Archive for the ‘color’ Category

Allan Fulle

March 9, 2012

Towers of light

Alan Fulle’s acrylic towers lean sometimes improbably in their irregular ascent. Each is a maximalist’s delight in detail, full of colour and texture.The artist takes colour chips from his many explorations with the  epoxy resin, cuts them up to fit together , assembles and glues them. When his form is complete, he sands it smooth then applies an industrial clear coat of acrylic. It’s a labour intensive process and if you see the object before it has its final coat, it seems like nothing – dusty, scratchy, unfinished. The top coat performs a miracle and the colours all come out clear, rich and shining.

Seen in a group, as shown above, these sculptures make a community of towers, and are enhanced by their neighbourliness. I’ve seen one illuminated from the inside, but for this exhibition, it was impossible to do because it would have left a safety hazard of wires retreating to the nearest wall sockets.

I am always fascinated by works whose manufacture I can’t figure out. That’s part of their appeal. When I look at works that I could do myself, I may like them but I don’t get that “have to have” feel.  I think these works are perfectly suited to an upscale very contemporary design house with a grand foyer entrance. Alternatively, I get a strong desire to phone up the local or national gallery and say, “get down here quick. There’s something fabulous to see and you need to get one.” These ones  – I can’t imagine all the different processes involved and my mind boggles at the thought of trying to make one.

On a more personal level, I am thoroughly attracted to Fulle’ Kimono series. I don’t actually get a Kimono feel from these. It’s obviously not the shape that is driving the naming of them.

Xarathemum - 40x30x4 inches, oil, acrylic, archival epoxy resin on panel

Xarathemum 30″ x 40″ x 4″  – Oil, acrylic, epoxy resin on panel

They are constructed in a similar manner with layer upon layer. I like the playfulness and the modulation of the colour chip shapes.  I like the complication of the stripes overlaying the colours beneath it contrasting with a contrasting simplified shape on the left hand side. There is a flow to the composition, like a gentle wave; or a breeze lifting a multi-coloured curtain. It’s at once exciting in the colour composition and calming in the rhythms of the forms.

In a contemporary world of minimalists, Fulle likes to think of himself as a Maximalist. He enjoys the process and complication  and it bears out in his work.

Alan Fulle

Alan Fulle is a contemporary  American artist living in Seattle, Washington. These images were shown at the Elliot Louis Gallery in Vancouver in January 2012.


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!

Plein air

July 28, 2009

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I was invited to join the local art club’s plein air paint-out today and I accepted. It was in Florence’s back yard – the two acre parcel of the total seven that has been developed with house, Florence’s studio. a green house,  and orchard. It’s very beautiful; very out-in-the country-like. It’s what I remember of my great-aunt’s place before they totally redeveloped White Rock. The house is 1960’s modern, though. It’s a Frank Lloyd Wright type of house, close to the ground, single level blending into the landscape as if it had always been there.

The sad thing is that Florence is now in her eighties; her husband died last year. Her adult children are convinced she must move.  She admits that she can’t manage a seven acre place herself. Her offspring are building her a new place in West Vancouver.

She sighed with little-accepted resignation. “It’s not just the house. It’s thirty years of memories and more. It’s all of my studio, the paintings, the books, the materials. It all has to go.”

I got thinking on the fragility of life, the fugitivity. What is left after a lifetime of work, of raising children, of keeping house and keeping family history alive, of painting and creating?  In the end, you can’t take it with you. But in the meantime, when you are trying to clear it up, what do you do with it? It becomes a problem.

It strikes home. I’ve been working in the last month or so, giving a concerted effort to recycling various things that I’ve inherited that I don’t particularly want to keep. Last week, I found a box of father’s writings. I can’t read them. They’re all in Engineering language. I don’t understand it’s content nor do I have any sense of the importance of it. I think I will call the University and ask them if they want to keep them. The other members of the family aren’t interested; and amongst the younger generation, there is no one likely to develop an interest for them, even later in life.

