For the first time at the Culture Crawl I’m offering a limited edition print of one of my paintings, Rush Hour. There will be only 10 in the edition, 10 x 10 inches on archival paper with archival inks. A framed sample beautifully put together by Fine Art Framing will be on display in my studio. I will be taking orders for this and a few other limited editions also available at a price point that allows for affordable gift-giving, for a loved one, or for yourself!
Also available: A 50-page book of select paintings from twelve years of my Tourist series.
As well you will find six new paintings, and a drypoint print, Syon House Interior that I recently re-discovered in my print portfolio, along with some framed 7 x 7 inch 3-colour pencil crayon drawings.
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.
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.
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).
Working with the warm colors of the parquet flooring, gilding, and marble, really helped energize the gray days of winter.
I’m really enjoying the possibilities of rococco and baroque interiors again. The over-the-top opulence of these spaces allows me to not feel too precious about their forms, so I can play freely with mark-making and a combination of drawing/painting that is so directly connected to the way I draw.
Actually this is French Empire style–from Napoleon’s country home just outside of Paris.
I’m working on a few interim pieces before I take a summer break–two weeks in LA and San Francisco, to visit friends and look around. I always love to go the the museums and galleries and see what’s going on. Looking at great art really refuels my inspiration.
Last week I did a demo for my painter friends Sylvia and Arlene. They wanted to see how I start a painting.
I start with the general (the big shapes) and try to get the colour-world and values more or less established within the first couple of hours. I love this first step, from nothing to… hopefully something.
On subsequent sessions I move slowly toward the particular, (the details.) But I hold back a while and sneak up on them. Getting too detailed too soon tends to lock in the image and give me nowhere to move to. So I like to leave lots of options available at first.
Working from photography is a little dull these days. What I seem to need to do right now is paint what’s in front of me. The underpainting for the piece below was a failed experiment in acrylic from the summer of 2011, which lay dormant in the storage rack all this time. If it’s dry by tomorrow, it will be off to the Toronto International Art Fair. You may see it at the Bau-Xi Gallery booth on the Preview Night, October 25.
The piece below was inspired by 19th century Berlin artist Adolph Menzel’s drawing of a bookcase I sawin my excellent Michael Fried book on the artist.
Inspired by the paintings and drawings of hands and feet by Adolph von Menzel I saw recently in Berlin, I decided to do one myself. A fascinating study of those weird appendages we may not really think about much in our day to day busy-ness. The longer you look the more strange and wondrous they appear.
Had the best day and am feeling so happy–life drawing in the morning at the wonderful Basic Inquiry studio, then massage and chiropractor (because I’m all twisted up from painting so much), then to the art supply store to see about buying some Winsor and Newton water-mixable oil colors.
I’ve been curious about these paints, and like the idea of not working with solvents. Having materials that are more safe and portable for working with at home and potentially plein air is an attractive option.
When I got home I tried them out by making a quick portrait of my husband. Underneath the painting is the beginning of a drawing I started in Vermont but aborted; I’m glad it has a new life.
This life-drawing/painting thing is thrilling. I’ve missed it.
At the moment I have three bodies of work on the go: studies from life; “Divided Attention” paintings; and more direct paintings from my travels, some of which will be in my upcoming exhibition at Galerie de Bellefeuille, June 30-July 10, 2012.
Working from life again is super exciting. I haven’t done a self-portrait in ten years, and this time the experience was altogether different. I’m interested in getting at a fairly raw, short-hand quality, an economy of means. I may look stern (from extreme concentration), but I’m actually having a blast.