Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ugly Art

Do you find this painting 'ugly'?
It's by a young woman painter who has garnered a world class reputation of high regard in the art world with her paintings - very edgy and graphic, mind - of overweight young women and transvestites and abused children etc., all topics that are 'uncomfortable' to say the least.
But what is art if not the portraying of subjects that the ordinary world often passes by and this includes 'pretty' pictures too because as an Artist we are challenged to show the world to our fellow beings that makes them stop and SEE.
I'm thinking about this topic today because, well, for one it's Halloween and a lot of 'ugly' gets glorified in costume. (I myself was a 'dead fairy'....point made) And I'm thinking about subject matter for another series.
Me in all my 'aging overweight woman' glory. But I'm thinking of painting a series that tracks my body changes as I diet and exercise to get myself healthy. (Gods and Goddesses know nothing else has inspired me to do anything about the abysmal state I find myself in) But I want to do them in such a way that it really isn't a portrait of me but a more universal 'woman metamorphosing' idea.
I really hope I can get some feedback from anyone out there on this just might be too 'ugly' in most folks opinion but I'm feeling that excited arm tingle.....
Painting: "Hybrid" by Jenny Saville and I happen to ADORE her stuff by the way. If you look her up be forewarned that she is very very 'in your face' subject wise but this woman can PAINT!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Muse has left the building.

Ah boy, I HATE this 'dead zone'.

I know there's something there inside waiting for the creative spark to ignite but so far everything I think might be it just feels flat when I try. And life has taken on a surreal quality. Yesterday I was questioned by an older gentleman as I walking into our community center and for the life of me I could not fathom what he was saying to me. It was as if I had been suddenly transported to a place that spoke an entirely unknown language. And after 3 tries (and the fellow becoming more and more fed up with me) I garnered that he was asking about 'flu shots'. I was STILL confused - flu shots...?....WTF? - and must admit to responding tersely with "I have no idea what you are asking about!", and his angry snort which left the most dislocated feeling in me. I also, perhaps mistakenly, posted my feelings about the Cedar Corner Gallery's closing on Facebook and got some decidedly, um, short answers. Basically about how I should feel lucky about getting my Artwork back at all and that I didn't know what I was talking about since I didn't have the whole story.

Again, WTF?

And I went ass-over-teakettle on my walk this morning as I was climbing over a fallen tree and stepped onto what I thought was a piece of branch and had my foot go right through it - it literally was a phantom image in my brain......reality shifted momentarily just then.

Honestly, I'm in an alternate dimension I'm pretty sure.

The painting: The Muse by Alphonse Mucha.....pretty much my biggest influence when I was young.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I'm Disapointed

Well, and damn it all anyway.
The Cedar Corner Gallery up in Tofino is closing it's doors for good on Wednesday.
I'm really bummed by this news.

Please Can I Have More?

