A while back I read a tiny gem of a book by filmmaker David Lynch, Catching the Big Fish. His writing at first seemed deceptively childlike in its simplicity, but I realized that the way it’s written offers time to digest his unique thinking process. His famous ‘weird’ perspective, along with comments about how he ‘captures ideas’ is stimulating reading. It reminded me of classes at Ryerson University where I studied motion pictures in first year before...
‘A room of my own…” and be in it, quietly.
Talking with artist and writer friends about making sufficient time to create, I thought I’d write about what I’m up to this month. People automatically translate living on an island as I do into the ultimate quiet space to create. That can be true...
'R o a d T r i p: a p a p e r t r a i l'
Exhibition Opens - T u e s d a y J u n e 7 - J u n e 3 0
Artist's reception - S a t u r d a y J u n e 11 2:00 - 4:00 Upper Gallery
If you can, drop by the gallery. It would be great to see you!
I pack light in terms of creative materials when I travel...
There is something about the adventure of jumping in the car; the spontaneity of taking that next turn in the road, the freedom to stay in a place a bit longer….
When I am away from the studio some basics get stuffed into my travel bag: a very old, tiny metal Winsor & Newton watercolour box, a couple of brushes, some conté, paper and always, a camera. Painting en plein air isn’t part of my practice. Wandering around a location that draws me in...
Exhibition: J u n e 7 - 30, 2016 Winchester Galleries, Victoria
Artist Opening: S a t u r d a y J u n e 11 2:00 - 4:00 Upper Gallery
A high clerestory window in my bedroom provides a view of tall fir trees. Hanging on to moss covered bluffs, winter winds often buffet these trees every which way. I’ve written in past posts about my early morning thought process that happens before the rest of the world wakes up and I rush headlong into my day. For the past couple of years, as I lay awake and watch one group of branches – they’ve become the perfect, huge, shape of a rabbit’s head. Flopping ears and talking mouth. I’ve become quite attached to the creature. As the head moves I imagine how I’d draw this angle or that. Lately things have changed; branches have grown or fallen off. I’ve been forcing that rabbit head to remain but no, it’s pretty well history. My history. Yesterday morning when I opened one eye…
Winchester Galleries' show 'The Winter Exhibition, An Exquisite Collection of Small Works' has just opened. In the Dream of Dawn is one of my watercolour/mixed media paintings in the show. Drop by when you're out doing your holiday shopping, it's a treat of a gallery.
November 28 - December 23, 2015
My watercolours don’t get out much. They mostly hang around the studio while I work on larger paintings...but Winchester Galleries is featuring my work on paper during their Canadian Modern show November 3 - 18 at their Oak Bay location.
These paintings play an important roll in my daily studio practice, much of it on a subconscious level. They are a direct yet meditative way to play out on paper new ideas and directions I’m considering. Each watercolour represents moments...
Creating with Fiona Duthie this past year on our two shows has been one of pushing individual boundaries. Our conversations were most often about making. Although we are image-makers using completely different mediums, the similarities in what we were both saying helped us pull together a cohesive story that became SHIFT. Concepts tumbled out from the inspiration of each other’s work, in fact there were more ideas than...
My collaborative exhibition SHIFT exploring layers of perspective with sculptural feltmaker Fiona Duthie from last summer's show on Salt Spring Island has been accepted for a Vancouver exhibition at the Seymour Art Gallery in Deep Cove. Our newest work from the series will be part of this year's show. Gallery's comments are below on my blog. Click Read More.
It would be great fun if you drop by the opening!
Save The Date!
Seymour Art Gallery
Dates: July 8 to August 8th
Artist Talks: Sunday July 12th 2 pm, Reception following
Reading Susan Cain’s book "Quiet The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking" I wondered about how the role of personality or mood shapes my own paintings. Also, how colour itself presents a painting to the world...
Walking on one of those beaches that go forever in Oregon last fall, we struck up a conversation a man who turned out to be almost completely blind. He spent much of the day flying large, beautiful kites. He had a special routine with everything in it's place, strings tied to his backpack so he could follow the strings and...
click below to see photos and the painting that evolved from this afternoon.
