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The miscellany of thoughts, quotes and observations here reflect my personal considerations of art, society and any number of topics, both mundane and profound. I love a dialogue so please send your own thoughts if you feel inclined. 

On Yupo and Mylar

For the past 2 years I have been working with liquid acrylic on yupo and mylar. Yupo is a white paper plasticized on both sides and mylar is a translucent plastic.

Yupo provides an interesting ground to watch colours mingle and take on shapes of their own, or be slightly controlled by the artist as the different pigments and the water adhere in some places and not in others. The stories they tell make for remarkable reading.

Mylar with its translucency allows work to be done on both sides. With some pieces the background you see is actually painted on the flip side. In the case of “The Wasteland” I have framed the work so that you can view both the front and back.

In this experimentation with technique I aim to get different looks and to push myself and the viewer to a fuller use of our imaginations.

On T.S. Eliot

My fascination with poet T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) comes from being both a teacher and student of English literature. Eliot’s examination of the purpose of life resonates for me as he looks to religion, mythology and previous writers for answers and images. His despair at the timidity and meaninglessness of modern living in the poems “The Hollow Men” (1925) and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1917) reminds me of today’s helpless feeling with speed, fear, powerlessness and pretension, leading many to a tide of depression and our retreat into mindlessness to escape. To which I’ve created “The Hollow Men”, “Head Piece Filled with Straw”, “Mermaid Singing” and others. I am finding my own visuals to interpret Eliot’s words.

In my paintings “The Three Wisemen” and “Lazarus”, the overriding moments for me are when Eliot asks, in “Journey of the Magi”, “ Were we led all that way for Birth or Death?”

With the paintings “The Rose” and “The Quest”, I was influenced by “Little Gidding” the 4th of Eliot’s “Four Quartets”, with the lines, “We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time.

Eliot’s idea that “What we call the beginning is often the end/And to make an end is to make a beginning” (from “Little Gidding” the 4th of Eliot’s “Four Quartets”) influences my work with the circle as well. And unlike in his poem “The Wasteland”, where he explores religions and literary and mythical allusions, I searched the simple line. Seemed to me to give more meaning. My painting “At the Still Point...” is an example. (“At the still point of the turning world, neither flesh nor fleshless; neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is.../Except for the point, the still point, there would be no dance, and there is only the dance.” From “Four Quartets”, 1st Quartet, “Burnt Norton”). I wanted line and colour to provide the meaning. In the end, we are what we do. It is as simple as that.

Interpreting My Work

Many people want to know what the artist was thinking as she worked. Unless there is direct information that is useful to share, I leave my titles to guide your way through and into my work. I believe that art should engage both the viewer and the artist in the exploration journey. The artist is the catalyst; the artwork is the medium; the viewer provides the product.

Quotes for Thoughts

J. Bruce Wilcox, Denver
“As we move to the end of the Piscean Age, the dynamics of living creatively are changing. This is because the Aquarian Age isn't about the old patterns of self-denial and self-sacrifice of the last 2000 years. This next Age is about each of us recognizing the Inner Fire of Creativity at the core of our being, and living and creating very different life experiences by being focused enough to make the connections to spirit."

"Help children to get through their childhood and out of it without shutting down their creativity or their inner spiritual connections. Help adults to reconnect to their creativity if it is in your realm to do so. Help yourself by doing whatever you need to do to get clear of all cultural suggestions that you cannot succeed at your Art. Never give up. By fully connecting to our Fire Nature and Passion for Life, all things are possible.”

I get a bi-weekly letter from Robert Genn . I thought I would share. This is part of what I want to say. Art is accessible by opening our senses to what is around us. We don't need to rely on the $ of New York to tell us what improves our life.

“Art has always been the conscience of civilizations. As we visit an Iranian sculptor, an Irish painter or an Inuit print-maker, we see that our branch of civilization is really part of a world-wide project which happens to draw on the same spirit. Paris, New York or Rome are no longer the temples or the homes of this understanding. Home is where the spirit is. We are our own priests and priestesses.”

Leo N. Tolstoy
“In our age the common religious perception should be the consciousness of our brotherhood and sisterhood. Our well-being lies in this union. Art should transform this perception into feeling."

(excerpted from EXHIBIT MAGAZINE, May-June, 1986)

As a non-objective painter who does not start with any "subject" except the painting itself, it always bothers me when people immediately try to pin down a "realistic" image in my paintings. It's not that "seeing things" in abstract paintings is so terrible, even if the artist didn't put them there. It's that you miss the real view if you spend all your energy trying to turn the painting into something "recognizable" like a figure or flower or landscape.

What's the "Real" View?

What do you actually see when you look at the painting? Colors, shapes, lines, spaces, and textures are the physical elements which combine to make the total image. A selection of dark, heavy shapes may impress you as somber--light, airy images as mystical--balanced, temperate forms as peaceful.

Shape, color, and form have meaning in and of themselves. We react emotionally to these elements even if they create no recognizable object for us to hang on to. Thus, a painting of ragged, angular forms in deep reds will evoke an entirely different feeling from one in soft curves of yellow and white.

The handling of space--or the illusion of space--is another element in the artist's toolbox. Are you drawn into a world of three-dimensional space stretching beyond the framework of the painting, as you might be in a landscape? Or are you kept visually taut, as a skater on a pond, skimming across a two-dimensional surface? The impression of depth, perspective, airiness, solidity, and other spatial relations are created and controlled by the artist.

Composition Guides the Eye

Have you ever looked at a painting or photograph and felt it was "off balance"? One of the big differences between amateur snapshots and professional photographs is the poor composition of many snapshots. Perhaps all the action is centered on the left side of the photo, with nothing but empty space on the right. It gives you the feeling it's lopsided.

Composition (also called "design") is one of the first things art students are taught. In a nutshell, the idea is to have a balance of visual elements without making the weight so balanced that the art becomes boring. If everything on the left is exactly equal to the right, and the top to the bottom, you may have balance, but you lose interest.

Getting the composition right--that is, balancing the elements of color, line, and shape while maintaining a dynamic tension--is a major preoccupation of the painter. If you add a blue brushstroke to the bottom left-hand corner, for example, you may have to change something in the top right-hand corner because of it. You can't concentrate on one section at a time, ignoring the rest of the canvas, and expect to end up with a composition that works.

What Should You Do When Confronted With An Abstract Painting?

When you look at an abstract painting, don't start by searching for some identifiable object from your world. Instead, try to enter the world the artist created.
Relax. Let your eye leisurely wander over the painting's surface. Let your heart react to its colors, shapes, and textures. Let yourself be drawn into the illusion of its spaces, the action of its lines, the mood of its atmosphere.

Step back and look at the painting from a distance. What is its impact as you approach it? Move up close and explore the intricacies of brushstrokes, paint thicknesses and compositional details. See how the parts are woven together to form the whole.

Give the painting time. No artwork can be understood and appreciated in a ten second glance. Good art should grow on you, becoming more interesting and more enjoyable to look at as you live with it.

You may still "see" things in abstract paintings--finding birds and trees and animals hidden in the shapes. There's nothing wrong with this. But by opening your eyes to the possibilities of the world the artist created, you may see more than you ever expected to see in abstract art.


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Studio: 251 Bank St (at Cooper), suite 502 (by appointment only)|Ottawa, ON, Canada K2P 1X3..
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