I’m heading off to Barcelona and Madrid in March! The draw? Well, the sunshine OF COURSE! But actually, my main focus will be the extensive collection of Velasquez works (amongst many other important historic painters) at the Prado, and very fortunately for me at the same time there will be a Raoul Dufy show on at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza just down the road. A nice mix of serious historic painting chops contrasted with a more graphic, pleasure-filled counterpoint. I’m inspired by both.
Gotta say that having booked my flight it was a treat to surf around to find what Air Bnb I would stay in. I’d much rather stay in an an apartment with homey appeal than a generic over-priced hotel any day. In both cities I’ll be staying right in the middle of the centre, so I can stride out the door after my morning coffee and be at the museums after a brisk 15-minute walk. That way I can have my fill of art, stroll home for a siesta, have some lunch and a café con leche and go and do some exploring and drawing.
I’ve been obsessing over what art supplies to bring, waffling between oils (too involved for such a short stay), gouache (easier to travel with but I’m not terribly fluent in using them), drypoint on copper (plates too heavy, and security might confiscate the plates and diamond tip tool as potential weapons on the plane).
I’ve finally decided on my favorite simple drawing tools: pen, pencil and sketchbook.
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Lewis DeSoto is the author of the novels A Blade of Grass, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and The Restoration Artist, which was just published by HarperCollins. Lewis Desoto “gave up” painting to become a writer, but still paints for himself.
Victoria painter Todd Lambeth was seriously injured in a cycling accident recently, and found himself housebound with limited movement as he convalesced. Cats at rest are the subject matter of the paintings that came out of that period. The artists says, “These are not paintings of urban hustle; rather they are oases of meditative calm and reflection. The banal subject of the ubiquitous family cat is transformed into images that celebrate the humility and comfort of our private lives.”
While selling off a few items out of my studio today, I had some interesting conversations with various neighbours in my building.
One was a fellow who wanted to buy my cast-off stretched canvas as a gift to an ex-girlfriend, in hopes he could win her back. Is that sweet or what? I hope it works.
Another visitor, an artist, told me about how he “couldn’t get representation in this town”. However, though I enjoyed talking with him, and the work he showed to me displayed talent, dedication and a keen mind, I couldn’t help but think that his cynical outlook may be what is holding him back. He complained that when he was out searching for a dealer, a certain gallery’s staff had treated him rudely–but when he told me he walked in off the street without an appointment and asked the attendant to bring up his website on the computer, I couldn’t help but think that he needs to understand that diplomacy could be part of the battle for him.
People are busy and their time needs to be valued as well as your needs. I started to suggest this to him, but his eyes glazed over. I don’t think he is interested in constructive criticism. C’est la vie. Treat people respectfully, and voila, it is returned to you.
“Voyages en Zigzag” is the working title to my next show, which will be in November 2009 at the Bau-Xi Gallery in Toronto. This time, instead of working from photographs from my travels, I will stay at home (this is the era of a new restraint, n’est-ce pas?) and collect jpegs from friends and acquaintances in my computer’s Inbox. It’s exciting to see a big download coming through the internet line, a good indication that some new, delicious images from someone’s holidays are about to land.
Just received some nice photos from my pals Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, (shameless name-dropping) who have become quite the jet-setters with animation festivals and such. I also have been fortunate to get permission to use the photos of a quantum physicist who posted his delicious images of Russian palaces on Flickr. I love the notion of a guy who deals in particle theory sending me pixels of objects through the World Wide Web, and then me translating them into paint.
The New Year has been a great time to re-evaluate my process, and think about how to optimize my painting time. Number one: re-connecting with the fact that I have always known I prefer painting on the slick, fast surface of wood to rough canvas. So I’m going to shed all my canvas stock–studio sale, coming up!
I’m about to move to a new, bigger, cheaper studio on the east side of Vancouver–yey! Moving is disruptive to the painting process, but a great time to clean out the clutter, streamline my art supplies, and think about the new work I am planning. I anticipate an explosion of new energy once I get set up and painting again, and looking forward to having a dedicated drawing table separate from my painting table so I don’t have to spend energy reconfiguring the room, and I’m plotting to get a comfy couch (from the free site on Craigslist) so I can really rest when I need to take a break. Right now I have a hard, unforgiving chair, and it’s really no fun. Even though I love it, painting is hard work, so I’ve decided I need to make my time in the studio as pleasurable as possible.
Painters today can do anything they want–witness the work of Gerhard Richter, Gillian Carnegie, and Thrush Holmes.We can choose any subject– the banal, the everyday, the ugly, or (gasp!) beautiful images that people might even want to put on their walls. In my painting practice, I aim to convey the pleasures of looking, and, without irony, I propose that optimism is a viable impetus for painting. Hence the name of this blog.