Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mary Wood at Canopy Restaurant

Mary Wood is one fire cracker of a visual artist and a dearly loved teacher, an instructor and a mentor . She is currently showing some of her latest works at the Canopy restaurant in Alliston. Pictured here at the opening reception with Mary are the president of the South Simcoe Arts Council Nancy Williams (center) and Janet Clayson,a member of SSAC and a strong supporter of all arts in our community (right). The Canopy Restaurant is a spacious, new venue -with a great menu....and large empty walls that the owners call The Big Sky Art Gallery. The intention is to feature a new artist every six weeks. All artists, rejoice!
Mary 's show is the second one in the series, Catherine Cadieux, -another local powerhouse of a painter, was the first one.

These two large canvases were born from the images that Mary collected during her recent trip to Scotland. She is also a brilliant storyteller, so -listen up: WHATEVER her topic happens to be, -visual or verbal, you can be be sure that the story has substance and something to teach you.
Mary certainly keeps her eyes open; in Glasgow she collected all kinds of "visual treasures" right from the streets, -mainly just observing the debris that people had left behind. The story is hilarious and leaves you laughing; you just never know what might inspire the artistic eye!
These two are large 48"x48" acrylic paintings on canvas, consequently titled "Glasgow 4, Orange and Blue" and "Glasgow 6 ,Blue and Orange."

These two pictures are my humble attempt to deliver some detail of the surface....as you can see, the best thing you can do is to make a trip to the restaurant and study these close up. The texture is really quite yummy.

Here is a view of the front dining area with the Glasgow paintings in the back ground. On the very far left you'll find another large piece titled "Egress". This one is a multimedia, acrylic on canvas 60"x48".
The last three pictures on this blog are details of the surface of that painting: you'll discover how Mary fearlessly combines painting , drawing and decoupage.

This is one TALL room! I apologize for the darkness of this photo, I wanted to include it so that you can get some idea of the vastness of this display space. The Canopy restaurant has a nice, long bar area, a good place to sit down, enjoy a beverage and study some art. You can really see that Mary's paintings have a lot of power and strength; they certainly deliver through/over/above any distance and visual competition. These paintings are all acrylic on canvas, clockwise titled "Remote" 48"x48"( If you are looking for THE STRONG, SILENT TYPE, -this would be IT! :), "Cytoblast" 48"x36" and "Patriot" 48"x48".

Here is a close up of the "Patriot" in the bottom of the previous picture above. These images Mary composed after meditating over the shapes she saw in the bundle of her KEYS! Look closely and you'll discover a car remote surrounded by the flowing negative and positive spaces around it. Such confident use of colour!
One does not have to travel the world for inspiration, it might just be waiting in your own handbag!

Another large piece inspired by the keys: "Unlocked, The Space Between" Acrylic on canvas 48"x60".

A detail of "Egress" 60"x48" featured earlier. ( Renew is intentionally upside down)

A close up that leads you to discover some of the drawing and decoupage: there is a story hidden behind that veil of paint!

A point of entry or a point of exit? A joyful egression? A transformation of existence?
I had the good fortune to spend a week with Mary in 1997; I participated in a week-long painting workshop taught by her. The experience was liberating! There is no need to be afraid that your painting is not going to turn out right; you just get back at it and force it to a different direction. Go ahead, -make a mess! A mess can be the best thing! This was a gift from the Universe! ( and my friend Emilia Perri from Maggiolly Art Supplies).
Not enough can be said about Mary Wood.
She is one powerful pixie that gal!
Fire in her eyes and brimstone in her talk!
A laugh that picks you up and takes you with!
Her enthusiasm and love of life is contagious.
As a teacher she is gentle, resourceful and generous.
If you wish to "stretch" your eye and train it to see "bigger", -study Mary's paintings.
The show at Canopy will run till the end of the month.
If you wish to take your painting practice to a new level, seek for an opportunity to study with Mary.
Your whole life will take a new course!
Maggiolly Art Supply Store in Orangeville is planning to organize another week long painting retreat with Mary later this summer, for information contact Emilia at 519-942-9560 or write to maggiollyart@sympatico.ca
With the spring in the air
I leave you
in a elated FRAME OF MIND,
as always,
Outi, The Frame Dame

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kirsi Neuvonen -Printmaker from Finland

Kirsi Neuvonen: The Pomegranate Tree, line etching, aquatint, copy etching. 1996 65x50 cm (25 5/8"x19 5/8")
Kirsi Neuvonen (born 1960) is a Finnish printmaker who has become a household item in my native country.

