Posts Tagged ‘painting’

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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Visions & Vistas, Michal Tkachenko

August 24, 2012

Isle of Arran 8,  2009, Michal Tkachenko, Oil on Mylar, 40 x 60 inches

I met with Tim Bissett, enthusiastic Art Consultant, in Vancouver about a week ago, expecting to have a half hour conversation with him over coffee at Terminal Avenue Starbucks. I’d done a small restoration on one of my own paintings for him – a mere scratch, but oh! what a poem it was trying to get the colour and the surface quality to match. In the end, it looked perfect and Tim was pleased.

Instead of a half hour, we talked two; and at the end he says, “Do you want to see the exhibition that I curated?” He had sent out the invitation to the opening on short notice and I hadn’t been able to attend.

Thy Otways sorrows, and lament his fate!, Michal Tkachenko, Oil on Canvas, 36×36 inches

It wasn’t far away, in Railtown  district, on Alexander Street in Vancouver. It was easy to get parking, a miracle for downtown, and was free for an hour. The show was in a small theatre studio space with dark walls which off-set the paintings wonderfully.

Michal Tkachenko, a native of Vancouver, lives in England but comes a few times a year to paint and visit her family.

Lately she has had access to Chatsworth House, the great manor used in many films including Pride and Prejudice and The Duchess. She has painted the dining room complete with period-style candelabra, paintings and epergnes in an opulent, free-brushing bravado. The walls are bright red and so they provide a rich background to the various pieces of decor set out on the table or sideboard.

Chatsworth 4, Michal Tkachenko, Oil on Canvas, 48×48 inches

Bissett describes the palette as beautifully haunting. Perhaps it is. The first word I thought of was Gothic, which elicits a ghostly sensation, especially since these sit on a strong butter yellow wall and the grey and white of the image seem even more pallid because of their exhibiting surface.

I don’t have a strong feeling for these interior landscapes, but I fell in love with the other series, a series of English landscapes, capturing the moodiness of the moors and other bucolic scenes.

In the Chatsworth series, Tkachenko works in oils on canvas. In two of the Vistas, the Isle of Arran works, Tkachenko works in a more contemporary medium of oil on Mylar. It’s equivalent to working on a smooth plastic surface and similar to working on glass. In this method, the oils don’t accumulate in thick layers. Rather, they must be freshly laid onto the surface and that must be done in quick, sure strokes.

Red Field 2, 2012,  Michal Tkachenko, Oil on Canvas, 18×20 inches

These works show Tkachenko’s mastery of the medium. They are expressive and freely painted. There is no hesitation apparent. The colours marry in a lovely series of moody greens and reds, the opposites providing a great balance of warm and cool. The sky is luminous – the kind that is perfect for an outdoor hike into the pure English wilderness that has barely been touched by man’s intruding hand.

If you would like to see these lovely paintings, Visions & Vistas has run its course, but there are still several paintings for sale. Viewing can be made by appointment only through Tim Bissett, the curator of the show. Call 778-322-1333 to schedule viewing,  or e-mail to timbissett@shaw.ca

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:

http://dailypaintworks.com/Artists/simon-shawn-andrews-2394

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.

Visiting Jim Gislason

July 25, 2012

At the end of a short gravel drive behind a rancher-style house in South Surrey (B.C, Canada), is this small barn with a small door on the right hand side. Stepping into the dark interior, there is an unfinished room with not much of interest in it. But beyond that, behind a partition going the length of the barn, is the fairly simple studio of Jim Gislason, an artist with enviable credits for his print-making.

The room may be simple, or should I say, austere, but the work going on in it is nothing of the sort.  There is an intellectual theme running through his paintings based on ancient civilizations and myths which I described in an earlier post at the moment of his solo exhibition, “Kings and Queens” at the Elliott Louis Gallery in Vancouver  two years ago.

Gislason is the type of person I enjoy a good conversation with. He’s a fine poet and a talented painter in addition to his work as a print maker. He has a tremendous knowledge of English literature and some obscure ancient literature as well (whence come his titles). He quotes from traditional British poets as well as current song-writers such as Bob Dylan. It’s obvious that he has the ability to internalize what he reads or hears as song, to synthesize it and then to recreate it into iconic visual language. Let me say that in a different way:
Gislason has a capacity to absorb ideas from the world around him, to think profoundly about it, mill it about, and come up with some very original, symbolic art work. What is more, he is very articulate about what he is doing. It’s ingenious.

To express his ideas visually, he has devised a unique and complicated way of working.  He was fascinated with printmaking techniques, especially silk-screening. In earlier times, this process was used mostly for making posters and advertising. In the late ‘Fifties and early ‘Sixties, this process was brought into the art domain under the name of “serigraphy” to distinguish it from its commercial twin.  The process is technically intricate.

A very evenly and tightly woven piece of silk is stretched over a frame. A masking liquid is painted on and then, once it dries, it can be used to make multiple images  of the design by use of a squeegie pulling ink over the screen. Where there is no mask,  ink goes through. Where there is a mask, none goes through. Several same-sized screens can be used to make overlays of color, so the imagery can be quite complicated and colourful. Mask-making methods have evolved over the intervening years. Even in the late ‘Sixties, photo-transfer masks were being used. They were produced first by exposing a photographic film that could be applied to the screen leaving an emulsion that performs the masking function. Colour separation applied to this process allowed for some fairly realistic images to be produced. Gislason uses the photographic process complete with digital manipulations to create imagery on his silks.

Silk screen with photographic masking showing on LH side and ‘inked’ areas on RH side.

In the process of using serigraphy at the beginning of his print-making career, Gislason discovered that he liked what happened when the inks went through the silk and left-over inks stayed on the screen instead of transferring to the paper. Now he doesn’t bother making multiple images. He has discovered, created a new way of working that hangs somewhere between print-making and oil painting.

I’ve often wondered how he could create his works in this manner because his ‘canvases’ are so large.  Now that I’ve seen his studio, I understand his process better. His squeegie is short – maybe just a foot long. In traditional silk screening, the artist would have a squeegie that was just slightly shorter than the rectangular frame’s shortest side. The artist provides ink to the surface and then pulls that puddle of ink from one side to the other of the total rectangle.

Gislason uses oil paints instead of inks to provide more professional, durable and lightfast pigments. He works on a small area at a time, not worrying about doing the whole width at once.  The advantage to Gislason is that, while extrudes them through the screen, he can modulate colours as he is working. That means that his colours are no longer flat, as is characteristic of traditional silk-screen printing. He can also modulate the good side before the paint has hardened with palette knife or other tools adding another texture or glaze. It enriches the colours and permits modification of parts of the overall surface so that the textural quality of the entire piece is as varied and as interesting as the rest of the imagery.

The final product, technically speaking, is beautifully crafted with several different aspects all working together – the modulation of colour, the variety and interest in the tactile surface, and the imagery which is not incidental to the whole. It’s no longer a handmade print on paper, but is the screen itself. There is only one image, not multiples on paper.

“My work is figurative,” he says. “Always figurative.”

I have to think this through, since I see so much abstraction in the works leaning against the walls, pinned to the wall, or stacked in the far end of the barn. The face or the figure is somewhat incidental in the overall. In my mind it’s just another shape, but with recognizable detail. I express my question and he answers, “Without the figure, there is little engagement.” He shows me the one and only non-figurative work in the studio and I easily see what he means. The figures are focal points that call out to be explored, considered.

Mostly the figures are heads only, often a head tipped back on the neck, mysterious, evocative; but there is an image with a donkey and another with a one legged person, wings embracing the the figure from behind the head, which gives the impression that the other leg is there, but in shadow. Or is this one of the Queens, seated on a throne, with a single foot coming forward? For me, the ambiguity is a pleasure because then I need to ponder the work and engage with the figure. There are things to discover.

