Posts Tagged ‘drawing’

No more sleeps

April 8, 2013

The journey begins. Galina is coming to take me to the airport. The baggage needs one more edit – it’s too heavy, too full.

It’s always this way when I am carrying sketchbooks and pigments for the imagination.  One by one things come back out of the suitcase. I’ll buy the paints there. The paper. It doesn’t seem real some how . It won’t I until I’m on th e plane, racing from one gate to another.

One by one, out go the things I can do withou t – charcoal, light but too messy. I’ll buy it there; tubes of water colour (heavy metals); a sketchbook ( how many does a girl need) – and so on and on.

There are last minute things to do. gotta run!

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Small Wonder!

December 13, 2012

Image

Low Tide, Bob Wakefield, 11×14. oil on canvas

Image

Prada, Bob Wakefield, Oil on Canvas, 14×18 inches

Normally, I wouldn’t post a painting complete with frame, but these two paintings just beg for frame recognition. The paintings by themselves would just not be the same.

Bob Wakefield is one of about  20 artists in the Fort Gallery artists collective in Fort Langley, B.C. The show Small Wonder! is the pre-Christmas, salons-style exhibit that allows the artists to bring out their non-series paintings, their small works, trials, sketches, etc. They are beautiful and they are affordable.

Wakefield was originally a student of Susan Falk, who is also with the gallery, and they work in thick impasto and expressionist style.  Falk’s is showing some farm-related imagery – a painting of a red barn, a large drawing of a sunflower, and a painting of her beautiful little iris-rimmed pond that is just big enough for a small row boat and a gaggle of geese. Pond Study is loose and dramatic with autumn colours contrasting with an ultramarine blue.

051 (Small)

Pond Study, Susan Falk. 24×12, oil on canvas

033 (Small)  034 (Small)

Two paintings from the series “From the bus: Coquihalla“, Veronica Plewman, each 6×8 inches, acrylic on board.

Plewman is showing 6 paintings from the series, “From the Bus: Coquihalla”.  The paintings describe the area near Merritt and Kamloops in British Columbia where the highway cuts through the mountain pass on Highway 5.  Plewman has captured the wonderful quality of colour that sings through a snowy landscape where, to the unschooled eye, one might be excused to think that there was just white and dark. She paints the blues, rusts, ceruleans and yellow greens that sparkle through when a bit of winter sunshine illuminates the hills. In these small paintings, she manages to describe the mightiness of the mountains and the detail of soft fog captured between the hills or a stand of bare alder with their raw umber branches. These are simply jewels of craftsmanship and vision.

039 (Small)

Search, Bloom, Shine, and Drift,  four prints by Edith Krause, , approximately 9×12 or 10×10 inches.

Several of Edith Krause’s small prints from “The Butterfly Effect” series are available in the show. I wrote about them recently so if you would like to see samples of those, go looking back a post or two.  Search, Bloom Shine and Drift are new works to the gallery and have quite a different feel to them. Krause creates prints with great attention not only to the inherent ecological message but also to the texture and surface qualities of her work. She pays great attention to finishing detail. These works are simply  perfect in craftsmanship.

050 (Small)

“Inukshuk” Pat Barker, Acrylic and Mirror on board. Approximately 8×8 inches.

With Inukshuk, Pat Barker gives us a preview of her upcoming show. She experiments with materials and includes bits of mirror in her design, enhancing the feeling of ice and snow.

040 (Small)

Carolina Poplars, France, Kristin Krimmel, gouache,  6×8 inches approx,

There are a number of works by artist Kristin Krimmel. This early gouache of hers describes the lines of trees along the roadside in France in the Department of the Marne.  Another landscape she offers is a watercolour of a farmhouse near Montpellier. It’s inspiration in style is an adaptation of the pointillists method or working. By overlapping small strokes of pure colour she blends and nuances the image to represent the special heat and light qualities of the Languedoc region on the Mediterranean.

042 (Small)

The Mas, Kristin Krimmel, watercolour on Arches paper

The surrealist of the group, Olga Khodyreva has contributed this fluid image:

062 (Small)

Drama, Olga Khodyreva, Gouache and ink on Paper. 12×12 inches.

It’s reminiscent of Joan Miro, Alexander Calder and Picasso with it’s tumbling figures.

059 (Small)

Winter wandering, Jennifer Chew, 8×10,  Velum and charcoal on wood panel.

Winter wandering describes fine branches emerging from snow. There is a delicate quality of calligraphy in this finely composed drawing.

FH Dempster Highway #1 (Small)

Salmon Glacier, Fiona Howath, 11 x 14, Silver Gelatin photograph

FH Fallen Giant (Small)

Fallen Giant, Fiona Howath,  Silver gelatin photograph, 11 x 14

Fiona Howath is an upcoming photographer whose work, in this exhibition, focuses on the natural landscape. She has crisp focus and  captures exceptional lighting. Detail is as important in the foreground as it is in the back. I particularly like the feathery quality of the ferns in Fallen Giant and in Salmon Glacier, I find the light/dark composition is excellent with the cloud, white above the mountain, casting dark on its slopes and brilliant sunshine delineating the character of the geological formation.

There are lots of paintings from each of the artists. As one is sold, it goes away with the purchaser and another gets put up.
I encourage you to go see the show and maybe even treat yourself to a painting. They are reasonably priced and there is lots of variety. Also there are several smaller items – greeting cards by four or five of the artists, fused glass tree ornaments (Judy Jones),  chap books and other small gift items.

Also featured in this show: Richard Bond, Lucy Adams, Doris Auxier, Fiona Howarth, Dorthe Eisenhardt, Judy Jones.

The location is 9048 Glover Road, Fort Langley, B.C. The gallery is open noon to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, and the show closes Sunday December 23rd.

Don’t forget to check out the web-site too:

www.fortgallery.ca 

Packaging

May 5, 2012

This is our youngest gallery goer.  I think he had tasting on his mind!

He’s fascinated with the floor mats that Diana Durrand has contributed to this exhibition (Fort Gallery, April, 2012) on the theme of Packaging. Three artists, Durrand, Claire Moore and Jo-Ann Sheen have each explored current day packaging  with their different perspectives.

(The  press release was so well written that I am sharing it with you here. My comments on the show follow.)

It’s stuff we barely glance at before throwing it away: it’s the wrapping
around the real goods nestled inside, a nuisance factor in our daily lives that clogs
our recycling bins and landfills, a gorgeous distraction concocted by marketers to
lure us into the consumerist mindset.

For artists Claire Moore, Jo‐Ann Sheen and Diana Durrand commercial packaging in
all its gaudy, upscale, brash and crinkly forms has become the material of art in a
show called Package Deal at the Fort Gallery from April 18 to May 6, with a
reception April 21 from 3 to 5 p.m.

The three have approached their subject matter from different perspectives, but the
unifying theme is to find meaning beyond the obvious – and not so obvious –
commercial messaging in the plethora of package designs we are exposed to every
day.

Moore bases her works on the interiors of ‘informal settlement shacks’ from the
1980’s and 90’s in her homeland of South Africa. The shacks were often wallpapered
with the print run ends from packaging manufacturers.
“I became curious about the ability of a label or packaging to elicit emotion,
sentiment and memory and to evoke a specific time and place,” she said. “The
ubiquitous and everyday becomes significant and meaningful, and in the plethora of
visual signs around us we create personal connections.”

Sheen, a printmaker, used a process called collagraphy to re‐contextualize discarded
packaging materials so we can stop to look at them in a new way. “I have taken these
discarded items and changed their context, examining their materiality in a different
form,” she said. “They have been rescued from the recycling bin and transformed
into two dimensional images.”

Durrand has unfolded a ubiquitous fast food icon – the Macdonald’s French fry box –
and juxtaposed that image with the gorgeous designs of 17th Century Japanese
kimonos. “A recurrent theme in my art is the discovery of beauty in ordinary, even
discarded things,” she said. “I explore the relationships between design and beauty,
function and art, intent and subconscious outcomes.”

The Fort Gallery shows contemporary work and is located at 9048 Glover Road in Fort Langley.
It is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 12 to 5 p.m.
604‐688‐7411

http://www.fortgallery.ca

 

Artemis in the Cove – A new Art Centre

March 22, 2012

Contemporary exhibit at the Artemis Gallery.

There’s a new Art Centre  in Deep Cove, called Artemis in the Cove. It’s a beautiful store-front place with window surrounding on two sides, the interior beautifully and sparely fit-out to accommodate classes, meetings and art gallery.

Interior space by candlelight.  Great for an opening. Transforms to studio in a jiffy. See the sink at the back?

The owner, Shannon Browne, has designed the interior space, with a custom made stainless counter with two big sinks for washing up in it. It takes up the whole back wall. Drawers, a trash can cupboard and fridge are built in underneath the counter and a microwave oven is hidden away in the above counter cupboards for a clean, modern look.

The floors are washable vinyl that looks like weathered barn-board.  Had I not asked, I would have assumed it was real, it looks so good; but it makes sense to have a vinyl floor so that  art spills can easily be cleaned up. The walls are a restful white – great for exhibiting work; not distracting if an art activity is going on. There are two long tables for activity; and two modern shelving units in blond wood from IKEA that form a demonstration table.

Looking out to the front, you see the charming village of Deep Cove with its small boutique stores – lots of them are restaurants for the many summer visitors and there are galleries, artisan jewelers, spas and other shopping treat places to visit without any of the corporate chain stores.

Looking out to the side, there is a courtyard with a planter garden which, even in winter, is green and lovely with small rhododendrons and azaleas.

For a lazy day outing, it’s worth the hour long drive from Vancouver to North Vancouver – the Iron Workers (Second Narrows) bridge is the easiest route, going North, by taking the Dollarton Highway, the first off ramp, going east;  and following it to its end.

Take a look at the web site for more info and pictures  http://artemisinthecove.wordpress.com/about/ and sign up on their mailing list if you are interested in knowing what courses and events are coming up.

I took a very informative course in monotype printmaking a few months ago and discovered that Shannon was interested in having more classes. I proposed a beginners course in drawing and she accepted. I’ve now taught the two days of course and was really pleased with the results. The participants dug right into the activities with enthusiasm. The facilities are exactly what is needed – a calm, well-light space with lots of room to work in.

See the previous post for details on the Drawing course I gave. The results for all participants were spectacular. I was really pleased with each one.

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Artemis – Kristin Krimmel’s drawing course

March 22, 2012

Judith’s mark making exercise

Think about it. Humans are the only animal in the animal kingdom who draw. Children, at a very early age, teach themselves to draw. There is a natural progression of mark-making in a child’s development that is so uniform from one child to another, no matter what culture they come from, that it is possible to know whether a child is developing normally or not, just from their drawings. Left alone, children will continue to draw not only as a pleasurable visual activity, but also to teach themselves motor control and hand-eye coordination. When adults begin to interfere by telling a child to stay within the lines, or by “correcting” the child’s rendition of a rabbit or cat or house, then the child’s mind easily shuts down and diverts from the normal path.

I don’t know how many people I’ve met who have been quashed in their artistic development any where from pre-school to adulthood, and they’ve stopped drawing!

My class, this time,  was composed of  mid-life or older adult students who had not had much instruction in drawing but who had a strong desire to start drawing again.

So of course, we began with some non-threatening exercises, making marks, wiping them off, starting again, erasing with an eraser – as marks, not to correct anything – using vine charcoal which is one of the best, most forgiving drawing materials to work with.   You don’t have a drawing if you don’t have a mark on your paper!

Marks in their infinite variety are what make drawings.

An exercise in placement: Karen’s interpretation

Next I talked about composition. I ask the students to take two colours, to place three shapes of one colour strategically, so that the eye travels over the whole picture plane. Then I ask them to do the same with the second colour. Then alternating, always thinking about what the next shape does to lead the eye around, continuing until the background (the white) comes forward.

