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

22 June 2015

June newsletter

​Good morning!

I hope this day is off to a fine start for everyone.  Here in Calgary it has rained quite a lot lately, which is great for our garden, and sometimes leads to a rainbow.  Today the rain has stopped, the sun is shining, and I'm appreciating some indoor rainbows cast on the wall by a prism hung in the window.

A few new things have been going on with my art practice:

First, I am very pleased to relate that I have recently been accepted into Christine Klassen Gallery here in Calgary.  It has been some time since my old gallery, AXIS, closed its doors, and now I'm glad I waited to find a new place which seems like it will be an excellent fit.  Christine Klassen, Hilary Knutson and James MacIntyre are a great team with some out-of-the-box ideas on promoting the gallery and artists, and the gallery space itself is absolutely gorgeous.  I feel honoured to be working with them!

There is an introductory exhibition at CKG of work by myself and Calgary artist Mike Binzer; we are both new to the gallery.  The exhibition runs from July 10 to August 22, 2015.  There will be an opening reception on Friday July 10th, from 5-7pm, and I will give a brief talk about my work at 6pm.  Please come out and celebrate with us!  The exhibition will include selections from the Multiples series, and from the most recent Ellipse paintings which stem from an experience I had during an Artscape residency last November.  To view images of the work, click here.

Secondly, I have a 3-D piece accepted into "This House Is On Fire" at the New Edward Gallery", an alternative gallery space also in Calgary.  It's an exciting opportunity to make and show work which lies outside my usual studio practice.  This event, which includes visual art, music and food, opens on Wednesday, July 1 from 6-11pm.  The art will be up for 3 days only, from July 1-3, 2015.  Join us for the opening celebration or stop in to the gallery to view the artwork while it's up!

Thirdly, in May of this year I had another super fun creative opportunity: to alter and paint 3 hard hats for the groundbreaking ceremony of cSPACE Projects at the old King Edward School in Marda Loop, Calgary.  If you'd like to see the hard hats I did and learn a bit more about this cSPACE project, click here.

Finally, the AGA's Travelling Exhibition "Eye And The City" will be hosted by the Onoway Public Library from June 24 to July 22 and the Mayerthorpe Public Library from July 29 to August 26, before moving on into the Medicine Hat region for the next leg of the journey.  "Eye And The City" is an exploration of urban landscapes through artworks by Russell Bingham, Gordon Harper, David Janzen, Paul Murasko and myself.

I hope you are enjoying your day and taking time to pause for rainbows - literally and/or figuratively!

Until next time,

verna vogel steel sky woman

15 June 2015

Meanwhile, in the studio...

A rather bland portrait made a couple of weeks ago:


looks more lively when photoshopped:

steel sky woman

A new 2D series begun, these are 16.75 inches square:

verna vogel small ellipse

steel sky woman small ellipse

And a 3D piece underway for an exhibition in a non-commercial gallery!  Here are some detail shots of the first prototype in my studio:

steel sky woman

steel sky woman

verna vogel

I will make another attempt at this, using a smoother string so the knots are more easily visible.

03 June 2015

receive and send

Before I begin with the art news, allow me to show you this beautiful wildflower bouquet, comprised partly of garden plants (columbine, poppy leaves, arugula flowers) and partly of plain old weeds (grasses, violets, dandelions, and other nameless things)  Is it not wonderful?

One might say I receive the beauty of the weeds, and try my best to send some beauty back into the world.

The same day I composed that delicious bouquet, I received something else: a few older works back from one of my galleries.  I'm glad to see this painting again:

verna vogel Precipitate
mixed media and stitching on canvas
45 x 51 inches

The title is interesting as this painting was made on the eve of a tidal change in my work.

There's a lot I like about "Precipitate" as it is, but now seeing it again after two years I can imagine some improvements.  It is from a series of works I made where I left quite a bit of the raw, unpainted canvas showing.  In this particular piece, I think there may be too much of that same raw canvas colour, so I may adjust the top portion a bit.

Between taking in older work and preparing newer work to send out, my studio can get a bit cluttered:

steel sky woman
verna vogel studio
Ah, that's all nice and tidy now.  Hey, aren't artists supposed to be messy, creative geniuses working in hives of clutter?  *laughs*  Not this artist, apparently - at least, not all the time.

verna vogel paintings
9 large and 55 small paintings
arrived at CKG gallery

verna vogel paintings

I'm really excited that my work is now being represented by CKG here in Calgary!  The people at CKG are wonderful, the space is beautiful, and they have some exciting out-of-the-box ideas about promoting the gallery and artists.

It's been a year and a half since I've worked with a local gallery.  During that time my work has evolved quite a bit.  First the Multiples, and now the new Ellipse series have taken me wholly into the world of pure abstraction.

I've really felt that I'm going out on a limb in making these purely abstract works.  Going out on a creative limb is exciting and invigorating! ... but the potential of a parallel financial limb can be stressful.  This is something to consider when making artwork for one's living. I wouldn't have it any other way, though.  

After periods of darkness there is always light.