Tuesday, December 22, 2015
What has been interesting me lately has been the attention paid to Lawren Harris because of the exhibition of his works, arranged by actor and collector Steve Martin, in Los Angeles. Also, the record-breaking sale price of one of his paintings attracted much press. I was interested to see Russell Smith writing in the Globe and Mail that he personally does not like Harris' work at all. "I find his stylized, glowing, bulbous glacier-scapes to look a lot like children's-book illustration. Very good children's-book illustration, sure- pair them up with a nice story about a dog and a seal and you'd get yourself a Caldecott Medal." I thought that was quite funny. Nobody wrote in demanding Smith's head - which was interesting in itself as so many of us grew up with the silk screen prints of Group of Seven works in school hallways. Apparently this silk-screen proliferation of Canadian landscape was part of the government drumming up Canadian patriotism for World War II. I also grew up seeing originals in the Vancouver Art Gallery when I attended Saturday Morning Art Classes there. On a personal level, I like some of Harris' earlier works best - street scenes mainly. The mountains tend to be a little bleak for my choice- maybe a little too stylized. Again, however, it is personal choice and the Group of Seven will probably always have a special appeal for most Canadians. We each should feel free to assess how we really feel and respond to the paintings - which isn't easy when the legends are so much a part of our experience in Canada.
I'm reading - in bits because there is so much to it- "Portraits- John Berger on Artists", edited by Tom Overton. John Berger is one of the world's most celebrated art writers and the book is composed of many of his reviews and other writings. He wrote a review of a show of Henry Moore's sculptures in which he said, among other things " a life-size "King and Queen", with crowns like jug handles to their heads, bodies that are scooped out, winded, and smacked flat like kippers..." Then he recalls in a piece written later, "Moore's work was uneven. He produced, in my opinion, his weakest sculptures during the period when his work was most in demand and most critically unquestioned. I remember that towards the end of the fifties, when I had the temerity to write critically about his latest work, I very nearly lost my job on the "New Statesman". I was considered a national traitor!" -and so we see that it is not easy to take a fresh look at venerated art. The other side to that, of course, is that when certain art gets the spotlight, collectors want it for the signature- and, often, how much it cost. Art and the art market are two different things.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Monday, November 23, 2015
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Monday, October 19, 2015
I'm currently getting organized for GuessWho? which we will be holding on November 7th at the Pioneer Church, South Arm United at #3 and Steveston Highway -from 10 am to 3pm with viewing only for the first 15 minutes. All paintings are 10x10 on thick canvases so they can be hung to make a nice grouping. I will have three paintings in this sale and they are all different - so I wonder if you will recognize my work??? All paintings sell for $100 each - some are by high-school students so you may be buying the next BIG NAME - and some are by current big names whose work sells into the thousands. You may be making a good investment- although I feel that if you really enjoy a painting, you have your return on your investment right there. The nicest things I've had said to me are when a person tells me how much they are enjoying something I painted and sold some time previously. It is a great chance to do your Christmas shopping out of the rush and end up with individual one-of-a-kind gifts. Of course, you might just fall int love with your purchase and end up gifting yourself!
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Sunday, September 13, 2015
Plein aire painting started just before the time of the Impressionists. Before then, paint had to be ground and mixed as it was to be used - strictly an indoor job. Then paints became available ready to use in tubes. Of course, the artist still adds a mixer-medium. For oils, it used to be turpentine and an oil- probably linseed. This is a bit smelly and probably a bit toxic but one whiff does remind me of Art School ! Now oil painters use a different non-toxic, non-smelly medium. Some oils are now even compatible with water. Acrylic paints, mixed with polymer plastic instead of oil, became available around 1940 and have proven their durability. The actual colours - or pigments- are the same in both oils and acrylics - and, for that matter, pastels and watercolours. Acrylics have the advantage of being a material than can be cleaned up with water. They maintain their flexibility so paintings don't crack. They also dry fast - and the artist keeps brushes in water because of this. Drying fast has both advantages and disadvantages. Now, mediums have been developed to slow down the drying so it is not awkwardly fast in the outdoors. I will be using a retarder gel when I am painting in the Grand Prix. It slows down drying enough to give better control for softer edges where I want them. Another advantage to acrylics is that the finished painting needs no varnishing and can even be wiped off. I recommend them for kitchen paintings especially. Needless to say, artists have great discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels. My feeling is that artists usually find the medium that appeals to them the most and with which they are most comfortable. My personal choice is acrylics - a modern paint for a modern world.
