Wednesday, October 31, 2018

New series at the Hudson Artists Fall Show

Pleased to participate once again in the annual fall show of the Hudson Artists. We will be about thirty exhibitors, working in a variety of media. We have lots of new members too, many of them very accomplished, so this is a chance to discover their work.

I will have three large, mixed-media paintings on display, each measuring 24 x 24. I've had a lifelong interest in painting, but over the last few years my skills and my "eye" have been developed through workshops with Jane Davies and others.

As I write this, the three canvases I plan to show are not quite finished, so the pressure is on! (Why do I do this to myself?) Well, I want to put my best foot forward of course. (The show will be judged!)

And I think we artists usually live with the conviction (illusion?) that our newest work is our best work. At least that's what we're most excited about because, really, how else could you sustain the energy needed to slog through the tough parts?

My three entries are from my new Time and Again series. They reflect on the patterns created by the "deconstruction of architecture". Not unlike the way that layers of paint and wallpaper, wood and brick can be revealed as a building falls into disrepair. The basic structure may be standing, but new textures and materials are revealed by the surface deterioration.

Time and Again #3
acrylic paint and collage, cloth, wallpaper, charcoal
24 x 24

Meanwhile, here is a photo of Time and Again #3, currently showing at Stewart Hall. (See previous post.) To view the three newest pantings in this series, please drop by the AHA show this weekend. I will be there on Friday evening and no doubt at other times too.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Lesson 6, "100 Drawings"

The one hard-edged shape (upper right corner) is too similar
in hue and value for its edges to be seen. All the rest have soft-edges.
But variety is good for scale of shapes, curved vs. rectilinear, opaque
vs. transparent. Four distinct quadrants. At least I thought so.
But Jane pointed out that the left-hand quads were virtually identical. :(

Our assignment for this week's episode of Jane Davies' "100 Drawings" class was to "have fun" with variety and colour. Specifically, we were to produce works that pushed variety of line, shape, edge, colour, scale, opacity and texture AND that had four distinctly different quadrants.

I did not have fun. I didn't even meet the requirements for variety and different quadrants.

Mostly rectilinear. Good range of scale, colour, value.
Some hard edges, some soft. Four distinct quadrants.
Jane said: not enough variety of shape.

I think the point of the class was to have us "turn off" our inner critic, "to look at the trees and not the forest", as Jane put it. I have a hard time doing that. Jane admitted that some of the samples she produced to guide us were ugly. To me they looked like a hot mess. But that's what we were going for.

Includes variety of scale, rectilinear and curved,
 hard and soft edges. Four distinct quadrants.
Jane: shapes and scale need more variety.

Because I'm short of time these days, I completed only six compositions, not the optimal ten. And because I was the first to post, I didn't have the benefit of seeing how the other participants handled the assignment. That applies not only to the paintings, but to the commentary required for them.

Quadrants on left too much the same.
This will happen if you have one element extending
from one edge to opposite edge. Duh.
But good variety of technique: charcoal, collaged cloth, stencil.
Also variety of scale, opacity, value, edges.

Tried something new here, applying alcohol through stencil
to lift paint (upper left dots).
Variety of edges, scale, value, opacity, line (sgraffito and marker)
curved and straight. Four distinct quadrants.

Upper quadrants too similar, though one on right has faint stripes.
Variety of shapes, scale, edges, opacity, value.
Jane: insufficient variety of shapes, scale.

Jane's feedback was that I need to aim for maximal variety. She thought I could have varied my shapes and scale more, and pointed out that examples #1 and #2 don't have all quadrants sufficiently distinctive. I think if I had included two or three times the number of elements, I would have had a better chance at achieving this maximum variety: every single thing different in every possible way. Also, I could have used more line to add variety.

Many hours went into this, time well-spent, not because of the final product or because it even met with the requirements of the assignment. But because I had to pay attention to all those variables at the same time. Exhausting. Not fun.

Can I cut them up and use them for Christmas cards?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Showing again at Stewart Hall!

Delighted to have my work included again in this year's Stewart Hall collection. And this year I am especially pleased because a piece in fibre and an abstract painting (both 24 x 24) have been chosen.  What's exceptional about this show is its variety of media, its high standard of quality, and its beautiful venue.

You can learn more about this exhibition and collection below. (That's my large, dark piece in hand-dyed linen shown in the promotional photo.) 

Perhaps I will see you at the vernissage on Sunday, October 28, 2 - 4 pm.

176 Lakeshore Drive, Pointe-Claire, QC,  514-630-1254

Series in Blue & Orange #2
stitched cotton and acrylic paint, 24 x 24
chosen for Rental Collection 2019

Time and Again, #3
24 x 24
acrylic collage, cotton, wallpaper, charcoal, 24 x 24
chosen for Rental Collection 2019

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Post #700: a sampling of delights on Sherbrooke Street

Hard to believe this is my 700th blog post. On this occasion, allow me to entertain you with a miscellany of recent photos taken on Montreal's Sherbrooke Street.

