Optimistic Pursuits has moved!

valnelson-view-from-notre-dame-in-pink-green-and-grey-website
View from Notre Dame in Pink, Green, and Grey

If you enjoy my posts, I’ve now amalgamated this blog into my website. So come on over and follow me here. If you want to be part of my newsletter list, please then click on CONTACT and follow the prompts. Thanks so much for being part of my painting adventures!

Embracing Technology

Hamburger Bahnhof 1
Val Nelson, Hamburger Bahnhof 1, 45 x 60 inches, oil on panel, 2012-2013

In my  September 2012 post on my “In the Studio” page, I bemoaned my boredom with photography as a source for my paintings. Well since then things have changed quite a bit. While photography has limitations, I am once again finding it very freeing, in different ways from working from life. The paintings that “just happen” very quickly are ones that I sometimes prize; but there are also the larger works that emerge slowly, and are an accumulation of “hits” and “misses” that are moves toward the final goal of an image that registers for me something that I hope to call Painting.

The layering of glazes can subtly alter the surface and create nuances of painterly depth that a “premier coup” painting might not. Each approach is just different, neither better nor worse than the other.

There’s also what technology can bring to the process–I’m fairly sure if Velaszquez or Vermeer were here today they would most likely be taking advantage of today’s photography post-production software in conjunction with their painting.

Along with working from reproductions of reality printed on paper or found on my computer screen, I also have been really benefiting from some life drawing and painting in the past while. It’s feeling good to do it all–– it just makes the work richer and I think more informed.

Today we needn’t be And/Or but can easily say yes to Both.

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…)

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.

A new studio

 

Val Nelson's new studio, looking north
Val Nelson's new studio, looking north

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.

Val Nelson's new studio, looking west
Looking west

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!

If I don’t paint soon, I’ll go mad!

 

 

Val Nelson, Guesthouse, 2007
Val Nelson, Guesthouse, 2007

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.

 

Pello armchair
Pello armchair

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.

Thinking about new paintings

royalmail“Voyages en Zigzag” is the working title to my next show, which will be in November 2009 at the Bau-Xi Gallery in Toronto. This time, instead of working from photographs from my travels, I will stay at home (this is the era of a new restraint, n’est-ce pas?) and collect jpegs from friends and acquaintances in my computer’s Inbox. It’s exciting to see a big download coming through the internet line, a good indication that some new, delicious images from someone’s holidays are about to land.

Just received some nice photos from my pals Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, (shameless name-dropping) who have become quite the jet-setters with animation festivals and such. I also have been fortunate to get permission to use the photos of a quantum physicist who posted his delicious images of Russian palaces on Flickr. I love the notion of a guy who deals in particle theory sending me pixels of objects through the World Wide Web, and then me translating them into paint.