Wednesday, May 31, 2006

betty boop undressed

Michael Paulus is a multimedia artist based in Portland, Oregon. Take a look at this cool but bizarre project.

Monday, May 29, 2006

new painting

I did it! I decided to forget about caution by jumping into my new series project with both feet and tackling a large canvas (48" x 48" x 1.5") FIRST. The following so-far-unnamed painting represents your average 40-hour workweek of labour. But since I hardly put in an average workweek I was still working on it at 8:00 on Sunday night.

I always start by making numerous thumbnail sketches in my sketchbook, working out composition. If it works small, then it will work large. I never make value sketches, though, because, as Robert Genn recently delineated, I am not a value painter but a colour painter. Values seem to work themselves out without too much input from me. Usually.

In spite of the strongly symbolic and abstracted elements, this painting feels like a landscape to me. The atmosphere and elements of landscape are all there, albeit reorganized and reinterpreted. I'm having a bit of a struggle figuring out how to name this one and the ones that follow. I usually have a formula, but this time I'm stumped. Any suggestions from those who've faced this before?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

the secret mail fairy strikes again

Once upon a time in a parallel universe called the blogosphere, some kind soul had the idea of sending out individualised 'care packages' to other like-minded individuals. Was that secret mail fairy the first person to have this idea or had the magic wand of another brought her to this special place? It doesn't matter, really, as the magic was contagious, infecting the recipient with joy, gratitude and a desire to not break the magic spell.

As you can see, Tara Chang not only produces a beautiful illustration, but also packs a mean care package. I was almost hesitant to unwrap each of these little treasures. As you can see, though, it was worth it, and a total feast for the senses. The smell of lavender from her garden was the first thing to hit me, followed by the visuals (her card and homemade notepads are beautiful things), and then -- the taste buds! The Seattle-specific biscotti, small chocolates, smoked salmon and coffee are wonderful, but it was the taste of Maya Gold chocolate by Green & Black's that made me into such a convert that I emailed the company to ask for a list of local retailers. Like a crystal meth user the addiction was instantaneous!

Thank you, Tara, from the bottom of my heart, and now -- will you run the extra miles that are now needed for me to burn this stuff off? :)

PS Is there such thing as a chocolate blog?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

more adventures in product design

First day on the job? New kid in school? Have I ever got what you need to dress to impress! As you head out the door, don't forget to put on your hi-tech platform shoes and smart coat. But that peanut butter sandwich will never be the same without a little musical accompaniment during the lunch hour so don't forget your LunchBoxALeLe if you really want to impress the other kids. (The Elvis one is great, but in the end I had to choose GI Joe.) Just you wait. Before long everyone will be saying, "Gee whiz ~ s/he's so swell! S/he's the grooviest kid in town."

Sunday, May 21, 2006

the creative process

For some time now I've been feeling like I'm on the verge of a new direction in my painting. I've even gone so far as to purchase some very large canvases (48" x 48"). I haven't even been consciously researching, just actively following my curiosity. While doing some book-learnin' on the marketing aspect of the art biz I took a good hard look at the huge success of local painter Bobbie Burgers. What I took away from looking at her art was confirmation that some of my decisions are on the right track: square format, unframed and painted around the side, saturated colour palette -- and painting large I can definitely do. But what I haven't got is the wide appeal of her subject matter (flowers) and the Van Gogh-inspired style (that Dutch heritage!) that is so well-loved.

So far so good. I have kicked around the idea of doing something similar to her using different subject matter: you know, the trees, fruits and veggies I enjoy doing that are also pretty popular subject matter. But I wasn't making much headway as I dabbled with these ideas. I was making that fatal mistake of allowing the market to make decisions for me, rather than looking to myself and what I wanted to do for the kind of inspiration that I really seem to need to create anything that satisfies me.

Then I got a response from Kaya on my small art blog telling me that some of my work reminds her of Hundertwasser. Hallelujah! This is an artist who I knew only slightly and remembered best as being similar to Klimt. A little on-line research and before I knew it I was ordering a book on the artist and gobbling up everything I could find on him and his work. And like all interesting relationships there's a love-hate aspect to it (hmmm ... the first man I ever loved -- and hated -- was Austrian, too...). In any case, there were the spirals that I'd started exploring lately, the delicious colours that I love (so much red!) and the primitive and childlike motifs that I can't get enough of.

