The Love that Surrounds Me 1 & 2. Diptych 36" x 36" ea

Monday, June 30, 2008

Whistler Art and Adventure [my mini review]

I just came back from Whistler with my girlfriend and her 19 year old son (in foto). We all had a great time walking, river rafting and browsing the shops... oh, and drinking a nice, cold beer on our first hot days of summer!
I'm still waiting for the river rafting fotos to come - we had to order them so should be about a week or so... there are some great action shots!
One of my missions was to visit the galleries there... so I did.
The Adele Campbell Gallery had a few similar artists that show with me in Jenkins Showler Gallery in White Rock so I am hoping we'd make a good business "fit" as well... gotta follow up on this one.
I fell in love with the sculpture of Cathryn Jenkins at Mountain Galleries at the Fairmont Hotel. The veins she follows in the stone, the positions of her bear subjects, the size and weight, the feel of the sculpture - enrapturing! She also shows at the Whistler Village Art Gallery.
As you may know, I am a texture fiend so I was immediately drawn to the multi-media work of Rolinda Stotts. The fotos on Whistler Village Art Gallery's website doesn't do the real painting justice... you've gotta see them for yourself.
If you like jewelry, the Farmer's Market in the Upper Village had some awesome and original pieces... I love handmade jewelry so it was hard to peel myself away from there. I resisted purchasing though, much to my own surprise!
Kal Gajoum had a show at the Plaza Galleries in the Village on Main Street "Vancouver Through Kal's Eyes". When I walked into the Gallery, I was overwhelmed with the fresh smell of oil paint. I LOVED it, especially because I work in acrylic and there's not the same luscious, toxic odor! I couldn't make it to the opening, but I have met Kal once - great guy.
It was a short stay in Whistler but we had a great time and I'm sure I'll be back there again this summer. The 3 hour drive from Abbotsford is well worth the ocean and mountain views along the way.

Friday, June 20, 2008

2nd Stage Paintings - but first...

...but first, I have to share today's accomplishments! I think I made up for Wednesday's delinquency!

I must thank previous days of focused painting, because of course, these three paintings weren't just "whipped up" today.

This red door piece is the commissioned painting that I've been talking about and have been working on for some time. It's called "Un Mercato a Riomaggiore" (the Cinque Terre, Italy) 28"x42". It is similar to one I have painted before, but the client's interior designer, Kathy Renwick from KC Interior Design in Chilliwack, suggested a larger and longer size for her home. It was fun for me to add new scenery to make the work longer.

This tree painting (Oooo how I love them trees!) is titled "Strong, Silent Type" 16"x30" indicating the size and solidity of the cedar. I was recently reading about the giant cedars we have here in BC and some stumps have been measured at 20 feet in diameter! Further north from Vancouver in a small town, a stump has been a post office and people have even lived in them... pretty cool!

The long, thin style of "Reach for the Top" 36"x12" (left) speaks of the height that these cedars can grow to. Not as tall as the Douglas Firs in our forests, but they can still claim amazing heights.

Now, about a couple of paintings in their second stage. I guess you could technically say it's the 4th stage as: 1) I build the framed wood panel; 2) I draw the composition on the board; 3) Outline the drawing, sometimes changing where my pencil lines were with my black mixture; 4) fill in the lines with more black mixture.

I have lightened this photo a little to make it easier to see. Yes... I paint on black... it makes the colour pop out more. If you have read my past blog, it's the image I used from a photo I took sitting under the trees.

A good tip, is not to start you painting on just a plain white background. My preference is black, and because of my style, it's always black. (Unless of course, I'm experimenting trying new techniques). Try a background of red, brown or blue. Try blocking in multiple colours. Try new things!

Starting your work on white doesn't seem to give your painting as much depth and there also seems to be a bit of a mental block when starting on something that's such a pristine, untouched canvas or board.

This is the cedar stump (or tree base):

I'll keep you posted on how the addition of colour comes along!


Robert Genn paint on his You Tube videos - he is full of ideas and fantastic painting tips in his newsletter - it's a MUST to subscribe to!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How to Avoid Making Art

"How to Avoid making Art (or Anything Else You Enjoy)" by Julia Cameron, Illustrated by Elizabeth Cameron

Today I woke up early and went to my business networking group "VBN" (bad coffee), so I went home, made a yummy cup of coffee and headed out to Surrey to pick up my Jiu Jitzu uniform (gi). I figure I can't go there anymore in a pink t-shirt and brown pants.

