Thursday, December 29, 2016
Saturday, December 17, 2016
I still think, however, that there is value to be had in going through the exercises in "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" - maybe especially if a person has been away from it for awhile and needs to power-up the creative workings. Most artists feel that Life Drawing is like playing scales - it keeps the skills up even if a lot of what is produced ends up in the recycling bin.... well, we don't want to be buried in overwhelming piles of paper! For our Long Poses every other Friday, I have been taking a mixed-media approach - drawing first in charcoal on watercolour paper, giving that a wash of acrylic, drying that, and then applying acrylic medium for pastels (to give the paper "tooth"), drying it again and then completing the work in pastel. It is an interesting approach and I'm still exploring the possibilities.
I'm interested in light effects and I hope to do more city night scenes . "Five-fifteen". above. is the first one- based on a black and white newspaper photo - but I now have more references and will get at this idea after Christmas. I'm certainly well-past my 10,000 hours but there is always something new to try, some different ideas and approaches to play with, and some skills to keep up. There is lots to keep an artist's brain busy.
Friday, December 2, 2016
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Saturday, November 26, 2016
But uplifting news was found in the fact that Lawren Harris' "Mountain Forms" painting sold for 11 million at a recent auction and set a record for a new high for Canadian painting. This is good news as it shows Canadian art can hold its own on the world art scene and that paintings are still highly valued.
However, our local public gallery has decided , without any public input, that they are a "contemporary" art gallery with an "educational" outlook. Paintings, apparently, are things that can be shown in a commercial gallery but not within their walls. I would think that about 75% of the local population would like to see paintings - at least some of the time. Most people do not have the space or set-up to allow for installations and video presentations but would be happy to have a painting they enjoy on a wall. Contemporary architecture and interior designs show paintings used to complete the setting. Ignoring painting seems a bit elitist to me. It also ignores centuries of art history. I would bet that 300 years from now, people will still travel to Paris to see Monet's waterlilies and Amsterdam to see the "Night Watch" but I doubt they will go to London because of Tracy Eminem's unmade bed. In fact that bed may well have been thrown out by then. I must admit that I laughed when I read about an installation that got swept up as debris by new cleaning staff! Many of the "stars" of today's art world - even Lawren Harris, the Group of Seven, and Emily Carr - got much of their early recognition from open shows in public galleries. Local public galleries need to support local artists by at least occasionally giving exhibition opportunities. A few years ago, before the change in "mandate", I had the opportunity to show "Local Landscapes" and it was well-received. I think that part of an educational program should include showing what is produced in painting today- of all genres and mediums, not just what is deemed "contemporary". Contemporary should mean current and not indicate a particular style.
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Monday, November 7, 2016
My sailboat was mostly painted with a small palette knife as there were smaller details on it but I didn't want it to get "bitty" with using a small brush - and I also wanted the paint to be reasonably thick. I think you can really see that it is along the coast because of the way the land slopes up. It is one of the coastal islands with the typical rocky shore and growth of evergreens.It has gone to a good home. It was interesting working on the reflections- very different with the darker colours than when I worked on reflections on a sunny day in Steveston for Once Upon a Reflection (on April 1st blog) I also put in, for GuessWho?, the one I did in the Ladner GrandPrix but I think it has much more limited appeal so it didn't sell. I think I will paint over it.
The sale did fairly well but not as well as last year - so there won't be quite as much money raised for the Food Bank, unfortunately. I think people are unsettled and concerned over the US Elections., so we will have to see how the sale goes next year.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Nature and many other subjects will be found on 10x10 paintings at our annual one-day anonymous art sale GuessWho?. All the paintings are on gallery-thick canvas and all sell for $100 each. $50 goes to the artist and the balance goes to Richmond Food Bank. Many artists are members of Richmond Artist Guild but there are also well-known professional artists, members of Western Canada Taiwanese Artist Society and high-school students --- hey! you might buy the next BigName artist! GuessWho? is this Saturday, November 5th from 10 am to 3pm at the Pioneer Church at South Arm United. A brief viewing period first, then when the whistle blows, buyers can take their choice. It is a bit exciting at the beginning but there are over 150 paintings and a good selection even later on.It is a great way to start an art collection. I have a wall of 10x10s - my "friends wall"- of paintings by artist friends. I used narrow wood strips on the wall so the paintings rest evenly and can be moved around. Some are GuessWho? paintings and some have been purchased - or traded for- otherwise. My "wall" is now going to extend a bit around the corner. It is something I enjoy every time I walk into my computer room. At only a $100 you can have the enjoyment of original art and also support a good cause.
