Sunday, July 29, 2007


In the past I have bitched and moaned about how few people actually make the effort to see art in its so-called natural environment (the gallery) when, if you think about it from a pure creativity standpoint, commercial gallery art usually has an overriding economic component. My own struggles with the capitalism of art go something along the lines of "my painting is too avant garde for mainstream galleries and too mainstream for avant garde galleries" as if all that matters is paying the coal man and feeding the baby. I'm such a loser.

Maybe that's why I have a growing fascination with street art, its real natural environment. Art without a price tag, baby. A couple of months ago I got so excited about this exhibition I even stupidly emailed an old friend who lives within an hour's train ride of London to see if he'd give me some local feedback on it. Stupid because he thinks I'm a stalker (maybe the 50 hang-up calls/month from Canada on the phone bill are all wrong numbers) and has made the wise decision to not answer. I can't think why he avoids me, except for maybe the fact that he's prettier than me and once upon a time I thought his acerbic wit was the perfect counterpoint to my straight man. He showed me what he thought of that by going off and marrying a girl whose only redeeming quality was that she had great boots. And believes him when he explains the phone bill. But I digress.

Okay, so grafitti art is hardly an ivory tower of pure creativity any more. In the '80s Basquiat and Haring showed us how to make the transition from angst-ridden street yoof (Basquiat anyway) to canonised artist. But we all know what happened to them, both dead by age 30. Maybe it's like putting a lion in a cage for the public to throw food at. I'd find self-destructive ways to escape, too.

Enter today, where there are a hundred artists as good as Basquiat out there whose work will never make it onto canvas and into galleries. A lot of it is worthless, but sometimes the simplest grafitti packs the biggest punch. Before it was removed, the spray-painted phrase 'teech me' (one of the e's was backwards) on one of the outside walls of my son's school brought a smile every time I saw it. Now you don't even need to pocket your .45 and venture into the slums to see great street art with blogs/sites like Wooster Collective, Streetsy and Banksy. These are so good I flipped through every page. The variety is endless. The art that affected me most was the beautiful:

the profound:

but most of all:

Friday, July 27, 2007

desert moon

Some of my favourite movies are ones that are completely unpredictable like, say, Crash. I hate it when they end. Paintings can be like that, too. How one painting plays out always influences how I expect the next one to unfold. Well, blow me down, it never works that way! This one required me to make one eensy change in imagery and repaint one teensy section, unlike the previous, oh, ten thousand. I didn't want it to end. I also expected this one to be very pale and bright, but I guess the moon was a greater influence than I was.

Coincidentally, this week's Illustration Friday topic is 'moon.' It's too bright out to take a proper photo today, so here's the final easel shot instead.

If you're interested in watching this painting morph from beginning to end there's a slide show here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

the missing links

painting-in-progress part five

The top half may or may not be complete. The bottom half still has a ways to go. (Scroll down for the earlier stages of this painting.)
And now for something completely different: Rudy has sent me a bunch of amazing links that I have to share. There are interactive fun ones:
fun with lines

and not-so-interactive fun ones:

A collection of really great photo essays that include the serious:

and the not-so-serious:

Sunday, July 22, 2007

summer splendor

The aquatic-themed drawings and paintings for Summer Splendor are now in artstream's online shop. They are available here and are priced according to size. The thumbnails are not high resolution so make sure you click through to get a better look.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

in progress

Here we go with part two of the great unfolding.
As you can see from yesterday's post, I did the underpainting in primarily dark and cool tones. The painting is a desert 'scene' (loosely interpreted) and will therefore be painted in light/warm tones. It gives the colours *wow* when the overpainting is placed on top of a complementary-coloured underpainting with those cool tones being allowed to show through in areas.
I started by cutting an acetate stencil for the cacti, then stencilling them in along with bird skulls made with an earlier stencil. Then, using white conte, I sketched in the other motifs and figures I wanted to use, with the exception of the joshua tree as I was having second thoughts about where I wanted it. In this photo you can see that I've gone ahead and painted in the gecko, moon and stars already.
At this point I decided to move the moon to make room for the joshua tree, as I wanted to make it a larger, more powerful presence. Then I painted in the images that were sketched in conte earlier. You can see the conte marks left behind before I washed them off.
This is the final stage of the 'images' part of the painting: adding the patterned areas. In this case it's my favourite Hundertwasser spirals around the gecko, and bird footprints in the lower right quadrant. I debated with myself about putting the joshua tree there, but my paintings can be pretty busy sometimes so it's a good idea to create a place for the eye to rest, so I left that blank, except for the birdie feet.

The next part, painting in the background, is the easiest part to actually paint but the hardest part of the painting to work through/reconcile. It's an exercise in tone and colour relationships and can be extremely tricky to get right, as I will show you later.

Friday, July 20, 2007

shhhh I'm working

Procrastination schmocrastination. I'm feeling better and just to prove I'm working, I have the evidence. No, it ain't pretty (and it won't be for awhile), but stay tuned and I'll try to jump through a few hoops before we head out for our summer holidays.

24" x 24" x 1.5" canvas

Though I call it by a variety of names, I did touch on my problems with procrastination recently. Vicki tackled the subject properly with this post. Now I discover that there's actually a home for us on-line. Enter Procrastination Central.
procrastination: a hardening of the oughteries (anonymous)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


They say that if you don't post regularly you'll lose your readers. But what if you don't have anything to write about? While my body has been recuperating my brain appears to have shut down in sympathy. Maybe the whole package is just taking a much-needed vacation.

