Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Inspiration: Chuck Close

The artist working on a self portrait. (source)

Chuck Close, Maggie, 1996, Oil on Canvas (source)

These paintings are phenomenal- not in the least for the fact that they are only part of Close's expansive works- he also does prints which in alot of ways are more impressive than his paintings. They are unique works, that deal with representation and abstraction so well. He breaches the illusion made by his realistic portraits by composing those portraits of small abstract peices. The viewer is constantly reminded of the flat surface of the canvas because of the abstractions- even while they explore the illusion of depth the portrait gives.

also check out his site- it's fascinating - Chuck Close home

Thursday, July 22, 2010

En Pleine Air

I painted these small watercolours (5x7 inches) on Monday, outside in our yard, while K and the Babe played on the grass, it was lovely to be outside and painting- I'm going to try and do this once a week from now on- maybe even in winter? Snowy watercolours would be so lovely but perhaps a little hard- would you use hot water? and work really fast?

I remember watching a documentary about Canada's war artists and one of them was saying that he tried to use alcohol instead of water for his winter pleine air paintings, and it worked great outside- but slid off the paper like jelly once he took them back into the warmth!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


This girl will climb on anything lately, In the top photo she's using some art we've recently bought-done by a good friend of mine- it's sturdy stuff, and beautiful, and N finds it fascinating- but still, those are some pricey climbing blocks for baby.

She's all about practising lately - she'd rather try her hand at walking slowly (supported, by hands or walls, or stools), than crawl fast to someplace. Anything that can be moved in our house has been used as a walker- the office routinely looks like someone has broken in and rummaged through my stuff, throwing paper and chairs and toys everywhere. I hand to stand back and look at it all the other day- slightly staggered by the fact that it actually looked ransacked. She stands in the bath tub now too, holding onto the sides of the tub or faucet while she peruses the shampoo shelf- It's madness, She even stands up in the bad when she wakes up!

It's got quite the learning curve-this parenthood gig- just when you think everything is safe they change the rules on you.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer of Food: How my Garden Grows

Calendula and Tomatoes
Zinnia and Tomatoes

Yellow Zucchini- though honestly I'm starting to wonder if these are actually straightneck squash- they seem to want to curve up at the neck, and get fatter at the bottom- I may have to let some get big to test my theory.

My Eggplants- I'm in love with these plants, they are pretty enough to plant anywhere.

Pumpkin- branching out.

Winter Squash Blossom- either Bush Delicata- or Burgess Buttercup- I won't know until they fruit as the tags got mixed up when I planted.

the eating from the garden is fairly monotonous latley- swiss chard, swiss chard and more chard- broken up by some zucchini. All tasty- but not really post worthy- next week I'll post about raspberry delights I promise, in the meantime-Happy growing!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Inspiration: Greg Hardy

Greg Hardy, Birch, Spurce and Cumulus, 2009, acrylic on Linen (source).

Greg Hardy, Island, 2009, (source)

I really like these landscapes- they're very dynamic and interesting as paintings. For some reason I tend to think of Landscapes as being very commercial- which they are of course- as people love to buy them, but 'commercial' can be quite the put down in the art world, well perhaps just in the academic art world (i.e. people who don't actually have to make a living off their art because they have the luxury of teaching art, a luxury they've worked hard for- but a luxury none-the-less). I don't see why there is the belief that one can't make commercial paintings that are appealing, that are really good paintings, and that are commercial.

It brings to mind other debates- about conceptual art- about art that is incomprehensible being deemed excellent- as though obscurity is the main goal. I think that's garbage- I think art should represent people, I think artists should try hard to be a voice of the 'masses'- to appeal to the 'everyman'-without compromising their artistic integrity. I think art that requires you to have a master's degree in order to get or like it is bad art.

But I also believe in the original- I believe people should have original paintings on their walls, not prints of original paintings- I wish people knew that a print is a technique- an art medium all it's own, not just a copy of a painting. I wish that it was impossible for Thomas Kinkaid to reproduce his works- so that people had to buy original art from local artists for their walls.

Having to produce my own work for sale has pushed me as an artist- I've been forced to make something that people will want to pay me for without compromising my own needs in creating.
It all makes me think of a conversation I had recently with my brother- about government funding for the arts, I was surprised to hear myself say it- as I've always just staunchly supported grants, but I think that if more artists are forced to live off their art sales, the best of them would find that sweet spot where art can be appreciated by both the public and the art world, where the word commercial isn't dirty.

That's not to say that grants don't have their place- or that all art should be simple stuff that you'd want to hang up in your living room- but just that we shouldn't stop ourselves from making or appreciating art just because it's commercial- as the above paintings show- sometimes a commercial work can feed your soul, and be lush, and complex and look fantastic in your living room.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Round of Applause?

N has learned to clap this week- it's the most darling thing I've ever seen. She gets the urge and goes for it- clapping like crazy. She gave claps to Dada for playing her toy piano with his feet, and I got a round of applause for putting on my bra in the morning. Indiscriminate clapping now fills my days- it's joyous. I also think it will encourage her to walk as she often wants to clap while standing- obviously- so she needs to be able to stand unassisted.

It makes me realize how important all these seemingly small skills are- and how interconnected as well. Learning to touch your hands together opens so many doors of communication- suddenly you can hi- five people and wave bye-bye, she also seemed to understand that people were complimenting her on her new bib last night- every time they said how nice it was she would pull at it and smile- it's like a puzzle piece has been put into place and now she can put together all these little skills she's been storing up. It's amazing to watch.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer of Food: Swiss Chard

This week has been the week of Greens- they're just out of the 'baby' stage- adolescent greens maybe? Whatever you call them they're delicious. I'm thinking about picking most of them at this stage and freezing them- but I've never done that before- does it work to freeze greens- are they tasty?

We're not too fancy with these anyways- just slice up some garlic and season with salt and pepper and either sautee in a frying pan- with olive oil- or in the summer we like to pop them on the grill wrapped up in tin foil.

Monday, July 12, 2010

One Small change- July

This post is really late- but I have been doing my change for the month up until now as well. It's a simple one- Composting. As our garden grows- I've been more aware of how important it is to compost- the soil needs it-if only to improve texture.

One boost that I've noticed in the last week is that I no longer have any veggie waste. I am a notorious veggie waster, My husband says I allow them to 'languish'- which is true- for whatever reason- it's much the same as my inability to return library books- something that seems like it would be easy for me to change- but for whatever reason I just can't do it ( I don't have a library card- but I read a lot- and lately I've been wondering if I can handle the responsibility of one- I mean my god- I do have a child that I manage to take care of- surely I can handle lent books?!?).

This is the best part of composting- my languishing vegetables now have a purpose, and this ability of mine to allow half a watermelon to get to that sticky syrupy phase means that for a household of just 2 adults- we produce a whole lot of compostable matter- It's almost enough to assuage my guilt over spoiled food (almost, but not quite- I was raised catholic after all).

Monday Inspiration: Amphora Pottery




Amphora Pottery was made by a Bohemian based Pottery around the turn of the century, it was made by Reissner, Stellmacher & Kessel, and marked with Turn Teplitz on the bottom- so it's also called Teplitz Amphora Pottery. In some ways it's very similar in style to Rookwood pottery(which was made in America), but it's more flamboyant- It's like Rookwood on acid.

The styles are so overly Art Nouveau it's almost too much for me- and I'm an art nouveau junkie. They're so heavily decorated and flowing sometimes it's like a parody of Art Nouveau- still it's beautiful stuff- and it's rare to see something so elaborate not turn the corner into gaudy, so the pieces that strike the balance between elaborate and elegant really get me.

Also I love the combination of shiny metal and pottery- it's a classic.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


For the last week I've been sleeping like a newborn- up every 2 hours, that is. I think it's because of the pearly gems emerging in N's mouth that she's been up so much at night. (she's getting teeth two at a time now, poor girl). Monday night was the absolute worst though- so bad we went to 'sleep' in the guest bedroom so as not to wake K.

