30 June 2016

and now for something a little different

verna vogel earth paintings
The view: near Dewinton, AB

earth painting palette verna vogel
The paint: 3 black earths and 1 clay earth
collected near my easel
ground with oil medium

paintings made with earth by verna vogel
The paintings:
clay earth + oil medium on wood panel, 10x10 inches
black earth + oil medium on oil paper, 9x12 inches

20 June 2016

An unexpected turn of events - part 2

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of facilitating a week-long Campus Calgary Open Minds session with grade 4-5 students at the Arts Commons.  

Mission: to create "3D, site-specific installation artwork which will interact with the public."

campus calgary verna vogel

Response: life-sized papier-mache figures!

The theme of the class was "Inclusion".  We discussed what "inclusion" means, and ways to show inclusion in stance, facial expression and interaction among people.  We had a tour of the building, and the students made some preliminary exploration drawings - I encouraged them to come up with at least two variations on their ideas - and then we dove into working with our hands.

life-sized papier-mache figures
We began with wood armatures...

life-sized papier-mache figures
...built up the forms with cardboard...

verna vogel campus calgary
...applied papier-mache...

...and finished with paint, beads, 
sequins, feathers, yarn and string.


Such simple words to describe a series of complex tasks!  There were many elements to consider:

Anatomy - wood bones, cardboard muscle & tissue, papier-mache skin.
Simple machines - positioning arms and legs to create a dynamic figure.
Use of tools - drills, tape measures and staple guns (the papier-mache was also new to a few of the students).
Spatial thinking - scaling up 2D drawings onto the 3D armatures.
Colour - conveying emotions and ideas through colour.

This project was a first for me and I was not sure whether it would be possible to complete in a week, but in the end it all came together wonderfully.  Once again I found I could trust the students to take an idea and run with it.  

life-sized papier-mache figures

Their teacher's attitude also had a huge impact on the success of the project - she was happy to take it on even if it didn't work out, saying it would be a great experience either way.  Now that is an ideal attitude for collaboration!  

life-sized papier-mache figures

Because, you know, these art sessions really are a collaborative effort between the artist and the classroom teacher, to ensure the students have a fun and in-depth learning experience.

campus calgary verna vogel

Also invaluable was the help of various parents throughout the week, as well as the hands-on support of Arts Commons program co-ordinator.

On the last day of the week-long session, we transported the finished work to various locations around the Arts Commons building.

life-sized papier-mache figures

The environment in which the figures were placed had an impact on how they were perceived.

verna vogel campus calgarylife-sized papier-mache figures

campus calgary verna vogellife-sized papier-mache figures

life-sized papier-mache figures
life-sized papier-mache figures
campus calgary verna vogel
verna vogel campus calgary
Then they were put into the art supplies room over the weekend, giving a cheerfully cramped aspect to the small room.

life-sized papier-mache figures
campus calgary verna vogel
The following week they had their grand finale: spending a few days on stage in the lobby of the Jack Singer Concert Hall!

life-sized papier-mache figures

There were dance performances going on all week, so lots of people could see and respond to the installation.

life-sized papier-mache figures

Wrapping up their adventures at the Arts Commons, they were bundled into a truck and taken away, back to the school.

life-sized papier-mache figures

During the exodus, passers-by stopped to take photos with the colourful figures, adding a final layer of public interaction.

verna vogel campus calgary
campus calgary verna vogel
May these papier-mache figures - and their makers - continue to have interesting lives at their school and into the future beyond!

life-sized papier-mache figures

Goodbye and good luck!

10 June 2016

An unexpected turn of events

daily paintings

Last week, in the middle of my month of daily paintings, I got a call to develop and teach an intensive week-long art project for grade 4-5 students - with only 6 days to prepare!  Such short notice is not usual, but I managed to come up with a fairly large-scale project that turned out quite good.

Meanwhile, my daily paintings ground to a halt as the intensity of the class took up almost all my energy.  

These images are of prep work I did a couple of weeks ago.  I cut up a number of old paintings into pieces which I gesso'd in order to use them as grounds for future colour studies.  I did not gesso over all the pieces though; I kept some and played with various combinations.

Today was a wrap for the class, so next week I will be able to focus on my own work again.  Perhaps I'll takes some of these cut-up compositions and translate them into further studies.

verna vogel colour studies

Before getting into the studio, though, I'm going to tend to my houseplants, almost all of which sorely need repotting!  That will make a good bridge between the two intense energies: the outward energy of teaching and the inward energy of the studio.  

Somewhere in there I'll probably make a blog post about the recent class, too.  It really was a lot of fun.

