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Showing posts from September, 2009

More thoughts on changing directions in your work

The other evening, I went to the opening of Will Gorlitz's exhibition at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre in Guelph, Ontario. Gorlitz is a Professor in the Studio Art Program in the Department of Fine Art and Music at the University of Guelph and a veteran Canadian figurative painter who "sets out to unsettle our vision", says Richard Rhodes, editor of Canadian Art magazine. See a brief video tour of a 2008 Gorlitz exhibition.

I found it interesting to hear him talk briefly about his work at the opening. In my last couple of blog posts, I wrote some thoughts about changing directions in my artwork and asked how to recognize when we need to change directions or how to stay true to our own intuition. Will mentioned that when he graduated from art college, that he had noticed how it seemed an important thing for an artist to find their path and to stick with it. He decided right then to challenge that 'convention', and try to make many different bodies of work.

Wh…

Changing directions in your work

River of Longing 6 ©Janice Mason Steeves2009 18x18" oil on canvas on panel

After writing my last blog post, I was interested to read the blog post of Susan Buret, an Australian artist who commented on my last post, The Road Not Taken. Susan said that she has had three no sale shows but that her work later won awards or was acquired for well respected collections. She mentioned that she has recently begun a new body of work which is in its formative stages and questions whether she should change directions.

Her article has me thinking again about the situation. It's a paradox. On one hand is the flood of excitement of creating new work but then there is a huge effort required to get that new work out into the world. On the other hand when you stay with a body of work or a subject, there is an opportunity to go inward and deeper into the work, while continuing to work in a way that is recognized.

There is something so vulnerable about a new body of work. I remember man…

The Road Not Taken

The other day I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine who is an artist. We were talking about our work. She’s discouraged because she sold only one painting at her last exhibition in the summer and she’s having a difficult time getting back into the studio.

It reminded me of a similar thing that happened to me about four years ago. I had been to India that winter and came home full of the colours of India. Actually India is a pretty drab colour, shades of grey and mud. But the women’s saris are stunningly brilliant colours that glow against that background of grey and mud. I took hundreds of photos and came home saturated, eager to work with those colours.


The Light Series©Janice Mason Steeves 2005 12x12" encaustic




I had been using encaustic in my work for about eight years at that time and had just taken a week long workshop at R&F Handmade Paints in New York, which included photo transfer work among other things. The photo transfer work and encaustic a…

Beauty

It is with great embarrassment that I admit that I finally visited the recently renovated Art Gallery of Ontario yesterday for the first time! Designed by the world renowned architect, Frank Gehry, it has been open for almost a year! This is Toronto-born Gehry's first building in Canada, and according to the AGO website, it marks the very place where he made his initial connection between art and architecture.

I was completely stunned by the beauty of it as soon as I entered the building. I mean stunned! The wheelchair ramp near the front door, with it's wooden floor and half walls winds like a ribbon to the ticket desks. There is a hush to the building. It's quiet and still. Enormous circular staircases wind their way to heaven in the central courtyard and archways from other staircases look through to see them from other angles. Maybe it's because the building is just so new to me, but I almost didn't care if I saw any of the artwork. In fact, I would sa…

The Poetics of Robins

Last spring, I had a battle with a robin. She was trying to build her nest on the transom above my front door. Each day she brought endless amounts of debris from my garden and each day, I used my broom to sweep it away. She, or maybe it was another robin, had built their nest in the exact place two years ago and for a few weeks I couldn’t use the front door. But the worst of it was that in that precarious place, one of the babies had fallen to its death. I didn’t want to have that happen again. So I kept sweeping away the grasses and each day she brought more. We were both determined. Then one weekend I was away for three days. And when I came home, boom! There was a solid, mud-packed nest. I climbed a ladder inside my house and peered into the nest through the transom window. Five small blue eggs nestled in the bottom.

I am reading the book, “Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet”, by Matthew Fox, an Episcopal priest and theologian, who is an exponent of Creation Spir…