When I got back to Abbotsford, I walked over to my studio. I started to finish a project that I simply MUST complete (it's nice to get paid). A few paint brush strokes were made but then I started fidgeting and my mind began wondering. There's just not that much left to do, but boy can I find excuses to do other things.

In my first successful attempt today to avoid making art, I flipped through Julia Cameron's book and this comic seemed to fit the bill pretty good:

Then the studio started getting kind of warm and uncomfortable. I guess I could open the windows... yes, yes... that could take up some time. Besides, the morning light has already moved and changed:

Ok. Windows opened, fresh air... A few more brush strokes on said painting, but boy what a mess in here! It is amazing what I can collect and keep 'just in case'.

Now I'm at home writing my blog.
Later I'm having coffee with my new [AWESOME] artist friend, April Solomon . I guess we'll do some more talking about art tonight.

And that's just what kind of day it's been.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Relationships [in Art]

For some time now I've been interested in the relationship with music and art - poetry, dance, photography etc. as well, but mostly with the two aspects I know most about.

Andy Gabrys, a Chilliwack native who now lives in New York, came to Bozzinis Restaurant in Chwk to play his own Jazz music for a home crowd. My friend Helen and I were there for the concert and took some photos. From what we had snapped, I started to see the similarities of rhythm in the picture and the listening to the rhythm and cool movement of his music:

I love the vague image of the bass player. A little blurry cloud like a piano piece by Debussy.

Then there's my bff Ms Barbara Jane's Superman who has a band, Wichita Trip who I went to see in Vancouver the a couple of weekends ago. Totally different style than Gabrys that added new blended flavours (ah yes, flavours...cooking is another fantastic artful analogy!) of Roadhouse Country & Honky-Tonk Rock 'n Roll.
.. love those toe-tappin' sneakers too!
Use YOUR imagination and come up with your own relationships between sight and sound. What do you see in these pictures? How does the mood of these photos reflect the type of music they play?

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Studio

Just a short post today as I am off to work.
I love my studio and can't wait to get there today. The space is more than ample, has perfect lighting and great for teaching too.

Call to come and visit: 778.241.1553

Friday, June 13, 2008

First Stage Paintings

Well, I went walking in the park again yesterday. (Lucky me, my judo club is in the same parking lot!) I had to take a photo of this stump because I just loved all the foliage around it.

I've started 5 new paintings (2 shown here). This is what the first step looks like in my work. ACTUALLY, the VERY first step is when I make the panels in my workshop... I'll have to get some fotos of that too!

This is the above stump in my vision: It could actually be the base of a tree and not an eroded stump. Maybe next time it will look more like the above picture. Nature can always be one's own interpretation.

After my initial sketch on the board, you can see that I change my mind in some areas. When the darker black goes on, sometimes it's easier to see what I've drawn and the composition changes slightly.

This painting basic comes from a foto when I was in the park lying under the trees (a few days ago -usually best when the ground is dry or you have something underneath your bum!) Again, you can see the pencil marks, which will eventually be covered up. [You'll see, you'll see.] It's probably difficult to make out exactly what I have in mind here, but I'll show you the finished product and [hopefully] all will become clear.

Now I must be off to my studio to get working on these and the other few I have started. No, I have not forgotten about my giant tree painting [as mentioned in my first blog], but just putting it on the backburner for a while to let it stew on low heat.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Thursday!

I feel good because it's Thursday! It's just one of those days of the week that "sit well with me". I don't know why - but I know this canine character, "Gracie", makes me smile! Dogs are great!

I decided to do a Wikipedia search to see if anything special has happened in history and nothing says this day should be particularly good. In fact, it's pretty doomy and gloomy!

The god Thor, after whom Thursday is named, by Mårten Eskil Winge, 1872. Yes, sexy I guess, but uh, not a reason to wake up feeling good!

There is an old superstitious rhyme which predicts the personality of an individual based on the day they were born. Perhaps Bowie had this in mind when writing the lyrics for this song:

Monday's child is fair of face;
Tuesday's child is full of grace;
Wednesday's child is full of woe;
Thursday's child has far to go;
Friday's child is loving and giving;
Saturday's child works hard for a living.
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day is fair and wise, good and gay
If I'm Thursday's child, then I'd like to interpret the above as "every day is a learning experience"... a positive spin...

And look at this guy:
The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare - a novel by G. K. Chesterton, first published in 1908.
Yikes... a Nightmare!
Another downer:

Black Thursday refers to October 24, 1929 when stock prices on the New York Stock Exchange fell sharply, with record volume of nearly 13 million shares. Five days later, the market crashed on volume of over 16 million shares – a level not to be surpassed for 39 years. In popular imagery, the crash has come to mark the beginning of the Great Depression.

