Frames: The best frames I have found if you want to have the option of changing your artwork are Opus Exhibition frames. They are sturdier than what you can find at your local Scandinavian store and the fasteners at the back allow you to easily switch out your artwork. The mail order versions now only come with plexiglass so you do not have to worry about breakage. You do, however, require special cloths and cleaner if you plan to clean the plexiglass. DO NOT use paper towel or regular glass cleaner on plastic or plexiglass. These items can also be purchased through Opus.
Wiring frames: I was never very good at wiring a frame for hanging, then I watched a few YouTube videos. Here is a good one. Note not all frames can be wired, as the D-rings on the back are not made to hold the weight of the frame from a centre point. You want a ring that looks like this. If the D-rings are triangular shaped, and you cannot see the ends, I would not wire them as in my experience they will fail. Instead use two picture hangers (see below for video on hanging with D-hooks only). Coated wire saves your fingers or just put on a pair of gloves that offer some grip. I use gardening gloves.
How high to hang your art? Gallery height is between 147-150 cm, which is considered eye level (i.e. the centre of the art will be at eye level). To hang your art, measure the length of your frame, and divide by 2. Pull the picture wire on the back of the frame as if it were hanging on the wall, and measure the tightened wire point to the top of the frame (tight wire measurement). Subtract the tight wire measurement from the 1/2 frame measurement. This is your “from the hook” amount. Add this to 147 cm. Then you use your tape measure to measure from the floor to that point, and that’s where you put your nail. If you are using a picture hook, you will will want the hook to sit at this point, not the nail, so keep that in mind. Write the measurement on the back of the frame, so you only have to figure it out once.
So, if your frame is 60 cm long, it would look like this:
60/2 = 30 – 3 (tight wire measurement) = 27 + 147 = 174 cm (measure from floor)
Hanging a group: If you are hanging a group of pictures, choose one as the centre, hang it at eye level and then hang all the other ones around it.
Hanging in a row: If you are hanging them in a row, make sure your picture wire “from the hook” is exactly the same for all of your frames (e.g. all tight wire measurements are 5 cm). This will save you a lot of hassle when hanging.
D-rings only: If you are not using wire and are just using the D-rings, here is a handy video. Large pieces of art are usually hung with two D-rings instead of wire because of their weight.
Not sure? You can always consult with a local framer or the framing department at a craft store. Just make sure the person you talk to actually does framing.
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: 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.
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. 😀