Spring has finally sprung in the Okanagan Valley and I've been hard at work since returning to Canada. I think time goes by faster as I get older. And I do feel older, having celebrated a milestone birthday (at a most lovely spot in the world, a place you've likely never heard of, Australia's Lord Howe Island. At the risk of letting out a big secret and spoiling the charm of a place with only 300 residents and 400 tourists allowed at any time, I encourage you to check it out!)
But 60 has nothing compared to my mom at 90, so I'm just going to carry on and hope I'm as healthy as her at that age! Here she is two years ago at 88 and she doesn't look much different now
Meanwhile there are a number of exhibitions I'm preparing for including "2 From Trout Creek".
Come on out to the reception, or to the show in the 6 weeks it's open!
This painting will be at the show:
During the opening I'm exhibiting at one of the gardens in the biannual Summerland Garden Tour on Saturday, June 23. The Devine Art Group, of which I am a member, the Summerland Ornamental Gardens, and a selection of beautiful local gardens are open for this benefit for the Quest Society, improving quality of life for the deaf and hearing impaired.
At the time this is going on we are working on designing and building a new home, and preparing for a 3 week European trip including 2 days in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Yes, I'm going to see The Hermitage (as well as a lot of other lovely places in what is reputed to be a most beautiful cities)!
After that I have one more art challenge to prepare for. Our local Arts Council, in conjunction with the local George Ryga Festival (in its 3rd year), are putting on a display of art work paired with writing. I have submitted one painting, and a writer will be assigned this painting to write about--poetry, essay, story, whatever they like. In return, I have been assigned a lovely bit of writing (dare I share it with you yet? I think not) to paint. Set aside some time between August 28 and October 5 to view this exhibition. I guarantee you it'll be fabulous!
That's it for now, until next blog...
Well, actually the sheep in Australia aren't usually that white and fluffy but I've learned a new definition of the word "graphic" as it applies to collage. It means, according to a wonderful artist and tutor, Denise Vanderlugt, to keep things as minimal as possible--just shapes, outlines, instantly recognizable symbols (that are hopefully easy to cut out and glue--my editorial comment!).
For example, this gum tree trunk and branch are graphic as well
So beautiful--i might have a go at painting this soon!
The Christmas sales ended off the year of "Believe" on a strong note and I am contemplating 2018's theme. We are working on a project to subdivide a lot off our property and build ourselves a new and smaller house and studio. For someone with pioneering, exploring and travel-loving nature it is a bit counterintuitive to be thinking about designing and creating a "forever" home so I've been toying with how to work a year on that theme, and having others inspired to think about what exactly is home. Maybe you'll supply me with some great ideas! Ive landed on "@Home and Away"-- as of course, you might guess that I definitely have more travel plans for the year!
Soon I will be finished with my 50s so will be spending a celebratory week on World Heritage listed Lord Howe Island. As I look back on the last 10 years, I note they have been amazing and fun, starting with gaining my Australian citizenship, having a hip replacement, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on said hip in one of two trips to Africa, departing the Lower Mainland and moving to Summerland, establishing my website and studio, visiting Australia each year, going to Greece, Scotland, New Zealand, Germany, France, driving across Canada for 3 months, and making lots of new friends, and seeing nieces and nephews taking hold of their lives.
It has been wonderful and so I say "bring on the 60s!"
All the best to you and yours for a fantastic 2018!
Just a quick note to advise those who don't follow me on Facebook that I have 2 Christmas shows upcoming. One starts tomorrow
in Coquitlam, as you may note!
The next is in Kelowna, next weekend, December 9 and 10th
I'd be delighted to see you at either one, if you're in the area!
I have some new work to show, the Winter birches are selling very well (4 in the last month!) So I painted the second biggest one yet and it will be at its first show tomorrow, all framed up!
A quick look at some other new work:
This watercolour called "Hugs" is now framed and I've just had cards made for sale, $3.50 for small cards, $4.50 for 5" x 7".
It's of a friend's daughters on their local beach
just north of Sydney. They are gorgeous girls!
Another Sydney bushland scene--watercolour and Ink, from a day I had with a drawing friend who was born in Sydney, but has lived in the Okanagan for decades, and returns to Australia for 3 months each year (like me!)
And one last taste of my year (when I wasn't blogging and keeping you updated with my escapades:
I spent two weeks on the Greek island of Skopelos, doing an amazing photopolymer printmaking course with master Australian printmaker Diane Longley. Although the above print was a different printmaking technique, I include it here to show you a bit of the work I did channeling mermaids during the course. This one was from a little cardboard plate, printed onto gold Chine colle tissue paper, very delicately! I do love my mermaids and also made some art with "The Sirens of Skopelos".
If you are interested in learning more about printmaking, at the same time as having a fabulous holiday on the island where Mamma Mia was filmed (and Mamma Mia II is about to be filmed), check out Skopelos Works on Paper for their next year's course offerings. They gave me one of the most incredible 2 week art experiences of my life!
So, that is all for now, the year of "Believe" is almost over and I find to that hard to believe. Lots of great travels from Australia, to Canada, to Greece, Germany, Switzerland and Nice, back to Canadian Rockies and then to Ontario's Muskoka cottage country to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday. Hope your year has been as good, wherever you have been, and that I see you somewhere or another soon!
Welcome to Australia, day 1 on the side of the road in the town I was visiting!
Great to be in the Land Down Under and immersing myself in summertime. I have been busy, creating paper out of natural plant materials and making a little sample book of the various papers. I have more to use in block printing, chine colle and collage. Possibly may paint but they are quite textured as well as fragile to water and ink so block printing may be the best.
AlAlong the road I also attached a great exhibition called "Nude", from the Tate Gallery in London, which was showing at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. As a life drawer/painter, I was particularly interested in how classical painters integrated their works into shows, and the history of how nude works were accepted into society. The sculptural pieces in this exhibition were particularly beautiful (well, for the most part--there were some shockers included too!) My favourite piece was this beautiful Rodin sculpture, "The Kiss", which had not left Europe before this show.
Along the way I've done a few other bits of painting myself, including this ink and watercolour vista of a bushland Aussie scene that I am pleased with.
And i always try to seek out artists in their studios, so was pleased to have a tour of Bundanoon potter Bruce Pryor's expansive studio and see the huge woodfired kiln he built in it.
He actually crawls to the back with his pieces, fills the kiln (about twice a year), then builds the fire at the front of it, and bricks up the front while he is firing.
Amazing the work that goes into creating beautiful pieces!
There are a couple of pieces of exiting news--while traveling I am making preparations for an exhibition opening April 6 in the Summerland Arts Centre, its first show since moving last May. I will have about 5 paintings there with The De Vine Art Group, and you are invited to opening night 7 pm Thursday April 6 if in the area. The show will be on until early May. Currently I also have a few paintings hanging in the Summerland Council Offices, which is a new venue for me.
Most exciting however is my next trip to the Greek island of Skopelos for a printmaking workshop with Australian Dianne Longley, who pioneered solar etching. Greece has always been on my bucket list so to combine it with this workshop is an amazing opportunity!
Well, that's it for this edition -hope all is well in your world and will post another blog in a couple of months.Signing off, as a supporter of the arts!
Happy new year to you all, wherever you may be in the world, in your life, in virtual or other reality. Hard to believe we are well into January and I am in my "other life" Down Under.
Happy to see my beloved gum trees (Snow Gums, above, was sold after a Christmas show) rather than winter birches!
Already I have seen 39 degrees, torrential rain, a mini tornado and two weeks of struggle against a particularly strong cold which has hampered my attendance and energy for a papermaking course last week, as well as my enjoyment of arriving into summertime. Still, after last year's theme of "A Year of Adventure" I am happy to be on the road again.
I wanted to show you the beautiful photo by neighbour Elizabeth Wrobel, of the beautiful art installation at its best, produced for the Summerland Arts Council by artist Sophia Zang and myself along with a cast of many!) It was a fine way to light up the dark days of winter for anyone passing by.
Part of the illumination in my mind was about my theme for this year--"Believe". A simple word, perhaps a bit abstract, and subject to the inclinations of the individual. Somehow this idea came to me, as they do, in the depths of winter, looking at the year to come in the aftermath of some wild and crazy world events. How to make sense of all of this? Where will these international upheavals take us? Sometimes it's hard to believe in positive futures, in a positive life, that we can find our way, our best self, good solutions, gain some power and momentum in this unpredictable era. And yet, underneath, I still have faith (one type of belief, perhaps without lots of immediately compelling evidence!) that we humans can find a way. And as individuals, if we examine our own beliefs and find ones that serve us well, affirm our own worth and direction, those beliefs are the ones worth holding onto, affirming, strengthening.
I was pleased to read President Obama's speech in Chicago, as in his closing remarks he also expressed the idea of believing being a powerful force . It is a challenge to maintain constructive beliefs and not fall into the hole of negative ones, under pressure, I have noted recently --when I'm not feeling well, when there is adversity, bad things happening--but perversely those times are the most valuable to hold on. "This time too will pass", or, "one day at a time" are other annual themes that friends have settled on. Have you got a sense of a theme for yourself for 2017? Let me know!
So, back to the
Here's a piece of plant-based hand-made paper, molded against a sign, that I made at Bellingen 's amazing Camp Creative last week. I have a good selection ready to use for collage, printing, and mixed media work going forward. Here's a page from my sample book that I quickly stitched together myself on the last morning, with a mold/stamp I also made yself printed on top.
I loved learning more about the process of papermaking, since I do love working on paper. You can see the texture, the fibres and natural colour of the top sheets, accented by the pulp-based handmade orange paper which is also part of the bound book I made.
However this rough natural paper is not suitable for my watercolour work, and only the smoothest is good for printmaking, a little of the thin ones will apparently work for chine college, so using these pieces may be my creative challenge this year. I must believe I will find a way!
Cheers to you all, I hope you've had a healthier start to the year than I have, and that you are cooking up something wonderful for yourself and for the world!
"Snow Day"--which thankfully hasn't happened yet--is one of the new cards I've had printed in preparation for the 3 Christmas sales I'm exhibiting in over the next few weeks. How the time flies, in November, and particularly this year. As well as doing an extra sale, my first in Kelowna December 10 and 11 (see my event page for details), I'm very excited to be working on the first art installation by Summerland Arts Council, with my friend, artist Sophia Zang, who came up with the theme after I realized that we had outdoor space that could make a big statement about our presence in a new building. Here's the poster--if you're in the area come by and see it!
I never thought I'd be an installation artist but after arranging for 99 palletizing apple bins to be delivered and stacked in blocks, here's a look at the start of the project:!
We are busy wrapping all these stacks with ribbons and lights, and all will be unveiled this Friday, November 25, at 5 pm. Come on out until December 25th!
This project has bumped my own artwork onto the back burner, although I have been fitting some life drawing into my schedule and was very happy with this piece, created in the last two weeks.
I have another lovely piece, framed size about 20" x 20", for sale at the Penticton Art Gallery 's "Under $500 Sale" til December 24th.
I was really happy to sell two pieces there last year so hope for more of the same. And as a bonus, if you go you can see a fantastic show of my favourite BC watercolourist, Toni Onley, on til January 15, 2017. I have been waiting 4 years to see his work, part of the Penticton Art Gallery s collection, and I was not disappointed!
This is a busy season for artists, and I am no exception -people are looking at art for themselves or as gifts. I've already sold a large Winter Birch, I'm working on some smaller ones for the shows, as well as a commission, and was happy to see this solar etching "Blowing a Kiss", of my late sister, go to a good home in Germany.
Another exciting little project of the Summerland Arts Council is "The Abandoned Art Project". Small canvas-based panels are made into works of art by any members of the public, then they are packaged with information about Summerland and the Arts Council, and "Abandoned " somewhere in the world with an invitation to keep it, pass it on, and let us know what you think on social media. Here's a little piece I painted in acrylic (not my normal medium!) which is going somewhere,,,,maybe near you?
So, I've stopped long enough to catch you up on what I'm up to, and now I'm going to jump back on that treadmill for the next month! I hope to see you somewhere, do come out to any of the events I'm in--Summerland November 25/6, Coquitlam December 2-4, Kelowna's Prospera Place December 10th and 11th! I'd love to see you before I head south til April. And if you want a calendar let me know soon, they are going fast!
I hope you are enjoying life and finding your own inspiration, whether it's the arts in some form, family, community, travels in this beautiful world, or social or health endeavors. Whatever makes a difference for you--in a positive way!
Cheers until next time!
Since my last blog, I feel like that old song, "I've been everywhere, man"--Australia, Hong Kong, Vancouver, Amsterdam, Paris, all over South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and the Okovango Delta, Namibia, Scotland, Nice, and the Rockies. All of thoses highlights and a few lowlights around breaking my ankle stepping into a pothole on the sidewalk in Oodtshoorn, South Africa--which required changing themes for the rest of the long trip, from hiking in Scotland to driving (well, the good husband had to drive from then on) and seeing pubs, castles, islands and Highlands. Such amazing trips! One blog isn't enough to describe it all, there were so many amazing places!
Bar at Kido Lodge, Zululand Rhino Reserve South Africa
The beautiful nyala antelope, Southern Africa
One of the amazing places in the world was the Okovango Delta--if you ever get to Africa make sure it's on your list. We saw 4 leopards in one day, and another one crossed the road in front of us the next morning driving out. Camping on the bank of a creek with elephants going through, hearing hyenas and lions at night, more than made up for the bucket shower (in a private addition to the back of the tent!)
Back to civilization in Nice, France. This plaza is close to the oceanfront Promenade des Anglais where the crowds were mowed down on Bastille Day, just a month after I was there. There was so much security when I was there, in the leadup to the Euro Cup, that it's hard to believe that could have happened. Sometimes the so-called civilized world seems just as scary as places like Africa.
Once home I jumped right into the art again, with two successful garden events seeing my paintings going to new homes in Whitehorse and New Zealand. However I haven't been doing much painting, although I have a few new pieces like this little quail which is screen-printed onto paper dyed with natural plant materials.
And this little collograph went to collectors who are encouraging their grandchildren to become collectors, and starting them with birthday presents every year!
So when I got going on my 2017 calendar I was relieved (as always) to find I had lots of pieces to choose 13 from, for your viewing pleasure. The calendars are here now, $12.50 plus shipping (lower rates for larger quantities).
Hope to hear from you if you want any--they will all be gone by the time I supply repeat customers, new ones from shows who have pre-ordered, and I am doing two big Christmas shows.
My next show will be Saturday October 1, at the Summerland Art Centre for Culture Days, and then I am returning to my favourite Coquitlam Christmas sale December 2-4 (same building as last year, with the happy addition of heating this time!). The very next weekend I was juried into a big show in Kelowna at Prospera Place, December 10 and 11.
Meanwhile I am happy to be back at home, painting with my wonderful Life Drawing group, and creating some new work for the Christmas sales (I feel some more birch trees coming on!)
I'll blog again soon, but if you want to keep more current with what I'm up to you can look at (& like) my facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/eewatts/ . I post new work there fairly regularly and you can see some more travel photos there too.
Until next time, as I named my title painting on the calendar, "Jump On!" and ride the carousel!
From this to this:.
I finished off the old year with my best show ever and a few extra big sales of very large canvas birch reproductions. At 5 feet long they looked fabulous and that was before they were mounted over master bedroom beds!
I also had a foray into some pottery work, as a giveaway for customers I the Summerland Gift Shop Seasons Sparkles Christmas market. These little quail were such a hit there were more copies made to sel.I was also delighted to sell two pieces out of the Penticton Art Gallery!