The thing with plein air or outdoors painting, is that you have to bring everything with you – paints, palette, table, chair, drawing or watercolour pads. I had forgotten a table but I had a cooler in the car which I up-ended and used for one.  The lid of it I used to set my art bag and camera on since the grass was heavily laced with dew still.

I picked a landscape to transfer to my watercolour paper and then  settled myself into my transportable folding chair. The landscape photo, above, is what I chose to paint. Here’s what resulted from my endeavours:

Chez Florence Arches small

While I waited for the first wash to dry, I got out that pad of Yupo “paper” that I experimented with some months back. It’s a slippery paper and if it doesn’t sit absolutely straight as it dries, then the paint goes southwards and loses all its definition. Control-oriented as I am, this is not a comfortable thing for me, but I”m not going to waste the paper, so this was a good opportunity to see if I could get anything with it today.

Here’s the Yupo solution:

Chez Florence Yupo  small

I tried some photoshop adjustments that were not successful. It’s not quite as garish as it looks here.  The blue is less metallic looking, but the yellow is as yellow as what the finished work looks like.

I felt that in neither drawing had I got the branch arrangements right so I went back and did a pen drawing. There was an implied heart shape to it that I felt I did not capture in the watercolour paintings.

Here’s the pen drawings”

chez florence ink drawing

And here I’ve pinked in the implied heart shape:

chez florence ink drawing w colour

In all, I must have had two hours to do all this . Shortly after two, I headed back for home. When I went to get in the car, I burnt my hand on the metal, it was so hot out. Heat gathered all day and in the end I believe I heard 37 degrees was the highest it got.

It’s cooler out now, at half past midnight. It’s so hot nobody wants to do anything. I have the fan on and have reduced the heat in the house by one degree, but it’s not going any lower. Tomorrow will be another scorcher.

Painting from memory

July 20, 2009

Mem 1 Alouette Dike 20090719 small

Without my camera, without even a drawing pen and paper, I went walking on the dikes today.

For the twelve years that I was caretaking my aging mother, often I could not  take the time to paint and so I would paint in my imagination. It wasn’t good enough. I wanted to preserve beauty or anecdotal incidents, a bit of humour, a slice of life, but time was consumed elsewhere.

I promised myself upon retirement to go out walking every day and to paint every day but I’m far from keeping that goal.

Today, walking without the camera, I set myself a task of remembering what I saw and challenging myself to painting what I remembered. Don’t laugh! I had three sites in my mind and came home with one. I left the other two behind somewhere. I can’t remember quite. Perhaps they fell in the ditch or got covered in dust from the gravel path. Maybe they are tucked into the grasses like a daytime bear, so camoflaged that I can’t see them.

In any case, I took up that challenge. When I got home, I got out the brushes and the paint and fired up the painting arm.  Since I didn’t have the camera, I can’t show you exactly what I saw.  Somewhere in between the inaccuracy of my brain and the inaccuracy of my painting techniques, I came up with this gem.

Then I searched back in my archives to see if I couldn’t find a photo of the area I was remembering. When I wrote about it, I said,

There was the way the dike path split the marsh grasses like a bolt of lightening diminishing to its pointy end far off in the distance, only to be stopped in the mid ground by two small poplars and the heron tree. Overpowering everything were the pure blue  mountains, receding in distinctly shaped layers of progressively lighter hue.

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but I realized that when I painted it, I didn’t get that awesome size of the mountains to show. It was a fun exercise, but I’m not entering this one in any local painting contests, that’s for sure.

When next I go walking, I’ll try to find the two other ones that I lost and give them a try.

It’s an interesting concept, but I think it needs a lot of work.

What I was hoping for

June 27, 2009

I planned my garden for colour. I’d love to see a butterfly or two.

