Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Starting something and going on

I've been getting away from the voices in my head saying, you should do this, you should do that with regard to the paintings I am making. Unhelpful suggestions all. I needed to let something go so I'd know how to start again. I took some time away to go camping and to have friends over for dinner, to do a few neglected chores.

I needed to make decisions and go on without imposing 'must do', for all the wrong reasons, on what I did next.

Slow starter

Today I'm back. I spent the day getting here. I made breakfast, drank two cups of coffee while reading my feeds, email and Facebook. I walked the dog and did the dishes. I ate lunch while reading a few chapters of "Behind the Scenes at the Museum" by Kate Atkinson. I took some work off the drawing board and hung it up to dry. I mixed up some paint, not much, just enough to get started on something.

The last piece I worked on titled "I think I will go on" wasn't finished, just needed a little work. I did that little work. Here it is now.

Then I put another drawing that I want to rework into a painting on the drawing board. There it sits right now intimidating me, or something like that. Just sitting there saying come on do it.

The drawing I want to rework defying me to make a mark on it

I'm thinking, I haven't mixed enough paint. I'm thinking, maybe I need to warm up with a drawing, I'm thinking, oh, the dog needs to go out.. Then, finally, I'm thinking, do something, start. This is the way you do it, you start, then you go on.

So, I will start and report back.

I started, now I've completely mucked it up, I will go in and see what I can do with it. Sorry about the bad photos, not enough light in the studio for photos really and I've got work to do, so just snapshots of starting is what I have time for.

If and when it works out I'll post it on Facebook and Instagram, please follow me there.

Let me know what happens in your studio in the comments or on Facebook. I'm eager to know.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Studios Visit

Studios I have known, I'll give you a little tour.

I paint in the kitchen in this temporary accommodation. Work hangs in every room to dry. The first thing I do if I find myself moving to a new place is to find a space where I can work. I don't want to work the day job hours it takes to pay for an outside studio.

Work hangs in every room to dry, the whole place is a studio

From the table to the attic to art school

I haven't always considered myself a painter and drawer. Years ago I learned to knit, sew, do macrame, tie-dye, batik and on and on. I worked on a table in the living room. From books, I learned to make my own patterns. I made my own clothes and clothes for my family on a sewing machine set up in a hallway or the living room depending on where I was living. I wanted to be able to design patterns and clothing, so at 29, I took a life drawing course. 

That was it! Not drawing for design, but just drawing. Later I took painting classes. I'd never considered I could draw or paint, but romanticized these ways of making right out of the realm of possibility for me. That drawing course told me maybe I could learn. I drew and painted on the table in my living room. I taught myself using Nicolaides The Natural Way to Draw practicing 3 hours a day for years. 

Me sitting at the table in the living room, circa 1979, in Corner Brook Newfoundland,
where I first began to paint and draw

Later I managed to wrangle my own room in the attic of the place I moved into with my family. When I was 37 an art school was opening in my town. I had a portfolio and applied. I was accepted. 

Studio Balconies, kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, tables and garages 

Since graduation I've moved a lot and had to work in many different spaces. My first move was to a small apartment that I shared with another artist. I had a table to work on in one corner of the living room. He had his table in another corner. 

I moved to Montreal and moved around Montreal.

In one apartment I worked at a table in a bedroom. Rent was cheap then so I moved to a larger space. In the next apartment I had a small separate room in which to work. Later, In another apartment, I began making videos and I made posters for a community radio show and a women's centre. I wrote poetry and short stories. I illustrated them. I worked at a tiny table and a computer in a very small living room.

I moved to Vancouver and moved around Vancouver.

I was lucky to find an affordable apartment let alone a space with a studio. I worked from the corner of the living room in the winter and on the small balcony in the summer. Finally I made the bedroom into a studio and moved the bed behind a partition I constructed in the living room. In this space I made a lot of work, some of it quite large. I had several shows of the work made here.

Here are some photos of the sweet little balcony and the view in summer. Sometimes I sat on the blue chair at a cafe table and painted, sometimes I sat on the chair in the other corner and drew.

View from the balcony

A real studio

I found a real studio again where I made the first of the work in ink, pencil and charcoal on mylar that I've now developed into paintings on mylar. That work led to gallery representation here in Vancouver. The beginnings of that work were in the bedroom, living room and balcony of my apartment.

901 Main St. Vancouver studio. It was a shared, large open space.
Only $150 per month in 2005 and 2006 for 150 sq feet. 

Yes, I'm pretty tidy, but not always this tidy.

Then, renoviction from both the studio and the apartment. 

A garage studio

I find a another apartment at a reasonable rent! Lucky! And this new place has an old garage I can use. Converted, by just two of us, in a way that I could easily take apart if I had to move again, it's nice.

