The naked truth seems to be that we are a nation of prudes when it comes to nude paintings. There is a Canada Council Art Bank in Canada that has bought and stored more than 17,000 contemporary paintings by Canadian artists. Federally funded, these paintings are then loaned out to government departments and corporate offices for minimal rental fees. It is estimated that 500 of these paintings are nudes. These paintings remain in storage and are virtually un-rentable. Most of them have never been seen. Now, however, the Kitchener, Ontario museum now called THEMUSEUM is displaying 120 of them for a 12 week show called "Getting Naked". Interestingly enough, very few of the paintings are even printed in magazine or newspaper reviews - what I have seen makes me inclined to say "so what?"David Buchan has done a parodic update of Paul Peel's "After the Bath" and there are a couple of almost emaciated nudes by Fred Ross that are variations on the reveries of Balthus. Nothing startling there. It is surprising, in this day and age that nudes are so forbidden in art displays. Our artist guild is not allowed to display any of the results of our Life Drawing in the Cultural Centre. We are told that there is an uproar and people even contact the mayor over such things.I think this shows how distorted our values are when young kids know the names of characters in pornographic cartoons and can see disgusting violence and torture on TV shows, yet a pastel like the one above that shows the beauty of a the human body is considered obscene. In the midst of all this, our Life Drawing group continues. Apparently, a number of years ago there was some protest about its very existence and a presentation on the value and tradition of life drawing had to be given to the powers that be. Life drawing is an ever-new drawing challenge. If a person paints a tree and it is not exactly like the tree in front of them or even distorted, it is still recognizable as a tree. But a head out of proportion to the body, an arm too long - and it is immediately clear that the drawing is "off". Add in the challenges of foreshortening - which simply means perspective as related to the body- when a foot close to the artist is larger than one further away, for example, and it is clear that "getting it right" is bound to keep up drawing skills. One of the reasons I usually work in pastels for our long poses is because it takes less space to pile drawings on paper than paintings on canvas. The "unrentables" of the Art Bank aren't the only nudes that rarely see the light of day. Maybe "Getting Naked" will change things.
We changed paintings at Gulf of Georgia Cannery again last week so I took this one in. The reference photo was taken from the water (obviously!) when a group of us had the opportunity to go out on the River Queen last summer. It was a day or two before the season opened and all the boats were getting organized. This one was loading on the purse seine net, an interesting operation. There actually was another boat just in behind so I had to consult multiple photos to separate out the two - especially the top structures- mast, radar and so on. The fishery does fly the Canadian flag but it would have been at the very right-hand edge of the painting so it got edited out. This was a fair challenge to paint but I wanted to do it because it is so very "west coast" and shows Steveston in full action. Farmers Markets continue at the Cannery and the next one is this Sunday, March 15th. There is free admission so you can shop the Market and then tour the Cannery exhibits . There are guides explaining the exhibits but the whole thing is really well-done on its own too. You can pick up audio devices (cleverly done with fish cans) to hear explanations, pull out drawers of supplemental information and see various exhibits- about the canning process, fishing industry and even labour problems! As a big part of our history, it is really worthwhile to see - and good to be able to see it without paying admission. Richmond Artists Guild display is a ways down - not immediately back of the Market where they set up a lot of heaters. So, it is cooler down there but we do have members there on Market days - so do drop by.
This is one of my newer experiments ... just playing around. Because of a presentation by Nicoletta Baumeister and a painting display by William Watt, I was thinking about stripes. This *was* a straightforward painting of California poppies until I decided to add another element to it. So, out with the masking paint and adding Sap Green and Prussian Blue. Then, when the tape was off, it needed some lines to carry over some of the stripes- plus some more added collage dots. Then I offset some of the petals on the stripes and painted them in a periwinkle blue - as the complementary. I think there is an added layer of interest - not just an added layer of paint. I have plans for more California poppies and more stripes in a slightly different way. I'm not sure where I am going with this - but art is always an interesting journey.
Loraine Wellman has studied art ever since she was a child and was recommended to classes at the Vancouver Art Gallery.She has a certificate from Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr) and a B.Ed from UBC. Exhibitions include Gateway Theatre, Richmond Art Gallery and Richmond City Hall.
Loraine is an Active member of the Federation of Canadian Artists, a member of Richmond Artists Guild, an a regular participant in a Life Drawing group. Her paintings are in collections in Canada, USA, Europe and Taiwan.