22 August 2017

What they saw next was true

Fragile Planets

I have a type of very focussed multiple attention span in the studio.  Lately I've been engaged with three different but connected streams of work: Large oil paintings, small acrylic paintings, and poured-paint paintings.  All exploring circles, ellipses, arced lines and shapes.

I've begun making some paintings based on the small stitched pieces of my recent Fragile Planets installation.  Fragile Planets received a very enthusiastic response from gallery-goers, and then it sort of went underground for a bit.  Now it is resurfacing in a further incarnation.  

What they saw next was true

Above: stitched canvas 16x16"

Below: detail bits of three finished acrylic paintings

What they saw next was true

What they saw next was true

What they saw next was true

The leftover acrylic paint is not wasted!  No, it is more fun and productive to pour leftover paint onto pieces of canvas.  Sometimes the canvas is cut fresh from the roll, other times I pour the leftover paint on top of old paintings that had never made it to being stretched.

verna vogel paint pour to create ground on canvas
It is summer and warm, so I do this outdoors.
Then I play with my shadow.

verna vogel paint pour to create ground

It has been mentioned to me that the details of these poured grounds/paintings could make paintings in and of themselves.  Perhaps I will go there in future, and perhaps not.

verna vogel acrylic painting detail

verna vogel acrylic painting detail

Once in awhile, with just a few tweaks a finished painting emerges from the layers of pours.  When that happens I get excited.  Then I have to restrain myself from trying to make more of my pours into finished paintings, because this type of painting has to feel particularly effortless in order to be true.

What they saw next was true

It can be the most difficult thing in the world to do something effortlessly and well.  It is a type of freedom that requires great and concentrated focus, often flying in the face of an innate human urge to define, classify, produce calibrated results.

What they saw next was true

And there you have the fundamental discipline of being an artist.

31 July 2017

The Process: JC x 2

Yesterday Jen Cloutier came to visit my studio and interview me for a project she has been working on, documenting the lives and studio practices of artists in Cuba and Canada.  It's called "The Process"; you can read about it here.  

Near the end of our visit, she graciously sat for not one but two quick portraits, lucky me!

Jen Cloutier: flanneur, curator of Vivant! and author of The Process
Sharpie marker and gouache in the green portrait book

Jen Cloutier: flanneur, curator of Vivant! and author of The Process
China marker and gouache in the green portrait book

Beautiful bee wing shadows.  Part of the process is observing nature.

As I was photographing those portraits this morning, I noticed a bee sitting very still on the deck.  Aren't the shadows of its wings just beautiful?  The flower shadows too.

the process of colour
Sometimes I write in my sketchbooks

The process of making a painting: work in progress, sheer colour layers
Sometimes I paint in my studio

The Process; observing nature makes my eyes happy
And sometimes I am in the right place at the right time to notice something beautiful.

27 July 2017

JP and YT x 2

JP enjoying coffee in the sunshine, portrait in sketchbook

JP enjoying the morning sunshine with a coffee.  The coffee itself is not shown, but its effect is apparent in his facial relaxation.

wildflower garden in summer barely needs any water even in dry heat

Our front wildflower garden.  This patch pretty much takes care of itself; even in this summer of relentless dry heat I have only watered it twice.

portrait of yulia tsinko by verna vogel ink & goauche in sketchbook

TY x 2

portrait of yulia tsinko by verna vogel ink & gouache in sketechbook

Sitting under trees by the river on a beautiful day.

18 July 2017

Alberta Landscape No. 2017-3

alberta landscape no. 2017-3 a lovely view
the view

Alberta landscape no. 2017-3 my palette of colours
the palette

alberta landscape no. 2017-3 initial sketch
the sketch

alberta landscape no. 2017-3 begin painting, sky first
before the debris-laden wind gust

alberta landscape no. 2017-3 after the wind storm hit!
after the debris-laden wind gust

alberta landscape no. 2017-3 finished painting in the field
finished work with debris

alberta landscape no. 2017-3 painting and view all together now
on location

alberta landscape no. 2017-3 final touch-ups in the studio
in studio, with slight touching ups


Wildfires are burning in Banff and the air is hazy but this does not stop us from going out painting.  In fact the haze lends a wonderful atmospheric effect.  

That wind gust, though: full of sand and ashes and whatever else the fast wind can pick up.  Too much debris to remove completely.  Guess it'll just have to dry in the paint layer; I'll call it "natural provenance".

28 June 2017

balance in

I am making a blog post today simply because I haven't in awhile, and I do like to post every couple of weeks.  It has become a kind of discipline over the years.

There is a lot of work going on in the studio, but I don't feel I want to share it just yet.  Not from some idea of wanting to show only "best" or even "good" work - any regular reader of this blog will know that I don't curate in that way here - but just because, well, I think it all really needs some quiet percolation time just now.  

So, while some things percolate, here are a few other things which provide a balance.

