studio

I have a painting at the MOMA (and you could too!)

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OK, as I'm sure you've guessed, there's some fine print involved in my claim, which I'll explain later. But this journey began, as many good things do, in Venice. 

While I was on my three-month European trip last year, I had more free time than usual since I had so few responsibilities. I was a lying on a couch in our Castello apartment when an appealing art course appeared on my Insta feed, It was Postwar Abstract Painting and it was offered by the MOMA through Coursera. Since I had the time, I signed up. To be honest, Venice does that to me. There's so much exquisite ancient art that I get itchy for something more current.

The course is eight weeks long, with each lesson focusing on one artist. There are videos, readings, quizzes, and to my surprise: studio exercises.

The studio exercises proved very interesting. The instructor, Corey D'Augustine, demonstrates on video how artists like Ad Reinhard and Yayoi Kusama created their works. (Not Rothko of course, his luminous colour techniques remain a  mystery even though Corey tries.) I couldn't begin the painting part until I got back to my studio, but I was eager to try. And studio exercises were a revelation. Technical details connected my own art practice to those of artists I admire. For homework, we were supposed to create "copies" as an exercise, but the more inspiring part is realizing how each artist struggled to communicate theory and ideas through their work.

Ad Reinhard tried to create completely black paintings by stripping away everything but pigment from his paints. Before, his blank black canvases were the kind of painting I would pass by, but now I can hardly wait to see his work in person.

I'm a huge proponent of continuous learning, but it's not always possible to find the courses you want to take in your city. However with online learning, the options are endless. I was surprised that a free art course with no feedback could be so fulfilling, but this one definitely was. The MOMA continues to notify me when new videos related to the class are posted, and recently they invited all the students to submit for a show about the course. The artwork will be the exercises we created during the class. I submitted my Mark Rothko exercise. Believe me, I respect his painting even more now that I've tried to recreate his luminous colour through thin layers of paint. And I was happy to find out my art was selected for the exhibition.

Which brings us to the fine print. The show I'm in is at the MOMA's Education and Research building. The featured artwork will be projected on four screens the show runs for most of January. There's even an opening on January 8th. A New York opening? I wish I could be there, but apparently there's a ton of snow right now.

If you're interested in taking the class and someday being in the MOMA yourself, check out this link on Coursera. Then you  too could be exhibiting at the MOMA someday.

Life Long Artistry

I just watched a short documentary film entitled The 100 Years Show, which is about the artist Carmen Herrera. The hook is that although she painted every day for her whole adult life, she wasn’t “discovered” until she was in her nineties. She was invited into a New York show when another artist dropped out. Since then her fame has grown exponentially, both in the art world and through this touching film. I have to admit I teared up as she expressed regret that her husband never got to see her become popular. He had always supported her art.

Although this film touches on injustices of the art world like ageism and sexism, it’s very inspiring as well. Is there an artist who hasn’t wondered why he or she hasn’t achieved more? I’ll to admit to a lot of artist envy. And in turn, fledgling artists ask me for advice and say they’d love to be in my shoes. It’s like an endless cycle of striving.

Herrera made hard-edged abstractions early and never veered from that artistic path. She stayed true to her vision of geometric abstractions and continues to make art even past the century mark. She stayed true to her vision despite being ignored by the gallery system. Was she driven by an innate confidence? The need to create? The emotional support of her husband. Whatever the cause, her life is very inspiring. As I mentioned in my previous review of the Cy Twombly exhibition, finding your own style and sticking with it becomes more epic the longer you are able to stay with it.

Alternatively, you can also experiment stylistically, as long as you keep making art. Neil Young is a good example. He has run through various genres of music: folk, rock, rockabilly, operatic, blues, country, and even grunge. And he goes in and out of style, but keeps making music. In the art world, Gerhardt Richter makes paintings that are highly realistic and completely abstract. When I was at the Tate Modern, I saw one of his digital strip paintings for the first time, so he is continuing to experiment in his eighties.

