Okay I’m in, I have a new studio! So great to spread out and have a real art-making space once again. Now that I’m sure I am staying in Courtenay I decided it’s time to put down roots. I’m thrilled to share this new bright space with you, a quirky old office building very near downtown. There is a bank of four windows facing east so I get some gorgeous morning light, then it evens out the rest of the day for fantastic painting illumination.
The Courtenay River is a half-block away so I can ride my bike to and from work, and take airy walks to view the ever-changing estuary and observe the bird and rabbit action (yes, rabbits!). Oh and there is a Bean Around the World just five minutes’ walk away for a little social time and great coffee.
Those of you who have signed up for my most recent course please take note of my new address:
#228b-2270 Cliffe at Mansfield Centre in Courtenay. It’s near the Airpark on the main drag before you hit downtown (that is if you are travelling north).
If you think you can’t draw, this course is for you! This jumpstart into drawing expands the student’s ability to perceive and render the world around them. You will be introduced to contour drawing, gesture, mark-making, approaches to basic portraiture and figure drawing without measuring, and more. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know what all of this means!
No experience necessary. 😉 Bring your 2B pencil, and eraser and a stack of inexpensive paper or a sketchbook
Sunday Jan 22, 2021 10am-4pm
Tuition: $90 incl GST E-transfer or cash
Location: Val’s studio in Courtenay, BC (location details upon registration)
I offer private in-person classes, and classes for up to four students at my studio in Courtenay, Vancouver Island. firstname.lastname@example.org!
CURRENT CLASS OFFERINGS: I usually have several group classes on offer, just check the class menu on my homepage.
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! email@example.com
CUSTOM PRIVATE CLASSES for Individuals and couples – Bring a friend, family member, or co-worker! I design 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 in the Class Menu, or let’s chat and come up with a plan.
Classes for two: $160/hr incl GST / Package of 4 hours $350 each incl GST
Group Classes: $400 half-day/ $750 full day ( a half-day is 3 hrs/full day 6 hrs)
Artist talk: $350
Painting Demo: $350
*Cancellation policy: One weeks’ notice is required if you must cancel. Cancellation must be by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or text 778-865-2650. Sorry due to the small class sizes, there are no refunds, however I am happy to credit you toward a future class within a 12-month period.
Instructor Biography: A finalist in the Royal Bank Painting Competition, Val Nelson has exhibited widely across Canada, and has taught painting at the Shadbolt Arts Centre, Emily Carr University, and Vancouver Island School of Art. She has 1800+ students and five-star reviews for her online painting course with Bluprint (formerly Craftsy). Val believes that painting can be fun and challenging, offering a beautiful pathway to self-realisation.
PLEASE NOTE: Although this in-person class was limited to 4 participants and is technically full, I have moved to a larger studio space in Courtenay so I can accommodate a few more people! For enquiries and to register: email@example.com
In this lively weekend workshop, participants will learn how to bring more depth, movement, and dynamic brushwork into their landscape paintings, and strategies for mixing greens. On the second day you will apply the lessons to your own personal project. Nourishing lunches provided by the delightful Kimi Nakamura.
Some painting experience recommended. Oil or acrylic
March 25/26, 10am-4pm
Tuition: $300 includes GST E-transfer or cash
Registration: firstname.lastname@example.org 778-865-2650
Supply List and location provided upon registration.
Cancellation policy: Please provide 7 days’ advance notice if you need to cancel at which point you can receive a credit toward a future class.
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 refresh your studio time beyond the lessons.
Some experience recommended. Oil or acrylic. Supply list provided upon registration.
I’ve been working on a 24 x 30″ canvas of Sans Souci Palace. Sans Souci means “without a care”.
I’m pretty stoked, because I got up at the crack of dawn yesterday and was at the easel by 8am, which was totally awesome.
What made yesterday’s session work? And how can I repeat that?
Hmmmmm, well maybe it’s helpful to look at what does not work? It seems that on days that I check my email before painting, it kind of scrambles the brain and gets me thinking about all the niggling things I feel obliged to do.
The golden rule: Paint first, admin later!
Maybe you painters out there have your “go-to” rituals that get the good stuff going in your studio, like lighting a candle, or a playing a certain song of music.
Here’s what works for me:
Up early after a solid sleep, a quiet breakfast of clean food with an excellent coffee avec oat milk, and while clear-headed, calm, relaxed, remaining playful and curious–
That sweet-spot mode of non-attachment to outcome, focussed like a laser on colour-mixing nuances and paying attention to USING THE RIGHT BRUSH for the job at hand.
ergo: no teeny tiny brushes in the background!
it flattens the space!
and makes things too busy!
and no “trying”!
Kind of a zen thing–“try/not try”.
At the start of a painting session it takes a bit of time to switch into “painting mode”. First I take a few minutes to assess where this piece is at and get a glimmer of understanding of what I need to develop. You have to set some kind of intention, even if it ends up changing. No flailing desperately. Okay, sometimes flinging paint on randomly CAN jumpstart you, just make sure you are relaxed about it!
And through the doing, the brain becomes wordless and judgement-less and something magical starts to happen after I have put on enough wet paint with which to have a conversation. Now we’re in business.
There’s a method that is pretty effective called “Tomato” (it seems to have come out of someone using their kitchen cooking timer which was in the actual shape of a tomato).
I love when I remember to use this handy trick to get some sh*t done on my canvas. Set your timer for 30 minutes, and just go for it. Do not stop and check email. Do not go and eat chocolate. Do not sort your laundry or make phone calls or cut your toenails.
Just paint, already. Only for 30 minutes. You can do that, right?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
And I started another one:
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
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.
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.