"Everybody knows a work of art takes at least an hour!" Lucy to Linus, (Peanuts)

FineArtViews Painting Competition - Twice in the Fav 15%

http://canvoo.com/boldbrush/badge/13203 three times selected for FAV15%, Fine Art Views Bold Brush Painting Competition

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Back at the easel



           Pulled out a canvas I started last February and decided to see what I can do with it. The hat flowers have taken center stage for the moment. I just want to put paint down and not be too worried about the results. I felt, as I usually do when I've been away from the easel for a while, like I had three left thumbs. It comes back though. 

        The exciting news is that tomorrow I have a model coming over to spend the day posing for me. This is a local woman whom I have wanted to paint since I first saw her several years ago at the junction gas station where she works. Amazing eyes and wonderful, slightly unruly dark to greying hair. I have no specific plans but I found an old colourful shawl that should look good on her and set up my new lighting (the lights I bought for the workshop I gave at Pearl Ellis last February.) I contacted the company to let them know that the light stand, with extension boom arm (always wanted one of those!) did not come with the brass screw/nut on the end with which to attach a light! I had to Mickey Mouse the set up the last time I used it. They sent the screw attachment in a huge box but I didn't get charged for anything even though I was told to expect to pay a duty for it to cross the border! My Mom was right: the squeaking wheel gets the grease.



Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pushing the Envelope

                                                         "Pushing the Envelope"  oil  36"x36"


      I think I got lost on the way here way back in April. I have been distracted and now I feel I might actually be getting back on track. 
      The above painting was completed in the summer and won an award in the FCA Painting on the Edge show last month. It is the first time I have been accepted into that show so I figured this piece was "edgy" enough. I also completed three figurative paintings of my model-in-a-box series with Michael Ward posing. None have been accepted in anything. Do I paint the male figure differently? Possibly. 
      For now I am amazed and pleased that I have gotten back to the blog and we'll see how it goes from here. It's that time of year, at least for me, to think about reorganizing and starting fresh. Something about the new school year embedded in my psyche no doubt. This will only work if I do the organizing bit my own way. I am deleting newsletter subscriptions, failing to respond to requests for ongoing support for many worthwhile causes, and generally thinking I have to get more introspective for a time. I am tired. I do not want the woes of the world to implode my brain. I still care but I have to sit back and just watch for a while. And I want to return to painting stuff I really love, like attractive and interesting women wearing attractive and interesting textiles which don't necessarily have any statement to make other than, gee, it feels nice to just look at this. I have pushed the envelope and found it wanting.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Feet in - feet out?


             Another month gone by! It truly does seem like time is moving faster as I get older, but that is a topic for another posting I think.
          The above image is from the four hour workshop I gave last month at the Pearl Ellis Gallery. The model was great but the room, in terms of lighting control, was difficult. It was supposed to be about cast shadows but I couldn't obtain the strength of shadow that I was going for. Still, the day was good and the results not too bad, considering. I would like to go back into this piece and make some changes but I don't know if I will bother. I never seem to have the ideal set up for use with live models. Maybe if I knew what the "ideal" setup might be I could actually make one.
           I ended up staying out of my studio for practically the entire month after the show was over. Rain, chill, mild depression, all working to encourage a cleaving to womb-like homebodiness. Lots of reading going on. FaceBooking taking over hours of my day and staring out of windows. The moment arrived when I was sick of it all and I made myself start to think and do things again. First some somewhat serious housecleaning, both physically and mentally. Clear  out the cobwebs! Repairing and revamping stuff;  looking into cookbooks and actually making some interesting meals. A trip to the neglected studio and a day spent rearranging, put away clutter, hanging paintings sitting around on the floor, and scrubbing the bathroom. And then the sun began to appear every so often. Work in the garden! Weeding, pruning, raking. Helping Bob restore the depleted wood pile so we will be ready well ahead of time for next fall. That new, very efficient woodstove in the basement heats almost our whole house and has saved a small fortune in oil heating and electricity bills! We have enough deadfall and aging Alders to give us wood from our own property for a long time to come, and still leave plenty of beautiful trees to enhance the place from all the evergreens. I've been reading about Alders and how beneficial they are to a forest eco system. They are fairly shortlived but they add nutrients and are a catalyst to the growth of many other tree species. And they reproduce and grow quickly, unlike the other trees which need years and years and should be left alone to mature. And they are pretty! I really should consider doing a painting to celebrate this underrated and even maligned tree!
             

         I started to hit the studio again finally this week and started a larger version of "Pushing the Envelope". The show that the small version (12"x12") went to got postponed because several pieces meant to go in the show were held up by customs at the US border. The exhibit, "Raining Women's Voices" will go on in June and this gives me time to reconsider the piece and do the larger version (36"x36") I had initially been planning. Above my semi final drawing/cartoon (as in the Renaissance meaning of "cartoon") is taped to one of my studio windows for appraisal. I had to put several pieces together from the small enlarged sections. I gridded the piece but also used the copier/enlargement machine and managed to calculate the needed size exactly to fit my larger canvas.


