CLASSES OVERVIEW

I offer in-person classes at my professional art studio in Courtenay, Vancouver Island. Check the Classes menu above for current offerings.

Intermediate Painting (six sessions with drop-ins when available)

Private and Semi-Private Lessons

Painting for Beginners (six 3-hour sessions)

One-Day Drawing Crash Course

Loosen Up! Painting Weekend

Landscape Painting weekend

Love! Birds! Two hour drawing workshop.

Landscape Painting Weekend
One-Day Drawing Crash Course
Painting for Beginners

On offer are also drawing and painting demos, and art talks. If you have a class idea you would like me to offer you or your art group, let me know.

Feel free to reach out if you would like to learn with me! val@valnelson.ca 778-865-2650

GIFT OF ART Coupon: Do you have a loved one you would like to inspire through gifting them with a class coupon? Email me and we can set that up! val@valnelson.ca

Group Classes: $400 half-day / $750 full day (half-day is 3 hrs/full day 6 hrs)

I offer customized in-person group art sessions for art groups, to nurture corporate and small business staff team-building.

Mentorship/Critique: $120/hr

Artist talk: $350

Painting Demo: $350

*Cancellation policy: Please provide 7 days’ notice if you need to cancel, at which time I will be happy to credit you toward a future class within a year of your class purchase.

About the Instructor: For Val, painting is an act of devotion, offering a profound pathway to self-realisation and transformation. “Pigments have a consciousness. When I paint, I imbue these materials with the focussed energies of my heart, mind, and gestures of my body. In a mysterious process of alchemy, the pigments absorb these energetic frequencies, and project them back out to the viewer. Painting is its own language, beyond words and the limitations of the logical mind.”

A former professional ballet dancer, Val went on to study at Emily Carr University, where she graduated in 1988 with honours and received the Helen Pitt Award. A finalist in the Royal Bank Painting Competition, Val has been painting full-time since 2003, exhibiting for a number of years at Bau-Xi Gallery in Vancouver and Toronto, and Galerie de Bellefeuille in Montreal. She has attended residencies at Vermont Studio Centre and St Georges’ Senior School in Vancouver, and has taught painting at the Shadbolt Arts Centre, Emily Carr University, Vancouver Island School of Art, and since 2009, out of her private painting studio. Her work is in public collections including Canada Council Art Bank, Surrey Art Gallery, Vancouver General Hospital, and many private collections. Val has 1800+ students and five-star reviews for her online painting course with Craftsy.

I’m so looking forward to making art with you!

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 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.

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 bientôt!

Tuscany Painting Retreat Sneak Peek 2017

I’m in the final stages of planning a painting holiday for early June 2017. Here’s a sneak peak of the location––a very old stone farmhouse and a charming converted tobacco drying tower in the Italian countryside, located just outside the little town of Mercatale, halfway between Umbertide and Cortona.

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Students will spend five days of painting and soaking up the beautiful surroundings and bucolic Italian atmosphere.

Monday to Friday, there will be six hours of painting instruction each day–– three hours in the morning, then a break in the middle of the day for free time to explore the surrounding area and adopt the Italian spirit of “dolce far niente” (it’s sweet to do nothing). From 4 to 7pm we will reconvene and paint plein air when the light becomes more and more spectacular. Perfetto, non?

If you’d like to find out more, please send me an email: val@valnelson.ca

ciao, Val

 

 

 

 

Amsterdam!

I’m pretty excited to be skipping town for a week to take in some amazing art and have a little rest. One of my first stops in the museum district will be the Rijksmuseum, where I’m interested to see wonderful portraiture and still life paintings of the old Masters. I’ll also want to check out how they facilitate the #startdrawing program. On Saturday mornings,  museum staff-members encourage visitors to make drawings in order to experience the work differently from the (sadly common) quick photo document snapped with a smartphone.

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The Goldfinch (detail), Carel Fabritius, 13.2 x 9 inches, oil on panel, 1654

Also I’ll take in Rembrandt House,  the Stedilijk, Van Gogh Museum, and hopefully the Mauritshuis in the Hague, where I can see Vermeer’s The Pearl Earring and Fabritius’ delightful The Goldfinch firsthand. I heard also that I must visit the Jordaan district where I can find many contemporary art galleries. Hoping I can find some inspiring contemporary painting.

Naturally I’ll do some goofing off as well, wander along the canals and generally drift. I brought my trusty Moleskine sketchbook in case I’m feeling ambitious. 🙂

 

See you when I return!

cheers, Val

 

 

Talking objects

Below are images of a work shown in progress through to completion, of the Porcelain Dining Room in the Chateau de Versailles. It’s a commission I’ve enjoyed making for a private home near Toronto.  The wide panoramic format was pieced together from individual photographs I took from a trip in France a number of years ago. I remember going through the chateau twice, the second pass offered a satisfying, golden afternoon light. The composition reminds me of the forced perspective one observes on the virtual tours of museum websites.