When Elizabeth came for her drawing lesson on Tuesday, as she was drawing the foxglove beside the lilies and this is what we saw:

zz 305 small

I got colour, n’est pas, but better than I hoped, I have butterflies traipsing through my yard. This one stayed quite a while and allowed me to photograph it while it explored the bright orange petals. I like the background fill in this one. It sure brings out the  sunshine in the flower

Here’s a slightly different view.

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The butterfly is more fully defined  in this one.

One of my readers has let me know: This is a Tiger Swallowtail. Isn’t she beautiful?

Lone Tratt and Dorthe Eisenhardt

April 18, 2009


Garden of Life, Lone Tratt, Acrylic painting (copyright held by the artist)

I wish you could see this painting full size and in the flesh, so as to speak. This painting is approximately 3  by 5 feet and is rich in warm tones of ochres, cadmiums and greens. It’s lush, and the paint handling is fluid. There’s an obvious control of both colour and brush handling. It’s loosely painted but controlled at the same time – a quality that I like to see in a painting.

Lone Tratt shares an exhibition with Dorthe Eisenhardt at the Fort Gallery in Fort Langley, B.C.  that opened this evening and runs until May 3rd. It’s well worth taking a look.


Tree of Life, Lone Tratt, acrylic painting, copyright

Tratt works from imagination, not identifying any particular subject matter, but the forms in the paintings above and the series that accompanied it are clearly plant forms. There are flowers and foliage of sorts. The flowers resemble poppies or tulips, in bright, varied reds. There is lots to look at- good composition, movement in the forms and interesting shapes. The paint is handled  both in thin glazes and in impasto paint build-ups producing a sensuous texture of the paint surface.

A second and less convincing series by Tratt  in this exhibition has a theme of evening skies, signifying the ending of a period of one’s life. These paintings are approximately twelve inches square.  The colours are violently clashing – purples and oranges, blues and yellows. The painting technique is more rigid and the surfaces are matte. They lack the compositional intricacies and subtleties of colour found in the first series.

In this show, Dorthe Eisenhardt exhibits her first truly abstract body of work.


Passages #7, Dorthe Eisenhardt Acrylic on canvas 30×30 inches, copyright

She starts without reference to any object. She seeks to express light and dark, warm and cool. From this modest beginning, Eisenhardt chooses the colours she wants to work with and then builds up forms, reworking them day after day until she has resolved her visual idea.   The resulting canvases almost glow with light and warmth, yet are tempered by the teal blues and other dark colours.

These are compositions that are brought into perfect harmony. The layers are enriched with textural components achieved by combing, brushing or scratching through thicker paint. In the process, she builds up rounded forms that draw you into the dark crevices or convex shapes that expand towards the viewer. There’s a strong sense of volume in these works.


Passages #1, Dorthe Eisenhardt Acrylic on canvas 24×24 inches, copyright

If you refer back to her web page, you will see that her previous work often has been inspired by garden flowers. The iris semi-abstracts are a precursor to this exhibition of purely abstract imagery. To see more, take a look at:

Photographs do not do these paintings justice. They almost vibrate with light.

Lone Tratt also has a web-page worth seeing at:

and you will see that her work is interesting and varied.

The exhibition continues to May 3rd, at the Fort Gallery, 9048 Glover Road in Fort Langley.

Grafitti Hitachi – mixing greys

March 25, 2009


Grafitti Hitachi – Acrylic on canvas 16 x 20 inches. K. Krimmel

Welcome to my fourth image in the Construction series. I must say that the creation of this brainchild was a difficult birth.

I already complained about my frustration with acrylics, so won’t continue on whining about that. I’ll just mention that  working with grey colours is both a delight and a frustration for an artist. Anyone who can handle them well has his colour mixing down pat.

The problem with greys is that the are so influenced by the colours next to them. If you put a neutral grey beside blue, it will take on an orange cast. Conversely if you put a neutral grey beside an orange, the grey will take on a blue colour.  They pick up the opposite tinge from the colour wheel.

