Hi everyone, following up on my announcement for next weeks’ STUDIO MOVING SALE May 19-22, 11am-6pm., I’ve had some questions around procedure.
For people’s comfort I am booking 30-minute appointment slots. At your time I will come and open the door for you at the east entrance of 1000 Parker Street (glass door at top of loading bay ramp).
By the way, you can for sure stay longer if no-one has alerted me that they are waiting outside! And if you want to just wing it, text me when you are on your way and let me know when you have arrived at the entrance. I can let you know if the studio is free. When I’m finished with my current guests, I will come down and escort you to my studio.
Please be patient if you have to wait. I want to make sure everyone is accommodated. 🙂
Also please note that some people (including myself) may not be wearing a mask because they have a medical mask exemption. Please respect this disability which is recognized by the BC Human Rights Commission. We can all just social distance and have a lovely time!
Also I am allowing only 4 guests at any one time in my space. Thanks for your understanding, and. I look forward to seeing you!
To book an appointment, please text me at 778-865-2650.
I am scheduling an Open Painting Studio online painting session for Sunday, May 16, 10am-1pm. I miss you and it would be great to hang out and help you move your painting process forward. It’s especially important to find connection wherever and whenever we can right now so—-LET’S PAINT!
Please let me know if you would like to attend. Once I have at least two people committed, the session will go ahead. So please tell your painterly friends as well!
Fee: $80 Payable through E-transfer to email@example.com
What to bring: Your personal project, which may be something you have on the go, or something you want to start in class. Materials: Your usual supplies, ie paints, canvas, brushes, water or mediums, palette, shop towels, a photo source or other reference material for your project idea.
What will happen in class: We’ll start with an exchange/share between participants of each others’ project for mutual support and inspiration. Then I will touch on each of you to get you started on your goals for the session, after which my guidance is available to you as required. Near the end of the session we will do a group share to check in on everyone’s progress and encourage future goal-setting!
I use Zoom, so you will need to have that app downloaded. I will send the link 30-15 minutes before your session.
I will be selling some paintings and studies, works on paper, catalogs and a few posters. This will be a very rare occasion where you can discover some discounted prices and there will even be some random works for which you can MAKE ME AN OFFER.
Cash preferred, cheques welcome. I do have Square for credit card transactions, however quite frankly they ding me a percentage so let’s consider that a last resort. 🙂
Date and time: Wednesday May 19 – Saturday May 21, 11am-6pm
Location: 1000 Parker, 3rd floor #322b
Please note that the glass entry door on the east side (NOT the train track side) of the building at the top of the ramp will be locked, so you will need to text or call me to let you in: 778-865-2650
If you prefer, private views may be arranged: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is something I’m working on right now. It’s the interior of a bistro I fell in love with on Rue Oberkampf in Paris. I really enjoyed the zing of colour of the fruit, and the play of morning light bouncing around on various surfaces. And of course the fuschia pink bar stool are très française. At right are gleaming bottles and glassware which will be really fun to paint when I dive back in to finish this.
Initially I made a smaller version of this painting, but realized the subject warranted a bigger scale for a more immersive experience.
The new canvas is 24 x 32 inches. This is not a custom size you can find off the rack at the art supply store, so my darling man cut down a 24 x 36 canvas for me.
I like to use a grey palette at this stage, so I can see how highlights stand out against that midtone. The final hits on the painting are usually the lightest lights, and the darkest darks. I am nuts about the in-between colour mixtures that you can’t quite name, the “greyed down” colours which help the brighter colours sing out.
As usual this is a process through which the painting will eventually tell me what it wants to be, and the meaning comes through the making.
When I see this kind of setting, I can’t help but think of Manet’s brilliant paintingA Bar at the Folies-Bergère which he painted in 1882. I dare not compare my work to his, but I am certainly inspired by his lush use of thick paint, and his ability to strategically choose what to emphasize in the composition. This is exceptionally sophisticated art-making.
