Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Rowan Leaves and Hole by Andy Goldsworthy

These past few days my mind has been wandering aimlessly in something of a post-Christmas daze and I was beginning to feel guilty about my lack of meaningful concepts for future artworks. I definitely needed a jump start to get my creative vehicle moving forward. Fortunately, I was flipping through channels last night and stopped at the Knowledge Network to watch Rivers and Tides, a documentary (that feels more like an art film) about the awe-inspiring and often evanescent environmental sculptures created by British artist Andy Goldsworthy.

I'm embarrassed to admit I had zero knowledge of Goldsworthy until last night. In college I learned about Spiral Jetty and other earthworks by Robert Smithson and was impressed with the originality and scale of those works. Goldworthy's works tend to be less monumental, more ephemeral and decidedly delightful than Smithson's. I think Goldworthy's success is connected not only to his love of natural materials, but also to the fragile nature of his works; in the careful placement/balance of each and every leaf, stone, delicate bit of ice, or twig, and the intimate scale of his works. The simplistic appearance of Goldsworthy's works belie the complexities behind his concepts and the physical challenges involved in the resultant sculptures. If you get the chance to watch Rivers and Tides, don't miss it. You can view some highlights from the film here and here.

Watching the film brought me back to the sculpture classes I enjoyed in college and the joy of creating intriguing works from the simplest of materials. I think I'll revisit the lessons I learned and the outside-the-box thought processes I employed way back then. Thank you Mr. Goldsworthy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Woman as Vessel #2

As mentioned in the post before last, I was inspired to start a new painting after flipping through an old sketchbook and becoming inspired to revisit the concept of woman as vessel. Here's the canvas in the early stages of the painting process in late September:

I struggled with this one - painting over areas that became bogged down with too much detail (oh how I love to get lost in complex detail). Eventually I created a balance between areas of calm and areas of detail and now it's close to being finished. I'll work on the face when I'm back in the studio next month.

Sorry for the poor quality of the pic - it was taken at night, using the flash, and the reflected glare doesn't make for an accurate image.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A little time away from the studio

Visited family in San Francisco with my mom last weekend and enjoyed the sunshine and sights, not to mention the food and the excellent company.

It was fleet week, so the city was teeming with naval personnel.

The Blue Angels put on quite the performance for us.

We schmoozed with the locals...

Enjoyed the public artwork...

And yummy chocolates...

Checked out the UC Berkeley campus.

Played at a beach off the beaten track...

that turned out to be a missile launching site from WWII.

We even took our lives into our hands by driving up the extremely narrow one-way road to the top of Sausalito and took in what is arguably the best view of San Francisco.

Had a fabulous time and am looking forward to a return visit.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Style change leads to no-go stack

Because the peacock painting wasn't entirely different after all (as mentioned at the end of my last post), I decided to revert to a style I used many many years ago when I first started painting - dark background and loose brushstrokes. After many hours working on the peacock in this manner, I remembered why I gave up this style oh so long ago - it leads (in my case, at least) to paintings with an overall generic look. The peacock is now facing the wall in the 'no-go' stack.

At a loss as to what to paint next (I admit I was pouting a bit due to the peacock disaster), I began flipping through my old sketchbooks and discovered some 2006 sketches that lead to Woman As Vessel:

Definite possibilities for new works there, so I've hoisted a new canvas onto the easel and have covered it with a wash of red and a conte crayon drawing and am once again in happily-painting-mode.

Monday, September 27, 2010

And now for something completely different

I've been working long hours in the studio nearly every day for the past couple of weeks and am delighted by the intense creative pace and the resulting mental momentum. Usually I take my time creating a work - first the mental work of weeks of contemplating a concept and image, several tiny sketches, intensive day and night painting sessions, revisiting the work over and over again over a long period for the finishing details, followed by weeks (or months!) of distraction and studio avoidance. Only then do I begin a new work. However, at my current pace, I'm moving from one work to another, unconcerned with completing each piece before starting another - as a result I have several works nearing completion in the time it normally takes me to finish just one.

With my new-found momentum, I've been reviewing photos from my travels for inspiration, with the idea it's time to challenge myself to work on something other than my usual themes of motherhood, community, and nurturing. As I reviewed photos from last year's trip to Thailand I found images of a fantasy peacock temple that had captured my fancy in Bangkok's Ancient City, a huge park featuring small scale and life-sized replicas of ancient architecture in Thailand. I took dozens of photos of that particular temple, thinking I'd like to do a peacock painting... however, by the time I arrived home, just in time for the hectic Christmas season and subsequent months of distraction.

Yesterday, nearly a full year after my original visions of creating a peacock painting, I googled images of peacocks as well as information about their symbolism in different cultures. I was reminded of what beautiful and unusual creatures they are, and found intriguing information here and here.

My apologies for the lengthy post - the point I was getting to is I have the beginnings of different type of painting on my easel:

Actually, now that I see a portion of the 10 year old painting in the background, I realize my "new" image is far, far, from being completely different. Hmmmm...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hope for a sow's ear ...

I've been housebound and out of blank canvases - a nightmare for a painter with a paint-every-day-for-several-weeks plan. Fortunately, as mentioned in a previous post, I have a large stack of abandoned works to forage through and as I did so late one night I discovered Portrait of an Alter Ego. This work was abandoned well over a year ago after my model decided there were better things to do than pose for me. Left to my own devices and imagination, I began taking liberties and was soon distraught to realize the face had taken on a Disney-esque quality. I had added a lot of collage elements that I was pleased with, but the face was too much, so I turned the work toward the wall, and as the months slipped by and other flops were stacked along side of it, all memory of the work was erased. Until Thursday night.

My critical examination concluded with a decision to salvage the piece. I've worked on it for several hours Friday, changing the face and adding more colour, texture, and collage elements and am pleased at how nicely it seems to be coming along.

(as yet unfinished, acrylic and mixed media on wood cradle panel, 20"x16")

Although the figure no longer resembles my model, said model/novelist entered the studio yesterday and excitedly proclaimed the face on my easel to be an EXACT likeness of Princess Alishetti Karika. What can I say ... clearly, either I'm incredibly intuitive or our story-writer is happy to finally see a clear image of her royal heroine.

I have a few more collage elements and Celtic interlace to add (must first learn how to draw those confounding knots), then I'll post a final image. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day 2 of Morning Pages

Spent the very first part of my day writing my morning pages (see yesterday's post), and I must admit it's great to just peel off a lot of negativity before the day gets going. I'm sure this will become a regular, if not addictive, habit which will result in speeding up my creative thought processes.

Since finishing my last painting (untitled), I've revisited Tree of Life #3 and worked to create a sense of lushness. Here's the work as it looks on my easel today:

I'll work on the background tones tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Artist's Way

OK, so I read the first 14 pages of The Artist's Way and decided to try the "morning pages" where it's suggested we sit down each morning before the day gets going and write three pages stream-of-consciousness-style in long hand - never reading it afterward. The idea to remove a lot of negativity from our brains by putting it down on paper, hence holding the inner Censor (that nasty self-critic always whispering in our ears) at bay for the rest of the day. Didn't know if I'd have enough to fill three pages, however my scribbling ran over three pages and I wanted to keep going. Hopefully this has cleared away a few cobwebs in my brain and made room for creativity to flow.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Close to completion

Untitled, 20x20", acrylic on wood cradle panel. Just a few fine details, another wash of burnt umber for the background, and a protective topcoat to attend to.

I've become unusually attached to this image and am finding it difficult to move on. Often when I'm this close to completing a painting I've already prepared another canvas and loosely painted an outline of some sort. Instead, I now find myself drifting towards my collection of half-finished paintings and slapping a little paint around (if I don't have a good momentum going within the first week of starting a painting, I rarely finish it and relegate the canvas to my no-go stack). After working into the old paintings, I then return to this work and add yet more minute detail. EGAD - I fear I'm suffering from painter's block! In an attempt to battle my condition, I've dragged out my copy of Julia Cameron's The Artists's Way. I purchased the 10th anniversary edition half a dozen or so years ago, read a few pages, then neatly filed it away on a bookshelf (there's the problem with momentum thing again). I'll try to get through a few chapters and hopefully find a jump-start to my next painting. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A day's progress

I'm adding layer over layer of details and am pleased with how it's looking so far.

I've been asked on more than one occasion if I'm inspired by North American native work - and although I haven't always seen it, I definitely feel it with this work. I'm using the usual archetypes and colours that define my work, however, there's something about this piece ... perhaps it's the circular format, the strong outlining, the bold blocks of colour, or all three elements that lends it a native art feeling. I decided to take to the internet and do a bit of research and, after looking at hundreds of images, I recognized elements similar to those in works by Norval Morrisseau. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Working again at last

After a very long hiatus, and many happy hours spent filling my sketchbook, I'm back in the studio working day and night. My house is unkempt, bed unmade, dishes piled high in the sink, dust bunnies getting large enough to trip over, and there isn't a clean sock in the house - all in the name of artistic progress, and I'm loving every moment! (Please don't drop by unannounced - I'm going to need a good 24 hours notice to tidy!)

Here's one in the works:

Here are the beginnings of a painting on cradle panel:

I've nearly finished another Tree of Life work and will post an image once it's completed.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Still here

Although my blog has lain dormant for months, I've been busy over the summer creating dozens of jewelry pieces in preparation for my annual November Open Studio. My usual supplies for making jewelry consist of glass beads, fresh water pearls, small Swarovski crystals and sterling silver findings, however this summer I've expanded my materials to include semi-precious stones, copper beads and findings, fine silver and gold-toned chain, and larger Swarovski crystals. I've thoroughly enjoying working with these new colours and textures to create new designs.

Now that summer appears to have suddenly ended with the arrival of September rains, it's time to return to my canvases and paint pots. Soon I hope to be posting images of paintings inspired by the hours I spent sketching and soaking up the sun over the summer months.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Portrait of Anton as a Young Man

I've just had a look back at my last several months' posts and it appears this blog has turned into a travel blog instead of an art blog. Actually, it's hardly a blog at all - just a place to post photos from time to time. I've been blessed with travel opportunities recently and haven't had much time for my art practice (tch-tch-tch - LOL). I have spent a little time in the studio recently and this photo is an update to this post. The piece was finished at 3:55 a.m. the morning of my departure for Atlanta and in my bleary-eyedness I forgot to take a photo of the finished piece - in the meantime it was delivered to the young fella who inspired the piece. I'll post a photo when I have one.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Atlanta Aquarium

Seahorses and jellyfish - two of my favourite aquarium creatures.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mazatlan sunset

Back to the studio soon!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Changing things up

I'm back in the studio working on a new piece comprised of found objects and mixed media, and boy-o-boy, am I ever having fun!

It's something of an extrapolated portrait of a young man who is near and dear to me - he's of Dutch descent (Friesen, actually), hence the inclusion of imagery from Rembrandt, Van Gough, and Vermeer (with my apologies to these esteemed gentlemen).

Below are bits and pieces from the assemblage to date ...

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


As soon as I get a broom to strike down all the cobwebs in the studio, I'll get started.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Oh my, where has the time gone?!

EEEEK!! I see it's been quite a long time since I last made a post. Life has been very busy between Thailand, Christmas, my daughter's wedding, and now I'm out of town again. Soon I'll be back in the studio producing something interesting (I hope). I'm feeling inspired by the sights and activities of the last few months, so stay tuned ...