Posts Tagged ‘representational art’

Small Wonder!

December 13, 2012

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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The Mas, Kristin Krimmel, watercolour on Arches paper

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

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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.

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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 

Love, Decay and Repair

October 7, 2012

At the far end of the gallery, in direct line from the entry, are three large hooked hangings inspired by hosta leaves. They engage the entire wall with their soft new-green colour, six feet high, 27 inches wide each. They belong to each other, like triplets . Not that each is identical, but the colours and the method of working are the same; and together they describe a greater whole than the parts individually do.

These are called rugs, but I would hate to see such fine, detailed workmanship put on the floor to be walked on. Each is composed of strips of fabric cut into narrow strips which are hooked into the linen base from below, surfacing on “the right side” as loops no higher than 3/4 of an inch. By the way they are pulled up from underneath, they can be twisted or organized to lie parallel to each other or in circular patterns and this creates tactile passages of great visual interest. The attention to such  detail is what makes these large works sing.

Michelle Sirois-Silver is the artist and this is her Hosta Series number 2.  In this series, the plants are alive and well, unlike her Hosta Series 3 where Sirois-Silver explores the decay of the plant as it comes to maturity and then returns to the earth. In Series 3, the colours change to autumn rich rusts, soft tans and reds with deep  blue shadows; then just as the plant collapses into more muted colours, the soft beiges and browns like dry earth that it is about to join in the birth-life-death cycle.

Sirois-Silver says, “Love Decay Repair reflects my philosophy about art and craft and the seamless integration of traditional and contemporary design, techniques, practice and attitues. Applying and integrating unexpected materials and techniquies into hand hooked work has always intrigued me. In the “decay” pieces, the surface of the leaf begins to disintegrate, taking on a vulnerable quality. The colours are dull and muted. Tears and cracks begin to appear on the surface and new materials and layered techniques such as hand stitching, needle felt and machine stitching are used to depict aspects of decay and repair.”

I like to look at art work without reference to the artist’s intent and explanation. It allows me to feel, instead of analyzing. It helps me integrate the whole rather than to deconstruct. Having said that, I declare my deep interest in the constructive or creative process that is involved in making art. It is for this reason that, of all the works on display, I was spell-bound by the documentation that was tucked on a plinth beside the gallery attendant’s desk.

 

In two books, journals really,  Sirois-Silver collected her lively samples of colours, her explorations of composition, texture and tone. There is page after page of sketches with variations on her theme. There is an awesome display of creativity. .

The drawings are fresh. The ideas are recorded not only in pen, pencil and paint but in swatches of fabric, trial bits of hooking, buttons, fabric, threads and yarns.. You can see some of her visual art process. This, I think, is absolutely wonderful.Imperfect. Living.  Engaging.

I was very thankful to see these, precursors to the fine work that she has conceived into perfect, flawless wall hangings.

These are still on display until October 13, 2012, so if you have a chance come to see them, or look for her news on her web site:

http://www.michellesirois-silver.com/

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.

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.

The Plein Air show – Part 1

June 24, 2012

Open Sky, Red Barn, Pat Barker, Watercolour, 22 x 30

At our artists’ collective, we planned this Plein Air show with the thought of connecting with our rural and heritage community, Fort Langley, in British Columbia. It is where the first fort was built on the  Fraser River and it was considered the first settlement and the first centre of pioneer administration. In the late 1800s and early 1900’s a lovely little village grew up around the fort and that is where we have our gallery, in lovely turn-of-the century community, in a turn-of-the century building.

 The Fort Gallery and ‘Growcery’, Kristin Krimmel ,11×14 Acrylic on canvas

Plein Air is a practice of painting that was made popular by the Impressionists. Quite literally, it means “open air”  or  “out in the open” . The artists would pack up all their materials they needed for painting and hike out into the surrounding area to paint directly from the scenery before them. This method of painting (as compared to making drawings and then coming back to the studio to paint) called for some quick responses from the artist. First of all, the light changes constantly  depending on the weather –  whether it’s sunny or overcast, rainy or dry. Then one’s eyes are constricted or dilated. It makes one perceive colours differently.

We advertised in the community that we would be out on the two weekends preceding the show, in the village, painting. In our group, we set out some expectations – that we would be visible to passers-by who could see us painting; and that we would paint some of the businesses so that we would connect with the  community of merchants. We imposed an 11 x 14 inch canvas size so that we could get some unity in the hanging of the show later on.

One of the mandates of our gallery is to work in a contemporary manner; so we choose our members on merit of their vision. A few paint pure abstracts – non representational things where you are not expected to connected to any objects that you might know in this mundane sphere. Several of us are representational – you can tell what the objects are in an image – but they are painted with modern methods – much more modern than the Impressionists. There are surrealists, constructivists and conceptualists amongst us. And then there are some more traditional in their approach. Modern realists.