I was fortunate to be able to view this painting first-hand at the Courtauld Institute in London. This is from the institution’s website:
This painting was Manet’s last major work. It represents the bustling interior of one of the most prominent music halls and cabarets of Paris, the Folies-Bergère. The venue opened in 1869 and its atmosphere was described as “unmixed joy”. In contrast, the barmaid in Manet’s representation is detached and marooned behind the bar.
The Folies-Bergère was also notorious as a place to pick up prostitutes. The writer Guy de Maupassant described the barmaids as “vendors of drink and of love”.
Manet knew the place well. He made a number of preparatory sketches there but the final work was painted in his studio. He set up a bar and asked one of the barmaids, Suzon, to serve as his model.
The painting was first exhibited in 1882, at the annual fine arts exhibition in Paris, the Salon. Visitors and critics found the composition unsettling. The inaccuracy of the barmaid’s reflection, shifted too far to the right, has continued to spark much debate.
To my mind, good painting that stands the test of time needs to be aesthetically captivating to keep the viewer’s attention (it is visual art after all), but also open to a number of interpretations that cannot be locked down.
However as humans we are captivated by story; we are compelled to know more.
It is possible that he was directly pointing to the barmaid being just another seductive object for consuming with one’s gaze–notice the two round white electric globes flanking her, echoing the lens of binoculars held by a woman in the crowd.
Manet was also known to be an admirer of the work of Spanish court painter, Diego Velàsquez. A similar contradictory space and perplexing riddle are present in Velàsquez’ Las Meninas.
The painter is looking out at the scene he is creating. Like in Manet’s Bar scene, in the spotlight here is also a beautiful female wearing a corsage on her breast. She looks out at us, while her courtiers attend her. At back is a also a mirror, this time reflecting the images of the king and queen who in this space would seem to be in the studio but only apparent through their reflection. Their physical presence is only implied, and is outside the frame. In the 17th century, when this was painted, the young princess was being groomed to be the wife and queen in a politically arranged marriage to further the power of the Spanish monarchy. So she too is merely an object for trade. Everyone here has their role to play, and know their place.
But although it would appear that all is luxury and ease, the Spanish monarchy was in fact crumbling and its King, Philip II who was Velasquez’ patron, was a weak ruler. One could say that Velàsquez was a skilled propaganda artist. The fact that he painted himself into this image may suggest he is saying directly to future viewers of his masterpiece, “I painted this, and I knew what was actually going on.”
Velàsquez, an avid reader of philosophy, knew that creation is alchemy. We artists conjure our own realities through the power of our imaginations, with the skills of our hearts, minds, and hands.
Hey Painter Wannabes!I’m stoked to announce that my popular Painting for Beginners class is now ready to go online via Zoom!
I so love teaching this class because I get to watch my students light up and get cracking at the easel with a little technical know-how.
“Do I need to have painted before?” Many of my students are taking up their paint brush for the first time. We all knew how to make art when we were children. We were born creative! It’s just that some of us kind of forgot somewhere along the way! Be assured, it does come back with a little coaching.
“I don’t really know how to draw.” Don’t worry! Learning to paint is largely allowing yourself to open up your perception. I take you step-by-step through a process that helps you train your brain to learn how to really see. It’s super cool. In fact, you might even notice that as you expand your abilities in painting, you see the world around you differently too.
“What will I learn?” In six information-packed three-hour sessions, you will learn important steps to building an acrylic painting using a loose, impressionistic approach. As you paint a simple still life, I give demonstrations to help you understand the block-in, develop your work with more detail, and learn about how value, basic colour theory, edge control, and brushwork can be used to create a dynamic painting with strong structure.
“Yikes, that sounds complicated!” Nope. The class begins with limited colour and gradually expands to full-colour projects. And the class size is small, so you get plenty of one-on-one instruction.
“I have a crazy schedule. What if I have to miss a class?” If you must miss a class, you needn’t worry, the Zoom classes will be recorded, so you can catch up at your own speed.
