Friday, October 23, 2009

October already!

Time flies when you're having fun -- and I am!

The M.Ed program started in September and has been keeping me pretty busy since then. Although we meet only once every few weeks, there is much to do between the official class sessions. The first course is entitled "Embodiment and Curriculum Inquiry" and seeks to bring an awareness of how the body intersects with every aspect of our lives. In the paraphrased words of one paper, our bodies are the first contact we have with the world around us, so knowing how our bodies interact and respond with that world will make us more aware of what we are experiencing (and thus better able to learn). As teachers, knowing the process involved (by using it on ourselves) we will be able to use the process on students to help them learn in a more all-encompassing way.

With activities designed to increase the awareness of our senses (touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight) we have been dancing, going on walks through the woods, eating good food, listening to music and more. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Add to this, though, the need to all of this while totally aware and mindful of what you are doing, and then be able to express what you have experienced, either verbally, visually, or both.

Solitude is another important aspect of embodiment, for it is through the moments of solitude that we can finally begin to process what we hav experienced and relate it to other events in our lives, triggering memories and thoughts that can lead to artistic inspiration.

Reading is a big part of the studies -- both assigned readings and self-directed readings. My brain is full to overflowing with new ideas, and I have already started to translate some of them into a final project. Work is progressing steadily on an altered book which has allowed me to organize some of those thoughts and ideas into a readily avaialable format that is easier to absorb than a written paper. Once I have finished sorting the current batch of thoughts onto those colorful pages, I plan to work on a bigger visual piece that relates to Identity. My hope is to have that piece combine the ideas generated by all my reading, the knowledge I have gained in the past few weeks of figure drawing (in my "free" time I have been attending figure drawing sessions), and fabric art -- a media that keeps calling out to me. Once complete, I will post the results...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Playing with Fabric Paints

Well, the summer heat seems to be over (for now), and it is actually pleasant to be outside. To celebrate, I pulled out the new Setacolor fabric paints I purchased a few months ago and splashed them around, using the ideas in the newest Quilting Arts magazine ( -- August/September 2009) and Mickey Lawler's Skydyes book for inspiration. The girls and I made many, many colorful medallions yesterday, which will be further embellished with fabric pastels and quilting when the weather turns cool. Today, I tried out my colors and techniques on larger pieces that will be cut up to use in quilts at a later date. Now my white cotton fabric is all used up (but not the paint). Since we will soon be off on holidays for a few weeks, further experimentation will have to wait!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tony Onley Artist's Project

Well, I am back from Wells, and must say, I had a pretty good time. My stay was only 4 days long, which meant 2 1/2 days of painting. The rest of the time was taken up with viewing other artists' past work (what an amazing range of talents and interests) and critiquing each other's work done during the workshop. The mentors this year were John Hall and Harold Klunder -- both very supportive and full of ideas and suggestions when things weren't going quite the way I had planned. I would recommend this event for anybody wanting to "get away and paint" without the distractions of computer, telephone, and home life. Be sure to bring lots of mosquito repellant, though! I came away from the workshop with three paintings (well, two and a half, but I finished my third yesterday) and lots of ideas. You can view the completed paintings on

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Back to school in the fall

Well, word has come in. Simon Fraser University is offering a community-based masters program in Prince George over the next two years and has admitted me into the program. Running on alternate weekends over the next two years, it will allow me to get a Masters of Education degree in Arts Education without having to leave Prince George. I am looking forward to the challenge of the Masters program, and to seeing some of last year's instructors as fellow students!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Whistler Art Workshops

Well, I am back from a very busy week in Whistler. On June 28 and 29, I attended a color theory workshop facilitated by Chili Thom, a Whistler artist. He had some wonderful insights for using color to create harmony in your color palette and depth in your paintings. I have yet to actually put everything I learned there into practice, but I look forward to using his theories in my work. I started one piece, using his actualy painting style, but am not sure if I will move forward with it as it is, or paint over top of what I have with a looser style. I do like his paintings, though, and recommend you check out his website:

