30 May 2013

slow process

The vast and various world of photography beyond digital cameras is becoming more and more intriguing to me.  For example lomography.  Never heard of that, but here is a lomography class which will be taught by Tekoa of Rainika Photographik.  
What I love most, though, is the old cameras with their slow processes.

Here Tekoa used a Russian camera of the type which can use glass or paper plates.  It took several minutes to set up, meter the light, adjust the focus, et cetera.  The exposure was relatively fast at about one second, but I had time to sit and observe the set-up process, get comfortable and relax before the shutter clicked.

There is such beauty in old-school photographic techniques, back and foregrounds blurred in a shallow focus field, contrast heightened so that a white shirt becomes a bright flat shape.  These photos have a kind of dreamlike quality which really appeals to me.

I love the gravity and dignity of slow processes.


A little while ago I made a post titled "get back".  Here's how 3 of those paintings turned out:

Out Of Sound  51w x 45h inches

Horizons  61w x 35h inches

Connection  62w x 25h inches
Those 3 were in my Tintinnabulation show last month.

The 4th one is still in progress:

Sky Light  45w x 51h inches

And then there are times when I am just fighting the thing, like with this one:

it began like this...

...and evolved...

...to here.
This one is titled We Move Through It.  Whew, I sure am moving through something here - who knows where it will end up.  Perhaps in the scrap heap.  

27 May 2013

the best laid plans

Today was sunny and fairly warm, but I was only able to spend a couple of hours painting, so I worked on some small things rather than hauling out the large outdoor paintings.  

The following pieces were 12x12 black-and-whites that I made a few years ago, not really great work actually.  Not wanting to try to fix or improve them anymore, I decided to make them into something entirely new!

First I covered them over with old architectural plan drawings.  Then I got out my pencils and began drawing on them.  Then out came the inks for some colour washes.  They are not finished, but so far I like where they're going:

I worked until the sky began to darken with evening, and to threaten rain.

Later in the studio, playing around with placement order:

Working title: The Best Laid Plans.  
Because these are building and renovation plans that were never used.  They were discarded in favour of other, presumably better ideas.  Ah, like so much in this life.

the farmer

When the weather is warm or warm-ish, I am working outdoors on this series.

They are named "the outdoor paintings" until further notice.  There are now 11 of them in various stages of completion.  Here are photos of 8 of them:

68 x 38 inches

61 x 47 inches

46 x 42 inches

54 x 49 inches

67 x 35 inches

57 x 61 inches

27 x 75 inches

55 x 29 inches
Having come to an understanding that these will be made entirely outdoors, I await the next sunny day to continue my work.  It's kind of interesting, this immediate dependence on the weather.  As if I am an art farmer, planting paintings.

23 May 2013


One of my galleries is closing.  
The owner has been in the art business for many years and now needs to make a life change.  I'm very happy for him, he is excited to embark on a new path, one that will enhance his life with his partner and fulfil some other long-cherished dreams.  

So what happens in my own career now?  Do I run out immediately and look for a new gallery to replace the one that is leaving?  Do I intensify the self-promotion: sell my own work through my website, take on more commissions?

... or do I do what I usually do when things are in an upheaval around me: Wait.  
Stay grateful, keep my eyes and ears open, continue reaching for excellence in my work - and if an opportunity comes my way, I will be ready not only with the work, but with a calm and relaxed demeanour.  

It's something about roots, about strength and fragility.
Painting is how I make my living but also how I make my life.

18 May 2013

happy love

I have recently discovered the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska, through this blog.

On first reading the following poem, it seemed to me that the author was feeling bitter ... but then I wondered - perhaps she had instead come to an understanding of why one should keep one's happiness under one's hat.  Nothing is as simple as it appears.

Happy Love

Happy love.  Is that normal,
is that serious, is that useful -
what does the world get out of two people
who don't see the world?

Lifted towards each other for no valid reason,
no different from a million others, but convinced
that it had to be thus - as reward for what?  Nothing;
light falling from nowhere -
why on them and not on others?
Does this offend justice?  Yes.
Does it upset solicitously piled principles,
does it upset morals?  It does upset and topple them.

Look at these happy ones;
would they at least put on some disguise,
pretend a despondency to sustain their friends!
Hear how they laugh - offensively.
The language they use - seemingly intelligible.
As for those ceremonies, the fuss,
their fancy reciprocal duties -
they look like a conspiracy behind humanity's back!