It's raining and storming outside enough to make you think some kind of apocalyptic event is it seems a perfect day to make soup.
If there is any simpler way to create some fabulous culinary goodness, well, I don't know what compares.
Maybe grilled cheese sammies, but that's another thing altogether.
I have saved chicken backs and buy beef bones when I have/see them for a long time. Cheeeeep food. This is part and parcel of the 'artist survival skill-set' you need to have in the creative life. There is something so magical of adding 'bones' and water with savory veg to simmer on a stove top on a wintry day. The aromas alone will make you a believer in alchemy. My mom, long departed, was a master soup creator. I believe making soup is what got her large family through the war in Holland when food was very scarce. A little amount of ingredients will become rich and satisfying and feed many with a long slow cook. And it is so versatile in what you can use. Old slightly limp veg are best too - and that works for a fridge clean-out!
Anymystomachisgrowlingway, I just wanted to share another form of creating.
And, of course, I'll be having some homemade Scottish oat bread to accompany the bowl of soup.
Painting is: Virgin and Child with the Milk Soup by Gerard David.
And, seriously, that soup doesn't really get my taste buds rocking but the painting is a fine thing. And goes along with my sentiment of teaching your kids to cook from an early age. As an aside, what is up with the Christ child always being naked in these old paintings?!? ALWAYS. Must've had a good metabolism.......or that soup kept him warm.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Sunday Extras....or whatever mind seems incapable of those clever pun-ish titles this morning. Perhaps some breakfast would help.
Anywhatabeginningway, I originally had intentions of writing a post all about 'Sunday' and how it has always seemed to have that odd completely-free-day feeling to it; you know, you wake up with the thought 'ah good, it's Sunday so no rush to do ....etc.' kinda thing. Now, granted, for many it is just another day if you have a job that cycles days according to work schedules but for most of us, Sunday is really the day of rest. The 'sit-on-the-sofa-in-yer-jammies-till-noon' day. Drinking coffee. Reading the paper. Adding to the population problem..or not depending on your desires. Mind you when I was young, waythehellbackthen, Sunday meant dressing up like a small Victorian maiden and going to Ma and Pa doing the aforementioned as we finally left them alone for a couple of hours; but more on that anon.
So I went searching, as I do when sitting down to write my little blog, for a painting about Sunday....and I got lost in the oh-so-fascinating world of cyberspace.
And that lead me into wild and strange contemporary art that the new artistic community is creating.
Wowzers. What a strangely bizarre world it is. I see a lot of 'dark' subject matter out there. A GREAT deal of blood. On 'pretty' little girls. (oh Mr. Freud...?) Wildly distorted creatures. Skulls. Deathly pale people. Rubbery imaging.
I LOVE it, actually.
Makes me want to be a part of it all and paint gorgeous women with lots of tattoos......yes, well, moving on.
So that brings me to the image above. This artist is Mari Shimizu and she makes these wonderful dolls and I'm so in awe of them I want to pull out all my doll making stuff and create...except I won't because I have my mind working on another painting.
The dilemma of me as woefully attracted to many different things artist.
Focus, Marla, focus.
Perhaps some coffee........
ps. I'm sorry the image is so small and fuzzy. I couldn't find any large scale high rez ones of the pic I liked best.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I sometimes muse on the 'long ago' art I've done. Much of that early days work was given away as presents or somesuch; some even lost in all the moves I did. And that's pretty much all I ever dwelt on this for a moment of 'wonder what' and then out again as the usual 'damn that cat!' stuff takes over.
So imagine my complete gobsmacked-ness (is this a word even?) when I recieved an email asking about the above picture.
It is a colored pen and ink drawing of the style I did during the early 1970's to early 1980's....I was so into detailed (and horrible perspective) pics reflecting my 'hippie' self and my desired life. This particular drawing is of me and my 2 sons - now in their 30's - (!sheesh!) and all the trappings of that hippie-country style of life I lusted after back then.
The thing is I can't really remember doing this.
Anyway, the now owner of this work had tracked me down somehow and asked about the originality and story of the piece. Which I told them about. I also asked how they got it and it turns out a friend of theirs found it at 'Value Villiage' in Vancouver and had bought it. They also said it was greatly loved....and that was the best thing to hear.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lessons From The Road

Just back from the long trip down island to attend/display/pickup work at the Sidney Fine Arts Show. And it was a real 'learning' trip. I was first camped out at a moderately priced hotel - great location virtually across the street from the show venue - and I got an education on 'single-woman-on-trip'. For any single woman, travelling alone is a whole 'other kettle of fish'. You have to have a heightened sense of your environment. NEVER stay in a ground floor room that has poor security - obviously - and that's just what I first got as accommodation. Now, I admit to being reticent about 'making a noise' when I'm faced with situations. My generally laid-back attitude just goes along with whatever. And I did set up camp in this room that was decidedly one of the 'cheepseats' of this hotel. The room was dingy; kinda smelly of old cigarettes and dogs; broken knobs and locks and a bathroom fan that sounded like the room was about to launch itself. I just thought what-the-hey-ho I'm just sleeping here. OK. Then the next door folks moved in. Thin walls can be added to the list. AND they had a dog. That they left alone. While they went out. The dog barked. Constantly. After 3/4 of an hour of this, I had enough and went to the front desk to complain. And the front desk said, "We can phone the room and ask them to keep the dog quiet." really a good answer.
Anyway, after explaining the 'left the building' scenario, I was upgraded to a new 2nd floor room. Now, this room was great and made me realize how I needed to speak up right away when things are unacceptable.
Lesson 1.
I walked all over the little town of Sidney. Talked to assorted folks and enjoyed it immensely. While wandering about I went into the 'Peninsula Gallery' in Sidney, a most posh and respected business in the art world down there. At first I was only considering 'looking' but after some minutes gave myself a big kick.......and spoke to the lovely lady behind the desk. I admit to being coy at first -not introducing myself as an artist and all - but we did get around to that and - in my inner jaw dropping self - got a very welcoming response. And left feeling very positive.
Lesson 2.
The show was exceptional. Such good work. But a very conservative audience. The works that were sold were of a more 'traditional' genre. HUGE attendance - I don't think that I've ever seen such a well attended show. My work was certainly different. No, I didn't sell. Disappointing, certainly, but not crushing because I learned that the paintings with the flowers are not as 'good' as the 'detail design' of the first ones. (Like 'DISCONNECT' featured as a title image here) And that knowing your audience really helps.
Lesson 3.
I moved over to my dear friends after 3 days at the hotel and immediately felt the difference of being at home - so to speak. I had been hesitant to stay there as they had just lost a very dear friend and were wrapped up in a lot of details attached to a time like this but I'm so so glad they opened their arms to me at this hard time. I was privileged to also be included in the extended family dinners of the departed friend. I was swept up in what real love and good friends are. HUGELY grateful for this experience because I also got to mourn my Dad and the passing of a fine fine friend in an environment that was so healing. I came home with new family in my life.
Lesson 4.
I really love being down island. The weather is so much better. The vibrant art scene. The friends. The vibe. Just everything. I need to move.
Lesson 5.
I have homework to do........
Painting: 'Traveler' by Sasha Pepper