Another goal of our association is to have the artists stretch beyond their personal comfort level to explore in a fashion that they don’t usually express themselves. For we contemporarians, reverting to a picturesque illustrative style can be quite daunting. We’ve cast it off in “artistic principle” and now are expected to bring it back on.

We realized that not everyone would have time to come to paint, as some of us are restrained by work schedules and family commitments. So in the end, we feared we would not have enough to show and we augmented where possible with previously done plein air paintings. As long as it had been painted outdoors, it would be considered for the show.

 

Pat Barker – 1) Victorian House 12 x  12 inches,; 2) CN Train Station. Acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14 inches,

So it is that Pat Barker, a painter used to working  large canvases with strongly textural surfaces and no literal content,  found herself painting the local CN train station, a relic of the era of train travel (a freight train still goes through the town, daily) ;  the painted Victorian  marvel across from our gallery with all sorts of moldings and spindles in its decoration; and the red barn, above.

“When I first came to Fort Langley,” she says, “I was awed by this red barn and I thought, if I ever lived here, I’d paint that barn. It’s what made me want to find a home in Fort Langley.”  I asked what drew her to the barn, thinking that it might be something special about it’s design but she said “It wasn’t really the barn but this incredible big field and the surrounding hills cradling it.  Everything was so lush and green.” At the opening reception, she explained that she had studied animation at Emily Carr University and that her training had influenced the style in this watercolor. When she said it, I could immediately relate it to her image. Especially, there seems to be a fish-eye lens view of her open sky and the red barn dwarfed by its rural surroundings. She has captured the sweeping cloud formation that make the skies in this area especially interesting.

Olga Khodyreva is primarily a surrealist and non-representational artist. In her recent solo exhibition at the gallery, she was  showing two groups of paintings that show her commitment to her chosen style of painting. So it was a bit of surprise to see her classic realist drawing in this show.

 

Olga Khodyreva, 1) Gasoline Alley,  8×8 inches and 2) Glover Road, 6×9  inches Both are ink and gouache on paper.

See how different it is from her usual surrealist style?

Olga Khodyreva, Dream of the Penguin, Acrylic

It becomes evident that Khodyreva has a classic, draftsman-like talent in drawing and a refined sensitivity to colour. Her drawings are even more remarkable when one considers that the weekend on which she was doing her paintings treated her to rainstorms and misty grey conditions. It’s a wonder she stayed to draw; and the work is nevertheless atmospheric. and engaging.

 

Shari Pratt,  1) Museum of Anthropology in Fort Langley, 11 x 1 4. 2) Community Hall, 11 x 14. both are painted in acrylic on canvas.

In these two paintings and the two  flower garden paintings below, her mastery of colour is obvious. Her colours are beautifully fresh and clean. Her manner of drawing with paint is direct and bold. The sun shines by shifting a single hue through  tonal changes (take a really good look at the irises in the paintings below).

Shari normally paints large canvases with abstracted imagery of figures using acrylics and mixed media. These paintings done Plein Air are not as far from her  usual style as some of the other painters in the group.

 

Shari Pratt, 1) Mrs. Simpson’s Garden in yellow 2) Mrs. Simpson’s garden in purple. Acrylic on canvas 11 x 14 inches.

Lucy Adams has a far greater disparity in her plein air paintings from her usual work than the other artists.

 

Lucy Adams, 1) Windswept trees, 2) Ever restless. Both are 20x 24, acrylic on canvas

“You should have seen me,” says Adams. “We were on the Oregon Coast and the wind was coming at us. It was so cold and I had the canvas on my knees and sometimes propped on my shoes while I painted this.By the time I came back indoors, my fingers were frozen.”  In the past, Adams has demonstrated several styles, preferring to work with unusual materials – like painting on glass or on mirrors. Her last exhibition featured long strips of sheer cloth painted abstractly with impressions of the seasons.

These two paintings above exhibit a freedom in her brushstrokes, a liberty of paint handling that make these paintings especially joyous representations of the forms she is recording.  No mean feat when it’s the restless sea, ever moving, ever changing on the rocks beneath her perch.

 

Susan Falk, Telegraph Trail #1 and #2, 8×10, oil on canvas

Susan Falk was up with Bob Wakefield at Telegraph Trail where Pat Barker, too, found the red barn. The images of Falk and Wakefield are cropped from the landscape to the barn itself. Falk is well-known for her expressionist paintings full of movement. Falk captures the late afternoon sun in a rich harmony of colours.

Wakefield was caught by a downpour on the second day of his Plein Air experience for this show and took refuge under the overhang at the back of the Fort Gallery. There is a lovely wild, lush garden in front of Suzanne Northcott’s art studio. From this view, he painted this charming, painterly oil sketch of the garden and the red door.

