Archive for the ‘acrylic paintings’ Category

construction/deconstruction

June 29, 2011

Hitachi Graffiti, Kristin Krimmel, Acrylic on Canvas, 32 x  40 inches, 2010

The first visitors to walk in the door on this exhibition were prior colleagues of mine in my Property Management persona – the day job that kept me, the artist, going.

“Whoa!” says Jim, an electrician,  a huge grin on his face, ” Where did the flowers go?”  !!!!!!

Over the past four years since I went artist full time,  I’ve had the luxury to explore other avenues. While I was working, often a flower was the closest I could get to having a model, and the most compliant, time-wise, for me to paint. I threw that all over when I emerged from my working cocoon and went fishing for more exciting material to work with.

These paintings link back to my property management experiences.

The work specific to this show has taken two years to paint. Some of you who have followed my post during this time may have seen some of these images, but then, I decided that if they were all posted, there would be no surprise at the opening of my exhibition at the Fort Gallery in Fort Langley, B.C.
So I stopped posting the images… well, time ran out – I stopped blogging altogether.


Pylons, Kristin Krimmel, Acrylic on Canvas, 32 x  60 inches, 2010

Here is what I had to say in the artist statement:
Over the past five years, there has been an unusual amount of construction going on around Vancouver in preparation for the Olympics, including the cut and cover construction of the Canada Line nearby my former home at Cambie and 41st; and later in Maple Ridge near my new home, with the construction of the new Pitt and the Golden Ears Bridges.

While the construction itself was disruptive and grungy, I took a childlike interest in the bright coloured machines that made it all happen – the excavators, bulldozers, cranes and other equipment. On a grey day, a bright yellow ‘dozer or a bright orange excavator can be the only lively looking thing, amidst dirt and gravel.

Construction is about new building. It sometimes requires demolishing or taking apart what was there before. Deconstruction is the act of taking things apart.

In painting, I’m interested in the “guts” of an image – the shapes, the textures, the surface qualities, the spatial relationships and the colour harmonies.
The construction machines have given me the opportunity to deconstruct the original photo-like image into component parts, to abstract it, to play with ideas of weight and balance, shapes, formalities of composition, and ideas.

Bulldozer, Kristin Krimmel, Acrylic on canvas, 32 x 40 inches, 2010

Liebherr Crane – Pulleys,  Kristin Krimmel, acrylic on canvas, 36×24 inches, 2011

Liebherr Crane, Kristin Krimmel, acrylic on canvas, 36×24 inches, 2011

Liebherr – Site Warrior, Kristin Krimmel, Acrylic on Canvas, 30 x 4 0 inches. 2011

To see more of my paintings, see this web site

http://www.kristinkrimmel.com

Advertisements

John Koerner’s retrospective

June 28, 2011

Orchard 2, John Koerner, 8×10 inches, watercolour on  illustration board, 1963

There’s a tangible buzz mid afternoon in the Elliott Louis Gallery on Saturday. June 25th.   Celebration time is six o’clock, but the preparations are no accident. Everything is well planned to ensure the guests are greeted warmly and that they enjoy themselves during the two hours that follow. Those who cannot be there for six are arriving early, circling amongst the fifty -plus paintings of John Koerner, one of British Columbia’s most respected artists, and likely the oldest, too. He’s nighty- eight and not missing a beat.

Many of the paintings come from private collections, and they span a sixty year career of this remarkable artist.

The Lighthouse: Opus 119, John Koerner, acrylic on canvas, 42 x 52 inches, 1995

I fell in love with his paintings many, many years ago. Particularly, I loved his use of blues and turquoise in his landscapes.  I contemplated getting one of his oils, years back, but it didn’t happen; and then ten years later, was able to purchase a small watercolor, which I cherish still. It’s called Orchard 2 and is about 8 inches by 10.  I promised myself that, one day, I could purchase an oil and remembered the one I’d seen at the Diane Farris gallery on that early occasion. Then, miraculously, a still life in oranges and peachy colours came up at auction and I got it. I was thrilled. To actually own one! It sits in my office and I see it every day.

Just look at the paintings here. They are fresh and alive. There is no hesitation nor overworking. All the colours are harmonious,  clear and sparklingly clean. In the Lighthouse: Opus 119, you can see how he establishes depth of field with the large bouquet signifying the here-and-now, and the lighthouse, small in the distance, an ever present available guiding spirit.

Now I was here, well before the crowds would arrive, at leisure to get up close and contemplate each painting carefully. I can find new things in his paintings every time I look. There are ways of using acrylic so that it creates it’s own texture like when oil paint separates slightly when diluted with water. It’s a glaze that leaves a pebbly surface – hard to achieve while still maintaining control in acrylics. There are the overlays areas of small strokes  built up in a stained-glass like fragmentation. Most of the paintings contain  a compendium of different marks that can run from flat and smooth, to build-ups of jagged, direct ones, overlaid one upon another, giving a richness of pattern or depth of color. And, holding all this together is an overall composition of a meditative nature and a sensation of light.

