Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Twelfth Day of Christmas

"On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...twelve drummers drumming"...and so we come to the last  of the set of Christmas ornaments. Today, Christmas Day, would actually be the first day of Christmas with Twelfth Night being Epiphany. For the party, these are twelve musicians to join the pipers. In the religious interpretation, they stand for the twelve points of the Apostle's Creed. However,  it seems highly likely that the religious interpretation is a much more modern idea - sort of an Urban Myth that keeps getting repeated. So let's look at the accumulated goodies- 12 partridges - no doubt some for the feast, 12 pear trees for a small orchard,  22 turtle-doves as symbols of romance- in 11 cages. No mention of a maid to clean all those cages. 30 French Hens and innumerable eggs. 36 "colly" birds ready to be baked into pies.  40 gold rings- 4 for each finger? Or-  as another interpretation has it, 40 golden ring -necked pheasants -which would have the first seven gifts all birds. The pheasants would be roasted for the feast too.  42 geese and more eggs again. 42 swans and at least a small lake. We hope a swan-keeper  was part of the deal. 40 milkmaids with 40 cows - and possibly some spoiled milk.  36 dancing ladies- maybe a corps de ballet or maybe a chorus line.  30 lords doing a lot of leaping. 22 pipers with a lot of wailing pipes - and 12 drummers trying to keep the pipers and dancers to a a beat.....and so to all... Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Eleventh Day of Christmas

"On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..... eleven pipers piping." I felt bagpipes was the obvious choice - and it probably was in the original days of the song too. The start of the song is mostly about food for the festivities - apart from those turtle doves cooing in their cage to set the scene for romance - but we add the celebrants and entertainment as the song moves along. In the religious interpretation - and more about that tomorrow- this represents the eleven true disciples.so goodwill to you for Christmas but don't expect much peace with all those pipers!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tenth Day of Christmas

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me- ten lords a-leaping... - so here they are. Obviously having a great time at the festivities- perhaps leaping after the dancing ladies and asking if any wish to go a-milking... hmmm- we won't go there!  If I was doing an illustration, I could have fun with a variety of lords- tall, short, fat, old, thin, young, handsome and not so handsome- but on a bauble just a little bigger than a tennis ball,  they are basically all the same. At the festivities, it might not have been the lords who did most of the leaping- they probably hired Morris Dancers - and that too might have been interesting to paint -although a bit more complicated to fit ten of them, ribbons and all, on one small decoration.  In the religious interpretation, they stand for the Ten Commandments.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ninth Day of Christmas

"On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - nine ladies dancing..." With the Twelfth Night festivities, the ladies would have been the guests at the banquet. My choice gives a nod to the more recent "tradition" of going out to the theatre for a musical, pantomime or ballet performance. Perhaps these dancers were part of the Nutcracker Ballet?  (hmmm- there is a theme for another set of decorations, should I ever see paper mache' baubles in a craft store....) The religious interpretation says they represent the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. These are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control. I wrote these around the dancers on this decoration, Certainly the "fruits" could give many of us a list of traits to  aspire to - or a list of aims for the New Year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Eighth Day of Christmas

"On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me- eight maids a-milking..." This is one that has a lot of possible interpretations beyond being a decoration based on a traditional song. In the religious interpretation, this refers to the eight Beatitudes (or "blessings") which were teachings of Jesus as set out in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. The condition is stated and the result to make a teaching. We are told of the benefits of being a peacemaker, merciful or pure of heart, for example. If we are thinking of bestowing wealth through the gifts, then owning that many cows would really be a sign of wealth. On the feasting aspect, milk was not a common drink as it spoiled easily and there was no refrigeration in those days. So, it would have been a treat at a feast. Incidentally, the cows then might have been more likely to have been Jersey or Guernsey but I thought the Holstein was more decorative. If there was too much celebration, it is said that a bath in milk is an excellent way to overcome a hangover.  Then there is another possible meaning. Since the feast and festivities often led to romance, there was often a lot of hanky-panky away from the eyes of chaperones. So, conversations as to who was willing to do what were a bit discreet - even if the following actions weren't.  Propositions had to be presented in such a way that a turn-down did not give offense but could be tossed aside as a "Well, I didn't really mean that, just thought you night want to look at the cows!" The term "a-milking" can mean more than dealing with cows.  The eighth day interpretation  is up to you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Seventh Day of Christmas

