Sunday, August 31, 2014

New Direction

Series of work created at my retreat last week. "Sound of the River", 1-4.
Each canvas 24x24", Mixed media. 
 For me, part of the lure of going on an art retreat, like the one I was just at, is the potential for learning something new and exciting. This one wasn't quite as far outside my comfort zone as the last one I did, but it was a good opportunity to do something different under the guidance of an artist with a different aesthetic. The weeklong workshop gave me uninterrupted creative time, and Steve Rose gave me some great new tools to work with. Last week I posted photos of the location, this week I thought I'd share what I did while I was there.

Our only real requirement for the week was that we work in multiples. He was aiming for a diptych/triptych kind of thing, but he got more of a series from me. They go together, but they don't necessarily have to stay together. I've got these ordered more or less how I produced them, although I worked on them all at the same time, working on one while another was drying. Right near the end of the week I had a hilarious conversation with one of the other participants... she hadn't actually realized I had 4 canvases on the go. She thought I had been painting over the same one day after day. And she wasn't alone... a couple others had thought the same thing!

"Sound of the River | 1"  24x24" Mixed Media on Canvas

"Sound of the River | 2"  24x24" Mixed Media on Canvas
"Sound of the River | 3"  24x24" Mixed Media on Canvas

"Sound of the River | 4"  24x24" Mixed Media on Canvas
You can see I was getting bolder by the day. The first one is pretty much paint with a bit of texture medium added here and there. By the end I was attaching stuff, troweling on drywall compound and using found objects to print with. If you click on them you will get a bigger image... you can see it better. I haven't decided yet if I actually like these or not, but I really did have fun making them.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Week Away

The main house where the retreats are held.
Studio space on one side, b&b on the other. 
I spent my vacation from my day job this year at Creativity Art Retreat, in Dunedin Ontario. I live only about an hour and a half away from Dunedin, but I had to look on a map to see where it was... I'd never heard of it. There's not much there, but for a week of uninterrupted creation time, that works extremely well.

The place is like going to a country cottage. There's an old claw foot bathtub in the upstairs bathroom... and a door that opens onto a balcony. Yes, from the bathroom. The place is right beside the river, and they held daily yoga classes outside on the deck where you could hear the river rushing through. The owner, Lynn Connell, is quite the powerhouse. She is not only an accomplished painter, but she also founded the art retreat, AND an orphanage in Africa. Pretty inspiring person to spend a week with. Shelly, who handles all the day to day stuff, is really warm and welcoming. Within a day or two it felt like I was visiting with a friend instead of a paying guest. I had an overwhelming urge to help with the dishes. She wouldn't let me.

The artist that worked across from me for
the week.
Lynn and another participant working away.
My workshop was with Steve Rose. "Freedom of Expression: Abstraction to Non-Objective painting". I have a lot of good things to say my instructor. He reads people extremely well... He's one of those people who takes about 5 minutes to figure out what you need to get out of the course, and changes his approach to suit. There were a couple people who were new to abstract painting, and to those people he gave a fair bit of guidance. For those of us who have been on the path for a bit, it was more of a question/answer session... did you try this? What happens if you do that? He gave me some problem solving skills that will help when I run into my usual compositional issues. Light or dark? Tear a page out of a magazine and stick it on... which way looks more balanced? Stuff like that... it was immensely helpful. I left with four, good size paintings in my car that were more or less finished, along with a few smaller ones that were done in my usual less-than-planned way, but utilizing what I'd learned and making them work. And while I wasn't really sure about them at the time, they've grown on me. And I'm feeling a bit more confident that I can continue on, and maybe actually get somewhere.

The "living" room. Books everywhere, and all art books. Must have
taken years to amass such a collection. I could have spent the week just in here. 
The kitchen of the main guest house. There was another house on the property,
and a group of participant stayed there.
The main studio space. Lovely and bright with lots of windows.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Series Completed

I've been away. I needed an infusion of creative inspiration, along with a bit of guidance from an artist with more experience as to what makes good abstract art. This week has been very intense. I'm exhausted and achy, but feel exhilarated at the same time. I will write about my retreat next week, once I've had a chance to unpack my carload of stuff and sort out my photos. For today I thought I'd post the last couple pics from my series of little 8x8" abstracts.
The series completed. I haven't decided on a name yet... something to do with summer. I think the ones I've been working on this past week will fit the same theme. They're also loosely inspired by the landscape.

