The Week in Review: Compassion Under Contemporary Conditions

The week began with Live Painting at Congress 2016, a huge event hosted by the University of Calgary that included ‘six interdisciplinary symposia to exhibit the university’s most compelling and leading-edge thinking and research.’  The symposia on Compassion Under Contemporary Conditions was inspired by University of Calgary assistant professors Shane Sinclair and Graham McCaffrey, ‘who share a mutual research and practical interest in the topic and in sparking conversation and debate around some of the realities of compassion.’

The topic, Compassion Under Contemporary Conditions, really inspired me and I was thrilled that I would have opportunity to hear Margaret Atwood speak as I find her very entertaining, closely linked to family and very very smart.

At home, I shot about loading easel, panel and STUFF into the car. At the U of C, I was met, early, by Allan Rosales who made the invitation for me to submit my artistic intention a week earlier.  Allan was helpful and very gracious. I also met Zareen and friend, from the University visual arts department, as they displayed a beautiful art exhibit based on compassion.  It wasn’t long and I was settled alongside artists Mark Vazquez-Mackay and  Rebecca Zai.  As the day opened up, Mark seemed to be painting the various layers and facets of compassion and his piece was breath taking.  Rebecca was working from a photo reference that she had taken while on one of her international travels, a person demonstrating care for the ordinary street cats of his village.  Again, a beautiful painting!

Photo Credit: Allan Rosales  painting by Mark Vazquez-Mackay Sunday, May 29, 2016

Photo Credit: Allan Rosales painting by Mark Vazquez-Mackay Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hmmm…doesn’t seem I have a completed painting by Rebecca in my photo archives.  I’ll grab one and post later.

It was a blessing day, as it revealed itself. I thought it was very gracious of both Shane and Graham to come and introduce themselves and chat a little about art and life.  While my painting was not completed by end of day, there were a lot of different feelings that I moved through in the process and I was very excited to begin the journey of painting a body of work based on British Home Children that I’ve been researching for probably, WAY TOO LONG.  I interviewed descendant, Janet Fair, such a long time ago. Her grandfather, Sidney Emms Prodgers, was about to become my very first subject.

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Red underpinnings…the pain of the stories.  Gold…elevating the experiences of these lost/forgotten/abandoned children.

 

Application of Collage bits to the panel...S. S. Scotsman, the ship that carried Sidney, at age of 11, to Canada...facility where Sidney was surrendered as an baby, maps.

Application of Collage bits to the panel…S. S. Scotsman, the ship that carried Sidney, at age of 11, to Canada…facility where Sidney was surrendered as a baby, maps.

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The complete biography written in gold…information received via electronic mail from descendant, Janet Fair

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Photo Credit: Allan Rosales

Photo Credit: Allan Rosales

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Photo Credit: Allan Rosales

Sidney Prodgers 13324271_10153628288000108_1360837927_o (1) Waqas 1

Photo Credit: Waqas (Rebecca….last name?)

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Home!  I’ll take Sidney into the studio to complete…so happy with the process!

I was grateful to hear Margaret Atwood’s talk on Compassion…the humour woven throughout, colourful  experiences of nurses and health care providers, historically, leading up to contemporary issues, as well.  I thought a lot about my sister as I listened.  I’m grateful for Valerie Jean Fiset, more than she will probably ever know.  She has had a most inspiring journey and I am so proud of her.  I likely should have brought along some of my Atwood books for signatures…I’m not surprised that I forgot.

Another blessing during the course of the day was to have a visit with a dear friend, Dr. Rita Irwin.  Our friendship began while we both achieved our B. Ed degrees at the University of Lethbridge.  She wandered over to my location, along with three of her witty and smart friends, and had a short but amazing visit.  Another strong and accomplished woman; I simply loved our shared big hugs and the familiar ring of Rita’s voice and laughter.

Rita...second from left.

Rita…second from left.

Rumble House: May 11, 2016

The car got a detailing.  I purchased a new soft-walled kennel for Max.  I made a nice grilled cheese sandwich and then I headed down for a two hour Rumble.  It was good to take out the paint box and hang with these beautiful people.

Painting dissolves the forms at its command, or tends to; it melts them into color. Drawing, on the other hand, goes about resolving forms, giving edge and essence to things. To see shapes clearly, one outlines them–whether on paper or in the mind. Therefore, Michelangelo, a profoundly cultivated man, called drawing the basis of all knowledge whatsoever.

Just some photos…and grateful to Ralph and Edgar for purchasing my piece at auction.
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This moment, this being, is the thing. My life is all life in little. The moon, the planets, pass around my heart. The sun, now hidden by the round bulk of this earth, shines into me, and in me as well. The gods and the angels both good and bad are like the hairs of my own head, seemingly numberless, and growing from within. I people the cosmos from myself, it seems, yet what am I? A puff of dust, or a brief coughing spell, with emptiness and silence to follow.  Alexander Eliot

Christine Klassen Gallery

I’m learning something new about the Calgary art scene every week and I’m so excited about the seeming expansion of visual arts events the city-over.  Given that I’m living in the south, I like it that this includes the Manchester Industrial Park.  One such gem is the Christine Klassen Gallery.  This afternoon I was the beneficiary of fantastic light, scrumptious munchies, a glass of nicely chilled champagne and over-the-moon art works…today, featuring the works of artists Teresa Posyniak, Lisa Matthias and Carl White.

I found the work uplifting, predominantly textural in nature, with a dominance of pattern.  On a warm Calgary day, seeing such works could only lend itself to a sense of optimism.  I had a lovely chat with Lisa and was, given a body of work that I’m exploring, intrigued with her  interest in ecology, natural history and environmentalism.

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Kath's Canon April 2 2016 Art Klassen Pason Ed Bader 014

Since studying the Private Eye for an integrated educational program based on observations of natural and found objects with jeweler’s loupes, I’ve been collecting samples on my pond study and analysis of atmosphere around a single bush located at the site.  I was immediately drawn to Lisa’s works.  Described in part, on her website…

Her work frequently draws from her experiences as a biologist, and she often captures microscopic images and videos in her creative practice. The idea that everything is part of a larger assemblage, emphasized by the recognition of patterns and relatedness across species and scales of life, is a central theme in her work.

I’ve consistently enjoyed Carl White’s paintings as expressions of a very absorbing and melodic sensibility.  I was happy to reconnect with that feeling today.  It was a beautiful thing that as the huge doors were left open because of the warmth, Carl’s paintings seemed to mirror back to me the spring air, light and sound.  It was truly beautiful.

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Teresa’s work was fascinating for its layers of media and texture.  Surfaces were dripping with colour and intensity.  While reflecting upon ‘Eating the Sun’, I am salivating.  Some art just creates that response in me.    Again, I enjoy Teresa’s link with science.  The following, a summary from the CKG website.

My childhood fascination with “things microscopic” resurfaced about ten years ago when my friend and science journalist Alanna Mitchell shared her research and images of plankton with me while working on her international bestseller SEASICK: the Global Ocean in Crisis. I was struck by the fact that plankton produce more than half the earth’s oxygen through photosynthesis (the conversion of sunlight to carbon-based food) putting oxygen into the air as waste from the chemical reaction. Although these “sun-eaters” keep us breathing, their well-being is being threatened by human activity.

It wasn’t just the science that intrigued me. As an artist, I am fascinated by these beautiful creatures ranging from microscopic marine viruses and bacteria to single-celled plants with stunningly ornate shells, and plant-eating animals.

As I embarked on this ten year journey to create this series of paintings and sculpture, I thought about the myriad ways that pattern is enmeshed in our existence and how the tapestry-like qualities in these almost invisible creatures and plants are echoed in the macroscopic world – architecture, decoration, lace, flowers, trees, skin, clouds, stars – the comparisons are limitless.

Both artists and scientists are keen observers of life.  Science has inspired me to expand my artistic vision to another realm, a world that I yearned to see as a child.  

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Kath's Canon April 2 2016 Art Klassen Pason Ed Bader 012Kath's Canon April 2 2016 Art Klassen Pason Ed Bader 011

This stop was a delightful way to begin my afternoon art walk here in Calgary.  I’ll continue by writing about my ‘second stop’ tomorrow morning, a tour led by Naomi Potter (Curator for Esker Foundation), Jim Hill (owner of Pason Systems and along with his wife, Sue Hill, an enthusiastic collector and visual arts advocate) and Dr. Shepherd Steiner ( Assistant Professor, University of Manitoba School of Art, who has recently completed a manuscript looking at Modernist painting, sculpture, and criticism from 1945–1968) of a portion of the extensive collection of works on view at Pason Systems.  What magic!

I’ll be seeing you again, Christine.

A Monet Moment With Gillian

Nothing is more fun than spending an afternoon with another retired teacher…woman…and friend, painting Monet Magic in a wildly energetic dance of colour and creativity!  And that’s what it was…a dance!

Often times I have spoken to students about the personality of our individual mark-making.  In fact, marks become so highly recognizable that often times artists do not sign their work in the formal tradition of yesteryear, but instead, simply include information on the back of the panel/canvas, so as to not distract from the image.

Like some sort of choreographed number, Gillian and I switched places every five or ten minutes this afternoon, in order to collaborate and weave our marks throughout the piece.

Gillian had a dresser, originally brown in colour, that she recently finished with a purple coat of paint.

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The dresser has some interesting design details.  (apologies for the bright light in the photos…but…it was such a lovely atmosphere for painting, especially after the noon hour treat of a Cobbs ham croissant!)

Given that it was already prepped, we worked together to create a free-flowing piece, somewhat symmetrical, in the spirit of Claude Monet.  For those of my readers who do not know his work, here is a section of a water lily painting.

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Because of the depth of the purple paint, I decided not to use the impasto tints most associated with Monet’s work, but to build layer upon layer from the deeper colours, forward, to the lighter.  We kept all of the marks very free flowing.

This series of photographs show the process.  We will follow up with photos once the piece is varnished and off of the fly sheet.  It will be quite spectacular.  Thank you, Gillian, for conversation, laughs and shared energy.  It was a beautiful afternoon!

Drawing boundaries for water, sky and vegetation with loose drawing marks. A decision to use Ultramarine for sky atmosphere and Pthalo for water.

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Incorporating a little bit of lavender into the sky atmosphere.

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Building up colour into the central area. Deciding on some wild irises to create a bit of a vertical movement.

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Could I ever complete a piece without injecting red?  I don’t think so!  Gillian was daring and didn’t even hesitate!

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Important that the entire piece be integrated…top and sides, included.

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Yummy surfaces!  Thanks, Gillian, for sharing colour, light, conversation, travel stories and invention!  And for the record, this is a very cheesy music video….but, it’s perfect and well-suited for the experience!

 

 

Rumble House: September 30, 2015

I sat in City Hall for much of yesterday afternoon in order to get a Building Permit.  Then, I crawled home on Deerfoot Trail because of an accident somewhere near Anderson.  Max and I did a quick neighbourhood walk and then, crackers and cheese in tow, I headed back down to the core for the Rumble.

It’s nice when you just ease into ‘the house’.  I had been looking forward to painting my great blue whale and buoy throughout the week.  The image has been alive in me and the outcome of this remarkable animal, caught in a web of fish net out at sea, has been concerning. The story, as covered by the news, has just dissipated with the calling off of the search.

It was a peaceful evening, painting.  The gathering was small, but productive.  One of the inspiring pieces was a poem from Maya Angelou, titled Old Folks Laugh.

Old Folks Laugh

They have spent their
content of simpering,
holding their lips this
and that way, winding
the lines between
their brows. Old folks
allow their bellies to jiggle like slow
tambourines.
The hollers
rise up and spill
over any way they want.
When old folks laugh, they free the world.
They turn slowly, slyly knowing
the best and the worst
of remembering.
Saliva glistens in
the corners of their mouths,
their heads wobble
on brittle necks, but
their laps
are filled with memories.
When old folks laugh, they consider the promise
of dear painless death, and generously
forgive life for happening
to them.

by Maya Angelou

The line that would be incorporated into my piece would be, “When old folks laugh, they free the world.”

