Monday 13 May 2013

A Reaction to Connect

Some would say ‘they are only stripes of colour, nothing else. I could do that. What’s so special?” Yes, there is no shape or form that would suggest any real connection to an object, yet my eyes hurt from staring for so long.  A reaction; I came to realize a missing element of design or a result of using one of the most important elements, colour, that causes us to react.  Regardless, I spent over an hour in looking at The Plasticiens and Beyond. MontrĂ©al 1955-1970 in The National Museum of Fine Arts in Quebec City, back in February.  The images and intensity still rest in my mind after all these months.

When viewing the show I ended up going backwards and began with the third generation of The Plasticiens. It was a super sonic bold transformation from Riopelles palette paintings, to a change in direction with the first generation of the Plasticiens artists, that were stronger in line and used more defined colours throughout. The third generation made an advancement or shift in the artistic process where technique was precise, meticulous yet simple in composition.  Ripoelle contrasting process shows a controlled play of paint and heavy application with an intense moving energy that went into creating the piece, and for me caused an immense emotional reaction..  Whereas the Plasticiens  used simple line and strong colours to create a reaction that ironically for me was calming due to the intense focus I needed to absorb each piece.  Pushing the limits through size, technique, and use of principal of perimeter, makes me very grateful that I was able to see The Plasticien in person.

I too receive the same feedback from viewers of my work that it is so different and the intensity of colour, detail, line and emotion were greater in person.  Sometimes viewers feel it's not even the same work and are a bit taken back.  A fellow artist, Elaine Waddell, who came to my recent show Connecting Dreams, said that the images on my website did not do the work justice as the build up and colour are so different in real life.  A reaction; the energy emitted from a piece along with the uses of colour, texture, and line bring the viewer into an imaginary world.  A world that for me is one of the most important aspects of my art, as I use it to pull my viewers in. 

Feelings and passion cannot be taught yet there are some principals and technique that are useful to master.  Being mostly self taught I usually go on instincts and use the basic principals that I teach my elementary students on composition and the elements.  I was thankful to receive some very constructive feedback from John Blaise, a long time art teacher and artist, that has made my creative path even clearer.  He explained that a piece can be either narrative, abstract, or realistic.  Some artists challenge these groupings by contrasting abstraction with elements of realism but for me right now I would like to master narration and abstraction before plunging into contrasting types of work.  We talked about colour and how certain colours trick the viewer into thinking they are receding or advancing.  He also explained how principal of perimeter helps strengthen the composition of a piece because the shapes in the piece mimic the perimeter of the work. It is well known that mastery comes from extensive hours of practice so one of my next goals is to create 200 paintings in one style; which will be with rock paper focusing on colour and abstraction.  On an overall level I want to connect my viewers to my work on a deep level both emotionally and cognitively.

Monday 8 April 2013

Connecting Dreams

Connecting Dreams: It’s more than a painting…it's building blocks to change.
 See the video below describing my upcoming art show and overall theme. 

Wednesday 20 March 2013


Stuck In A Box
Modeling Paste and Oil on Wood
36" x 48"

Escape (top)
Oil on Wood

Escape (bottom)
Oil on Wood
24" x 30"

Oil on Wood
24" x 48"

New Horizon (top)
Oil on Wood
24" x 40"

New Horizon (bottom)
Oil on Wood

Modeling Paste and Oil on Wood
15" x 53"

Friday 8 March 2013

Everyday Anthems - Flickering Moments

Starting off with a soft light and voice behind a mesh screen, Everyday Anthems at the Harbour Front Centre, production from Toronto Dance Theater, carried the viewer through the striking dance performance like a boat in the ocean.  The boat sometimes drifted through calm periods, other times thrashing around into the waves holding passengers that came and went.  As I spoke with my friend after the dance performance she reminded me that although we know how expressive the body can be, seeing it live reminds us how amazing expressive movement and the body are. 

I have only been to a few dance performances in my life, and like visual art, we all have our preferences.  When it comes to conceptual art I tend to stray away, however, in this case I was drawn in with the use of spoken stories from the dancers themselves.  These stories gave context for the pieces that followed and set the stage for the performers, giving them a certain energy and use of space that brought you to their world.

