Friday, September 11, 2009

drawing with a grid, staycations, more studio pics

Welcome to the National Gallery of Canada! There are many reasons why I love living in Ottawa and this gallery is one of them. Last Thursday evening, I had a bit of a staycation. I attended a special exhibit and I decided to take my camera along so you could see this wonderful gallery.

The collection of art that makes up the permanent collection exhibited in many locations until this new facility was built in 1988. Architect Mosha Safdie designed this award winning glass and granite building and it truly is stunning. The above pictures show the front entrance and the photo below shows a side view.

Next is a shot taken right into the setting sun. :-) Oh well, it was going to be dark when I left the exhibit so it was now or never. This is the other end of the gallery which faces the Ottawa river.

The next picture shows the area just as you approach the entrance to the gallery. 'Maman' is a fabulous 30 ft high sculpture by artist Louise Bourgeous. The bronze spider even has marble eggs in her sac. Across the road, you can see another fabulous piece of architecture, the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica. It is absolutely incredible inside.

The picture below shows a lovely view of Canada's parliament buildings, taken from inside the gallery.

Here is an interior shot and the door under the artwork is where I walked into the exhibit I went to see. The exhibit was titled 'From Raphael to Carracci, The Art of Papal Rome'. This three month exhibition, here at the National Gallery, was the only venue in North America. There were 150 drawings and paintings by 16C masters such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Giorgio Vasari, Titian and Carracci. All I can say is wow. What a treat to see this work. This brings me to the part of the title that mentions drawing with a grid.

Over the years that I have been teaching art, I have been amazed to often hear students remark that they can't really draw because they use a grid. Some refer to it as cheating or they will say that this is how they know they aren't really artists. I wonder if they would consider Raphael a real artist? The man used grids all of the time!!! This exhibition had many drawings by these masters that had carefully rendered one inch grids covering the page. One Raphael drawing showed a preliminary sketch of a horse. He made several mathematical notations on the page noting distances and proportions, from the front leg to the hip, the girth of the belly to the neck etc. Are these sorts of math equations wrong too? Soooo...if you are someone who uses a grid in order to help you draw, please don't think this is a really bad thing to do. Artists use many tools. Besides, you still have to get the bits you draw inside each grid right. Grids will only assist you so far. :-) Relax, stop feeling guilty and realize you are in excellent company!

My next photo is my last gallery picture. It shows a walkway heading back down to the main entrance.

So what is going on in your city? When was the last time you went to a show at your local gallery? Even if you live in the country, most folks live within an hour or two of a city. If you don't have a grand gallery like this to go to, you will find that browsing a small private gallery can really stir up your creative juices. Why not plan a staycation this fall? I know that I shall be heading back to the National Gallery soon as I want to see the permanent collection again. Oh, and I saw some art books in the gallery bookstore that would make perfect Christmas gifts. I like to save my husband the bother of shopping! :-)

From the sublime to the ridiculous. For those of you who enjoyed seeing my studio (pics in previous post), I thought I would share how the room looked two years ago when we moved here.

I'm thinking ugly mock Tudor??? Ugly something anyway...

You might recall that we are currently painting the dark brown siding on the exterior of the house. Well two years ago, as soon as we had the keys to the house, I rolled up my sleeves and started to cover up all of this dark brown. I had a deadline as I was scheduled to teach a course in this room in just a few weeks. The paint on the floor was barely dry and my husband made new tables the night before. I didn't get the track lighting added until later.

Here is another shot of the studio now...ah, much lighter and brighter...

You can click on this studio pic for a larger image. So, tell me - where are you going to staycation this fall? (Can you believe such a word was even created?)


Ann said...

I am so envious of your enormous, beautiful studio space! And to have such a wonderful gallery so close to you. We "staycation" at home as often as we can, especially when the weather is nice and can get out to hike and sketch. Just never knew it had a name until recently :-)

Jennifer Rose said...

no money for any kind of vacation, but I do try to get to the local gallery every month. this month its the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (try saying that 3 times fast :p). a lot of it was pretty nice, some was all right and the rest was pretty bad :p

i use a grid al the time, you are right. its a tool that people shouldn't be ashamed to use

Pencil Sanity said...

What a great post with lots of info. The first thing that came to mind looking at the first photo in your blog was that this building is a piece of art all in itself. Simply stunning and you are so lucky to have such a wonderful place to visit. I completely agree with you about use of grids. Many of the masters used them. I find myself using them frequently especially when trying to draw much larger then my ref image. And finally, what a great job you did on your studio. When I was well I used to do all sort of work around the house including building of masonry walls, tiling, you name it, I tried it. LOL

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Ann! I love to hike around here too. I am fortunate to live near some fabulous walking trails on conservation land and the Gatineau Hills in Quebec are just across the river from here.

Hi Jennifer Rose - wow you are doing great to get to a gallery every month! Glad to hear that a lot of those watercolours were pretty nice. :-)

Hey, as a grid user you agree with me, thanks for the confirmation!

Hi Maria, another grid user! You go girl!! So you have done masonry walls, heck I'm impressed! We are going to build some brick lamp-posts some day for the bottom of the driveway. I also fantasize about brick landscaping walls in the front (that would match our brick fireplace). Hummm...maybe...someday... Anyway, I will know who to get some mortar pointers from. :-)

Teresa said...

Phew... what a relief- now I don't have to worry about the art police arresting me for grid use!

Enjoyed your tour and comments.... very interesting... thanks!

Kendra said...

Thank you for the tour of the National Gallery, what beautiful architecture and art. I hope to get there someday! I especially like the picture of the modern "Maman" spider sculpture contrasted with the more historic Basilica. Great studio space too!