Claudia Stewart - Artist

I am at last posting again after a long haitus. The weeks have roared by with nary a peep from me and I am sorry for it. I am on a graduated return to work at the library, as my leg mends and though my art has still been going on, albeit more slowly, other things seem to have gotten in the way of my blogging. 




Here at last, is a new piece in the portrait series. It is titled, "In Deb\s Garden." My friend has a lovely garden and when we did the photo shoot for her portrait, it was in her backyard, amidst the plants she so tenderly cares for. Though much of the garden in the painting, the rhodos and the ivy, are not from her garden, the yellow flowers that look like daisies are from the original photo.


The ivy comes from a lovely swath of it that cascaded over a fence on a visit I made by ferry from San Francisco to Sausalito. I love Sausalito. When I lived in Sausalito we often visited friends of my Dad's, a jazz cornet player and his wife who had picked one of my father's beagle pups as a pet. The ivy though is of a more recent vintage and it was so lush and beautiful, I had to take a pic. In the artwork




I'd transfered the jpeg onto a memory stick and stuck that into a photocopy machine, which copied it onto an 11"x17" piece of paper, which I cut out and glued to the board, after having painted the background. Then the rhodos behind Deb were glued on, then finally Deb herself. The line drawing was enlarged and photocopied onto Arches paper which I then painted in washes of acrylic. The chain around Deb's neck is painted on, but the pendant is real; bonded onto the paper, then the whole glued to the board.


I used a different technique to get Deb's silver salt-and-pepper hair I combined pearl metallic paint with Payne's Grey to get the shine. Then I went over it in places with the technical pen in order to put the "pepper" back in. In daylight it shimmers just the way her hair does. At night, it glows metallic

I am enjoying the coloured borders that I am keeping as a unifying element to the series. The other nice thing about them is that it is the artist essentially choosing the framing for the piece, control freak that I am. It really "finishes" the piece and saves the person from haing to go and buy a frame.


I will probably be taking another pic of this in order to crop it better. Am seriously considering shelling out the money to have a professional photographer photograph my work from now on. It is a difficult process to take the work into natural light and crop everything properly to show the work at it's best. 


Jazz the cat is curled up in a dissatisfied way on the elegant chair across from the sofa, not amused at the laptop on my lap as I stretch out with my foot up. He sulks because he is not sttetched out along my legs with his bum pointed at my face. The new age music is streaming from the laptop, keeping me company as I work. I usually stream jazz or New Age or play either on the cd player as I work on art. On occassion I put on Pop or Rock or Folk or occasionally Classical. Another thing I love to paint to is Gregorian Chant. I was introduced to it long ago by a boyfriend who would play it at night by candlelight. Lovely. So with that I leave you, with an image of candlelight, monks chanting and artists painitng by candlelight, by moonlight, forever entranced by their craft.

Roared along on the art front and have been so busy I totally forgot to post! Shame! BUT one new piece completed; Draagonfly Gal, with my friend Margo joined by two dragonflies. 
So there she is. Margo herself came and visited her piece and likes it. I'm quite pleased with it and have moved on to Deb's piece. I am working on it steadily, using images from pics i took of daisies, Deb, and rhododendrons. The daisies are from Deb's own garden when I did the photo shoot. Just focussed in on them and printed them off. The rhodos are from around here, I beleive just in the park nearby, and the ivy is from a trip to Sausalito that I made, breezing across on the ferry from San Francisco. Sausalito is a charming but very expensive little town with charming shops and art galleries. But I digress. The piece is coming along well and with any luck I will either finish this weekend or sometime next week. 

I may be back at work next week, so progress in art will be slower. 

Oh. The Twisted show, in which I will have three pieces; Butterfly Leaf, ChromaSnail and CatOwl, will be opening this Wed, at the Port Moody Arts Centre. It runs until March 13th. I am so very pleased. It is nice that the gallery has calls for artists for themed shows these days, with a variety of artists. One does not have to have a large body of works in order to submit. 

And for now, that's all she wrote. 

When I returned home, I got busy painting, holding the painting on my lap and working with my legs out on my couch. I hesitated to do this, but so much time on my hands while I mend, I decided to make the best of an obnoxious thing.


I worked on Gail and her owl for awhile, but had finished the drawing to attach to Watcher at the Edge of Dreams, a piece I hope will get into the Twisted exhibit here at the Port Moody Art Gallery. So I went great guns on that, enlarging the pencil drawing onto Arches paper and painting light washes of acrylic over it to enhance the look. It got adhered to the surface of the board where I decided to add a collar  of sage greeen. I muted that with a yellow ochre glaze to blend with the rest of the piece and am quite happy with the result.


Purchased a book entitled "Wabi Sabi Art Workshop" having perused it's pages in the library, It touches on acrylic, encaustic (which I have never tried) and oils with a mixed media approach and a happy accidents attitude.I tend to plan pieces a lot more than the book suggests, but do very much enjoy using a mixed media approach to the background of many of my pieces. Gail's piece hailed back to the days I used to use acrylics in a more opaque approach, but the upcoming piece focusing on my friend Margo will have a more casual approach to the background of the work.


I may venture into the background work of Margo's piece this evening and tackle the completion of Gail's piece tomorrow. Margo's panel is gessoed and awaits my brush, paper towels, and whatever else I may decide to go with.


For your enjoyment, here is "Watcher at the Edge of Dreams",

Some changes have happened to me. I fell on December 20th, fracturing my lower leg in 3 places at the ankle. It required surgery, plates, screws....sigh. I am presently peacefully ensconced at my (angel!) sisters who is caring for me. Have been able to work on a drawing and fortunately had just purchased a laptop, which enables me to look at and organize my photo files, many for art purposes. Convalescence is the perfect time to perform such tasks.

As might be suspected, Gails owl is on hold at present, though not far from my thoughts and visions.

I will be applying for entry into a show at the Port Moody Gallery, slated for February, entitled Twisted. I can work on the application here as well. I will submit 4-5 pieces, most of which are completed, and one with only a little bit left to complete. The drawing I am presently working on will mostly finish off that piece, so all will be in order for the show, if I get in.

The end of the year seems to always be a time for reflection of what was accomplished and of planning for the new year. I follow one Linked In segment for mixed media artists and an artist shared her word for the new year. It was forgiveness. She meant not only for others, but for herself, to be more gentle with herself and not reprimand and scold herself so much for what was not done, what wasn’t done right. A good choice. Mine, I think will be energy. Energy to begin again and again and again. Energy for committing to art, to myself, to being brave in what I do with my art.

What will your word be......

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!

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.

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....

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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