Saturday, April 25, 2009

Halifax Art Map 2009 at FRED. art

The Halifax Art Map is a guide to artist
 studios and galleries in Halifax Regional Municipality. An exhibition of work by Halifax Art Map Artists will be showing at FRED. from Monday, April 27 to Saturday, June 20. 

The Opening Reception and Launch will be held at FRED. on Friday, May 1 from 7pm to 9pm. The artists will be present at the Reception. 

Please note the Gallery Hours are Monday 9-5, Tuesday to Friday 9-6, Saturday 9-5 and Sunday 10-3.

2602 Agricola Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax Art Map 2009

I showed the following two paintings at the exhibit:


Above: Night Lights, 48" x 24", oil on canvas. 
Below: Red Boots, 24" x 30", oil on canvas

Here are some highlight photos of the show. 
It was a fantastic turnout!

Monday, April 13, 2009

FLIGHT: VANS Regional Exhibition

Visual Arts Nova Scotia (VANS) is having a regional exhibition with the theme "Flight" at the Shearwater Aviation Museum Art Gallery. Many thanks to our lovely representative, Anna Horsenell Wade, artists from Dartmouth, Bedford, and Sackville, Nova Scotia will each be showing two pieces of their art. Come to our opening reception Thursday, April 30th at 6:00 pm!!

Here are my two interpretations of this theme...

Distant Flight. 16" x 20". Oil on 1 3/4" deep gallery canvas.

Standing in a field
Watching them come and go
Golden pastures and endless skies
Fleeting memories of days gone by...

Flight of Gulls. 16" x 20". Oil on 1 3/4" deep gallery canvas.

Gather, Simplify, and Compose: Part 3

Sometimes creating an interesting composition requires a little off-center placement of the subject I wish to paint. Sometimes it is balancing heavy or bright colours. In my new series, Among Shadows and Light, I am considering both these elements and simply omitting all the background noise.

Here I used a photo I took at the beach in Pickering, Ontario of my sister-in-law and her friend with their daughters on the toddler swing. The photo shows their postures and the moment so perfectly, while the shadows beautifully represent the sun and time of day and ground the scene. Even though I can't see their faces, I can 'see' and 'hear' their expressions when I look at this photo.

When flipping through my stacks of photographs, I came upon this one and knew instantly that I wanted to paint this scene. Just looking at it brought back lazy sun-kissed memories that brought a smile to my face. There is so much going on in the background that the only way for me to make it feel the way I meant it to would be to simply ignore everything except the figures, swing, and shadows. My paintings, I've been told, tend to be very soft and free. My main obstacle here was to carry through this effect, paint small, while not focusing on details. I'm used to using big brushes and painting fast. This painting was the opposite; small brushes, deliberate strokes.

I love the end result, and am happy to say that after sending an image of this finished painting to my sister-in-law (who forwarded it to her friend in the painting), they both replied that they each wanted one! Her friend even cried when she saw it and shared with me how it held so much emotional value for her- this is also where she and her husband spent their first date. Wow, two commissions in just a few minutes!! I felt ecstatic!!

I think what I really like about urging myself to slow down and paint this way, is that this experience is paralleling with another life change I am beginning to practice - yoga. Painting is a form of meditation for me, and always has been; my mind is clear and quiet. Yoga presents a challenge I can appreciate with similar results. I focus on each posture and hold it, then move into the next, all the while trying to be "in the moment". Initially, part of my mind feels very impatient and wants to give up because each pose uses muscles in unfamiliar and uncomfortable ways. Fortunately, most of the time my rational mind wins and I grit through it, gradually feeling better with myself. In the end I am always rewarded with immense relaxation in a meditative state. The difference is that the entire painting process is pleasurable, albeit a little frustrating at times; yoga is purely a physical and mental challenge that ends in pleasure!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Paintings for Mic Mac A.A.C. Auction

Friday I painted this set of 3 small paintings for the auction next Saturday night.  I haven't decided yet whether to auction them off as a set or individually.  

It's called Red Canoe Triptych, and is painted with oil paint on 1 1/2" deep beech wood, each 8" x 10".  My husband loves it cause he thinks it's him with our canoe.  The background is oil paint stamped on to create the effect of sea mist and fog against sand.  

