SUNDAY OPEN PAINTING STUDIO Val Nelson Studio: September 27 @ 10am-4pm

This Class is Full. Please contact me for information on future in-person and online workshops.

This six hour session will be an expanded format for those familiar with Val’s 3-hour sessions. The day will begin with an extended painting warmup from life, using as your subject objects you bring that you would like to paint. Val will give a demo and some painting tips, and you will have more time than in previous sessions to devote to your still-life warm-up study.

In the afternoon students will work on resolving personal painting projects they already have on the go with feedback and guidance from the instructor. Students are also welcome to begin a new project.

Oil or acrylic. Some painting experience recommended.

$175 (includes GST)*

Supply list provided upon registration: val@valnelson.ca 778-865-2650

LOCATION has changed. I will be offering small class sizes of 4 people in my studio space at #322b-1000 Parker Street. Please be mindful and considerate of social distancing. Face-coverings are not mandatory, however please bring your own face covering and gloves to use at your discretion.

TO REGISTER: val@valnelson.ca

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.

ValNelson-girl-waiting-for-a-bus-and-turning
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”.

 

ValNelson-Boy-studying-2011
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.

Neil Gaiman: Make Good Art

This seems to be the week of excellent tips from friends on inspiring videos. Interesting that both of the ones I am posting are of fellows from the UK.

Recently writer Neil Gaiman was invited to address the University of the Arts Class of 2012. It’s incredibly inspiring for anyone who needs encouragement to keep on making art. Watch this.

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]

Fred Astaire on making it work

According to Hollywood legend, a screen test report on Fred Astaire for RKO Pictures, now lost along with the test, is reported to have read: “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little.”

Whether or not the story is accurate,  David O. Selznick, who had signed Astaire to RKO and commissioned the test, stated in a memo “I am uncertain about the man, but I feel, in spite of his enormous ears and bad chin line, that his charm is so tremendous that it comes through even on this wretched test.”

Through hardwork and extreme dedication Astaire managed to make it all look easy. The rest, as we know, is history. Below is a brief moment from Fred’s stellar career.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTN-NPtNOHU&feature=related]

Fred Astaire on making it work

According to Hollywood legend, a screen test report on Fred Astaire for RKO Pictures, now lost along with the test, is reported to have read: “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little.”

Whether or not the story is accurate,  David O. Selznick, who had signed Astaire to RKO and commissioned the test, stated in a memo “I am uncertain about the man, but I feel, in spite of his enormous ears and bad chin line, that his charm is so tremendous that it comes through even on this wretched test.”

Through hardwork and extreme dedication Astaire managed to make it all look easy. The rest, as we know, is history. Below is a brief moment from Fred’s stellar career.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTN-NPtNOHU&feature=related]

The Pleasures of Art

In these difficult times, looking at and making art can help us get back in touch with the best things that humans are capable of–– a sense of play, a sense of excitement in the creative act.

The following excerpt,  from David Hockney’s book, That’s the Way I See It, reveals the artist’s philosophy on viewing and making art:

I have always believed that art should be a deep pleasure. I think there is a contradiction in an art of total despair, because the very fact that the art is made seems to contradict despair. It means at least that you are trying to communicate what you feel to somebody else and the very fact that you can communicate it takes away a little of the despair. Art has this contradiction built into it. All one has to do is look at its history.

A few years ago at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York there was a show of Fragonard. He is an artist who has been thought sometimes to be much too pleasurable, much too playful, much too sweet to be serious, and certainly in the early nineteenth century that’s how he was dismissed. It was only the Goncourt brothers who started looking seriously at his paintings and buying them.

Today we see him differently. To me Fragonard is a wonderful artist. I think you can’t have art without play; Picasso always understood that. I think you can’t have much human activity of any kind without a sense of playfulness. Someone once criticized my work, saying it was too playful. I said, That’s hardly a criticism at all, that’s a compliment. I do see it as a compliment because I believe that without a sense of play there’s not much curiosity either; even a scientist has a sense of play. And that allows for surprises, the unexpected, discoveries. Anybody who gets good at it knows that. You can use it. I use it. People tend to forget that play is serious, but I know that of course it is. Some people have got the idea that if it’s boring it’s art and if it’s not boring it’s not art. Well, I’ve always thought it was the other way round. If it’s boring, more than likely it’s not art, if it’s exciting, thrilling, more than likely it is. I don’t know of any good art that’s boring, in music, poetry or painting. Isn’t that why Shakespeare is so exciting?

You can find more information on David Hockney on the Artsy website.

Text excerpt from That’s the Way I See It, page 133 © David Hockney

Half-empty, or half-full?

 

Half-empty, or half-full?
Photo: Derek Jensen

Fed up with the doom and gloom about the recession, global warming, and rising terrorism? Since they probably aren’t going to go away, perhaps you should read  The Optimist, a new book by Laurence Shorter.  Over three years, he spent time finding people who make the best of their time on the planet, including Richard Branson, Mick Jagger, and Desmond Tutu.

200px-leibniz_2313
Leibniz

In his research, he discovered that “optimism” is actually misrepresented. A word coined by 17th century philosopher Leibniz, its original meaning was actually “optimal”, to signify the perfection of the universe as it is now–in other words, being in the moment, and deciding to accept things as they really are.  

Interestingly,”Martin Seligman, in researching this area, criticises academics for focusing too much on causes for pessimism and not enough on optimism. He states that in the last three decades of the 20th century journals published 46,000 psychological papers on depression and only 400 on joy.” (Wikipedia).

Interesting, n’est-ce pas?