Now looking into this year's plans, I was disheartened to hear that the organizers of two of my best shows are not continuing on in 2016. I hope that someone will step into the gaps but meanwhile I will be looking for alternative sales to replace them. If you can recommend any Christmas shows in the Vancouver or south Okanagan area please let me know.
Meanwhile I have a big year of traveling happening and am taking every opportunity to visit other art studios and galleries that come my way, now in Australia, and later in South Africa and Scotland. I'm particularly interested in printmakers so send an email with any of your favorites so I can work them into my plans.
Meanwhile of course the studio is closed until at least the middle of the year. Some work remains available at the Summerland Art Gallery and I have a selection of cards at the Penticton Art Gallery. I have taken my work out of the Comox Valley Art Gallery as it was a long way to go to check on it--and their mandate is to serve local artists, as is my own local gallery.
Now that I have some experience being on the board of a non-profit organization I am getting more insight and appreciation for what goes on in the administration of community galleries. There is a great effort to engage the whole public into support and involvement in this field. Yet where would we be without art and public demonstration of it? Funding for every little piece, from building operation to staffing to promotional expenses is unreliable from year to year and subject to the vagaries of government and the varying generosity of business sponsors and individuals. This is the part where we all wish for a fairy godmother or an angel to look over us!
Well, enough musings for the end of the first month of 2016. Signing off with the evening view of the Kalang River near Coffs Harbour, NSW. I hope you're taking some time to enjoy nature wherever you are in the world--and whatever season it is!
December 1st already, and in Australia it's December 2 as I type away in my cozy studio with the wood fire going. I've just packed up for my last show of the year, in Coquitlam this weekend. And this will be my last public show for at least 6 months. Will tell you why soon.
All the artists are together in the same building in a corner of the usual complex, in case you're coming! I've been going to this sale for many years and have lots of repeat customers, but I'm a little nervous that I won't have so much space so I'm bringing less framed work this time.
If I'm a bit tight for room, well, that's when they say your creativity is stretched so I'm going to trust that I'll be creative when faced with change! Say, that's probably a good theme to be entering 2016 on. Maybe I'll work with that a little over the next month. I always like to have a bit of a rallying statement to keep in mind over the year and I haven't thought of one for the new year yet.
Right now it's time to start reflecting on this last year--successes and failures, highlights and blessings. I hope you are able to find some time to do that too, in the rush leading up to Christmas. We are so fortunate to live in a peaceful, wealthy and beautiful country (me doubly so as I consider my second home Australia). And for me to have the luxury of time to create art that is meaningful to me, and to others, as a reflection of that life, is another blessing.
People struggle and still go on in so many places in the world, and indeed some do in the first world as well. There are a few times this year that I have been touched by the passing of friends and family, mostly older but some well before what I thought would be "their time". As a wise friend said to me, as we get older we must deal with more grief and loss--the price to be paid for living on, I guess. I suspect I have some paintings to create about that yet. For the moment though I am still working from happy places--often rooted in the landscapes around me, or the beauty of the human form, or interesting shapes and meaningful symbols converted into collage or printmaking.
Ink and watercolour and printmaking continue to be favourites and as I review my sales this year I've been surprised to see how much figure work I've sold. When I started I really didn't expect there to be a market and yet just in the last month I've sold 3 pieces.
This simple but quite large ink sketch was one of them. It was the basis for a series of solar etchings I did (see below for one of them), and I had it at the "20 Minutes Max" show at the Summerland Art Gallery in October/November.
I'm not sure where people are displaying this art but I have been trading with my fellow life drawing artist friends as they are a very talented bunch and I've decided to start working on my own "collection" of art. (Another sign of our first-world wealth, I suppose, is that we can and do collect artworks that we love, and have space to display them!)
My birch paintings have been selling well too so I have painted a few more, and am toying with the idea of making another very large one as a showpiece. If I could only figure out how to frame a huge one cheaply and so that it travelled well!
Meanwhile here's a small autumn birch card I finished a few weeks ago--before winter arrived!
It'll be available at the Coquitlam sale, and is totally suitable for framing after it's been written in!
