Open Studio

Open Studio

I am joining Bob Brink, Di Dabinett, Jeanette Jobson, Po Chun Lau, Louise Markus, Mitzi Smyth, and Gerald Vaandering for Pouch Cove Open Studios on August 29th and 30th, noon to 5 p.m. It’s your chance to see what we are working on and talk to the artists about their work. I will have my artist’s books on display as well as a variety of paintings and prints. Have a look at the website here: http://www.pouchcoveopenstudios.comand come out for a visit at the end of the...

Taking a Breather

This is the last painting, Not a Breath, delivered yesterday! Finally, all the work has been delivered and the show is hung for tomorrow’s opening. You can see the pieces here:    Christina Parker Gallery – Tara Bryan, Littoral Light Now all the chores that have been piling up while I finished paintings now cry out for attention. The eternal game of catch-up! Today, to weed part of the garden and get the last few plants in the ground. I am trying to be methodical and work section by section so I can see my progress. I’m starting with the front bed, thinking I might be able to get it done this morning since it’s not too big. In the meantime, the white irises and lupins are gorgeous. See for yourself!...
Artistic License

Artistic License

  This painting is finished. The photograph I used as reference had an iceberg in it, and when I started painting, I intended to include the iceberg, but move it forward in the composition. I was focussed on the iceberg, although it was only a small part of the image. Hmmm. My struggle is almost always to stick with my “Less is More” philosophy, to pay attention to the image as it gets its own voice, and be willing to let go of my original plan. To find the perfect balance between what I think I’m doing and what the painting becomes. This painting doesn’t need the iceberg. The omission can be called Artistic License, but  I don’t think it’s my decision. It’s looking at the painting and realizing it doesn’t need what I thought I wanted to include. I think the creative process flows like a river, and my job is to jump in and become part of the flow. Not to struggle to keep my head above water, but to submit to the current and be in the process, pay attention but be detached enough to hear when the painting says, “enough.” I think writers, musicians, golfers, chess players, salmon fishers, race car drivers and more find a similar groove when they do what they do well. Be attentive and adjust constantly but don’t grasp too tightly. Stay in the flow. Some days are better than others. There is always anxiety at the beginning, my brain telling me I don’t know what I’m doing,  I’m not working fast enough, not sticking with the plan, or I could totally screw up. Lose a day’s (or...
A New Painting in Progress

A New Painting in Progress

This is one of the new paintings I’m working on. I thought I would post some photos as it progresses. First, the basic underpainting to cover the canvas. Then adding colour and detail a bit at a time to build the image. I’m working on the rocks in the foreground and will have it nearly finished before I go back to complete the water and sky. I’ll add more photos as I go along. I am working on 6 paintings at the same time, and I rotate through them so they progress simultaneously. When the foreground is all in, this one will be on the wall for a few days to dry while I work on bringing the others to a similar...
Smaller iceberg paintings

Smaller iceberg paintings

These days, I am finishing up the paintings for a show at Christina Parker. These are smaller than the paintings at The Rooms, but still focus on icebergs, with a little fog thrown in for good measure! The painting above is 24″ x 72″ and is titled “Purple Haze”. I don’t want to give away the surprises before the show opens, but I may send along a few teasers between now and the...
another update…

another update…

I am still working away on the paintings for April, while my studio angel, Kitty, works on the 3-D iceberg. These two paintings are almost finished (they’re both 4′ x 6′) and this week I will attack the 8′ x 13′ painting of the St. John’s Harbour. I hope to start painting the 3-D piece next week, and I’m counting my minutes, since I can only work when the building is open. Here is the current state of the...
Progress

Progress

All the pieces are slowly taking shape. Kitty Drake has been helping; the sculpture now has paper on it and the Narrows has most of its underpainting. The mulberry paper, adhered with cooked wheat paste, drew up when it dried, pulling away from the indentations in the armature. It’s like a drum– tapping different spots produces a variety of sounds. Now we are experimenting with small areas to re-form the paper to the original shape. It’s all a learning...
Artist in Residence at the Rooms

Artist in Residence at the Rooms

Where has the time gone? I’m working at the Rooms these days, being artist-in-residence. Working around bad weather and a bad shoulder, but working, nevertheless. These pieces will be exhibited in the 4th floor gallery with a view of the Harbour in April. The wonderful thing about working there is having the fabulous tech staff to help with, well, technical stuff, like building stretchers and armature. I’m working on a large painting, 8′ x 13′, that will hang on the wall beside the big window, several smaller paintings and a 3-D piece. From my little plaster carving, the shape was scaled up and the armature base cut from a sheet of plywood. It’s seen below with the somewhat photographically skewed sketch of what will be the 8′ x 13′ painting of the narrows. The painting is no longer all white, and the armature is covered with 2 layers of paper. Here’s the current state of one of the 4′ x 6′ pieces. More to...

My method

As for my method… I work from photographs. I have tried keeping a sketchbook, doing working drawings and preliminary paintings on canvas, but those things don’t work for me. My field photos (taken with my trusty Nikon FM2) record what I found interesting and serve to jar my memory. I draw loosely, directly on the canvas, with thinned paint and a brush, and in the process of mixing and applying paint the paintings take on a life of their own. For this series, most of the iceberg photos are from my 20-year collection, mostly taken along the Avalon peninsula. The bird’s-eye-views come from the archives at Provincial Aerospace, the company that does observation for Environment Canada and the offshore oil rigs. Friends who have photos have generously offered them to me, and I’ve found a few on the internet. The photos get cropped, reversed, changed in scale or colour in the painting process; sometimes an iceberg is moved to a different coast or sent to sea to make the painting work. I love the bird’s-eye views. Early in my career, I did a series of still life drawings and paintings from objects (often fruit on a plate or in a bowl) which were placed on the floor by my feet because I didn’t have a table in my studio. Periodically I go back to that set-up. The slight feeling of vertigo, the out-of-kilter-ness of seeing something on the wall that should be down, is interesting to me. Off to walk the dogs and greet the...
Jumping in…

Jumping in…

I set up this account in July, thinking summer would be the perfect time to ease myself into the world of blogging. I didn’t anticipate the anxiety making the first post would create. I am seldom daunted by the presence of a blank canvas, but this blank rectangle on the computer screen had me stymied. I have procrastinated very well for these past four months, and, now that November is here, I realize that if I don’t just post SOMETHING I will NEVER start. So here I am! I have been painting icebergs this year. They come from far away and no one is driving them. They are huge clumps of ice whose final transformation we sometimes get to see from shore, after they have travelled thousands of miles. Sometimes they appear in herds and float south along the shore like a parade of animals; sometimes I strain my eyes toward a tiny reflective speck on the distant horizon only to realize that it’s just a transport ship. Like the fog in Newfoundland, icebergs are an unpredictable and mysterious presence. Here are some of my efforts to date. I feel a bit adrift, as if I were sending a message in a bottle out into the ether. Anyone out...

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