Fatal Flaw

Self portrait in studio

Trying out new methods of painting is both challenging and exhilarating and this painting has been just that. The subject, my face, is flawed, in fact it’s pretty awful- ha ha. I made a fatal error along the way. I could have changed it, but I kept on making it worse and worse, funny how that goes. Having done a fair number of portraits, changing to a new method was the hardest of all – and I failed! Accepting this ill-conceived face is ok, since it’s mine, some paintings fail and in them are the riches of learning.

There are advances in other areas of the painting so I kept going to the finish line. “The Artist in Studio” painting has been on the to-do list for awhile, and it’s still not done. There is little reality shown here, it’s a fantasy and it was fun to set up and photograph.
The importance is the learning from this piece and for ‘punishment’ I assigned myself to paint 3 faces, in progress right now, using the new method. I will eventually achieve a portrait in a whole new way!


So I’m a Mushy Gran

underpainting portrait of a young child


It’s love on another level – having a grand child. All the Grandma’s I meet know –  we crones glow with the very thought of them.

Words for this are few.

Maybe it’s unconditional love, I do know it brings profound joy to be with him. Life is refreshed.

This underpainting is a little moment in the din of his exploration.

Innocent and Naive – duh

Waaaay back in 2005 when I was a student in the Digital Art & Design Program at TRU a great part of the course was the Drawing Program. I loved it. One assignment was to make a drawing from a painting, and the painting was this one.

Pope Innocent X by Diego VelazquezI was pretty rusty at drawing when I started the program and I can’t remember what semester or year this assignment was given, anyway the timeline was something like 2 weeks to get it done on an 18×14 sheet of Mayfair. It was a REAL exercise, again that rusty factor.
I’m sure Ila Crawford, my instructor, told us who did this painting but it didn’t stick in my mind.

So here I am NOW learning Art history on my own, and come across this painting by Diego Velazquez of Pope Innocent X, Velazquez one of the greatest painters to walk this earth.

Last night I went rummaging through my old art stash wildly curious about how my drawing turned out. I found it. Here is Pope Innocent drawn by the naive me.

drawing of Pope Innocent X

CURLY GIRLY – exercise

Curly GirlyI’ve been trying out some new painting methods – time consuming – because I’m learning. At times self doubt holds me up about what the next step should be.

I admire the ways the Masters painted clothing that air passes through and skin like porcelain. Right from the start I’ve had trouble painting fair skin, always going dark and rich Indigenous tones that resonate with something deep inside. But here at last a fair maiden – ha ha

The source image is from a magazine, obviously the photo is photoshopped to an airbrushed state. I’ve altered the composition and background design to keep the copyright infringement people away. 18×24 canvas board. Click on image to view it larger.

Anthony Salituro on Victoria Street

Anthony Salituro portrait drawingHere’s a drawing for a portrait that’s going to flex some painting muscle because of the complexity of the window, what can be seen through it and reflected by it. What will the transitions be like to interpret? Another journey awaits!
Anthony won the auction bid for this 16×20 portrait commission when he attended the annual TRU Fundraising Gala last February. He owns Jardines Domaine and Viva Bridal & Prom – gorgeous women’s apparel in Kamloops, BC.

Not For the Faint of Heart

To be a medical doctor, you take the right courses, attend the best University, narrow the field of study to a specialization, work hard, receive accreditation and then open a practice and begin the life long honing of the knowledge into a fine skill and a reputation goes out from there, coming back to that Doctor. Most careers have a defined path to achieve the goal –  if you learn a skill or pass a course of study you are rewarded with a paying job and this reward fans out into the rest of your life.

painting a frontlet carved by Bill Kuhnley Jr 1992

painting a frontlet carved by Bill Kuhnley Jr 1992

There is no such path for a career artist. Each path is as unique as each artist. There is no view to see the next bend, the steepness of the next hill, the bang of a pothole or enough time to screech on the brakes before plowing over the edge of a washout and hope we don’t drown in the surging muddy flood waters below.

The metaphors of the path are real. There is no such thing as a regular pay cheque, its trial by fire; make an error and the flames lick you up one side and down the other. We don’t know what the next painting will look like; we may have a vision, but we can never produce the nuances of magnificence we see in our minds eye on canvas, we simply begin and it either come close or it does not.

Tomorrow could be the greatest day – a huge commission, or a painting breakthrough, or it could be the worst day – a blunder on canvas that cannot be recovered after weeks of work, or there’s a letter from the mortgage holder that time is up. This is the path for many. No wonder we artists retreat to the place in our minds where the reverie lives and just paint. Looking too far ahead is scary business and not planning ahead is career suicide.

An artist can plan a strategy to reach the masses and sell artwork and have exhibitions but there is no organization that says yes, you are ready to launch a career and yes, you have all the skills it requires, here you go, just open this door, hand in your application and ta-dah you’re a working artist.

An artist wears about 25 different hats to do the job well. The obvious one is painter, and less obvious, archivist, restorer, counsellor, photographer, teacher, marketer, agent, banker, accountant, salesperson, project manager, brain stormer, student, philosopher, chemist, writer, organizer, socialite, host, critic and then we have a life with family and friends, travel holidays, national holidays, pets and our home. It’s a career all right!

So why do it?

Because we can’t sleep or get ill if we ignore it. Artists must answer the call and we persist because we trust in what we do. We have been given the seeds of the unknown and when that plant is ready to bloom it finds a way of translating our world view or views never previously revealed for the pleasure of others, or opens us up to analyses of our inner workings by others. In this arena we are judged by anyone and everyone, the few who get it and the many who reject it. Creative thinkers cut the edge to the new view.

To survive walking the path we develop thinking that pushes away the fear that creeps into an unguarded mind at sleep; that prepares us against the fear of rejection before an unveiling, the fear of losing our home, the fear of not resolving a painting gone wrong for the client who waits – fingers drumming; and coming to accept, in spite of what living in the western world has ground into us from birth, that what we earn is not who we are, how much I make is not equal to my value as a human being (yes, I switched pronouns, because its personal).

Learning to use an adze on a Raven Moon totem pole 1991

Learning to use an adze on a Raven Moon totem pole 1991

Our riches are within and we share them, not to brag but to share honestly.

“This is the beautiful human being I see – that’s who my work is about.”

I know at the core of all of us there is beauty, some spend their entire life in denial that it lives within them, but it is there. When someone is offered a helping hand without obligation, but for the purpose of easing pain –  there, right there – is beauty found. This thinking sends tidal waves of inspiration through me.

Painting people is
and it all adds up to beauty.

I’m not new to the journey of life but my art career is only in its second Chapter. Chapter 1 ended with the screeching brakes plowing over the edge because I refused to wear all the “hats.” Re entering the world where I once drowned is not for the faint of heart.

If you wish to share a comment about this post, please feel free to do so.