SALE EXTENDED: 20% OFF* WINTER ART CLASSES 2022

New for 2022 are a couple shorter lessons that are easier to schedule into busy lives. AND be sure to consider private classes for one or up to three students. Check them out below!

THE COURSES

ACRYLIC PAINTING FOR BEGINNERS: Series of 6 x Three-hour Lessons 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. I cover the block-in, basic color theory, and paint handling: you will walk away with the knowledge and ability to work on your own painting projects beyond the workshop.

No experience necessary.

Sunday mornings 10am-1pm Jan 16, 23, 30, Feb 6, 13, 20

Tuition: $420 incl GST

New! DRAWING BASICS Series of 6 One-hour Lessons If you think you can’t draw, this course is for you! We had some lovely breakthroughs in my recent Weekend Crash Course so I thought I would keep this course going, only in a more bite-sized format that makes scheduling easier. Each session covers two drawing modules that expands the student’s ability to perceive and render the world around them. Includes contour drawing, massing into gesture, mark-making, easy approaches to basic portraiture and figure drawing without measuring, and more. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know what that means!

No experience necessary. Bring your pencil and sketchbook.

Saturdays at 12 pm. Jan 15, 22, 29, Feb 5, 12, 19

Tuition: $145 incl GST

New! LOOSEN UP Painting Tips: Series of 6 x One-hour Lessons. Do you feel a bit stuck in your painting process? Do you yearn to find your own “style” and get out of your own way in the studio so you can have more fun? Part of the solution lies in mindset, and part of it is technical. By working through a series of painterly problems, you will come away with a number of strategies that you can apply to your studio time beyond the lessons.

Some experience recommended. Oil or acrylic. Supply list provided upon registration.

Saturdays 2-3pm. Jan 15, 22, 29, Feb 5, 12, 19

Tuition: $145 incl GST

LANDSCAPE PAINTING WEEKEND Our recent session went so well I am running this again! In this informative workshop, participants will learn how to bring more depth, movement, and dynamic brushwork into their landscape paintings. Effective use of a limited palette, making dynamic compositions, and expanding the range of green mixtures will be covered. Students will execute several landscape studies that help them absorb and retain the lessons that they can apply to their own personal project on the latter half of Day Two.

Some painting experience recommended. Oil or acrylic.

Mar 5 & 6, 10am-4pm

Tuition: $285 incl GST

I’M PLEASED TO ALSO OFFER:

CUSTOM PRIVATE CLASSES for Individuals and up to 3 Students – Bring friends, family, or co-workers! I will designed lessons just for you, based on your needs and your schedule. You get plenty of personal attention in these intimate classes! Choose from some of the lesson ideas above, or let’s chat and come up with a plan.

Privates: $120/hr incl GST / Package of 4 hours $425 incl GST

Classes for two: $160/hr incl GST / Package of 4 hours $330 each incl GST

Classes for three: $180/hr incl GST / Package of 4 hours $275 each incl GST

*20% off sale ends Jan 10, 2022

To register: val@valnelson.ca

SEE MORE CLASS OPTIONS UNDER THE CLASS MENU “ART CLASS PRICING”

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

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Beginnings

I’ve been thinking about when and how the artist emerges in a person. I think it’s probably always there right from the beginning. At least for me that was the case, though I didn’t really know what that was, or what that meant for a long time.

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Girl waiting for a bus and turning, ink sketchbook drawing, 2014

I grew up in the forestry town of Port Alberni, in the middle of rural Vancouver Island on the western edge of Canada. Our town was booming in the early 60’s with an impressive population of around 50,000. Port’s iconic pulp and paper mill smoke stacks anchored the landscape, and spewed steam, smoke, and a sour sulfurous aroma into the air twenty-four hours a day. The mill employed many of our town’s young men fresh out of high school.

You could say my first art studio was the kitchen wall of the tiny bungalow we lived in until I was five years old. At some point I started scribbling on the wall beside the refrigerator pretty much every day; luckily for me, my Mom could see this activity was unstoppable, so she hung big sheets of paper there so I could go at it. There were no art galleries or art museums that I was aware of, and I had next to no art classes in elementary school, unless you call gluing cotton balls onto a pre-drawn image of a flower art.

Maybe once or twice a year we had Mrs. Mottel as a substitute teacher. Even though she was pretty strict and we were all kind of scared of her, I loved it when Mrs. Mottel showed up, because in the afternoon she would turn our classroom into an art room and we would make a copy of an image she showed us how to paint, like a sailboat on a lake, or a cluster of totem poles, and she introduced us to rudimentary composition and really basic colour theory. She also taught us proper penmanship, had a Scottish accent, and insisted we roll our R’s when pronouncing the word “squirrel” which, when we tried it, sounded more like “squiddle”.

 

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Boy studying, oil on cardboard, approx 9 x 12 inches, 2011

The closest thing to fine art I remember being exposed to were reproductions of Picasso drawings and paintings you could order from an ad in Life magazine. I sensed that Modern Art had something to do with Spain–everyone at that time was decorating their homes in Spanish iron grillwork, hot orange upholstery, and oil paintings of bullfighters on black velvet, which I thought were really classy.

I was diagnosed with myopia in grade four. Arriving home wearing the exciting new technology (for me) of eyeglasses, I opened the car door and was entranced by the clarity of the gravel rocks in the driveway. For a while I didn’t move from the front seat of the car, I just kept staring at the ground, its appearance was so electrifying. I also recall a summer afternoon spent hanging out on the gravel pathway of my Grandma Connie’s garden, determined to colour every individual rock with wax crayon. Needless to say it was a failed project.

My Mom’s mother was known as “Big Connie” because one of her nieces, my cousin, had the same first name and was of course dubbed “Little Connie”. Big Connie was not actually very big, she was small in stature but had a large personality––opinionated, feisty, but with a good sense of humour if you got on her good side.

My sister and I spent Saturday afternoons and sometimes overnight with her, to give our parents a break. I loved being there because we got to drink tea like grownups (we called ourselves “tea-grannies”), and Big Connie was an artist. She introduced me to oil painting when I was eleven; with her help I painted an image of mushrooms grouped under the shadow of a tree, copied from a “How to Paint” book.  A self-taught painter of floral still-lifes and seascapes, when Big Connie had an exhibition of her work at the local community centre in town, she included my clumsy little painting along with hers. It wasn’t until many years later as an adult that I touched oil paint again; I wish she was still here now so we could talk about it.

Master Paintings of Christmas

These iconic painted images continue to resonate centuries later, due not only to their subject-matter but also for their formal and aesthetic appeal. Excerpted  from The Guardian, Culture.

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Caspar David Friedrich, Winter Landscape, 1811

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Giotto, Nativity, 1303-1305

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Leonardo da Vinci, The Adoration of the Magi, 1482

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Claude Monet, Snow Scene at Argenteuil, 1875

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Peiter Breughel the Elder, Hunters in the Snow, 1565

 

A Passion for Design

Ainslie CyopicIn the 1990’s, when I was a dance videographer, I first knew Ainslie Cyopik as a sought-after dancer in Vancouver. A number of years later, I witnessed her retirement from professional dance and her beginnings as she started a small business designing dancewear.

dancers in AinsliewearHer success has been phenomenal, and her optimism and passion for what she does is a bit contagious when you meet her. The driving force behind AinslieWear, she has bridged the gap from professional dancer to professional designer. Having spent 15 years dancing with companies such the National Ballet of Canada and Ballet British Columbia, she often found the dancewear available didn’t quite fit right or meet the needs of long rehearsal days. Instead of “just making do”, she created a line of dancewear for herself with all the qualities she was looking for. Over the years, her reputation grew as a designer of dancewear clothing that not only looked great on, but was also made with a personal understanding of a dancer’s needs.

AW102A-Square-neck-velvet-frontCarrying on her love for the art of dance and a true passion for the grace of its practitioners, Ainslie started a business focusing on her design and development of dancewear on a full-time basis in 1997. Today, AinslieWear bodysuits, known for their exceptional quality and fabulous fit, are worn by leading dancers and students alike, from Paris to Tokyo.

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At left  is Ainslie photographed in her first costume she made for herself at ballet school in her late teens. “I used two gorgeous dusty mauve shades of fabric and it flowed so well when I danced. I even kept a little piece of the fabric.”

More about Ainslie’s wonderful designs are on her website.

There is beauty in the world. -Macy Gray

Macy Gray, on a CBC radio interview yesterday with Jian Gomeshi, stated that she doesn’t pay attention to the numbers. She commented that as soon as producers focussed on marketing to teenagers, the music industry started to suffer. Gray, now in her forties, feels that there is plenty to say with her music to people who are a little older. In order to be true to her own voice, she “went back to basics” to produce her new record, “The Sellout”; the basics for her means making great music. This video is proof that she is onto something. Thank you, Macy Gray.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qX7ZsxD3Ik]

Chris Charlebois: Finding structure and rhythm in nature

Chris Charlebois, Slow Current II, oil on canvas, 42 x 42 inches, 2009
Chris Charlebois, Slow Current II, oil on canvas, 42 x 42 inches, 2009

Born in 1952 in Arvida, Quebec, Chris Charlebois has spent most of his life in British Columbia. He attended the Vancouver School of Art and his painting instructors were Don Jarvis and Bruce Boyd. Since then his work has been collected by numerous private and corporate collectors.

Charlebois is very active in the local art community, and has successfully participated in many live art auctions. Chris also teaches art at the Steveston Village Phoenix Art Workshops.

Inspired by the west coast environment his work is evolving into a kind of nature- based abstraction. Charlebois believes that his work must be an honest investigation and at times uses a sketch or photo only as a brief reference. But the original impression in the mind’s eye is always more truthful.

He seeks the beauty in nature that is constant and found everywhere, even in a clump of grass by the roadside or a nondescript bush near a ditch. Charlebois says there seems to be a point of departure where the painting ceases to be simply a copy of the subject but takes on a meaning and importance as itself. ” I cannot compete with nature, but I can attempt to add to it.”

” My goal as a painter has always been to simply express. Nature is the source of that expression. I look for the gesture in nature. It is this dominant line of movement and structure that all the elements in a painting will be built upon. By taking apart (abstracting) the components of the subject, then rebuilding making systematic logical choices a result of clear expression can be attained.”

“From nature I find direction. Colours and lines seen or felt, are expressed as infinite notes, harmonies, patterns and rhythms. From these references my paintings are formed.”

Chris Charlebois: New Works

SEPTEMBER 16 – 30, 2009, Kurbatoff Art Gallery, 2427 Granville Street,
Vancouver B. C

OPENING NIGHT WITH THE ARTIST IN ATTENDANCE ~

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, FROM 5:30 TO 8:00 pm.