Whyte Ave Art Walk

My first Whyte Avenue Art Walk is over and luckily I made it there with my new display tent, nine of my largest paintings and enough energy left over to enjoy the experience. I did not implode while packing the car even though it took most of Thursday to decide what to take and to carefully fit everything inside.

Even though I had outdoor Vancouver Island art shows such as the Originals Only shows and the Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens Art Festivals behind me I really didn’t know what to expect. Setting up a tent in the city, on pavement where visitors were expected to number in the tens of thousands had me thinking that the experience was bound to be different.

Setting up, hanging paintings and taking down wasn’t really different from what I had experienced. It’s always a hassle to get to your site unpack, find parking and then do everything in reverse at the end of the day when fatigue is taking over.

The flow of visitors was much the same, though the numbers were much higher. Many people looked in for a moment then carried on, but those who stopped in were interested and here I benefited more than ever before from their response and feedback.

Plastic Fantasy #1 by E.M.Schumacher
Plastic Fantasy #1 by E.M.Schumacher
So many people of all ages really seemed to enjoy my Plastic Fantasy series which I was showing for the first time as a complete set. The five paintings each include an original piece of post card fiction that tells the story of a couple’s journey together through strange lands. My largest painting, ‘Colors #1′ drew a lot of interest as well and the youngest set especially enjoyed “Ladybug Flower”.

Now that it’s over, I need to rest and recoup, at least physically. But mentally I feel encouraged and refreshed by the whole experience.

So before I close here, my sincere thanks; to my patient daughter who gave up her weekend to help me, to Kim Fjordbotten and everyone at the Paint Spot who worked so hard to make this event a reality, to the kind and generous volunteers who were there to help, to my neighboring artists and their friends for their support and to all the visitors to my display who shared their thoughts and ideas with me and gave me more than enough encouragement to carry on.

To frame or not to frame?

I only have a few more days to get ready for the Whyte Ave Art Walk. It is coming up way too fast starting on July 11th through to the 13th.

A couple of paintings need finishing touches but thankfully the only one I needed to frame is ready to go. I’ll be bringing mostly canvases, with only one work on paper and one on a cradled wood panel.

With canvas and cradled panels the artist’s wrap, a technique where the artist continues the painting over the edges of the canvas can avoid the need for a separate frame. Edges might also be painted in a color that enhances the art work.

Frames and matts are expensive. But what I like least about them is how easily they can be damaged during transit. I haven’t yet found an alternative for work on paper other simply packaging it in a protective sleeve. So even though I’d like to, I’m not ready to give up framing yet.

"Flying Orchid" mixed media on cradled panel by Elma Schumacher
“Flying Orchid” mixed media on cradled panel by E.M. Schumacher
This “Flying Orchid” was created using photo transfer, metallic foil and acrylic paint and will be at the Art Walk with me. Hope to see you there.

An artist’s work is?

The road to town. . .
The road to town. . .
Today is rainy, windy and would normally be a great day to lock myself in the studio and paint away.

If only it were so. Today is yet another errand day; sandbags to pick up, a couple of last minute art supplies, a used wooden frame if I can find one the right size is needed as well and the list goes on.

I remember the days when I thought all an artist had to do was make art. Then some wonderful, slightly magical gallery or agent would come along and take care of the rest. So for all the young hopefuls out there, don’t let anyone tell you that whopper. Degrees in business, web development or marketing wouldn’t hurt either. So get busy, you will need it all.

As well as those pesky supplies there are sales to make, accounts to keep, photographs and scans to take, a website to maintain and social media to keep up with in case there isn’t enough to do.

But I’m not complaining. A day in the world is a wonderful thing. It’s just that when the list gets long, and I’d rather be in the studio making art, I have to remind myself to get out there and enjoy myself too. As long as I don’t forget to pick up the sandbags!

Google Street Art Project inspires. . .

I am trying really hard not to get distracted by my email, but the Google Street Art Project popped up in one of my feeds. Since my fascination with street art could keep me stuck to my computer for hours on end, I thought I should take a minute to find a video about this project and share it here.

That way I’ll remind myself to look up this latest Google project later, once I finish getting ready for the Whyte Avenue Art Walk and have some time to goof off again! The Art Walk is coming up way too quickly for me, but I’ll be there from July 11th to July 13th.

Street Art is I think probably one of the most lively and innovative art forms today. I hope that this project will inspire more young artists to get out there and share their art with the world, especially here in Canada where I don’t think that we get to see enough of it.

And here’s a news clip about the Google Street Art Project;

Where ideas come from

Photoshopped  picture of a magpie in the branches. © Elma Schumacher 2012
Photoshopped picture of a magpie in the branches. © Elma Schumacher 2012

It always surprises me that so many people really, really want to know where an artist gets her ideas. That’s because I have never suffered from a shortage of ideas. Mostly I am dealing with the opposite problem.

My ideas come from my life; my experiences and thoughts on how and why the world works the way it does. If I have a problem choosing an idea to work with it’s because there are way too many of them floating around in my head.

That means though, that a blank sheet of paper staring back at me is as much of an obstacle to me as it would be for someone who just can’t think of where to start. It’s the choosing that the hard part, not finding something to say.

Sometimes, like I did today, I go through my collection of photographs and pick the one or two that have a strong association for me. Maybe the photo invokes a feeling, or takes me back to the time and place I took it in my memory.

Photoshop is a great tool for making use of a photo that isn’t all that great and tweaking it into something better. (If you don’t have Photoshop or a budget for it, get a copy of the Gimp it’s open source software and free to download.)

Photoshopped picture of old truck. © Elma Schumacher 2012
Photoshopped picture of old truck. © Elma Schumacher 2012

The magpie photo was tweaked so that the bird would stand out a little more strongly against the background of sky and twigs and leaves. The old truck got something very close to a posterizing treatment without actually using that filter. I wanted much, much stronger colors and contrast than what I had in the original photos.

Both of these photos are being used as a starting point in separate mixed media pieces. They each came with a message that I want to convey. Now it’s time to take those ideas and interpret them in my own way.

My mixed media motto

Ladybug Flower, mixed media on rag paper by E.M.Schumacher.
Ladybug Flower by Elma Schumacher.

Lately my old ways of doing things have not been working for me. Not because I can’t do what I used to do, but because I have forgotten something important.

What I have forgotten is a little bit about myself. I work best when I give myself permission to make mistakes. When I remember that making art is fun; that for me making art reflects the joy I feel in life.

Not that my life is perfect. I don’t think I am very different from the people around me. We all have our ups and downs, our triumphs and tragedies and have to muddle through whatever comes our way.

But when things flow and my best work comes to life, I know that it grew out of some inner ‘happy place’ that I was lucky enough to visit, if only for a while.

What I decided while making ‘Ladybug Flower’ was just to keep going and not give up on this piece; layer upon layer, using whatever I could find at hand to bring parts of the image forward or back visually, until I reached the place where I was happy with the result.

Now I know that I need a new motto to inform my approach; one that puts me in the right frame of mind to create my best work.

So here it is; Never give up. Never surrender.

Sound familiar? Well I think it helps to keep a sense of humor when working. So I’m going with this one. Maybe I should have Galaxy Quest on in the background while I work too!

Just in case you missed it, here’s the trailer from one of my favorite movies ever;

Artist E.M. Schumacher's Gallery and Blog