Friday, September 21, 2012

"Abundance" changes

Abundance Stage 5 Acrylic on canvas 36" x 48"
This painting has gone through some radical changes! The work I am most satisfied with this term was created using chance effects of my materials. Stage 4 of this painting was still very controlled, with the flower shapes very predictable. Suzanne, my mentor, had suggested using splatters to break up the even pattern of the drips. I decided to drop paint onto the canvas off brushes, a strategy I used with drips on a canvas last year. I used a large paintbrush over some of the drops to join them. Thinking of creating some light within the painting, I used transparent white to suggest mist and space behind the main shapes. I can add to the light source with a few more glazes and I may work on a few of the "petal" shapes. Two in particular seem to lack interest. They are not amorphous enough nor are they defined enough; I must emphasize one or the other.

The painting was still wet when I photographed it. I may have a different idea in mind when I look at it dry! This painting can be viewed upside down also. It reminds me of underwater scenes.

Upside Down - Under the Sea!
Stay tuned for the next version of this project!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Vertical or Horizontal?

Stage 4 - Abundance  48" x 36" acrylic on canvas

Stage 4 - Abundance  36" x 48" acrylic on canvas
I have decided to work in black, white, grey, green with some pale yellow accents on this work. I think it is an improvement, although the flowers are still too prominent as shapes. Working on the canvas vertically will help me break away from the daisy-like forms. I will decide later how to hang this piece.

My next project will begin with abstract shapes, applied in washes with more chance and spontaneity (hopefully). Up to this point my most successful piece was begun in this fashion with fluid paint. I had a basic idea of the forms, but let the materials flow around the paper. I am also wondering if I respond better to paper as a support.

I haven't forgotten about the plywood projects. The wood itself prevents me from lapsing into clichés as it often splinters in unexpected ways while I am carving it.

Now, back to working on my next essay!

'Abundance' with photoshop adjustments.
It's one way to try things without committing to them on the work itself.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ehryn Torrell - Self-Similar

Ehryn Torrell- I Florence Trust, Summer exhibition July 2011. London, England
Ehryn Torrell - In amongst the ruins (detail). 2005. Acrylic on canvas.
19' x 5'6" Photo by Guy L'Heureureux

Ehryn Torrell - Atfernoon Old Town. 2009. Acrylic on canvas. 58" x 68"

Ehryn Torrell - I installation view, Self-similar. February 17 to April 26 2011.
Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph, Canada
This week I was fortunate to attend Ehryn Torrell's artist talk about her work and then see her series "Self-Similar" at the opening at St. Mary's University Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Ehryn visited China five months after the earthquake of 2008. The devastation and resilience of the Chinese people became her subject. However, she views these works as reflective of her inner states of mind.

Her work is impressive and large, painted loosely, but includes interesting details. Each work encompasses its own world of debris, which Ehryn described as composed of various elements derived from multiple sketches and photos.

Ehryn Torrell writes about her series "Self-Similar":
Using the lens of the built environment to explore personal and universal conditions of human experience, my paintings examine empathy, contingency, loss and vulnerability. The title of this body of work, Self-similar, borrows in equal part from mathematics and film. In mathematics, an object or thing is described as self-similar when one or all parts are smaller copies of a larger shape. In Jean-Luc Goddards 1967 film "Two or three things I know about her," protagonist Juliette Janson describes feelings of alienation from the city and longs to re-experience a moment when she felt connected.

While in Halifax, I visited the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. I particularly enjoyed Elizabeth Enders exhibition "Painting...Place." These works were painted and drawn while Enders traveled and while she resided in her cottage on the Nova Scotia coast. I appreciate the simplicity of her landscape work and its evocative power. Perhaps I will be able to tame the "baroque" tendency in my work so that it can exist alongside such simplicity in the same work. 

My mentor, Suzanne Gauthier, suggested I inquire about the Art Sales and Rental Gallery in the AGNS. I plan to submit a few pieces when I am back in Halifax in October.

My visit also included visits to commercial galleries Studio 21 and Page and Strange Gallery. I dropped into the faculty exhibit of NASCAD next door to P & S. Three artists in the show used plywood in three different ways - food for thought! Suzanne gave me a tour of the new NASCAD campus by the waterfront near Pier 21. It is huge with great facilities for ceramics, metal work and sculpture.

I am anxious to get back to work on my canvas and bring it to some sort of resolution and I am looking forward to working on plywood again. 

New Horizons Opening

'Night Tree' on display.
One corner of the gallery during the opening.
Catering by Dolma Food. Yum!
The opening for my show 'New Horizons' was well-attended and there was much enthusiasm for the work. I was interviewed for the local newspaper and the article generated interest among all of our acquaintances. Three pieces were spoken for within the first half hour! It is always instructive to see which artwork receives the most attention from viewers.

