Drastic measures are sometimes required. Gesso is the perfect solution. I love working on several paintings at the same time. Helps me stay fresh. There are occasions when this strategy fails to keep me from falling into the pit. Yes, indeed, I dig holes for myself as I desperately search for solutions to visual problems while not noticing obvious errors. And so it was this week.
Although I really like the image in the photograph there are several adjustments in the shapes and value areas needed to render it perfectly. Since my process is rather random the habit of creating same sizes repeated at same intervals is an ongoing foible. So while I rearranged the dark water shapes, adding more “snow” and thereby covering the lovely accidental colour happenings, I completely missed the evenly spaced branches climbing the left side of the canvas. Sigh. It would not do.
Gesso: the perfect solution!
Taking a large brush I reached for my base mixture of gesso, gel and complementary colours and covered the whole surface. Gone! Although some would argue the previous image will influence the next I trust the underlying chaos of the method. The texture remains. The thin layers of colours are creating glow once more. It is time to splash paint again. New trails, new accidents, new challenges. Life is good.
Easel time makes backing up so much easier. When I am not puddling I enjoy adding the tonalities while standing in a vertical position. Often my back complains as I bend over the table. To look at more of my process you can take a peek here.
A change in plans
My November show has been moved up one month. Actually the gallery wanted August instead. I said “yes” and all hell broke loose. When the email came to ask if I was willing to change I jumped at the chance. We just got back from our annual family campout so the living room is full of boxes waiting to be repacked and stored. The sink is full of dirty dishes. The washing machine is on full-time duty with the sleeping bags etc. And our new renters are very unhappy with the state in which the old renters left our house…. Sigh.
A serious distraction
Did I mention I wanted to get out of the rental business? I slept most of the morning (camping is exhausting!) and then we spent the afternoon and evening cleaning our rental. My favorite job (the stove) will be finished tomorrow along with a multitude of other necessary details the worst of which I will not even talk about!
Returning to work
And when do I get back to my easel? Well…. That remains to be seen. I suspect it could be as soon as Wednesday or as late as next week. All is well. Life is still good.
Hosting has become really important in my weekly schedule of late! As a member of Harcourt House I very much appreciate the opportunities afforded me by the cooperative. Volunteering as host to the Naked Show helps pay back a little. “Oh the Audacity” runs until July 5th! I may be on duty in the morning of the last day too. The time slot remains open. We will see once we get back from our annual family camping trip.
Why volunteers are needed
The staff and volunteers in the two galleries on the third floor of the main building cannot cover the Naked Show. The Annex, next to the main building where the Member Show “Connect the Dots” hangs until July 9th, harbours the Naked Show. The people who do life drawing on a regular basis are responsible to “man the post” in the annex. Not everyone who draws volunteers.
Why bother hosting
Drawing from life is important to me. It improves my skills in all aspects of my creativity. With that in mind hiring a model is an expensive proposition. Being a member helps reduce the cost significantly as I buy blocks of time which last a couple of months (or years!). Other artists do the same. Maintaining a more consistent schedule these days I use the blocks more quickly. What time slots are left will be gone in September once the Monday sessions begin again. We take the summer off. In the meantime you will meet me on occasion hosting at other shows throughout the year. I like meeting the people! Life is good.
Creativity takes many forms. Today at the clinic I chitchatted with a chocolatier. He was very enthusiastic about his form of creation. Unfortunately he cannot guarantee his chocolates are nut free so I did not ask him about purchasing any.
Another aspect of the creative process is happening in our street. The city is replacing the old lampposts, gutters, sidewalks and roadways. I tend to prefer the weathered look, however, it will be safer to have pathways that drain instead of creating ice rinks and are even so as not to trip the pedestrians.
The city workers are not the only ones to be busy this week. As for me it has been a hectic time filled with delights, distractions and projects. Consequently studio time was at a minimum. I still managed to get some painting done and I will share the results next week. In the meantime a long-awaited task received some attention. I like flowers. I have no beds. The flower/vegetable beds are other dreams on the long to-do list. However, I do have several pots. With a few recently purchased bedding plants I created five new arrangements in various sized containers. At the moment they cluster around the entrance to my studio. Perhaps they will stay there… Beauty inspires creativity. Life is so good.
Inspired I pulled out the only four-foot square panel prepared for the next step: the image. (I will buy more molding paste for the other three once the sale is on!) As I create I reach a point where I hesitate to go any further, especially when it is not in the flow. I have four pieces on the go at once. Three of them are coming nicely and the fourth… well, I don’t like it. To distract myself I picked out another square image and imagined it on various formats deciding the largest would work best. I was about to being the process of semi-defining the darker areas when I noticed the bottle of the most important “gray”, a mixture of quinacridone burnt orange and cobalt blue, was getting low. Sigh. The gray is never quite the same when I mix a new batch. I will finish the other four before I begin a new painting with a new mixture. So getting back to the one I do not like… I placed my hand over several spots of added darkness, along the stream in particular. Yes, some needed removing. I scrubbed some basecoat over the offending patches. How was I going to reinvent the lovely luminosity the undercoat creates? Mmmm. Then those tree branches! Too evenly spaced. Again I was inspired as I took the base mixture and covered the whole canvas. Beginning anew is the best solution for this one. The texture is still there and it will be a totally different result. Life is good.