"On the Seventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven swans a-swimming.... " Swans have an association with royalty- even to today as there is a Swankeeper  (on the Thames, I think) for the British royal family.
The accumulated 42 swans by the end of the song would also have required a fairly sizable pond- unless some of them also became part of the feast! In the religious interpretation, they stand for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. I have written these around the swans- encouragement, teaching, service, prophecy, giving, leadership and mercy.  Sometimes "exhortation" is the gift, rather than encouragement, but I felt that exhortation was too strong an urging, more like a sermon and could include warning and admonishing. Encouragement  implies urging on toward success and gives hope, courage and confidence ... so "encouragement" was my choice for a more positive gift. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just give gifts like that- to individuals and also to the world.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sixth Day of Christmas

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - Six geese a-laying. I Canadian-ized this with making the geese Canada Geese- and the eggs golden eggs for Christmas. The "original"- if the song is a folk song - would have been domesticated geese who were supplying eggs for the 12th Night banquet ---- and so continuing the accumulation of food for the festivities. In the religious interpretation, they represent the six days of creation . ( He rested on the seventh). Or a decoration is just a decoration!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fifth Day of Christmas

Five gold rings for the fifth day- or "golden" rings which works better for singing... This hints at the romance to be found during the festivities of the season. The religious interpretation has these as representing the first five books of the Old Testament - the Torah , the "Law". Two sides of every coin - or bauble in this case.  These decorations are three and a half inches in diameter.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Fourth Day of Christmas

My interpretation was the more modern "four calling birds" so I picked the Purple Finch as a local songbird. Roger Tory Peterson describes them as being "like a sparrow dipped in raspberry jam".The question remains, why call them "purple"? However, nicely colourful as they are, the real bird of the song was a "colly bird". Colly means black as coal and would have been the European Blackbird. Why blackbirds as a gift? Well, as in "Sing a Song of Sixpence", they were food and would have added to the feast for 12th Night - along with the eggs from those Three French Hens.  Since the song accumulates, there would eventually be enough colly birds to outdo the four-and-twenty who were baked in the "sixpence" pie. Some see the song simply as a folk song for the festive season that celebrates the feasting and celebration. Others say there is a hidden meaning to it - just like nursery rhymes. For a period of English history, Roman Catholics were not allowed to practice their faith openly. The "12 Days of Christmas" is seen as a secret catechism that could be sung in public. In this interpretation, the four birds stand for the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Third Day of Christmas

Only two are visible in this two-dimensional photo of the three-dimensional bauble.  Three French Hens- all glamorous in black and white on their nests of golden straw. Obviously these are free-run chickens and all very content. When I was young and used to visit my grandparents on acreage out in Cloverdale, I loved to go and visit various livestock - but especially chickens and baby chicks. There was also something magical about "gathering eggs"- reaching under the fluffy bodies to find a egg in the straw. Chickens are quite social birds really so I'm sure the three French hens got along very well. I was reading that department stores are making a comeback but that they realize that some sort of "experience" needs to be provided to attract customers... not just merchandise. Too true - the pre-Christmas visit to downtown Vancouver used to be memory-making... looking in the beautifully decorated windows, having a ride on the little train through a winter wonderland and getting a candy cane at the end, then maybe eating lunch in the department store dining room...definitely not a cafeteria. Who knows? Maybe some of that will come back with the resurgence of department stores. We have enough "big boxes" with lots of things to buy but shopping is more of a chore then.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Second Day of Christmas

So we are up to day two. Some backgrounds for the decorations are red and some are green - no idea whether I did half-and-half or not! Here are the two turtle-doves. When I see them, I always think of many years ago when we were on a Hawaiian vacation and there were doves on the balcony outside our hotel window in Waikiki. The kids were young and managed to lure the doves inside with breakfast cereal. Kids were delighted! Fortunately, the doves behaved and did not poop on the carpet. Not Christmas-y - but definitely a memory... and there are forget-me-nots on the bauble.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Twelve Days of Christmas

