Claudia Stewart - Artist

Christmas time is a time for friends and family, which means neglecting art a bit. I have not been working on Gail's piece this week or last weekend, but spending time with my daughter who came down from Prince Rupert, and taking my Mum to see a play. Both highly satisfying and rewarding.

The other evening there was a full moon and it was shining brightly through the clouds. So, seeing as I had my camera with me, I took several shots, playing around with shutter speed. One I'm not quite sure how it came about. The length of time the shutter was open seemed interminable, but the result was a fun series of arcs of light on the picture. Also got a great shot of the moon through hazy clouds. I am considering looking into getting them printed on metal. I've never experimented with that, and I think the images would suit the printing method.

If I don't post again til after Christmas, have a good one.
I have five days off this year, some of which will be taken up visiting, but also I'm looking forward to getting some art done!
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I am forging forward with Gails piece. No I am not a cretin who does not know how to use an apostrophe, but bear with me while I learn my new laptop; it gives me an è! 

Have had the flu off and on for three weeks. I thought it was over two weeks ago, but its back with a vengeance and leaves me feeling very weak. 

I am blessed to have a good friend, Tony Pedley who has taken amazing shots of a young owl and honoured me with being able to use one for Gails piece to use as a reference point. Such clarity and insight into his photos. He knows the exact moment to take the picture and really catches the character of the little fellow. 

My rendittion is a pink owl with a yellow chiffon face, so I am pushing the envelope of artistic boundaries but Tony is cool with that as he is an artist as well and a fine one! 

In the sky background I used modelling paste, which I had never tried before and a comb to create texture. Its fun to use materials youve never used before and though many artists have used it before, it was exciting for me to create the thick impasto and comb into it. I used a good deal of Titanium white, Paynes grey and a bit of yellow and alizaron to warm it up. 

I draped some spanish moss over the branch and may add branches; not sure. 

I have the pink base coat on at present and his face completed and will now work in lights and darks and give shape and definition to the feathers. He is a barred owl, so will have dark and white strips along his feathers in a horizontal pattern. I will be working slowly this weekend, as I still feel quite weak. 

I am also working on a couple of handmade Christmas presents for my daughter and really hope to get them done by this Sunday, when she will come down from Prince Rupert to exchange presents. 

Hope this finds you healthy and happy.
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I have a fondness for a little Renassance "trick" that those artists in Italy used. Artist's wealthy patrons (would that artists now had the luxury of living in those times!) began asking for images of themselves somehow included in the painting. Quite often the figures are smaller than the main event, Madonna with Child, etc. Sometimes angels are at the edge of the piece, pointing at the main event of the painting. (In case you missed it). I like the way these people invite you into the artwork. And I noticed the other evening, as I was lying on the couch, peering between my feet at the paintings on the wall across from me, that in three of my Women's Series, my friends look out of their piece, smiling, or looking a bit mysterious, and while looking straight out at you, they really INVITE you into the piece. ("Look!", "this is my world. Come see!" I find the idea of it, like the idea of these women friends I am so fond of, is comforting.I have a fondness for a little Renassance "trick" that those artists in Italy used. Artist's

 

When I was in grade three, the teacher would hand out mimeographs (Google it if you don't know what it is...) of a drawing of some activity and ask us to print a story of what was going on in the picture. I loved this. A lot of the narrative quality that my work tends to have derive way back to those days of making up a story about the picture. As I work on a piece, the story develops in my head. My story about my piece of art may be totally different than the one you perceive. Which is the fun part.

 

But I digress. Here at last is the image of Natalie and her motorcycle, Jimmy, called "Riding on a Cloud". As I write this, Natalie, I believe, is riding Jimmy down to Portland. So we can all imagine her riding on her pink cloud, down the road, wind in her hair, to go listen to a concert, the road rolling out in a ribbon ahead of her, beckoning....
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Who knew there were such a lot of widgets and gadgetty bits underneath a motorcycle! So finally blocked out the larger shapes and then honed it down bit by bit to the smaller areas of light and shadow. Fortunately or unfortunately for me, the photo was taken on a sunny day with strong lights and shadows. So Jimmy is nearly complete. He will then painstakingly be cut out from the heavier stock he is on and adhered to the background board, along with Natalie, painted in the same manner. Not sure how much extra work will be required after that. I had hoped to get it done last weekend, but other activities got in the way of completing the filling in of the piece. I will also take some 11"x17" copies onto the heavier Arches paper of Jimmy, so that in case the original tears, I still have backup images I can try cutting out as well.