"Rebirth"  Acrylic on Canvas  8x8" 

"Desert Fire"  Acrylic on Canvas  8x8" 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ella Completed

"Jazz Legends | Ella"  16x20" Acrylic on Canvas
I've just finished up the second of my Jazz Legends series over on Global Vernissage's "Artist at Work" website. I've got all my working photos posted, as well as a bit of a running commentary about my process. When we first started talking about this project, I have to admit I really didn't think anyone would be that interested in seeing how a painting goes together... particularly that ugly stage that every painting goes through. Mistakes happen, things get corrected, it gets ugly, it gets better again... it happens all the time, but usually I'm the only one who sees it. I was surprised at the response. I've gotten so many lovely comments from both jazz fans and other artists... it's really quite wonderful.

Louis Armstrong, the first of the series
I'm in the process now of doing my photographs and having prints made. I'm doing a limited edition of 100 signed prints, the first three of which we are giving away to people who have commented during the process. That is something I'm sure will go a little quicker and a little smoother than the first time around, now that I know what to expect. My first set of prints looked lovely... after I learned a few things about paper choices and archival inks. That's saying nothing about shipping. But I think I've got it down now. Good thing, because I've got 10 more paintings to do.....

If you like following along the progression of a painting, there is a new artist over on the site, Giedre Anuskeviciute. She paints in a completely different style and process, and its certainly worth a look.

Over the next week I am going to be away for a bit of uninterrupted painting time. I'm doing a 5 day retreat workshop with Toronto artist, Steve Rose. I intend to be completely unplugged. Who knows how that will go.... I'm told there is no cell service where I'm going, so that part should be easy. I probably shouldn't even take my laptop, but I will. I've got a few things to finish up, and I want my family to be able to contact me somehow. I'm still hobbling around a bit from my recent accident, so I'm a bit concerned that being in pain will be a distraction. Ice packs and Advil are going in the bag.... and maybe some wine. If one thing doesn't help, the other should.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The view from my chair

"Crossroads"  8x8" Acrylic on Canvas
I had a little mishap this week.

I have a dog. A large dog... she's probably close to 90 lbs, and she's not fat, just big. Every day I when I get home we go for a long walk in the neighbourhood. I get to clear my head from all the crap that happened at work, and she gets a bit of much needed exercise. For some unknown reason, every small dog in the neighbourhood feels the need to make a whole lot of noise every time we walk by. It's safe to say that EVERYONE within earshot knows when we're coming down the street.

The thing about small dogs is that their owners often don't pay attention to them when they are out walking. Of course this isn't always the case, but I've found many of them use those long, retractable leashes so their pet can run around while they stand there and play with their phone. I'm usually well aware of other dogs, but this particular day I had a lot on my mind, and I just didn't see it. When it came running, teeth bared and hackles up, my girl lunged forward to get herself between me and my attacker... and sent me sprawling in the process. I've spent the rest of the week with dealing with ice packs and acupuncture needles, not being able to do a whole lot. It is really not fun.

I'm healing, but it might be a week or two before I'm able to stand at an easel to paint. Not working isn't really an option, so I do what I can do while sitting. I've finished up a few small pieces I had on the go, the above being one of them. I've been drawing a bit in my sketchbook, and doing a bit of journaling. I've got a week-long art retreat planned for the week after next... I'm a bit nervous that I won't be better by then, but there's not much I can do about it. I'll just have to manage somehow. I've been waiting ages for this, and there is no way in hell I'm not going.

Oh and by the way, my Ella Fitzgerald portrait  is almost complete... don't forget to go leave a comment for a chance to win a limited edition print. I'm working with the team at Global Vernissage to get my prints available for purchase... I'll let you know when they're available.