But it's cold in the winter. The first winter, I move the easel into the tarped up living room for a couple of months. I insulate the area of the garage that is the studio. I have my own space again and it's bearably warm now.

Notice the two heaters, it is too cold in winter until
I insulate the 2nd winter here

View from the window of the garage studio
I did have to take it apart. In a couple of years the house is sold and the new owners want us out and family in. 

Temporary apartment sublet studio in an office

A find, a temporary sublet until I can move into the new place I want and have to wait for. One big living room/bedroom, a kitchen and this little office. Tarp up the little office space, set up the easel, get to work. Here I worked on a whole series of portrait commissions. I was going through a phase of learning to paint from life again.

office studio
view from office studio

Converted bedroom studio/office

After 4 warm weather months in this really lovely space, I move into the place I'm waiting for. There is a 2nd bedroom. I can have a separate studio. I'm working on mylar again and drawing and painting on an intuitive level once more. It's good. But it's not over yet. 

Kitchen studio

The landlord is going to build a larger house on the lot. I have to move out until it's done. Another temporary move, to here where I sit typing. There's only one bedroom here, but, a large kitchen! Move in the big studio table, a palette table with room for paint supplies, an easel and a shelving unit. Presto chango a kitchen/studio.

New Studio under construction. Move-in time is early 2016

Soon, I'll be back at the old address with my own room again, but even then I have plans for another type of studio move. 

The new studio under construction in the new apartment

Future studio

I'm figuring out a way to work on the road as I travel more. Next year I'm hitting the road to spend some time in warmer dryer sunnier places in winter and then travelling/camping across Canada and the US in 2017. 

I'm working on a studio in a bag. I'll make small works, paintings and drawings that dry easily, so not oils, art that is a response to what I experience along the way.

The new travelling home for the studio, the trusty Toyota canopy camper

Outdoor studio in a bag. This studio is still in the development stage

Outdoor studio with dog, so far this is what's inside the bag

I work wherever I can and make the most of each space, it's an adventure really. And adventures are full of challenges. Sometimes I tear my hair out, I feel I can't work because it's the wrong space. I do what I can to change that or to adapt until I can change it.

I'd be very interested to hear how other people make it work. Leave me a comment here or on Facebook I'd love to chat about it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Drawings, Drawings, Drawings

Sale of work:

8.5 x 11" drawings from my sketch book $50 each.

I've begun updating my Small Works sales blog with sketch book drawings. I may post different sizes in  the future.

Now that I'm a self employed artist again I'm selling these small lighthearted sketches to support the cost of making my larger and more intensively worked pieces that I post regularly to my website at I think they're kinda funny, while at the same time having a serious side.

Check it out for yourself at Elaine Mari Small Works.

Here is an example:
Is it too late for epiphany?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sorry State of Affairs

So much for *not* the best laid plans. It's been more than two months since I darkened the blogger door. The summer has been about travel and being in the studio. Lots of little trips, hiking and camping, swimming and recharging. Lots of work made and posted on Facebook, please follow me there for all the latest in this messy process. You will find, a painting on mylar here, a contour drawing there, a plein air drawing (not from life) in another place, some dabbling in collage, some studio drawings in my sketch book etc. See, messy.

The piece I posted in this blog in June has been reworked once again. I posted it here. I think you can see it even if you are not on Facebook.

When I say messy, I do mean messy. The whole process is messy for me. It's taken me the summer to get my head in gear, and my body recharged, only to have life just go on and on, requiring more head work and body recharging. You know how it is, one thing done, another thing crops up. One of life's curve balls dealt with and another just around the bend. This is not a complaint, this is just life. A sorry state of affairs sometimes, a glorious adventure others, and sometimes both simultaneously. A little health crisis here, a big loss there, a move over here, a birth, a death, a lovely trip, a brief fall into despair.

Some exciting news: I will be in another show in January, a small group show on a well respected and beautifully curated website with 5 other artists with whom I am thrilled and honoured to be exhibiting. Stay tuned for details.

Below is a look at my messy process: This is a piece I'm working on as part of the series (started last year) posted to my website on the page  Paintings on Paper. I've been meaning to get back to this series, and now I have.

First stage:  I don't like that Tim Burton face, and overall it feels wishy washy. I started with a light pink/white/blue background and painted in the green cloud and the blue bottom, then I globbed on some piles of paint from left over paint and responded to that, yes there are some sparkles in there.

oil painting on huile paper using leftover paint and fresh paint, stage 1

Next day I looked at it and decided the face had to go, I scraped it out and reworked the background, that figure is too blatant, or something.

oil painting on huile paper using leftover paint and fresh paint, stage 2 

Then I added more pinky purple in the top, integrate the figure, repaint the face, make that oil spill hand more globby. Hmm, I don't know, 

No, not right, redefine the figure, bring up that fence at the bottom a bit, more intense colour by the head to the right etc. Look at it tomorrow.

