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.
Spring has finally sprung!! Both spring and fall are busy times for artists and their supporters. Most of the member shows are held during these seasons. I suspect it is because a lot of people are on vacation during the summer months and featured artists have their moment of glory during winter. This year I was a little pressed to have something new for the VASA gallery although there are four new panels waiting to be varnished in my studio. I took pictures this morning after I used a little retouchable varnish to stabilize the poetry and the watercolour pencil. Occasionally, as the varnish is applied there are a few surprises waiting in the wings as the pencil explodes colour in odd places. Sometimes I leave it. Sometimes I reach for a rag. If the retouchable glaze is forgotten, the varnish simply blends my signature into the work…. Each step must be completed in order. There is an opening reception this Thursday, 7pm, at VASA (25 Sir Winston Churchill Ave, St. Albert). The artists will be in attendance. It is always fun to meet and greet. Life is good.
At the moment my gallery is open on a by appointment basis until I host another exciting event in the unspecified future… My phone is not exactly ringing off the wall, however, emails have been active as I accommodate different schedules. As a result of the “Dans mon studio/In my Studio” tour at the beginning of this month I had a very interesting visit last Friday. Having missed the opening David Eggen arranged an appointment for a private showing with me and took a brand new artwork home with him. I had actually set it aside to put in the upcoming VASA Member Show opening next week. Without so much as a blink I whipped out my new “Square” and iPad and discovered the Internet was too weak to make the transaction. I did finally point it in the correct direction: it only works in my gallery, not my studio and near the window. In any case I plan on visiting his office to see where it now resides. And the VASA show? I sent a quick email to determine whether I could make a switch with one of my latest mixed media pieces. Yes, indeed! Life is good.
A hole has formed on the wall in my gallery. It happens. Actually there are two holes… One is filled with a brand new painting. The other hole is a bit larger. Four paintings are missing. They are not really missing since I know where they are (Castle Downs Edmonton Library, from now until the end of May). That still leaves a hole on the wall in my gallery…. Why is that a problem? Ordinarily it would not be a big deal. This is not an ordinary week! Our local MLA has an appointment for Friday morning in my gallery and the space must be filled with, I hope, new paintings. I am dreaming of course. Although completion draws near with at least two out of the four paintings on which I am presently working, they are far from finished. It takes a while to fill in the edges, write the poetry and varnish. They already have wires for hanging… it was the only way I could figure out how to keep them on my easel. So if you are in the Castle Downs area and feel like checking out my smaller watercolours do drop in! Life is good!
Being artist involves more than paint. In the process of preparing for the opening of my new gallery and the tour of my studio several hours were spent cleaning out the old and hanging the new. I needed more black frames. A number of ink drawings from several years ago were occupying these items so I reconfigured the hardware to accommodate a portrait rather than a landscape layout and wrapped the drawings in plastic for display in a print rack. Looking at what might be part of the exhibition I delegated several paintings to display racks as well. In this case I took the frames apart completely. Unfortunately I cannot charge myself for the restocking fees as I added them to my inventory. I discovered I prefer my watercolours in a silver frame and as they will be showing shortly in the local library I have some more reframing to do. Besides reframing I did take out the vacuum cleaner and the dust rag along with the window cleaner. My house is not so tidy! Life is so good.