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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One: Archiving

archiving, photos, full spectrum light, pins and masking tape
My handy pin board

Archiving one’s work ranks as one of the most important aspects in the life of a professional artist. Over the years I have discovered some practices which reduce the time needed for this chore. As I deal with various materials and supports, the tricks vary somewhat.

Taking photos

In the beginning I tried to follow the advice of the professionals. Some suggested special lighting. I bought special lighting. Others suggested the shadow side of a building on a day with relatively thin cloud cover. I managed inconsistent results. Consequently, I will forever be thankful for the invention of digital photography and iPhoto. Photoshop Elements is a marvelous tool as well.

Full spectrum lighting

Installing full spectrum florescent lighting in my studio has saved my day. Not only do I have consistent lumens, I no longer need to install the special lighting. All I need is my camera, a tripod and an easel.

A pile for archiving

DEVENIR has created a whirlwind of activity in my studio lately. I love the challenge of creating a painting a day. Now that the challenge has come to an end, I feel the need to continue, although at a slower pace, perhaps. As a result of all the painting, however, I had a pile of paintings needing photography.

archiving, pins, masking tape, screws
Pins and masking tape

Screws for small stretchers

My years with watercolour gave me a singularly useful tool in the form of a pin board. Using a half sheet of half-inch plywood, I covered the surface with a sheet of cork. Over the cork I installed a neutral piece of gray fabric. This gave me a surface into which I could insert hat pins holding the watercolour paper in place for the camera. I also use this board for smaller pieces which I hang on the screws at the top.

archiving, DEVENIR, photos, mixed media
One of forty-two

Same size easier

With the 30 Day Challenge, I not only had the thirty paintings which needed archiving. A dozen “mistakes” could be included as well as the latest two in my new series “One”. Most of the paintings were the same size, eight by eight inches. A much easier and quicker proposition.

Masking tape corners

I set up the tripod and camera, placed the pin board on the easel and lined up the first painting. Making sure I set the camera at the lowest setting I proceeded to take several shots knowing what I saw through the viewfinder may not be the result I sought. Ideally, I fill the lens as much as possible, so cropping is kept to a minimum. Masking tape gave me the borders of the next painting. It did not take long to go through forty-five paintings at five different settings each.

Turning it sideways

Archiving canvases requires a different approach. Removing the pin board, I put the first painting on the easel. Since it is square, it only needed a level to determine if it was square to the camera lens. Several shots ensued as I moved the camera where the image filled the photo. The second piece is rectangular. I find it easier to place the painting on its side rather than finding the apparatus to change the camera to a different angle. However, I cannot simply hang it on its wire. Using a clamp, I secure the wire to the easel and proceed with the photography.

Archiving made easy

Now iPhoto completes the preparation for archiving the images, cropping colour adjustment and renaming. Once this is done I file the photos on my computer in folders for easy access and then I add them to Artwork Archives, a tool I highly recommend.

archiving, cropping, mixed media
Ready to crop

Upcoming events

Finally, don’t miss the latest show at VASA in St. Albert. Always a good time.

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One: Unseen

mixed media, semi-abstract, paper, unseen,
Behind it all

A lot of what I do goes unseen. Those who pay attention to my work notice the symbolism carved into the texture. In the past I have highlighted quite a few circles so anyone glancing in their direction might wonder at their presence. Recently, I have chosen a gentler approach. The circles are still there, they are just not as obvious.

Sharing joy

One of the main reasons I paint is to share with others my joy. Joy resides in the knowing I am not alone. This knowing releases me from believing I own the entire responsibility of making the world a better place in which to live. I am free to be me and to do what I can.

Unseen Love

Another reason, subtler in nature, is to share what I know. Part of what I know remains hidden. We cannot measure the unseen or experience it in intellectual ways.  To approach the unseen, one must pass through the heart. I love this planet and all of creation. I love the One who created it. Most of my understanding and my language comes from a Christian perspective. My knowing, however, is not limited by any one religion.

Our common home

Out of my concern for our common home, I rail at the feeling of powerlessness when I discover something else unseen, something deliberately hidden and evil. Recently I participated in a webcast in which a young man, Isaac “Asume” Osuoka, delineated the findings of a report about the source of conflict and forced migration in Nigeria. I very much dislike knowing I am part of the reason such things occur. I am responsible because nothing is isolated.

unseen, Development and Peace, corporate greed,
Development and Peace Webcast

Greed

Much of what Mr. Osuoka had to say concerned the oil industry, mining and the poisoning of waterways and air. Basically, the civil unrest has nothing to do with religious differences which is what we read in the media. Rather, it is about starvation, illness and northern hemisphere greed. Religion is, in fact, used to perpetrate unrest so the rape of resources can continue for our benefit here.

