Hello! I’m currently researching how to deliver classes online over the summer while the coronavirus is altering how we do things. Meanwhile, if you are comfortable with one-on-one private sessions, or sessions for two or more in my studio at a safe distance, please contact me and we can get together!
I was supposed to be in Paris with my sweetie in March this year, but we had to postpone our trip almost at the last moment when the global pandemic developed with such surprising speed. Since we won’t be going anywhere for a while, I’ve decided to share with you some events from my five week dream stay in Paris in 2017.
What made the trip extraordinary was that there was a very real chance it could never happen.
In late summer of 2016 I made my plan: I’d wake up in Paris on April 1 (my birthday), live six weeks in Paris “like a Parisian”, then move on to teach a two-week painting workshop in Tuscany. Then I’d wrap up my trip by meeting a friend to see the Venice Biennale. Très excitant!
Everything was on track: I had ramped up my entrepeneurial chops by meeting my financial goals through selling my art; my Tuscan painting holiday was close to fully booked; I had bought my air ticket to Paris, and booked an AirBnB for a really great price.
Ooh la la, I was stoked. I was so amazed that I was making this dream a reality. But I was a bit tired from all this activity. So I took a little break in California to get some sunshine. This is me practicing plein air in Palm Desert on November 29.
On November 30 came the car crash.
The next several months I spent convalescing. I had a concussion, a broken clavicle (my painting arm), major whiplash, and for a while I had difficulty walking. And I couldn’t paint. Argh. I lay awake unable to know what to do. Should I cancel my trip?
It was my dark night of the soul. Since I couldn’t be in the studio, and I love making the most of my time, I thought it would be a good idea to work on my “art career”. When I began working with two different life coaches, it became obvious that what I really needed to address was some deep stuff within myself. So I spent the winter in meditation, and began sorting it all out.
By mid-March, even though I couldn’t yet lift my suitcase, my doctors and physiotherapists deemed me well enough to go to Europe. Hurray! I could spend some of my convalescence in Paris––pas mal, non? I figured sitting in some cafés, looking at art, and maybe making a few drawings should be fine, and I would likely be much stronger by the time I got to do the working portion of my “holiday” in Italy, so things were looking pretty rosy.
Then, the vertigo kicked in. Or what I later learned is actually something called “disequilibrium”. But more on that later.
At any rate, I was still able to leave for France only two weeks later than planned.
When I arrived on a sunny mid-April afternoon and found my new home in the 11th arrondissement, I remembered that I had booked my accommodation the previous fall knowing full-well that there was no elevator. And my suite was on the sixth floor. That’s one of the reasons it was so cheap!
Although I usually like to travel light, my suitcase this time was extra large because of the length of my stay, and the fact that I had brought along art supplies for my upcoming painting workshop. Because I had been in “business” mode for four months, I also had foolishly brought along office supplies, including a stapler that must have weighed nearly half a pound! What was I thinking? Okay, I’ll give myself some slack, I was after all recovering from a concussion.
Needless to say, there was no way I was going to be able to get my stuff up there the normal way. So I treated the ground floor like base camp, and gradually decanted things up the long spiralling staircase over several stages.
The place was pretty tiny, and obviously they’d got most of their decor from Ikea. But I was in Paris!
Stay tuned for more Parisian adventures in my next installment. Meanwhile, I thought I’d pass along a tip on a très charmant online show I’ve been escaping into lately during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s called Little Paris Kitchen, hosted by Rachel Khoo, a young British Cordon-Blue trained chef who demystifies French cooking for us in her tiny Paris flat. She turns her little place into a restaurant at night that can only seat two people at a time! You can find it on CBC Gems and watch it for free.
Hello everyone, I hope you are all well and weathering this pandemic craziness by keeping creative and keeping in touch with the people most important to you.
I’ve suspended classes temporarily, but am exploring ways to deliver instruction to you online. Meanwhile, as things are opening up out there (I am writing this on June 4), if you feel comfortable with safe distance learning in my studio for one or two people, or for small groups, let me know and I can set something up for you! I miss you.
I will keep you posted as things shape up more clearly. Happy painting!
DUE TO THE CORONOAVIRUS PANDEMIC, PAINTING CLASSES ARE SUSPENDED UNTIL OFFICIAL WORD HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED THAT WE CAN RETURN TO SAFE GROUP ACTIVITIES. PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES, AND PLEASE STAY SAFE OUT THERE. I MISS YOU AND LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU IN THE STUDIO AGAIN!
Open Painting Studio
Four Saturday afternoons: TBA (was April 25, May 2, May 16 & 23)
Four Sunday afternoons: TBA (was April 26, May 3, May 17 & 24)
This energizing workshop is for students with some painting experience who want to hone their craft under the guidance of a professional painter in her private studio. Bring a new project, or complete something you have on the go if you’re feeling stuck! Val will help you work through any painterly problem you might have be it technical or conceptual.
Each session begins with a 30 minute drawing or painting warmup exercise.
Oil or acrylic. $278 includes GST Drop-ins when available: $73.50
Loosen Up Painting Weekend TBA- may go ahead May 30/31
Are you ready to loosen up your painting practice? In this inspiring painting weekend workshop, participants will be assigned fun and challenging timed painting exercises to build confidence to take risks and discover new strategies to their painting practice. Includes blind-contour drawing, semi-blind painting, collaborative painting, limited palette, mark-making, experimental colour, and other approaches to make the process more playful and exciting.
Oil and acrylic
Location: #322b-1000 Parker Street, East Vancouver
Tuition: $278 includes GST
Max 8 students
5 Day Art Vacation in Historic Moosejaw: TBA Jun 26-Jun 30
An ideal pairing of inspired learning and blissful relaxation amidst authentic heritage architecture and stunning Prairie landscape.
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Friday, June 26 to Tuesday, June 30, 2020
We are fascinated with the idea of the Prairies with its generous
skies, clarity of light and spaciousness. We think we are familiar
with it, but do we really know what the heartland has to offer us as
Do you ache to be inspired by a new experience—and to be able to
paint or sketch in a bold and direct way? This workshop will help you
find your own expression, whether you’re an experienced painter, or
just beginning your painting exploration.
Are you ready to Loosen Up your painting practice? In this inspiring painting weekend workshop, participants will be assigned fun and challenging timed painting exercises to build confidence to take risks and discover new strategies to their painting practice. Includes blind-contour drawing, semi-blind painting, collaborative painting, limited palette, mark-making, experimental colour, and other approaches to make the process more playful and exciting.
Oil and acrylic. A supply list will be provided in plenty of time before the workshop.
Location: #322b-1000 Parker Street, East Vancouver
Online Class: If you would like to take a class with me, but scheduling is a challenge, you may enjoy my online class, “Loosen Up: Techniques for the Painterly Approach”, produced with Bluprint/NBC (formerly Craftsy).
Online Class: I’m currently researching how to deliver classes online over the summer while the coronavirus is altering how we do things. Meanwhile, if you are comfortable with one-on-one private sessions, or sessions for two or more in my studio at a safe distance, please contact me and we can get together!
Private Classes: $110/hr (first hour $85 for new student) 4-session package $400
Private Classes for Two: $160/hr
Group Classes: $400 half-day/ $750 full day
Artist talk: $350
Painting Demo: $350
Cancellation policy: Due to the demands for my teaching and my busy painting schedule, two weeks’ notice is required if you need to cancel or reschedule. Thank you for your understanding!
Instructor Biography: A finalist in the Royal Bank Painting Competition, Val Nelson has exhibited widely across Canada, and has taught painting at the Shadbolt Arts Centre, Emily Carr University, and Vancouver Island School of Art. She has 1800+ students and five-star reviews for her online painting course with Bluprint (formerly Craftsy). Val believes that painting can be fun and challenging, offering a beautiful pathway to self-realisation.
For the first time at the Culture Crawl I’m offering a limited edition print of one of my paintings, Rush Hour. There will be only 10 in the edition, 10 x 10 inches on archival paper with archival inks. A framed sample beautifully put together by Fine Art Framing will be on display in my studio. I will be taking orders for this and a few other limited editions also available at a price point that allows for affordable gift-giving, for a loved one, or for yourself!
Rush Hour, 10 x 10 inch limited edition print on archival paper
Also available: A 50-page book of select paintings from twelve years of my Tourist series.
As well you will find six new paintings, and a drypoint print, Syon House Interior that I recently re-discovered in my print portfolio, along with some framed 7 x 7 inch 3-colour pencil crayon drawings.
For the past 15 years, I’ve painted opulent European 18th and 19th century interiors. Designed as theatrical displays of status and power by wealthy aristocrats and bourgeoisie, these formerly private sites are now museums, providing entertainment and pleasure for touristic consumption, while also opening up a space for philosophical contemplation.
Although I use photography as a structural device through which I enter the painting process, with each piece I always seem to arrive at a point of crisis where I need to break free from the tyranny of the image. Through partly destroying the image I discover fresh solutions to painterly problems I set for myself.
Throughout my childhood and into my mid-twenties, I was a ballet dancer. That intense training of spatial awareness and interpretive questioning is still deeply stamped in my DNA. A painting to me is a kind of choreography; there’s a haptic dance that takes place from my optical experience of an image, through to the way my nervous system signals to my body how to translate and record it. As painter/dancer I tease out meaning through working and reworking, coming up to speed as I gain understanding, and making the last strikes with absolute commitment.
See paintings, sculptures, and ceramics from our Permanent Collection that “flow” in different ways. (Featured image: Val Nelson, Rush Hour 2 (2014), oil on canvas, 122 cm x 152 cm. Collection of Surrey Art Gallery, gift of the artist.)
Our world is marked by the ever-present movement of peoples, products, and ideas over vast distances and at rapid speeds. These movements and transmissions dictate the limits of life, the energetic potential of nature, the dynamics of economies, and the transformative potential of society and individuals.
Drawing from Surrey Art Gallery’s permanent collection, the over two dozen artworks presented address numerous themes, including transnational migration, the circulation of information and data, the force of waterways and weather systems, the physical movement of human bodies, and the transportation of materials and products to market by rail or by foot.
Some works, like Val Nelson’s painting Rush Hour 2 (2014), draw attention to the flow of people in our cities. In particular, Nelson’s work examines the relationship between the congestion of our roadways with our culture’s enthusiasm for grand detached homes and single-occupancy vehicles. Delving more into the movement of goods, Sara Graham’s Thornton Railyard, Surrey, BC (2015) uses miniature filigreed collage techniques to depict the contours and history of movement of one of British Columbia’s largest rail yards.
Soheila Esfahani’s The Immigrants: Homage to F.H. Varley (2015) reimagines a classic image of new immigrants arriving in Canada as seen in Varley’s c.1922 painting with found blue and white porcelain plates and custom ceramic decals. Brendan Lee Satish Tang’s brightly coloured clay vessel Manga Ormolu Version 4.1-a (2009) combines stylistic elements from Ming Dynasty era ceramics with techno-pop robotic elements reminiscent of Japanese anime, manga, toys, and video games. Out of Tang’s vessel gushes a black pumice-like ectoplasm meant to evoke both nineteenth-century spiritualism and twentieth-century science fiction. The potential for gushing black liquid of another sort is seen in Edward Burtynsky’s large-scale photographs showing shiny steel liquid natural gas pipelines zig-zagging across British Columbian landscapes.
The wide variety of images and objects make visible some of the most central conflicts and issue of our time.
The opening reception is the evening of April 14th.
We hope that you will be able to join us for the opening and post-opening gathering later that same evening.