March 25, 2013

Creating a composition is all about ‘killing your babies’.

I listen to a lot of podcasts about the process of writing, which might be considered an odd subject for a visual artist, but I have discovered that the creative thought process is fairly similar in many ways. In this blog I would like to touch on one of those similarities. 

I hear a lot of writers talk about the necessity of ‘killing their babies’, which basically means that they often have to cut the parts that they’re most fond of in order to improve their work. Recently I have notice that the same is true in creating a composition for a photo collage. 

When I create my collages I work solely with my own photographic material. I usually have somewhere between 100 and 300 photographs to work with, depending on the subject. I start by sorting through my photographs and picking out the ones that I love the most, the ones that I think I definitely want to use. Then from that selection I pick the one image that would make a good starting point. The reasons for picking a particular starting image vary from it having a great angle or awesome colors that I can use or maybe it is the most important building in the batch and it just has to be part of the piece. 

Often times, when going through my photographs, I’ll have pictures that I absolutely love and when I start I will usually add these to the mix fairly early. However, most of the time, when the composition progresses and grows, these pictures will end up being cut because they don’t fit the piece as a whole. This usually is a bit of a hurdle because I don’t want to cut them. I’ll try to incorporate them in every which way and will usually end up being very frustrated with the composition. Right up until the point where I just give up and ‘kill my babies’ as they say. As soon as they’re gone the whole composition just flows together and everything usually falls into place. 

You’d think I would learn from this experience and cut them sooner, or even better, don’t add them in the first place, but it doesn’t work like that because they do serve a purpose. They help me get into the composition when I start it, they help me find the initial vision for that particular piece and they get my creative juices flowing. If I wouldn’t add them they’ll just keep buzzing in the back of my head, begging to be used. Adding them will silence the buzzing and allow me to concentrate on the composition as a whole. Even the process of getting frustrated and eventually cutting them keeps me on my toes, it keeps me evaluating the piece every step of the way so it will be the best it can be. And every once in a while, I have a composition where everything just falls into pace and at times like that my babies are allowed to stay

The need to start something new

The last couple of months have really been devoted to finishing ‘Discoveries; Montreal’.  I have been able to do some unrelated pieces in between but almost all of those have been part of existing series, there hasn’t been much time for experimentation. When I finish this current project though, I feel that it is time to start something completely new, something unrelated to ‘Traveling the World’ or ‘Discoveries; Montreal’. Maybe using new techniques or at least moving away form the type of cityscapes I have been doing. This doesn’t mean that I won’t be making any of those anymore, I still love creating them and I have tons of cities that I still want to do but I also feel that it’s time to move beyond that and stretch my creative muscles a bit. 

Even though I feel like it’s time for a change and I’m excited about experimenting and creating something new, it also scares the crap out of me! I have been getting very comfortable with my cityscapes but for an artist that’s actually not a very good place to be. You need to keep pushing yourself to develop and grow otherwise you’ll risk becoming a one trick pony. But change is scary, especially if the work you do currently sells well. All the more reason to go ahead and do it anyway!

In my experience change has always brought along positive things and personal growth. It’s never easy and usually it requires some hard work and perseverance but in the end you’ll always end up in a better place. So when I finish this project I am going to embrace the fear and jump head forward into something new, I have no idea what that is going to be yet, but I am going to have a great time figuring that out! 

March 11, 2013

Update: Discoveries; Montreal.

For the past year and a half I have been working on my ‘Boroughs Project’. This project had me exploring the boroughs on the island of Montreal, photographing them in turn and creating a separate piece for each borough. ‘Boroughs Project’ has been a working title, the official title of the series is Discoveries; Montreal. The project consists of 33 18x18” pieces each representing a borough on the island of Montreal. Recently I have decided to add one additional piece to the series, a 36x36”, in which I will combine at least one building from each borough into one image that represents the entire island of Montreal. 

I addition to this series of works I will be creating an art book of this series. I will be starting a kickstarter campaign soon to help with printing costs. I am currently in the process of researching and making an estimate of the costs for the entire project and the possible rewards so that I can build a well-rounded kickstarter campaign. 

As of this moment I have 7 pieces that still need to be started, 4 pieces that are halfway there, 9 pieces that are waiting for varnish and 14 pieces that are completely finished. If I have an undisturbed week in the studio I can finish two and a half pieces and if I have an awesome week behind the computer I can get 4 compositions done but obviously that doesn’t always happen so I try to finish at least one piece per week. I know I can have this project finished this summer. I have presented my project to the city of Montreal through several channels so I am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be some interest from that direction. If that doesn’t happen that’s fine too, I’ll be aiming for a solo in the fall regardless :)

How to prepare your canvas or wood panel.

