One: Shifting Gears

shifting gears, abstract, mixed media
First in the series

Re-evaluating my recent adventure onto paper, I realized how far I have left the path. Shifting gears and refocusing requires a seriously adventurous approach. Hence, more fun required…

Control vs chaos

Succumbing to temptation, I had returned to a more controlled method of painting. As I re-entered the world of paper support I froze. I love the happy accidents watercolour produces yet I rarely allow them except inside of designated areas. Because shifting gears means creating chaos, I must let go at first. Then rediscovering the order within the random marks later provides endless intrigue.

Shifting gears inspires challenges

shifting gears, abstract, mixed media
No barbed wire

The incubation period has begun. Self-imposed parameters limit the amount of flexibility available to me. A vertical full-sheet watercolour paper is a must. The masking tape strips remain. Copper sheeting is a constant. It also provides a link to the barbed wire idea although the wire may be used in a different way. How I will incorporate the dandelion motif in the future remains a mystery. Consequently, shifting gears inspires a few challenges.

Paper demands changes in technique

shifting gears, abstract, mixed media
Now what?

Admittedly, the stark lines left by the masking tape strips precludes my usual chaotic beginnings. Paper demands a different approach. Shifting gears into chaos probably means later whites will be re-established with gouache or gesso. Truly a mixed media piece, anything goes.

Shifting gears requires risk

The reason behind the shifting gears? I feel tight. I lost something important in the transition. Instead of a labour of love it has become meaningless labour. A killer for any artist. My muse requires chaos. The fun is in the reordering. The satisfaction is in the neomosaic look. So, as I stand and gaze for a little longer, at one point I must take the risk and allow it to take me where it will.

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One: Demise

demise, blog, cocreation, mixed media, semiabstract, neomosaic,
Good beginnings

The demise of one of my paintings is a rare occurrence. Usually I have put in enough planning to avoid most problems and those that remain are often fixable. I wish to avoid making errors because the underlayers demand untouchable status.

Untouchable first layers

Not sure

By untouchable I mean the luminosity of the first six or so layers of paint cannot be disturbed without killing the light. As I work around the rivulets of colour and the texture shapes I am careful to leave the under coats showing at least to some extent. The dance and the flow of colours create the spirit of each piece. Any changes in composition or value patterns must remain minimal.

Delight in the play

demise, blog, cocreation, mixed media, semiabstract, neomosaic,
Liking some parts

As the painting developed, I rejoiced in the visual loveliness of the sky and the background trees. Not too fussy about the shore line I delighted in the colours depicting the sand upon which the driftwood lay. Demise was far from my thoughts at this point.

First hesitations

Fixes don’t work

Laying in the logs I encountered my first real hesitations. I experimented with different colour schemes. Since the logs were already covering the underlayers, I could play with various options without trying to preserve something already lost (the luminosity). Dissatisfied with the second attempt I reinstated the first. Still not happy. Demise tickled my conscience. 

Demise is inevitable

demise, blog, cocreation, mixed media, semiabstract, neomosaic,
End of the line

Perhaps developing the middle ground would improve things. Not so much. I turned my attention to the logs once more. They just did not read well. I created an imaginary cutoff on the largest of the trunks. It helped. Sigh. Finally, I consulted some friends of mine, other artists, who confirmed my worst suspicions. The changes needed required a major revamp of the composition. Demise became inevitable.

Choosing a gesso mix

So, taking my brush, I considered which of my gesso mixes I would choose, the darker one or the lighter one. Picking up the first container I noticed its weight was lighter than expected. The second one weighed in much heavier. More is better in this case, the lighter one it was. Choice is not always about colour intensity. Unfortunately, demise is costly. The most costly part of the exercise is the time spent trying to work with an image that refuses to work. 

Demise is a new start

Demise also offers me another chance to improve on what went before. I will leave it for a while although I have chosen a different schematic and the notan study is done. There are other fish to fry for now.

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One: Something

something, blog,
Life is an amusement park

“Pentecost in not an abstract mystery. We are asked to accept the spirit of our actual lives. When we do this, then we no longer belittle our own lives but know that even with all our inferiorities and frustrations, we are something.” Ron Rolheiser “Reflections” 7 June 2019

Spirit of my life

Embracing the spirit of my actual life is sometimes difficult. Hence believing I am something can be beyond my capacity. Yet the truth remains true. Identifying the spirit of my life, naming it and yielding to it is the work of a lifetime.