           Now the decision about changes (or not) in placement of feet is in process. My first idea was to have hands and feet at the outer edges of the canvas, almost reaching to move out of the canvas, as above. (I know, these images are quite light but I am unable to increase the contrast any more than this). It means straightening and slightly lengthening the legs. I'm not opposed to a little distortion even, to serve the greater purpose:-)


           Here I have only moved one foot out to the edge and allowed the other to remain as in the original pose; I kind of like the bent knee foreshortening.


           This is the original pose with hands near the canvas edges. The feet are away from the edges, along the inside-the-box perspective lines. Placing feet at the edges would interfere with this perspective so I would probably not paint the sides and back of the box - just leave it amorphous, concentrating on the emphasis on the frontal edges of the canvas. Anyway, I know what I mean even if no one else does...
          The decisions are taking some time. Paint the inside light or dark? Utilize the perspective or not? Feet in or out, or one of each? 
           Time to go split some more wood. I think it might be saving me.
          









Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pushing the Envelope


"Pushing the Envelope"  oil   12"x12"  

             I have been invited to take part in a show for this month's Women's Day at the Cafe of Contemporary Art in Vancouver, called "Raining Women's Voices". My friends Dianne Buxton and Vone DePorter, of LA, will have poetry and a drawing in the show. I have wanted to do something with this idea for a while and thought this was the right time to at least do a comprehensive study. I would like to do this at a much larger size at some future point but the little piece has its own charm.
              It is good to be feeling more involved, again, with my work, and I think this is going to be a fairly productive time for me. Several ideas are becoming more focused now and having sold some work recently is great incentive to keep at it! I realized that a long time fantasy actually came true when, last month, a couple drove quite some distance to come and find me. They stopped in Sayward village and asked where I lived and I got a call from the village office telling me that these people were looking for me. Once here they ended up purchasing two paintings! They had seen my work two years ago at a show down island and kept me in mind all this time. Having people "beat a path to my door" so to speak! Even if it never happens again I have this memory, a wonderful moment of feeling a success and appreciation.
               This afternoon I drive down to Comox to take down the show that I have shared with Yvonne Maximchuk. The time went by so quickly! Hope I remember how to fit all that work neatly and safely in my hatchback Prius.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Back After a Long Absence

Peek-A-Boo Pink   oil   12"x12"

          I know, I know. It's been a really long time since I last posted. I'm not sure what happened except that I felt the need to pull back and hibernate a bit this winter. I didn't even post a "see you a bit later" message. That was kind of rude, I now realize. 
           Depression is something I have dealt with most of my life and there are times when it is worse than other times. I wasn't in the depths that I have suffered in the past but just down enough that I didn't even want to look for some light. It made working in the studio quite hard so I had to make myself go out there, at least once in a while, to justify to myself the whole point of having that beautiful building out there, made specifically for the purpose of making art. 
           In early December I was asked to show with another woman who lives in a remote area (much more remote than where I live), Yvonne Maximchuck. She paints in watercolour and acrylic and since I paint in oil we decided to simply call our show "Oil & Water". (I sneaked in a couple of pastels at her suggestion at the last minute!) 
           The Pearl Ellis Gallery in Comox, BC, is a volunteer run gallery and has been around for thirty years, a remarkable length of time for this kind of operation. They used to be housed in the downstairs and around the back by the parking lot room of the building where the Comox Library was. Two years ago a beautiful new library, facing toward the Comox bay, was built and the upstairs space of the old library became available. The town decided to lease the space to the Pearl Ellis Gallery and it has made the fortunes of the gallery so much better. Now they are right on the street for anyone to see and bring it many more people. I had originally not thought much of the gallery, especially being so out-of-the-way; I didn't even know about it for the first few years I lived out here. Then I exhibited in a couple of group shows there and to my surprise I sold some things! That's what I get for turning my snobby nose up at a so-called lesser venue! It taught me a good lesson, the one we all learn as children which is to not judge a book by its cover. I am now a proud ongoing member of the Pearl Ellis and happy to be in this show right now, which goes on until March 3rd. Last weekend we had a reception, meet-n-greet the artists afternoon and had a very good turnout. Yvonne sold a piece and now so have I (see painting above). 
         Below are some photos taken at the meet-n-greet of me and Yvonne, plus from the workshop I gave in the downstairs space last saturday. I called it "The Magic of Cast Shadow" and sent away for a professional type lamp to light the model. Unfortunately there was a lot of ambient light also in the room so my cast shadow was not as strong as I had hoped, but it served the purpose and the eleven students seemed pleased with the class in any case. The only unfortunate occurrence was when one quite elderly lady (who has been a longtime watercolour artist in the Comox area) accidently fell and had to be taken to hospital. She had fractured her pelvis it turns out and that saddened all of us. She is going to be ok according to her friend's report. It gives one pause to consider what growing old will mean for any of us as working artists and all we can do is keep at it with joy in whatever capacity we can and not let infirmity dictate the love of making art if at all possible. I give Dorothy so much credit for signing up for my workshop even though she is old and frail. I took her hand before she had to leave with paramedics and expressed my happiness that she had come and my sorrow that she was leaving early. She said she was also sorry she had to leave early and I could see it in her eyes. I am going to make an art card for her and send it next week.
            Thanks to those of you who have followed me and will continue to do so in spite of my hasty retreat last November. I have missed everyone and I need to return to some discipline regarding this blog. Looking forward to future interactions with you all again!
            