Perpetrated unrest

I would assume perpetrated unrest funded by the powers that be has a similar source in any African country with rich resources. Generous northern benefactors have released the poorer countries from their “debt” simply because there is nothing to gain from squeezing blood from stone. In 2006 Nigeria negotiated a deal to pay off their initial debt of eleven billion to the Paris Club by paying a lump sum of twelve billion on the accumulated amount owing of forty billion. Somehow the math does not add up and I do not see their banking partners as being charitable. (Not that any bank is charitable.)

Together

Unseen and unheard, these facts are hidden from our view because one would not want the truth known lest the profits be reduced. Profit is the main motivation behind the war games. For my part, I will continue to raise awareness in hopeful anticipation of the moment when we unite against corporate greed for the benefit of everyone. We are in this together.

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One: Life

Devenir, challenge, mixed media, life, paper
Jardin des pleuvres

Life gets in the way sometimes. Occasionally I imagine I have control over my world and what I might do on any given day. Reality swiftly disrupts this notion. I have a choice. I can resist and go down kicking and screaming. Or I can go with the flow and see where it might lead me.

Unfolding fascination

The last few weeks have been fascinating as the DEVENIR thirty-day challenge unfolds. To being with I thought I needed thirty finished paintings, so I did groups of eight at a time. No way could I finish a painting in one day. Get real! I have been sharing the dozen or so “finished” paintings on Instagram. Some I like, some I do not.

Devenir, mixed media, challenge, life, paper
Dragon’s Lair

Less control

When I got down to the task of painting a painting a day, things changed. As the days followed, one after the other, I noticed a certain abandon in procedure. Less about control and more about discovery. Play is not part of my repertoire usually and I was having fun as the drops of liquid paint hit the surface and did their thing. So cool!

Mixed media, life, Devenir, Challenge, paper
Seeing Things

Play

Lately I have taken up playing with strips of paper and the idea of divine presence sustaining everything. How does one represent divine presence on paper, or any other surface? As usual, the more control I exert, the less interesting the painting. Perhaps the process will lead me to where I want to go. Maybe I will discover something altogether new. Life has a way of stepping in and changing the route.

Life happens

So instead of spending my Saturday morning in the studio, I picked up my paintings at CAVA and went grocery shopping, something I have been putting off for several weeks. I needed a few things as we were expecting our grandchildren and a few guests in the evening for supper around the fire pit.

Devenir, challenge, mixed media, paper, life
Shadow Dance

Going with the flow

As it turned out I was the one, with the help of a wonderful young man, doing the cooking and taking it back inside to those comfortably seated in our living room. They missed out on a truly lovely evening outside. The fire was perfect for cooking. And for sm’ores a little while later. I so enjoyed watching the flames. I think I have pyro tendencies.

A curve or two

Life took a real curve today with the grandkids for breakfast, church and helping out at an art show in the afternoon. Attempting to write my blog with eyelids slamming shut and the realisation I have not painted my painting today, I wonder about how I might regain some control. Perhaps I will just go to bed instead. Have a wonderful week…

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One: Challenge

challenge, mixed media, paper, space
Through the Tangle

So, I got the challenge all wrong. What I understood meant one painting a day for thirty days. Consequently, I started early.

Managing the challenge

Preparing the paper, I tore it into eight by eight-inch pieces. I prefer ragged edges. Several panels of quarter-inch plywood which I use for drawing boards, graced the table. Taking the one-and-one-half-inch masking tape, I carefully measured the one-inch border. There we have it! The painting is only six by six now. A lesser challenge perhaps.

Challenge, mixed media, semi-abstract, Devenir
Hope Shines Forth

Not so easy

One would think this would be easy. I discovered it takes me two days to complete one image. Double the time. I would have to speed things up. Using eight panels at a time I could not resist using watercolour to begin. After all, it was paper we were using. Once dry, I mucked about with some molding paste and ended up with drips of acrylic. Lovely abstract accidents lay before me. 

Challenge, mixed media, semi-abstract, Devenir
Inspire of Opposition

Grouping production

Very conscious of the time and how far I had fallen behind, I quickly finished four that day. Yes, I thought, I could manage this.

The phone call

Then we had the phone call. DEVENIR gets together once per week via Skype to discuss projects, be accountable to one another and inspire our creative future. Carefully explaining things again one of our members said it was not about finished work. Rather, the exercise led us to discover new territory in daily experiments with new materials or using familiar materials in new ways. One painting per day beginning October 25th.

Challenge, mixed media, semi-abstract, Devenir
Into the Storm

More paper

Backing up I took a new look at what I had already done. Nice little pieces. I will use them for something else. How to frame them? I will figure that out later too. Returning to my paper stash I extracted three new sheets of Arches watercolour paper and tore new pieces of eight by eight leaving several six by eights. Left overs, just the right size for greeting cards. Not quite ready yet I took out the masking tape and established the borders once again. Eight panels ready to go. Life is full of adventure! You can follow our challenge progress on Facebook both on my page BlanchetFineArts or on DEVENIR’s page where each artist will be posting her work in an album once per week. So fun.

Event page

Don’t forget to check out my events page. The CAVA show is still on and the VASA Member Show is on the horizon for December.

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