Archive for April, 2010

North Shore Mountains

April 29, 2010

I’ve got to be quick, this evening. It’s already after the witching hour and I have to get up early in the morning to deposit my paintings for their hanging at Hycroft in Vancouver. For any of you who are living in the area, the show opens on the 2nd of May with a reception from 2 – 3:30.

I used to live in an apartment in the False Creek, Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver. We were on the third floor up which had a glassed in balcony. I could look across to the North Shore Mountains and see in 180 degrees from Point Grey to Burnaby Mountain. The view was terrific!

Often I would find myself painting another oil that only had to do with the mountains themselves. I painted them in summer and winter, spring and fall. I painted them early day and late day, with snow on them or with the slopes laid bare by the heat of the sun.

Since this is my own work, I’m simply going to show them to you. No commentary more than I’ve already done. I’ll let you out there be my critics…

This is the largest at 24 x 36 inches, oil on Canvas.

The remainder are 16 x 20 inches each.

Summer night sky

Moving clouds, 16 x 20, oil on canvas

Originally, I was going to put them all in one frame somehow, but the logistics of it were not easy. Now I have some front loading frames for them and they look super compared to unframed.

I hope you like them,



Studio visit to Simon Andrews

April 16, 2010

Persimmons, Simon Andrews, Oil on canvas 24 x 48 inches

I’ve been living life in the fast lane – it’s a complaint that many retirees make. They don’t know where the time goes. Is it forgetfulness? Or are we just so happy to be doing all the things we had hoped to do while grinding away at a day job – and now that we have time to do our own thing, time goes full tilt forward.

All that, to say that about a month or six weeks ago, I had a blog comment from an upcoming artist, happy to have read my blog about Eri Ishii and expressing a wish for someone to publish a critique for his work.

That piqued my interest and I arranged for a day in Vancouver where I would have enough time to go to his studio and see his work.

We arrived around noon on a day threatening to rain. The  apartment was one of those three story walk-ups from the post-War era, plain, utilitarian, covered with stucco complete with little glass bits in it.  The way up to the apartment was a bit torturous, there being no single staircase, but off shoots. The numbering system was not in the best practices of current way-finding.

When we entered, there was a strong odor of turpentine since his medium is oil on board and oil on canvas.  Every bit of wall space was serving as storage space for his paintings ranging from a small size about 4 inches by 4, up to larger ones worthy of a entry way with 12 foot ceilings.

Women by a river, Simon Andrews, Oil on panel 48 x 48 inches

One bedroom in his apartment was devoted to his studio and he was working at a painting at his easel; but there was another one set up with a painting in progress. There was a drop cloth on the floor to catch the spills, and my impression was that there was good reason to have the cloth there. He seems to work with a generous use of solvents and liquid paint.

This young man, I’m guessing he’s in his thirties,  had given up a prestigious and well-paid job as an art director with an electronic games company, voluntarily taking a demotion to be an artist within the electronic game  industry with the same company, and then finally was frustrated with the interference he got from the new  art director asking him to change his concepts this way and that. He decided to become a painter, full time.

Winter pond, Simon Andrews Oil on panel 16 x 16  inches

By the decoration or lack of, in his apartment you can see his complete devotion to his art. The walls are crammed with paintings, there is little furniture, the kitchen takes up no more room than necessary. His lovely wife  is his muse.

The vast majority of his work is figurative.

I asked him where he had studied, but he replied that he had not taken any courses. He had learned everything from studying books, especially noting what his favourite masters did. Those would be Manet, van Gogh, Gaugin on the French side and Gustav Klimpt and maybe Egon Schiele on an Austrian note. The post-Impressionists of France and Germany – the Nabis, Fauves, and the Blue Riders  – are also strong influences.

His smaller paintings are of landscape and still life, in the genre of the sixty-minute artist or the “painting a day” school. They are very fresh and painterly, often with subjects of mundane living – a collection of jars, a kitchen implement, the corner of a stove with a pot, glass ware, a corner of his studio materials. He finds beauty in the ordinary, the quotidian.

Stove top, Simon Andrews, Oil painting

He has a gutsy way with his paint when tackling landscapes . He’s not afraid to load on the paint, and yet they are controlled, both with regard to his use of colour and his ability to describe a location – and at the same time, there is a liberty of brush stroke to be envied. It’s those paradoxical elements that make for luscious painting.

Sublimation, Simon Andrews, Oil painting

In his figures, he uses strong colours like the post-Impressionists, especially the Nabis and the Fauves.  With these, he uses almost a Cezanne- or Picasso- like cubism to define the rounding of shapes and yet there is a draftsman’s quality that is true to the proportion to the body.  A quality that I like in these is that the forms are sensuous with a tender feeling of wonder at the beauty before him – there is not a drop of prurient disquiet.

This is a young man to watch.  He has already had some success with the Federation of Canadian Artists shows. He will find a niche here and maybe abroad if he continues in his search for expression.  It’s good solid craftsmanship married to idea that concerns us all – our common surroundings, the spouse in our life and the environment in our neighbourhood. All these are things to which we can all relate.

The trick will be for him to maintain his deep involvement with subject, for if he ever goes commercial,  it would be a danger for him to slip over the wire into slick craftsmanship as a demand for product arises.

If you would like to see a full gamut of his work, check out his web-site at:

and there is more on

And don’t be shy. If you live in Vancouver area and want a painting at a reasonable price, contact him through his web site. You’ll be encouraging an up-coming artist and doing yourself favour.

Susan Falk at the Fort Gallery

April 15, 2010

First Level, test 2, Susan Falk, Acrylic on Canvas, 6 x 15 feet.

The horses come galloping towards you,  in full movement, or so it seems to me, this novice in the world of horses and dressage. Dorothy is with me as we inspect this daunting painting. One cannot take it all in, in one  glance.

I had missed the point, but my friend has had experience with horses. She educates me on the esoteric symbols  – the letters that refer to various positions in the arena, the written words that are instructions that the judges call out and the various  tests of a horse’s ability to go through the paces of Test 2. The judges box is off to the far left hand side.

All these things enhance my enjoyment of this large work of art; but without this knowledge, I would still have found this an amazing work first off, because Susan Falk manages to draw the horses in paint with such energy and motion as if she had been able to paint it in sweeping movements; and then because the images are so big that it is a tough task to keep the animals in proportion and anatomically believable; and lastly because the concept of a large figurative work like this must be planned and ordered in advance to produce a piece with workable composition and meaning.

I was tempted by the post card invitation to see this show, but I was not ready for the impact of this particular work. There is no comparison between photographic reproductions and the real thing!

There is a series of smaller mixed media drawings 8 x 10 inches and 11 x 13 inches, more attuned with Falk’s usual style. These, too, are lively and dynamic.

Susan Falk has been training with her horse at Rosewyn Stables in Langley with coach Monique Fraser.  She takes the opportunity to photograph and draw many of the horses and riders while she is there.

In part, this exhibition is a fund raise to uspport the Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association. Posters of Falk’s work are available for $20.00 and all the proceeds from these posters will go the VTEA!

The show is on until April 25th so there is still time to see it.

The Fort Gallery is at 9048 Glover Road, Fort Langley, B.C.. open Tuesdays to Sunday from 10 to 5 p.m.