Sunday, June 28, 2015

It's a Dog's Life

Here is my Cleo, in here usual spot on the sofa (we tried to keep her off it, but eventually just gave up... she is nothing if not persistent). I've been drawing with pencil lately... I tried to do an ink sketch of her but it didn't work that well. I'll try again when I've gotten into the habit of drawing regularly.
Life has been incredibly busy this week. My son, who is graduating from high school (I feel so old all of the sudden), had his prom on Tuesday. There was a bit of running around for that, and work has suddenly gotten so busy it's impossible to keep ahead of the deadlines. I haven't set foot into my studio since last Sunday... and that depresses me. I committed to everyday creativity a couple years ago, as a way to give me something that is uniquely my own. I've been able to stick to it all this time, yet the last week I've felt my motivation drop to an all time low (well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, seeing as I did spend a few years not even picking up a pencil... I'm not that bad yet).

100 Happy Days project... I'm on week 4. I've been posting mainly
on Instagram and Twitter. If you're interested, you can follow along there.
Could be I'm just tired.... apart from the actual creating, there is all the stuff that goes along with it. First comes finding a place to put the finished pieces. When I started, my walls were empty. Easy. Now... well, every wall is full (some more than what is visually pleasing), I have stacks of canvases in every closet, a few hanging in galleries, and even some at a local business that had some empty wall space. Then I have to do the business part... updating my inventory lists and portfolio, contacting galleries, applying for shows, entering competitions. Social media... just try not to get sucked in. Not as easy as you might think. Soooooo much beautiful work out there. And then there is that albatross that is my website, that I just can't seem to get to (I'm considering just hiring someone. I can't afford it, but at the rate i'm going, it will never get done). AND... apparently, I really do have to get out to social events! It's good for networking, I need to support my friends, and it's probably good for my mental health to talk to someone who is involved with something other than packaging or high school. I feel like a big whiner right now... but sometimes it just feels a little overwheming. All I want to do is sit down with a drink and a book.

My compromise has been to do just that... with my sketchbook. I'm still kind of at a loss as to what to put in it, but as I like to draw, I figured as long as I'm drawing something, it's all good. As my fur-baby always seems to be within my visual line of sight, she was a good place to start. No, I didn't do all of these in the past week... it's been a few weeks, and the first few I did were so bad I can't bring myself to share. I shall call them "exploratory" drawings. I'd like to explore some drawing of her in movement, but in all honesty that is unlikely to happen... it didn't take much for her to realize that if I sat with the book we were going to be there for a bit, and she makes herself comfortable. As you can see.

The advantage of working in book form is that I don't have to find a place to put it. A spot on a shelf is all I need. Maybe focusing on that for a bit will refresh me while I finish up the stack of half-finished canvases taking up space in my studio. And it will give new ideas a chance to percolate.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Creating a Portrait: Charlie Christian

"Jazz Legends | Charlie Christian", 16x20" Acrylic on Canvas. Giclée prints available
at Global Vernissage.

I decided to add Charlie Christian into my line-up of Jazz Legend portraits after finding this fantastic (and apparently, fairly rare) album at Village Vinyl  (for those who live in the GTA, definitely worth a trip. They have some great stuff there). Even though it seems my 18 year old has managed to appropriate my turntable (to be fair, I rarely used it, and he uses it all the time... who knew records were making a comeback?), I've gotten a chance to listen to it twice and that man was truly an amazing musician. He may not have been the first to play an electric guitar in a jazz band, but he certainly managed to change how everyone thought about it. He played with the Benny Goodman Orchestra in the late 30s... and Benny is credited with making jazz popular across America. For a black man at that time, that is quite an accomplishment. Even though jazz is a black invention, it took a white man to make it popular.... The documentary series Jazz by Ken Burns goes into detail about the racial history of the music. It is a great series for anyone interested in the history of the USA, not just jazz fans. But I digress...

