Author Archive | Laureen

New Painting for Sale in Backporch Gallery

Non-eternal-webNon-eternal

Non-eternal is one in a series of three paintings exploring spiritual and physical truths in the seasons of all life. In a more autumnal range of colours than the others in this series, this artwork wants us to see that even in our own September Song there is still beauty.

Though I’ve painted both figures and landscapes, for the past dozen years I’ve focused on roses. Roses are a symbol that everyone recognizes—of beauty, youth and perfection. Roses make us think of the love that loveliness brings. But like all that’s alive, roses fade. And if beauty causes love, the fading of beauty must signal the end of love. Or must it?

Though my paintings look realistic, they’re not just about surface appearances. I decided long ago that if I could paint someone or something so it looked the most like itself, it might help us see not just the painting’s subject, but ourselves in it. I want to say, “See how beautiful this is. How beautiful you are. Look at how much is there. Just look.”

Non-eternal is the first painting of 2016 to go into the Backporch Gallery shop. It is 20″ high and 16″ wide and is painted in oil on board and shipped ready to frame. I have to charge Canadian GST at 5% for sales to Canadian locations and Saskatchewan PST at 5% for sales to Saskatchewan locations, but insured shipping within Canada and the United States is included in the price. Other countries please inquire.

The Backporch Gallery is where I sell my own art. Other galleries also handle it, but here you can buy directly from the artist. For more information about how to buy, or to see the other paintings in the series, just click on the image or here. And if you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you – use the contact form and I’ll reply as soon as I can.

*   *   *

This blog is a series of posts from one artist’s life. To receive updates, with stories from the artist’s studio and beautiful images, plus a free printable postcard of one of my most recent paintings, just put your email in the box on the right. Your email address will never be shared.

Know someone who’d like to see this? Please pass it on!

Letting Imagination Be Freedom

Blog-spring-walk-webOpening up

The first walk in a new season. It isn’t quite spring, but neither is it glacial. To step out without watching my feet and tensing for an inevitable tumble onto unforgiving ice  – I can almost fly.

Winter where I live is always cold. The only question is only how far the mercury will fall. This winter was mild, relatively; the average maximum temperatures for January to February in 2016 were -3.6 to +4.8C/25.5 to 40F, instead of our normal -6 to -2.5C/21 to 27.5F. But the problem with daytime highs of just above freezing is that they’re enough to soften snow, not melt it, and at night everything freezes solid again. In the morning you begin again.

Val Marie is too small to have snow clearing; we have snow packing by trucks. With the long melt in progress our streets looked like frozen rivers most of the time. They were rippling and slippery and as treacherous as…well, ice. For most of February I barely left the house except to get in my car. And even with all that caution, I still managed one really scary fall.

But eventually the sun shone and the wind blew, enough so the ice left us, and I’m walking again. This is the old PFRA irrigation dike, with canal on one side and Frenchman River on the other. The river is both frozen and open, and even though it isn’t quite flowing, I am. Brown hills open in front of me, offering space and time.

When you walk in freedom again after a spell of constriction, it doesn’t matter that the constriction was minor and probably mainly imaginary. Unless we’re physically imprisoned or infirm, or living in extreme poverty, constriction is probably mostly mainly imaginary. What matters is that we believe it’s real. Or we don’t.

In this first walk of a new season, I’m willing to let imagination be freedom, not restraint.

How are you moving into a new season? What constriction will you let go?

*   *   *

This blog is a series of posts from one artist’s life. To receive updates, with stories from the artist’s studio and beautiful images, plus a free printable postcard of one of my most recent paintings, just put your email in the box on the right. Your email address will never be shared.

Know someone who’d like to see this? Please pass it on!

Stepping Onto a New Path?

Blog-on-easel

Mostly-finished painting

I prefer not to be out of the studio for too many days in a row. The longer I’m away, the harder it is to remember where I was. For the same reason, I usually work in series, trying not to hold multiple visual thoughts at the same time.

But if neither condition holds, it’s really nice to have something concrete to return to. Something like a mostly-finished painting, last seen with enough way-posts and markers to bring me home.

There was  Curve, a series of paintings continuing a consideration of the essence of beauty, using objects that have in common their lightness of line and richness of colour as well as the symbolism and narrative that naturally inhabit them.

Then there was something new, a collaborative project with Linda Duvall.

It was well worthwhile leaving the path I was on. And now I’m back again. Where that mostly-finished painting is here to help me find my place. But since all new paths alter the one they branch from, maybe it isn’t the same old path after all.

The painting will be completed in a few days. Youll be the first to see it. The new path? It takes form ahead of me. I can hardly wait to see where it goes.

*   *   *

This blog is a series of posts from one artist’s life. To receive updates, with stories from the artist’s studio and beautiful images, plus a free printable postcard of one of my most recent paintings, just put your email in the box on the right. Your email address will never be shared.

Know someone who’d like to see this? Please pass it on!

Studio Listening: The Art of Being Yourself

Blog-McHughCaroline McHugh, TEDx 2013

“We all come complete with one true note we were destined to sing.” – Caroline McHugh

I like listening to podcasts in the studio. Artist interviews, artist business, studio tips, creativity – usually there’s something playing all day. The conversation helps keep my brain from intervening between my eyes and hand and saying I’m doing this wrong. Not that I’m dissing my brain! It’s a pretty good one and I’m fond of it. But in the art production game, less thinking/more doing seems to work better.

“Life is large, but most of us don’t merely take up the space the universe intended for us, we take up the sweet space around our toes.” – Caroline McHugh

Caroline McHugh’s TEDx talk showed up on my computer screen by accident. It was one of those videos that YouTube suggests when it thinks it knows what you like. In this case, YouTube got it right on.

“Your life has to be your message. Otherwise why are you here?” – Caroline McHugh

I can’t think of anything more to say about McHugh’s talk than she said herself. Click through the image to see the video. Enjoy.

*   *   *

This blog is a series of posts from one artist’s life. To receive updates, with stories from the artist’s studio and beautiful images, plus a free printable postcard of one of my most recent paintings, just put your email in the box on the right. Your email address will never be shared.

Know someone who’d like to see this? Please pass it on!

Becoming Part of Something More

Wedding-LindaLinda Duvall, artist collaborator

Which is the best part of collaborating with another artist whose work you admire and respect?

Pick a word. Each is the best part.

Linda Duvall is a Saskatoon-based visual artist whose projects focus on how individuals emerge and are revealed within a societal context. In most projects, Linda starts by setting up conditions or a framework and then pays attention to what happens. She has one of the most original minds I know and it’s a fascinating pleasure to be involved with her production.

And in response to one of Linda Duvall’s conversations, I’ve been working on this idea. I made three small paintings, two six inches and one five inches square, and wrote a piece of text. Now, through the magic of scanning and Photoshop, my images have been joined with the words on a panel that will be printed 50 inches high and 24 feet wide. They’ve become more than they were.

I’m one of so-far 22 artists who have responded to Linda’s idea, and the results will be seen for the first time this summer. As we scanned, placed, measured and Photoshopped, Linda showed me three or four of the other artists’ contributions. Such imagination. Such different kinds of imagination. The surface of the panels is beautiful and since they’re plastic they roll up into a compact package, waiting for unfurling and installation and reaction. Reaction will be to each individual piece but also be to the totality of many different artists’ responses. Once again, the works will become more than they were.

This is so far from the way I usually make things. Usually I’m a studio loner. What a transformation it is to become part of a larger whole. Does it mean a permanent change to the way I do things? Probably not. Can I learn and alter nonetheless?

Isn’t that a good question?

*   *   *

This blog is a series of posts from one artist’s life. To receive updates, with stories from the artist’s studio and beautiful images, plus a free printable postcard of one of my most recent paintings, just put your email in the box on the right. Your email address will never be shared.

Know someone who’d like to see this? Please pass it on!

Time Management for Artists

Workshop-Time-Management-Poster-2016Time Management Workshop (click the poster to make it bigger)

I have some questions to ask you. Are you doing what matters? Are you as productive as you’d like to be? Are you getting the most out of your time?

Now, here are some different questions. What is it that matters to you? What does being productive mean? What is your definition of enough?

If you’re like most creative people, especially creative women, the sensation of “never enough” is probably familiar. You have more ideas than time, more responsibilities than time, more expectations than time to achieve them. If there are ways to change that, you’d like to know what they are.

Is the answer “Time Management”? Or is that idea  just another way of telling you to be more left-brain, do less wandering down the paths of imagination, get scheduled?

This year I was given the marvelous opportunity by the equally marvelous organization Canadian Artists Representation Saskatchewan (CARFAC SASK Visual Artists) to develop a topic I was interested in and then teach it. I’ve always heard you should teach what you want to learn. Time Management for Artists, here we come.

The workshop is a phone-in on Wednesday, February 24 at 7:00 pm CST. It’s free of charge. If you’re asking yourself any of my questions, maybe this workshop is for you. All you need to do is register in advance by calling 306-522-9788 or emailing programs@carfac.sk.ca. You need to register in advance to get the call-in code. There is no catch.

We won’t spend this hour with me telling you what you’re doing wrong and how to get more emails answered in a day. Instead, we’ll explore the ideas of control vs. creativity, what you really want to do, whether you have enough time, and how you know when you’ve done enough. Your registration includes a worksheet to take notes on and develop ideas as we talk, and a resources page for more ideas. They’re free of charge too.

But you have to register before mid-day Tuesday, February 23. Call 306-522-9788 or email programs@carfac.sk.ca. I’ll look forward to hearing your voice on Wednesday evening.

And to get you started, here’s one of the resources. It’s a video from Springboard for the Arts, Saint Paul, MN. Enjoy!

Time-management-videoTime Management for Artists

About me:
As a career artist I have huge amounts of experience with the will and faith needed to make and keep making art. I have both BFA and MFA degrees and have exhibited for three decades. I have had more than two dozen solo or two-person exhibitions as well as over 40 group shows. My paintings have been recognized by the Saskatchewan Arts Board and the Canada Council, are held in many public and private collections, and have been represented in exhibition catalogues and reviewed in newspapers and magazines. In the visual arts I’ve worked as organizer, teacher, mentor, adjudicator, writer, and curator. I’m proud to hold the Canadian Artists Representation “Tony” Award for service to the visual arts in Saskatchewan and the Centennial Leadership Award for Service to the Province of Saskatchewan. In addition to freelance writing about the artist’s life for artists, I’ve been writer, researcher and editor of the Saskatchewan Visual Arts Handbook, published by CARFAC Saskatchewan, since its 2nd edition and now in its 10th edition. I love to learn. It’s a core value for me, so I regularly take classes and engage coaches of my own in order to continue with my own artistic and business growth. And I love to share what I’ve found out.

*   *   *

This blog is a series of posts from one artist’s life. To receive updates, with stories from the artist’s studio and beautiful images, plus a free printable postcard of one of my most recent paintings, just put your email in the box on the right. Your email address will never be shared.

Know someone who’d like to see this? Please pass it on!

Spirit and Stopping

Blog-cat-restingOld cat resting

There are days when spirit aligns with circumstance and everything flows. And weeks when those days string together. You can’t imagine anything happening to spoil it.

Then, without warning, comes a different kind of day. It feels like all kind of spirit just left town. The sun won’t quite come out and the wind is blowing. Your sense of colour is as dull as the sky.

Of course, these days aren’t confined to only artists’ experience. Everyone has them. But the artist is luckier than many people. The artist is mainly self-governing. I took this day off.

A late breakfast. Some laundry. Some dedicated viewing of videos on YouTube. A not too demanding book. And a cat who sets a really good example for snooze.

Maybe days like this aren’t sent to try us. Maybe they’re a gift. You’ve been working hard, responding to every demand, and now you need to stop. Without spirit leaving town, you’d probably keep going. Until the return of colour might take a lot longer. Maybe we should accept the gift of temporary grey.

