Monday, June 29, 2015

Canada Day Monoprints and a New Granville Island Linocut

This Canada Day I'll be joining 3 other FCA artists on Granville Island, doing demos and showing our work. I've made these little maple leaf prints which I'll be selling, with partial proceeds going to Vancouver's Covenant House. They work with youth who are faced with living on the streets. I've been donating things from my house and taking them product from our salons, but one of the things they mentioned they're looking for is art supplies.  You can buy these prints at Granville Island this Wednesday or on my website  anytime for $40. I'll be  giving 25% ($10 per print) to Covenant House for art supplies. 
I'll also have my new piece, just finished today, available for sale on Canada Day. Here it is in black and white. I'll be adding a little colour once they're dry. 
I ran 25 of them today. Here's how they look all drying on the rack in the studio. 

I love seeing them this way. Makes me feel like I accomplished something today :-)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Sketching at False Creek

It's been a busy run lately, but I took a little time out the other day to sit and sketch on the seawall by my house. Heaven. I love the feeling that comes from really observing our surroundings. I've been reading lots of artist biographies and autobiographies lately, most recently Emily Carr's 'Growing Pains', and it's reminded me that quiet observation and interpreting our environment is what it's all about. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Danger Doll at Dr Sketchy, and some good art reads

Fun session at Hot Art Wet City last night. Our model Danger Doll was from New York and creates amazing costumes. Performance was lovely. Glad I went. 
These are 10-15 minute poses. It always feels like a bit of a race, like 'come on, get the colour going, time's running out!!' running through my head. Not sure if that's a motivator or a distracter.

I've been reading Emily Carr's autobiography 'Growing Pains'. She had some inspiring things to say about drawing from life models that helped me get my butt out the door and to the session. Thanks Emily ;-). It's a worthwhile read for sure. So was 'Grande Dames of the Cariboo' by Julie Fowler. I got to know Julie when I attended the Toni Onley project in Wells a few years ago. She was writing the book at the time, and I stumbled on a copy in a shop on Main a while ago. I finally pulled it out and read it last week. It follows the lives of Cariboo artists Sonia Cornwall and Vivien Cowan. Joseph Plaskett appears, as do other Canadian art greats. It was really wonderful. Made me want to fill my car with art supplies and head off on an adventure, but then what doesn't make me feel like that?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Taphouse Chalk Boards

A girl can build up a mighty big thirst doing this kind of work. I'm really enjoying doing these chalkboards in the comfort of my studio.  These are for the Taphouse in Surrey. It's a very cool bar (and soon to be even cooler with the addition of these boards ;-). Stop by for a drink to check them out. And a pickle. And a personal poutine.  You know you want to. 
I did some printing today as well.  Here's a look at the studio as I was leaving at the end of the day. 
Busy place. I'm loving it. Stop by!  No pickles or poutine though. 
A couple of other art news tidbits. I've had work accepted to a few very cool juried shows this summer. I'll be in Animal Farm at Citygate in July, in the Small Smaller Smallest show at the Federation Gallery in june, and in Re-semblance at the Ferry Building Gallery in June/July. I'll be doing the Harmony Arts Festival Arts Market again this year, and I also just found out I'll be part of the Toni Onley project in Wells this summer as well. 10 days of total art immersion with 2 amazing mentors while tent camping in the most amazing setting ever. Busy summer!  Just the way I like it ;-)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Chalkboards for Antico Pizza in Kelowna

It's been a total pleasure doing these four chalkboards for Antico Pizza in Kelowna for the past few days. They're huge (almost 6' tall) and filled with all my favorite ingredients.  I chose to do the mosaic tile motif in the headers to reflect their beautiful pizza oven. It's a work of art. I'll definitely be frequenting this place anytime I'm back in Kelowna. Go check it out if you're there. It's on Bernard between Water and Pandosy. Estimated opening May 5th. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Plein Aire Challenge at Van Dusen Gardens

Well I'm home safe and sound. Spain was amazing and I loved every second, but I've landed to a flurry of activity that's keeping me too busy to pine for the Spanish countryside. In the 10 days I've been home I've moved to a new studio, bought my own press (yay!),  competed in an outdoor painting challenge and taken part in a huge Lab Art Show!   Now it's Sunday morning and I'm getting reacquainted with my sofa as I update. 