You really need to test the grey beside the neighbouring colour in order to understand what still needs to be added  so that the colour will “sit right” beside it. “Read properly?” I’m not sure how to describe that. You might test it to see what I mean.

In this painting, I like how the orange machinery draws you into the picture plane, right across the whole thing and then dips down almost to the bottom with a bit of a curve inwards so that you can start looking at the rest of the picture.  I am quite happy about what happened with the grey wall, the shotcrete (a concrete product that is sprayed on to a wall that has been excavated for construction) and with the various bits of mechanical shovel and rebar. I also like the contrasted formality of the machinery and the randomness of the grafitti on the wall behind that frames the Hitachi machine.

Stay posted for some variations on a theme.


March 9, 2009



It comes in an infinite number of forms, and just when you think there is nothing left to think up, someone creates the unthinkable, in a good sense – something simply not thought of before.

Think of Giotto who revolutionized the Renaissance way of painting; and van Gogh whose painting was so different from others that he created a scandal with it and nobody was remotely interested in buying it. Because of his work, art norms have changed. It’s quite acceptable now.

Think of the Impressionists who rejected the Academic way of painting; and the Art Deco movement that rejected the Art Nouveau style.  Or the Abstract Impressionists who were outrageous for their times.

Jackson Pollock stirred up quite a furor with his expression through throwing paint at a canvas.  With a quantum leap in style, the Op Artists reverted to a precise expression of optical illusions. And then we have Basquiat. If someone had not gotten him to paint on canvas, he still would only be an unknown graffiti artist. And, are you getting comfortable with Installation Art yet?

“Is it art?” we ask ourselves.  Barnett Newman’s Voice of Fire  (1967) outraged the Canadian public when the National Gallery purchased it for $1.8 million.It sparked a public debate, a horrified outcry that still simmers in the hearts of the disbelievers.

Art is not born of nothing. It grows and builds on what has come before. It modifies. The building blocks are the same – colour, form, shape, mark, tone – but how we put these together is what creativity is all about.

Given a big box of colourful Lego to make something with it, each artist creates a different object according to their disposition. Given the infinite variety of art materials available, there is an exponential variety of expressions that result.

Myself? I have a predeliction for working in representational modes, and given that precision is not in my nature, I have learned to accept that it perfectly all right to do so even though, from time to time, I wish I had that uber-vision that some other people have in perceiving and representing infinite detail. Other times I am in awe of someone’s ability to be tremendously organized and precise in their expression that nonetheless produces a work of intricate beauty.

Each time I check my blog stats, I look at incoming blog locations and often go check out who is coming to visit. In this manner, I discovered Isadore Michas. It’s worth taking a look. And no, he’s not the guy who is going to revolutionize the global art scene like van Gogh, but because he is such a polar opposite to me I spent quite a while this morning admiring his work. You can see it too, at:


These are interesting geometric works of great precision and his colouration plays with various harmonious ranges of  colour spectrum. They are made with acrylic resin on canvas and for me,  the medium seems to enhance the impression that I’m looking at stain glass works, not paintings.

The Hardware show

March 8, 2009


An exciting show opened at The Fort Gallery  in Fort Langley, B.C. this evening. I’ve been waiting for this one since it touches one of my favourite subjects – hardware.

The Fort Gallery is run as an artist’s collective and this one is rather exciting. Every show I’ve seen there is good and some are simply outstanding. Each member of the collective gets to have a solo show once a year. A few times a year, there are group shows and tonight’s was one of those.

Each artist was asked to buy $40 dollars or less in a a hardware store and then create something to go on the walls for this show. There are mostly painters in this group, so it took each one of them out of his or her comfort zone not only in subject matter, but in tools and materials as well.

Beside each creation was a little slot where the hardware bill, proof of purchase, was tucked.

