Saturday, May 12, 2018

F*ck You: Kiyannah

She watched the curse words flow
forth from her lips like a
majestic waterfall and
it was fucking beautiful.

"F*ck You: Kiyannah"
18" x 18" acrylic and grease pencil on paper mounted board

 It all begins with a series of sketches for both the background elements and the figure.

Thistle in pencil crayon.

Composition layout in ink.

The paper on board is primed black and the painting of the background begins.

A close up shot reveals the texture from the etching phase.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Frankie, #20

"The first time I saw you," he says, "I knew we belonged together."

Garth Stein, The Art of Racing In The Rain

"Frankie, #20"

Acrylic and grease pencil on paper mounted board
30" x 30"   $3250.00

A few close up details.

Ruff day as a studio muse!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Painting Psychology

Earlier tonight I was invited to give an artist talk / Q &A and I thought I would share with you some of my talk and my favorite questions.

"I am a self taught artist and I have been painting since I was two years old. I first learned that art could stir a reaction in people when I was six years old and painted a portrait of my dad... skinny dipping... his dong hanging down to his knees. A star was born, and I don't mean me. My dad! He was suddenly invited to every parent teacher conference there was. I remember my friends being horrified, not because I painted my dad nude, but because I got away with it. When I left that school in grade 7 my painting still hung on the walls of the teacher lounge. As far as I know it is still there, and I have been painting portraits ever since.

I fell in love with psychology when I took my first Intro To Psychology class in grade 11 and then made the decision to study social and developmental psychology at the University of Victoria. During this time I painted small figurative works that I sold through a local framing shop. I spent the next 25 years painting figurative works.

A shift in my focus happened about four years ago when I went from teaching art to small groups of home-schooled children in my art studio to large classes at a local private school. My work load as a mother, homeschooling parent, teacher, art mentor, and active studio tour member was horrendous. I was tired all the time and I had just resolved to paint my heart out! But first, something had to give. I decided to leave the studio tour art group I had helped build for the last 17 years after a friend encouraged me to jury into the Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA). I took a year to plan and paint 10 new paintings to submit to the FCA jury. These paintings were something new altogether.

I was excited again and I began to paint my heart out! My new paintings fused portraiture with my love and understanding of the human psyche. The paintings were scarred, excavated, layered and bleakly transparent... much like people. I was accepted into the FCA and immediately had three of my largest pieces accepted into their gallery on Granville Island.

My work is forever evolving and weaves together the beauty and vulnerabilities of being human."

Here are some of my favorite questions:

What is your process?
My paintings are a multi layered process of bonding paper to board and painting the surface black. I use white acrylic pens to draw the back ground, which is painted in acrylic. The back ground design is then incised, infilled with grease pencil, embossed and then polished. Next, a portrait is painted on top using as many as 40 layers of glaze. Finally, I use various etching tools to scratch through the glazes to strategically reveal the under painting.

What is the purpose of the grease pencil?
Ooooh, I love this question. From a technical standpoint, the grease pencil is used to create an unstable layer between acrylic layers. This allows me to etch and scratch into the work and excavate layers away. The instability is resolved with varnish. Psychologically speaking, I love knowing that each painting has an unstable layer, again... like most people.

How did your work evolve?
Years ago, I accepted a painting challenge from a dear friend of mine to paint a "never ending painting". The goal was to layer 6 unrelated paintings on top of each other and allow each layer to inform (or not) the next painting. This was the first time I experimented with transparency, layering paintings and excavating through the acrylic paint.  

Do tentacles represent mental illness to you?
Yes. I once read that when an octopus is stressed it will eat itself. I loved this as a metaphor for mental illness, which can be all consuming.

What is your background in psychology?
I studied social and developmental psychology at the University of Victoria and earned a Bachelor degree. After that I went back for a fifth year to write an honors thesis on the suggestibility of children's eye witness testimony. I then worked with sexually abused children in the foster care system. 

What is your experience with the Federation of Canadian Artists?
One thing that surprises people is that there is not necessarily a correlation between awards, prestige and making money as an artist unless you can market your awards and prestige. Financial success is born from marketing. So you really need to define what success means to you and prioritize how to make that happen. Personally, today I define my success as being able to find time to make art in the first place and as having something to say through my art. I have to find ways to prioritize getting out to my studio in the middle of a hectic schedule. It helps to have a studio muse.

