One: Submissions

submissions, AIMAE, drawing, ink,

The form of submissions for various competitions has changed over the years. It is much easier these days. I used to fuss with colour graphs and slides, special lighting, in and outdoor experiments, all to find the best way to archive my images. Digital is so simple by comparison.

Submissions still require a mountain

Formerly, one could not submit anything without using a slide format. Some required prints on photo paper with a colour code. Then we went to CDs accompanied by the paper mountain in the form of cover letter, CVs, statements and other paraphernalia.  Submissions still require the mountain, just not in paper form.

Photography is still crucial

These days everything is digital. Even the exhibitions. Thankfully that will change shortly. The photography segment of submissions is crucial to success. Yet, no matter how excellent the photograph, it does not capture the subtleties of any work done in multiple layers. Only seeing the painting in real life, can one appreciate the depth and breadth of the artist’s capacities. Often my work shifts colour as one walks by. Different light makes a huge difference, almost like having several paintings in one depending on the time of day.

Submissions are specific

Submissions continue to be demanding, however. Every organisation requires a particular way in which the images are labeled and sized. Titles for artist’s statements and project descriptions are also unique to each competition. I suspect it is an easy way to eliminate several artists who do not take the time to read the fine print. After all, when one receives over six hundred entries to a single competition, one needs to look for an easy way to reduce the size of the elephant.

Digital makes things easier

submissions, FCA, Landscapes
“Oneing” 36x60in neomosaic/mixedmedia on gallery wrap canvas $3456.00

Lately, I have taken advantage of the digital display only. My favorite gallery cannot accommodate any painting over four feet in width. With the latest submissions for landscape and others I have included the diptych “Oneing” which measures ten feet wide. So fun. We will see if it is accepted. The competition is closing soon.

Successful submissions

submissions, drawings, prints, opening
Invitation to AIMAE

In the meantime, the doors to galleries are opening with restrictions and artwork is once again on display. All my submissions have been very successful lately. The Federation of Canadian Artists’ gallery in Vancouver is thankful for the timing of the reopening. Their exhibition “AIMAE” opens tomorrow. I have five pieces showing in this exhibition. So exciting. 


One: Voluteering

Volunteering, Life drawing,

So much of what we do as artists involves isolation. Volunteering to fill a post during an exhibition often offers a welcome break and opportunity to interact with the public. Saturday was such an opportunity.

Avoiding the crowds

The Naked Show “Figuratively Speaking” opened last Thursday at 7pm with a wonderful crowd. We enjoyed poetry rendition and music, not to mention the excellent wine and cheese. Since more people crowded the room than artwork I decided to leave my perusal of the show until Saturday. Volunteering to host the show all afternoon I was looking forward to a quiet time of writing my blogs and catching up on some bookwork. After all the superior wireless connection would make things easier.

Elusive inspiration

Often just sitting in front of the computer I find myself inspired and immediately plunge into the fascinating world of wordsmithing. Not so this time. I fiddled with Facebook. Emails got my attention. A few calls for submissions caught my eye and wished I were connected to my printer. People arrived.

Focusing on visitors

Since the exhibition is on display for people, I removed myself from behind my computer and stood off at a distance looking for the chance to engage. As a result of my effort to ignore my pressing need to compose, the people noticed. They took it as a sign to offer their comments and pose their questions. Delighted to find someone willing to share background information about how the show is put together they looked more closely and spent more time, considering which ones they preferred.

Good modelling

One of the most interesting conversations was with a new model. As we moved around the room I took the opportunity to show her the poses I found most interesting.  While acknowledging the rising difficulty for the model to hold, I explained the differences. We talked about twists, fascinating and very painful. if held longer than five minutes. I talked about the importance of choosing positions with variety, one foot in front of the other or one hand resting on a knee while the other rides closer to the hip. I suggested she begin drawing. Drop in and give it a whirl. The best models do some drawing themselves. They know better what artists are seeking.

volunteering, life drawing,
Before the crowds.

Volunteering has its rewards

As the afternoon wore on, more and more people appeared at the door. Hence, I did little writing. Suddenly it was time to go. Yet as I reflected on the time spent I felt so satisfied having filled the occasion discussing one of my favorite topics. Volunteering definitely has its rewards. I look forward to the next time and the next.