Last week I talked about the importance of the proper preparation of painting surfaces and I promised to talk about the actual preparation of surfaces and the products I use in this weeks post. Again I would like to state upfront that I am not an expert on this subject, I am not a classically trained painter, but I would still like to share what knowledge I have because I think this is an important subject that adds to the value of your artwork.

I work mostly with acrylic paints on wood panels but the surface preparation I use can also be applied to canvas and oil paints. There are other methods and materials out there but this is what I do.

Preparing a painting surface (a canvas or wood panel) is usually done in two stages. The first step is to apply “sizing”, which seals your surface to make it less absorbent so your colours will be more vibrant. It also prevents support-induced discolouration, which can happen over time when the oils in the wood come through your paints. 

Traditionally “sizing” is done with rabbit-skin glue but there are other products out there that serve the same purpose. I use GAC100, an acrylic polymer made by Golden which seals the surface and is more flexible then rabbit-skin glue so there is less chance of cracking paint in the future. When I prepare my wood panels I always lightly sand the edges and surface and clean the entire panel with a damp cloth to remove any dust before applying my “sizing”. I apply two layers of GAC100, letting each layer dry before. 

When I apply multiple layers I will always apply them at right angles so I end up with a nice even surface. 

The second stage of preparing your painting surface is to apply Gesso. Gesso provides a great surface for both oils and acrylics and is available in white, black and transparent, though the last one might be a bit more difficult to find. For my work I use either white or transparent Gesso. The transparent gesso I use right out of the bottle but the white Gesso is a bit thicker so I mix it with some water until it is about the consistency of yoghurt. When preparing my panels I use at least 3 layers of Gesso, again making sure a layer is completely dry before applying the next one. If you like you panel to be whiter you can always add more layers until you are satisfied. Gesso is meant to serve as a ground so it will never be as white as your paints. If you want to have a nice white background in your painting you’ll have to add paints to brighten it. 

I am aware that there are multiple ways of preparing a painting surface, this is just the way I approach it. I hope this has been helpful. I plan to talk a bit more in detail about some of the other techniques I use in future blog posts. Next week I will give you an update on my ‘Boroughs Project’ which is getting closer to finishing each week. 

The importance of a good surface preparation

This week I wanted to take some time to talk about the importance of the proper preparation of  painting surfaces. Oddly enough this is not something that I learned in art school but that is probably because I studies illustration instead of fine art. In illustration speed is more important then longevity and the work is created for reproduction rather then display. I was very fortunate to encounter a very knowledgeable teacher along the way who taught me about the importance of surface preparation and the proper ways of doing it. I would like to state upfront that I am not an expert on this subject, I am not a classically trained painter, but I would still like to share what knowledge I have because I think this is an important subject that adds to the value of your artwork.

Good surface preparation is not only important to get the best results out of your paints but also to prevent the deterioration of you work over time. When you paint on an unprepared surface part of your paints will be absorbed into the surface which will cause the colours to be less intense and in some cases the paints can damage the surface and make it rot or crack. Things like support induces discolouration are very likely to happen over time if you don’t prepare your surface properly, especially when you work on wood panels. The oils of the wood will seep through your paints over time and create visible staining. Oil paints tend to get more transparent over the years which will cause imperfections in the surface underneath to show through, this might also be the case with acrylic paints but because these paints and mediums are relatively new it is hard to say how they will look in 200 years. 

When you buy a pre-made canvas at the store it will often state that it has been prepared for the use of acrylic and oil paints. Most of the time it is impossible to tell which materials have been use to do this preparation so it is always advisable to add some products of your own before you start painting. Wood panels are often not prepared at all when you buy them so preparation is an absolute must. 

I hope this information has provided a little bit of insight on the importance of surface preparation. Next week I would like to take some more time on this subject and talk about the actual preparation and the products I use. For now it’s time to leave this blog and get ready for some much needed composition making!