Hikari 3, John Koerner, Acrylic on Canvas, 42 x 52 inches

The Lighthouse Series was inspired by the Point Atkinson Lighthouse – a monolithic white tower in West Vancouver, visible on a clear day from the University of British Columbia where he spent his career teaching in the Fine Arts Faculty. The lighthouse recurs in many paintings, signifying the source of light and the power it gives to guide us spiritually, inspirationally and physically.

The Pacific Gateway series, implies the link between Canada and Asian countries, as well as signifying peace, a visual play on words with “pacific”. In addition there are paintings with a Japanese flavour with suggestions of Kimono shapes; and a some paintings of African landscapes.

Harbour Reflections, John Koerner, 36 x 36 inches, acrylic on canvas, 1960

I couldn’t attend the opening due to another engagement, but once my other event was over, I hastened back to the Gallery to join the celebration. It was all but finished, but the attendance had been spectacular – well over 200 people had come. There were still at least 40 people there. John Koerner had already gone. But the symbiotic energy that was still reigning in the gallery  was exciting to join.  People did not want to go home!  Ted Lederer who owns the gallery greeted me in his usual enthusiastic fashion and immediately introduced me to David Bellman and Meirion Cynog Evans, the team of curators who had put up the show.

“You have to see this,” says Ted, leaving me with David, Meirion and a well known art collector in the back office where incoming new art is put out of the way of the day-to-day activities.

Up on the wall were some of Lionel Thomas’s late works, flowers on canvas painted in tempera, some geometric abstracts and exceptionally, about ten, two- sided copper enamel works. Size is approximately 8 x 10 inches. They are framed so that they can be seen as sculptures, free standing,  The color are brilliant (because copper enamelling is a process of affixing glass onto a metal base), with lots of pure bright hues of reds and blues. They are like jewels.

David Bellman and Merion Evans are in the process of preparing the Lionel Thomas collection of his works for an up-coming exhibition at the Elliott Louis Gallery. But that’s another story, since this was the celebration for John Koerner.

I couldn’t stay long; but was long enough to bring back some images to share on this blog.  Here are a few more favorites:

Still Life, John Koerner, Gouache, ink and paper collage, 1965

If you live in Vancouver, hasten to see this show. The  exhibition is very short – just 10 days in all, and it’s taken almost 20 years since the last retrospective of Koerner’s work.  It’s an opportunity not to be missed. It’s located at 258 East 1st Avenue, just one block east of Main and one north of Great Northern Way.

Check out the the Elliott Louis Gallery web-site. Lots of the Koerner images are there – but you will want to see the real thing. They are very tasty!

http://www.elliottlouis.com/

Windows – Larry Green, Maggie Woycenko

January 25, 2011

Gallery artist,  Maggie Woycenko and guest artist Larry Green showed at the Fort Gallery in Fort Langley, B.C. in January 2011.

Maggie Woycenko

Myth, Roofing paper, art paper and paint on canvas, Maggie Woycenko

I’ve photographed  Woycenko’s Myth complete with shadows because she has been exploring with paint, canvas,  paper and thin sheets of aluminum, producing works that defy the second dimension and edge into the third. She tells me these are the result of a voyage of discovery into an area where she has not worked before.  She’s flirting with sculpture but she hasn’t left the flat surface behind.

In the Christmas group show, we saw her first invasions of the picture plane with small wooden windows inset into the canvas. Now the piercing is not formal but more free-form. And following on, the images get more and more dimensional.

Street Noise, Maggie Woycenko, Oil on Canvas with wooden inset

Reveal, Maggie Woycenko, oil on aluminum on panel.

There are many things I like about Woycenko’s work. Everything works all at once. That is, the surface of her paintings are developed with an implied texture, although the painting is applied thinly, and her colour sense is excellent. She has her own colour identity in variations of gray, usually a subdued range of colour, but nonetheless expertly modulated. She knows how to mix paint and marry it on the canvas. In addition, she always has iconic images ( the windows, the coloured balls, the letters) sufficiently in evidence to establish a spatial composition which assures the eye is restful but watchful while contemplating the work. And now this sculptural element is present, with the forms creating shadows on the wall that holds the work; and the balance of flat to form is harmonious.

Small Talk, Maggie Woycenko, Oil on canvas 16 x 16

In the work, Small Talk, I have the sense that she has captured the idea of a visible and evident surface personality with an underlying secret, the red, being exposed by this thin layer of metal  opening up a can of sardines, so as to speak,  and letting the Pandora-secret out.

Works, Maggie Woycenko, oil on canvas with various added papers.

If this work is just preliminary to a future series, perhaps bigger in scale, I am eager to see how this series develops, matures, morphs. This series is already very rich and self-contained as is, but knowing the artist, there is always more exciting work to come.

Larry Green

Sspaciousness, Larry Green, mixed media

There are two hanging boxes in the window of the gallery. Each has glass walls and one side that is open. The first is called Spaciousness and has butterflies suspended in it.  The second, Invisible walls, has two dragon flies. The idea behind them is about beauty and confinement. The butterflies and dragon flies do not realize they are trapped since the walls are invisible.

Invisible Walls, Larry Green, mixed media

Through this work Green seeks to express the difference between space which is a defined containment and emptiness which is not contained.

The remainder of the works are essential two dimensional in the sense of being flat or almost flat; but these works are intellectual works and in that sense of the expression, anything but flat. What you see is only the beginning of the meanings that are implied, suggested, divined.  They invite the observer to meditate upon the possibilities.

Selfother: Confusion, Larry Green, mixed media

In Selfother: Con-Fusion the image speaks about relationships where people fuse together in mystical union. The Self becomes the Other into a single entity, the Selfother, no hyphen. At same time, this leads each individual to new feelings, new ideas, new introspection. As the two personalities fuse into a relationship, the original, separate identities undergo change  producing a state where the outer known face may seem the same but the inner face is in the process of new-definition.  It’s not exactly clear what it is. It’s edges are blurred and the core is out of focus.

Green has created a deep framed box to express this state of being. A photograph of Green’s face is clearly visible on the front piece of glass while at the back, a less clear copy of this image covers a piece of glass. Lined up with the centre of the piece of art, the face is quite clear, but move to one side and not only do you see the slightly confused image on the mirror moving as the observer does, but the observer also sees his own reflection mixed up in it all. It’s a clever representation of the Selfother idea.

The Movement of Attention, Larry Green, mixed media

In The Movement of Attention, there are six images of nudes in a grid. Different body parts are highlighted in colour in each of the six. It implies that the observer of the body (the artist) focuses on different parts at different times, giving emphasis to those that arouse attention as one’s eye scans the subject .

Artist looking at Patron looking at Nude, Larry Green, mixed media

In Artist looking at Patron looking at Nude, there is another photographic image of Green’s face superimposed with the same linear drawing of a nude as in The Movement of Attention. In this image, the artist is looking out at the Patron (the viewer) and the nude stands between them, figuratively, on the surface of the artwork. Again, very clever! The artist is not absent in this work of art but very much present, obliging the observer to take into account that the work did not magically appear, but was conceived and drawn by its creator.

In Illumination the message is that a subject can be considered as forbidding or uplifting. The meaning we put upon an image is coloured by the mood of both the artist and the viewer.

The future? Larry Green, Mixed media

In The Future? the artist ask us to consider where we think we are going in the future. Messages overlay the photos set in a window frame.  Do we want clean air, clean environment, electric cars? Or by our inaction, will we end up with a ruined planet.  The photos contrast the possibilities before us and reminds us that the choice is ours.

There are two photos in the back room. Abject Ignored and Abject Realized both show a beggar on the roadside. In the first, two women pass by, ignoring him. There are words that acknowledge the various items in view just as the women, in passing, would have had to observe – curb, cobble stones, etc.

Abject ignored and Abject Realized, Larry Green, photograph

In the second, there is a statue of a figure with a book in hand. Death is on its shoulder.  By inference, the statue is representing the abject figure’s hopelessness and spiritual death.

Named Windows, this exhibition of  Green’s and Woycenko’s work is intriguing,  because there are layers and depth of meaning to each work.  The common thread of the windows helps to  unify the ensemble.

Monuments and Markers

December 11, 2010

 

This exhibition took place in early August, 2010. Publishing it fell through the cracks. So here it is now, still worthy information, but the show is over.

I’ve had lots of fall out from the crash of my hard drive. One of the most frustrating is that I haven’t got a photo management program on my computer at present.  I had Adobe Photo professional, but the updated version takes up too much space on my computer, so I have to get a new computer or find another solution. It will come in its own good time. In the interim, I’m unable to post photos that would help illustrate this wonderful group show at the Fort Gallery in Langley B.C.

If you are in the area, it’s a good one to see. I must say though, that the variety of the work from the 17 or so artists in the group  made it a challenge for the hanging crew.  There is everything from conceptual work to normal landscapes.

When the theme for this show was announced,  artists found it it was too late to fabricate something specially meaningful for it. As a result,  the connection of the work to the theme is stretched thin for several of the artists.

Colin Delory is a new member, a fine art craftsman working in wood.  He showed several pieces of complicated geometric designs and a few of a more organic nature. I could see little connection with the theme, but they were nonetheless a joy to look at and he is a welcome addition to the group.

Two of Terry Nurmi ‘s work were hung opposite each other, mid gallery. One is called “Not another God-Damned Serenity Prayer”, A Monument to my Father, a mixed media piece with photographs. As always, the framing is impeccable and showcases perfectly the image within.

There are four square envelope shapes with the top flap open. On the outer portion of the “envelope” there are numbers pasted. On the inner portion on the open flap, there is a hand pulled photograph in losange shape of family dwellings and the words overlaid, one on each: serenity, acceptance, courage and wisdom.  Each of the envelope-like images doubles as one of those children’s fortune-telling games (does he love me, does he not) where the four corners are manipulated along with a chant. At the end, a number is chosen and that number is the player’s fortune with a message written beneath it.