On display now

Both the member show “In Search of the Human Essence” and “Figuratively Speaking” run all this week at Harcourt House. Do drop in.


One: Rejection

rejection, drawing, life drawing, exhibitions, choice

Rejection is part of the creative game. All creatives submit themselves to the possibility if they dare to share their work. The beginning of every year marks the deluge of new calls for submissions for visual artists. They are usually for juried shows of varying caliber and size of space. Some I skip over, others I covet.

Rejection season

Since we are about half way through the year the inevitable rejection letters roll in. They usually begin by saying how much the jury appreciated my application, however, “we regret to inform you that…please apply again”. After a few years, preferably a few months, we develop what is known as thick skins or we pull out of the game all together.

Efficient submitting

I am in for the long haul. I have never kept track of the numbers but to give you an idea, the Artist Collective “Devenir” for which I am a founding member, recently presented a text about our history. In two years, we have submitted over nine hundred applications and received eight hundred and seventy odd rejections. We are doing very well. And we are looking for more efficient ways to reduce the time involved with each attempt.

Getting perspective

For every one of us, rejection must be put into perspective. Most of the time it is not about me. Artists number in the thousands. The calls receive hundreds, if not thousands of submissions each. The jury has a difficult task from the get go. Then the jury members themselves have their own tastes and preferences. They may find it difficult to agree. In the end it may be about how they rolled out of bed that morning and what they had for breakfast.

Making choices

Rejection has another side to it as well. We all make choices. Life is filled with choices. Every time we make a choice we reject something. I find it difficult to say “no”. I serve my family and my community as well as my art practice, a balancing act difficult to manage at times. Deadlines make “no” easier. Having a group to which I am accountable, makes “no” easier. Choosing something does not mean I do not care about the other. I do my best to love well. Finally, the story is not about me; it is about us. It is about finding the rhythm in the dance of life, a dance requiring forgiveness and mercy.


Harcourt House is hosting two exhibitions at the moment, a member show “In Search of Human Essence” and the Naked Show “Figuratively Speaking“. Applications to the Naked Show involve submitting five drawings completed during the previous year, three of which have a possibility of being part of the exhibition. This year, for the first time, three were selected. The drawing at the top is one of the rejections. All is well. Check out the details here.


Different Strokes: Silkscreening

Google tells me I invented a new word: silkscreening. Well, that is what I have been up to lately. With two other members of our mastermind group “Devenir” (Doris Charest and Danièle Petit), I attended a workshop over several days on how to do silk screen printing. SNAP (Society of Northern Alberta Printmakers) provided the tuition.

silkscreening, printmaking, drawing, blog, negative space
Getting the digits right.

silkscreening, printmaking, drawing, blog, negative space
Ready to set into the emulsion.

Information overload

Mind boggling, the information flooded our minds and overflowed. We are very thankful for the notes our diligent tutor sent us. Megan Stein moved through each step with a methodical, even pace, attempting to avoid overload. I must be getting old. My memory is not what it used to be. She assured us with practice the process would become second nature.

silkscreening, printmaking, drawing, blog, negative space
In the closet.

silkscreening, printmaking, drawing, blog, negative space
Spraying off the emulsion.

Digital negative space

Second nature, it is not yet. However, I found the manipulation of photographs with the combination of free-hand drawing and special inks on Mylar totally fascinating. Picking out the negative space between tree branches took hours and rekindled my joy. A whole new idea for a series of works on paper surfaced with the process. I may even invest in a silk screen. (Something else to store in my workspace!)

silkscreening, printmaking, drawing, blog, negative space
Bolting the screen in place

silkscreening, printmaking, drawing, blog, negative space
Second colour

Silkscreening is heavy in preparation

Preparation consumes a massive amount of time. In the end, we had prepared too much to finish even with the extra hours of the open studio on the last day. Printing is play. We played with colours, with position, with registration (lining it up correctly). Mistakes improved our perception. We delighted in discoveries. So fun.

silkscreening, printmaking, drawing, blog, negative space
Lots and lots

silkscreening, printmaking, drawing, blog, negative space
So much fun…

Delightful images

Silkscreening challenges patience. Many the time we thought we had everything just so only to pull a badly realized print. Pressure and size change the rules. Diligence is the name of the game. Perseverance wins the match. Eventually we had some delightful images. This is just the beginning. Who knows where it may lead us? Life is good.


Different Strokes: Drying Oil Stick

oil stick, drying, drawing, life drawing, flow

Artists have their specialities. Being human we sometimes get bored doing the same thing over and over again. One of the ways to keep fresh is to try a series in a different genre or a different medium. A favorite break in routine for me is drawing, life drawing in particular. Lately I have returned to using oil stick as a mark maker for this exercise.

Uninterrupted flow

Oil stick has a wonderful quality; it does not impede fluidity of movement. When I am in the zone I require freedom of stroke and uninterrupted flow. It had been quite a while since I had used the oil sticks. A hard, outer coating naturally forms over time as the oil dries on the surface. Removing this thick layer revealed a fresh source of colour, ready for action. Occasionally, the entire stick dries solid. Since it had been so long I was not surprised to toss a few into the garbage bin.

drying, oil stick, drawing, life drawing, flow
Thick and heavy.

Too soft is too heavy

Different manufacturers produce different qualities. Different colours also vary in texture and degree of solidity. So far in my exploration of different name brands the Shiva line affords the best mix of intensity with a firm texture. The Windsor and Newton variety is rather soft, leaving too much paint on the surface. Consequently, stacking the drawings becomes a problem.

drying, oil stick, drawing, life drawing, flow
Covering horizontal surfaces

Notoriously slow drying

Oil is notoriously slow drying. Hence a dilemma occurs at the end of a three-hour session as one prepares to go home. How to preserve the best drawings without transferring colours from one page to the next is the question. Most of my quick sketches done on cartridge paper could be put together, oil to oil, as I would not consider keeping them. One two-minute drawing, however, had caught the pose so well. I placed it on top of the stack.

Sticking together

What to do with the larger, more complicated drawings? I have tried placing them in plastic bags, the one the stack of paper came with when I bought it. That works fine for the first round. The oil, still rather wet, leaves traces on the inside of the bag which become a hazard for the next session so one can essentially only use them once.

oil stick, drying, drawing, life drawing, flow
No time to dawdle.

Separating things

Another possibility is placing less expensive paper sheets between drawings, Mayfield for example. While this may be a good solution it requires preparation before one leaves for the public studio. Often, I do not know what I will be using until I am faced with the blank page.

Table top drying

Finally, once home, one could use a drying rack as the oil stick takes about a week to dry. Having no place to put such a useful tool I spread the sketches which have made the cut around my studio on various horizontal surfaces. Nevertheless, oil stick remains one of my favorite tools simply because of the quality of line it leaves behind.


Wishing everyone a splendidly creative week.



portraits, blog, drawing, carbon pencil,

Requests for portraits

Portraits are not my usual. Occasionally someone puts in a request for one. Lately I have had a run with several commissions all at once. This could be because I have misinterpreted my customer’s request… Sigh. I could be because of procrastination… Sigh. A combination of both? In any case I have completed six lately, one of which, does not come up to par.

Pleasing customers

The portrait featured in this blog is carbon pencil. It had been a while since I used carbon pencil. So fun! The image from which I drew was a photocopy of a newspaper obituary. When I took the drawing in for approval I found out the photo was forty years old and the gentleman had wavy hair. Handing me the clipping the lady asked if I could do something better with his hair so I took both home and finished the image off to her satisfaction. It is always good to please the customer.

Instant framing station

To complete the commission I covered one end of a table with my instant framing station and threw a frame around his head and shoulders.

portraits, drawing, framing, commissions
Throw a blanket and some paper on a table: instant framing station.

A different medium

The other portraits are in ink. Some days I simply cannot draw. I had a schedule, one per day. In the end I resorted to pencil and did a tracing when the frustration became too much for me. I will attempt the one drawing with which I am still dissatisfied one more time then ship them off to Europe from whence will come other commissions. Life is good.

The Chimp ate it

Someone or something ate my newsletter. I knew I would be away so I scheduled delivery for the first of October. Last night I checked to see if everything had gone well and could not find it at all. I will redo it and send it out today. Sorry for the technical difficulties.

New show

Do drop in at CAVA on Friday evening for my opening reception. Would love to see you there.