“Great! When does it start, and how much does it cost?” Classes are on Sundays, beginning March 14. See below for more details!
PAINTING FOR BEGINNERS
SixSunday mornings 10am-1pm: March 14, 21, 28 (Easter Break) April 11, 18, 25
ClassFee: $420 (includes GST)
BONUS Discount Fee: Sign up two people at once, and you receive a $50 discount!
SUPER BONUS FEE: Sign up three people or more and receive a $50 discount plus a free one-hour follow-up painting lesson with Val. (value $115.50)
Registration Deadline: March 6, 2021
How to pay: E-transfer to email@example.com
Cancellation policy: If you need to cancel, I am happy to offer you a credit toward a future class. Please give me one week’s notice if you need to cancel. This gives me some time to fill your spot.
Back in late January of 2017, when my painting shoulder was finally beginning to show signs of healing, I was feeling more optimistic that my Paris trip could actually go ahead. My good friend Beverley picked me up and took me to one of my favorite French-themed cafés in Vancouver, Le Marché St George.
If you haven’t yet experienced its charms, I highly recommend this locally-owned labour of love. As well as a delightful little coffee place, it’s also a petit magasin selling carefully selected artisanal items including locally grown produce and dairy items, textiles, pottery and other beautiful homemade things. And their crêpes and patisseries are to die for, served on old-world silver plates and spoons in an ecclectic space furnished with mismatched tables and chairs. The staff are often French-speaking and trés sympathique.
Other than to luxuriate in the great food and surroundings, Beverley and I were there to plan out what we would do when she came to join me in Paris in April. We laid out my Paris map and enthusiastically began listing the places and experiences we wanted on our bucket list.
While we were scheming, a bubbly blonde female customer overheard our conversation and came over to our table. “I just came back from Paris myself! Isn’t it fantastic? Here’s a tea place you absolutely have to go to…” She pointed it out to us on the map. Her companion, a woman with long raven-dark hair (I know it’s a total clché!) and blue twinkling eyes joined our conversation. She said she had been born in Europe, and knew Paris well, and impressed me with a few sentences she tossed out in beautiful Parisian French. The blonde woman said, “This is Lynette–she’s an intuitive. She is so gifted she doesn’t need to advertise her services. People just magically appear who need to work with her. She helps them in their lives with her psychic abilities.”
Intrigued, I impulsively said, “Lynette, do you have a business card? I have a feeling you have something to tell me.”
“Yes of course,” Lynette said as she reached into her purse. “Here, give me a call. Don’t tell me anything about yourself right now. When we talk, I’ll know whether or not we’re meant to work together.”
That evening we connected by phone and booked an in-person session. I showed up at her flat with some family photographs. Lynette gave me a reading on one of them, and told me some things about the people in the photo that only I would have known. The way she described the energetic blueprint of these people was fascinating, as it put an entirely new perspective on their characteristics that I had never considered before.
I knew from this intimate exchange that Lynette was the “real deal”. From that moment we set to work, and I began to meet with her weekly. I felt a sense of urgency because I would soon be leaving Canada for almost three months. She revealed to me insight into many of the things that had puzzled me throughout my life, and many revelations on how to cultivate my best self and innate joy in life.
I remain convinced that the synchronicity of connecting with Lynette at that moment in my life was not accidental. After my close encounter with death just a few months before, I sensed and I believe she sensed that I was ready to receive new information, to expand and grow.
It’s more than three years later, and I still consult with Lynette regularly, though less frequently now. I am mostly applying the lessons she has taught me, which I can just say is a lifelong dedicated practise, not easy, but always rewarding. 🙂
I’m excited to share that her wisdom has just been encapsulated in her first audio experience, “Mathamagical”. Produced by the Canadian actor Graham Wardle, you can hear about this wonderful project on his podcast series, “Time Has Come”. If you are curious to listen in, you will hear a fascinating conversation between two very special people who care deeply about their fellow humans. They talk about the significance of integrity, righteous anger and the power of peace. The conversation includes an excerpt from Lynette’s audio experience.
