Thursday, April 10, 2008

Art Conference Follow-Up

Last Saturday, I once again added beauty to my life. I attended an art conference in Ottawa. Hanging out with fellow artists and being inspired by three presenters was a wonderful way to spend an early spring day.

The first presenter was painter David Jones. David is an accomplished oil and watercolour painter who lives and works here in Ottawa. His presentation dealt with painting en plein aire. There was lots of show and tell of materials and he also did a watercolour demonstration. We can always learn from other artists and their disciplines and I quite enjoyed hearing about his process of working. Working in watercolour and coloured pencil is quite the same in that we build up our colour in layers and our media is transparent (unless you are a burnisher). At one point he gave an example of choosing colours. David looked at the wall paint colour and quickly broke it down into the three or four colours that he would use to depict this shade. My process is the same and I found that I picked similiar colours when I looked at the wall and tried to mentally colour it with my pencils.

What I enjoyed most about David Jones is that he is a professional painter in every sense of the word. He has achieved his level of success by good old hard work. Arts reporter Andrea Douglas writes "Not long after completing his visual arts degree at the University of Ottawa, David held his first solo exhibit. It didn't quite launch his career and it certainly didn't put enough food on the table. As a young, single artist, he held up to eight part time jobs at a time and painted in his "spare time". His strong work ethic continues to this day.

David spoke of his "purity of intent" mantra - always stay true to your art and your subject matter. Don't follow whims. Paint what you believe in and as if no one will see your painting.

At one point David was asked how he paints dyptics and tryptics. Does he work on them at the same time or does he work large and then cut the piece up. David said that the latter way of working would be immoral for him. For him the idea to create diptics and tryptics has to be there from the beginning. They are an artistic challenge, as for him each panel must be able to stand alone compositionally and then also as part of the grouping. Immoral - I like that. In a world where it seems almost everyone is looking for a shortcut, or the easy way to success, I admire his professional work ethic. To see David's work visit his website: I personally like his Ottawa valley landscapes. I love his colour palette.

The second presentation was on Nurturing Your Creativity by Rosemary Leach. Rosemary spoke of her own journey as a frustrated artist as she started out with a day job as a teacher. We got into groups and discussed questions such as: How does it feel for you when you are being most creative? What helps your creative energy to flow? When you are being creative, in what way is the world a better place? I must confess that I don't have 'issues' in this whole creativity area. I don't spend time navel gazing, wondering where my muse has gone. I have more creative ideas than I shall probably ever have time to bring to fulfillment. I also don't see creativity as being only about art. I live my whole life creatively - I cook creatively, I teach and design courses creatively, I decorate my house and garden with creativity, I enjoy the creativity involved in running my get the idea...It is always good to be reminded to take risks. Rosemary encouraged us to try the media that we avoid at the art supply store or to try the canvas that is so big it seems impossible. In other words, get out of our boxes, at least once in a while. Rosemary is a talented painter and you can view her art at

The final presentation was by Angelina McCormick on the fine art of photography. Angelina was well prepared and gave us lots of info on the technical side of digital photography as well as dark room processes. I took pages of notes. Like David, Angelina inspired me with her dedication to her craft and her professionalism. Angelina went back to school to study photography after being home with her children for 10 years. I really enjoyed hearing about what she 'sees' in her photography and what she is aiming for. She has such an artistic vision - I was in awe of her attention to detail. I especially loved seeing her prints and hearing of the inspiration behind the images. I encourage you to check out her website at Her 'Fiore' series on dying flowers is worth the visit.

So, a wonderful day spent with wonderful people and did I mention the wonderful food? The conference was hosted by the West Carleton Arts Society, an arts group located in rural west Ottawa. The WCAS is putting together an art exhibit and sale that will take place in the fall during the Thanksgiving weekend. This show is open to all artists, in all media. If you live in the Ottawa area and would like to know more, visit their website at (see the 'details and application form' on the events page).

No comments: