One Week Left: VAL NELSON at VISUALSPACE GALLERY

There’s just one week left to view my solo exhibition at Visualspace Gallery in Vancouver. If you haven’t yet been able to view the show, I hope you can make it! The show closes Saturday, May 7.

I’m so grateful that there was a great turnout at my opening and also my artist talk. So many friendly and enthusiastic friends, art lovers, and former students. Thank you so much for coming!

A sneakpeek virtual tour of the show can be viewed on the gallery’s Instagram page, and the entire collection can be viewed here. A video of my talk is being edited and we will be able to share it with you soon.

Never say never, but these may be the last historic interiors I paint, as new things are percolating in my studio now. 

Visualspace Gallery

3352 Dunbar Street at 17th Ave

Vancouver, BC

604-559-0576

Gallery hours: Tues to Sat, noon to 5 pm

Gallery director: Yukiko Onley

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 7-TheLightofTruth24x30in-email-750x606.jpg

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”

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 Velàsquez. A similar contradictory space and perplexing riddle are present in Velàsquez’ 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 Velàsquez 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.”

Velàsquez, 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 bientôt, Val