Enjoy your celebrations all.
PS. That’s not fiction, those are my old ski boots, duct-taped together for the season, and finally, finally, finally I got myself a brand spanking new pair.
I’ve been doing my 365 Art Card Project for many months now. Each card, is a little artwork in it’s own right (or a practice, experiment, therapy or any and all of the above). Some of them become the body of my Itty Bitty Little Books. When I want to work out a new painting now, I use the art cards also. Unlike rough sketches and thumbnails, the fact that I consider these little guys a finished product makes me work at the details in a serious way. But often, I just do them. Just like that, no agenda, just to see what will happen. Like the one below, done with mechanical pencil on Yupo. Which I keep going back to, looking at, thinking, hmmmm… what about a larger mixed media. I decided the fine lines would scale up nicely to 18”x24” which, for me, is REALLY REALLY BIG. But it will give me plenty of room for line and texture and colour in and amongst the negative space. I decided, since I really felt the atc was successful, to use technology to scale up, and printed it onto 4 pages, reconstructed with cello tape, and trace onto a graphite transfer sheet (8x10 paper, thoroughly coated in pencil, by hand). I had all the tools laid out for this photograph, but by the time I fetched my camera, Dynamo had inserted herself into the picture. So instead of moving her, I snapped away, then worked around her to do the tracing. This project should take awhile, and I will pick away at it between printmaking and watercolour and Itty Books and 365 Art Cards, and now I’m getting a head ache. No wonder I feel stressed for time.
But I thought it about time I took of the brakes and just go….I mean the atc size has really done that for me already on a tiny scale, but sometimes you just need more room.
‘Tis the Season for giving; and I haven’t even begun. Instead, I’m the recipient. I think my jaw fell to the pavement when the mail lady delivered this to my door, and I’m still experiencing the joyful sensation of shock and awe of being spoiled from afar. Just look at all this stuff! Stacks of Art Calendar, a business magazine for artists, 3 reference books on figure drawing. A big glossy book on monotype printmaking, a video on printmaking (and yes I do still own a vcr to view it on), coloured pencils, watercolour pencils, magazines with articles on framing art, cat poetry and art, and a beautiful cloth bound blank sketchbook. Sorry if I sound like a kid at Christmas who was just visited by Santa Claus, but really, my Santa came through early. And who but Santa could possibly know me so well as to send me such perfect and timely selection?
I was not expecting this, really not expecting this. All this bounty was sent through the mail from a fellow printmaker in the states, one of those I refer to as ‘anonymous donor’ (there are a few). Last year it was a big box of coloured printers ink, a gift that changed the course of my art in a large and permanent way (re: my VERY colourful gelatin prints). And this year, well, just look. Wow! I have a lot of reading to do. I already know it’s time to work on a portfolio, as per instructions in Art Calendar, and, well more…
Sorry for blathering on, but all I can say is that this packet arrived on a day when I was feeling particularly out of sorts and it really, really, changed the course of my day.
Well, now…I think I had better start working on this years Christmas card design. The snow is falling fast and thick, and time is rushing by.
Hoover Park Drive, Stouffville: watercolour and graphite, 10”x 8”.
There is so much that remains untold in a landscape. Those pretty pictures of pristine forest, not a human in sight, and I’m guilty as charged. There is so much untold in my personal story, much that I will not say. It’s lovely to present all the beauty of the forest, of stretches of woodland that thrive in the area, and I probably (and quite wilfully) present myself as surrounded continually by woodlands, a modern day Grey Owl. But like him, it’s a bit of a lie. I don’t, for instance, discuss my part-time job that takes place in the industrial bowels of Markham. The less said about that, the better, I say, but the experiences I have there are always lurking in the background. I do my best to hide them from public viewing.
And art is often like that, especially what I call living room art, the type of art that is easy on the eye, and fits in with the decor. We edit out the unsightly details, for aesthetics, we say. Because the parked car, the discarded cup, the power lines, etc. interrupt the composition, or flow, or colour scheme. The excuses are legion, but sometimes truth must be told.
There is so much of life that seems so devoid of meaning that it feels unmentionable. The mundanity of shopping, for instance. Every Saturday, or Sunday, I go shopping; how cliché. I drive down to downtown Stouffville (yes, there is such a thing), and head along Hoover Park Drive to the local Walmart (and one should never admit to shopping at Walmart, And it’s a pretty sad drive as one cruises along extra wide suburban streets, brand new yet oblivious to the looming crisis of our car culture, and the cookie cutter houses clustered around the big box stores with parking lots so vast I often park twice in one shopping session. And along the way, a tiny beleaguered mini-forest, a last straggling stand of trees left untouched by voracious development, with a token plantation or ‘ornament’ trees, the tamaracks. Behind the trees, there is turned earth, stripped bare awaiting more the back hoes and pile drivers for some industrial ‘park’. To the fore, a river of concrete and combustion engines and of course I’m there, driving one too. We are all complicit.
What I wonder is, what does all this do our collective souls as we cut ourselves off from nature, which could better be described as ‘the way things work’, as a forest is alive with life AND death, while concrete is a sterile space that denies everything. And even while I’m walking in the woods my view of the forest is always at a distance, comfortable or otherwise, as I am only a tourist there, not a denizen.
If you follow this blog, you already know that I paint in water colour, off and on, but I have to admit, that often enough they don’t feel like ‘my’ paintings (the more realistic the less I like them). Lately, I’ve had another ‘bout’ of continuous watercolours, as I was feeling rusty, I just kept at it, over and over again (some get recycled into my artcard project so you won’t see them here). I have always been fascinated by wet in wet wash technique but it’s very difficult to control and I’m very frugal meaning I don’t experiment enough.
So in the past, I’ve felt a real disconnect between styles of my watercolours (most of them, not all) and my other works of art. But this one is really mine.
I love lines, lines of all kinds, and this is the major reason I love coloured pencils as one can compose full colour paintings made up entirely of lines. What, then, am I doing in watercolours? I suppose it was somewhat of matter of faith that things would come around if I keep hammering away at it. And yes, sometimes art (or a lot of times) art feels just like that, kind of like jogging while wearing a 50lb backpack in order to learn how to fly.
Top Image: Exotics: from Uxbridges Glen Major Tract, top of the hill, reclaimed gravel pit area.
Above: Staghorn Sumac (this one is the 3rd try, the two previous are have been sliced up into future 2.5’x3.5’ art cards for my 365 Art Card Project, yep, I’m THAT frugal. (and I’ll be blogging about that later, but you can see the pics on Picassa now)
Below: Maple Line, more from Uxbridge Glen Major Tract. Fall colours were astounding in the soft damp weather of October.
These are not on Etsy yet, but others that have not been blogged are.
Gargantua River, Lake Superior Provincial Park. Mixed media: coloured pencil, watercolour, acrylic and fine sand. 15”x15”, 23”x23” matted and framed.
Hors d'oeuvres will be served, and what better excuse can you find to get yourself out to a gallery to view some art. (Gosh, I had to look up the spelling for that one. Even the invite didn’t get it right and don’t ask me to pronounce it as I’m not normally part of the wine and cheese set.)
I am pleased to announce that Gargantua River, Lake Superior Provincial Park is selected to appear in the juried art show, Where They Are Now, OCADU Alumni Association, “Opening reception will be Friday November 12th from 6:00pm - 9:00pm with complementary wine and o'horderves. All are welcome.” Art Square Gallery Cafe, 334 Dundas Street West, Toronto.
I’ll be there, probably showing up hungry as the proverbial starving artist; you can too.
And here’s the original blog post when I had just completed the artwork.
Peat Mountain—Lake Superior Provincial Park, 8x10 watercolour, looking easterly from the peak.
I tried to figure out the elevation gain, but I’m absolutely hopeless at it. If you like maps and want to figure it out for yourself, map below.
