Sunday, October 26, 2014

When Things Get Ugly

It's been a tough week for Canadians. On Monday, a suspected terrorist ran his car into another vehicle occupied by two Canadian soldiers, killing one and injuring the other. Then on Wednesday, an unarmed soldier standing guard at our National war memorial outside the federal parliament buildings was shot to death, leading to our capital city being locked down for much of the day. There's not much I can say about this that hasn't already been said, and said much more eloquently than I ever could. My heart breaks for these men and their families. When they are home, they should be safe. My, how the world has changed.

Photo by Derek Nighbor, posted on Twitter
There are military people in my family. My brother-in-law is stationed in Ottawa right now. My nephew is away on a training exercise. I can't even imagine how this has affected them. Its a tough enough job without having to look over your shoulder when you are home.

The outpouring of emotion by the country these past few days has been incredibly moving. When Nathan Cirillo's body was brought back to his home town of Hamilton from Ottawa, there were crowds gathered on every overpass waving Canadian flags. There have been memorials set up in both Ottawa and Hamilton. There are photos online everywhere. We all want to say thank you.

As an artist, I did what I do when life gets to be a bit much.... I went into my studio, closed the door, and painted. It's not exactly pretty, but I think it says what I was feeling.

Art journal page created in response to the Ottawa shooting. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Advice from the Inside: An Art Journaling Exercise

So, I've been working away in this visual journal for the last few weeks, but seems I have been avoiding the cover. Not really sure why... but as I went along and filled page after page, the cover stayed white with the ghost image of the original illustration showing through the gesso. The book is almost done now... I have two pages left to finish up. I figured it was time to finally tackle this.

I really have no clue how most people go about deciding what to put on the covers of their journals. I've read blogs where the cover is done first, articles on how to cover your book with interesting papers, and seen store bought journals that had the cover ready made. The only other book I've worked on I used a stencil and molding paste for a raised pattern and put in some hand lettering. But that was years ago, and my style has evolved since then. I wanted this cover to reflect what was inside.

Cover of my 2014 visual journal. I committed to doing this early this summer, and I'm almost done. It's taken
longer than I thought it would, but it's been fun. And maybe I've stumbled on a new direction to take my work. 

I decided I should treat my cover the same way I worked on the inner pages. I started with a black marker and did my writing directly on the gesso. Subsequent layers of paint has completely obliterated it. That wasn't intentional, it's just the way it worked out. The colours were what I had on my palette already, as with my other pages. The image had been cut out a few weeks ago, but I never used it for what I was working on, and the words were already cut up and sitting in a little bowl (I know that's kind of weird... it's something I use when I'm stuck. I pick a word at random out of my bowl, and use that as inspiration to draw from. I've gotten some interesting ideas this way). Put together, it seems to work. And describes exactly what this book is about.

So to the journalers out there: how do you handle the cover of your books? Post links to your own blogs or facebook images... I'd love to see how other artists determine what should go on the outside of their journals.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Things that make my life better....

I'd had one of "those days" at work.

You know, that kind of day... I really, really didn't want to be there. People who normally didn't bother with me or the account I worked on were suddenly hanging around, having meetings, asking questions. Projects I'd worked on months ago were landing back on my desk with issues. Everyone around me was in a mood, the atmosphere was tense, and people (myself included) were getting snippy.

I couldn't go home... piles of work on tight deadlines meant I was going to have to stay late, not leave early, regardless of how crappy I felt. Ugh. It was one of those days where I seriously question how I make my living. There has to be something better.... right?

Then I did this.


Mixed media includes collage (type written text and the face), Tar Gel, and acrylic paint. The hand writing is
in white acrylic paint pen in between layers of both fluid and heavy body paint. I think I may try this kind of thing
 on a large canvas, maybe incorporating some transfers... it will be tricky, but could be lots of fun. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

4 small abstract paintings

"Undertow" 1-4, Acrylic on paper. A continuation of my abstract painting series focusing on the landscape.
Thanksgiving is next weekend, and so my painting time is going to be curtailed a bit this coming week. Working at an American corporation on an American account while being situated in Canada has it's drawbacks. Specifically, the general chaos that ensues the week before a long weekend that Canada and the U.S. do not share. Thank goodness there's an extra day off involved... I'm sure I'll need a bit of time to myself after the busyness of it all. 

I've been trying to find time to get back to doing some non-objective work. As much as I love painting people, it's nice to not have to be concerned with anatomy or realism in any sense. Doing completely abstract work I can focus on emotion, colour and composition.... expressing something without traditional form. I had started these 4 small pieces while I was in Dunedin in August. Now that I've had a bit of distance it was good to take a second look at them and figure out what I needed to finish them off. 

"Undertow | 1"  9x12" Acrylic on paper

"Undertow | 2"  9x12" Acrylic on paper

"Undertow | 3"  9x12" Acrylic on paper

"Undertow | 4"  9x12" Acrylic on paper

One thing I was consciously trying to do is tone down my colour palette. I am drawn to intense, expressive colour. It's been pointed out to me, more than once, that by toning down some areas the bright, saturated colours will have more impact. Given that these pieces are inspired by nature, specifically water, highly saturated colour didn't seem to fit... a perfect instance to experiment with neutralized hue.  I think these were pretty successful, and they feel more like my "style" than some of the other pieces I've done. And they look quite good matted and lined up as a series. Happy.