I wish I spent more time getting to know the folks in my community. I feel tongue-tied at gallery openings, such as the one I went to last night, to open the One-Of-A-Kind show. The Vagabond's Tale went into it, and there were some really lovely pieces there. I loved the steampunkish creatures particularly that were living in the smaller room. Also on display were items for sale from the Blackberry artists'group. There was a lovely large painting by Denise Dupre and many other pieces to catch the eye and pull at the pocketbook...

I'm not quite sure why I am so tongue-tied at the functions in my community. Lack of schmoozing skills. I don't do that badly if the show has more of my pieces in it; I only submitted one this time. I resolve to "just get over it". No one is there to bite artists. Or tear them to shreds.

I was recently invited to rent a studio space, but it was in Vancouver itself. I can't afford to do that financially, but I yearn for the old days out at UBC, where we all shared a gigantic room and had our spaces mapped out on the floor. There was usually music going and it was a great way to keep honest and dedicated to your work. Also there was no housework tapping you on the shoulder and saying, "Really, you know, you've been neglecting me FOREVER here!!!!!" I find paperwork gets away on me a lot, as do an overflow of books. But have been feeling quite energized by the progress I've made on the Natalie piece and I can see the light of completion shining down my path....  :)

Hopefully by next blog the piece will have been resolved and hanging in my living room, next to three other works from the Celebration Series.

 



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Have just finished and submitted a small (8"x10") piece entitled "The Vagabond's Tale." It is on cradle board. The face of the fellow, who is looking over his shoulder is done in charcoal and pencil, right on the bare panel. His shoulder is in a forest green, with a red srip above and to the left. I glued on a copper piece in the upper left hand corner and an upside down triangular piece with dangly bits on the upper right. Beside his ear on the right is another odd bit glued on. It's hard to describe but something like a cog. In the background I attached a gelskin of a shipwreck that my daughter and I went to see on Haida Gwaii. It's near Tlell, and one walks out 5 km to a beach where the prow of the ship juts out of the sand. One can stand beneath it for photo ops as well. Lovely weathered wood, rusted metal...very cool. The day we went was lovely and sunny and the sun beat down on us as we plodded along. There was much swearing on my part, as on the way out we walked along the riverbank, as a woman we met had suggested. It was very muddy and I fell on my face and was all over mud all the way there and back. Back we chose to go through the forest; not muddy. The piece is to go in a juried show at the Port Moody Art Centre. If it gets in, it will go up for silent auction for their Christmas time auction. This year half the proceeds will go to the artist, the other half to the Arts Centre. It will be exciting to see what other artists produce. Presently, have finished the drawing of the motorcycle for Natalie's piece. Now it will be painted, cut out, and applied to the piece, along with Natalie herself, then that piece will be complete. From there, it will be on to Gail. Have begun once more drawing on the Skytrain in the morning going into work. That should spark some good ideas. Have become fairly proficient at the quick line drawing of people on the Skytrain. I like drawing quite quickly, with only minutes to finish the gesture of the person. It is like a shorthand of an image.


This week I managed to complete another technical pen drawing for the Women's Celebration Series. It had been eluding me for several months, but at last I think I'm satisfied. I puttered and puttered over the details in an underlying pencil drawing. It is of my friend Rosemary, who, when I was doing the photo shoot, remarked "I hope I'm really hard to do...". Why is it I have problem ignoring that kind of light-hearted, playful remark????

My daughter's friend from Vancouver has been visiting her and staying with her this week. I am staying with my ex-brother-in-law. The other day he went up into his attic and hauled down some of my ex-husband's things and we sorted through some things, leaving anything my daughter might want to keep for her to go through. Such a difficult time for her right now. It's wonderful she has supportive friends.

I've also been crocheting; something I haven't done in years. It is a nice compliment to artwork. Still very productive, but somewhat creative as well.

I will start today on another pencil drawing of one of my women friends. Watched a good video high-speed demo of someone using classical techniques in oil to do a self-portrait. She had used a blue underpainting, which I also do when doing my women's portraits (but in acrylic). Sometimes you can use a green, if the tones of the skin call for it. This is what the old masters used, right back to DaVinci's time. What it does is shine through the surface flesh tones, rendering the face more three-dimensional and giving a type of lumosity to the skin.

Do you happen to do portraiture? Have you used this technique? Would love to hear your comments.

 


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