Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Open Studio continued

I got so involved with looking into the artists on page one I didn't realize that our journey would go on to another theme. The next project is "The Night Project" and we will be looking at the artists Daniel Richter and James Turrell. The parameters are the examination of our reactions and observations of night. Hmmm this will be interesting. I have been known to scare myself when I'm alone at night.

The next framework is our choice from Surveillance, Voyeurism and Social Media. We will be looking at the artist, Nan Goldin, photographer.
She said of her work:
My work originally came from the snapshot aesthetic…. Snapshots are taken out of love and to remember people, places, and shared times. They're about creating a history by recording a history. 
The last project will be our choice.

I will be mulling over all of this and then some before the first class next week. It's going to be an interesting journey.

P.S.  As I was galavanting across the internet I came across a virtual tour of Satchi gallery's new building in London and was curious of an institution that sold art for millions of dollars. Here's the link

Open Studio Preparation

I just received the course outline for Open Studio.  The parameters are steeped in the theme nature/environment/human. Some of the artists we will be looking at are Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Long, Peter Doig, David Milne, Group of Seven, Edward Burtinsky, Sally Mann, Robert Longo, Robert Smithson, Tony Cragg, Jim Dine, Elizabeth Magill (her bio and technique), Isamu Noguchi, Horiso Sugimoto, Jeff Wall, Stan Douglas, Fiona Bowie, Myfanwy Macleod.
I've made links to the artists i have looked up, I'll add additional links as I explore more. Their works reflect a range of artistic styles in a variety of mediums. It looks like it will be challenging studio work but also exciting.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Experiment with acrylics and gels

acrylic on canvas 6"x6"
Took this photo with my laptop camera software so not the best shot, a little shaky. The yellow is a curtain in the background, not part of the painting.

I wanted to do something quick so I drew the cone flower in charcoal over acrylic blues background.  then started painting. The charcoal made it fairly muddy so I added more light but I think it was too much. I think I washed out the variation in tones. I used the charcoal to begin with to give it that variation, sigh. Too much, too little, one day I hope to get it just right.

The gels are interesting. I used semi-gloss, gloss and sculpting gels over the paint rather than mixing it with the paint.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Good News, it was meant to be

Two more spaces became available today in Open Studio and I got one! I am so ready to work.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Summer's ending soon, want to howl

My brother and sister-in-law were here for a visit from Ontario. It was wonderful to see them! Our last visit was over ten years ago, way too long but travel is expensive. It makes the visit very special.

I am now re-establishing a routine of painting, house repair and preparing for the fall semester at school. I still have my admission/transfer English credit to deal with. Argh.

Another decision regarding school - do I take 3rd year courses which are not offered every semester or stay with the first year courses. I also found that there are spaces in 3rd year Open Studio which came available in the last week. I really want to do this one because it has the freedom to use any medium and more open to set own parameters for my work. I can only afford to take three courses both in time and money. If I'm not able to get a part time job or scholarships I may not be able to finish my degree so there is more pressure on choosing courses. This is the negative side to having more life time behind then in front of me. There is not the luxury of working a year and then going back to school.

A lot of life decisions are looming in the foreground. My husband has been working half time for the last five years but he will be retiring September 2011. Our income will be cut in half again so decisions of where to live which means can we afford to stay in our house or do we need to sell and downsize. We live in a subdivision with small lots and modest houses. We are lucky in the sense it is a luxurious choice to be able to make. Some don't even have that so their standard of living drops with no safety net.

So my fantasy of staying put for another three years while finishing a BFA is in jeopardy. Time for a reality check for many dreams. Sigh.  Harry I feel a need to howl!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Alison Lambert technique

 charcoal, mylar, paper, glue, etc etc. about 6' x 4'?

Chelsea won Faculty Choice award in the 2010 Student Show, "Tangent"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

When it all began

These two pieces are from my first and second semester of painting. I had just recovered from an epic appendicitis and was still seeing a home-care nurse three times a week during the first semester. It's one of those times when you feel capable doing the small things and think it means recovered. Then you go into the big world into unfamiliar places and you realize that maybe you aren't normal yet.

I had a lot of trouble getting my brain, and hand to work together. It was so different from charcoal and ink that it seemed impossible to transfer what I learned there to this new situation -oil painting.  I wondered what the hay was I doing in this class and hated the feeling of helplessness. But I stayed and gradually became more comfortable and gained more control.

Our final assignment in the first semester was a contemporary still life.  To do this we had a box in the same ratio of our canvas and placed items inside. I chose a theme that reflected my activist history. I had a lot of buttons from various campaigns and started to construct the still life. The items I placed in the box had some relationship to my values and actions as a concerned citizen. So stones, an origami peace crane, sand paper to simulate beach and a piece of driftwood. For the back I chose a photograph of myself which was taken in front of a billboard celebrating Nelson Mandela's release from prison. I was finally excited to paint. I decided to paint the photo in black and white to avoid the added dilemma of skin tones. Everything else was colour of the objects. I pinned the buttons on the flaps so they would frame the boxed items and provide a context for the still life.