This blog is a quick introduction to some of her plates and I seriously encourage you to study her website and look further. Her knowledge of art and history is so deep and wide that it will humble you. The website is very informative and generous, -great resource for the intaglio inclined and an injection of inspiration for the rest of us.. Go to http://www.copperfield.fi/ , click on the top right EN and it will lead you to the English pages.

Those of you who are familiar with intaglio printmaking will find this to be solid fodder for the creative mind,...those of you who are fascinated by mythology will be intrigued with the symbolism.... and those of you who are WRITERS will enjoy her TRUTH OR DARE section: THE STORY GALLERY! Kirsi has listed a series of her works and invites you to join in by WRITING POETRY OR SHORT STORIES of her images. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT! The images are extremely story provoking, -my head is quickly composing some material as we speak. Look at "My Shadow Thinks Obviously Otherwise"...click on the image and you'll get a larger version of this creepy shadow dude with an attitude. What is going on in here?
WRITE ABOUT IT! I am sure that I will.

A line etching, in very simple terms, starts with a drawing on a metal plate. The artist uses a variety of sharp tools to scratch the surface. The plate is soaked in an acid bath that enhances the area where the metal is exposed. Different technigues are used to achieve various surface textures, the parts of the plate that are not worked are masked to protect them from the acid .
Finally the plate is inked , the excess ink is wiped off and the plate is pulled through a press with sheet of paper laid over the surface. The pressure transfers the image to the paper. Every colour is printed separately. Multiple plates can be used to create one image.
The process is very labour intensive and dangerous at times : you deal with corrosives, sharp objects and toxic vapors. Great skills are achieved only with a lot of experience, practise and hard work. Additional difficulty with this media is that the end result (the print) is always a mirror image of the image on the plate (and the image in your head)! If you don't think this might cause some problems, try this exercize: make a simple drawing of a standing figure. Tilt the hip a little, give the head a 3/4 profile. Hold it up to a mirror and be ready to discover: there is always an element of suprise. A good printmaker has the ability to see ahead and embrace this accidental element of the medium. Definitely not for control freaks.

Important to remember:
We are talking about prints but we don't mean copies. Every print is an original.

Kirsi has made a whole series of dress illustrations. This one is titled Venus Dress" (1994), -a ball gown with ample oceany adornments! I would just LOVE to show up at some fancy function wearing that, -maybe with some seaweed shimmer in my hair!

Please pay attention to the SIZE of the plate: 90x60 cm (35 1/2 x 23 3/4")! Those of you who have ever inked a plate can imagine that the task on hand is gigantuous! There would have been a lot of sweat, maybe even some tears, most certainly praying and swearing involved.

These following six pieces are formed of three separate plates. This one is called " Wild Strawberry Dress". 2001

" Waterlily Dress" 2001

" Lily Dress" 2001

" Daisy Dress" 2001

"Violet Dress"

"Pearly Dress 2001"

To fully appreciate this one you would have to have some background knowledge in Finnish mythology and art history. This one is titled "The Kalevala Dress" and is a playful take on the work of Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865-1931). He was an artist of momentous proportions who deeply influenced our National identity. Mary Gallen-Kallela ( who's dress this is depicting) was his wife.

Growing up in Finland the work of The GREAT A G-K was always at your face, this naturally, -got somewhat sicketating , you finally tuned it all out and developed a selective blindness to it.
(The Canadians have a similar love-hate relationship with Tom Thomson.) Having spent over twenty years away from Finland I was stunned to meet The Great A G-K again. I was instantly whisked back to my childhood. Printmaking. Symbolism. The Art's and Crafts movement was fed to me along with my cereal. As a child I found those dark woodcuts and etchings weird and frightening but also extremely fascinating. And I have loved them ever since.
"Kalevala" is the epic saga of Finland , A G-K illustrated it with a powerful hand. He was not only a accomplished painter but also a experienced printmaker. The man on the horse in the bottom of the etching is a detail of a painting titled KULLERVO TAKES OFF TO WAR (1901) . (Kullervo was an arrogant dude and faced a horrible ending and SO totally deserved it too!)
If you wish to learn more about Akseli Gallen-Kallela go to http://www.ateneum.fi/ . This is the National Gallery of Finland and the permanent home of the illustrations.

Ok, enough of this,
now , back to Kirsi!

"I am a poor little Deer" reads the banner on the top of this plate. It refers, of course, to our darling Frida Kahlo. The piece is titled "Frida Kahlos Hunting Gown" and displays the drama and rootyness of Fridas life and work and the tonque-in-the-cheekyness of Kirsi's sense of humour.

"Leda" is the same Leda that is known to all artist since antiquity. The Greek mythology tell us that Zeus himself, -in shape of a swan..(the capable chap he was), went to visit Ms. Leda here. From that reunion two children (Helen and Polydences) were born. Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) painted the painting that this image is a playful take of. Sadly, Leonardo's "Leda and the Swan" got destroyed. It was later recreated by Da Vinci's contempory Cesare Sesto who's claimed to have been familiar with the original piece. And SO WHAT is he wasn't. The story is intriquing, -Leda and Zeus belong to all of us now. Why not craft your own take of the legend?

"Tiny, Decorated Freedom" 1997 Middle plate 20x20cm, side panels 20x10 cm.
Go to ARCHIVES on Kirsi's website and click on 1997, the left side of the screen will display a scroll down list of Kirsi's work from that particular year. There you will find a whole herd of "Divine women", Caryatids. Kirsi created these pieces after studying some frescos in Sienna, Italy. What is remarkable here is the physical SIZE of some of the plates: you find some etchings that measure 180x60 cm ( almost 6 feet in height!) How does one manoeuvre a plate that big?

"A Portrait with a Yes-No Morpho" 1995 20x33 cm , on the archives page 1995 you can see the rest in the series titled Portraits with Fauna.

Please visit Kirsi Neuvonen at http://www.copperfield.fi/ or http://www.kirsineuvonen.fi/ . Go through the archives and your soul will thank you. Click Kirsi Neuvonen>Art Work>Art Work Archives. I hang around there all the time!
In an intaglio influenced FRAME OF MIND,
I remain yours,
Outi ,the Frame Dame

Monday, March 1, 2010


This is happening RIGHT NOW: CLICK IN STUDIO AND IN THE FIELD is a feature event that takes place in Alton Mills Gallery from Feb 27 to April 11. Our local celebrity RON PITTS has joined forces together with another photographer Pete Paterson and this is AN EVENT THAT SHOULD NOT BE MISSED! THE OPENING RECEPTION IS THIS SUNDAY, March 7Th from 1-4pm, -make plans for a Sunday afternoon ride and be there!

Here you can see Heidi and Kevin showing off some framed pieces just as a teaser...but the pictures you see on this blog do not do any justice to Ron's work, -you'll really have to see it in full size and correct colour. Ron has taken the best ever pictures of swans, he really delivers the beauty of these royal characters. This one is called SWANGELS, two truly angelic swans! Once you've seen them, you'll never forget them.

This little guy is absolutely adorable! His name is...guess what...: FUZZ! How perfect IS he! Ron has a whole series of master shots that he has taken IN his pond, submerged in water up to his ears...this is the only way one can get this close to truly wild birds! He gets into a wet suit and quietly hides in his wild water kingdom...you'll have to see the whole comedy show that the little baby ducks put out for him! I am sure that sometimes it must have been hard for him not to just burst out laughing!

This little turtle is having a bad fly day! The image is called SWATS UP and the title again reflects Ron's gentle sense of humour: it's tough when you happen to be a turtle and smell kind of fishy...and the flies just adore you ...it does not matter how hard to try to swat them...you just cannot get them all. This has to be viewed in full size!
Ron's work is full of awe and joy, a celebration of rare fleeting moments in lives of creatures wild and untamed. This kind of Divine Comedy of Nature is only played for the observer who has the patience to get quiet and let the scene unfold. With his photographs Ron takes us along for a field trip and points out a wonder after another. He teaches us how to approach with respect... and have fun all the way.

Here Kevin is showing off DUCK ATTACK, an amazing, larger than life image of a mallard.
You can count all the feathers and raindrops...it's is very unlikely that you'll ever get this close and personal in real life.
Ron also features larger creatures, he has an amazing selection of photographs that he has taken on his travels to National parks and destinations like Newfoundland. Moose, buffalo ...whales and icebergs. And more.
To see the entire collection please visit http://www.ronpitts.com/ but better yet, GO AND SEE THE SHOW THIS SUNDAY! Ron will be there in person from 1-4pm and he is a super nice guy to talk to!
If not this Sunday, plan a trip during the March break: it's worth the drive to Alton Mills and your kids will love it too! A nice drive to the country, a field trip to nature and an introduction to art photography...all in one. They also have a fantastic outdoor skating rink for those who embrace the great Canadian winter. Does not get any better than that!

Here are the directions:
the map is really small so you can also visit http://www.altonmill.ca/
The place is just east of Millcroft Inn, you might be familiar with that.

Hope to see you there!
I remain,
Outi, your FRAME DAME :)