Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shout Out To Degen

I have loved art my entire life. I remember winning a newsprint pad with Grover on it for some art I did in grade one. Then in grade three I remember winning another contest at school and my picture was made into Christmas cards. In grade eight one of my drawings won an honourable mention and I was given a plaque with my art scanned onto it. In high school I took art in grade nine and then signed up for typing in grade ten. The art teacher asked me to join him for a meeting with the principal and they talked me into continuing with art--- hence it takes me a long time to type up these posts! I won the art award at grade twelve graduation. I began University with the plan of taking Fine Arts and really enjoyed my first studio class with Bob Christie, painting in oils (the only time I ever have). In second year I was so intimidated by the Professor, Otto Rogers, and the class that I didn't go back after the first day. I switched to Sociology and didn't take another studio class again, but I kept up with art history. What can I say, I was young and silly. Now I know I could have gained some valuable experience in that class and maybe not lost so much time. Who knows?

In my early twenties I actually got into making porcelain dolls. I won a few local contests and had them in a northern Saskatchewan gallery for a few seasons. Then I got busy with my career and life and didn't do much for years. Turning thirty was hard for me, but from it I decided I didn't want to turn forty or sixty or eighty and regret not pursuing things I loved. So that fall I registered for a Life Drawing class with Degen Lindner. I was so curious to meet her because my grandmother had a large watercolour painting done by her father, Ernest Lindner, and I stared at it in her living room every time I visited her. Degen was wonderful and encouraging from the very first class. I remember the feeling of excitement when I left that first night and vowed to myself that I would never allow myself to let art go again. I have taken many Life Drawing night classes with Degen over the years and also taken 4 painting workshops with her at Emma Lake. She has been positive and encouraging all the way. She is so talented and has such an eye for art of all kinds. I swear every time I have made the changes she has suggested the work is always better. And she has a way of finding something positive no matter what. She is amazing to see in a class teaching and guiding her students...and a wonderful sense of humour to go with all her knowledge... and listening to her talk about the history of her father and other artists is like a precious gift. I have learned so much from her.

After I had my baby in 2002 I slowly let art begin to slip away. Then after my second baby I was so sleep deprived I was just trying to survive each day. She saw I was struggling and asked if I would take care of her plants at the studio while she was at the lake for the summer (2006) and said I could use her space if I liked. How generous is that? And then when she got home in the fall she offered to let me continue sharing the space. Now I am about to get my own space in December and when I told her my plan she was once again extremely supportive. She said it was the right thing for me to do and that I needed my own space because she could see I was getting more serious. You know how they say that there are something like seven people in everyone's life that make such a difference (good or bad) that your life is forever changed by knowing them? Well, she is one of my seven.... and my life has definitely changed for the better by knowing her.

Today I have posted two sketches I did in Degen's Life Drawing classes. Each drawing took about 2 1/2 hours.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Countdown To Show Time

They'll Never Meet
acrylic on canvas

The countdown is on. Just some odd jobs left to do now in preparation; sending a few more invitations out, picking up two more pieces from the framer, finalizing prices, a bit of varnishing and then hanging the work. One more week and then I will be able to take a deep breath, step back and let the show unfold on it's own. Whatever will be, will be.

I am going to keep tonight's post brief. I was wanting to write about the woman who had shared her studio space with  me, but I am too tired to do her justice. I'll wait until I am thinking more clearly. My oldest has been sick since early Friday morning... high fever, sore tummy, headache, sore throat, very thirsty... and as a result I have not slept well. I don't know how long to wait it out before taking him to the doctor. My youngest seemed to be getting sick last night, and earlier today, but by bedtime seemed good as new. This whole H1N1 is freaking me out a little (I'm not saying that is what my son has because I am not capable of making that diagnosis). In a few weeks the schools will be immunizing the kids. I am trying to educate myself as much as possible in the meantime, but it is hard weeding through all of the information. I'm probably the most concerned that this vaccination contains squalene which has been shown to cause severe autoimmune disorders. I strongly suggest everyone get googling reputable sources so you can make the most informed choice for you and your family. There seems to be sensational reporting on both ends of the spectrum, so getting through the hype is not easy.  

Take care everyone.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Exciting News!

Okay, I just had to share the extremely exciting news that happened in my little world yesterday....