I did working photos for this piece, but my peeps at Global Vernissage aren't going to post them there... they've already done 5 paintings and as the entire series is done the same way, it can get a little tedious to follow along. There are slight differences... mostly in where I screw it up and how I manage to fix it. This one I messed up the position of his nose and had to move it up... which made him look like Voldemort for a bit. Not pretty. Anyway, I took my working photos and made a little movie, which I've posted on my YouTube channel along with the other ones. I've done Duke, Coleman Hawkins, and Cab Calloway so far... I will do the others as I have time. If you've missed them and want to check it out, I've made a playlist. You can also subscribe... I've not posted much so far, but as my son is very handy with a video camera, and he is as of yet unemployed for the summer, I'm hoping I can recruit him to help me out in that department....

I'm in the process of finishing up a few pieces I've had sitting around for a while. Well, in truth, a couple are getting painted over, because after looking at them for a few weeks I've decided they really aren't going anywhere. Doesn't happen often, because in my experience, every painting goes through an ugly stage. If you can get past that, often you can get somewhere you are happy with. But some ugly stages are uglier than others, and if I've lost the thread that had me tied to the piece in the first place, its really tough to keep going. And after last week's retreat, I have a load of new ideas floating around in my head that I am really eager to start... I have no idea how I'm going to get them to work, or even IF I can get them to work, but I will never know if I don't get to it, will I?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Creative Immersion

 Happy Day 11: The only painting I actually completed this week. Believe it or not, this was painted from a model. As in a human. I know, it looks like a landscape. The exercises we did really stretched the way we look at things. 
Happy Day 9: I pulled up in front of the
main studio building. I managed not to 
get too lost this year... I got lost, but 
was only about 10 minutes off course. 
Much better than last time.    
I spent this past week in Dunedin, Ontario, at the Creativity Art Retreat (so apologies to those looking for my #100happydays posts on social media... the internet connection was a bit spotty). Long time readers might recognize the name from my visit there last year. It was such a great experience I decided I would do it again. And it did not disappoint.
HD 10: Awesome, light filled studio space
at the retreat. And some truly inspiring 
people to spend time with.

The workshop I decided on this year was working from the figure, with artist V. Jane Gordon. Right from the first day she tested our willingness to be open to the new and different. It was certainly not like any workshop I've ever done, or like any figure drawing/painting experience I've ever had.... we had the model moving constantly, were changing the orientation of our work as we worked, we were incorporating things we found outside, we had to change materials, go from standing to sitting, get right up close to things... it was a very, very different experience.

Day12: Awesome collection of books
here... and time to sit and enjoy them! 

Happy Day 13: I got out my quill pen and
ink for this assignment... I had forgotten 
how much I like drawing in ink.  It's been 
years since I've used anything but a marker. 
Behind V. Jane's thinking is the act of inquiry. She has written a book about it, which I purchased for myself, because there are so many things I am curious about and I'm positive I have only scratched the surface of what this is all about. One thing she has managed to convince me of is the need to carry a sketchbook, for what she calls "data collection". That's something that I've tried to do, off and on, for most of my adult life, but never really did with any conviction. I think that stems back to my University days, when we had to pass the book in to the professor every couple weeks... the feedback I got was how to make the images better as finished drawings, so I never really saw it as a tool to collect information, but only a way to practice my drawing skills. I preferred to do this on a larger scale, so my sketchbook largely remained empty. In a lot of ways, I seem to have missed the entire point of it.
A drawing done while looking at the model, while
at the same time running my fingers over my face...
I would get confused as to what I was actually drawing,
me or her. The final result is certainly more interesting
than your typical life drawing.

I think it is going to take me a while to absorb all the things we worked on and figure out how I can apply them in my own practice. It is such a different way of thinking that  if I can work it out, it may have the potential to transform my work. I have a couple projects to finish up before I can truly get going, but I'm pretty sure I will be spending a fair bit of time over the next few weeks, sketchbook in hand, intently studying some little detail of something or other, and recording it for future use.

I was playing with the panoramic settings on my camera... the view of the river, from behind the River House, where I was staying.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

100 Days of Happy

There's been something wrong with me lately. Not sure exactly what…. Maybe my job has finally managed to suck every ounce of joy out of my being. Maybe I try to do too much and am overwhelmed. Or maybe I just need a vacation. Whatever it is, I am pretty darn cranky.

I had a rare slow day at work last week. Working for a large corporation, the usual crap goes on… we don't hit our profit targets (which may or may not be completely unreasonable… just saying), so we have to cut costs, so they lay off people who do necessary jobs and the rest of us are expected to pick up the slack. As a result, we are all incredibly busy, all day, every day… it's exhausting. Anyway, I had a once-in-a-blue-moon slow day, and once I had cleaned up my workspace, updated my files and tidied up my desktop, I had a few minutes to surf the net. And I found this inspiring website, the 100 Happy Days Challenge.

I knew right away this was exactly what I needed. If I looked for things that made me happy, I would become happier just because I took the time to appreciate them. I decided right then and there that I would do it. Since I post on Sundays, my week will be Saturday to Saturday, and on Sunday I will include my roundup of happy pics on my weekly blog post. In-between, I will post my photos on whatever social media outlet I'm on at the time, using the hashtag #100happydays.

Here's my pics for my first week:

Day 1:

I got a call from Brenda at the Art Gallery in London where I sometimes have work hanging. Someone is interested… so I packed a bunch of stuff into the car and went to London. Now one of my favourite musician paintings has found it's forever home…. not a bad way to start off the project.

Day 2:

There was a big outdoor art fair that I had thought about entering, but my hesitation about the weather eventually won out, and I didn't do it. I went to check it out… in the rain. Not just a little rain… there were ponds starting in the park. It was Sunday, and by the time I got there, lots of vendors had already packed up and left. So my friend and I headed to my favourite little coffee shop, sat there for a couple hours and caught up. More fun than doing housework, which is probably what I would have done if I hadn't made plans already.

Day 3:

A little gallery here in Port Credit is having it's first anniversary show. They invited all the artists that had exhibited there this year to submit a couple pieces, and they put together a lovely group show. I have two pieces hanging, and they chose mine to put on the invitation. I appreciate this immensely, since this particular piece has been recently rejected from two juried shows. And I still think it's pretty good. Obviously there is at least one other person out there that thinks so too.

Day 4:

I had a hard time finding something today. Everything was driving me batty, from my chatty coworkers  to the endless emails I'm cc'd  on that have nothing to do with me. I was thinking I was going to have to give up on this only 4 days in. But when I got home, the orchid that has not flowered in the 2 years we've lived in this house finally bloomed. It's a little thing, but it counts.

Day 5:

Every week when I go to my kayaking class the sun set gets a little bit later. I was already out of the boat this week, in time to catch a photo. The light was beautiful. Last week it was all gold, this week I got green and orange and blue. And I saw a loon. How cool is that.

Day 6:

This evening I packed up a pile of giclée prints from my Jazz Legends series and sent them off to Europe. The marketing team from Global Vernissage is planning on framing them and hanging them in an art hotel in Lithuania. Isn't that awesome? International exposure!!

Day 7: 

An evening without a committment. I spent a few hours parked in front of the tv (hey, I'm exhausted. Everyone needs down time now and then) watching a movie with my hubby and Cleo. Of course I can't just sit there, so i got in a bit of drawing time...

Overall, a pretty good week. Would I have thought so if I hadn't taken the time to notice all the good things? I doubt it... sometimes the stuff that annoys us can totally overtake the good things in our lives. I'll find a better way to show my photos next week... maybe put them all in a collage or something. If you are also doing the #100happydays challenge, leave a message in the comments (with your social media links), and I'll check out your pics too!!