But let’s put it this way. You begin at Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground, just off of HWY 17, and you start walking up, and then up some more, and then more up. Then, just as you think you are peaking the edge of a vast ridge, you begin walking down again, and then up, and up and more up, and once again, just as you think you are about to be led to a breathtaking view, you have to walk up some more. Well, eventually, you do get to the top. This is a day hiking trail, perfectly doable for ordinary folks in reasonable shape—maybe you’ll need to take a breather or two on the way up and make sure you have 3 or 4 hours (which will include enjoying the views, and stopping for lunch). Maybe you’ll need to eat an energy bar or a handful of peanuts when you get to the summit, but that’s really about the worst of it. The scenery on the way up, is, of course, gloriously deep and shadowed deciduous woodlands, heavy on maple, and by mid-September, usually colouring up nicely. It smells like nirvana—something about the odour of freshly fallen autumn leaves. And when you do reach the top, the views are magnificent. One vista lets you glimpse the North Shore of Lake Superior as a deep blue line on the horizon, but mostly you see the endless undulation of high granite hills. If it’s overcast, you may find yourself right inside the clouds, which is a little disappointing if you came for the view, but this year we hiked under glorious blue skies and enjoyed the fall colours at their best. The painted view is looking eastwards across the wetlands leading to Peat Lake.
1 & 2 are 1 minute poses, the last one is a 10 minute pose. I finished it rather quick and as I have trouble drawing this models face I thought it was time to practice a portrait. I love colour. I swear, had I chosen the black my drawings would just not have been the same. I choose a bright red prismacolor pencil sticks for the warm-us (quickies). The stick is shaped just like a conte crayon but much less messy. I hate smudging and blending (even on purpose) in my work, and really like the wax pencils as the line stays exactly where I put it, even if my hand slips. Given the speed of the process, and the fact that I don’t erase lines, you can get a pretty good idea of how I build up a drawing from initial sweeping lines for the general form, more added for the substance of the body, and then shading and or dark line definitions once I feel I ‘know’ where things are. (ps. cropping due to scanner size, they all have feet and heads).
So in other news…I finally knuckled down and committed to forking over continuous $$$ to the local cable company in the interest of connectivity. I am no longer on dial-up. Hopefully I will be more sociable with you. I can check out your blogs, follow links and make comments in reasonable time frames. I’m hoping this will free up time for more blog posts. I qualify the latter, as scanning and writing takes up an enormous amount of time all on it’s own. Already, I enjoyed a glorious internet free Saturday morning (I used to spend up to 2 hours using their wifi connections) and instead, finished off the shopping chores so that Sunday could be devoted to hiking in the woods, playing guitar and a bit of gardening.
As for the cable hook-up, yikes, it was an absolute ordeal. Poor Victor (technician) spent hours, literally, fishing lines through our rickety house and replacing old inadequate cable lines outdoors. He has a place in my heart as he also was very impressed with my art (aw, gee shucks, blush). The modem was flaky and he had to return to replace it on Sunday, wherein he was greeted by me practicing guitar. More compliments, (aw, gee shucks, blush).
In other news (and I’ll be crowing about it more later). My submission to the Where They Are Now art show with (OCAD alumni) has been accepted. It’s the image on my art for sale page (the river and fish) if you want a preview.
Enough said for now. I need to paint.
If you were looking at this scene, you would be trespassing. The land itself has been up for sale for more years that I can remember (it predates my moving into the Musselman’s Lake community). Left fallow, it becomes more beautiful with the passing years as the forest grows and encroaches on the field areas, and the fields, especially now in the autumn glows with blossoms of goldenrod and asters.
This is where my husband walks the dog; I mostly avoid it due to the dirt bike and atv traffic (this year, thank fully curtailed by frequent police presence (Yay!)) I always view this place with a level of sadness, a fragile landscape that with the stroke of a pen could be bulldozed into oblivion at any moment. Oh well, I suppose I should just appreciate what is, as all things end sooner or later and trespass…
8”x10” Watercolour, Arches Cold-Pressed paper. Colours used, gamboges yellow, brown madder, prussian blue, paynes grey and dioxanine purple. In this case the purple was a late addition as it’s impossible to mix purple with the chosen palette and the asters were an important element. To integrate the colour, I added just a touch of madder, and then added the purple to shade shadows, sky and distance.
I’ve been busy with watercolours in part to practice speed and commitment. Wet in wet wash technique does not tolerate any of the dithering, picking and poking and other procrastinations that I’m in the habit of when working with dry media.
|available at Etsy|
Sealey’s Lake—Killarney Provincial Park, 8x10 watercolour.
