Please join me for the Eastside Culture Crawl, Vancouver’s annual visual arts festival! I will have some new work and works in progress––drop by my studio at #322b-1000 Parker Street and say hello.
There will be so much art and craft to see, by talented local artists and artisans, opening their studios all over the Eastside neighbourhood. Please visit the Crawl website for maps, previews of artist work, and special events. See you there!
Thursday November 19, 5-10 pm
Friday November 20, 5-10 pm
Saturday November 21, 11-6
Sunday November 22, 11-6
This class will inject new energy into your painting process. You will be guided through a series of playful painting exercises on paper, which will include mark-making, colour exercises, and observational painting with a twist.
Location: VAL NELSON STUDIO #322b-1000 Parker Street
TO REGISTER: An e-transfer is fine, or cheque to my home address will secure your spot. Two weeks’ notice for cancellation is required, otherwise the fee is non-refundable. If you need to cancel after the two-week window, if I can fill your spot, I will refund you.
Contact: Val Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org 778-865-2650
Val will guide you as you tackle technical and conceptual concerns in your painting practice. In the company of like-minded painters, you will work on a personal project during the workshop. Each session will begin with a 30-minute painting warm-up exercise on paper.
Location: VAL NELSON STUDIO #322b-1000 Parker Street
TO REGISTER: As space is limited, a $55 deposit is required to secure your spot, with the remaining fee payable upon first day of class. An e-transfer is fine, or cheque to my home address is good also. Two weeks’ notice for cancellation is required, otherwise the deposit is non-refundable. If you need to cancel after the two-week window, if I can fill your spot, I will refund you.
Contact: Val Nelson email@example.com 778-865-2650
I’ve been working with Craftsy, a company in Denver that specializes in interactive classes on cooking and crafting, which is listed among the top 30 start-up companies in America by Forbes, and is watched by 2.5 million viewers. They produced an online tutorial of my “Loosen Up” class, which you can access anytime, anywhere, and it is now online. Here’s a little story about how it all happened. 🙂
Some student testimonials on the Craftsy class:
“Val, I loved everything about these lessons. The way you communicated the step by step processes, taking us through from start to finish was easy to follow and clear. The filming was fantastic and the way you talked to us made me feel like I was in the room. You’ve inspired me!
Highly recommend this for any painter wanting to loosen up or just enjoy painting! Thank you.”
“Val Nelson’s experience with painting is a joy to watch and learn. Her approach is encouraging, informative, and she offers a variety of techniques of how to paint more loosely. She shows how painting in a more expressive way is about using the materials in a thoughtful and resourceful manner. I highly recommend this course to any artist who wants to learn how to paint in a more expressive style.”
“This class has revealed so many techniques that I have missing at my level of painting. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I’m self taught so my knowledge of the essential elements of composition, structure, and brush work is weak. This class has been so very valuable to my artistic journey. Thank you, Val Nelson and, once again, Craftsy!”
I paint full-time, so I teach when my schedule permits. In my studio in Vancouver, I can accommodate up to six students, so there is plenty of one-on-one attention. My classes are usually in six-week blocks (one 3-hour session per week), and sometimes I teach weekend and multi-day intensives. I’m also available as a consultant to aspiring professional artists, as a guest teacher at art-schools and for painting groups, and I occasionally give painting demonstrations.
Group classes at your choice of location: Full day (6-7 hours) $450 Half day (3 hours) $300
For classes outside of Vancouver, travel expenses extra.
Private Consultation/Mentorship: $65/hr
Demonstration/Artist talk: Honorarium appreciated
Testimonials: Click here if you would like to read about how others feel about my classes.
Since returning home to Vancouver from Spain (which I’ll cover in another blogpost), I got back to my exploration of painting and drawing from direct observation, this time at i.e. creative, the workshop/studio on Granville Island of an art school alumni friend, Cheryl Hamilton. She and her business partner, Michael Vandermeer, make public art, and I’ve always enjoyed their witty kinetic sculptures they made for the entrances to Science World and Ocean Concrete, which to me are like large-scale drawings in space.
When I asked Cheryl if I could hang out in their studio to make a painting of their activities, she and Mike were completely trusting and supportive of the idea, and welcomed me to stay for as long as I needed to make my work.
My first visit was for scouting and planning where to put myself and my easel. After making a quick sketch I could see that the best painting place was at the back of the shop. It was a good vantage point from which I could take in activity around a large steel pole that thrust back toward the front windows, and I could paint there while not interfering much with the studio’s operations.
I really love this angle, but I couldn’t physically fit in the easel, painting gear, and my body at this exact spot. So I opted for a shift three feet to the right, where I could show more of the space, and include the bright light from the windows.
i.e. creative always has several projects on the go. During my painting sessions, Cheryl and Mike were in and out of the workspace, sometimes meeting at the big table in the shop, sometimes upstairs in the office; they planned project logistics, met with clients, wielded power tools and prepped materials for casting, mentored Emily Carr University students, and fielded questions from visiting tourists. Somehow throughout their busy days they also managed to fit in polishing and welding jobs for a metal parts foundry, and grab some friendly conversation with their Granville Island artisan neighbours who occasionally dropped by.
Meanwhile, the polishing of four long steel poles for a large-scale artwork in Steveston was among the works in progress. Jeff, the studio assistant, walked slowly forward and back along the first pole which was resting horizontally on supports. All day long, there was pressure on his right arm as he worked the handheld electric Makita polishing tool. Beneath his construction earmuffs he wore earbuds so he could listen to his Ipod, and over his face, a respirator and goggles (it’s not a good idea to breathe in steel particles). In my conversation with Jeff about the intense physicality of the task, he likened his body to a lobster, with one outsized claw.
My painting came together quickly, as I wanted to treat it much like a drawing with lots of white space.
One morning I arrived to find the artists out in the alley with a finished pole, treating its surface and washing it down. Its surface shone like a mirror. “How long will you be working on this?” I asked them. “About an hour,” Cheryl said. I quickly grabbed a large sheet of paper from my portfolio and some pencil crayons to draw gestures of the activity as they finished the cleaning process and wrapped the gleaming pole with layers of plastic sheeting for storage.
During one of their breaks Jeff and Cheryl were having a friendly chat about cooking, which seemed to be a regular topic of conversation in the studio. Jeff quoted a famous television chef who said “You don’t really know how to make something until you’ve done it one hundred times.”
On my sixth day, the painting felt near completion, so it was nice to have a little quiet time for contemplation to understand the last moves to make. The transitory feel of a sketch that I was aiming for called for a light touch. I brought in the ghost of a doorway and subtle outline of Cheryl seated at the table on the left-hand side. Full rendering of everything would have felt like overcooking this piece.
Cheryl said I was welcome to come back anytime if I need to do more work there. What I find myself reflecting on is how art and life at ie creative could flow so seamlessly in such a graceful way.
The past two weeks have been super interesting. I’ve been making a painting on-site in my local art store, Opus, on Granville Island. The staff there have been great in welcoming me as I test out painting live in a public space, to learn how the experience might affect my painting practice. Standing on a platform in the paper and sketch-book section affords me a high-angle view of the space, where I can get a bit of distance and a dynamic perspective of the aisles and shelving.
What interests me about this part of the store are the rhythmic patterns of different colored papers as they recede in space, and the wonderful childrens’ paintings hanging on the back wall below the managers’ office windows. I always find it interesting making paintings of paintings.
For quite some time now I’ve been wanting to act on the strong compulsion to be in the world as I render it; in contrast to the isolation of the studio and working from the flattened image of a photograph, I’m finding the immediacy of painting from direct observation to be incredibly energizing and challenging. And I’ve always loved a challenge!
The occasional conversations with interested passers-by is a welcome break from the focused intensity required to do the work outside of my comfort zone; and the happenstance chats with Opus staff throughout the day have enriched the experience––most of the people working there are artists themselves, so it’s lovely to hear a bit about their backgrounds, and share conversation about creativity, the value of time, some nuggets about the history of Granville Island, and how this month’s friendly goal-setting challenge of “28 days of art practice” has been helpful in encouraging them to draw or make something every day. The wall at the entrance to the store is gradually filling up with wonderful little drawings made over the past two weeks.
