Process: Every artist has their own way of getting started. Some do a lot of sketches, others are inspired by things they see or read, some just dive in and figure it out as they go. I get inspiration from life experiences, music, poetry, other things I read, and nature. To get started, I just draw. Starting a painting is called laying down a ground (a base). When I work, I often draw lots of grounds with no set idea and see if something appears that I want to expand on. This way of working is called automatism. Artists like Joan Miró, Paul-Émile Borduas and Jean-Paul Riopelle used automatism during their careers to create spontaneous works of art. Sometimes I will let the ground sit for a long time before working with it again and other times can see where I want the drawing to go right away. One I am working on now, I first drew in 2016. Other times I have an idea in mind and I work to create that vision. It’s a very intuitive process. One thing you do not want to do is overwork it. It’s hard to know when you’ve hit that point. I find when I am revisiting small details over and over, it’s time to ignore the drawing for a while and then revisit it with fresh eyes. Usually when I do that, I’ll decide it’s done.
Dream collaboration: This is a really tough one that’s firmly in dream territory. There are lots of artists I admire for different reasons. I think I would go with another artist who’s work I find very inspiring, Helen Frakenthaler (December 12, 1928 – December 27, 2011). I was able to see some of her print works over the summer in Chicago, which was very exciting. To make them, Frankenthaler collaborated with master print makers so I feel like she would be comfortable with the idea of working with another artist. I, on the other hand, usually prefer to work alone 😀 Maybe I would even venture into the land of colour!
As for a living person, living artists I admire include Ira Hoffecker, Robin Smith Peck, Paddy Lamb and Sean Caulfield. Lucky for me I get to see their work without having to travel far afield. The latter two I’ve had the privilege of hearing talk about their art. I could learn so much from all of these artists. So, if any are looking for a collaboration, give me a call 😉
Mistake or lesson
Mistake: In art like in other aspects of life there can be happy mistakes. When working on a piece, you get attached to certain aspects of it and they start to hold you back. You want to keep them, but you can’t seem to resolve (i.e. finish) the work. You either decide to take out one or all of the things you like, or you make a mistake that removes something. Then suddenly you get a renewed creative burst. Those are the fun mistakes.
A not so fun mistake is to, let’s say, not set your paper correctly on the cutting mat and then cut it an inch too short, the day before you are to hang your show. Thankfully for me I have a great framer nearby who was able to problem solve and cut a mat for me. Pro tip: get a mat the same colour as the frame so it looks like an extension of the frame. Oh and double check where zero is on your cutting mat and measure twice, cut once 🙂
What I am working on: My digital work at the moment is focusing on anxiety. It will be the focus of my show at Harcourt House Artist Run Centre‘s Art Incubator Gallery in the summer of 2020. I am looking at using text as well as trying some larger format prints. We’ll see how it all comes together, and I am excited about the challenge.
Workspace: My workspace is very portable. I use my iPhone a lot to do drawings when I am on the go. I have worked on drawings in waiting rooms, offices, various sports venues, pools, etc. If I’m home I will work on my iPad. My preferred place to work is my living room with some decaf coffee by my side. Access to a little organic, soy-free chocolate never hurts either 🙂
Goals: My art goal is to continue to grow, now that I am done with course work . I am limited in the sense that I cannot try new materials but I try to find other ways to stretch. I am working on incorporating text into some of my work. It is harder to do than I imagined so there is lots of failure, or rather practice, happening. I recently got an Apple pencil, which may help with what I am trying to achieve.
My career goal is to have one group or solo show per year. I was lucky to have a very supportive instructor, Brenda Malkinson, who encouraged me to apply for my first group show in 2015. I didn’t think I had any chance but I was happy to be wrong! I participated in Latitude 53’s Incubator group show and the same year I had a drawing published in aceartinc’s PaperWait arts publication. Since then I have participated in #YEGCANVAS, and CARFAC Alberta’s Ten Voices. My solo show All exits look the same was at the ArtPoint Upstairs Gallery in Calgary in 2018. So far, I have skipped 2019. I will have a show at Harcourt House Artist Run Centre’s Incubator Gallery in the summer of 2020.
Motivation: I like to be challenged, or I start to get bored, and I love practical problem solving. Bringing an idea to life, along with applying art principles is very satisfying for me. Visually abstracting the idea adds an extra layer of challenge which I enjoy. My other motivation is to bring forward subjects that are not part of our regular conversation, in hopes that it will encourage people to talk with others, and in doing so make it a more accepted aspect of our interactions.
