First Love

Last night Andrew and I attended the opening of this year’s Sidney Fine Arts Show. We saw plenty of lovely work and a few really inspiring pieces (Debra Tilby). The show allowed me the opportunity to see my own work in the context of my peer’s work and… I wasn’t happy.

My pieces were okay. Not great. Not terrible. Just okay. And that is not okay with me!

So this afternoon I decided to do something about it. I went back to my roots. Back to what has always inspired me and fed my desire to make love… er… I mean art. And there you have it! That freudian slip of Love vs. Art tells me everything I need to know about where I want to go with my art and my life. I want to make love! I mean art! In my life there have been moments where I grew as a person and as an artist and in my mind they tie back to drawing. I LOVE drawing. I love the memories I have of being in drawing classes and drawing in the studio. I have fallen in love in drawing class. More than a few times!

I love everything about drawing. The immediacy. The messiness and the ability to control or let go of control with drawing. The ability to put down drawing tools and walk away without having to clean up a mess. The smoothness of the paper and the chamois. The stickiness of the eraser and the silkiness of pulling a line of light away from the dark and the lines that feel just right at the right moment. I love drawing.

I remember a moment in one particular drawing class where I let go of the charcoal but continued the line in the air and then slid it back down to complete the line on the paper at the end of what was the culmination of the voluptuous arm of the model. And I remember love blooming when that mark was recognized as beautiful by someone I admired. Love in and through art.

And so today, I returned to my roots and my love and I drew.

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Sunday Morning Crossword, charcoal on paper, 16”x20”
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The Politician, charcoal on paper, 18”x20”

 

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Sidney Fine Art Show

This year both Andrew and I decided to submit work to the prestigious Sidney Fine Art Show. I’ve done so in the past and enjoyed being a part of the show. Andrew has never submitted. The show is a good one; high quality work beautifully presented. It’s on the more traditional side and generally takes a less broad approach to jurying (than say, the Sooke Fine Art show). Meaning, there are fewer “what is that doing here” pieces. The tricky decision-making aspect of this show is that the show is only up for one weekend and the submission and jury process is not done online so it means driving to Sidney 8 times. We counted. 8 times (including attending the opening and artist’s nights).

Regardless, we submitted the maximum of 3 pieces each and both had all 3 pieces juried in! Yahoo! I’m looking forward to going to the opening night and artist’s night and to seeing how our work fits within the rest of the art work. I hope you will join us there!

Jasper; A Plein Air Painting Adventure – Part Three

When I was visiting Maui one time, I discovered that some of the best views of the landscape and oceans beyond can be found on golf course properties (not because I’m a golfer, but… ah, it’s a long story). In Jasper the same goes for resort properties. Because we were traveling on a budget, Andrew and I opted to camp for the majority of our Jasper trip. No resorts for us! So one morning as we wandered looking for a new painting location, we took a quick spin through the private resort property of Tekarra Lodge. We found an incredible painting spot on their property and the front desk was nice enough to allow us to paint then and there.

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Tekarra Lodge overlook

A storm was passing in the distance and the sun broke through intermittently – as go the normal challenges of plein air painting. I opted to try and capture a broad view by lining  up two 6″ x 8″ panels side-by-side – a diptych!

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Tekarra, 2 x 6″ x 8″, plein air oil on board

In this particular piece you can see the reddish-brown colour of the trees which have been devastated by the pine beetle infestation. It was extremely distressing to see and to also understand how much it increases the wildfire risk.

Of course having the opportunity to paint from the lodge grounds made me want to stay there so we could just walk out of our quaint cabin to see that view all day long – and to join other guests at the fire pit – and enjoy a glass of wine listening to the live band at the on-site restaurant… ah well, at least we had a chance to paint!

Jasper; a Plein Air Painting Adventure – Part Two

I often daydream about attending one of the very popular plein air events such as the Plein Air Convention which is run by Plein Air Magazine. The one in 2018 would be especially sweet because it will be in New Mexico – the light, the culture, the memories! However the cost is prohibitive. Therefore next year we will likely stay closer to home and keep our eyes out for a more local plein air event(s) to feed our need for both painting opportunities as well as art socializing.

Back to Jasper… our passes in hand, we headed up one morning to the stunning Mt. Edith Cavell and Angel Glacier. Our memories failed us this time because neither of us remembered that there was a rather steep 1km-ish hike to get to the best spot to view Angel Glacier. Normally this would be just fine but with the amount of painting equipment we choose to take with us, it was quite a slow-going trek! Determination to paint in front of the glacier pushed us on and once we were set up above and behind the place where most of the tourists would be standing to view the glacier, we were happier than we could ever be. More than once on the Jasper trip I said `There is no where I would rather be right now.` in my outside voice!

 

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We spent 4 hours painting, smiling and chit-chatting with interested people, watching the chipmunks and listening to the cracks and groans of the glacier. There really is nothing as in-the-moment as trying to capture in paint the stunning views of a living and moving glacier. This was THE moment of the trip which we dreamed of and it was better than either of us could have imagined. It was exhilarating, humbling, exciting and exhausting all at once, for 4 hours! The resulting paintings for both of us were not what we would consider gallery quality but for me at least, it captured the intensity of the colour, size, shape and energy of the place. I do intend to use this painting as a reference for later works:

Angel Glacier
Angel Glacier, plein air oil, 10″x12″

Overall, the weather cooperated when we were in Jasper, with only a day or so of rain and a couple days of smokey haze. We used the new Best Brella when the rain threatened or sunshine was prohibitive. I’m still learning that even if the sun is behind me, it’s important to put the brella up because my piece will end up being too dark since a palette and canvas in full sunshine is way brighter than you think it is when you take it inside.

Another challenge to painting outside is having to chase the light; On one scattered clouds afternoon, there were moments where the mountain in front of us had these incredible bursts of light and then in the next moment, they were gone. This is usually a frustrating experience but this one afternoon I relaxed and used speed and memory to capture the light I wanted (as I listened to Andrew swear under his breath as his highlight disappeared). My resulting painting ended up being one of my favourites:

Pyramid mountain
Pyramid Mountain, Jasper Alberta. 5″x7″ plein air oil

I have a few more pages of my trip diary to go through to bring more stories to these pages. My holidays are coming to a close, so I want to capture the highlights for you and for myself so that when I am getting comfy in the studio, I will remember how much I LOVE painting outside. So, more to come…

Jasper; a Plein Air Painting Adventure

PART ONE

Following an eventful 3 days of travel (through active wildfire territory) and settling in to our campsite home for 10 nights (including sleeping in the car for a portion of one night due to our extreme lack of preparation for the cold that Jasper sees at night in the summer), we finally painted!

Up cold and early we lined up in front of the tourist information centre that morning to get tickets to visit Mt. Edith Cavell later in the week. There is construction happening there so officials are timing and limiting the amount of people allowed up at one time. While it was a teeny bit of a pain to get the tickets, they did well in setting limits because the flow of people was not too much, not too little. More to come about that in subsequent postings…

In the meantime, our first painting stop was to be Athabasca Falls. However, our slight delay meant the number of tourists that morning was high and we couldn’t find an out-of-the-way spot to paint so we just took a few reference photos for later painting. Instead, we headed back on the road and stopped at the side of the highway to paint the Athabasca itself instead. Note: The BC wildfire smoke had followed us into Jasper, so visibility of the surroundings was limited. It therefore made sense to a paint close view rather than distant. We had a successful couple hour session, during which we met and chatted with a nice young fellow who was working the river boats this summer. This is one of the asides of painting en plein air – you meet some characters!

We both had a successful and enjoyable first painting session and were excited for more so we headed to the river again beside Becker’s cabins. I was distracted by the highway, stopping tourists and fear of bears so my results were not worth keeping. Andrew had better luck. The thing about bears in that location is that the previous time we visited Jasper we had dinner at Becker’s and the highlight of the night was watching a bear traverse the hillside across from where we were now painting. Bears – they are very real.

The next day was when we found a painting location which we returned to whenever we were undecided about where to paint. This meadow at Jasper Park Lodge became our go-to spot even just for chilling a bit with stunning views of multiple mountain peaks and the Athabasca.

Painting at Jasper Park Lodge Meadow
Painting at Jasper Park Lodge Meadow
Pyramid mountain from Jasper Park Lodge meadow
Pyramid mountain from Jasper Park Lodge Meadow

One 3 hour painting session at this meadow was where I put into practice a tip from Richard Schmid’s book, Alla Prima. The tip is to paint what’s most important first. And it seems to work for me! Particularly because I tend to become less focused as a session goes on, getting what I want to say down first means that the painting is more likely to be successful even if it is just a sketch of what I found most important about the scene.

