Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Sad Week

This has been a very difficult week for me. I was still reeling from the death of an extended family member, and then the sudden passing of a long-time co-worker and friend, when I lost my beloved "studio dog", Lucy, very suddenly. She was old and we knew our time together couldn't last forever, but she'd recently had knee surgery to fix a torn tendon and had gotten through it like a trooper. We thought she was as healthy as any 12-year old dog can be, but as it turned out, she had an issue with her heart that had gone undetected. I'll miss the old girl terribly... she was with me during every painting session, lying at the foot of my easel.

So far 2014 has been pretty awful. Sigh.

Lucy, in her favourite spot by the window.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Out of the Darkness

"Out of the Darkness: 3"   24x24" Acrylic on Canvas

I recently took a workshop on non-objective art. My instructor had us do exercises trying to express an emotion in a single line. This is as difficult as you think would be.... what does an angry line look like? A sad line? I tried to turn off my brain and draw "with my gut", the same way I try to translate music into colour and form in my other paintings. This wasn't easy.... It's a meditative thing, and it's hard to get in the right space while in a room full of people. After looking at everyone's line drawings, the entire class agreed: what the negative emotions gave us was much more powerful than the positive ones. So that was where I decided to start.

"Out of the Darkness: 1"   24x24" Acrylic on Canvas
With the "Out of the Darkness" paintings, I wanted to express feelings of sorrow, but still convey a glimmer hope and optimism. Like when you've been sad for a very long time, and something happens that makes you think things are going to somehow get better. There are three paintings in this series at the moment. I have 3 more canvases the same size that I had bought with the intention of continuing the series, but it seems to be difficult space for me to occupy for any length of time. I may decide this is as much as there is. 

"Out of the Darkness: 2"   24x24" Acrylic on Canvas

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New Year, New Projects: Part 2

I recently bought myself a camera. Well, technically it was a Christmas present from my husband, even though I'm the one who did everything required to actually get that camera into my hands... but whatever. It's a good camera. My first SLR since film went the way of the dinosaur. I bought it so that I could take good high-resolution photos of my paintings for reproduction purposes (yes, prints are coming), but once I had it in my hands I remembered something: I really like taking pictures.

My dog Cleo | Jan7 
I used to love my camera. Anyone who went to school with me can tell you what a pest I was. Every few weeks I'd carry the thing around for a day and take photos of my friends (don't worry, I'm not going to post any of them... but I still have them all, so be nice to me). These were the days when you had to get everything processed and printed, and it was expensive. And I was young, and broke. So I didn't use that camera nearly as much as I wanted to.

These days everything is digital, the memory cards are huge and I can take as many photos as I want. So I think the time has come for me to actually learn all the ins and outs of how the camera works, and experiment a little. To make sure I do it, I signed up for Blipfoto... an online daily photo journal. One photo a day for a year, uploaded to the site. Now I'm not silly enough to believe that I will actually take a photo every single day. I know I don't have time for that. But if I can manage a couple a week I'll be happy. I imagine there will be lots of shots of my dogs, some pics of works in progress, maybe one or two of my kid if he'll let me (though at 16, that's not likely).

My grandmother's piano | Jan 3
It'll be interesting for me to see how my painting is influenced by this project. I use photos for reference, but usually these are snapshots taken with a point and shoot, and I find sometimes the shot I thought I had just isn't good enough to work from and I have to discard the idea. I've played around a bit with image transfers, but ideally, I'd want to work with my own images, not the stuff I can rip out of magazines. And what about collage? There are so many ways I can use photos in my work, it could open up something totally new and exciting.

Blipfoto will automatically post my photos to Facebook and Twitter, but not to my artist page... that I've been able to figure out yet anyway. If you are interested in following the journal, my profile link is here:

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year, New Projects

It's a new year, and in the spirit of starting afresh I have assigned myself a new project. A couple actually, but the first one I got a start on this week.

I've been thinking about transformation... it's one of those subjects that appeal to me for some reason. It's a recurring theme in many of my favourite novels and movies. I love the transformation of the landscape from a fresh snowfall, or the sense of renewal after a thunderstorm. So in this spirit I approached my first works of 2014... I would take 3 canvases that I had deemed to be beyond redemption, and transform them into something else... hopefully something decent. I have a pile of these reject canvases... I start them and don't know how to continue, so I just keep throwing paint at them until they are all kinds of ugly. The beauty of acrylic is that everything can be painted over, and there are techniques that will allow the under layers to show through in varying degrees. It allows a luminance to develop that you can't get from a flat tint of opaque paint on a gessoed ground. This is what I hoped to achieve here.

"In the City: I" 9x12 Acrylic on Canvas
"In the City: II" 9x12 Acrylic on Canvas
"In the City: III" 9x12 Acrylic on Canvas

In the entire 3 canvases, this is the one area that I completely and totally love. I love the way the colours interact, the way the transparency gives depth to the layers, the patterning that I got in the dark area. If it were bigger it could be a painting all on its own. Maybe I will use it as inspiration to do another piece... but who knows if I'll be able to replicate it. That's the thing when you're playing... how do you remember what you did? I'll get better at that as I go along, I'm sure. But for now I'm just going to play.