This Class is Full. Please contact me for information on future in-person and online workshops.
This six hour session will be an expanded format for those familiar with Val’s 3-hour sessions. The day will begin with an extended painting warmup from life, using as your subject objects you bring that you would like to paint. Val will give a demo and some painting tips, and you will have more time than in previous sessions to devote to your still-life warm-up study.
In the afternoon students will work on resolving personal painting projects they already have on the go with feedback and guidance from the instructor. Students are also welcome to begin a new project.
Oil or acrylic. Some painting experience recommended.
LOCATION has changed. I will be offering small class sizes of 4 people in my studio space at #322b-1000 Parker Street. Please be mindful and considerate of social distancing. Face-coverings are not mandatory, however please bring your own face covering and gloves to use at your discretion.
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:
JOIN VAL NELSON at the MAYER STUDIO (111-1000 Parker St)
Sat Aug 15 or Sun Aug 16, 2020 10am-4pm
In this one-day “in-person” painting intensive, experience how painting from direct observation differs from and enhances your painting from photography. In the morning session Val will encourage group dialogue while analyzing one of her recent paintings. Technical and philosophical aspects of the painting process will include use of chroma, edges, brushwork, composition, contrast, and also philosophical perspectives on working from direct observation. Students will then paint their own simple still life study from three personal objects they have brought with them, as an experiential model that will inform their work from photography.
In the afternoon students will apply what they have learned to personal painting projects they already have on the go with feedback and guidance from the instructor.
Oil or acrylic. Some painting experience recommended.
Choose from either the Saturday Aug 15 or Sunday Aug 16 session.
LOCATION: Workshop takes place in The Mayer Studio, 111-1000 Parker Street, an excellent 2000 sq ft facility with direct access from the parking lot at the east entrance to 1000 Parker (blue stairs at the left). This space has plenty of room for social distancing. In most cases, 6 feet from others will be easy to maintain for everyone’s safety and comfort. However please bring your own face covering and gloves for the occasional situation where that may not be not possible.
There is a kitchen and microwave available on the premises, however the owners of the space require that you sanitize after use and please bring your own cutlery and crockery. Sanitizer and wipes will be available. Please for health reasons do not share food with others unless they are part of your social “bubble”.
Lunch will be only 30 minutes as we have lots of ground to cover in the workshop! So please bring a brown bag lunch, and if you think you will need a caffeine infusion please bring extra coffee with you. There is a kettle and fridge. There is a picnic table and grassy area to sit on right outside the entry door of the studio for the break.
*Cancellation policy: If you are feeling sick, please do not come to class. Text me if it is last-minute 778-865-2650. Take care of yourself and others by staying home and and we can arrange how you may be credited in a future class. However, in general two weeks’ notice is required if you must cancel. Cancellation must be by email or text to firstname.lastname@example.org. Beyond one week there will be no refunds, however you may request a credit toward a future class.
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.
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.
I’m thrilled to have my work included in a strong roster of artists in support of Arts Umbrella’s excellent art programs for children at the Splash Art Auctionwhich takes place October 13, 2018 at Vancouver’ Fairmont Hotel.
Among the artists donating work are Fiona Ackerman, Douglas Coupland, Andy Dixon, Graham Gillmore, Angela Grossman, Marie Khouri, and Etienne Zack, to name just a few. The donated paintings, photography, and sculpture can be viewed at the beautiful Pendulum Gallery in the Hong Kong bank in downtown Vancouver on Georgia Street, across from the Vancouver Art Gallery. Preview runs through October 2.
Arts Umbrella provides the highest quality dance, theatre, and visual arts programming for young people and, for nearly 40 years, they have helped more than half a million children and youth explore their potential and build community. Each year, they serve more than 20,000 young people, reaching close to 16,000 through free community programs across Metro Vancouver. Arts Umbrella is also about to expand their programming across Canada.
SPLASH ART AUCTION
OCTOBER 13, 2018 Fairmont Hotel Vancouver 900 West Georgia Street
Tickets are sold out, which is great news, but there is a waitlistbeing taken and it’s possible to make absentee bids.
Are you thinking that you would like a drawing to brighten your space? Between some of my larger paintings, I like to put my attention towards drawings. Please contact me for a private art viewing, or to put aside a piece for you.
Six-hour trip on Nov. 8 will be led by Surrey Art Gallery staff
SURREY — A tour bus organized by Surrey Art Gallery is headed to Vancouver to visit studios where “artmaking magic happens,” on Wednesday, Nov. 8.
The six-hour daytime Contemporary Art Bus Tour, led by SAG curator Jordan Strom and curatorial researcher Rhys Edwards, will make stops at six studios on Vancouver’s Eastside, including those operated by artists Lyse Lemieux, Elizabeth McIntosh, Ian Wallace, Tiko Kerr, Val Nelson and Judson Beaumont.
“This is a fabulous, up-close opportunity to talk to several critically acclaimed artists about how they make art and organize their studios to facilitate their creative process,” notes a post on the city’s website.
“On this tour, you’ll experience a real diversity of art mediums, styles, and studios while getting to know some prominent Vancouver artists.”
The fee is $39 for the tour, designed for those aged 16 and up. Tour runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The event is presented by Surrey Art Gallery in partnership with Surrey Art Gallery Association, or SAGA, a non-profit society.
For those of you who enjoy my paintings and also like painting yourselves, you might like an inside view of how I make them! Here’s a link for 25% off on my CRAFTSY online class: Loosen Up! Techniques for the Painterly Approach. Lots of tips on brushwork, composition, and some pointers on colour mixing. Enjoy!