While we were so close to the Jasper Park Lodge that day we decided to check out Mountain Galleries. And it was there, in such a beautiful lodge, in the midst of several stunning pieces of art, that we spied a painting by Josh Clare which moved us both, very much. (Truth be told, Andrew pointed it out and it took a second viewing on another day for it to hit me – that rare art experience feeling). The painting captured the light focused on a red earth mountain peak. Unfortunately I can’t find an image of it online. Andrew and I pondered the purchase of this painting for a couple days and… I’ll tell you more about that in my next post. Oh yes, there are plenty more painting adventures to revisit!

Summer of Art 2017

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Plein air painting in East Sooke. A beautiful day!

Once again, summer in Victoria means a multitude of art walks, talks, tours, shows, exhibits and extravaganzas! As the weather finally warms and we get excited about summer holidays, my husband, Andrew Bartley and I are thrilled to be participating in a few of the many community art events around town.

The first show is already up and ready for you to visit; the Summer Small Works show in the Massey gallery in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV). There is some lovely work in the show this year, which officially opens this coming Thursday, June 15 from 6-9pm. One thing special about this show is that you can purchase and take the work off the wall right away so you don’t have to wait all summer for the show to end before popping that piece above your couch! Keep your eyes open for Andrew when you are at the gallery because he recently began working there part time – he will be the one with the big smile and small name tag. He’s thrilled to be spending more of his days in the presence of art and the people who love art.

The AGGV also holds the Annual TD Art Gallery Paint-In, which is in it’s 30th year this summer. 30! It’s a fantastic event and we are sad that we are going to miss it this year due to other commitments. There’s so much to do that it’s hard to choose! I do hope anyone who hasn’t attended this event  will give it a try because it’s one of the most impressive art events in Victoria and if you are a regular – enjoy it for me, please!

Sooke Fine Arts Show

July 28 – Aug 7 from 9:30am – 4pm

This giant art exhibit is a summer staple. We always put our best foot forward for this show and hope you will join us there. We both have work in the show and it’s always fun to find them among all the other great work to see how they stack up (not that we’re the least bit competitive…). Every year I am awed by the sheer amount of work that artists make on Vancouver and the Gulf Islands. The show gives you a sense of what’s happening in the art community and it’s always great to see new artists join the regulars. Don’t miss out on almost 2 weeks of music, art, demonstrations, food and an amazing gift shop where you can pick up a small piece of local art (and art cards galore!) at a fantastic price – remember, Christmas is only 6 months away!

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Sidney Fine Arts Show

October 13, 14, 15

While this is not a summer event (perhaps an Indian summer event?!), the artists have to start ramping up to it in the summer. The Sidney Fine Arts Show is a highly reputable event which Andrew and I have both entered this year. Even though we don’t yet know if our work is in the show this year, we encourage you to attend regardless because the work is always of the finest quality. It is on for only 3 days so it will go by in the blink of an eye if you’re not careful!

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Our Artist Web Sites

Faye Hoffman and Andrew Bartley

Of course, our work is always on display on the interwebs year around. I write a blog about my art process and as Andrew and I work towards our goal of having a 2 person exhibition in 2018 or 2019, new work will appear on our sites. We have a summer plein air painting journey planned and expect to return with several small pieces from which to develop larger works for the exhibit. Keep checking back to see what’s developing and if you’re in the neighbourhood (Uplands/UVic), please get in touch for a studio visit. We also intend to be in one of the many art studio tours next year so you can stop by then and we are always open to taking on commissions. In fact, we’re both working on a portrait commission right now and remember, Christmas is only 6 months away! 🙂

Enjoy your summer of art, everyone!

 

 

About me. Not about me.