We can’t see beneath the surface of the beautiful and endless oceans. We do not take pause and think about the rivers that are constantly finding their way to the sea. A mirror, the water reflects the sky. There is a forever-drift of life beneath the blue. But, we forget. In all of our wild consumption and progress, we do not remember the life that gasps for breath, but is hidden from us.

Last night, I wanted to meditate and to remember. Thanks to Benjamin who purchased this piece at auction.

Photo Credit: Michael Collett

Photo Credit: Michael Collett

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Rumble House: September 16, 2015

I painted a two-hour Rumble in my kitchen on Wednesday afternoon.  I want to paint Chief Poundmaker as an offering to Dylan, for his continued success on a positive and rewarding journey.  For now, life seems to be blessed and it is because of some great choices.  I first met Dylan at the Gorilla House, while painting my studio chief sketches and so, it came to be that he shared his story.

Needless to say, the painting was not accomplished in two hours and so I took the panel with me to the Rumble, thinking I might complete it then.  Nopers. With the whirl of activity and lacking intense focus, I knew that I would be putting a soulful effort in at home, again.  It’s still not complete, as I make the effort to achieve a satisfying likeness.  This is just important to me. I am writing this blog as more work is happening and while drinking my morning coffee.  I’ve decided, however, to get the post about Wednesday night on my blog, with the painting in progress.  Otherwise, my readers won’t see the archive of work and enthusiasm that was poured into our latest Rumble.

It seemed to be Rico’s night at the auction!

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Rumble House: September 2, 2015

Having a home and being connected with people is very important to ‘who we are’.  With recent news of 71 migrants dying on an Austrian motorway, 200 refugees drowning off of the coast of Libya and the horrific situation off of the coast of Greece, it is again, time to think about global responsibility and inclusion.  Interestingly at this time there is even a renewed conversation about building a wall between Canada and the United States.  So much of our global context is based on fear, judgement and exclusion.  All human beings require the basic needs that come with belonging.  It is time for belonging to be a focus.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  Even in our Rumble House community, we are thinking about what it means to belong.  We gather in this tiny venue, and share a powerful sense of being a part of something. We accept one another, laugh with one another and talk about extraordinary things.  When one of our community is in pain, we support and uplift.  It is interesting that art is our connective tissue.

Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 061 Last night, I didn’t participate in the auction…my piece was largely incomplete.  One of the themes of the night was ‘Take Down the Walls’.

Take down the walls.
That is, after all, the whole point.
You do not know what will happen if you take down the walls; you cannot see through to the other side, don’t know whether it will bring freedom or ruin, resolution or chaos. It might be paradise or destruction.
Take down the walls.
Otherwise you must live closely, in fear, building barricades against the unknown, saying prayers against the darkness, speaking verse of terror and tightness.
Otherwise you may never know hell; but you will not find heaven, either. You will not know fresh air and flying.
All of you, wherever you are: in your spiny cities, or your one bump towns. Find it, the hard stuff, the links of metal and chink, the fragments of stone filling you stomach.
And pull, and pull, and pull.
I will make a pact with you: I will do it if you will do it, always and forever.
Take down the walls.”

Lauren Oliver, Requiem

I painted from a little reference.

British Home Children Rough Crossings 2010

Kath's Canon, September 2, 2015 Rumble House 005Sketch in progress…

Kath's Canon, September 2, 2015 Rumble House 003I’m very-much interested in research and the production of a body of work based on the historical plight of British Home Children.  My readers may or may not think that this is a part of history to reflect upon…it doesn’t matter.  It is relevant because it is a part of MY story.  I am a descendant and find this story on my family line, along with so many other diverse stories, an important one.  From the Library and Archives of Canada….this.

“Between 1869 and the late 1930s, over 100,000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from Great Britain during the child emigration movement. Motivated by social and economic forces, churches and philanthropic organizations sent orphaned, abandoned and pauper children to Canada. Many believed that these children would have a better chance for a healthy, moral life in rural Canada, where families welcomed them as a source of cheap farm labour and domestic help.

After arriving by ship, the children were sent to distributing homes, such as Fairknowe in Brockville, and then sent on to farmers in the area. Although many of the children were poorly treated and abused, others experienced a better life here than if they had remained in the urban slums of England. Many served with the Canadian and British Forces during both World Wars.”

