Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hudson Artists Fall Show, October 2 - 4

So pleased to be showing my recent work at the annual Fall Show of the Hudson Artists. If you visit, please have a look in the lobby too, where work by the executive committee will hang for the whole month.

A special component of the show is that it will also showcase "Les Mémoires de Hudson", a collection of 15 large canvases commissioned by the Town of Hudson to celebrate its 150th anniversary. Each artist was assigned a particular topic that represents an aspect of local history.

The vernissage is Friday, October 2 from 7:30 - 9:00, an excellent opportunity to chat with the participating artists and other art-loving members of the community. Hours on Saturday and Sunday are 10 - 5.

The Stephen F. Shaar Community Center, 394 Main Road, Hudson, Quebec, is located near some beautiful lakeside walking trails, and within a short walk of a dozen eateries. Finnegan's Flea Market is open on Saturday, 10 - 4, until the end of October. We have a couple of history museums, a small theatre, a bird sanctuary, and a dozen intriguing little shops. Consider making a day of it!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Four Single-Artist Museums

For me, one of the big attractions of the Côte d'Azur was the chance to see some of the art museums dedicated to the work of a single artist. The experience was mixed.

Henri Matisse, Femme Lisant, oil on canvas

Henri Matisse is one of my favourite painters, and so I was excited at the idea of visiting a museum devoted to his work. After all, Matisse moved to Nice in 1917 and lived there and in nearby towns until his death in 1954. He is surely one of the most prominent of the many artists who have made this region their home.

The Musée Matisse is located in Cimiez, just north of central Nice, where Matisse once lived. It is housed in a beautiful old mansion built on a hill, surrounded by Roman ruins, with park-like gardens and a nearby monastery.

Henri Matisse,
Papeete - Tahiti, 1935, oil on canvas

Unfortunately the collection of paintings is rather thin, and does not represent his most exciting work, though there are some lovely drawings. Photos are not permitted in the museum, but I didn't know that until after I had taken a few, which I have posted here.

Polynésie - Le Ciel
tapestry by Manufacture de Beauvais, 1948-49
after a collage by Matisse, 1946

It was interesting to see this large wool tapestry, an interpretation of one of Matisse's "cut-out" collages.

Musée Chagall:
mosaic and reflecting pool

Having just seen a large show of Chagall at the National Gallery of Canada, I was blasé about the prospect of seeing the Musée Chagall, also in Nice. But of course the paintings themselves won me over completely.

After World War II, Chagall returned to France from the U.S., and settled in Vence. Between 1954 and 1967 he painted a cycle of 17 large murals designed for, and donated to, this museum. The core of the collection consists of these works, inspired by the biblical books of Genesis, Exodus, and the Song of Songs.

Marc Chagall, The Creation of Man,
1950, oil on canvas

There is a child-like simplicity to these images, with their deeply radiant colours and with subjects unfettered by gravity. Chagall's childhood in Russia and his Jewish perspective inform his work.

Marc Chagall,
The Blue Circus, 1950, oil on canvas

The circus was another source of inspiration for Chagall.

Of the four museums of this kind that I saw, the Musée Chagall was the one I most enjoyed. Its beautiful building includes a large outdoor mosaic and an auditorium featuring three Chagall stained windows. Please note that it is now closed until early 2016 for renovations.

Chateau Grimaldi

The Musée Picasso in Antibes is housed in the impressive Chateau Grimaldi, overlooking the sea. The collection consists mostly of work that Picasso completed during his four-month residency there in 1946, and it includes drawings, prints, paintings and ceramics, as well as photos of friends, family, and the artist at work, all taken during this slice of time.

Pablo Picasso, La Joie de Vivre, 1946, oil on canvas

The post-war period was a happy interlude in Picasso's life, and this is reflected in the work. The painting La Joie de Vivre sums up the mood of the works on display. Unfortunately, indoor photos were not permitted.

enjoying the view of garden and city from
the balcony of the Musée Renoir

Finally, the Musée Renoir in Cagnes-sur-Mer is worth visiting only for true fans of Pierre Auguste Renoir. A handful of his paintings is on display, but the focus is on the building where Renoir lived with his family in the last 12 years of his life, 1907-19.

the smaller of Renoir's studios

Many family photographs are on display in the Museum.

