It has been a month or so since I posted here. And a month or so since I was in front of the easel. I did make a couple short-lived attempts and we went plein air painting last Saturday. It has been a forced hiatus due to a death in the family. Life interrupts life sometimes.
And now that I am back it is that time of year to start choosing and prepping work for the summer art season. Small works at the AGGV, Sooke Fine Arts and Sidney Fine Arts. They were all fruitful for me last year so let’s do it again! A new one is the Al Frescoes annual show into which I *think* I will put a couple landscapes. I don’t paint with them often because I work Friday mornings. And those will likely be the only landscapes I show this year. This year is all about the portrait! Both painted and drawn. Big portrait year, this one.
In January I bought and prepped 10, 5″ x 7″ panels and rather randomly started painting these tiny portraits. Randomly, without much intent at all except that I had been doing all those charcoal portraits… these are my favourites:
The Mountain Guide, oil on panel, 5" x 7"
The Author, oil on panel, 5" x 7" SOLD
The Tugboat Captain, oil on panel, 5" x 7" SOLD
The Policeman, oil on panel, 5" x 7"
The Painter, oil on panel, 5" x 7" SOLD
Oil on panel
5" x 7" SOLD
The Author, oil on panel, 5" x 7"
The Designer, oil on panel, 5" x 7" SOLD
The Negotiator, oil, on panel, 5" x 7"
Enigma, oil on panel, 6" x 8"
The City, oil on panel, 5" x 7"
And so, now that life has settled back into routine, in between prepping for the shows, I want to get back into the large charcoal portraits. I just need some subjects to photograph. And time. As usual. Goodbye hiatus.
I recently made an order of paint brushes from Rosemary & Co for my standard long bristle brushes and to that order I added a few brushes that I have been wanting to try. I’ve noticed that some fabulous artist’s such as Colley Whisson use very soft brushes, so I added to my order one brush from each of these lines:
All of a sudden my portrait painting stepped up it’s game and I’ve started a series of 5″ x 7″ character studies.
The brushes are AMAZING! It is difficult to explain why… they hold a lot of paint, the paint goes on softly and smoothly and the comber helps to soften edges even more. I use the Evergreen primarily as a background brush right now because it is too large for the details of the portrait. The long flat is my main brush and as I said, the comber is fantastic at creating a random softness between two fields of paint. Oh boy, are these brushes a pleasure to behold. So much so that I had to put in another order. I like to work with 3 brushes of the same type and size so that I have one each for my light, middle and dark tones. That way I’m not wiping the brush in between every change of light.
And the little portraits are so much fun to do. I can complete them generally in 1.5 hrs, which is currently about the limit my focus, free time and energy level allows me. I am using random references from magazines and news stories – just as structural guides rather than portrait references. I find I will start a piece and it just doesn’t feel right so I wipe it off and try another. When they are so small like this, I don’t lose much time or effort starting over – it’s actually a good little warm-up exercise. Then when a piece comes together, the person that emerges tells me who they are. Author, policeman, chef, etc.
I don’t really know where I am going with this series but I sure am enjoying the process and the progress that it appears I am making. I do feel it is leading up to a course I’m taking at MISSA this summer called Charcoal Noir: Creating Compelling Visual Narratives. My hope is that with the work I’ve been doing on these oil portraits and my charcoal portraits will coalesce with the course into a full-on multiple figure painting or drawing. It’s been decades since I created large-scale figurative paintings and I’m curious to see what I will come up with, especially with these miracle brushes!
Once again, summer in Victoria means a multitude of art walks, talks, tours, shows, exhibits and extravaganzas! As the weather finally warms and we get excited about summer holidays, my husband, Andrew Bartley and I are thrilled to be participating in a few of the many community art events around town.
The first show is already up and ready for you to visit; the Summer Small Works show in the Massey gallery in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV). There is some lovely work in the show this year, which officially opens this coming Thursday, June 15 from 6-9pm. One thing special about this show is that you can purchase and take the work off the wall right away so you don’t have to wait all summer for the show to end before popping that piece above your couch! Keep your eyes open for Andrew when you are at the gallery because he recently began working there part time – he will be the one with the big smile and small name tag. He’s thrilled to be spending more of his days in the presence of art and the people who love art.
The AGGV also holds the Annual TD Art Gallery Paint-In, which is in it’s 30th year this summer. 30! It’s a fantastic event and we are sad that we are going to miss it this year due to other commitments. There’s so much to do that it’s hard to choose! I do hope anyone who hasn’t attended this event will give it a try because it’s one of the most impressive art events in Victoria and if you are a regular – enjoy it for me, please!
This giant art exhibit is a summer staple. We always put our best foot forward for this show and hope you will join us there. We both have work in the show and it’s always fun to find them among all the other great work to see how they stack up (not that we’re the least bit competitive…). Every year I am awed by the sheer amount of work that artists make on Vancouver and the Gulf Islands. The show gives you a sense of what’s happening in the art community and it’s always great to see new artists join the regulars. Don’t miss out on almost 2 weeks of music, art, demonstrations, food and an amazing gift shop where you can pick up a small piece of local art (and art cards galore!) at a fantastic price – remember, Christmas is only 6 months away!
While this is not a summer event (perhaps an Indian summer event?!), the artists have to start ramping up to it in the summer. The Sidney Fine Arts Show is a highly reputable event which Andrew and I have both entered this year. Even though we don’t yet know if our work is in the show this year, we encourage you to attend regardless because the work is always of the finest quality. It is on for only 3 days so it will go by in the blink of an eye if you’re not careful!
Of course, our work is always on display on the interwebs year around. I write a blog about my art process and as Andrew and I work towards our goal of having a 2 person exhibition in 2018 or 2019, new work will appear on our sites. We have a summer plein air painting journey planned and expect to return with several small pieces from which to develop larger works for the exhibit. Keep checking back to see what’s developing and if you’re in the neighbourhood (Uplands/UVic), please get in touch for a studio visit. We also intend to be in one of the many art studio tours next year so you can stop by then and we are always open to taking on commissions. In fact, we’re both working on a portrait commission right now and remember, Christmas is only 6 months away! 🙂