Spring Cleaning

Once again, I’m sitting here looking outside my window at a street full of magnolia blooms and a sunny blue sky. It’s already spring. The sun is out, and Vancouverites are already in their shorts and sandals. This quick turn of seasons was a good reminder to myself that I need to update my blog with all the goings on from the past few months. And it’s been a good busy time with different projects and a move!

Frank Stella at the Whitney

Late last fall, I made a quick trip to New York and was lucky enough to visit the new Whitney Museum and catch Frank Stella’s retrospective. I’ve only seen some of his paintings in group shows, but this was a retrospective of his work and I was awestruck by the scale of some of his sculptural works.

Frank Stella’s large sculptural works

Here was an artist that I never really gave too much thought to in relation to my own work, but at this show, it suddenly hit me that our paintings share visual and conceptual similarities. And while I liked seeing his paintings, it was the 3D works that really caught my imagination. It was just the creative boost I needed, and I rushed back into the studio to work out new ideas. Which was perfect timing, as I moved into a new studio in December. I am now in the Mount Pleasant area of East Vancouver working amongst a talented group of women artists including Sunshine Frere, Rebecca Chaperon, Biliana Velkova and Mira Song.

Bright & shiny new studio
Bright & shiny new studio

Meanwhile, over in Calgary, Mary Porter and my collaborative project, A Conversation, was getting its second showing of the year. Shown in a new format on two opposing monitors, A Conversation was displayed in TRUCK Gallery’s +15 Windows in December and January.

A Conversation, with Mary Porter, at TRUCK Gallery +15 Windows
A Conversation, with Mary Porter, at TRUCK Gallery +15 Windows
truck-setup1
Monitors in conversation

My limited edition screen print, The Drought, that was created for The New Gallery in Calgary also sold during their fundraiser. I have a limited number of prints available for sale, so if you are interested please contact me.

The Drought, Silkscreen on paper, 11×14 inches, Limited edition of 30, 2015
The Drought, Silkscreen on paper, 11×14 inches, Limited edition of 30, 2015

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I’ve been busy in the studio, quietly working away on new paintings. I thought it would be fun to show some work-in-progress shots alongside the final works. I often post photos of the painting process on Instagram but some of the rougher early stuff I like to keep to myself as a record of what I’ve done. I’ve mostly been in the studio working on new ideas, trying not to repeat myself in my painting and seeing where I can go with my art.

Little test studies in colour and textures
Little test studies in colour and textures
Close up of flowers in progress
Close up of flowers in progress in Beyond the Realm of Failure

Beyond the Realm of Failure was originally intended for a large scale mural in downtown Vancouver at the L’Occitane flagship store, but it didn’t work out and they ended up going a different route. I wrote about this on my blog a couple of years ago – you can read about it here.

My initial sketch for the mural project
My initial sketch for the mural project
Beyond the Realm of Failure, Oil & linen on wood panel, 48 x 36 inches, 2015
Beyond the Realm of Failure, Oil & linen on wood panel, 48 x 36 inches, 2015

I really liked my original sketch and idea and didn’t want to see it forgotten on my computer somewhere, so I reworked the image to incorporate more of my own ideas, textures and patterns. I also wanted to experiment with actual collage of shapes cut from linen. My paintings are often mistaken for collage, but it’s all hand painted.

Rhapsody, in the early stages
Rhapsody, in the early stages

Along with using different textures and materials, I’ve also been playing with looser inky areas of paint. I worked and re-worked this painting, on and off for about a year, and I finally reached the point where I believe it’s finished. I still feel a bit iffy about it sometimes. When I look at it for too long I feel like I can pick out problems with it. But then when I’ve put it away for a while and take it back out to look at it with refreshed eyes, I can also appreciate those same “problem” areas.

rhapsody
Rhapsody, Oil & ink on wood panel, 24 x 36 inches, 2016

February was also the start of the Chinese New Year. 2016 is the Year of the Monkey, which also happens to be my zodiac sign. I’ve been working on ideas around horoscopes and zodiacs for a while now, but no big project has come of this yet. This idea came to me suddenly one day and I had to draw it out. I feverishly finished it in two days, just before my self-imposed deadline of Chinese New Year.

From princess to monkey...
From princess to monkey…
Salome (Year of the Monkey), Coloured pencil on paper, 14 x 17 inches, 2016
Salome (Year of the Monkey), Coloured pencil on paper, 14 x 17 inches, 2016

And lastly, I just finished a new painting that I feel brings together many of my past ideas and is also evolving in a new direction. I’ll have to let it sit on the wall and breathe a little before I look at it again and think about where to go next.

The underpainting and early stages
The underpainting and early stages
Painting the gnarled hands was a challenge

I’ll be taking part in ROVE, an art walk through Mount Pleasant, and my studio will be open to the public the evening of May 27th. I’ll post more details in the upcoming weeks. I haven’t had an open studio for a few years, since I took part in the Eastside Culture Crawl. This will be a good opportunity to come see my work space and my new drawings and paintings, and I will also have prints for sale. I’ll post when I have more information on that soon. In the meantime, if you’d like to receive news and updates from me in your inbox, you can sign up for my mailing list.

The Nested Babushka, Oil on wood panel, 16 x 20 inches, 2016
The Nested Babushka, Oil on wood panel, 16 x 20 inches, 2016
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