Friday, August 28, 2015
With "Men in Hats", we have a scenius. During the summer, we are painting outdoors and then, in the winter, meet in a studio to do more painting. Definitely, there is a scenius effect as we encourage each other. The above painting was done this past Wednesday at Hycroft where we have an exhibition. As part of our contract, we were invited to paint on the lawn so that members attending the BBQ could stroll around for a look during the social hour. We set up around 2 pm and left when the actual BBQ started at 6. The painting was my effort. You see the full scene in the photo below it with another of the group, David McHolm, painting and also showing other work. You will note that I eliminated the building across the street as I felt it didn't contribute anything to the painting. The challenge was getting the hydrangeas to look like hydrangeas and not random blobs! I feel that being part of this group has helped me on my "absorbing errand". In fact, in "An Absorbing Errand" by Janna Malamud Smith, that I mentioned a couple of blogs ago, she states "We need to work alone; we need to have privacy- sometimes a lot of it-.... but we also need to be stirred up, stimulated and challenged by others, especially others who share our interests and with whom we feel some modicum of mutual respect."
UWC club members who viewed us painting commented that it was interesting to see everyone doing something different. This is part of the fun of the group - we each take a different view and a different approach when we are out painting. Sometimes what we do succeeds - and sometimes we kick ourselves for not choosing a different spot or different angle - and sometimes we are in total awe at what another painter produced - but it all adds up to keeping the creative juices flowing as we take our own paths - but with the support of others.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Friday, August 7, 2015
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Yesterday, the Men in Hats met at Minoru Chapel for our Tuesday painting session. Several worked in oils or acrylics but I decided to keep it simple and just practice my drawing with a pen and ink drawing. I then added watercolour pencils to it and dampened the paper with pens that hold water in the cartridges. So, it was just a practice session with no outstanding results but a nice time out with friends that resulted in this piece. I need it for a reference for a project I am working on so it will prove useful. So, a different medium and a non-instructional session - but there I am more than a few years along - still "painting in the park".
Sunday, July 19, 2015
We went to look at one of the old buildings which was a log cabin where a family of three had lived. There was a loft where maybe the child slept - although the heat would have been from the stove in the downstairs. A galvanized tub hung on the wall for the Saturday night bath. We were talking about that at lunch-time and decided that it was traditional here for the mother to go first but, apparently in other cultures, she may be the last! When I was in art school, one exam painting was of a model in a bathtub. We were raised up above the model area so we could all look down. It was like something from an Impressionist painting- green-tinted tub, bouquet of lilacs, Persian-style carpet. There was actual water in the tub....not sure what that did to the model's skin after a few hours! The young fellows in the class were quick to volunteer to top up the water with hotter water every now and then. It would be fun to have an old tub now for Life Drawing on occasion - but I think we'd just let the model sit in it dry. Then again, our storage is very limited so we have very few props- and no way to be raised up on risers. Ah, life was fun then.
Thursday, July 9, 2015
The reception was well-attended and very nicely done with it all taking place out on the terrace on a beautiful warm evening.
Right now, the Men in Hats are out plein air painting every Tuesday. There is some really nice work being done - but not by me right now. I haven't really "clicked" on anything. One time I was not happy with my acrylics drying up so quickly - so I just played with pen and ink and watercolour pencils last time. The results were not great! Still- there is the need to persevere and try to accomplish something worthwhile. It is nice just to be out with the group, talk art over lunch, and be in the fresh air. We are fortunate to have such a number of places where we can go to paint.
Monday, June 22, 2015
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Then with another 10x8, we had just over half an hour to try one adding colour - and this time we should select just part of the figure. We started with raw umber, the silhouette and darks but did not add the white. Then we mixed colours and added them to create skin tones and shadows and complete what we could in the time available
I took these quick studies to a recent talk I did for some Seniors...partly to show some current work and also to show that art is something a person continues to work on- always looking to get better. Workshops can be useful -not because you want to duplicate the work, but because you want to try new methods and work out what adaptation of them works for you.
Friday, May 15, 2015
I was reading Alyson Stanfield's posting this week. She is the author of "I'd Rather be in the Studio"and also conducts workshops on art marketing. This time she was commenting on people who wonder if we should be doing things like painting when the world is in such a mess. She said "Making art makes you whole and allows you to contribute to the world from a healthier position". It certainly does feel great to be out with a pleasant group where everyone is doing his/her own thing. Even having an uncompleted painting- like mine this week- feels pretty good. I was enjoying the wonderful hodge-podge of a building across the river with its assortment of colours and materials, the shadows under the pilings, reflections in the water and the fresh greens of new growth. It definitely needs the boat to complete the composition was it was a good beginning to this year's outdoor sessions.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Tomorrow, the paintings will come down from the Gulf of Georgia Cannery as the last indoor Farmers market is held. We will, no doubt, be back again at a future date.
Exhibition space is always a problem for artists, especially when there is not a real community gallery. We used to have biannual shows in Richmond Art Gallery as well as a preview showing for Artists Among Us - which was a precursor to DoorsOpen. Now the Gallery is only interested in so-called "contemporary" art- which is an interesting definition in itself. However, impressionistic and realistic art still lives and is produced and enjoyed by many.