Bob Wakefield, Suzanne’s Garden, 8×10, oil on canvas

There  are several other artists to share with you, but duty calls. I’ll post them in a follow up.

There are still one week to go for this exhibition (ends July 8, 2012).  It’s at the Fort Gallery in Fort Langley, B.C.  at 9048 Glover Road. Hours are noon to 5, Wednesday to Sunday.

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

 

Claire Moore – The Packaging show

May 6, 2012

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Primed and Packaged, Gayle, mixed media on paper, Claire Moore.

Three artists showed recently with a theme of Packaging at the Fort Gallery. (See previous post). I was in a hurry to get something written before the show ended, so posted their press release.  But I felt there was more to say, so here I am with a few more comments about Claire Moore’s work.

First of all, it’s a privilege as an artist to know her because she has this incredible ability to think outside of the box, to generate very original ideas. She can change from one medium to another without seeming to blink an eye. Yet it is all stamped with Moore’s personality- the various bodies of work that she creates all have a continuity of style. It’s simply inspiring.

In this show, she tackles the idea of packaging that evokes a sense of place.

Primed and Packaged – Kenojuak, mixed media on paper, 18×24, Claire Moore

  ,

In “Primed and Packaged – Kenojuak”, a print maker is designing a stone lithograph; behind her, a repetitive pattern of the sailor from the Players cigarette packages forms a backgkround like wall paper. At the bottom of the image, there is a band of writing that says:

The story of the origins of the Cape Dorset printmaking co-operative has become almost legendary:

Osuitok Ipeelee, an established carver and sculptor and James Houston who went on to promote Inuit Art in all forms, were sharing a smoke  outside Houston’s tent on the land near cape Dorset. Ipeelee, who was carving a walrus tusk at the time, looked at the pack of Players cigarettes and asked, “doesn’t  the artist in the south not get tired painting the same little sailor over and over again?”

Unable to explain the printing process in Inuktituk. Houston took the relief carved tusk from Ipeelee,    mixed lamp soot and spit in his hand and spread it on the carving . He then made a crude print by pressing a piece of toilet paper onto the tusk. Ipeelee’s response on seeing the resultant image was , “We could do that,”

The first collection of Cape Dorset prints was released in 1959

Each of the other  Moore paintings in the exhibition recount some story redolent of time gone by, with the same general organization – a “wallpaper” of repeated packaging imagery and a friend’s face.

Primed and Packaged – Tom, Claire Moore, mixed media

In Primed and Packaged – Tom there is some delightfully loose drawing in the plaid shirt. The person in the portrait remembers hot days and her uncle taking her into a grocery store to buy ice cream bars.

Primed and Packaged – Cora, mixed media, 18 x 24 inches, Claire Moore

In Primed and Packaged – Cora  , an native child remembers being unconscious of her ethnic origins, how it confuses her own perception of self with the unrealistic “Indian” image on the Land of Lakes butter wrapping.

Primed and Packaged – Dyana, mixed media, 18x 24 inches, Claire Moore

Primed and Packaged – Dyana reminds the woman with a parrot of pleasant times with friends over a cup of spicy tea.

Each of these images (there were several more) has a different composition. The paintings are not cookie-cutter formulas. The drawings are freely done and specific. Each face has a personality much different from the next. They are lively drawings with a strong sense of tonal balance provided by the colour. All of these things are important to me in the appreciation of a painting.

Moore’s facility in drawing is underlined with the Kenojuak painting , with the foreshortening of the head that has been captured in a graceful pose. It’s not an easy one to portray. In each of the paintings, there is a good balance of the hand-drawn and the painted image in comparison to the appropriated packaging imagery. In each one, there is some informative drawing in the faces and then some bravura drawing that gives a sense rather than the specifics of the remainder of the image. This too makes for a good balance, focusing on what is important and letting the less important lay back in the  imagery.

If you would like to explore more of Claire Moore’s very interesting body of work, visit her website at http://clairemoore.ca/gallery/the_package_deal/

You will find an artist whose continuing theme is social responsibility and the welfare of humankind. You will find lots to explore in her previous galleries of her work.

Claire Moore lives and works in Surrey B.C.

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

 

Roger Watt – a chance meeting – and Toni Onley

December 4, 2011

The Canadian, Roger Watt, graphite on paper

My day did not go as expected. I had trouble getting the frozen locks on the car to open and in doing so activated it’s anti-theft mode. Door locks became non-functional and the key would not start the car. I couldn’t use the car and, in my typical frustration with mechanical things I can’t control, I muttered loudly once again that my aging  vehicle would be replace before long.

A friend came and took me to my morning meeting. I left the passenger door open on my own car thinking I might not be able to get into it otherwise, while I went off to fulfill Thursday’s first obligation. Another friend brought me home from the meeting to face this immovable car that I was imagining I would have to have towed to Port Moody.

