Why can’t I share my gift?

A friend from work passed away just over a week ago. He was younger than me–only 32. I thought I knew him fairly well, even though I was just getting to know him. But now I feel like I did not know him at all.

There were sides to him that I knew nothing about–he had a radio show on the local college radio station, that I knew nothing about. It was all pre-WWII music, all 78rpm records. I have been listening to it now, and I am in awe that he left such a legacy. That he was able to share his passion with the world. I still can’t believe he’s gone. It feels like he is just on vacation. Anytime I think about it I cry.

I have never quite figured out how to share my paintings with the world in any meaningful way. Did Jeff ever feel his radio show was pointless? I don’t know. I feel like I am only doing half an assignment. I go out and I paint, but I can’t get further than that. I am trying to remember back to my University days–what the next step is.

I missed the memorial they had for him at the King Eddy in Calgary–I had pre-booked a mini vacation for my family in Drumheller that week. So I went to Drumheller and I did a watercolour there and I thought about the stupid randomness of life and of who lives and dies.

I apologise for the bleakness of this post. I have not figured anything out.

I’m a little bit like a 74-year-old man. YAY!

David Hockney, July 4 2009 sunrise drawing (on iPad)

David Hockney was a guest on Q (a CBC Radio One show) a few weeks ago talking about his iPad art with Jian Ghomeshi. A few things he said really struck me. The first was when he was asked if he thought the screen would replace the canvas. He said that he hated the screen, that it was like looking into a void and that he preferred rooms without any T.V. at all. I guess I had a notion that he was so tech savvy and forward thinking with his art that he would be against anything “old-fashioned”. I’m comforted that he is more like-minded to myself than I had thought. I’m not really surprised that I would identify with a 74-year-old man, though I really shouldn’t have been surprised that he as an artist would still value real paintings over technological gadgets, and flower still life and sunrises as subject matter.

Another thing that struck me was when he was asked about accessibility not being a motivator with his iPad art. (Early on in the interview he had said that the biggest motivator for his iPad drawings was that they were gifts for his friends. That that was why he did them and that was why he kept doing them, but that is primarily what he saw them as). He responded that he doesn’t really care about being accessible, that he just wants to work quietly. That made me happy—I am not quite as backwards as I thought.

What he said about a “shift in power” was also very interesting; about how technology is bringing power to people through the control and distribution of imagery. David Hockney compared it to the centuries when the church was in power, but I went to a lecture here in Calgary two months ago where Calgary artist Jeff de Boer was talking about technology moving the shift in power from the commercial galleries to the artist. Both David Hockney and Jeff de Boer called it a revolution. These are exciting times to be an artist indeed!

Here’s a link to the podcast of the interview if you’re interested (the David Hockney section starts at about 29 minutes in):


Watercolour Wednesday — Corners.

I did this one on Sunday in the Studio space that I am sharing with a group of others. It’s the corner of the studio by the window. I love it; it reminds me a bit of David Hockney‘s room studies, though perhaps that’s more because I’ve been reading a lot on him lately.

I’m a bit discouraged right now with my art. I noticed that this is the third Watercolour Wednesday post in a row which means that I haven’t done any other painting in three weeks. I have writer’s block, but for painters. Is that called painter’s block? Whatever it is, I’ve hit a wall. I feel like there is something massive that I have completely missed and now I’m just floundering. Like I turned a wrong corner or missed an advert on a bulletin board somewhere and now I am on a totally different life path where I absolutely should not be. I go to my studio and end up just sitting there, pondering as if I’m trying to remember someone’s name.

David Hockney blew my mind twice today.

I’ve been reading about David Hockney. I am enthralled by his sketches. I was looking at his sketch studies for paintings and comparing them to his final paintings and my preference is still for the life studies. It got me thinking though, about my reflections, and it suddenly occurred to me that I should be doing quick sketch studies of them as well as photographing them. I did a couple sketches of some morning reflections on the entry wall and it was good—the light changed very quickly and, as fast as I am, the reflections had completely changed over the course of a couple of minutes so I photographed them as well.

This all also got me thinking back to my years at University and shaking my head at the young, hot-headed Dayna who tried to exist and paint outside of the art world. I ignored so much of it; so many lost years! I think I am now where I should have been in my first year at University. Now I am open to everything around me and soaking it all up and trying new things and thinking constantly about my art. Oh well, I guess it’s better late than never.

