Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Artist Project, Toronto

I love going to art shows. I don't do it often enough... but when I do go I come home inspired, full of new ideas and itching to get back into my studio. This weekend I went down to Exhibition Place, in Toronto, and wandered through the Artist Project, taking in as much as I could.

How great is this texture? Achieved with layers of paint,
sandpaper and a nail. It's on a wood panel... somehow
I don't think canvas would stand up to this kind of abuse.
This is a fantastic show. As I went from booth to booth, talking to the artists and getting up close with the art, I took notes. There was much there for me to learn, and the artists were willing to share. I asked a lot of questions about technique, and came away with a lot of great ideas of things to experiment with. I love it when artists are willing to share how they achieved an effect. I know from experience that sometimes you try so many things that you can't always remember... working in series helps solidify things in your mind. It's such a hands on thing. I love talking with the artists at these shows... I've even made some friends in the process.

I love these colour combinations. Stephen Gillberry.

There were a lot of people wandering around at this show, and people were buying. Good to know. Every artist I talked to had sales. Maybe not huge sales, but something... enough to cover the cost of the booth at any rate. The show is hard to get into and it's expensive to be at, but it's also heavily promoted and advertised. It's nice to know that there is some interest.

This show is going on my list of shows to apply for. Even though the calibre of the art is somewhat intimidating, it would be good to know if I could get into a show like this. I don't think I'm there quite yet. My pieces aren't big enough, they don't have quite the same polish. But I'm close... maybe next year.....

This installation was awesome... I didn't write down the artist's name (I figured I had a program so I didn't have to, but then I couldn't figure it out because the spot wasn't really marked. If you know, please leave it in the comments). It is made out of old socks. There was an explanation about how she was sick of picking up other people's dirty socks, and this was her "gendered" statement..... I actually laughed out loud when I read it.  Very clever.
Alice Vander Vennen's fantastic textile work was captivating. Lots of copper wire and found object additions.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Project: Reclaimation

I've got a pile of half-finished canvases in my studio. One of my projects this year is to rework and finish them all. Acrylic is a wonderful medium... no matter how ugly something is, you can always paint over it. But rather than just painting over the whole thing with gesso and starting from scratch, I wanted to let what existed already show to some extent. I wanted to transform what I'd done, rather than erase it. To do this I used a combination of transparent and opaque paints, and instead of using brushes, I used tools that scrape... an old credit card, and ice scraper, and a squeegee.

These two canvases started off as musician paintings. One was a cellist whose head was at an odd angle... seriously, it looked like it had been chopped off and put back on not quite right. The other was a guitar player that looked off balance. But they were both done in shades of green, and the same size, so I figured that made them a pair, and I worked on them together.

Reclamation: I  
16x20 Acrylic on Canvas
Reclamation: II
16x20 Acrylic on Canvas
What I like about these pieces is the texture. There is so much paint on there, there are areas that feel vaguely organic. I'm enjoying this project, and its great for when I need to paint but don't want to touch something I'm half done and afraid of messing up (I feel this way from time to time... if something is going great, but I'm not quite in the right head-space for it, I will go on to something else rather than court disaster). And I got to make that pile of half-finished work just a little bit smaller. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The World is Quiet Here....

I've finished part two of last weeks project. I'm happy with it. It feels a bit melancholy, which is fitting given what my life has held in the last month. I'm recently captivated by this blue... It's rich and transparent and SO brilliant. I've been playing with it on it's own, but it didn't get me the mood I wanted for these pieces, so I've dulled it down with earth tones, and left a little orange-yellow and crimson for warmth. I've included a photo of the two pieces side by side... I'm undecided if I'll put them up for sale as a set only. I have some skinny walls here where a long, thin piece of art would work wonderfully... surely I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'll live with them for a bit before I decide. Maybe by spring, at the Arts on the Credit show...

The World is Quiet Here: II
12x24" Acrylic on Canvas

The two paintings together as a set. They work together... I'm not sure
I really want them split. I'll have to decide before they leave the studio...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Enough wallowing... back to work.

I allowed myself a week to wallow. It was a pretty miserable week. But I know myself well enough to know that I can't let it go on much longer than that, for fear of sinking into some kind of black hole I can't manage to pull myself out of. It's happened before, and believe me, it is not a place I ever want to go again.

So... on Monday, after a miserable day at work, I made myself a cup of tea and headed into my studio, took 3 brand new canvases out of their wrappers and got myself back to work.

Works in progress.
I really didn't have a clue what I was going to do with these when I started. I had a vague idea of doing some kind of triptych. Once I got some paint on there the blanks filled in a little... I could see something starting. I flipped through my file of reference photos. Found what I was looking for. Yep, I could make that work.

I love it when things come together like that. It doesn't always work that way. Sometimes I have an idea before i start, sometimes I've done something at a small size that I want to enlarge, sometimes I never see anything, the canvases get ugly and they go in my reject pile until I can figure out what to do with them. It doesn't really matter though, as the mere act of pushing the paint around makes me feel so much better, it's like all the exhaustion drains from my body. I imagine everyone has something that makes them feel that way. I hope so anyway.

I managed to work every evening this week, and I've got one canvas finished and a second well under way. I'm still not sure about the third... I don't know if I can make it work with the other two or it needs to be something different. I will figure it out... but like all things, it just takes time.

The World is Quiet Here: 1
12x24" Acrylic on Canvas