Archive for the ‘oil painting’ Category

power and connection

October 6, 2012

We pass them by, not even thinking of their significance to our lives. As we photograph, we curse the way they traverse a perfect landscape or clutter our alleyways. Yet the pole and their wires bring us light, telephone, electronic information and mechanization.

They are a metaphor for connectivity and for communication.

I chose to look at them for what they are. I chose to put them in the picture instead of taking them out.

All Paintings in this exhibition are by Kristin Krimmel. They are works in acrylic paint on canvas.

In each painting, I discover things that I did not know. For instance the wires that I thought were all black are in fact varied in colours of white, red, turquoise blue and black. There are ceramic insulators that are a deep burgundy colour and others that are white. Some are glass, in transparent aquamarine. There are more ways to connect and more ways for a line to travel than I had ever suspected.


I see that a single wire bending and twisting in the light can change colour just because of  the light source and the shadows which occur.


This series is about observation and finding  in the common objects around us. Every painting is a discovery.

This exhibition of all new acrylic paintings by Kristin Krimmel is currently underway at the Fort Gallery at 9048 Glover Road in Fort Langley, B.C.  It runs  October 3 to 21, 2012.


Simon Shawn Andrews

August 2, 2012

Cherries in a Bowl, Simon Andrews, 4 x 6 inches, oil on board.

Don’t you love this image, with the cherries looking so succulent, and the remainder a subdued mix of greys which allow the glass and the cherries to speak for themselves? This is a very small painting, but exquisite, deceptively simple, beautifully perceived.

I keep up a conversation with Simon from time to time.

I’m always interested in his work because it’s simply luscious. Almost entirely still life, at this point. At least, the things he shows on his current web page are all in still life mode.

So I asked him yesterday to send me a place where I could look at his work.

Apples and pitchers, Simon Andrews, oil on canvas  10 x 10 inches.

He replies that he is only showing on e-Bay now.  It’s counter-intuitive. You have to look them up one by one. So I wrote back and asked for a place where I could look at them as a group. He says, “I sort of have a gallery link here,,,,”

Take a look at his work on:

Everything has been sold except two. Maybe he has been painting and not posting. I’m hoping so.

His latest, Apples and Pitchers, is still available but the last price on auction was going up and up, and worth every penny that’s been bid so far. So, I’ve bowed out on that one and am waiting for another more in my price range. I really liked the Bowl of Cherries too, but it’s gone.

I hope you enjoy them.


June 19, 2012

River God, Kristin Krimmel, 1979,  9.5×12 inches, oil on board

I went looking on the Internet this morning for a definition of marouflage. I had hope to send the information to my art dealer friend in Vancouver, but the best information that I got was all in French in technical terms and I didn’t have the oomph to translate all that.
I used the marouflage technique in painting in France during my studies at Art School; then tried to explain it to someone in English. I’m finding various definitions, but not as limited and specific as this one.
For me, it’s a technique whereby one glues a secondary surface over a support (canvas or board) and then proceeds with painting. I was using a marouflage of paper on marine ply, but could as easily have been using paper on canvas. The purpose was to provide a smoother surface and to eliminate or diminish the effect of the support surface (the weave of canvas, the grain of the wood) and control the absorbency.

I began with a complicated technique using rabbit skin glue and plaster of Paris. First, the glue (available in granulated form) was heated with water to a fairly liquid, smooth consistency then painted on the board.  A layer of kraft paper was then placed on top of the board, and a second layer of glue brushed on. When this concoction dried fully, a second mixture was applied made of the liquid rabbit skin glue and plaster of Paris. It provided a white, home-made gesso that formed the ground for the painting – the layer that the paint would attach to.

This white layer was dried then very smoothly sanded. The process was repeated a few times until to a polished surface white surface was achieved.

Figure in red, 1979 Kristin Krimmel, 12 x 12 inches, oil on board.

I was a devoted student of the classic techniques and could be found many evenings brewing up my mixtures and preparing lots of panels so that I could work on them the next day in the painting studio. If I wasn’t preparing mixtures, I was delving into any books I could find on technique.

I came late to the process. I had studied in Vancouver and received a teaching degree in Fine Arts, but I felt woefully my lack of confidence both in my drawing abilities and my knowledge of painting. After four years of teaching and several years of getting my life in order, I had an opportunity to spend a year traveling and I chose to do it by living in Rheims, France and going to the regional art school. That I ended up staying four years at the school is a whole long other story.

Being in an art school allowed me to explore what I already knew and to add the education that I thought I was missing – the classical techniques and the draftsman-like ability to draw or paint things realistically.  In the end, I came to terms with my inability to draw photographically. I even eventually understood that I didn’t have to do so in order to create good art.