My creative curiosity has led me into many a diversion. These sojourns into other realms have gifted me with several unusual expertise. One of these is plastering. I enjoy creating a smooth wall where once there was a hole. The latest hole actually encompassed the form of a toilet reservoir. For some reason the previous owner of our comfortable abode decided it was more expedient to sink the toilet into the wall rather than moving it ahead a couple of inches. The project was abandoned when it came time to cut tiles to fit. We decided to move the water tank a few more inches south in order to accommodate a larger specimen sometime down the road. The decision left a hole, a rather large hole. It was quite a long time before I set about removing the misshapen tiles around the edge as I really had no idea how to do that. The thought occurred to me (the Lord speaks in due time) that I could use the engraving tool sitting in the drawer. Yes. Once the grout was gone the spatula slipped under the offending covers and soon revealed another problem. So it goes with renovations. The two drywall panels do not match creating a ridge difficult to negotiate when installing the tiles. The wall will have a wave! Lovely. Luckily it will be behind the tank. It will have a second wave closer to the floor because I did not seat the fill-in panel correctly. Waves, bathroom… that’s OK. Soon I will have it all smoothed out and ready to receive the finishing tiles… Not right away. I am coping with another diversion: I am too busy painting. So many events coming up!! Life is good.
Several submissions have been accepted by the Federation of Canadian Artists located in Vancouver. I shipped out the two drawings for “From Life” which ended on June 5th. I should soon be getting them back (unless they sold!). One was posted last week. The other one is the featured image this week. Another ongoing exhibition “Limitless” is accessible by everyone as it is online and therefore has no shipping or traveling costs. You can take a peek here. This show runs from June 1st to August 31st. The other one “First Annual International Mail In Art Exhibition” opens on June 21st and runs until July 3rd with the opening reception being held June 23rd. Vancouver is not the only city I am exhibiting this month. Edmonton’s Harcourt House is hosting two exhibitions “Oh the Audacity” (its 24th annual Naked Show) displaying work done over this past year in the Life Drawing Room and “Connect the Dots” the 28th Annual Member Show displaying my latest mixed media work. The other show running from the 5th June to the 14th July will be in VASA’s Corridor Gallery with “Beloved” on display as well as several smaller works from “Wildwood”. So how did I manage six shows in one month? First thing: I looked at my calendar! It is embarrassing when I have been accepted to two different shows at the same time with the same work… Second thing: keep submitting! Rejections do not matter. It just means that the members of the jury were looking for something other than what I submitted. Or they had an upset stomach… nothing to do with me or my work! Once I understood that submitting was so much easier. Life is so good!
So what is the fascination with life drawing? Is it some sort of perversion? How does it benefit anyone? Drawing a live model is a time-honoured exercise among artists. If one wishes to move up a notch in skill and expertise it is the best action one can undertake. Why? Drawing from life is the most challenging program around. There is only one way to get better at it: practice. While still a teenager I attended an atelier type school which insisted on drawing first, painting black and white before colour and when one knew enough about anatomy, life drawing. A knowledge of anatomy certainly helps. Beginning with the bones, then adding each layer of muscle with the tendons and where they are attached, helps the observer understand why there is a bulge there and a cavity here. Careful observation is also useful as one gets to know how each mass interacts with another and can thereby be expressed with one simple line. Simple, not easy. What makes this most challenging is the human body is very familiar to everyone. We recognize instantly if the anatomy is misplaced even if we have no expertise. We all know the proportions, the placement, the movement. So when a drawing succeeds the effort is very satisfying. With “Fast and Furious” I had the added challenge of wasting half the time I had in frustrated intensity. Turning the page over I threw caution to the wind and ink at the page. So fun. Life is so good.
All creative spaces must be flexible. In any given moment things change dramatically. I received a few emails from the Federation of Canadian Artists stating I had successfully applied to three of their upcoming shows. One of them was easy: I had nothing left to do. The three submissions are going into an online exhibition entitled “Limitless” from June 1st to August 31st at the Federation. The other two are more complicated. One requires glass. In order to facilitate the flexible part of what I do I keep an old blanket with some heavy brown paper in one of the cupboards where the tools for framing reside. Throwing it on a table I grabbed what I thought would be a good selection for one of my drawings only to find the table was too narrow to accommodate the frame. Moving my canvases around (not sure when I will get back to them!) I cleared a wider space and tossed the blanket there. The paper is to protect the work from blanket fibers. There is nothing more frustrating than to discover some lovely red hairs in with the nice white mat. After cleaning the glass and reassembling the pieces I placed the matted drawing into the frame. Well now. It appears the frame is too large for the mat. Re-measuring every bit I decided to store this one and go with a different size. Using the gallery floor as my cutting space I sized some foam core. Flexible again! So where am I at? I will be visiting the local art supply store for some new mat and then they will be delivered to my favorite mat cutter for the beveled border. The next thing will be to choose a method of shipment. “From Life” opens May 24th to June 5th. The 2016 Annual International Mail-In Exhibition will be coming up shortly too. Life is delightfully good.
Stepping back from my work as I am in the process of painting is a crucial practice that has become automatic. Most of the time my new panels are flat on the table top as the puddles of paint are not dry enough to erect to a vertical position. This causes a problem because the perspective is distorted with the distance. I mentioned in another post the wires have been installed on the canvases so they can be placed on the easel. This works well when the paintings are dry. I prefer to step back as I am working because it gives me the global image more clearly and I pick up on common mistakes which I am always making: same size strokes the same distance apart, same shapes and same colour and same….. Not sure why I do this. I think it is a human trait betraying my need for order. To solve the problem I invited my daughter and her husband over to help me install a large mirror on the ceiling. (I knew it would come in handy one day!) Craning my neck proved awkward and impractical. So I took out another mirror. Now I have my distance and I do not even need to step back! Life is good.