Friday, June 30, 2006


Geckos stick to walls, right? Am I being lame for this topic of Illustration Friday -- or 'quirky'? (Don't answer.) The original painting is hanging in my bathroom with the company of a few geckos painted directly on the wall. I took details of different parts of the painting and then 'reinterpreted' them.
I promised not to post again until I was over my whining, though I had no idea it would happen so soon. Toni sent me an email this afternoon to tell me that four of the paintings I sent to her gallery in Erie, Pennsylvania sold today. I can make bail now!

Later: my 11 year old son made further changes. I prefer his.

misogyny or pragmatics?

Number three in my primal landscape series. I've run out of big canvases (48" x 48" or 122 cm x 122 cm), though, so must work smaller for the next few instalments.

I've been trying really hard to tone down my palette a bit, but every time I do it doesn't seem to work and I need to kick it back up a few notches. My head is too easily turned by outside influences, and the galleries in this town tend to consider this kind of symbolic, highly-keyed, almost decorative work to be less-than-serious. There is definitely a sober, angst-laden, we-take-ourselves-very-seriously timbre to what is being shown currently. If it's not Ulysses-on-canvas it's not Art. Am I feeling bitter? Truth is, I did have to face a major disappointment today. I want to 'belong' but I don't want to compromise. Working with the style and symbology I've developed, the stencilling, patterning and layering I prefer, the flattened and segmented picture plane, the pre-Columbian motifs that were part of my childhood, and my continuing exploration of layered earth themes -- these are the things that are driving me. I'm too pig-headed to try and conform at this stage of my life.

I've also been wondering why galleries such as Gallery Jones have only five women artists in a stable of 27. There's no doubt that there are more women practicing art than men, and part of the reason the gallery representation isn't higher is the way women approach art compared with men. Women are more likely to make it a hobby, gather in social groups and exhibit in community spaces whereas men are more likely to look at it as a solitary activity and approach it as a profession. That still doesn't explain why men outrepresent women in galleries as much as they do, though admittedly the 81.5% men to 18.5% women ratio at Gallery Jones is unusually excessive and not representative. Is it misogyny or simple pragmatics? Is art created by men better or does it just sell better? Personal experience has often taught me to trust men more than women and I consider the sexism debate moot, so this is a bitter pill to swallow.

It's been a serious week. I promise not to return until my glass is half full again.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


It's been a little over a year since I started this blog and today I met another blogger for the very first time. I've read about get-togethers on other blogs and even talked on the phone or Skype to Toni and Andy, but it wasn't until recently that I knew of any local bloggers. (It's a little weird when your virtual world meets your actual world; I loved it.)
Enter Kaya Murray and her husband, Kevin. They live in Kitsilano (a fantastic location if you happen to like the beach, proximity to downtown, neighbourhood character and great places to eat) and have a life devoted to each other and art. Does it get any better than that? Meeting them was great, but seeing Kaya's art up close and personal was almost as good. I've attached the paintings to which I was most attracted.

Kaya's art has a surreal, organic quality that appeals to something primal in me, and she has a talent for figurative work. The eyes are haunting. This painting, of her great-uncles who were killed in the Holocaust, has been on my mind ever since.

Kaya has two blogs: the journal on her website and this one. Take a peek.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

the debate rages on

What debate? Why, the all-important, earth-shattering, highly contentious indoor cat vs. outdoor cat debate of course! Personally, I think it's an inane thing to get bent out of shape over (if you hadn't already picked up on that...), and up to the individual feline for the most part, but I've been known to impose my will on a cat or two. This one for example. Zulu loves to go outside. In winter, when hungry coyotes come up from the ravines and roam the streets she's a strictly indoor kinda gal, but when the days are long and hot and there is more to see and do than a cat could ever hope for, she goes out. Just look at her. After such a day she is the happiest cat that ever ate a spider.

P.S. Please ignore the putrid brown panelled walls. To make matters worse, the carpet is shag and the same depressing 1970s colour. Fortunately this tiny room only holds the computer so we don't actually ever have to look at it.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

saturday morning still life

Friday, June 23, 2006


rain mosaic

Something a little different for Illustration Friday: I took nine different paintings that have rain or rain-like images, cropped a section from each and photoshopped it, then made this mosaic.

In today's Painter's Keys clickback I liked this quote from a response letter by Clint Watson:

Collectors often possess this sentiment: "If it looks just like reality, I'll just take a photograph." For many buyers, the artist's personal artistic style is the "art" in the artwork. Without the style, it's just "work."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I haven't posted to Thursday Challenge in a coon's age, but it would be very un-Vancouver of me if I couldn't find something for 'wet.'

P.S. Krista pointed out to me that some people might find the term 'coon's age' offensive (i.e. not realizing it refers to raccoons). Here is her link on the etymology of the phrase:

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

sheep art and hitler cats

A brief interlude from the fringes of the online barnyard...

First is the sheep art project called The Sheep Market.

Next is the Cow Cam.

Finally, for all you cat bloggers out there, this is cat blogging at its finest.

"I said HEIL! you big pussies!!"

Sunday, June 18, 2006

weekend photos

This weekend was the final Saturday of the footy season. Here are a couple of my better action shots.

Australian Football, or the modified kids' version called Auskick, is not exactly common in North America or Europe. A few years ago a local guy (Canadian, but lived Down Under and played Aussie Rules for years) started a fledgling league for kids in the suburb of Vancouver where I live. My boys starting playing the second year, and we were immediately hooked. It's now a league of 130 kids, both my boys play, my husband coaches, and I am the league registrar. It is the best game ever for the kids to play and the adults to watch. There are none of the nasty politics so prevalent in junior soccer and hockey, and it's not the violent sport that got such a bad rap in the '70s and '80s. It beats me why it doesn't catch on more outside of Australia and a couple other southern hemisphere countries.