Balance in the studio: pausing for a bit of precision work in between the big loose paintings.  Below, from the "Sound" series, reworked oil paintings:

sound oil paintings balance in studio

A circle centred inside a square is a very static composition, lots of potential for boredom!  But I am determined to find ways of making it work, through use of colour, emerging/receding image and placement of lines.  I think these two are looking better than some of the earlier incarnations of the squared-circle idea.

ink and twig drawing on paper balance at work

Balance at the job: A small sketch quickly done while working at the art store, made with a twig dipped in black ink for the lines, and a brush to get the washes, on office paper.

"augury" sketches ink and gouache on watercolour paper balance of materials

Balance of materials: A few more ink & gouache sketches on w/c paper, very tiny at 4x6", because I wanted to paint yesterday but did not want to get into the big oil paintings again just yet.

roses in bloom balance in the life

And balance in the life; the garden has been keeping me busy too :)



13 June 2017

very small things and very large things

how I see

surrounded by circles
what I see

new work in progress, "auguries" oil colour glazing, verna vogel studio
inside the studio

full moon as seen from studio doorway verna vogel
outside the studio

surrounded by circles rumblesat art in space mission
ink and mixed-media stitching on paper, 7x7"
included the RumbleSat Art in Space Mission
(read about it here.)

Very small things to very large things, so many circles.

      

Sometimes I feel very keenly that what I'm doing in my little studio relates directly to the whole universe as we know it - and what a fine feeling that is!


24 May 2017

bright colours

brushes with bright colours oil paint

Yesterday I used bright colours to grey down a work in progress.

bright colours can make grey in layers

The canvases were also bright colours to begin with, as you can see by the edges which I did not paint over.  One bright colour painted over another can make for some very lovely off-tones.  

bright colours layered oil painting

I'll be working over them again with more bright colours in sheer layers, to get them really neutral, close to greys.  In this way the colour will remain luminous.


bright colour layers of oil painting glazes

Then I used those same bright colours to work over a red underpainting, with good results.


Fragile Planets exhibition take-down

And I discovered this photo I took when I removed my Fragile Planets installation from the Drumheller gallery.  There are no bright colours visible in this photo... but in the polished concrete floor are all sorts of colours which blend into an overall neutral grey.  

If the baseboards were painted in pure bright colours, this floor would be rather like my envisioned paintings.  :)

30 April 2017

happiness is a new painting rack

After hanging the Fragile Planets show, I crashed for a few days.  When I got up, I began a new series of paintings.

the others new abstract oil paintings by verna vogel work in progress

Above: first paint layers.

Below: a few subsequent paint layers.

the others new abstract oil paintings by verna vogel work in progress

the others new abstract oil paintings by verna vogel work in progress

Since moving into this studio about six months ago, I'd been dreaming of building a painting rack.  This week I finally built it and, in my own mind at least, it's a thing of beauty.  Simple, lightweight and strong, capable of  holding various sizes of work safely and efficiently.

simple, elegant and strong painting rack

The paintings, which had been precariously piled atop one another against the far wall of the studio, are now gently organized.  This sort of thing really does increase my happiness in the studio.


02 April 2017

installing the Fragile Planets

Yesterday my husband and I drove down to Drumheller and installed my Fragile Planets exhibition in the Western GM Drumheller Art Gallery.  I have been working on this project since July 2016.

We arrived at the gallery, unloaded my gear, took stock of the space and then got to work.  First to go up was the Meditation Wheel.

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

I used electrical conduit to make a circle that we fastened to the lighting supports near the ceiling, then hung each string of painting + print from it.

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

It actually went up surprisingly fast.  My studio is maybe 1/4 the size of the gallery, and it was wonderful to see my theoretical logistics work out so well in real life.  

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

Adjusting the lighting as best I could, I was very happy with the end result.  I had envisioned the pieces to look like they are floating in space, et Voila, my vision was realized!

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

The shadows cast on the floor were not something I had envisioned.  That was a surprise: sweet icing on the cake.

The exhibition included some of my paintings and small framed prints as well.

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery
Sound series, 20x20" each

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery
Resonance series and Other Suns series, 12x12" each

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery
Collagraph monoprints, 4x4, 5x5 and 6x6"


I was not sure how many paintings and prints to bring, but as it turned out I gauged perfectly.  The Meditation Wheel took up about 2/3 of the gallery, with my paintings and prints completing the balance beautifully.

A couple more installation shots attempting to show the work all together:

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

And a couple more shots of those sweet shadows:

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Galleryverna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

This install took about 6 hours, pretty much what I had figured on.  I think I went up and down that ladder at least 100 times!  *laughs*  While we were working, several people stopped in to have a look and made some very positive comments on the work.  It was a good beginning.

At the very end, I made a couple of real quick portraits in my sketchbook of the person who organizes and curates the gallery:

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Galleryverna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery
paint marker, ink and gouache in my portrait sketchbook
130lb paper, 9x12"


The culmination of a new idea in my work which took several months to realize, combined with physical and mental exhaustion, and knowing that my exhibition achieved a really nice balance ... What an elation I felt as we drove home!

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

Along the way we went for a little walk on the slopes above Drumheller, where my husband found a tiny, beautiful rock to add to our collection.

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

A perfect finish to a wonderful day.