A portion of the Gerhardt Richter digitalized painting at the Tate Modern

A portion of the Gerhardt Richter digitalized painting at the Tate Modern

After returning from a three-month studio break, I’ve found myself floundering a little. At first, I had a ton of energy and got a few new projects going immediately. Then I had a setback: rejection from the Vancouver Art Rental and Sales program—in the first round! I don’t deal well with rejection, a subject I should probably write about in greater depth since all artists experience it. But whenever my confidence is down, I’m more indecisive in the studio. That’s definitely a problem.

What this documentary illustrated was the idea that an art career can be viewed in perspective of a whole lifetime. While it’s beautiful that Carmen Herrera finally had her work recognized by the art community, what’s really inspiring is the fact that she made her art each day for so many years: after rejections, without financial rewards, and even after the death of her biggest supporter. Her real strength is her belief in herself.

Whether you create the same thing each day or something brand new, the real key is persistence. You have to believe in yourself and be above trends or popularity.

Anatomy of a Painting

Recently I created a painting that was my largest single artwork ever. It was a commission work, so only a few people got to see it in person, but I thought I’d like to write about the process and share the painting with you.

Valerie and I met in 2009 when I exhibited at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition. Since then, I have not returned to the TOAE, but Valerie and I have been in touch by email and I have done some commission work for her before. She has also visited my studio while in B.C., but mainly we work together virtually.

It’s always a joy to work with Valerie as she brings a lot of enthusiasm and very few restrictions. She determines the size and then we discuss which existing paintings she likes, and a very general colour scheme. Not surprisingly, we both love the same colours: brights especially pinks and purply blues.


When I work on a commission, it’s a bit stressful, because I’m constantly worried about whether the client will like the final artwork. It’s impossible to put yourself in someone else’s head, and my process is very unpredictable. Since this panel was 40” x 80”, it was even more daunting. So for the first time, I did an actual maquette on a tiny scale.


Directionally, Valerie told me she really liked my new jellyfish paintings, but she was looking for a more abstracted drawing. I had a vision in my head of a painting that used all the resin colours I have. I did this trial piece on two 6” x 6” panels, at a time when we were still deciding whether to do one large piece or diptych. It was a good starting point, as Valerie decided she preferred a single panel and she didn’t like all the red.


Next step was prepping the panel. I apply gesso, let it dry, and then sand. Repeat ten times (at least) until I get a beautifully smooth surface. It feels so nice to apply ink to a satiny surface.


Here’s the ink drawing. I loved the idea of a more abstracted jellyfish, and I think I will move into this direction. It’s an idea of movement rather than replicating the actual jellyfish. This is one way that doing something new, like a commission or a painting for a themed show, can change your painting direction. I also loved the scale here, it inspires me to do even bigger panels.


I showed Valerie the ink drawing, and once I saw it on the computer screen, we agreed it needed more black. I added that and then the fear set in. Once I added resin, it would be final. I would have to start all over with a new panel if I screwed up. For three days, I had the panel up on the wall, eying it as I did other work until I got up the courage to complete it!

And things did go wrong. Mixing large quantities of coloured resin is actually impossible, since they start to cure right in the containers as I’m working! I ended up moving a smoking container of green resin off the table at the beginning of the process. My overactive imagination had me setting the studio on fire, and becoming the building pariah. In the end, I managed to mix up proper quantities of non-flaming resin and achieve the effects I had in my head.

Since resin has toxic fumes, I have to leave the studio before I can see the final result. I returned the next morning to check on the painting and prep it for final curing. When I hung it on the wall, I felt breathless. The painting was so beautiful! I wanted to share it with someone, so I went out in the hall, but at 7:30 am, there aren't a lot of artists even awake. Luckily, Morley, our wonderful building manager, was in and he agreed to come to my studio for a peek. ("Usually people only want me to come in if a pipe is leaking or something," he said happily.) And he was sweetly appreciative. I also took photos so I could show my family. We were leaving that day for Ontario, so I couldn't bring anyone else in. 