The choreography achieved balance with the organized flow of movements yet enough freedom for each dancer to express it in their own way.  When moving as a group I watched each dancer intently wanting to see each one carefully and how they were going to flow across the stage.  It would have been interesting to see them closing night and their collective intended movements more polished and refined. When in pairs I was captivated watching the separation and reuniting in and out like waves and sand on a beach.  Each separate but connected in rhythm and, pattern and movement; starting separately then slowly mimicking one another yet maintaining their own style. These moments mirrored the message of how we are shaped by our experiences and those who are present and part of our transformations.

My favourite part of the performance was definitely the style of dance. The two dancers that stood out for me were Naishi Wang and PulgaMuchochoma. Each with their own unique style and phenomenal ability to push their bodies to the limit through movement. I loved their strength, passion and energy both when dancing alone and connected to others. The variety of quick movements pushing the bodies limits in shape, balance, and speed was definitely master by these two.  Overall the performance  changed from quick to frozen stillness that to me reflected the overall theme of the production, time.  We have moments in our lives that slow down and others that wiz by, those moments are influenced by those who surround us.  When we have people in our lives that step up and support us, we fall in love with life that much more.  Each piece reviled this message and brought forth the reminder that we are all connected.

The connections between the dancers was rarely through eye contact rather it was through the air and energy around them.  Each dancer performed their own expressive interpretation of the experience, using one another to aid in their exploration and personal expression. Guiding one another along their path parting and reconnecting, sometimes never again, like all the people we encounter in our life.

Like all work there is room for growth, in this piece I would say the group portions needed to be polished and more unified.  The spoken stories, for me, provided context for the pieces and with practice they would have flowed more like the movements in the production. Overall I enjoyed the reflection the performance gave me on stopping more often at those moments in our lives that shape who we are and those who played a part.

Saturday 2 March 2013

Playful Purpose - The Artist Project

For the third year in a row I find myself magnetized to five or six artists at The Artist Project held at the Exhibition Place in Toronto.  Each year over 200 artists are lined up in booths with art ranging from paintings to sculpture. Walking away from the show this year I realized the artists each had a different focus or intent yet there is always a common thread between them; their art stood out from the rest.  The intention of an artist varies, some create due to a life altering experiences, others create by telling a story of the past and present, while some use art as a form of playing. The actual making of a piece can be a physical experience where we push our bodies, minds, and creative ability to the limits. This energetic extension of ourselves sometime produces work that is so powerful that artists themselves don't realize what they have created until they are finished.

I can never seem to paint what is in my mind and I gave up many years ago because I have learned what the process is more important than the original idea.  When working with clay and glazes, after becoming quite experienced with it, the artist knows only to a certain extent what is going to happen. Laurne Blakey has mastered the ability to play with clay and also leave room for the unexpected.  Her organic shapes mounted on square tiles creates an exquisite contrasted. I saw Laurne in the summer at the    show at Trinity Bellwoods park and was captivated by her colour and form. She continues to play with form, colour and texture and yet again I couldn't take my eyes off of her work.

Claudia Cote was another artist taking natural materials to a new level, literally. With her multilayer segments of wood contrasted with the organic lines of sculpture itself, she creates pieces that are screaming to be touched.  Coming from Montreal she is like most artists, working in a small space yet still manages to create unique and solid pieces.  Her snow sculptures exhibit her ability to make the snow come to life and her diverse subject matter shows her ability to push the boundaries with materials,creativity and play on real life situations. I will definitely take the opportunity to see more of her work next time visit Montreal.

 Jeremy Down's process is one that definitely stands out from the crowd.  You won't find to many artist climbing up a mountain with all of their gear and then snowboarding with the product back down to their studio.  It's the energy and movement in the pieces that shows the connection to the location of where the work was created. The colours are further enhanced with the 3D canvas segments that demonstrate how an artist can take a visual experience and transform it into an emotional connection.

