I’m in Iceland!!!

May 02, 2014 Here I am day 2 of a month long residency in Iceland. I’m still a little jet lagged (obviously as I type it is midnight and I’m wide awake) but I have done so much in 24 hours. I made a big change to the original plan, which means I now have a car for the month.After I arrived it became very clear to me that without a car I would be completely isolated, which also meant no means to get groceries. I’m in a rural village called Laugavarten, an hours drive outside Reykjavik. The road to here is really something to see. It travels through tundra looking landscapes surrounded by snow topped mountains as far as the eye can see and then passes through a national park where the speed limit is 50km for about 20 minutes. Then it moves into thick grass covered mossy lichen gullies with rock crevasses dividing the earth. There is also the most amazingly large natural lake called Þingvallavatn which is the largest lake in Iceland where the road travels around to the other side. Once you are heading down the hill into Laugavarten you see the first stand of trees which are an evergreen of sorts. Now that I have transportation I can make trips into Reykjavik for groceries and paint supplies easily at anytime. There is a bus service into Reykjavik but it comes only once a day and takes all day to get to the city. One would have to over night before being able to return the next day. So, now I can explore more than I initially anticipated. I managed to set up a place for myself to work in the studio and I expect to start tomorrow. I have been invited to go visit an old church somewhere that you must hike into…I’ll bring the camera. I have also been told about a hot river that you hike to and of course you can swim in it. Then there is the “secret hot springs” that you could also visit and probably have all to yourself. There are so many things to explore that I can see I might be torn between working in the studio and heading out on an adventure. Here are some photos of where I am staying: My house for the month, The studio, Inside the studio Gullkistan HouseGullkistan studio Studio space    Here is where I start to lay the ground work by blocking in colour Painting begins  The first layer goes onPainting transforms   May 05th, 2104  I can’t believe it is already day 5 of my residency. Between painting dry times I have managed to start exploring the area that I’m located in. Its called the Golden Circle and it also happens to be in the volcano zone. Infact, On a clear day I can see the volcano Hekla from my house. This is an active volcano that erupts about every 10 years…I’m told we are past the 10 year mark and waiting…comforting thought. I have had some interesting conversation with locals about living in a volcano region and what I am most surprised about is that from day to day they don’t worry about it. Apparently when a volcano erupts the locals get excited and many will try to drive as close as possible to watch the spectacle, celebrating the event. I also visited Geyser and Gulfoss Falls. The falls are simply stunning. I describe it as walking to the edge of the earth which suddenly drops off into a massive gorge below and the water fall pouring over the top into the gorge below is breath taking. The one thing I have concluded is that it is impossible to not consider the landscape in how I approach my work. Every where you look the landscape dominates in a huge way. The contrasts in colour, shape and form are what is most striking. I’m not a landscape painter but I find the work I am doing here is all about the landscape. I have added another layer onto the three canvases above and started working on the remaining 6. The Studio filled with work Below is a shot of the studio with works in progress: Studio work

 

Day 8 I came across carded wool the other day. Sheep and wool products are very popular in Iceland and I thought this could make a great collage item that will incorporate some authentic Iceland into my work.

 

Carded wool for collaging

 

After working on the paintings all day yesterday…I managed to tack two of them up on the studio wall so that I could get a much better idea of how they are going to work together.

 

Paintings on the wall

 

Third layer up on the wall

 

The second Painting group begins!!

 

 

 

Second painting begins

New Series-Buscando mi media naranja

I’ve been working on a new series. It’s centred around the colour orange which to me is the best colour going at the moment. Anyone who knows me well knows I am so into this colour these days and have been for the last couple of years.  I have called the series ‘Buscando mi media naranja’ which translates directly in Spanish to “searching for my half orange“. In Spanish to speak of your “half orange” is to speak of your soul mate.  It seemed appropriate to embrace my love for orange through a new painting series…and so here are some of the first pieces.

Orange series painting

 

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The Passion Series

VASA poster_dc_march_2014The Passion Series is the title of my latest Solo Show that will be up at the VASA Gallery in St Albert. The show runs from March 04-March 28th, 2014

Passion defined: Passion is an intense emotion compelling, enthusiasm or desire for anything. A powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger. A state or outburst of strong emotion

 As a painter I paint what I feel flowing through me in the form and expression of thoughts, feelings and emotions. I respond intuitively in each moment that I am creating and working on a piece. My palette is generally bright and bold, symbolic in ways to an intensity that I am responding to as I work. I may have a starting point of a topic that I wish to explore deeper prior to beginning some canvases while others are absolute jumping in points of any given moment based on my intuitive guidance system within.

 This series of paintings evolved out of the working topic of PASSION. Passion arises under many circumstances and it is not always sexually or romantically related. We can have a passionate experience about many different things in our lives..from a conversation with another to the energetic interplay between for example the climate of a place in time. Passionate moments surround us constantly and the emotion that comes with that is varied. There is also a layering of these emotional responses that develops over time and this is also an aspect that I work with in my work in the use of collage.

 Society places great expectations around the appropriateness of expressing passion and the need to contain it. I am exploring through my own experience how our passion within has its own agenda and will reveal itself on its own terms, appropriate or not to transform into something new, positive and beautiful and or sometimes with devastating results. Passion is about potential and it is the seed to anything creative, however that is interpreted.

My canvases in this theme represent a personal comment from different stages or moments in time or place within my own personal journey of my life. These are linked to my own sense of Passion from a passionate moment or experience that is either developing, or one that already exists and or is transforming into something new.

The hanging of the show https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.723735247677344.1073741845.300780116639528&type=1

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More work out of my Paris studio

I’m still working hard in Paris….Today I decided to start on a couple of new pieces…after a trip to the art supply store to pick up canvas I was back in the studio putting the first layers down. One of these pieces may end up being chosen for a commission piece.

Photos taken by Aneva Dubeaux…(Official Photographer)

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Painting in Paris

I’ve been in Paris now just over a week and mostly I have been sorting and organizing myself to begin working on my panel project. The 49 panels that I brought with me have been laid in my studio space according to how I want to work on them.

I ordered my paints and they arrived within days. The paints I am working with are new to me as they are not a brand that I can get in North America, however they are the brand that I will be using while in Iceland next year. This is great because it gives me time to experiment with this new paint and allow me to become familiar with how it responds and reacts before I am in residency next May.

Here are some of my early photos below from this project: (Click on any image to view it larger)

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November 29th:

My time in Paris is going great…I have been inspired not only by the simplicity of my own surroundings but also the complexity of being in a european setting. There are so many things about the way of life here that I find fascinating and I find myself thinking about how easily and naturally I could fit in to living abroad.

I have added several layers now and the painting is looking much more pulled together and connected. (See below)

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Paris is calling me….So here I come!

I love Paris in the spring time….I love Paris in the fall,

I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles,

I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles”

Ella Fitzgerald

Here it is late October and I have only been home two weeks from being on the road over the past two months and I’m about to take off again. Yes, thats right I’m heading out again for a month and this time it’s Paris….Yes, Paris, France!

I came home from Europe and was missing the culture, the atmosphere, the architecture, the food and just the overall inspiration that I feel Europe offers me as an artist. I put the energy out that I wanted to be back there and miraculously something came my way. I couldn’t turn it down…no way not in this lifetime!

So I’ll be off living and working on my art just outside of Paris, well, between Versailles and Paris to be exact. I’ll have a guest house/studio accommodation that provides me a place to work and sleep. I’ve been thinking about what I want to work on while there and I decided that I would make another piece for my solo show in March 2014.

