Archive for December, 2008

Doris Paterson

December 21, 2008

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It’s the last Saturday before Christmas and I went grocery shopping this morning with Mrs. Stepford. There is a big storm forecast for Sunday with little chance of a good road clean-up before Christmas, so we were both picking up things we would need for the festivities – that is, if any one can get here for them.

Between us, we filled up a grocery buggy full of food and we were both grateful to be able to do so. Our next stop on this very busys day was at an artist-friend’s house. She was collecting  gifts and household items for a women she is sponsoring who has fled family violence with her two teenage sons and is living in a battered women’s shelter. The contrast of our ability to go out and buy what we needed/wanted for the holidays with her inability to go out into the community for fear, coupled with her current destitution was powerful We were very thankful for our respective prosperity.

We stood in line for fifteen minutes, the lines were so long. The combination of storm warning and the seasonal festivities had increased the number of shoppers exponentially.

Once our two missions were accomplished, we needed to  grab a quick bite somewhere. We opted for a gas-station lunch counter reminiscent of the five and dime counters of the ‘Sixties. The fare was plain but adequate. We avoided our favourite department store lunch counter because the mall parking was crazy and there was a likelihood with all the shopping that the service would be slow. We had a destination to make by two.

The event was a talk by Doris Paterson about her life and her work at the Maple Ridge Art Gallery. I’d seen the work a few days previous and found them most interesting. Where the average time for viewing a work in an art museum has been calculated at three seconds, I found myself taking five minutes in front of one and then the next of these very vibrant images. I convinced Mrs. Stepford that we had to go and go we did.

Doris Paterson is eighty-four and full of energy. Though she spoke of slowing down a bit, as she continued on, it was obvious that she would be creating images as long as she lived and breathed.

The show had forty-nine images, mostly paintings in acrylic on three hundred pound paper, but some collage work and hand-pulled prints done in the Japanese method as well.  The works spanned several decades so the styles changed as Paterson, a continuous learner and explorer, continued to add to her repertoire of skills and perceptions.

I fell in love with several of them, and given the lottery, I would have purchased several to live with and look at day to day. The one I show at the top of this post, she explained, was of a friend whose husband had died and she was having to sell her home and leave all she had built into it.  The stately woman stands by the door, looking out at a wild grassland view that has fed her soul over the years. Her pose captures the wistfulness; the woman’s heartache; her quiet thoughtfulness. It’s a universal message of loss and continuity. Other paintings of this earliest period illustrate the daily life of the community, like the woman in the bakery.

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In this period,her drawing is figurative and elegantly so. She captures the specificity of faces; the detail of hands; the complicated composition of the bakery counter and its goods. In a series aabout women artists that follows, she begins to incorporate collage into the imagery – bits of wallpaper and cloth, paper patterns and such-like. Her composition and her use of shapes to define large areas of light, medium and dark tonality help give impact to her work.  Unfortunately the gallery lights prevented me from getting any good photos of  these to share with you here. This one has an unfortunate bit of glass reflection on it.

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There is a greater degree of abstraction coming into the work that begins to take over. The next series resulted from a workshop that affected her work profoundly. She would begin to paint, she says, with nothing on her mind. After she had applied a few layers of paint, which resulted in a build up of rich colour and texture, images would begin to appear to her. She would reinforce these images, sometimes outlining them or cutting the shape of them in a collaged material. There is still figuration, but the abstraction of shapes and ideas intensifies. More is left to the viewer to determine.

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Her move from realism to abstraction offended some of her best patrons, but she forged ahead regardless exploring  methods and materials within the context of her creative imagery.

Soon  she was leaving representational images out of her work entirely. Some show the influence of Friendsreich Hundertvasser and Paul Klee; two were clearly in homage to Matisse in his cut-out shape period. Her own voice prevails though.

