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Summer Review

The famous pink Ojai sunset
The famous pink Ojai sunset

It’s been a quiet few months on my blog, but things have been busy this summer. Between exhibitions in Vancouver and Edmonton, there have been travels as well as dressmaking and a wedding! I’ve just recently started a new painting in the studio, and with the sudden change in weather here in Vancouver, I’m reminded of that back to school feeling. So I guess you can kind of think of this blog post as my first day back to school, and here’s what I did this summer.

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Now & Then – Pendulum Gallery, Vancouver

The new Pendulum Gallery set up
The new Pendulum Gallery set up

The group exhibition, Now & Then, at Pendulum Gallery was well received, with their new gallery walls and light system in place. It’s a great place to show work as I think it receives more foot traffic than many galleries I’ve shown at, and the more eyes, the better.

My wall of drawings and paintings
My wall of drawings and paintings
Pendulum4
A different view
My Rejected Memories drawings shown in a new more sculptural configuration
My Rejected Memories drawings shown in a new more sculptural configuration

You can read more about the exhibition and gallery space in Vancouver is Awesome here.

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A Conversation: With Mary Porter – Latitude 53, Edmonton

A Conversation at Latitude 53
A Conversation at Latitude 53 (Photo courtesy of Latitude 53)

For the last year and a half, Mary Porter and I have been collaborating on a project. We’ve known each other for almost 15 years now, meeting when we were both on exchange in Paris. Over those 15 years we have perhaps only lived in the same city for 12 months total. But we’ve managed to keep in touch and stay good friends, as well as collaborate on smaller projects on and off over the years. This culminated in our project, A Conversation, which we showed this summer at Latitude 53’s ProjEx Room.

A Conversation - with Mary Porter
A Conversation – with Mary Porter (Photo courtesy of Latitude 53)

Working from images found through Google Image Search, Mary and I made digital collages based on our text conversation using the first 20 images for each search. The results were convoluted but patterns emerged through common images and text. We showed the images as a video projection on opposite walls in the space, where viewers sat in the middle as we “spoke” to each other from either side of the room.

Twinned projections in the ProjEx Room
Twinned projections in the ProjEx Room (Photo courtesy of Latitude 53)
A still from A Conversation
A still from A Conversation (Photo courtesy of Latitude 53)

A Conversation will be showing in December at Truck Gallery’s Window Space in Calgary, Alberta.

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A Wedding & A Honeymoon

Last but not least, my fiancé and I got married this summer. Early on in the planning stages, I saw a dress I loved but it was from a few years back and impossible to get a hold of, not to mention way out of my budget. Against my better judgment (or despite it!), I decided I was going to make my own wedding gown, even though the last time I sewed a dress was when I was 14 and in Home Ec class. I figured…how hard can it be? It was just another art project to tackle! The thing is, I wanted a simple shaped dress, which I had a hard time finding in shops, but I also wanted flowers on it. So I got down to painting with watercolours, practicing roses in a painting medium that I wasn’t used to. After many botched attempts, I finally worked it out and scanned the image and had it printed onto satin.

The watercolour roses printed onto satin
The watercolour roses printed onto satin

From there, I made a mock up dress in a cheap fabric using my own pattern that I created by looking at photos online of the original dress I liked and, no joke, Gwyneth Paltrow’s pink dress that she won her Oscar in. I think all my problem solving skills for creating art, from the planning stages to the end results, helped me a lot in trying to figure out my dress.

The skirt section half sewn
The skirt section half sewn
Awkward selfies
Awkward selfies

Working on my kitchen table at home while trying to keep the dress a secret was hard, and it also meant doing fittings and trying to see what the dress looked like on and from behind meant many awkward selfies in the mirror. In the end, after a couple of fitting hiccups, I finished the dress and even made it convertible into a shorter party dress for the reception.

Photos by Brianne Adams Photography
Photos by Brianne Adams Photography
Photo by Brianne Adams Photography
Photo by Brianne Adams Photography

The wedding couldn’t have been more perfect. And after a happily stress-free wedding, my husband and I left for a quick honeymoon in California. We spent a few days in Ojai, and all the cacti we saw inspired my new work, which has been commissioned by The New Gallery in Calgary for their fundraiser later this fall. The drawing will be made into a silkscreen print. I will post more details in upcoming months.

In the meantime, a little sneak peek:

Work in progress
Work in progress
Work in progress
Work in progress

For My Grandmother

Pinky, Coloured pencil on paper, 11 x 14 in, 2013
Pinky, Coloured pencil on paper, 11 x 14 in, 2013

I’ve been waiting to show these drawings for about a year now. I first began this series of piggy drawings in late 2013 and continued into last year. I was originally going to exhibit them last year at Pendulum Gallery, but due to construction, the exhibition dates kept getting pushed back. I’m very happy to say that the show Now & Then will be opening next week.

These little piggy drawings are very special to me, as they’ve helped me deal with my grandmother’s dementia. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in late 2011, and it has been very difficult watching her illness progress. I wanted to do something that both honored my grandmother and also touched on the situation.

These Little Piggies, Coloured pencil on paper, 14 x 17 in, 2014
These Little Piggies, Coloured pencil on paper, 14 x 17 in, 2014

Growing up, I was always very close to my grandparents, and I was especially close to my grandmother. She always had an eclectic mix of knick knacks that she’d pick up from garage sales, flea markets and her little adventures she would take around the city. She was and still is a fiercely independent woman. But it wasn’t until she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s that I looked at all the figurines collected on the shelves of her wall and only then did I realize she had a huge collection of pig figurines. And she told me that over the years, she was always searching carefully to add to her collection. She displayed them neatly, grouped together on shelves and in display cases.