Karen discovered in her drawing that if the colour didn’t go right up to the edges, the shapes got lost or “fuzzied”  and often left “ghosts”, those lines of white between the colour and the black line, which were not intended, but happened if one didn’t take care of them. This drawing shows both completely filled in shapes as wel as “ghosted” shapes, since I photographed it before Karen had the opportunity to finish the process of bringing the colour up to the line.

An exercise in placement: Mary’s interpretation

Mary discovered, in her drawing, that when a colour is  more intense, solid or saturated, that it pulls the eye towards it. Her white spaces got lost in the final rendition, but the balance between blues and greens is maintained because the textured places are acting like the white spaces would have. I love this drawing. It’s delicate and strong at the same time. The initial placement of lines gives a completely different flow from Karen’s drawing. Mary lines are more static as they are rectangular, whereas Karen’s flow like waves. But in the end, Marys mark making is so varied and dynamic that her drawing does not remain static. It’s full of life.

Other ideas of composition that we discussed were The Rule of Thirds; one, two and three -point compositions; geometric composition, a Renaissance concept using “Divine Proportions”.  If you want to see information on these concepts, look at these other blog entries:
https://artiseternal.wordpress.com/2008/02/03/snow-photos-compositional-notes/
and
https://artiseternal.wordpress.com/2008/02/16/napkin-sketch-2/
and
https://artiseternal.wordpress.com/2008/03/09/the-rule-of-thirds-another-compositional-concept/
and
https://artiseternal.wordpress.com/2008/04/10/divine-proportions/
and
https://artiseternal.wordpress.com/2008/04/14/musings-on-compostion-in-early-photography/
and
https://artiseternal.wordpress.com/2008/04/15/white-rock-photo/

Judith’s composition of cherry blossoms

The last exercise of the first day was to translate these ideas into a finished drawing that kept in mind all the principles of composition that we discussed.  I  had  a package of various photos for participants to chose from, each of which would adapt easily to the things we had been doing up to this point – strong on mark making, composition pretty much already in place. I allowed for the addition of one colour only of chalk pastel. I ask this of the students so that they are not having to complicate the drawing process by adding the problem of colour choices. That’s a whole other ball of wax!

Lorraine’s image of winter fields is made with a multiple use of sinuous marks creating an overall texture,representing long grasses. Underlying the major shapes is a geometric proportion that helps keep this composition moving in a triangular fashion.

Karen’ composition of two trees in a field of marsh grasses

Karen is an avowed abstractionist. She has emphatically stated that she does not want to  draw objects, so this exercise was contrary to her artistic temperament.  I was delighted to see her tackle this exercise by reducing the photograph to its essential elements.  I love the two simplified trees. It reminds me of Milton Avery’s simplified landscapes. http://www.google.ca/search?q=milton+avery+images&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=gwo&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=np&prmd=imvnso&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=Tn9rT7uTCo_YiAKUoPy4BQ&ved=0CCkQsAQ&biw=1444&bih=642

It’s hard to see on these small photographs how beautiful some of the mark making in this drawing is.  And, I will add, the participants did not have sufficient time to finish their drawings. These drawings are all mid-process.

Judith’s texture sampler

On the second day of the course, we had a short exercise in texture and pattern.

I can explain texture easily as the visual representation of the feel of a surface – rough, smooth, velvety, stringy, hairy, etc.  Pattern is more difficult to define.  Pattern involves repetition of shape or of repeated similar marks. Think of wallpaper, where there is a repetition of a motif. Or polka dots. Or  fabrics.  Pattern can also be a repetition of texture. Where mark making stops being texture and becomes pattern instead is not critical to define. It’s just part of a continuum.

I asked the participants to divide off the page somehow to make little enclosed spaces. In each one, I directed them to fill the various shapes with such things as parallel lines, cross hatching, organized dots, randomly spaced dots, wiggly lines, etc.

Next, we used a still life as inspiration to draw shapes and work with concepts of positive and negative shapes ending in a balanced composition.