My husband, Andrew Bartley, sent me a link the other day to a short video about the life and work of Jennifer Worsley. When I viewed the video I will admit to already being in a really good mood… so this video was hugely inspiring for me! Andrew and I purchased one of Jennifer’s woodblock prints a couple years ago from the Davidson Gallery in Seattle. It is on the wall in our bedroom so I see it several times a day and it has become a part of my psyche. Up until Trump came into office and the Canadian dollar sank so low, we took an annual trip to Seattle as a nice little break for normal life and a chance to check out galleries and markets in Seattle. It was Andrew’s annual birthday gift, which also included the purchase of a reasonably priced artist’s print. We have a lovely little artist print collection now but I don’t see it expanding until the political and financial situation in the USA settles down a bit.

But I am getting off topic. The video about Jennifer and her work has inspired me to start documenting Andrew and my own adventures in plein air and studio art making. We have some camping/painting trips planned this summer and I need to remember to take my documentary hat along with me! It is our goal to come back from those trips with plenty of very small studies for much larger studio landscape paintings to be done over the winter months. And then we want to have a 2 person gallery show. We’ve both been in the same group exhibits and I’ve had 2 person shows before but we’ve never shown together. So the video will be a way to capture the steps towards our goal as both a promotional piece and a way to remember our adventures. Life feels like it is getting shorter now that I am over the hill and on the way into retirement. I don’t want to wait until retirement to have all the fun! You never know what will happen between then and now so let’s do it and document it! Now!

But I am again getting off topic. And I’ve had too much coffee this morning. So go watch the video of a wonderful artist enjoying her life. It’s great!

Coquettish

Things really heated up inside the studio and out this past long weekend! I had 3 days in the studio and it was fantastically creative and productive! While I did wander out to enjoy the sunshine on the deck and do some chores, I took the opportunity to work on a diptych and a portrait commission. The portrait commission is a surprise gift so you won’t see it until the recipient does – but it’s well underway. Actually, Andrew and I are both trying our hands at this portrait so the purchaser will have a few options to choose from and we both have a great model to work from.

But back to the diptych…

The Conversation
The Conversation, Diptych, 12″ X 24″ (unframed) Studio oil

I started out by painting the female member of this duo and titled her “Coquette”. And I was so happy with how she came out that it inspired me to create her male counterpart – “Coquet”. Together, they created a partnership which no longer seemed appropriate using those titles and so The Conversation was born. When I look at them, looking back at me, I imagine myself interrupting them as they speak closely in front of a painting at a gallery art opening. Theirs was an intimate exchange of mysterious, even suspicious nature and I had intruded.

They were great fun to paint and gave me special delight because it appears that I have finally learned how to control the technique. Using just one colour is very similar to drawing with charcoal – in fact, I sort of consider these painted drawings. I use my brush and a rag to push and pull the darks and lights of the oil paint just as I would use the charcoal stick and chamois to push and pull the charcoal.

The portrait commission has started in the same manner but I am going to push it beyond the one colour once I have the likeness where I want it.

The countdown to summer holidays and art shows is on now and if this past long weekend was a taste of what’s to come, it’s going to be a fantastic season!

Everybody Needs a Bit of Success

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I’ve been working on a few things:

1. a series of nest pieces

2. developing my monochromatic portrait skills

3. little art challenges to mix things up a bit

4. plein air and studio landscapes

Because I enjoy a variety of mediums and subject matter, my art and artistic intent has seemed scattered. I am working cleaning that up with these 4 directions. I am finding that desire to jump around is satisfied and I can still feel like I am making progress. When I am feeling let down by the progress in one area, I use the art challenges to find small successes. The work may not be what I would exhibit but for some reason they are more often than not surprisingly nice. The spontaneity apparently works for me. I should figure out how to channel that into my other work.

As summer approaches we will be painting en plein air more, especially when vacation days roll around. I said in the car to Andrew this morning that I would like to develop a consistent method for painting in the field which yields more successes. I feel like every time I go out that I am starting over as a young student. While the young part is good, the student part is not. I know I still have a thousand lifetimes of skills to learn but I am now a practicing artist. And the work should reflect this.

Except the little art challenges. For them, I get to paint donkeys and puppies!!! Why not?!

I also recently added a background to my 2nd nest painting. That process was interesting because I almost had to repaint it all in order to get the background to not look stuck on. Live and learn!

3 pieces have been accepted into the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria‘s Summer Small Works show coming up in June:

 

And submissions are being readied for Sooke Fine Arts and Sidney Fine Arts. Andrew and I are debating whether to enter the The Salt Spring National Art Prize. We shall see…