Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Requiem to Historical Buildings

Today's blog is a requiem to the disciplined, proud,  exacting workmanship and craftsmanship skills of a past era. 
Notice the skill, craftsmanshp, design and fine detail of this mid 1800's Victorian.  The lovely quarry cut slate roof, the gables, the hand cut wood trim on the gables, the sophisticated chimney design.   Every piece placed to survive over one hundred years, to outlive the original  builders, to remain as a landmark for centuries to come.
Notice the lovely leaded glass windows

Most of the interior of this home was crafted with the same loving care and pride of workmanship.

Meet the lovely couple who owned this home and cherished it for over forty years.  They posed for me last April as I asked permission to paint a portrait of them.
Now say goodbye to the home and the couple as I no longer know where to find them and the home has been levelled.  Struck down I am certain by some developer's hammer.  Probably to be replaced by  a million dollar condomium bulding of concrete and glass.  I will confirm this in a later blog.

Hamilton Ontario Canada is a fairly young city, (by European standards).  Conceived by George Hamilton in 1812 when he purchased an area farm.  A strategic location in the 1812 war;  used by the British to fight the invading Americans.  But that is neither here or there.  Hamilton has some very fine architecture dating back to the early and mid 1800's.  Victorian, Gothic, Victorian Revival and Gothic Revival.  Some brick, some from handsome quarried limestone.  All wonderful examples of fine workmanship, skillfully hand crafted details....our heritage.  And yet in the past week I have driven by four such wonderful locations where the properties are no more.   All located in a much sought after area of  Hamilton....fine, well tended neighbourhoods,

Such fine neighbourhoods, it leaves me questioning the city fathers.  Why, oh why, do we allow developers to level something that is beautiful, proud and of historic importance.  Especially when we should be preserving the proud heritage of these buildings and neighbourhoods.  In this struggling economic time this steel city has many neighbourhoods that could use renewal and revival.  Why bulldoze a cherished and fine neighbourhood?  

One wonders how this lovely home on the corner avoided the bulldozer; and how long it will remain a loving landmark.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Copying Another's 'art'

I recently read an internet debate between two artists regarding one artist copying the work of another.  The denials go on and on with supporters of both camps accusing the other. 
Ever visited a gallery and looked at a particular piece of work and  left thinking "I can do that"; or "so simple, anyone could do that including 'me'". There are such people who do copy another's work. Copying is a pitfall  we must be careful of as artists.  Anything we post on the internet should be copyrighted.

There is a however a line between copying another's art work in order to lay claim the the originality and 'copying or imitating' another's style.

Copying past master's work is sometimes used as a method of teaching....better not become too proficient at this method of painting and think of selling them or you may be painting cell walls when charged with forgery; and that would indeed change your artistic view and inspiration.

An artist friend paints abstracts that I absolutely admire.  I would never consider 'copying' one of his works either to imitate style or as a teaching tool.  Analyzing his work I totally lack the vision, the heart and emotion I see in his abstracts.  But, not being the brightest pin on the block, I tried my hand at abstract painting.....well, let me just say I definitely do not have the depth of feeling required to work in abstract.

On a recent visit to an art gallery my grandson spied a simple canvas, simplicity itself in form and colour.....gigantic in size .... 12 feet x ?? (forgotten the other measurement).  His comment, especially after looking at the six figure price tag and imagining all the surf boards, wake boards etc. he could purchase "grandma, you can do that".  My response was of course I could not.  On arriving home he attempted his copy on a much smaller scale.  Not bad as it was produced from memory but it definitely served as a 'training exercise' and I knew he had learned as he commented  " not bad, but not quite right".  His attempt is attached as today's art.

He had not looked at the artist's entire portfolio, looking for a thread of thought or emotion.  Expertise aside he could not imagine the vision, the inner feeling that prompted the original.   Try copying another artist sometime; for instance a  Pollock - easy right?  You may wish to imitate a style and that is fine, but I would question seriously whether your finished product would stand with the original.  I think it would lack the freshness, translation of a particular moment, the immersion of the feeling.

These are just my ponderings, and they may well be off the mark.  Would be interested in what other artists think.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Effervescence Of Love

Effervescence of Love

My dearest friend met with a mishap yesterday and was injured. Thank goodness except for extreme pain, the injuries could have been much worse.

