Saturday, January 31, 2009

the art of procrastination

Almost a year ago I had an idea for a series of paintings. They were going to be big (36" x 36") and each would be based on the theme of a different sacred animal to the aboriginal people of the Pacific Northwest Coast. I grew up surrounded by two kinds of indigenous art: the local stuff and the pre-Columbian art of Mexico, of which my mother and grandmother, both of whom grew up in Mexico City, brought examples to Canada. I have explored the ancient Mexican motifs quite a bit so I figured it was time to look a little closer to home. I love this stuff. I also lust after primitive Australian and African art and would be a huge collector if I could.

So, with the best of intentions, I set out to plan my series. I decided to mix it up a bit, with collage elements, stencilled bits and stamps made with lino cutting materials, and employ the patterns and techniques of my other work. So far so good. I also decided to use a geometric division of space, something a little more structured than in previous work+. Last March I started work on a salmon painting. I used Tlingit basket designs for the two fish at the top and a Tlingit wood-carving design for the salmon collage below. Here I am adding collage elements ... and that's just about where it stopped! For the last ten months I have been having staring contests with this:

The important elements were done; I just needed a day or so to tie it all together. But did I ever set aside that day? Apparently not. Anyway, this past week I seem to have stalled out and needed a quick success to jump start me so I dove in again ~ after dusting it, that is! Not sure if it worked yet...

I finished the three unfinished panels in the top two-thirds of the painting then panicked when faced with the bottom panel. So I photographed the painting-so-far and then used that crass crutch known as Photoshop to figure out what to do next. I have repainted areas enough times to finally recognise the value of a little pre-planning. For someone as impulsive as me that's a HUGE step forward! These are the four alternatives I liked best:

As you can see below, I went with the green but darkened it even more. The next question is: will I continue the series? I'm not convinced it would be anything other than an interesting but expensive and time-consuming exercise for me so I haven't decided yet. In the meantime, there are a few dead trees on my painting agenda.

+Even though I abandoned the series before even finishing one painting I did use the spatial division idea in my series of Celtic tree calendar drawings of last summer.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

a perfect winter day

Winter here tends to look like this a lot of the time:

(And yes, you denizens of political correctness, I played with this in Photoshop!)

Monday was one of those perfect winter days, though -- the kind you prairie folk take for granted. It was cold and bright and dry, with a little dew in the morning:

The wildlife appeared in droves. I got this photo of one of our black squirrels in the Crimson King maple (as requested by Di):

And then the Bushtits (an endlessly funny name to my boys) kicked my favourite Flicker off the suet feeder. There's nothing like a little mob mentality. (These last two photos were tricky as our front window is double-paned with reflective glass so I'd never tried to take photos through it before.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

fun with photoshop

These originated here and here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

getting my feet wet

It's been awhile since I painted any landscapes (and intend to do more) so today I did a little 8" x 10" panel and used iridescent pearl to give the lacy bits a glow. I've added it here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

the great endorphin hunt

After 10 unrelenting days of fog so cold and gloomy that hoar frost is starting to congregate on all the vegetation and buildings I almost felt stoned on endorphins when the sun kept peeking through during Sunday's soccer game. It was all a big tease, though, as it hasn't appeared since. I did get some weird and wonderful photos at that game, though. Here's Magic Bobby, conjuring a goal save.

So when Rudy forwarded the following, it was a welcome relief. Far Side re-enactments had me cackling so much that I was in tears. Thank god -- more of those elusive endorphins!

More entertainment:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

pay it forward

I'm all for simplifying my life, but I would definitely suffer without my online connections. First of all, my January garage sale has been tons-o-fun and though not everything is sold (I updated the post today with current stats) I want to thank those who did buy work because the gas bill arrived today! :) Secondly, without these connections I would not have discovered Ed Maskevich's blog. He posts very infrequently but each one is a gem, full of insights and anecdotes, not to mention his vibrant artwork. Though he focuses on the three more traditional genres (figurative, landscape, still life) his work is far from traditional with a focus on pared-down composition and colour relationships that is a cut above -- and links the three subject genres in such a way that it would never occur to me to divide them up like that. Take a look:

These arrived on my doorstep on Friday and I'd totally forgotten that I'd discussed participating in Ed's artists' pay it forward project, so wasn't quite sure what I was signing for. I was definitely impressed by his packing skills, too:

It was like an extra birthday present. I have already packed up something for the first person on my pay it forward list, one of my very oldest blogging friends ~ someone who has a hard time calling herself an artist, in spite of her obvious creativity, and who never forgets to send me a Christmas or birthday card. She knows who she is!

And while on the topic of passing artwork around, I struck a great deal with Angela Wales Rockett recently. We swapped paintings. She got this one from me and I got this 10" x 8" abstract from her:

I'm pretty sure I got the better deal!

Friday, January 16, 2009

garage sale

It's been a dark, foggy day and I've been sifting through my 2008 tax receipts and marvelling at how little money I actually made last year after expenses are calculated, in spite of a pretty good sales record. This paper-pushing exercise has generated a general stock taking as I pull out older paintings and ponder storage problems. Meanwhile, a couple of hours south of me, Angela has been doing something similar, so it all gave me an idea. Garage sale! I have a bunch of paintings that are different enough from my current style and/or subject matter that I have no intention of trying to sell or show them in the future and I need to make room for future masterpieces. Wanna dicker? Actually, no bartering necessary. You offer me a price and chances are I'll accept it. I know this is the worst possible time of year to be doing this in the worst possible economy but meh! -- marketing never was my strong suit (understatement). Only two strict rules: (a) you pay shipping and (b) I will not pay you to take them off my hands! :) Please email me if you are interested in a painting.

