I trust to take 23 of my original watercolours to Jasper. I was going to send them by priority post but Canada Post uses Fed-Ex who contracts out their work. I didn’t want my paintings going through so many hands. It took me a while but I finally couriered them by ground which insures they stay in the same cage the whole trip.

This shipment was momentous for me. Firstly it is a huge honour to be an artist in Mountain Galleries along side amazing professional artists such as Alan Wylie, Jerry Heine, Gail Johnson, and the list goes on. (I’m in the same gallery as Robert Genn, Brian Atyeo, and one of my favourites, Jack Reid ~ who taught me how to paint snow in 2002!) As well, this was the first time that the gallery accepted every piece I showed them!

Some of the paintings will stay at the Jasper Originals gallery in the Jasper Park Lodge, which was the original gallery opened by artist and film maker Wendy Wacko.

Peaking Over at Mount Edith Cavell from Whistlers, Jasper, AB Mount Edith Cavell in Jasper Alberta. Watercolour painting by Kendra Smith. Available at Mountain Galleries.Others such as these Lake Louise paintings will be sent to the Banff location of Mountain Galleries in the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel:

Lake Louise Love

Lake Louise Love. Watercolour painting by Kendra Smith. Available at Mountain Galleries in Banff, Alberta.

Lake Louise Lakeside Path

Lake Louise Lakeside Path. Watercolour painting by Kendra Smith. Available at Mountain Galleries in Banff, Alberta
Eleven of the paintings are being delivered at the end of December to the Whistler gallery in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler by Wendy herself. This is the part I am most excited about.

In March I gave my notice for my teaching job so that I could paint full time. I had just recently been accepted into the Whistler gallery and with the Olympics less than a year a way I knew I would regret it if I spent my time marking papers rather than painting. I am so glad I made that choice.

Heading to Could Nine

Heading to Cloud Nine, Whistler, BC. Watercolour by Artist Kendra Smith. Available at Mountain Galleries in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Painting continuously has given me the chance to grow as an artist. When you paint in spurts it often seems like you are always starting at square one. This summer and fall I had a chance to get on a roll. It was a glorious feeling.


Thank you for your support!

November 29th, 2009

I can’t believe that I forgot to take pictures of my art show this year! However, last year I took pictures and I forgot to post them, so maybe I can even it out by posting last year’s photo of Carrie and I at our annual Christmas Studio show.


Thank you to everyone who came to our show. It was wonderful to see such a great turn out. The studio was full for 4 hours straight on Friday night, and we were busy for most of Saturday too! We really appreciate your support.

I would also like to express a special thank you to Mountain Galleries. It was the opportunity of showcasing my work in Whistler this winter that gave me the inspiration to quit my job in March and paint full time. I feel that with my two trips as artist in residence with Mountain Galleries in Jasper, Banff and Whistler I gained confidence and developed a new palette. My paintings have new colours in them which brings them alive. I have learned so much this summer and I feel that my paintings have taken a leap since last year. I’m very grateful for this experience.


Whistler Paintings on my Easels

November 8th, 2009


Lately I have been painting some full sheet watercolours of the mountains in Whistler. With the Olympics coming up this February, I want to make sure that Mountain Galleries is stocked up on winter paintings of the ski hill.

The first painting, “Whistler’s Backyard” is a view of the snowy hills surrounding the valley with a view of Blackcomb and Whistler Mountain ski runs in the background. “Harmony”, the painting on the right, is a run leading to Harmony Chairlift with Armchair Mountain, Spearhead and Blackcomb Peak in the background.


Renderings for Log Home Company

August 27th, 2009

Pioneer Log Homes has contracted me to create the backgrounds and landscaping for their log home rendering. The images I create will go on their website to show perspective buyers what their designs look like in situ. The contract is a lot of fun because it is a blend of technical and creative which I love.

An example of a design they gave me:
This is what I did with it:

Here is the photo I used for the background:

Cutting and pasting images sounds easy, but this process is a lot more time consuming than you might think. It involves cutting around branches and leaves pixel by pixel:

As well as creating the background, I put objects in the foreground so the house looks like it is part of the landscape, such as the trees I added on the left. I colour corrected them to match the overall hues of the picture. I then add human touches like flowerbeds to make it more homey and reflections in the windows to show the sky and surrounding landscape.

Finally I add texture to the ends of the logs to make them more realistic. On the left is the before picture. In the middle is a version I use if the house is farther away and the one on the right is what I do if the house is closer up and I need more detail:
My renderings will be uploaded to their new website which they are launching in September. They will add more as they are completed.


