Browsing: Letters

Letters
14 Material gathering

“You are an idea-driven artist,” my Dad told me. “I am a subject-driven one.” Each year, with the support of my Mum, he took a trip for “material gathering.” Over the course of his life, he amassed innumerable drawings, studies and plein air work, as well as a collection of over 20,000 slides, catalogued by subject and housed in flat sheets above a large light table in the corner of his studio. Like a rainy day bank, the slide library offered a million possibilities for painting subjects, with notations for reference, location, names and dates, if needed. Like a diary of experience, my Dad believed that reference should be personally felt and collected — upholding the authenticity of his authorship and honouring a beloved process and tradition.

Letters
15 Desultory painting

Dear Artist, My friend Jack Hambleton and I were in the town of Sao Bras de Alportel in southern Portugal. Stepping out onto the spacious flat roof of our three-story hotel one evening, we saw potential. Before sun-up the next…

Letters
27 These unusual times

Canadian artist Justin Beckett wrote, “I have been thinking of making some prints of my work lately, due to these unusual times — to make a more affordable option for people, and to give a bit more income to myself. I was thinking of making some smaller prints to get my work out there a bit more, and also making some medium sized prints on high quality paper. I would only make some of my work available as prints. I have seen more artists doing this these days, even artists with gallery representation that are fairly well known, but there are others that are not doing it.

Letters
19 Patience

Dear Artist, Recently, Jil Ashton-Leigh of Steveston, BC, Canada told me about a wise Chinese art instructor who looked at her painting of the Fraser River and said, “Your mind — it is too fast.” He told her to sit…

Letters
28 Painting tips for serious beginners

Dear Artist, An old friend asked if she could schedule a quick zoom painting lesson for her grade-schooler. A recent shipment of supplies has set her daughter on the precipice of some serious art making. Now, while I wait for…

Letters
12 Under the cherry

It’s one of those open-air workshops on a crisp spring day. The fields and wood-groves are studded with painters, right down to the water’s edge. Here and there, respecting each other’s space — men with big hats and French easels; women, in pairs, hunched down in the grass. Some are very much alone and aloof. A woman gives me a frown as I approach.

Letters
21 Can I do this?

Plodding through the New York Times Sunday crossword is a tiny perfect illustration of the notion that the only way to get better at anything is to keep going. Like a dancer in cement shoes, I tinker in a blind trust that the answers will come in a bolt of inspiration, my ineptitude crumbling away, mid-jeté. “Inspiration,” wrote Elizabeth Gilbert, “needs to find you working.”

Letters
10 Cottage industry

Dear Artist, Yesterday morning, Denise called at my studio. Denise is a “vest-pocket” dealer — she works from her home and her cell-phone. Along with her goofy Doberman “Sabre” Denise always has a few paintings in her Ford Windstar. She…

Letters
14 Art in small places

Last Sunday, in a shock of re-entry, two visitors came to the studio — the first in six weeks. They arrived at the door wearing masks, and we introduced ourselves for the first time with what felt like both a momentous and unsatisfying wave, from six-feet apart. I resisted the urge to embrace them properly. I did my best to show them what their presence meant to me. My visitors seemed weary of the protocol and sat down amongst the paintings I’d been working on at my new, yogi-like pace. We discussed the immediate future of the art world before talking about painting. Our visit was tinged with a calm and realism about the unknowns that face our special ecosystem. After an hour, we thanked each other and they got into their cars and drove away.

Letters
33 Painting as tribute

Dear Artist, There are lots of reasons to paint. This morning’s inbox included about a dozen. They ranged from “spiritual need” to “$1800.00.” Another subscriber mentioned, “A nice memorial for my friend’s gerbil ‘Alice,’ who recently passed away.” After her…

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