06 November 2020

Giving and receiving


#vernavogel @steelskywoman

#vernavogel @steelskywoman

Sending "cheer mail" to isolated elders, through Calgary Seniors.  Here, birthday cards and non-medical masks.

These cards are a sort of cut-out mobile birds that slot together in a simple way which hopfully elder hands can manage without too much difficulty.  Because why not hang a tropical bird mobile in your home at the onset of the Canadian winter?  I hope the sparks of colour and movement will bring joy.


#vernavogel @steelskywoman @bluerockgallery#vernavogel @steelskywoman @bluerockgallery

- Currently -
new paintings intermingled with other artists' work at Bluerock Gallery.

- Earlier this year -
large paintings showcased in the gallery's front window.  

#vernavogel @steelskywoman @bluerockgallery

#vernavogel @steelskywoman @bluerockgallery

It was the first time I put large work into this gallery, and this led to my first sale of a large abstract painting!  You can see more images in this instagram post.

I receive a lot of love from the wonderful people who run Bluerock, and feel ever so grateful for the community which has embraced me here.

with Dirk van Dyk's "Flutterbies"

Thank you for your continued interest, dear Reader.

I hope you are managing, during this odd and changeable time, with some giving and receiving in your life and work also.

09 August 2020

Oilstick painting no. 4

Five months of isolation later...

Some things that have changed: I miss teaching, and I sew masks for us to wear.

Some things that may never change: I work in my studio, and at times it's a bit difficult to maintain focus.

I've very recently begun exploring the use of oilsticks on canvas, along with working en plein air to create abstract paintings whose colour is informed by the outdoor surroundings.  Sometimes that means a little road trip into the country, and sometimes it means painting in my backyard.

Sometimes I start out thinking, "I will photograph the process" but you can see what happens:

oilstick painting on canvas

"oh right, I was going to snap a pic of the drawing before laying in the first colour"

oilstick painting on canvas

"oh right, I was going to snap a pic before blending the colour"

oilstick painting on canvas

... two hours later: 
"oh right, I was going to photograph the process, uh, a bit late now"

Finished painting

... and 45 minutes after that:
"oh well, one final photograph and that will have to do."

It occurred to me today that this is quite interesting: all along I've thought of the beginning and the end of a painting as happening quite fast, with a loooooong middle bit in between.

In this instance, at least, that may not have been the case.  

It seems that in the beginning things were moving slowly enough that I remembered to snap a pic.  Same situation near the end.  

But that middle bit!  Perhaps things were moving faster than I thought, my brain could not keep up with my body (well nothing new about that) and so, no pics.

Ah, but this is a one-shot painting which took about 3 hours to create...  

And there you have the beauty of oilsticks: with them one can create layered paintings without having to wait for the layers to dry.    

With a light hand, new colour can sit on top of a fresh layer.  With a bit of pressure it will blend.  With a brush barely wetted with walnut oil, the blending is very smooth, transparent effects can be acheived, and the surface texture is altered.  By moving the brush in various directions, the reflection of light off the surface can be directed.  With the handle end of the brush, scratched patterns can be created.  With a tortillon, details can be heightened.  And the layers can be built up quite thickly, so that the textures and patterns stand out and catch light.

All this, and yet the colours remain workable for many hours, even days.

This feels like new territory to me and I'm loving it.

Thank you as always for your interest, dear Reader, despite some long gaps in my postings lately.  


29 March 2020

a time to ruminate and consider

I've been making a lot of colourful paintings lately.

Looking around after a full day early last week, I liked what i saw and made a quick pan of the finished and in-progress work on the walls.

"upon leaving the studio"

Later in the week, I realized I needed to prepare some more canvases.  Stretching, sealing and then gesso-ing canvases is a pleasant job, a time to ruminate and consider work done, work in progress and work to come.  

I prepared 3 canvases.  The first two prepped as outlined above, and a third which I sealed, but did not gesso.  Here is what happened to it:

verna vogel aka steel sky woman preparing canvases in her studio
blind drawing

verna vogel aka steel sky woman first stages of charcoal on canvas more like drawing than painting
darks and shading

verna vogel aka steel sky woman, abstract painting in studio.
lights and just a bit of colour

I'm not sure whether this is finished, but I'm definitely leaving it for now.  I really like drawing look of it.

Here, as everywhere, we are isolated.  After a few warm and sunny spring days, the weather has turned grey and cool, and my body feels a slight tightening and queasiness of pressure headache.  Is it possible to have a mild migraine?  I'll have to look that up.

In keeping with the weather, it seems I have gone from bright colour to almost no colour in the studio.  The grey cool isolated days feel a bit energy-sapping, but the lone grey cool painting in the studio excites my imagination.  
It is waiting...  

18 February 2020

Planets of the Moon

A few days ago I went with a friend to an art gallery created in the building of the old Planetarium.

We saw a lot of art!  I particularly liked Luke Jeram's Museum of the Moon and spent quite awhile lying on the floor under it.  I would like to say that gazing up at the Moon inspired profound thoughts about the universe, but really I just lay there and enjoyed the sounds, the light and colour relationships, some of which were very subtle, and let my mind relax.  It was lovely.

Below, a little project from months ago, which could relate to the moon.  Paper collaged onto old business cards - all this human business, transformed.  Heehee.

#steelskywoman @steelskywoman

Right, so... "business success" story:

A few years ago I decided to stop searching for further gallery representation.  I would continue to make art, and simply post on social media without grasping at anything.  If I'm meant to have another gallery, it will happen, and if not that's okay.

Well, my work is now being represented at Grant Berg Gallery.  The owner saw my paintings on instagram and contacted me.  Writing to a few of their other artists, I received detailed, positive responses, and there were other good indications too, so I went with it and last week shipped 6 paintings to them.  I'm feeling pretty happy about this.

Acrylic on canvas and hardboard, approx 15x17"
Grant Berg Gallery has a few of these now, plus some larger works.

Another thing:

At last month's opening reception of my exhibition Fragile Planets at the Okotoks Art Gallery, I met artist Debbie Lee Miszaniec and learned of her Sunflower Project.  What a beautiful practice, what a beautiful person!

#steelskywoman @steelskywoman
Many of my days begin with breakfast and small artworking at the kitchen table.  Since meeting Debbie and recieving one of her Sunflower paintings, I've been thinking about unconditional love.

Rumi wrote:

Today, like every other day,
we wake up empty and frightened.
Don't open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

One other thing:

I've been playing around with framing my paintings.  It has taken me a couple of decades to believe I might be capable of building my own frames.  *laughs* funny how perception works, isn't it.  And perception determines so much.  More about framing in a future post, perhaps.  I'm still working this out.  :)

#steelskywoman @steelskywoman
#steelskywoman @steelskywoman

Sometimes I am just flat-out amazed at my life.  The expectations of my childhood did not indicate anything like this.  I'll be 50 years old this year, and here I am, still exploring the wild, wonderful, worlds of possibility in creating art, and even showing my work from time to time!!  It really is quite amazing.  Planets of the Moon, indeed.

Thank you as always for your interest, dear Reader.  Until next time...

08 January 2020

Small adjustments

Well, hello there!
It's time to make another blog post.

Yesterday I installed my Fragile Planets at the OAG.

Today I got back into my studio.  I'd been working on some small oil colour studies, applying the paint quite thickly.  Last week I tried translating some of that onto a larger canvas, with less than stellar results.

steel sky woman mobile painting oil on canvas
Not quite right, is it.
Let it sit awhile, while I prep and install the Fragile Planets...

steel sky woman mobile painting oil on canvassteel sky woman mobile painting oil on canvas
... Today I added a bit of pattern, some of it very subtle.  I find it interesting to create subtle effects with bright colour.  This is not always possible, so I feel happy when it works.

steel sky woman mobile painting oil on canvas
Better orientation, don't you think?  This painting may be finished.
(oil on canvas, 23x25")

steel sky woman studio abstract painting oil
A more accurate photo for colour, with less glaring light.
I really need to wash those brushes...

A yellow painting made last month.  After many weeks of teaching, I flew into the studio and released my pent-up anxiety.  This painting was made in one fell swoop, and it may be finished!  Just like that!  *laughs*

Acrylic on canvas, 40x40"

Another one from last month, still in progress.
Acrylic on canvas, approx. 30x52"

And look, there are our names on the marquee.
That gives a nice feeling.

Thank you for reading.  Hope your new year's off to a good start too.