Photo of the still life construction.
It's been bumped around a bit.
Had to move out the dust bunnies :)

My first self portrait in contemporary still life. 
2'x3' oil on board

You can see that I simplified the background of the photo. Most of my classmates didn't believe I could do it especially the stones. But my instructor, Robert Gelineau was very encouraging. When I froze facing the blank canvas Robert said I needed to get something on it by the end of the class and the only way to get over the fear was to paint and he was right. I started with blocking in the buttons. Once that was done it was easier to tackle blocking in the rest and then the details.

4' x 5' oil on canvas

The next semester we tackled landscape. Our last assignment needed to combine three different sources.  I chose to combine figures and landscape to create a piece that had meaning for me. It is based on a photo I took of my daughter who was a professional mountain bike racer. This race was at a local farm (wasn't a mountain race). You can see her in the distance about to ride into the sunlight. The older woman is my mother-in-law who at the time of this photo was somewhere in her late eighties. She is a counterpoint to the youth who is attacking a competition, in her prime. The No Stopping sign seemed to fit with how we live life, no stopping until we're done, just like the race the goal is to do your best and finish.

Some of my classmates didn't like that I included the old woman. It didn't make sense to them. How ever it made perfect sense to me. One thing I would do differently is to place the old woman more toward the centre.

The photo is a bit blurred because I didn't use a flash so it took forever to process and I never hold it as still as needed for a clear crisp shot.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Alex Kanevsky & Frosted Mylar

I haven't experimented with mylar but I found someone who has, William Whitaker, find details on the Forum for Professional Portrait Painters and Serious Students. 

Also found another forum of Studio 2012 where Kanevsky gave a workshop. There are a couple of posts sharing student's notes. The second student captured a point that struck me, "Another point that I have heard so often before. He said someone asked him about who his favorite teacher was. He could not remember a single teacher but his fellow students he could remember. People who are constantly feeding off of each other learn."  I think this describes how I feel about my experience of blogging. I'm learning so much through everyone's reflections and art.

A classmate of mine in Open Studio also experimented with clear mylar sheets. She used it to create several layers which she hung behind one another with several inches in between. She set a light to shine from back to front with the intent that all layers could be seen superimposed on each from a front view or individually from the side view. It was somewhat successful but she needed more time to experiment with spacing and lighting. I should mention she used acrylic paint rather than oil.

Alex Kanevsky Interview

I revisited an interview with Alex Kanevsky (link to full interview). I like his advice to artists just starting out,

"Build up your self esteem to the level that might seem unwarranted. This will help you ignore both positive and negative responses to your paintings. Both are usually misguided, since they come from the outside. Be your most severe and devastating critic, while never doubting that you are the best thing since sliced bread."

Missed comments

I am still learning how to use the blog process. I just discovered new comments on older posts which asked for a reply. So I am in the process of reviewing my older posts. And I just discovered that moderating comments on older posts can alert me of them so I don't miss anyone.

I find your comments very valuable because it asks that I shift my self perspective on my art making. It's always good to have outside eyes while at the same time remembering I don't always have to agree (this has been very true during our student critiques where some believe that everyone should paint as they do, so if you don't it's automatically wrong, hahaha. Gotta love those student critiques sometimes. It can get pretty intense). I should mention as well that our class critiques can also very useful. There are surprises when a painting is read completely different from your intention.

Latent Presences

I am fascinated by the numerous ways of approaching art-making. One of my student colleagues, Chelsea Lawrick, reminded me of an approach by Allson Lambert when I visited her blog, Secret Places.

Lambert uses charcoal and black pastel, photo on left links to more of her pieces:
"The process continues--redrawing, ripping, scraping, and layering--creating an almost sculptural surface of frayed, stratified paper covered with shadings of black and gray. The result is a profound sense of presence. Each drawn head or figure is virtually the imprint of a soul, with the artist's laborious process seeming to echo the decisions, thoughts, and feelings that through a lifetime have subtly engraved themselves on the person's spirit.  " (link Latent Presences   for full text and photos of her work).

It reminds me of Harry Kent's exploration of mark-making using oil and charcoal and that he wants to experiment with fabrics for textures and colour as well as combining other paints with traditional oils. You can see images of his work at his blog http://tachisme.blogspot.com/ 

I don't have any drawing or painting studio courses this fall but I think I'd like to use Lambert's technique as an independent project. I would need to make use of the university's studio since mine is in the corner of my kitchen where charcoal dust doesn't get accommodated very well.