Cherry Blossom Festival Plein Aire Challenge at Van Dusen Gardens 

Yesterday I gathered with a couple dozen artists in this amazing park in the heart of Vancouver. We had 3 hours to paint our surroundings, then gathered for jurying. Joanne won 1st place in the acrylic category and I got a second in watercolour. We both won big fat gift cards from Opus, my favourite att supply store. Thanks Opus for sponsoring the event, and Alfonso Tejeda for hosting. It was really fun!  It's the first time I've joined in an event like that, but I'll definitely do more. The best part is getting to know other artists and seeing what they're doing. I was amazed by so many of the paintings , and by what people can get done in a few hours!  Wow!  
Here we are with our paintings, grinning like girls with a few hundred bucks to spend. 

I had an hour of downtime, then was off to the Lab Art Show with Glitz Entertainment (I love those ladies!). They put on a fantastic show; live music, dance, mind-blowing body painting, interactive art pieces and a really cool cross section of visual art. I was proud to be part of it.  I met lots of really cool people, and a few of my faves came down to check it out and cheer me on. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Biking through Wine Country

I I love biking. Not cycling, with spandex and sportsbars (although that's fun too), but biking, with a basket and a bell. Yesterday I was wandering about the vineyard. Everyone else was sleeping or occupied, so without any planning I hopped on one of the bikes and rode into the village to have a look around. It being Sunday lots of people were milling about, having a post church coffee, visiting wth their neighbors. I rode up and down every street in Torrelles de Foix. I thought I'd head back after that, but the village on the hill up behind our property caught was beckoning.  Here's a peek back towards Mas Els Igols from up there. 
Our residence is the house off in the distance. 

I started to head home, but every time I did something else would catch my eye and I was drawn on in another direction. It was glorious.  I rode up to the castle above Sant Marti Sarroca, down into the village there, and then far far out along winding country roads. Some of them petered out into muddy ruts at the back of someone's property, where I'd turn around and head off in another direction. There were just enough people to keep it interesting; out working on their houses and fields, half-waving hello as they rode by on their motorbikes. The colours and the textures, random fields of poppies, crumbling stone fences, white walls splashed with shots of deep green trees growing in front of them, gorgeous lemon trees in people's yards and big perfect irises growing by the roadside kept me fascinated. After hours of wandering I remembered the bread that was rising under a teatowel on the counter as I headed out.  I turned the bike around, rode back, and sat at our kitchen table cutting chunks of Camembert and laying them on top of warm slices of perfect country bread. I could not have been more content. It was my last Sunday in Spain. I reflected back on all the thoughts, conversations and adventures I'd had here.  With each passing day now I'm more and more excited to get home, see my friends, family, meld back into the life I left waiting there, but it feels good to know that I've absorbed a little of the Spanish countryside that I'll be carrying with me back home. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spain Linocut with Original Watercolour

Well here they are; the linocut with watercolour works from my residency in Spain.  This has been such an amazing adventure, and I've loved every minute of it. My time here is winding down, with just a few days left until I fly home. I feel it's been productive. I have a portfolio with 10 each of 8 different images, meaning I'm coming home with 80 finished works. I've learned so much, made some incredible friends who I will keep forever, and had fun teaching  workshop at Estudio Nómada in Barcelona this past week.  I was very impressed with the set up here in Penedés.  It is really conducive to working, and it's just a wonderful lifestyle.  There's no tv or anything, but once a week our hosts set up a projector and we screen an art movie on one of the huge white studio walls while we curl up on the sofas. They do a weekly artists lunch as well, provide rides into the train station so we can visit barcelona once in a while, and otherwise give us space to create as we please.  There are bikes to ride in to the nearby villages, and a garden with veggies and herbs that we can access.  There are 5 of us here, and we each have a comfy bedroom and our own washroom/shower. We share a kitchen with everything we need (amazing what can be done with a two-burner hotplate and a toaster oven).  If you're an artist and looking for a residency recommendation, this is a fantastic one. Google Estudio Nomada residency and you'll find it. I'll edit and add a link when I'm on a real computer. 