I brought an old Chinese teapot in traditional cobalt blue and white, and a bowl that was similarly designed. I had oranges and apples for the bowl, a lamp, a salt and pepper shaker pair, a square facial tissue box in lime green, and a fan. The objects provided a variety of easily drawn geometric shapes and these needed to be composed using the full drawing paper so that the negative shapes and the positive shapes balanced out.  The drawing had to be made in charcoal only; and when I was satisfied that they had a good composition, then they could add colour with chalk pastel.

We started with some blind drawings – the kind where you keep your eye on the object while your hand follows your eye, drawing in line with charcoal, on the  paper. It’s not only a lessons in eye-hand coordination, but a lesson in observation. The better we observe, the better our drawings become. If we never become famous artists, we will have at least gained the joy of being able to see things more richly.


This drawing of an old kitchen scale and a bottle is Mary’s first attempt at this  type of drawing.  I love it because it is simple and in one fresh line describes the object clearly

Kathleen’s drawing of the big teapot works much on the same principal of one single line defining the shape. It’s an energetic drawing with a flourish.

This drawing is Nona’s. She has taken a lot more time to explore the intricacies of of the weigh-scale, including the embossed patterns on the plate and some of the mechanism that is hidden from view in Mary’s drawing.

Judith’s blind drawing includes some of the pattern, which for a purist, steps out of the boundaries of a blind drawing, because it is not just following the shape of the object. But the resultant drawing is rich and fresh. If you put this in amongst a batch of Matisse drawings, you would have a hard time selecting this one out as “not his”.

Next, using Canson Mi-teinte paper, we started our last exercise of the class, as described above.

Of course, I now had a batch of temperamental artist on my hands, as easy to direct as cats! Yes, some drew the objects I had brought, but others found objects that interested them more than my traditional still life. Hooray for independence! You will see that the results are very interesting and include the tea kettle and teapot that we used during our break; and some glass canning jars that are being used as storage cannisters.

This is Karen’s drawing, with the handle of the teapot and the cord of the kettle doing a great task of leading the eye through the composition. It is modernist in subject matter, finding beauty in daily objects – taps, kettles, mugs, and the stainless steel sink.

Lorraine’s drawing brings the eye in delicately on the upper left with the daffodil blooms and stems; then lower, there is another entry leading to the centre of the image with the tissue box. The vase provides a good strong vertical force to counteract the strong shadow forms going horizontally. It’s sitting in the left hand “third” of the drawing.

The top line of the black mass, mid picture plane, takes a meandering walk across the page, sometimes going up, sometimes down, so that the eye stays interested in the picture; and the bowl with its pattern and orange fruit makes a good stopping point to keep the eye looking at the image.

Mary’s drawing of the storage jars and the tissue box  divide up the page nicely. She has started this drawing with a “blind” drawing, carefully searching out the form, and then looking for the shadows that help attach the forms to the page while breaking up the space around the jars. It is in harmonious tonal balance with mid tones, white and dark all having about equal activity in the picture. The two strong black masses (the shadow from the box and the top of the box) do not overwhelm because there is a strong thick line at the base of the jar which pulls the eye to the right hand side.  With the round shapes – the lids and the glass jar bottoms, echoed by the shadows – this drawing has a nice circular flow to it. It’s a very good composition.

I liked the development of Nona’s drawing, too. It’s a simplified line drawing to begin with, then the placement of shadows and the basic light/dark  values complete a good, solid composition; and then the addition of colour and detail draws the eye to the part of the image that interests Nona the most.

I particularly like the traceries of light colour produced by erasing back through the charcoal shadow in the foreground, and the sensitivity that Nona brought to the coloured fruit and the bowl decoration.

It was a fun class and everyone went home feeling they had learned some new things to work with.

If you are interested in taking some courses in a super studio location, contact Artemis Gallery in Deep Cove, just east of North Vancouver.

http://artemisinthecove.wordpress.com/

Where will you be on Saturday?

July 26, 2011

Where will you be on Saturday?