It is twelve days before Christmas - so I thought I'd show my "12 Days of Christmas" ornaments. The *real* twelve days of Christmas have Christmas as the first day and run to Epiphany. However, I notice that stores are having the twelve days of shopping so my pictures are running before too.
These are paper mache' baubles that I bought a few years ago. They are, of course, unbreakable and, even though they are a decent size, lightweight. I gessoed the balls first, sanded and then painted in acrylics. They are then varnished with a gloss acrylic varnish.  This is the first one and here is the partridge.  These were fun to do.  This year, due to the kitchen renovation and attendant upheaval, I'm not having a tree but I'll put these ornaments on the mantelpiece along with some cedar. It might be interesting to  paint some other decorations some time but I haven't seen any more paper mache' baubles.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Back to the tools

A while back, I did a small series on old tools that used to belong to my Dad. They were "mixed media" pieces with some collaging from construction diagrams in the backgrounds.  Recently, I was clearing out some more tools - most of which were happily taken away by my son- when I felt that just maybe it was time to paint some more. This is the only one completed so far - and is, of course, a keyhole saw. I felt it almost had a personality! At any rate, it was fun to do. There may be more to come. I have a screwdriver that has so much more to it than the modern screwdrivers. I want to record that too.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Some practical painting

Just in case you have been wondering why I haven't been posting as frequently...Well I'm undergoing a reno around here. The main thing is the kitchen - but there was a bit of spin-off into the laundry room as some plumbing for the kitchen overhead had to be dealt with. It all ended up in a new wall and new shelving in the laundry room. So... I've been painting a bit with a roller and a gallon can. The colour is "Waterfall" by Benjamin Moore. I had a space left between the shelves so I could hang a painting and also cover the access to the main shut-off valve. The Prague rooftops with the copper edgings oxidizing to turquoise seemed a good choice. I'm happy to have it clean and bright and with the plumbing fixed up and easy shut-off access.   I have been doing the "usual" amount of drawing so may post some pictures of drawings. But here is the practical side of painting...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dream Cities

I've finally got around to sending off the 2011 paintings so they can be added to the website. There are four "Dream Cities" in the set.  This series is about cities as you imagine them- before the trip, as it were. Everything is ideal. Then you get there and your feet are sore, the traffic is horrendous and the place is polluted! This series started when I was working on the Winter Sunset, Finn Slough painting and thought , "What if the telephone poles were minarets?" One thing led to another and I began to imagine an Istanbul-like place looking magical with reflections. I've never been there- so it really is a "dream city". So far there are 6 in the series and I'm not sure, but maybe, the series is completed- or the dreams may continue with totally imaginary cities and places. At this point, I don't know.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ordering card

I decided it was time to think about a Christmas card. I used to get multiple photocopies, cut them out and paste them onto cards. Then I decided to try Apple and loved the quality and ease (no cutting, no pasting...already done!) The big decision is just what painting to use. I had a new poppy painting but I used "Poppies by the Fence" last year. I'd recently hung "Birches in Winter" in the entry hall and had several comments on it - so I thought -why not? This is the view I see when I sit at my computer. The birds are Redwing blackbirds.  I thought I would just be picking a painting for the front of the card - but- wow! - the new design offerings has one with a strip of mini paintings down each side of the message- so all of a sudden I was thinking about which ten or so paintings to choose. I'm quite excited about the result and looking forward to receiving the paper copies. It will be interesting to see what the reaction of the recipients is. I hope people don't think it is too promotional looking- but if you don't promote yourself, who will? They will go "as is" to gallery people, those who have bought paintings, etc. and I will add an insert with personal news for closer friends. I do love my Mac computer. This new version of I-Photo was added when the computer got a new hard-drive in a recent recall. I didn't lose anything - except maybe two e-mails that don't seem to be retrievable- and this new card design is really great. Much fun.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A real Hallowe'en cat

Here is Digby getting into the Hallowe'en set-up.  I'm not sure how the witch felt about sharing the spotlight.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Calendar Launch

This coming Tuesday is the Calendar Launch at Richmond Cultural Centre and everyone is welcome. 7-9 pm Tuesday October 23. There will be refreshments. Several of the artists, including me, will be there. Besides the painting shown in the calendar, each artist was allowed an "extra".  My two are shown in the previous blog---- and yes, they did get hung!   The paintings are hanging in the Rotunda.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October is here!

Well, here we are into October- but, except for the nights which are cooler, it is almost like summer. The show at Rocanini ends this Friday but I am part of another show in the Rotunda of Richmond Cultural Centre.  It is paintings from the 2013 Multifaith Calendar- plus one from various artists. My "Winter Sunset- Finn Slough" is the sidebar for December (I love painting skies!)  and "In the Woods"is my plus-one. It turned out that the artists were expected to hang their own but I'm not up to stepladders yet, with my hip - so I ended up just leaving the paintings and hoping they get hung! ...well- what can you do... I'll be over for the meeting on Wednesday and will see what has happened.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

What I did last night

Last night, some of us were drawing or painting in the lobby of the Art Centre-to show the kind of thing that we do in our Life Drawing sessions.  For this public event, however, we did have a draped model...which is something we actually do sometimes in our regular Life Drawing sessions. We arranged a better lighted spot for the model, but our lighting was terrible. I thought I was using black for the dress strap - but, look- it is purple!  Also, not sure about the skin as it ended up more yellow, when I could actually see the colours I'd been using. I may go over it again to "de-yellow" it.   I was using conte' crayon on an orange paper.  This was done in around 2 and a half hours, minus breaks for the model. This event was for Cultural Days which runs all weekend across Canada. The Art Centre was really hopping and we had some people come specifically to join us to do their own drawing- which was really nice!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Grand Prix of Art

Last weekend's Grand Prix of Art was a great success with over 65 artists in the "race"- three hours to complete a painting once you get your luck-of-the-draw location.  We had good weather - although a little flat lighting- and lots of volunteers helping things run smoothly.  I'm not into marathon walking yet, since the hip replacement, so when I asked about parking, Mike Rossiter said he'd make me a sign. Sure enough, there it was at the parking lot- so I felt very privileged!  I ended up drawing a spot right at Britannia. Jenny Taylor, who had broken a bone in her foot, was in the same spot so we joked that only people with walking aids were allowed there.  We had fun as some things in our view were taken down and more pennants were added. It felt good to be out painting again - and then we had a great lunch provided by Bean And Beyond.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Studio cats dress up

The studio cats are looking especially spiffy these days and are happy in their new ruff collars. Digby had proved himself to be a successful birder - causing owner-stress!  Isabella, in the meantime, was missing the distinction of her plastic collar from the vets. Yes, she actually *liked* that collar.  She had had to wear it to keep her from bothering the stitches in her tail from an encounter with a raccoon. So, one thing led to another - and on to a Google search- and Birdsbesafe was found. So we sent off to Vermont for collar and ruffs to protect the songbirds. Made of washable  eco-friendly cotton, they come in colours that songbirds can see. Both cats are happy and comfortable and I also feel it is helping Digby be calmer as he does not have the excitement of bird-catching. Isabella shows her Italian background by preening in her new fashion accessory. Each has a spare "just in case" so they will be all set to show off at the next Open Studio - or drop by to have a look anytime.

Monday, September 3, 2012


September may seem like it is getting closer to the end of the year- but if you have ever been a teacher, or if your school year memories linger, then it always seems like a beginning. So I've been thinking about what set me off on my course to be an artist.

What triggers the desire to be an artist?  I knew I wanted to be an artist from the time I was small enough to walk under the counter-height entry gate to the secretary's office in the old Vancouver Art Gallery. Mary, the secretary, was a friend of the family and visiting her at VAG was an expedition to a magical world of enormous gilt-framed paintings, shining floors that seemed to go on for miles and an exciting bronze-figured fountain. VAG was then a small institution with a basic staff of three- the Curator, Mary, and Tommy the caretaker.  Tommy disliked small children who slid on the polished floors and marked them but I didn't slide and my blonde curls helped win approval and I even was allowed close to the exciting  fountain.

After some experiences with plasticine in Grade One, there was little art instruction in elementary school. Nothing as messy as paint ever entered the classrooms. We made many paper boxes with designs cut out of squared construction paper while pencil crayons were an accepted medium. The illicit eating of library paste was as wild as it got. Somehow, I still became the "class artist".

