29 March 2020

a time to ruminate and consider

I've been making a lot of colourful paintings lately.

Looking around after a full day early last week, I liked what i saw and made a quick pan of the finished and in-progress work on the walls.



"upon leaving the studio"

Later in the week, I realized I needed to prepare some more canvases.  Stretching, sealing and then gesso-ing canvases is a pleasant job, a time to ruminate and consider work done, work in progress and work to come.  

I prepared 3 canvases.  The first two prepped as outlined above, and a third which I sealed, but did not gesso.  Here is what happened to it:

verna vogel aka steel sky woman preparing canvases in her studio
blind drawing

verna vogel aka steel sky woman first stages of charcoal on canvas more like drawing than painting
darks and shading

verna vogel aka steel sky woman, abstract painting in studio.
lights and just a bit of colour

I'm not sure whether this is finished, but I'm definitely leaving it for now.  I really like drawing look of it.

Here, as everywhere, we are isolated.  After a few warm and sunny spring days, the weather has turned grey and cool, and my body feels a slight tightening and queasiness of pressure headache.  Is it possible to have a mild migraine?  I'll have to look that up.

In keeping with the weather, it seems I have gone from bright colour to almost no colour in the studio.  The grey cool isolated days feel a bit energy-sapping, but the lone grey cool painting in the studio excites my imagination.  
It is waiting...  


18 February 2020

Planets of the Moon

A few days ago I went with a friend to an art gallery created in the building of the old Planetarium.

We saw a lot of art!  I particularly liked Luke Jeram's Museum of the Moon and spent quite awhile lying on the floor under it.  I would like to say that gazing up at the Moon inspired profound thoughts about the universe, but really I just lay there and enjoyed the sounds, the light and colour relationships, some of which were very subtle, and let my mind relax.  It was lovely.

Below, a little project from months ago, which could relate to the moon.  Paper collaged onto old business cards - all this human business, transformed.  Heehee.

#steelskywoman @steelskywoman


Right, so... "business success" story:

A few years ago I decided to stop searching for further gallery representation.  I would continue to make art, and simply post on social media without grasping at anything.  If I'm meant to have another gallery, it will happen, and if not that's okay.

Well, my work is now being represented at Grant Berg Gallery.  The owner saw my paintings on instagram and contacted me.  Writing to a few of their other artists, I received detailed, positive responses, and there were other good indications too, so I went with it and last week shipped 6 paintings to them.  I'm feeling pretty happy about this.

Acrylic on canvas and hardboard, approx 15x17"
Grant Berg Gallery has a few of these now, plus some larger works.


Another thing:

At last month's opening reception of my exhibition Fragile Planets at the Okotoks Art Gallery, I met artist Debbie Lee Miszaniec and learned of her Sunflower Project.  What a beautiful practice, what a beautiful person!

#steelskywoman @steelskywoman
Many of my days begin with breakfast and small artworking at the kitchen table.  Since meeting Debbie and recieving one of her Sunflower paintings, I've been thinking about unconditional love.

Rumi wrote:

Today, like every other day,
we wake up empty and frightened.
Don't open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.


One other thing:

I've been playing around with framing my paintings.  It has taken me a couple of decades to believe I might be capable of building my own frames.  *laughs* funny how perception works, isn't it.  And perception determines so much.  More about framing in a future post, perhaps.  I'm still working this out.  :)

#steelskywoman @steelskywoman
#steelskywoman @steelskywoman

Sometimes I am just flat-out amazed at my life.  The expectations of my childhood did not indicate anything like this.  I'll be 50 years old this year, and here I am, still exploring the wild, wonderful, worlds of possibility in creating art, and even showing my work from time to time!!  It really is quite amazing.  Planets of the Moon, indeed.

Thank you as always for your interest, dear Reader.  Until next time...

08 January 2020

Small adjustments

Well, hello there!
It's time to make another blog post.


Yesterday I installed my Fragile Planets at the OAG.



Today I got back into my studio.  I'd been working on some small oil colour studies, applying the paint quite thickly.  Last week I tried translating some of that onto a larger canvas, with less than stellar results.

steel sky woman mobile painting oil on canvas
Not quite right, is it.
Let it sit awhile, while I prep and install the Fragile Planets...

steel sky woman mobile painting oil on canvassteel sky woman mobile painting oil on canvas
... Today I added a bit of pattern, some of it very subtle.  I find it interesting to create subtle effects with bright colour.  This is not always possible, so I feel happy when it works.

steel sky woman mobile painting oil on canvas
Better orientation, don't you think?  This painting may be finished.
(oil on canvas, 23x25")

steel sky woman studio abstract painting oil
A more accurate photo for colour, with less glaring light.
I really need to wash those brushes...


A yellow painting made last month.  After many weeks of teaching, I flew into the studio and released my pent-up anxiety.  This painting was made in one fell swoop, and it may be finished!  Just like that!  *laughs*

Acrylic on canvas, 40x40"


Another one from last month, still in progress.
Acrylic on canvas, approx. 30x52"


And look, there are our names on the marquee.
That gives a nice feeling.


Thank you for reading.  Hope your new year's off to a good start too.
:-)

06 October 2019

Deadfall

deadfall, land art, verna vogel, sheep river alberta

Yesterday JP and I went out into the country.

deadfall, land art, verna vogel, sheep river alberta

We found a good spot near the river, and JP set out his painting gear and got to work depicting the landscape from the inside out ... that's how I view his process, because he himself so much a part of this place.

deadfall, land art, verna vogel, sheep river alberta

After exploring the area a bit, I decided to re-organize some branches which were lying on the ground under a big tree.


First I made a circle around the base of the tree.

deadfall, land art, verna vogel, sheep river alberta

Then I saw that animals like to gather here and, not wanting to create encumbrances for them or myself, I moved my work off to the side.

deadfall, land art, verna vogel, sheep river alberta

I began with the largest branches ...

deadfall, land art, verna vogel, sheep river alberta


deadfall, land art, verna vogel, sheep river albertadeadfall, land art, verna vogel, sheep river alberta

... which became progressively smaller as I worked toward the centre.

deadfall, land art, verna vogel, sheep river alberta

About two hours later, the deadfall circle was finished.

deadfall, land art, verna vogel, sheep river alberta

A satisfying job!

deadfall, land art, verna vogel, sheep river alberta

Stepping back, I see that there is a nice relaxed sort of communication among the tree and its re-organized deadfall.  If the circle had been around the base of the tree as originally conceived, I think the whole thing may have looked overly contrived.

deadfall, land art, verna vogel, sheep river alberta

Response to, rather than control of the elements, that's the key for me.

03 October 2019

white world, black book

Last weekend we got a big dump of snow: 24cm at our house, and more in some other places.  "Oh, too soon!" everyone said.

verna vogel sketchbook, abstract drawing, oil sticks on black paper

*laughs*  Me, I love snow, and we went for a long walk by the river, where poplar leaves shone in brilliant golds and rich ochres in an otherwise muted landscape.  The river was steaming in the cold air, and distant hills appeared to be floating in the mist.  Such beauty, and how lucky am I to have been out walking in it, and with my favourite person too!

verna vogel sketchbook, #sketchbookverna , black paper, abstract drawing

Due to the weather, my shift at the store was very slow, so I perused the sketchbook shelves and noticed a new book of black paper.  Well, comparatively dark grey really.

verna vogel sketchbook, abstract drawings, black paper

150g weight, for "Colour Pencil, Gel Pens, Metallic Markers"

verna vogel sketchbook, abstract drawings, black paper

My friends, be not limited by the printed word!

Often, words are only suggestions.  In the drawings above, I used oil sticks, gel pens, China markers, pencil crayons, children's wax crayons, oil paint markers and acrylic paint.  See?

A book of black paper, begun in the midst of a snowstorm.  I like that.

17 September 2019

Workshop at the LAC

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

Earlier this month I facilitated a workshop at the Leighton Art Centre:

ink and twig workshop, leighton art centre

The workshop was meant to take place during the run of "just turn your head a little" exhibition, but due to snowy March weather it was delayed. 

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

This turned out for the best, since September is actually a perfect time of year to gather twigs and plant stems to draw with.

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

We began in the classroom, but soon moved out onto the large deck.

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

How lovely to work outdoors in the warm September sunshine!

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

I brought in various types of papers in big sheets and pads (because why work small when you're exploring materials, right?):

crystal clear wet-media Duralar
a roll of "mystery plastic" upon which the wet ink beaded for some cool effects
translucent Vellum paper
140lb watercolour paper
100lb bright white Bristol paper
80lb Mayfair drawing paper
a large yellow-toned Manilla drawing paper pad
We also used the protective tissue sheets that come with the Duralar.

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

Mark-making possibilities are limited only by the vast array of natural drawing materials available outdoors, coupled with one's imagination!

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

Drawing, stamping, dilution of ink, wet and dry paper, oil crayon rubbings and resists... and a spray bottle comes in handy too.

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

It was terrific fun to work with a group of adults and kids together.

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

I was impressed with the levels of openness to exploration, creative risk, and imaginative play of everyone who attended.


Below, one of my demo pieces, photographed next day in my studio:

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

I was able to make a few portraits of the kids as well.

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

Clockwise from top: 
ink + twig on vellum
ink + twig on wetted bristol
ink + twig on duralar
ink + crayon and tape resist on watercolour paper.

Below, the duralar drawing laid on top of the other drawings:

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

ink and twig drawing workshop, leighton art centre

Kinda cool, hey  :)