Sunday, August 30, 2015

Art Quartet: Live Collaborative Painting Event

One of two paintings created during the event last weekend. We were only planning on doing one, but it wasn't
big enough for us all to work at the same time. And a bunch of artists are not going to sit around and watch....
Artist Christine Newman starting off
the first of the two paintings.
Last weekend I did something new and different for me. I worked on a collaborative painting with 3 other artists from the area, and since we were working in a gallery, we opened it up to the public to come and watch. I actually don't really know how many people came by to see what we were doing.... I get very focused when I'm working and someone could stand beside me and I wouldn't know they're there. But I'm told it was a pretty successful event and we had a good turn out.

Working with other artists is interesting. Everyone sees different things when they look at a painting in progress. There were a few times when we stopped to discuss what was working and what wasn't, and then between us quickly figured out a direction. When I'm working alone it can take me weeks to figure out what the problem is and how to fix it. To complete two pieces in a 4 hour time span seemed pretty amazing to me. And the fact that I thought they were both good even more amazing.

Overall everyone seemed to enjoy the whole thing and it was agreed that we would do this again in the future. The gallery has already started to plan the next event in September... I won't be participating due to family obligations, but it is sure to be a good time. If you live in the Toronto area and think you'd like to pop around to watch, you can follow either Imagemaker gallery or myself on Facebook for updates.

I had a drawing of a bird prepared in advance... just in case we needed something. Here Lisa and Christine are holding it in place while I paint around it. 
As we had only planned on doing one piece, we had a charity lined up to take it and give it a home. The second piece came about because having 3 artists sit around while one is working really isn't a reasonable expectation. We were bored in minutes, and rooting around in the basement we found an old canvas we could use for the second. You can tell by looking at the finished piece that this was the one I spent most of my time on. It has something of my "style" showing... though definitely not my usual colour choices. The smaller "Whirlwind" painting was donated to Interm Place, a local women's shelter. We aren't sure yet what we're going to do with the larger one... they don't have space to take both, so we're looking at other charities as options. Or possibly auctioning it off and donating the proceeds. We'll figure out something.

Artist Lisa Jayne Irvine is working on the smaller of the two pieces.
We all switched back and forth all afternoon, working on the piece that was
speaking to us at the moment.  

Graffiti artist Joseph Capobianco adding the lettering to the almost complete piece...
While he was doing that, the rest of us worked on finishing the other one...
And the second piece complete. This one has been donated to Interm Place, a local women's shelter.
Everyone needs a little beauty in their lives. Hopefully this will provide a bit for these residents.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Jazz Legend: Lionel Hampton... or How I learned to paint teeth

"Jazz Legends | Lionel Hampton" 16x20" Acrylic on Canvas. Giclée prints available.
I always notice people's teeth. I think it's because mine are on the large side... seriously, when I smile they take up half my face. You can't help but notice, and if I'd have to guess, I'd say that's why I always notice other people's. I envy those with nice, even, white chicklets... My horse sized chompers are functional and strong, but not an insignificant feature. I also had an accident as a teenager that did a bit of damage to my mouth... broken teeth and a cracked jaw and a fair bit of time spent in the dentist's chair as a result. Things like that change the way you look at things... what you notice.

I've been painting, off and on, for a long time. I love painting people, but I have always avoided painting teeth. I think every artist has something they avoid... I know a few who avoid hands like the plague. While I have no problem with hands (one day I'll do a tutorial to show my technique), I have always managed to make the teeth look like they somehow don't belong in the mouth they've been assigned to. When I started the Jazz Legends portrait project my first thought was how on earth was I going to be able to do it making sure everyone had their mouths closed. I managed with the first few... then I got to Count Basie. I can't paint him not smiling... it wouldn't show his personality. Ok, so I gave him a slight smile. It worked out ok. Next came Cab Calloway. OMG, there's no way I can paint him with a closed mouth... his teeth take up most of his face and he's smiling in every picture. I have to just bite the bullet and go for it. Took a bit of fussing, but in the end, they looked ok. Charlie Christian? No detail in the photo, so no detail in the painting. Problem solved. Billie too... on that angle, didn't seem like much of an issue.