Piggyback, Coloured pencil on paper, 14 x 17 in, 2014
Piggyback, Coloured pencil on paper, 14 x 17 in, 2014

With the onset of her dementia, my grandmother felt a need to collect things and had begun to hoard. She had become obsessive. And it was at this time that I began working with my grandmother’s carefully curated collection of ceramic pigs and piggy banks. Her collection of pigs was assembled when collecting was still for pleasure. Through this drawing project, I now appreciate my grandmother’s selectiveness and curation of these trinkets. Something I didn’t realize or pay attention to when I was younger and wrote off as my kooky grandmother doing what grandmothers do. But she had her own purpose.

Piggies, Coloured pencil on paper, 18.25 x 24.25 in, 2014
Piggies, Coloured pencil on paper, 18.25 x 24.25 in, 2014

This work follows my on-going examination of memory and personal histories. Aside from their decorative purposes, the ceramic pigs, which included piggy banks and other piggy containers, also serve a practical means of collecting and storing things. Stacking the pigs up on each other, they precariously teeter and are on the edge of falling and breaking, rendered useless.

We collect memories throughout our lives, only to slowly lose them in the end.

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I’ll be exhibiting these piggy drawings along with some paintings from my recent series Of Myth and Men, as well as never shown before drawings from my Rejected Memories series. The exhibition, Now & Then, will open next week at Pendulum Gallery in Vancouver. More details can be found here.

Now & Then revisits some of the highlights of Pendulum Gallery exhibitions from the past decade, marking a point at which then becomes the now and acknowledging the intersection between the gallery and a select number of artists. The show is structured as a series of five small overviews, and through the presentation of both newer and older works, it attempts to give a sense of each artists’ practice, allowing the viewer to appreciate developing themes and methodologies.

I will be exhibiting alongside Ross Kelly, Ewan McNeil, David Marshall and Bettina Matzkuhn.

A Skewed Point of View

Looking into the neighbour's backyard - 1989

I was going through some old photographs for the Domogeneous Q&A interview, and I found these photos that I took when I was eight or nine.  It was a fashion shoot that I did with my younger sister and my little cousin.  I remember they got all dressed up in their fashion outfits (you gotta love the 80s!), and we did the photo shoot in our backyard.  I had this dinky pink camera that was a point and shoot…I still remember, it was narrow and flat in this sugary Pepto-Bismol pink colour with a turquoise blue shutter button.  I think there were some  random purple plastic parts thrown in there for good measure too.  Anyway, not many of the photos actually came out from that day.  But the ones that did…well looking at them now, I guess I was already very interested in playing with composition and skewed horizon lines.  It’s just interesting to see that I was doing that at nine-years-old, and here I am at thirty, revisiting the past.

Judith's Reprise (2010)

And pose! *click* (1989)
Thy Preying Hands (Leda & The Swan) (2011)

Portrait Painting as an Act of Love

Nina, Oil on canvas (2006)

When I was doing research for my MA thesis paper on portraiture, in 2003, I came across a story by Pliny the Elder.  It was about the invention of drawing/painting.  A Corinthian maiden traced the profile of her lover using charcoal and the shadow of his face on a wall.  He was about to depart for war, and it was a way to remember him by.

Martin, Oil on canvas (2004)

While I was at Banff, I was thinking a lot about love and art.  I thought about my practice of portrait painting and how I understood it as an act of love.  In my art practice, I work in two veins: personal and public.  There are the personal portraits of friends, family and loves; and there are the pop culture paintings of people.  In this instance, I am talking only about the personal portraits, not portrait commissions or the pop culture “public” paintings.  When painting a portrait of someone I am familiar with and close to, it is an intimate act.  When there is love, whether it is platonic or romantic, that goes into the painting; this can also become a very sensual act as well.  I will spend hours looking at the portrait subject’s face, both through the photograph I am working from as well as the painting I am creating.  Looking into one’s eyes, studying every line of one’s face; the shape of the eyes, nose, and lips; and how the hair falls just so.  From stroking and feeling every curve on the face to touching the lips with the paintbrush and slowly smoothing the paint over until the expression on the lips is caught perfectly, I will spend hours and weeks focused on this one person.  And I do not paint at arm’s distance.  The amount of detail that I put into a painting requires that I be physically very close to the surface of the painting while I’m working.  The entire process is not unlike the intimacy of studying a lover’s face.

Beth I, Oil on wood (2006)

Painting a portrait, for me, is a very personal and intimate act.  I only paint those that I like or love.  Why would I choose to paint someone I disliked or hated – to have to look at them daily and invest so much emotion and time would be like torture for myself.

Nicky (The Arbutus), Oil on linen (2008)

And for this reason, that portrait painting is a loving act, sometimes I have been confused when the subject doesn’t understand it that way and can only see the superficial aspect of the representation and are not happy with the final result because they do not think they look “beautiful”.  It hurts me as friend/love/family member more than as an artist, because to me, it is such a personal investment and an act of love. 

Grace (Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am), Oil on board (2008)

If I choose to paint your portrait, it is because you are beautiful to me.

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