Storm Clouds Lifting  
acrylic on canvas 

For the last few years I have been using a little corner of another artist's space which is part of a larger studio  space shared by 8 artists. She is the instructor I had for the first class I took 10 years ago through the U of S Extension Division when I decided to rediscover my artistic side, and she has been a true blessing in my life. I will write a full posting about her because she deserves more time than I can give right now. Anyway, about three years ago she saw I was a mess and very wisely decided I was desperately needing some "me time". She was about to go teach at the Emma Lake campus for the summer so she asked if I wanted to take care of her plants at the studio and use the space a bit while she was away. I did. When she got back we continued on... I was rarely using the space because the kids were so little and she and I wouldn't have been there at the same time, so the arrangement worked and it helped her out a little bit with the cost. Zoom a few years later and my little people are just a tinge older and these small pockets of time are opening up for me. This fall I have been at the studio almost every afternoon whereas even just last year I might get there one afternoon a week for just barely 2 hours. Well, yesterday when I was there working on my large reflection ( the one I posted on Oct. 11- yes, I'm tweaking it- I don't think it was done) one of the artists came in and announced that she was giving up her space. I said impulsively "I'll take it!!" and next thing I knew it was mine! I take it over on December 1st!!!! YAY!!! There is really no place in my house to set up a studio unless we converted the attic, but it is so wonderful to be in an environment with other working artists. And it is in the neighborhood.... down the street and around the corner from the school. These studio spaces rarely come up and I just felt I had to grab it because who knows when the opportunity would come around again. It will be so fun to set it up the way I want and really put down roots. I am unsure whether or not I will look for someone to share the costs with, but I can worry about that later, right?

This painting will be in the show with the "Looking Up" tree on my last post. I got word back from the curator yesterday and she thought they were "lovely" and we could work them in. So that is it. I am set! And the framer will be able to get them done in time. Woo hoo! Yesterday was a very good day.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Looking Up

acrylic on canvas
I wasn't sure what to post next... something else that is going to be in the show? A drawing? An older painting? Well, I decided I would show you the painting I just finished on Friday... mostly because I am excited about it. It is the follow-up to the painting I posted on October 7 called "Against The Sky". It is much larger and was lots of fun to paint. Unfortunately I think it shows a little dark in this image. I really wanted it to have the feeling of looking up at a tall Birch with shorter trees in the distance. I thought about calling it "Die Another Day" because it has all of these dead branches as you move up the trunk and then lots of lush green leaves reaching for life and sun. Hmmm, now I am thinking I should use that title. I don't know if this will be in the show, mainly because the pieces have already been established with the curator. If I don't use it I have decided that it may be the beginning of a new series and maybe could be the start of my next show... wherever and whenever that may be. I have already decided the title of this show could be "Tree Tops". Oh so many ideas, so little time! I am also busting to try portraits and figures... I have really never tried painting them (other than in first year painting class at university about 20 years ago). I am also busting to try pastels again, and toy with collage, and attempt oil painting, and tackle about a million other ideas swirling around in my head. I can really sympathize with Deborah Ross when she says she can get sidetracked with new ideas so easily!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Yo Bro!

Just a quick shout out to my brother-in-law who helped me with the image of my invitation tonight. He was able to change it from a pdf to a jpeg (I don't actually even understand what I just said) so I could post a better result to my blog. Scroll down to the previous post for the upgraded version!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's Getting Closer!

I can't believe it is October 14 already... the school year is well under way and that means my show is fast approaching. I just received a package containing my invitations so I have to get the delivery/mailing/emailing process started. I have not been able to properly download the pdf file the curator sent to me, so I ended up scanning an invitation in order to include it in today's post. I apologize for the poor quality. The background green is more solid in reality and the words are not so cut off. The St. Thomas More website now has my show posted with the invitation and a couple of other images of paintings that will be in the show. Click here to check it out... please view it in full screen mode and thanks for looking! (Edited on Jan. 2, 2010- the link no longer shows my invitation, just info. on the gallery).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Is It Done?

acrylic on canvas
(reworked- no longer looks like this)

So this is the big abstract reflection I have been working on. I think it is done, but before I varnish it I thought I would see if anyone has any comments. It went through a lot of changes and it is now at a point where I feel pretty good about it and I worry that if I put the brush to it again I might just ruin it. I love, love, love doing reflections, abstract or otherwise. As it turns out I do have several of the abstract variety that will be in my show and they are all based on the images in my mind and the photo references I had from Spruce River, P.A.N.P. Every time I have gone there to paint, the river looks different. This particular time there were hundreds of water striders on the surface. The water was spinning and swirling like I had never seen before. The reflection was agitated and almost seemed alive. To me, it was spectacular. I kept thinking that the little bugs looked like they were dancing as they skimmed the surface. This impression influenced the naming of all these abstract reflections. For example the first one I posted on August 24 which is 40x30 is named "Water Striders- Big Broadway Number" and the little 7x7 I posted on Sept. 7 is called "Water Striders- Foxtrot". Today's painting is called "Water Striders- Street Performance" and I have more I will post in the coming days. It's fun and a little silly... and I feel a bit like I'm giving some props to one of my favorite shows... So You Think You Can Dance. These names make me smile, however, not only is it scary to share my paintings, but I also feel nervous about what people will think of the titles I give them. I am quite determined to never call any of my work "Untitled 1", "Untitled 2", etc. And why not stick a little humour in? Smiling can't hurt and it might even boost the enjoyment of the piece.

