Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Summer Gallery

This is a great time of the year to gather a bunch of summery paintings and take them to your local non-profit venue where they can be seen by leisurely summer visitors. Most communities find a way to showcase local artists during the summer season when people are out and about, eager to enjoy all the goodies of long warm days when one can relax and spend a few hours just wondering around, visually feasting on everything that summer has to offer.

In Vancouver, we have the Federation of Canadian Artists Gallery right in the most wonderful, artsy part of the town - The Granville Island. There is a beautiful market, a gorgeous harbor and the most charming community of art studios, galleries, stores, restaurants, and so much more.

The FCA organizes many art shows throughout the year, including the traditional Summer Gallery in which I have been participating for many years. In fact I sold my first few paintings there, for which I am extremely grateful. You can find all about joining the FCA from their web site. If you think you'd enjoy being a member of a large, diverse national art organization, I recommend that you look into it.

Few things before paintings leave the studio:

1. Even if the pieces are finished and have been shown elsewhere, I look at them with a critical eye and make corrections and touch-ups if I conclude that they need improvement. This can go from minor fixing of the surface, re-varnishing, to glazing certain areas to change the temperature of the color, or even repainting passages that bug me. I almost always re-varnish them just to restore that special fresh-surface luster.

2. Photograph the paintings for the archive. I used to agonize over this and I still have a system of floodlights, light filters, tripods and what-nots, but I don't use any of that any more. I just go outside and find a location where the painting surface won't get any glare from the sky or shiny objects (north side of the house is your best bet). I don't even use a tripod - today's cameras are so fast, it's easy to snap crystal clears shots freehand. Here is my super easy "setup" which consists of a nail on my yard shed.

Photographing paintings outside - the painting is hung in the shade and it faces north to avoid glare

3. Make sure the titles and prices on the back labels match with the inventory list.

4. Frame the pieces that need a frame, go over the edges of unframed canvases with a fresh coat of paint. I usually paint edges black, but this time I added a thin coat of coppery glaze as an experiment and I really like it. If you happen to visit the FCA Summer Gallery, let me know what you think.

5. Wire the paintings for hanging in a way that the gallery recommends. Every venue has their own preferences, but in general the wire needs to be strong, mounted about at the third of the frame height measuring from the top. The mounting hardware mustn't have any protruding and/or sharp points. The whole thing needs to look neat and professional - front, sides and the back.

6. Put cardboard corners on the framed pieces to protect them during delivery. Everyone will do their best to protect your art, but it's always a good idea to do what you can to make their job easier. I like to wrap edges of all paintings with a layer of packaging shrink wrap just to be on the safe side.

I hope some of you can visit the FCA Summer Gallery between June 23 - July 19, and participate in your local summer art events. Enjoy!


Thursday, 4 June 2015

Painter's Paradise

Opabin Patterns by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki,  acrylic, 24x18

I spent last weekend in the beautiful Bear ValleyHighlands Wilderness Retreat with a group of lovely artists. The workshop instructor was an amazing artist and explorer Dominik Modlinski. My goal was to spend time with likeminded people, enjoy a fantastic location and hospitality, and get a peek into the painting process of an artist whose work I admire.  Check, check and check. The weekend was a raging success on all fronts!  

The property features forests, meadows, pastures - wherever you look, a picture begs to be painted. Not to mention sightings of bears, echoes of howling coyotes, abundance of birds and many other forms of wild life. 

This little fellow couldn't have cared less for the stir he caused showing up unannounced in our outdoor studio

Dominik's sharing of his techniques and his world wide adventures was a treat, and so was getting to know his lovely wife and their four-legged companion.

Gunness kept us company and protected us from bears

One of the fun parts for me were daily group critiques. I have always considered crits by a sincere and knowledgeable person precious. When such a person takes the time and energy to briefly step into my world and tries to help with my next step, is an act of ultimate generosity. I keep in mind that receiving a critique is not an entitlement - it is an opportunity to receive valuable information. I try to remember everything that is said, and later analyze it and figure out how best to use it.

I'd like to share a few tips for prospective workshop takers:

-          Don't expect too much from yourself.  It takes effort to adjust to the new environment and focus your mind on the instructor's technique. Don't beat yourself up if you don't create a masterpiece. What I create in workshops is usually a kind of a mutation between what I see, what I would paint using my own technique, and what I am trying to practice based on the instructor's lecture. Mutants very rarely look good, and that is why I posted a studio painting on the top of this post :-).  (I apologize to all the mutants out there for this opinionated statement)

-          Listen, take notes, absorb everything that is going on. Be a sponge. Months and years later some piece of the puzzle will fall into place and you will experience an a-ha moment when you least expect. This is a wonderful aspect of learning - the process never stops.

-          Build friendships, enjoy company of other artists, extend your network. There are few things more valuable than exchange of thoughts and experiences between members of a community.  Stay in touch. Share.

-          Replenish your wealth in the bank of good memories. Years down the road, all you will remember will be a wonderful artful weekend with friends. The last thing on your mind will be how your painting turned out.

My gratitude goes to all the fabulous people with whom I was lucky to spend a few days in a painter's paradise. May there be many artful weekends for all of us!