At the end of this day, the sun shows at the orange edge of the sky.

How can you honour the need to stop?

*   *   *

This blog is a series of posts from one artist’s life. To receive updates, with stories from the artist’s studio and beautiful images, plus a free printable postcard of one of my most recent paintings, just put your email in the box on the right. Your email address will never be shared.

Know someone who’d like to see this? Please pass it on!

What You Can Do When No One is Watching

Unacknowledged-interlude-web“The Unacknowledged (interlude)” by Laureen Marchand, 2016, oil/board, 5″ x 5″

Until this project showed up in my artist’s life, I hadn’t painted in black and white for a long time. I used to. There was a period of several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and sometimes up to a decade later, when the feelings suggested by old black and white photographs seemed both more personal and more universal than anything I could dream up in bright colours. But sometimes the colour appeared in those black and white paintings too, depending on the idea I wanted to explore.

Twenty years ago we used slides to document artwork so I don’t have digital versions of those paintings, expect for this one. It’s a work that’s been re-documented for resale at the Assiniboia Gallery, one of the commercial venues that currently handle my work.

Fourteen_16x32“Fourteen” by Laureen Marchand, oil/canvas, 16″ x 32″

The colour range is called black and white, but of course it isn’t. It’s many variations of grey, each mixed separately from the component hues I see in the photo’s overall colour mix. For the Unacknowledged paintings I used seven grey colours. Eight greys got mixed to start with, but one of them was too dark and in the end wasn’t used. All were mixed before I started to paint, out of titanium white, ultramarine blue,  burnt sienna, cadmium yellow deep, and cadmium red deep.

It’s my usual, very limited colour selection. Sometimes I add cadmium yellow middle, or one of three other reds I like, and once in a rare while when I need to mix a green that can’t be got with ultramarine blue, I’ll use phthalo blue instead. No Asphaltum or Caucasian Flesh or Portland Grey or Prussian Blue or Transparent Earth Red or Viridian Green or any of the other wild and wonderful possibilities available. Everything is mixed with my five to nine or ten hues. I used to buy other paint colours but then wouldn’t use them so I stopped.

PalettePalette

I don’t have a very sophisticated-looking artist’s palette, either. I mix the colours one at a time on throwaway paper palettes then transfer them to a piece of stiff cardboard wrapped with aluminum foil. At the end of a painting session, I cover the mixed colours with plastic film to help them stay workable longer. If I need to change to another colour range mid-painting, I can take the plastic-wrapped aluminum foil off the cardboard and file it flat on a shelf under my painting table, then put another piece of foil on the cardboard. Oil paints don’t dry like water based paints, they oxidize. If oxygen doesn’t get into the paint, the set-aside palette can still be useful weeks from now.

Some artists might think that these five paint tubes, and colours mixed in advance, and the aluminum foil palette, look so amateur-hour. Good thing that here in my studio located in remote Val Marie, Saskatchewan, no one is watching.

What are you doing that might appear unorthodox but really, really works?

*   *   *

This blog is a series of posts from one artist’s life. To receive updates, with stories from the artist’s studio and beautiful images, plus a free printable postcard of one of my most recent paintings, just put your email in the box on the right. Your email address will never be shared.

Know someone who’d like to see this? Please pass it on!

What Makes Art?

002Photographic source material for painting “The Unacknowledged

For me a painting begins with a photograph. Or with an idea, before the photograph exists. Or with an idea that springs from the photographic image. But without the photograph, there is no painting. For it’s a deep exploration into the image the camera has caught that tells me what significance might be here.

I may start by arranging some still life material – in the last few years, old, dried roses – to create a composition that both appeals visually and suggests meaning, not knowing what the meaning is until I see the composition. I set up multiple light sources around the arrangement to produce layering of shadows and intensity of color, to say something not only about the roses but also their world. I photograph them and often manipulate the digital image to achieve a desired range of colour and richness.

Or some thought I hadn’t thought before suddenly appears, generated by a conversation or a suggestion or even an assignment. And with it an image appears too, and I must go looking – through my own existing images, or found photos, or the lens of my camera – for the photograph that looks like the thought.

Or the photograph appears first, and with it the thought, and the need to show what that thought looks like.

However it happens., I have an image to work from. Not that the image itself is the painting. Before that happens, I manipulate the image digitally, to achieve a desired range of colour and richness. This is still not the painting. The painting begins when I crop the image, taking out everything possible so what is left seems inevitable.

I then work out the image in an elaborate contour drawing on my painting support, and mix colours in response to the photo. These are applied using an uncertain, oily medium, with a stick that won’t completely let you direct it, and placed with one slightly transparent brushstroke next to or on top of another, until it becomes something that didn’t exist before. It’s always precarious, from beginning to end.

As I work, I aim to develop one area thoroughly before moving to another, so that the viewer might see clear relationships between the areas. The rest of the piece follows. You never know until it’s finished whether it’s all a big mistake or not! And you hope it makes sense.

I’ve heard it said that using a photograph as source material precludes the making of art. But I’ve been around a long time and I’ve also heard that a painting with any subject at all cannot be art. And that painting in any form can’t be art either.

Maybe the making of art has less to do with its source material or its subject or the form it takes than it does the artist’s journey in the making. It has to do with you.

What do you think? How is art defined? Can it be defined at all?

Thanks to Nikki Jacquin, commenting on a previous post, for suggesting the idea of this one.

*   *   *

This blog is a series of posts from one artist’s life. To receive updates, with beautiful images and stories from the artist’s studio, plus a free printable postcard of one of my most recent paintings, just put your email in the box on the right. Your email address will never be shared.

Know someone who’d like to see this? Please pass it on!

Unexpected Outcomes

Wedding-web“The Unacknowledged (part 1)” by Laureen Marchand, 2016, oil/board, 6″ x 6″

The definition of an adventure is that you don’t know how it will turn out.

My 2016 new year’s resolution was to plan an Adventure for each month of this year. January’s was a winter driving trip back to my old home city to enjoy connection with friends and celebrate a fellow artist’s triumph. All of that was a joy and all of it expected. What wasn’t expected was that it would bring so much change. The painting shown here gives only a hint.

For years I painted figuratively. Then during the production of the paintings that became Bequest, a two-person exhibition with Canadian artist Honor Kever that toured in western Canada for 20 months in 2002-03, the figures left my work. I didn’t think they’d ever come back, but here they are. It isn’t clear yet how long this is for, but I’m having a wonderful time as long as it lasts.

Even more unexpected is that this is a collaborative sort of exploration. The pieces I’m working on are for another artist’s exhibition. In that forum they’ll  be scanned and printed on two by five-foot panels and seen with responses to the idea behind them from yet other artists. In a couple of weeks February’s adventure will take place, when I travel to work with the instigator on scanning and designing the panel. The exhibition will likely be shown for the first time this summer, and there’s lots of time between now and then to talk about the show’s concept.

In the here and now, I’m loving the work. There are three small oil paintings, two of which are close-ups of faces. The one shown here is six inches square, painted in grey and white, like the reproduction. Isn’t she beautiful? An important day in a new life, with so much hope. I wonder what happened to that life.

I don’t know what this will mean for my back-here-on-earth output when the project is completed, but I’m ready to find out. And I want to share what I find out with you. So this blog is changing too. It’s had a month-long rest and it’s figured out what it’s ready to be. Three posts a week from the artist’s studio, exploring painting, thinking, ideas, and the walks I take to sort it all out.

I hope you will join me.

*   *   *

This blog is a series of posts from one artist’s life in one of Canada’s most beautiful and remote wilderness regions. To receive updates, with beautiful images and stories from the artist’s studio, plus a free printable postcard of one of my most recent paintings, just put your email in the box on the right. Your email address will never be shared.

Know someone who’d like to see this? Please pass it on!