Back in the studio :D

Last week most of my time was spent behind the computer catching up with emails and paperwork and working on the composition for a particularly challenging commissioned piece. This week however I will finally be back in the studio! :D I have so many transfers waiting for me, I can’t wait to dive in! I want to complete at least two more borough pieces this week and hopefully I get to do another composition as well. I also picked up some nice new panels at Wallacks in Ottawa yesterday so there is some prep work that needs to be done on those. There are at least 5 borough pieces that are waiting for their layers of varnish and that little experiment I’m working on won’t complete itself ;) 

Luckily I have a whole bunch of podcasts lined up to keep me company :) I need silence when I’m working on my compositions but when I’m in the studio I love to put on a podcast. The Nerdist Podcast is one of my favourites but I also like to listen to the Nerdist writers panel, NPR’s Fresh Air, the Thrilling Adventure Hour and CBC’s Spark. I’ve got some other podcasts I listen to together with my husband, things like the Dice Tower and GeeksOn and I’m still looking for a good podcast on art so if you have any tips I’d love to hear them! But for now I’ve got a whole bunch of Nerdists that I haven’t listened to yet so I’m really looking forward to getting to the studio and doing some serious painting! :D

A Little Winter Break

We’ve had the luxury of a little winter break :) In December I became an aunt and it was finally time to meet my new niece and nephew! We spent a whole week in the Netherlands visiting friends and family. 

After that we had another week off to introduce my mother in law to winter in QC :) We had a lot of wintery fun! We went to the ice hotel and winter carnival in Quebec City, we did some snow tubing and we drove the ice bridge to Oka. We enjoyed some serene wintery landscapes while walking around in Cape Saint Jaques and Oka National Park. We warmed up with some amazing hot cocoa at Julliet et Chocolat and we had an early sugaring off meal at the sugar shack. The highlight of the week was a dogsledding adventure! We drove to Rawdon, QC where we received an in-depth instruction on the techniques of driving a dog sled and after that we got to try it ourselves! It was an amazing experience to be pulled through the pristine snow by a team of these amazing creatures. It was quite a challenge to make the corners and to stay on the trail and it was a good work out as well! We got to take the dogs from the kennel to the sled and learned how to put on their harness and attach it to the sled and after we got back we helped feed them. We had an absolute blast! I would definitely recommend it to anyone! If you’re interested check out the Kinadapt website, they are an amazing group of people with a lot of love and enthusiasm for their business and their animals.

Quick Update

The vernissage for the Let it Snow exhibit at the Montreal Art Centre was a lot of fun! It was very well attended and I had a blast meeting people and catching up with friends. And off course there was loads of great artwork to enjoy, with the great variety of pieces there was something for everyone. If you didn’t make it to the vernissage the show will be up until January 31st. You can also check out some photographs and a little video here.

In my studio there is loads of work awaiting me, I’m in the middle of some transfers and have a couple of pieces that are awaiting their final layers of paint. I’ve also got a composition that is about halfway done and I’m working on a little experiment that involves some testing of materials. If all the tests go well I’ll be able to tell you guys about this new little project soon :).

Let it Snow!

It is almost time for the Let it Snow exhibit that will be held by the Montreal Art Centre from January 17th-31st. The vernissage for this exhibit, which is free to the public, will be held this Thursday, January 17th, from 5-9pm. A lot of the artists will be there to chat about their work. It will be an amazing opportunity to escape the winter weather and enjoy some beautiful art and great company. The Montreal Art Center is located at 1844 William Street, Montreal, Quebec, I hope to see you there this Thursday!

Last week has been a busy week when it comes to composition creation, I’ve managed to finish 4 compositions for my Discoveries; Montreal (Montreal Boroughs) project which means that I have only got 9 composition left to create. In total the amount of pieces that still need to be finished is 17 so I’m getting there. 

This week I’ll mostly be working in my studio, I have one more piece that is just awaiting the final layers of paint and three pieces that would love to be transferred. The four compositions I finished last week are all ready to receive their layers of gel. Plenty of work waiting for me there :)

I’ve also added some small affordable pieces of art to my Etsy store. These little vignettes of famous Italian cities are a great opportunity to own some original artwork and support your favourite artist ;-)

I love beginning a New Year!

Work on the ‘Boroughs Project’ is in full swing, I have of finished half of the pieces, I have 5 more in several stages of done-ness and I’m working on another composition which I plan to finish today. I’m planning on spending most of this week behind the computer finishing as many compositions as possible so I can have a nice painting sprint next week. 

This afternoon I’m picking up my pieces from the Small works Too exhibit at Fleurbain, the exhibit has been very successful and was very well received. I’m very excited about picking up my work because it means that I can also pick up the artwork I purchased last month, a piece by Heather Boyd. It is going to look amazing on the wall in my studio!