Because of Mary, my Mom knew about free Saturday Morning Art Classes at VAG. My school hadn't been aware of the classes but a note from Mom resulted in the required recommendation. My Saturdays turned into special days. VAG was closed Saturday mornings and classes were held in the galleries, right under the paintings. We lay on canvas on the floor with drawing boards while another strip of canvas kept our feet from scuffing the walls. Local artists taught the classes which began with a talk to inspire a theme and ended with a critique. I've never looked at "Rain" the same since it was one Saturday's theme. The artists tended to be "hands on" but a dapper art-critic teacher would remain standing and carefully point his polished shoe at the finished painting he was discussing. I don't think we ever took any work home. Sometimes student's work was displayed. My "Storm at Sea" was shown in a department store window- my first public success! Another painting of a peaceful world went to a UNICEF display. By rotation, we had the opportunity to work in a basement studio with a well-known sculptor. I remember doing a frieze of a forest fire. Sometimes we talked about the paintings on the walls. There were several by Emily Carr, even then BC's most famous woman artist. Paintings by the Group of Seven hung as well as many very traditional works. It was an exposure I would not have had otherwise.

After three years, most students were beyond the age limit, but a smaller number of us were invited back as Class 4A. We formed a tight group although we were from all over the city and never saw each other except for Saturdays. Our instructor was a well-known artist who taught us to look around with artist's eyes. At that year-end party, I received a scholarship to Saturday art classes at Vancouver School of Art. I also started Junior High School- with a real art teacher in a real art room where even "messy" paint was allowed. My art education took a leap forward - but it had all started with stepping under that counter in the old Vancouver Art Gallery.

Further note- Alas, my blonde curls turned to straighter brunette. Interestingly, the bronze fountain was removed after a wealthy patron tumbled into it as he stepped backward from painting inspection. Vancouver Art Gallery is now in a different building and Saturday Morning Classes have been replaced with Family Sundays.

The painting is "Danish Danish". I painted until I felt like I could nibble.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Warm August days-

Here we are with a "real" summer going for us- nice in some ways but the shade looks good on a lot of days. Our "artist's evening" at Rocannini has been cancelled due to a death in the family of the owner.  Of course, the coffee shop remains open and the display is up. This is a fairly little one of Finn Slough. Hanging near the washroom - which can be a good location as it is a popular route!  I was using a fairly limited palette for this one. I don't always paint with the same colours. I think the choice can help make the mood. This week, I was working with magenta because I was painting dahlias - yet that isn't a colour that is always on my palette. I was reading about a book about black. "Black:the History of a Color" by Michel Pastoureau.  So far, I have resisted buying it as I have quite a few books about colour (explanation of spelling- he is American and uses "color", I am Canadian and use "colour")  Once considered not a colour, black has been perceived in many ways- In Egypt as the preferred colour for divinities associated with death, in the Middle Ages as a symbol of ill omens and evil, back to esteem in the Romanesque period in monastic robes, then even more so in the Reformation as a revolt against excessive pomp in Church displays through modernist artists and now to almost a cliche'. When I went to Art School, there were some teachers who were against the inclusion of black on the palette. A painter still has to use it with caution - unless in abstracts- so as not to create a "black hole" in a landscape - but there are lovely greens that can be mixed with blacks and yellows.  I can't remember, now, if I did that for this painting or not!  I may buy the book yet - but I am trying to weed out the book collection along with tidying up a few other things. "Less is more" - at least sometimes - but can there ever be *too much* in the way of art supplies? And can you ever throw much out? I have a bag of dried crystals to make rabbit skin glue should I ever decide to stretch and prepare a canvas from the very beginning again. Not likely, even with the canvas pliers also saved!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Maritime Events