Flagging energies

Something, blog, collaboration, Devenir, mastermind, mixed media
Sharing ideas

Part of my life as an artist includes meetings and AGMs. Having just finished three grueling days back to back I find my energy low and my enthusiasm diminished. I just want to be in my studio. My spirit is flagging. As a result, I need a fix. 

Believing I am something

Something, blog, collaboration, Devenir, mastermind, mixed media
Making decisions

Because my life spirit is so wrapped up in the creative world of visual art, the only way I can function well is with regular injections of isolation within my sacred space, my studio. While I do maintain regular hours and can usually manage a minimum of ten to twenty hours per week, life does get in the way occasionally. So it has been lately. Although I may not attain my goal of even ten hours per week this time, I will steal the hours later. My soul will renew and I will take flight again.

Something beyond my control

Something, blog, collaboration, Devenir, mastermind, mixed media
A beginning

Something beyond my control is the aging process. Bouncing back is not as fast as it used to be. However, I have found if I allow the time necessary to recuperate, my body responds with gratitude. Rather than insisting on the preconceived timeframe of twenty or forty years ago, letting go allows me the space to rest. Also it is part of believing I am something worth the time to care and nurture.

Stopping for tea

Life is like any amusement park. We cannot remain on the roller coaster forever. Occasionally we need to stop for tea and something nourishing. At the moment I receive my spirit and coddle it in my arms knowing a little love will cure much. Tomorrow we set out on another adventure, creating something splendid. Life is good.

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One: Evolution

evolution, neomosaic, edges, drips and drops, semiabstract
First edge done

Evolution is part of living. If one is alive one is evolving. In my work as an artist, discovery of new techniques is part of the whole. Unifying the whole becomes easier as one discovers the foundational steps in a system. Hence, my system is evolving.

Too fast, too soon.

evolution, neomosaic, edges, drips and drops, semiabstract
Too soon on the easel

Since I am pressed for time these days, I tend to push the process too quickly. Not good. Slow down, you move too fast… as the song goes. Having completed the drips and drops on the surface of my thirty-by-thirty-inch canvas, I hung it on the easel in hopes of developing the image. Another one rested against the table and the twelve-by-twelves lay drying on the spray table. I had put the jars and brushes away.

Edges needed dripping

Picking up my poppy red Inktense watercolour pencil, I stood back to contemplate the composition. As much as I would have loved to continue, I stopped my contemplation, sighed and took the canvas off the easel. I had not dripped the edges.

Evolution of process

Dripping the edges may not seem important. While I have finished edges without dripping in the past, the evolution of the process to include dripping for the edges has made my life so much easier. Because the dripping comes close on the heels of the preparation of the main canvas, I have no trouble identifying which colour mixtures I threw in the first place. The difficulty is in the amount. Edges are so much smaller and do not require much paint.

Evolution means improvements

Another advantage in this evolution of process is as I am spraying the paint to make it run it overflows the edge onto the main surface creating new trails of colour. All good. The more trails the better. Previously, when I came to finish the edges, the new trails of colour ran over the finished image. Not so good.

While waiting for paint to dry

evolution, linocut, time filler, waiting for paint to dry
Always something to do

In addition, evolution has afforded me the opportunity to leave well enough alone. Occasionally the drips and drops are all that is needed to finish the edge. In fact, the only disadvantage is I am waiting for paint to dry. This is probably not a disadvantage at all in that I can do other things like work on a linocut for my new memoires chapter. All is well.

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One: Ready

ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, retreat, mixed media
Piled everywhere

Ready is relative. Many things are supposed to be ready at the moment. Priorizing the next coming event is the best way to keep a modicum of control. So, yes, things stood at the door and around the room in organized piles just before we left for Trochu.

DEVENIR in history

ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, exhibitions, retreat
View from the front window

Ste. Ann Ranch boasts several historical buildings, delightful décor, delicious cuisine and very comfortable beds. Our hosts accommodated our every need with graciousness, marvellous stories and great senses of humour. DEVENIR so enjoyed the space and the ambiance.

Another retreat

ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, exhibitions, retreat
Workspace

And what was DEVENIR doing in Trochu? Well, we were having a retreat. Google Drive helps us to collaborate. I put the initial agenda together. Patricia complained about not scheduling any fun and took one heavy item off the agenda suggesting something refreshing instead. I had revealed my tendency toward the serious and most appreciated the help with the fun part. La crème de la crème was a pyjama party on Friday night, Sabine’s brain child.

Planning for the future

Apart from fun, we spent some time conceiving new possibilities and directions for our group. We discussed what we might do with the one hundred and fifty paintings we had completed in October last year. Amidst the laughter and the banter, we birthed several good ideas, in fact, too many to do in one life time. Still, from among the abundant inspirations we chose the best for development giving life and direction for our practice together as well as individually. We also took the opportunity to exchange paintings for our upcoming exhibitions in Canmore and Stony Plain.