On first glance, there is this peaceful, orderly image. On close look, there is tension – the tension of unresolved alcoholism, the tension of a father not understanding his daughter,  and the confusion in the multiple numbers on the envelope flaps to suggest that the choices are multiple and harrowing but the outcomes are not.

Facing this piece is Nurmi’s other entry in the show, a large assemblage woven from strips of painted heavy paper. Predominant colours are black and red. There is less covert meaning in this piece, but it reads well and is beautifully framed.

In the contemporary vein, Doris Auxier contributed two of her yarn series. I will admit that when I saw them on the web-site, I couldn’t figure them out. Were they really yarns somehow fixed so that they could be displayed on the wall or were they painted? This was the first I had seen them “in the flesh” so as to speak.

Once again, I admire the craft in these images. These are acrylics on canvas painted so realistically, honoring the beauty of angora-like wool dyed in multicolours.  These works are light, bright and fresh-looking. The shadows lift the strands of  yarn off the picture plane and you could almost reach out to check if they are soft as they seem. But it’s all paint.  Knowing how I struggle with acrylics, I consider these two works a tour-de-force. An esoteric note – each set of colours used in this yarn series represents the colour combination used by a Renaissance painter.

Maggie Woycenko’s two canvases are enigmatic. There are no recognizable objects, yet the surface of the canvas is painted beautifully and the insets, constructions, are compelling. In one, the inset acts as a window to the wall it is hung upon. The inset frame is three dimensional, not painted, and studded with upholsterer’s tacks as a finishing. There is an over all suggestion of land and sky in both, and the incompatible figure – the window inset and the tall, pole-like form on the smaller canvas provide a focus for pondering.

Kristin Krimmel’s contribution to this show is a monument to obsolescence.  Sandwiched between archival plastic more normally used for repair of book covers and torn papers are used typewriter ribbons and correcting tapes of two varieties. The spools that the correcting tapes come on are captured at the bottom.  At the top, two yellow plastic coated clothes hangers provide the support for the image.

Random letters run throughout – positive on the correcting tape, negative on the typewriter ribbons. Out of context, they have no meaning, just as the typewriter itself has lost its meaning in the wake of the electronic progression.

A smaller piece by Krimmel, set in a black metal frame,  is called December 30. The image is composed, again sandwiched between plastic, with a bus transfer from December 30th of twenty years ago.  A rising sun matches the yellow code colour of the transfer.  This common-day object has been replaced by heavier punch tickets with magnetic stripes. More obsolescence.

Judy Jones is one of the few artists that made a specific piece for the show. She works in fused glass and her monument is a tribute to Stonehenge.

These themed group shows are a lot of fun for the artists and public alike. The work is eclectic in style which brings a liveliness to the whole. Congratulations, Fort Gallery.

Maple Ridge Art Gallery – Steve Amsden

May 15, 2010


Above Cerise Lake, Steve Amsden, acrylic on canvas

There is a great municipal art gallery in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. It seems to have a mandate that allows for community participation as well as allowing for some excellent shows from afar.

Recently there has been a superb pottery show coming from the Shadbolt Centre in Burnaby where there is a wood fired kiln called an “ombu”. My next door neighbour came home with two trophies from this exhibition  and if you are curious about it,  you can look it up on suburbanlife.wordpress.com.

Her two pieces are quiet and superbly crafted with that understated quality I so admire. They sat for a while on her coffee table and then they migrated to the mantle piece where they are now comfortably at home.

While I love pottery,  I like it to be practical, and I’m not likely to purchase a piece if it isn’t.  On the other hand, if I like a painting, I have a terrible time resisting, even though the number count of paintings I store in the basement seems to increase day by day as I  a) paint more paintings and b) continue to purchase.

On Saturday, I had some out of town visitors who, in the past, were serious art collectors; but retirement from the workforce inevitably follows these acquisitory habits,   and the downsizing syndrome kicks in. They now live in a single wide, very long trailer as a means of economizing. They’ve passed on the bulk of their paintings to their children and now live with only a few chosen remainders of their once grand collection. But that doesn’t stop one from looking, does it?

After a few chores at Ikea and Lee Valley (where I bought a point driver gun for framing), we had a very short time to react if we wanted to see the Stephen Amsden exhibition at the Maple Ridge Art Gallery on Dewdney Trunk Road at Civic Centre Road.

I drove at breakneck speed along the Mary Hill Bypass to get there within five minutes of closing time.  While I was getting the parking stub for the vehicle, Leo and his wife went upstairs to get into the gallery. It was too late.

But Leo has had a lifetime of business practice and he knows how to persuade people to his purposes. With his charming foreign accent and his enthusiasm, he convinced the gallery attendant that they would be sorely disappointed if they did not get to see this show. First, it had been highly recommended by a friend (me) and second, they were out-of-towners, so they would not be able to come back. With a very dignified kind of wheedle, they got permission to go in, even though he had arrived just at closing time, and by the time I got there, the gallery was closed to me, but I could see them inside.

I knocked on the plate glass window. Luckily it was the new curator staying late and she and I get along just fine. I was able to join them.

I had intention of purchasing one of the paintings, but I have so many. What to do?

