Today I attended LitFest (Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop writing competition’s party) via Zoom. While online, I learned that two of my submissions placed. ‘Lost Innocence’ placed first in the creative nonfiction category. ‘The Roach Family’ placed third in the fiction competition.
These are the first few lines of ‘Lost Innocence’
“Children think sex is funny.” ~ Joe Brainard, author of the memoir I Remember
I remember the milkman parking his truck in the alley between our hotel and the liquor store. Three times a week he replaced the empty milk bottles with new ones.
I remember moving to the hotel one November, the crumbling tan brick next to the entrance sprinkling the sidewalk like flakes of oatmeal.
I remember leaving my friend Susan behind.
I remember at my new school instead of notebooks we used sheets of paper the size of a paperback. Fastened everything together with metal rings from the stationery store next to our hotel.
I remember my dad hated the other hotel in town and more than once I heard him mutter if only it would burn down.
I remember the year I turned eleven. That was the summer my father ruined my life.
Earlier in May, I learned that ‘Wildflower Party,’ my 3 foot x 4 foot acrylic floral painting that sold in December 2020, will be made into a banner to hang in the Owen Sound harbour. Great news. I can barely wait for the lockdown to end so I can head up to Owen Sound to view it.
I make a lot of art in the winter. Perhaps it’s being cooped up inside that lends itself to this pastime. I’m not inside much in the late spring, summer, and autumn. But winter is a different thing. The weather can be harsh and unrelenting as it pelts us with snow, sleet, and westerly winds. Just being inside, IN my studio, motivates me to experiment with the materials at hand. Maybe the myriad of contests / juried shows gives me the nudge I need.
Florals have it!
This past month (February, 2021), I can’t seem to stop making art. Acrylics, mostly. Florals seem to be calling me again. Close-ups. Abstract florals. Large ones. Small ones. It doesn’t seem to matter. I’m also drawn to adding texture to my paintings. Collage (papers, detritus, collected and dried vegetative matter). Modelling paste added to a canvas before painting. Palette knife painting. Anything to remain loose and abstract.
Goals for viewers:
The goal of my paintings is to draw the viewer in, to fill the viewer with emotion, to make the eye wander around the real estate of the painting. Up, right, left, down again. I want the viewer to stand back from a large creation, then inch forward to soak in the details. I want to challenge the viewer’s eye and assumptions. Cause the viewer to think, emote, breathe in the creation.
Bundling myself up and going for walks (snowshoeing/x-country skiing) helps stir up even more motivation and creativity. Fresh air clears my mind and allows colour (viewed, imaginary, and remembered) to seep in. Often the backgrounds of my paintings are desaturated with the main items punchy with colour. The underpainting (the layer of colour added after the substrate has been gessoed) is often bright. Then I begin the process of muting the vibrancy by moving paint using various techniques and materials (spraying, glazing, scrubbing, scrambling, acrylic inks, liquid acrylics, oil pastels, charcoal, to name a few).
Importance of Walks:
The image below was taken in mid-February. I remember that it was a particularly chilly morning. You can probably make out the accumulation of ice and frost layering the branches and buildings of my neighbour’s property. The bleakness is beautiful in an understated way. The portability of my smartphone with its decent built-in camera makes it easy to capture the mood this sort of landscape offers. Those ‘moods’ inform my painting (and writing).
Below is an underpainting for a acrylic floral (36 inches x 48 inches stretched canvas) I intend to enter into a large Ontario painting competition. Do you know what has been placed over the wet paint? It’s plastic wrap I’ve salvaged from a large canvas. Like many artists, I hate throwing anything out! Here I’m using the plastic film to manipulate the paint, to smear and create an underpainting filled with texture. Sometimes a hint of the colour will still manage to peak from the background into the finished painting.
Stay tuned for future blog post updates about the finished painting and how it does in the upcoming painting competition.
If you have thoughts you’d like to share in response to this blog post, kindly let me know via the Contact Me tab on this website.
I recently became a member of the Blue Mountain Foundation of the Arts (BMFA). This organization based in Collingwood (Simcoe County) is a huge supporter and champion of works by local 2D and 3D artists. To see my member page, click here.
In 2020, I entered this painting ‘Hope Springs Eternal’ into the BMFA Juried Art Show. It was my first time having work considered by the BMFA jury consisting of three professional artists. The entry was accepted. The show was solely online due to pandemic restrictions. While this entry didn’t sell at the juried art show, it did sell when shown at the Durham Art Gallery Show and Sale in December 2020. It is now in the home of an art collector in Southwestern Ontario.
Recently I was approached to create a video about my writing process. The video content from local visual artists and writers was part of the Milne Crawford Reboot, an effort to engage youth in writing / visual art. I was happy to oblige. Here is the link to the YouTube video. Thanks to various sponsors for their support of this important venture.
I would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario, for my short story writing project, 2020/2021. Thank you to @ONArtsCouncil for the funding and @porcupinesquill for recommending me for the grant.
I’m thrilled to announce that my art banner is available for viewing. It’s hanging in Waterloo Park. What a honour to have my mixed media art accepted to be displayed with other artists’ works from in and around Waterloo Region.
The title of my piece is Helping Hands, a Covid-19 themed painting. Scroll down to view a picture of the banner. Photo credit to Savio Wong.
During the early days of the pandemic, many organizations and companies needed to develop creative methods to continue being relevant. For instance, Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts’ 2020 Juried Art show transformed from being in-person to being virtual. My painting ‘Hope Springs Eternal’ was selected to be in that virtual show. It is a framed acrylic painting (24 inches W x 30 inches H). To inquire about acquiring the painting, please use the Contact Me form.
… selected my image ‘Helping Hands’ to be made into a banner to hang in Waterloo Park’s Art Promenade. Sometimes some positives come out of drastically difficult situations such as a pandemic in 2020. Thank you City of Waterloo for this honour to show my art in your park. I have many great memories of spending time in that park while I attended UW in the late seventies and while our children were young.
I am over the moon excited that the Porcupine’s Quill plans to publish my debut collection of contemporary literary short stories. The projected release of the collection is Fall 2021 or 2022. Keep abreast of news about the release by checking here on a regular basis.
(Note: an earlier version of this post appeared in WHT/SWG)
You’ve got your watercolour set and a handful of Sharpies, right? While you are at it, find your scissors and some Post-it notes, small ones are perfect, around an inch by an inch.
Next ~ Find a large (up to 8×10 inch) picture of a celebrity or someone you know. Photocopy or scan the picture and print out two copies. Tile Post-it notes across the picture. Label the backs of the Post-its with row and column number so you can reassemble later. Cut the picture into pieces along the Post-its. Over the next week or so randomly select a couple of Post-its, and draw that portion of the photocopy onto the Post-it. Don’t even try to cheat by referring to the original picture! Once you’ve done this a few times, reassemble and compare to the original. You could do this with a buddy, or in a group, too. (Credit for this idea goes to Danny Gregory’s ‘Art before Breakfast.’)
Who is stopping you from being creative?
Spend time doodling. Draw squiggles on scrap paper. Start carrying a notebook with you. Doodle while waiting for a beverage at your favourite coffee shop. Copy phrases you hear or read into your notebook. Sketch the words to depict what you think they mean to you. Glue small things that you collect into the notebook: the slip of paper from your fortune cookie, or a movie theatre stub.
How can children’s books help? Check out a couple and you’ll soon see. What’s stopping you?
Head for the children’s section of your local
library. Borrow picture books by artists whose illustrations you admire.