I haven't been doing nothing mind you. Just yesterday I painted my toenails silver and decided to test drive those whitestrip things you put on your teeth. (New post title: Boredom Breeds Vanity) I am also busily studying up on southern manners and protocol by reading Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral. I have a recurring fascination with the American south, probably born when I was 11 years old and became friends with the new American girl at school. Her mother was from Arkansas, had a lovely southern drawl and her given name was Merry Melody. Really. (And it was spelled that way.) She perfectly matched the description in the book of the socially exacting fine Episcopal lady, minus the booze. ("The Episcopalian ideal of a gentleman is a man who, if a lady falls down drunk, will pick her up off the floor and freshen her drink.") Her always polite but often completely mystified reaction to life in a foreign land was an education to me, and I vowed to one day find out what life was really like along the Mississippi. (I still haven't made it.) When they moved back to Southern California a year or so later I went down to visit and we went camping at San Clemente Beach. It was the final death throes of the Watergate scandal and when the Nixons arrived at their beach house on their boat one day Mrs B was beside herself with carefully-controlled excitement: we got the whole story on Pat's outfit.

See? Having nothing to write about creates seriously irrelevant digressions and helps me hide the Real Truth: I have nothing to write about because I got sucked into the black hole that is Facebook last week. Crackbook is addictive enough, but I also discovered a game application called Traveler IQ Challenge that I have now played 44 times! Though I'm doing pretty well on the other sections, after 12 games I'm still only getting an average score in the World Capital Challenge section.
What I really need to do is play just one more time. See ya.

Friday, July 13, 2007


oceans ten

This week's Illustration Friday topic (discovery), along with the weather, reminds me of all the time I spent as a child at our nearby beach, looking in tide pools and turning over rocks, discovering shells and minnows and crabs. I grew up near Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, when it was still something of a quiet little village.

This is one of seven paintings and ten drawings of mine showing in Rochester, New Hampshire, this summer. The show is called Summer Splendor, includes three other artists, and opens at Susan's artstream gallery tomorrow, continuing until September 6th. If you have the chance to visit, please tell me about it as I certainly won't be able to make it! :( I believe these drawings and paintings will also eventually be made available at artstream's online shop. Visit Susan's blog for updates.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

it was 20 years ago today ... um ... yesterday

It was hot yesterday, 37C, even hotter than it was on July 11th of 1987 when Greg and I got married. I was so glad we had a ceiling fan in the bedroom when it didn't dip into the 20s until the wee hours of the morning. As for our anniversary, we spent last weekend in Harrison Hot Springs at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa with all the other old farts. The bad news is that I have been ill for three weeks, very unusual for me, so we spent all our time lolling in pools, reading, eating and sleeping. Quite a contrast from our last anniversary there (we go every five years) when we went for a long run along the lakefront (Greg was training for a full marathon and me for a half) and played two games of golf! Turns out I have more than just a virus so stocked up on antibiotics when I finally went to the doctor yesterday. (No, it's not an STD!)

Needless to say I've managed to do nothing more energetic than the essentials around here for ages, so haven't been visiting blogs much let alone posting. I'll be back as soon as the drugs kick in. Meantime, here are a few photos from the weekend:

Saturday afternoon was spent in Fort Langley and we also visited the Fort Wine Company. While in Langley we found this great hat shop. Apparently I had just sucked a lemon ~ but I actually did like the hat!

Greg found a great hat from South Africa with webbed sides -- very cool in the hot sun. Here he is sporting it on a pier at Harrison Lake.
This photo of the hotel and resort was taken up the lake a bit at the source of the hot springs. It was originally built in the 1880s, burnt down in 1920 and was rebuilt in 1926. There were additions in the '60s and '80s. In this photo the old hotel is hidden between the two additions.

For more photos and/or a slide show go here.

Friday, July 06, 2007


1. strange2, 2. strange
made with Mosaic Maker, then photoshopped
(thanks to Kathryn at
Daring Young Mom)

I saw these photos over at DYM and thought they were so creepily quirky, yet engagingly innocent, that I asked Kathryn if I could borrow them ~ though I had no idea what I'd use them for. When I saw today's Illustration Friday theme I thought they just might fit the bill if I tinkered with them a bit.

mona lisa in the 21st century

how to paint the Mona Lisa using Microsoft Paint

Monday, July 02, 2007

look at me!

Somehow the Spring 2007 issue got lost in translation, so here's the summer issue of Cahoots magazine. I love that my work is both featured and on the cover of the 'many cultures' issue. One of the angles in my Primal Landscape series is just that: an exploration of the more primitive art of Pre-Columbian Mexico, a culture whose art I love and I have a great deal of curiosity about. I can hardly wait to receive my copy.

And while I'm tooting my own horn, last week I got a really encouraging letter from Dianna Ponting, president of the Federation of Canadian Artists. She travels to the various chapters in BC and Alberta to speak to them about the Federation and at the same time takes along the most recent year's successful candidates for Signature Status (AFCA in my case). Here's what she said:

After having done several presentations of these same slides over and over, I find myself anticipating certain artists work before it comes on the screen and passing along this excitement to the audience. What usually strikes me about these in particular artists is that they’ve really achieved a recognizable high in their careers. They’ve developed a wonderful style all of their own and carry it of with aplomb and technical expertise.

Your work is among these few artists and although there is no second guessing what a jury panel might decide, I want to take this opportunity to suggest that you apply for your SFCA in 2008 because I truly think you are there already.

Not sure yet if I'm ready to take the next step (it took me ages to make the first) but it was definitely a boost I needed. Anyway, I promised no more shameless advertising for two weeks on April 27th, so I think I outdid myself this time. Does that mean I have to wait another two+ months?