Rue Sherbrooke is the second-longest street on the island of Montreal, running east-west more than 31 km. Three of the city's four major universities have a Sherbrooke Street address, as do several colleges, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the McCord Museum.

Visitors who travel towards its eastern end will find Montreal's Botanical Gardens, the Biodome and the Olympic Stadium, while closer to downtown are the high-end shopping emporium Holt Renfrew, and the iconic Ritz-Carlton hotel. The Westmount segment of Sherbrooke Street, on either side of Victoria Avenue, boasts almost one hundred independent shops, galleries and restaurants, making for an interesting stroll at any time of year.

Above is a photo of "Moving Dunes", a trompe-l'oeil created by NOS Architectes that runs north from Sherbrooke up Avenue du Musée. The "truncated mirror-polished steel spheres" are installed on the pavement, which is in turn painted with undulating lines. The spheres reflect the architecture of historic buildings, mostly belonging to the Museum of Fine Arts.

Soon this installation will be removed, as the city comes to grips with winter and the need for snow plows, salt and sand. Something new and different will be installed next spring.


Nearby is Dale Chihuly's glass sculpture Le Soleil. Proudly displayed on the steps of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, soon it will be carefully dismantled and put into storage for the winter.

Early days yet, but above is a display of four sculpted reindeer, made of driftwood, in anticipation of the season to come. The fanciful seasonal window displays along Sherbrooke Street almost compensate for the difficult footing after a snowstorm.

Dommage! The Balenciaga exhibition at the McCord Museum closed just a few days ago.

At the moment, Sherbrooke Street is a gauntlet of orange cones and construction barriers. and traffic flow is compromised. Still, there are many treats for the intrepid pedestrian, including fine examples of the heritage mansions that even now give the Golden Square Mile its cachet.

But that's another post.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Lesson 5, "100 Drawings"

We are now halfway through the ten-week on-line class with Jane Davies, and the topic for the week is "colour".


Our assignment was to produce ten studies in colour. And they were to read as colour studies, not shape or line or pattern studies.

We were to choose 3 or 4 colours for each one, and to use any format we liked: landscape, shapes on a background, interlocking shapes, grid, stripes, etc.  We were to cover our page with paint, then apply a coat of matte medium and go back in to add texture, using paint, watercolour crayons or oil pastels. (I didn't add much texture. I was already getting more texture than the instructions called for as I often smeared the paint on with my fingers, using glazing medium to smooth out the colour transitions.)

Much of the work for the lesson is the commentary required for each piece. Which colours did you use? What was the range of value for each colour? Was there a range of hue? Range of saturation? How did the colours relate to each other? Were they complementary (opposite each other on the colour wheel) or analogous (next to each other on the colour wheel)? Warm or cool? Were they your go-to colours, or did you take the opportunity to try something new?

I will not bore you with all the tedious commentary, but will include a few notes.

My approach to the first three was identical. In #1 above, I chose violet for the top edge and transitioned to yellow near the bottom. Mixing complementary colours like violet and yellow produces rich browns. At the bottom edge I added white to some of the intermediate neutral browns, and finished it off with a few lines of yellow crayon atop the yellow stripe.


#2 was made the same way, beginning with cyan (blue) at the top edge, transitioning to orange near the bottom. A few random lines of orange crayon reinforce the orange band of colour.


Likewise #3, beginning with green at the top and gradating to the very saturated red below, followed by a few tints of red lightened by white. The takeaway for these first three explorations is that brilliant colours look even more brilliant when surrounded by less saturated colours.


Still in landscape mode, #4 used four cool, analogous colours. The "sky" had a gradation from violet to cyan, both tinted with white. The "hill" transitioned from turquoise-blue to chrome green. Little value contrast (dark/light) in the piece as a whole.


Much more value contrast for landscape #5. The "sky" gradated from cyan to yellow, and the "hill" gradated from yellow to chrome green. The middle left offers the area of highest value contrast (dark-light), with the blue against the yellow.


I couldn't resist the temptation any longer and chose blue and green to make a landscape in #6. The sky begins with blue at the top and is mixed with increasing amounts of white (range of value). There is an abrupt break at the skyline, where the green hill transitions in hue to the blue sea.


Enough with the landscape format. On to shapes on a background. #7 features a turquoise-blue sphere, most saturated on its outside edge and least saturated in its centre. The background is a gradation from tints of violet to tints of blue. All cool, analogous colours.


In #8, the background is tints of grey, and the right-hand sphere is red on its outer edge, mixed with increasing amounts of white towards its centre. The sphere on the left has a turquoise-blue outer edge, transitioning to a blue centre. The red is a warm colour, and the turquoise is cool, though they are not true complements.


The last two feature only one main hue, celadon*, which is made by adding black to yellow. Varying amounts of white and black create variations in the value. I think of celadon as straddling the border between warm and cool colours, depending on the amount of yellow in the mix, and on what colour  is beside it. #9 has an accent of warm red, and #10 an accent of blue. These tiny accents provide contrast of hue, value and saturation.