This new way of working has been a bit of a learning curve: the first week I painted four days in a row, then worked on another project and did some teaching on the weekend. The second week I painted three days, and by the fourth day I realized how challenging this process has been on my energies.
The heightened stimulation of this new painting situation, which in a way is a kind of performance, means I have to monitor how it’s affecting my physical well-being. On Wednesday night I slept twelve hours, and I then took it easy Thursday. I visited the store only in the afternoon to show the painting to a couple of artist friends, but didn’t paint that day. I’m learning that the time between painting is important, to recharge, think about the work and where it’s going, and what might come next.
Hello fellow Painters,
I’ve had several requests for workshops so I will be doing a block of three Open Studio classes in August on Saturday mornings. This will be a great opportunity to bring in projects you have been working on for feedback and assistance, or start something new. As usual we will be doing a painting warm-up at the beginning of each class, to get that paint flying and help shift you quickly into creativity mode.
You’ll see that there will be a break partway through the month as I will be giving a free demo at Opus Art Supplies, “Painting Space with Oil Paint” on Granville Island on Saturday August 23 from 2-4 pm. So mark your calendars for that as well!
Talented Canadian painter Kristine Moran has made a huge leap forward with her recent work. Fluid, fearless, and gorgeous, her canvases flow in a seemingly effortless stream of painterly virtuosity and keen observance of contemporary life.
Her paintings represent “the grit and rawness that bubbles just below the surface of society, that which exists among all of us but is seldom acknowledged.”
A recipient of numerous awards, Kristine is a recent MFA graduate of Hunter College, and is currently enjoying the benefits of the Mary Walsh Sharp Foundation studio space prize in New York City.
She is represented by Nichelle Beauchene Gallery.
Things are more or less in place in the new studio, and I finally got back to painting this week. Opening up my box of brushes was like an emotional reunion with old friends. As it’s been several weeks since I’ve painted, I decided a low-stress way to get back into things would be to touch up some pieces I had started in January.
I’m on the third floor of a one-hundred year old building that used to be a mattress factory. It’s filled with the bustle of artists, designers, and craftspeople in an industrial neighbourhood with warehouses, other artist enclaves, and an auction house nearby.
Not too many cafés close at hand, but there’s a gelateria and a quaint neighbourhood grocery store/bakery not far away. Meanwhile I’ve inherited a toaster oven and invested in an electric kettle, so can save money and precious time by eating in most days. It’s getting very comfy–which is good for being really productive. The only downside is I may not want to go home at the end of the day!
Learning to drywall has been interesting, but let’s get to the art part already! It’s taken me three weeks to tear down my studio and set up the new one, and I’m worried I will soon have forgotten how to paint.
Monday: paint all the walls white.
Tuesday: mop up the dust, open up my beloved art supplies, and begin the shift back into painting mode. A big part of painting is the time spent thinking about them.
I’ve also been pondering furnishings. Now that there’s the space for it, I can have more fun decorating! I’d love to have a chandelier like the one at left found at Hampstead Village Guesthouse in London, but items like these are rather scarce in Vancouver, and likely way beyond my price range. Meanwhile, across the hall from me, Eszter Burghardt let me sit in her comfy Ikea chair. Only fifty bucks, and great for taking a break from hours of standing.
Pictures will be coming soon of my new studio.
The New Year has been a great time to re-evaluate my process, and think about how to optimize my painting time. Number one: re-connecting with the fact that I have always known I prefer painting on the slick, fast surface of wood to rough canvas. So I’m going to shed all my canvas stock–studio sale, coming up!
I’m about to move to a new, bigger, cheaper studio on the east side of Vancouver–yey! Moving is disruptive to the painting process, but a great time to clean out the clutter, streamline my art supplies, and think about the new work I am planning. I anticipate an explosion of new energy once I get set up and painting again, and looking forward to having a dedicated drawing table separate from my painting table so I don’t have to spend energy reconfiguring the room, and I’m plotting to get a comfy couch (from the free site on Craigslist) so I can really rest when I need to take a break. Right now I have a hard, unforgiving chair, and it’s really no fun. Even though I love it, painting is hard work, so I’ve decided I need to make my time in the studio as pleasurable as possible.