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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

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.

Back to life, back to reality…

So the last week or so has been busy with the ending of my Banff residency and readjusting to life back in Vancouver.  I won’t be back in the studio until next week but I’m raring to go with lots of ideas brewing in my head.  Banff definitely gave me a creative boost, and I can’t wait to start working in the studio again.

Open Studios at Banff

The last few days of Banff was a write-off, work-wise, as I had to get everything shipped back to Vancouver.  Because I was working in oils, the last week of work at the residency was spent creating pencil sketches, as I needed my oil paintings to dry in time for shipping.  There’s something really great about being able to just work with pencil…it’s something that I miss doing and am really happy that I’ve started taking up again.

The drawings I did in the last week (detailed photos below)

The residency culminated with open studios on February 18th, and here are some photos of all of the work that I created during my residency, laid out in my studio space.  It was great to be able to see what everyone had been working on over the 7 weeks we were at the Banff Centre.

My oil paintings in order of progression (L to R)
A series of screen prints I made...
A smaller screen print - "The Dance (Steps 1-5)", 15 x 20 in.
A larger version of "The Dance", Steps 1 - 5 as separate prints
"The Dance (Step 4)" - screenprint, 22 x 30 in.

These are the pencil sketches I created in the last week.  Over 3 days, I made these pencil portraits on gessoed MDF of everyone on the Love residency, plus a couple of members from the 2012 residency, which was taking place at the same time, but who I had hung out with a lot and basically were part of my Banff residency experience.  Each portrait measures 6 x 8 in. and has the person’s name on the top and the words “we could be lovers” at the bottom.  I’m really happy with how these turned out.  I intend to photograph them now that I’m back home and send a print to each person.  As much as this residency was about making art and developing my work, the thing I took most from this experience was the friends that I made and this work was meant to reflect that.

"we could be lovers"
"we could be lovers" - detail, in alphabetical order
"we could be lovers" - detail, in alphabetical order
"we could be lovers" - detail, in alphabetical order

It’s going to definitely take some time to get back into things here in Vancouver.  I already miss everyone a lot, but good things are on the horizon.  I’ll be adding better photos of everything to my website soon.  These are just meant to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to for the last 2 months…!

The Painted Lovers – Part II

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!

Here are some photos of the painted lovers, completed.

The piece measures 30″ x 15″ x 1.5″

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Banff: Love + Revolution 2011

Last night, the artists from the Love residency got together for a project that I started a week ago.  Basically, we were writing a Harlequin Romance novel, Exquisite Corpse style, where each person wrote one chapter and passed it onto the next person, only revealing one chapter at a time.  The big reveal was last night, when we all read our chapters out loud.  It was hilarious and fun, and I’m so glad that we all worked on this together.  I’m planning on putting the chapters together as a zine  for everyone that took part, and it will serve as a fun reminder of our time here at Banff, which is quickly coming to a close.  I’m getting misty eyed just thinking about it.

We each had to read our own chapters...I was the first to go.

There are some photos on our Tumblr blog for those interested.  The link is here.

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