* I understand that there are differing opinions about what the colour "celadon" looks like. For some, the word "celadon" means a greyed-down blue-green. For others, (Martha Stewart for one!) it can include a greyed-down yellow-green.


I quite like the sophisticated, edgy combinations of colour in these last two.  May just use them in a future piece. Sometimes hours of hard slogging on an assignment actually uncovers real "gold".

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor

Calder in his studio

Alexander Calder (1898-1976) was one of the most influential and innovative sculptors of the twentieth century. Before his time, the practice of sculpture contended with gravity and massive materials, but over the course of five decades, this American artist forged an unprecedented type of approach to art in dialogue with the world in motion and the motion in things.

Said Fernand Léger in 1931,
"Looking at these new works – transparent, objective, exact – I think of Satie, Mondrian, Marcel Duchamp, Brancusi, Arp – these unchallenged masters of unexpressed and silent beauty. Calder is in the same family."
Calder, trained as an engineer, came of age during a time of unprecedented technological and scientific growth. His mobiles have been said to reflect our understanding of the cosmos. Wrote Rachel Campbell-Johnson in The Sunday Times,
" Alexander Calder is the artist who entranced Albert Einstein. Story has it that when his sculpture A Universe – a mechanized construction that sets two red and white spheres moving around each other like planets, following their curved wire paths at different speeds – was first exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1934, the great physicist stood before it transfixed for the full 40 minutes that it took to complete its cycle."

One hundred and fifty works and archival documents are included in the MMFA show. Walking into one of the rooms (shown below) the visitor is struck by the sheer joy and whimsy expressed by the "mobiles" and "stabiles" on display.

Also included in the show are a few of Calder's drawings and paintings, his maquettes, and sculptures that date back to his childhood. Much documentation is posted on the walls, and an audioguide is available.

Acrobats, 1927 (with shadow)

Visitors to the current Alexander Calder exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts should be alert to the shadows cast by the wire sculptures, the mobiles and stabiles: effective lighting makes the most of the works on display.

Trois disques

Calder has a particular place in the hearts of Montrealers. He was a French-speaking francophile of Scottish ancestry, enamoured of the circus. His sculpture Trois disques (better known to Montrealers as Man) was an iconic feature of our Expo 67. It was his largest work to date: 20 meters tall, requiring more than 36,000 kilograms of stainless steel sheets and over 1000 kilograms of bolts. The current exhibition shows both the 75.6 centimetre maquette, and the first enlargement to 385 centimetres (on display on Sherbrooke Street, in front of the museum).

The show at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts continues until February 24, 2019.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Lesson 4: "100 Drawings"

Work continues apace in the Jane Davies' ten-week on-line class. This week our assignment was to make ten drawings using only black and white media (acrylic paint, acrylic ink, India ink, charcoal, graphite, marker, water-soluble crayon, wax crayon, pastel, etc.) We were to pay attention to variety (of line, shape, scale, value, edges, technique, etc.)


We were to pay particular attention to achieving variety within each piece. For every composition, we were to reflect on each quadrant, and ensure that each was different from the others. I think this is really valuable advice for a successful composition.

Here are my ten "explorations", all 12" x 9".  I'm learning to embrace "happy accidents".










You'll see more pattern here than in previous assignments, where it was discouraged. I enjoy pattern because I find it adds interest and variety of scale. Perhaps my experience with fibre is responsible for this familiarity with pattern.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Retrospective of Suzor-Coté @ Galerie Eric Klinkhoff

Here are the details from an invitation card for an upcoming show at Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, running October 13 - 27, 2018. 

Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté: Retrospective Exhibition 

Rue St-Louis, Montreal

Suzor-Coté was an outstanding artist, known for his mastery and the variety of his work. His impressionistic interpretations of Quebec landscapes, equally his portraits, nudes, and historical paintings, reveal the extreme diversity of his talent.

Continuing in a long-standing tradition of hosting annual non-selling shows, Galerie Eric Klinkhoff is proud to pay homage to one of the greatest painters and sculptors in the history of Canadian art.

The paintings and sculptures have been generously lent by Canadian private and corporate collectors. It is their precious collaboration that has made this exhibition possible.

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, 1200 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal, QC  

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Visual Design: my interview with SAQA

Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) is an international group I have belonged to for many years. One of many posts that I've shared about SAQA was written last year, outlining some of the benefits of membership.

So I am delighted now to share with you a web-interview I did recently with Deborah Boschert as part of a Seminar Series on Visual Design, available exclusively to SAQA members. The Seminar Series is part of a whole collection of videos, articles and other resources on Visual Design for SAQA members. It's one of the projects developed in recent years that adds enormous benefit to membership.

If you decide that SAQA is a group you'd like to be part of, use the code SEMINAR to get a $10 discount for new members.