Sometimes there are clouds in one’s life. We think we are being deprived of something and the whole world will fall apart because of it. The professors didn’t know what to do with me because I was already an art teacher, so they felt it would not be appropriate for me to learn the way the others were learning. I was proscribed from the basic drawing classes – from classic plaster casts, from perspective lessons and so on. So I sat in my corner of the studio and turned inward, building on the lessons I’d had in university back home. I felt deprived of what I had come to learn.

Instead, I embarked upon some marvelous journeys of discovery. I read everything I could get my hands on, spent hours in the local museum and the Maison de la Culture which brought in very good shows.  My art history prof set me up with the Dale Carnegie Library (yes, this mid sized town in France was given a library by the philanthropist just after the World War I, and was constructed in magnificent art deco style) where I was allowed to handle the original manuscripts housed in their collection.

I was introduced to Mademoiselle Voisin, a lovely elderly lady – she seemed old to me then, but I must be her age now, it’s frightful to think of it. She was the docent for the very important cathedral in Reims – a Gothic cathedral which was the place where all French coronations took place from medieval times until the revolution in 1789. She had a wealth of information about the cathedral and knew all of its esoteric secrets that she delighted in telling. In addition, she collected foreign students around her on Sundays for tea and delighted in feeding them cakes and cookies while encouraging conversation in French and the making of friendships.

I was a model student. I was there at eight in the morning and left at six at night (with a good French break between twelve and two for lunch). Two days a week, I came for evening figure drawing classes. When I went back to my bare apartment, I continued on with my projects and mixtures and experiments until late at night.

I am essentially a lazy being. Maybe we all are. Eventually, I became tired of the long process of preparing my boards with plaster. I thought to myself, why do we need so much plaster? I started to prepare them simply gluing the paper on and forgetting the plaster.  It worked just as well for me, and I was able to paint more and prepare less.

Three apple trees, Germany, Kristin Krimmel, 1979, 24 x 17 cm, oil on board

Marne Vineyards, Kristin Krimmel,  1979, 17×24 cm, oil on board.

It was a very productive period for me, and a lovely way to paint.  Who knows? Maybe I will come back to it.

A selection of Kristin Krimmel’s paintings are found on her website at


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!

Val Robinson 2

May 23, 2010

Val Robinson with her painting, BC Fireweed #3

From April 28 to May 16th, Bette Laughy and Val Robinson showed at the Fort Gallery in Langley, B.C.. Unfortunately I was travelling at the time and didn’t get in a timely blog notice of the exhibit.

Originally I posted information about Bette, but I didn’t have much information about Val and no photos.  Tonight I saw Val at a meeting and she forwarded some to me. I decided to do a separate post on her work and here it is:

I was there for the opening. My first impression was of Val’s big juicy canvases of wildflowers. They are about 3 feet by four, maybe larger. I’m going on memory here. The technique is impasto and expressionist.

She loads her brush with juicy paint and manipulates it in fresh daubs that define her imagery. In this first image, BC Fireweed #3,  there is no doubt that this is a tall, impressive flower with bright pink petals. The supporting stem waves in the wind,  with the red, rust and gold colours changing the length of it as it catches light. There is fresh air and vibrant joy in this work.

There were two more expressions of Fireweed in this exhibition with consistent verve and colour. The remainder of her images were of British Colombia scenery.

Flowering Sage by the Thomson River, Val Robinson, oil on canvas

In Flowering Sage,  Robinson captures the essence of the Thomson River desertic landscape in the Interior of British Columbia. Along the dusty banks of the river, sage blooms in the spring bringing an unexpected swath of colour to the sandy coloured slopes. It is a fleeting moment in the annual calendar of its landscape, a short vernal moment in an otherwise hot and dry area.  Again, Robinson works with  a liberty of brushstroke and  a freshness of colour.

I like that Robinson is not bound by photo-realism, but finds a way to express the essence of what she is looking at.  There is a generalization in the way she models the forms, but there is specificity in the shapes. Just reading that last sentence makes me realize the duality that is at work here.

For example, in the Fireweed painting Robinson has been specific about the form of the plant, how the individual blooms come away at various angles so that the space of the picture is divided up in interesting shapes. Yet, when Robinson paints, she is not bound by the detail of the plant. A leaf is a  single brushstroke – she finds no need to explain in paint that there is a line of paler light that goes up the mid-rib vein of it. She feels no necessity to paint specific markings on the petals.

