July 22, 2013

Urban Landscape Workshop Postscript

Last week I had the great pleasure of running a workshop on painting the urban landscape in acrylic and mixed media. Held at the Wellington County Museum and Archives, 15 enthusiastic painters turned up in temperatures that soared into the 30s. Fortunately we had the museum's largest space, fully air conditioned with large windows and a stereo system, freshly brewed coffee on the ready, in which to work.

The week's theme was pushing out of our comfort zones. And so we didn't spend all of our time indoors. We spent a part of each morning en plain air sketching, painting, and scoping out scenes with digital cameras. On two occasions we set up in nearby Elora - on sidewalks, along the river, and in industrial ruins - in sight for anyone to see (and point their fingers and laugh, which of course no one did).

 Okay, here I am pointing at something, but it isn't a painter.

Sharon on Mill St., the shade no longer over her. Remember the key to a successful plein air painting is in the shade.

 Halyna searching for material.

Val under spotted cover of a sumach.

In the classroom, we continued to push outside the boundaries by playing with unfamiliar materials and tools, and such head-scratchers as negative space and the differences between value and colour. 

Incorporating collage.

One exercise in loosening up was a version of a brush off. Using a small 5" x 5" canvas, I projected a scene of a tree in snow and gave everyone 30 min. to depict it using anything except a brush under an inch wide and colours that were not the primaries or black and white. The final pieces showed that everyone is ready for the real deal.

The finished works lined up together. 

In the end, it was an intense, full week of creative immersion, exhilarating but also exhausting, more or less my experience of making art all the time. On Friday afternoon, though wiped, it was hard not to feel gratified by the results. Seeing the recognition that something had been learned and hard won was rewarding for me, as the teacher of sorts, as was the chance to get out of my head and articulate, in words, the instincts and feelings I have been pouring into my work.

Here is a selection of finished pieces. Everyone had something to show off, and except for a couple who either slipped out early or were too shy to show their work, I got shots.

Karen Huband. Love the creeping shadow and softness of the grass.
 Karen Huband. Struggled to keep the sky orange, but it was worth the effort.

 Judy French. Fantastic handling of foreground and somehow getting purple and green to work together.

Val Roy. Powerful colours, texture, and suggestiveness. A glorious warmth.
Sharon Wadsworth-Smith. Kudos for tackling this uncommon view of Elora, developing the textures in the walls, and making that figure in the background pop.

Donna Zuccala-Wren. Wonderful consistency and simplicity. Reminiscent of Pepi Sevilla?
Tanya Qureshi. Almost menacing. Gothic. Awesome!

Janice Ferri. Beautiful sense of light and play of cool and warm colours.

Halyna Myers. Breathtakingly ambiguous sky, with tonnes of mood.

Monika Lassner. The car butt. Love the subject matter and colours.

Monika Lassner. Perfect sense of value and just the right warmth. 
Mary Helps. Love the expressive brushstrokes in the sky and the overall warmth.

Nancy VanVeen. Great mood. Big struggle to get the road right, and it paid off.

Sharon Wadsworth-Smith. Nice sense of light and shadows on the ground. And mostly painted on site!

 Val Roy. Another large piece worked on site. Great light and warms, even in the shadows. I love the painterliness of this piece.

Carolyn Sharp. Great sense of movement with subtle colours. Brilliant.
Willow, Lorna, Susan: I'd love to add something from you. Do you have an image of a larger piece you could mail me?

July 8, 2013

TOAE 2013 - Big Thank You

It was 3 days of extremes.  Tropical downpours followed by sun amplified through moist air.  Long lulls peppered by condensed moments of visits and sales.  People that yawned at my art and people that said one day I'd be canonized an art maestro.  One guy said I could have taught Cezanne a thing or two about colour.  But he was wearing dark sunglasses.

Here was my booth in front of Old City Hall at a rare dry, tepid moment on Friday.  I was lucky to be sandwiched between two booths that got a lot of attention.  That meant the spillover sometimes lingered in my space - sort of like a waiting room - until the other booths cleared.

People watching from inside my booth.  The edges of the tent framed the scene nicely, like watching TV on a huge screen.

Outer Spacerly Toronto city hall, with the UFO in the centre and an alien or two I'm sure in those offices.

One of the highlights of the show was seeing these Ai Wei Wei sculptures.  The 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, with their brows furrowed and mouths ajar, don't look happy.  Is the Chinese government, its repression of free expression and lack of democracy, somehow tempting fate?  Has the weight of tradition become too overbearing?

Directly in front of my booth, the rooster kept commanding my attention.  I wanted to feed him, pet him, sing him the chicken song.  Something so he'd stop making me feel, somehow, guilty.

 By the end of the day on Sunday, we were pooped, but satisfied pooped.

I'd like to thank everyone who visited, old pals and new, old buyers and new - there were tonnes of you.  I'd also like to thank the volunteers and organizers of TOAE, many of whom came around and I had the privilege to meet in person.  I can only surmise at the stress involved in mounting this show, pulling off the controllables without a hitch, and keeping it incredibly affordable and artist centred.  Finally, a big shout out to my family.  I couldn't have done anything without the truck, babysitting, muscles during setup and tear-down, and tag-teaming in the tent.  Thank you all!

Next up is Art on the Street in Guelph, July 13.  Hope to see some of you there.