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: 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: 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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One: Multitasking

Multitasking, mixed media, semi-abstract, exhibitions

Multitasking is one of the best ways to maintain a creative flow. At this moment in time, according to my schedule, it is essential. Two of four exhibitions are already up and showing in their respective galleries. One is ready for shipment in early September and the other is under construction.

multitasking, mixed media, semi-abstract, landscape
Ready for shipment

Paying attention

While the intensity of the season may be stressful, I find it helps me focus. In my studio I am in the midst of finishing the edges on a larger canvas as I work on two other paintings in various stages of completion. Another panel awaits in the background, the first layer already adorning the surface. Something tells me to pay attention to the choice of an image before the others are complete. Should I finish all three at once, the flow may slow to a trickle or stop all together.

Necessary distractions

Creativity is a tricky business. Although a constant production encourages a creative flow, I find I cannot concentrate beyond an hour or two before I need a break. Cutting up business cards, preparing invitations, assembling greeting cards are all suitable distractions. Renewing my energy for refocusing on the selection of spaces and values, I often step aside to do less challenging activities, multitasking at its best.

Multitasking, mixed media, semi-abstract, landscape
Under construction

Unexpected encouragement

Occasionally, I receive some unexpected encouragement. My husband popped in the other day and said, “I’d buy that one.” I think it is the first time he actually liked one of my paintings. It is not quite finished. I still have the subtle details to add, like the poetry, the Bible citation and my signature along with the usual protective coats.

Opening receptions

Coming up shortly is my reception for the “Sacred” exhibition in the Glenrose. I plan on a demonstration of watercolour techniques for greeting cards in the foyer. Another task waiting for planning and preparation. A perfect, non-stressful, in-between-focusing distraction. The third exhibition for which I will not be available to install is in Grande Prairie. Instead, I will be in Red Deer for the “Abundance” reception in the Kiwanis Gallery on September 7th.

Multitasking inspiration

Last but not least is the Member Show in CAVA opening on October 5th. I am truly grateful for the depth of my inventory. It has covered three of the four shows. I am still working on CAVA. So, as I prepare for three openings I juggle canvases, multitasking inspiration and focus. All in a day’s work. All the details for my opening receptions and various exhibitions can be found here.

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One: Supplanted

supplanted, mixed media, semi-abstract, surrender

When the painting takes over I feel certain elements of design have supplanted me and my intentions. Choosing a photo as inspiration is the usual first step in the development of an image. There is something there, catching my eye. A little notan study helps me identify the essence.

supplanted, mixed media, notan, semi-abstract, surrender
Some of this, some of that.

Notan: supplanted already

With my latest painting the notan was just the beginning. I had trouble seeing the rhythm. Not satisfied with either study I decided to use a combination of the two. This marked the first stage of my supplanted position.

Following the usual path

Leaving the photo behind I followed the trails of dripping paint and the chasms of texture as usual. The result showed a sweeping eternity symbol between the contrasted areas of light and dark. My muse awakened.

supplanted, mixed media, semi-abstract, surrender
A different path.

Carried away

Standing back to view the results I decided to go with the flow. Completely ignoring my photo reference, I concentrated on the best of the notan. Rhythm, movement and contrast carried me away as I enhanced the colour combinations.

supplanted, mixed media, semi-abstract, surrender
From the edge

Out of control

Supplanted, not quite in control, I continue to follow the movements knowing everything will change with the next additions of colour, bright and bold. After all, it is fall. Far from done the canvas awaits my next studio session. Titleless and poemless, the image beckons me to sit for a while. Just be.

Lots of shows

Just one of the many paintings earmarked for the upcoming exhibition opening at CAVA on October 5th. I have a few other paintings on the go for that show too. In the meantime don’t miss out on the Mezzanine at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. Or “Abundance” in the Kiwanis Gallery in Red Deer. More info can be found here.

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One: Progress

progress, mixed media, semi-abstract,

As things progress I find I relax at a certain point knowing the major decisions have been made. Relaxation seems to provide room for something else to enter my world.

progress, exhibitions, watercolour
Wildrose

progress, exhibitions, watercolour
Sunset Rose

Special request

So, what else entered my world? A special request for a special young lady had me opening my watercolours again to whip off some florals. Little notes of encouragement finished the project and off they went on a camping trip.

progress, exhibitions, mixed media, semi-abstract
Red Deer in one corner

progress, exhibitions, mixed media, semi-abstract,
More piles

More piles

In the meantime, bare walls screamed for attention in my gallery. To rectify the emptiness created in my gallery space I hung selections from “Connections/célébrons les liens”. Much better. With the necessary paintings allocated to their various corners in my workspace and gallery, the best sale of the year at my local art supply store contributed still more piles. Order will be re-established at some time in the future.

progress, exhibitions, mixed media, semi-abstract
CAVA making progress

Three shows

The emptiness witnessed to the necessity of using all my recent work to fill the upcoming three expositions over August, September and October/November. The Glenrose show is now complete with nineteen paintings ready for the walls. My little helpers will hang them on August 9thwhile I am in Colombia. The Red Deer show is also ready to go. Five canvases will join another twenty provided by the other members of Devenir (five each). Installation occurs on August 20th. CAVA opens on October 5th. The overlap of dates keeps newer work in their various locations and unavailable for this exhibition. Instead I have the option of creating even newer work before the delivery date on October 3rd. One is well on the way and two more are waiting for attention in the wings. More fun!

progress, exhibitions, mixed media, semi-abstract
Glenrose in another corner

Irregular progress

All in all, progress moves steadily forward. Between yard work, paper work and trip preparations I am finding my studio time is no longer in regular blocks. Rather, stealing an hour or two here and there at various times of the day depending on the weather, gets the job done. The season is short. I have decided to enjoy it while meeting my deadlines. Life is so good.