What is the meaning behind this painting?
When I was a young child I would sit with my grandmother and watch the bluejays she fed on her big porch. She died when I was a young teen. She kept in her garden a peony plant that came to Canada with her from England after the war. When she died, my aunties dug up her peony and kept her legacy alive. My mother gifted me a piece of this precious peony when we bought our first house and I planned my first garden. This painting and a tattoo I have are sentimental reminders of a safe place to fall.

As always, thank you so much for all the love and patronage of this thing I do.

Angela .

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Making Christmas

Now that Christmas has come and gone I can finally share some of the gifts I made for my family with you. 

This painting of Anderson Paak just happens to be my favorite, for no other reason than I love painting portraits (and that smile was irresistible!). I painted it for my son Mason to hang in his new tiny home, so the painting itself is also tiny at 10"x10".

My oldest son, Raine, and I decided to collaborate on some book making projects for my parents. My dad, and Raine's Poppy, has spent our lives regaling us with delightfully grim stories. We love it! The three of us read, watch, and write tales of horror. Together, Raine and I created a custom made and painted box set of horror writing prompts for my dad. And they are pretty grim so I won't share the story starters with you (take my word for it) but I will show you the artwork.

Raine drew the tentacle design for our box and I painted it to match the booklets we made.

First, we had to make the book jacket covers. Here are two of the ones I drew and painted.

My final set of books and hand painted covers.

These are Raine's book covers 
(minus one that he was still working on).

Next, we continued our book binding efforts to make an art prompt book for my mom. We made and hand painted the front and back covers and then I created 10 signatures from hand batiked Japanese papers.

Here is my foxy front cover.

The covers and signatures are ready to assemble. I chose to bind them coptically with black waxed linen thread.

I loved making these two projects with my son Raine, as he is an incredible artist. He travels to and from art college everyday, spending 5 hours a day on public transit to do so. This is pretty miserable in the winter. I knit him an extra thick, squishy, long, art wool scarf to keep him warm. It's all about that fringe!

And let's not forget about keeping his art pens warm too, in the belly of a shark ( linen pencil case).

I even made my own cards this year, during a lino block printing class I took from a friend of mine. The octopus and manta ray card was hand painted for my brother and his wife.

Lastly, I teamed up with my dad to make two couch side tables for my husband and I. They are coming in pretty handy so far. Notice my stack of horror novels and comics I am currently reading?

I have one last thing to share with you. My favorite gifts are always the home made ones. This is the third Christmas in a row my son Raine has made me a comic book page. I treasure them! This is the one I received this year.

So MUCH love!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Messenger

"The Messenger"
18"x18" acrylic and grease pencil on paper mounted board

I was inspired to paint this portrait of my friend Eshu, after he wrote this beautiful piece of memoir from his childhood:

"The Monarch Butterfly has a special place in my heart. When I was a kid in Whitby, Ontario, after school I would often play in a small forest at the centre of a farmer's field. One year the field was fallow, growing among other things, Milkweed. One day I noticed that the farmer was out in the tractor mowing, and the plants were covered in the iconic striped caterpillars. I got a box and plucked probably hundreds of the caterpillars off the plants. I took them home and put the box in my garage. Every day I would go and find milkweed to bring to the box of caterpillars. My sisters thought I was crazy.
The caterpillars didn't stay in the box either. Oh no, they went all over the garage. By the time they became chrysalis, they were hanging everywhere! Off of shelves, even off of the side mirrors of the old VW Beetle my dad was trying to restore.
Then, one day I came home from school and opened the garage door and was greeted by the sensation of Butterflies fluttering past my face and hands. Even to this day I don't know if I can express this experience adequately. Utter freedom. This happened for several days in succession, as they emerged from the chrysalis.
It wasn't all beauty though. I learned some painful lessons. Non-interference, and controlling enthusiasm for example, simple patience. In my rush to "help" I even went so far as to use a blow dryer to "help" one of the poor creatures "dry" out it's wings quicker. It didn't make it. I was heart broken.
One thing I remember is that my parents didn't interfere. They let me do it all myself. I wonder what they thought.
When someone asks me what Zen is all about, for some reason, this is the story, and the feeling that I most want to share. It is the freedom of transforming, and finding the open air.
If I were ever to take an animal as a symbol, crest, or totem, it would be the Monarch Butterfly. A distinctly North American beauty." 

The concept sketch

The background, which is a layer of incised and embossed grease pencil sandwiched between two layers of acrylic. It's a painstaking and time consuming process that leaves me with blackened fingers for days!

Once I set the under painting skin tones in blue, I convert the image to black and white for a quick check on composition.

Starting on the orange and loving the balance of color.

An accidental giggle.