Renoir had two studios in his home. The larger one was accessible only by a small set of stairs, which may have been problematic for the wheelchair-bound Renoir in his later years. I like to think he preferred this smaller workspace, with light on three sides and views of his garden.

My advice to the traveling art enthusiast is to make the most of your limited time by researching and prioritizing your art destinations. Remember to take into account travel time to the various locales, and whether the town offers other attractions.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A visit to Fondation Maeght

View of St. Paul de Vence, near Nice

Just a short walk from the medieval French town of St. Paul de Vence is a wonderful collection of modern art, housed in a Japanese-style building.

Tal Coat, mosaic, 1963-64

Sculpture is the focus of the permanent collection of the Fondation Maeght, and a visit makes for a memorable experience.

The sound and sight of water follows guests as they explore the multi-level grounds, encountering mosaic, stone walls, and terraces with views of the lower Alps.

Alexander Calder, Les Renforts, 1963-64

A large Calder is set near the sylvan entrance,

Alberto Giacometti,
Les Femmes de Venise, 1956

and Giacometti's figures stalk the sunny terrace.

Chagall, mosaic

A large mosaic designed by Chagall is a delightful surprise.

Inside are many large canvases and more sculpture.

Miró is well-represented in the sculpture garden and in mosaic. He designed the tile floor of a still pool, using shimmering fish shapes in the cool blue of the Mediterranean.

Alberto Giacometti,
Walking Man I, bronze, 1960

Marc Chagall, La Vie, oil on canvas, 1964

Gérard Garouste, La Mouche,
oil on canvas, 2003

This summer, French painter and sculptor Gérard Garouste is the subject of the annual temporary exhibit, filling many large rooms with his huge, fantastic and sometimes disturbing canvases and bronzes.

If you should be lucky enough to visit the beautiful area around Nice, the Fondation Maeght makes for a memorable art experience.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sélections 2015 at Shenkman Arts Centre

So pleased to have two of my cityscapes accepted to a group show in Ottawa. The annual juried show Sélections 2015 is open to members of Arts Ottawa East, and this year 295 submissions from 97 artists were received. Thirty-seven artists are represented in the final selection.

The show runs from September 24 to October 20, 2015, at the Trinity Art Gallery, Shenkman Arts Centre, 245 Centrum Blvd, Ottawa. Hours are Monday to Sunday, 9 am - 10 pm. Because I will be away, I am unable to attend the vernissage, scheduled for Thursday, September 24, 7 - 9 pm, but all are invited to see the judges name their top choices.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"The Lady in Gold": the book

The Auditorium of the Old Burgtheater, Vienna,
by Gustav Klimt, 1888
When I read the book "The Lady in Gold", I was reminded of the unforgettable painting by Gustav Klimt, created on the occasion of the closure of the Old Burgtheater in Vienna, 1888.

The final concert had been the event of the season for Vienna's elite, and it was a mark of prestige to be included in the 200 miniature portraits that Klimt included in the tableau.

In much the same way, Anne-Marie O'Connor's book is a portrait of a whole community, the Jewish elite of Vienna's Belle Époque, told through the life of Adele Bloch-Bauer and her dazzling portrait by Klimt.

I became interested in reading the book when I listened to a review on CBC radio. It was said that "The Lady in Gold" was a history book written like a novel, and that all history books should be as readable. I had seen the Helen Mirren film "The Woman in Gold", based on O'Connor's book, and had found the story fascinating. (My post on the film is here.) The book is divided into three parts: pre-war Vienna; the period of the Anschluss (the unification of Austria and Germany) and World War II; and the modern-day battle for the restitution of the painting by the Bloch-Bauer family and their heirs.