The images that follow will show you just how creative this group is. There is a wide variety of material choice and an equally broad result in stylistic form, as the photos that follow will attest:

In the bas relief picture up above, called “Joe the Butcher often had dreams of owning his own hardware store“, Diane Durand uses nuts of varying size and depth  set into plaster to create a pig.  This image has a strong textural quality established by the nuts  and the roughly trowelled plaster-like substance in which they are set. It’s not clear what the object represents above the pig, but it doesn’t matter; it’s what brings the composition into balance. I get a good laugh out of the piglet’s tail.


A fish out of water – JudyNygren

Still in a representational vein, Judy Nygren created this clever fish out of washers, screws, assorted fence screws, framing nails, colour paint swatches, pine board, fishing wire and wire. There is good craft in the assemblage of this bas-relief sculpture, a good use of colour and an imaginative way of metamorphosing hardware bits for scales and eyes. It’s not a humorous piece, per se, but I found myself laughing at the colour chips for scales and the completely successful use of materials to give an eerily tactile result.


Bag of light -Suzanne Northcott

Moving away from the strictly representational, Suzanne Northcott has assembled a lamp-like object with a welding wire, a bulb and paper bags cut into strips. It’s reminiscent of her nest series she did a few years ago both in paint and in large drawings.

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Nest – Doris Hutton Auxier

Continuing along  more abstractly, Doris Hutton Auxier has created nest from strips of automatic nail gun nails. She sets up an unnerving contrast of the the hard pointed steel to represent the normally soft downy interior of a nest. One has to wonder how long those four large “eggs” will last with those spikes for a bed.

Claire Moore created an Untitled flying figure of a woman that jutted out of the wall. It’s made of delicate soldering wire and was impossible to photograph well. A second one by Moore was entitled “It’s hard to find comfort when you are a prickly person” (you can just barely see the first delicate figure on the right-hand side of the photo below.


It’s hard to find comfort when you are a prickly person – Claire Moore

This mobile sculpture is about eight feet tall, suspended from the ceiling and strung into position with wires like a puppet. It’s made from Zap straps, foam insulation and hemp string. Several guests at the opening remarked that this was the best in show, but I had such a hard time deciding: there were so many excellent pieces.


Breach – Maggie Woycenko

Decidedly more abstract and reminiscent of the ‘Sixties is Maggie Woycenko‘s Breach made from linoleum tiles, screwhole plugs, shower curtain rings, paint and shoe polish.  I love this one. The surface has been rubbed with shoe polish to give it a rich surface texture. The composition is simple yet the screw-hole plugs bring interest to it, and at the centre, each central corner of the four tiles is raised up about two inches to expose a silver-coloured object that keeps the tiles up and open.


Home Sweet Home – Kate Bradford

You may remember Kate Bradford from an earlier post. She did small exquisite metal sculptures. Home Sweet Home is much more complicated by comparison. Here she uses Plaster of Paris, copper pipe, roofing screws, cedar shims, two mouse traps, electrical wire, steel brackets, twine, spray paint and bronze paint.

In a similar vein, Maggie Woycenko’s What is True vies with Bradford’s sculpture for the highest number of materials used. It’s made with photo album, plumb bob, saw blade, metal strapping, metal plates, chain, nails, locks, wire, paint and shoe polish. The lighting, I might add, brings extra shadows to the imagery which I find delightful.


What is true – Maggie Woycenko

Woycenko’s What is true is constructed around a photo album with additions of a plumb bob, saw blade, metal strapping, metal plates, chain, nails, locks, wire, paint and shoe polish. The shadows created by the gallery lighting echo the shape of the object emphasizing its three-dimensionality.


Remnants of the Post  Handyman Era- Scott Gordon

Using plaster, plywood, wooden dowel and hardware, Scott Gordon assembled this bas relief sculpture. The title is mysterious. Is this what was left over from constructing a fence?

