14 June 2018

portraits of RM

portrait painting oil on paper in my 9x12 sketchbook

Portraits of RM, made in the summer of 2015.  About five weeks ago we received news of his death.

Making portraits is very interesting to me.  Often in the finished work I find I have caught something of my sitter's personality that has not been apparent to my conscious mind.

One thing I like to do when looking at portraits (drawings, paintings or photographs) is to cover first one half and then the other, looking at each side separately.  I find there are usually two personalities contained in every face.  Of course there are many more than two sides to a person, but it seems at least two are evident in almost every portrait.  Maybe two sides of the artist as much as of the sitter.

portrait painting oil on canvas mounted on masonite panel Rob MacKinnon
portrait painting oil on canvas mounted on masonite panel Rob MacKinnon

11 June 2018

print this

printmaking prep, acrylic medium on mdf

Above: Drawing with acrylic molding paste on 3  pieces of leftover MDF.  Maybe I'll try making a print off them all together like this.

Below: Two paintings from 2015, reworked last week.  I think for the better :)

BREATHE acrylic painting 65x34 inches
BREATHE - 65x34 in.

vernavogel reworked paintings PULSE acrylic on stitched canvas 65x35 inches 2018
PULSE - 65x35 in.

The last 4-5 weeks have contained several friend & family's health & life upheavals, an intense spate of teaching work, me getting laryngitis - and my studio was sidelined a bit in the midst of it all.

So it felt really good to get in there and tidy things up, take stock, let my mind wander through some possibilities.  Even small pockets of creative time can bring some soothing calm into life.

09 May 2018

Branch Out 2

A few weeks ago I met with a neuroscience student at the UofC, as part of my involvement with the Branch Out Foundation's "Your Brain on Art" event.

Branch Out Foundation - Your Brain on Art please bid on my work!

This is the painting which I have put into the exhibition and online auction.  All artwork will also be exhibited at cSPACE King Edward this month, May 16-17, should you wish to see it in person.

I very rarely put my work into fundraisers, but when I do, here's my standard deal: 

There is a minimum bid price - so that my work does not sell for pennies, thus lowering the perceived value of the visual arts (which can be a problem in this country).

I get 50% of the sale - same as if my work sells through one of my galleries, so that I am paid for my work as everyone, including artists, should be (but sometimes are not).

If you've ever wanted to own one of my small abstract works, now would be a good time to bid on this one.


Thank you in advance for your support of art and brain science!  :)




06 May 2018

turn around

Feeling less than great about this painting.  With every added layer it decreases in visual flexibility.  Too much control on the part of the artist, methinks; I just can't seem to lose it.

augury no.14 in progress oil painting abstract

All right then, if that's the way it's going to be, let's apply some serious control.  Haul out the pencils and rulers!  Erasers, even!  (gasp)

work in progress, oil on canvas, graphite, charcoal, conte, drawing, painting

... and charcoal and conte and a bit of oil medium ...

work in progress, oil on canvas, graphite, charcoal, conte, drawing, painting

Well that turned out to be a pretty good response to the situation.  Once this layer is dry, I will add some subtle oil glazes.

I have been wanting to make paintings that have a similar feeling to the Tension : No Tension installation I created at the turn of the year, but was not sure how to translate the 3D into 2D.  Now I have a starting point.  Feeling excited about my work again, curious where these will go.

And, of course, when I get tired of exercising this level of control, I have those unfinished big loose paintings to turn to.  A beautiful balance, n'est-ce pas?

30 April 2018

working on it

Sometimes painting is easy, other times it is difficult.  

A year ago I began a new series of paintings.  The first stages involved layering several blind colour sketches on each of about a dozen stretched canvases.  I'd been making blind drawings in a sketchbook and had decided to try translating the technique on a larger scale.

augury no.15 progression, oil painting, abstract, work in progress
Here is one of the "beginnings"

augury no.15 progression, oil painting, abstract, work in progress
it languished for some months
but then I worked on it again

augury no.15 progression, oil painting, abstract, work in progress
and now it looks like this.

I am not sure whether it is now a better painting; it is certainly a different painting than it was.  Sometimes after I work over a painting I feel a sort of nostalgia for its youth, so to speak, but it is never possible to go back.

augury no.14 progression, oil painting, abstract, work in progress
I also worked on this painting a tiny bit

whose orientation is still unclear
augury no.14 progression, oil painting, abstract, work in progress
and I'm calling it finished for now.