Then in the Drawing Club at work we were discussing David Hockney and his Hockney–Falco thesis which, true to form, I had missed entirely. This theory suggests that Renaissance painters used camera obscura and light boxes to make images which they then traced. Essentially that they used photographic techniques, pre-photograph. This blew my mind. The whole hierarchy of painting would be in question if this is how they worked. The pinnacle of the painting world worked from projected images??  My whole prejudice for life painting over using photographs would also seem rather pointless. I guess I need to remember that I am not trying to be a photo-realist, but rather I am more influenced by the Impressionists and capturing moments and moods. For me it may be less about using photographs as source material, and more about my hang up with the “finished” work of art. I am always trying to loosen up and not focus on the length of time something takes to do as a measure of how complete or incomplete it is.

16. Untitled, 27 June 2009_iPhone drawing © David Hockney

Then in reading about Hockney for this post I got sidetracked by all his iPad drawings. Phenomenal works. It’s interesting how he did something that so many people are doing, but he took it to the next level and made it into “high art” in the way he did it. He made it into a project—he did a still life every morning and then immediately e-mailed it out to his friends. He talked about the immediacy of working in this way, having everyone see what he was working on almost as he was doing it. He has already bypassed blogging.

All this with David Hockney does make me think though. It makes me think about Galileo theorizing that the sun was actually the centre of the solar system and not the Earth. I’m that kind of blown away.

Here’s a good article about his iPad drawings, if you’re interested:


It’s Go time.

February 23, 2011

Very, very stressed this week. Suddenly there’s too much to do and not enough time and all the deadlines are looming. I am in the midst of applying for a few art-show and artist-member opportunities and all the deadlines are within a week of each other. And my husband is in his own la-la land of no-sleep as he prepares for an event he is helping run on the weekend and therefore not able to act as my sounding-board. GAH!

I had actually envisioned this post as being more of an announcement once I heard back on all the submissions, but who am I kidding? I know that I need to take a break from editing jpegs and artist statements and biographies but I couldn’t decide if I should watch a movie or take a bath and I’m actually a bit too stressed to do either. I can’t stop my brain right now. I’m having a glass of wine to calm the nerves a bit but all I can think is that I only have TWO days! And now I’m thinking that posting this might jinx it all and I won’t actually get in any of the shows or groups and I’ll feel retarded next week. Breathe Dayna breathe. There will always be more calls for submissions and more opportunities and then I will be ready, right? Right.

March 10, 2011

Still waiting to hear back on anything I applied for. I finally went ahead and did a regular blog post today. I had such high hopes for this post but waiting for news to finish this post would mean not getting a post done all month. I’ve been going back and forth between daydreaming that I get everything I applied for and depression that I get nothing. I guess it may not be realistic to get everything I apply for after a 7 year break in my art career. The important thing is that I’ve made the decision to go for it and if I don’t get in for what I apply for at first I will just keep applying elsewhere. I had thought I could only justify the title of this post if I got into everything at once with one fell swoop, but it actually doesn’t matter whether I get any of it or not. I’ve nailed down my artist statement and gotten back into the swing of things and I’m not going to turn back now. I have a plan and a purpose as an artist and I know what my life was like the past 7 years without that. I love my life, don’t get me wrong, but I need to do this.

The quote from my day-planner this week:

“The vital, successful people I have met all had one common characteristic—they had a plan.”

Marilyn Van Derbur, activist (1937 – )

March 20, 2011

So I finally heard back from the first show that I had submitted to. None of my pieces were chosen. And though I know that this was the first thing I’ve applied to in years and it isn’t really reasonable to expect to get in right off the bat, I’m still sad about it. I have learned from this to NOT frame up the pieces before they’re chosen if I have any desire to make money at this at all. On the bright side they look really nice in the guest room in their (Ack!) custom frames.

I have to admit that this morning I was trying to explain to my husband how frustrated I was that it seems that no one sees the potential in me and I said: “I’m just so frustrated that…that I have to…to work so hard to get people to see it!” To which he replied “There it is!”. So I guess I’ll have to work harder. One thing that I may need to do is start “showing my hand”. I never want to talk about my projects before they’re done because I want all the drama of the reveal when it comes together. I want to knock people’s socks off and have them say that they thought I was just doing little landscapes. The problem with that is that in the mean-time all people can see are the little landscapes. I have to start talking about where I’m going with things. I have to submit “in-progress” photos and talk up all the great ideas in my head. I might also have to suck it up and actually share my artist statement with the world—perhaps even on my blog! This all makes me anxious. I think this is enough for one week.