Sunday, December 29, 2013

Winter Wonderland

Ice on the evergreen in my backyard
The last two weeks have been a bit overwhelming. Apart from the usual pre-Christmas craziness, work has been incredibly busy, I've been sick as a dog, I had an allergic reaction to something and was covered in hives, and two days of freezing rain left a good chunk of Ontario covered in ice and without power. Luckily the area I live in wasn't that hard hit... we got lots of freezing rain but the damage was limited and power was restored fairly quickly. Many of my neighbours are still making repairs from the floods in July, so more damage would have been devastating. Personally, I slept through most of it.... like I said, sick as a dog.

I can't remember the last time I caught something that hit me this hard. I suspect it's because I've let myself get run down and haven't been taking care of myself the way I should have. Perhaps this is my body's way of forcing me to slow down. When I finally emerged from my neo-citron and cough syrup induced haze, the streets had been transformed into some kind of winter fantasyland. It was truly beautiful... the sun reflecting through the ice on the trees made everything sparkle. It was amazing. It was a couple days before everyone was able to get out and about... it actually took me 20 mins to get the door of my car open so I could warm it up and scrape off the rest of the ice, which took the better part of an hour. If I didn't really need to go see a doctor, I would have just given up.

The ice was everywhere. This was 4 days after the storm, when it was starting to melt.
I am still coughing but seem to be on the mend... at least I've been able to sleep for more than a couple hours for the last few nights. I'm hopeful today will be a productive painting day. It's been almost two weeks since I've done anything and I'm getting a little antsy. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Finding Inspiration

The year is almost over, and I've been looking over my work from the last couple years, trying to figure out where to go next. There are so many choices... I know I'm not quite done working with music as my base subject, but I feel like I need to branch out a little too. The last few weeks doing projects outside of painting have shown me how I'm settling into a comfort zone with my work that will, eventually, make it look stale. If I want to keep growing, I have to keep trying new things. So... where do I start?

The view outside my studio one evening a
couple weeks ago.
Some things just take your breath away. That's always a good starting point. For me, it's things like the colours in a sunset, reflections on water, intricate shadows, frost patterns, an image created in a poem or story. Can I work these things into my painting somehow? Maybe I should try working on something other than canvas... maybe yupo or terraskin paper or wood panels could inspire me to do something new and exciting.

When doing creative exercises lots of things pop up... but I have to admit I haven't been doing these kinds of exercises nearly often enough. A gallery owner told me a few years ago that I really needed to produce a significant number of new pieces a year to be considered a "serious" artist. I think the number he threw at me was 52 (one a week... and this was on the low end of the scale). Even at my most productive, I haven't been able to pull that off. I have a full time job, a necessity if I want to own a house and eat on a regular basis. Add to that my responsibilities outside of work... well, even painting pretty much every day, that seems like an impossible target.

hand-painted book cover inspired
from colours of that sunset. This is the same
design I used on my glass etching.
And so, with my time limited, I neglect other things that would undoubtably help me to be more creative, more inventive. This year I will not neglect these things. Surely I can find the time somewhere... my lunch break at work, whenever I have to wait for something or someone, maybe instead of lying in bed and not sleeping (insomnia seems to be a permanent part of my life these days... if you know a cure, please leave me a comment...). It's kinda like exercising. It's for my own good, and I have to make time for it. I fear this is easier said than done.....

Creative Exercise: found poetry
I used some of the things I learned in my non-objective painting class... large shapes, balance of dark
and light, texture and pattern repetition. Visually, this works for me pretty well. Even without using a
whole lot of colour, which is my normal.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Outside projects

One of the things I do around this time every year is get elbow deep in some kind of creative project outside my usual comfort zone. Usually the finished product ends up being a Christmas gift for someone. I rarely give away my paintings as gifts... mostly because when you are close to people, you can never really be sure if they are saying they love your work because they do, or because they don't want to hurt your feelings. There are a few exceptions, of course... just this year I gave a mid-size piece to my niece as a wedding present, mainly because she knew exactly which one she wanted and I was pretty confident it would end up on a wall, and not stashed away in her storage locker. But for the most part, art is so subjective and everyone has such different taste, I just can't assume that my style or subject matter works for someone, just because they are part of my life.