The composition is meditatively balanced; the dowels set high in the frame leave room for shadows to become part of the imagery play; and the dark to light ratio is good.


Displaced – Betty Spackman

It took twelve paint rags, five cans of paint, fifty clothes pegs and thread to fabricate this wall hanging and a lot of creative imagination.  In a theme and variation tour de force, Spackman uses two principle images – the clothes peg and a house – massing them in patterns or alone, operating the images as stencils on one hand and as a print stamp on the other. She switches the shapes from positives to negatives. The colours, variations on a khaki green ochre, the unbleached cotton white  and sepia, blend easily into the overall effect, not overtaking the details of the forms.


Good Idea  – Susan Falk

On a plywood cut-out shape of torso and head painted black, three energy efficient light bulbs glow like the curly  stuffing of exposed brain. Electrical wire and electrical caps provide the connection to the fixtures. It lights up with a brilliant idea.  The concept of this piece is great although I would have liked to see  a bit more attention made to  finishing.


Alice in Wonderland I, II and III – Terry Nurmi

These three intimate and thoughtful works  convey Nurmi’s  personal sense of colour, a subtle understanding of spatial relationships between objects with meditative results. These are pieces that can be comfortably lived with for a long time.

A few pieces were difficult to photograph to their advantage because they were in poor lighting situations for photography on an opening night. There was This and That, a Alexander Calder-like mobile in the front bay window of the gallery  by Judy Jones made of  green and red rope, copper wire, a light switch, reflector rods, nuts and bolts.  A lamp labeled, Life’s inside was made of doweling, lamp components and fishing wire. In Dennis Venema’s In my mind’s eye, a tripod holds a ABS plastic construct that looks like an old-fashioned camera complete with a black-out cloth, enhance with wax paper, rubber bands, and aluminim sheeting.

With twinkle lights and copper wire, Cathy Miller created a spiraling tube chandelier, calling it Copper wire gone haywire.

Lastly, Joanne Sheen made a large sketch book with pages of brown Kraft wrapping paper.  This too was difficult to photograph, especially since there were numerous images throughout.  Several had rubbings of metal objects – screws, washers and other hardware gizmos. Some incorporated sandpaper in collage with a charcoal or graphite  image. Each page  varied strongly from the preceding, evidencing an active imagination and a strong design sense.


Book – Joanne Sheen

A show like this is an inspiration to all artists. It’s a call to step outside our comfortable range and to really create – not just repeat past successes. It’s a reminder how fertile our imaginations really are. When corporations are seeking out new ideas, or even how to get their employees to think in a forward-minded way, they need to consult artists. Artists know how to make leaps in thought, to think sideways, not only to think outside of the box, but to leap out of that constraining box altogether. It is from this creative soup that new ideas come – some as brilliant and culture-quaking as Thomas Edison’s light bulb.

So if you are in the area, Fort Langley, B.C.,  and you like to be dazzled by excellent imagery, the Hardware Show runs at the Fort Gallery at 9048 Glover Street until the end of March, 2009.  It’s even worth an excursion from Vancouver to get out to see it!

Two new paintings

February 5, 2009


Garden rock, acrylic on canvas 8 x 10 (copyright)

A new box of canvases arrived today – twenty more sixteen by twenty inch ones. I have a plan. Now I have to go to it.

I’m working in acrylics because I can work in an enclosed space without special ventilation to drive off solvents. I need to get familiar with acrylics before I will be able to make them do what I want them to.

Yesterday, I found about six 8 x 10 canvases in the basement that are pristinely white. I decide to do some landscapes with them, just to get familiar with mixing colours, finding out how miscible the paint is and how it draws along with the brush.

This is the rock in Mrs. Stepford’s garden – a single rock sitting in the front yard and graced with a little azalea shrub that will flower in the spring. A sumac grows right beside the rock. It almost looks as if it is coming right out of the rock. In summer when I took a picture of it, the flowers had already dropped and the sunlight coming from the West streamed through the lower branches of the cedar hedge to crown this little plant with glorious light.