Some details:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Against The Sky

acrylic on canvas

I really enjoyed painting this piece this summer when I was at Emma Lake. It came from an idea I have been attempting for several years and every time I have tried it, it has never worked out the way I was seeing it in my head. This painting is the closest I have come and so I felt pretty excited about it. I wanted it to have a feel of nearness to the trees and looking up at them. I also wanted to capture how the trees can sometimes look like silhouettes against the sky. The underpainting/ ground is a layer of Raw Umber followed by a layer of Anthraquinone Blue. I then used the "sky blue" colour to cut in all of the negative spaces and therefore reveal the trees, adding more colour along the way. This is the painting that took some heat in the critique that I mentioned in my August 31 post. I'm over the upset of that... it hurt at the time, but in the end I think it turned out to be a cool representation of what I had in my head, it felt good painting it and it was exciting seeing it unfold before me... especially because it was such an experiment. I was using a photo I had taken the first day as a resource, so after painting en plein air all day I would stay late at night and work on this in the studio by looking at the photo on my little digital camera screen (thinking the entire time that a laptop would sure be nice). Anyway, hope you like it... the curator did, so it will be in my show! Yay! And for the last week or so I have been working at the studio on a larger canvas based on this idea... so stay tuned, I'll be posting it soonish. 

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Sky That Day

acrylic on canvas
This is the second sky that I have for my show that is of a lighter nature and will be paired with the sky I posted on Friday. Here I like the shapes of the clouds coming in from the edges of the canvas and I like how the orange ground peaks through against the blues. Another simple, free, light and easy recording of the sky that day.

This past weekend was a real treat for me and my kids. My sister was in town for a visit and man, do we love Auntie Karen! Time spent with her is guaranteed fun and new toys! Unfortunately it was a quick visit and our time with her was limited because she was actually here on some official business. The University of Saskatchewan invited her, an accomplished alumni, to participate in a symposium that was organized this past weekend as part of the 100th anniversary celebrations for the College of Arts and Science. Yup, my super smart, beautiful, witty sister is considered an expert in her field... which is History (more specifically Latin American History). She did her BA at the U of S and then went on to complete her Masters and PhD at Tulane University in New Orleans. She's not just super smart, she's super-duper smart. However, social gaffs still happen when you are super-duper smart as the following tale will illustrate.

Karen took part in the symposium on Saturday afternoon at the university and all went well. Then that evening she was invited to a fancy-pants reception at Boffins Club on campus and, being the modern day, independent woman that she is, she had no qualms about attending by herself. However, when she arrived at the restaurant she stood in the entrance not sure how to proceed. Should she seat herself? Was there assigned seating? What to do? Luckily she spotted the maitre d' standing nearby so she approached him to find out what the situation was. He kindly told her to go ahead and seat herself at any available table or join one where there was space. A short while later the formalities of the evening began with the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, the Honourable Dr. Gordon Barnhart, being "piped" in to the room in a small procession. It was at this point that a red-faced Karen realized it had been no maitre d' she had spoken to earlier... it was a representative of the Queen... and there he was making a grand entrance behind the bagpipes!!! Ah-hahahaha! I told her it was a good thing she hadn't given him her coat and asked him to park her car! Too, too funny. She was quite amused herself and said it was okay for me to tell this story. So now hopefully all of my bloggy friends are smiling and amused as well.

So props go out to my accomplished sister, Karen Racine. I am very proud of her. Check out the link which will tell you the names of the three books she has written (the most recent was just released on Sept. 28) as well as the many articles and reviews she has to her name. She is a great role model for my kids, not only for all of her scholarly background and fascinating world travels, but for her humour and ability to not take herself too seriously.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cool Blue Sky

acrylic on canvas
I did this painting last year at Emma Lake and I like the freshness of it, the movements of the clouds and the subtle colours in the clouds (yellow, green, brown, mauve) which my not come through on a computer screen. I also like the little skiff of blue along the very bottom indicating the lake.

The last several times I have been at the studio I have been listening to a CD I bought at Starbuck's of Paul Simon's greatest hits. I didn't realize how many songs I really liked of his... the whole CD is good. As I have been painting I've taken the time to listen to the lyrics and man, what stories they tell! As "Slip Slidin' Away" was pumping a few lines caught my attention and, although in reality the words are describing a male/female relationship, it immediately made me think of how I have handled (or maybe not handled) my feelings and commitment to my little boys. Here are the two lines that made me stop in my tracks:

"My love for you is so overpowering
I'm afraid that I will disappear"

Whew, that got me. It sums up in a tidy little package everything I have been feeling since I became a mom... and more specifically a stay-at-home mom. And now I am on this quest to make sure I don't disappear.