My etched decanter. I have a vine of
flowers winding around the neck, but
couldn't get a decent photo.
One of the reasons I make a point of doing this is for the same reason anyone would want to try something new... to branch out, learn a new skill, stimulate a different area of the brain. In past years I've made jewellery and put together books by hand. This year I gave glass etching a shot. I had tried it before, maybe about 20 years ago, but I was pretty sure things would have changed. So many new products around that it had to be a bit easier now, right? I was completely wrong on that one... I guess it isn't a popular enough hobby for that. The only thing available now that wasn't on the market then was the array of pre-cut stencils. I didn't really want to go that route anyway, as I prefer my gifts to be a bit more personal. I needed to design something specific.

If you know me, you know I have a bit of an obsession with hummingbirds. Don't really know why, except that they are completely captivating. They show up in paintings from time to time... but not that often. For etched glass, they became a perfect subject. I had to simplify dramatically... I have to hand-cut my stencil while the mask is already attached to to the glass. Not an easy task, and simpler is most definitely better in this instance. I looked to Art Nouveau for design inspiration, and eventually came up with something I thought would work... the bird was reduced to two lines, the flower three shapes and the vine a wandering line. Overall, the effect worked pretty well. Sorry about the not so great photo... there must be some special way of photographing glass that I'm not aware of, because for the life of me, I couldn't get a good shot. I didn't even try to shoot the glasses that go with the decanter. Maybe I should have tried filling it with wine...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Questionable Opportunity

In Harmony
12x12 Acrylic on Canvas
It has been an interesting week.... a few days ago I was contacted by an "international" magazine about the possibility of publishing some of my work. I was flattered, of course. They said some really nice things. But then... well... a few things bothered me. First, it came from a gmail address. Having done a fair bit of magazine work over the years, that didn't sit quite right. And I'd never heard of them... I was in New York fairly recently. You'd think I'd have seen the magazine, at least there if not in my local bookstore. So I did a bit of research.

A quick google search revealed a few interesting blog posts. Reading through the comment sections was eye opening. The follow up email revealed the kicker... they were requesting $1900 for a "publicity campaign". Here's the email:
Dear Marianne,
I am glad to hear from you!  I found your work on and then viewed your personal website as I am very impressed by your work. The colors and textures are captivating and create movement and energy palpable to the viewer. I am especially drawn to Serenity, Solitude, and In Harmony.
My main focus is to work with artists to help gain international publicity and attention.  We offer a three part publicity program with exposure online, in print, plus an optional exhibition in NYC (please see attachment).  Our magazine and websites offer a level of exposure focused on the artist. Other galleries do not offer international publicity with a print magazine and the large web sites and when they do the publicity it's for the gallery and not for the artist.  
I am working with the owner of NY Arts Magazine and we would like to publish a full page of your work in print and online.  This is a strong opportunity to promote and present your art to the world. The fee for a full year of publicity and promotion is $1,900.  This fee includes a year of publicity in our print and web media, a full-page in NY Arts Magazine (sold internationally in major bookstores), and an optional gallery exhibition in our Soho Gallery.
Here is a sample of our work with Lee Claremont (
I have attached the documents, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any help or have any questions.  Feel free to call me at the gallery (212) 274-8993.
I think your work would make an amazing addition to our publication and benefit greatly from the exposure.
I hope to hear back from you and that we can work together soon.


I understand that magazines have to make their money somehow or they can't exist, but that's why they sell advertising, right? And I'm also totally ok with galleries taking a commission on sales. Hey, if they sell it, they deserve to be compensated for their efforts. And if the galleries promote themselves through advertising and websites, that works for the artists too, doesn't it? It gets eyes on the work, and hey, it won't ever sell if nobody ever sees it. But this... well...

Many of the links and search results I found on these guys were no longer available... I would guess it probably included the word "scam" and it was requested that it be removed.  As much as I think this is perhaps not entirely ethical, I think scam may be a bit harsh... they do clearly state their fee and what you get for it. But I don't think an art magazine should be asking for payment from their content providers. An art magazine can't exist without the content (provided by the artists). So given that, I'm of the belief that charging us for the exposure they provide is kind of unfair, and not something I want to be a part of.