After a number of works she calls Discoveries,

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in acrylic and collage, she continued on with greater certainty that this was her path to follow, with this as a result:w-074-small

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Her composition is engaging. It succeeds in keeping they eye moving back and forth through the shapes. There are stopping places and lots of coming and going, but the over image is balanced without being static. Her earlier favouring of shape continues strongly in these works. What you will not see in the photos posted here, but you see clearly in the originals, is the glow that is created by the multi-level build up of underpainting. There is a richness of both colour and texture. These are beautiful abstractions to live with.

Latterly, Paterson has been exploring again, using a build-up of curved lines to create a pattern. Once the exuberant grid is established, she works with colour in the interstices to establish movement in the overall image.  These works are quite joyful; and I must apologize for the quality of the photos, again. The interior lighting gave a yellow cast to paintings that clearly had bright white grounds. Even with colour adjustments, I couldn’t adjust the images to their original pure colours of French Ultramarine and Cerulean Blues.

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and I’m not sure if I have the colours quite right on the following two either, but they are representative, in any case.

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This woman has born and raised ten children; she’s written two books and is working on a third. She’s a steady fire of creativity and, as you can see, I was very happy to have not only caught her exhibition but also to have heard her talk about her art journey.

After a social cup of tea with the artist and her audience, it was a let down to go finish our mundane chores of providing for the festivities.

Once again I’m writing at an ungodly early hour of the day. It’s time to go and pull the banana loaf  out of the oven and get myself some sleep. So I bid you a wonderful day, a Seasonal wish of joy and familial harmony. Good night.

p.s.

Have a look at this site, with more of her recent abstract work.

http://www.fraservalleyartists.com/dorispaterson/?pid=151

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December 11, 2008

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It’s been one of those housekeeping days – getting paintings ready for going out to rental; getting out the Christmas tree (yes, an artificial one) and assembling it; putting away paintings from the last Art Market and the Networking display I had; sorting through a box of art-related papers, files and magazines, hoping I could chuck half of it, but couldn’t.

I also went out with Mrs. Stepford to mail some Christmas Cards. She needed to pick up her new white cane from the post office. She was pretty snappy about it too, flicking it out to the curb and dashing it around to feel her way, although she really doesn’t need it in that way yet . She mostly needs it for others to see that she doesn’t see them very well.  The thing folds up into a little bundle with a stretchy cord so that she can just put it in her purse when she doesn’t need it.

As a result, there’s no writing. I thought I might just share one of my Christmas collages, though. I do these every year with the bits of paper that stick to the Scotch tape from opened  presents.

This one includes scraps of purple foil from a wrapped Purdy’s chocolate. It’s interesting to play with the random shapes and textures that result from ripping the tape from the paper. The images end up being not explicitly Christmas-like, but they have an elided sense of Christmas that you have to guess at.

I may get around to saying it closer to the time, but the season gets busy with festivities and family things, so here’s my first message on the subject to all of you who drop in from Cyberspace.

Merry Christmas!

Roofing

December 9, 2008

Roofers came and replaced my moss ridden roof this week. Thankfully, the weather was quite dry, but it was still clouded over and the light conditions being what they were , my photos didn’t work out as crisply as I would have liked. Nevertheless they will give me some great material for paintings and I think you may enjoy them despite their photographic lack of crispness.

I took photos to record the process , to show the under-structure of the roof, and then to record people working in their natural poses. I find that quite fascinating.

In this day of electronic information and power assisted everything, there are still some tasks that are manually done. Roofing is one of them. A computer can’t do this. It’s men with craft in their hands that construct this roof .

Recommended by several of my neighbours, Whonnock Roofing was the company that installed mine.  They have  a good reputation in the community having been here for two generations now; and they lived up to it. The boss, Abraham, kept me informed about progress during the installation and explained difficulties to me. At clean-up time, all debris was removed.  All the workers were respectful and diligent.

So I’m going to share these photos with you and hope you enjoy learning about the process as I did.

