Tuesday, 27 May 2014


Oh! I have not been here in a long time. I've been out travelling around, visiting old friends and renewing old acquaintances.
I'll start at the beginning. On Mothers' day weekend, I drove to Toronto and stayed with one of my students who is always generous with a place to stay-Jan Armstrong. Check out her art:
This may be a self portrait, as Jan plays the Harp. 

Visiting Jan gave me ample time to get to Beaux Art Brampton, where the Pastel Artists of Canada held their national juried show this year. The opening was on Sunday May 11nth, and I demonstrated for one hour before the official opening of the show. A huge Thank you to Heather Laws for setting this up, and for everything that you do so generously-Thanks Heather!
No, it's not a photograph, it's Pastel! This is what Heather Laws specializes in. Amazing, Huh?

The venue for this show reflects many great ideas. This building is a co-operative for artists. It houses studios, exhibition space, and workshop space, right on main St., in downtown old Brampton. Another aspect I really like is the side of the building has been muralled, providing an outdoor art gallery, right beside a cafe style outdoor seating area. It's really quaint, bringing art to the people, hopefully drawing them in. To find out more, go to http://beaux-artsbrampton.com/arts/

 I'd spoken to Clarence Porter over e-mail about our art before, but we had never met. So it was really nice to meet him and his wife, as they are from Hamilton and I don't get there very often. Clarence won the grand prize this year-I really like his imaginative subject choices, full of colour, great technique. Check him out at   http://www.porter-arts.com/About.html

About Clarence Porter Art: Clarences' work covers many subject areas, each executed with equal and compelling skill. Cats, plants, landscapes vistas, factories, street scenes and people. Whew! The winning entry is designed with organic and graphic shapes fitting together like a puzzle. Lovely playful colours too.

SteelVIEW- Pipes are Playing, pastel, by Clarence Porter
Grand prize winner at Pastel Artists of Canada National Exhibition

P.S. For those of you that don't know, Hamiltons' unofficial name is Steeltown, and Clarence Porters' artwork often reflects the city in which he lives. 

I thought there were some other real stand outs in the show besides Clarences work: including this one from Robin S. Nyikos, titled Veni Creator Spiritus.
I was intrigued by the title, and asked Robin about it. In her own words:
The model is my daughter. I fell in love with mosaics years ago while I was studying in Europe.
For this painting I used my mosaic copy of an angel from St Marks Basilica in Venice as a background . I deliberately fought the urge to paint out every nook and cranny of the mosaic so that the model would remain the primary subject of the painting.Her,(the model's )backward glance is intended to suggest that she is listening or possibly seeking guidance. Thus the title "Veni Creator Spiritus"( Come Creator Spirit), which is the name of an ancient hymn believed to have been written in the 9th century.
Phew! There it is!
Thankyou Robin, I find this kind of intention behind the painting really interesting. 

I have rarely made it to these events, so happy to participate. Here is my entry this year: Noonmark, after the mountain in the Adirondacks. I've posted and talked about it before, so I won't go on about it.
Noonmark, pastel 22 X 30, Pastel Artists of Canada National Exhibition, 2014

However, the most special thing that happened around this event started with an e-mail, from an old friend that I studied painting with, many years ago. In fact, over 30 years ago. Brenda Loschiavo showed up at the opening, and we were able to get together afterwards, and really catch up. Brenda is also still painting in oil. You can see her work by going here: http://www.brendaloschiavo.com/

I have a feeling you are going to hear more about Brenda in coming posts. Stay tuned! I barely told you anything about my trip! Enjoy this glorious weather!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Contours and Shading the Figure

This past week, I was teaching my Contours and Shading workshop. I have a set of life drawing workshops, that build incrementally on each other, but each one stands alone as well. In this workshop, we look at expression through line, considering light and value throughout the entire picture plane, and different light effects in shadow, different light effects in light. All the while, in every workshop, understanding the function and value of gesture, and other aspects of drawing, like proportion and composition.
Training to draw well through figure work is one of the hardest challenges one can take. Drawing as a response, in the moment, to the pose a model takes. For me, it's completely rewarding. I love getting so deep into the drawing that you forget all space and time continuum.

This is one exercise to observe how light affects round objects. Quite sensitively rendered by one of my students this week,................now, how does this relate to light on the human form? See the orange drawing below,...

We study gesture in all my life draws, as gesture is the basis of all expression. This students' whimsical charcoal drawing playfully explores tonal gradation through sensitivity to pressure. I love taking a topic like gesture, and looking at it from as many points as possible, to give our concepts and creativity as wide a berth as possible.  

This is a drawing I did recently, that simplifies the value system. There's light on the body, but in the shadowed areas, it appears that the shadow closest to the light, actually has the darkest value, within the shadows. Every light situation is different, but in this case, there was a lot of reflected light on the models' upper back. This piece was done in one hour, on Canson mi-tientes, with an orange conte pencil. I love the effect of the darks, around her eyes and hair. This piece isn't finished. I'm going to modify the contour line, and add detail to the skirt, which was full of light. Another day,.....