But enough sport. Gardeners: what are these flowers called? Once they take hold they spread like weeds. Maybe they are weeds. In any case, my garden is overrun with them.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


I did this drawing of horses playing over 20 years ago, sometime before I quit drawing and painting. Though I taught art for a couple of years during that time, for more than 15 years I almost never touched a pencil or paintbrush.

Though I didn't believe it at the time, I do believe now that if you are born with the drive to do something, and that something challenges you but also makes you happier than almost anything else, to deny it is to invite trouble.

When I started painting again, it was because I'd finally made the leap to understanding this fundamental truth, and I was tired of being miserable. Why did I quit when I'd drawn virtually every day during my childhood, and done a BFA in visual art at university? It was my own stupidity and lack of insight, of course, but I also now know that the role modelling our parents provide is far more important than I ever understood. My parents are extremely conservative and conventional people but they never told me not to be an artist. They were far too busy with their own lives to try and influence a belligerently independent child like me ... and smart enough to know that imposing their will on me would probably backfire anyway. Come to think of it, my father never actually had an opinion as he was incapable of taking an interest, whereas my mother's greatest fear was that her children end up as financial failures and drains on society (or worse -- on her) and let's face it, artists are romantic figures but at the end of the day, most are impoverished oddniks. If they had really objected and told me not to pursue a career as an artist it might have given me more direction as I had enough of an obnoxious, immature streak that I'd have wanted to prove them wrong. As it was, I digested their value system lock, stock and barrel without even realizing it. How did I know in my early twenties that financial security and respect from a status-conscious society would mean absolutely nothing to me when I turned 40 and actually had those things?

The rest, as they say, is history.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

elite geek products

I've been 'spring cleaning'. My obsession with my large paintings has caused so many other things to slide at this very busy time of year (end of school, end of Aussie Rules season and all the celebrations and field trips and games and performances that it all entails) that it finally got the better of me on the weekend. Today was the annual window-washing, which means I'm almost done. Does it get any better than this? (Don't answer.)

To make up for the lack of grey matter function that all this activity requires I'll let Rudy take over with a selection of elite geek products. I particularly like the ones illustrated here: designer band-aids. But wait! Here's Rudy with more:

Yoda backpack:
Batcave home theatre:
A monkeyhead from, um, the Sharper Image catalogue?
Funky Band-Aids (actually this site is a veritable cornucopia of weirdness)
Flying carpets for sale:

Friday, June 09, 2006

musical interlude

Wednesday night was the final band concert of the school year. Looks like #1 son (the one on the right) is just about ready for summer holidays.



I've gotten out of the habit of participating in Illustration Friday lately, but this older one (a gift to my mother) seems to fit the bill.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

calvin's photos

I have been visiting Calvin's blog for a long time now; His work is incredible and he's so prolific that he posts almost every day. This photo of his daughter appeals to me so much that I had to share it.

Check out more of his work here.

the girls of summer

Look at these pretty girls. Being brown of thumb I love perennials and wildflowers. They surprise me year after year but pass so quickly.

I can't keep my so-called gardening hands out of 'the photoshop', though, so had to have a little fun with the poppy.

Monday, June 05, 2006

colour clue

I'm having fun with this series, though the challenges of size (4' x 4' or 122 cm x 122 cm), composition and, most of all, colour mean that for the four to five days I spend on one of these I do little else except the minimum household/family necessities. (Sorry I haven't been posting or visiting many blogs lately.)

Someone recently asked me about colour. I have a different approach for each group of paintings but they have elements in common. For the last two paintings I have chosen either a warm or cool colour palette (saturated), but have chosen to 'punctuate' each painting with a few examples from the other temperature. In this case I added a few touches of yellow and red to the overall cool blues and greens. I also use cool or warm neutrals to conform to the palette choice. Cool grey is used here. As for the underpainting, I don't have much of a plan beyond using complementary colours to the colours I plan to use on the final painting.

Last night we played Clue for the first time in ages. Besides it being tons-o-fun, I realized what a great analogy it is to the way I paint. Since I start with only a vague idea of colour, I will often sit and stare at the painting for ages, trying to figure out what colour to use where. (Composition is rarely an issue as I usually work all the compositional problems out in my preparatory sketches.) Like gathering clues in Clue, the more I paint, the clearer the solution becomes. It builds on itself. Not to say that I don't make plenty of mistakes, but the more deliberate the process the fewer times I have to repaint an area. That's a huge budgetary bonus (both time and money) when working this size! I must also admit to some aesthetic guilt as I work out the colour, as I'm striving for the most harmonious combination with maximum impact. Eye candy. But at least Tolstoy agrees with me that it's not necessarily a negative thing. In What Is Art? he said:

The assertion that art may be good art and at the same time incomprehensible to a great number of people, is extremely unjust, and its consequences are ruinous to art itself...

There is nothing more common than to hear it said of reputed works of art that they are very good but very difficult to understand. We are quite used to such assertions, and yet to say that a work of art is good but incomprehensible to the majority of men, is the same as saying of some kind of food that it is very good but most people can't eat it.

Hooray to Tolstoy, even if this quote is often used as justification for the banal. (Uh-oh.)

Next lesson: choice of images and symbols. (My favourite one here is the stencilled lobsters down the right-hand edge.) I just know you'll be waiting with bated breath.