I want to travel as light as possible. I don’t want to have to contend with a roll of canvas or anything large. I’ve had some very light wood panels sitting around for a while and wasn’t sure how I would use them.  I realized, why not work with these, they are portable and light, they’ll be perfect!…I’m going to create a large piece that consists of 7 x 7 panels that each measure 10″X11″.  In total there will be 49 panels arranged together with a tiny space in between…symbolic to the year in that it will be my 49th year in the month of my solo show.

I have included some pictures below of myself preparing the panels with gesso.

Check my Facebook page at Deborah Catton Contemporary Expressionist Art mid November to Mid December for updates. There is a link to this in the side bar of my website.

 

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Residency with Platform Gallery & Studios-Ottawa

I’m about to embark on a journey to Ottawa, Canada, for the purpose of participating in a Visual Arts Residency with Platform Gallery & Studios. I was awarded the one month residency in the nations capital earlier this year and I’ve had several months to prepare for it. Just today, I took my material packages that I plan to ship out down to the depot. They should arrive about the same time as I do early next week. The whole process of travelling thousands of kilometres away to create and work on a body of new work seems daunting at this point. There’s been so much to organize prior to this and I expect there will be more once I arrive, but I’m feeling confidant and motivated to get on with this project.  Today I’m adding a photo of my packages as I took them for shipping. In total I’m shipping about 100lbs of materials to the residency in three separate packages. The two tubes hold my canvas rolled up and it measures 6′ X 17.6′. I’ll probably cut this in half once I’m out there and work on two large 6′ x 8′ canvases.

I intend to add tidbits of my experience to this blog post as the month goes on so check back for my latest updates.

Packages ready to be shipped to residency

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting a PaintingAUGUST 14,2013- Currently in residency

Here is one of the large canvases in it’s early stages that I will complete during this time.

 

 

 

My studio has a large south window where the light pours in during the day. Here are the two panels in progress that I will complete.

Work in progress-Ottawa Residency

All in a days work…check out the current stage these panels are at now.

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Here I am posing for my friend taking the picture…in front of my work

Canvas 2 in Progress

Canvas 2 in progress on the wall. I’m being challenged to work in different ways and the result was   some text being added with collage. Soon it will go down to the floor for layers.

Canvas 2 in progress

AUGUST 20,2013 -Here is what it looks like when I took it down and started adding a layer of colour

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Canvas 1 up on the wall and I’m liking what I see and where it’s going.

Canvas 1 with additional collage strips in pink

AUGUST 23,2013– I added some pink collage strips to that orangey section….seems to tie the different sections of the painting together….thinking about adding additional detail in that section next…we’ll see!

Canvas 2 with phthalo blue & Red layer added

Canvas 2 has a red layer and a phthalo blue layer added….not bad…I’m liking it!

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Canvas 2 adding some orange stripsAugust 26th,2013 Canvas 2 with orangey bits added

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Detail of Canvas 2

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New work on a triptychStarted a new triptych today

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Karen’s Painting!

August 31,2013 Residency work continues as I have one week to go. Here I have added more layers to the triptych before I start to bring it all together.

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Triptych work

New work on the floor

This is another piece I just finished up

Work on the wall

Here are two completed works hanging on the wall.

September 02, 2013 Below are three pieces from a triptych that I worked on….’Three Shades of blue’. Each is about 6 feet long and just over 2 feet wide.

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I also worked on several smaller works that I intend to exchange with some of the other artists in the studio. This one below went to artist Ted Willis

Work exchanged with artist in studio

These two below will go to artist Denise Bison:

Work commissioned for artist exchange

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Here is another small creation

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…And so my time in Residency has come to an end…for now!

It has been such a productive time and I am pleased with the results but now I am looking forward to home. I have begun the process of cleaning up, packing up materials and rolling my canvases for shipping. Here is a shot of how I prepare my work for rolling. I use Glassine paper to cover and protect the painted surface and roll them to fit into my sonutubes. I have two tubes full of a months worth of work that I’m bringing home.