Would it tickle your fancy to attend a free event where graffiti artists will tag a piece of your clothing  that you bring (a hat, t-shirt, shirt, etc). The event is free, but if you want to get something tagged, you need to donate something to the graffiti artist. One hundred percent of the donation goes to the artist.

Easer, Absolute Zero, 48×24 Spray paint on wood

 

Four of the artists will be working on their own paintings in the gallery –

It starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday July 30th at 258 East 1st Avenue in Vancouver.

It’s the same artists as I was talking about in my just preceding blog.

K

Ride

June 14, 2011

Dressage is a sport and dressage is an art. In this, Susan Falk straddles both worlds. In her latest exhibition in May at the Fort Gallery, she brought her lively paintings of horses away from the stables and onto our exhibition walls.

The interesting thing about Falk’s work is the directness with which she paints, as if drawing rather than painting, but using colour and a brush to do so.

Here’s what she was showing at the Fort Gallery:

Susan Falk, Oil on Canvas

Susan Falk, Oil on Canvas

To see these (and several others) all in one gallery space is to feel the excitement and movement of these powerful yet controlled animals.

Congratulations Susan,

See more at    http://www.susanfalk.ca/statement.html

One hundred and eighty degrees

December 11, 2010

A really good picture looks as if it’s happened at once. It’s an immediate image. For my own work, when a picture looks labored and overworked, and you can read in it—well, she did this and then she did that, and then she did that—there is something in it that has not got to do with beautiful art to me. And I usually throw these out, though I think very often it takes ten of those over-labored efforts to produce one really beautiful wrist motion that is synchronized with your head and heart, and you have it, and therefore it looks as if it were born in a minute.” (In Barbara Rose, Frankenthaler (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1975, p. 85)

Wandering through museum after museum in Europe this summer, the thought I came up with for my own work was:

Be braver. Sweep away restrictions. Lean over the edge. Hang on by the rim if necessary. Try what you have always wanted to try. Work big.

I was swept away by the inventiveness of the art – much of it totally non-representational.  I also saw tons of Medieval art, especially the Gothic work done around 1200 a.d. So there was a wonderful mix of things to look at – not only in the museums and galleries, but in the streets as well.

I’ve come back all fired up to paint new imagery, to try a series of non-representational work that will perhaps lead into something else. While I’m doing it, I’m trying to remain open and experimental, for me.

I add that, “for me”, because I know that this kind of work has been done before.  You might say the work is derivative, and it well may be. The thing is, if I don’t explore this avenue, I’ll never know know what is at the end of it, will I? I’ll never know what I might have discovered.  Being safe  ends up also being static, repetitive, derivative.

There’s that word again. Derivative.

I believe that we are all influenced by our favorite painters; that we aspire to emulate some of these favored ones. To copy them would not be right, but to play with their concepts, to build on their ideas – these are fair challenges to take up. One’s own personality will come through in one’s own work.

Yes, there are great forgers who can copy another artist’s work flawlessly, to fool the public into believing it is from the master’s hand; but for the vast majority, we bring our own abilities, our own personality, our own skill-sets to the canvas and the results will carry our own personality, our own aspirations, our own interpretations. It’s valid to go there; it’s not valid to copy (without acknowledging or accrediting the original artists).

And so, brave as I want to be, adventurous as I have vowed to be, I have embarked on a series of large watercolours using a palette of graphite grey, yellow ochre and burnt sienna. I just haven’t been able to leave the representational sector. I’ve needed a crutch, a handle to hold onto, an old woman’s cane to steady me as I go. Yes, I am painting from things I have seen – but hopefully, you will not recognize them, when you see them.

The first six are done. They represent concrete floor repaired with a resin that fills the cracks and spreads either side of them. It is a warehouse floor with dints and scratches, with these large lines of resin making random patches in a different colour; and spots of paint from some former activity. Now this glorious floor is being recorded in watercolour – the floor of the Geneva Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Since I’ve been back in Vancouver, I’ve been noticing the repairs in the asphalt on the road – a thick black linear brushwork flanking either side of a breach in the paving. I’ve been noticing the lack of repairs where tree roots emerge on sidewalks, lifting the concrete, breaking it, and then, over time, growing grass or weeds in it.  So simple.