One unique thing about Valerie is that she likes a surprise. So I while I keep her informed during the process—especially the parts I can change—once I do the resin that’s it. I have the painting packed and shipped and she doesn’t see it until she uncrates it in Toronto. I don’t know how she feels during the waiting time, but I’m always nervous until I hear back from her!



The happy ending: she loved it. Here it is in her home—with the giant bear friend of her two sons. I think they were in camp when the painting arrived, but I hope they like it too. I miss the painting! But the good thing about creating amazing new work is that it inspires us to new heights.

What's new in the July studio

This year has been all about experimentation for me, and I especially like to experiment in the summer. Here are three paintings I did for a Japanese-Canadian art show, so I used my favourite pop colour along with with maps on Japan. I played with abstract shape, floating areas of paint, and photo transfers. Instead of resin, I sealed them with acrylic medium, so they are subtly shiny, if anything I paint can ever be called subtle.


pink map of Japan, 16" x 16"




Pokemap of Japan, 16" x 16"






souvenir map of Japan, 16" x 16"

These three paintings have just gone to Toronto, where they will be in the Artsu Matsuri show. Here are all the details:

Artsu Masturi
July 12 - 28, 2012
Opening: Thursday July 12, 7 - 9:30 p.m.
with music by Bruce Tatemichi and wieners by Chef Shoji, cash bar, and Artsu Matsuri artists
Pechu Kucha Thursday July 19, 7:30 p.m.

JCCC Gallery
6 Garamond Court, Toronto, ON M3C 1Z5 
416-441-2345 email: heritage@jccc.on.ca 

I wish I could be there, Chef Shoji's weiners sound especially intriguing.

Destroying work




I just destroyed a large resin painting. First it was sawed in half and then I attacked it with a sledgehammer.  This act was not a cultural protest or a temper tantrum.

Recently I’ve participated in some on-line critiques, and what I’ve noticed is the tendency of mediocre artists to get too attached to their work and fret about small changes. Half the time, I want to suggest that they do 99 drawings and then post the hundredth one, instead of agonizing over the first one. After my latest exasperating experience, I thought about myself. Was I discarding 99 works, or was I clinging to my own work?

Throughout my art career, I have periodically destroyed my artwork. When I work on paper, I cull the weak drawings, roll them up and burn them in the fireplace.  There is something satisfying about the flames, as if getting rid of old work would make better paintings rise like a phoenix from their ashes. Paintings on canvas were even easier, once I decided that I was no longer satisfied with a painting, I would simply gesso over it, completely obliterating the original and creating a new, slightly textured canvas to work on.

However the resin works on panel have been more difficult to destroy. I can paint or resin on top, but not all the works lend themselves well to this. Obviously I’ve already invested a lot of time and money in them as well. Usually I don’t resin a work until I’m completely happy with it, but occasionally show deadlines force me to rush work and I’ve ended up with a few paintings I’m not quite sure about. Luckily, sometimes someone comes in and falls in love with one and takes it home, but the other paintings stay in the studio like sad wallflowers at the dance. So I selected one painting I've never been happy with and sentenced it to death.

Everyone I’ve told about this destruction asks which painting it was, or suggests I should have just given it to them. I won’t even say which one, for fear they will say “I always liked that one,” which would make me feel awful. If it was a painting I really liked, I might consider donating it to a charity, but those paintings I’m not sure about…I think it’s better to destroy them. I don’t want to be an artist who clings to her work, just because she spent time and money on it.

As someone who has done a lot of reading about clutter while avoiding doing anything about it, I am very familiar with the idea that clutter clogs the energy in your room and prevents action. Paintings that hang around too long depress me, and make me question my own abilities. Getting rid of this painting made me feel both sadness and relief, but when I go into the studio the empty space is energizing. I was able to finish three paintings in a project I’ve been ruminating about for four months!

Last night I went for drinks at our neighbour’s place and she said to me, very gently, “Is everything okay? I saw you between our houses, doing something…with a sledgehammer?”

I laughed and told her I had been destroying a painting.

“Ah well,” she said, “It looked like you were getting something out of your system.”

That’s the truth. Getting rid of work can be cathartic for your studio and your mind. Try it and see.

Starting with stripes


Four new panels in my studio

Do you have a routine? You roll out of bed, pull on a t-shirt and yoga pants and start your sun salutations? Or you need a big cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal before you can even growl g’morn? Or maybe you have to have a cup of herbal tea and a snuggle with your cat before getting ready for bed each night?  Routines are lifesavers for our overworked brains, instead of having to make a dozen decisions, they just follow a familiar, comforting pattern.

Routines are my lifesaver when it comes to beginning a painting. Sometimes a blank canvas can be so daunting, there’s definitely the possibility of a masterpiece but will I be able to achieve it? Rather than face painter’s block, I rely on my familiar process.

First up, I pull out a fresh wood panel.  I use wood panels as the support for my work because it’s more stable for resin and also because I enjoy the easy flow of painting on wood.  Each of my excavation paintings begins in the same way, I apply a couple of coats of gesso, then sand them down for a smooth surface.  Then I mount them on the wall and paint bold stripes on the panel. There’s no specific reason for the stripes, and truthfully, they’re hardly visible by the end.   I think it all began with the very first resin paintings I made back in 2007, they started as a series of horizontal stripes, and then I started added layers of tissue painting on top. The paintings looked dry and unfinished, until I added resin and then they became swirling, sea-like worlds of transparent images. At the time I was using a casting resin that took ages to set and stunk up my garage for months, but the basic process was the same as the one I use today.

where it all began


After the stripes there is no routine.  I paint on layers of tissue, and the layers are always new and different. But there is something comforting about the initial process, when my hands are happily painting stripes and my mind is free to dream about what will come next.

Four new paintings you won't find on my website



Having a strong individual voice is as important in art as in anything that gets marketed. It's confusing to the viewer if you're constantly in flux, and clients or galleries prefer a distinctive look. 
Lots of people who are just beginning in art paint a vast array of subjects: still lifes, landscapes, people or animals, and they experiment with many different media as well. Recently a few people have asked about learning abstraction from me, but I don’t think it is something I can teach. My theory is that you need to go through a long period of experimenting, of trying new things until you find something that really fits you and is unique to you.

One friend, Kayla, told me that she had a friend over to her house who immediately recognized my painting: “Oh you have a Mary Anne! I love her paintings!” This was a huge compliment for me, both to be recognized for my style and to be recognized, period, by someone who isn’t in my immediate family.

However, once you find your “style” you need to be able to evolve it enough so that you can keep growing. We’ve all seen painters who get trapped by their success, churning out copies of their one original style because it sells. I wonder if this turns the wonderfully creative act of painting into manufacturing.



I have spent a lot of 2012 playing in the studio, experimenting with work that is quite different for me. First off, I’ve been doing some representational pencil drawings, which I can use as layers on my process paintings. Secondly, I usually paint on panels, but I had some canvas panels gathering dust and I wanted to do something new. The results are these paintings which I have tried to layer using paint and medium, with mixed results. But I like these paintings very much, I’m not sure where they will lead, but sometimes you just have to follow the creative muse. In the ten+ years I’ve been painting, I find that whatever you do in the studio is never wasted, it shows up somewhere. No matter where you are in your painting life, you need to try new things.


I can too draw!




One of the great surprises of my artistic career is that I now create abstract paintings.  I think I actually have a prejudice against abstract painters. Just painters, not abstract paintings which I have always loved: from the graphic late Matisse works to the saturated canvases of Helen Frankenthaler and best of all the glowing colours of Mark Rothko.  

I just had this theory that artists became abstract artists because they couldn’t draw.  I had seen proof of this in my student days at Emily Carr and in studios beyond.  You could call it the Picasso effect, if you look at Picasso’s early work you can see that he was a skilled artist but his main fame developed from his cubist period.  Later, artists began skipping the exploratory representational period and going right to abstraction. If they had ideas and theories to apply to their work this could be a beautiful thing, but lesser artists just aped the giants in their fields.

Abstraction gave birth to huge groups of people standing in front of paintings and saying things like:
My kid could do that!  
What is that supposed to be?
I don’t get it.
Can we go for lunch now?

I was determined that I was going to be able to render well, even though I hated work that was photographically realistic. My theory was that if I could draw, I would be free to explore any ideas I had and not be forced into more design-y work.  So I took lots of drawing classes and practiced my life drawing.  My life drawing is still not terrific, but I need to be practicing more.  As perverts everywhere say, just not enough nude people lying around when you need them.

Probably the ideal artistic practice for me would be someone like Richard Diebenkorn or Gerhardt Richter.  Both artists alternate between representational paintings and ethereal abstractions.  While I can hardly place myself in their exalted company, I like the idea of change and keeping your viewers off-balance.  The ability to thumb your nose at everyone who tries to pigeonhole your artistic practice. 

My process now actually layers paintings that are representational one atop the next.  By the end, you can hardly recognize any of the individual layers and the end result is often quite abstract. I can see the layers underneath though, and in my mind it’s a series of representational paintings.  I still find it frustrating to not be able to draw exactly the way I would like to on demand, yet some days in the studio are better than others.

Yesterday was an excellent day.  We all have things that we enjoy drawing. I have a lot of success with dresses, fruit, desserts and cats. (Not dogs, my dogs range from goat-like to pillowy.)  The other thing I love to draw, but am not always successful with, is buildings.  The painting I am currently working on is from an old photograph of Powell Street in the heart of old Japantown.  It’s going very well, and although I hardly ever show my work in progress, here’s a photo of how it looks right now. I will be back in the studio today and by tonight it may be completely changed. I just hope I don’t wreck it, but pushing the good work is where I learn the limits.

the five stages of painting

I know that this blog entry is late, but I have a good excuse: it's about procrastinating!

I'm not sure if procrastinating is something that all artists do, or just me.  But judging from the times that I've organized shows, I think it may be all artists.  I have hung shows where the work was still wet, oil paintings of course.  And I've noticed that entries all come in just before any deadline.

My current procrastination has to do with my upcoming show at the Nikkei Museum.  Although I have known about the show since the fall, I must admit that I have spent too long in the cogitating state, where I assemble materials and ideas and think about how to create work around them. Now things are coming together, and each day in the studio is very satisfying, but a week ago I was in the depths of despair.

Here for me are the stages of painting:

1. Joy!
This is the stage where you get accepted into a show or some other creative project. You are elated and realize that your talent is being recognized and appreciated. You randomly hug members of your family and chatter nonstop to your friends.

2. Cogitating
You gather ideas for your artwork. This stage is a great excuse for buying all the art supplies you have been coveting at Opus, specifically that lovely circle of bright coloured inks in my case.  (Note: I haven't actually bought them yet, as I purchased two and am still unable to figure out how they are different from diluted paint.) During this stage you do a lot of reading, research and observation and spend long hours in the shower releasing your right brain thinking. Your hydro bill goes up but it is all in the name of creativity.

3.  Procrastination
You have some ideas, but you're not sure if they are good enough.  You wonder if you should think of more or get started.  You notice that your favourite hockey teams are playing that night and watch them. You prepare an complicated dinner to everyone's delight. You go shopping or to a concert or even to a gallery. You groom reluctant cats. You go to the studio, but you get sidetracked by a small project or just cleaning out your paper drawer. You do anything but work on your project and you feel guilty.

4. Panic
Suddenly a deadline is looming or something has changed and you need a piece of work right away. You begin working quickly, painting and prepping several panels at once, perhaps even 14 in one case I know.
You are painting and working but nothing is going right.  You fear that you are a fraud and not a genius after all, you are in despair that you will never be a great artist. Why did you waste all that time before?  Service jobs with a steady paycheque start to have appeal.  Family and friends avoid you, as any little thing can set you off.

5. More joy!
Somewhere in the panic, you are forced to make several bold strokes and suddenly your painting is falling into place. You love the artwork, it's coming out brilliantly. You keep painting with great hopefulness.  When the painting is finished, you put it on the wall of the studio and admire it.  It is wonderful, the best work you have ever done, how did you doubt yourself?  You are so happy.  Much hugging ensues.
Then you realize that you need to make 13 more as good as the first one and you move back into Stage 3 (procrastination) or Stage 4 (panic). 

  My latest painting which is my current pride and joy.

Celebrity?




When I was a young woman, I took a certain amount of attention for granted.  Great service from waiters, comments from construction sites, the honking of pick up trucks ( in Calgary anyway), and the appraising glances of other women.  Now that I am a middle-aged woman, I take a certain amount of anonymity for granted.  I once read in an Amanda Cross mystery that being an older woman was the perfect disguise for a detective as no one would notice you.  And that mindset is why I find my few days of celebrity so surprising.

I first noticed something odd during the Culture Crawl a few years ago when I first unveiled my large-scale, layered resin paintings.  These paintings were original and attracted a lot of attention.  People were hanging around the studio just to look at the work and chat with me.  Some actually came back during the weekend, bringing their friends and significant others, wanting to show them the work and meet me. I just assumed these people were nice and attentive to everyone, and it actually took me several months  of reflection to realize that people were interested in me and my opinions, just because I am an artist.  In the studio, you stand surrounded by your artwork, everyone can see your vision, your creativity laid out.  Seeing your art is like seeing inside your brain. 

This year was no exception, and in my own studio I was able to display more paintings and create a whole crazy energy around the work.  I was interviewed by student newspapers and ESL students on assignment: photographed by bloggers and twitterers; courted by art websites, and actually had crowds of people (well, small crowds anyway) listening to me explain my painting process.  And I had amazing conversations with different individuals about my art and their ideas about the art.

Now that I'm fading back into obscurity, I have the pleasure of knowing that even during times of financial cutbacks to the arts, many people still have a lot of respect for and interest in for artists.

Welcome to my studio



I love touring studios and one of my great regrets about participating in the Culture Crawl is that I never get check out other people's studios.  So for all the other artists stuck in their studios, and for my friends and clients in other cities, here is what my studio will be looking like this weekend.

Just come on in...my name is on the door, a first for me!
 


Small works, a bit of sculpture and my favourite art books.







Some shelf vignettes.



The back wall, with paintings to leaf through.



The west wall.

 
New paintings I just finished in the past two weeks.  Of course, I work better under pressure, but I am very pleased with them.  After working really hard for different shows in the past year, I vowed that I wouldn't create any more works that I wasn't completely happy with no matter what the consequences.



A combo.  I really like this way of displaying the work.  You could try it using whatever paintings you already have, it's a chance to curate your own walls.  The paintings bounce off each other and cause you to notice what they have in common or their differences.


And food... the only thing I can't share with you on the internet!

group think


Have you ever been in a situation where a group of people are feeling the same emotion at the same time?  It could be the tense crowd at tight hockey playoff game.  Or the moist-eyed audience at a film festival.  Or you could be one of the artists getting ready for the Eastside Culture Crawl, Vancouver's biggest open studio event.  Usually my studio building of fifty-odd (or merely peculiar) artists is relatively calm.  Some artists are there everyday, they treat their art as a regular nine-to-five job, and work accordingly. Most of the furniture makers and some ceramic artists fall into this category.  Others are deadline driven, they appear shortly before a show and whip up tons of work in a frenzy.  Most of the painters fall into this category.  The Culture Crawl means everyone has a deadline at once, and our "to do list" includes scrubbing and purging the studio as well as creating some (hopefully) excellent artwork.

In these last ten days before the Crawl, things are getting hectic.  Yesterday my studio echoed with noises of neighbouring construction, paint splashing, deep cleaning, music and swearing (not mine, some unknown workermen!)  Behind every door was action, as well as a general feeling of excitement and anticipation. Closer to the event, that excitement may turn into stress, as a flurry of last minute tasks mounts.

My name was just installed both on my new pink door, and outside the building for the first time. I am a bit nervous opening up my new solo studio for the first time, but I'm also proud of the work I've put into it.  I have the freedom to hang my work as I want, to play my favourite Canadian indie music, and to create a fun energy in the room.

Opening up your studio for the Crawl is like hosting a party, you invite people into your home and hope that they will enjoy it.  Your studio and your artwork reflect who you are and invite judgement.  I admit it's painful when people take one look at my studio and leave, but many more people are generous with their interest and comments about the artwork, which makes the Crawl quite rewarding.  Artists usually work in solitary splendour, but occassionally we throw open the doors, and get to hear what people think. When I get back to painting, all the feedback reverberates in my head.

chaos and creation



Right now my new studio is in upheaval.  After I painstakingly painted the doors hot pink (three coats, and ironically I am a terrible painter), then painted the walls and shelving a bright white, I decided to go all out and get some renovation help.  As you can see in the photo, Gene is constructing a storage area for me so that I can put away a lot of my studio junk.  I am heavily influenced by whatever I see, so I like my vista to be a clean slate, no distracting visuals.  At least that is what I thought...



Ironically, in the midst of all this chaos, my painting is going really well.  I have three pieces on the go right now and each one of them is at the stage I would call "getting there", some parts of the painting are really nice, and I can start to visualize the finished painting. Although I am surrounded by mess, I am able to put on the i-pod and just focus on painting.  Perhaps my idealized vision of a clean studio is just impossible.  To begin with I am by nature untidy, then my painting methods generously contribute paint drips and multiple scraps of paper and since I enjoy working on a number of things at once, I tend to spread out throughout the room.  All of this process equals a continually chaotic studio.

I imagine that things would be better if my surroundings were perfectly tidy.  But after years of being unable to attain this zen state of perfection perhaps I should just give up and stop worrying.  Does it really matter if my surroundings are pristine?  I usually focus on the painting for weeks and then when the trash gets ankle deep, I swoop around manically and clean up.  If I spend too much time tidying, I'm usually procrastinating about painting.  But right now, when the painting is going well, I can hardly wait to get into the studio and I don't care if the walls are crumbling or in this case rising around me.

One door closes...



Bye, bye studio!

Leaving my studio after four years is a bit sad. I had a lot of enjoyment and accomplishment here. In this little studio I developed the resin paintings I now love, which took lots of experimentation and many failures along the way. Here I also moved from representation to increasing pattern and abstraction. And I also met many great people during the past four Culture Crawls.


When I first took on the studio, it was supposed to be only for the summer. I had a show to prepare for, and I knew the only way I could get ready was if I worked with the distractions. At home was the siren song of the computer, the fridge and even an attention-seeking cat. So I finished classes at Emily Carr in April, got the studio in May and started painting like a madwoman for the show in June. Here's what my show in 2005 looked like:


After the show, I exhaled mightily and started coming to the studio only sporadically. I was subletting from Cheryl Fortier, and I noticed that she was always there on weekdays, painting or teaching classes. She treated her art practice as a profession, and I started to do the same with mine. I came to greatly admire Cheryl's professional attitude and work ethic. Despite our different painting styles, Cheryl and I got along tremendously well, and so I ended up staying four years instead of four months. We love art, but we also love bargains, and we spent more than a few lunch hours visiting the sample sales in our semi-industrial neighbourhood. We also ended up doing a show together at the Britannia Art Gallery, a celebration of the places around our studio.



Now Cheryl has gone to France to work as an artist and administrator, and I had a chance to move to a bigger space, a room of my own. My new studio is just upstairs from the old one, since I could not leave the wonderful Mergatroid Building. So far the new studio seems big and a bit alien, but I plan to christen it with hard work....and cute accessories.