I had plans for Vancouver that all had to be altered. I had already cancelled two meetings when Frank arrived. He laughed at my car-selling threats and commanded me to get the manual out of the car. There on the page for anti-theft devices I learned that, had I gotten out of the car, closed it up for thirty seconds and tried again, it would have started. By eleven in the morning, the locks had unfrozen and I was operative again,

I still had time to get into Vancouver for the core reason I was going in – to collect paintings from an exhibition that was over.

I’ve long ago learned to take adversity as opportunity. The cancelled appointments gave me time to stop by the Elliott Louis Gallery longer and take in the Toni Onley exhibition, Letters to Yukiko,  which runs until December 24th. It’s an excellent exhibition to see. I’ll describe it for you in a moment.

But first, I want to tell you that by the fact of being delayed in my trip to Vancouver, I happened upon a chance first meeting with Roger Watt.

Roger Watt is another of the represented artists of this gallery. You might have seen his work in the Drawing show back in July. He does small graphite drawings that are meticulous gems of observation, mostly of mechanical things that shine. He captures every nuance of light and shadow, of gleaming polish and detail of texture.

He had brought in two new works in this same genre, but diverging from what I had previously seen in that they took on an aspect of what I call “abstract realism”. That is, on first observation, you might think you were looking at something completely abstract, but on second inspection, you might find the close-up detail exposes a well know object. It might be the cropping of the of the imge that makes you focus on a small part of the oboject, or the cast of light brings to attention a point of view uncommonly taken.

D’Elegance, Roger Watt, graphite on paper

My appreciation of simple observation in this meticulous genre tends to not last long if there isn’t a secondary meaning that comes with it. I admire the skill and ability of the artist, but when I see one of these works that gives me that extra pleasure of something to think about, either from the subject matter or the abstract arrangement of the composition that works from afar and becomes something more close up, then I am in full admiration.

We spoke for a few minutes and I was happy to have the encounter.It’s always a treat to meet another artist.Then Roger had to get going and I did too, so we moved on.  In the back of my mind, I was thinking, if the car hadn’t given me such trouble, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity. Here I was, thanking my car for having given me grief.

I then took some time to view the Toni Onley exhibition.

The star items in this show are a collection of letters from Onley to his wife, Yukiko, as they are separating. From various places where he is away on painting expeditions, he writes passionate pleas for her to stay, quoting poetry of others on the subject of love, and writing some beautifully crafted poems of his own.

I have reservations however, about publicly posting the raw emotions of a man addressed to his wife in the middle of a split-up.

Somewhere in the curated writings about the exhibition, Yukiko explains that she couldn’t publish them while he was alive. My question is, why does she think they should be published now that he has passed away, exposing his raw sensitivities. Who needs to know?

Each of the letters is illustrated in watercolour with a view of the place he is writing with, or with a small image relevant to the text – a cat, an oriental figure, painted in typical Toni Onley’s calligraphic and  minimalist hand. The text is in a beautiful calligraphic style.

These have been reproduced very elegantly and are being offered up in a limited edition boxed set.

The letters take up a small portion of the show. The remainder comprise a series of oil on canvas landscapes. In addition, there are a few typical, elegant watercolours. If you show great interest in the work, the gallery owner may also show you a series of unframed watercolours. Of the twenty or so, I would easily have gone away with six of them, had I won the lottery. It’s not that they are so expensive, it’s just my pocket book is smaller than my acquisitory desires.

Untitled 1 and 2 , Toni Onley, Ink on paper on board, 10.5 x 14.5 inches

I was particularly taken with two of Onley’s Naples Yellow abstracts on paper marouflé* on board. They are fresh and clear coloured, and the compositions please me no end.

It’s clear that Onley’s strength was in watercolour. He reaches a finer nuance of colour in this medium than in oil and the “hand”, the brush strokes, look fresher.

From the Elliott Louis Gallery, I moved on to my framer and picked up some work; left some there too; then went to get my paintings from Hycroft.

In all, I think it was very well done that I had troubles with my car in the morning. It changed the course of my day and I was very happy at end of it to have met another artist and to have had time to soak up an exhibition that is rich in imagery and in meaning.

A final cautionary note on the car. If you have a similar trouble, do not close all the doors with yourself or anyone else in it. You may never get out.

References:

Roger Watt: http://www.folioart.co.uk/illustration/folio/artists/illustrator/roger-watt/

and     http://watt-art.com/drawings

Elliott Louis Gallery: http://www.elliottlouis.com/

* Marouflage is a technique whereby paper is glued to a support, usually wooden panel, and then painted. It provides a different texture than canvas and gives greater support and durability to paper. I don’t know if it is French in origin, but that is where I learned it; and the name is certainly French, so it may just be so.