From this latter exploration that I have done in photography, I’m hoping to find a more imaginative group of figures – anthropomophic – animal like or human-like but not.  I’ll just see where it goes.

Intent

November 30, 2010

“I don’t really like them. What’s your intent? ” asks Mrs. Stepford next door.

Since I came back from a vacation filled with visits to contemporary museums and galleries, my art production has taken a 180 degree turn around.

“I don’t always know, when I start something new.” I answer. “I start intuitively. I know I want to accomplish something, but I’m not sure what. I’m just mucking around with paint. I have an idea what it might look like and an idea of how I will achieve it, but how I get there, in the end is much to do with how the paint works with me or against me. I put it on and manipulate it. I know how watercolor paint reacts with its surface and I hope to control it but that doesn’t always work and sometimes I have to find a way to get around something that happened during the process that I didn’t expect.”

“You’re painting sidewalk cracks?” she says, not really in disbelief, but nonetheless with some concern that this might not be too serious or that my intent might be spurious.

“Not sidewalk cracks. They are concrete floor repairs that I saw at the Musee d’Art moderne et contemporain in Geneva.  In fact these are realism.  They are paintings of something I have seen. They are modern found drawings, interpreted. ”

“Are you going to put one in the current group show?”
“Of course not.   They won’t fit in a Christmas show. Especially not a small works show. They all have to hang together. They have to be in context or they won’t be understood. It’s not that each one can’t stand alone, it’s just that the intent is clear when the viewer can see the context of them; that it’s not just throwing a paint pot at the paper. Each one is a specific discovery of how the paint flows but each is also a study in placement and spatial relationships. ”
“Think about Rothko and Jackson Pollock. One of their paintings stands alone now, and magnificently, I might add; but the first ones? Without seeing that they all spoke together, a single one would seem incomprehensible. It’s the context that speaks. ”

“True, too true,” concedes Mrs. Stepford.

“It’s a real leap of faith to go out on the edge like this. I like it. It’s not really comprehensible to myself yet. I just do it, knowing that I have a vision and an intuitiveness working for me and I have to follow it until I’ve seen it to a logical end.  It’s an exploration. I’ll try to explain it afterward. But right now, I’m just painting and I stop when it seems right.”

“You are getting better at this,” Mrs. Stepford says. “Before, you couldn’t even tell me what you were doing. Now at least you are trying to put it into words. This is a step forward.”

Mrs. Stepford is my devil’s advocate. She pushes me to express myself. She’s a great critic, in a positive sense. She doesn’t let me get away with drivel nor saccharine work. If it borders on it, she will push me into defending myself. It makes me examine what I”m doing with a fine tooth comb.

In fact, I have been very resistant to putting my intent on paper. I think that the work should speak for itself; that if words are necessary to explain it, then it has failed somehow. And yet, when I was recently traveling and absorbing the work of many contemporary artists whom I had never heard of before, I was glad of some explanation to help me understand what they were getting at.

My sister, also an artist, is staying with me for a couple of days.  We were driving this morning and had time to chat about our art work.

“I don’t understand why you didn’t want to connect with that gallery in Santa Fe that was looking for some abstract work. You do some pretty good abstract stuff. Why didn’t you send it?” she asked, then added, “I guess you had your reasons, but it seemed like such a good opportunity, and to waste it…. But you don’t have to tell me. ”

“That’s not a problem,” I reply. “I haven’t worked seriously for twelve years now. I don’t know where I’m going. A gallery needs to have a body of work to deal with. They have to promote an image. It has to be a vein of work that you can continue to produce in. I’m not there yet. I don’t know where I’m going or which of the various things I’m currently working on that  I will be able to continue on in. I have between ten and twenty works in that vein of metallic ink drawings that you like,  but they are old. I don’t know if I could keep on with it. And I want to produce a whole new body of work, something I can get my teeth into. I’m not there yet. I’m still fishing around with what direction I will take.”