Street Scene Paintings of Cafes in Whistler

August 21st, 2009
La Bocca Cafe in Whistler Village
La Bocca Cafe in Whistler Village Painting
Painting in Progress of La Brasserie In Whistler
Painting La Brasserie Pub in Whistler
Finished painting of La Brasserie


Paintings from Trip to Whistler

August 20th, 2009
Whistler Blackcomb Peak to Peak Gondola
Whistler Peak to Peak Gondola painting
Whistler Peak Express
Watercolour painting of Whistler Peak Express by Kendra Smith
Franz’s Chair Whistler Mountain
Painting of Franz's Chair at Whistler Mountain

Here are some of the results from my recent painting trip. I was invited by Mountain Galleries to be their artist in residence for a week in Whistler, BC. While there I took two trips up the gondola. One day was sunny and the next completely socked in, as you can see by the painting I did of the Peak to Peak gondola.


Kelowna Fires

July 30th, 2009

My studio partner Carrie Harper is having an art show in August at A. Woodside Design Gallery on Pandosy Street. Her new collection is an exploration of the 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park fire and it’s regrowth.

Carrie writes: “Every spring a bit more color fills the spaces that were black and grey and then, even the burned spires reach to the sky symbolizing sacrifice. That day I was there facing the black trees against the white snow and fog, I was able to see not the past of burning and fear and loss but the spaces in between where color exists. My hope is that our community can look at my paintings and see the spaces in between.”

It was unknown to her when she painted the series that the 2009 fires would soon be blazing. Last week I could see flames in the trees across the lake and a huge plume of smoke behind the hills from the Kelowna and Fintry fires. For many it was a very scary experience and also a very real reminder of the 2003 fires in Kelowna. Some of my friends were evacutated from their homes or on alert.

At Carrie’s reception on Thursday, August 6th she will have a draw at 5:00 for anyone affected by the 2003 or 2009 fires. If you or anyone you know was affected by the fires, please come to the reception. The recipient will be able to choose a painting from the collection.

Carrie’s “Burn Out” show runs at the A Woodside Gallery, 1561 Pandosy St. (downtown), from August 1st to 31st. Please come to the opening on the 6th from 5pm to 9pm, everyone is welcome.
Further info: 250 862 3817.


Whistler Painting Trip

July 28th, 2009


Next Tuesday I am heading to Whistler to paint for a week! I have been invited by Mountain Galleries as part of their artist in residence program. I am excited to travel to Whistler to paint for a gallery. Mountain Galleries is located in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. It is an honour to be represented by them, as well as a dream come true.


Painting Lesson

July 23rd, 2009

Today I taught a private watercolour lesson to a 16 year old girl visiting Kelowna from Grande Prairie. Her dad found my KendraArt website when he did a Google search for painting lessons in Kelowna.

We went over all the basics of watercolour. Above is a demonstration of painting branches on a birch tree and then adding texture by pulling an exacto knife through the wet paint. Tilt the blade on its side and push it into the paper as you pull it along at an angle. The goal isn’t to cut the paper, but to squeeze the paint to the edges of the branch, leaving a rough white textured area along the branch. Do this by pressing the edge of the blade into the paper rather than the tip of the blade.

See more free watercolour painting demonstrations at www.kendraart.com/workshops.html.


Follow Your Heart

July 21st, 2009


I was a feature artist at Art Walk this weekend at Sun Peaks. Just before 2:00 we got word that the final count was 33 tickets sold so there would be two groups. Peter Ernst started preparing the food tasting at Bella Italia. We were lucky that we weren’t the first restaurant on the tour because our wine rep was hosting a seminar until 2:30. Shortly after he arrived our first tour group walked in. The tour guide introduced me and I gave a short presentation.

I told everyone that I lived at Sun Peaks for two winters 12 years ago. I said I think I would have been voted least likely in my highschool to become a snowboard bum. I was told I could be anything I wanted to be, but I just knew that the perfect career was out there for me somewhere and I just didn’t know what it was yet. I felt like one day it would appear to fall into my lap, but no one would see all the little steps that took me there in my life. Sometime you can follow a path in life to your dream even if you are not sure what your goal is. As long as you follow your heart you will be going in the right direction.

At that time my roommates and I couldn’t afford art for our walls, so we decided to paint our own. My first painting was of a snowboarder jumping off a cliff. I even made ten small postcards and sold a few of them for $5.00 each at what used to be Bags Chocolates in the Village.

After I moved away from Sun Peaks I took a watercolour lesson and I was instantly hooked. I love painting. I feel so grateful to be leading such a creative lifestyle. When you have a passion you will never be bored, you will never be lonely. It is a great way to live.

