Monday, August 13, 2007

Oakville: Part 3

The final night takes place at the Win Henstock Gallery, where the staff have expertly hung the show. The upper gallery space is quite special. One wall is painted red a la the Tate, and I had hoped hard that if my work was accepted, that it had been hung on that incredibly striking surface. As I reached the entrance, I see five of my works are indeed hung on the red wall! Yippee! But where are the other two? Artist Cathie Gellatly grins slyly and points at the two paintings that didn't make the red wall. There they were, both Honorable Mentions, on the "Winner's Wall". Well, I just couldn't believe it. Wow! What an unexpected honour. Also to my great delight, old friends Holly and Jim have shown up for the opening.

(pic by Holly Walker)

I mingle, do the schmooze. I actually enjoy this part. Those who know me will laugh in understanding agreement. I am a born extrovert and just cannot help myself when it comes to meeting people and listening to their stories.

I must say, the best story from the Paint Out has got to go to
Robert Amirault. Bob's painting of water lilies at Gairloch had somehow managed to tumble unseen into the busy parking lot, wet side up. After an exhaustive search complete with scent hounds on the trail, the poor panel was discovered. It had been run over by a good 10,000 tires. Demonstrating an extraordinary sense of humour, Bob submitted the black, gritty panel to the show, framed in an exquisite gilt frame, and titled it, "Ask Bob." Classic!

Afterwards, a bunch of us go to an Irish Pub for drinks and enjoy their version of the ongoing Oakville Jazz Festival. A perfect day. I hope that Plein Air Canada, Win Henstock Gallery, and Oakville host a Paint Out again sometime. Well done, all!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Oakville: Part 2

Win and Barry Henstock graciously invited the painters to work on the grounds of their estate one afternoon. Two models have been brought in to pose, and I am eager to try this. Shady spots are at a premium; it is incredibly hot, and the beautiful turquoise swimming pool beckons.

There is also a Quick Draw event scheduled for this Paint Out, wherein we must show up at a specific location and paint and frame a complete work in one hour. My favourite!! What a rush.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Oakville: Part 1

I am here, in my room at the Oakville Inn. It is very clean, I have lots of room, a kitchenette and a beautiful sleigh bed. Betty from Nigeria is the owner, and she greets me with friendly enthusiasm. African prints adorn the walls of my room, which faces a street that couldn’t be more white bread. I enjoy the contrast.

Morning, coffee is good. It is a hot, humid day already. Hazy. Sunny.

I get my gear together and head three blocks down to the Win Henstock Gallery where we are all to register for the paint out. I wait on a bench out front. Along comes one artist, and then another and then a pair traveling together, easels in tow. The latter two head out to paint, saying they’ll register later. We three left chitchat about this and that. One is a likable teacher, teaches teens and adult drawing. The other has been a studio painter for many years, but wants to take the plunge and work from life outdoors. Both are champions of traditional realism. They heartily bash an abstract watercolourist juror who did not allow the studio painter's works into a recent show. He sees it as “too easy” “splashy” and she claims, “you have to have SOME form in there.” The war of the realists vs fast 'n loose abstractionists continues!

Soon, gallery manager Andrea unlocks the door and gives us our name tags and a tour of the gorgeous gallery. She is friendly and helpful. We head off to paint.

I go down to the harbour and start there, then biked over to Gairloch for the afternoon. The gardens are small. The waterfront has some potential, and I adore painting water. Was doing a dance of avoiding biting flies while attempting to stab at a values underpainting when organizer and accomplished painter John Stuart Pryce (of Arctic Quest fame) saunters over. He is such a gentleman, and easy to get along with. We bitched about the biting flies, as was everyone else apparently!

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Okay… focus, Brandy. No more indulgent fear.

Today, I must trek to the nearest city to purchase a whack of pro hanging hardware. I will be doing the framing in my room at the Inn for the Oakville show. I have an assortment of beautiful frames collected from here and there.

My muses for the trip:
Carol (a collector from Florida who gives me inspiring feedback on my work in comparison to some really interesting artists); Pater Ludi in Bavaria, (truly generous with his comments); and Tonya, (a supportive collector in Illinois who has recently shared some personal insights) are all suitable choices.

But I dig deeper.
The area is a port, surrounded by gardens and historical buildings. The inhabitants are wealthy commuters from Toronto’s Bay Street and the like. Homes are expensive, even a little Ontario Cottage is off the charts. I will be carless, and ride my folding bike everywhere, my easel strapped to the book rack. I shall be staying in what looks appears to be a frugal, sparse room above a Starbucks on the main drag. Who is such a marine painter’s muse? What can I focus on to get me through this, and paint brilliantly? My sister in America? She's been on my mind lately. She is the type of person who would live in historic Oakville. I heard from her about her own fabulous successes the other day and we emailed back and forth. She thoughtfully suggested I apply to be a consulting artist for the ice hotel in Finland. “You’d be gone for several months, but what an opportunity!” I’d love to, but maybe when I am an old lady. There's no way I could escape for that long with the ties and commitments I currently have to here. Think think think... Sz?

Yes, it is her.
Writer, friend and supporter, she sees in my work the undertone of self-actualization, the thinking, meditating discovery as one is walking (or snowshoeing) through life. Sz goes off bravely to Taos writing workshops in spite of frenzied personal issues. She returns with stories of the good she found there, in spite of the politics and the seemingly insurmountable challenge of self-esteem. She steps aside from it. I shall follow her lead.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Jitters

It’s a few days before I depart for Oakville, Ontario. Yesterday, someone from the hosting gallery called, to update me on a couple of details. She is very polite, professional and formal, and I get an Emerging Artist's Panic Moment. What have I gotten myself into? So I go over to their web page to see what their flavour is. I look at the works and wonder if they were done in the field. The talent is amazing. I am not worthy!