“OK. I get it,” she answers. “I understand.” And we dropped the conversation.

Words. Ideas.

The world of art expects us to explain ourselves, to validate our work. I find it difficult to find words that don’t just feel hollow to me.  It all boils down to intent.

If you don’t explore, you don’t find something new. If I knew what I was looking for, precisely, it probably wouldn’t be interesting anymore.  I just have to keep painting and practicing. Something valid will come out of it.

Paint the town red 2

February 6, 2010

We went to the opening of the Fort Gallery show tonight.  Each artist was tasked with bringing food for the opening. We had talked about bringing finger-food with red on or in it. I wasn’t successful in doing this. Instead I cooked up some pecan-meringue cookies, which I took along with a bottle of red wine,  crackers and some Boursin cheese.

Mrs. Stepford had a great idea of sandwiching beet slices with cream cheese – like beet Oreos.  I bet it would taste wonderful, especially if it were herb flavored cream cheese, but I couldn’t bring myself to make them. I thought about accidently getting a drip of beet juice on my clothing (or someone else doing it) and that ended that idea.  I thought about my marashino baking powder biscuits, but they are only good warm – straight from the oven. I didn’t think I could deliver them piping hot, so that was out. And smoked salmon as a biscuit topper? Maybe, but the salmon runs have been poor in this part of the country, so that the cost of decent Sockeye cold-smoked salmon is prohibitive.

Unfortunately, someone brought sushi and I liked it so much I went back several times. I’d already had dinner!

I invited some friends to come with me – Mrs. Stepford, next door; Carol,  Beverly and Dorothy. Just as we were leaving my house, Dorothy noticed that I had a flat tire developing. Not a good thing! I could imagine us breaking down with a flat, miles away from anywhere on a country lane in the pitch black with three of us shivering until the BCAA came to help us out. We went in Dorothy’s car instead.

We arrived without mishap exactly at seven p.m., but the lights were all out in the gallery. “Oh no!” I muttered to myself. I haven’t got the wrong date again, or the wrong time. ”  I was sure this time, but it’s perfectly awful when I do that.

We sat in the car for five minutes, then we saw a  car park beside the gallery and their lights go out. Inside the gallery,  a light switched on. A slender figure silhouetted in black moved forward in the gallery and then lights switched on.  We followed in quickly.

It was already past the witching hour, and there was work to be done – table cloths to be set out, a food table to be set up, and a bar with glasses  on the gallery manager’s desk. I was asked to uncork the wine and pour some. By seven twenty the other artists had arrived.

It took another twenty minutes for the noise level to rise and the conversations to flow, aided by the libations.

It was a light crowd.  Maybe forty people turned up, max. I brought four people with me and two more of my guests more showed up later. There are sixteen artists, I think, so that only leaves another seventeen visitors. So if the number of invitees was disappointing, the evening was not.
It gave me a good opportunity to chat with a some of the other artists whom I don’t know too well yet.  I think that is going to be the big bonus of having joined the collective. And I got explore the  Open Studio area in the adjoining store front, where classes or private tutoring happens.

I was rather surprised to find it was only ten o’clock when we got back to my house. Mrs. Stepford was eager to get out of her Friday-go-to-openings clothes, and Dorothy had had a long week, working. Both disappeared into the night and here I am home-alone again. The other two had come in a separate car as they live in a different community ten miles from here. The evening was over.

During the evening, one of the artists mentioned post-partum exhibition syndrome. It’s true. There is a let down once The Opening is done. In the days that come, I hope that some of our artists’ group make some sales. It’s not the only reason why we paint, but when something sells, there is  a thrill of validation that comes. An adrenaline feeling. Someone has felt deeply enough about one’s work that they have been willing to actually pay for it.

Now I’m ready to turn in. I’ll be glad, myself, to get out of my exhibition-duds. Tomorrow I”m going to have to look after that tire that is losing air.

Now this latter? That’s a real let-down!