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.

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Susan Edgell Portrait – complete

Susan Edgell painted portraitIf you have been following the CFJCTV MIDDAY program since June you may recall the theme Susan requested for her portrait was “warm and friendly” and she chose the setting of St. Andrews on the Square – a church in Kamloops – that her grandfather helped restore with his time and funds way back in the day.
Yellow interior walls made the atmosphere around her an easy translation into warm and friendly and since the yellow was close to her hair colour I had to play the wall colour back so her head wouldn’t just blend into the wall. But look at that face, she IS warm and friendly, how could I miss, she made it easy.

This is the first stained glass window I’ve painted, so after some consideration I altered the application of the paint to achieve a glassy, gemmy effect. Layers and globs of colour without blending
is the quick way to describe what I did and then made the effect of looking through the bubbly glass that softens the green garden and mutes
the sky.

The photo I painted from was shot early in the summer and Susan already had a good tan so her skin colour is rich and even. Her face
is the subject, so I left her hands suggested rather than defined. Dimensions 41″ x 24″

In the next and final episode we visit Susan’s home and install the painting…

Click on image to see it larger

Cathy catching up to Ken

Cathie Ferguson painted portrait almost doneI spent the day ‘with Cathie’ bringing her face into the soft evening glow, following the light across her neck and shoulders and giving some volume to her hair. I still like her dress the way it was from early on and have done nothing more to it. She will let me know if there is more to do at pre-view time. I couldn’t resist some tweaks on Ken but stayed focus on bringing Cathie close to completion. Hair, eyes lashes and little tweaks –  it won’t be long now.

Susan, all done

susan edgell and stained glass windowHere’s a detail of Susan’s portrait that will be revealed LIVE on CFJCTV MIDDAY on October 14.

She had the opportunity to view it in an email and asked for a change to her face, and that has been done. I encourage clients to say if something doesn’t sit well with them. My goal is for them to be 100% satisfied. But she hasn’t seen it in person yet!

The challenge of painting the stained glass window required some forethought and since Susan is the subject and the window plays a supporting role I didn’t take the detail of the glass as far as I could have. It was a “phew” moment when the outside framework of the window looked like it was indeed, outside.

The “reveal” is always nerve-racking and this time is even more so with a viewing audience joining in.
I say, if I’m going be nervous then be REALLY nervous and invite more people to watch!

I’ll send out a reminder of the viewing times to my mailing list. If you are outside of the viewing area, the show will be on my website the next day. See Previous episodes here and you are invited to Join the mailing list

Susan – ready for make-up

Susan’s face is just about ready for “make-up” and lashes. Thought it might be interesting to compare the last post (bottom) with how it looks today. At this stage of the painting the slightest shift in a line or modelling can make a considerable difference, for example notice the eye on the left, the corner and lower cup of skin that holds the eye in.

close up Susan Edgell portrait in progressSusan Edgell eyes from portrait in progress

Ken is in the Lead

Ken Sommerfeld portrait on progressSo Ken is in the lead now, he’s closer to completion than his lovely wife Cathy.
I toned back that brilliant red shirt – it’s still pretty strong but that says something about the man. His glasses and hair need further attention. After some drying time I’ll catch up on Cathy. Being a lefty I would hate to drag my shirt sleeve across the wet red shirt.