Please feel free to use your imagination to see various tonalities of reds & oranges... which my camera unfortunately does not differentiate between very well!  :)

29 April 2018

sometimes you have to be ruthless

Sometimes you just have to be ruthless in order to get to the good stuff.

portrait, oil painting, ruthless, keep trying
first incarnation

portrait, oil painting, ruthless, keep trying
wiped, begin again

portrait, oil painting, ruthless, keep trying
finally, the good stuff

I really like like the way this portrait turned out, despite some anatomical imperfections.  Very glad I wiped it halfway through.

To my amazement, the whole endeavour took only 1h 15m.  I get that my drawings are done very fast, usually about 20-30 minutes in my 9x12 sketchbook with watermedia...  but this was an oil portrait, and the first I'd done in a very long time.

Must've been an exceptionally good model.

:)

22 April 2018

portraits and portraits

Today I spent the day in Black Diamond, AB, hanging out at Bluerock Gallery and exploring various parts of the town and environs.  During my travels I made some portraits.  
Here they are, more-or-less in the order they appeared:

bluerock gallery art church portrait of shelly

Diamond Valley Singers, portraits of choir members & audience

Diamond Valley Singers, portraits of choir members & audience

vernavogel portrait bluerock gallery black diamond ab

And in the newest sketchbook, 300gsm toned grey paper which was very smooth and did not take the watermedia too easily but nevertheless was enjoyable to work in:

sketchbook toned grey black & white image circles

It was nice to get out of the city for the day.

30 March 2018

outside and inside

vernavogel studio day snow day
outside

inside my studio on a snow day
inside

Another snowy day.  I haven't made any pictures since the opening at CKG, so getting into my studio today feels particularly fine.  I am taking my own advice today: feeling unsure about this painting, I'm calling it finished.  For now.  :)

And from a technical viewpoint:

After a couple of colour layers the paper began to buckle.  So I flipped it over & soaked the back down & let it sit 20min or so.  Then I gesso'd the back.  With green-tinted gesso, which you can see now around the edges.  I like that green edge, and I also like how gesso-ing the back prevented the paper from buckling more, while allowing me to still work on the beautiful paper surface.


inside my studio on a snow day, acrylic on Arches paper 22x30
Acrylic paint and paper collage
on Arches 640gsm watercolour paper
22x30"

26 March 2018

Branch Out 1

Today I met with Andrei, a neuroscience student at the U of C who is involved in endocannabinoid research as it relates to PTSD and fear extinction.  We talked about some of the specifics of his research and also a little bit about life in general.  I learned some pretty interesting things about synapses and lab rats, and also about how people variously respond to learning that they have an unalterable condition, for example diabetes.

After we'd talked awhile, I asked Andrei if I could make his portrait, and he graciously agreed.  I made two:


Branch out foundation, your brain on art, c-space calgary, vernavogel portrait

top, first drawing: Sharpie paint marker
bottom, second drawing: China marker

Of which I think the top one is better.  I seem to have forgotten about his eyebrows in the second portrait, and also his mouth is ill-proportioned.  I realized these things only later, as I looked at the images on my computer screen.  Trying too hard to get a good likeness, probably.  Portraits (well, mine at least) are always best in that first spontaneous visual response.

I met with Andrei because I have agreed to make a painting for an event by Branch Out, an organization that funds research such as his.

This evening I've already looked up a few of the things we talked about (hence the link to the fear extinction study results above) and it's quite fascinating.

I think one of the reasons I make art is that there was some trauma in my family when I was young, and making art has definitely helped me to deal with at least some aspects of that.  I think it's not so much the images per se, but the actual physical process, which usually involves very repetitive motions over a span of time.  Like my sketchbooks: basically the same image over and over, filling whole books.  It's very soothing, and it also becomes a method of focussed research which can lead to more involved work.  

Perhaps making art helps my endocannabinoids to function properly.  Certainly making art is the antithesis of fear, even though sometimes I'm unsure of where the process is going... 

Much to ponder after this meeting.

Meanwhile, I will make a painting for the Branch Out event (which by the way will be held at cSPACE in Calgary in April) and probably not really know what that painting is all about until maybe two years from now.  Typical of my process.

Thanks for a super visit, Andrei, I very much appreciate your taking the time.

Thank you too, dear Reader, and ciao for now.





19 March 2018

Exhibition: StudioNOW

A few of my most recent paintings are included in this 4-woman exhibition at CKG in Calgary.  The opening is coming up in just a few days and I'm feeling excited and a bit nervous.