As we enjoy our sense of community and security, we need to remember that we are blessed.  We must remember that colonization impacted the homes of others and be respectful of that impact always.  We must remember that our security has been built upon the backs of hard workers and indentured workers, as well as slaves and upon the opportunities that were and are afforded us as a part of democracy.  These gifts must never be taken for granted.

Here are some photographs of an awesome community of artists who are doing a great job supporting one another through various life journeys.

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Rumble House: August 26, 2015

I was late and when I arrived, I was kind of jostling and trying to find a spot to sit.  The proper etiquette at Rumble House is to arrive in time to set up and when the artists are painting, yes, interact, but don’t blow the beautiful flow of painting and creating that is happening at the time.  I was ‘the bull’.  Thanks to Jess and Rich for helping me get sorted.
I sat to paint, but had been filled with a bit of a melancholy all day.  I never really know how it’s going to go.  Do any of us?

Presently, I’m listening to Vance Joy’s music on Youtube.  It’s beautiful.  Thanks, Jess.  Two mamas have a little teeny son, August, and Jess woke at 4:00 a.m. with the sweetheart and listened to this.  Such a beautiful song…and it leads to others.  There is so much amazing joy in being engaged with life…but, there is also huge struggle.  Yesterday, my cousin Jaime’s words of sadness and loss hit me very hard as well.  The experiences that we are offered and challenged to face with grace and gratitude are limitless.  Cayley has told me that I’m a bit of an empathic, so again, I feel a lot of this in my bones.

I went out on my walk at Frank’s Flats yesterday early afternoon and the extreme variety of life experiences was exemplified in the glorious and the gut-wrenching pain to be found in nature.  I stalked the great blue heron that had been perching for the past week or so at the pond’s edge…a very nervous bird who shifted its location at the sound of the train or a person walking the path some distance away…agitated…so powerful in flight…so truly amazing in its structure and appearance.

Eventually, I grabbed some shots, not technically astute, but a testament to what I experience daily at the flats.

Kath's Canon August 26, 2015 Heron Dying Bird 080

©Kathleen Moors

This, just across the pond from a coot with a broken wing, trapped in the water some distance from shore.  And…I came home and wrote this.

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors

Last night, I tackled a very small panel. I combined a feeling of the claustrophobic experience of grey skies blanketing the sun these last many days due to raging forest fires in Washington, Oregon…dangerously dry country, it seems, everywhere this summer and this bird raising up out of loss and injury and finding wings to fly.  I made an effort to shift the consciousness and to honour the life energy of a single bird.

Congratulations to Jess Szabo on her exhibit of last night.  I’m looking forward to Changing Face, featuring artists Daniel Audet, Amy Gaulin, Aaron Sidorenko, Rich Theroux, Nick Rooney, Brian Flynn, Doug Nhung, Ness Nelson  and Shon Anderson.

I was glad to have connected with Andrea, who took this bird home after auction.  She has such enthusiasm and such an ability to project hope in otherwise hopeless situations.

Kath's Canon Rumble August 26, 2015 051 Kath's Canon Rumble August 26, 2015 050 Andrea and Kath Rumble August 26, 2015I love the energy of the people at Rumble House.  Enriquito, my heart is for you on this journey.  If I can give support, your Godmother-in-art is here for you.

One of my favourite people tonight…Kai, featured here with his painting of Smudge the Shark.

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Rumble House: August 19, 2015

CalamityRumble House has managed through a summer of floods, four of them…hail and hassle of every sort.  Rich and Jess have managed to negotiate their way through the number of revisions that had to be made to the space, based on damage of infrastructure.  They have done a great job and the space is beautifully changed, more spacious and organized.  It’s been a strange summer for me as well, having to react to a number of events, beginning with my Max’s injury and then my own broken foot on July 2nd.  Rich and I were talking a little about calamity last night and we agreed that sometimes calamity causes our greatest creativity and active engagement.  We go places.

Some years ago, my son and I traveled a journey that I loosely named our ‘Manifest Destiny’ journey.  I finished watching four seasons of Hell on Wheels recently and the trip that James and I took wove through several of the locations featured in this series.