When I first heard of the injury, a huge gaping chasm appeared before me and suddenly I saw how empty my life would be without my friend and was reminded of the preciousness of life and how we must make each moment count; and always be true to that moment.

I have not of late told my friend how much they mean to me. I have failed to say how much the warmth, encouragement, wit and companionship has meant to me; how it has nourished me and filled my days with happiness. My recent words have not expressed these feelings, and I apologize. I would like to say life would be so empty without you my friend.

I dedicate this painting to you dear, dear friend with all my heart.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Artistic Pitfalls

There are many pitfalls along the way to becoming an accomplished artist and I am certain all artists are familiar with many of them.  One I want to discuss is the reliance on photographs to produce one's work.  As artists we must be so very careful not to duplicate the photograph.     
A photograph should be viewed as a tool to the production process....not as 'holy writ'.  It surely was not the inspiration, the 'something' that moved within you, that awakened the desire to paint a particular moment in time.
The attached artwork explains what happened to me when I relied on a photograph.  The sketch was done on the North Atlantic shore off Nova Scotia during a Nor'easter gale.  The sky was quickly darkening, the waves crashing and cresting three to four fee high and the surf rolling in in constant swirls.  I was so moved by the crashing darkness and surge of water.
Back in the studio I started painting using the sketch as source and everything seemed to be going well.  Then I looked at the photograph, I added this swell, this crashing high wave, more and more rolling surf, changed the colour........stood back and left the studio in disgust.  Ruined....that is not what I had in mind at all
Did some household chores and thought and thought about what the painting had lost.  Returning to the studio I picked up my largest brush, checked my palette and swiped colour in fast swabs across the canvas, obliterating all the detail; returning to the dark indigos.....and was satisfied I had captured the dark mood of the day and oncoming storm.
I now view photos as a provide some 'thing' I may have missed in my sketch and which may add to the picture I am developing.....or as in a sunset to capture that instant glow.
And I try to remember only the eye can discern the wonder and only the heart can feel the moment.....the first impression that made me say "Wow" I want to capture this forever more.

Friday, March 26, 2010

More Doodles

I know an artist should be equipped with a sketch book and should tote said book at all times. However I found it a bit noticeable to carry around a sketch book in my work place….especially at management meetings. So I continued my doodle days straight from school workbooks to board rooms. Usually capturing participants at meetings.
Unfortunately not all participants are included in today’s attached art, as I cannot locate the bulk of the meetings doodles.
Why is that?
There is no pothole in my studio, there is a huge gushing quicksand pit … honestly there is! Every once in awhile I can hear it slurping in the dark of night, a swirling vortex sucking into its depth exactly what I will need tomorrow.
I know this because; although new visitors to my studio are intimidated by the space and seldom venture past the door ….(every square inch of wall space and floor space is covered with either completed works, works in progress, notes or materials)….there is still order in this room. And after all there is still two square feet of bare floor space in front of my easel albeit a tricky journey from door to easel. There is order, I know where everything is…..except the doodles I now seek.
So, here are some of my workplace doodles….those not claimed by the quicksand pit. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Artistic Doodles

Why am I doing this…..where did it begin…..this passion to create a work of art?
My passion is to create on canvas the song I hear in my heart, the joy that leaps on viewing a certain scene in nature, a certain motion in another human, or just the song of memory in my mind.
Although I question what I paint, how I paint and why I paint I cannot seem to abandon the passion to create.
Where did it all begin?
I have always ‘doodled’ I guess would be the word. Many, many times have my knuckles been wrapped by some teacher's yardstick for doddling all over my workbooks.  But it couldn't be helped....the droning of his/her voice or the boredom of the lesson just sent my mind adrift in a world of creative wonder.
Retaliation always gave such sweet pleasure when I would draw an ugly portrayal of the teacher in the back of my workbook. Unfortunately I usually forgot to black out these uglies when it was time to hand notebooks in for marking. And oh yes, my parents were advised…..boil and bubble double trouble!
This should have been clue enough to abandon my wayward art ways.  But no.....why take the easy road ....slog through the potholes of teacher knuckle wrapping and parental'll never make a living as an artist....they're all homeless hippies!  Take the road to questioning every thing I put on canvas.   Follow the passion be it late.
Here is a full page doodle from a school book, done when I was 11.  Hope you enjoy!