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This was the first piece of equipment that they unloaded. It powers their nail guns, I think.  The contractor warned me that if I stayed in the house, I could depart safely only if the compressor was off. They worked from eight until four thirty, and everyone broke for coffee at ten, noon and two.  At those times, the compressor was turned off; all the workers would be off the roof and I would have no danger of being hit by flying roof products.

I liked the honeycomb pattern of the metal guard as a background to the black shapes silhouetted against it, and then, the yellow is a nice cheery contrast to that.

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All the products came loaded on this truck. The men unloaded the 85 pounds per bundle Duroid shingles, rolls of roofing felt, pails of nails, roof anchors, and equipment  by hoisting manually. These were piled  in a corner of the back yard for later.  The first tasks were to cover the yard close to the house in tarps so that clean-up of the debris would be simplified; then set up of ladders; then destruction and removal of the existing roof that was tossed down over the roof edge into these tarps.

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There was a crew of  fourteen. The work is dirty and rough, so they wear dark clothing, steel-toed boots, hoodies to keep their heads warm in the early December morning, baseball caps underneath to shade their eyes from potential sun. These guys work in the elements with  whatever Mother Nature may bring on.

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These roof anchors are safety devices used for the steep slopes.

yy-016-smallThe men work as easily high above on a sloped surface as if they were down on solid ground. No vertigo or acrophobia allowed!

yy-018-smallLook how close to the roof edge this guy is, with such insouciance. He merits one of those “No Fear” T-shirts.

They wear rope and harness for safety and a big belt full of pockets that carries many of their necessities, rooftop.

yy-019-small1Tarps are spread out from the house edge to mid-yard to collect all the falling debris. If you are getting your roof done, I caution you to protect your special plants in the garden and mark out gardens that might not be obvious to a roofer. Protect small trees and shrubs that may break with the weight of roofing debris falling on it.

yy-022-smallHe nimbly climbs the ladder with tools or materials. The shingle packages weigh eighty five pounds!  Every bit of the new roof goes up the ladder on the shoulders of these men. All the old roof gets chucked off, flying through the air to be accumulated on the tarps below, and where close enough, tossed right into the truck’s large haul-away bin.

I missed seeing how they got the plywood up to the roof. That must be a feat.

yy-026-smallThese nails for their power nail-guns were brought in a big ten gallon pail. Imagine the weight of it and then imagine carrying that up the ladder! They have the iridescent manufactured bloom on them, full of many colours,  that will fade after being exposed.They are held in alignment by thin threads of copper wire that spiral in this image, making for interesting abstract patterns of the their straight posts, the round flat nail heads and the coiled wires.

yy-029-smallThe men start at the apex of the roof to rip off the existing layers of shingle. Here is an exceptional picture where there eight of them prying away tile all at once. Not long afterwards, they started to spread out and I never captured so many at once in one frame.

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The tool they use is shaped somewhat like a shovel, but with sturdy indents like whale molars. These slide under the old tiles to rip up with a levering motion the long encrusted nails and shingles.

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When they get really going, the house shudders with their ripping and wrenching. It’s loud. Shingles begin to fly. If you are on the ground, you need to be alert!

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On my roof, they found that there was a layer of cedar shakes underneath the two layers of shingles they knew about. In the manner of Depression Era construction , this roof had strapping – long lath-like boards strung across the roof surface from rafter to rafter. From where I stood below, they looked to be about two inches wide by three eighth inch deep. These had to go.

In current day construction, three-eight inch plywood covers the rafters, so unfortunately for me, this unknown factor added to my final bill. The boss ordered up a load of plywood and the men unloaded them one by one into the back yard. A carpenter began to measure them up to fit the roof. Eventually there were these geometric pieces left in the back yard.

yy-108-smallHere is what the underpinnings of the new roof look like, complete with plywood sheathing. Now they start hammering the new layer of shingles on. They are Duroid, acrylic shingles, way better than the asphalt ones that were here before – much less prone to moss build-up.  It’s constantly loud as they pound in the nails. Another caution – take your framed artwork off the walls before roofers come. The house shook enough to knock two of these off my walls. Oddly enough, one was in the basement and one on the main floor but none on the floor closest to the roof. One survived without damage, but as for the other – the glass broke and shattered.