So... what is the prevailing opinion here? I'm sure there are other artists out here who agree with me, but maybe there's some that don't? How do you all feel about paying for this kind of publicity? Is there value in it?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Musical Interlude...

Did you realize there's only 4 and a bit weeks left until Christmas? I think I clued in around Wednesday... I'm usually REALLY organized when it comes to Christmas, 1. because I seriously hate crowds, and shopping in the malls around here in December vaguely resembles roller derby, and 2. it's a month that is usually insanely busy at my day job. This year I'm not so organized... somehow the time has managed to slip by without me noticing, and here it is one week till December. Yikes.

What have I been doing? Well... painting. I did my class with Gwen Tooth, worked on a couple decent sized abstract pieces, and finished off a large musician piece that's been hanging around my studio for a few months now. I got an amazing book out of the library, "the Jazz Loft Project"...  Its based on the photographs and tapes of W. Eugene Smith, from 1957 to1965. There are some fantastic photos in this book, and I used one of Thelonious Monk  as a jumping off point for this piece. I try to alter my drawings so they don't actually look like the photos... I will draw from the photo, put the book away and draw it again a couple times, and each time it gets further away from the original, and I learn enough about my subject to be able to paint it with minimal detail and get the "feel". With this one, I was going for the atmosphere of the smoky bar, with the jazz band in the spotlight, completely into the music.

"Straight, No Chaser"  
30x36" Acrylic on Canvas
This is the largest piece I've done in a while. I love painting large, but storage can be an issue... my house is small and I've got art up on pretty much every available wall (not all my own... I have a small but growing collection of works by artists I admire). If you are interested in the various stages one of my paintings will go through, I sometimes post working photos on my facebook page. You can check it out there.

In other events, last weekend was the opening reception for the Colour and Form Society's annual juried show. I hadn't entered many juried shows over the past few years. Time has been limited and I really thought my energies were best spent elsewhere. This year I've been in a few, but they have all had specific size requirements. This show was open, and apparently I had forgotten something i had previously learned about juried shows... if I enter a small piece, I might just have a hard time finding it when the show is hung. That's my little one on the end... the far, far left... actually the end of the hallway. See where all the people are? Yeah. That.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Abstraction: Part 2

So, here's my second attempt at a non-objective piece... I kept with the same colours as the first one, figuring I would probably hang them side by side. This one is a little busier... not sure if it's any more successful. It certainly is fun to paint this way. I will do more, but not just yet. I've got a pile of canvasses I've started that I need to finish, and a bunch of reference photos that are calling to me. Maybe I will do a small series in the new year.

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

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Theories of Abstraction

Out of the Darkness: 1
24x24"  Acrylic on Canvas
Last week I spent a day painting with Gwen Tooth, a Toronto artist whose work I have seen around for years. When I was looking for a class in non-objective painting I was thrilled to stumble upon her listing... classes in any kind of abstraction seem to be few and far between around here. Apparently, they are not in demand. I can understand that I guess... once you get to a certain point in your painting, most people will stop taking classes and just work away on their own. And most novice painters are more concerned with acquiring technical skills than branching out into the abstract genre.

My day with Gwen was informative and fun. It was a small class of only five, so we each got a fair bit of individual attention. And all of us were experienced with acrylics, so we could focus on expression and emotion rather than technique. Everyone brought images of their work, a differing starting point for each of us. I already have a firm grasp of colour theory... my main issue is that I can't get my compositions to hold together. They always look too busy and not unified... a problem I solve by working in a figure as a focal point. With non-objective work, the entire piece is the focal point, so the challenge is to move the eye around in the piece, and the best place to start, says Gwen, is with big shapes.

