Wednesday 19 December 2012

A different view

This past week has been a difficult one in the United States and around the world.  It is not my intent to address any of the issues that surround this, but merely to leave you with a hope for the days to come.

I wish you a surfeit of camaraderie, more laughter than you can easily handle, at least one dinner shared with others in an atmosphere geared to excess, and a sense that all is truly right with the world.

And if you're looking for something to aim for in 2013, perhaps you'll consider this.

Too much love
Mixed media on paper
8" x 11"     2012
© Win Dinn

Friday 14 December 2012

Flowers in spring...

Well, it might not be spring yet, but I'm surrounded by flowers.

I've been working on a series for an  April, 2013 group show with some artist friends at the Key City Theatre Gallery in Cranbrook, BC.  We've loosely determined that theme to be Summer in the Kootenays, and flowers abound in my studio right now.  They're a great antidote to our grey skies and moisture of all sorts here in Creston at this time of the year.

I started this floral with a range of glazes in blues to create the sky.

'Blue skies, nothing but blue skies do I see'

 I was looking for a middle ground that would give the illusion of foliage and complement the flowers I'd created for the foreground - testing, testing, testing...

Just some of the green combos I tested.
 I painted in the first layer of 'door number three', and covered it with plastic wrap to create some variegated 'foliage'.

 Then I added some more foliage in certain spots to deepen some areas.

More plastic wrap technique
 It was time to start adding flowers,

and playing with arrangements,

until I finally felt I'd achieved a pleasing arrangement that did not completely obscure the middle ground, and yet tied it all together.

Field of Dreams
2' x 3'  mixed media   2013
© Win Dinn

I made a couple of amazing discoveries during completion of this piece.  Discovery number one is that it is unbelievably difficult for me to take a 'square-on' photo of a larger piece of art (there's a reason they call me photographically challenged).  Discovery number two is that in this lovely home we occupy there is not ONE white wall on which to take photos.  

Tuesday 11 December 2012


Some years ago, I painted a series of pastels on paper that portrayed the extinction of some of the animals on our planet at the hands of man.

The series, Vanished from the Pattern, was one that still resonates with me today.  I recently unearthed some photos of a few of these pieces and scanned them for this blog.  While I apologize for the quality of the images, there is no apology for my concern that this slaughter continues daily.

Carolina Parakeet
Vanished from the Pattern Series
2004  Extinct  1914
© Win Dinn
 The day I completed the painting just below, a news announcement indicated there had been a sighting of the American Ivory-Billed Woodpecker in the southern U.S., which made me hope that all was not lost for this bird.  Unfortunately, in spite of a large reward for confirmation, there is, as yet, no proof  that it lives on.

American Ivory-Billed Woodpecker
Vanished from the Pattern Series
2004  Extinct  1972 - 74
© Win Dinn
The loss of Lonesome George this year was a painful one.  All attempts to find a compatible mate were unsuccessful.
Abington Island Tortoise
Vanished from the Pattern Series
2004  Extinct  1957
Last tortoise, 'Lonesome George' died in 2012
© Win Dinn
 It is sad to think that in all cases, these animals were clubbed, shot, hunted and haunted from existence on our planet.
Caribbean Monk Seal
Vanished from the Pattern Series
2004  Extinct  1952
© Win Dinn
 This bird, endemic to waters off the coast of eastern Canada, was clubbed to death for sport and food, until all were gone.
The Great Auk
Vanished from the Pattern Series
2004  Extinct 1844
© Win Dinn
I am grateful for all organizations that work to protect our remaining species.

Balinese Tiger
Vanished from the Pattern Series
2004  Extinct 1937
© Win Dinn
 I look forward to the day when we all recognize that every living thing on this planet is sentient, irreplaceable and necessary to the pattern or our life.
Passenger Pigeon
Vanished From the Pattern Series
2004  Extinct 1914
© Win Dinn
  Each loss (now in the hundreds) represents one more way in which we will be unable to connect with life.

Rodriguez Island Day Gecko
Vanished from the Pattern Series
2004  Extinct 1920
© Win Dinn
 No matter whether scaled, feathered, furred or shelled, each species is necessary to the environmental cycle of life.
Round Island Boa
Vanished from the Pattern Series
2004  Extinct  1980
© Win Dinn
 So today, I'm asking you to do whatever you can, however you can to support those who are working to protect and care for the animals of this planet.
Sea Mink
Vanished from the Pattern Series
2004  Extinct 1880
© Win Dinn
Their lives will be made easier, as will yours and mine.

Thursday 6 December 2012

I've got my eye out!

 That's mostly because of Alice Saltiel-Marshall, who started both of us on a tandem painting while we were visiting with her and Bill in Claresholm recently. We used this exquisite fabric she scored some years ago on a Balinese (if memory serves) vacation.