Ian Roberts in his book "Creative Authenticity" has comments to make about so-called "contemporary art". This is one book I keep returning to even 'though it is not an instruction book. It is a book that makes you think about the path you are taking with your work. Ian states that a work of art has to communicate something. "It reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw- "Just because no one understands you, doesn't mean you're an artist" Much contemporary art is very self-absorbed. It may have been fascinating for the artist to create, but it doesn't have the necessary hook to engage the viewer. We're left outside a private loop, perplexed."
I'm hoping this one leaves no-one perplexed - but then it is not "Contemporary". This painting was the view from the Seine Net loft at Britannia Shipyards near the end of September. I wanted to capture the mood of the place and the feeling of history with all the pilings left from buildings or wharves of the past. I used thick gel to build up the texture of the pilings so they stand out from their reflections in the river. There is something almost magical about the light on the boats and all the reflections. Sandpipers, on their annual visit sit, carefully spaced, along a floating log while one perches on a piling.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Sunday, April 5, 2015
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Sunday, February 15, 2015
I love where Ian trashes "the technology of the media as the vehicle of art, in which the means of communication alone is considered relevant, even devoid of any content". He talks of videos that go on and on leading nowhere. That reminded me of one I saw recently - in an art gallery--it was as if it was termed "artistic" because it was lousy photography with no point.
"Life cannot be lived well without standards . Art, as a part of our life, would obviously seem to benefit from standards as well...... I think new standards of meaningfulness in art are resurfacing. Which is where authenticity comes in. Standards that are transformative, that will last, will have to come from a deep, quiet harbor of spirit if they are to anchor us today."
This book is one that makes an artist question the process and really think about directions and what the artist is trying to express. We all need to work on our own growth and our authenticity so that our work will matter.
The drawing is a pastel of Yui in a casual kimono. I tried to capture her beauty and grace. This was a long pose at Life Drawing and is posted in on Pinterest on my Life Drawing folio. I like life drawing because it is always a challenge to capture the beauty of the human figure - even when not necessarily what modern conventions would call "beauty." There is a beautiful person within and I want to be "authentic" in showing that. I'm currently trying to move in a slightly different direction in some work. This piece is more conventionally realistic than some things I am trying -although I elongated her a little bit to stress the quiet elegance.
Friday, February 13, 2015
Sunday, February 8, 2015
ART plays no clear role in our culture
ARTISTS have little direct contact with their audience
ART MAKING is indulged, but rarely rewarded"
Later he says "Step outside the arts community, and the separation of art from daily life is so complete that many people rarely give even a passing thought to the value of art in their lives."
I think, alas, that he is probably right. It is hard to know how to keep presenting art to make people realize its importance. Politicians like to talk up the arts - and then give main support to sports! I think one thing that would help is free admission to art galleries. There is a fairly hefty fee for Vancouver Art Gallery and I now hear that it costs $20 to go to the Ontario Art Gallery -plus $25 more if you want to see the current featured exhibit of Basquiat! Not too many people are going to take the family to that. In London, the National Gallery is free. It would certainly help encourage people to take a look at the offerings if they weren't charged for entering.
In the meantime, our art community in Richmond keeps trying to make a difference. This "Afternoon Class" painting was one of a ballet series I did. I liked the sun gleaming on the polished floors and the contrast of the instructor in black while almost all the students are in pastels. Too bad the instructor did not have a big stick and then it would have been like Degas' painting with the instructor. It has now been framed and will be going to Richmond Hospital to bring a little more art on the walls. We try.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
Today is the first Sunday in February and there will be some special clown services in some churches - one takes place in Hackney, London. Usually, it is dedicated to Joseph Grimaldi - the outside nesting doll in my last post. Who knew?
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
There are a lot of good artists around today that are not widely recognized but whose works would bring pleasure if they hung in a home. Maybe some will become the subjects of future "Unheralded Artists" books - or have someone scrambling to find more about the artist of a work they have just found. But we would love to see more action for living artists. We were talking the other day about the need to have people realize that paintings make great gifts and that many can be found with just a little looking. People don't even have to wait for exhibits or open studios- checking on a site like Richmond Artists Guild produces a lot of names to follow up. Most artists are only too happy to give a private viewing and the collector can find the painting that truly does speak to him or her.
The painting above, "The Old Conservatory" is a painting I did awhile back. Some people totally loved it, others, not. I liked the mood and the fact that you don't notice the old lady quietly reading the paper and enjoying the peace of the freshly watered conservatory. Richmond Hospital is doing some redecorating and was interested in some paintings . On a hunch, I included this one in an assortment. The Director of the Foundation really liked this one and said, "This painting is so serene and beautiful. We would love to find a home for it in the hospital and create a calming environment for patients and their loved ones." I delivered it today so it is one more painting out into the world.