29 March 2015


Time, hey.  Sometimes it seems we have a lot and sometimes only a little.  We say "life is short".  But we could also say "life is long".  Or we could just say "here I am, what can I do?"

When I don't have much time for art-making in the studio, I can always make quick drawings in a sketchbook.  They don't take long and they can be quite satisfying, and sometimes they lead to further explorations in the studio.

These drawings were made over the last couple of weeks, with markers and coloured pencils in my 5x7" hardcover book:

They're not, you know, great works of art or anything, but I think I ought to do more of this.  Maybe a sketch or two every evening?  

Lately I've taken on a few extra things and am finding it difficult to organize my work.  Maybe I've taken on too much and will need to scale back, or maybe this is one of those learning curves and I will find a balance if I stay focussed.  Maybe making some wee drawings every evening will help with the focus part.

This morning I photographed the fence paintings:

They've been out on the fence for 4 years now, and today they're looking ready for another cycle of spring.  

17 March 2015


Today I needed a break, so I sat around the house reading a book all day.  It was very quiet; no radio, unplugged phone, no visitors.  A superb day.

About 6pm I went into the studio "just to have a look at things".... and wound up making a self-portrait in oils over an old half-begun abstract painting.  I took a few photos of its progression:

verna vogel self portrait

portrait in oils

portrait in oils

This  is a wabi-sabi portrait.  It took about 2 hours to make, and it measures 17x18 inches.

I used a simple palette.  That rolled-up tube is cadmium red; the rest you can see if you click to enlarge the image below:

I was feeling spiritually exhausted today, so reading was a great way to lose myself in another world for many hours, which for me always has a rejuvenating effect.

Then, making that portrait helped me to see that I can in fact paint.  

I've been really missing working with oils.  I miss being able to make large-scale works with many layers of transparent, sophisticated colour, and working on 10 or even 20 paintings at a time.  Here in this home studio, space is limited so I work on fewer paintings at once, and sometimes it feels like I'm in a pressure cooker with nowhere to turn, nowhere to expend what feels like way too much energy for this small space.  

Yeah, boo hoo right.  *laughs*

In fact my home studio is lovely and I am often very productive in it, and having to work in acrylics has opened up all sorts of interesting avenues of exploration, and most of the time I feel very lucky to be where I am.

But what can I say, sometimes I fall into a pit of melancholic despair and then, well, then nothing charms like a good book; nothing soothes like a little oil painting.

15 March 2015


Variations of colour and composition on Arches 160lb watercolour paper:

ellipse, abstract

Circular templates and sunlight and work in progress:

verna vogel

A lot of things are happening, a lot of things are needing attention.  No time for a long meandering blog post this week.  In precious moments of studio time, focus trumps all.

08 March 2015

a long slow current

In the autumn of 2014 I began making purely abstract work.  I should say "began again" because a couple of decades ago I was making abstract paintings, but you know how life has its detours.  

verna vogel ellipse

Over the years my love of abstraction endured, and finally I took the plunge.  So I've spent about 18 months now focussed on abstract work; it has been the main thrust of my studio endeavours and I've enjoyed participating in the unfolding of this renewed direction.

verna vogel ellipse

I tend to make blog posts about all the stuff that happens - the plein air paintings and portraits and little side projects - but in reality those things take up maybe 15% of my creative output.  They are a break from my "real" studio work so to speak.

verna vogel ellipse

Yesterday I had a fantastic day, finishing two more "Ellipse" paintings.  One of the paintings was a real struggle while the other just seemed to come together effortlessly.  I love that balance of struggle and flow.

verna vogel ellipse

I now have got 8 finished works and 2 which need some improvement.  My plan is to have 10 finished works of an excellent quality by the end of this month, because I have an important visitor coming.  Therefore I need to have made 15 pieces by then, of which I can reasonably expect 2/3 to be of sufficient quality.

I think I can do it.  I think I can...  


01 March 2015

peek back

A couple of decades ago I was really into figurative work, running life drawing sessions at several schools and studios in Vancouver, BC.  Three to four times per week for 6 years I did this, and wound up with a big stack of works on paper.  Some of the works sold and some were lost in a series of moves, but I still own a few favourites.

I had just one showing of these figurative works at Basic Inquiry, where I also ran a couple of sessions per week.  It was the old location of the Basic Inquiry studio, with 5 big walls which I basically papered with my drawings!  Here are a couple of images from that exhibition:

basic inquiry studio verna vogel
This has all come up because I'm in the process of updating my website.  I've got some of my portraits on the site, and I thought it would be good to show some of the history of that work.  It's been an interesting trip down memory lane, as I have not looked at my old life drawing photos in years.

For the last decade or so my work has been focussed on urban and now abstract work, but here is a little peek into my history.  It is important to remember who we are.