Pitt Lake and Golden Ears,Steve Amsden, acrylic 24×30 ( my favorite)

I looked again at the show and found my favourite painting – an acrylic in blues both ultramarine and manganese and the forest green of the hills. In this one, the mountains are dipping into the sea. There is a highly patterned, horizontally-oriented foreground of water, and a mountain of highly textured trees and then a very flat summers-day blue sky with two plumes of cloud emanating from behind it.

It’s not unusual in composition, but it is unusual in texture.

By chance this evening I was looking through the Heffel Gallery upcoming auction catalogue and found several Lawren Harris paintings which are quite similar in style to Amsdens. Amsden’s love of Harris show through in emulation of both the stylized mountains and colour preferences.

Amsden also draws his sources from the Pointillists (Georges Seurat), the Group of Seven, and more recently he has been influenced by the Australian Aborigines, following a vacation in  Australia. He combines these in a very personal mix.

Golden Ears White, Steve Amsden, acrylic on canvas 30×40 inches

An avid hiker and mountain climber, Amsden has travelled to obscure places in British Columbia to find places to hike and camp. He sketches on site, but he refers to his photographs while painting in the studio. This tends to result in a more studied, more premeditated look than that achieved by the overly-vaunted plein air school.

This is a strong exhibition. While he follows about three different styles throughout, it very easy to tell these are Amsden paintings. There is a consistency of colour and a constancy in the imagery.

Jutting landform, Stephen Amsden, acrylic on canvas

I first met Steve Amsden when I was teaching up in New Denver, B.C. , a place with a single school, kindergarten to grade 12 with about 100 pupils per year. I knew no-one in the area, and he and his wife were quick to invite me to dinner to meet other teachers of the staff.  His wife was teaching elementary school and a colleague of hers brought along another painter, Patrick Yesh, who has been quite successful in his career.

As a result of this meeting, Steve and Patrick took me to meet Les Weisbrich, a well established illustrator, commercial artist and fine artist who had immigrated to New Denver with his family from Los Angeles. Consequently, Patrick, I and another teacher began to meet weekly with Les Weisbrich  for lessons in watercolour.  It was a surprise to me, then , when I moved to this area to find Amsden and his wife had moved to Maple Ridge to teach and had been established in the area for a long time.

Manning Park Meadow, Steve Amsden acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30

He loves the high peaks, but is equally comfortable describing beaches and woodland places. His stylization of trees is quite unusual.

Manning Park, Steve Amsden, Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30

Speaking again of the stylized trees,  Amsden has explored a new vein of imagery akin to the Plains Indians.

Lone Hemlock, Steve Amsden, acrylic on canvas, 24×30

It’s quite a departure from the highly charged pointillist technique and the colours are radically different as well. Here, the tree reads more like “tree spirit” than “tree”. While the exploration into new territory and the coloration are remarkable, I am not fond of the paintings in this vein. I find that the acrylic does not adapt itself to flat surfaces well, and this is critical when the imagery requires flat surfaces.

Raft Cove, Stephen Amsden, acrylic on canvas

The achievement of a successful painting depends on getting everything right at the same time – composition, rhythm. texture, surface qualities tonal balance, etc.  In Raft Cove, Amsden has set up compelling,  sweeping rhythms of sand and driftwood that contrast with the incoming white caps following a quite a contrasting rhythm. This is one of those paintings where texture and pattern cross over and intermingle inextricably with each other.

Near Lawn Point, Steve Amsden, acrylic on canvas

Just at the front door of the gallery,  Raft Cove sits with another small painting, Near Lawn Point. I ended up purchasing this one. I found the stone beach delightful in texture with care taken on each rock – with many variations in colour and size of the pebbles on the beach. The incoming tide has the sunny disposition of a summer day and follows through on the textural theme.

Sunlit trees, Stephen Amsden, acrylic on canvas.

We had arrived late, kept the gracious curator at her desk a good half hour before we left.  It was time to go.

In parting, I took one last look back at the whole collection of Amsden’s mountains, sea and forest paintings.  There is a breath of fresh air in the room. One can get lost in the scenery and yet there is personality ringing out of each work.  They have a curious quality. They are easy to read – which is often not a compliment – but in this case there is so much technical and stylistic mix and such good variation in colour and form that each painting deserves a closer look.

If you are in the area, the Maple Ridge Art Gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday,  and the show is on until May 29th. There are several write-ups of his exhibit, so I recommend Googling his name if you want to know more.

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.

604-888-7411

Paint the Town Red

February 2, 2010

The storefront window of the Fort Gallery, Judy Jones glass work at the fore.

Olympic fever is upon us. To stir up the nationalistic pride, communities are celebrating with Canadian-flag red events. To quote the current publicity campaign, “the new black is red”.

I’m not sure quite how to interpret that. Perhaps it is to say that businesses are usually good when they are ” in the black” where as “in the red” means that you are not making any money; but in the new regime,  the Olympic fever and the tourism that is therefore generated, business should be making money, and it’s Canadian red that is doing it for us.
The slogan is convoluted. Nonetheless, it’s driving community events, and close to my heart, in Fort Langley, it has driven the name for Fort Langley’s publicity campaign that is in conjunction with the Olympic flame being brought through the local community’s streets.

Caught up under the umbrella of these celebrations, the Fort Gallery’s new exhibition is called “Paint the town red”. Every painting has a theme of red running through it. Every artist in the collective is submitting three to four pieces. There are some beauties.

We hung the show today and as I am now a member of the artists’ collective, I was there while we were deciding whose pieces should go where.

I was challenged to get good photographs. There was a lot of glare on the glass-framed artworks. I reflect in the glass with my camera glued to my nose. The lighting sometimes put a strong spot of light on a single part of a canvas work. Nevertheless, the paintings below will give you an idea of what is to be shown. There are about 60 pieces, so I had to do some selection; and besides, you need to come and see the show, if you are in the vicinity.

In theory, I should have been helping to hang, but it was my first time and I spent some considerable time just figuring out the dynamics of eleven or so ladies as they made suggestions, consulted, hung and de-hung, moved things from one place to another. It was all done in less than three hours. Miracle!

When it was almost done, I helped one of my new colleagues by drawing a little red line on the wall where the top of the painting should be.  I actually did it twice. I hope they aren’t concerned about my lack of participation.
It will come. It will come.

So here are some of the images that are in store for you if you should wish to see these paintings in the flesh, so as to speak.

Here’s my key entry for the show. Unfortunately, I’ve not got a good photograph of it, just this glarey one:

Poppies, late afternoon, Kristin Krimmel ,watercolor, 22×30 on Arches paper.

Terry Nurmi provided these two images:

Terry Nurmi, acrylic on canvas

and

Terry Nurmi, mixed media

Maggie Woycenko brought this vibrant woman and parrot that for all it’s dynamic color has an incredible stillness to it and a very thoughtful ellipsis – you have to guess at where the body ends and the background starts. I rather like these visual challenges that make an observer work to understand the image.

Woman and yellow parrot, Maggie Woycenko, oil on canvas

This woodcut, below, is all hand-rubbed rather than put through a press. One woodcut block has been used in alternate color and alternate position, repetitively in a grid to form a larger image. Woodgrain rubbings separate the variations. It’s a marvelous example how one can work with small resources (the 4 x 4 inch wood cut block and no press) and still come up with a good sized image.  I’ve shown this work complete with framing because it marries so well.

The overall image has an oriental feel to it, like Japanese fabrics, and yet

Jo-Ann Sheen, wood cut on rice paper

Claire Moore’s poster of a female ski-jumper is a protest against the Olympic committee that deemed women ski-jumpers ineligible for the games.

Denied – 2010, Claire Moore, acrylic on paper

The skiing figure is dynamic. It vaults into the picture plane, suspended, just like the skiers seem to be, compact and motionless as they fall towards the ski-run. Symbolic of anger and passion, the red signifies the sentiment the women feel over being banned from the games. There’s a great balance between large flat shapes and the textural portion at the base; and between the action of the dynamic figure and the implacable, immovable mountain. Dare I say it is a symbol of the Olympic committee on this issue?

For this show, Suzanne Northcott has brought this large painting, Woman with red stockings, a pensive, mysterious figure.

Woman with red stockings, Suzanne Northcott, oil on canvas

Betty Laughy offers this child in a white dress, seen from above:

Baby Ballerina, Betty Laughy, acrylic on board, 32 x 24 inches.

Susan Falk brings this red toned horse:

Horse on Parade, Susan Falk, oil on canvas, 30 x 48 inches

Dorthe Eisenhardt contributes her signature abstract images.

Passages 7, Dorthe Eisenhardt, acrylic on canvas 30 x 30 inches

Red figure, Kristin Krimmel, oil on board

A few artists did not turn up during the hanging process but they are expected to bring something before opening day, so there is lots to see.

The opening is on Friday, February 5th at 9048 Glover Road in Fort Langley at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. These are usually lively affairs with a good crowd of artists and nibbles and a bit of the liquid form of the fruit of the vine.

Why don’t you come, wearing red, and join the festivities?

Doin’ the digger

January 14, 2010

I’m on a roll!

Paint is flowing!

I’m back doing my construction work.

Here’s a series of images that culminate in my most recent work. I must say that I’m not 100% sure it’s finished. I’ll have to let it sit for a while, but on the other hand, what I have been waiting for has occurred.

I’ve been waiting for a flow of ideas to come. I’ve been waiting for that blessed artistic state where one idea builds on another, where the ideas come as I am painting. I can’t say that they are tumbling out, but at least they are coming faster than I can get them down on canvas, and I’m preparing canvases during drying time so that there will be another one ready for the next image.

This first image is the underpainting with painter’s tape masking the edges. It helps get sharp lines when you are a traditionally messy painter.That’s the prep stage.

First painting stage,

I’ve established the two positive colours and shapes geometrically. Some of this is painted in masked areas, but the black circles, I didn’t have the patience or maybe the ability, to cut a perfect circle, so I just painted it free hand, if you can call it that when you painstakingly try to ensure you do not go outside the lines. Talk about colouring book technique!

And then, third stage, I take off all the tape and see about the balance. Essentially I have composed this image relying on the spatial relationship theory of composition but I’ve also very faintly lined up the geometric relationships as well and have taken some of the key lines into consideration when I considered placement of the geometric figures.

Like those puzzles where you connect the dots, your imagination can make synaptic leaps to reconstruct the digger. It has all the essential elements. But I’m not sure that I want a yellow background in this. I’d prefer a neutral grey – a light one. So I went about trying to mix a large quantity of the neutral grey dark that I used in the previous painting which focused on shapes.

Impossible. In some additions of paint, it looks green, in others it looks brown. I add a bit of this, a bit of that. It’s not working. Finally I decide to go with what I’ve got. I add a lump of yellow ochre to warm it up and it’s not bad. Not perfect, but acceptably neutral.

I start to paint and a funny thing starts to happen. As I am painting, getting up close to the red, the paint colour perceived as neutral starts to become an eye popping lime green. I can hardly paint as the effect of simultaneous contrast starts to play. I get this halo shimmering on the edge, and I can no longer see where the edge is as the eye refuses to compute the two adjacent colours together.

I must say this is probably the hardest painting I’ve done since, as I’m painting, the edges are starting to move. And no, I haven’t eaten anything funny! It’s difficult and amusing at the same time.

I’m tempted to keep the yellow underpainting in some spots and then decide that I will complete the grey background throughout.

By evening, I have covered the entire painting in the grey, leaving only these red and black shapes of the digger, but it’s not even. I was hoping to escape having to mask off all my red and black shapes, but I’m out of luck. When I simply paint around without the mask, I get these halos of scumbled paint.

Scumbling is a method of using your brush on its side with the flat of the bristles, not the point, which de facto give you a textured, messy kind of texture also called scumbling.

I get a call from Mrs. Stepford to come over with the new creation and I go, toting a big green plastic bag with the painting in it and a book on mandalas that I got in some second hand or thrift store. I’m going to give it to Mrs. Stepford because she has just created a school program for all grades that is based on making mandalas. The green plastic bag is a necessity because it’s Wet Coast pouring rain.

Her two painting students are there on the point of leaving,  and Mr. Stepford is hanging in there, signing off his latest stunning photograph which he is giving to the two women.  Mrs.  commands me to bring out the new painting and we all discuss its merits.

I make apology for the scumbling and the halos, but both Mr. and Mrs. rave over the scumbling.
“Dont change a thing!” she exhorts. “I agree!” adds Mr. Stepford. They like the texture and think it would not be improved if I flattened the background to a single tone and hue.

I promise to put it away for a few weeks before I do anything more to it. I had another vision in mind, but I can still try my other vision on another canvas and keep this one.

So here it is at its final stage (for now).

Hitachi Digger – painting progress

January 11, 2010

Hitachi (variation 1, shape), acrylic, 16 x 20 inches

Every little change becomes an artistic decision.

The Hitachi digger has been up on my wall in all its garish glory, an intense cerulean sky, a cadmium red light digger cut with some cad yellow. It’s eye-popping.  It’s an under-painting.  It’s too hard on the eyes with the simultaneous contrast operating at full force, But where to go next with it? What did I want to do with this one when I set out? After several months, I’m still stuck, looking at this rather blatant drawing in colour, not knowing what to do.

Every change in colour shifts the balance, creates new values of weight.

When the gallery dealer came, he had some wry comment about it, then praised the one in greys for its subtleties. Has this influenced my decision to add some grey? And if some grey, then how shall I mix that grey?

I pulled out my painting supplies that had been hidden under the studio table and set up to work in acrylics again. Everything had been put away for the Christmas festivities.

I’ve accumulated some supplies from garage sales and demos at economical cost. The tubes need to be used up; so I started with a Stevenson’s Burnt Sienna and some Manganese Blue but the mixture turns out looking too green a grey. Greys are the hardest to mix because they are so affected by the colour you put them beside.  I had a lump of left-over white from my palette the last time I painted which I kept in a tiny jam jar with a skim of water for just this kind of mixing.
If you put a neutral grey beside some red paint, it will take on a green cast; and if you put a neutral  grey beside blue paint, it will take on a yellow cast to it; so the mixing has to take this into account. It alway takes on the  cast of the  colour opposite from  it on the colour wheel. It may look perfect on the palette, but you place it beside something else and the colour shifts!

Armed with this grey mixture, and lots of it – one doesn’t want to run out mid way and have to remix some paint; it would be impossible to match –  I painted in some of the digger parts in dark grey trying to maintain the fine red lines that were the first definitions on this image of the location of the various parts of the machine.

Here it is with the first grey put in.  It has become heavier at the bottom with the grey and not the ochre. It was insubstantial, floating in the air before, and now it is grounded.

I had to chastise myself as I started to make this painting more and more realistic. I struggled against my own nature when I force myself to abandon the detail and search for the major shapes. I was tempted to use all four colours and then realized that I was tripping down the realism path again. The only purpose of the yellow undercoat is to warm the painting from below.  In the end, I used the three major colours and ended up with this.

Then I went over to Mrs. Stepford’s for a second opinion.  She’s a real treat because she can put words to my paintings that I never thought of and then my paintings sound so brainy, somehow. It’s gratifying and I learn something about myself and my painting and visual thought habits

We discussed the ambiguity of the sky colour and the lack of a definite ground or horizon line. We discussed the weight of the dark colour massing at the bottom and whether or not it adversely affected the overall imagery. I went home to struggle with it a bit more.

Paintings are difficult beasts. Especially pre-meditated ones. Everything has to work together at the the same time

One of my wandering thoughts was “why do I say that I want to do fresher looking paintings, more direct and then keep on tidying up everything until it no longer looks free but belaboured”.  What is the fine line between free and sloppy? What is the defining criteria between child-like and childish? How far can one push it before realism becomes interpretation? Or becomes abstraction? I was plowing through the borders of these things without any answers.

I was remembering one of the very elegantly painted works of Kai Althoff whom I wrote about quite some time back. One of the paintings had this simplicity of shape, but his paint was impeccably even and his lines were equally wide throughout. It seemed almost as if it had been printed, but it wasn’t. It was hand done, but so perfect. Mine’s not perfect. The lines are varying in width and sometimes thickly, sometimes thinly painted. They vary from deep cadmium red to cadmium yellow. Could I just leave it like that?

My shape colours are not flat and even. I’ve allowed the underpainting to show through. I like that because it gives a bit of texture and the paint sometimes glows with the undercolour peeking through. And yes, I can do that. To leave it thus is an artistic decision.

And this is where I have left it. I’ll sit with this version now and see in a week or two if I can live with the work as it is, to date.

Next, I start with this underpainting and second draft of a visual idea.

It’s about metamorphosis. I found that the digger looked quite like a heron with a long red beak and the cables much like river grasses. At this stage, the colours are too flat, too transparent, too much like first draft. There’s no refinement.

I worked at building up the reds, giving the breast of the bird a better shape through modeling it in different tones of red and yellow and this grey which is left over from the previous painting.

I think it’s important to carry over colours or use a limited palette. It ties a group of paintings together.

There is an unfortunate shape  of red behind the Red Crested Digger. It was originally from the cab shape of the digger. Now I want to obliterate it. In doing so, I lose all traces of warmth coming from the underpainting, and the cerulean blue mix that I use to overpaint is a shift from the previous cerulean and titanium white. The whole sky has to be repainted, otherwise the patch will stick out like a sore thumb, but it’s a good trade-off for the overall compositions of the painting. I’m pleased with that change.

And now, the series is beginning to come clear to me. In each painting I am exploring not only the visual reality of the digger but the abstract qualities that drew me to it. And from that, there are new ideas coming to me. This one is about metamorphosis and in graffiti like letters, I spell out that clue in the foreground while the Hitachi graffiti graces the cerulean sky. These markings provide balance. In the final version, below, I have added  red into letters of the grey foreground.  It helps pull the eye into the remainder of the picture and brings more warmth into the image.

It has already given me an idea, even more abstact for the next stage – not on this painting. It’s done. I’m ready to start a new one!

Line and a new painting

October 22, 2009

#1 067 small

In August, I took on a new student. She has an adventurous spirit and her goal was to work abstractly. Before we got there, we had to have a common understanding of the elements we were working with so I embarked on survey of various things – composition, line, positive and negative shapes, texture and pattern, etc.

She was eager to start painting and we’ve chosen acrylics because painting can be engaged in without the problem of paint fumes off-gassing in a small apartment where she will continue on her work at home.

She was eager to leap in, both feet first, so I decided on an exercise that would combine several things together. We would start with a line drawing being sensitive to capturing the shapes and mindful of carrying the eye about the picture plane with the three principal objects.

Notice how she has weighted her line so that where there is a dark edge which might indicate a shadow behind it, she has a thick line, but where the transition in the flower from light to shade is delicate, she has used a fine line that trails away (see the veining on the flower and where the petal curls under on the lower lily).

On the painted version, she no longer was working in charcoal but with a brush. You can achieve these same gradations of line sensitivity with the paint brush; but it’s good to know that if you get a line too thick, you can adjust this when you get around to working on the “coloring or painting in” of both the petal and the background.

Then she would block in the painting giving a ground colour to work on so that no unintended blaring white bits showed through in the later stages of the painting. We chose yellow ochre as the ground colour.

So here is the first stage of the painting with ochre ground and the figurative work sketched in with brush and a dark colour.

#1 073 small

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures in the next stages, but I couldn’t resist sharing her lovely drawing with you. It’s supple and appears freely drawn although I know this took some concentrated looking to be able to produce.

One’s eye travels around the composition easily with the placement of the three flowers in a triangular composition. The addition of a few leaves or changing background colours in the final stages will assist with bringing the entire picture plane into the visual flow.

She’s done quite a bit of work on it now so I will get another photo of it for the record and add it in when I can/