Do you know someone who loves painting or drawing, who might enjoy some private instruction? Christmas is just around the corner, and if you haven’t quite finished your gift shopping I’m offering one-on-one lessons and tutorials for two online!
Many people I talk to say they loved making art a while back, but they are “too busy” now, or really got discouraged because they didn’t know how to finish things and gave up. C’est dommage! (That’s French for “bummer!”)
No, no, no ma cher, it’s never too late to get back into it!
It’s so rewarding and exciting to break through those unhelpful perceptions and technical blocks with a little know-how. Learning with a professional artist who is a few steps ahead of you (aka moi) can help you understand more deeply that this artmaking thang is actually important and worthwhile. Which of course it is!
Now more than ever we need positive energy beaming out into the world, n’est-ce pas? So help the planet by giving your loved one a boost, treat yourself, or double the blast of optimisic art-party energy by learning with a friend!
Here are some possibilities to mastermind your art-Santa strategy:
*Introductory mini lesson for first-time student with Val: $85
*Private Classes: $110/hr OR save by booking a 4-session package $400
*Private Classes for Two: $160/hr
For more information, or to arrange your art lesson gift, contact me and let’s get the creative juices flying ASAP!
I’ve finally completed the painting above “Paris in Springtime”, which I have been working on for at least a couple of years now, off and on.
Engaging myself in the studio this summer helps me remember fondly my times spent in the city of many greys.
Right now I’m thinking back to Paris, where I was in May of 2017…
Because I would soon be teaching a painting workshop in Tuscany, and I hadn’t painted very much at all since the car crash, I wanted to get back into the groove by painting from life. I had brought with me a great plein air setup which involves a Strada paintbox recommended by fellow Vancouver painter Marie Josenhans. You can attach it to a standard camera tripod.
I laid out some oil colours in the paintbox, and with excitement set out early one morning to the beautiful Père Lachaise Cemetary. As I was unfolding my tripod, an official came by and insisted I take it down. It was the “regles” or rules: no tripods in the cemetary. I pondered what might be the reason for this–perhaps because I might kill some ghosts? Ha ha ha!
At any rate, I was not going to not paint this fantastic place, so I put the tripod away, and placed my paint box on a tombstone, working quickly before the light changed too much. Similar to when I draw, I felt like my paint brush was actually touching what I was looking at––the surfaces of the stones, the textures of the leaves and grasses as they shimmered in the early morning breeze.
Which brings to mind a quote from a book I love, All the Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This stunningly beautiful story is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
In the early chapters of the story, little Marie-Laure accompanies her father to his place of work, the Museum of Natural History in Paris. She loves to explore the fascinating collections of nature specimens there.
“To really touch something, she is learning—the bark of a sycamore tree in the gardens; a pinned stag beetle in the Department of Etymology; the exquisitely polished interior of a scallop shell in Dr. Geffard’s workshop—is to love it.”
As the German troops force her and her father to flee the city into the countryside, she experiences many difficult realizations about the evils that humankind can inflict on others:
“This, she realizes, is the basis of all fear. That a light you are powerless to stop will turn on you and usher a bullet to its mark.”
Werner, an innocent young German boy with a natural talent for fixing electronics, has a dream to be a scientist, falls guilelessly into serving Hitler’s military as a wireless radio operator.
The painterly prose generates great empathy for both protagonists by helping us understand how two people can be caught in the middle of a conflict that neither have asked for. I think I can honestly say it’s one of the top ten novels I’ve read in my life.
Another painting project I really wanted to do was a portrait study in oil of Stella Libert, a talented cinematographer I had met through my Canadian-Parisian friend Dana Wyse. Stella agreed to sit for me in her lovely petite apartment not too far from the Père Lachaise.
I’m really glad I took a photo of the study, because when we reconvened a few days later for another sitting, I couldn’t make it better, and in fact it actually lost something in the process. So I eventually painted over it.
