Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Locks and Keys Project

I swiped this photo off another site....
it's a great shot of the wall.
When I was at Artfest I met an artist from the Boston area named Denise, who created this wonderful public art installation called The Locks and Keys Project. A 12 foot fence, covered in messages, locks, keys, secrets, hopes.... I wish I could see it in person because it looks so amazing in the photos.

Denise gave me a little kit to take home, which I can then mail back to her and she'll hang it on the wall for me. Took me a while to figure out what to put on my note... there are so many possibilities. I finally decided to go with my mantra of the moment. 

Locks and keys starter kit
Final project

I painted over the foam with acrylic... started with a metallic bronze and put a transparent green over top. I hope it reflects in the sunlight. Paint pens for the type, then bent a piece of armature wire in spirals to make a hook.

I'm popping this in the mail this week, along with a couple other little things for my friend. Maybe a trip out there this summer.... a road trip is always fun, and can be really inspiring.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Sketchbook Project?

For those who have never heard of it, The Art House Co-op in Brooklyn, NY, runs this thing every year called "The Sketchbook Project". Basically, as a participating artist, you sign up, pay your fee, and they send you a book that you then fill up with drawings or whatever, and send back to them. They take the collection on a "tour" around the country (this is the US, though I believe there is a stop in Toronto and possibly in Vancouver as well), and it is digitized into their online library. I have never participated in this... mainly because I hadn't heard about it until last year, but also because I don't consider myself to be an artist who "sketches".

I paint, I draw, I doodle, I record.... I don't sketch (there are exceptions, but for the most part, no). I was forced to keep a sketchbook for my art classes when I was in school, which I then had to hand in to be marked... and critiqued. The critique part was, to me, not only unnecessary, but completely defeated the purpose of keeping the book in the first place. I wanted to use it to explore ideas, not necessarily improve my drawing skills, though I'm sure having to draw daily did actually improve my drawing skills a great deal. The concept of having a deadline to fill up a sketchbook sounds like work. Yuck. And what I put in a sketchbook these days... well, not something anybody but me would want to browse through.

my version of a sketchbook...
After looking through what was posted from last years project, I think I have to broaden my definition of what a sketchbook is. It was the art journals I saw online that helped changed my outlook. Beautiful, handmade books of paintings, collage... even encaustic. Some had flaps and foldout pages, maps, photographs. Creative little books that really express who the artist is and what interests them. Something like that is a little more my speed. So, this year, I am going to participate. If you are interested, go check it out. There is a cute little video posted by the Art House Co-op, which explains the whole project in 96 seconds. It's worth looking at. And you might even want to add your name to the list.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

New Artwork Created at ArtFest

After writing about how great my Artfest experience was, I think I need to post what I created while I was there. Photography of my art usually poses a problem for me... I really need to get myself a good camera and figure out how to light things to avoid the glare. I'll put that on my "to do" list...

Both these pieces were from Jesse Reno's class

The third piece I did from this class I think I inadvertently ruined. I rolled it up to fit it into my suitcase, and even with a week of having very heavy books lying on top, it won't seem to flatten out. Well, lesson learned. It's my least favourite of the bunch anyway. 

These next three pieces are from Erin Faith Allen's class. After two days with Jesse Reno, I found starting very easy and just got right to laying in the background. I think I might have had a problem starting if I'd done this class first... the blank page can sometime stop me before I start.

Acrylic and charcoal on paper. 
Acrylic and collage on paper
Acrylic, image transfer, charcoal and pastel on paper
These classes were probably the most productive workshops I've ever attended. I approach a class as a learning experience, really not expecting to produce anything I'd ever show anyone. My work gets filed away, I move on and sometimes what I've learned shows up in my future pieces. I think these classes have definitively changed the way I will forever approach my canvas.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Artfest 2012

I finally got to an Artfest, that wonderful art retreat organized and run by the amazing Teesha Moore and her husband Tracy. I'd been wanting to go for a couple years, since a friend had attended and told me how life-changing it was. But given the distance and the cost involved, it wasn't something easily achieved. When I discovered this was to be the last one, I knew I had to get there... it was just as wonderful as I had been told and though I'm sad I won't be able to do this again, I am just happy that I got there at all.

The dorms
I got home from Seattle on Wednesday totally exhausted, exhilarated and needing a bit of time to get my thoughts and photos together. Where does one start? I guess the best place is the location itself, the historic Fort Warden in Port Townsend, WA. The dorms were old army barracks. See those old windows? They are as drafty as you think they would be. The first night I was so cold I hardly slept... but overall the site was great. A short walk to a very scenic beach, deer so tame they wandered around on the site, lots of space for the classrooms. The two women I arranged to carpool with were so much fun, we ended up spending most of the week together.

Jesse Reno doing his thing
I signed up for a two day workshop with Jesse Reno called "Freedom to Create". He's an unbelievably prolific painter, and he works completely intuitively, which goes against everything I've ever been taught. I love this process. For two days we painted with our hands, diving right in and making decisions as we went along. No thumbnails, no sketches. After  two days I came out with three finished paintings completely different from anything I've ever done before. My next day was spent with Erin Faith Allen, whose process is also very intuitive. Both artists do the work first, then examine it to see what the images are trying to tell them. I found the coincidence in this pretty amazing, since I had no idea of their methods before I signed up.... obviously, this is exactly what I needed to hear, and I think it has totally changed how I approach a painting.

The crowd at the artist market
There was an Artist's Market one evening at the Fort. This was a complete eye-opener for me. There was actually a line-up outside the building before the doors opened. I have never been to any kind of art event where there was this kind of interest (of course there were 600 artists already in the area... I'm sure that helped). The crowds were incredible, and people were buying, not just browsing. Even the big events here in Toronto don't generate that kind of interest. For the first time in my life I'm seeing that it's not impossible to make a living as an artist, you just have to be creative in getting your name and your work out there.

This was truly an amazing experience. I made some wonderful new friends and connected with a lot of like-minded people. Artfest formed a community: artists from all over gathering once a year to create and learn. I got to attend only one, and that will just have to do. I hope something pops up to fill the void.

me and my new friends on the beach