This morning offered a pale pink and yellow hint of the day as I lay in bed mentally rummaging through images. Rummaging and reading happens when I want to change subject matter or how I’ll depict it. This past winter I was spending more time than I’d like to admit at the ‘lost’ stage in the studio. I’d show up daily and paint through the dark questions. Then often paint ‘over them’. (there’s history under all those layers!) Now notes, articles and scribbles in journals lay around the studio. Colour-combo swatches that sing to me are pinned on the walls. New music is playing… I’m looking at paintings as they evolved over this past year. I can see traces of my intentions already appearing in each painting.
So what’s inspiring me right now?
A few photos from the Easter weekend exhibition on Salt Spring Island. 5 Women In Abstraction was the first show after winter... everyone ethusiastically comes out or even flys in, for the beginning of the arts season on Salt Spring. It was a terrific evening! For more pics....
On Easter Weekend I'm participating in a new exhibition with four other artists who also explore abstraction in paint, wax or clay. Four painters and a potter!
Easter is the kick off for everything art-related on Salt Spring Island, BC, one of North America's most highly regarded small arts communities.
Dates and times below...with more on the tour here:
Avenue Magazine's ad for my two-person exhibition with landscape artist Micheal Thiesson at Bugera Matheson Gallery, in Edmonton.
The show launches the gallery's spring season, and is my debut at the gallery. I'll be in Edmonton at the opening...click read more for times.
February 28 - March 14
'Out of the Blue' (click for painting details) is one the new paintings I've been working on this past winter. My exploration of the natural environment continues but with a more intimate focus on a cellular level.
If you are unable to visit the gallery, this and other paintings from the exhibition will be...
Continuing my thoughts on drawing from my September post, these recent diptychs explore the role of writing within a painting. Originally hinged multiple panels called diptychs (or triptychs, polyptychs) were popular during the 15th and 16th centuries. They consisted of several panels and were viewed as “illuminating each other and comprising a distinct work of art from the individual parts”. Today diptychs are more often painted as one overall painting and usually not hinged.
I gave myself the challenge of painting each panel so that...
Here is what's happening at Edmonton's Gallery Walk this weekend.
Studio news! I’m delighted to now be represented by Bugera Matheson Gallery in Edmonton.
This is one of the pieces on it’s way to the gallery called ‘Outside Looking In’. It continues the theme of looking intimately at nature; taking things in on a cellular level rather than the long view. A painting that just...
The serene gallery space at Green Raven on Salt Spring Island is where a small paper trail of my watercolours is now showing. I enjoy working in this medium along with gouache, ink, conté…whatever ends up on the paper. Afterwards I think there is...
“Drawing, as a form of mark-making, came first in human experience, even before song.” sculptor David Smith
I’ve just read ‘Drawing is Thinking’ by American graphic designer Milton Glaser. What a perfect title! His book is timely with the resurgence of interest in works on paper. Every culture has used drawing as a form of communication, from cave drawings to graffiti. Drawing is part of everyone’s life. Most of us...
Driftwood Newspaper Article on the exhibition SHIFT exploring layers of perception.
Once in a while a collaboration comes together the way the artists imagine.
The exhibition SHIFT exploring the layers of perception has achieved that coming together where both artists are satisfied after months of intense work. Here is a sense of this show, up for the rest of July if you are able to see it in person. Click on read more below and see more photos of the exhibition.
Seems to be a 'two for one' month for those of you who receive my newsletters. I have this overwhelming need to wrap some extra words around the thought process behind the pieces in my new exhibition SHIFT - exploring layers of perception. There has been debate forever about whether an artist needs to say anything at all about their work, or just let people look and decide for themselves. Artist’s are definitely on either side of the fence on this one. Bear with me this time...
Working on the statement for my summer show on Salt Spring Island. It's been inpiring working together for the first time with fibre artist Fiona Duthie...
Barbra’s current work explores the dialogue between one form and another. She uses line to suggest movement, substance, or layers of perspective; what used to be or what exists in the present. In some paintings...