I answered several questions and then the wine rep presented the wines for the wine tasting and food pairing as the Italian pasta was served.

Bella Italia provided me with a delicious dinner that night and Sun Peaks Tourism and Sun Peaks Lodge paid for my hotel room. This made my day. I really appreciated being taken care of like that. I have been painting for ten years and this is like a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to be a guest speaker. To have my accomodation taken care of was such a treat. Thank you Bella Italia, Sun Peaks Tourism and Sun Peaks Lodge! A big thanks too to Tree Line Studios who organised the Art Walk event and hosted us on Sunday in front of the gallery.

Follow your heart and your dreams can come true too.


New Summer Paintings

July 15th, 2009
Kendra Smith painting of Sun PeaksKendra Smith daisies painting Kendra Smith canoe by lake painting

Here are three of the new original paintings I will be taking to Sun Peaks with me this weekend for the Wine and Culture Festival. After the Festival I will be leaving new artwork at Tree Line Studios in the village center.


Sun Peaks Wine and Culture Festival

July 9th, 2009

The second annual Wine and Culture Festival will be hosted during Alpine Blossom Season at Sun Peaks Resort July 17-19th, 2009. The art festival is 2-4 on Saturday July 18 where Kendra will be set up in a restaurant at Sun Peaks. There would be 3-4 presentation to groups of 20-25 people and the presentations will be 5 minutes long showing how the art is produced. Kendra will share the history of her art career and her passion of art with the wine drinkers. From 4-6pm Kendra will be painting at her station and available to answer any questions.

On Sunday, July 19, Kendra will be set up in front of Tree Line Studios from 11am-2pm with three other artists from the gallery. At the same time there is a lively Farmer’s Market on Sun Peaks Way, so there will be lots to see and do.

To read more about the art gallery at Sun Peaks, visit Tree Line Studios website, or call them at 250-578-2674 for more information.


New Whistler Art

June 22nd, 2009

“Symphony” 22×30 Original Watercolour
Available at Mountain Galleries

When I went to Jasper I took all of my new Whistler paintings with me. Mountain Galleries has three gallery locations in the Fairmont Hotels in Jasper, Banff and Whistler. The owner, Wendy Wacko, took seven out of my nine winter paintings to send to Mountain Galleries in the Chateau Whistler.

“Horstman T-Bar” 22×30 Original Watercolour
Available at Mountain Galleries

Here is a link to view the rest of my Whistler art.


Lake Louise Abstract Shoreline

June 21st, 2009
Lakeshore Shapes Lake Louise
15×22 Original Watercolour

This is a painting I did last night of the interesting shapes in the lakeshore along Lake Louise. I really liked the fanlike rocks falling into the lake out of the mountainside. I was going to paint it a lot more abstract but before I knew it I was painting little details like spattering rocks on with a toothbrush and creating fir trees with the side of my round brush against the texture of the paper. It took on a life of its own.


Banff Paintings

June 21st, 2009

June 10, 2009
I left Jasper on Monday afternoon to drive to Banff where I have been staying in staff accomodation at the Banff Springs Hotel as part of Mountain Galleries artist in residence program. It is beautiful here. Yesterday I hiked Johnston Canyon to take photos of the seven waterfalls. I also went to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake which was amazing. I got to Moraine Lake just after 8pm when the sun was about to set. The light on the mountain peaks was stunning. I was so lucky.

Early this morning I drove around the Banff Springs golf course by the river to take photos of the backside of Mount Rundle. Then I hiked Silverton Falls, took pictures of Castle Mountain, drove to Lake Louise, painted a picture of Victoria Glacier and walked around the lake, stopped at Castle Mountain on the way back to start another painting, and then tonight I walked along the marshes taking photos of Mount Rundle.

Neither of my paintings turned out the way I hoped today, but then again it is a bit overwhelming with all of Wendy’s advice floating around in my head and also intimidating seeing all of the awesome art in her gallery. The Mountain Galleries in the Banff Springs Hotel is so nice. I have to remind myself that many of those artists have been painting for over 50 years. I just have to relax. I am honoured to be here painting for the same gallery. I am so grateful for my creative lifestyle and to be able to do this already while I’m still young. I have a lot to learn and a lifetime ahead to do it in.

I have lots of good material to paint when I come home from my trip. I have taken well over 1400 photos! Definitely a lot of inspiration.

The Johnston Canyon Falls painting is one I did in my studio after my trip from photos I took on my hike. Here is a studio painting I did of the sunset at Moraine Lake:

“After Eight Moraine Lake”
11×15 original watercolour
Available at Mountain Galleries in the Banff Springs Hotel

Here is a link to view the rest of my Banff paintings.