NOTE * With the exception of Paratii and Greens, these photos were all taken before I had a decent digital camera and the quality is not the best. I can re-photograph them if you want a more detailed look.

KIWIS AND GRAPEFRUITS: 14" x 18" acrylic on canvas panel SOLD

I am very fond of this one as it is one of my earliest paintings (2001) after I quit teaching to return to painting.

POPPY: 14" x 18" acrylic on canvas panel SOLD

SKW'UNE-WAS: 11" x 14" acrylic on stretched canvas SOLD

This is a painting of a traditional
Haida Big House, near Squamish, where I stayed with my son five years ago.

SALTSPRING WOOD: 12" x 9" acrylic on masonite panel SOLD

This was painted en plein air on beautiful Saltspring Island, home of such noteworthy artists as Nick Bantock and Robert Bateman

: 8" x 8" x 1.5" acrylic on cradled wood panel

PARATII: 21" x 10" x 1.5" acrylic on 3 - 5" x 7" canvas panels and framed triptych-style SOLD

This is also an early painting (2001) and won Honourable Mention at a juried exhibition. If you would like to see individual images just email me.

: 9" x 12" acrylic on canvas panel

IONA SAND AND WOOD: 9" x 12" acrylic on canvas panel PAID FORWARD (see post above)

I WISH I WAS THE FISH: 11" x 14" mixed media on canvas attached to doorskin board

The title is a quote from Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.

THE FISH WAS SILVERY: 16" x 20" x 1.5" mixed media on gallery-wrapped canvas (image extends around edges) SOLD

The title is also a quote from Hemingway's
Old Man and the Sea.

DANCE OF THE SUGARPLUM GECKOS: 20" x 24" x 1.5" acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas (image extends around edges)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

moth 1 deconstructed

Because I love to see the evolution myself, here's the first Moth mini painting, each step scanned directly. The support is a cradled wood panel that I prime with a couple of coats of gesso.
  1. The first layer is an undercoat of purple acrylic paint.
  2. The next thing I do is a rough spatial division with white conte that I rub off later with water.
  3. After cutting out the moth's wings (I used magazine illustrations and wallpaper samples for this series) with an x-acto knife I adhere it to the panel with acrylic medium.
  4. I paint in the detail work first.
  5. Finally I paint in the flat areas. I finish with an isolation coat of matte acrylic gel medium and after that dries finish off with Golden polymer varnish, cut 50/50 with water. The final touch is a sawtooth hanger attached to the back.
I have now posted the set over on my Small Art page.

Friday, January 09, 2009


I've wanted to try this series of mini mixed media panels for awhile and finally got them out of my system this week. When Illustration Friday posted this week's theme today I was spurred to finish the last one, but unlike the first three, Moth4 (upper left) is is the only one not contained in a box. They were a major challenge technically as my remaining small paintbrushes have either two hairs each or resemble Tammy Faye Bakker's eyelashes. Thank God I'm meeting Ellen at Opus on Monday. I'm getting desperate!

The collage elements (wings) are wallpaper samples, an illustration of a Japanese print and Michelangelo's Libyan Sibyl. The rest is acrylic on cradled panel, primed with gesso.
They are 6" x 6" x .75" each.

moth panels

I started my Small Art shop blog in November then totally abandoned it when I got sidetracked by the season, but plan to post these over there sometime this weekend. Should they be available individually or as a set only?

Monday, January 05, 2009

four thousand words

If a picture is worth a thousand words then there must be a dictionary.
And since I promised to get back to work today, I was pleased to have some structural inspiration.

PS Are we
tired of squirrels yet?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

jesse so far

Truly, I've had nothing arty to write about and about a million more nature-in-winter photos to post (and, in a moment of weakness, probably will) so I've been avoiding my blog. The only thing I've created in the past three or four weeks (besides a commotion with Rock Band 2) went directly into the recycle bin. On Monday I start working on that mojo relocation project. As for year-end/beginning reflections and overviews and lists and deep stuff like that, I'm swimming in the shallow end right now, so would rather take the fifth.

Adventures in service dog training: We took a bit of a Christmas holiday. It's back to puppy class on Monday and I'm fearing the worst. Jesse has been suffering from cabin fever so severely (partly due to the fact that I injured the ACL in my left knee) that he almost flattened a frail old woman at my dad's nursing home yesterday, then, when visiting my uncle, annoyed his extremely geriatric dogs (who are, thankfully, much bigger than him) enough that it was time to go all too soon. I'm totally in love with him, he's smart and sweet and funny (who knew an empty 4L milk jug could provide so many hours of noise and entertainment?) and beautiful, but he may end up being too dog distractible to be a good service dog. He would make an awesome companion dog for a family with a special needs child, though. In any case, at eight months old it's too early to tell and I'm far from qualified to even take a guess. His future will be determined when he enters advanced training in a few months' time (probably the summer). It's been a really big learning curve for me as I've never done any dog training more advanced than basic obedience for my own two departed pooches, with the exception of learning hand signals for a deaf, three-legged Australian Shepherd we fostered for a few months until he went on to an amazing home. Learning to use 'here' after saying 'come' for 17 years (service dogs have their own language), plus the 'release' command, which I still have a lot of trouble with (as you will see in the video as I totally forgot to use it), are just two of many examples.

Here's the little video we made this morning of Jesse, me, some tasty cheese, and another snowy day on the wet coast (this is starting to get old), going through some of the commands we've learned. We've never had a camera that takes videos with sound until now, when I got Greg a Canon PowerShot SD880 IS, a super compact digital, for Christmas. I'm pleased with the quality from such a little thing, if not so much the dog trainer

For better quality watch here on YouTube and choose 'watch in high quality' below the video.