Welcome to my current gypsy lifestyle!
I am in transition and some upheaval on all fronts in terms of where I live and where I paint. If you have a violin and 2 quarters change I will tell you the whole story. It is ALL good. However, the bottom line is that I just don’t have a studio set up right now nor anywhere to store art. Hence commissions.

A tale of a commission from this past summer:
Our friends and past neighbours of 30 years bought a cottage on an island on spectacular Stoney Lake. Actually Stoney Lake is everything you would imagine a Canadian lake would look like from seeing the Group of Seven paintings. This “cottage” deserves to be referred to in quotation marks because it is big and beautiful with every bell and whistle to make it rather fantabulous.

The living room had a long tall wall across from a wall of windows. The extended family was large and extremely active which led to the decision to decorate with art rather than clog the room with an armoire or large entertainment unit.

Seems like we both had a NEED. They wanted to make their new surroundings cozy and feeling finished AND I needed a reason to paint other than an art show. I suggested that we see if my satisfaction guaranteed art would fulfill their needs. I would get to paint 3 new pieces. I trusted my instincts to know what they might like and what would interest me to paint. If the finished paintings suited them and the space it was a win/win. Otherwise I would either try again to get the right result or keep the paintings myself. They were under NO obligation to accept the finished pieces. I wanted them happy. 100%.

Decisions, decisions…
Together we brainstormed some options that would work for subject matter for paintings and helped narrow the decision down to 3 choices to present to the larger extended family. We put newspaper up the size that the paintings would be to see if they would “hold” the space adequately.

Getting ideas:
Here is one of several shots I took from right outside their door:

Then I got to work sketching:


And painting in the boathouse:

I set up beside the canoe and life-jackets. It wasn’t optimal because the light was terrible and I kept bumping into marine equipment and random tools but at least I got to P A I N T.

The final result:
A thumbs up all round for the finished artwork. The paintings worked well for the Stoney Lake cottage and arrived in time for the family to enjoy them during the last days of summer. I was satisfied that I had some painting time and a chance to dream about new studio space.

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What’s next? What’s possible? Where is the growing edge? How can I play there?

These are the questions that motivate me and make me want to grow and that fuel my creativity. This is not the path that all artists take but it seems to be mine.

The spark for this painting came from committing to a show in October that will feature the work of artist members of Verity, a women’s club/haven/community in Toronto. Since each participant will have 3 pieces, this became an opportunity to try a new direction or a least a new medium.

That meant … cement.

Cement meant Andrew Crane.

I know Andrew because I follow him on Facebook and have been continually inspired and intrigued by his work.

Thus began a cycle of trusting and reaching.

Trust – if Andrew could do cement I could do cement.

Reach – if a Google search for “how to” use cement on canvas turned up Andrew Crane as the only resource, I could dare to ask him for advice.

The reward – an encouraging response from Andrew with complete detailed steps.

Trust – that I could find the equivalent of the materials that Andrew was using in the UK in cottage country Ontario.

Trust – that I could find my way not only with the material, but with what I wanted to say – surely I needed something new and significant to say.

After several rounds of practice on recycled boards and old canvas, I had a sense of cement but was at a loss for what I wanted to express.

Reach – this was a combination of letting things come to me and exploring out in the world so that there were points of contact for subject matter to arise.

Trust – the thing was that I trusted that the attraction to the immediate and very raw aspect of cement was bigger than my not knowing what to do with it – just yet.

Reach can be described in this context as trusting the process – Was it relevant that I was very shocked and saddened by the untimely death of the leader of the NDP, Jack Layton – right when I was seeking meaningful expression? On Facebook I followed the postings of the chalk homage at City Hall, the outpouring of genuine affection from across Canada from people of all ages, creeds and political affiliations. I wept through the televised funeral.

BINGO – I needed to to harness my own raw emotion and that of the people I was responding to on Facebook and raw cement provided the perfect medium.

Even when I realized that I had mistakenly quote Shawn Atleo as saying “from sea to sea to sea” during the blessing at the service for Jack, I trusted that I could redo the background in order to write ” from coast, to coast to coast. This trust comes from hours and hours of applying paint. If I messed up I know that I can keep going and eventually turn the corner back to something I like.

I am content with what I have done – I trust it to be recognized or not and it doesn’t matter. It feels good that I am not concerned with the opinions of others – at the moment. They may not dig cement on their walls and that’s OK. I get it and have an inner chuckle at the multiple layers and hidden meanings at play in my mind.

Pure cosmic fun!!! That is a reward worth appreciating.

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Orphan Paintings

June 3, 2011

Galleries love artists who work in series. Artists build their reputation on presenting a consistent recognizable style to the world. Of course it is often permissible to work in two different series if what interests you is vastly different. Years ago when I was taking courses at the AGO (Art Gallery of Toronto) teacher and […]

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Am I done yet?

May 11, 2011

Like any great work or performance – some things flow and then there are the times when we struggle. Sometimes the struggle is a gift because when it is extreme enough it is clear that something is wrong. If the issue is composition no amount of applying technique can fix a bad composition. Hallelujah – […]

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Gallery Additions Showcase Texture

March 5, 2010

Ten new highly textured pieces from January 2010 were added to the TEXTURE gallery

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Shades of Grey in Abstract Painting

February 4, 2010

Vibrant colour is exciting, sometimes overwhelming and occasionally hard to live with. Grey on the other hand can be calming and may be easy on the eye. The trick is to add interest with texture, shape, line and variation of these elements.

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Recent Paintings “All Dressed Up Ready to Paint the Town”

January 19, 2010

Six highly textured abstract paintings in acrylic are ready for the finishing touches. Once the pieces have the edges painted, are varnished, have hardware added and photographed: they will be titled and priced.

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Three Stages of an Abstract Painting

January 15, 2010

Sometimes as an artist you simply get too close to your work to see it objectively. Of course this could simply be what happens to me. This video shows two paintings: one is a painting that I was going to put white gesso all over in order to start again. Several people gasped a resounding […]

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Video Diary – Watching an Abstract Painting Take Form

January 15, 2010

See two of the stages in painting this highly textured abstract painting… from putting in some basic shapes and colour to adding interest with additional layers and colour and shape.

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