I’m trying to work freely, to be painterly, not to fuss with details.  Et, Voila! This is yesterday and today’s offering in acrylic.

I’ve also been working on a watercolour in the  series where I stop and try to identify how I feel.  It’s harder going because it’s not “realistic” so the colours could be anything, really. I have to make them up – and make them work. If I get a colour on that doesn’t work, then either I have to find a way to fix it or abandon the painting.

This one which I call Shark threatens dove,  is in watercolour because the series of paintings I’ve done so far with this theme have all been in this medium. If ever I show them in an exhibition, I will want them to be able to hang together comfortably, so I continue on in the same vein.

As for method – I started with a fairly detailed drawing, then I made one wash for the background, one for the flesh tones, and one for the garment at the lower part of the paintingm, making sure to let each wash dry thoroughly.. These are all light in saturation because it’s easier to paint over them if the colours or the density is not right.

Once the last general wash has dried and there is no risk of one colour bleeding into another and making odd shaped blooms where the two coloursmeet, I coloured in the fish and the dove, then the eye colour.

Here are some of the stages where I’ve stopped to take photos of the progress I’ve not got good light for taking photos, so once again, please excuse the colour quality. These were the best I could get:

shark-threatens-dove-stage-1 shark-threatens-dove-stage-3 shark-threatens-dove-stage-4

Next I fill in detail and pattern.

I strengthened the background colour to make the face come forward. I patterned the garment for a contrast to the broad flat shapes. I didn’t like the blue I chose for the bird and the shark, so in the final, I painted another colour over it and it worked better for me.

It’s meant to be an uncomfortable image. Otto has been causing me grief (verbally) and I don’t want to talk to him. When I do, I get upset – perhaps he does too – I feel constricted in the throat, I feel that my eyes are big but they are quite vacant.  My eyebrows feel aggressive, but please don’t ask me to explain how that is possible.

I feel immensely better if I am able to paint my feelings out into some kind of representative imagery. I can laugh at myself rather than get all ingrown and horrible feeling.

When I began this image, I began it as a pencil crayon drawing with just the minimum of lines sketched on. It’s way more dynamic than what I did a final painting. I’ve started another one to see if I can go back to that freedom of movement, but I don’t feel happy with the results for the moment. I’ll post the second one later if I can succeed in pulling it all together.

As I was painting, I spent long times between applying paint to the paper, considering  whether the colour was strong enough, whether there was a balance, whether I liked the colours I had chosen, whether there was sufficient pattern and if not, what else might I put on. All of that consideration takes time – so this painting has been a week in the making, although the actual painting process could have been done in a day.

I consider that this method of painting where a fine line drawing denotes where everything should go, is akin to a colouring book. Once the drawing is on the paper, it’s just a matter of filling in the shapes with paint. In general, I try to keep with the original drawing and stay within the lines.

With this painting, I ended up finding the cerulean blue a bit to blatant when compared with the rest of the painting, so I ended up covering it up with a different colour wash. I’m much happier with it now (but it’s not perfect).

As a last minute touch, I felt the background needed to be slightly darker and applied a blending wash. While the added colour was effective, unfortunately this paper (Strathmore) was not quite as sturdy as the Arches I usually use, and I ended up with some pooling and those blooms that I try so hard to avoid.

I’m not a purist. When I got that blooming bloom, I had two choices – scrap the painting entirely or correct it somehow. Unable to add more wash without increasing the problem, I chose to use a bit of chalk pastel and a bit of pattern within that section to cover over the problem area. It worked!

Here’s the final version.


Just to assure all you faithful fans out there, I’m a happy person these days. The upset in my life that triggered this image is transitory. I expect this will all blow over in a month. Until then, if it helps, I’ll just amuse myself with these quirky images …

and continue along with the acrylics with a more mundane theme.