Another thing I had to get over was my complete avoidance of black. Since I started painting in my late teens, I've been told that black is a dead colour. Don't use it. And many of my teachers didn't. So neither did I. Gwen is my second instructor to disagree with that theory. Go ahead, she says... there are no rules. So I did... and I have to admit, it worked. Instant contrast. I went over the black areas with transparent colour to liven it up a bit, but it is still really dark, and I love that. Overall, I found the class to be really fun, and I think my finished painting was successful. I've got another canvas the same size, so I am going to do a companion piece in the same colours.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Way to Happiness

I've been reading Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project". It's an interesting book with a lot of great suggestions to make an ordinary life a little happier. Nothing big, like running away to a different country, but things to help the right here, right now. A couple things she suggests struck me... fostering an atmosphere of growth is important, and to do that you have to try new things. And for that, you really have to get over failing. Failing is productive. I knew that, but still.... it's a tough one. The other thing that she repeats continually is to be who you are... know your likes and dislikes, and be honest about it. You like what you like, and just because you "should" like something doesn't mean that you do. Also a big one for me. I've spent most of my life trying to make other people happy and letting others make my choices for me. Not necessarily ideal, for someone trying to live a creative life.

I can draw. I'm good at drawing. It's easy for me to stick to what I know and have a subject in my paintings, something I can draw and make convincing even if I abstract it a bit. And I like drawing people. I like trying to get their expressions and nuances right, to get their hands just so (I think the hands are almost as important as the face in conveying emotion).

But I've always envied the way some artists can convey a feeling using just shape and colour. I've always loved non-objective art, but my own feeble attempts to produce a non-objective painting have failed miserably. So I've decided to try again. Keeping with the books resolutions to "enjoy the fun of failure" and "don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good", I've signed up for a workshop with an instructor whose work I like. I am going to go do a few pieces, sticking with them until I can get them to work. I'm going to post them here... and even if I can't get them right I'm going to post them here. By the end of November. Really. Even if they suck.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rainy Day Blues

I went to New York City this past summer. When I was there I was captivated by the buskers around the city, from the classical guitarist in the Brooklyn subway station to the phenomenal singer we saw in Central Park. On the one day it rained, there was a busker in front of the MET, playing sax in the pouring rain. I snapped a couple photos... and then did this, based on my photos and memories of the day.

Rainy Day Blues
24x30"  Acrylic on canvas

Monday, October 21, 2013

Year in Review

5x7 acrylic on paper. One of a new series of
miniature pieces that will be on my website soon.
Yesterday was my birthday. I spent about half the day painting, a few hours cleaning my house, and a bit of time with a friend trying to figure out what kind of camera I need so I can take decent working shots in my studio. Sounds exciting, doesn't it?

My life is not that interesting. I have a day job, I cart my kid around to various activities, and I paint. I try to keep up with what's going on in the art world, but I can't say I'm that good at it. I try to go to show openings and art events.... but I'm not very good at that either. I don't have that much free time, so I try to put it to use wisely. And sometimes, I'm just too tired.

My work has changed pretty dramatically in the last couple years. It was about the time that I decided I had to paint every day that things started happening. I got that ever so elusive "body of work" together, finally following the advice I'd been given countless times... "paint what you love". I developed a recognizable "style" (or at least I think it's pretty recognizable... it is, right?). I got some gallery interest. Sold a few pieces. My first solo show. Sold a few more. It's been a lot of work, and it's been a bit stressful, but it's been an interesting and satisfying journey.

I wonder why it took me so long to realize that I had to show up and do the work to get anywhere.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Looking at Art

Sign outside the gallery. There was a life
sized sculpture of WeiWei inside made out
of cardboard... wish I got a photo but I
forgot my camera. All i had was my phone.
Free time is hard to come by these days... I've had a tough time getting downtown to see the Ai Weiwei show at the Art Gallery of Ontario,  even though it's been on my list of things to do since long before it opened. But, as it closes soon, I had to take a day and just go...  and while there I took in the David Bowie Is exhibit as well. Might as well, since my weekends seem to fill up pretty quickly and who knows if I'll have time to get back. I will if I can... it was a very interesting show that certainly deserves a second look. Both exhibits were great, and the gallery was as full as I've ever seen it. Quite a few time slots were even sold out (timed entry tickets to make sure the people actually get to see the exhibit and aren't just herded through like cattle. A good plan... but even at that the Bowie exhibit was too crowded in spots to take a good look at the items).