Water reflections on the Fraser River, Val Robinson, Oil on Canvas

In this last image, Water Reflections on the Fraser River, Robinson has the same exuberance and a completely different palette of colours.  Here, I sense either an autumn reflection or a sunset one. The shoreline is dark but in the foreground, there is plenty of light, so it has an upbeat feel.

I’m less enthusiastic about this painting. The colour of the grasses doesn’t work for me and they look mechanical compared to the remainder of her image which she has painted as freely and juicily as the Sage and the Fireweed.

Of her own work, Robinson writes, ” I love painting because it gives me the freedom to express myself emotionally with colour —express my interaction with the physical world….  The painting balances me out more in my life.”

She speaks of the fabulous nature of British Columbia and her enthusiasm for painting the scenes and flowers that are the muse for her paintbrush. In this she succeeds well.

Robinson is  a new member of the Fort Gallery and I am curious to see how she  will develop in her new paintings in this sensual, expressionistic style as she goes forward from here.

Bette Laughy

May 19, 2010

From April 28 to May 16th, Bette Laughy and Val Robinson showed at the Fort Gallery in Langley, B.C.. Unfortunately I was travelling at the time and didn’t get in a timely blog notice of the exhibit.

I was there for the opening, though.

Bette Laughy had several smaller paintings, mostly the same size in a 18 x 24 inch range.  I was rather confused about these because the were such a radical departure from her previous work. I had a feeling that she had just taken a course from Bob Ross, the television art-lesson presenter. It wasn’t the Bette Laughy that I had ever seen before. These were landscapes with ponds, lakes, waterfalls or woodland glades.

So when I got back from my travels, I asked her for some photos of her work that had just been shown. It would help remind me of her paintings and I would present a few for her and help me to find a commentary.

She wrote me this:

With respect to my show, I consider it to be quite raw. My background is in music, writing and graphics. I have the knowledge of technique in all three to feel confident to just go forward, freely, to express anything I want. In painting, I did not have that confidence, and was very aware of my self-critique and inhibition. I felt I had to draw everything out in detail first; I was copying photographs; I became a stick-person artist in any workshop; I could not work past that inhibition. Paintings took a long long time and a very painful execution. If you want to see some of my former work, my website is

About six months ago, I put all my paintings in the basement. I threw out my photographic reference. I put blank canvases all over my walls. I put away my acrylics and watercolours and worked only in oils. I overdosed on Bob Ross. I put away my tiny brushes. I took out very big brushes and several palette knives. I experimented with mediums. I did landscapes and florals, which I’ve never done before, but I thought about what people want to buy as opposed to what I want to say. I became as mundane as I could possibly be. I didn’t care – was just happy that I could complete a painting in a matter of hours instead of a matter of weeks.

It’s been like a brisk sea wind blowing through my art practice. I’ve always felt that being close to water cleans out my mind, my soul. It was very hard to make myself let go, and still is, but it has been a good discipline. I don’t draw my paintings any more; I paint them. I leave my reference – if I use it at all – on the other side of the room, only referring to it if I really need to find out what something actually looks like. I think about grounds, harmonies, transparents and opaques, soft and hard edges, contrast, center of interest, composition – anything but subject. I thought I had become very loose indeed until I had this wonderful opportunity to show with Val – guess I still am a little on the tight side.

I will go on to draw back into this lush medium, to apply the technique to portraits, to think about what I want to say. Two steps backwards to set the stage for taking one step forward. Fun. Relaxation. Good stuff.

Those words of Bette’ Laughy’s all of a sudden made perfect sense of her exhibition.

It’s a brave thing for an artist to do, to step out of the comfort zone and into the unknown. When I looked at Laughy’s previous work on her web site, I see some quite original imagery. It’s bold. It seems to have a link to computer-generated imagery. For instance, there is a piece called Warm leaf, cool leaf and it’s evident that Laughy has been playing around with pushing the colour balances. She’s used her computer reference and then painted with acrylic.

From an outsider’s point of view, Laughy’s earlier paintings were controlled but experimental in the imagery. How was a viewer to know that this artist was beginning to feel boxed in by her realism? Or as I like to say, she had painted herself into a realistic corner and then could not get out!

But Laughy knew. And Laughy took that brutal, almost soul-wrenching step to figuratively go feet first back through the wet paint to find a new way of painting – a way out, no matter what happened.

If I had tried, I could not have expressed it better than she has, above. Her determination resulted in a series of paintings which step out of her norm and which have given her a new way of handling paint. And for this, I say Bravo!

That being said, these paintings looked so much like Bob Ross’ work that it was uncanny.

Laughy said, ” but I thought about what people want to buy as opposed to what I want to say” and I think that this is a mistake, from my own hard experience.