Me and Yvonne in front of my work

caught offguard at the gallery:-)

some of the students at the workshop


Yvonne and me in front of her work


model for the workshop

my demo painting for the workshop






Saturday, November 17, 2012

All but the feet...


              All week I told myself to get out to the studio and work more on this painting. All week I stayed in the house doing other stuff. Finally went out there yesterday. Now the feet are left to finish. This painting has actually required very little work and something about that makes it seem less important. Stupid. The length of time worked on a piece is irrelevant to its value. I should be thrilled that I have experienced no real pain in doing this painting. The colours come to me, the brushes lay it on, and the session lasts maybe two hours. Still I am very tired at the end of the session so I suppose I must be working harder than I thought. I have decided, also, to keep this plain and simple. No extraneous do-dads or fussing with anything. Kind of goes against my grain:-)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

On Being Outside of Myself


           I can scarcely believe a whole month has gone by since I last posted! I was fairly tired after the workshop and spent a week cleaning up, reorganizing, and just resting. The beautiful Autumn weather was not to be missed by spending too much time in the house so apples were picked, wood stacked,   grass raked, walks were taken and time just standing in the waning sunlight, soaking up warmth was enjoyed. Then the rains came as they always do up here this time of year, and we have been preparing for winter. A new, very efficient woodstove in the basement is heating up the house so well we are finding we only need to use it once every couple of days and what a savings on the expensive oil furnace!  

         Michael Ward, the intrepid male model from Victoria, arrived for a day of  conversation, eating, (homemade vegan treats) and posing. He was to have been accompanied by the beautiful Tegan  but she was not able to come at the last minute. Too bad as I had dug into my stash and found fabrics to drape her with that would match her currently dyed pink hair! Another time, although the hair will likely be a different colour by then. That's ok too. 

         Michael posed for me so I could just draw but mentioned feeling a little sad that I am not as inspired by the male figure as I am the female, and that is true. I think I understand the female form so much better, physically and psychologically, plus one can seem to play more with the subject, poses, dressing up, hair styles, backgrounds, etc. I always feel more constricted by the male form - more serious? Less bendable and twistable! Michael does have a collection of marvelous costumes and I am thinking I should look into this, see what he has, and work from there. He presented two quite large, beautiful photographs to me, taken by well known photographers who often use him as a model. In one he was dressed in full medieval armour and in the other he was posed with Tegan, both body painted and set in a dramatic, futuristic, apocalyptic  setting.



          Having Michael here provoked my conscience and I pulled out the drawing I had done of him months ago with intentions of starting a painting and I did just that. I am sticking to the 16"x40" canvas size that is my current favorite and got paint on the surface this week. After the preliminary background work and a bit of value placement on the figure I started in on skin tones yesterday. I was not in the mood to fuss. I had no powers of concentration available for itsy bitsy paint-every-square-inch-precisely as I tend to do. I kept the palette limited: quick dry white, naples yellow, cad yellow medium, cad red medium, burnt sienna, brown pink, indian red, permanent rose, and indigo. I looked at my photo reference and mixed some colours and kind of slapped them on. I had NO patience. I was irritated and feeling restless. I kept looking out my window and asking myself if I really want to continue painting for the rest of my life (I know, I know...what kind of a question is THAT??). It is such hard work painting and I find myself feeling fed up and tired of it all sometimes these days. Part of me seems to want to just rest, to retire I guess. Another part rebels at such a notion. I will never stop. I know that, but I think I may slow down. I am actually liking the days I spend going over recipes and pulling together interesting foods. The act of keeping the house clean (at least on SOME days) feels like a prayer to living and honouring that privilege. I take a lot of time with books and I am a shamelessly promiscuous reader. I am constantly discovering new authors (new to me) who open doors in my mind and allow me to travel on the beauty and skill of their amazing craftsmanship. How do they find the right words and the way to put them together just so? Look for A Message for the Emperor by Mark Frutkin to sample harmonious ideas and structure; simplicity and complexity woven seamlessly. Some painters can do that too. 


          This I painted in that outside-of-myself mood of no patience and realized after the strokes were down that I had found where I truly reside. My hands know and I let them off the leash. The rest of the painting may not match this. I won't know until I return to the canvas. I don't mind either way as I am happy with what I discovered.

               Michael is scheduled to come visit again at the end of the month and bring another lovely female model whom he knows. He is very devoted to the needs of his favorite artists and photographers! I've never known another quite like him. I posed him for more photo references while he was here and had intended to use Tegan with the fabric full of stars, but I posed Michael there and think I know what my next long, skinny canvas will be, only horizontal this time. Michael is a star in his own right:-)