I've never been so careful ironing anything in my life;
it nearly killed me to start cutting this fabric!
  We started by painting the top portion of our canvas, carefully cutting out a frieze from the fabric, and applying it to the canvas with liquid medium.  Then we added the photocopy of the eye of Ra, and some molding paste around it to give it some texture.
Pasting the eye - for some reason, blogspot wants this photo sideways - a sign?
We then cut another double panel of the fabric and added that below the now-painted eye.

Alice adds more fabric to her panel.

Our Sculpy (see previous post) lesson came in handy to create an ankh.
 The Sculpy ankh was mottled in black and gold, to be adhered to the finished painting.

Painting the Sculpy ankh

The bottom of the piece is finished with a black on black series of hieroglyphics.

The Eye of Ra
24 x 8"  Mixed Media  2012
© Win Dinn

 I'm excited to see Alice's final version, as it was shaping beautifully when we finished the day in her studio.  She hand-rolled her Sculpy ankh (mine was made in a mold that I created first), and her hieroglyphs will be different as well.  Since she's away in sunny Hawaii until later in the month, you'll need to keep your eye peeled out for her blog post!

Tuesday 4 December 2012

I'm feeling like a sculptor...

 because one of my friends in Claresholm got me playing with a new toy called Sculpy polymer clay. Judy Dahl, who took my mixed media class last May has taken off like a rock from a slingshot. She experiments, she plays, she tries things, and experiments some more, and has been like a mixed media fiend for the last seven months - no stopping her! When I was in Claresholm a couple of weeks ago, Alice Saltiel-Marshall and I went out to Judy's studio to learn how to use this unique 'clay'.

Here Judy demonstrates a clay key mold process

After pressing a key into the Sculpy, she carefully scrapes away until edges are clean

I'm testing the process on a metal maple leaf piece, carefully rolling it flat before removal.

Here some molds are oven-ready for baking.
We had more fun than one could reasonably expect.  Judy showed us the mold process, and also let us know that Sculpy can be used for building small items as well, which Alice used the following week for a project we were working on in tandem.  Make sure you keep up with her blog to see her results!

I'm sure I've mentioned before that I love teaching, because I learn far more from my 'students' than they learn from me, I know.  Judy is a consummate horse photographer whose skills are a Canadian legend in that business, and her horse drawings are amazing.  Alice is a fine art master, skillful photographer and now a mixed-media-legend-to-be.

All photos here are by Alice Saltiel-Marshall, who remembered to both bring her camera AND use it!  Many thanks, Alice!

Sunday 25 November 2012

Painting papers...

has got to be right up there on my list of favourite things to do.

Yesterday the studio was filled with colour

because this group was so fast to catch on to the process they could have done ten sheets in the allotted time!

 They quickly learned to add sparkles to their sheets, and I think the results were juicy!

Each sheet was a colour revelation, as they splashed,

and spread, and dropped,

and dripped,

 and sprinkled,

 taking their plain mulberry paper splashed with water to one filled with colour mass and energy.

I suspect the odd Christmas gift under their tree will be stunningly wrapped in these luscious papers.  Oh, and think of the cards they can make, and the colour they can add to their paintings, and the mini gift bags, and, and, and....   

I love doing these workshops because each time I see a colour combination that grabs me by the throat and makes my heart sing.  I always feel so lucky that the participants love it too!

Saturday 17 November 2012

The studio...

...right now is a peaceful oasis, as it's hung from top to bottom with a series of mandalas placed for last weekend's 'Into the Mandala' workshop.

My fascination with mandalic motifs has been ongoing for the past 25+ years.  I've drawn them,

coloured them,

collaged them,

and even 'pointillismed' them (which, like the paper mache horse, comes under the category of never again!).

I've added natural elements to them,

   as well as alien-looking ones.

 They've been published in a 'textbook' on mandalas

and I've created a colouring book especially for adults from them (see top right sidebar for Color Me Up!).

In all cases, I've not only learned from the experience of creating them, but I've achieved a level of meditative peace that I've found through no other means.  There is something about the process of creating mandalas that slows time, fosters introspection, and brings peace.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Urban Decay...

...takes on a new meaning in the town the size of Creston (5000+, just barely).  It happens mostly at the tail end of autumn, as we shift into the winter months.

The gardens shift from green and glorious to faded and rich,

the gardeners bundle their debris,

the roadsides become a rich tapestry of tangled brush,

 and the sidewalks and lawns gain a new carpet.

Yards look filagreed

and intensive decomposing starts.

In colours ranging from dun

to delightful,

 our world starts to molder

and deteriorate

in ways that are eerily beautiful.

Does your neighbourhood shift from one season to another this way?  What do you think when you hear about urban decay?
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