A more traditional take to illustrate the holidays. This is Sealey’s Lake on the La Cloche Silhouette Trail, from the east side. While the entire trail is a serious 78 km backpacking trail, my husband take on the near portion for day hikes. Sealey’s Lake is a bit of a slog, being 2 hours one way, but the scenery changes from deep hemlock woodlands, to rocky heights & towering pines, through lush deciduous woodlands and into the heart of the fens. Sealey’s Lake is more of fen than a lake, being shallow and surrounded by peat bog, but it is beautiful nonetheless and a favourite destination. This little rocky outcropping is the point where we stop for lunch to enjoy the view—usually.
This time around, it was raining, and we hid under a sheltering pine to stop only briefly and take a reference snap. The fact that the weather was terrible and getting worse was the main reason we decided to push on to Sealey’s Lake, as there is nothing worse than trying to kill time at a campsite on a rainy day.
We had had plenty of warning, as the morning sky offered up a most accurate weather report. We woke to a low formless ceiling of grey sky, and utterly still stifling air. I joked, sort of, that the weather for today would begin with a fine mist and increase by unnoticeable increments into an all day rain by noon. For once, I was fervently wishing I would be proven wrong, but alas it turned into a prophecy by the time we reached Sealey’s Lake there was a steady light rain from leaden skies. I won’t bother showing you the reference photo, as all was blank and grey; thank goodness for artistic licence. By the time we returned to camp, we were pretty well soaked in spite of raingear, and things got worse from there. This all happened on our second last day of our holidays, and I confess we packed up early and cleared out (still pouring rain) the next day. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to end a camping trip and curl up in a nice warm bed under a real roof.
It’s good to be home.
PS. for those of you interested in such things, the painting was done in a limited palette of brown madder, gamboges yellow, prussian blue and paynes grey.
Well, maybe not REALLY BIG but I really wanted to use that title. The day before I left for holidays in Lake Superior and Killarney Provincial Parks, I had a show date at Hollidge Tract, York Regional Forest. As I enjoy tech free holidays (not counting an ancient b/w Palm Pilot upon which I read books—this time Dostoeyevsky’s ‘The Gambler’), the show synopsis just had to wait until I got back, physically and mentally.
Here’s the spread. The table was provided, and the facilities had a beautiful natural pine wall. The gridwall (white grid) is a recent investment and it made for a really great display that was quick to put up, and take down. If you ever need to buy any, just do local search on ‘gridwall’ for your area. It’s a specialty item, Toronto has about 2 stores that sell it. I could not find anyone selling used gridwall at the time.
In the afternoon we took a break and enjoyed a horsedrawn wagon ride through the woods. This was courtesy of the York Regional Forest staff, who manned the booth for us so that my husband and I could enjoy the break together. The staff were wonderfully welcoming; coffee was provided, and as I’d showed up the day before (on my regular walk, actually) I was given a choice of locations. They also spelled out other vendors (some of whom showed up alone) for more necessary breaks.
It was an exciting day for both myself and husband, but I must admit that by the end of it we were both exhausted as we contemplated a 9 hour drive to Lake Superior the very next day.
This was my debut show in a way, as friends and blog readers showed up throughout the day, and their support was priceless! One of my husband’s friends travelled quite far just to say ‘hi’ at the last hour. I was so tired by then that I was a less than gracious host, and mostly provided ‘the long stare’ of exhaustion. I owe them a ‘thank you’ note for sure. Someday, I hope to stress out just a little less for these events.
PS. Thank you blog readers, who put up with my ‘Wish You Were Here’ postdated holiday posts. Given the nature of google, I wanted to make sure there was fresh content during my absence. I’m just getting back into the swing of things this week, and hopefully by Saturday noon, I’ll have been sociable with all of you.
This year, I’ll be participating in the OCAD University's Whodunit! Mystery Art Sale. All art is 5.5 “x 7.5” in size, any medium, $75.00; the mystery part is that the buyer has no idea who did it and must choose not by name and reputation but by visual preference. Imagine that.
My two submissions are ready, but of course I won’t spoil the mystery. They did lead me to wish to explore more in the way of texture, painted background and successive layers of coloured pencil, not just light to dark, but light over dark using sand and acrylic gel to hold the pigment.
& the obligatory close-up. The ochre is the ground colour, painted in gouache.
Here is the phone doodle seed of the works I’ll be submitting. I’ll be exploring the theme more, and after the sale, will post them.
Holidays are over, but it may take me until next Saturday for me to get the library’s wifi connection—see you then.