For those of you who pre-bought works from this trip thank you again. I couldn't have done it without you, and it was fun to think of each of you as I was working away; wondering which pieces you'd choose. These photos are off in colour (the paper is actually true white, and the painted colours much more intense than shows here) but it gives you an idea. I'm planning to leave a couple of each piece in Barcelona at a gallery. If you already know which image type you prefer please email me. I'll send you photos of what I have finished and you can let me know which one you want so I make sure I don't give it to a gallery. 
I'm bringing all of the original watercolour sketches home, so if you bought one of those no worries.  I'll post them all once I'm home with a better camera/internet combo. 

Casa Calvet 
This gorgeous building snuck up on me. I just looked up and fell in love. I didn't realize it was one of Gaudi's works until the piece was underway. 

Casa Battló
Another Gaudi Casa. I love how the building seems to be doing so much more than just standing there, and have tried to capture that movement in this piece. There were swarms of strangers lined up out front while I was there, so rather than trying to capture them I imported one of my favourite couples into the scene.  Any guesses who they are? 

Parc Güell
For those of you who've been there, you know I could have done a whole series just in this park. It is a visual feast. I enjoyed trying to suggest some of the actual landmarks in the view beyond the park out towards the sea. Sagrada Familia in three swipes of a carving blade or less?  Why not ;-). The couple will the camera (may need to zoom in to see them) were fun to capture. 
Crystal Palace 
This structure sits in Parc Buen Retiro in Madrid. The whole park is amazing, but the Crystal Palace held a special surprise for me. Read my earlier post on the wonder I found inside. The metal umbrella and speakers you see through the windows here were on top of the installation described in the post.  I've done some of these with blue/purple skies, some with yellow. This one with the pinks (much 'hotter' in real life) is my fave at the moment.  

Passion Facade 
Every inch of the Sagrada Familia is fascinating. I chose this facade as my first piece (yes, there will be more) because I fell in love with the embracing couple to the left of the door.  Reminded me of why I'm heading home after this residency ;-). The cranes of course are not there because they're updating, but because it is still only partially finished. Same with the netting you see down one side. Just another couple hundred years and we can pop in and see the finished project.  That's some incredible long term vision. I was interested in Gaudi and his work before I came here; now I'm awestruck. 

This corner is just off Gran Via in Madrid.  In a city full of beautiful buildings I think that Metropolis my fave.  I kept spotting it from different perspectives and thinking 'oh, there's my building!'

This is a composite of a few of the many flower shops I came across in my travels. It was fun piecing all my favourite elements into one piece. 

Me:"Hey Ladies"
Ladies: "Hay?"
These ladies are our neighbors here at Mas Els Igols. They have been my source of dairy for the past month.  The farmer is there every day at 5pm. We get on one of the old bikes they've provided for us, ride about 600 metres up the hill with a big plastic jug and 'fill 'er up'. We've dubbed these two 'Clara y Cana' which are your two choices if you're ordering draft beer at the pub (Clara has lemon in it, Cana is plain old draft). 
Thanks ladies. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cana y Clara

Me: "Hey Ladies"
Ladies: "Hay?"

My newest linocut, 'Cana y Clara". They are not only my muses, but also my milk, cheese and yogurt supply here. 

Thanks Ladies. 

They will get pink noses and blue skies once they're dry. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Print O' the Day

I have been a woman possessed for the last two days.  I did this ink sketch to map out my next piece. 
I made a great playlist and put myself in a carving trance.
 If you looked closely you'd see The Hip cued up there. I'm a good Canadian girl at heart after all. 
I went from morning until 2 am last night, got up and went back at it this morn, and by late this afternoon I'd finished not just carving the plate but had 10 prints drying on the rack. I love having access to a press 24/7!  I'm going to have to start scouting for one of these back home. 
Here's a blurry pic of the pulled print (my iPhone is still not speaking to the Internet here, so no good camera) 
I'm looking forward to getting some colour on it. I think the blue of the sky will be really fun to see, and will change the way the space reads pretty significantly. 

