Sunday, April 24, 2016

Abstract Painting: Just Listen

"Just Listen", 12x12" mixed media on canvas. Available. 

My son just finished up his first year of university. How I got old enough to have a kid in university, I don't know. It seems like a few days ago he was a baby, and now he's a young man getting ready to move out.

Or that was the plan, anyway. He wants to live with his friends, and given that he's very close to 19, I figure its about the right time. They seemed to have it figured out... to the point where I marvelled at how mature these kids are. But now it seems the drama is starting. There's an extra friend that needs to be included. A girlfriend that wants to move in as well. One kid going to a different school to be considered. They need a place where they can practice (they're all musicians) and all the neighbours won't complain. Seems like a lot to ask for in a city where ANY housing is in very short supply, never mind the affordable kind. They are adults and need to sort it out among themselves, so I need to keep my nose out of it. Difficult when it's your child. The best I can do is listen.

I've always been more of a listener than a talker. I watch people. Read their non-verbal clues and try to figure them out. I was obsessed with that tv show "Lie to Me", where an expert used facial micro-expressions to tell if people were lying. I've passes those online emotional intelligence tests with near perfect scores. I can usually tell when someone doesn't like me, and it's taken me many years to not care about that and just be who I am. I've tried to pass on some of these things to my child... particularly the "be who you are" thing. For the most part I think I've succeeded.... but he's only 19. As much as I don't want to see him get into a living situation where he's constantly stressed out by other people's drama, I need to let him make his own decisions and figure it out for himself.

I did remind him that in a pinch, he can always come back here. The commute isn't the worst thing ever.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Art Journal: Class Demo

A demo I did in my recent class. Someone spotted a face in my random paint splatters, and I just went with it. I
think it looks vaguely Asian... like a kabuki mask. 
Over the month of March I taught a class at a local senior's centre. I wasn't so sure about the teaching thing... I'd done a couple workshops, but they were short enough that I couldn't really get to the core of my subject. It ended up being more like a step by step thing than an actual class where I imparted any kind of wisdom. This class was different... not only because I had more than a few hours to get all my information out, but because the class was based on the thing I have struggled with for most of my artistic life: how can we generate ideas?

That was always the thing that was my biggest stumbling block. When I was in school it was something we never touched on. Everyone else seemed to be overflowing with possibilities, while I doodled in my sketchbook and stared at my blank canvas wishing something... anything... would come to me. It really sucked. And it made me feel like I was somehow less than the others. Less of an artist. Not creative at all, in fact. And that, combined with all the other stuff... the brutal critiques, the absence of technical instruction, the complete lack of support... made me reluctant to label myself "artist". 

Twenty years later and I've figured out how my brain works. For me, anyway, it's about latching on to something that fascinates me, and working through all the crappy ideas until I get to the good stuff. Sometimes it takes a while. There's writing, there's reading. I am usually obsessed with something for a while before it starts coming out in my little books. The books themselves are like some little time-travel journey through my brain... a working through ideas until I hit on the thing that I think I can take somewhere interesting. I brought a pile of these journals with me on the first day of class, and everyone had a chance to take a good look while I babbled on about how important it was to work in a series so your ideas have a chance to percolate and the easiest, most obvious things get out of the way. It must have had some sort of impact, because everyone showed up on week two with a book started, and an idea ready to go.

One thing that really impressed me about this class was how open they were to everything. I have some pretty unorthodox ways of working, especially when I'm beginning a project... I start without any idea of what I'm going to do, I use all kinds of homemade and improvised tools, I work with what shows up rather than planning everything out. I'm a fan of painting over things that don't work. I got no resistance from this group. The tried everything. It was awesome.

I hope I'm like that when I'm "old". But you know, not one of them seemed old to me. Could be because I'm no youngster myself...the older I get the less a difference in age seems to mean. But I think it was more their spirit of adventure and openness to new ideas. That's the thing I need to hold on to.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Arts on the Credit 2016

Thank you to everyone who came out to see the show this year. It was a lot of fun, and it was lovely talking to you all in person.

If you didn't get there, I had a wee walk-around before the doors opened on Sunday. It will give you a taste of what work was there, and the lovely people I got to spend the weekend with.

A special thanks to organizers Marie Payne and Elysia Prokopetz. You guys are awesome.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Arts on the Credit Giveaway!

Here are all 8 miniature paintings I am giving away. I haven't done anything this small in years... I had forgotten
how fast they go. And how fun they are. 
Arts on the credit is here in less than a week. So far this is the only art fair I do (but I am hoping to change that this year... I've got my applications ready and deadlines marked on the calendar. Bring it on). I'm on my 3rd year there, and I have to admit, it usually causes me a great deal of anxiety. I'm dealing with everything much better this year... I'm not running around looking for stuff because I put it away when everything was done last year. I got my display stuff out last week and set it up in the garage, so I'm sure I've got all the tools and hardware packed up and ready to go. I've got a bunch of prints I can take, I have way more art than I can possibly fit in my 10 foot booth, and I have something to wear that I'm sure fits me. I even managed to get a haircut. Yay me!

This is by far the largest piece I will have with me. If
you spot it, you're in the right place.
One thing I usually do, after the fact, is give something away to my followers. I always plan to have something posted during the show, but every year I am so bogged down with other stuff that I don't get to it. Well, people, not this year! Over the past two weeks I have managed to paint 8 miniature originals, all one of kind in a series, and I am going to have a draw. 

If you are planning to visit the show this year... and that's April 9-10... stop around at my booth. I will have ballots to fill out, and a box to put them in. Fill in your info, drop it in the box, and that's it. When the show is over I will draw out 8 names, contact you for your address, and I'll drop them in the mail. Easy peasy. 

For those of you who actually paint yourself, I'm going to tell you what I was doing here.... I've recently been refreshing my memory on the rules of visual art. I wrote about that last week. I stumbled onto a video on colour theory (sorry, I can't find the one I watched. I lose stuff on youtube all the time. I really should bookmark the good ones) and this guy explains it way better than any of my professors did in uni. So, I picked out three random colours that were sitting on my art table, added my favourite metallic, and got to work. I honestly didn't know how these were going to look. I don't know if I would ever have thought of putting turquoise, crimson and raw sienna together, but they were sitting next to each other, so there you go. By making sure there was a bit of each colour in every colour mix, the colours work together beautifully, even though they don't necessarily go together when you look at the full strength hues, side by side. Something I maybe figured out intuitively, without actually articulating it. It was a fun little exercise. 

Anyway, I'm hoping I'll have some time to post some photos from the show next week, but in case I don't, I'll be back to my regular Sunday posting the following week. Have a good one, and I'll see you at the show.