New directions

ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, mixed media, exhibitions, retreat
Brainstorming

Our discussions continued on the way home, albeit just the three from Edmonton took part. Why not add another brand to the fire? The lovely landscape along highway 21 fueled the flames and we now have the seeds of something exciting we wish to do together. Some very positive fallout around our plans may bear much needed fruit as well. Generosity and mutual support yield such good results.

Ready is relative

Ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, mixed media, retreat
One of the many for CAVA

Now that I am home again, I wonder if I am ready. The next coming event is CAVA. Twenty paintings require frames with the delivery date on Tuesday. Tuesday is the day I meet with Amber from the Shaw Conference Centre to discuss the future location for three of my forty-eight-inch square paintings. They will be on display for a year. Then the collaborative effort for DEVENIR statements, CV, new releases and descriptive blurbs looms in the background, not too far in the background as the time line is pressing. Ready is relative. I suspect only the last minute will tell.

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One: Balancing

balancing, framing, new work, blog, mixed media
Balancing precariously

More than usual this year requires attentive balancing between projects and exhibitions. As you can see my work space has run out of room as I balance cutting boards on top of other projects and gel containers.

All at the same time

Commitments come in groups like customers entering through a shop door. Have you noticed that? We all arrive at the same time wanting undivided attention from the store clerk. Somehow, we are attached to the same clock, at least subconsciously. For the artist, submissions are sent out regularly. Exhibition spaces, however, have a habit of choosing the same month to show one’s work.

Overflowing

balancing, framing, mixed media, blog
Covering my inspiration space

At the moment framing has taken over one table and overflowed onto my 6x6in inspiration space. Once I have the paintings framed, they are equipped with a 6mm plastic sleeve which is stiff enough for ease of handling and strong enough to protect the painting. Twenty of these will be showing at the CAVA exhibition in Edmonton, delivery date on the 12thFebruary. See my events calendar here.

Exchanging work

balancing, framing, new work, DEVENIR, mixed media
One of the Canmore paintings

Although framing is a priority, another exhibition, this time in Canmore, is first in line. DEVENIR has decided to enjoy a working retreat in Trochu this week where we will exchange paintings going to different places. We three from Edmonton will transport nine 40x40in and nine 24x24in canvases for the Three Sisters Gallery. The Calgary crew will hang the show beginning on the 28thFebruary. They will bring their paintings and mobiles to Trochu so we can mount the exhibition in the Stony Plain Multicultural Heritage Centre on the 21st. The opening reception will be on the 2ndof March for that one.

Balancing act

balancing, blog, mixed media, framing, exhibitions
Paint covering my framing area

So where does the balancing come in? It is all in the overlap. Paintings, of which there is a limited supply, must be available for the different venues for the entire time period. I must admit this fall presents more of a problem than this spring. So, when one of our members suggested we could fill the Salmon Arm exhibition with another forty-five paintings, no problem, I quickly looked at my schedule for August/September.

Two solos and an installation

I have two solos coming up this fall, one in Canmore again at the Three Sisters Gallery and one in St. Albert at VASA. I can get away with older paintings in Canmore, perhaps, although the ones showing this spring will not be available to show in the fall. St. Albert requires all new paintings. I guess the older ones can go to Salmon Arm. All is well both Canmore and Salmon Arm end around the same time in late September. New paintings in Canmore can be shown in St. Albert in November. Phew!!

New work

balancing, framing, mixed media, cocreation, blog
Picking out the spaces

In the meantime, I will be working on the twenty to thirty new paintings I need for VASA in St. Albert. Balancing my time between drying paint, framing, planning new exhibitions during the rest of the year, and all the other activities I do in my life will keep me busy and out of trouble. Nothing to worry about. Life is good.

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One: Sidelines

sidelines, mixed media, abstract, paper
A good way to start the day

Sidelines are creative activities filling the time and space of drying paint. Much time could be lost to the drying process. Instead I use it to further other projects or experiments in media on different surfaces.

DEVENIR inspired

sidelines, mixed media, abstract, paper
One of the 8x8x30

DEVENIR inspired a project on paper which has continued at a slower pace than one per day. Certainly, the little six by six-inch paintings require drying time as well between layers. Having completed a couple of dozen on paper it is time to take it to other supports, perhaps terraskin, or yupo.

Family tree

sidelines, genealogy, scrapbooking, telling tales
A pocket for more information and a story to begin.

