Thursday, March 15, 2018

Painting, thinking and Frida Kahlo

Here is a recent painting- not quite sure what to call it - maybe simply "Station"? ? I was thinking of a sort of "sky's the limit" outlook - whether for a new arrival or for someone going on a trip- and I liked the idea of simply looking up. With all the depressing political news and concerns for democracy- maybe something a bit inspirational is what we need. I've been doing a workshop concentrating on composition- the main "backbone" of a painting- that has been very inspirational and  calling into question how to approach various subjects. This one  "works" because one's eye is led around the painting and brought back to the central image. I'll be showing some other subjects shortly
-In a previous life, I had a large doll collection and also made dolls- so I still have some interest in that direction. When the first Barbie came out, I was intrigued as I felt that they were almost like the historical  "fashion dolls" that travelled to show the latest styles so seamstresses could copy them. I got a Barbie #3 - which was the first version available in Canada- and outfitted her in an American Airlines stewardess outfit. The original bathing suit and sunglasses went in her carry-on. Costumes then were much more intricate than later when clothes were made easier for little hands to cope with. So ,although my Barbie is long gone, I was interested in the series of famous women produced for International Women's Day. I thought the "recognition" was a good idea but have reservations over the Frida Kahlo doll. I now see that there is quite a controversy about it as she has definitely been "sanitized". Her costume is much simplified and not authentic. She stands straight and tall with no wheelchair or indication of the suffering she went through in her life - and there is no uni-brow which was a statement. She had a strong personality, painted some rather disturbing paintings and was a staunch Communist. So- what to think? Is it good to at least have little girls made aware of this famous artist? Or is it wrong to have this sanitized version? Would it have been a better, fairer, more thought-provoking image to have her seated in a wheelchair? The jury is out-- and I'm not collecting any more.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Feature on Richmond Arts Coalition

I'm showing this painting from my "City Evening" series as it is one shown on this week - where I am the "featured artist" with a bio and a few paintings showing. Richmond Arts Coalition works to promote the arts in Richmond. They were the sponsor of the "ArtRich" exhibition in Richmond Art Gallery this past December --- where my "Sandpiper Time" was shown. The Arts Coalition publishes a monthly list of upcoming events in Richmond - a good way to keep up on happenings. Take a look at the website!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Smartphones and Art

I've been reading a lot lately about smartphone addiction, effects on the eyes, interest in art and so on and wondering - wither painting in modern world?  The above is a "long pose" in pastel where the challenge is to draw from a model, capture the pose, capture a likeness, fit it on the page, consider lighting- and then wind up with something that may never be seen again ! I love drawing and painting people but mostly I work on paper now for our long poses. The paper stack takes up less room than a pile of canvases. Here in Vancouver there is not much market for "people paintings" so some of these works may be shown at "DoorsOpen" and that is about it... and yet we keep doing it for the challenge!  Russell Smith,  in the Globe and Mail, was writing about the availability of artwork from museums that means that a flat screen on the wall could provide a changing exhibition of high definition on our wall. He concluded that these will be useful reference but they won't have the draw of objects.  "Screens, no matter how advanced, will always screen. What you see on them is mediated by pixels. You will always know they are not real."  Well, that gives some assurance that there will continue to be interest  in the unique and original, but it isn't just what to do with the works- it is also whether there will even be any interest in painting in the future. Since using ones' eyes has to be "learned", what will happen when distant vision and peripheral vision is not well developed?  Will it just seem too hard to paint a landscape? Will just snapping a "selfie" satisfy rather than struggling to paint a self-portrait? Will museums continue to attract those actually interested in the art and not just those snapping selfies to say "I was here"? Some public  galleries are already moving away from displaying paintings to having more in the way of installations and "experiences". Where will this leave art and artists?
     On the other hand, some of the approaches to art in today's world of videos can be very interesting as well as fun- I recommend looking at a video on the eating habits of Van Gogh - but I also think it helps your enjoyment if you at least know something about him and his works. Here is the link:
..and if you want to find me, I'll still be painting.....

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Year of the Dog

February 16th is the Lunar New Year this year and it will usher in the Year of the Dog. International Gallery in Vancouver's International Village will have a special Year of the Dog art show from February 10th to February 23rd. You can see the details by going to - click on the poster and then scroll down the list of the artists exhibiting. As you click on each artist's name, you will get a brief biography and also an image of the painting or paintings that they are exhibiting. I am showing the painting above which I call "Best in Show". It isn't Westminster, but a smaller show in a smaller venue - but of great importance to the participants. I had a lot of fun with this. You will see that the owners and dogs bear a certain resemblance to each other. I don't own a dog (just two cats) but I've always been fond of dogs. What would be my favourite? If I had unlimited time and money, maybe I would choose a glamorous Afghan. I've always liked Bedlington terriers for their lamb-like noses, the Japanese dogs for their wonderful thick pelts, Labradors for their good natures, sheep dogs and St.Bernards for great size and personality, some little dogs for their cuddly nature, poodles for their intelligence - well, you can see I'd have a hard time picking a "Best of Show"!  There will be a show preview - with some refreshments on February 9th from 6 to 9 pm and an Opening on Saturday the 17th at 2pm. There is parking at the mall, underground, and there will be  two hours free parking for those attending the gallery. This should be a fun show to see. Other Richmond Artists Guild members in the show are Margreth Fry, Eileen Fong and Larry Tillyer.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Rosie the Riveter

For Long Pose, two weeks ago, we had Shelley being "Rosie the Riveter" . I didn't do the full figure. but rather more a portrait. Shelley did a great job with her hair up in a net and make-up like WWII period. This is my mixed media approach with drawing in charcoal on watercolour paper ( 140 lbs), then a wash with yellow, blue and red acrylic, blow-dry, apply acrylic ground for pastels, blow-dry, finish in pastels. Then, a few days later, the real Rosie the Riveter - the woman who inspired the original art work, died- so she was in the news again. She was 90-something when she passed away.The timing was a strange coincidence.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Honest Ed's

My other "City Evening" paintings are smaller- 16x20 - but I felt this called for a larger canvas so it is 20x30. Painted last year - this year is too  new for completed paintings!  Alas, Honest Eds has now closed - and the signs here show some burnt-out bulbs as things were headed in that direction at the time of this reference shot. I always am drawn to reflections so I liked the reflected lights on the wet pavement contrasting with the pedestrians almost only as silhouettes. I also liked the fact that there would be a story with each person. Were they shopping -or just heading home from work? My other "City Evening" paintings are on earlier blogs - I'm not sure if I will do more later or not- it is interesting to try to have both the cool of a winter evening and yet some warmth to the painting. There is definitely more working with tonal contrast, than say, a Spring garden scene. Yet, this is the reality of winter in a city and we all know what it feels like!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas Elf

Well, here is another "long pose" from the last Friday session before Christmas. Since we are still in the "holiday season", I thought I could still post a pastel of an elf. Again, this is my multi-media process that I am working on - first the sketch in one colour of hard pastel on watercolour paper.  Then colour washes with three primaries in acrylic. Blow-dryer--- then apply acrylic pastel ground medium... this is quite gritty. Blow dry again -- then work in pastels. Each time is a little different - not just the model and the pose, but also how I mix and blend the paint layer. The pastels are different on a coloured surface, of course, and different as the under-colours vary. I'm enjoying trying out different effects each time. I'm not sure where I am going with this, but I just got some more watercolour paper and I intend to keep working on more figure drawings with this technique. Another bonus is that sheets of paper don't take up a lot of room.