Art = Relationship

UnionI’ve been slowly reading through Robert Genn’s book ‘The Twice Weekly Letters’ and it’s chalk full of inspiration for artists of all kinds – I highly recommend it! At the end of every letter is usually a quote – the letter I read today ended with this one;

“When you know the artist you think less about the art.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Art has always been about relationship for me. I have never and will never want it to be exclusively about me – my hope is that it will connect with you, with my collectors and with the world. And I want others to connect with me in return through it. This relational connection is one of reasons that I create.

Robert Genn wrote it like this;

“A kind of karma takes place when a work of art goes out the door. Even as a gift to a friend or for charitable purposes, finding a home outside the workshop or studio completes the circle. The artist can rationalize that while the work is still his or her very own, it has a more illustrious future on someone else’s wall. It marches out to create good will, win friends, influence people.”

Attached here are paintings that I created years ago – a couple in University over 20 years ago!!! I painted a lot of abstract pieces back then and this week I’ve been revisiting that old abstract interest (with a new twist) – will share my new little experiments with you soon! Eucalyptus 2 Fairy Tale 1 Figure 1

True Love II – New Painting

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A few months ago I was commissioned to do a painting inspired by the poem called ‘The True Love’ written by David Whyte. If you haven’t already seen and read about the first ‘True Love’ painting I did – you gotta check it out – its such a touching story —> TRUE LOVE I.

I had originally created two sketches for my client at that time and she chose the sketch with the boat. However, I knew I wanted to make the other sketch into a painting one day as well and so awhile ago I started working on it. Then other projects came up, things got in the way and it wasn’t until today that I picked the piece up again and finished it off. Collage
The poem includes references to the Scottish Hebrides and so this new painting is inspired from various photographs I’ve seen of those lovely coastlines.

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Moving Foward

This commission is moving forward, albiet slowly. I really wanted depth and perspective in this piece, I wanted to draw the eye right in and it took awhile to get that feeling in place but I think I managed it.
Painting is about layering and working things up.This is essentially just the basis, the bare bones – there is a lot more to go but it should be fun!IMG_9690

Digital Drawing – New Spice Labels!

Now this was a fun project! My good friend Jo owns her own little organic spicerie and she commissioned me to design a new artistic label for one of her flavourable blends.

I did the drawing digitally, which is not something I do very often, however I’d like to get better at it. The image is actually inspired by our local landscape here in Creston, BC.

Make sure you take a peek at the spice blends that Jo has to offer – we’ve used several in our home and we love them – Just click this link here —>42Things – Organic SpicerieSteakSpiceIdea

Never Let Your Child Grow-up to be an Artist

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I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – especially while I paint… Our society has an unwritten rule, “Never let your child grow-up to be an artist”.  And I have seen the effects of this “rule” in daily life FIRST HAND.  I’d say that the general consensus is that if you choose to be an artist in our society you are crazy, rebellious and will probably end up homeless.

I’ve taught art in community classes, in college settings and currently I teach private lessons. My teenage daughter teaches music to little ones weekly and what strikes me most is how proud each parent is of their child’s artistic accomplishments. They swell with pride when they watch their little one at a recital or see their completed artwork and they praise the child profusely. What this tells me is that in our deepest self – we LOVE art!

However, you are not allowed to be an artist when you grow-up.10012779_1843804032510883_4756052951223160808_oNow don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the parents here! We only want the best for our children. We want them to be able make a living, we want them to succeed and we want them to be happy. Our hearts are in the right place. What is in the wrong place is the fact that society does not value art – and for some reason we choose to follow along with that…

I could say all the obvious things here; art brings beauty, change, life and joy to the world (all 100% true) but this does not negate the fact that most of the time art doesn’t pay the bills. Why? Well, because like I said above, it is valueless to us.

It’s almost like we came out of the industrial revolution completely encased in the factory worker mentality. Art lost its central professional role in historical society and now sits on the sidelines.  It is considered more of a hobby than a real profession.