It's hard to predict the outcome
if their example could be followed.
What would sustain religions and poets,
what would be remembered, what abandoned,
who would wish to stay within its bounds.
Happy love.  Is it necessary?
It's tactful and sensible to ignore this scandal in Life's higher spheres.

Fine babies are born without its assistance.
Never, never could it populate the earth,
given its rare occurrence.

Let people who haven't known happy love
insist it's nowhere to be found.

With such faith it'll be easier for them to live and die.

from "People on a Bridge" by Wislawa Szymborska
translation Adam Czernaiwski


The photos and videos from the opening of my exhibition Tintinnabulation have arrived!  They were done by Michelle at Rainika Photographic, who did an excellent job of documenting the event.

Hmm, there's an "error" message when I try to upload the video here, so I have put it on youtube.  Here is the link.

And here are a few of my favourite photos:

kind of a shell-like effect, don't you think?
with Rob and Sanja
Rob is the owner of Axis and a great person whom I have enjoyed working with for quite a few years now.  Sanja is a wonderful photographer and co-publisher of Seities magazine.

with Amy
Amy is also an artist, here is Amy's website.

with Melanie and Frances
More artist friends!  Melanie's website and Frances' website.

Michelle also took some photos using pinhole cameras, which she set up in various locations in the gallery during the opening.  You can see two of the pinhole cameras perched on top of the wall:
with Marlene
Marlene is, among other things, a photographer and teacher.  Marlene's website.

with John, my greatest love and support
Yes, my husband is an artist too - I'm surrounded!  :)  You can find John's work here.

And below are a couple of photos taken with those pinhole cameras:

inside the gallery
Rob's desk
The pinhole photos were taken while people were moving around the gallery.  The exposures were about an hour long, so the movement of the people is evident only in the  blurred areas of the photos.  Personally I love this ghostly effect.

thank you so much, Michelle!

14 May 2013


I subscribe to various newsletters, one of which comes through The Painter's Keys.  

Here are some interesting thoughts on patience and the art of making art.  Reading this gave me one of those "aha" moments - you know how it is: you already begin to know something in a back-of-the-mind/heart kind of way, and then someone puts it into words, and then you realize that you know it a little, and then you want to know it better.

Thinking in particular of the rock painting disaster, the last one I did during our recent trip.  Perhaps the thing to do is to just sit and observe for at least 10-15 minutes before beginning to paint a landscape.  

Yes, already I do take a moment to look around and think about how the landscape looks and feels before I begin, but perhaps I could spend longer on that part.  Perhaps the sitting and observing could be more important than the painting, the primary goal in fact, so that I might just sit and observe without making a painting at all sometimes...


11 May 2013

slowing it down

A friend and her mother and I recently went on a 3-day hiking and painting adventure in the Kananaskis.  The lodge we stayed at is located just above the Lower Kananaskis Lake, about an hour's drive from here, and the mountains are a completely different environment from the prairie barely-foothills of home.

How great to slow it down, spend a few days out of range of cell phones and internet access!  This was a relaxing and productive trip indeed.

Day 1 - around 8am.
A last-minute dash to finish gesso'ing a few small canvases in my studio.

Day 1 - around 1pm
Acrylic ink on gesso'd sketchbook paper, 9x12 inches
 View to the left of our lunch spot on the lake below our cabin.

Day 1 - around 3pm 
Acrylic ink on gesso'd sketchbook paper, 9x12 inches
View to the right of our lunch spot.

Day 2 - around 11am
Oil on canvas, 12x13 inches
A short drive from our cabin, near a different, smaller lake.

Day 2 - around 1pm
Oil on canvas, 10x10 inches
View from the other side of the Lower Kananaskis Lake.

Day 2 - around 3pm
Oil on canvas, 10x10 inches
View in the opposite direction from above.

Day 2 - around 10pm
portrait of M, china marker on paper, 9x12 inches

Day 2 - around 10:30pm
portrait of J, graphite on paper, 9x12 inches

The third day I forgot to photograph my paintings in front of the landscapes which inspired them, so here are a few photos to show how it was:

Day 3 - around 1pm
Painting perch on the rocks of a mostly-dry waterfall.

Day 3 - first view

first painting, photographed later in my studio

This is my favourite painting of the trip.  I like that I used a small, very old and worn-down brush to scratch through the paint layers to get the lighter bits in the trees.  Much more delicate mark than a "good" brush will make.

Day 3 - around 3pm
same perch, different view

second painting, photographed later in my studio

This is my least favourite painting of the trip.  But what the heck, I certainly don't always make great work so here it is, my rock painting disaster, haha.

And a few more photos from our trip: