Doing MY work.

September 6, 2013

Time has passed so quickly this summer.  Not in the best of health so I have not been able to work on my art.  It has been a very frustrating experience.  The realization that doing my work was extremely important to me and part of who I am, I needed to plan strategies as to how I would be able to overcome some of my health issues.

Of course, asking for help was difficult, but finally, it did pay off.  My new direction this year is using polymer paints instead of oil.  Experimenting, I found out that I needed good facilities for clean up – like a good functioning sink for clean up of the acrylics.  OIl did not need so much water!    So I asked my building superintendent, Shawn, to help me out.  He found the perfect sink for me, replaced the old tiny sink I had and even added a faucet with a spray mechanism!

Secondly, my doc banned me from working on my aluminum because of a test I needed to go through – a MRI.  No metals.  Since I haven’t had the test yet, my 4 foot by 5 foot painting could not be finished – this caused me great grief.  I called upon my husband to help out.  While I sat in the local Coffee Culture Cafe, he did the necessary sanding, and the clean up of any residue while I sat and enjoyed my coffee!


I worked on my painting yesterday and found great relief!  Had fun and visitors dropped in to see my work and what I was up to.

Can’t wait to get back to the studio today.

TS II Still

July 1, 2013

TS II Still

Alex Kanevsky
My big purchase this year, 2013. Inspiration for much thought on women’s rights.

My Creative Year (again!)

June 25, 2013

I did it.  I bought a Kanevsky, am now being represented by a great gallery in Toronto and am a Consultant for the Art Salon instead of acting President.  All of these actions have given me the freedom and the inspiration to explore my creative self.

Why?  The purchase of another artist’s work has inspired me to understand the process of buying art.  Provenance, reputation, value, enjoying the relationship of the artwork in my own living space and laying down the money, has opened my own eyes as to how to present myself as a desired professional artist. When I contacted Alex Kanvesky on Facebook to have him explain a section of my purchase, he responded by saying that his art spoke for itself.  Another lesson for me!  It is important to let the viewer construct their own interpretation.

The gallery, Patrick International Fine Art in Toronto, has asked for art that is categorized as landscape rather than my geometric Shapes in Motion series.   I love landscapes – my original Ontario horizon  line pieces are quite successful and my new Earth slices are exciting developments for larger, future works.  However I am  intrigued by geometric layering of shapes. So,  inspiration roars inside me in both categories. Perhaps another venue will show my geometrics.

My other bit of freedom and inspiration is stepping up to Consultant for the Art Salon.  Nice to be in a role where I can advise but not take responsibility for choices made. I’m learning how to both exercise tough love and how to let go.

So my creative year begins again.  I postponed my creative year to rescue the Art Salon.  It is now on its own two feet and will rise or fall to its own level of success.

I want to go bigger and bolder.  I want to express an abstract expressionism which combines with both my horizontal Earthslices and my geometrics.  If I can do all of that – my creative year will be a success.

Getting back on track

July 4, 2012

Haven’t posted for a long time – distraction is a weakness for me.  Keeping a strong direction takes me a lot of effort and it seems like I can only focus one one major change or happening at a time.  I have painted one piece called Square Dance which I will post soon. 

I found this comment below in my LinkedIn comments which has pushed me back on track.  Here it is:


I am an art critic (and artist). I specifically cover equine art, that is, the art of the horse.In this discipline, I often help artists gain exposure. The work I like best pushes forward that great canon of horse art into new techniques, different media, creative interpretations.Open discussion topic: How do we influence the public to accept something new and different?

My response:

A very important question – thanks for putting it forward.
Fortunately, we have been and are part of the incredible changes that are taking place with complex natural and engineered systems. The stem cell research, the internet, new astrology, etc. have become the ‘norm’ in our every day life.

When you look at art – words like computer-generated, installation, performance and virtual reality have also become part of our vocabulary. The “public” has been exposed to these words through the media. Comfort level? Acceptance? Well, depending on how it relates to the individual, or how it answers the question, “what’s in it for me?”
I find personally, that when I take the role of instructor or teacher of a new or as you say ‘pushes forward’ the subject matter, the fear factor goes away. I have created “questions to ask yourself when seeing an art show” for people who have come in to see my work.
Of course, there is a certain stratum of the public that will be open to new techniques, etc.; for the rest, it takes a lot of education and work.