I find myself busy being the coordinator for the Richmond Artists Guild display at the upcoming (August 11 and 12) Maritime Festival. It takes place at Britannia Heritage Shipyards near the foot of Trites on the Fraser River waterfront. We will be showing affordable paintings on the "maritime" theme - and probably a few of local scenes. As well, several of the Guild artists will be painting in various spots on site so you will have a chance to see artists in action. Last year was great fun with stilt walkers -I think the Eagle was my favorite - singing mermaids and more. It is a terrific chance to go onto the docks to see the various vessels that are moored, view the displays - and have a great day out. It is on rain or shine...with our summer, you never know. Be sure to drop by the Guild display as well as the Potter's, the woodcarvers and others. To see this painting, you will need to go on to Steveston to have a cup of coffee at Rocanini and the view the "Heart of Steveston" display which continues through this month. To see more of Steveston and Rocanini, view Episode 8 on Shaw TV "local connections". You can see it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR02XFfx5su. However- the paintings on youtube are not the paintings currently on view. As well as mine, there are works by Jeanette Jarville, Rita McArthur and Karen Parker. There will be a special invitation event on August 24th when all four of us will be in attendance. Fill out a request at Rocanini or phone in to ask to be on the list. Time will be 5 to 7 pm.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer daze---

I'm currently in a clean-out mode and reassessing some paintings. Time to make some changes and time to get rid of some. Some served their purposes as learning ---which sure is a constant progress--- in some areas but may not be total successes - so maybe they should be"gone" - at least in their current state. Sometimes it is interesting to paint on a repainted surface as it doesn't absorb the paint at all. And, maybe, a real shift is coming- cleaning out the old makes way for the new. -in the meantime, the show at Rocanini is on and runs through this summer. This is a 12" x 12" from the show- the landing down at Steveston as night comes on. I wanted to get all the dazzle of the lights reflected on the river.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Heart of Steveston

Going up for the busy Salmon Festival Weekend at Steveston - but actually staying up through to October 12, is a show called "Heart of Steveston". It takes place, appropriately enough, in the heart of Steveston - corner of #1 and Moncton- in Rocanini Coffee shop. I am showing paintings - of Steveston, of course, along with three other artists - Jeanette Jarville, Karen Parker and Rita McArthur. 10% of any painting sale will go to Richmond Hospital Foundation. I'm including a few of areas not right in Steveston, but nearby, such as Britannia and Finn Slough. It is a great opportunity in a great location so I hope it all goes well. I won't be able to manage the opening reception as I am recovering from hip surgery but I will be in and out of there in the future. This one is "Winter Sunset, Finn Slough"

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bridge at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden

June is speeding along and the "Nooch" show is now down. A new show on Steveston Themed Paintings will be going up in Rocanini coffee shop- corner of #1 and Moncton- for July, August, September. I'm showing, along with Jeanette Jarville, Karen Parker and Rita McArthur. Next week is the Cocktail pARTy at Gateway Theatre. Attendees pay $350 per couple for a fabulous evening and the guarantee of a painting worth at least $300. I have donated this painting of the bridge at Dr.Sun Yat-Sen Gardens so I wish it a happy new home. I picked this because it is peaceful and would fit into a lot of homes. As anyone who reads this blog will know, I love reflections - and here I have the magic to enjoy again. This garden is one that mingles nature with art and has made this piece of land a better place. For this, I did work from a photograph as there was simply not enough time to do a painting of this size on the spot with changing light conditions. However, the scene has to be interpreted and edited in order for it to be a painting and not a photographic enlargement. I also worked to get a feeling into this piece so that feeling would be there for the viewer. I definitely wanted the painting to be serene. I usually don't frame my paintings, but I felt for this event where it would be with a number of framed paintings, it would "show" better framed. So, it does have a simple frame and I think it does set it off and give it a classic look.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Venice Canal

One feeling you get when visiting Europe is an appreciation of how the architecture fits the setting. It would be impossible to visualize a Prague without red tile roofs or a Venice where the old buildings had been razed and all replaced with glass and chrome. In our part of the world - and probably a lot of other parts too!- we seem to be losing our relationship to our landscape. Buildings become "one size fits all" and could exist almost anywhere- just like the blue vinyl in the last blog. Once houses looked more like they fitted the subdivision and all settled in in a neighbourly fashion. Now they loom large on their lots and glitter with lights under the eaves and false-stone tiles that will mildew in our west coast weather. When will we learn to adapt to where we live and not try to impose other ideas? In this canal painting, I've tried to capture the "rightness"of the buildings showing their age and adaptations to time. The colours and reflections in the water...it could only be Venice and that is as it should be.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Waiting Gondolas