One very time consuming endeavour is a family tree of sorts. Instead of the usual series of non-identified photos strung in a series across a page in an album, I have begun to gather selected photos with the intent to create a family tree wherein I add some choice remembered family legends as they were related to me by my aunt and my mother. 

Each person gets a page or two

sidelines, genealogy, scrapbooking, telling tales
Sometimes there are not a lot of images from which to choose

Beginning with the oldest photos, I relate how each couple produced certain children who have contributed to the creation of my grandchildren. The very oldest photos date from 1823 and I have realized some families gave more priority to recording their family history in this way than others. Perhaps it was a matter of money. Perhaps time. In any case, once the great (great) grandparents are complete, I devote one or two pages to each of their children eventually coming down to people I know and recognize.

Family legends and greeting cards

Other sidelines include choosing a family legend and creating a colouring book of about ten pages for the younger set for Christmas. In the same vein, this year’s Christmas card will be getting some attention too as it takes a while to design, cut the lino and print.

My muse prefers various sidelines

One would think I would have enough to do with the production of thirty or so paintings for my solos later in the year. Indeed, these are my priority. The sidelines, however, keep me focused and engaged. My muse is delightfully titillated by something off the track or in the midst of untraveled territory. In other words, variety is the spice of my life.

Framing for coming events

Now that the VASA show is coming to an end we can look forward to another show at CAVA at the end of February. I will have about a dozen paintings from the Whimsy series there. Framing will be among the sidelines I choose to do while watching paint dry in the coming weeks.

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One: Shipping

shipping, mixed media, semi-abstract,
Ready to pack

T’is the season to ship to Vancouver. The Federation of Canadian Artists offer an array of different competitions in which its members are invited to participate. I have taken a bit of a hiatus from this smorgasbord recently because of the intense local activity requiring no shipping.

Something different

What has stumped me on this latest shipment, however, is the unusual piece I am shipping. Works on paper are for the most part watercolour or drawings, not mixed media. I wanted something different. I had decided on a thin panel of wood until I looked up the acceptable parameters for the show. Oops. I still did not want to put it behind glass.

Glass and shipping do not mix well

Glass is always problematic in the shipping process. Whatever precautions one takes, it may or may not arrive in one piece. Although in the past I have successfully used a method wherein one tapes the surface with wide masking tape in a design to ensure the possible shards will not damage the painting, I was looking for something more like a shadow box. The distance between the glass and the painting would give it too much room to move.

Mistakes

Naturally, when one attempts something new, one makes mistakes. My first attempt to frame the painting resulted in some ugly accidents. I had decided to place the piece centered on core board cut to fit the frame. Eyeballing the centre I used double sided tape to hold the work in place. Mistake number one. The tape refused to stick to the watercolour paper. So, I used gel.

Glass is dispensable

Cutting more thin slices of core board I prepared a ridge around the edge of the backing to fit under the frame lip and thereby install a deeper distance from the frame edge to the work. Slipping it into the frame ended up being impossible with the glass. Cutting thinner spacers did not work either. Somehow little unacceptable specks installed themselves under the glass, impossible to remove. I took out the glass.

Assumptions as not as accurate

shipping, mixed media, paper, semi-abstract
Rulers are just the right thickness for lifting.

Assuming rather than measuring the size required in a twelve-by-twelve-inch frame was my third mistake. The second one was not measuring, again, to centre the painting on the core board. Evidently the painting had to be detached and placed on a larger piece of core board. This proved more of a challenge since gel is a wonderful glue.

Measuring is best

This time I measured. Quite satisfied with the result and the bonus of reduced weight, I proceeded to create the necessary tools for shipping. First the 6mm plastic sheath with the name of the painting on it. Wrapped in half-inch bubble wrap I put a layer of corrugated cardboard around the bundle. Wrapping this again in one-inch bubble wrap the bundle had grown to about sixteen inches square. I made the exterior box to fit and it is now ready to ship.

The next show

I am tempted to apply to the next show in Vancouver. Now that would be a real challenge to ship since it is almost three dimensional mixed media on paper as well. It would require some kind of styrofoam box to protect the surface and prevent movement within the shipping box… Mmmm. I have until Wednesday to decide.

Now showing

Happy New Year by the way. The All Member Winter Show at VASA is still on. Do drop in. Have a great week.

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One: Map

map, mixed media, semi-abstract, landscape
A mess

This week I thought I would share a bit of my process. I follow a map. It may or may not be exact as far as location is concerned. Portraits of places is not my goal. Rather it is the ambiance of the sacred space, the soul of creation.

