28 August 2015

The Book of Cities

So we went for a little 3-day trip out into the country, where the smoke haze made atmospheric effects of a most excellent quality.  Very inspiring for plein-air work.  Except that, after making one hundred plein air landscape paintings over 4 years, I seem to be no longer excited about it... 

Therefore, while my husband went out painting in the lovely haze, I made some collages in a 9x12 sketchbook:

the book of cities

(and one long thin piece of bristol board)

the book of cities

the book of cities

the book of cities

the book of cities

It was like a little mini artist residency and kind of funny: creating urban imagery in a beautiful but somewhat broken-down house in a tiny rural community, surrounded by beautiful rural landscapes which I no longer have any desire to paint *laughs*

And, returning to our home in the city, I continue along:

the book of cities

I begin very simply:

the book of cities

And try to stop before things get too busy:

the book of cities

the book of cities

... with greater or lesser success.

And so another obsession takes hold.  There's something really satisfying about working in a small sketchbook, all the pages the same size, a peaceful fluidity in the repetitious collage process.

It's interesting, I feel a lot of my work over the last couple of years has been very "serious", or has come from a very serious place in myself.  While it is in my nature to seek out and focus on things that bring some form of joy, sometimes that focus requires more effort than at other times.

And then as if out of nowhere come these collages, so playful and un-serious!  I believe this is how I see the city: it is a playground for the senses.

In the meantime, pinned to my studio wall are 24 small canvases, painted and stitched and waiting for the 12x12 stretchers which should arrive any day now... and in fact I'm feeling excited about those, too.

Multiplicities.  I suppose that's the way it is.

18 August 2015

a good day

This morning I felt a bit under the weather and not much like working, but nevertheless I added some colour layers to the little oil paintings, and felt happy at the end of the day.

the little oil paintings

the little oil paintings
I added white to some of them, blues and violets to others, a bit of yellow here and there, and a lovely muddy taupe to finish the day.

the little oil paintings

I also added some colour to these 12x12 oil paintings that have been languishing for over a year.  Sometimes it is very good to rework old things.

studio shelf
 studio shelfstudio shelf
And there is the shelf I built last month, for the coloured yarn.  I cut it into the wall between studs and used leftover scraps of wood for the shelves, and there's a canvas "curtain" that I can drop down over it.  This way the yarn shelf does not take up any wall space and I can still hang paintings on that portion of the wall.  I love efficient design.

12 August 2015



I've almost finished the stitching part for this series: 23 out of 24 are done.  I had only 3 stretcher frames left; more coming in at the end of the month, so I'll have to wait to stretch and finish these.

Playing with some colour combinations for the last one:


While waiting for the stretchers to arrive, I will add layers to the oil paintings and get started on some more acrylic paintings, probably larger pieces after all this small stuff.

It's too hot for any philosophical ramblings today, so I will leave it at that.

Until next time,

31 July 2015

slow and fast


The "oil drying wall" is in the part of my studio with the lowest ceiling and most uneven wall space.  A good place for slow drying.


Above, under the cool overhead studio light.
Below, warm lighting from one side.


I find it useful to have different lighting options in my studio.



While the oil layers dry I begin a new series of acrylic paintings, using some pieces of canvas given to me a few years ago.  The pieces already had some paint on them.  Sometimes I really enjoy working with someone else's cast-off things, because beginning with an aesthetic that did not originate from myself is a good creative stretch.


First I stained over the painted canvas pieces to vary the colour.  Then I applied colour washes to some larger pieces cut from one of my canvas rolls.


Lay out the smaller pieces on top of the larger, and the thing looks like a quilt!

Stitch patterns into the smaller pieces, then stitch the smaller onto the larger pieces.  Stretch them and paint the edges, and:


Those are the first two.  I'm not entirely pleased with them yet.  The edge colours are off.  The proportions of the edge colours are off.  
Whenever I work like this, it's the edges that take the most time to resolve!  *laughs*  

In contrast, the stitched part of this type of image is almost effortless for me.  Although I do take some care in choosing the thread and the small coloured bits, I don't draw anything out before stitching.  I basically just let the sewing machine do it.  


It's like automatic drawing, a technique developed by the Surrealists wherein the drawing is done without conscious self-censorship.


I'm setting up to make 24 of these little paintings, each measuring 12x12 inches.  When I need a break from them, I will turn to the oil paintings and add more layers.  It's good to have several things on the go at once.

Until next time,


18 July 2015

one week later...

The exhibition opening was wonderful, with quite a few people from various walks of life stopping by.  There were some thoughtful responses to the work, and I had a good conversation with Mike Binzer, the other featured artist.

And then - Wheeee!!! - I got back into my studio!  It seems that in the studio I think with my hands, and my hands were feeling a bit rusty after a long break from painting.

So I began at random with this old thing:

verna vogel artist

Layering some more colour & pencil drawing on top:

verna vogel artist

I am not really keen on it as an object - but as an evolving idea it holds some excitement.  

So I decided to work it out in series format.  Over this last week I've got 10 canvases prepared, a couple more stretchers to use in the project, and got the first colour layer on 3 of them.  I'm using oils for these.  Sizes range from 8x13 to 19x30 inches:

verna vogel artist

Many of the canvases are repurposed old paintings.  I removed the canvas, turned it around, stitched & re-stretched it.  I like the way they look before the gesso covers up the old titles/signatures.

verna vogel artist

verna vogel artist

Next week I'll prep canvas onto those last two stretchers and lay the first colours on them all.  Then it will be a case of working on other, acrylic, paintings while the oil layers dry.  

I have often thought painting is like music - in particular Western classical music with its many layers all travelling at different speeds so to speak, yet working together to create a unified and coherent and beautiful whole thing.  And so in my studio.  Setting up for the long, slow oil process in between the faster acrylic works should make for an interesting tempo over the next few months.

06 July 2015

exhibition: CHROMA

Next, the exhibition at Christine Klassen Gallery.

I'm feeling quite excited about the opening.  This is anxiety turned to its positive aspect.  This week I will make sure to sleep well, eat well, drink lots of water, go for walks.  Take care of a few last-minute details.  Stay focussed.

And then... oh, I am so looking forward to getting back into the studio!


exhibition: "This House Is On Fire"

A few images from the recent collective exhibition at the New Edward Gallery:

Andrew Mirth - laquered panelChris Zajko - watercolour paintings
Doug Haslam - wood tables

Mandy Stobo - "bad portraits"

Doug Williamson - oil paintings

Christy Menzies - Alberta Landscape 

Holly Timpener - performance piece residue
Dee Fontans - jewellery
Sean Mahon - oil painting

Dee Fontans - jewellery
Sean Mahon
 - oil painting
Jack Bride - watermedia painting

Chris Zajko - watercolour paintings
Eddie Nyikes - drawing
Odessa Weasel Child - drawings

Verna Vogel - 3D string art
with Dee Fontans and Dough Williamson

I really like the flow of Dee's jewellery into my string art in to Doug's painting with the chain link fence.  Here are a few more images of my string art piece:

"Rock Knot"
cotton and Jute twines, rocks, brass hooks
18 x 18 x 64 inches