Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Feeling for a Place

Evening on the Arno, Oil/Cold Wax on panel, 24" X 30"

This piece has been on my painting wall for a week or so, and I knew it needed resolving.  I've spent a few days working on other things, all the while keeping my eye on it. This morning, I walked up to it and without any hesitation, placed some colour areas, drew some marks, and scraped back layers, mostly in the upper quadrants. I think it is complete.  In my mind, I have been remembering Florence, and long walks along the Arno in the autumn. That river seemed to change by the moment - so many images and feelings come to mind now. Perhaps they will appear in more new pieces.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


It's always interesting, and often a surprise, to witness how colours relate to one another. The painting on the left is an accumulation of several layers, applied intuitively, with the simple aim of putting down colour spaces and marks that are interesting and exciting to me.  Next comes the "middle part" of the process: keeping some areas, obliterating others, or maybe altering the orientation. The piece on the right is a composition of some gestural marks that may or may not survive. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Philip Guston Over My Shoulder

All it took was a brief video of Philip Guston talking about his meandering, pot-holed route from beginnings to near completion of his artworks to remind me that it is the journey I make with my art that is so satisfying. Frustrating, sometimes, but always something new and exciting eventually takes hold.  After a week of layering cool over warm, warm over cool, scraping, scratching, dark over light, light over dark, more texturing, dissolving with mineral spirits, etc., and repeating the processes, I declared these three pieces done!  The results are vastly different from where I began (landscapes?), but I  think of torsos as human landscapes.  I'll let them hang around for a few weeks before they can be deemed "done". Or are they ever completely "done"?

Three New Beginnings, after a week of transformation...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Three New Beginnings....

Three 16" X 16" panels that are awaiting a "breakthrough". I've been moving them around the house, and in diffferent configurations, looking for something; don't know what yet, but it will come to me.

Some areas are developing with many layers of oil and wax, scraping back, more layers, and scratchmarks.

Other areas have similar layers of oil and wax, with powdered pastel used for some subtle colour shifts. I can get caught up with my nose centimeters from the panel, realizing that I need to take a step back.

More mark-making with my favourite tools through the wax/oil layers.

The oil paint is setting up quite nicely, so I think that by tomorrow I will go in with some oil sticks, charcoal, graphite and more pastel. I want to explore some relationships between line and the colour fields.  Don't have any images in mind, but the lines should augment the colour and conflict with the shapes. Hmmm...sounds like a plan. By tomorrow though, the ideas will undoubtedly change, and something else will appear on the panels.  The work always seems to surprise me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Art Celebrations at Gallery 121

Four small acrylic/mixed media works on canvas (Little Vista series) that are exhibiting at Gallery 121, Belleville in the annual Christmas show, hanging until Jan. 7, 2012.  The popular Victorian Wall is full of smaller artwork of all the gallery members.

A mixed media work by Marie Timbers.

A portion of the Victorian Wall

Installation of  'Reclining Figure, Blue'.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Artists at Work in Florence

Strolling along the narrow streets of Florence, we found an abundance of antique shops, fine art galleries, art workshops, print shops.

These art students were hard at work, focussed on their drawing boards.  I had the urge to pull up a chair!  Perhaps another time.....

The front window of Il Tamarino, a fine art print shop.  There are many of these fine art ateliers in Florence, and we were lucky when we walked through these doors.

Sophia, co-owner of Il Tamarino, at work hand-watercolouring a fine art etching.  The printing press, with stacks of fine art papers, are on the left.

Owners Sophia and Pier made us a cup of tea while we tried to decide which small pieces we would take home with us on our bikes.  The walls, flat files and tables were filled with beautiful gems. Choosing was not an easy task.

What a special memory we will always have of Pier and Sophia at their fine art etching workshop/gallery!  We learned so much about their processes, and our time there cemented the respect we've always had for printmaking of all kinds.  A return visit in the future would be wonderful, and we hope that may happen.

Visit Sophia's and Pier's website:

Il Tamarino

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Work

I was relieved that I had left several pieces unfinished before we left for Italy in October.  It was easier to step into the studio and complete some work, gradually getting back into a routine.

Amusement - Oil/Cold Wax, on canvas, 11"x14"
  "Amusement", above is hanging in the November Show at the Belleville Art Association Gallery, 392 Front Street, Belleville, ON.

"Joyful" and "Fragments", below, are two smaller pieces hanging in the Christmas Show at Gallery121, 48 Bridge Street E., Belleville, ON

These galleries are co-operative ventures that keep the art scene in Belleville lively, and I am so proud to be a member in both.