Sorry State of Affairs, in progress.

Edited to say, reworked and reworked again and  retitled

Can't seem to lighten up

Friday, June 5, 2015

Back to full time in the studio!

Since my show in February (see previous posts), I've been hibernating. Working 3 days a week and all the other demands of life meant that I had to prioritize art making and personal life over blog writing for a while. I am back in the studio full time now (yaay) and returning to writing here about this and that.

A long time ago, in 2013, I wrote this blog post. It was about the painting posted below. I was happy with it at the time and became unhappy with it later. It happens that way sometimes. So I've done some more work on it. It's still in progress. I have to see if it continues to sit well with me.

14 x 12" mixed media on mylar

Just a re cap of what's been going on around here:
In 2013, when this piece was started, I returned to my earlier way of painting and drawing. I had taken a few years to explore painting from life and it was not giving me what I wanted. Every painting was too literal for me. Attempting to move them into abstraction made me feel all over the place. I need poetry in my paintings and drawing. Some people can do that with representation and abstraction, I couldn't. I needed to go back to the humour and pathos that I have always indulged in with my work.

Less than two years later I had a solo show and am putting together submissions to show even more recent work. We'll see where that goes.

I'm taking things one day at a time, trying to live every day fully, and not get ahead of myself.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Intuition and painting, interview

I'm excited to be included in the latest 'mixed media tapes'. My prompt for this interview was "intuition".…/cassette-two-side-a…

This project is put together by Phillip J. Mellen . In this tape, Cassette Two Side A, I am in the company of Sabine Tress, Brigid Watson and Victor DaSilva. I learned a lot from and enjoyed greatly listening to these artists talk and I think you will too. Phillip is a thoughtful interviewer with a great sense of humour. The interviews feel more like discussion and warm visits than interviews. They give an insight into process and the background behind each artists approach to art.
Some favourite moments:
Painting is "an attempt at grasping at intangible truths" Brigid Watson:
The painting "can look really bad, turn it round and all of a sudden it can look really good. All that matters is the result - and now it's looking good". Sabine Tress talking about control/no control in finishing a painting.
"Sometimes your painting insults you "you'll never be any good" and you say "yes I will, maybe not today.." Phillip J. Mellen.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The show is up.

The opening of the show at the Firehall Arts Centre was great. I was nervous about it, but thanks to all who came out. It was so good to see you see what I've been up to for almost 2 years now, well some of what I've been up to.

Here are some photos:

And some installation shots of the work taken this week:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

And, It's up.

It's been a day, show is hung, It went smoothly thanks to the powerhouse brilliance of Kriss and Ming. We had a great time hanging. I drank too much coffee and was a bit hyper and annoying, but they laughed at me and gave me instructions so I wasn't too all over the place, and basically took charge. I so like take charge women. Some photos.

The Firehall Arts Centre is beautiful.

 What's next?

I think I'll just lean here for a bit.

She's got a plan.


Look the little one's are up

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Show Time (and statement angst).

Not long now and the show will be up. On Tuesday we hang. The show is in a non-profit space and so I have to do a lot of the work myself. Wow, marathon. I will have help with the hanging though. Thanks Kriss and Ming and Firehall staff.

Your invitation is posted below, but if you are a Facebook friend or otherwise a  friend, or are on my mailing list you have already seen it.

Things are looking good. Of all the things on my list in the last post there are only a couple left. "Blog Post" is one of them and here I am, blog posting. No statement yet, who knows if it will happen. If it comes naturally and I feel like it, it will be done. I've rewritten my initial statement many times. The last iteration is on the invitation but even that feels not exactly it. It's accurate but doesn't seem to cover it somehow. I recently refined it down to: "Today's Lesson Will be in Life: These pathos and humour filled paintings reveal an approach to current events and life's turmoil that may give some relief from the grim dark while at the same time not denying it's full truth and impact."  Ahh, I don't know. If I could say it, I might not have to paint it. Never mind, I'll do my best with it and that will be that

It's been a while since I've had a solo exhibition. I'm very happy that I did this show. I need and want people to see the new work in person. Thank you in advance for being there. And thanks for reading my posts and looking at my work online too. It's great to have a way to get it out there to appreciative eyes. And, even to critical ones.

Now, to make sure all the last minute things are done and take a walk in the bog with the dog. First I think I'll have lunch and a cup of tea.