Sharpie On.

Self-portrait in Nextfest shirt, Jan. 2015, coloured sharpie on paper

Yesterday morning the Roxy theatre in Edmonton, Alberta burned down. All day I was reminded of those summer days when I was living in Edmonton and attending University; and of when I was selected for the poster art for the Nextfest arts festival in 2003, which was run out of the Roxy. I realized that the last place I saw my 3 paintings, after they were purchased for the poster art, was hanging in the stairwell going to the second level of the Roxy. I don’t know if they were still there, or packed away, or long gone, but that doesn’t really bother me. I remember how obsessed I used to be with archival quality, and making things last. There was an urgency about everything, and everything felt like a big deal. That Dayna would never have believed that one day she would be making art with sharpies. Maybe I am getting old, or my values have changed, or maybe I am finally starting to not care so much about things that don’t really matter. Or maybe I have realized that I probably won’t ever “make it”–at least not in the way that I used to think I would.

I was reading through blogs that I follow, catching up with everything I missed the last month, and one blogger/writer, Christian Mihai, wrote:

“What people never seem to understand is that success it’s not about never failing. It’s about not quitting. It’s about keeping at it, regardless of the consequences.” (read the post here).

I keep coming across this sentiment, maybe because it speaks to me right now. It’s hard to keep going when you don’t seem to be getting anywhere, when everything you do seems mundane and a bit pointless, but doing nothing is right out of the question. Even talking like this about myself seems a bit pointless when there are 15 people from the Roxy who are out of the job, and a major venue for the Edmonton arts scene is gone.

There is almost too much going on in the world that I can’t think about. I feel guilty posting happy little paintings when there are major world events happening that should be taking precedence, but I just don’t know what to do. I am torn between letting it all get to me and doing nothing, or trying to contribute something good to the world in the best way I know how.

Another blogger/writer, Shawna Lemay, once included this quote by Gertude Stein, and it has been above my studio desk ever since:

“The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.”

So I will keep at it–this is my job–and I think I just at this moment fully understand the recent success of the “Keep Calm” meme.

Nextfest brochure 1Nextfest brochure 2Nextfest brochure 3

First You Take a Rainbow Monkey Sweater…

Poppy in her Monkey Sweater, Feb. 2014, watercolour on paper (3)Poppy in her Monkey Sweater, Feb. 2014, watercolour on paper (4)

So I’m back! I am going to start doing my weekly posts again because otherwise I do absolutely nothing, as I have discovered. It may not always be watercolour so I think I will just call them weekly posts instead of Watercolour Wednesdays. And to start I’m cheating a little because I did this one a few months ago and wasn’t happy with it, but I need to just get back into doing posts and Wednesday keeps coming around and I have nothing new so I am just going to start posting. Though I don’t know why I feel it always needs to be something new–it’s my blog so in theory I can do whatever my heart desires…

Anyway, I liked the looseness of the watercolour but I got hung up on the fact that it doesn’t look like my daughter. I had wanted to do some portraits of my daughter but it is too difficult to get her to sit for me so I used a photo for it. I don’t like working from photos, I find it harder to “capture” the person or whatever it is I am painting, so I might need to practise this. BUT THEN just for fun I included a couple cropped versions of the painting, because I always love looking at close-ups of paintings, and I liked the crops far better than the original. I just want to do a giant watercolour of that first crop of her ponytail and sweater! I also find this interesting because I just cleaned and reorganized my studio again and in my studio purge I had torn up some ugly watercolour paintings to throw out, and then noticed that some of the torn bits were actually really nice little watercolours in and of themselves, so that is what my studio bulletin board is filled with now–cropped pieces of discarded watercolours. And also I just had my aunt asking about an old watercolour on my blog–which was a bit of an experiment for me trying to do a large-scale abstract watercolour (it was 30 inches by 40 inches) and keep that watercolour style brushwork. And I actually didn’t put together that there was a connection in these things until I started writing this post, but there it is–I want to zoom in on these smaller parts of the watercolours and work with them for a bit–make them bigger and explore the mark-making. It all seems so clear to me now. All of this is leading somewhere, although I haven’t actually done anything… yet. And just like that I am super excited about art again. It sure took me long enough…

Poppy in her Monkey Sweater, Feb. 2014, watercolour on paper

Large Reflection Watercolour, Feb. 2013, watercolour on paper 30 x 40

KAPOW! Comic Book Dayna!

I’m reading a lot of comics lately. Decided to try something comic-bookish with my watercolour this week. It seems like a natural progression. For this I first did a sketch of myself in the mirror and outlined it with a sharpie. Then because it was on such thick sketchbook paper I decided to scan it and do a printout of it so I could trace it lightly onto watercolour paper. Then I did the watercolour of myself, in the mirror again, and lastly I outlined it with black watercolour paint and a very fine brush. It was fun. The eyes aren’t quite right–to look like me that is, they do look very comic bookish. And for some reason I always get the bottom half of my face right but not the top, so there the bottom half is me, the top half not so much. But all together it’s a nice comic book style Dayna :)

“I’m not fat like you are Mommy.” Hmmm…I think she means “big”.

It’s back to painting from life this week. My four-year old and I spent the day in the yard with the kiddie pool and ice teas. We were both doing some painting and she agreed to sit for me to paint her. She is getting really good at sitting for me–she held this pose for what seemed like a very long time although it was probably only about ten minutes. It was still a long time for a four-year old and just long enough for me to get it all down without overworking it.

She informed me a couple of times during the process that I had “painted her too fat” and that she was not fat like I was. Until today I had thought that her recent focus on being fat came from the Three Billy Goats Gruff book we’ve been reading where the goats just want to get to the greener grass so they can “eat and eat and eat, and get fat”, but now I’m not so sure… Though for the record, she was right and my proportions were a bit off (you can see where I thinned her waist down a bit on the right side). As for the rest of it, I think I’m going to just take it as her meaning that I am bigger than her ;)

(I’m still doing Watercolour Wednesdays and this is my Watercolour Wednesday post, but I’ve decided to drop the “Watercolour Wednesday” from the post titles; it was starting to get a bit monotonous after doing a full year of them… Instead I’ve added a Watercolour Wednesday Category on the blog that I’ll be adding them to.)

Watercolour Wednesday — Keeping your pre-schooler busy for ONE hour.

This is a study I did of my daughter painting. It was great because it kept her entertained for a full hour, and also painting her has gotten much easier since she is now getting really good at holding a pose for me. (The photo is actually after she was done her paintings–she was just posing for me at this point).

Though as still as she was she never kept her hands in the same position (perhaps too much to ask of a 4-year-old?), so the hands are the only part I’m really not happy with.

Watercolour Wednesday — Comic book Dayna (as opposed to Manga Dayna)

First post of 2012! I thought I was going to miss today, which would not be such a great way to start the year, but last night in the wee hours I finally made myself sit and paint. My husband pointed out that the style of this one looks a lot like comic book illustrations. I guess it’s hard not to make a watercolour portrait life-study look comic-bookish. That is, if you want to keep the graphic quality of the paint pooling which seems to be much of the point to watercolour. For me anyway.

There are older and fouler things than wearing orange and black (in the deep places of the world). Bad posture, for one…

All I think of when I look at this painting is a time when I was in junior high school and I wore a pair of orange and black camouflage tights to church. A church member told me that orange and black together were Satanic and I wasn’t to wear them again. And me being the super anxious and timid person that I was, I did not wear the tights again; I didn’t even keep them. I’m still a super anxious and timid person, but I can tell I’m getting old because I’m starting to care less about what people think. Just a bit. It sometimes feels like I’m becoming a very hard person, but the difference probably isn’t even noticeable. I mean look how happy I am! In Satan’s colours no less! The only thing glaringly bad in this painting is my posture. Though in my defense I was sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the mirror to paint this one. Not a good idea in retrospect. It took me five nights to do the painting and it gave me an aching back.

So anyway, this is my new self-portrait. Evil Dayna. Mwhahaha! Enjoy!