Sunday, October 30, 2016
The pastel above is from our small-group Friday long-pose (and is not part of GuessWho?) I had planned a mixed-media approach and found I'd forgotten the acrylic pastel gel I needed - and I also didn't have the heavier paper for straight pastels. So, I used a lighter weight pastel paper from a pad and decided to just make the best of it. In the end, I was fairly pleased with how I had captured Amanda.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Thursday, October 6, 2016
Friday, September 23, 2016
The Gallery is in the church lobby which has been redone with a wooden floor instead of carpet - which adds a nice shine to the place! Barb Bowen does a great hanging job and the adjustable lights really set off the paintings. I felt like I was getting freshly acquainted with the paintings in their new temporary home.
Friday, September 16, 2016
I thought I would keep it simple- so here it is: " My paintings are about enjoying a time and place by capturing the moment . Light and colour are important elements of my art. I like working in acrylics because of the layering qualities. "Home" paintings are mostly flowers because a garden is part of the enjoyment of home. "Afar" paintings bring the enchantment of experiencing a different environment."
Maybe it is too simple - here is a statement from an art competition "The repeated blocks in my work function as confrontational and generative forms that both obstruct and actively construct the space of the painting." or "Painting is a physical and mental process that allows me to deconstruct the subject matter that I am addressing." - and "I am exploring the relationship of heritage and progress in the local context, while engaging with paint itself: its qualities, limits and history."
The question is - do words make the painting? I think they sometimes do -at least with price and prestige. I would just like viewers to relate to the paintings themselves. We'll see if anyone has anything to say about the Artist's Statement.
Friday, September 9, 2016
Thursday, September 1, 2016
Monday, August 22, 2016
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Thursday, August 4, 2016
Sunday, July 31, 2016
Last blog I was writing about blue - and here I am with a painting that has almost no blue in it. The background is Paynes Grey and white with just a touch of French Ultramarine. This is not the historical Ultramarine but rather a modern replacement. In 1824, an industrial society in France offered a prize for any chemist who could discover how to manufacture an artificial Ultramarine. Four years later, the French colour maker J.-B Guimet developed the winning recipe. French Ultramarine quickly became a core colour for artists, who appreciated its cheapness. Today, it is still a basic blue. I often use it in shadow mixes because it is transparent. Prussian Blue is one of my favourites for water- especially for reflections.It was the first colour to be made artificially and was produced accidentally in 1704 by a paint maker in Berlin. Cobalt Blue was created in 1802 by a French chemist called Thenard. Made from cobalt aluminate, it took over from Smalt. It works nicely in acrylic for our local summer skies. Cerulean Blue was also developed in 1802 by a German scientist Hopfner by heating cobalt and tin oxides. This is a great colour for watercolour skies but not transparent in acrylics. Phthalo Blue was synthesized from copper phthalocyanine in the early 1930's. It is a deep intense blue and is often used instead of Prussian Blue. I think you have to be a bit careful with it to keep it from looking too strong and artificial. Indanthrene Blue is similar to Indigo and is available from some manufacturers and another substitute for Prussian. One interesting thing is that hues can vary from one manufacturer to another and from one medium to another. Artists tend to develop favourites and it is one of the reasons an artist's work develops a recognizable "look". It is interesting to think of the history behind the colours we squeeze out on our palettes.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
This is not the first pricey blue. Artists of the Renaissance's Ultramarine (which means " from beyond the sea") came from a gemstone called lapis lazuli which was more expensive than gold. Ancient Egyptians had a blue that was made from azurite, a copper carbonate mineral. This was still used by 15th century Renaissance artists , sometimes as an underpainting for the more costly Ultramarine. Artists' contracts often specified that Ultramarine was not to be substituted by the cheaper azurite as it was to denote the patron's status and wealth.
Woad was used in northern Europe ever since the ancient Britons used it to dye their faces blue to strike fear into Julius Caesar's invading army. Artist monks used woad to illuminate the Book of Kells in the eight century. Then Indigo was imported from India and it was 30 times stronger than woad. It became available to painters who sometimes used it to underpaint azurite to give it more depth and warm its effect.
