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Monday, June 22, 2009
This is a record for me. A finished piece in a week. The Wallis paper forced me to work quickly and directly with no finicky details. Part of me rebels at this. Part of me is enchanted by my willingness to allow stuff to just happen on the paper. I went directly to matting and framing this piece as soon as I decided it was finished. Am I turning over a new leaf? Summer is upon us and yard work takes up time; a small hummingbird hangs out at the feeder outside my studio window every ten minutes or so. Breezes blow, the sky has puffy clouds, and the temperature is perfect. The paintings yet to be done are sitting in the back of my mind. It will be hard, as it always is, to begin the next piece. I am very sincerely trying to not think of the elephant in my studio, that is the tendency to lean toward what might be commercially viable. Keep to the inner vision and forget about who may or may not like it. A long time acquaintance going back to art school days has a website that I strongly endorse. David Peto's work is geometric, energetic, off-the-cuff, sometimes humorous, engaging, and now returning to realism with his own twist on what that term means. www.davepeto.com.
Monday, June 15, 2009
A new poppy pastel painting is nearing completion. The Originals Only outdoor exhibit in Comox at the marina is less than two months away and I have decided to concentrate on getting some things ready for that market. The poppies grow all over the island and are extremely appealing to paint and art collectors love them. I haven't done any for quite some time and suddenly felt the urge to return to a subject that has done well for me in the past. I wouldn't attempt this, however, if I were not in love with the subject. Any time I have tried to work strictly "for the market" the results are less than stellar.
I am working with a paper that is new for me, Wallis sanded paper. I usually use a toned drawing paper such as Canson. Wallis is white and I am experimenting with allowing some of the brightness of that white to show through. The surface is very different from other sanded papers I have also used. I am finding that I need to work in a more "expressionistic" way...fine detail is difficult on this paper. The pigments layer in a more painterly manner and blending is less subtle. I wasn't certain I liked this at first but now I am enjoying the new way of working and the results are striking, I think. I have also been using a new barrier cream on my hands, Gloves in a Bottle. Non-toxic, replenished every four hours if need be. I have to be careful with pastel as I am prone to illness from the dust if I allow it to enter my pores or breathe it in. I work outdoors if possible and do not blow the dust around. I tap the paper gently and let the dust fall into a paper tray I put at the bottom (see in picture). I sometimes wear a mask. This has definitely been a year of breaking away from many of my old working habits...not a bad thing!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
This shows a bit of the process used to complete Nicole's face. I added and subtracted colours and values for quite some time. There is a strong yellow green light on the left side which at first seemed garish but ended up working very well. I had to be careful not to allow the strong patch of light pink light coming through the trellis and rose stems on her cheek to seem like a bandaide or some other foreign substance on her face. I must have worked a good ten hours or more just on the face over a week's time. The entire painting took about three months.
I was very pleased to learn that a painting I have in the Campbell River Art Gallerly 27th Annual Members' Exhibition has won an Award of Merit. This is always a gratifying experience, although I have learned not to place too much significance on awards. Rejection is not pleasant but can't be taken personally as a different jury would likely choose a different show and give different awards. I have had the same work accepted in one place and rejected from another. Non-the-less, being recognized is very encouraging! "Nicole in the Rose Trellis" is 16"x16", oil on canvas. I had a neighbor child pose in my garden two summers ago and I loved the light on her face when she stood under the trellis. The greens and reds reflected back gently on her skin and gave her an ethereal, otherworldly look which was quite a challenge to capture in paint. I think I might show the sequence of painting this piece in a new posting as the skin tones went through several changes before I felt I had it right. Skin tones are of particular interest to me and no matter what overall colour a person looks to be they are, in fact, a rainbow. If you look intently at your own hand or face, for instance, in different lights you can see reds, blues, yellows, greens, and purples no matter what your heritage. Some colours are more prominent obviously, but whether light, medium or dark the total spectrum is right there.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I haven't been working on paintings in a day for a while as I wanted to complete this 30"x40" piece in time for Painting on the Edge, a show with the FCA (Federation of Canadian Artists). It is open to artists world wide so I don't know what my chances are of getting in but one has to try! I call this "On the Cusp" as it is a self portrait of my aging self (minus just a few sags, bags, and wrinkles).
I also went to Rochester, NY to see my son, Tristan Tomaselli, graduate with honours from college. The photo is with me, Tristan, and his Dad, Michael. Exhausting, exciting, fulfilling trip. Travel isn't what it used to be! Someone told me it is like being moved along in cattle cars. I am of the age where I remember gracious service and complete meals (not great food, but food non-the-less; now you are lucky to get something to drink). The world is more dangerous, though, now and all the security measures are necessary I suppose. I doubt I will be traveling again for a while.