And now I've started another one that is a total departure from what I've been doing.  Suffice it to say it's not a cityscape. It'll be fun to do, and shouldn't take too long so I'll post soon. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Akua Inks, Dairy Cows and the Final Leg of my Residency

This little press is working brilliantly!  I'll be able to come home with great quality prints all done. A couple of nice working surprises here (if you're not a printmaker you might want to skip this part). One was finding such a lovely little press here. Two was discovering that a small one like this will do what I need. We just cut a longer board to run through it. And three; the Akua inks I've always used for test prints work brilliantly with a press!  I've always switched to messy oil based inks when it was time to run finished prints because I thought it was necessary to get that rich smooth dark. Once the little press was set up in my studio I thought I'd run a test to see if it was working properly. I didn't want to drag the oil based ink out and make a mess so I ran a print with the Akua. Wow.  It's better than oil based in a press. Richer looking, easier to work with, and no bleeding. When I first heard about it I bought a full range of colours. When I tried it at home I couldn't get the same quality of hand transferred print that I could with oil, so it was relegated to the back cupboard. Now I can't wait to play with the full palette when I get home. 

We had plans to do another pizza party at the neighboring vineyard today, but it's pouring rain here in Spain (we must be mainly in the plane) so I imagine that'll be called off.  I'm happy to just have another studio day. I'm working on a few new watercolours while my prints dry. One is a little sketch I did of the vineyards from our courtyard yesterday. I like that they're not in full summer glory yet.  The vine stumps look like gnarled hands. They are very Van Gogh to me ( the vines themselves, not my sketch of them).  The other is the metropolis building I sketched in Madrid, and there's one more I'm planning to do that relates to the dairy farm up the road. We've been going up there by bike to visit the babies (so cute) and to buy our dairy products. The farmer packed us unto his delivery truck the other day and took us back to his little production facility to show us how he makes everything.  He speaks so fast I think I catch about 20% of what he says, but the dairy products are the best ever, and it's fun to see how passionate he is about what he's doing, and how respectfully he treats his animals. He showed us how they're milked, where the cows line themselves up and walk into the milking booth of their own volition, and little lasers (no, Austin Powers fans, not 'frickin' lasers) find their teats and vacuum suck them into the milking tubes to relieve them. I was surprised at how great the milk is fresh from the cow. I thought it'd be a bit weird, or 'farmy', but no, it's just delicious. 

Life here on the vineyard really is beautiful. We work as a team on everything, make all our food fresh every day, make our bread, our mayonnaise. We're all working on our own projects, but bouncing ideas off each other and gathering up for big family style dinners every night.  Last night we turned one of the studios into a mini movie theatre again. We dragged the sofas in there and filled a wall with the projector.  We've  watched some strange and wonderful movies here; this one about an American architect who builds houses off the grid, basically with pop bottles and beer cans. Earth ships he calls them. Pretty interesting stuff.  

I have 10 more days here. One of them will be spent in Barcelona teaching a one-day course on lino printmaking, but the rest I plan to savor, working in my studio and enjoying the company of my new friends. And as each day passes, my yearning for that first Vancouver sushi feast surrounded by my menfolk at home will grow stronger, until I'm just as excited to arrive there as I was to arrive here. Happy girl!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

First Test Prints from Spain!

Here's a sneak peek at my new linocut print series here in Spain. I just did this first run of test prints tonight. This was taken with the camera on my aging iPad and is pretty fuzzy, but it gives you an idea of what I've been up to. It's taken a huge amount of work to get to this point!  I've been hitting the studio early in the morning and staying until my hands could carve no more. I've loved every second of it. 

Part of why I was working so hard was that I wanted to be able to take a few days off to visit Valencia for Las Fallas, their big annual festival. We took the bus down there on Sunday morning and rented an adorable little flat right in the heart of the old town through airbnb. It was a total blast!  They make these huge sculptures called Fallas (pronounced 'fayas', which is good, because it keeps you from walking around saying "wow, look at that huge phallus!"  
They're all over the city
 Most of them are elaborate and massive, and at the end they burn them all!  Crazy. It started in days of old, where everyone brought out all the stuff they no longer needed and they burned it as a kind of civic purge/spring clean. Now there's a huge fireworks show every night, street parties, pageants and a constant stream of parades.  We rented bikes and toured every inch of the city. 
It was fun, but exhausting. I was very glad to get back here last night, climb into my bed, and get back to printmaking this morning. 

Here's a closer view of the test prints, again with the fuzzy iPad camera. I did them with a wooden spoon, but there is an old press here that I'm planning to resurrect with a little help (and elbow grease) from my new friends. 
Now time to get some sleep so I can make my adjustments and pull more of these tomorrow, and possibly even start playing with some colour!  Stay tuned...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Life in the vineyard and our experimental kitchen

Still happily making art out here in the vineyard. I'm halfway through my stay at Mas Els Igols.  I want to drag my feet now to slow the time down. I'm happy with my work progress, almost finished carving six lino plates. They're more complex than things I've done before.  I'm looking forward to sharing them, but they're not quite there yet. 
Art is not the only thing getting created here. We've turned the residency into our 'experimental kitchen'. Everyone here loves to cook (and eat!) And we're having these lovely meals every night. 
Like this:
And this:
Yes, that IS creme brûlée, although it gets called creme Catalan in these parts. Made in the toaster oven. We have only that and a two burner hot plate, but every night is a culinary adventure. We ( meaning Cedric, while we cheer him on) are getting lots of things for the garden, and from the wild (like freshly foraged asparagus). We've started a little snail farm too. The boys visited a neighboring farm today while Candice and I worked and came home with some fresh cows milk. Every meal gets one dish with almonds from our trees. Tonight's was almond and chocolate chip cookies, also via the toaster oven. We're earning it though, working hard and long every day. This morning we got up early and rode up the wee mountain behind our house to the church we can see perched atop. It looks so close from our farm, but it was an hour and a half grind straight uphill. I can ride, and I had to get off and walk more than once. It was worth it though, for the view...
and for the ride back down: twenty minutes of steep and windy road through vineyards and villages. Heaven. 
The pics up top are for my new artist bio. I've been selected to be 'artist of the month' in April for the federation of Canadian Artists in Vancouver. They asked for a picture of me outstanding in my field, but I chose to sit ;-). Not sure which one to use. Probably the second. 
Next up? We are resurrecting the old press that was here on the property. We're taking a couple of days off and heading down to Valencia for las Fallas, their big festival. We're back Tuesday evening, and I should be ready to start printing by then. Will keep you posted. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Casa Calvet

Another building by Antoni Gaudi.  This one snuck up on me as we were walking. I was blown away by it, but  didn't realize it was his until later, when I was reading a book on him. I'm doing these watercolor and ink studies to map out how I'm going to do it as a lino print. This was complicated. It'll be a challenge for sure. 

And in black and white before I painted it
I'll make some adjustments before I start to carve it, but these really help me work out what's what. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Park Guell

Guess who's been colouring again. These tiles were fun to paint. I'm working on the carved version of this right now, along with 'Floristeria'. Lots of detail in both.  I'm also doing the ink drawing for Casa Calvet, another Gaudi architectural masterpiece. 
I'm still loving life on the vineyard. There's a big lemon tree outside our door. No shortage of lemonade for us. Other than stopping for food and water breaks I haven't done anything but work on these pieces. The others are heading in to Barcelona tomorrow to hit the art supply store. I may tag along. Or I may sit all alone in the middle of the vineyard and wail on my guitar while no one can hear. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

First Blush of Spanish Colour

Time for some colour!  These were really fun to do. It's so conducive to getting work done here. My life for the past 2 days has been lived in a 20 foot radius. We've had the tunes cranked and were in the flow. I've got one other drawing ready for colour...

and four pieces transferred to lino ready for carving 
I guess you could say I'm on a roll. These are going to be com freakin' plex to carve. The next two I have planned are no simpler. Oh well, if it's not a challenge where's the fun!?