Smalt was a deep blue colour produced from cobalt oxide that replaced azurite. It was used widely from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century . J.M.W. Turner (1775-1850) was said to use great quantities of "smalts of various intensities".
Artists nowadays are fortunate to have a choice of blues available- as I did in the above plein air painting "From the Balcony" .
There will be more on blues - my main reference for this is Simon Jenning's "Artists Color Manual" from Chronicle Books.
Monday, July 18, 2016
Sunday, June 26, 2016
Following on from the last blog - I forgot to give the actual name of the the political cartoonist who took his pseudonym from the Russian word- karandash- for pencil. Emmanuel Poire' was born in Moscow and became a Paris illustrator. The Swiss pencil company Caran d'Ache is named after him and the logo is a stylized version of his signature.
Now that we are into better painting weather, Men in Hats are back outdoors painting. There is a different challenge in painting on the spot - apart from the weather which can be challenge enough.It can be difficult to focus on what seems to capture the mood of the location. Then the light changes, boats, cars and people move. Yet, for all the difficulties , there are a lot of benefits - learning to find the focus, trying to capture the mood, compensate for light changes- and get something fresh. There is certainly an intensity felt in the paintings that is just not there in a photograph. We often take a reference photo in case we want the small outdoor painting to also become a larger studio piece. It is only by looking at the painting that I get a real feel for what interested me. Too often the photo is "ho-hum". So then the new challenge starts - how to translate the "hey this was a neat place!" feeling into a larger piece done over a longer period of time. Nobody said it was easy - that's why it is called artWORK.
Monday, June 13, 2016
As you know from previous blogs, I've been looking into the history of pencils and drawing materials so I researched the Caran d'Ache line. This line has over 100 years of history as the factory was set up in Geneva in 1915 using graphite found in the Swiss mountains. Around the same time, there was an illustrator in Paris who became very famous. He took the pen name (or should we say "pencil name"?) of Caran d'Ache from the Russian word for pencil. And, just to make this even more of an international mix-up, the Russia word comes from a Turkish root "kanco tash" which refers to black stone. Nine years after starting, the Swiss company took the name of the illustrator and used a stylized version of his signature as their logo. I'm assuming the illustrator was paid for this.
Caran d'Ache makes a full line of pencils, pens and drawing materials. Their pens are renowned for being especially beautiful. For the 100year anniversary, Caran d'Ache created a clever design of a ballpoint pen that looks like a pencil. Unfortunately, I don't have one but I do enjoy the Caran d'Ache
materials that I do have.
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Back here in Richmond, I am getting ready for DoorsOpen - June 4th and 5th. I have a couple of smaller snow scenes but now, with this Shanghai show, the rest of my snow series have gone.
I'm beginning to think I will have to travel a bit farther afield to see any more snowy landscapes, It has been a few winters now since there was any "paintable" snow around here.
Currently, of course, the garden is in full bloom with more subject matter than I can immediately handle. Sketchbook and photographs are coming to the rescue and reference material is being saved for winter studio painting. Plants seem to be blooming earlier but also finishing up earlier. The columbines have mostly gone to seed already. The pink peonies are over but the white ones are now out . I wonder why they didn't bloom together? I'm not sure that peonies appeal as individual subjects on their own - I think I'd like them in a bouquet - but then I'd have to pick them and I hate picking peonies as they never last indoors. Maybe later if any are available, I'll see if I can buy a bouquet - right now I seem to be busy enough with already painted paintings, setting them up for DoorsOpen,
Sunday, May 22, 2016
The Travel section of the weekend Globe and Mail runs a series of first-person stories from the road. This week, features "The pencil is mightier than the flash" by David Gillett on the joys of sketching. He tells about sketching in Oxford and notes, "Even now, five years later, I can flip open to these pages and smell the clematis that wound around the solid columns, hear laughter and the crack of a croquet ball on the lawn behind us, see the radius of the Palladian arches, feel the warmth of the May morning sun as it fluttered through the dappled leaves of Oxford. One look at the sketch and it all comes back to life." This is so true- it is nice to have photos but sketches somehow penetrate the memory much deeper so that all the senses bring their parts to the remembrance. Apparently some art museums- such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are now encouraging deeper looking by providing sketching materials so that visitors will pause and sketch to greater enjoyment than snapping a photo and quickly moving on. I've been out sketching columbines in the garden for a future painting. Somehow, drawing helps you see more. I think I will have to get back to even more frequent sketching.