My sincere thanks to Herbalist and Homepathic doctor Seraphina Capranos for posting this article about my interest in all things herbal on a recent blog. Seraphina is known throughout BC and beyond for her wisdom of herbal health-healing. My love of the plant world has expanded through her teachings. Those of you who know my paintings likely see
Returning from eastern Canada, I've just piled my memories on the table and am sorting through them. This past winter I hit the proverbial artist’s ‘block’. I don’t remember ever having a block that lasted that long. It’s a soul-searching experience for an artist. I brought it on myself. There was a long list of what I wanted to achieve in the coming year as an artist. This was not about ‘maybe’s’ but ‘I will achieve’ this and that… fair enough until the FREEZE. Nothing was happening in the studio. Colours, canvases, brushes, sketches, photographs - nothing felt right.
One of the things I most admire about the Mexican art I’ve seen these past few years is the subject matter. Or perhaps how the the subject matter is handled. For many artists there is no fear in taking on what has crucial meaning for them. They tackle their culture, politics, religion, sex, personal experiences in their daily lives. Artist’s in other countries do the same yet there is an intensity in much of the Mexican art that just feels different. It’s their street stories. It’s anger at how a country (their’s and others) is run. These stories feel very personal. They have impact as you stand before
At the beginning of each school year there was always the excited anticipation of new books and scribblers. The paper seemed too perfect, too fresh to fill immediately with words. Then we plunged in and soon the scribblers were filled with assignments. The act of painting has that similar anticipation as I face the white canvas, visualizing for a heartbeat what will appear, then letting go as the brush touches surface. I do a lot of thinking in the studio, not so much when I paint but it’s more to do with “showing up at the page”. My creative brain knows as I step through the door...
Currently my paintings are part of a group exhibition at Canadian Fine Arts in Toronto called FROM YESTERDAY TO TOMORROW, CANADIAN MASTERS + EMERGING ARTISTS. One of my pieces ‘History of Lover’s’ in oil, 36 x 42” hangs beside Leon Bellefleur’s ‘Nids d’aube’ at the gallery.
I just returned from seeing KIMSOOJA Unfolding at the Vancouver Art Gallery. This is the first retrospective of the thirty year career of the Korean-born, Paris/NY-based artist. I wasn’t expecting the emotional response I had to the exhibition. It was a tactile, intelligent, visually explosive presentation of her concepts.
Adventure stimulates one’s sensibilities. It wasn’t a wild adventure I was recently on, but simply being engaged with life on a road trip to the Okanagan. I photographed the BC landscape as it shifted from ocean to mountains, desert and farmland. In awe, I think “all of this in one province!” Click here on Spotted Lake to read more about this magical lake we came upon.
Back in my studio I’m absorbing not only colour palette but what is paintable and what can remain unpainted. Although it’s landscape
The chaos of my island studio has been calmed and simplified; canvas frames stored, books piled in some kind of order, bits and pieces of ideas on paper filed...I can actually see the corners of my studio again. My friend and mentor Harold Klunder arrives next week to teach a Master Class to thirteen painters here at my island studio. I’m delighted to have Harold here as his experience and insight is a treasure trove with which...
I am delighted to now be working with Toronto gallery, Canadian Fine Arts, and be in the company of some fine artists there. My studio is strewn with packing materials as I organize shipping from west to east. This is one of the group of paintings being packed up.
...may not have a lot to do reality. As a painter and photographer I often live in this visual ‘other world’. These cherry blossom branches have wrapped around the trunk of a Birch tree transforming themselves into an exotic new variety that doesn’t exist! To my eye the sum of their parts has become more beautiful.
Abstraction in painting often undergoes a similar transformation. This scene which I quickly shot with my phone camera, immediately triggered some fabulous visual ideas. Form, rhythm, contrast... Back in my studio I shift
That slow sensuous spring we Gulf Islands usually have just went wildly into high gear. With temps in the high 20‘s (low 80’s F if you are reading this in the U.S. ) it feels like summer full on. Bit of a shock not only for humans but for our plant friends as well.
A while back my painting ‘Looking At The Overlooked’ had sold at a show on Salt Spring Island. The painting was traveling elsewhere and I’d offered to deliver it. This was the first time I’d ever delivered a painting to a residential home with an elevator!
