Tag Archives: painting

From On High… An Idea (25/365)

So I was pretty high up on a climb on Kid Goat (Blue Bubble) when it occurred to me it’s really hard to capture a real sense of how it feels to be up that high above the valley floor in a photograph.

IMG_4223

A vista like this sort of conveys scale (those are tall trees down there, and they don’t look very big). But what is harder to capture is the sense of vertigo when you are actually directly above stuff, like when you are at a hanging belay on the side of a cliff…

IMG_4221.JPG

So, I took a bunch of reference photos and what I think I’ll try to do is a drawing or painting that exaggerates certain elements of the composition to try to better reflect the feeling of being up there…

IMG_4188.JPG

Here’s a view of the climb from below, from the approach trail.

Dad has been very helpful, sending me examples of work by people like Sonja Delaunay and Andre Derain, who both used exaggerated colour and perspective to get their point across.

 

andre derain 1904 baker-s-hotel

Baker’s Hotel by Andre Derain, 1904

 

sonia delaunay three-women-dressed-simultaneously.jpg!Large

Three Women Dressed Simultaneously by Sonia Delaunay

And then I found this one, also by Sonia…

 

sonia delaunay 1967 color-rhythm-1967.jpg!Large

Color Rhythm by Sonia Delaunay, 1967

Which was a bit odd, because I’d been playing with colour blocks in my notebook just moments before I found her work after following a link sent by Dad…

IMG_4286.jpg

My blocks are a lot less solid than hers (pastels on textured paper rather than oil paints in Delaunay’s…). And my palette is totally different, of course… but on that front I was inspired by Josef Albers, about whom you will hear more in the days to come as Dad and I have had several Albers conversations and, weirdly enough, he is also featured in a current issue of an art magazine (which I stumbled across online and have now lost again… I’ll retrace my steps and try to post a link when I get back to Albers properly…)

It has been another busy day and I need to go find some grub, have a shower, and take another look at the scenes we’ll be rehearsing tomorrow for the Canmore Summer Theatre Festival’s production of Romeo and Juliet. My creative cup runneth over!!

 

 

 

 

 

R is for Red (AtoZChallenge2018)

kiki-de-montparnasse-in-a-red-jumper-and-a-blue-scarf-1925.jpg!Large

Kiki de Montparnasse in a Red Jumper and a Blue Scarf, by Moise Kisling, 1925

It’s one of the first colours we learn to identify as children. Our eye is drawn to the red smear in a visual composition. It’s the symbol of blood and of love, anger and the universal color of stop signs around the world. Associated with the Red Cross, the red sun on the Japanese flag (it’s actually the most popular colour used in flags with 77% of all flags including it somewhere…), red is also the least common hair colour in the human population (only 1-2% of the world’s population can lay claim to red hair).

 

kiki-de-montparnasse-in-a-red-dress

Moise Kisling obviously liked both Kiki and the colour red… (this portrait is called Kiki de Montparnasse in a Red Dress)

 

Red is one of the primary colours – the others being yellow and blue. In theory, if one mixes two primary colours you get secondary colours (green, orange and purple) and then, if you mix primary and secondary colours you wind up with tertiary colours. If you know what you are doing and have a bit of black and white you should be able to mix any colour you can imagine.

 

P3060031 ECW Watercolours

As a kid, I was totally intrigued by the magical paint-mixing that went on while Dad was working. Even now when I visit his studio this process seems like a strange kind of alchemy, capturing light and form, shape and shadow by smearing colour on a flat surface… 

 

 

 

Mondrian composition-c-no-iii-with-red-yellow-and-blue-1935.jpg!Large

By contrast, Piet Mondrian seems to have gone to great lengths to keep his colours clean and separate. This is Composition C (No. III) With Red Yellow and Blue, 1935

 

Also keeping it simple (colour-wise) is Roy Lichtenstein and this pop art portrait.

 

Lichtenstein head-red-and-yellow-1962(1)

Head – red and yellow (1962)

 

 

Mary Cassatt 1898 little-girl-in-a-red-beret-1898.jpg!Large

This pensive child caught the eye of Mary Cassatt. Little Girl in a Red Beret dates from 1898. 