In explaining his imagery, Gislason theorizes, quotes philosophers and classic writers. He speaks of the difference between logic and myth. Logic is linear thinking, cold and calculating. Myth relates to feelings, poetry, magic. It’s the latter that he wants to have shine through in his work. Yet when I look at his silks, I see that there is an equal balance. The overall image may meet the emotional quotient he is seeking, but the formal qualities of the work – the placement of shapes and objects, the overall design are painstakingly considered.

His eyes light up as he talks. His energy bristles but is sure footed. He is a mystery. It’s these contrasts that he resolves that make his work interesting. Logic and myth. Simplicity and complication.

Work in progress containing map imagery

The new work incorporates images of maps, with small block shapes of them repeated to make large continents on the canvas. He continues with his luscious build-ups of texture, impasto painting which contrast with rich coloured flat areas. When you look from afar, it’s one image; when you are close up, there is so much intriguing detail. The edges are still pinned with clear-headed push-pins. They are part of the imagery, holding in place the soft silk edges which act as a signature framing element. The new works are in progress, not yet finished, up on the wall while he ponders the next step, the next modifications to the first layers of paint and the imagery. Orange and cadmium yellows predominate, but most often with a contrasting turquoise to set up a glowing vibration of colour.

 

Details – Fingerprinted edging with push pin; repeated block of map image bordered by impasto brushwork.

I left the studio feeling very privileged to have been welcomed into the inner sanctum. If you want to see more, check out his web site at jimgislason.com

Many thanks to Ted Lederer of the Elliott Louis Gallery who arranged the visit for me and accompanied me on the journey.

Check out the Elliott Louis Gallery at http://www.elliottlouis.com/

Read about the philosophy of Myth versus Logic in this document:

http://cheer.org.nz/mythoslogos.pdf

Kathleen Menges at the Kariton

July 24, 2012

Mid Day, Kathleen Menges, 24×12 inches, cold wax on panel

It was as my friend Dody and I were coming home that we clued into Kathleen Menges’ exhibition at the Kariton Art Gallery in  Abbotsford. It was a day neither sunny nor rainy, a thick cloud cover had settled over the Fraser Valley bringing the summer fields to a rich bright green. In the middle ground, the near hills are a clear mix of forest green and mountain blue. As the mountains recede like cut-outs, the blue gets purer and paler; the green disappears. The sky is a slate blue tint.  It’s the palette of Kathleen Menges. It’s the West Coast of Canada, the wide open farm lands  held in parentheses by the  ubiquitous mountain landscape. She has captured the soul of the valley.

She lives in the Abbotsford not far from this gallery and it’s her first solo show at a municipal gallery, a kudo we struggling artists aspire to as a stepping stone to more important recognition.
I know Kathleen, so I listened to her concerns beforehand. There was no need  to fret. This show is professionally hung, well spaced, well lit. It shows each piece to advantage.

Lake of the woods, Kathleen Menges, 78 x 108 inches, cold wax on panel

In the next few days, I will try to get better photos as these ones I took at the show are distorted a bit by the lighting.; but they are quite good enough to give a sense of Menges’ style.

It’s a style dictated by her choice of medium. All the work in this show is created in cold wax and oil paint on birch wood panel.  Wood panel is a requisite for this type of work because it’s rigid and the pigments applied with cold wax are apt to crackle and change with any movement of the substrate.  The wax and pigment can be brushed on or applied with a palette knife in a paste-like state. Menges uses the palette knife by preference. Once the painting is complete, it needs to dry completely and flat, otherwise there is a risk of the paint sliding downwards and losing shape. Once the painting has completely dried, it can be buffed to give it a more shiny surface.

Wine in the making, Kathleen Menges,  30x 36 inches, cold wax on panel

Most of the works in the show are landscapes, but Menges also likes to work in non-representational modes as well. My personal preference goes to these.

She is able to incorporate interesting textural patterns by using industrially made patterns, like the honeycomb pattern in the painting above. I find the tactile sense of these abstractions more engaging than the flatter surface of the landscapes. Funny enough, I also find the shapes are more natural and flow more finely in the abstracts. The colour is nuanced with lovely things happening in the yellow with traces of cerulean blue and greys implicating in the texture.

