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Reminiscing on the Seeds of an Art Practice

When I lived in Colorado, I took courses and did drop-in life drawing sessions on a weekly basis at what is now the Cottonwood Center for the Arts. At that time it was founded and run by Sparky Lebold, who is a charismatic and talented artist. It was by chance that I started at Cottonwood, by finding a posting for courses in the mail room at the condo complex where I lived. I remember well the first night of a drawing course. The studio was in a small 2 story old brick building just a 5 minute drive away from home. As soon as I opened the door of the studio and began the climb up to the second story studio, I smelled the wonderful aroma of oil paint and a familar feeling of both comfort and excitement came over me. Ah boy, I hadn’t made art for quite a while (8 years!) as I focused on my career and I was looking for a little culture in my new home, having moved from Utah shortly before.

I was new to the group and nervous about that as well as about the challenge of drawing after such a long dry-spell. I looked around to get my bearings and determined that I needed to find a space among the other easels and horse benches. The first session was unremarkable as I found my bearings again but my skills returned slowly as the course progressed. I remember Sparky remarking that I kept getting so much better with every session. I wasn’t learning to draw, I was stretching familiar old muscles!

That first session led to years of mostly dropping in to life drawing sessions. I fell back in love with drawing. And I got to know a man whose work, character and passion for being an artist was incredibly inspiring to me. Sparky lived his love of art making and I was certainly jealous of that commitment. I didn’t have the courage to take that leap of faith and the financial choice, to quit my day job. I still don’t. However… as retirement nears, I imagine a time when I can just paint. Andrew and I will likely move up island (Vancouver island, that is) to retire to a smaller community and we intend to choose a town where there is a vibrant arts community. Perhaps we will open our own little studio/gallery. Perhaps the spare bedroom will simply be our studio. Either way, I will paint!

And lately I’ve been exploring the joy of painting pets. The seed that inspired that decision will be the topic of my next post. Another seed planted by Sparky. I owe him a lot. And I miss his passion for art and life. I know he’s still painting, which pleases me very much.

Painting of two cats
Sisters, oil on paper, 15″ x 22″
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COVID-creations

Andrew and I were scheduled to have a 2-person show this summer. What with the COVID situation, the show was cancelled and yet… we still have all that work in our studio! I’ll show you what’s been happening on my side of the studio over the past year or so, below. Larger versions of this work can be found in Nature Work and Landscapes.

I’ve made progress on finding a surface that really works for me (Arches oil painting paper) and have started seeing a personal style develop. This is something most artists strive for and I’m very happy to see it and to push myself to keep on track with it.

All work is for sale (unless indicated). Please email Faye if you are interested.

Small Birds of BC – Series 1

View larger images in Nature Work.

Small Birds of BC – Series 2

View larger images in Nature Work.

The Mean One

Studio landscapes

A closer and more abstract view of the landscape and light we see in the forests here in BC. Working with colour and visual texture.
One of my favourites because of the contrasting light and balance of structural and organic details.
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Size Matters

My last post was a while ago but it’s interesting that it ends off saying that I wanted to paint bigger… because I’m painting bigger now! Well, sometimes. Painting en plein air with a large panel is difficult because you turn into a human kite. So mostly I’m bigger in the studio. I have been working on a few low tide scenes. All that variation in colour and texture is so fun to play with, it allows me to add more colour and use the palette knife on the more hard-edged stones and the depth of field helps me to work on composition – drawing the viewer’s eye into the scene. It’s all just huge fun.

Here’s a piece in progress (below). I believe I have just a bit more work to do – on the upper left side rocks. Since it’s so big, it has taken several long studio sessions and as I am back at work after vacation now, even more 1 hour sessions after work. I’m using a solvent-free medium rather than linseed oil to loosen the paint and it creates the ability for me to use transparent layers of colour. Very nice. However, if you use too much of it, the medium won’t layer on top of itself anymore – it just pools. Live and learn, people. Live and learn.

The Sidney Fine Arts Show is being adjudicated right now so we’ll see if either my work or Andrew’s is accepted. Hopefully both!