Me: I grew up in Winnipeg and moved to Alberta for graduate school in Speech Language Pathology. After graduating I specialized in working with adults with brain injuries. I would happily have returned home at some point, but I met my husband and here we are. I love a good hamburger and I love to bake. Since developing severe environmental and chemical sensitivities, and food intolerances, life has gotten a little more challenging, but art has played a big role in helping me adjust to my new life.
How I learnt: I was not super keen on drawing when I started taking art classes, but there is a reason it’s a fundamental skill! Really anyone can learn and I think I am proof of that, having no discernible ability in it prior to taking classes. Drawing is also a really low cost way to get into art-making. Four pencils (8 if you want to splurge), a couple of erasers, a stomp (paper stick for blending) and some paper.
In terms of my digital work, I knew what I was looking for in drawing and when I found the app that mimicked that, I was set. I often used my fingers to blend and such when I used charcoal so I prefer a program that does not require a stylus. After that, it’s getting used to the programs quirks and making them work for you.
For photography I am learning by trying. Because I look for compositions within a photograph, I don’t concern myself with the overall image as much. I look for interesting shadows or changes in colour.
I will say I am caught up now and we’ll go with daily single posts for March Meet the Maker.
Getting caught up on the meet the maker daily posts.
Detail or close up: A lot of my work is best viewed close up, rather than from a distance. My subject matter for my drawings is more personal, and I think getting in close allows the viewer to reflect on their own experiences in relation to the work. Using a digital medium means that up close you can often see digital aspects of the work like a stair stepped line, pixellation or a slight blur to the image. I don’t try to hide these details as I feel it’s part of the medium.
My photography is about the details, and finding a composition within a larger image. The most exciting time for me is when I open an image and immediately see several possibilities. It also leads me to look at the nature around me in new ways.
Less glam side: The less glam side of work for me is the framing and packing art for shipping. It never fails, no matter how many times you give your image the once over, there will be a hair or dust or something that appears from nowhere and requires you to do it again! (…and again, and again) I have to wear a mask when using glass or plexiglass cleaner, which is also not very glamourous.
I have never used as much painter’s tape, bubble wrap, cardboard and packing tape as I have when packing art for shipping. Painter’s tape and cardboard and bubble wrap to protect the front of the frame. Lots more bubble wrap and cardboard corners for the rest, and the right sized box is key to prevent the work from moving around during shipping, to get where its going in one piece. As a rule of thumb, quadruple whatever amount of materials you think it will take. 😀
An artist I follow is participating in an Instagram event called Meet the Maker. I have not yet embraced Instagram, so I will create some posts based on the prompts. As it’s already March 12th, I’m a little late to the game, but regardless it will be fun! Let’s do a little catch up.
Favourite to make: I love all my art children equally, but digital is closest to the charcoal work I used to do, before I could no longer use traditional art materials. There is something about a monochromatic palette that I just love, which is odd since in life I love colour. Photography is what I do for fun. I find I quickly make creative decisions with my photographs, whereas a drawing may take several weeks or more to complete.
How I started: In 2008 I began taking community art classes. I was looking for something to do. I had always admired painters, being a devoted Bob Ross fan in my youth, but for whatever reason never gave it a try. I immediately loved how absorbing painting was, my brain was fully engaged and could not pester me with a thousand worries like it usually did. From community art classes, I moved to the Visual Arts program at the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta. There I discovered a love of abstraction, followed by a change from painting to drawing. Thanks to very supportive instructors, I then moved from traditional drawing to digital drawing. In 2018, I graduated with a Certificate in Visual Arts.
Tools and materials: I use apps and my iPhone or iPad to draw. In addition to being very portable, apps are also a very accessible way to be creative. Many are free, although you can upgrade features with in-app purchases. I think the most I spent was $20. Using apps is also very freeing, as many people worry about wasting art supplies as they experiment and learn. You can read more about some of the apps I have used in this post.
Watch for more Meet the Maker posts this month 🙂
Ice continues to be a focus for my photography. Over the Christmas break I was able to get into the river valley and saw the most beautiful ice. It was like fabric, floating on the surface of the water, able to fold and bend in ways that I had never seen before. Unfortunately my phone battery died after only a couple of shots. The next day the temperatures dropped and the ice changed again. One of the things I love about this subject is that very thing – it is always changing.
Winter light is something else that I love. The light is softer and shadows are longer. What time of day you are taking your photos matters a little less. That works for me as I am never out and about at the same time of day. There is still much for me to learn, but I enjoy the experimentation and I am always excited to see what I can make of the photos I take.
As I look outside I see it is snowing. Time to get on the hiking boots, hit the trail and enjoy.
Image: ©Deann Stein Hasinoff Smoke and ash 2019