Sunday, November 29, 2015

Jazz Legends: The Series Complete

" Jazz Legends: The Cotton Club", 16x20" Acrylic on Canvas. Prints Available. 
For the final piece in this series, I decided to do something a little different. Instead of a portrait, I went with a depiction of the legendary night club, the Cotton Club... the spot in Harlem where so many jazz greats got their start. Reading about the history of this place was a bit of an eye opener. The entertainers were all black, the patrons all white. I had watched the 1984 movie... but it wasn't really big on historical accuracy. Some of it perhaps, but white and black musicians playing together in a band didn't really happen much until Benny Goodman, in the late 30s/early 40s. Anyway, since the club was constantly popping up in my reading about the musicians of the time, I thought it would be a nice finale to my series. 

Here it is... the entire series. 

So, now that this is done.....

What's next? I have no idea. I'm still working on my little abstract series based on movement. Pretty sure I'm not even close to done with that yet. But I've got something else playing at the edges. It's just an idea at this point. I'm not even really ready to articulate it yet... it's just something that keeps popping into my head as I work my way through my little pieces. Maybe it's time to start a new journal, and see if I can take the idea to something even resembling art. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

New Abstract Painting: In the Soul's Light

"In the Soul's Light", 9x9" Mixed media on paper. Available.
Over the last couple months I've been working through a pile of pieces I had started before my dad passed away. I hit the bottom of that pile last weekend (with the exception of a portrait piece for my uncle). I'm in a better place now, mentally… better able to think about something other than how my life has changed and what challenges are waiting for me.

I'm in a different place... as I realized when I was talking to my son about the challenges of finding a car within our budget. At least we can afford to just go out and buy another car. So many people today would have to make do, and spend that extra two hours a day on the bus getting where they need to go. I'm in a place of gratitude and appreciation for what I have. I have a job, as does my husband, that pays the bills with a bit left over. I work with (for the most part) wonderful people whom I genuinely like. I have fantastic, supportive friends. And I have a huge, quirky family that never fails to provide me with something to laugh about. I am fortunate.

So... this piece. What inspired the drawing? I'm not entirely sure. I was watching a video of a couple dancing. Ballet. A pas de deux. It looks nothing like the video, but maybe it did before I started the painting part? I was thinking about connection and my parents and symbolism. I've been reading about spiritual symbols and totems. I've been feeling drawn to things that fly... birds, butterflies, dragonflies. I think I can see a dragonfly in there. I'm sure actually. Definitely a dragonfly. I think this is how this art thing is supposed to work... you feel things, you read things, you ingest things... and then, surprise, there it is in your art. All that I am is there. I can't hide.

My work hanging in the Mississauga Library, on the
3rd floor art wall. 
Speaking of hiding...

I put something on the back, so
whoever finds it knows they can
take it if they want.
If you are following me on social media, you may have seen my posts with photos from an ongoing exhibit at the Central branch of the Mississauga library. It's a huge library... right downtown by city hall. On the 3rd floor, where all the art books are, they have an open area, and there they have rotating exhibits from artists living in the city. It's a huge space in a very busy spot, and it's a great way for locals to be exposed to the work of our own. It's free for the artists as well, which is nice since there are very few venues in Mississauga that are. The evening I was in hanging the work, I didn't even have everything unwrapped when I had a high school student over asking me questions. It was so nice to see the interest. And because I really do love the library system and all that it offers, I'm doing something I do from time to time... I've taken one of my small original paintings, and hidden it in amongst the books, free to take for the person that finds it. It is somewhere on the 3rd floor, and even though the paintings come down at the end of the month, it will remain in it's hiding spot until found. I hope it brightens the day some art-loving soul. I'll leave you with a visual clue... because I don't really want it still there next time I go, and who knows how often those books get looked at. Often I hope, but you never know.

Here is my abandonment in it's hiding place in the library. The titles
should give you a clue where to look.  :)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

New Abstract Painting: Midnight

"Midnight", 9x9" mixed media on paper. Available.
Here it is: the last of the little pieces I had started before my dad died. I use the term "started" loosely… they were all in different states of completion, but for the most part they had a background laid in and some form of drawing started. Based on something. Can't always remember what. This one I hadn't really even chosen a color scheme, but since the background was yellow, and my purple experiment had turned out quite well, I decided to continue on with that theme.

The purple I have in my arsenal is a very transparent violet. I really like the color, but it is the only purple I have, as most of my work in the last few years leans toward the warm tones. To give myself some variation I added a blue and a couple different metallics… the iridescent Mother of Pearl I used in "Twilight", and the mother of all reflective paints, Tri-Art's Liquid Mirror. This paint is so reflective that I used it for all my highlight areas. All the white looking areas are silver, and in some areas I used my transparent violet over it for a lovely contrasting effect. Along with the iridescent, I may have possibly overdone it a bit… I haven't decided yet. I definitely can't show the effect with a scanned image. It's just one of those things I guess. In keeping with my learning-the-new-stuff post of last week, I'm going to try embedding my Instagram post of the video. The painting was only half done, but you can get the idea. Hopefully it will work….

I have a couple other metallics in my box of paints that I haven't used in a long time…. I wonder if they're still usable? As much as I love the Tri-art colors, I can't say I'm enamored with their packaging… the heavy body acrylics have a tendency to dry out in a relatively short timespan, whereas my Goldens are still good even though it's been months since I've used them. I sometimes need pliers to get the lids off, but what's inside is still a nice consistency. Nothing more frustrating than having your heart set on a particular hue, but having a dry, clumpy mess you have to dig out of the tube.

I can't imagine I'm going to have much time to work in the coming weeks… my car unceremoniously crapped out on me last week, and given it's age and milage we have decided to decommission the old girl and find another way to get around. The bus has proven a bit impractical. Work, which is an 11 minute car trip, is an hour and two transit systems away, and while I could get there in a half hour on my bike, the direct route would involve taking my life in my hands on a twice daily basis. According to google, I could walk in an hour and a half…. but winter is coming, and I live in Canada. I have a good coat and boots, but I have no intention of walking 3 hours a day in sub-zero temperatures. So, now I'm looking for a decent used car. Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

New Abstract Painting: Twilight

"Twilight",  9x9" mixed media on paper. Available.
If you follow me on either Twitter or Instagram you may have seen this one already. I finished it up a few weeks ago, but wasn't particularly happy with the image I was able to get from it. In an attempt to capture the "night sky" feeling I was going for, I pulled out my iridescent paints. I chose "mother of pearl", which has a gorgeous purple cast when looked at one way, and a green when looked at the opposite way. In my photo? It just looks grey. Damn.

I fussed with it a bit, but I was stumped as to how to show the metallic effect. If it was plain metallic, I suppose I might settle for this, but I love that iridescent effect and wanted to show it off. Finally the only thing I could think of was to film a few seconds of video, moving the piece in the light. I couldn't even get that right. My attempts saw the piece going in and out of focus, or I could get the purple but not the green, or the glare from the lights made it so you couldn't see much at all. I tried. This is the best of my attempts... 

One thing about being an artist.... there is always a learning curve. Back in the day (yes, I actually said that. I am that old), you did your work, hopefully got into a gallery, they sold it and sent you a cheque. They did the promotion, printed catalogues, held the parties, dealt with the collectors. Times have changed. The advent of social media totally changed the playing field, and today most artists promote and sell directly. That means keeping up with changing technology, learning how to photograph your work, figuring out how to get paid, and dealing with your own packing and shipping. Then there's the whole website thing, and blogging if you decide to go that route. I've been doing this blog for 3 years now, and even though I like doing it, I've had days where it was the absolute last thing I felt like doing. I've learned how to plan ahead and schedule for stressful times.... and the fact that I've only missed one week during the most stressful time in my life shows that I've at least got that part down. 

And just a reminder, most of the work I post is available for sale. I'm working on adding e-commerce to my website, but in the meantime, if you see something that peaks your interest, shoot me an email and we'll talk. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Jazz Legends | Lena Horne

"Legends | Lena Horne", 16x20" Acrylic on Canvas. Prints available.
Number 11. Oh so close to finished. I hate to say that I'm anxious to finish up this series, but really, I am. My attention has been pulled in a different direction, and painting these is beginning to feel like a bit of a chore. Not that I don't enjoy it once I get going, because I do... but I have to admit that getting started is becoming difficult.

A complete Lena with the face blocked
out.... lovely, isn't it?
Finishing what I've started has been a life long problem for me. That's why when I start a series I don't usually set myself a number of pieces that I want to complete. I just get going, and when I'm done, I'm done. This project was different... it was suggested that I could use the images in a new calendar, and to do that I have to complete 12. Unfortunately, that calendar isn't going to be 2016. I would have to have had the files to the printer already, and given that I'm not actually finished the paintings yet, that hasn't happened. C'est la vie. This particular piece was a bit of a problem for me. I actually finished it once... then decided that although the painting itself wasn't horrible, it didn't actually look like her. So I painted it over and did it again. That was a tough call so near the end of the series. But ultimately, I didn't want to let it go when I wasn't happy with it. It would bug me every time I saw it.

I have a few other unfinished projects hanging around that I really need to get done. Sometimes they just take forever... and as much as I hate to admit it, my short attention span makes things worse. I get bored and want to move on to something more fun. Working out a visual problem can be called a lot of things, but fun usually isn't on the list. Then there's all the other stuff that has to get done but is definitely not fun. Anti-fun even. Matting and framing, entering stuff into my inventory, doing paperwork.... ugh. I've been doing better lately.... working through my pile of small abstracts and finishing up the bits and pieces hanging around my studio. I'm hopeful that by the end of the year I'll be ready to move on to a few new things without the baggage of uncompleted work weighing on me. Artist Crystal Moody has started this great thing called "Finish it Friday" . Every Friday she makes a list and finishes a project or two. She wires, frames, varnishes, files... all those little undone things that pile up and make prepping for a show absolute hell, because you haven't touched it since the last show.  This week I took a page from her book and not only finished this piece, but wired and varnished a bunch of other pieces. It feels good to know I won't have to do it later. In fact, I think maybe I'll do it again next Friday.