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Here is a good example that shows the size and scale of my completed canvases.

Art Scams…Don’t become a victim!

stop-art-scams[10]This month I want to talk about a topic that everyone and anyone could find themselves involved in at some point and specifically from the artists perspective and that is Art Scams.

There are many things to note about scammers. First, do not kid yourself, they exist. Scammers want to cheat you out of something; usually your money. Scammers are desperate people who lie and cheat to exploit others in mean ways. By definition: [a scammer is a person who swindles you by means of deception or fraud]

Recently, I as an artist was the intended victim of such a thing. I was contacted through my website from someone claiming to have looked through my work online and that they really liked it and that they would be interested to purchase a particular piece shown on my website. They asked me to indicate if it was still available and the price. I replied cautiously, that yes, it was available and I gave the size measurements but not the price….not yet. I then asked where they were located so that I could calculate shipping costs, but also this was my first attempt to source out the legitimacy of the inquiry. What came back to me was that they were in Bakersfield, California. They also instructed me to send my full name, address, phone number and tell them the amount. Here is an excerpt from that email:

 I have my Financier Assistance in Canada handling official duties. I would like to let you know I would be making the paying via a Certified Check. I will request you give me your final price for the piece and your Full Name, Full Mailing Address And Phone Number so i can inform my Financier Assistance on where to forward the payment Via a Certified Check.

 I will look forward to hearing from you so i can know how best to proceed. Cheers.

 Best Regards.

 David Flynn.

Okay, can you spot the things that I did and caused me to proceed even more cautiously? My response to this email was to ask a specific question about the particular piece that they were inquiring about and see if they could respond correctly. Here is what I wrote back:

“Could you tell me what type of art you collect? What is it that appeals to you about this particular piece? If you could please provide a phone number where I can reach you and indicate what is the best time of day to call you. I prefer to have a personal conversation with potential buyers.”

Here is how they responded:

Hello Deborah,

Thanks for the email and i do appreciate your time in replying my email.Well i am not an art collector but i am an art lover and i am just moving in to our new home and will be glad to have this piece of work as my art work on display in our home and give it a lovely place to stay.

Here is my phone number as you have requested 747-777-2129 and you can reach me via call any time or leave an answering message if i dont answer or precisely send me a text if you can as it is my cell.

I will gladly appreciate and accept to have a good conversation with you on the phone and discuss further from there.

I do hope to read from you soon.

Regards,

David Flynn.

Work like you don’t need the money …Dance like nobody’s watching …Love like you’ve never been hurt.

So now I am really suspicious…for obvious reasons. Can you believe the little saying he has after his name.  The wonderful thing about the internet is that you can google a phone number to see if there have been any complaints made about it. There are forums where discussion exists regarding calls being placed from numbers that are scams. This number came up immediately when I searched it as having a history of scams behind it.   So, in believing to still give “David”, the benefit of the doubt, after all perhaps he typed it incorrectly…I responded in this way.

David, 

I’m afraid that the phone number you have given me to call you has been reported as a fraudulent and scamming number that has had several complaints made about it.

I also notice that your English and grammar have many errors for someone claiming to be in California.

I suspect that you are not really who you say you are and unfortunately for you….I’m much smarter than you and am going to call you out on this one. 

And oh yes, I did get a reply….Here it is:

Catton.

What you mean with my phone number have been reported as a fraudulent and scamming number? You watch your tongue when you talk to someone over the internet. 

You been smarter is non of my damn fucking business…….

if your not interested in selling your work to me, say it straight up that faking story of my phone number reported as a scamming number

I only thought you kinda be nice to have a mutual business relationship with never knew your a damn shit.

Only Jah know if your not one of what you claim I am. Shit, silly Idoit.

David Flynn.

Needless to say at this point, I just blocked them from sending any more emails and rested my case….This was indeed a scam!

I started researching through many of the art forums about art scam experiences and was surprised to read that this was indeed a tactic that is used. Essentially, they try to get you to give them the price along with your personal information. They tell you they are sending you a cheque for more than what is expected, and then they want you to reimburse them the difference at some point. Who in their right mind would even consider doing this unless the cheque has been received and cleared by the bank but I guess it happens. Incidentally, I never offered up the price, choosing to wait until I was certain they were legit of which they were not. So, Artist Friends, Beware, there are people out there with bad intentions looking to take advantage of you.

On the other hand, not all inquiries into buying your art are bad. I was also recently contacted by someone, who was more upfront with where they had seen my work and where they were located. I used google search to verify their name as being legit and it was. Look for tell tale signs of fraud in what they write and keep your intuition tuned on high when communicating with strangers about your art. Don’t offer up any personal information in an email and instead ask for a phone number where you can call them directly. Never package and ship your work until you have been paid and the cheque has cleared at the bank.

Be smart about your art!

 

Life Is Art!…and the story of The Dog Bite Series

As an artist I am used to being thought of as a little strange and definitely different. I’ve had that label most of my life and although I disliked it when I was younger, I have grown to embrace it and wear it proudly all as part of being the artist I am. Somewhere along the way I realized that it was okay to look at things from a completely different view point than what most people do and some times the angles I choose can appear to be some what disturbing at first glance, and thats just fine with me. I’m not afraid to look at the “messy stuff” of our lives. I’m particularly intrigued by the emotional rawness that exists within us all. Deeply looking at it helps me to understand more about the human condition and my Self in the hopes of possibly making some sense of it or not.

My photography is another aspect to the artist I am. In fact, photography was my first choice of study at the University level and I continue to be fascinated with the image capture of moments in time. The concept of the passing of time has long been something I have explored in all of my work. In photography, I have always been drawn to how this concept can be interpreted through the use of the photograph.

I first came across the idea of this type of documenting the passing of time with the use of the photograph about 25 years ago as I was flipping through one of the popular photography magazines of the day. The featured photographer had bought an adult sized bathing suit for his new born baby daughter and continued to photograph her in it on every one of her birthdays until she fit into it at about the age of 19 or 20 years. One could see the passing of time beautifully explored as his daughter changed from a baby to a child and into a young woman.

Another example of this technique has circulated more recently over the internet in the series of images that capture a couple standing in front of an air pump at a gas station. The man holds up the end of the air hose to his partners stomach and we see the full series of her pregnancy revealed as her abdomen expands in size through nine months of gestation to the last image with the father holding the new born child. It appears as if dad has just let go of the air hose in time to catch the baby into his hands as she pops out of the mother, who also stands with an equally surprised expression on her face….all in good humour and fun.

I recently had the opportunity to document a passing of time series through the use of the photograph and I call it the Dog Bite Series. The unfortunate victim of this dog bite was bitten in a most unsuspecting place and through a most ridiculous circumstance. That was the first thing that I thought was interesting but I was more intrigued with the visual nastiness of the bite which is a miserable bruising of tissue. I wanted to capture how this bruising would change from day to day as the body attempts to heal.

I stopped at about Day 15 of documentation even though there were still minute traces of the bruising visible at that point but not enough to be picked up by the lens.

At some point I would like to show the entire series so that the full visual transformation of it can be appreciated. For now I’ll share two images from the series….titled Dog Bite Series Day 3 and Dog Bite Series Day 9 

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Dog Bite Day 9

 

 

 

Dog Bite Series Day 3                               Dog Bite Series Day 9

I know it seems a little weird, and perhaps a whole lot shocking and strange to see what image I found to be so very interesting, but as artists, we are always looking at the world from some unusual vantage point. To be an artist you must be able to look deeply and really see, to capture and reveal something that most others on first glance miss completely. And of course, I realize, you also need a certain guttsiness to persuade someone to lift their shirt and allow a photograph to be taken of their bitten breast…. Life is Art!