It’s an enjoyable show. If you are in the area,  go see the Kariton Gallery. It’s at 2387 Ware Street in Abbotsford, situated on the grounds of Mill Lake Park.  Look for hours of operation on the Abbotsford Arts Council web site:

http://abbotsfordartscouncil.com/

It’s on until August 14th, 2012

Marouflage

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 www.kristinkrimmel.com

 

Up and Coming, Kathleen McGiveron

November 6, 2011

Big Charmers, Kathleen McGiveron, Ceramic Sculpture, approx 12 inches high

At the Fort Gallery in Fort Langley, B.C., we have several new young artists who have joined our collective. In the current exhibition running to November 13th,  Kathleen McGiveron is showing a  witty collection of  ceramic figurines.  Each one is a poke at pop culture – pop singers, pop food, mass culture and the mainstream figurine. The detail above is from the sculpture named Big Charmers and is patterned with a Nestle’s symbol.

In her artist statement, she refers to Red Rose Tea “Wade” figurines as an idea source. I’m not familiar with  those, but I am with the Lladro and Nao figurines which also display a similar shiny glaze over muted colours and a simplified form. Kathleen’s figures are small animals – a squirrel, a rat, a bird. So far, all of the figures are hand made, one-off sculptures, except the bird series which is reproduced by a casting method with a hand-built and unique base. All of them are much larger than the tea-box “prizes” that inspire them.  Each sculpture is painted differently and each includes some iconic logo as part of the imagery.  She contrasts traditional  – what you see from a distance – with pop culture decals such as- Macdonald’s Golden Arches symbol repeated as an understated decoration; or the Mac Apple.

Shutter Shades, Kathleen McGiveron, Ceramic sculpture, approx 12 inches high

She has these decals prepared especially for her and then applies them one by one – the surfaces are curved, three-dimensional,  so it’s impossible simply to lay them down on the clay’s first layer of glazing.

She says, “It is essential that humour and irony exists within my work and that the piece is whimsical. I am interested in exploring a dialogue between the mass produced, mainstream figurine and the mass, mainstream icon. I am fascinated with the human obsession with celebrities and mass media and how certain moments and images can define a person or company. My intent is to explore this absurd obsession and lifestyle, and to bring light to current mainstream figures through my sculptures

Take a look at her web site at      http://www.kmcgiveron-art.com

Golden Arches, Kathleen McGiveron, Ceramic Sculpture, approx 12 inch high

On this chipmunkl sculpture, the animal holds a nut in its paws, and the nut is covered with Macdonalds Golden Arches logos.

Jaegerbombs Kathleen McGiveron, Ceramic Sculpture, Approx 12 inches high.

There is a bit of a problem with the exhibition as a whole. There is a group show of paintings going on at the same time and the painting component is quite distracting from Kathleen’s calm and unified work.

The group show of paintings is a memorial to Stu Richardson, a former  college instructor and mentor to a group of artists who gathered at Bernie’s Barn to paint together.  When Richardson passed away, his wife puzzled over what to do with his unfinished paintings. In collaboration with the artists in the Bernie’s Barn group, she gave the unfinished works to “finish” , each according to their creative inspiration. Each artist took a few of the paintings. Using Stu Richardson’s resource materials (photos and travel sketches) they then applied their own technique to complete the work.

There is a range of styles in the resulting work and the unity in this work only comes from the fact that the compositions were all started by Richardon. All are representational, many of boats, several are landscapes and a few are genre paintings of people in situ.

Four of Richardson’s finished works are on display, showing his mastery of the medium both technically and compositionally . “Frost Trees“, below is my favorite from the show because it glows with light.

Frost Trees, Stu Richardson, approx 24 x 30 inches, acrylic on canvas

and I quite enjoyed this one also for it’s detail, the thoughtful content and the beautiful handling of foreground and distance in complete harmony:

Stu Richardson, acrylic on canvas, approx 24 x 30 inches, acrylic on canvas

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

John Koerner’s retrospective

June 28, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.elliottlouis.com/

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

Robert Mitchner – Measuring our self-worth as an artist

February 27, 2011

I visited my artist friend Susan for tea yesterday. After a long hiatus, she is trying to get back into drawing and from there, back into painting.

I always feel privileged to see Susan’s work, especially since she feels quite hesitant about it. And I always feel privileged to spend time with her, too, because she went the art school route of education – something I always desired to do, greatly – and she met the fledgling art potentates of our corner of the world, now biggies, and talks about them as if they were just ordinary people, not the stars-of-the-art-world that I’ve come to consider them.

And so it was yesterday when we got talking about Ann Nelson whom I’ve not met, and Robert Mitchner, both of whom my friend visited within the last week or so.  Susan led me to their  web sites so that I could see their work and we sat together, delecting upon the imagery and talking about it’s merits.

Today she sent me this link regarding an article in Galleries West magazine concerning an upcoming exhibition, but when I went looking for the date of it, it was copyrighted in 1999, so I’m more than 10 years too late!

No matter, it’s a very perceptive interview article and I thought I would share it with you.

The Mitchner article by Fiona Morrow is at   http://www.gallerieswest.ca/Features/CoverStories/6-108168.html and is illustrated with a few of his major styles.

It’s odd, I think, that so many good artists are self-deprecating and modest about their work. We believe in our work enough to keep on doing it. We may even be privileged to get our work into the best galleries in town. And yet, the last paragraph tells it all. Mitchner feels his notice has been minimal; and his impact on the art world has been little.

I would counter that selling is not a measure of an artists worth; and we may never know the impact of our shows on other people. My perfect example  in this case is Mitchner himself.

Susan said to me, “Have you ever seen Robert Mitchner’s work?”  I replied that I had and could describe precisely the style he worked in. I could visualize the farm series as we spoke. That exhibition was thirty years ago. I never met the man; but his work impressed me  and stayed with me.  It is beautifully crafted, precise, clean, technically beautiful. The paintings were large and the compositions complicated; yet the work was serene and there was nothing that jarred. I remember them as perfect paintings.

Again I say, I never met the man. Nor did I have the opportunity to tell him how I felt about his paintings. I didn’t have money to purchase at the time, and even today, I could not afford his work, but I loved it. But he never knew it, and so thinks he has not made an impact on the art world.  I disagree. How many others, like me, saw the work and loved it but had no way of communicating that to the artist?

It is a constant problem with artists – how to measure one’s worth as a painter (or sculptor, or musician or actor, etc.).  It must not be tied to how much notice we get in the newspapers and art journals.  It must not be tied to how much money we make from sale of our art work. I’ve seen some wonderful work not sell for many different reasons – hard economic times, the people who love it are not wealthy, or viewers love it but have small living quarters and no place to put the work that they desire passionately to own. Pragmatic circumstances get in the way.

Conversely, I’ve seen dreadful work sold at great prices and acclaimed because it sells, but it’s not good work; and I’ve seen dreadful work sell time after time for even modest prices while stunningly beautiful work sitting beside it  does not find a buyer. Money is not an adequate measure of art work.

It’s a concept that I struggle with still. I’ve had very little notice of my work either, but I’ve had more than some and I’m grateful for it. I produce far more than I sell and as a result have a basement full of paintings and drawings, some framed, some not.

I decided a long time ago that I would feel successful if my peers liked and valued my art works. That means those artists whose work I admire for their imagination and skill return the compliment and admire mine. It also means those organizations who have honored me with an offer to  exhibit my work in a public place; or a gallery that I respect who agrees to take my work on, to display, to rent, to sell.  If my work was appreciated by the art colleagues that I worked with while teaching art; or by a competition that had some cachet, then it helped bolster my self-worth as an artist and I was happy for the feedback.

I feel confident about my work now, most of the time. There are still days of questioning; but mostly I know what I am doing is right for me. But of course, it took me forty years to get here; and it wasn’t always so.

Back to the point. If you would like to see some lovely work, Google and check out Robert Mitchner’s web site and also the link, above, for that excellent article. See what you think. I think it is beautiful imagery and of high quality and I hope you enjoy it too.

My favorites are the Gorgeous Gorges.