I am thrilled to be participating in the oneTree Exhibition 2019 from November 16, 2019 to February 29, 2020. The Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature in Victoria, BC will be hosting this third in a series of exhibitions which features artworks by numerous artists and artisans created by the wood from a single tree. In this exhibition, over 70 artists will create pieces that celebrate the life and value of a single maple tree.
I will have two separate but thematically related pieces in the exhibition that explore our changing and profound relationship to nature. In this post I will present the first of those pieces, entitled Wind And Maple.
The piece is an accordian artist book that explores the ebb and flow and convergence of people and places, the illusion of permanence and the divergent appeal of rootedness versus wanderlust. Viewed and read from either side, it forms an unending circle of discourse.
Photopolymer gravure prints of maple imagery contrast with swirling abstracted imagery of wind, peeking from behind and below in the centre of the maple platter. Two halves of a poem are read on either side of the book. The two live-edge maple bookends add their beauty and solidity.
The maple represents constancy, the shelter of home and the appreciation and comfort that comes with experiencing places and people over a long period of time. The wind contrasts this with its mobility, carrying adventure, strangeness and new experience. Barely visible and requiring the viewer to look deep within the book, it alludes to the courage needed to embark on an unknown path, and also the rich experience that it may reward you with.
Viewed together, one realizes that all experience is of value. Just as the tree has died and been transformed, all things must change and there is beauty to be found in every moment and place.
The saying goes “those who can, do and those who can’t, teach”. This past July I rediscovered the immense satisfaction of teaching something I love to do. I taught a class at MISSA (Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts) at the beautiful Pearson College campus in Metchosin, BC for the second time. As with every class I’ve taught in the past, it was an exhilirating and inspiring experience. The class I taught was Monotype Magic. The magic, I discovered, was not only in the art making but in the teaching experience. The enthusiasm and enjoyment of my students was so infectious and their praise for the process and myself both gratifying and humbling. I welcome anyone who can do something well, to teach it to others. Not only will your students benefit from your expertise but you yourself will learn from your students and find a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm for your craft. Thank you to my wonderful students for the opportunity to share my passion with you!
Below are some images of the artworks created during this workshop. More images can be viewed here.
Pulling the print
Many shades of blue, playing with ghosts and working a series
Much of the class time was spent developing series of works incoorporating the ghost imagery left on the plate. Below are my demo prints showing two of these ghost prints.
Teacher’s demo, first of two ghost prints
Teacher’s demo, second of two ghost prints
What about you – do you have a great class experience that you might like to share?
The last time I visited Hawaii’s island of Kauai was fourteen years ago, when I spent an idyllic month on its breathtaking North Shore with my children. Two weeks ago I returned with my fiancé, wishing to share our love of this island with each other. While there we had our share of adventures (including an extraordinarily thrilling and moving helicopter ride over the breadth of this magnificant island) and misadventures (notably a slip and fall while hiking the infamous Kalalau Trail that resulted in a dislocated elbow (his) followed by a taxing, and harrowing walk out of the trail). More on that misadventure in a later post.
What we mostly shared, though, was an umbrella, for it rained and rained. Not the quick tropical shower followed by a beautiful rainbow (though we did see a few of those), the rains were the kind that lasted all day and night, often accompanied by howling winds. This made our beach time less than idyllic, particularly after the elbow dislocation, which meant keeping the elbow splint dry. It was also the reason for the fall and dislocation, having made the trail slick with mud.
Fortunately the rain was warm and it made for some very surreal swims and atmospheric photos. Every break in the rain brought a new stormy and dramatically lit scene to photograph.
The winter seas were also high and roiling, with crashingly beautiful waves.
With such drama, I decided to create an album of Kauai photos with the colour reduced to near black and white, to highlight the beauty of this extraordinary island that lies beyond bright tropical colours. You can see all the photos here. Enjoy!
I am thrilled to finally unveil my latest large piece, Paper Dreams, which was completed in 2015. Paper Dreams is probably the most complex and considered artwork I have created to date. Below is the artist statement I prepared for the work.
“Paper Dreams is a complex paper and wood sculpture created as a meditation on the impermanence and fragility of our dreams. Designed to loosely resemble paper strips going through a shredder, it consists of multiple photopolymer gravure prints with poetry, and reflects a significant period in my artistic life. By cutting and discarding portions of these prints, I surrendered the life I had created for them. In doing so I was able to create something new and beautiful, demonstrating how destruction and creation often go hand in hand, as do fragility and resilience.”