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Different Strokes: Priorities

priorities, blog, semi-abstract, mixed media

Priorities may change at any given moment. Lately they reconfigure with what seems like complete abandon. I am still managing to meet deadlines and flow through the chaos. In the end I am left wondering if chaos shows up in my paintings for a reason.

The unexpected

I do love the unexpected. It adds that bit of spice to routine. Occasionally the spice is somewhat stronger than I can tolerate and panic besieges my peace. The disturbance usually emerges around the expectation of others: submission calls, advertising, website upkeep, in a word: bookkeeping.

Benefits and prices

At the moment my regular routine suffers from severe neglect in the area of computer work. I have chosen to focus on other priorities. People are more important than routines and schedules. Yet, every choice entails a benefit and a price. Last weekend had a benefit: I chose to support my family in a time of sorrow. The price: I lost an opportunity to promote my business in the art world.

Changing priorities

Sometimes the decision requires vigilant consideration. Priorities determine the outcome. My loyalties lie with the people around me rather than the pursuit of fame and fortune. It may be my downfall as an artist, or so the promoters tell me. In my deliberations over every choice I come back to the importance of relationship. Life throws curves requiring attention and care. The curves tend to change priorities.

Resistless flow

Over the next few weeks and months I can foresee several occasions requiring my time and energy. The unusual continues. Rather than resist I choose to flow. In the meantime, I seek out the five-minute time slots in which I can paint and keep attending to the immediate. Much to my amazement canvases continue to fill with lovely images and opportunities abound. I am also grateful for the help of many friends who are willing to be my hands and feet on occasion. It leads me to believe I have my priorities in the correct order.

Art Point

If you happen to be in Calgary during May do drop in at Art Point where I am showing with four other artists “Devenir+”. More info here. Until next time, life is good.

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One: Divine

divine, blog, cocreation, semi-abstract, mixed media

“To live nonviolently—both toward humans and nature—requires that we recognize God’s image in each living thing. We cannot be violent toward someone or something when we see the divine in them.” Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations, 9 March 2018.

My raison d’être

We have separated the Divine from every other aspect of life. In fact, it has been relegated to superstition or wishful thinking. We have not discovered the connection between peace and respect for all things living. La raison d’être of my work is to create an awareness of the presence of God (however one defines him/her) everywhere and in everything.

Process and message

Much as with most artists, my work has evolved from hesitant beginnings. While my skill grew I explored different possibilities. Having chanced upon a method akin to the Creator (I begin with chaos), I find the process endlessly challenging. Where to start? When to stop? How do I capture the essence imbued in what I see? Is there a way to invite everyone into wholeness?

Healing separation

Presently I am tinkering with the idea of setting my poetry in a more prominent position. As a result, I may have a new twist for a new series. Although I have not worked out the technical foibles, the idea is to convey a divine presence in whatever the image might be on the canvas. This presence may be visible or invisible, as the viewer chooses. The invitation is to heal the illusory idea of separation. Everything and everyone is included.

Divine presence

If we could believe in one God without defining him/her for someone else, perhaps we could begin to love ourselves and each other. If we could see the divine in the plants, the animals, the rocks we mine, perhaps we might treat our world with greater respect. If we knew the Creator as a suffering servant, loving and forgiving, we might move into imitation. From there we may begin to build heaven on earth, together, in divine union and peace.

Exhibitions

Don’t forget to check out my two exhibitions showing at the moment. Have a great week.

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Different Strokes: New Work

New Work, semi-abstract, mixed media, landscape, commission

Just after Christmas is the best time for me to produce an abundance of new work. This year has been exceptionally busy with commissions and unexpected projects, the spice of my life.

Celebration

Last night culminated the recent request for a special gift for a special person, Claudette Tardif. Commissions always offer a particular challenge in communication. This same challenge shows up when we talk to our doctors, lawyers or mechanics. The expertise of one may not be translated into language both participants can understand. While I endeavour to interpret what my client may be communicating, sometimes I get it all wrong. Hence a preliminary sketch is in order.

Clarifying commissions

Thankfully what I presented via internet made the proposition very clear and lead me to produce something satisfactory to most. Part of this project, however, involved pleasing myself. Having tried to incorporate several elements into the image, I came to a point where the spirit of the piece showed signs of dying. Either I continued to develop the painting in hopes of resolving the problem or I took out the gesso to begin again.

Beginning again

As much as I wished to continue I decided to take the surest route. After all, I had a week left to complete. Bringing everything back to the second coat (gesso), I relished the fresh start as I applied the five or six preliminary layers before the real work begins.

Deadline met

Finally, having resolved most of the issues on the front of the painting, I turned my attention to the back. Since I do not usually finish the back of my paintings, I took more time to apply the quotes of the various declarations chosen as a keepsake. The edge of the cradled board sported many coloured stains as happens with layering and splashing paint. I decided spruce it up with black gesso and give it a little protection with some varnish at the end.

New work and new accolades

New work always brings new challenges. Happily all is well when deadlines are met and the customer is satisfied.

Other shows

Do not forget to check out my new work showing at Lotus Art Gallery and at VASA this month.

Have a great week.

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