In 1988 I spent a weekend in a cabin at Johnston Canyon near Banff, AB where there lived a hare. His many hours of sitting gave me a perfect chance to draw him. That year I spent many hours sketching animals at the zoo, at home and in nature.
Monthly Archives: September 2010
In 2003, while preparing for a papier mâchè project on Wetland birds I went to the river to draw the geese. I love to draw, not just for what is left on the paper, but for how it connects me to the moment.
Quote by Frederick Franck from his book the Zen of Seeing: “I have learned that what I have not drawn I have never really seen, and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle.”
A week from today, Sunday, October 3, I will be at the Coast Collective outside of Victoria on Vancouver Island, BC, holding a one day Doll as Art workshop.
The class is a fun, innovative, and resourceful way to create no matter what your age, gender or ability. It is amazing the diversity of figures that can be made with a bit of wire, strips of fabric, a found object or two and easy to learn wind-and-wrap techniques.
All materials are supplied though participants are encouraged to bring a few treasures of their own to personalize their work.
Click on Coast Collective on the blog roll for registration information.
Fifteen years ago this month I started making “dolls”. It began in a spontaneous creation making class in Calgary AB though I had been reading books about doll making as an art form for about 6 months prior to this.
“Permission” was my first doll. I was totally engaged with what I was thinking and feeling as I created her. Though I already had a fine arts degree I had never felt such a personal connection to the making of art as I did when I made her.
After making her I heard the dismissive critic in my head say; “Write your professors and tell them you’re making dolls now”. I took this as a personal challenge and named her “Permission” to give myself permission to explore this new way of creating.
As a quote I saw at a gallery many years ago said, “Whose permission makes it permissible anyway?” It’s an interesting question and one I continue to ask myself from time to time.
While traveling through Northern California last year I found a Japanese Sumi colour set in a fabric store of all places. It’s a paint I’m not used to using and would describe as an intense, gummy type of watercolour. This painting, created within days of the purchase, is a mixture of traditional watercolours with the sumi paint. I love the intensity and fluidity of the sumi colour and used it wherever strength and presence was required.
To compose this en plein air study I used a mathematical approach, one that I designed and taught in schools. The gist of this method is to think about the main elements as pieces in a puzzle and assign a percentage or fraction to each part. Another way to look at it is what element takes up the most space, which the least and what’s in between. In this painting the air is about 20%, water 25% which leaves more than 50% of the painting being land partially because there are two pieces; a foreground piece and a background shape as well. Because of the dominance of land it was important to me to leave some of the foreground land unpainted; open space for resting the eyes. This area in the foreground also connects to and balances the lightly rendered sky in the background.
A few years back I spent a lot of time with a particular group of students as they went from grade 5 into 6. As an artist in residence the chance to work with the same group of students over two years is golden. This project was designed to enhance observational and drawing skills. Another important component was to think descriptively while drawing; to add a quality of personification to the art.
Like the papier mâchè starfish this drawing illustrates the steps involved in the project. I started with a detailed, pencil drawing, added colour with watercolour pencil crayons and then blended with a brush and water. Studies of the starfish before this included: blind contour, drawing only the negative shapes, and then texture only (no outline).
I remember that when I went to create this piece I realized that I had left the starfish in the classroom. Working from my sketches and memory freed me up to enhance the descriptive and symbolic aspects in the work.