I admit that I had difficulty remembering the various players, both family and friends, over several generations, numbering well over 100. Though I've never diagramed out the characters while reading a book, I might have benefited from doing this for "The Lady in Gold". In spite of this challenge, I found the carefully-researched book riveting. The story of art treasures stolen by the Nazis is a compelling one, a tale that continues to unfold in today's newspaper headlines. Some of the painful questions that arise, to quote from the book's final page:
"What is the meaning of justice when law is used to legalize thievery and murder? What is the meaning of cultural property when patrimony is an arm of genocide? What is the value of a painting that has come to evoke the theft of six million lives?"
Though challenging and at times disturbing, this award-winning book is well worth reading. You will never look at Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1 in the same way again.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Copyright Guidelines

I find this graphic to be very helpful in clarifying copyright issues. What is the distinction between being inspired by the work of another artist and appropriating the work of another artist? This flow chart is designed with American law in mind, but it is broadly applicable to artists everywhere. The source of this diagram can be found here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Art by the Lake

One of the cultural highlights of the region is scheduled for next weekend, the Lakeshore Artists' annual Art by the Lake exhibition. By the shore of Lake St.-Louis, on the beautiful sloping grounds of Stewart Hall, you'll find dozens of tents filled with art of all kinds. Drop by and enjoy the festive atmosphere and convivial conversation. The exhibition will be moved indoors in the case of rain.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Workshop with Pat Dews

This began as one half of a larger "start",
that was then finished with collage and stamping
I feel fortunate to have attended a 5-day workshop this August with Pat Dews, an award-winning American artist who works with watercolour, acrylic and collage.

Pat has a keen eye for composition, and because good design transcends medium, I hope to apply some of her design principles to my work in cloth.

Pat urged us to "move the colour along" throughout our painting. If you choose to apply a bright orange to one corner of your canvas, be sure to apply it in two other spots. And don't think that it can be a variation of that orange. "Knowing" that your second orange is derived from your first is not the same as "seeing" that very same orange carried along to another location or two. Even the smallest orange dab can help move the viewer's eye around the painting.

The other half of the larger "start",
with added collage shapes and stamping
Another principle of good design that Pat often referred to was the need to have small, medium and large shapes. If an edge is divided in several places, each of those segments should be of a different length.

Because I don't normally work with paint, I was impressed with the way Pat slapped broad strokes of water onto a large sheet of paper and then poured dilute paint onto the wet surface, tilting the paper this way and that to create dribbles of colour in a random-but-controlled pattern. You can see how I tried a bit of this in the piece at right.

Pat uses watercolour, ink and acrylic interchangeably in the early stages. All these media are allowed in the major shows of the national watercolour societies, and no distinction is made. However, to achieve some of the finishing techniques, like texture or "scumbling", Pat uses heavy-body acrylics.

inspired by a tiny fragment of a photo
from a magazine

"It's only paper," Pat would say when we hesitated. If we deemed a piece not worthy of further work or of cropping, we slapped on a coat of white gesso and began again. At this point Pat would hand us a piece of chalk and have us divide up our paper into interesting shapes. The chalk was easily wiped off so we could play with different compositions. Water-soluble pencil was used in the same way.

Once a piece had a coat of acrylic varnish applied, it was easy to wipe off wet paint, allowing us to experiment with final touches. Worst-case scenario: a failed painting could be cut up into pieces to be collaged into another.

We experimented with laying plastic wrap and crumpled wax paper onto wet paint surfaces, removing it before it dried to create interesting textures in the paint. We spritzed alcohol onto dried paint and scratched into it, creating "sgraffito".  We used an atomizer to spray a fine mist of colour around a cut-out shape, sometimes adding a second and a third colour, and then scribbled a line with water-soluble crayon.

building at left made of collaged and painted newspaper,
with all other shapes painted in
I had the advantage of a full selection of stencils and stamps from my work some years ago, when applying paint to cloth was my go-to technique. I had also made some textured collage paper in a recent on-line course that proved useful.

The abstract cityscape at right uses a minimum of those techniques, but it is a composition I might be able to realize in cloth.

Pat is a gifted teacher, whose well-honed intuition informs her incisive critiques of student work. I learned a lot from her workshop, and hope to be able to apply some of these insights to my own work in cloth.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Water Tower #9

Water Tower # 9, 12 x 10
This piece was made in response to the latest challenge from 12 by the dozen. The challenge colour, chosen by Phil, is "Marsala", a dull wine-red, almost a dried-blood-red, and I have added 9 or 10 other colours.

The piece was inspired by a photo that a friend took while in New York.

original photo, taken by a friend
Our Big Reveal was on Monday, August 31. To see all the responses to the challenge, please check out our website, where you can also find an archive of all our previous challenges. Comments about all the pieces as they are presented are available on the group's blog.