Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Meet the Artists--in person and on canvas!

In a few days' time, on the weekend of November 16 - 18, along with most of my studio mates, I will be taking part in this year's Eastside Culture Crawl. For me it will be the eighth time I have played hostess in my studio space, first at 901 Main St. and then, since 2010, at Portside Studios, 150 McLean Drive. For detailed information about the Crawl, and to download a map showing all the participating artists and studios, please see www.eastsideculturecrawl.com
If you have never "crawled" before, be warned: this is a very big event with an awful lot to see!The list of artists in the printed brochure takes up four double-columned pages. We are spread over an area extending from Main St. to Victoria Drive and from East 1st Ave. to the Burrard Inlet waterfront. So although there are dedicated Crawlers who make a full time job of it from 5 pm on the Friday through to 6:00 on the Sunday (maybe they are the same people who see ten movies a day during the Film Festival) most people select a few studios, giving preference to artists they know personally or whose work they admire. Another warning--mid-November is not the best time of year for leisurely strolls through Vancouver's streets! Although we have occasionally had beautiful autumn days, my memory tells me it's more  often been pouring, and once we had a blizzard. So a policy adopted by the initiated is to favour buildings like Portside Studios, where there are a number of artists to visit and where once you are inside you are good for at least half an hour and can dry off and warm up.

In my last blog post (October 9, 2012) I wrote about the opportunities that have presented themselves this year to hang paintings on other people's walls. In the case of the Crawl, of course, I'm using my own walls, the ones I rent at Portside. Most of the work I'll be showing is from this year and includes the paintings I've completed so far on the theme "Artists at Work." I referred to two of them last time, but there are eight more. What attracted me to this subject is the intense absorption and concentration of all the artists, amateurs and professionals, who range in age from about twelve months to more than seven decades. As I wrote in "Facing Facts"--please see this blog, September 11, 2011--I like to see children engaged with their whole bodies and all their senses in an activity which, for the time being, is the most important thing in the world. Years ago, as an education student, I read a book by Maria Montessori. I remember almost nothing about it except that Montessori called this concentration "the great work of children," which adults should respect, even revere. I enjoy watching my grandchildren absorbed in their "great work", but I don't believe they have a monopoly on it. Certainly artists at work demonstrate the same attitudes.

The artists I've painted are people of whom I had taken or acquired photographs that I found interesting. They include friends, acquaintances and family members, and one or two whom I met on  painting holidays. I will not give any of them a name, so it's fine if they don't recognize themselves!

Artist in a Field of Gold - acrylic - 2012 - 16" x 20"
First, two people painting outdoors in southwestern France. A group of us were there for a painting holiday arranged by the proprietors of Brambles, an art retreat in Devon, England. (For information about their courses and trips see www.bramblesartretreat.com .) We were in a beautiful rural setting not far from Toulouse and the foothills of the Pyrenees.On a sunny but coolish September morning we strung ourselves out along the side of the road to paint the view across the fields, which included a fine Romanesque church. 
Artist in a Bean Field - acrylic - 2012 - 16" x 20"
When artists are busy it is as if they were in their own little world, as if other people didn't exist. The chair backs and the backdrop of trees seem to define these little worlds and separate the artists from the viewer.

Bridge on the Lydd

The Red Tractor

The next artist was also a Brambles student, but this time at the retreat in Devon, in June. We had a week of glorious weather and were able to work outside every day. In this picture we were in the yard at Brambles, but we also worked in a farmyard, where I painted "The Red Tractor," and in a partly dried up river bed, which I wrote about in my post of September 13, 2011.
Artist on an Iron Bench - acrylic - 2012 - 16" x 20"


"Artist on an Iron Bench" is perhaps my favourite so far. I like the minimal background and the pinkish colour, which suggests the wall of the old cottage.

Next we go to Vancouver Island and a chilly spring morning. You have to be dedicated to sketch outdoors in anything but perfect weather, but this artist and I dressed warmly and stuck it out for a couple of hours.
Artist in a Forest - acrylic - 2012 - 16" x 20"

The next three artists are members of Vancouver Sketch Club, and as I mentioned last time, were my contribution to the Sketch Club's 60th anniversary exhibition. We were drawing from the model in the Coach House at Hycroft, the headquarters of the University Women's Club of Vancouver. In the case of "Artist in a Black and White Outfit", it was the coordinated outfit itself which appealed to me, whereas in "Artist in a Red Scarf" I particularly liked the network of easels in the background. "Artist in Shirt Sleeves" was a challenge since I changed the background several times, moving the open door, eliminating it completely, and finally reinstating it, since the composition seemed to need something there.
Artist in Shirt Sleeves - acrylic - 2012 - 16" x 20" 
Artist in a Black & White Outfit - acrylic - 2012 - 20" x 16"
Artist in a Red Scarf - acrylic - 2012 - 16" x 20"
Shore Line
Artist beside a Pond - acrylic - 2012 - 16" x 20"
I wrote about summer sketching in"The Great Outdoors", August 7, 2012. One of our regular venues is Jericho Beach Park, where there is a variety of subject matter to choose from. Several years ago I spotted the row of elderly ladies that became the painting "Shore Line." This year I photographed the woman who features in "Artist beside a Pond." I particularly liked the way the trees and plants framed her, enhancing the "own little world" effect.

Artist in a Red Chair - acrylic - 2012 - 20" x 16"

Artist with a Green Crayon - acrylic - 2012 - 16" x 20"

Finally, the two youngest of my artists. On one of our summer sketching days a member brought along her grandchildren, whom she was baby-sitting for the day. I loved the way the little girl in "Artist in a Red Chair" had curled herself up as she drew the trees edging the park. Maria Montessori would have been happy to see her, as she would with the baby boy in "Artist with a Green Crayon." Scarcely big enough to see over the table, and with his left thumb an essential part of the creative process, this tiny artist is just as absorbed in his Great Work as any of the other people in my series.

Do come and see the paintings if you are in the Vancouver area, and contact me if you have a photo of your own Artist at Work that you might like to see as a 16" x 20" painting. One condition--no mugging for the camera--your artist must be oblivious to everything except the task in hand! you can send me a message via this sight, or through my website, www.myartclub.com/judith.fairwood

Next blog post? Probably not before January.