I’m also dropping off one of the Montreal Table Lamps that I sold earlier in the week which is very exciting! If this past week is any indication 2013 is going to be a good year! I know I will finish my Boroughs Project so I hope to be able to do at least one Solo and I already have a couple of inquiries about custom pieces. I have tons of ideas for pieces that I still want to create so I won’t be plagued by the empty canvas :) and I have the whole year in front of me to realize all these pieces :) I love beginning a new year!

Oh and I promised you guys extra info on the Vernissage for the Let it Snow Exhibit that will take place at the Montreal Art Centre from January 17th-31st. The Vernissage will take place on January 17th from 5-9pm. The Montreal Art Center is located at 1844 William Street, Montreal, Quebec. I hope to see you all there!

Happy New Year!

First and foremost I would like to wish all of you a very happy, healthy and creative 2013! Let’s make this year the best it can be! I’m starting the year off right with some work on my ‘Boroughs Project’,I managed to finish 2 more pieces in the last days of 2012 and I’m totally committed to finishing this baby. There are still a lot of pieces in the works but since winter is truly holding this city in its grip I’ll have some great studio time ahead of me and I plan to make the most of it!

I’ll also be participating in the Let it Snow exhibit that will be held by the Montreal Art Centre from January 17th-31st. The vernissage for this exhibit will be held on January 17th, I will post more information as soon as I have it. 

Happy Holidays!

Painting Sprint

Winter is finally starting in ernest with the first winter storm dumping snow and freezing rain on the island of Montreal. Although Montreal is being covered by a blanket of ice and snow, in my studio the boroughs of the island city are still soaking up the summer sunshine. I made sure to take all of my picture in the spring, summer and early autumn to keep the weather similar across the entire project. It’s a nice bonus that it brings the memories of summer when I work on the compositions. 

The project is coming along nicely. Last week was dedicate to creating compositions, by the end of the week I had completed four of them and I had a while pile of work for the ladies at the copy store. Today I’ll apply the gel to all of this copies and I’lll start work on transferring two earlier compositions that have been drying for a while. If all goes according to plan I will be able to finish two more pieces this week. After a week of screen work I’m very much looking forward to spending a week in the studio. 

It’s the season to buy art!

December, the beginning of the end of the year. A month of holiday celebrations, gift giving, good food, family and friends. It is also a month with some great art shows all around the city. When you do your holiday shopping this year, why not enter a gallery or artisan shop to find some unique holiday gifts. Not only will you have an awesome gift for that special someone, but your purchase will also support the artist who made it which, for any artist, is a gift in itself. Both Fleurbain and Viva Vida Art Gallery have their annual Small Works Exhibits going on where you can find some very affordable pieces as well as scarfs, pottery and jewellery. If you would like to do your shopping online why not check out Etsy?

To celebrate the start of the holiday season I treated myself to this beautiful artwork made by my friend Heather Boyd. She is a very talented artist who creates beautiful art pieces and jewellery. The piece that I bought is part of a series of six pieces that can be viewed at the Small Works Too Exibit at Fleurbain until the end of the month. Her work can also be found at Viva Vida Art Gallery and on Etsy

For me December will also be a month spent in the studio working on my ‘Boroughs Project’. The project is about halfway finished and I hope that I’ll be able to get into a nice painting sprint in these last couple of weeks of 2012. 

Fleurbain: Small Works Too

On the first day of December Fleurbain will open it’s annual small works exhibit ‘Small Works Too’. The exhibit will run for the entire month of December with a vernissage to be held on Saturday December 1 from 6pm onwards. 

Join Ten of Montreal's finest artists in an evening to celebrate those good things that come in small packages. Nibble and sip while you chat with many of the artists who will be present this evening.

Small Works Too is a place to find a special little visual gem for your office, your mother-in-law, or your honey. Small art makes for a unique and affordable gift, perfect for any occasion. Fresh into our second year of business, at Fleurbain we are proud to present painting, collage, drawing, etching, and mixed media beauties to deck the halls!