I decided then and there that what I need to do is simply continue on with the vocabulary I've been developing for several years (why abandon so much hard work?), but find a fresh context. And why not use Hundertwasser as a kind of teacher at this early stage? I could do worse.

My first stab at this happened today and took so much longer than most of my small art pieces as I work out what I'm trying to say. My new ideas are all over the map but I'm tempted to just jump right in with both feet and use one of those large canvases now.

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
~ Goethe

Friday, May 19, 2006

happy first birthday

One year ago today I made my first blog post. I was still new to the blogging world, having only discovered it a couple of months earlier, but ignorance is bliss and I thought I'd give it a test drive. Who knew that I would enjoy it so much that I'd still be doing it a year later, with no end in sight?

This blog was originally called art from the basement and it took me a few months to figure out how the whole blog community thing worked and to discover some blogs I wanted to visit regularly. I struggled with my 'voice' for awhile: what to write about, what to share 'in public', how much time I wanted to spend, etc. My knowledge of blog customizing came even later. It's been a great learning process, and an always-evolving exercise in creativity.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I've spent the past two days in organizational mode. I am often accused of being anal due to my need to organize my space, but it doesn't come naturally; absent-mindedness is my natural environment, but I had to learn early that if I was going to survive with my keys and deadlines intact I'd need to do everything in my power to counteract my tendency towards tunnel vision/distractedness. Space organization became my prime defense. And since I have these OCD tendencies and a perfectionist bent, I managed to overdo it. Of course. But I do have relapses, and last week's missed deadline made me realise that my record-keeping was way behind, so that's what I've been doing. I also revamped/streamlined my website and have probably developed carpal tunnel syndrome as a result.

Here's to another year ... as long as I don't lose my crayons, that is.


This is a soft pastel drawing on black paper from a few years back. The flowers, thrown on the ground, seemed like a perfect expression of Illustration Friday's theme this week.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

nova scotia

Eveline Gallant Fournier's virtual book project Souls of the Sea has been going on for several years now. Artists, writers and maritime enthusiasts might want to take a look and then contribute.

And while visiting Nova Scotia, take a look at HildaRose's great illustrations.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

vancouver special

I've gotten into the habit of taking pictures of older, more interesting Vancouver houses when I go into town every Wednesday. (It makes me feel like a p.i. on the divorce trail.) Now I need to figure out what to do with them! This painting has been in the conception stage for a hideously long time due to its unusual format (36" x 12") and it has taken even longer to paint it seems, so imagine my relief to finish it up last night! It may be surprising that it took so long as it's quite a simple painting. (Never judge a book by its cover.)

Needless to say, there hasn't been any small art happening as a result, in spite of my best intentions. I also seem to have lost track of time completely as this painting was going to be entered in a fairly important annual juried show at the Surrey Art Gallery that I was accepted into last year, and I just discovered that I've been a week behind and missed last Friday's deadline! I need an office manager. Among other things.

PS to any Canadian readers: please visit Reluctant Nomad's blog so the South African viewers can be left in the dust! (Since Alan called me competitive I'm just being cooperative...) More on that in this post.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

happy mother's day

I'm a few hours early, but I couldn't resist. This is a must see for mothers of sons (me), sisters of multiple brothers (me), or brothers of brothers (OK, so I have my limitations).

PS Thanks for the priceless link, Rudy.

Friday, May 12, 2006

four things

My boys don't go to the neighbourhood school as they are in the French Immersion stream (there's only a couple of these schools in the district), and sometimes getting them there and back can be an exercise in creative problem-solving. Well, since #1 son is now a terrible ... I mean terrific ... teenager and has a tube-a-week hair gel habit (thanks, Cherrypie) he no longer rides his bike due to overwhelming fear of helmet hair. So I have usurped his trusty steed and today accompanied #2 son to his school. After I've picked him up today I will have clocked 20 hill kilometres and probably have new muscles to, um, appreciate. The biggest problem with this brilliant idea is that the dog doesn't get his run. Another tragic suburban tale of woe.

As you can see, I'm grasping at straws in an effort to kick loose my writer's block. While visiting Chitty's blog this morning, I saw that he has as little interest in being au courant as I do and finally did that sad, faded old 'four things' meme long after its 'use by' date. Well, last place is better than falling into a ditch crying, and it's a bunch more words to add to my blog.

Needless to say, there's no one left to tag.

Four jobs I've had in my life:
1. teacher (too many variations on this theme to include)
2. photographic printer (in the dark ages of the mini lab)
3. closed-caption editor
4. trainee framer (lasted 3 weeks and the people were so horrific that I had nightmares about it for 6 months)

Four films I would watch over and over (this category is way too hard so I just chose ones from my collection):
1. The English Patient
2. Dr. Strangelove
3. Annie Hall
4. Babe

Four places I have lived:
1. Victoria, B.C.
2. London
3. Larisa, Greece
4. Rossland, B.C.

Four TV shows I love to watch:
1. House
2. Six Feet Under
3. endless reruns of Law and Order
4. Grey's Anatomy (flavour of the month)

Four places I've been on vacation:
1. three of the four corners of Europe (over many months)
2. Mazatlan, Mexico
3. Cowichan Lake, B.C.
4. Orlando, Florida

Four websites I visit often:
1. Quotes of the Day
2. various art dealers
3. IMDb
4. Bloglines to point me towards my favourite updated blogs

Four of my favourite foods (this category is also too hard so I limited it to desserts):
1. cheesecake of all persuasions
2. ice cream of all persuasions
3. dark chocolate in any of its forms (do you detect a theme?)
4. trifle the way I make it

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. NYC at the MOMA
2. on safari somewhere in Africa
3. Provence
4. a hot bath

And on that note, I have things to do...

Addendum (after the hot bath): You don't have to like dance to love this. Apparently Judson Laipply has a Masters in Human Movement. Don't you just love New Age education?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

kada gallery

I almost forgot that I had these photos to post. The first shows the main room at Kada Gallery in Erie, Pennsylvania, where Toni Kelly works. The second shows some of my smaller fish paintings in the gallery. Proof positive that the blogging community is a fantastically supportive place and that Toni is more than just a talented artist. Thanks to the generosity of her boss, Kathy, I even had the chance to chat on the phone with Toni earlier this week. Imagine! There's an actual world outside my computer!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

at the market

I was at Granville Island Public Market today and couldn't resist taking a few photos of the spring delights, so I'm posting them here as a kind of 'a picture's worth a thousand words' type apology for having nothing much to say lately.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

chocolate art

A week or two ago I was listening to CBC radio 1 while painting and heard an interview with someone from ChocolaTas regarding a contest to create 'artist series chocolates.' I was intrigued (loving the idea of chocolate art ~ what could be more perfect?), wrote down some details, and promptly forgot about it. Then yesterday an invitation arrived in my inbox from the contest promoters. There are no prizes aside from the publicity, but I was intrigued by the idea of painting something that tiny (4 cm x 4 cm or 1.5" x 1.5" for the metrically challenged) with a three-colour limit. So I had to give it a try.

I did three designs today. I have entered an artist series wine label competition several times and never gotten farther than the finalists, so I don't expect to win, but it was an interesting 'little' challenge. Besides, since the contest is not an online submission, I'll have to actually remember to physically get it to the appropriate people on time...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

for people with more dollars than sense

Talk about original product design, these items really are for the person who has everything:

You can't sue McDonald's when this coffee spills in your lap.

This could force golf ball hunters who financed their Archie comic collections onto the dole.

Then again, if work is your life, you deserve a little hi-tech fun, too.

And if that's not enough, go crazy here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

a 'pear' of eagles

How sad is that? The celebrity eagle pair of the famous eagle eye cam are too old to make babies. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Ah well -- maybe it's a cautionary tale to the pregnant 63 year old Englishwoman and her husband.

more about empty eggs in the comments

Further adventures of the painted pear here.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

o pear

Here's something I've almost finished. This is a maybe-commission, meaning that if she doesn't like it it's not a commission but just two more paintings! This is the first time I've tried 'art to order' ~ i.e. looking at someone's space and then choosing the right size, colours and style, and considering their preference for subject matter. Oh my God -- am I a decorator now?!?

Pears is a subject I've avoided simply because everyone and his dog has done pears. Some do pears exclusively. But I can sure see the attraction in the subject matter. They are such quirky individuals, so voluptuous, fecund-looking even. I think I have to do more now!

It's too sunny outside today to get decent photos, and I need to do some final touch-up, but I'm overdue for a post so here they are. Click for sharper image. They are 12" x 12" x 1.5" -- painted on sides like my small art. (Phew -- managed to get my plug in at the end!)

They're not a diptych exactly but are meant to be hung together.

Monday, May 01, 2006

old dog

It was 15 years ago today that I brought four-month-old Zoe home from the shelter. She doesn't look a day over 13, does she? :) Photo taken but moments ago.