Julian, Lisa, and Enda
After my story appeared in our local newspaper, the Vancouver Sun (see previous blog post below), I met with 2 of the teachers of Admiral Seymour Elementary to select an underprivileged, talented art student from grade 4,5,6 or 7, who would emotionally benefit from continuing his desire to draw and paint.
On Friday, November 25, Pro D Day for teachers in the Vancouver school district, the student from Seymour Elementary, Julian, his teacher Lisa and I went shopping.
Lisa picked Julian up from his home and brought him to Opus http://www.opusframing.com/
on Granville Island, where we had agreed to meet at 3 PM. Lisa had only 2 hours for the shopping expedition, pick up and return Julian.
It gave me great pleasure to introduce Julian as an emerging artist to Heidi, the Opus Granville Island store manager, who just happened to be in the store at the time.
Julian was quite decisive about what kind of art supplies he wanted, which was quite amazing!
Julian likes to draw small, almost all cats. He wanted to experiment with coloured pencils, water colour pencils, brushes, coloured markers and pastel crayons. So we bought 2 larger “all media” sketch books and a couple of small “dry media” sketch books, pencil sharpener, two different types of erasers, retractable pencil with a couple of lead refills. He was also interested in a small artist's adjustable mannequin with a batch of pencils, which indicates that he may divert from cats to human figures.
When we had almost reached our $200 goal, Julian wanted a container to keep everything in. It had to fit into his backpack. At first he wanted it to be opaque so that no one could see inside but settled for slightly opaque. Then he wanted a combination lock to put on this container so that no one could take anything. Since the container was small enough to fit in his back pack, I mentioned that it would be best just to keep it safe in his pack or somewhere where no one else could have access to it.
I also took him to see my friend Jack Darcus' studio http://www.jackdarcus.com on Granville Island but did not have time to take Julian to Emily Carr College of Art and Design http://www.vcad.ca/
My impression of Julian, with his passion and determination, is that he will one day become a "famous artist"!
What a wonderful experience this shopping spree turned out to be! I don’t know who benefitted the most, me or Julian!
I will also be stopping in at Admiral Seymour Elementary school a couple of times a month to see how the art students are doing.Comment on or Share this Article →
What a difference a Teacher makes.
What began by reading a couple of articles on “Adopt- a- School” in the Vancouver Sun newspaper, has taken me back to where I started as an artist, or at least, was acknowledged as an artist at age 13.
Upon reading the 3rd article about Admiral Seymour Elementary School teacher’s plea for warm socks and donations for food for the children of this inner city school, which I attended after one year of arriving in Canada, I made a commitment to participate. The article really struck a chord with me.
I wrote to the Vancouver Sun’s “Adopt-a-School” email address, as per instructions, to let them know that I had attended Seymour Elementary where the teachers had encouraged me to submit my drawing of a dog family looking out the window of a barn.
This drawing won a book for the school library. I also mentioned that to my delight, I was selected to play “Queen Elizabeth” in a re-enactment of the Queen’s coronation during the same year (I think).
This small act of kindness catapulted me into believing in myself and my art.
My proposal to “Adopt-a-School” was to donate $200 towards art supplies to a needy creative child in grade 5, 6 or 7, in hopes of fulfilling his or her dream, the same way that my teachers had done for me decades earlier. This little bursary was to be given each year for the rest of my life or 10 years, whichever was the longest.
The following morning after my email, there was a call from a Vancouver Sun newspaper journalist to interview me, followed by a photography session at my house and my story was published! http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Seymour+elementary+gets+help+with+supplies/5745871/story.html
It was absolutely wonderful that a couple of teachers had taken an interest in me so long ago and supported me in this inner city school in Canada, especially after having been treated as second class citizens in Sweden, where we were refugees from Estonia.
Now another compassionate teacher, Carrie Gelson, had done the same for her students.
When I first read the teacher’s plea, I was really touched by her taking the time to write and reach out to the public to help her students. She spear-headed the “Adopt-a-School” program which has now become an overwhelming success.
What a difference a teacher makes…Comment on or Share this Article →
When people ask me “how long does it take to paint this painting”, I sometimes don’t know where to begin. This was a question at my artist’s talk at CityScape on Saturday, November 5.
Is the beginning of the painting from the moment I place the brush on the canvas until the last stroke, or from the concept and everything else in between?
Toni Onley’s answer to the question of “how long” was - “65 years and 20 minutes”. Toni painted his quarter sheets of plein air watercolour paintings in 20 minutes flat, without any pre-drawing! He was a master! www.tonionley.com
My conceptual abstracts begin with a fleeting image from my subconscious when I shut my eyes in a relaxed state. I quickly make a thumbnail sketch, noting colours and patterns, and date. These images becoming catalysts for creating an abstract form on a limited surface.
When I’m ready to paint some work, I flip through the sketchbook and select some images which appeal to me. This is followed by reworking them in more detail into a 4” square format in another sketch book, in preparation for painting. Sometimes in the planning of the picture, the abstract titles pop up too.
The layout is planned by calculating, measuring, aligning and taping so that it works out efficiently. Precision is important. If I make a mistake in one area, the whole thing goes askew. I begin with the big shapes, painting them first on the canvas, adding the small detail later.
Sometimes it takes up to 1 hour to get an angle right when I’m measuring and applying the masking tape. The edges of the masking tape are sealed with GAC 700 to prevent one colour from bleeding into another. The objective is for the edges to be clean and sharp.
The painting evolves along the way until it is complete, even though it has been planned in advance. Sometimes I change and add a colour, line or pattern to create a more exciting combination, hoping that it still works in the final result. I keep working the edges until I reach a solid design.
The painting part goes quickly. I use a big brush to apply 3 coats of flat pure colour, mixed with a bit of water, for smoother application, and some medium to bind the paint. The painting is dried either naturally or with a blow dryer in between applications.
When I’m happy with the work, it is then given an isolation coat, followed by 2 coats of varnish, all having dried in between.
The gallery wrapped edges are painted with black Gesso. The work is then photographed outside on an overcast day, which could be a challenge in Vancouver during winter. Setting the camera totally level and aligned with the painted takes a few minutes too.
After the photography session, I load the images on to my computer, edit them and finally load them on my website.
All in all, I wish I knew how long all this takes as I work on 3 paintings at a time to allow for drying and planning in between.
If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave a message on my blog. I would love to hear from you!Comment on or Share this Article →
I was invited to give an Artist's Talk on Abstract Art at CityScape, in North Vancouver, where I have some of my abstracts in a group exhibition Patterns: Hard & Soft, until November 19.
It was billed as an “engaging artist's talk”.
This was my very first serious official Artist's Talk. Needless to say, I prepared well in advance for it, reading and rewriting it many times.
The talk was to be for 1 hour, allowing for questions and comments from the audience.
To my amazement, it turned out quite well.
First, I gave a rough definition of abstract art, with a few examples of the various styles such as cubism, pop art, expressionism and hard edge abstract using the names of the most famous artists in that style.
This was followed by my personal reason for painting hard edge abstract, followed by a short biography, where the images come from, the process and objectives. I also pointed to some of the works in the gallery as examples of the process and objectives.
I typed all of this in big print on several sheets of paper, just in case I got stage fright and forgot what I needed to say.
Now that all of this is under my belt, I’m ready for another “engaging artist's talk”!Comment on or Share this Article →