Notice the barrel formations at the edge of the roof.  When the fellows took the old shingles off, this was covered with newspaper! More Depression era economy! One of the newspapers had advertising for rental apartments for three dollars and twenty five cents, heat and light included. Now there’s a deal!

Fixing these was not so easy. Here, the workman has to work prone. One fellow said he’d only seen eight of these roofs in his twenty or so years of roofing; and for one younger fellow, it was the first he had seen.

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This is the last picture. You just have to admire this man’s courage to be working looking over a thirty foot drop and still having to concentrate on the manual task he is involved in.

You can see what my new roof looks like – it’s Castle Grey, looking a little ruffled for now, just waiting for a warm day for the shingles to settle in. All the moss and the little ferns that were growing in its predecessor are gone. The gutters are cleaned out.  The hole where the raccoon tried to take up residence is gone. Hopefully the basement leak is resolved. And I have a skookum new roof!

Craft

December 3, 2008

Christmas at Hycroft!

There are people who go year after year. Every year it’s the same – the grand heritage house decorated in wonderful, frothy, traditional Christmas garb. And yet, every year there are changes. About two years ago, the Artisan Village was created in the Ballroom bringing together potters, children’s clothing designers, jewellry makers, specialty foods, silk painters, glass designers and more.

This year, there was some exceptionally good design. Here are a few of my favourites:

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This fanciful teapot  complete with a yellow tripod stand has to be more for show than for practicality, but I love the absurdity of the danglies.  It’s Nellie Vlaar’s work; her business name is Potz and Panzies and the business is located in Burnaby, B.C. For something a little more practical she has three or four design themes. New this year are these black and white pots with images that seem to be a cross between Nordic sweater designs and the geometric South West Indian pottery motifs.

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The motifs are just so very complicated but they also are very precise and geometric. Here is fine skill married to a lot of creativity. Very admirable, in my opinion.

She’s linked to the Granville Island vendor’s website, but there are no pictures on it. A pity.

Alexandra Lanzarotta sells her jewellry creations under the business name of Alanza’s Creations. I rather liked her display which sported two large torsos in classical style patinated in verdigris, that copper oxide green colour that encrusts ancient works of art containing copper.

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I asked her what her favourite piece was and this is her selection:

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It’s a classy organic piece, asymmetrical, reminiscent of the seashore. I like the non-traditional leaf-shaped clasp.

June Hunter produces marble art tiles, jewellry and fine art prints with her photographic images.

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I liked these small pendants with botanical designs printed on sterling silver and then coated with a clear resin finish to protect them. They combine delicate images in a clear, precise form.

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http://www.junehunter.com  is her website

Valerie Gobert at http://www.valeriegobert.blogspot.com also combines natural elements with sterling and beadwork, but the effect is quite different. She uses shells, beads, semi-precious stones and wire in exuberant combinations. There’s quite a variety in her work and you can see several more examples on her web site.

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Chi Cheng Lee, of Chi’s Creations in North Vancouver, is a silversmith. There are several photos or her designs on her web site, http://www.chiscreations.com  . She allowed me to photograph this piece, which she considers her signature design:

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I have great admiration for Chi’s work. I like the two silver pieces, above, and especially like this piece with the coloured pearls, the sgraffito markings on the polished silver and the web of various pearls and semi-precious stones in the centre of the silver form.

As a common thread amongst these many artisan/craft vendors, it’s quality that shines through. Each piece is finished beautifully. There’s an inherent love of craft. It’s eye-candy for those who appreciate hand-made goods.

I’ve only described a few of the vendors. I hope to post some more soon, so stay tuned, if you like this kind of work.

‘G nite