A quick trip to Vancouver on the Monday took me to see the Dutch Masters at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and then it was back to Whistler for a second workshop on Tuesday. This workshop was a 4-day affair facilitated by award winning watercolor artist Jean Pederson ( . The theme for this workshop was to layer different types of watermedia to achieve exciting results in your paintings. I really enjoyed watching her demonstrate her techniques and was most impressed by her ability to paint watercolors on a vertical painting surface without the colors running every which way! The workshop was fast-paced, with a new technique offered up every hour or so. There was plenty of studio time to put theory into practice, and I came away with the beginnings of several pieces, two of which I have subsequently finished at home this week. Although the techniques I used were learned at this workshop, the style of my pieces is definitely not Jean's! I am looking forward to creating more layered pieces and mixing my watermedia: watercolors, gouache, acrylics, watercolor crayons, acrylic inks, watercolor pencils....

mixed media and collage on paper
14" x 11"

Next week I am off to Wells for 4 days of unstructured playtime with my paints :-) When I get back, I might have time to update my website with all my new artwork!

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Website

Well, I've finally taken the plunge and designed a new website for displaying my artwork. Since this was to be more of a commercial website, I eliminated many of the pieces of art that I had on my old site. In time, some of them may reappear -- perhaps on a page devoted to older work, to act as an online portfolio.

The new site address is:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Arts Fest, Part 2

Well, I am excited! My drawing "Body Image -- She Thought Food Was the Enemy" was deemed to be one of the top ten pieces at Arts Fest 2009 in Williams Lake. The drawing will become part of a touring exhibit that will visit several towns in the northern Interior region for the next 6 months. In addition, I will be attending the Tony Onley Artists' Project in July (, courtesy of Island Mountain Arts ( I'm looking forward to it!!!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Arts Fest 2009

Well, it has been a busy few weeks since school let out. I submitted a few pieces to two different exhibitions and received word from one (Arts Fest 2009) that my submitted pieces have been accepted. I'm now keeping my fingers crossed for the second exhibition!

Arts Fest 2009 is an "exhibition and art practices symposium" for new and emerging artists, coordinated by the Central Interior Regional Arts Council ( I submitted my walking painting, now titled "Who Has the Time?", and my drawing "Body Image -- She Thought Food was the Enemy". The event runs on the weekend of my convocation, so I will be unable to attend the opening and seminars, but my pieces will hang at Thompson River University (Williams Lake campus) until June 19. If anybody is passing through that area, you might want to stop and take a look.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Series piece

Our final major assignment for the Drawing was what our instructor named a "Series Piece". Rather than draw a series of pictures, each relating to the next, we were instructed to draw just one picture that contained 4 separate pictures within it. This was definitely a challenging piece, as each "mini-drawing" needed to be stylistically distinct from the other three pieces, and yet all four pieces had to work together cohesively to make the larger piece of art. It took a while, but I think I finally got it. It is titled "Five Minutes in January" and is approximately 29" x 21". For those five minutes in January of 2009, I was overwhelmed by the site of thousands of Bohemian waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) flying in an enormous loop in the sky and demolishing all the Elderberries on the neighborhood trees. It was truly a magnificent sight!
First, the entire piece:
And then the four individual pieces:

Figure Drawing

Our last figure drawing session for the year. If I want to do any more, I'll have to sign up for the figure drawing sessions at Two Rivers Gallery.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Digital portfolio

We had our next-to-last class in Digital art today. It was time to finish the last project and create a digital portfolio of our works. Unfortunately, the last project is an animation that needs to be converted to another format before I can post it here, but I can post my portfolio:


And to the final piece for our painting class...

The topic for this painting was "The Walk". We were asked to think about what walking meant to us and to portray it on canvas in some fashion. Well, I had loads of ideas, but finally settled on walking in the city from a child's point of view: all the enormous grownups rushing around in their business suits, too intent on their destination to stop and enjoy the little things in life. In this instance, the "little things" are the flowers, which are actually much larger than the ones I saw on side of the road in Quesnel, but a child would see those as the most important items on a walk, wouldn't he?

Who Has the Time?

Acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas 18 x 24"

Figure painting

For the past 3 weeks, we have spent part of each painting class, painting the nude figure. This woman was lovely and curvy, and made for some good painting. The model's pose and expression were those of a strong, capable woman, proud of who she is and how she looks. I had the words from an old Helen Reddy song stuck in my mind the entire time I was painting her (as you can tell from title of the piece).
I am Woman
Acrylic on canvas board, 18 x 24"

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Now that it is hung somewhere where I can get a decent photo of it, I can finally show you my jellies. This was done for my painting class, but we were encouraged to "think outside the box" and get creative. I decided to "paint" with fabric, and created a quilted wallhanging. The other challenge was to use the same image 25 times in our piece of art. Being somewhat masochistic, I decided to do a group of 3 jellyfish as my image (see my digital jellies for an explanation of where I saw the critters). In the end, I repeated the image more than 25 times, so there are over 75 individual jellyfish in this wallhanging. Since we also had to create the image using 25 different techniques, I have a variety of jellies -- stamped, felted, painted, drawn, inked, stencilled, quilted, thread-painted, crocheted (with wire), and more. It was an all-consuming project, but well-worth the effort. The final piece is approximately 3 feet wide and 6 feet tall.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Do Not Erase

Saturday, April 4, will be the opening of the student exhibition, "Do Not Erase", at Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, from 1pm to 3pm. The work of the Fine Arts students from the College of New Caledonia will be on display in the Galleria for the month of April. If you are in the neighborhood, I would encourage you to visit the gallery at some time during the month, to see the work of the artists from the Fine Arts Certificate program! Artwork will range from pencil and charcoal drawings to acrylic paintings, fabric art and other three-dimensional art. Yours truly has four pieces displayed there.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Women in Art

At our Art History class on Thursday night, our instructor showed us a really fascinating YouTube video which portrays 500 years of portraits of women. It is well worth watching:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Looking Ahead

Well, the semester (and the school year) are almost at an end. There will be some more assignments to post in the next few weeks, as the final projects are completed.

In the meantime, I am looking past the 22nd of April, and starting to plan what comes next. I am thinking of taking the next step in website development and creating a website for posting artwork that is for sale. My plan is to have a website without the pop-up ads that my free website currently has! The only issue at the moment is to come up with a domain name. I had hoped to use my blog name (artbyam) as a domain name, but Amanda-Marie in Denver, Colorado, seems to have beaten me to it. Her website address is I suppose I could use the .ca version, but people might get lost in Denver when looking for me online. Another alternative that is not yet taken, and yet is very simple, would be or .ca. Hmmm. What to do....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Digital Self Portrait

The latest project in Digital Art was to create an expressive self portrait from a photo. Using Adobe Photoshop, we had to separate the photo into the 4 color channels (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black), and replicate what we saw in these channels onto 4 separate pieces of paper (well, OK, we traced what we saw -- but using expressive lines and scribbles). After scanning the resulting images into the computer, we recombined them to create one image -- a portrait of ourselves. With a bit of Photoshop magic, the background came together (still don't know quite exactly what I did!), and voila:

I have to say that I really do like this self portrait. I rushed right out and found a mat and frame to fit it, too! And to think I made it all with words! Only the blue shadows on the face are actually scribbles; the red, yellow and black are words.

Digital Jellyfish

The next project was to use Adobe Photoshop to color a drawing we had made. Since I was working on a big jellyfish wallhanging (pictures coming soon), I decided to keep with the theme and make some digital jellyfish as well. I had seen this trio at the Vancouver Aquarium, and was entranced by the way they glowed orange against a blue background. They spent their days, rising in the water currents and slowly sinking to the bottom of the tank before lifting off again in the stream of bubbles. It was very relaxing to watch them, and I snapped lots of photos (useful reference pieces, if I do say so myself).

Digital Art a la Chan-Schatz

We've had a productive semester in digital art, learning lots about Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, making animations, scanning images, and more. Our first project involved using Illustrator to make "modules" that could be placed on different backgrounds. Our "modules" were to be images you could find under a microscope -- drawn by hand, scanned into the computer, and then re-drawn using vectors in Illustrator. The backgrounds were made separately (also with Illustrator). We then combined modules and backgrounds -- first in our own combinations, and then having people around the school make up new combinations, similar to what Chan Schatz do with their artwork (see the newspaper article about one of their pieces of art:
My module was based off of a larval crab:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monotypes and "Found" Images