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Kind of Gratefull

It's Thanksgiving here in Canada - just on the off chance I have a visitor from elsewhere - and it's traditional for most of us to feel thankful about our families and friends, life, where we live, etc. And that's heartily condoned here at 'OFF CANVAS' because I think we often dwell on the dark side and forget the phenomenal gifts we do have in our lives.
I'd like to put a wee spin on what to be thankful about, in my arty way; it's the way my mind works, folks; so here's the top 10 list of the 'odd' things I'm thankful about. Please feel free to add your own 'strange'.
#1: I'm really thankful for being able to read. That one skill has kept me informed, educated and entertained for over 53 years. Nice track record!
#2: Warped sense of humour. Even in the darkest of dark times, the ability to see the absurdly funny side of things has rescued me time and time again.
#3: A love of solitude. Good thing, since I exist in this zone frequently.
#4: Loss of dignity. I have this in spades. Mainly due to my 'don't get it' mode of behavior towards the common life. And it's good because it keeps my ego from getting beyond it's tolerable boundaries. And good stories to tell.
#5: Patience. No high blood pressure. Not worried by delays or long lines. Good thing as getting recognized in the greater 'art world' takes a lot of this.
#6: Imagination. Need we say more.
#7: Magazines. I think magazines are the best way to kill time, inspire, entertain, read all in a short form manner. There has got to be a magazine for just about any taste/interest on this planet. Portable too.
#8: Clean sheets. Nothing like the feeling of crawling into them after a bath.
#9: Vacuum Cleaners. I just happen to think they are the bomb. And who wants to physically beat a carpet?!?
#10: Computers. Changed my life...yours too I'll bet.
The Painting: "Thanksgiving" by John Currin. This guy is fabulous. He is such a twisty painter of realism. I am in awe of his stuff!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

On The Road Again Again

Okey smokey....we're gearing up for the trip down island to Sidney for the Sidney Art Show next week and, in my usual head-spinning-madly way, I've got a mountain of clothes laid out as I seem to be incapable of packing light. I'm sewing 3 different 'garments' as well because they are the 'finishing touch' my 30 different outfits need and I am also packing a bag of 'creative things to do'.
I exhaust myself.
But it is the ritual I go through each time I travel.....and this is just locally. Heaven's breath, it becomes the subject of a reality show on weirdness. I don't even want to consider what travel to foreign climes would bring about.
Anywhatakookway, I'm always in a strange mood when these trips come about. On one hand I'm excited to be travelling, on the other, I suffer with anxiety. My brain starts the endless 'what ifs' and 'how do Is' and all the attending idiocy that a woman of my age and accomplishments would supposedly be handling like prepping a canvas.
In a way, I'm highly entertained by my 'goofiness'.....who wouldn't be? On the other hand, I'm fed up with my trepidation for what basically is a pretty straightforward undertaking.
There is just one thing left to say:
.... one more outfit and I know it will be perfect.
The Painting: Journey by Luc Tuymans. I like this because of the central woman figure on the bench and all the swirling people around .....just like I feel.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

M-E-E-E-m' la la lalala laaa.....

Great, now that sucky song is stuck in the brainbox...

OK, memories is the topic boys and girls. Because I watched "Waltz With Bashir", a terrifically done animation movie about a horrific event during the Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties. It has a lot to do with memory and how we can 'forget' or reinterpret events. It was very graphic and I admit I wept at the ending.
And was totally depressed with the inhumanity of ourselves to ourselves. Sometimes I think it might just be a good idea if we completely wipe ourselves off the face of this Earth.

Yes, well, I digress.
What struck me about the film and leads me to my topic - along my twisty path, for sure - is that history is made from memory but memory is subjective. We all remember differently, as gets illustrated graphically to me when I reminisce with my brother. We may have been in the same situation, but what he recalls can be completely opposite to what I recall and visa versa. So I'm wondering if 'History' is really truth or just the memories of some folks who put it down on paper first. We all know that many 'events' get reconstructed depending on how we wish to be perceived (you know it's so) and then a whole new spin gets put on something when a different memory comes to light. Not that I am saying that History is lies or whathaveyou; it just makes me wonder how, oh let's say, the Roman occupation of Britain seemed to the women of that day - a viewpoint we often don't get to read about.
And I guess I'm also wondering a lot about memory because of my subject matter in my paintings. It's my memories that are making the painting but it's the interpretation of the viewer and consequently what memories that image evokes for them, that is the communication they get.
And so many of the old master's paintings have been 'given' histories by someone else. Did old so-and-so paint that iconic piece because he was evoking the struggle of the endless fight between good and evil or was it really he needed the cash for next month's rent and rich old patron wanted that subject to go with his new villa?
Who knows. But it makes for lots of 'learned' speculation, huh?
Wonder if I'll be dealt with in this fashion in some future century.......or just a forgotten memory?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

THE 3 'R's' *

(* 'R'igger, 'R'eproduction and 'R'aw Sienna)

Ok, I'm going to warn you now that I might get carried away on what this is all about, mainly: Being a 'real' Artist and going to school.
For all the shows and contests I enter I have to include or submit a 'CV' (Curriculum Vitae) which generally is a list of the schooling and shows, etc. you have in your life as an artist. This is always problematical for me. Why? Because I'm self-taught; ie: did not go to 'ART' school.
Not that I didn't want to. As a matter of fact, I applied to Emily Carr (in Vancouver, B.C. when it was still called the Vancouver School of Art) in 1978 and was accepted. BUT! (and a big but) I was married to #1 at the time and he got a job over here in Ukee in the fishing industry and that meant I followed as the boys were very small and etc etc etc .....wah.
And then we sort of just slipped into that fast rolling river called 'Life' and went roiling and bounding along, often with head going under.
But I was continuously painting and drawing and doing some kind of creating all through those years. And reading ANY art book I could get my hands on. (my personal Art Library contains over 300 books - true story)
Fast track to 1994 when I changed my life around and decided to get serious about being an artist.
The rest you know.
My point being: am I any less of an artist because I don't have a 'school's credentials' behind my name? I don't think so and my back kinda gets all twisty when the snobbery of the art World raises it's pretentious head on this subject.
In the vast history of artists; and I've been researching this; there is very little schooling mentioned. Going to an accredited Art School really came about in the late 1800's - although going to Europe and studying with a 'Master' or just walking the Galleries and painting was an accepted apprenticeship in a way - however, most of the old masters just bloody well did art every day. The study is very helpful, don't think I'm advocating never going to school - I'm just trying to point out that years and years of constant diligence has validity too.
But I'm left wondering how many 'Art Experts' pass me by because of this.
* the 3 'R's' :
Rigger - is a very fine, long bristled and pointed brush used to make fine lines.
Reproduction - 'copying' an original art piece in an accepted meduim depending on type
Raw Sienna - one of the permanent pigments derived from clay
The Painting: The Lascaux Cave in France, painted somewhere around 15,000 to 20,000 B.C. (!!) ....and I'll bet you a rigger brush those Artists didn't go to school.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

When My Hair Matched My Paintings

Someone from a long ago friendship that I've just reaquainted with via good old Facebook remarked, after seeing my paintings, that they reminded her of how I looked when she knew me then. So I went trolling into the photo archives I've got in my old WW2 trunk and lookie what I found.
It's true.
Pictures are from @ 1991 to 1992 near as I remember, because I, like everyone else, never remembers to write the details on the back.


Acrylic with Gold Leaf

36 X 42"

...I'm reminded of 'Pebbles'.....all grown up.

Friday, October 1, 2010


This morning I was wondering just how long I'd been blogging at this cyber diary/journal/letter/waste some time with a cup of coffee spot and just now, went back to see.

Well, by all that's droning-on, we've been at this over a year now....July 3rd last year was the first post, can you believe ? Other than MISSING the anniversary date completely (*sigh*), it's interesting to see what a year has done. Because it was then that I started painting the 'Rita' Series and just look at all that's followed that.


That's actually quite cool.

Painting is: "Cakes" by Wayne Theibauld, American Pop Artist who hung with the likes of Andy Warhol etc. and I'm pretty sure most of you have seen his images all over as they've been used as 'kitschy' notepads and day planners and sundry. He began his career as a 'bout that.

Sure makes a great painter of goodies....I admit to having a real desire for that chocolate awesomeness at the back.......think I better have some breakfast before all hell breaks loose.