Christine Klassen Gallery exhibition Studio NOW

I've been trying out Mailchimp for making a newsletter about exhibitions and other events with my artwork.  I'm not really the best at advertising my work, and definitely have mixed feelings about "marketing" when it comes to what I do in my studio.  My studio is so far removed from the world of commerce...  

But anyway I do have shows in galleries and other interesting and fun things, and it makes sense to let people know about these things in the spirit of sharing, right?

Here's a link to the most recent newsletter:


Thanks as always for reading my blog posts!

:)



01 March 2018

meniscus

tonight I made some drawings/paintings
in a different sketchbook, lightweight paper

verna vogel sketchbook, meniscus, blind drawing/painting, black cover hardbound 6x8" 70lb paper

here is one
in bad lighting oh well

verna vogel sketchbook, meniscus, blind drawing/painting, black cover hardbound 6x8" 70lb paper

first the blind drawing
with black oil paint marker

verna vogel sketchbook, meniscus, blind drawing/painting, black cover hardbound 6x8" 70lb paper

then acrylic colour
phthalo turquoise, cobalt blue, vermillion hue

verna vogel sketchbook, meniscus, blind drawing/painting, black cover hardbound 6x8" 70lb paper

feels a bit like being underwater
whichever way I turn it
some kind of meniscus

I like that.



25 February 2018

Portrait 2018.2.21

portrait of ryan statz  oil on paper

My co-worker at the art supply store.
oil on paper, 9x12 inches

in this book:

The heavy paper can be gesso'd and then painted on with oils.
It's definitely one of my favourite sketchbooks.


19 February 2018

down time

When the cold I've been fighting for weeks finally hits full force, I cope with feeling lousy by sitting at the kitchen table and making images in a 5x7" sketchbook.  Low exertion, excellent healing activity.  Thankful for a few days' down time, glad I can do this.

drawings paintings colourful circles sketchbook verna vogel

drawings paintings colourful circles sketchbook verna vogel

drawings paintings colourful circles sketchbook verna vogel

drawings paintings colourful circles sketchbook verna vogel

drawings paintings colourful circles sketchbook verna vogel steel sky woman

drawings paintings colourful circles sketchbook verna vogel steel sky woman


15 February 2018

pensive portraits

Yesterday, two portraits made with alcohol-ink markers.

Portrait of R. Statz.  green brown pink colourful.  Alcohol ink markers in my green portrait book, 9x12 inches
time slowed down

Portrait of JP.  blue brown orange grey colourful.  Alcohol ink markers in my green portrait book, 9x12 inches
a fleeting moment

My sitters were pensive and so was I, all of us for different reasons.


11 February 2018

"life is but a dream"

Over the last month I've had the honour of making art with students at a primary school.  They are creating a Legacy Project in which every student paints a rock with a word or symbol of something that they would like to be remembered by.  The rocks will then be permanently installed outdoors on the school grounds.  

Legacy Project at the primary school.  Painted rocks & canvas pieces

I brought in some canvas pieces as well.  This way each student creates two things: the painted rock becomes part of their permanent Legacy at the school, and the painting on canvas is theirs to keep.

Legacy Project at the primary school.  Painted rocks & canvas pieces

Some of the students have not painted on rocks, or on canvas, before this.  It's been great fun introducing them to transparent and opaque painting techniques, and talking about what sort of legacy they want to leave at the school.

Legacy Project at the primary school.  Painted rocks & canvas pieces

I wish I'd remembered to take photos of all the classes' work!  But I get very involved with the kids and their art, and I forget about these details...  ah well, I got a few good ones  :)

Legacy Project at the primary school.  Painted rocks & canvas pieces

Below are some of my favourites from the Grade 1 classes:

Legacy Project at the primary school.  Painted rocks & canvas pieces

Legacy Project at the primary school.  Painted rocks & canvas pieces

Legacy Project at the primary school.  Painted rocks & canvas pieces

Legacy Project at the primary school.  Painted rocks & canvas pieces

Legacy Project at the primary school.  Painted rocks & canvas pieces

Legacy Project at the primary school.  Painted rocks & canvas pieces

Legacy Project at the primary school.  Painted rocks & canvas pieces

Legacy Project at the primary school.  Painted rocks & canvas pieces

The wonderful thing about working with kids is that they have no fear, for the most part, about making art.  It's very energizing to be immersed in that kind of creative environment.  

Legacy Project at the primary school.  Painted rocks & canvas pieces

In the words of a certain well-known song: "Life is but a dream".  Yup.  And I'm feeling very happily lucky to row this boat.  :)