Beginning with a mess

I begin with a mess. From the reference photo I decide where the darks and lights go. Using a poppy red watercolour pencil, I may mark in significant points, usually any man-made structure. The rest is decided as I go along freehand.

map, mixed media, semi-abstract, landscape, figures

Choosing shapes

Carefully following the drip lines and texture marks I select some shapes to represent trees. Although the driplines and the texture determine the shape of the forms I paint, I choose which ones to fill in and which ones to leave blank. I may also tweak the shape within the form so as to create more natural looking growth.

map, landscape, semi-abstract, mixed media, figures
Legs are blue

Reintroducing figures

Another decision lately is to reintroduce some figures into the landscape. They are useful for directing the eye around the piece as well as creating focal points and counter focal points. The illusion of a person is all that is required so the shapes remain quite abstract. In this piece, although it is difficult to see, the legs are blue in contrast to the green in the background.

Where to go on the map?

Deciding to complete the upper part of the painting I move across the canvas adding some more man-made walls, people and the vegetation before throwing in the distant hills.

map, semi-abstract, mixed media, figures, landscape
Water flows around rocks

Not a portrait

Now for the waterfall. At this point I depart from the photo paying more attention to the texture and the play of paint on the surface. I find if I let go of preconceived ideas, like it has to look like Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado, I end up with a much more satisfying result. The essential is a varied line and groupings of lines. The next decision will be which colour to use for the rock formations, blue or orange.

map, semi-abstract, mixed media, landscape, figures
Setting the foreground

Dealing with the foreground

Before moving further down the canvas, I look at the map and decide to develop the fence posts. These structures are in the foreground and they block the view of what lays behind. Perspective is important here although the fence is not perfectly aligned. Backing up I find the pencil lines are not quite correct. The handy water bottle and a bit of paper towel soon removes any unwanted residue as I attempt a more believable version.

Map turns corners

map, semi-abstract, mixed media, landscape, figures
Rock or vegetation?

The map continues around the edges and I have some more decisions to make. Is this rock or vegetation? I choose vegetation although I have not determined exactly what it will look like or how far it will extend. The map is not precise. Contemplating which direction to go, where and what to develop, all keeps this artist in very happy territory. I so enjoy the random.

Events

Do check out the VASA Winter Member Show. It runs to 2 February 2019. Enjoy your week.

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One: Archive

mixed media, archive, physics,

Recently I helped my daughter archive her work. She is way ahead of me. Photographing the work is basically the first step. I have known this for a long time. I have also kept a running list of inventory numbers. Gradually I added more information such as whether it sold and sometimes to whom….

Good advice

With this vast experience under my belt I am consequently in an excellent position to advise my daughter on what not to do.

More information is better

Certainly, the more information one has the better. I have not been with Artwork Archive for very long. Most regrettable. This excellent and inexpensive tool has immense capacities to store vital information, information I no longer possess. Although I managed to record the year I created a piece, I did not indicate the month or the day. As well, I can cite the year something sold without precision as to date or amount, or even to whom. Sigh.

How to name the photos

Along with the photographs, I included a list for my daughter about how to name them. Being consistent is really key. Every submission requires a particular set of parameters, so they do need tweaking. Nonetheless, a consistent method of naming will give the artist easy access to a lot of information. My suggestion was: NameOfArtist-NameOfWork-Medium-Size-Year-SizeOfPhoto-jpg. The best photos are then stored in a folder on the computer in categories such as <1M, 1M, 2M, 4M and >5M. Easy access for a quick emails or something more detailed for a special submission. As well, I add a sixth folder named Extras to hold all the extra photos generated during the photo session. If there are more than two extra photos for a piece I create another folder for that piece, for example: “Errant”, to keep things organized. 

Inventory numbers

Consistent with the photo, I use Word to add poetry, a blurb on where I was and why I was inspired inserted beside the photo of the work itself. This is another way to inventory a piece besides Artwork Archive. Inside a file on my computer I keep each page with two photos, the blurb and important information on the size of the support, the medium and the price. These pages I use for display in a folder for each series. Or I print them on better quality paper and cut them in two for display with the painting itself.

The archive is essential

The Archive is an essential tool in the artist’s repertoire. Start early, right at the beginning. At the moment I only have about twenty years of slides to digitize. At least I wrote the name of the work on the slide, I think… These are waiting in the wings as I endeavour to keep up to the present production. A challenge to which DEVENIR has contributed lately. I am certainly not bored. Life is good.

Events

Do drop in on the VASA opening this Thursday evening, 6 December at 7pm.  Fun times and good fellowship.

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