I woke up because she was up- but not only was she up-she was busy hugging daddy- hugging Ferdinand (the cat- who suffered only so much of that- then took off), and generally just sitting up babbling and being a nuisance. I know that I can't blame this on teeth- but maybe new skills and tooth pain, and the heat have been conspiring???- all I know is that every time she wakes up - she sits up in bed and looks around to see what's going on.

Last night she slept fitfully- thank goodness- so hopefully this has passed, if not I guess I need to try something new. The thing that kills me about it is that even though she's already got six teeth- there's still so many more to come! I don't want to stop co-sleeping or nursing at night- and it's usually not that disruptive for me, I firmly believe it's allowed me to sleep more than if she were in her crib- but if this keeps up I'm going to have to change something. What is to be made of these baffling sleep changes? does anyone have any advice about this?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summer of Food: Baby Greens

This week we've been feasting on the thinnings from my beets, Swiss Chard and Spinach. I've never bothered with thinning in the past- which is so silly- especially on things that are tasty while young- like greens.

Not too fancy- but we had a killer salad with the greens and fresh baby lettuce the other night, just olive oil and white citrus balsamic, salt and pepper. Also I put them on grilled pizza too- where they were good- but not as good as fresh in salad.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Monday Inspiration: Aganetha Dyck

Aganetha Dyck, Mother's Last Pair of Heels, shoes with beeswax. (source)

Aganetha Dyck, Queen, 2007. (source)

Aganetha Dyck, Glass Jar with Pink Wax, Buttons and Jewelled Leaves, 1984. (source)

Aganeth Dyck, Close Knit, 1976-81, 65 Shrunken woolen sweaters. (source)

The first works I'd seen of Aganetha Dyck were her button jars- they spoke to me instantly. Her works have a visceral quality that I really admire. Her references to 'women's work' and domesticity typically catch my fancy. I admire her work because it references something feminine in such a masculine world.

The art world is-for those of you not in know-terribly masculine- by which I mean that the traits that are praised are masculine ones- bravado, aloofness, derision for those who 'don't get you' and an unwillingness to explain one's work to anyone who is not 'qualified'. It's much like the attitude of a petulant school boy in my opinion.

I know this seems counter-intuitive to those of you who cherish the 'artsy fartsy' stereotype, but It's mostly true nowadays, (the macho male artist is another post- perhaps for Jackson Pollock). Anyhow- In such a setting even feminist works tend to deal with women as sexual objects, as in "I'm Not an Object" art , or "Reclaiming Women's Bodies" art. I'm not saying that those issues are not worth exploring- just that it seems to me that it is the most 'masculine' way of exploring feminism- it is the way that appeals to men, it is dealing with the women's issues that men understand.

This is all a long way of saying that works like Dyck's, are a lot less sexy , but really deal with feminine issues like domesticity- and expectations of domesticity and mothering. Her Bee works seem to highlight the passiveness of co-operation, and the artist's role as a collaborator. They are quiet works- but richly textured and varied, they are nostalgic and introspective, but they are also edgy. They are really lovely, heartfelt works, but mostly they are honest works.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Saturday!

Last night we had crazy storms here- many branches came down a couple of trees- looks like today will be spent cleaning up the yard- as long as it quits storming.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mourning Dove

This is one little painting destined for the farmer's market. The sunshine has washed out the colours a bit- there's a lot of pinks and blues and yellows going on in there. Also there is an iridescent polka dot pattern in the background- which you can only see in certain light- it was made using pearlescent medium then washed over with layers of acrylic- pretty neat stuff.

I love mourning doves- they were one of the first birds to 'welcome' us out here, and despite their sad coo-ing (I think that's where they get their name- it sounds a bit like an owl- only with a little more longing) they're really beautiful birds. Unfortunately they're also appropriate for our family right now- many of whom are coping with some grief, or impending grief- My heart goes out to them- however 'expected' the loss of a parent is- I think it's still un-unexpectedly hard.