The trek began when we dipped south to visit Sainte-Marie among the Hurons where eight Jesuit missionaries lived, worked and were eventually martyred.  To stand in this place is to recognize, with complete clarity, the collision of two cultures both operating from a sense of protection of their own ways and intentions.  It is an example of colonization and all that can be anticipated as a result.

We then crossed the border into the United States, drove through the land where Dances With Wolves was filmed, saw Mount Rushmore, traveled through the Black Hills, all while listening to Louis L’Amour stories on book tape.  We stood overlooking the hills of Little Big Horn.  We slept in a cheap hotel room in Deadwood and we drove through the Bad Lands.  It was an amazing trip, ending with the sharing of a jug bottle of beer in Billings, Montana.

Wonders 93 Little Big HornI’ve written about Deadwood before.

It was another place riddled with a history of the ‘wild’ west…and so much of it rooted in tragedy.  It was the first time that I really thought about a lot of things.   There were huge issues that I had already read about, feeling very sad about the choices of the past, but helpless to change any of them.  One of the personalities that came to mind once we hit Deadwood was a woman of the west, Calamity Jane.  Last night I painted from one of the photo references that is an early portrait.  Thank you to Teresa for purchasing Calamity at auction.

Last night I painted her.

Kath's Canon August 19, 2015 Calamity Jane Rumble 024 Kath's Canon August 19, 2015 Calamity Jane Rumble 021I am grateful for the people I bump into at the Rumble.  They have become ‘characters’ of my own life…friends…hard workers…creatives.

Calamity Jane…what is fact and what is fiction?

What is the history that we are creating as individuals and collectively?

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Rumble House July 29, 2015: One of the Glamour Girls

Marie Magdalene “Marlene” Dietrich became the subject of my Rumble House painting last evening.  It was a lovely crowd who showed up after Rich and Jess being featured in both a Metro piece and a CBC live painting experience this past week.

I’ve done a few little sketches based on the 30s ladies since Rumble opened.  I always thought of my own mother as being pretty glamorous, absolutely loving the evenings in the 50s when she would dawn her satin and crinolines and join Dad for her New Years Eve celebrations.  I loved how she penciled over her eyebrows and traced her lips with her lipstick. There was never a woman who worked harder in her home and with her children, but she could seamlessly transform herself for those special evenings, sewing every outfit so that it looked store-bought.  I remember when she was pregnant for my brother Stuart, how she sewed a black accordion pleated top in shimmering black and edged it in rabbit’s fur.  She wore a simple black pearl pendant. Oh my goodness, she was beautiful!

Mom by the Water

Young Mom edited  Katherine Mary Moors in Foreground

I liked the particular approach to photography at the time.  In fact, last evening, photographer, Francis A. Willey was in attendance at Rumble House and completed one of a series of confessional paintings.  His photographs are well known around Calgary and he has achieved international recognition for his diverse talents.  I’ve met him at a number of events in the city and it was great to see him out.  His photographs include a body of work that features this particular sort of romanticism that I am writing about.

Photo Credit: Francis A. Willey

Photo Credit: Francis A. Willey

I chose Marlene Dietrich as a subject because she is such an icon of the period, however, in only an hour and fifteen minutes, the piece is a gesture of what the reference demanded.  I liked the process of moving quickly from the darkest darks into the light, although, the sketch is hard edged in comparison to a studio piece that would involve the application of more layers and washes.  I liked working beside Melanie who was working on a portrait in water colour pencils, with tremendous success.  She had a very positive energy and sitting next to the turn table, listening to hypnotic and sexy tunes, we had a beautiful evening of it.  Thanks to friend, Bana, for her purchase of this piece at auction.

Kath's Canon July 30 2015 Picnic Rumble House 034 Kath's Canon July 30 2015 Picnic Rumble House 013Kath's Canon July 30 2015 Picnic Rumble House 026 Kath's Canon July 30 2015 Picnic Rumble House 030 Kath's Canon July 30 2015 Picnic Rumble House 031Other Glam Girls can be found HERE and HERE and HERE.