04 December 2023

Not-So-Mini print exchange at Alberta Printmakers

I finally did it!!

The Drop, 8x10"

I signed up for the Not-So-Mini print exchange and exhibition, a yearly event at Alberta Printmakers.  

Though I have known about this event for years, this is the first time I actually submitted an application, and made an edition of 10 prints, and got it to them on time.

Here are a few simple collagraph printing plates I made, not yet dry. 

I used cardboard, glue, a couple of highly textured acrylic mediums, string, and mod-podge to seal the plates once the collages had dried.

And here is my painting table converted to a print workshop.
I made these prints on rice paper that I purchased when I lived in Malaysia almost 30 years ago.  The paper is excellent, and it was a joy to use it for this project.

It's been several years since I did any sort of printmaking.  It's always such a fun and magical process to spend time working on an object which is not the final iteration, as in painting.  Instead, the plate is a means to an end: the image transferred onto a piece of paper.  
That feeling when you pull the first print, it always contains an element of surprise.
I love that.

I liked the prints I got off this plate the best ...

... And so that became my edition.
I actually made about 20 prints in order to get 10 that were fairly consistent.

Once the prints were fully dry (a day or two) I packaged them between 2 pieces of acid-free matboard, with acid-free tissue between each print.

I find it interesting that pretty much any sort of materials can be used to make a collagraph plate, but then the prints are made using archival inks and papers, and are packaged and protected so that the paper won't discolour or sustain other types of damage.

A well-packaged print edition on its way to Alberta Printmakers.

Printmaking is a fundamentally simple idea.  Although some of the processes and techniques can be quite complex, it's also possible to get a pretty nice print in a very simple way.
Re-visiting the humble collagraph for this project was a great pleasure.

Thank you once again, dear Reader, for your interest.

11 October 2023

Seed Stars

 A couple of months ago I posted this work in progress.
It's finished now, and currently available at Grant Berg Gallery

verna vogel abstract painting

Seed Stars, oil on two canvases, 20x22" each

I decided to put the the two together in one frame.
First time I ever tried that, and I like it.

Today the weather has turned cool, the yellow leaves of the trees are glowing against a backdrop of grey skies, and the very air smells exciting!  
I do love autumn.

I hope you too enjoy this day, wherever you are, dear Reader.

03 October 2023

A Better Day

Today I made a few small abstract paintings, on pieces of matboard.
They are acrylic, and 8x10 inches to fit some frames I found in a thrift shop.
A couple may receive tweaks, but I'm pretty happy with them overall.

abstract painting with lines, curves and circles, blue pink red yellow black green white

I have seen other artists present small works in found frames, salon-style, and find that I really like the aesthetic.  One of my galleries has offered me an exhibition next year, so I've been keeping an eye open for frames lately, thinking I may try to present some of my work in this way.  We will see.  

I've been enoying the use of metallics lately, how they create almost a feeling of movement as they change with the angle of the light.

With leftover paint I worked a little on a large painting in progress, of which the image above shows a portion.

abstract painting with lines, curves and circles, blue pink red yellow black green white

As I leave the studio this evening, the moon is bright and the clouds shifting.
I can appreciate the moon image with my painting.  

August and September held some fun but intense things for this introvert:

First, a 4-day driving trip up north to change over some paintings at one of my galleries, the first time we'd been.  At the last minute I was asked to do a filmed interview including a painting demonstration while we were there, and I said yes ... but then found myself off-kilter from the travel, the different bed, the unfamiliar foods ... and I cancelled because I felt I would not be able to present well.  This did not feel good, but it felt better than being in front of a camera!
AND - the drive was beautiful.  We explored new areas, picniced beside mountain streams, dipped our feet into waterfalls, hiked some sandy and rocky shores, explored forests, and generally had an amazing outdoor experience.

Second, a 3-day teaching gig.  It was fun but also stressful, due to a number of factors, and in the end I was unable to bring the concept around full-circle.
AND - the kids were engaged with the project, and they made some cool stuff, and they worked very well as a group, with no obvious animosities, and I'm sure at least some of them took away something valuable.
  I am working on accepting having done a good-enough job rather than a great job.  This is difficult for me, but I'm trying!

Third, in the middle of these events I took on a few extra shifts at the art-supply shop.  This is not usually a big deal since I am one of the "flex" people, but in the middle of two very busy weeks it was a bit much.
AND - I appreciate the larger-then-usual paycheck, and some really great interactions with customers during those extra shifts.

So yeah, I realize these are nice problems to have!
But after all the activity, for about 2 weeks now I've been feeling lethargic, sleeping quite a lot more than usual and struggling to feel motivated about anything.  This is not my usual state.  
But today is better.  I feel happy with the work I did, and feel my head a little calmer about getting ready for an exhibition.