Vinginia Lee's story is one of many histories that all meld into one.  Each connecting the past with the present and the patterns that exist with the change in humans.  Our actions in any time period have had an impact on the world around us, specifically the physical environment that nurtures us.  Lee captures the stories of both her own cultural background, and that of others, in a way that pulls the viewer in with it's aesthetically stunning colours, texture, and movement. Her use of these elements catches the audience into reliving a past we are all part of and and in turn opens up a door some wish to keep closed.

Although not a child any more Mike Smalley plays with materials like a child does when discovering something new.  I have seen Mike's work the last three years and although at first glance there seems to be only a slight changes in his work, it is apparent that parts of his process remain the same he is always pushing his boundaries and playing.  The result this time around, scale, stronger contrasts and a feeling of entering another world.

The best for last Nissim Ben Aderet.  Where do I begin. I met him last year at The Artist Project and his openness to share his process and story were just as inspiring as the work itself.  Keeping my eye out for him all night I waited until the end to speak with him, as his booth was packed.  Yet again his work expanded and  continued to show a talent that is beyond practice and comes from a place deep within. His large scale drawings on canvas are ones that open so many doors to conversation, interpretation, story telling and simply 
captivating to look at.

I look forward to seeing these artist next year as well as any new artist that come to The Artist Project.  Who knows, maybe I will be there too.

Saturday 23 February 2013

Common Ground

Circles repeat both on seat bottoms of chairs and the larger circle they create.  Each one holds a piece or remains of what someone has left behind.  After reading the simple yet clear artist statement I was compelled to speak to the artist to find out more. Zanette Singh explained each chair represented the reminents of what individuals leave behind in group therapy.  What is left could be interpreted as bits of wisdom for others  reference points to gage oneself, or the layers of what we have accumulated over the years. Group Therapy was one of the exhibits in the Come up to My Room event last month at the Gladstone Hotel.

Stepping into the room I was intrigued by what each chair held and intuitively felt the meaning was tangible.   My suspicion was right and after speaking to Zanette we had a long discussion of her intention.  One chair that we spent some time talking about, was wrapped with a noose like rope with hair on the end.  It was made with lace table cloths and hair on either end.  We discussed how most women around the world hold positions/roles in their community and the greater culture; as a mother, care giver and host.  Here the table clothes represent the act of setting the table. This opening action then creates a domino effect of future expectations of being a prim and proper women, in accordance to cultural standards. Speaking with Zanette she noted that there is nothing wrong with the act of a women hosting, especially if she enjoys it, it's the issue of felling obligated to fall into the expected roles of a woman. The same can be argued for a man and it's through discussions like these that we can reflect and become aware of our actions and owning them.

Another chair that caught my attention was one that held a row of tiny wire hangers all crammed together.  These represented the changes that we all go through in life when we are moving away, from school, because of a break up with a partner, going to a new home, or changing cities for work.  Starting fresh and letting go of old belongings and patterns that will only hold us down from our future endeavours, to me that is why these hangers are without items.

Regardless if you have been in group therapy or not we have all experienced change in our lives.  Their have been social constructions imposed on you.  This piece opens the dialogue that we all bring something to the table; life lessons, a perspective that joins our common experiences and creates a common ground, we are all human and want the same things in life. With an open mind we can see that negative experiences one has can been shared to then become a positive influence and life lesson for others.

Zanette's art is intimate, personable, and a true reflection of the artist herself.  She strives to find ways to make her art accessible to all by creating different mediums which allow her to also experiment in many different forms.  Her work and experiences have lead her to creating an art funding organization called Qgrant where she provides assistance to youth from 15 to 30 in the granting process and providing grants.  Zanette is always re-evaluating what makes a successful artist and creating a system that is functional, realistic and challenges the norm.  "Art is about an idea, not a price tag."

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Fine Tuning

I recently completed my latest series "Fine Tuning" which is a visual representation of my meditative experiences.  Below is a video that both explains the meaning behind the series and the creative process.

See my website for detailed images of "Fine Tuning" at New Work - Fine Tuning Series