May 11, 2012

Art Criticism- surprisingly, if well thought out is very helpful to understand my own work.  I found this article written by Jennifer Rudder.  I want to post it now for reference for future analysis of my own painting, for myself.  I intend to answer the “useful questions” below.


There is an art to writing about contemporary artworks and there are skills that can be learned for the budding art writer. The most important factor for any writer is to have an intellectual curiosity. Curiosity about the particular materials, the process or method and the concept or the meaning within the artwork is crucial to writing on art. To think and write about art requires a familiarity with contemporary art and the critical writing around art. Gaining familiarity means becoming a consumer of art, seeing as many exhibitions as you can and reading the most interesting and current contributors both locally and internationally, to apprise oneself of the status of contemporary art and writing. The strategic writer will become familiar and knowledgable with makers and and writers of art. Through your efforts you will discover that you have likes and dislikes which will help you define your own personal affiliations within  the contemporary art world.


Art criticism serves as an appreciation and as a response to an artist’s work in an exhibition. Art criticism extends the life of the exhibition, placing the work within a  context for an audience that might not have seen it. Considerations within the art review will address the following questions:  How does this exhibition relate to the artist’s previous work ? Is it a continuation, a development, a change? How does it relate to other works or works by others? What affect does the exhibition have?

Writing art criticism contributes the ongoing debate or conversation on contemporary art as well as to the development of creating  primary sources for Canadian art history.


The verb to critique and the adjective critical are often misunderstood as possessing only a negative connotation. To critique a film or a work of art is to look at both the good and the bad aspects with a critical or analytical eye, to inform the reader what it is that works or doesn’t work for the writer. In writing art criticism you are always employing your critical faculties.

Analytical writing informs the reader. An honest review is more interesting than an overly polite one. The writer needs to argue their point with solid examples and clear thinking. At the same time the writer should not be overly harsh towards the artist, the work or the exhibition. An essay or article that is entirely negative will not likely be accepted for publication. A negative review reflects badly on the writer and is of no use to the artist.

One concern that an art review can critique is the way value is produced in art. Writing can perform as institutional critique, when questioning for example the curatorial choices of a particular gallery or museum. Does the venue have a preference for dead, white male artists as opposed to exhibiting artwork by a wide range of genders, races or ages? This is an example of a trend that could be addressed in a review.


The first question you will want to ask yourself is, what is it in this particular artist’s work that compels you to think about it and want to write about it? To help you get started in writing art criticism think of the review or essay as a narrative, a story that leads the reader through the exhibition and your thoughts about it. Introduce the reader by describing your experience of the work, the exhibition, or the overall installation of the work. Review what is there.

You will want to suggest an analysis by which to contextualize the work, relating evidence within the work or artist’s statement to critical concerns that you are going to emphasize. Analyze your experience of the work; provide an argument for the work that reveals your reasoned position – not merely your opinion.

Evaluate your experience of the work. If you don’t like one of the works or know what to say about it, leave it out. Write about the works that mean something to you. Don’t feel obliged to write about every single work. You can even choose to focus on the one work that is most meaningful to you.

Secondly you will want to analyze the art. How does it work for you? Where does it fit in with other works by this artist and with other contemporary artworks? In regards to the installation, briefly consider all of the following:  the relationship of each artwork to the others, lighting, display, location in the room, labeling. If the work is professionally installed and presented you may not need to discuss it further than stating that the installation was inviting, or added to the artwork in a particular way.

Thirdly you will need to analyze and  judge the artwork. Is it compelling or convincing? If yes, why? If not, why not? Is it successful (for you) ?


The artist statement provides the artist an opportunity to declare their intentions and express the intended meaning of their artwork to the reader. In writing a review it is a document that you will want to have at hand. Some artists’ statements describe their positions, intentions and experience which  may be useful to your writing and provide new insight into the work. Sometimes the artist statement is not useful at all as it is directed towards a general audience.

How does the intention of the writer meet the intentions of the artist? You may find yourself in disagreement with the stated intention of the artist, or you may find a different meaning or approach to the work. This is fine as long as you make your argument clear to the reader, which includes the artist. The writer needs to convince the reader by explaining why they think what they do. Remember in reading the artist statement that artists are visual people and are not all able to clearly articulate what it is they are striving to achieve.

The artist’s CV or biography is useful if you are not familiar with the individual or their work. At some point in your writing you may want to speak with the artist either in person, or via telephone or email, to clarify questions that you may have, and run your ideas for the review by them first. Artists are only too happy to discuss and think about their work.


It is important when writing about art to write from the work not onto the work. There are many instances of critical reviews in which the critic heaps scorn upon all the things that the artwork is not. Sometimes the writer will feel unresolved about an artwork. The process of writing about and through the work can be an exploration for the writer, the means of discovering what it is you really think or believe. Writing can open up and resolve issues, an act that is satisfying and rewarding for both the author and the reader.

The best art writing comes from an appreciation and a curiosity about the artwork in front of you. It creates the urge to analyze the strategies that are employed in the work in order to understand, and allows you to convey that understanding and appreciation on to the reader.

In the beginning the writer should always write for herself first and then adapt the writing for the reader. While it is crucial to know for whom you are writing – a general audience, a professional art or scholarly audience – it is difficult to begin writing with your imagined audience looking over your shoulder.

Art writing must engage the reader. The writer can activate the work through criticism; placing it and bringing it to life by giving it a context. The writer should strive to enhance the work, not to diminish it. Hopefully the writer will have something new to say. Quoting other writers in a review is only useful if you mean to challenge that assumption in your essay. But one should never use the vehicle of the review of an artist’s work to settle scores with other writers.

The writer often uses her own private writing as an exploratory draft to develop ideas and thoughts.


The following list of questions may serve as a guide to exploring what it is in the artwork that you wish to write about.

What is it about the artist that interests you?

How does the work function? Does the work use metaphor or the substitution of a different visual image?

How has the artist constructed the visual elements, and how do these relate – either structurally or psychologically – to you as the viewer?

What operation does the artist’s work normally perform? Is it a critique, or an evocation?

Does the artist share ideologies or concerns with other artists?

What values does the artist seem to hold unconsciously? – The relationship to the audience, the role of the artist, communication, etc.

How does the artist work?  Do they emphasize intuitive processes or respond to conditions they encounter?

What materials are employed and how do these choices further contribute to the meaning of the work?

Is there an evolution or development in this work?

What does the artist appear to be interested in or take notice of?

How would you summarize the artist’s modus operandi or working method?

Having examined the artist closely, are you still interested in the artist, and what are some of the main points of interest for you?


Writers of critical art reviews often overuse comparison, description, and poetic vocabulary with little criticality or creativity. Employing poetic language and comparisons can be useful and lovely, evocative and entertaining however a level of analysis and substance is required to balance the writing.

Writing that exclusively features the observations and feelings of an author regarding art works are better in blogs, diaries or journals. This kind of writing is better served as press for the gallery or the artist because it never takes a critical position about the work and exhibition under consideration.

Lengthy or multiple quotations interrupt the reader of the review and force him to stop reading and look to the endnotes.


The essay published in gallery catalogues or brochures is slightly biased as it is used for the purpose of advertising or marketing. It will always present the artist and the artwork in a positive light as it is a vehicle for the gallery to promote the work and the artist to its clients and audience. Therefore you will not find a heavy critique in a catalogue essay. You will however, find a full examination of the process of the artist, perhaps a consideration of the inspiration for making the work and that history as well as a deeper consideration of the meaning of the artwork. This deeper look will usually include either a brief overview of the artist’s previous artwork, history of exhibiting and may note the continuation or mark a change in direction in the new work. The catalogue essay may place the artist’s work into a larger context within the history of contemporary art and may even make reference to other works in the larger history of art.


Each writer should attempt to present their arguments in a way that reveals them to be aware and generous. While the writer should not feel obliged to praise the artist or the exhibition, the writing should be well researched and strive to present the positive aspects of the exhibition and art work. It is important to convince the reader that you are serious in your consideration and to refrain from being too flippant. Your purpose should be to contribute to generating thought and discussion around contemporary art while remaining respectful of the artist.

Before graduating from the Masters of Visual Studies: Curatorial Studies at the University of Toronto, Jennifer Rudder was Director/ Curator of Gallery Stratford, Executive Director of the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, Editor of MIX magazine and Director of YYZ Artists Outlet. Her graduate exhibition NATURAL HISTORY showed at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto and toured to Gallery Stratford in 2010. Rudder is Editor of the monograph Ordinary Marvel: Susan Kealey, published by YYZ Books in 2003. She served as contributing editor for the art publications MIX, Canadian Art, Fuse and Lola magazines. As an independent, Rudder has curated numerous exhibitions including Crime and Punishment for the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ontario which toured to Gallery 44 in Toronto and the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon. She is currently an independent curator and a lecturer at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Criticism and Curatorial Practice.

Art and Visual Perception

May 8, 2012

Books everywhere on art – in my studio, at home in my office, and in our common library collection.  Surprisingly, I have not read many for a few years, but keep them close by.  I picked up Rudolf Arnheim’s Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye, today, hoping to glean something from its 500 pages.

What attracts me, is the chapter on Shape, defined as;  ‘The physical shape of an object is determined by its boundaries- the rectangular edge of a piece of paper, the two surfaces delimiting the sides and bottom of a cone.”  What is interesting is his definition of perceptual shape.  Arnheim’s comment is,” perceptual shape, by contrast, may change considerably when its spatial orientation or its environment changes.  Visual shapes influence one another”.  He goes on to say that “perceptual shape is the outcome of an interplay between the physical object, the medium of light acting as the transmitter of information, and the conditions prevailing in the nervous system of the viewer.”  Wonderful, heady stuff.

I do know that in my artwork – especially in my later works, I am consumed by shapes.   My desire is to paint the shape of the triangle, for instance, in repetition, noticing how each shape interplays between the positive and negative shapes, the light and dark values, thus transmitting information to the viewer.  This information is still to be determined by my analysis; however, I believe that it achieves a semblance of architecture – building blocks which are both 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional, transparent and translucent.  I can choose how much of the shape I want to include, or distort, or omit.


Review CY

May 7, 2012

Sitting here, again without a focus.  Started to spring clean (easier than anything else) instead of going for a walk, preparing a nutritious high fibre meal, or taking a bath.  The thought of reviewing my goals seemed to be a good idea, so here I am.

So far, I have defined what I wanted to do using the 4 pillars.  I believe that I had made strides in most.  However, there is much more to do and I am getting somewhat overwhelmed.  I guess I could group #4 & 5 together (nutrition, exercise and TLC) but the other 2 stand on their own.  My emotional state and my intellectual state are absolutely individual so now I have 3 pillars – a triangle (my kind of shape!).

I did sign up for a 2 week “raw food diet and juice cleanse” which I will start on May 16th.  Hopefully, by June 1, I will have dealt with my “lazy bowel” so that  my body functions normally.  Also, I am looking at Maureen Hagan’s book called 6 weeks to a new body – a plan I did before and liked.  That program starts today!  Enough of this sitting around.  Balance is key to success with me.

Yesterday, I posted on re opening Betty Edwards book.  I find that it is inspiring for me – so my sketch book is open and ready for more entries a la Betty today.  However, the most important discovery is the ability to describe my work using the word “relationship”.  Triangulated Man is a strong piece with a lot of interaction among the triangular pieces, both large and small.  Here is another piece called Pilgrim:


Pilgrim is also an oil on aluminum piece which is approx. 40″ x 36″.  It is based on the same idea of Shapes in Motion, similar to Triangulated Man.  Again, the relationships of the shapes – angles to vertical and horizontals and sizes to each other.  This painting is based on a development of an idea:  no matter what the adversary, the goal is attainable.  This is in the mind’s eye, for me. To the audience, the image is interpreted or reinterpreted in their own mind.