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Porcelainpanorama in progress
Day 3, Porcelain Panorama (working title), 36 x 72 inches, oil on canvas

Blocking in always begins with big brushes, to locate everything and establish colour family and main values. The next step in the painting is to use smaller brushes and go in for specifics of detail, sharpening edges and creating stronger focal points. I want the viewer to feel immersed in the space, with lots to encourage the eye to keep meandering, discovering new subtleties and maybe even surprises. It’s important to me that a painting unfold for the viewer slowly, to withstand the test of time.

In the final session something happened that wasn’t planned. Here’s the finished piece with its new title, Mantlepiece with Talking Objects (Versailles).

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Mantelpiece with talking objects (Versailles), 36 x 72 inches, oil on canvas, 2016

Working with the warm colors of the parquet flooring, gilding, and marble, really helped energize the gray days of winter.

porcelainpanorama-palette

 

 

January at Bau-Xi Gallery

GALLERY ARTISTS: Washed by Water

January 9-23, 2016
OPENING RECEPTION: SATURDAY JANUARY 9, 2-4PM
ARTISTS IN ATTENDANCE 

3045 Granville St, Vancouver, BC
604.733.7011info@bau-xi.com

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Atom Dance, 30 x 40 inches, oil on canvas, 2015

Bau-Xi Gallery is pleased to present WASHED by Water, a group exhibition centered on the theme of water.

“The water understands Civilization well” famously states Ralph Waldo Emerson in his seminal poem, Water about the independence, transcendence, and spiritual union of water and society in the nineteenth century. An essential life giving element that is as precious a commodity as it is a dangerous and volatile source of destruction, water has an ever more complicated relationship with civilization today. If once, society valued the element for hydration, ablution, regeneration and transportation, water has become an inexplicable source of power rife with political, financial and environmental contention. Never has society better understood the importance of water and simultaneously taken it for granted.

WASHED by Water will explore the metaphorical, environmental, material significance of water and bodies of water as they inform visual culture in the twenty-first century.  Artists will look at the different formations water takes and offer work that comments on their own unique relationship with the element. Special attention will be paid to depicting the aesthetic quality of the element – how to capture its various color, its fluidity and its ability to reflect light.

 

Eastside Culture Crawl

Please join me for the Eastside Culture Crawl, Vancouver’s annual visual arts festival! I will have some new work and works in progress––drop by my studio at #322b-1000 Parker Street and say hello.

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There will be so much art and craft to see, by talented local artists and artisans, opening their studios all over the Eastside neighbourhood. Please visit the Crawl website for maps, previews of artist work, and special events. See you there!

Thursday November 19, 5-10 pm

Friday November 20, 5-10 pm

Saturday November 21, 11-6

Sunday November 22, 11-6

FALL PAINTING CLASSES

Hey everyone, it’s studio time! Due to popular demand, I have a couple of things lined up for October and November. There will be a reprise of my one-day Painting Jumpstart Intensive, so dust off your paint tubes and jump in as we have some fun and push the paint around in a number of different ways. Also Open Studios returns for four sessions for those of you who have projects on the go and want structured time to get them moving forward.

I have a couple of things lined up for October and November. There will be a reprise of my one-day Painting Jumpstart Intensive, so dust off your paint tubes and jump in as we have some fun and push the paint around in a number of different ways. Also Open Studios returns for four sessions for those of you who have projects on the go and want structured time to get them moving forward.

 

PAINTING JUMPSTART ONE-DAY INTENSIVE

This class is full. Please email Val for information on the next one!

Sunday, October 4, 10am-3:30pm

This class will inject new energy into your painting process.  You will be guided through a series of playful painting exercises on paper, which will include mark-making, colour exercises, and observational painting with a twist.

Fee: $80

Location: VAL NELSON STUDIO   #322b-1000 Parker Street

TO REGISTER: An e-transfer is fine, or cheque to my home address will secure your spot.  Two weeks’ notice for cancellation is required, otherwise the fee is non-refundable. If you need to cancel after the two-week window, if I can fill your spot, I will refund you.

Contact: Val Nelson    val@valnelson.ca   778-865-2650

 

OPEN STUDIO

This class is full with a wait-list. Please email Val for information on the next set of classes.

Four Sundays, 2-5pm: October 18 & 25, Nov 1 & 8

Val will guide you as you tackle technical and conceptual concerns in your painting practice. In the company of like-minded painters, you will work on a personal project during the workshop. Each session will begin with a 30-minute painting warm-up exercise on paper.