Until next time,

31 May 2016

rock, paper, brushes

Daily Paintings #27-30

Yesterday I mixed linseed oil and mineral spirit with ashes and chunks of charred wood from our outdoor fire pit.  I used a rock to grind the sooty ash into the oil and spirit mixture, in a small dish.  Then I dipped in my brush and made some paintings.

verna vogel painting with soot & oil

The "paint" I made was quite crude.  Someday I'd like to try making a proper batch of paint, using the right tools and processes to get really a really fine result.  If I did I'd probably follow Dave Corcoran's process for mulling paint.
In the meantime though, the rough mixture I made was fun to work with.  

verna vogel homemade paint

verna vogel soot paintings

verna vogel ash & charcoal & oil painting

A day later it's already fairly dry, and the charcoal seems fairly bound with the oily medium to the paper and canvas I worked on.  

verna vogel charcoal paint

What started this whole business of mixing ashes with medium?  A bit I read in Victoria Findlay's book about colour, the brown & black chapter in which she describes some of the dirts that artists use to make beautiful paintings.

26 May 2016

Daily Paintings #18-19-20

Well, I've made 20 paintings in 10 days since I started this "daily painting" thing.  Obviously something is working, I'm getting back into making art on a regular basis.  This makes me feel so happy.

A lot of the daily paintings have been studies for a series of larger works, but yesterday I was at the art-supply store and in between customers I did a couple of quick portraits of my co-workers.  How lovely to work in a shop that affords time for such pursuits!  We are all practicing artists who staff the store - that's part of the appeal.

ryan portrait verna vogel oil on matboard
oil on matboard, 9x12 inches approx. 
melanie portrait vernavogel oil on matboard
oil on matboard, 8x10 inches approx.
This morning I went over to the seniors' residence to play scrabble with my friend, but first I painted his portrait:

Peter portrait oil on canvas vernavogel daily paintings
oil on wood panel, 10x10 inches
This afternoon I will prime a few more pieces of canvas and maybe stretch a couple of canvases too, since I've been thinking some of the studies could be done on stretched canvas as well as non-stretched pieces, as I have been doing so far.

And the garden is wanting some attention, and my bike needs a major tune-up, and a few other errands to keep life going... and that will make a good day.

Until next time,


21 May 2016

Daily Paintings #5,6,7,8

Painting #5: May 20, 2016

daily painting self portrait with conte verna vogel
conte on gesso'd paper, 9x12 inches
Conte applied dry and also with brush & water, which makes this a painting :)

Paintings #6,7,8: May 21, 2016

Today's daily painting multiplied itself!

Three little paintings, studies for an idea that may translate into larger works... or may not.  Plus a piece of primed paper upon which I jettisoned the leftover paint but do not consider a finished piece (far right).

oil painting studies ellipse

Mineral violet, chromeoxide green and yellow ochre, plus white.  Mixed in varying proportions, these will create a good range of colour.

19 May 2016

Not-so-daily paintings

So much for the concept of "daily paintings" - I did not make a painting yesterday.  Falling off the wagon only 2 days into it!  My excuse: between working at the store and in the garden, I ran out of time and energy.  Boooo.  But yesterday I did notice my neighbour's garbage & recycling bins and thought, "There's my next painting subject!"

Painting #3: May 19, 2016, morning

Despite heavy overcast this morning, out I went.  Set up my gear under the spruce tree and worked for almost an hour before it began to drizzle.  Once the rain started I finished up in a hurry.

the view

the palette

the painting
oil painting of garbage & recycling bins in front of a wood fence
finished on (wet) location
photographed in (dry) studio
Loving the palette of this one; the composition, not so much.  I placed the bins closer together on purpose, but then I missed some vital bits of alignment between them and wound up with an amateurish painting.  C'est la vie; next one better.

Painting #4: May 19, 2016, evening

Two paintings today, to make up for yesterday.  The studio is very cozy when it's raining out!  A quick self-portrait with leftover paint from this morning.

self-portrait oil on paper verna vogel
underpainting made with just one 1" brush

self portrait oil on paper verna vogel
finished portrait

Boy, that underpainting sure had a lot of life in it!  I really like the expression, sort of curious and open.  The finished self-portrait is good too, but I wonder... which one could be said to be more accurate?

18 May 2016

Daily Paintings #1 and #2

I just spent about 3 months doing quite a bit of teaching and not much studio work.  Now the teaching is more-or-less finished, and I've decided to kick-start the summer by doing a month of daily paintings.  Here are the first two, simple views from the back yard.

Daily Painting #1 - May 16, 2016

The view:

 The palette:

Placing the compositional elements as minimally as possible:

The painting in several steps: 

That lovely dappled light is from the tree I sit under, it's unfortunately not part of the painting: 

Finished work on the studio wall: 

Daily Painting #2 - May 17, 2016

And finished: