Haptic Splendour

For the past 15 years, I’ve painted opulent European 18th and 19th century interiors. Designed as theatrical displays of status and power by wealthy aristocrats and bourgeoisie, these formerly private sites are now museums, providing entertainment and pleasure for touristic consumption, while also opening up a space for philosophical contemplation.

Although I use photography as a structural device through which I enter the painting process, with each piece I always seem to arrive at a point of crisis where I need to break free from the tyranny of the image. Through partly destroying the image I discover fresh solutions to painterly problems I set for myself.

Throughout my childhood and into my mid-twenties, I was a ballet dancer. That intense training of spatial awareness and interpretive questioning is still deeply stamped in my DNA. A painting to me is a kind of choreography; there’s a haptic dance that takes place from my optical experience of an image, through to the way my nervous system signals to my body how to translate and record it. As painter/dancer I tease out meaning through working and reworking, coming up to speed as I gain understanding, and making the last strikes with absolute commitment.

WE ARE A CAMERA at THE BIG DRAW 2016 VANCOUVER

Saturday, OCTOBER 1, 2016

10am – 4pm

Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre | 181 Roundhouse Mews
FREE | No registration required

Join artist Val Nelson to create a spectacular 135-foot long collaborative drawing exploring contour and motion, the individual and the ensemble. Stay for a few minutes or a few hours working with gesture and contour to capture the dynamism of live dancers as they create movement. Participants of all ages and experience are welcome.

A beautiful moment from The Big Draw. For a cool timelapse video, go to this link: https://www.facebook.com/val.nelson.3726/videos/t.590680665/10153674570930666/?type=2&theater

 

 

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Val Nelson has a diverse interdisciplinary arts practice as a dancer and visual artist, film-maker and educator. She was a dancer with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, then majored in Media Arts with Honors at Emily Carr University in 1988. From 1988-2001, she made collaborative dance videos with Holy Body Tattoo, choreographer Anthony Morgan, and Katherine Labelle Dance, that screened worldwide. In 2003 she was shortlisted for the Royal Bank Painting Prize, and from 2003-2016, had eleven solo painting exhibitions in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. In 2012 Val began research on her project I Am  A Camera which “archived” recordings of dance and opera performances through her eyes, nervous system, and hand onto paper. In 2016 she expanded on the project with seven-foot wide drawings, made in collaboration with Kokoro Dance, dumb instrument dance, and Sujit Vaidya. Her drawings were exhibited at the 2016 Vancouver International Dance Festival.


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The Roundhouse is the Vancouver Park board’s only solely dedicated Arts and Culture Community Centre. The historic building is home to a 200 seat black box theatre, a 2500  foot exhibition hall and artist in residence projects in dance, music and the visual arts as well as a full roster of recreation programs

It is also the home of Engine 374, the locomotive that pulled the first passenger train across Canada from coast to coast.


For more information:
Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre
Website | 604.713.1800

I am a camera at Vancouver International Dance Festival

I’m excited to be creating new work from my I am a camera series, for a visual art exhibition at the Vancouver International Dance Festival, alongside dance photography by Chris Randle, and woven willow sculpture by Ken Clarke, March 3-19. The artwork will be displayed in the Roundhouse Exhibition Hall in Yaletown. A number of dance companies participating in the festival have graciously welcomed me into their rehearsal studios to draw them as they prepare for their performances. Seeing them at work is a beautiful thing––the  total commitment to their artform is palpable and so inspiring. I hope you will be able to take in the vast array of wonderful performances to choose from during the festival, scheduled at various venues.

There will also be free noon-hour life drawing sessions every weekday beginning Thursday, March 3 through Friday March 18 at the Roundhouse Exhibition Hall. Practice your drawing skills and let your creativity be inspired by dancers and life models posing in either costumes or plain clothes.

These public sessions, presented in partnership with the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre, are open to all skill levels, are free, and require no pre-registration. Sketching paper, pencils, and other supplies are available for participants to borrow, courtesy of a generous donation by Opus Art Supplies.

Hola Diego and Raoul!

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.

Study of a detail after Velasquez' Equestrian Portrait of Prince Balthasar Carlos, 26 x 20 inches, oil on panel, 2014
Study of a detail after Velasquez’ Equestrian Portrait of Prince Balthasar Carlos, 26 x 20 inches, oil on panel, 2014

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.

Hasta luego!

Val

 

 

 

Drawing in the Dark (Part 2)

Vancouver Opera premiere of Lillian Alling, Act 1

Excerpt from Vancouver Opera’s Blog

The things people do in the dark of a theatre.

Some people sit riveted and try to taking in everything that is happening on stage. Others glance upwards and down as they read the surtitles. And others may close their eyes and simply let the music and singing overtake them.

Not artist Val Nelson.

Val draws the opera when the lights go down. Ever so discretely and imperceptibly that her fellow seatmates do not even know this was happening. Val first came to our attention when she drew at Madama Butterfly last season.

On opening night, she was once again armed with her drawing pen to help us record the world premiere of Lillian Alling.

(read more…)

Drawing in the dark

Last week I went with my husband to see Vancouver Opera‘s production of Madama Butterfly. I wanted to see if I could do some drawings of the production. Since you can’t see what you are doing while sitting in the dark, there is little opportunity to self-edit, and no choice but to be free to make marks, constantly obliterating the actions that have just been carried out, without preciousness. The resulting drawings are records of movement through space and time.

Val Nelson, Madama Butterfly, Act 2, 2010, 8.5 x 11 inches, ink on Stonehenge paper

This way of working reminds me of something I read about Cy Twombly, who reportedly practiced drawing in the dark when he was drafted into the army and worked as a cryptographer in 1953. Having seen “primitive” mark-making in North Africa, he was intent on recovering the directness of the unschooled, unselfconscious artist. One can’t help but also think of the drypoints and drawings of Ann Kipling. This is the kind of drawing that I find very exciting to do, something that retains the essence of a state of mind in focussed absorption.

It’s a drawing party, and you’re invited!

Val Nelson, Dining Room_Sergeev (detail), 2009, graphite and pencil crayon on vellum and stonehenge paper
Val Nelson, Dining Room_Sergeev (detail), 2009, graphite and pencil crayon on vellum and stonehenge paper


Join us July 17 for the official launch of Drawn 2009, Metro Vancouver’s inaugural festival of drawing. Watch and mingle as some of Vancouver’s best emerging and established artists create large-scale drawings right before your eyes, with Thomas Anfield, Davida Kidd, Kavavaow Mannomee, Val Nelson, Christian Nicolay, Justin Ogilvie, Carolyn Stockbridge.

You too are invited to draw live, and celebrate the act of drawing!

Music, canapes, performances, installations and more.

Friday, July 17, 7-11pm
One Alexander St in Gastown, Vancouver
(beneath Chill Winston Restaurant & Lounge)

Tell your friends, and be prepared to mark it up!

RSVP: info@drawnfestival.ca

or 604-685-1934

Cash bar (proceeds benefit the Vancouver Drawing Festival Society)
Curated by Julie Lee


On the Drawn Festival: For three weeks in July and August, Vancouver-area galleries and museums will come together to host an unprecedented series of exhibitions devoted to the medium of drawing. The first celebration of its kind in Canada and possibly the world, this unique multi-venue event will include an exciting program of free lectures, gallery tours, exhibition openings, artist talks, and more.

Don’t miss the art talk by Ann Kipling, who is a huge talent in the little-known world of Canadian drawing, at noon on July 18 at the Douglas Udell Gallery, 1558 West 6th Avenue.

Also on July 18, I will be showing new drawings alongside the wonderful work of Brent Boechler and David Alexander at the Bau-Xi Gallery in Vancouver, 3045 Granville Street, opening 2-4pm. Please join us at 3 pm when we will give a talk about our process.

For more information on other exciting events, click here.