Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hot and cold

Its been hot and humid here for the last few days which makes everyone cranky and fatigued, including the cat, who spends his days flopped on the sofa inside or lying under the shade of the hostas in the front flower bed.

So while seeking some cooler indoor pursuits, I wandered across an interesting Canadian art project from Cory Trepannier, an artist from Ontario.

"Join artist Cory Trépanier as he explores the richness of the north, and creates a new collection of original oil paintings from the Canadian arctic.

The “Into the ARCTIC Project" that will see Cory travel extensively in the arctic over 3 years. This concentrated effort to explore and paint from west to east, and south to north, exploring the wide scope of the arctic experience is truly unique. By interacting so closely with his environment, Cory’s canvases will be infused with a genuineness that will bring viewers closer to this land."

In 2006 Cory tackled the Western and Central Arctic and on August 1, 2007 he will be exploring the Eastern and Central Arctic with further plans for 2008 and 2009. This isn't just Cory wandering and painting the amazing northern landscapes. His wife and two children go with him!

These journeys are complete with video, photographic, written journals and podcasts, so that you can take the journey with him almost. On July 22, 2007, Bravo Television will be airing the world premiere of Into the Arctic: An Artist's Journey to the North. This should be interesting viewing, if you've exhausted all the other methods of viewing his adventures and paintings before then.

My adventures in drawing are leaning towards nothing more than simple sketches lately, but I will try to concentrate on something a bit more substantial tonight or tomorrow. It seems I've done little but pick up a pencil and put it down lately and I need to create something soon.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Recreational vs academic art educators

Evening. William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1863

The art of handling university students is to make oneself appear, and this almost ostentatiously, to be treating them as adults, while keeping them in invisible harness and even, when necessary, giving them a flick of the whip. -- Arnold J. Toynbee (Experiences, 1969)

I took part in a discussion today about the qualifications required for teaching art and the subject of recreational versus academic art arose. Perhaps the wording should have been more in terms of professional versus recreational art. There are recreational artists who draw for pleasure and never receive payment or commissions, but how did they learn to draw? And are they able to articulate how to reproduce a drawing of an image using traditional drawing theories or simply create, not quite knowing how they get to the point of creation?

Then comes the discussion of self taught or academic art? Is one more valuable than the other? Or are they simply 'different'? I know that many artists are self taught and produce amazing work through years of practice and study in one form or another and some of these go on to pass on their skills to others. I believe that traditional methods of producing art are essential and recreational artists possess these methods. They just don't know that they do because they've often learned through self discovery, not academic studies. And I know academically trained artists who also produce beautiful work but who cannot teach for beans. The opposite is also true of both of the above groups.

Some recreational artists, buoyed on by success, get bound up in the appealing notion of teaching art and then suddenly find themselves in over their heads. They are often not aware of the time commitment it takes, the hours of class preparation, critiquing sensitive egos without bruising them, encouraging, leading, guiding and giving students the wings to fly, not to become a clone of another artist.

It is quite different to create a simple image for pleasure when your critic is family or well meaning friends than to have students looking to you for guidance with expectation of success every step of the way. Style or drawing/paintings produced are not indicative of a teacher's ability. They are simply a product of his or her imagination and learned techniques. A teacher's ability to translate what art theory and experience is in their mind into a learnable, enjoyable format is the recipe for success. Pareto's rule seems to apply in this case too. 20% of teachers are good and 80% mediocre.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

He's back

Is nothing sacred?? The tree rat is back, this time carrying off bunches of stolen Reemay, no doubt to line a nest with. I'm beginning to dislike this little guy who's taking big chunks out of the garden cover!

Its ramping up for this wedding at the weekend with flower arrangements changing constantly as minds are changed and experiments tweaked. This is one of about 50 floating flower arrangements that will be in place, just the floating candles are missing in this one. The bowl is filled with begonias.

Work and meetings hasn't left me much time for drawing this week beyond a few sketches here and there. I've been drawing people as I sit in Starbucks or wait in meeting rooms. Its good practice and rather fun to people watch. I met with a member of the Art Association tonight and we had a good chat about a number of issues that need resolution. I was asked to sit on the board of directors of the Art Association of the province and agreed about a month or so ago and I have a number of ideas that I would like to implement. I just don't want to be seen as someone new coming in to rock the boat. Sometimes ideas are deep rooted and people object to change. I'll go slow but be persistant.

One of the things that I would like to see put in place is a sketch club which would encourage others to meet and participate in sketching in various places around town. There seems interest so I will pursue it and see where it ends up. In a relatively small town, there aren't always the art related services that I want, so sometimes you just have to do it yourself.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A leap of faith

Pen & ink & watercolour
Copyright Jeanette Jobson

When you come to the edge of all the light you have, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly. (Patrick Overton)

After a long absence I've started running again, as I mentioned in a previous post. That in its own right isn't anything to be overly excited about, but to some it seems as if I have had a temporary lapse of sanity by the comments I have had.

1. You're not getting any younger (I'm 53)
2. You'll hurt yourself.
3. You're doing what? Why?
4. (my favourite) Why don't you do something nice and gentle instead?

I am moving slowly, quite slowly in my runs, well more jogs than runs at this point. On the treadmill, my speed averages at somewhere between 4 and 4.5 during runs, with walks about .5 below that. In road work, its more of a challenge as I have to play dodge the traffic, dodge the dogs who think I'm fair game and dodge the moose sometimes.

During runs, I listen to my iPod, a running podcast that helps me change speed, timing etc. I also think a lot during those longer runs when I try to reach the same zone that I am in when I draw. Its called a 'runner's high'. Its that point in time when your body and mind stop protesting at the abuse you're giving it and accepts it. You sail along and think you can go on forever and it feels very similar to the feeling when drawing of losing track of time and space and letting your mind and body take over to concentrate only on the task.

So despite those who doubt my ability to do this, I will and have done this. My leap of faith will teach me to fly.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Why I've drawn a grasshopper I have no idea. I found a photo of one - a painted grasshopper its called, that was quite amazing. And as I drew it, I was amazed at the detail and construction of the insect. They make you wonder where the concept for armour plating came from originally.

Now I'm not an insect fan by any stretch of the imagination. I'm the person who will flee from dragonflies, craneflies, bumblebees and horror of horror - moths. So I have to say that drawing this - while it didn't creep me out enormously, it didn't because I found the structure so interesting.

It really is true that you don't really see something until you draw it.