Fee: $210

Location: VAL NELSON STUDIO   #322b-1000 Parker Street

TO REGISTER:  As space is limited, a $55 deposit is required to secure your spot, with the remaining fee payable upon first day of class.  An e-transfer is fine, or cheque to my home address is good also.  Two weeks’ notice for cancellation is required, otherwise the deposit is non-refundable. If you need to cancel after the two-week window, if I can fill your spot, I will refund you.

Contact: Val Nelson    val@valnelson.ca   778-865-2650

 



LEARN PAINTING with Val ONLINE

I’ve been working with Craftsy, a company in Denver that specializes in interactive classes on cooking and crafting, which is listed among the top 30 start-up companies in America by Forbes, and is watched by 2.5 million viewers. They produced an online tutorial of my “Loosen Up”  class, which you can access anytime, anywhere, and it is now online. Here’s a little story about how it all happened. 🙂

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Some student testimonials on the Craftsy class:

“Val, I loved everything about these lessons. The way you communicated the step by step processes, taking us through from start to finish was easy to follow and clear. The filming was fantastic and the way you talked to us made me feel like I was in the room. You’ve inspired me!
Highly recommend this for any painter wanting to loosen up or just enjoy painting! Thank you.”

“Val Nelson’s experience with painting is a joy to watch and learn. Her approach is encouraging, informative, and she offers a variety of techniques of how to paint more loosely. She shows how painting in a more expressive way is about using the materials in a thoughtful and resourceful manner. I highly recommend this course to any artist who wants to learn how to paint in a more expressive style.”

“This class has revealed so many techniques that I have missing at my level of painting. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I’m self taught so my knowledge of the essential elements of composition, structure, and brush work is weak. This class has been so very valuable to my artistic journey. Thank you, Val Nelson and, once again, Craftsy!”

Here’s a link to my Craftsy class, and make sure you have a look at another class by my friend and awesome oil painter and teacher, Jay Senetchko–– Paint and Palette Essentials.


MORE ABOUT MY CLASSES

I paint full-time, so I teach when my schedule permits. In my studio in Vancouver, I can accommodate up to six students, so there is plenty of one-on-one attention. My classes are usually in six-week blocks (one 3-hour session per week), and sometimes I teach weekend and multi-day intensives. I’m also available as a consultant to aspiring professional artists, as a guest teacher at art-schools and for painting groups, and I occasionally give painting demonstrations.

Group classes at your choice of location: Full day (6-7 hours) $450 Half day (3 hours) $300
For classes outside of Vancouver, travel expenses extra.

Private Consultation/Mentorship: $65/hr

Demonstration/Artist talk:  Honorarium appreciated

Testimonials: Click here if you would like to read about how others feel about my classes.

Email list: If you’d like to be notified of future workshops and classes, or would like to discuss other ways in which we could work together that could be potentially awesome,  please email me : val@valnelson.ca

Itness

Now that the cooler weather of Fall is here, I’m so grateful to be able to get back into the studio and paint paint paint. A little study I made last winter of a scene on my breakfast table has been calling to me. I painted it on an old envelope.

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Val Nelson, V5Y, 4.25 x 6.25 inches, oil on PVA on paper, 2015

The appearance of objects, and their quiet presence or “itness”, has long been something that really gets to me.  I wasn’t sure about this humble image, but after much deliberation I decided there’s something about it I need to pay attention to.

So here’s a painting I made this week:

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Val Nelson, A Room in Mount Pleasant, oil on canvas, 14 x 18 inches, 2015

And I started another one:

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Day One: A Room in Mount Pleasant #2

For the next several months all I want to do is immerse myself in the wordless process of looking,  and recording what I see. I’ve been tussling with a purist notion that I must work only from life; but the practicality of it has not been easy to deal with. The dimensions of my apartment limit me from painting there with an easel; a way around it could have been working very small, but to be honest I get very claustrophobic with all my painting gear cluttering up the place. My home is a sanctuary, where I can rest. So the solution is of course

photography.

This past year of working off and on from life has really helped me. Observing how light changes in a space over time informs how I now see colour, and I realize I have more freedom to mess around with what goes on in the rectangle. At the same time my drawing is getting better.

And my Ipad and Iphone now have those updated apps that have much better options for image correction.

You can see I’ve put grid marks on the canvas above. Having watched Antonio Garcia Lopez paint in the film El Sol del Mebrillo by Victor Erice I realized that within extreme control (measuring), one can then have great freedom (painterly interpretation). But Garcia doesn’t like working from photography. I’m okay with acknowledging I live in the 21st century and can use any technology I want, as did Bonnard, Vuillard, Degas, and those guys who probably used the camera obscura (Vermeer, Caravaggio). However, so far I’m not interested in actually projecting and tracing. I like drawing too much, and I feel like something interesting happens when I get things slightly wrong even though I’m trying to get it right.