It’s time for ‘VIBRANT’

This Friday, November 23, Viva Vida Art Gallery will start it’s 4th annual Small Works Exhibit which will run until January 27, 2012. This exhibit brings together the work of a great variety of artists and is one of the highlights of the year at Viva Vida Art Gallery. I’m very much looking forward to the vernissage , which will be held this Friday, November 23 from 7pm - 10pm. It’s always a great fun to catch up with all my artist friends and meet new people while enjoying a glass of wine and a snack. This exhibit in particular is always very exciting because it is a juried exhibition which means there will be a lot of new and exciting artwork to enjoy. And because it is an exhibit that is focused on small works is also makes the perfect venue to start early holiday shopping :) Next to paintings and sculpture Viva Vida Art Gallery also has an amazing collection of jewellery, ceramics and glass that would make perfect gifts. You can find Viva Vida Art Gallery at 278-2 Lakeshore Drive in Pointe-Claire, I’m going to be there, I hope you will be too :D 

Now on Etsy

As of today you can purchase my Art Lamps and Art Cards through my brand new Etsy Store. Other artworks are still available through my regular web store and through my website.

Keeping busy this winter

Now that I’ve finished the photography part of my project I can focus on creating the pieces. I’m very much looking forward to a winter spent in the studio, nice and warm with snow blowing outside and a whole bunch of podcasts to keep me company. I love the periods where I can focus solely on painting, I’m most productive that way. At the moment I’m mostly working on my boroughs, but I do have a couple of small projects on the side. I’ll be coming out with a new and improved series of lamps, hopefully they will be available on Etsy by the end of the week. And I have a new series of city vignettes that I am working on, this series is focused on Italian cities. So lots of things to keep me busy this winter, snowstorm I’m ready for you :)

Only one left!

This week I will finish the photography for my ‘boroughs project’, there is only one borough left to photograph and that one is planned for later this week. It has been a lot of fun exploring the city this way, I have encountered so many little gems and I really feel that I know this city better then before I started. 

I’ve immensely enjoyed my little day trips but it will be nice to be back into the studio full time. Now that all the photography is done I can focus of creating the pieces and that always goes better if I don’t have anywhere else to be. I’m hoping to get myself into a good workflow. I’m really looking forward to this coming winter when the snow will be falling, the studio is warm and I’ll have a ton of pieces to create. It is going to be a good winter :D

Table Lights

Today I would like to present to you my newest project. I have started creating a series of table lamps. As of now there are two designs; Montreal and New York. I am currently working on a second design for these two cities and more cities will follow in the future. The lamps can be viewed at Viva Vida Art Gallery and I hope to be able to offer them trough Etsy in the future. 

Les Journées de la culture.

This upcoming weekend is the the perfect time to come out and experience some art. Les Journées de la culture are coming up and everywhere in Quebec there will be opportunities to view and experience art. 

Since 1997, les Journées de la culture have been held on the last Friday of September and on the two following days, as decreed by the National Assembly of Québec. A vast culture happening in large cities and small towns, les Journées de la culture aim to raise awareness about the importance and the need for greater access to arts and culture for all citizens in over 300 Québec communities in Québec. 

Les Journées are carried out voluntarily by artists, workers and cultural organizations, who, during the three days of the event, offer free activities so citizens can explore the hidden side of art and culture. Our rich and welcoming demonstrations, hands-on workshops, conferences and guided tours build simple and warm relationships between artists, cultural workers and their fellow citizens. 

At Viva Vida Art Gallery in Pointe Claire we will be celebrating Les Journées de la culture in style. we will star off with a Vernissage on Friday September 28th featuring the works of: Gordon Pym, George Hsiung, Barbara Simmons, Heather Boyd, Denise Buisman Pilger, Patricia Srigley, Susan Weaver and Patricia Morris. We are hoping to welcome everyone from 7-9pm this Friday.

On Sunday there will be a series of free artist demonstrations and workshops. From 10am to 4pm artists will be working at the gallery and you will have to opportunity to try you hand at a range of different techniques and styles. We hope to see you all there!  The schedule is as follows:

26 down, 9 to go...

This summer most of my focus has been on finishing the photography for my ‘Discoveries: Montreal’ aka my ‘Boroughs Project’. My goal is to finish all the pieces by the end of the year so I can organize a showing for the first half of 2013. To be able to do that I will have to finish photographing all the boroughs before the snow starts falling. With the beautiful weather we’ve had this summer have had plenty of opportunity to go out and photograph, as a result of that I have only 9 boroughs left to do. Most of these are located on the east side of the island. 

This week I hope to be able to do 3 boroughs which would make a sizeable dent. I’m pretty excited about these final 9 borough because they will take me out to a part of the city that I haven’t been to before, since I live on the west island side of the city the only times I go to the east side is when I drive through there on my way to Trois-Riviere's or Quebec City. 

Part of the fun of this project is exploring all the nooks and crannies of this island city. I really feel like I know this city better now and I am excited to see what this city has to offer me next.