See the post below for more information on the how you can bid...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mic Mac A.A.C. Auction & Casino Night

Next Saturday at the canoe club my husband is assistant head coach for, Mic Mac A.A.C., there will be a fun filled Auction and Casino night.  If you are local, please look into going as a guest to help support our sport. 

I plan on donating two paintings for the silent auction and will post them on the blog as soon as they are dry. I will be painting them today, so keep your fingers crossed they WILL be dry on time!!! Yikes.  I just found out about it this morning.  I tend to find out about such things last minute, and really wanted to contribute to the auction, so at least this year I have 1 entire week's notice!  

Some of the other auction items include: a 3-hour paddling lesson, a carpenter and helper for a day, a catered mean, and surf lessons at Lawrencetown Beach.  The night will run from 8:00 pm 'til 12:00 midnight.  Tickets are only $10.00 and include a draft or soda plus 5 casino chips.  

Tickets will be available to purchase Saturday morning at the club.  Please see either Ed or Gwyneth.  Put your game face on and come join us!!

Mic Mac Amateur Aquatic Club
192 Prince Albert Road, 
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Tel: (902)464-9480 | Fax: (902)464-8528

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gather, Simplify, and Compose: Part 2

PART 2: Simplify

Last winter I took an  evening oil painting course in Halifax with instructor and successful artist, Heather Sayeau. I had been taking her classes for a couple years, whenever a new session was offered.  This one would be different; an exploration for personal expression. Each week our class tackled a new subject that would bring us further away from our comfort zones, and each week I felt a greater sense of renewal and growth.  One of the classes was focused on figures in the landscape.  She always encouraged us to bring photos or clippings of images that we found interesting as subjects to paint.  I was contemplating blending two images together to make a more interesting composition.  They were both stock photos of overhead views of people going about their daily commute on foot.  The background on one was cobblestone, the other pavement. One photo was full of shadows, the other wasn't. I set about sketching with my brush onto canvas one figure from one photo, and two figures from the other photo. They still needed work, but I was not feeling confident with my composition, so instead of finishing the figures, I skipped on to the background. I was painting in the impression of cobblestones. I was beginning to get frustrated, feeling like I was unable to paint what I was imagining the final composition to look like in my mind.  After taking a break, sipping some wine while walking around the class to view the other artists' progress, I came back to my easel with fresh eyes. Heather gave me some suggestions to make the brushstrokes feel more alive by using less and making each stroke deliberate.  Equipped with a new sense of direction, I painted each figure in and only one with a shadow.  I loved how it started coming together.  I considered painting the other two figures' shadows but felt it wouldn't be right. The background didn't seem to fit either, so I smoothed it out and was much more satisfied.  I stepped back, Heather came to see it, and proclaimed that she would one day see that painting in a gallery! I was filled with the amazing realization that I had found something new, something uniquely mine, a happy accident.  For me this painting came to represent the inner child in all of us, and how some people lose touch along the way in their daily comings and goings.

Unfortunately, new ideas need time to brew and feel at home.  Weeks turned into months. I visited that painting at least a hundred times over the past year, mulling, as my mom would say.  It was a direction I wanted to pursue, but the time did not yet feel right.  Such changes cannot be forced.  Instead I painted still lifes and landscapes. I was not content with any of them.  I felt like I had expired those ideas.  And so I kept revisiting my simple figures for a clue or sign that it was time.

The beginning of February I started seeing an energetic healer.  During our first session together she cautioned me that I might experience a flood of old memories, and that some people find this overwhelming.  She also encouraged me to start paying attention to my dreams as they may also become clearer and easier to remember.  It wasn't until after two weeks later that I started having very powerful dreams. Then one night in early March I dreamt something that would prove to have a great impact on the release of my creative block.  A few days prior I had bought a plain black lined journal and a reference book The Element Encyclopedia of 20,000 Dreams. The moment I awoke I went downstairs, opened my new journal and started writing.  And as I wrote, the clearer my dream became...

