Animal Totems--a new series

For over thirty years, my parents had an Airstream trailer dealership which, in accordance with our family's love of puns, they named Totem Trailers (towed'em, get it?). Perhaps it was a childhood surrounded by the logo of a totem--on the road sign, their letterhead, their business cards--but I've always had an affection for this iconic image.

Recently, I noticed a billboard ad for one of the four (?) pet supply stores in our small village.  It featured a Golden Retriever with a bird perched on top of its head, and the store name was "All For Pets." It got me thinking about the role pets play in our contemporary households.  Research indicates that, in 2015, Canadians spent $4.1 billion on their pets. Somehow the image of the dog/bird, and my thoughts on pets, and the totem image, all came together and I imagined a totem of pets. This idea has little to do with First Nations totems; rather, it represents a message about what we revere, what we spend our time, money, and resources on. Please note, no judgement of pet owners is intended (I have had many beloved pet companions myself!)--just thinking about our value system...

So here's the first result, which uses some of the same techniques as my recent Pacific Northwest bird series:

Pet Totem  Mixed Media on canvas, 30 x 60 $1200

Pet Totem Mixed Media on canvas, 30 x 60 $1200


Having completed this image, I found that the idea went further.  How about another totem of the 'wild' equivalents to these pets?  Do we give as much value, time, and money to these animals as we do our pets?  Something to think about...

Wild Totem  Mixed Media on canvas, 30 x 60 $1200

Wild Totem Mixed Media on canvas, 30 x 60 $1200

I'm still thinking--perhaps a totem of agricultural animals (chicken, pig, cow, horse?) and one of endangered animals (elephant, panda, cheetah, gorilla, condor?).  Not sure where this series might yet take me...we shall see.

An Update on these two pieces--they were selected for installation at the brand new Gibsons Public Health Unit (located opposite the Wheatberries Cafe, on the Sunshine Coast Highway in Gibsons). I hope they bring much enjoyment to the staff and patients for many years! At the official opening on January 11, I was touched by my conversation with the Squamish Elder who blessed the unit--he supported my message about valuing animals of all kinds, and generously sanctioned my use of the First Nations symbol of the totem.  As he said, "It's all the same thing, the same message!"

An Award for Touch the Stars!

I am excited to announce that my small beach painting Touch the Stars received the Terry Ludwig Second Prize at last Saturday's opening reception of the Pastel Artists Canada exhibition at Vancouver's Granville Island Federation of Canadian Artists Gallery.  Juror Richard McKinley mentioned that the piece 'transcended the cliche of kids at the beach, and exhibited the characteristics of good design and mark-making' even though it is small.  I was thrilled, and then even happier when the piece sold by the end of the reception, as well.

Appropriately, the prize associated with the award was a 90-piece set of Terry Ludwig pastels, colours selected by Richard McKinley! I can't wait to try them out when I'm back in the studio.

The PAC show continues to June 4th.  Two more of my pieces are available at the show--and of course there are still many 'beach bits' available at the studio--browse the 'figures' section to see what's still on offer.

Laundry Day at the Rotary Art Auction

On Saturday April 29th, I again participated in the local Art Auction and Wine Tasting event, targeted at raising funds for the Rotary's good works.  This is the second year I've been asked to be the 'live artist demo' and I had a lot of fun.

The venue this year was the brand new Gibsons Public Market building (they had their grand opening that same afternoon!)  It's a beautiful building, created through a great deal of community support in terms of both funds and sweat equity, and it was great to see it hosting such a gala event.

I decided to challenge myself to do a large acrylic painting (2' x 4') in the 90 minutes I had available--quite a stretch!  Instead of trying to work 'cold' from a photo, I chose a motif that I had previously done a small pastel of: a whimsical scene of blowing laundry.  The photo was taken at the Hobbiton film set in Matamata New Zealand during our recent trip.  I was utterly charmed by the attention to detail--little hobbit-sized clothes were arranged on rustic laundry lines outside many of the hobbit hole homes tucked into the hilly landscape. (Don't know what a hobbit is?  Look up Tolkien's Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit!).  Here's the original photo:

And here's the small pastel (it's 10" x 28.5"). 

A Hill to Dry On  pastel on sanded paper,  collection V. Nufer

A Hill to Dry On pastel on sanded paper,  collection V. Nufer

I pre-gessoed the canvas in black, and sketched out the basic shapes with a yellow pencil crayon. After that, I simply dove in and went for it! The room became crowded, noisy and very warm!  It became almost impossible to step back and view my progress from any distance, so I positioned my devoted husband halfway across the room and had him send me signals if I was going badly astray.  As I painted, I chatted to the onlookers and handed out business cards by the handful. Time ticked on and then came the word--"Your painting is the next item to be auctioned!" 

A few last minute flourishes, and I signed the piece, titling it "A Good Day to Dry".  The winning bid came from Melanie Gibb, who expressed great satisfaction in obtaining the piece for her home.

Here we are with the finished painting:

It was again a fun and stimulating challenge, and I was glad to support the Rotary. See you at next year's event!


Happy New Year!

It's been a great year in my art life, with lots of new ventures, new collectors, new students and, of course, lots of wonderful times in the studio both alone and with students. I am most grateful to the many people who have supported and participated in my successes.

I am not one to make New Year's "resolutions" but I do believe in working with conscious intent toward artistic goals. So, in the coming year, my goal is to create a series of large works celebrating the sea, sky, and mountains of my west coast home.  Every day brings a new and beautiful view out my front windows, and my travels in the province and beyond inspire me with grand motifs as well. A recent reprint of a Robert Genn newsletter item urging artists to aspire to grandeur motivated me to begin thinking about this, and after a year of concentrating on the small and domestic in my "Beach Bits" series, I am ready to lift my eyes to the bigger picture.

I'll be traveling in New Zealand for several months this year, which will also no doubt provide plenty of resources for grand vistas. I look forward to responding to these in a variety of media: pastel, acrylic and oil.  In fact, my most recent work is a large oil (30 x 60) completed in December.  The first grand view!


Merry and Bright;  oil on deep canvas 30 x 60; $1500

Merry and Bright; oil on deep canvas 30 x 60; $1500