This is another of the paintings currently at Nooch. I liked the contrast of the gondolas in the shade and the buildings across the canal in sunlight. When I was in Venice before, the gondolas were then covered in black oilcloth for protection. Alas! Now it is ubiquitous blue vinyl
- we can't get away from it. Another thing that is everywhere is the white plastic chair. Those chairs are like a virus that spread and crowd out other types of chairs. And I will admit to one painting that has those chairs in it. The way they are everywhere, I don't guarantee that they won't appear again. Sometimes it seems as if the world is too homogenized. We need to try to preserve the differences. At least the gondolas themselves are still very evident and definitely part of the charm of Venice.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Orvieto - "Rendezvous"

...continuing the "stories" that go with the paintings currently at Nooch. This one is an Italian hill-top town. It was about 2 hours out of Rome - and three hours back , due to traffic! Since it is an old town with narrow streets unsuited to much vehicle traffic, cars are parked at the bottom of the hill and people take a funicular railway up to the hilltop. There were nice restaurants, nice gelato spots, interesting shops and a very old cathedral with a mosaic front. However, I must report that I was shocked to find some graffiti **inside** the cathedral - and found myself wishing that a bolt of lightening had come down to strike the perpetrator! It was shocking to see no respect for this centuries old cathedral. I find the old buildings that are connected across a street or pathway of special fascination, so the one in the painting caught my eye. Some people paint empty streets but I like to show some life so an attractive woman gives interest to this painting. I think it also add a story element - is she meeting someone in that restaurant or hurrying someplace else? I used a palette knife when I was painting the building's walls to work on that aged plaster effect. The painting brings memories of that nice day in Italy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Towers at Cesky Krumlov

I took brochures for DoorsOpen over to Nooch today and was told that people were enjoying the paintings. So I'm continuing the "stories" that go with them. This one is also in the Czech Republic - in Cesky Krumlov. In some ways, it is like a miniature Prague - castle on the hill, town square, same river curling around the town, red-tile roofs and interesting old buildings. However, it is medieval style buildings where Prague is baroque. One thing that made me smile was that a lot of older buildings were "updated" a way back when - with false fronts just like towns you see in the old Western movies. Well, not the same style, of course - but the same idea. Another interesting thing was the doors on the shops - when opened, many had display cabinets that then became street-front displays. Our pension had a breakfast at 9 am - which was too late if you wanted to be at the castle at 9am - so we got a discount and then found a great cafeteria on the town square - where the locals ate. Regular food was in one part and the coffee was in a separate Art-Nouveau style area that also had incredible pastries - and so, we created a special-to-Cesky-Krumlov tradition of "breakfast dessert". The two towers in this painting are the clock tower from the Castle - which is big enough to go up and walk around - and the church tower in front. The turquoise roof is oxidized copper- such a beautiful complement to the red tile roofs.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Top of the Stairs

This is another of the paintings currently on display at Nooch (#3 and Anderson,Richmond)
This one is from the route up to Prague Castle and the cathedral. I took one photo and then a man dashed by and I snapped him as he reached the top of the stairs. I liked the energy of having someone in action - and I liked the way his leg echoed the leg of the cherub statue on the wall. And, of course, more of those red tile roofs that I like! Needless to say, this was painted from the photo but I think, when you have done enough actual work from life, it is a painting, not a mere photographic reproduction. I wanted to emphasize the contrast between shadow and sunlight. I like paintings with a bit of a story and I like to imagine where he might be going and what is around the corner.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Prague Rooftops

Before we left for Prague, a person who had grown up there told us to "look down" to see the various mosaic cobblestone patterns and to "look up" to see the statues and decorations high on the buildings. One day we went up the clock tower in the town square and got to see the rooftops in all their variety from up high. The architecture is mostly baroque with the red tile roofs providing extra charm. The colour of the tiles can vary- no doubt some came from different factories and they may have been installed in different years. Some roofs have a copper trim which has oxidized to a lovely complementary turquoise. This painting was a challenge because I did not want it to be photo-realism, yet I wanted it to be true to the actual scene. Working out the perspective was another challenge. As well, I didn't want the painting to be overly busy and felt the viewer's attention should remain focused closer in - so I created a bit of a late-afternoon mist in the background. This is where an artist can interpret and *be* an artist, not a camera. This painting is hanging near the entrance in Nooch restaurant - right by the bean-bag chairs. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pottery Fair, Czech Republic

