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.


Barbara Muir said...

Love the portraits and am always interested in brain research.

Does this have anything to do with marijuana too? Very cool
drawings. Always makes me feel good to see your wonderful work.


Verna Vogel said...

Hi Barbara,

Yes, brain research is really on an upswing theses days, and it's fascinating isn't it. I'm not sure that Andrei is researching marijuana per se, we did not talk about that, but more about how the brain functions and behavioural effects of trauma. When I did a bit of googling afterwards, it seems that what he's studying is alternatives to marijuana. In any case, I think it's super that people are out there wanting to find ways to help people deal with trauma, from many standpoints.

Thanks as always for your compliments on my art!


Jim Mathews said...

I found your blog via The Painters Keys. I'm really enjoying your journal as well as your art. I especially like your earlier figurative work. You interpret people well. Also, your sketchbook portraits are very nice. I really find sketchbooks to be refreshing. I know I can seldom repeat the feeling and spontaneity of my sketches in my paintings, but I'm a beginner (an old timer, but beginner artist)

Verna Vogel said...

Hi Jim,

Good to hear from you - yes, the painters keys is often an inspiring read.

Sketchbooks are sort of a new discovery for me. I never had used them much, but in the last year or two I find myself working in sketchbooks a lot, not to plan ideas for paintings but as bodies of work in themselves. A series of themed paintings tucked between two covers. Lately I begin to create some larger paintings inspired by the sketchbook work, but never never trying to "copy" anything - as you know, it just does not work that way!

A good blog post, your most recent about the newsline in Florida influencing your colour choices in studio. The painting you made is quite beautiful, loving the mesh pattern. Perhaps that is sometimes really the thing: take the ugly, make good.