First, any time I have ever followed through on a thought to paint something because it might sell, I’ve fallen on my face. Anyone I’ve spoken to who has tried it admits to the same. When the artist’s personality and personal choices are absent from a work, it’s tangible. It doesn’t feel right.

Secondly, Laughy has an interesting perspective in her earlier work. I like her subject matter and her previous explorations into abstraction.  What’s needed now, it seems to me, is for Laughy to carry on with her feeling of freedom and go back to some of her own imagery, to her own point of view, bringing to it this liberty in brush and paint handling, while putting back in the depth of idea.

The creative block – writers’ or painters’ block – that freezes an individual, preventing them from finding interesting subject matter or interesting explorations on the technical side of painting,  is a frustrating thing. It happens to us all.

In an earlier blog, I addressed this cycle which I see as akin to the humanist philosophy of seeding, growing, reaping and laying fallow as a personal growth pattern.  For an artist, this usually translates into a period of learning how to paint technically, then a marrying of technique and idea. Next is a period where these two seem to flow. Production is easy because technique has been mastered and the ideas are developed.

At the end of  such a productive period, all of a sudden, there seem to be  a paucity of ideas, and the technical facility begins to feel false or surface-deep.  It’s too easy to do what one knows, but it has become boring to the creator of it even if the viewers still need to ponder it in order to grasps it. And since the artist is so steeped in it,  he or she doesn’t care whether others think it is interesting or not. The principal thing is that the artist has run up against a brick wall.

Coming out of artists’ block is a challenge. It needs a kick start. Sometimes this is accomplished with setting oneself a technical challenge – even if it is not founded in meaningful ideas. Sometimes returning to a former discipline like life-drawing will at least keep the technical abilities up until a new theme has been found. Sometimes new ideas will come out of doing automatic drawings or paintings, ones that don’t ask for anything but freeing one’s mind before laying down marks and images. It’s abstract and without too much premeditation. It requires a game plan – like using only three colours, making marks with the full width of a brush; or like using a huge brush and making oneself try to draw things realistically. It’s grist for the mill. Eventually something comes out of it – not necessarily, maybe even hopefully – not something one expected.  Et voila! A new direction slides into place and a new track for art adventure begins.

Laughy is her own best critic. She understands what has happened in this series and is prepared to continue forward in explorations with her various media. It will be interesting to see what comes next for Bette Laughy.

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.

Jim Gislason

March 12, 2010

Diva, Jim Gislason, Oil on mesh pinned to canvas

About three months ago, I had dropped in unexpectedly at the Elliott Louis Gallery hoping to see the gallery owner Ted Lederer.  He wasn’t there and his able assistant, saying he might arrive any moment, began to distract me with some of the latest work in the gallery.

It was the first time I had heard of Jim Gislason and ergo, the first I had seen his creations.  She explained his technique whereby he prepares a photomontage of images which he then translates into a photo transfer on emulsive film for silk screening, and then he proceeds to force oil paint through the developed silk-screen. It’s a labour intensive process and it requires a complete fore-knowledge of the final image because, at the point in the process that the oil paint is being pushed through the silk screen material, all has to be done at once.

Since he has differing depths of extruded paint coming through, he needs to know exactly at what place he is pushing through with which colour and a fairly precise amount of paint. That’s all rather technical, so of course I was impressed at the complexity of it. Nevertheless, if the process isn’t in tandem with some meaning, then it’s futile to try to impress someone with the number of layers of paint or the hours it takes to dry.

Detail of paint extrusion. Note the icon of Thor’s hammer from the painting Reveille, J. Gislason

Details of paint extrusion and paint manipulation, glazing etc.

At that time, there were only a few of Gislason’s works and I found them quite engaging. I had to refrain from touching them, they were so tactile, yet every inch of each of the works had something more going on in them. The texture was made up of a lexicon of printers’ symbols mixed with new icons made by Gislason himself. He photographs images he wants to use and then reduces them to a size of the printer’s symbols, mixing up the ready made with his home-digitally-made new symbols, and creates a large mass of them.

From far away, the image looks quite serene – large abstract shapes that glow with colours vibrating against each other, which are filled with details on closer inspection.

So are these paintings or are they silk screen prints?

If they must be classified, I’d put them with the former category. They are, after all, made with oil paints, not silk screen inks. Secondly, there is only one image made each time through the prepared silkscreen, thoroughly dried, touched up with more painting on the surface  and then it is removed from its stretcher bars and the screen with its extruded image and additions of paint  are pinned to its canvas lined exhibition frame.