What do we admire most when we study history? What helps us understand and envision the past? What connects us to who we were? Who are some of the most famous people in history?

Art and artists.
10409778_1620505754840713_4095691839944688678_nArt is the reflection of who we are now. Our music, our literature, our paintings will be how future generations identify with us. It is how we will be remembered. No one will remember the factories… And yet, we value those roles more? Weird.

Does that mean we give up on factories or better put nowadays, technology? Obviously not! What it does mean though is that art shouldn’t remain a side show. It should play a professional and valuable role in our world. We should honour it. We should be able to encourage our children to become artists. And they should be able to make a living at it.

That’s a lot of “should s”…
A modern day Renaissance would be nice though – I guess I can dream…

If you are interested in this topic you should check out this Ted Talk – it is such a great example of how art affects change and brings goodness –> Theaster Gates: How to revive a neighborhood: with imagination, beauty and art.

(Pssst… pictured here are some of my students – and yes I am SOOOO proud of them – LOVE teaching them!)

“Loosen up will ya!” – An Exercise in Being Painterly

I could never figure out what to do with these narrow little canvases – they’ve been hanging around here for a long time. So this morning while waiting for a stretcher frame to be completed and gesso to dry, I pulled them out. I have this strong tendency towards controlled lines and brush strokes (which isn’t a bad thing but versatility is an asset) so I figured a small exercise in loosening up might not hurt…

Even though I can appreciate how this little triptych turned out it’s still hard for me to just leave the brush strokes be… I want to smooth them out, blend them and flatten the paint – ha ha!  (These look much more interesting in real life too – the photos just don’t do the texture justice.)

So how about you? What’s your default style when it comes to painting or drawing?
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Dutch Harbour in Mixed Media

I’ve had the photo below hanging around in my “paint-someday” file for quite awhile. I’d always thought that I would paint it on canvas but last night I felt like sketching and this photo popped right into my mind. I sketched it first in coloured pencils and then painted on top with acrylics. Mixed media truly isn’t my strong point but I enjoyed this little experiment and I just might just do it again!

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Sweet Sixteen

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‘Kalina’ – acrylic on canvas – 16″ x 20″

This commission has been waiting patiently in secret (okay maybe not so patiently…) to be revealed – it is a gift commissioned for a VERY sweet sixteen-year-old!

It was an honour to be chosen to paint this piece but after the task set itself inside my mind I piled on a mass amount of stress. I felt this need to create something that would surpass time – something my client’s daughter could love now and for her whole life; classic, timeless, unchanging…

I know right – phew – what was I thinking?!
Thankfully it didn’t last long and I quickly realized this was NOT the best approach. Duh…

I let go of my grandiose ideas and narrowed my focused on being sixteen and the celebration of the journey from childhood to adulthood. I wanted the painting to be filled with the whimsy of being a kid but still depict the good path ahead. A path forward into something greater, bigger, even better than what she’s known before. Secondly, I wanted the painting to seem like everywhere she walked she left a trail of beauty on all sides – my hope was that this would convey to my client’s daughter how much joy she brings, how beautiful she is inside and out and how important she is to those around her. Lastly, the painting includes other personal touches like her favourite colour (Can you guess?) and the violin to symbolize her love of music.

Every time I paint I find there is a war between my illustrative side and my painterly side and in this painting the battle was monstrous. This can be frustrating, but I think I might be heading towards a place where I can let them coexist. Possibly one will be more dominant than the other in different pieces but I’m learning that this is okay and that I need to just enjoy the journey. And hopefully much like the sweet sixteen-year-old depicted here I’ll leave a wake of beauty on all sides of me as I go.

Thanks for reading – hope you enjoy seeing the painting progress in the photos below –> UntitledIMG_8602IMG_8628IMG_8625IMG_8632IMG_8637_Small