March 7, 2009
I am in a large room- a classroom studio, like I would imagine NSCAD would have now.  About 30' wide by 60' long, wood floors running lengthwise, windows along left wall, brick walls at the front and back of the room.  We are on the 3rd floor.  There is no furniture, but about a dozen students are standing or sitting on the floor, myself among them.  Along the back wall are our paintings; mostly all are mine, about 5 in total, except for a couple on the right. They are not paintings I have made in waking life, but somehow I understand that they are mine. There are two professors critiquing my work. One appears to be someone of great importance, well known, not my regular professor.  Prior to his critique, i study my work from the front of the room, and am satisfied with what I see.  Then the visiting professor starts pointing out elements f my paintings that he likes, and those that need to be changed for them to have the desired effect.  I listen closely to what he says.  i don't feel uncomfortable or negative at all with his suggestions. Suddenly I see what he sees and understand his comments and solutions.  Then I remember that one of the paintings, maybe two, didn't really work quite how I wanted them to but was trying to ignore that something was out of place. He points our that I was complicating the image and that it would work better more simplified.  I feel enlightened and grateful that he helped me solve the problem.  He moves on to the next students' work, and my dream fades away...

I remember my paintings clearly in my dream.  They are very similar to what I had in mind for my next series, only larger and much less colour.  Mostly they are black line drawings of buildings and people in them, as though the walls are transparent.  he suggested only the people have colour, and the background be blank.  I love these ideas!   They feel more like the painting I did last year in class. This advice rings well with me.

In my book of dreams, to be looking at paintings is explained as, "...suggests that you are paying attention to new ideas, and making changes in the way you think and feel... It may also refer to the need to take note of the details of a certain situation in your life... Painting has a lot to do with self-expression, and what you are painting (in your dream) and the colours you are using are important...If you are paining large pictures, perhaps you need to see the bigger picture... The actual image that you are painting in your dream may symbolize the way that you are visualizing your current situation in your waking life."

After this journal passage, I added: 
In my dream my paintings were quite large, maybe 5' by 7'.  The last time I painted this large, I found it quite overwhelming to transport and store the, and many got damaged.  It might also signify that I am pulling myself in many different directions, and need to simplify and focus. I had this thought last night before I went to bed.  So in a way this dream is a sub-conscious affirmation of the things I have been telling myself lately. 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Gather, Simplify, and Compose. Part 1

This is my 2-dimensional art version of "Lights, Camera, Action!".

PART 1: Gather

I am rooting through my vast colletion of memories and photographs for new painting ideas. My mind wanders to some earlier experiences I would love to share. There are so many! I used to spend countless hours with my dad in his darkroom. One of his passions when I was young was photography. For this, my family is very fortunate. We have a huge collection of memories frozen in time, thanks to my dad (and mom), that I might easily have forgotten as I grew older. I asked mom if she ever took a photo of us in the darkroom..."Dad doesn't think there were any pictures taken of the two of you in the darkroom, and I don't recall taking any, unfortunately," she laughs, "... probably 'cuz I thot it was too dark!!!"

I used to hide in the corner cupboard under the counter. While the darkroom was small, the cupboard felt like such a big space for a little girl. I felt like I was in a secret fort built just for me. I would watch my dad transform a sheet of white paper into a colour image of our family. I found something very magical in photography during those years that would stay with me forever. There was a special red light that didn't affect the developing, so I could watch each process clearly. Dad clipped some of his best enlarged photos into a temporary metal frame on the wall.

One photograph that I remember was of me after one of our summer roadtrips to the rockies. I'm wearing a red summer smocked dress that my mom made and I'm squinting into the sun. I must have felt so alive with adventure and thoroughly content. Another great memory is of my sister and I outside in flowery nightgowns, barefoot on the grass, sun setting after a warm summer's day. We ran around the yard until the sun set and then we caught fireflies. We felt so free! Summers seemed to last forever in Northern Ontario because the sun wouldn't fall behind the horizon until after 10 at night.

Following in my dad's footsteps, I took photography at art college. Everything I saw after that was through a lens, whether I carried a camera or not. My persective of life and the natural world changed. The year after my husband and I met I found a great job in Lake Louise at a photo shop. I bought a brand new Canon Rebel EOS and wide-angle lens at cost. The policy was "free developing for staff". I'm sure I might have affected that benefit for others who came after me. That summer, I must have taken and printed over 3000 photographs. I loved that job! And from that collection of memories, many new paintings will be conceived this year...