I was also delighted to finish this commission for an Ottawa woman who had been visiting the Okanagan and done the spectacular bike ride on the KVR Trail, to Little Tunnel at Naramata. I had another similar painting on hand and framed, but not so portable, so between us we decided I'd do another one that showed her husband and his brother riding towards the tunnel entrance. I'll be making cards of this one for next year's tourist season!
I have many happy memories of bike trips to this striking location, sun shining on the lake below.
Just one more thing before I close--the studio will be close until further notice as I have a big travel year planned ahead. As well as my usual Australia migration, we will be heading for southern Africa and having a long stopover in Europe--likely hiking in the Scottish Highlands, and spending some time in France. This blog may again become a bit of a travelogue rather than an art blog--painting time permitting! And my publishing schedule is likely to be...well...a little MORE erratic!
All the best to you and yours for a peaceful and light-filled Christmas season--filled with love and laughter. "Home for the Holidays"
How did it get to be November already? (I'm sure you are asking the same question!) I'm busy getting ready for the last few showings of the year, having done well at both DeVine Arts and the 20 Minutes Max show at the Summerland Art Gallery (sold two pieces--and one of them someone else came back to buy but it was already gone!)
This piece is still available...if you're into figure work! I've been a little surprised at how many people are, to tell the truth. When I started doing the life drawing (as they call it) I wondered if it was actually saleable but having sold about a half dozen pieces in the 10 months I've had them available I was pleasantly surprised! And it is definitely challenging to capture the pose in the maximum 20 minutes available. As a bonus, the group of artists itself is very talented, and fun, and that makes it all worthwhile.
But, no time to rest on laurels, there are two shows this month (listed on my Events page) and the big Coquitlam Christmas sale in early December to prepare for, as well as a commission to complete and send to Ottawa in time for the new owner to wrap and gift, and a Christmas Card contest to paint for. I'm also working on a few more Birch Tree paintings--fall, winter, spring. And today I tried a new form of art--some pottery quail ornaments that will be available for customers of the Summerland Art Gallery's Seasons Sparkles sale, opening November 27, at the town's "Lightup Night". The potters group encouraged me to come back next week and do some 3D sculptural work...so I just might!
Between times, I have been working on behalf of the Summerland Community Arts Council on various events and forward-planning, including my first stint as a jury member for 2016 exhibitions at the Summerland Art Gallery. I was honoured to be asked, and the process itself was most interesting as well as educational. The caliber of submissions was excellent, as was the discussion around what type of shows would be best suited to the mission of the gallery-- Promoting and Facilitating Awareness and Appreciation of the Arts in Summerland, BC. This meant, to the panel, including a variety of work that could be edgy, could have local interest or participation, and stimulating discussion within the community. It made me think a lot more about what I do when I'm writing and submitting proposals for shows, and collecting a body (or bodies, given my variety of styles and subjects) of my own work to put forward.
This experience also has me looking at the shows and openings I attend with a new eye, and appreciation for both artists and curators who manage the presentations at public art galleries. Which leads to another experience I had, attending at long last a talk by "The Jealous Curator" who happens to be a local writer/blogger/artist named Danielle Krysa. Having found out a couple of years ago she is a local, I have missed several opportunities to meet her and hear about what she's up to (oh, that travel schedule I keep!) so was delighted that our paths aligned last week. She is a mover and shaker so I've signed up to keep track of what she's up to in the lead-up to her 3rd book, to be published next year. Very funky, straightforward passion for the art she likes, and a great speaker if you ever get the chance (she speaks internationally!). Her last book, "Creative Block" about getting unstuck, along with 50 artists, was sold out at the New York MOMA so that might tell you how good it was! You can check her out on-line at www.thejealouscurator.com/blog. A New Artist every day!
Just a reminder, my 2016 desk calendars are again available, a new piece of art for $1 each month. They are going fast so if you want me to set any aside for you let me know!
Now, that's about enough from me as I need to get back to work! Enjoy the last months of 2015!