Thursday, September 20, 2012

Let it Show! --My Work on Other People's Walls

There are artists who are content to paint in private year after year, squirrelling the fruits of their labours away in their attics and basements. I'm not one of those. For one thing I don't have a basement, or any other place big enough to accommodate what is by now a considerable inventory. And I am fairly prolific: I am now working on my 17th painting of 2012, to give you an idea. So for that reason alone it's a relief to be able to get some of it out of my house and on to other people's walls, even if it all comes back again days, weeks or months later.

There's another purely practical reason. Since 2005, when I obtained my BFA degree and rented a studio space for the first time, I have been conducting my art practice as a "small business." This means that I can deduct my art-related expenses, the greatest of which is my studio rent. The big advantage is that, since at the moment my art business runs at a loss, it reduces my overall income, and therefore my income tax bill. Before I set this up I attended a lecture on the topic, at which an accountant explained the rules, since of course the Canadian government is not enthusiastic about receiving less tax. In general a "small business" must demonstrate that it has "reasonable expectation of profit." However, even the government realizes that for artists "REOP" is a long shot, so it has a second criterion: "active pursuit of profit."  So for me, making an effort to get my work out into places where it will be seen by a wider audience than my family and my studio mates, and where it may possibly attract buyers, is an outward and visible sign of pursuing profit.

Even without these practical considerations it would be important to me to display my paintings. I have a real feeling of achievement in seeing my work displayed in public, especially if I can hang a whole series of related paintings in the same space. Viewers' reactions and comments are fascinating and instructive too. I know that enough people respond positively to my work to make it worth putting it out there for their enjoyment. Canvases stacked in closets or against the wall are not doing anyone much good.

So . . . for all these reasons I submit my work to juries and take part in events and group activities. And this year a whole host of opportunities have presented themselves more or less together, between now and the end of the year. So if you live in the Vancouver area and would like to see examples of my actual work, as opposed to virtual thumbnails, please come to some of the following venues or events. I have already written in this blog about some of the work, and don't want to repeat myself unduly, so I'll just give the reference to the relevant blog instalment. If you want to take a(nother) look at it, just click on the relevant date on the list to the upper right of your screen, where it says "Blog Archive."

First up is a group show with Vancouver Sketch Club, , which is due to open Saturday September 29 in the upstairs lounge of the Metro Theatre, along with the Theatre's next production, I'll be Back Before Midnight, described as "a chilling evening down on the farm"! You can only get in to see the art show if you attend the play, but do come for an inexpensive evening out,Thurs. through Sat. evenings and Sunday matinees until October 27. See for more information. The theme for our art show is "Quotes from the Masters." I wrote about this project, and the three paintings I planned to submit to the show, in "Getting Going Again: Vincent's Mutants" -- please see this blog, March 2012. However, I sold the paintings shortly afterwards, and painted two different ones for the show. I followed the same procedure--changing the colours of the original to their complementaries--but the "master" I quoted from was Tom Thomson, and the paintings two of his best known, "The West Wind " and "The Jack Pine." You can see the original versions at and and compare them with my much smaller mutants, each 16" x 18".

Oddly, I found these much harder to paint than the Van Gogh mutants! Less surprisingly, I learned that changing the colours greatly alters the mood of a landscape.

The weekend of Sept. 28 - 30 I will be taking part in an art event called the Main Drift, open to artists who live or work on or near Main Street. I am planning to be in a display space at 350 East 2nd Ave. (the same venue as I was in for the last Drift, in 2010)  from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm on the Saturday and Sunday, with fellow painters Vanessa Lam and Melanie Ellery. For much more information and a map, please see . I will be showing some of my "Watery World" series, which I wrote about in "Reflecting on Reflections," April 2012. Here's "Watery World 4" as an example.

The following week the Vancouver Sketch Club will be hanging another show, this time to celebrate its 60th anniversary. The Club has gone through some drastic changes over the years. It started as an all-male preserve for downtown businessmen who wanted to sketch or paint in the Vancouver Art Gallery. For many years women--the wives of the members--were relegated to the role of refreshment providers and cleaner-uppers at meetings. Eventually some of the wives--supported by a few husbands--rebelled, and were grudgingly admitted to the Club, which now has a predominantly female membership! Our celebratory show will be installed at the West End Community Centre on Denman St. and will run from October1 to 20. There is no specific theme for this show. I am planning to include two or three of the series that has been my main focus this year, paintings of artists at work. What I like about the subject is the artists' complete absorption in their activity; they seem to be each in their own separate world. I have so far completed eight paintings, and want to do five or six more--by which time I'll be ready for a complete change of direction! Here's "Artist in a Black and White Outfit" as an example.

Artist in a Black and White Outfit - 2012 - 20" x 16"

In the same week I'll be hauling off a carload of paintings to a Massage Clinic, , where, as a member of the Drift Society, I have been invited to display work for three months--my longest stay to date on Other People's Walls! As with the Metro Theatre, you can only see the work if you patronize the establishment, so if you have sore muscles, here's your chance to combine a massage with art appreciation. I will be sharing the wall space with Melanie Ellery, and am planning to show work which features people. This is work from longer ago, and I have written about most of it before--please see 2011 instalments, especially Feb. 20, March 6, May, June, September and December. For example, I'll be including "Country Church".
Country Church - 2009 - each panel 14" x 11"
November brings our big annual event, the Eastside Culture Crawl, ,
when our studio, Portside Studios at 150 McLean Drive, will open our doors for three days. I can't claim that the Crawl will get my work on to Other People's Walls, but I will at least have the opportunity to show it to Other People, and talk to them about it. Maybe even sell some of it . . . or, since I'll be showing my "Artists at Work" series, maybe I'll even secure commissions for further studies of artists! Well, I can fantasize! Here's another Artist at Work:

Artist on an Iron Bench - 2012 - 16" x 20"

And that brings us to December, when I'll be showing a selection of paintings from my series "In Praise of November" at the Hycroft Gallery in the home of the University Women's Club of Vancouver,  . I wrote about this series in my posts of March 13 and November 2011, and in March 2012. I don't yet know the exact dates of this show, and I'm still deciding which paintings to include, but they will be mostly landscapes and trees. Here's one:

November Snow - 2009 - 20" x 20"

There! A major move in the direction of Mother Hubbard walls, and ample proof for the tax man, if he happens to be paying attention, of my "active pursuit of profit." My showing streak even extends into January--but that's another story!

Next blog post in a month or so. Thanks for reading!