AND - writing all this out has helped me see things in some perspective.

Thank you as always, dear Reader.

Until next time,

21 July 2023

Two Masks in process, 2023

I have been making masks again!


I use a simple process of applying papier-mache onto an inflated balloon.  Then cut and shape a bit, maybe add a few things, and paint.

These masks were begun last summer, then languished in the studio for a full year.  Recently I pulled them out and worked on them while house-sitting for friends. 

The yellow one was just a plain bowl-shaped thing to begin with.


I wanted to create something interesting without a lot of 3D projections... this one can be turned 180˚ for a happy or sad/angry expression.


And I did create a bit of raised effect by adhering the cut-out bits onto the surface.

Begun painting on the blue one.

Here they are gesso'd.

And here they are with some more paint on them.

I plan to work quite a bit further on the yellow one, to create a more fully realized expression.

The clean simplicity of the blue one is appealing, but I may adjust the colour a tiny bit just to enhance depth in the form.  Also, its eyebrows are made of corrugated cardboard, and I hope it will be possible to tuck feathers or grasses into the holes to create really bushy eyebrows, wouldn't that be fun?

Since the spring of 2020 I have made 12 masks including these.

At some point I hope to find a way to show them, hopefully in a public art gallery, beacuse all together they are starting to talk amongst themselves, and I am becoming interested to find out how other people might perceive the conversations.

Thank you as always for reading!

10 June 2023

W.I.P. with a sevely limited palette

Verna Vogel paintbrushes after use red violet brown black white

A few nights ago I began working on a couple of small canvases I'd prepared with oil ground a few days prior.  Thought I'd try some more colour studies.

At 20x22 inches, these are a bit larger than the "Notes on Colour" series.  You can see those on my website and at Bluerock Gallery
(happily they've already sold a few!)

My starting point was to use a severely limited palette of analagous(ish) colours.

Vogel colour study work in progress

First, blind drawing with Kama oil sticks.
Then oil paint: Burnt Sienna, Mineral Violet, Titanium White.

Verna Vogel work in progress colour study limited palette

A little Cadmium Red Light to brighten things up a bit, then Payne's Grey toned with a touch of Pthalo Green Deep.
I sometimes apply little splothes of paint mixes to test the colour in concert, before painting in whole areas.
Greys can be a bit tricky to get right: warm or cool, dark or light?  
The spectrum of so-called "mud colours" is broad.

Verna Vogel work in progress colour study limited palette of red, violet, brown, black

After several hours, arriving here.

Verna Vogel studio late night after painting work in progress limited palette

Finished for the night at 3am - Whew!!
This sometiems happens when I've not painted in some days.

I've been experiencing some shoulder, elbow and wrist issues, a repetetive stress injury caused mainly by painting alot and not taking breaks. (d-uh)
Then I have to rest - rest!!  Truly, resting is an excercise in willpower.
Nice problem to have, in the larger scheme of world events, but still it sucks when I can't paint. 
So, I will be starting an excersice/physio regime in an actual gym in a couple of weeks.  Never thought I'd do that!  But there you go: it's a case of "make art or die" and I'll do whatever it takes to fix things and prevent further injury... and I find myself looking forward to a general strengthening my body as well.

Verna Vogel colour study in dim light work in progress limited palette

Different lighting and different orientation.

The two colour studies are very close, probably only the still-white areas will be chromatically toned a bit, with as little darkening as possible.  A few days of other work, and hopefully early next week I can finish them.  Wish me luck!

Thanks as always for reading, and I hope you're having a lovely day ...or night :)

05 May 2023

Colour Studies 2023.29, 30, 31

Hello again!

Time for another blog post.

Verna Vogel oil colour studies - here are my brushes with the colours on them

Yesterday I made a few colour studies with a very limited palette:

Prussian Blue
Ultramarine Red
Cadmium Orange
plus Titanium White, as always

The "red" is more like a greyish violet and has a very low tinting strength, in keeping the the nature of Ultramarine pigments.

This was not an easy palette to work with, but in the end I loved it.

Below are a few progression photos:

Verna Vogel oil colour study
I begin with orange, blue and white

Verna Vogel oil colour study
More blue and a bit of the red

Verna Vogel oil colour study
All the colours in concert
back and forth and back and forth until...

Verna Vogel oil colour study
photographed this morning in the daybright studio.

In case you are curious to know more about pigments, here is a very good database:
It is actually simpler than it appears at first glance, and is a great resource if you're into this sort of knowledge.

Verna Vogel brushes in my studio

I've had a lousy head cold with very low energy for about a week.
Yesterday I slept part of the day, but in the evening was feeling well enough to get into the studio, and wound up working into the wee hours.  Now making this blog post and looking forward to being back to 100% soon, so I can finally resume work on some larger things for one of my galleries.

