Tuesday, April 29, 2008

the latest

rest feed

Busy week this week: I'm finishing up some work, tying up loose ends and packing for shipping. After I get this load off to the new gallery I can return to some important gigs, i.e. commissions.

But I have a few links to share before I return to the trenches. The first one totally intrigues me because I have seen articles about wool felting in places like Etsy and craft blogs, but being particularly stunted in my crafts growth, have no idea what it is, really. But if this is it, then I'm in!

More cute fuzzies here. These are all really creative uses of mainstream materials. Sometimes traditional media, like, say, crayons, can actually be the artwork. I also like it when prosaic objects like Lego or annuals/yearbooks are the inspiration for something totally unexpected.

Finally, I was really amused by Ellen and Melody's blast from the past when they showed off their '80s hair yesterday. I'm too chicken to post it on my blog, but if you take a look here, you, too, can be wowed by my Big Hair (and read the 'back story'). Feel free to make this into a meme-for-the-middle-aged and then let us know!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


I'll be putting these two guys, framed, in my online shop tomorrow, but now I have a very important Saturday night date with a DVD player.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

earth art

All day long I've wanted to post about Earth Day, but first I needed to paint something for it, and that didn't happen until after dinner! As a result, Earth Day is over almost everywhere. Here at GMT-8 we still have a couple hours left. Just made it.

I've always been convinced that pussywillows are at least 25% animal. This is tiny (there's only so much time left in the day after dinner after all), only 6" x 6", and painting the pussywillows themselves were a doddle, but blending the background on these hard little panels is a pain in the arse because the (acrylic) paint dries so fast on wood. This gradation blending right on the support is something I did back in the day when I painted in oils -- and it worked -- and I've never been able to give it up. D'you think there's a 12-step program for that?

But, about Earth Day and blogging. Here's a blog that is an inspiration, and then there's Angela, urban apartment dweller, making a concerted effort to eat locally-produced food as much as possible.

Finally, who produces finer art than the earth herself? Check out her handiwork here and here.

Monday, April 21, 2008


I'm late for most things, so after a few lates for Illustration Friday I'm still slightly ahead of the (my) curve.

Primitive is a good one for me, considering how often I like to introduce primitive elements into my work. But in art it's a bit of a misnomer. Picasso's was the least primitive art using the most primitive elements.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

inclement weather

Stormy Relations 12" x 24"

Let me begin by saying that I'm pretty sure the average artist as tortured soul is a myth, and that there are equally as many tortured taxi drivers and accountants. (If I was an accountant I know I would be.) That said, I certainly seem to field more than my fair share of angst. There seem to be major cycles, usually punctuated by minor skirmishes, but for the most part I think my work refects my sunnier moods. Maybe that's a mistake. It's like I'm trying to create an up cycle by sheer force of will and sometimes I just need to ride the down cycles. Maybe, if I accept myself a little more, apply a little more zen, I'll actually learn something.

This painting has been working its way out of me for a couple of weeks now. I have balked every step of the way and it has not been a pleasure. It started life as a pleasant spring thing, painted to exist alongside my other cottage paintings: a couple of cheerful houses in an old neighbourhood, comfortable in their skins and their companionship. Yeah, right. I finally accepted it for what it is and finished it yesterday in the turbulent grey tones of a spring storm on the west coast. Even then, I tried to cheer it up a little, probably because I felt that I needed the cheering up, with tulips and birdies and blossoms and the like. The only thing missing is fluffy kitties peering through the curtains. I haven't varnished it yet, so I'm tempted now to go back and paint out my sad attempts at positive thinking and really pour on the storm clouds and create some wind, so to speak. But then it occurred to me that this innocuous-looking painting is a perfect reflection of what I'm up against right now: a failed attempt at painting a happy face on a grizzly bear. A reflection of that struggle between yin and yang. Since it's not the kind of artwork most people will want for their dining room (too gloomy) or their wood-panelled study (too cheerful) maybe I need to keep it around as a reminder that I can't control everything.

Monday, April 14, 2008

just another manic monday

sweet sounds

Doesn't this look like it would belong to the guitarist of an '80s girl group?

I think we're being invaded. In the finest spirit of "if you can't beat 'em..." my lessons start a week from tonight.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

benefit print

I've borrowed the idea of putting a charity print in my Etsy shop. I had five ink-jet prints (or 'reproductions' for the politically correct) made on the beautiful paper I love, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, from the painting I did of Zappa in January. Unfortunately I goofed and had them printed a bit small (7" x 8.25") but have priced them accordingly. $5 from each print goes to Inland Northwest Rescue, run by Mary Ann Lindsay, the patron saint of Australian Shepherds and Border Collies here in the Pacific Northwest. She has been fighting cancer for years now, meanwhile rescuing and finding homes for literally hundreds of needy dogs. One year we saw her work in action when we headed out to Idaho twice to help tame her garden and rebuild the sundeck on her mobile home. She has a real matchmaker's ability to match dogs with people. So, if you know someone who might like a print of an Australian Shepherd and would like to benefit a worthwhile cause, send them over.

Friday, April 11, 2008

failure and success


This week's Illustration Friday theme, fail, actually caused me to think (!) about the nature of failure and its flip side, success. Just yesterday I received a fatal 'declined' from a juried show submission and though you'd think it would just roll off me by now (especially since I was asked to jury this show ~ how ironic is that?), I still feel like a capital L loser whenever this happens ... though I'll confess that my first reaction is always, "What's wrong with them?" not "What's wrong with me?" :) I do well enough to have to use an accountant to sort out my taxes -- all income from my art -- so what am I fretting about? I'm at the stage now that I wish I'd saved all my 'declined' slips, like the novelist who papers the walls of his garret with rejection letters, as a kind of celebration of my efforts.

See, I realize now that it really is about efforts and that many of my failures are not necessarily all about me. I had a friend who finally screwed up the courage to submit a fabric piece to a juried show of textile arts. When she was refused she found it so devastating that she decided to never enter another, and retired quietly to work in the $100,000 studio she had built in her backyard. Maybe I just have a bigger ego (OK, there's no question that I have a bigger ego), but giving up seems like a bigger failure to me. (Ask me again when I find myself behind the counter at Timmy's, not having touched a paintbrush in months.) However, I was lucky that the first piece I ever submitted to an important juried show, way back in 2002, was accepted (see right). And before anyone lectures me about success being independent of prestige and commerce, save it for the pulpit. That's a whole other blog post.

But here's a success I want to crow about and it's not even mine. My kids are, at this moment, both taking part in their school's 30 Hour Famine for World Vision. They raised $320 between them. I love this event, and World Vision in general. Naturally I look at my skinny boys and the Michelina's grandmother in me thinks they'll shrivel up and blow away if they go without food for more than four hours ... but I'll get through it. Their school, a small 8-12 school of about 700 students in a middle-class neighbourhood in a less-desirable suburb, has consistently been the top money earner in Canada, including last year when they raised $32,000. The only school that has raised more overall since 1992 is a very exclusive private school within Canada's most expensive postal code.

Monday, April 07, 2008

art loves music

He has Van Gogh's ear for music.

Yesterday I stumbled upon the above quote by Billy Wilder. I laughed, of course, but I was also aware of the coincidence of finding this at a time when my visual art explorations are all about music, probably ignited by my need to draw Stephen Fearing's guitar. Right now I have three abandoned paintings lying around my studio, all works that must be finished within an actual timeline, while I continue to noodle away with guitars as subject matter (while listening to Stephen's music) ~ and have the experimental panels to prove it. Or, as Joe Jackson (a musician of course -- it's all about synchronicity) would say, "the half-finished drivel I'd worked on for days." Gotta follow where the muse leads no matter where he wanders I guess. Turn left before the outhouse please.

Anyway, so I wasn't surprised when Rudy (who does more for this blog than I do these days) forwarded me this amazing article. It's all about the link between a neurodegenerative condition called primary progressive aphasia and creativity, but I also couldn't help noticing yet another link between art and music. The artist who painted the above painting suffered from this condition while working on it:

It is called Unravelling Boléro, by Canadian artist Anne Adams, and is a bar-by-bar representation of the popular classical piece Boléro by Maurice Ravel ... And here's the jaw-dropper: Ravel is thought to have suffered from the same condition, which may have drawn him towards repetitive patterns such as the themes that cycle through Boléro. Adams was unaware of this, and of her own condition, while working on her painting.

Who knew there could be benefits to brain tumours? Seriously, though, I'm fascinated when scientists uncover links between neurology and creativity. I also wonder if my own use of pattern, movement and composition links to my passion for music (and not to a neurological disease...).

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

design blog wannabe strikes again

Today I'm a design blog and our discussion topic is lighting design, so switch on your (God help us) Martha Stewart Everyday Classic (I bet she doesn't have purple carpets in her house) and check these out, courtesy of my decorating guru:

looking like an I.V. stand (because, you know, reminders of the hospital are so relaxing)

looking like a pile of books (beats actually reading)

looking like a carton of milk (good if you're lactose intolerant)

looking like a skull with a plant growing out of it (because..?)

And, in this bunch, there's a brain lamp, a spine lamp and a face lamp. Hard to say which is creepier.

zulu and larry

Holy guacamole, I can't believe I've dropped the blog ball again. Well, maybe if I make two posts today I can redeem myself. I'll get Zulu to help me out. Yesterday I caught her lying in a patch of sunlight on Adam's bedroom floor. I do apologize for the purple carpet. I've been meaning to change it for ... er ... 10 years.
I'm pretty sure she knows what I'm up to when I pull out the camera because, like a well-trained print model, she kept changing position, mugging the whole time.

But before you get to thinking this is just another cat blog, check out this fascinating story about the rise and fall of New York City gallerist Larry Salander.