A young Lionel. Even in a suit he looks like he's
about 12....
Next up.... Lionel Hampton. The gap between his front teeth is a defining characteristic. It makes him seem to look young, even in his advanced years. The guy was a serious cutie.... and the disarming smile was a big part of that. But even 4 successful sets of teeth later, I was still a little hesitant. Turns out I had no reason to be concerned. It was easy... and I got it on the first try. When I was in art school and was having trouble with representing something complicated, my instructors would always tell me to just "treat it like everything else". Turns out, that really is the key. I like to paint light on dark, so that's how I approached it. A dab of white paint on a brush the right size and voila! Teeth! And they actually look like they belong in there.

Silly that it took me so long to figure that out. Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is not avoid it... but just tackle it head on. Just treat it like everything else.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

New Abstract Painting : Flightpath, part 2

"Flightpath | 2" 9x9" Mixed Media on paper.
There were two butterflies, a small white one and a monarch. Together they danced among the flowers. It was a beautiful blue sky day, warm, but a large cloud was threatening rain. There was a breeze… the leaves rustled and the birds sang.

Can you see all that in there?

Inspiration can be a tricky thing. And "explaining" a piece of art even trickier. I am, at the moment, trying to write an artist statement for this new body of work I'm starting... and yes, I'm pretty sure this is going to turn into a body of work. I'm 6 pieces in and I've got 4 or 5 more started.... I've got so many ideas for potential subject matter flying around in my head that I feel compelled to keep going. And that's how it always starts. It's a good place to be. But I digress...

Hilarious, right? You can
these "statements of the Old Masters" at this link. 
So, an artist statement. Have you ever read those things? Usually I get about one paragraph in and my eyes glaze over. Everyone tells me I have to have one... I have to explain what I'm trying to achieve or the curator/collector won't even consider my work.  I will fail to qualify as a "serious" artist. But honestly, I never got the hang of artspeak, even in University. Most of the time it just sounds like a bunch of pretentious drivel that no one really understands. My hat goes off to those artists who can write an honest, decipherable artist statement that still fulfills enough academic standards to qualify. I've tried... really I have. With every body of work I've done, I've tried to distill it down to one idea, and present it in some kind of academic sounding blah, blah, blah. Some are more successful than others. I'm not sure how I'm going to approach this one. I'm thinking of tossing the whole academic approach out the window and going with something that is a bit more authentic to who I am. Yes, I may be a thoughtful artist, but I speak plainly and directly (as you know, if you've read even one post on this blog) and don't go in for big, convoluted expressions. Let's see how that works out for me. At this point, I'm not seeing that I have a whole lot to lose.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
If you happen to live in the GTA (Toronto/Mississauga and area), I will be participating in a live painting event next Saturday afternoon during the Port Credit Buskerfest. It's always a really fun event... this is the first time I'll be anything but a spectator. Myself and 3 other artists, (Lisa Irvine, Christine Newman ( a newbie... straight outta school) and one other yet to be announced) will be working on a collaborative piece at imagemaker gallery on Lakeshore. I haven't done any collaborative work before, so this is a totally new, exciting adventure for me. If you're around for Buskerfest, pop in a see what we're up to. Hopefully it will turn into something fabulous, but even if it's a flop I'm sure it will be fun.
We start at 4 pm, and continue into the evening until about 8.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

New Abstract Painting : Flightpath

"Flightpath 2", 9x9" mixed media on paper. Flightpath 1 still needs a bit of work, so I'll post that next week. 
Working with the birds these last few weeks has gotten me thinking about what I'm really looking at and trying to portray with these little pieces. It's not so much the birds as it is the way they move about... trying to draw something while it's in motion has alway been interesting to me, but this is the first time I've actually gone about trying to do it.

There are other things that move in interesting ways... as was very evident while watching the coverage of the recent Pan-Am games that were held in Toronto over the past few weeks. What sparked my interest most... the divers. I always love watching the divers. Every Olympics, no matter how busy, that's the event I make time to watch. Well, summer olympics anyway. In the winter it's the ski jumpers. I like other events, but those ones really grab my attention. I know that I'm going to have to do something related to the athletes at some point, but at the moment, my attention is drawn back to my garden....

Not exactly beautiful....
We've been doing some maintenance back there over the last few weeks. I have a couple large flower beds, but they don't really get much sun. So while I have quite a few large, healthy peony plants, I don't get a whole lot of flowers. This year I had two. Last year there was only one. When my husband told me he wanted to put a shed right where the peonies are, I figured I would just move them to a sunnier spot. They might not live, but you never know. So while trying to figure out the best location, I discovered that the weird looking, greyish mauve flowers I have in my sunny spot is milkweed. I was originally thinking I would pull it out, because it doesn't seem to fit where it is. But when I saw that I had monarch butterflies back there...  repeatedly... I made a point of looking up the plant. OK, so that has to stay. But I can put in more, or a different type, and intersperse it with the peonies, and that should work ok. And the butterflies... oh my. During the couple hours I was back there I saw 4. So beautiful. While I thought about getting a photo, what I actually went to fetch was my sketchbook.

I've done two small pieces so far based on my drawings... well, one is not quite finished, so that one will go up next week. They are small, only 9x9", so they go together somewhat quickly. I've been working on a large one based on my bird paintings, but that one will have to go on hold for a couple weeks while I work on a commission piece. These little ones I can fit in between... those times when I'm not quite sure where I want to go on the larger one, but don't want to loose my momentum by stopping altogether. I think this movement work is going in an interesting direction...  hahahahaha.

Yeah, I know... I'm not that funny....

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Bird on a Wire - New abstract painting

"Bird on a Wire", 9x9" Acrylic on paper. 
Sorry guys.... I know I'm late. This week has been crazy. I usually write my post on Friday or Saturday and schedule it to post Sunday morning, but this week I worked late every night, and by Friday I was so tired it was difficult to form full sentences. I'd rather not post the completely incoherent version of my ramblings... I like to think I have somewhat mastered the English language, but when I'm grasping for the name of an object I use daily, I sometimes wonder. Maybe it's just my age.

 I did get a chance to finish up a small piece I started a week or so ago. I had cut up and gessoed a pile of paper, and then working on them here and there when I had a minute. I've got a few that are close to completion. A good thing... with what work has lined up for me for the next few weeks I'm afraid painting is going to have to take a back seat for a bit. Hopefully it won't last longer than that, as it doesn't look like getting more hands in the shop to actually do the work is in the plan (They did manage to find the cash for two more executives though... I guess we all have our priorities).

Patience paid off... I finally got my photo.  
I'm still working on the idea of portraying movement somehow, and still working with the birds in my backyard. It was good to finish something. Gives me some small sense of accomplishment. Last weekend, when I was cleaning up my garden, I discovered a cardinal nest in the tree outside my house. That was pretty cool. I had noticed they had been around a fair bit over the last few weeks, but had no idea where they were coming from. I never seemed to have my camera with me when I saw one, but once I found the nest I knew I if I just sat out there and waited I could get a decent shot.

There are so many birds out here... I've always like watching them but have never really been a "bird-watcher" as such. There are many species I can't identify. The symphony they create in the morning is quite wonderful though.... On the weekends I will just lie in bed with the windows open and listen. If I wake up early enough that is. I think I've finally managed to attach certain sounds to certain birds, which is pretty amazing given my hard-core city girl status. Maybe age is affecting more than just my memory.