Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mixed Media Update

I've updated my Mixed Media page and added several new pieces. Please have a look here!

PAINTING SUNSHINE   8" x 10" framed acrylic/mixed media on canvas   $195. 

From a still life set up, I started this painting at one of Kari Martin's Splash Nights (paint-ins). The sunflower in the vase with only the tube of paint looked lonely. On my last visit to in Creston, B.C., Win Dinn let me raid her collection of dried flowers and I scored the little dragonfly brad for embellishments. 

Soon there will be a blog post to show the flurry of  mixed media madness, and the art created by Meg, Win and myself in Win's studio, earlier this month. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Interview With Dustin Garnet

On April 21st, 2013, I received this email ...

Hello Alice,
My name is Dustin Garnet and I am an instructor in the Central Tech art program. I am also a PhD candidate writing my thesis on the history of the CTS art program.
I just came across your comments and pictures on the Internet about your experience at Tech. I was thrilled!!!  (He is referring to this post.) 
Would you be interested in having a phone or a Skype interview about your experience?
I've already interviewed a bunch of former staff and students and I think your story would be a great contribution!
Please let me know whenever you can.

I checked Dustin Garnet out online and promptly replied with a hearty "Yes"! The phone or Skype interview morphed into a live, in our own home interviewOn the heels of a conference in Victoria, B.C., Dustin flew to Calgary, rented a car on June 8th, 2013, and drove the 130kms to Claresholm.

The video taped part of our day lasted a little over one hour

The moment he came through our front door I was endeared to him. Our first hour, becoming acquainted, was animated and forthright. He'd emailed me questions to ponder. Those of you who know me would know that I'd have questions of my own, and often among the first is "How old are you?" "Thirty-three" he responded. His obvious passion for Central Tech (where he's been on staff for six years) and easy manner made it easy for me to be my usual, unreserved self. Please view Dustin's art here. 

My vanity had me ask to see how I looked on camera

In lovely weather, we enjoyed lunch on our back deck, after which I took Dustin down to The Anne Frank Room. There he photographed my memorabilia and student art until it was time for him to dash back to 
Calgary for a 5 o'clock flight.

I happily watched as Dustin delighted in photographing everything from book covers of school projects, photos, to my diploma and report cards. He marveled at the fact that we were actually ranked according to our overall, average mark; i.e. 3 in a class of 15.

My final report card ... notice how heavily weighted art subjects were compared to the academic subjects
This fine letter, to the graduates, accompanied our diploma
And there I am, diploma in hand, November 18th, 1966

Dustin asked about
student interaction. I was so honoured when he said that he could give a dissertation on me and my classmates. He wondered about how our teachers instructed. I felt (because art is so visual) that they had taught by doing and then left us to work it out. What they gave us was a desire to be like them. We could see that, as artists, they enjoyed a wonderful life both in and out of the classroom. I wanted that.

Design class, Dawson Kennedy, January 1966
My photo from the VULCAN, Central Tech's 1966 year book

When the four-year course was over I was not yet weaned from Central Tech and neither were other students from my graduating class. Some of us returned for night classes in life drawing. As well, I took sculpture which was not offered in the high school art program. 

Dustin wanted to know about work placement after school. To my recollection it was arranged behind the scenes. Sent off to be a cartographer, I lasted a week.  Good thing employment was easy to come by back then. Upon quitting I was hired, on the basis of my portfolio, at a division of Irwin Toy; Irwin Specialties. There, using a non-rotary x-acto knife, I hand-cut pro-film for silk screens (of my designs) to be printed as souvenirs. Pennants, t-shirts and tea towels. It was all very unglamourous (although it set me up for fine art, silk screen printing in later years) but it was a great deal more interesting than map making!   

How wonderful that Dustin came so far to spend a day with me! He gave me a tremendous opportunity to remember my school days, of some 50 years ago, with someone new. Someone who feels every bit as strongly about the institution as I do. I look forward to his transcript of our interview and to his final thesis presentation.  

Not to mention the book and the movie! 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Zhaoming Wu Workshop

The studio at Atlantis framing was the venue for two, back to back Zhaoming Wu workshops (read more about him here). I attended the second session, May 31st, June 1st and 2nd.  Workshop coordinator, Tami Hort Lathwellworked exceptionally hard, for over three years, to bring this amazing painter to Calgary. I signed up as soon as I heard he was booked to come!

The first morning we watched, in silent awe, as Zhaoming painted a portrait

You might think it would be boring to watch someone paint for close to three hours. On the contrary it was fascinating to see him proceed from start to finish. I marveled at his amazing mark making and deliberate brush strokes. He made it look so easy!

His famous technique of "lost and found" edges was awesome to witness. I understood every principle he spoke about and I really did try to employ his methods, but I soon realised just how difficult it is to apply his style of painting when my own is so deeply ingrained in me. 

Zhaoming's finished portrait of Kassi

In the afternoon seventeen participants were split into two groups, poised around to paint portraits of two two different models. To keep me humble, I show you my portrait of Paulina. My excuse is: I am rusty with oils and with the figure. The exercise was valuable but the painting has little hope and I won't finish it ...

Paulina, lovely model, but  there isn't much hope for this portrait!

On day two Tami's daughter, Alysia, modeled for another almost three hour session of watching Zhaoming paint her draped figure.

The resulting painting is sensational, Tami had to own it!

Once again we split into two groups clustered around two models. The painting below looks like every other painting I've ever attempted. Now don't be so easily discouraged, Alice!  It will take some doing, but I will give it my best shot, to make my edges on it softer ...

On day three Zhaoming didn't paint, instead he primed us with a slide presentation of his work, showing us many progressive images of paintings as they developed under his hand. For the remainder of the day we had the models hold the same pose.

I think I may be catching on to the soft edges: this painting has potential!

The happy participants pose, with our illustrious leader, for a group shot  

It was a fabulous long weekend. I came home exhausted, brain dead and thrilled that I had used myself up learning from someone so accomplished. I know his approach will distill in me, and in time, slip out of my own hand.

Many thanks to Tami and her hard working crew for what went into making the epic week the success it was. And then there was the added bonus of the constant array of food they