This show includes 10 plywood projects (from Residencies 1 and 2) as well as one diptych on canvas. It is great to see all of the work together and to see it under gallery lighting. I was able to leave enough space between the pieces to dramatize their individual qualities. I pan to return this week to take more photos.

I will be working on plywood again this week as I have a plan for using small pieces assembled with bolts, which will fit into a small box for shipping. Painting continues on canvas and paper as well.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"Intrusion" and "Abundance" 36" x 48" canvas

Stage 3 - "Abundance" 36" x 48" More petals and more drips. 

Stage 2 - In progress. Acrylic on canvas, stained and dripped 36" x 48"
Photo taken on a rainy afternoon with my mobile phone - not a great rendition!
I plan to take a new photo next time we have a sunny day.

Stage 1 - Acrylic on canvas, stained 36" x 48"
You may be wondering what made me decide to cover the yellow flowers with drips of paint. With these images small and digitized, they look almost completely different from the actual canvas. While I was excited about some of the staining effects in Stage 1, the yellow flower in its large size looked awkward.The central petal pointing downward seemed to dominate in a very static direction. The canvas seemed like a large graphic illustration, or something you could find in a home decor store to hang on the wall and forget about.

I decided that the painting needed some ambiguity, some layers in space and something to prompt the viewer to ask questions about the piece. With Stage 3 I have worked over the large flower and added another flower with more drips for a more complete effect.

Staining will be an integral part of my next canvas. I will be starting some plywood pieces this week as well.

"Intrusion" finished, Acrylic on paper 22" x 30"
This is as far as I plan to go with "Intrusion." It seems complete, but if I decide to use the checkerboard and the flying squares, it will be on a much larger canvas or paper support. The meticulous technique is something I don't plan on spending a lot of time on in the future.

I am going to hold off on buying a camera for a week or so. The mobile phone will have to do for now.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Broken Camera and This Week's Projects

This week has been incredibly busy. Yesterday I hung my show at the Moncton Gallery at Moncton City Hall: twelve projects in all, encompassing twenty-one plywood panels and two canvases. The work takes on a strong presence under gallery lights, surrounded by enough wall space to breathe properly. All of my plywood projects, except Vision 3, as well as three projects completed during my painting course at the Université de Moncton are on display. The opening will be on Wednesday afternoon 4:30 - 6:30PM.

Unfortunately, I dropped my camera this week and jammed the retractable lens cover, so turning the camera on and off is now its only function. It tells me that there is a "lens error" every time, as if I haven't realized that there is a problem. My memory card has quite a few photos on it of the work I have been doing since my last post on this blog, but I can't retrieve them until I buy a new camera (hopefully tomorrow).

Last week I finished "Sketch 13 - Intrusion", using tiny stencils of squares made by cutting into painter's tape with an Exacto blade. I feel that I have taken it about as far as I can without beginning a new piece. The tiny squares of paint were very challenging. The paint had to be thinned to the right consistency with water and medium or it created blobs which ran under the edges of the tape, even when the tape was been firmly secured along its edges. I re-painted a number of squares where the blobs were distracting. I wouldn't want to create an entire series using this approach! It is too meticulous! The image is very static and I think I can do better on another piece. If the piece was larger, the squares would be easier to manipulate. They may find their way onto a large canvas at some point. The checkerboard is such a human, controlled convention, it contrasts well with the sinuousness of plants. However, this sinuous quality could have been better exploited in Sketch 13.

Today I worked on "Sketch 14 - Tracks" again. I used a calligraphy brush and India ink after sanding the surface of the paper. My objective is to inject some excitement and ambiguity into the piece as it was highly illustrative. It is still obviously a sketch of plants, but it is much livelier. I am not necessarily finished with it, but I will leave it for a few days.

I am also working on a canvas 36" x 48" using staining and dripping as techniques. The image is loosely based on my studies of ivy and the yellow flowers in Sketch 14, but the leaves and flowers are large. Ivy leaves are as wide as my hand with outstretched fingers. The flowers are drooping, but as big as sun hats. The painting seemed flat and design-like until I decided to use drips to obscure the obvious shapes somewhat. I may have chosen drips because I was painting during a day of heavy rain following a long drought. The rain was running down my window in long streaks. The drips seemed to help the painting develop some space and more interest.

This painting is not finished, but right now, I am not sure what else to do with it beyond coating it with matte medium to secure the stained areas. I have discovered that the acrylic inks washed onto canvas yield some subtle and lovely effects, but they are easily removed with water or an eraser when dry. Perhaps I will use thinned paint for staining on the next project.

I have finally decided which projects to work on with plywood and I hope to begin them this week. Once I have the pieces carved and lightly painted, I plan to leave them outside on our patio to see how the weather will affect them.