Booking Appointments: STUDIO MOVING SALE

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.

xVal

OPEN PAINTING DROP-IN CLASS ONLINE

Hello dear students!

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 val@valnelson.ca

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.

talk soon!
Val

STUDIO MOVING SALE May 19 – 21, 2021

Hey folks, I’m moving to Vancouver Island!

And I need to consolidate things before I go.

What does this mean? It’s the big studio purge!

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: val@valnelson.ca

See you there!

Manet and In the Studio

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 painting A 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.

https://courtauld.ac.uk/gallery/collection/impressionism-post-impressionism/edouard-manet-a-bar-at-the-folies-bergere

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 VelĂ squez. A similar contradictory space and perplexing riddle are present in VelĂ squez’ Las Meninas.

https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/las-meninas/9fdc7800-9ade-48b0-ab8b-edee94ea877f

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 VelĂ squez 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.”

VelĂ squez, 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.

C’est cool, non?

A bientĂ´t, Val

SPRING: BEGINNER PAINTING ONLINE with Val Nelson

MARCH 14-APRIL 25, 2021

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!

beginner-colour

PAINTING FOR BEGINNERS

Six Sunday mornings 10am-1pm: March 14, 21, 28 (Easter Break) April 11, 18, 25

Class Fee: $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 val@valnelson.ca

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.

Supply List: Provided upon registration

To register: val@valnelson.ca 778-865-2650

The Gift of Art Lessons

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!

val@valnelson.ca 778-865-2650

*all classes subject to GST

Start 2021 with the Gift of Art!

warmly,

Val

To Touch Something is to Love It

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.

Merde!

Oh, excusez-moi.

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:

Until next time, Ă  bientĂ´t.

Paris and Anticipation

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.

Oops.

Rush Hour 3

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?

Self-portrait with broken clavicle

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.

Bubble

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 cafĂ©s, 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.

Charles de Gaulle airport

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.

A bientĂ´t!

Flow: Works from the Permanent Collection

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.

Sara Graham, Thornton Rail Yard, Surrey #4 (2015), mixed papers and silicone glue.

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.

Brendan Tang, Manga Ormolu Version 4.1-a (2009), ceramic clay and mixed media.

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.

Exhibition Details
Location: Surrey Art Gallery – 13750 88 Ave
Price: Free
Date: Apr 14, 2018 – Jun 10, 2018
Hours:
Tuesday – Thursday, 9am – 9pm
Friday, 9am-5pm
Saturday, 10am-5pm
Sunday, 12-5pm
Closed Mondays and holidays

SPLASH Art Auction Benefits Young Creators

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.