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

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 :)

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!

On a charcoal kick.

I’m in the middle of working on my next shadow painting. I took my time sanding and priming 4 layers of gesso on a lovely 2 ft. by 3 ft. piece of masonite, but it wasn’t until I was done the first layer of the drawing that I realized I had used charcoal rather than paint. Apparently it wants to be a charcoal work. So far I’m pleased it; I’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I will be posting that one next week.

For now I have a quick charcoal study that I did after doing my painted self-portrait. I guess I did it because I got a lot of feedback that the painting that was very nice, but not quite “right”. My husband told me that in this one I had captured my likeness pretty much bang on and my response was that yes, I had captured my big ears, big nose, and stringy hair perfectly. Maybe that’s why it looks more like me. Maybe without meaning to I had idealized myself somewhat in the painted portrait. I’m looking at the charcoal study now and wondering if I did the opposite. Are my ears really that big? I think yes and no. Yes because they are pretty much that size, but no because I think I did a bit too much shading on them which actually draws attention to them.

I still love the painted portrait, even if it’s not a perfect likeness. And I am warming to this one. I didn’t like it at first, but I am starting to see that it just looks like me. I wish I could look like me without my glasses. They seem to have permanently altered my face so that now when I wear contacts it looks like my nose is missing something.

Self-portrait with green drapes.

This week I didn’t feel like working on any of the in-progress works I have going right now, so self-portrait it is!  And that’s all I really have to say about it.

I could pick it apart and go on and on about everything that’s not quite right (and I have already done so and deleted all of it), but instead I’m just going to say that it is what it is. I have done a lot of self-portraits in my life so far (and I will be doing a lot more) and most of them will probably never see the light of day.