30 December 2013

little and big

I've been working very small for the last few months - the paperworks, the small abstract paintings, a few landscapes, a few skype portraits - with the exception of the work I finished for TREX, I've made nothing over 16x16 inches.

Ideas for larger work have been simmering in the back of my mind for awhile... but I've wanted to wait, tie up loose ends, give myself time to explore freely.  One must be ready for the planning and specific type of focus required to make big paintings.

This week I crossed that field.  Hauled out a stretcher measuring 73x21 inches and began playing with layouts:

steel sky woman

steel sky woman

steel sky woman

There are three elements here: a photo taken 2 years ago in Castro, Brasil; another photo taken 5 years ago in Toronto, Canada; an old canvas that I painted way back in 1997 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Below is the layout I went with.  Still needs a bit of work, but the base is there:

steel sky woman

Feels good to be working large again!

22 December 2013

season's greetings

Wishing you all a holiday season filled with love, peace and joy.
May 2014 bring renewed strength and unity among people in this ever-evolving world.

Starting today, the daylight hours are increasing!

Verna Vogel

18 December 2013

more skype portraits!

I have picked up doing skype portraits again.  Here are images from 2 sessions done over the last 5 days.  I love to work with people who will make portraits of me at the same time as I am making portraits of them.  

My portraits of Lori Lukasewich:

lori lukasewich by verna vogel
oil on primed 300lb archival paper
Graphite and acrylic in 9x12 sketchbook

Lori's portraits of me:

verna vogel by lori lukasewich
oil on canvas paper

verna vogel by lori lukasewich
charcoal on paper

My portraits of Veronica Funk:

skype portrait by verna vogel
graphite in 9x12 sketchbook
oil on birch panel, done over an old acrylic painting

Veronica made some drawings of me too:

verna vogel by veronica funk

These two women happen to be professional artists, but that is not a prerequisite for making portraits.  Anyone can do it!  

The trick is to lay aside any preconceived notion of how a portrait should look.  This is especially important when painting live from a computer screen, which is different from a photo and also different from being in the same room together.

Veronica also told me about another artist who makes portraits via skype: Barbara Muir.  I was sure there must be other artists who do this - but it never occurred to me to google it!  Well, it seems there is a whole world of artists using skype for making art!  How cool is that?  Very cool, says I.

If you are reading this blog post and think you might like to try doing a skype portrait with me, please contact me and I will give you more information on how I set up these sessions.  It's pretty informal, but there are some permissions I like to get before I post anything online, and a few other privacy protection details.

16 December 2013

Paperworks coming to fruition

I've been feeling a bit blue this week.  It's not the weather - I love snow - but rather, I think, the severely shortened days, lack of sunlight, and lack of family proximity.  For 25 years I've lived far away from my parents and siblings, who are all within a days' drive of one another but clear across the country from me.  Canada is a big country, and after all this time I think the distance between us is catching up with me.

Not feeling very driven to create in my studio, I have instead turned my attention to documenting some of my recent work.  Here's a portfolio of the paperworks.  Please feel free to have a look, and feedback is welcome.

In that portfolio the images are cropped, so the beautiful edges of the paper cannot be seen.  Here are a few less-cropped examples:

These works will need to be framed, so I'm thinking will send them to one of my galleries that does framing.  Seems easier that way, as shipping framed work can be a bit of a hassle.  

Meanwhile, perhaps I ought to re-photograph them on a plain backing rather on my easel as shown here.  That way the edges of the paper could remain visible, and the images would look more professional than these...

07 December 2013


I have just updated my website's Portfolio page.

This has been quite an endeavour, because I explore many themes and processes on a regular basis.  I want to show the different sides of my artistic practice, but also want to maintain some form of cohesiveness.

snow window, steel sky woman

Updating one's website seems an appropriate endeavour for a snow day.  Just look at that drift.  :)

05 December 2013

the search

I am on a search.

Last week I made some abstract paintings.  How I made them was to make some loose, strong brush marks on canvases that had already been painted with washes of colour.  I like the results very much:

verna vogel

Those first ones were a lot of fun - they seemed effortless because I painted them quickly.  Well, the coloured ground took some time to make, but the finishing went very fast.  

This week I've been trying to make more abstract paintings, and it has not been effortless!  

Isn't it interesting how, so often, the first time you do something it just flows, but when you try to recreate the flow later it doesn't want to happen.  I remind myself that whatever happens, it will at least make a ground for a future painting.

verna vogel

Above photo - the one on the left is nice but not quite exciting.  The one on the right was made really slowly, with many stops for consideration.  I'm not sure if I like it.  I tell myself "what do you want, a formula?"  No way.  I had a formula for 5-6 years with those glazed city paintings and that was good for awhile but then it got boring.  Now I am on a search.  

verna vogel

Yesterday's work - a few more starts and building up the grounds.

verna vogel

Here used photoshop to desaturate, which I like very much!  Perhaps today I will focus on using neutral tones.

This is the search.  It feels very clumsy and awkward sometimes, and I have to remind myself that sometimes discomfort is an indication of growth.

01 December 2013

Draw 'Til You Drop - part II

life drawing - steel sky woman
mixed media on paper
9x12, 12x16 inches
Nov 30 and Dec 1, 2013

Well that was really, really fun and also really exhausting!  Being around so many people for so long was quite a challenge for me.  However, we were all mostly focussed on our work, so it was not like having to talk to people for that long.  Here are a few of my favourite pieces from the weekend:

figure drawing - verna vogel

figure drawing - verna vogel

life drawing - steel sky woman

life drawing - steel sky woman

figure drawing - verna vogel

life drawing - steel sky woman

This last one is interesting - I know how to render what I see fairly accurately, but I get bored with that. I'd rather be working fast, with colour, and make expressive things: I'd rather catch the feeling of the model than their exact proportions...  interesting how so many people do not respond to work unless it is "accurate" though.

So on the way home I had this little thought: it has been said that my urban paintings are interesting because they do not show any specific city, they just show "city"....  well lo and behold, seems I like to draw "human" rather than any specific human.

One day I will scan and upload images of my life drawings from 10-15 years ago.  I was doing the same thing then: catching the human.

oh, p.s.: about the panels I prepped in the last post - wound up using only 1 of them.  Haha.