It's not the norm to have the gallery host two large exhibits simultaneously like this. Interesting to put a conceptual/activist artist like Weiwei and a performance artist like Bowie on together. I don't know if this was planning or coincidence, but it was interesting to compare and contrast the two shows. Both were about expressing personal vision and pushing boundries, Weiwei's being political and Bowie's being social norms and gender stereotypes. I've thought about it, but couldn't seem to find much else to connect them. I'm probably missing something.

I think my favourite part of either show was looking at David Bowie's creative process. I knew there would be notebooks and such, but there were some of his tools as part of the display. A video on his "verbasizer" shows how he uses it to generate random lyrics, which he then reworks (or not) to fit a mental image. There is also a set of Oblique Strategy cards, which I've seen before, and found intriguing. Definitely techniques to file away, to be used in the event of a creative block.

Outside the gallery I noticed a proliferation of street art that I haven't seen in Toronto in a long time... especially since the current mayor took office. In fact, Rob Ford has declared a war on Street artists. Odd, considering the current popularity of some well known artists like Banksy (who is in New York at the moment, doing a "residency"). I'm hoping to get back downtown in the next couple weeks with my camera, to get some photos before everything has been completely removed. There were a few spots that were really quite beautiful.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Abstract Cat: Step-by-Step

"In the Garden"   8x10" Acrylic on paper
This past weekend was a cultural event held every year called Doors Open. The Gallery in London, where I exhibit, has recently converted some of it's space into a workshop area, so they asked if I would participate in the event by teaching a short beginner class. I've never done anything like this before, but hey, I'm always up for something new. So, to prepare for this, I worked through a small painting, simplifying my "style" to something that would be pretty easy for a beginner to follow.

I took photos as I was going... mostly so I would remember what I did, but also so I could post it here afterwards as a refresher for my students. Unfortunately my plans to video tape didn't quite work out, but I have my working shots, so hopefully that will do. Here you go... "In the Garden", step by step.

Step 1: I always start on black. There are a few reasons for this, but it started as a way to avoid the paralysis that comes from staring at a blank, white surface. I worked in pastel for many years and developed a knack for working dark to light... it's unusual, yes, but it works for me.

Step 2: Add the whites. I don't just use a brush. I have brushes that i love, but I really will use whatever I feel like. You can probably see my hand prints in here (look bottom right), I've scraped some with an old credit card, and I've used my trusty fan brush to make some flower-like marks. I usually go for an equal white/black ratio, or if I'd like it darker overall I'll leave more black.

Step 3: Add some colour. I love the transparency of Tri-art acrylics (check the tube, it will be marked with a T for transparent), so that is what I have on hand. The paints at the gallery were a little more opaque, so things didn't work quite the same way. We added water to thin them out a bit. I add my colour the same way I do the white... with whatever strikes me. I added some white to my blue to lighten it up a bit, then scratched out some swirls with the back of my brush handle (see centre right). I've got a few layers going on here. If you are interested in this process in more detail, I've got a piece in progress that will be posted on my page on the Global Vernissage website. It's not quite ready yet, but will be soon.

Step 4 (not shown): the cat is cut out of paper. It's very simple, just a silhouette. I put the cutout over the most interesting part, the lower right corner, using it as a mask, and painted around it in white. Then I added in a little yellow and green around the head, to blend it into the background. Once you know how it's done it's pretty easy to see it. Go back and look... you'll know exactly what I mean.

That's me in the middle, my class working away.
Me, doing my thing.
My happy class, with their finished cat paintings. Every one was completely different. Awesome.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Culture Days Givaway

The Art Gallery of Lambeth (London, Ontario) is raffling off some artwork during its Doors Open/Culture days event. This piece of mine is available to be won. Tickets can be purchased at the gallery over the weekend, and the winner will be notified next Monday. Good Luck!