Sometimes a study is just meant to be what it is: a recording of the process of looking. It doesn’t have to be “finished”. So you painters out there, be okay not to censor yourself! Your initial impulse may contain some of the best of what is unique to you. Keep those studies hanging around, they may remind you of what you are capable of.
By the way, below you can see a beautiful short film made by Stella called “Paris Je T’Aime”, which artfully follows two parkour artists over the rooftops of Paris as they break the “regles” through exerting their freedom to defy gravity.
And here is a bonus little segment that shows Stella at work directing and filming it. Très cool:
Dana Wyse, a Canadian conceptual artist friend of mine who lives in Paris, has a very interesting practice. She makes pills that cure the perceived ills of the world. You can find her artistic apothecary in contemporary art exhibitions, and at a regular spot in the bookshop at the Palais de Tokyo.
Dana graciously set up an opportunity for me to give a drawing lesson to some of her friends, with the agreement that they would sit for me to draw their portraits. On a Saturday afternoon shortly before 2pm, I showed up at her studio apartment in the northern edge of Paris. The complex she lives in, La Maladrerie (which seems to translate as “the Leper Colony”), has an interesting cultural mix of artists and immigrants, with streets named after painters, such as Allee Gustav Courbet and Allee Matisse. It is a bit of a labyrinth, so Dana met me at a stone wall near Allee Georges Braque and shepherded me in to her spacious modernist flat that also serves as her studio.
Soon her guests arrived with snacks to contribute to the table. Dana has all kinds of cool and odd things she collects and displays in her apartment.
I chose as our main still life subject a taxidermy fox which seemed to be leaking saw-dust. Dana added a baseball, a plastic rose, and a miniature faux bourgeois armchair to the arrangement.
One of the three guests was Mélissa Laveaux, who is a talented musician with roots in Canada and Haiti. I wish I had a jpeg of the awesome drawing she did of the fox’s fierce-looking head, but you will just have to imagine it. The other two visitors, Sarah, who is a bit of a poet and a bit mysterious, and Stella, a cinematographer, made some nice work too.
The following day I received an enthusiastic email from Dana saying they all had had a great time, and that Mélissa wanted another lesson. Meanwhile we also received some complimentary tickets to Mélissa’s upcoming sold-out concert.
It was a treat to have the opportunity to see and hear her perform. She arrived on stage bearing a striking yellow electric guitar and a bright flower in her beautiful dark dreadlocks. Mélissa charmed us with her self-deprecating wit, skillful playing, and sensuous voice. After the concert we went for a drink with her and Pauline, a young painter at a low-key bar within walking distance of the theatre.
They mostly spoke French and I was a bit mystified about what was being said. I think since Dana is fluent they may have assumed at first that all Canadians know French. I can speak like a five-year old more or less. Dana apparently sounds like a Californian to her French-speaking friends.
Pauline joined us at the next drawing lesson I gave Mélissa, which we did at Melissa’s apartment in Belleville. We then went to the nearby park on a hill, and sat on the concrete steps overlooking Paris:
Mélissa has a lot on the go with her performing and song-writing, and asked if she could do some admin on her smartphone while I made the pencil drawing of her in my Moleskine, and Pauline just hung out with us.
The next week Pauline N’Gouala and I met at the Parc aux Buttes Chaumont and had a lovely walk and chat while she told me a bit about herself and her artwork. A wonderful afternoon with a warm, beautiful person.
Sarah, a soft-spoken young American woman who has been living in Paris for a while now, hosted me at her then Bois de Boulogne loft apartment. She shared her courtyard garden with a neighbour and friend, another Sara, who represents photographers.
Here is Julien, who I met briefly at a café, who stood shyly for only 20 minutes for me and then disappeared.
There’s something really special about sharing time and space with a person who makes herself vulnerable to being looked at. This experience is very different from working from a photograph, it is much more energetically charged, there is a sense of urgency, an awareness that this moment is fleeting. You have to focus more intensely.