Thank you as always for reading, and I hope you have a lovely day - free of lousy head colds!  haha

09 January 2023

Exhibition: BLINK

In October 2022 I had a solo show of my oil paintings at the Collector's Gallery.

How wonderful to once again see a collection of my work displayed on the walls of a gallery!  And how fortunate to be able to keep on working over the last few years, despite many societal and personal uncertainties and upheavals.

You can find proper images of the work at the Collector's Gallery exhibitions page

Below are a couple of screens shots from my i-g page which (if I have done it correctly) should link to the posts which contain a bit of writing about the work and a couple of wee vids:

I enjoy the immediacy of i-g these days, but feel it's also good to make a blog post every now and again.  Not quite a new year's resolution *laughs* but perhaps a kind of general leaning towards without any time pressure.

Thanks for reading these bits and I hope the links are alright.  Next post perhaps I'll put a bit more of the ideas writing directly in, but today I'm just about done with screen time and wish to head into the studio before daylight fades.

Thank you as always for reading!



28 April 2022


Blendability is an important skill, though not appropriate in all situations.

Verna Vogel oilstick on duralar colourful abstract images

I've discovered that matte Duralar is a wonderful surface to work on with oilsticks: smooth but not slick, very good for blending and wiping effects.  I have it on good authority that you can use solvents with it, too, but since I am determined to be totally solvent-free in the studio I have not tried that.

Verna Vogel oilstick on duralar colourful image

Desaturating the images, I find I like them alot in black & white... but I've yet to make any really successful b/w artworks, though.  My persistent love of colour gets in the way *laughs*

Verna Vogel oilstick on duralar

Somewhere, somewhen, I read that muted colours (ie: greys & taupes) are considered more civilized, and colourful colours more savage, so to speak.  I imagine that would be tied to how close to the surface one's emotions are allowed to be in a given situation.  Today's home designers certainly encourage a very limited palette in narrow tonal ranges, for the most part.  There's blendability for you.

My brain understands the muted logic, but my brain does not rule in the studio.  Colour brings me joy, and it seems to bring other people joy, too.

Verna Vogel oilstick on duralar colourful image

If the point is to shine a light in dark times, bring on the colour, I say.

P.S. Click here to see water-based media on clear, glossy duralar, it's the second image in the post.

P.P.S. and a link to a subsequent post showing photos of the exhibition installed.  A good memory...  I hope to be able to create immersive exhibitions again, in fact have got some work already headed that way, and a possible venue for it too.  More about that later, though.  ;-)

22 March 2022


Further development of this painting.



I think I will leave this one now and move on, 
having learned something in the process.

Thanks for reading, and looking  :)


06 March 2022

Little Fishes

Feeling a bit low-energy lately.
Taking images of unsatisfactrory paintings and running them through the photoshop, with I think some interesting visual possibilities.



One large change + a few small tweaks.
Well then!  Perhaps then I will not gesso over this one, but rather try re-working it a bit.  :)


02 March 2022

Homeostasis in the big picture

Since January 1, 2022

-- when one of my studio heaters kaputzed and it was impossible to find another after a very cold christmas, so I removed my acrylics (which must not freeze) into the house, but wanted to work in the studio even though it was cold --

I have been painting with oils, which are less temperature-sensitive.
A real learning process for me.
After some sucesses with smaller canvases, I went larger, and have run into problems.  Go figure.  *laughs*

This painting, for example....

... began with a really well composed drawing.

This is not easy for me to do on a large scale, and I was feeling quite good about it.
(it's 38 x 68", or 95 x 175 cm)

Under the darker lines, there are paler lines.
When applying the colour, I decided to follow some of those paler lines.

Yeah, not such a good idea.

Why not?  Well....

It's busy, no focus, no smooth leading of the eye: lack of flow!
The pattern is too evenly spaced: homeostatic conditions!
I lost sight of the big picture, of the elegance and simplicity of the initial drawing.
Defeated by size.

I could not see these problems, and fudged around with ir for a long time.
Nothing worked, things only got worse.


! AHA !

So I ran the image through photoshop.
My pruning was ruthless.
Now I know more-or-less what to do with it in the studio.
Sweet relief.
Thank you Robert Genn, and Photoshop.

And thank you, dear Reader, for reading.
Perhaps some of you will find this post useful.

p.s.: I did eventually find another heater, so I'm no longer painting in the cold.

06 December 2021

The Balance

... work in progress ...

Verna Vogel large abstract painting

Somewhere between these two iterations lies the balance.

Verna Vogel large abstract painting

I'm not sure if I have the skill to guide it there, but I'm gonna try.