This 5x7 original painting is being raffled.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

This Joint is Jumpin'

I've been so focused this month of creating small pieces to sell at the Art Gallery of Lambeth's Doors Open/Culture days event that I have had very little time left to work on the stack of larger pieces I've got cluttering up my studio. I did, however, have time to finish one. This piece has been hanging around for months... something about it just didn't look right. I've painted and repainted the faces.... first the woman... with her hanging upside down things just tended to look off, even if I painted her flipped right side up. I eventually gave up and changed the 3/4 view to a profile. The male dancer has gone from looking like Grandpa Munster to some kind of horror movie villain. I think I've finally got him looking human. Sometimes a painting will completely resist coming together. It's hard to deal with. In the end, persistence pays off.

This Joint is Jumpin'
30x30" Acrylic on Canvas

Monday, September 16, 2013

Summer is Shuffling Along

Terry "Harmonica" Bean from
In my neck of the woods, the signal that summer is pretty much over is, for music fans, the Southside Shuffle. Held in Port Credit, Ontario, this awesome 3-day music festival is celebrating it's 15th anniversary, and it gets bigger every year. It's usually my last chance to get out there with my camera and get some photos to work with over the winter (there is lots of live music here over the winter, but outside shots turn out better with my crappy point and shoot camera). I got out all 3 days this year... and the lineup was awesome. Highlights included acoustic sets from Suzie Vinnick and Steve Strongman, and a great group of performers from Mississippi, most of whom I had never heard of but now have a little collection of their CDs.

As usual, I took a load of pictures. There are a few I'm going to work up right away... I've been focusing on painting these miniatures and the last few days I've been itching to work on something big enough that I can really get my hands dirty (this is not just a figure of speech... i usually end up covered in paint up to my elbows). This morning I started a 24x36 canvas for my New York busker in the rain, and I've got two more lined up for a couple of Shuffle photos.

D'Mar...  by far the most entertaining drummer I've ever had the pleasure of seeing perform. He had so much energy... kinda made me wonder what he was like as a kid....

This bass player was with the Mississippi guys...
he so LOOKS the part of a blues man that he
is surely going to be in a painting at some point

Steve Strongman... I've seen him live
many times, and it's always a great set.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Doors Are Open

One of my small works on paper, to be offered
for sale during London's Doors Open event
at the Art Gallery of Lambeth
I have an event coming up sponsored by the Art Gallery of Lambeth in London. As part of Ontario's Culture Days and Doors Open, the AGL is having an open house with artists giving demos and teaching short half hour classes for free all weekend. There will also be artists selling their creations in the park beside the gallery, for what will probably be one of the last Art in the Park events this year. As a represented artist I've been asked to participate, and what we've come up with should be a lot of fun. I will have a large piece of canvas spread out on the pavement in the parking lot (inside the gallery if it rains), and I am going to create a large scale painting. My method of working is flexible and intuitive, so having spectators participate is entirely possible, and will probably make the finished piece all the more interesting. I may not get it completely done over the weekend... but i'm certainly going to try.

In the meantime, I've been working on small pieces that I can matte and offer for sale during the weekend. I can't have a booth at the Art in the Park as I'll be otherwise occupied, but I thought it would be nice to offer something special (and specially priced) for the people that come out to the gallery. I'm not sure how many I'll have... I was kind of late to the game deciding to do this. I'll keep posting new pieces on my Facebook page as I go along, so if you see something you like, you'll know where you can get it.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

NYC in pictures

How fantastic is this detail? 

This entire building is really cool... triangular shaped, hence the name.

Even a fire escape can be interesting.

This one is a little more ornate

I really love this design... maybe I'll carve myself a stamp or something...

Harlem... buildings from the 1890s, according to our tour guide Doris (who was fantastic
and full of interesting details. Go to HarlemOneStop for tour info).

Another great brownstone in Harlem... how beautiful is this?

And then there was this guy. I've read about him before... I should have stopped and gotten a poem. Hopefully I can find him again next time.  :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

New York, New York

I recently spent a very busy, culture filled week in New York City. I love New York... I went here once with my parents as a teenager and have been wanting to go back ever since. I took well over 500 photos (isn't digital photography wonderful?), so this will be a first installment. The architecture is absolutely wonderful. The fact that those fantastic buildings have been preserved and restored (and not torn down) is truly amazing... definitely had some forward thinking politicians at some point in their history. And I can see how the influence of all that art deco might find itself creeping into some of my projects. 
This would only happen to me... suitcase came flying
off the conveyor belt, doing a backflip onto the centre section.
Had to find someone in baggage handling to retrieve it for me.