Framing detail, mesh pinned to canvas

When finally the gallery owner came in that day, I was scrutinizing one of these works and was somewhat reluctant to withdraw from the process of inspecting the details of the imagery. After we had talked, he sent me home with his only copy of a printmaking anthology in which Gislason’s work figures along with an explanation of his ideology. Not only is Gislason an artist but he is a wordsmith as well.  His poems are sometimes part of the imagery and sometimes published beside the work of art.

Last week, the e-mail invitation came announcing Jim Gislason’s latest show and the opening reception and I noted it in my day-book. Not long after, I had a separate e-mail from Ted saying, “If there is only one exhibition you come into town for this year, make it this one. No kidding!”

Fortunately, I had Thursday March 11th available and it was a perfect opportunity to do a bit of gallery hopping with my sister who is in town from Rossland for her first solo show.  I had no hesitation. In fact, I made sure we were there a half an hour early so that we could see the show clearly without others to interfere in either our concentration nor our enjoyment of the imagery.

As guests arrived, Ted came by to say Jim Gislason would be arriving shortly and I just had to meet him. When the two of us met, there was a momentary awkward pause when Ted disappeared.  Jim had no idea who I was and though I had become familiar with his paintings I didn’t know what to expect either.

I explained myself – my admiration for his work  and my desire to write about  artists I appreciated so that good work  could become  more widely known. I talked about the layers of meaning that I was discovering in his paintings. He expressed his concern that people would only focus on the technique and not get the messages built into the work.

Work on paper, Jim Gislason from an earlier series. Note the chevron pattern that occurs here in black and white on the left and in grey and white on the right. This pattern recurs in different colours in many of his paintings.

Although there are a few pieces from earlier series,  the greater part of this Gislason  show is themed, Kings and Queens. In each of the newer images, he represents historical faces of either a king or a queen. The kings and queens, he says, are not mythical people or heads of state, but ourselves, living to the greatest of our potential.

The refusal of Charon, Jim Gislason, Oil on mesh pinned to canvas

He has a strong belief in spirituality gained from wide reading and experience in several religious philosophies, Buddhism being the one that more prominently underpins his work.  I asked about one cross-like symbol, but it was, he explained, Thor’s hammer, or a Mjollnir.  The Longships I and II represent a square-sailed Viking vessel.

Longship II, Jim Gislason, Oil on mesh pinned to canvas

I had to look up the reference to Thor’s hammer later as I was unfamiliar with this – so I am providing this quote from Wikipedia:

  • The Prose Edda gives a summary of Mjöllnir’s special qualities in that, with Mjöllnir, Thor: … would be able to strike as firmly as he wanted, whatever his aim, and the hammer would never fail, and if he threw it at something, it would never miss and never fly so far from his hand that it would not find its way back, and when he wanted, it would be so small that it could be carried inside his tunic.[1]

Besides the spiritual aspect, his references are drawn from various iconography – hand lettering print type, the graphic arts, Egyptian and Greek art, modern day traffic symbols, map making and historical painting references, to name just a few.

Shadow Throne, Jim Gislason Oil on mesh pinned to canvas

For instance, in Shadow Throne, from afar, the figure appears to be dressed in a medieval garment with hoops holding the dress out widely from the body. It is, in fact, derived in shape from Velasquez’s Infanta Maria Theresa of Spain.  Up close, though, the panels of the dress are fashioned from antique half- maps of the globe and other cartographic references,  adding depth and richness to the overall imagery.

Detail from Shadow Throne, Jim Gislason

When I was speaking with Jim Gislason, I realized that it would take along time to delve into all the references he uses.  We discussed this briefly. Though it would enrich my appreciation of his work to know what was embedded in the work, at some point, when the artist lets go of his work, i.e., he shows it to the world, then he must let go all the particulars that he has put into it. Viewers come with their own experiences and knowledge. What may  resonate in their minds may not be at all what the artist intended but that does not diminish the work and may in many instances enhance their appreciation.

Medallion, Jim Gislason, oil on mesh pinned to canvas

Detail from Medallion

This is a show worthy of a good long look. Each time one of Gislason’s pieces is revisited, more is found in it, whether be the connections between the numerous symbols used or an appreciation of the paint texture with its glazes and tactile richness, the added elements collaged in or one of his poems that might clarify the image or conversely add some new mystery to it.

In the end, while I marveled at the technique, the focus on that aspect of them quickly gave way to the intricacy of the imagery and the overall abstraction of them.  My favorite paintings are the ones where I can’t figure out how they were made (even though I’ve been told) and there is a mystery in the content. I’ve added these to my favorite list for sure!

The show is on until April 24th at the Elliott Louis Gallery at 248 East 1st Avenue in Vancouver, B.C.

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


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?