Friday, May 6, 2016
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Sunday, April 24, 2016
The show will be on until June 1st and has paintings by Bonita Ruttkay, Margreth Fry, Penny Talbot and me. My "White Bouquet" is there too. If you are in Steveston, drop in to have a look.
With gloves from Paris, it might be a suitable time to continue with more pencil history. Conte' is a name familiar to artists as we often draw with conte' crayons - a form of harder pastel - but there is a real person behind the name. Nicolas-Jacques Conte' was an officer in Napoleon's army. Britain's naval blockade prevented the import of pencils from Cumberland. In 1795, Conte' invented a combination of clay and graphite for a cost-effective pencil. They could be made in degrees of hardness- something we accept as a "given" now, but it wasn't always so. So, a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars was that France manufactured its own pencils. Then conte' sticks were developed with using iron oxide, carbon black and titanium dioxide, clay and a binder to produce sticks in black, white, grey, and shades of red-brown. These mix better on paper than any other hard pastels and have become a staple for many artists. The square profile makes for a more drawing style where soft pastels yield bolder strokes for a more painterly style. Georges Seurat used conte' to produce many of his studies. It is easy to find black, white, grey and shades of sanguine in most art stores but Conte' also used to make a full range of colours. I have some I am guarding carefully as I haven't seen any in years. I remember seeing a whole stand of a hundred or more different colours in Conte' in an art store in Europe. How I wish I had *that* in my studio!
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Friday, April 1, 2016
Thursday, March 31, 2016
Friday, March 25, 2016
The diamond's story began back in the 13th century when it was found in India and after changing hands many times, ended in the possession of Queen Victoria after the British conquered the Punjab region in 1849. Following a fairly perilous sea voyage, the diamond arrived in London and became the "got-to-see" item in the Great Exhibition at Hyde Park, London in 1851. Jostling crowds complained that it didn't really sparkle as sunlight was not really catching it. Prince Albert was also unhappy with the dull irregular gem and in 1852 had it cut down from 186 carats to 105.6 carats. Some size loss was because of the discovery of flaws, but after 38 days of cutting, the diamond emerged 42 percent lighter in a dazzling, oval-cut brilliant. It was worn in a brooch by Queen Victoria. After her death, it was set into a crown for Queen Alexandra and is now in the Queen Mother's crown on display with the other Crown Jewels. There is still some dispute about the real ownership but Britain claims legal ownership under the Treaty of Lahore.
Obviously the diamond would have received a lot of attention around the time of the Exhibition and the re-cutting so it must have been around this time that the Czech pencil company adopted the name. Interestingly, Koh-i-noor was the first pencil company to paint their pencils yellow- a colour now quite common for pencils. The photos above are of an art supply store in Cesky Krumlov in the Czech republic. The doors of most shops are double-doors for security. Then,when the outer doors are opened for business, wonderful decorations are often shown. This art store features interesting sculptures that combine fingers and paint-tubes. And, yes, they also sold Koh-i-noor pencils.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Another bit of pencil history... the Eagle company was founded in 1856 in New York by the Berolzheimer family. In 1969, it became part of the Berol Corporation. Eagle made pencils especially for Thomas Edison - three inches long and with a softer graphite than normal.
"Berol" is another name very familiar to artists. It is interesting to find people and stories behind the names we see printed on our pencils and other artist's tools. Following on the idea of Derwent's coloured pencils of 1938, P.G. Hooley invented Powdered Color in 1952 and then sold to Eagle. We know these great coloured pencils as Prismacolor now. In 1989, Berol also bought Osmiroid International, started by James Perry in 1824. Osmiroid drawing pens are another popular artist's tool.
Prismacolor has a really interesting website with samples of artist's works and hints for using coloured pencils. The easy spread of information is a great boon for artists today.
Studio work continues as various events are around the corner - Richmond Artists Guild show will open in the upper lobby of Gateway on April 1st and run until June 1st, the Finn Slough Show is from April 7th to 10th in the Performance Hall, Richmond Art Centre, and a four-woman painting show, "Four by Four", will be showing at Rocanini Coffee Shop in Steveston from April 18th to June 1st. I have work in all of these - as well as two paintings currently over in Taiwan on exhibit in the National Taiwan Art Education Center. Then there is DoorsOpen June 4th and 5th- so much activity in the art world.