Last week, after seeing my last specialist, I figured I would probably be going back to work this week. I felt pretty good, I was up and around, and my hands were better, for the most part. But since the weather was still lovely, and I was still off, I thought I should take advantage of the time and go do something I had wanted to do but couldn’t seem to manage. So I went downtown to the Art Gallery of Ontario, and saw the Lawren Harris exhibit.
I have never been much of a group of seven fan. I think their work is interesting and can appreciate the obvious skill displayed in their pieces, but landscape painting has never really been my thing. The exception to that is Lawren Harris. There is something about his landscapes that seem to transcend landscape painting. They are calm. Serene, even. Seeing them in real life, it’s even more so. It was a really fantastic show and I’m so glad I didn’t miss it. But for those of you that did, here are a few of my highlights. Not the best photos in the world… I used my phone with no flash, and the lighting was not ideal, but you can still get the idea. (Click on the first image to go through the slide show so you can see the pics at a decent size. It’s worth it).
One of the earlier pieces that caught my eye.
An ink drawing from the display case. So much conveyed with just black and white.
Mt. Lefoy, from 1925. A subject he returned to later on.
Again, from 1929. This painting is even more abstract. Forms are much more simplified.
Look at the detail in this brushwork.
The treatment of the water in this one intrigues me. Simplified, yet much is conveyed.
The variation in the blues in the sky were amazing
Again that water. And the sky. Wow.
“The Smouldering Ember”, 22×30″ Acrylic on paper. Available.
I like painting abstracts. I really do. There’s something about not worrying what something is “supposed” to look like that is incredibly freeing. It’s just colour and shape and feeling. I know a lot of people don’t “get” non-objective work. That’s ok. I know there are some very famous paintings that just don’t do it for me, and others that I could look at forever. It’s all personal taste.
Selling art is one of those things that is a challenge no matter how you go about it. It seems like selling abstract art is even more so. I don’t make a living from my sales. I don’t know a lot of people who do. With the crap that has been my life the last couple years, I’ve decided to cut myself some slack and take a break from the hustle. There will be no art fairs in the next year. Possibly no shows. I’m not going to go hunting down opportunities. I’m just going to do what I feel like doing. That means drawing if I feel like it. Working in my journal. Maybe doing a landscape or a portrait if I that’s the way I’m leaning that day. I’m tired, and I think I need a little break.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a boatload of medical practitioners. I’ve been told, many times, that it would help me to reduce the amount of stress in my life. How the hell does someone do that? My job is deadline driven. I have no idea from day to day what I’m walking into. I can think I’m caught up when I leave at night, only to walk into a deluge of work the following morning. My corporate overlords do everything by the numbers, so if my account doesn’t generate enough profit we don’t get the hands to do the work. That’s the way it is for everyone these days. Everyone I talk to is overworked and completely stressed out. Adding a 2nd career to the mix just seems to be hastening my burnout.
I’m not going to stop creating. It’s something I love to do, and when I’m in my studio I feel totally at one with myself. But I think I’m going to stop pushing myself to have something new to share every single week. My life just isn’t that interesting. I want to keep the blog going, so I’ll figure out something… maybe guest posts from my artist friends? I know a lot of really talented people. Maybe I’ll share some of my photos. Or interesting books I’ve read. I don’t know.
Anyone have a suggestion?
“Ignition”, 22×30″ Acrylic on paper. Available
Fire seems to be my theme of the season. Here in Canada, we had some terrible fires earlier in the year. The city of Fort McMurray, in Alberta, was very nearly wiped out in a fire. It started in early May, and burned for nearly 2 months. There are areas here in Canada that are prone to fire… I really had no idea, until I met someone who travelled north every summer to help fight them. And it’s not just here. Just last week, a friend in Spain posted photos of her home town burning. It looked horrible. I can’t even imagine how awful it must feel to be standing there, helpless, watching everything burn.
At the same time, fire is often the impetus for renewal. The burned forest decays into the forest floor, nourishing the new growth. Fire can be part of our traditions… like a campfire on a summer evening, everyone sitting around telling stories in the night. Or the candles on a birthday cake. We are drawn to it, even while we fear it’s destructive power.
This painting feels like fire to me. I have notes from a critique on how to rework this piece, to make it better. I decided not to change it. The dark corner in the bottom is apparently a problem. But to me, this feels like throwing something into the fire that unexpectedly ignites. The heaviness at the bottom anchors it. The orange travelling up to the top are the unexpected consequences. Kind of like in life, when you do something that sets off a chain of events you had no way of foreseeing. Sometimes things blow up in your face, but if you are anchored, you can survive the destruction.
I’m doing a lot better this week… I’ve been going to physio, which is torture, but really seems to be helping me. I have almost full movement in my arm again. I guess that’ll teach me to ignore those new little aches and pains. My shoulder has been bugging me since last winter, but as is my way, I ignored it until I couldn’t use my arm. Apparently the problem originates in my neck. As all that stuff is connected, eventually I could feel it down to my fingertips. If I’d have dealt with it right away, she probably could have fixed me up with one visit. Instead of this prolonged torture I’m going through now. You’d think at my age I’d have learned that lesson already.
Ever heard of Aubrey Beardsley? He was an illustrator from the late 1800s, whose most famous work was in pen and ink. When I was in University, I once had a professor tell me my ink drawing looked like he had been an influence… except at that time I had never heard of him. Of course I looked him up, but I actually couldn’t see it. I can see it now… and I’ve decided to take a deeper look and see how I can purposefully use his work as inspiration.
My first ink drawing using Beardsley as an influence.
My first ink drawing following my research was more of a direct influence. I took a sketch I had done and worked it into what I thought his might look like if he had used the same starting point. I had planned to do a couple more of these, but then I saw a photo my friend Dana had posted on her flickr page that I loved. So, after getting permission, I took that image and did a few variations.
First I did a couple pencil sketches… my drawing skills are maybe a little rusty. I actually started this project months ago. Since I haven’t been doing much of anything the last bit, I finished up the last one yesterday after physio. It’s so nice to be able to do something. I ended up with 4 variations on this pose, each one being different enough that I think they stand on their own.
One of my first pencil sketches of this model… I had to get a feel for her face.
First Variation, pretty straight forward
Next up, thinking about tatoos and body art
Pen and ink on paper
And of course I had to have one with a crow…