The idea for Paper Dreams began with a desire to create a complex paper construct made up of multiple hand-pulled prints, which would provide glimpses of figures in various moments and moods. This would be achieved through a combination of layering, folding and cutting of the prints. I had, over the years, created a large number of figurative works on paper, and in a decisive moment of clarity I realized what I truly wished to achieve. I wanted to create an artwork that represented who I was as an artist at this moment in time. Gathering all these images together in one piece would be one way to do that. At the same time, by tearing and discarding portions of these prints I was letting go of the life and dreams I had created for them individually. This was not an easy thing to do. I chose prints that I had deep connection to for their meaning and quality, as well as the treasured experience of creating them. They were an integral part of my life as an artist and a woman. Many of them were self portraits. By shredding them I was letting go of my own dreams. And in the letting go I found that I was able to create something new and beautiful with its own new life and meaning.
Below is a photo of the initial stages of layering and ordering the images. Some of the prints had to be cut and collaged onto new stips of paper to fit well. Here you see them before any collaging was done.
Paper Dreams in progress
Several new prints were created for the piece as well, and new and old poems were added throughout the work, all with dream motifs. While choosing the images for the piece I realized that the word “dream” had been used in a good many of the individual artwork titles. Where I could, I left these visible. Below is a detail showing some of the poetry.
Paper Dreams, detail
The photo above also shows how the layering affords mere glimpses at times of the images behind the front layers. I decided early on that this piece would be unframed and the poetry would be written in pencil, as this was an essential part of the theme of fragility. It was also necessary in order to lift layers to see those behind.
To anchor the pieces of paper I chose two strips of maple cut from one piece sliced in half and which had a gorgeous live edge on the top. I found it rummaging through Detlef Grundmann’s woodworking shop and commissioned him to cut and sand it to size for me. I then finished it with GAC on the inside for a protective barrier where the paper would adhere to and with a finishing wax everywhere else. The pieces of paper were then glued on in four layers, two to the back piece and two to the front piece of wood. Finally the two pieces of wood were joined together as shown below. The back piece was wired like a regular frame for hanging
Clamping the wood pieces together.
Below is a side view of the artwork showing its three dimensionality.
Paper dreams, side view
The title, Paper Dreams, works on several levels. It refers to the nature of the materials used in the artwork, wood and paper being the same material in different stages of creation. Primarily it denotes the fragile and transitory nature of life, attachments and desires and the deeply personal perspectives from which we view our world and ourselves.
Paper Dreams will have it’s unveiling at the 2016 Sooke Fine Art Show this July 22 – August 1 at the SEAPARK Complex in Sooke, BC. There will be a Purchaser’s Preview evening on Thursday, July 21, 7-10pm and an Artists’ Celebration on July 23, 7-10pm. If you are in the area please do visit the show and enjoy the many fabulous artworks on display.
To whet your appetite here is a final detail of the artwork.
Paper Dreams, detail 2
Paper Dreams, photopolymer gravure on paper on wood, 34″x33″
It’s been six months since my last posting. Where has the time gone? On yes, into a studio renovation, and moving house!
The renovation came first, and neither are complete. Moving into an already completely furnished home while renovating a room for a studio space has meant living with a lot, and I mean a lot, of clutter. While the work is being done on the studio, all the studio furniture, including a large etching press and an extra toilet sit in wait all over the house. Combining two households into one has also required a purging and reorganization of mammoth proportions that has brought into play all our negotiation skills and forebearance.
The work is still incomplete but we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The studio is painted and awaits the flooring, which is being made of local elm by my partner (now fiancé, yeah!). It is slow in coming due to other committments but I know it will be extraordinary, as all his wood projects are, and worth the wait.
Here are some photos of the project from start to present. The photo below shows the hole left by the indoor hot tub which we removed. Not an easy or pleasant job!
Hot tub hole
The adjoining bathroom was made much smaller, with change in flooring, walls and just about everything else!
New wall was put up shrinking the bathroom and enlarging the studio space.
New wall going up.
Time for the drywall. We did it ourselves and it was hard work, especially the ceiling! The little green stickies were to see where little touch ups were needed.
Finally, after many months the first brush of paint went on!
The walls are painted! How do you like the color? It looks very strong and warm here because of the fabulous sunset light.
Did I mention the gorgous view and adjoining deck?
More updates to come! Meanwhile I wish everyone a wonderful weekend!
Some love stories begin with a spark, like the lighting of a match. Others are a slow simmer, like a soup that warms your insides. However they develop, they invariably arrive at a moment when a barrier is lowered, hearts are opened and a realization is made that this person matters and this relationship has crossed over into one of significance and beauty.
This artwork illustrates that moment of crossing over and that intoxicating feeling of heady joy when two people open themselves to the possibility and beauty that this love proffers.
The title also has a literal context, as the image is from a selfie taken while on a ferry crossing. Taken early on in a relationship it will always remain a wonderful memory of that beginning time when the world opens up and becomes full of promise and beauty.
This piece, an 8″x10″ monoprint on paper mounted on board, is one of several that I will be showing in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria‘s Love At First Glance small works show, running Feb 4 to 17, 2016. Hope to see you there!
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria Massey Gallery
1040 Moss Street, Victoria, BC
Tomorrow marks the Winter Solstice. Beginning in the early morning hours, it marks the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern hemisphere. Being an event of significance in the allignment of the stones at Stonehenge, I thought this would be a good time to feature images of my visit there this past August.
The day I visited the site was a gloomy, dark one with no moments of sunshine whatsoever, so I have no iconic photos of the sun shining through the stones to show you. The crowd surrounding the stones created its own photographic challenge. I was nonetheless left in awe of their magnificence and the extraordinary feat of engineering that created the henge. Built in the Neolithic Period, between 3000 and 2000 years ago, with gigantic stones brought all the way from Wales, this accomplishment boggles the mind. And with so few clues as to its purpose and the culture that built it, it remains an intriguing and mystical glimpse into our past.
The approach to the stones was a long one. Seeing the tops of the stones appear filled me with such excitement, only to be dimmed somewhat by the enormous crowd surrounding them, everyone intent on capturing selfies.
All Those Bright Dots
It took a while to circle completely around the stones, with every few steps offering up a new view and composition to contemplate. While it was disappointing to not be able to enter into the circle, it did make it easier to take photos and to absorb the splendour of the stones unimpeded by throngs of people. Below are a few close ups and stone vignettes.
Through the Circle
Beyond the Stones
Birds of a Feather
A full view of the stones without people was nearly impossible but the next photos come close.
This past summer I travelled to England for the first time. While visions of scones, moors and Big Ben ran through my head, it was its neolithis stone circles which I was most eager to experience. They did not disappoint.
Pictured here and below is Castlerigg, one of England’s lesser known but most complete circles, in one of the most dramatic settings. Standing on a hill and surrounded by mountains in Keswick, Cumbria, near the Lake District, it is an awe inspiring sight. Dating from around 3000BC, little is known of its history, adding to the mystery and allure. It does have a solar allignment and so was most likely used in solstice rituals. It is easy to feel the weight of the past when standing amongst the stones, but mostly I felt sadness at the loss of knowledge of the civilization that built the circle.
But contemplating the past there was at times a difficult exercise, as people came by the carloads and inevitably used the stones for standing on, jumping off and taking selfies in front of. The picture below demonstrates the challenge in trying to capture the circle with the desired for reverance.
A full view of the circle was unattainable without people that day but these two came close.
As you can see from the pics, the sun was reluctant to show itself that day, as was the case for much of our visit. But it did make for atmospheric photos.
The final picture below shows the entire circle in a moment of late afternoon light.
This year seems to be a year for re-imagining older works. Earlier this year I created a work of art using portions of older prints in combination with new pieces, collaging them together into a paper scroll entitled Island Tapestry. Around the same time I was working on an even larger, more complex piece that I will blog about soon. This second piece left me with many remnants of prints I had cut up and gave me the idea to create Tapestry, the piece above, a multiprint patchwork of images that together create a cohesive whole.
I began with a loose idea of collaging darker pieces for the left third of the board and using lighter pieces for the rest. I had the dark pieces and found that they worked well as horizontal bands of color but I soon realized that I wanted more defined and recognizable imagery for the remaining two thirds of the piece. So I dug through my stack of prints and picked out the images that worked well as two-inch squares and assembled them into a pleasing, connected and vibrant collage. Some of these pieces were left as 2x4s or 4x2s for better impact and to break up the symmetry.
The images used for the piece were taken from prints both large and small, representational and abstract. Many are figurative. All give just a tiny glimpse into a larger world. As a good friend and fellow artist, Ann Semple, put it, “ it feels like the tapestry is a book and each piece is a short story that culminates in a complete tale”. The piece is indeed a “picture book”, though each picture only hints at the full story, leaving the viewer to fill in the gaps. The dark portion on the left is even more clouded, with the merest hints of the world, and acting as both a metaphor for the entire work and a visual foil to the more delineated imagery. The details below shows just how necessary that foil is.
Tapestry, detail 1
Tapestry, detail 2
Tapestry, detail 3
I have always considered myself a storyteller with my artwork. Lately I am realizing that my storytelling is deliberately incomplete, that I prefer to tantalize the viewer with hints and impressions. In this way he is drawn in, reads between the lines and finds greater resonance with his own experience.
Happy reading. Please share your experience of it in the comments below.
Tapestry, a 12″x36″ multiprint collage on paper mounted on board, is offered at $650.
Spring brings a wave of blue in the garden when these tiny starry shaped wildflowers reappear to grace us with their loveliness. I got down and photographed them on a morning after a spring rain, bringing back with me two very wet feet and one big grin for the treasure I had captured in my camera.
Not to be outdone by the tiny camas were these giant irises floating in my sea of blue.
Camas and Sea Blush
Isolating the camas from the surrounding green grass and pink sea blush was sometimes difficult and sometimes unnecessary as in the photo above.
The stalks of deep blue greens are almost as captivating as the flowers in bloom.
For more photos of my blue flower photoshoot, go here, and if you’re lucky enough to live by the sea go out and see some for yourself!