The trip started off on a bit of a panic-stricken note... We had decided to fly from Buffalo instead of Toronto, mainly because of cost. Seemed easy enough, but crossing the border proved to be very time consuming. To the point of having us actually running through the airport to get there before they shut the gate, like you would see in a movie. Thankfully we made it... only to have a small mishap with our luggage on the other end. All sorted, we caught a train out to the apartment we rented in Brooklyn for the week, and then off to see the city.
New York Skyline from the top of the Rockefeller  Centre
The Empire State at night

Brooklyn Bridge

Duke honoured in NYC with a statue in
Central Park

He even has a street named after him
The Apollo theatre in Harlem,
where Ella Fitzgerald got her start.
Street Art in Little Italy

Van Gogh at the Met. Apparently, you are supposed
to stand BEHIND the line. But look at this brushwork...
it's just asking you to get up close.

Memorial at Ground 0. 

This guy played in the pouring rain to entertain us as we waited in line to get into the MET.
He's so going to be a painting.  :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Singin' the Blues

"Singin' the Blues"
18x24 Acrylic on Canvas
I spent the last week in New York City. I was exhausted, overworked and stressed out... and after a week of cultural saturation, I'm completely exhausted, but refreshed. I went to the Met and the Guggenheim to look at the masterful art, toured around looking at the amazing architecture, caught some live music and just generally soaked it all in. It was fantastic. I have about 400+ photos to wade through... I'll have them sorted out by next week and write a nice long post.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Reaching For Infinity
18x24" Acrylic on Canvas
I finished something... finally. I've had up to 8 canvases on the go for much of the last 2 months. Painted and painted over, with a few sitting at that almost finished point with one area that I just can't get right. It's been faces for the most part. Something looking just enough off that I can't let it go. This piece has had the face repainted 4 times. I'm happy with it now... the expression is what I was after... though it is perhaps a little more detailed than I wanted. I was going for something a bit more indistinct. Maybe I'll have to give the pose another try. My husband suggested turning it to horizontal... and that might be intriguing. I'm thinking of doing a few canvases based around water. Since water has dominated my life the last little while, I wasn't surprised to see it coming up in the creative exercises I was doing. This pose could work well around that theme, perhaps with the angle of the head changed slightly. Gliding or swimming... flowing... not sure yet, but maybe...

a stencil I cut from a plastic sheet.
I figure since I seem to have a
fascination with hummingbirds, I
will use this one again.
I've been taking some photos of my working process... mostly because I've been asked to teach a class at this year's "Doors Open" event at the Art Gallery of Lambeth. I have never taught adults, though I've volunteered in my son's classroom in his younger years and have thoroughly enjoyed working with the kids. I figured I should get the process nailed down.... even though it changes with each piece, I do have a basic process I go through with pretty much every canvas.

Work in progress
I tend to like working with stencils. I make these stencils myself... usually I will size my drawings on the computer and cut them out of paper, or if i think it's something I will use repeatedly I will cut it out of these little plastic sheets I get at DeSerres (they are in the baking section, not the art supply section. You can find some seriously awesome tools in baking sections). This particular drawing I also used to carve myself a stamp. In this photo you can see difference between the stencil and the stamp. I like the roughness I can get with a stamp. It's always more evident on stretched canvas because there is no hard backing. If I want a clear impression I will lay the canvas on the floor and put a hard cover book underneath it.

I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to walk through during my class, but I've got to start thinking about it. It would be kinda fun to just wing it and work through a small piece on the fly... but I don't know if the organizers would like that too much. I'll probably be painting on site most of the weekend, so I might leave that for my demo. Sometimes working from my gut gets much more interesting results. If you happen to be in London on Sept. 28 or 29th, stop in and say hello. I'll be there all weekend.

Oh, and I've finally got my website online. Want to check it out? I'm at