I was thrilled to hear last week that I my application for signature status with the Federation Of Canadian Artists was successful. AFCA which means associate member of the FCA. I took a couple of years to get all the required elements for the application so it is quite a big deal. As an artist who toils away in solitude in the studio it’s important for me to be able to step back and see my work in the context of other artists and signature status is one way of doing that. It means some excellent artists have viewed my work and given it the big thumbs up.
The other big event in my art journey also came fairly recently. I was asked by the Canadian Society Of Painters In Watercolour to be a principle instructor at their annual watercolour symposium. This year it will be held Sept 28 – Oct 3 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. I love teaching watercolour and I have done it for a number of years but this to me is a step up. The list of previous instructors at this prestigious event includes many of the best watercolour artists from across Canada. It’s definitely an honour and a real motivation to keep going.
Finally, when I got back from my workshop in Edmonton, I had an email from the Saanich Peninsula Arts and Crafts Society (SPAC) in Sidney, B.C. asking me to do a workshop there in Oct 2016. I have long dreamed of being able to travel across the country as a watercolour teacher and it seems that that dream is now coming true. In 2014 their workshop instructors were Alvaro Castagnet and John Salminen. Alvaro is one of my 2 main heroes in watercolour and Salminen is someone who produces work that I am in awe of. I certainly don’t put myself in their category (yet) but I know by the feedback I get from people at all my workshops that I have something to offer and I love to connect and help all the people I meet in workshops. So I am completely thrilled by all these events, humbled by the opportunities and grateful for this journey that I’m walking.
I thought I would brighten up this post by adding an assortment of recent studies that I have done. Interestingly after having so much success with my urban landscape paintings culminating in receiving my AFCA I took some time to ponder – what next? Right away I started doing this studies mostly based on a beautiful sunny day I spent on Stephan Ave a couple of weeks ago. I was intrigued by the light and also by seeing the figures in a new way, more intimate way. Figures are an important feature of all my urban landscape paintings but nearly always they are just figures standing around. Now I’m much more interested in having the figures tell a story just by their positions or motions. I think this is a nudge that has come from somewhere to show me what direction to move in. I think I’ll listen to this voice.
I did an urban landscape workshop for the St Albert Painters’ Guild on Saturday. That was my first time to St Albert and I was very impressed. Lovely city, nice buildings and a beautiful location for the workshop. It was held in the big civic/library/courthouse complex. The main floor has a number of lovely, bright studios on the main floor. We were located in the painting studio. What I liked in particular is that the entire set up gave the impression that St Albert really values and supports the arts. As an artist you love to see that.
Anyway, once again, I made the decision to do more of the little practice studies that participants seem to get so much out of and to de-emphasize the actual main demo. So I just got the demo started when we ran out of time. I let everyone know that I would finish it at home and either photograph all the stages or do a short video. As you can see I did a video.
First I just wanted to show some photos of the day. It’s so interesting how excited people get when they see how easy it is to paint figures when you don’t treat it as a drawing exercise but instead let the mark the brush makes create the figure. It relieves all the stress to just push the hairs of the brush into the paper and see what happens. Often you get marks that are full of character and interest. That is clearly illustrated by these 2 samples done by some of the participants.
In the top image the figure right in the middle just oozes character and attitude.
In the bottom image the figure in the middle just reminds me of the student I always dreaded showing up in my grade 5 home room. I knew he was going to be trouble.
Here are some photos of the group in action. Just outside the windows is a lovely river and park.
Our formal class photo.
And this is the video detailing how I finished the painting.
Just because of a great question from one of the participants I’m including the photo that this scene was based on.
Thanks so much to everyone for an excellent workshop.
On Wednesday March 4, I had the pleasure of doing a demo for the CCPS. This is a great group to work with. Lots of members present, very enthusiastic and very appreciative. They always make me feel extremely welcome.
These first 2 photos show the group watching. When a group is this focused it’s very motivating for the artist.
It’s nice also when there is a mirror so that I can paint in my normal position with the board on a slight incline. When I demo on an easel with the paper almost vertical it’s much harder to control the dripping.
Since I was doing a painting with figures I invited some members to come up and try their hand at creating a figure using the brush with no drawing. People are often a little intimidated by doing figures but when they see how easy it is they love it.
This is the painting at the end of the demo . . .
. . . and this is the painting after I finished it in the studio.
Interestingly when I got the painting home I didn’t like the fact that the tent on the left was much shorter than the 2 figures beside it. It didn’t really make sense. It was like the figures were walking right into it. I hadn’t noticed this when I did the drawing. To fix this I used a toothbrush and some tape to lift out almost another inch and a half at the bottom of the tent including the metal pillar. With a toothbrush you can lift out paint and get back to almost white paper. If you look closely about even with the middle of the metal pillar you can still see the original bottom of the tent. Using the same process I cut about 1/2″ off the legs of the woman beside the tent. Now it has a much more logical feel. Many people say that watercolours can’t be changed but I think this shows that you can, in fact, make major changes.
Thanks to CCPS for the opportunity to demo and thanks to Jackolynn Coughlin for taking the photos.