Of the European paintings displayed at Nooch cafe on #3 Road, this one was Nick's favourite. He liked hearing about it so I've decided, for the next wee while, to tell the stories that go with the various paintings. After our initial stay in Prague, we headed out into the countryside in our little van driven by Iva's former school-bus driver. We went to Beroun - a small town that has a biannual pottery fair that attracts hundreds of potters. The entire town square is filled with pottery displays and booths. There was everything from huge garden statues to tiny decorative pieces. Each potter had their own style and choice of colours. This was the work of just one potter - all displayed on the cobblestones. I've never seen anything like the incredible array of pottery. At lunch, Bonita and I shared a table with a friendly resident who was delighted to find we had come from Canada. In a nearby closed fabric shop, a tabby cat was snoozing. There was a sign on the window asking that she not be disturbed. It seemed like a really nice town. Then we went on to overnight at Karlstein.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Poppy Patch

This is the painting that I started as a demonstration for a senior's group. I worked out the composition ahead of time and outlined the poppies so that I would have time to do a bit of actual painting. Thirty or forty minutes is not long for a painting! They all thought it looked like a bit of a mess to start with. Then I painted a loose green "wash" over everything that was not a poppy head and they were surprised to see the poppy shapes jump out. I got a little bit of "beginning" pinks and reds in and a little variation in the greens before we ran out of time. I promised I would post the finished painting on my blog. Alas! the blog has been neglected and not much was done on this painting. I haven't been all together idle - there were two figure-painting weekends and some weeding and tidying in the garden. However, I have now finished it. This is the third painting inspired by the poppies in the community garden kitty-corner from Choices on 57th. "Poppies by the Fence" was the first (and I used that for a Christmas card) and then there is one just called "Poppies" which is California yellow-orange poppies and now this one. Maybe more yet. They are nice to paint because the planting is quite random. I don't grow any in my garden as they wouldn't really fit with my other plantings. Somehow, that makes it all the easier to appreciate them elsewhere. I worked from my own photographs but did a bit of rearranging. A few years ago I had fun with extreme close-ups of flowers but right now I'm enjoying the "pattern" effect of a group of flower heads. We'll see what the next inspiration is!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Art About Finn Slough

The Finn Slough Art Show is this week- always fun to see what others interpretations of the Slough are. Interestingly, there is always something different to see. The reception is on the Friday night and I'm looking forward to hearing Michael Kluckner speak - and, I must admit, also hoping that he does not go on too long. The problem with some speakers is that, while they may be interesting, it is just too long to sit - and even worse if the seats have run out! I painted a new painting for this year's show and had fun with the light and shadows. Also, it was different to have the fishboat not by the houses. Anyway, I hope people like it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ian Tyson at Vancouver School of Art

The new issue of Maclean's arrived today - with an article about a long time love of Ian Tyson. I was interested to read it as Ian was at VSA when I was there. I don't remember a lot about him - somehow he didn't especially appeal to me - and obviously he wasn't especially taken with me either! I do remember that he came from a fairly well-to-do family in Victoria and his mother went to London, England each year "for the season". This used to amuse me in later years as Ian cultivated the "old ranch-hand" personality. I also remember that he seemed to drink a lot, even then. He and a friend had part-time jobs in a bar - or a restaurant ??- and used to drink anything left in customer's glasses - or so he said. I don't really remember his girlfriend although she was a lovely looking girl. I guess I was too busy doing my own thing and figuring out where I was going with art. In my second year, I took an extra class of life-drawing in the evenings. I had some art supplies in a tool box and I remember being on the trolley when it broke down. I think the trolley just slipped off the wires- but a more conventional looking office worker commented to a friend that maybe I could fix the vehicle. Ian comments on art students being a different breed in those days - I guess we were- and sometimes tried to dress the part! .... "Streetwise" is a little cat that just wanted to be featured this time.