Joyful, Oil/Cold Wax, on panel, 16" X 16"

Fragments, Oil/Cold Wax on canvas, 11" X 14"

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Gallery Hop in Florence

The artwork in small contemporary galleries is a contrast to the ancient, medieval and renaissance art that abounds in Florence. This is a small gallery that we enjoyed visiting regularly on our walks in the neighbourhood. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Heavy Metal, Italian Style

I've thrown coins into fountains for good luck, or with a promise to return, but this is the first time I've come across locks attached to railings.  We noticed this jumble of metal at the corner of the Ponte Vecchio - it was a tourist magnet (rivalling even the Duomo).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

In the Uffizi's Courtyard

  October is still a busy time in Florence, and there is ample opportunity to hear some beautiful classical music performed by buskers.   This fellow was part of a 3-person team that entertained visitors almost non-stop.  Every day when we strolled by, either he or one of his team would be playing their instruments, with full orchestration - karaoke style.

Street performers attract the tourist crowds, dressed as angels, or...

...dressed as golden Pharaohs.

We met a charming artist, Carlo Piagentini, hard at work like many others, outside the Uffizi, in the shelter of the courtyard.  The weather was showing signs, to him, that winter would soon be approaching , so by the end of the month he was planning to leave Florence to spend the winter in Argentina.  We just smiled, and strolled away in the warm sunshine with two small artworks that he had wrapped up for us.  You can visit his website at to see his lovely watercolours and acrylics.

Looking across the galeria, I noticed a small, tawny-coloured, furry critter laying on the stone step, with a large sign propped against the nearby pillar.  I feared the worst, but as we aproached, we couldn't help but smile.

This little guy was sound asleep, oblivious to the comings and goings of the tourist hordes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Tender, Thoughtful Moment

Wherever we travel, we always encounter brief instants that demonstrate the spontaneous kindness of humans.  Grand gestures may be important for media attention, but it's the small,  gentle, thoughtful moments that happen daily that have the greatest impact.  I love the slogan on this young woman's t-shirt, and she certainly lived up to the sentiment.  This scene unfolds at the Galleria degli Uffizi.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Florence Morning, Day 2, Oct. 5

Driving a car in Florence would be insane, but driving a scooter would be great fun!  Bonus: parking spots for scooters and motor cycles are free. Parking for cars is restricted.  Glad we have bikes, but for the next few days our mode of transport will be our feet.

 Love and art: what a great combination!

 Happy crowds on the Ponte Vecchio.

 Time for lunch already?  Caruso's Jazz Cafe was inviting, so we rested our feet, quaffed wine, and ate a hearty snack to fortify us for the afternoon.  The glass floor over the river rocks was intriguing, and little sculptures of jazz musicians and singers were tucked everywhere.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Arriving in Italy-Oct.4

Evening rowers on the Arno River.
 We've been back from Italy for more than a week. Getting settled into our regular routine has been a challenge: I'm still mentally in Italy, and plan to remain in that delightful state of mind for quite some time.  Several people have asked: Why Italy?  The answers are many: amazing art, breath-taking architecture, welcoming, friendly people, delectable food, glorious wines, vast landscapes, and hopefully, weather that is kind to two older cyclists.  We experienced all that we could ever have hoped for - and much more.

An example of original artwork adorning the walls of our Trattoria.
 We landed in Florence in the early afternoon, and slowly found our way to our lodgings in a palazzo in the Oltrarno, south of the Arno River.  We planned to stash our bikes for a few days, unwind, relax and enjoy this wonderful city on foot before heading south on our bikes.  The early evening light on the river is truly mesmerizing, and we never got tired of photographing the bridges. More than one person we've spoken to had the same feeling: that the river views were constantly changing, and more beautiful at each turn.  Whenever we got lost, we always headed for the river and inevitably found our bearings.  I can't think of any other place where getting lost was such a joy. 

A piece of artwork that has just sold to an American couple.

Nightfall arrives earlier in the autumn, so we found our way to a busy trattoria near the Ponte Vecchio, and sleepily devoured a pizza.  We couldn't help notice the Tuscan artwork on the walls, and soon realized a young American couple seated next to us were in the process of selecting one of the paintings to purchase.  It is quite common for artists to exhibit, and sell, their work in alternative venues in Italy, and it's encouraging to see an actual sale happen.

The happy art-buyers (foreground) after a satisfying dinner.
Strolling "home".
After eating the last crumbs of pizza, and drinking the last drops of Chianti, we walked the streets for another hour, unwilling to admit that we were completely jet-lagged, and that we should head for the comfort of our bed.  But the evening was too beautiful and balmy for that.  Besides, a gelato is mandatory on your first night in Italy, so we had to follow the good folks of Florence to the nearest outdoor gelateria to sample the creamy delight. 
The decorative ceiling of our 400 year old palazzo, our home in Florence.
Yes, we got lost with our melting gelatos in the narrow streets of the Oltrarno, but we eventually found our home-away-from-home, near the Ponte alla Carraia.  Tomorrow, our first full day in Florence.  For now: restful sleep.