Which brings me to my announcement that I am hosting a new in-person painting workshop,“Empathy and Embodiment” in a large new studio on the weekend of August 15 and 16, great for social distance learning. If you have been living your life online for the past several months, and are craving social interaction, this will be a safe and inspiring way to do that! I would love to see you there.
Check it out and let me know as soon as possible if you’d like to join in, as it may be quite popular. 🙂
I’m also starting to teach painting and drawing classes one-on-one and small groups online. and as many as three people in-person in my airy studio. I can tailor a class to your specific needs. Shoot me an email and we can set something up! firstname.lastname@example.org
‘We are going to get back our way of life, our taste for freedom – in other words, we are going to rediscover France fully again’. According to the June 14, 2020 news from The Independant, French president Emmanuel Macron made this statement, which means the famous bar and café culture so treasured by the French can officially restart fully, with Paris declared a “green zone” of safety as the pandemic relaxes its hold on the world.
This is thrilling news, sending a signal to all of us that things will always eventually get better. Pour moi, I feel good just imagining the relief and (albeit cautious) optimism Parisian citizens must feel upon re-emerging from their strict two-month lock-down. For many in the City of Light, the café is an extension of their home living spaces, which tend to be small and confining.
The café is where creative ideas are born, where people meet before and after work to socialize, and where a delicious, relaxing lunch in a neighbourhood restaurant may be taken before heading back to the office. This is the beautiful rhythm of day-to-day living so important to one’s joie de vivre (zest for life) .
When something has been taken away, it feels more precious when you get it back.
That April three years ago, when I woke up in my little 11th arrondissement flat on the first day of a five-week Parisian soujourn., I was repeatedly amazed and grateful to actually be there. All of my senses were super-heightened: tastes, colours, sounds. It was like I too had just emerged from lock-down and could experience more fully the joy of life once again while I continued to heal.
This is the spot where I often started my day, enjoying a to-die-for croissant aux chocolat et aux amandes––do the French know what to do with butter and sugar or what? And sipping a café créme, which is basically a flat white, while watching the locals go about their day.
One day while I was sitting in my usual window spot, I watched a young mother walking her little son to school. They paused in front of my window so that she could take a hairbrush out of her bag, smooth his disarrayed coiffe and apply HAIR SPRAY before heading out. In France, aesthetics are très important!
The thing you must do for sure when you visit Paris: just walk around and notice what comes across your path. The city is meant to be savored on foot. This is known as flânerie, a term which became widely used in 19th century Paris. A flâneur or flâneuse is a stroller or wanderer with enough means that allows her to walk the city with no particular purpose besides pleasure.
“The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fishes. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude,
amid the ebb and flow of movement,
in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world,
The Impressionists and other emerging French painters of the 19th century were at the zeitgeist of the explosion of changes to industrial society with their keen observations of modern life. In their brave move away from the academy-approved history and allegorical painting, they created a new kind of painting, a more subjective expression of human experience of their time.
Edouard Manet depicted family and friends in this ambitious painting of crowds of bourgeois Parisians relaxing out-of-doors. If you look closely you can find Baudelaire and a self-portrait of the artist.
Manet famously did not idealise what he observed around him, which got him into trouble with the Academy at times. Here is his Bar at the Folies Bérgère(above), which he painted in 1882 . The objects are seductively rendered in thick gestural paint––the glowing liqueur and beer bottles, fruits and glassware, and the beautiful bar-maid with vacant expression who is also an object for the consumption of the crowd reflected in the mirror behind her, and for us.
Here is Cécile Laforest, the bartender at L’Eventail where I would sometimes stop for a snack. She was so kind to me as I practiced my French. She would diplomatically switch to fluent English to tell me about herself. She is an actress, a comédienne, and sometimes model. You can check out herInstagram pageto see what she’s up to now. Très sympathique, et très talenteuex!
We’ll talk some more about the act of looking in my next blog.
In the meantime, enjoy being more free to wander around your neighbourhood as most of us are feeling safer to get out there, go to a café, bar, or restaurant, and enjoy the summer.