This project was a fun one -- create random shapes in colors and then "find" images within them which can be brought out with paint, pencils, ink , etc. We first created Monotypes, which involved pouring/spattering/brushing watercolor paint onto a plexiglass sheet, and then laying a piece of rice paper over the sheet and "printing" the paint onto the paper. This created wonderful blobs of color and special effects, depending on how the paper soaked up the paint. Once the paint was dry, we had to look at the blobs and random spatterings and "find" images which could be developed further. I've finished the two "realistic" pieces, and thought I'd post them here. The monotype for the turtle was made on a piece of sketchbook paper, rather than rice paper, and the patterns of the paint that were created when the paper was pulled off of the plexiglass reminded me of the underwater reefs I saw when scuba diving many years ago. My son has claimed this one to add to his turtle collection!

Terrapin (9" x 11.5")

"Toward the Light" is a bit different for me, as it can have all sorts of spiritual meanings, depending on the viewer. That being said, I often see faces and figures in random patterns (spackled ceilings, bark on trees, etc.). The swirls and patterns of paint on this monotype, combined with the bright yellow cloud-like shape in the upper left-hand corner, suggested an ethereal scene for these figures.

"Toward the Light" (11.5" x 9")

Now I need to peruse my other monotypes and develop two of them into abstract pieces. I think finding people and animals is easier!!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Body Image

New drawing from our Drawing class. The theme was "relationships". We had to pick a relationship, explore it, and draw it in black and white (with minimal use of color). The title of my piece is "Body Image -- She Thought Food was the Enemy". It examines different body image ideals, and takes a good look at the headlines we in our western society are bombarded with on a daily basis. For a person with eating disorders, what or who is the real enemy? Is it food? Or is it societal pressures and expectations?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Art History

In Art History, our final project once again can include the option of an art project to accompany a 4-5 page research paper. Being somewhat proactive, I received permission to begin my project over Christmas, and managed to finish off the last details yesterday (yes, both project and paper are DONE!). I just need to mount and frame the artwork.

For my project, I researched the molas of the Kuna Indians of Panama, and created a mola panel of my own that is a blend of Canadian imagery and Kuna techniques. I call it "Northern Dance".

The panel is 22" x 16", and, except for the background fabric piecing, is sewn entirely by hand. I enjoyed the process, but am really glad I started over Christmas! It took a while to complete. Mind you, it was very relaxing, and allowed for much thought and contemplation, especially as the snowflakes whirled and danced around our house.

The Gateway Project - A Study in Texture

The first painting project required the use of a gate, and was supposed to depict a scene that "referenced" a landscape. In other words, it could be a real landscape, an imagined landscape, or a total abstract that reminded us of a landscape. I landed somewhere between the second and third option, creating a landscape from my head and playing with textures and techniques so much that it is no longer a realistic landscape. On the other hand, it is still recognizable as being something from planet Earth, so is not really a pure abstract, either. All the paintings created in class had to have a gate somewhere in the picture. We were also encouraged to put symbols and meaning into our paintings, something I am not too proficient at (so there are no conscious symbols or meanings put in). I leave the interpretation up to you!

Mark making

The new semester is well underway, and the assignments are starting to pile up. For the initial major assignment in our drawing class, we first experimented with making different types of marks (eg. hatch marks, smudges, stamps, etc) with different media. To complete the first assignment, we were directed to make frottages (rubbings) of different textures, and then use our new-found mark-making techniques to enhance the frottages and make a good composition. We made two large pictures (20" x 28"), and get to choose one to hand in as our assignment. We were encouraged to use a variety of media, but could only use black, white, and grey for our color scheme. I'm kind of partial to the fuzzy bike brakes picture, myself...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Last items from the Fall semester

Well, Christmas has come and gone, and I was too busy to post the final pictures from my First Nations Art and Design class. With the new semester up and running, and the assignments coming at us at a fast and furious pace, I thought I'd better finish posting last semester's work before starting on this semester's work! Our last module in First Nations Art and Design was basket weaving (yes, I actually managed to take a "Basket Weaving 101 course" in my post-secondary education). We wove two baskets. The first one was a straight-forward cedar bark basket, measuring roughly 5"x5"x4":
The second basket (also woven from cedar bark) was much smaller, as seen in the lower picture. It is a called a potlach basket -- given as gifts at potlaches.