The play of texture, negative space lines of separation, the symbols are of great importance in this painting. Its composition is very ordered, with careful arrangements of shape throughout the piece. The starting shape – triangle, is repeated over and over again, but each time with a different intensity.

Back to my clothes closet sorting, sketching, and cooking!  Where is the exercise??

Creative Year post #3 Edwards re opened

May 6, 2012

May 3

I have a need to get my life cleaned up – to simplify.  Throw out, wash up, clean, renew.  Spring thoughts, I guess. Being overwhelmed is a common feeling for me lately.  Perhaps, it is contributing to the “creative year”, by elimination of the mundane.
Yesterday, my day 2 of the CY, I opened up the book called “The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Workbook” by Betty Edwards.  I have used this book for teaching many times, but it was the first time that I concentrated on her Five Basic Skills of Drawing: 1. Perception of Edges; 2. The Perception of Spaces; 3.The Perception of Relationships; 4. The perception of Lights and Shadows; and lastly, 5. The Perception of the Gestalt.

Since I am studying LINE, I am enjoying going over her “guided practice” of this book.  How many times have I encouraged my students to do contours of their hands, their running shoes?  How many times have I asked a student to stand up in front of the class and pose in a motion – such as digging a ditch, or playing basketball?  The upside-down exercise is invaluable – a tool to use for my creative year.

So why am I interested in renewing Betty Edwards? I know that I will be looking at the format of my drawing surface differently – Edwards definition of format is: “The particular shape of a drawing surface (rectangular, square, triangular, etc; the proportional relationship of the length to the width of a rectangular surface.  Also, the relationships – “how the part of an artwork are organized and connected.  Also commonly known as Perspective and proportion:  the relationship of angles to vertical and horizontal and the relationship of sizes to each other”.  Here is Triangulated Man!  Check out the format and relationships of the definitions above:


May 2 Thoughts on My Creative Year

May 2, 2012

This is quite an amazing post:

I’m Sick Of Pretending: I Don’t “Get” Art | VICE



May 1 – new beginnings

May 1, 2012

Going in circles today – so many reference materials – where to start? The four pillars of my “creative year” are intellect, emotional stability, fitness and TLC, form a good foundation, but like the labyrinth, each step evokes new meaning and awareness – but can be overwhelming unless it is focused.

Intellectual Focus

I’ve noticed that my art work is  stripped of human and animal figures, more like landscapes or architecture. In order to understand this decision to be more design orientated.  I dusted off an old book called Exploring Visual Design, and I am refreshing myself on the elements of design:

Line:  Outline, Contour,Gesture, Blocking-in, Sketching, Calligraphy, Line as Direction, Line Personality, Line Variation.  Line also has structure, like Vertical and Horizontal Lines, Angled or diagonal lines, Curved Lines, Implied Lines.  Line also can be texture and pattern.

My mission today – to follow the projects outlined in this first chapter of the Exploring Visual Design book.

Emotional Focus

Fortunately, I have written my thoughts on pages, computer files, and sketch books over the years.  My work today is to go through a few of these entries and see if I am repeating unsuccessful patterns.

Nutrition Focus

Yesterday, on a friend’s recommendation, I made a drink using Kale, Pineapple, Chia, and Agave syrup.  It was so refreshing – as she says “like drinking spring” and I agree.  Today, I started out well with oatmeal, walnuts chia, and almond milk and blackberries.  What I want to do is to understand what these foods are – so for instance, curly kale is part of the cruciferous family, help to prevent breast and ovarian cancer.  The natural plant chemicals “stimulate detoxifying and repair enzymes i the body and suppress cancel cell division.  It also contains flavonoids, which are needed for healthy circulation.”  This wonder plant has B-vitamins, beta-carotene, vit. K and minerals including iron and zinc.  Great start!

TLC Focus

Does whitening my teeth count?  I did put some curl in my hair and I have used baby oil gel on my wrist injury.  I do need to go for a calming walk – just to get outside, although this day is somewhat dreary.