I'm stopping RIGHT here and NOW...

A couple of graphite sketches and spoof paintings of my past companion critters.
Happy memories and all is good again!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Walk in the Park

The last few days I've been hunkered in my studio studying some photos that I took a few days ago when we had a tiny window in sunshine. I've started a few more paintings and here is the source for my inspiration:
...taking a walk in the park to ignite my creative spirit... I'm in a total "Tree Mode" of painting. I found a new (new to me) park in Abbotsford (Fishtrap Park, I believe??) that has some great quiet spots to sit and think and a path that isn't full of people.

I just LOVE the different textures of tree bark!
how cute!

I love the panorama aspect of cameras: this one had some great height!

Tree roots... Love 'em!

Different angles...
I'm doing a few different kinds of paintings now that will feature some "down below" views.I'll show you when I'm finished...

On my walk, I found this little guy. Poor thing, he's alive but looks a little battered up.

I wonder what happened to him!

Alot of my paintings have been based on this type of setting. This was taken at Mill Lake in Abbotsford. There's usually a few more people in this park... lots of dogs being walked and also lots of baby geese and goslings! Also refreshing for the spirit. Just watch out for all the geese poop!

I can't wait for some better weather soon... that means getting out of the studio and back into the woods!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Good Answer!

I received a great answer from my artist friend Rob Hooper about my question "How long does it take to paint a painting?". His answer: "All my life". Which really is true. Like all of us, I didn't just come out of my mother's womb knowing what I know now.

When an artist (or any profession for that matter) studies their subject for enough time, it becomes second nature to draw it, talk about it, and redesign it. Sometimes it has to be ripped up, reanalyzed, and deconstructed before it takes its shape or comes into its full 'being'. Ideas and creations are like that.

Let's do a quick (and a non-exhaustive) comparion of the following:

the one on the left created in 2000, the other a few years later:

a little different technique, style and colour palette.

How about these two?
Left: early. On the right, years later:

Geez... I've doodled, sketched and painted the piano so many times over the years (never mind seeing one every day of my life while I was anchored on the bench practicing) that I could draw one in my sleep... dreams or nightmares, take your pick!

That's only getting to know your subject. Then there's the time (in hours and years) it takes an artist to know their medium... it's definitely a relationship that has its germinating and growing stages. Maybe you change or add to your medium - this is the fun part for me. But without challenge, change and growth, what IS the fun?

I wish I would have taken more pictures of the stages I've gone through to document my progress. No time like the present, and the past is only a second away. From this time on, I hope to only learn more, process the ideas the ideas that are constantly popping in and out of my head, and enjoy myself doing it -- AND take lots of pictures along the way.

... there's also the question of how I came up with this technique
... but let's save that one for another day.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

How long does it take to paint a painting?

I am often asked,

"How long did it take you to paint this?"

The answer? I don't really know. I don't log the hours and minutes... I'm not paid by the hour, only roughly by the square inch. So in general, size will matter in adding more time to the piece.

For example, this painting "Stand Tall" peaks at 8' x 4'. Yup, that's 96" x 48"... big. It flowed. It worked. The composition, the colours, everything just came together with little or no frustration, contemplation or hair pulling.

How long did it take? Hmmmm...

I can probably guesstimate that it took me about 3 weeks or so... maybe less. That includes building the frame that it's on (I build the panelled mahogany boards that I paint on), designing, sketching, painting, varnishing, etc. If I kept a time sheet, I'd probably lose my enthusiasm and feel like I was back at the law office I used to work at years ago.


This one (below) is driving me insane! It's the same size as the above painting only horizontal. In case you can't see my sarcastic smile, believe me... it's there and I AM going crazy trying to get this painting to come together! Of course I'm not showing you the whole picture of the painting, only the best looking bits...

It's been months and I'm still not finished - the length of time that it takes can be a frustration in itself and can produce a substantial loss of inspiration. Something else you should know is that I am not CONSTANTLY working on ONLY this piece - then I'd really go nuts. Sometimes it's good to give your next 'masterpiece' a break and get back to it later when your mind is fresher. Starting (AND finishing) a new and different project makes you feel good about yourself and your art.

So, my struggles on this piece continue and my ideas keep changing. Things will eventually come together, they always do. I have to keep telling myself to have patience, not to give up and to remember the exhilerating feeling when this monster will be finished.

How long did it take me to paint this? I'll keep you posted.