 

Would you call the child’s smock pink? Salmon? When you think about it, there are many, many words describing ‘red.’ Ruby. Carmine. Fire engine. Crimson. Rusty. And, plenty more… What’s your favourite shade of red? In case you are wondering, today’s artwork effort on my part was completely the wrong palette (greens and blues) so I won’t post here and spoil the word of the day…

 

Snapseed 86

I went for a long walk this evening and took a ton of photographs. Scrolling through them there was a shocking dearth of red anywhere to be found. Except, in this photo which I snapped of a hula hoop hanging from a tree at the side of the trail. Who knows why a hoop should dangle just there… is it possible to drop your hula hoop and not notice? I thought the diminutive splashes of red were a lovely contrast to the more muted palette of the mountains before spring has fully sprung… 

See you tomorrow…

 

World Art Day – and Week Two Recap (#AtoZChallenge2018)

According to my source (thanks, Dad!) today is World Art Day! Given that Dad was the first artist I met (and certainly the one I’ve known for the longest), here’s a black and white photo of an early painting from Australia.

 

The Rocks

The Rocks by E. Colin Williams – not sure of the date – 1967ish?

 

This is an old area of Sydney – here’s a link to the Wikipedia page about The Rocks, now a touristy destination while still preserving some of the flavour of this historic district.

All these many years later, Dad is still going strong, still painting, still exploring new subjects, materials and techniques. Yes, he’s my father so I’m a bit biased, but I find him inspiring and love getting texts each day with updates from the studio. I never know what to expect and it’s so cool to be able to see paintings as they progress from the roughest of sketches to finished works.

 

IMG_6202 ECW Self Portrait

Self Portrait, 2015 E. Colin Williams Unfortunately, this photo isn’t really sharp, but it’s kind of fun to see the artist posing with the artist…

 

Hmm… I’ve been enjoying the daily blogging challenge this month – maybe I’ll continue for another month and just blog daily about Dad’s projects. He’s got lots on the go at the moment – then you could all see the cool stuff I get to see arriving on my phone each day…

I will chew on that between now and the end of April … Let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in an ECW Art-themed month of blog posts starting in May.

Meanwhile, here are links to this past week’s blog posts:

Day 9 – H is for Home

Day 10 – I is for Ice

Day 11- J is for Jumping Jehosephat (and a BUNCH of other fun J words)

Day 12 – K is for Kisses, Klimt and Kerouac

Day 13 – L is for Landscape, Leonardo, Liu, Lowery, Lichtenstein and Lots more…

Day 14 – M is for Mary, Mountain (but not Montmartre)

See you tomorrow when we return to our regularly scheduled alphabet… Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

L is for Landscape, Leonardo, Liu, Lowry, Lichtenstein and Lots more…

 

ECW Mountain and River.JPG

Mountain and River by E. Colin Williams. Yes, I’m lucky enough to live inside a landscape that looks a lot like this painting done by my father. 

Growing up I looked at a lot of landscapes – not just the ones we lived in and drove through but also the ones my father painted and my mother photographed. In a way, I got to see everything at least twice – once as a fleeting impression as I moved through the landscape and again, later after it had been filtered and transformed on its way to becoming a painting or a photograph.

Maybe because of that I love seeing how artists interpret the world we live in, how they try to capture the essence of a place on a two-dimensional surface.

 

da vinci bird-s-eye-view-of-sea-coast

Leonardo (da Vinci) is not the first artist that jumps to my mind when I think of landscape painters. This painting is called Bird’s Eye View of Sea Coast and was painted in 1515. I find it fascinating because it feels quite abstract and clean in its execution, features the strangest composition, and shows the world from a perspective Leonardo could not have experienced firsthand. It’s a strange blend of cartography, art, and imagination. 

 

 

Lautrec painted lots of outdoorsy scenes, but generally they include people, horses, or both… This is very different to my father’s paintings which rarely included humans, birds or animals. Until recently, that is, when Dad has been exploring subjects he spent little time with earlier in his career (a topic I’ll explore in more depth in a later post).

 

Lautrec fishing-boat-1880

Fishing Boat by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1880

 

In the literary arts department, Jack London had a gift for capturing the landscape on the page. The Call of the Wild certainly evokes the brutality of the Yukon and the impact the landscape has on its inhabitants.

 

Roerich snowy-lift-1924.jpeg

Jack London was not the only one inspired by images of the frozen north. The Russian painter Nicholas Roerich often turned to the mountains in winter for inspiration. This is Snowy Lift (1924), by Nicholas Roerich

 

 

lichtenstein arctic-landscape-1964

Here’s Roy Lichtenstein’s take on the northern landscape. Arctic Landscape, 1964

 

 

lowry clifton-junction-morning-1910.jpg!Large

L. S. Lowry’s dull as mud colours were typical of his early landscapes, this one from 1910. Though it’s titled Clifton Junction, Morning this hardly screams ‘morning light’ to me. 

 

 

van gogh enclosed-field-with-rising-sun-1889(1).jpg!Large

Compare Lowry’s somber morning with this exuberant sunburst by van Gogh. Enclosed Field with Rising Sun, 1889. 

 

And, finally, here’s a landscape by Georgia O’Keeffe… It may be abstract, but I can still see the landscape in the colours and natural forms.

 

okeeffe from-the-lake.jpg!Large

From the Lake, 1924 by Georgia O’Keeffe

 

Today I was priviledged to watch the amazing photographer Amy Liu at work. She was taking some photos of Ally Lacentra, super-talented young actor (and my step-daughter who, as luck would have it, has an abundance of Ls in her name).

 

IMG_2236

Amy and Ally at work – I felt bad for them as it was brisk outside today! Poor Ally had to try and look relaxed even when the chilly spring breeze blew down from the mountains! 

 

IMG_2237

One of the many gorgeous shots Amy Liu captured during the shoot today. Lovely!

 

 

And on that note, off I go to get back to work on the current work in progress. Let me know in the comments below if you have a favourite landscape painter…

Catch you later!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D is for Dying (#atozchallenge2018)

 

Édouard_Manet_-_Toter_Uhu Death Owl

Édouard Manet’s Dead Eagle Owl, 1881  Transforming death into art… 

 

The theme of this month’s blogging challenge is Transitions, Travel and Transformation. Dying could be said to be all three.

This past year I’ve read more about death (more precisely, the process of dying) than I would have thought possible. And, no – I have not developed a morbid obsession with the subject and no, I am not ill and no, nobody in the family has been stricken with a terminal illness. But I am writing a book for a new Orca Books series about the subject of medically assisted dying. What a rich and complex topic this has turned out to be!

 

Paul_Cézanne,_Pyramid_of_Skulls,_c._1901

Pyramid of Skulls by Paul Cézanne, 1901

 

I remember my mother once telling me she had a terminal disease. I was, of course, horrified. She was quick to add, “well, so do you. So does everyone.” I was perhaps 11 and still didn’t quite get what point she was trying to make. Sensing my confusion she asked, “You do know what terminal means, don’t you?”

“You’re going to die?”

She nodded and laughed. “Aren’t you?”

The fact I still remember this exchange so many years later is indicative of how rattled I was at the time. I knew, in some theoretical way, that one day my parents would die. And, I suppose, I knew that we all have to go at some point, but it all seemed so removed from reality. So unlikely. I had not experienced death at that point. Had no idea what I was in for.

 

Paul_Cézanne_-_Young_Man_With_a_Skull

Paul Cezanne’s Young Man with a Skull

 

As a result of my reading and I research I asked my father (now in his early 80’s) if I could interview him for the book, you know, have a chat about death. He was a bit offended, I think, and replied that he wasn’t planning to go anywhere anytime soon.

 

Gustav_Klimt_-_Death_and_Life_-_Google_Art_Project

Gustav Klimt – Death and Life, 1915

 

This pair of conversations with my parents pretty much sums up our North American discomfort with the inevitable. Yes, we sort of know it’s coming – but later and to someone else first.

 

400px-Hans_Baldung_009.jpg

The Three Ages of Man and Death by Hans Baldung – 1541-ish

 

As a result, few of us have had proper discussions with loved ones about our wishes for end of life care. Even when we’ve carefully written out medical directives, the system (medical, legal) doesn’t always know quite what to do with them. It’s very hard to write a directive that will cover all circumstances. And, when the time comes, people sometimes change their minds and families are notorious for not wanting to let go.

I’m writing this post in the airport while waiting for my flight back to Canada from France. Assuming nothing goes dreadfully wrong, I’ll be back at home in about 20 hours from now. Given all the thinking and reading and ruminating I’ve been doing about the subject over the past many months, getting my thoughts and intentions regarding what I do and don’t want done with my dying body has now moved up on my To-Do list.

 

George_Frederick_Watts_Found_Drowned

Found Drowned by George Frederick Watts, 1850

 

What about you? Do you have an end-of-life directive? Do your loved ones know what it is? Have you had a conversation (or several) with those who may have to make those decisions on your behalf when the time comes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below… See you tomorrow on the other side of the pond!

You know, you don’t need to wait until you are dead to consider how best to share your wealth around… If you find yourself in a contemplative (and generous) mood, consider becoming a patron to support the creation of these blog posts, photo essays, and short videos. In return, you’ll have my undying appreciation, but you’ll also get access to Patron-only content, advance peeks at works in progress, and more – all for as little as a buck a month! It’s easy – head on over to Patreon to have a look at how it all works. One of the things Patrons will find out about me in a private post is the location of my grave. I’m not in it yet, obviously, but we do have a family plot and I have staked my claim!