Recently I had the opportunity to go back and view where this piece now hangs. I’m pleased to have my work in this home which is based on Frank Lloyd Wright’s principles of
Since my last gallery show of paintings using cold wax and oil, both clients and other artists are asking lots of questions! One of the unique characteristics of this medium is the ‘finish’ of the painting. It actually is real bee’s wax that gives a matt-waxy glow to the work, a texture people seem fascinated with. Some painters buff up (completely dried) paintings to bring up a sheen. I leave my pieces as they are, enjoying the depth created by the waxy oil. You can see some of these paintings right here on this site. To find out more about this medium you can read about
Talisman Books + Gallery has just announced the grand opening of their new gallery space on Pender Island, BC. I’m delighted to have been invited to exhibit my solo show 'Forest Decoded' for their launch from February 15 till March 14, 2013. Opening Reception is on Saturday, February 16, 2013 1 - 3 pm
Wrapped around and in between the everyday painting of my larger pieces is the work I do in my sketch and painting books. This watercolour was used to work out some spacial issues I was considering, combined with a fresh colour palette that appealed to me. These loose paintings feel similar to writing words in a journal. They bring me back to a kind of fluid, primitive mark-making.
We’ve just returned from a adventurous road trip; down the coast of the U.S. through Washington, Oregon and California. The third party on the trip was our Standard Poodle, who unfortunately will not be invited again. That is a whole other story, but suffice to say she hates to travel by car!
I am proud and so excited to be one of the artists invited to create works of art inspired by the Children’s Forest on Cortes Island, BC. The Forest Trust has been formed to purchase approximately 600 acres of ecologically significant lands there and place them in trust to the children of Cortes, in perpetuity.
After many years of obsessively painting forest, I’m wanting to shift, to find a depth in my creative language. That was on my mind when I was invited to participate in a very special retreat with my ‘old mentor' Harold Klunder. As one gallery owner recently said to me, “it’s rare that a painter of his stature teaches”.
This passion I have with oil paint is about it’s glorious texture, and unique ability to transform into something surprisingly alive as it drys. (unlike acrylic for example, which is after all only plastic) However I’ve been wanting to stretch out and push in new directions. Some kind of change was needed, yet I was reluctant to leave my true love; oil.
With completion of some terrific design work from the team at Hermani + Sorrentino Design, my new web site has now gone 'live'. The language of painting is one thing, now comes the challenge of the written word to communicate something about my work, my process, my inspiration. If you spend time on my site, bear with me as the beginnings of my random thoughts fall happily onto the screen.
The latest issue of Aqua magazine has just 'hit the news stands'. It has an indepth article on my work. Woohoo! I'm one happy camper. I've been reading this well published magazine for the past six years; actually since I moved to the Gulf Islands. Their articles are of genuine interest and showcase the wealth of fascinating and creative folk who are tucked away in this part of Canada. (by the way I said this before I was in the mag!)
The landscape in Santa Fe and Taos where I've just visited was as magnificent as I'd heard it was. The blue sky that goes on forever, the intense red hills surrounded by gold and dusted, muted greens is fabulous a sight for an artist to take in.
Abstraction is connected to who you are...it’s partly about allowing yourself to disappear into the painting and not worry about what we call reality. For this latest series of paintings, I’ve found myself within the interior of the woods. The paintings are figurative yet abstract. It’s a changeable journey on any given day in my studio.
It took the better part of a day working with Showcase Gallery director Helen Mears to hang my show, in spite of her comment that "this show just hung itself". Her curating skills were superb at merging the three-dimensional assemblages by Salt Spring Island basket-maker Debbie Magnusson as they twisted and contorted below my paintings.
Nothing like an upcoming show to get me focused in the studio. From visual meandering about, to exploring various subjects and mediums, then all of a sudden woohoo! it's time to get my thinking on canvas! My proposal for a show entitled 'In the Skin of the Forest' was accepted a while back by the SSAC (Salt Spring Arts Council). The opening will take place at ArtCraft on Salt Spring Island, B.C. this coming September.
After the holidays I spent a leisurely afternoon wandering through the architectural beauty of the Museum of Anthropology at UBC in Vancouver, B.C. This world renowned museum has recently undergone a major renovation and on this particular day their collection of Northwest totems, Haida houses and carvings were incredibly inspiring in the sun-filled main hall.