​​Art Gallery of Ontario

Toronto, Ontario Canada

December 6, 2017

I’ve been so busy I missed last month’s blog, I’ve been in school studying Art History and preparing assignments, not withstanding some painting as well. One thing I never realized that I learned about medieval art was its appearance. It always looked kind of crude to me and I always just assumed that people had not mastered the art of painting that well. As it turns out, that wasn’t the reason why medieval art appeared the way it did. Once again the church had a lot to say when it came to art, besides they were the ones who where commissioning it.  The church did not want people worshiping the art work so therefore artists purposely did not produce photo realistic art.  I found that to be very interesting.

            It’s interesting to read about the politics behind many of the great artists and even though we live in a much different time today, as I read more about history, I can’t help but see many political similarities especially around finances. It reminds me of the saying how history can repeat itself. Cosamo Medici was the son of Giovanni di Bicci De Medici they were a banking family in Florence who lived in the 1400s they were merchants and hired some of the best artists and thinkers during their time such as Michelangelo,  Burnelleschi, Botochillie, Leonardo da vinci, Galileo.  They were also closely tied to the church at its highest levels so much so they were known as “Gods Bankers”.  They were Good Friends of Pope John the 23 who Medici supported during his accent to the high office.

During this time Florence was a Republic but not in the sense as we view today’s republic, voting and politics was left to the affluent and merchants for control.  Florence was the “New York” of its time.  Medici and his associates were involved in a quest of knowledge of secrets from the ancient world.  They believed that the art works of the ancient world were unsurpassed. So there was a sense of excitement about the past but it was also dangerous. They financed a lot of large building projects during their time period, similar to how investors finance large scale project today.  So for them buying and supporting the fine arts was all part and parcel of the big picture.Aside from art history I’ve been working on some small whimsical paintings, and doing some research into sculpting and getting ready for my next show in February.

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October 8, 2017

I still have this Toronto trip on my mind a lot.  Not with standing that I'm returning again this month for yet another short visit. I'll see if I can take some more photos. I’ve been working on a new portrait of “Patches” the cat for a client recently, it’s not done yet but I’m working on it.  Patches has a mark on his forehead that reminds me of Mikhail Gorvachev.  Patches is a black and white cat with yellow eyes. I’d say it’s half way finished, I’ll post it up on the Pets section of the web page when it’s done.


I’m working on some new whimsical 8x10 inch theme art pieces.  I thought they would be something nice compared to the black and white oil drawings I did up for my last show.  I think these new works will add some pizzazz to my display.  Got the new letter out last week and mailed out the VSO tickets to the winner.  It’s always fun to win something; at least I think it is.  I’ve been working at life drawing on Wednesday nights – that’s a never ending practice, always room to grow with that. 

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September 16, 2017

I've been working on an abstract painting with a violet background and script lines.  There is a yellow circle in the middle and vein like script lines coming in from the sides.  The lines are black around the yellow circle and orange inside the circle.  I'm still not sure how to finish this abstract, need to think about this one a bit.
 
My art practice is best described as an adventure that I live rather than a process that I follow.  I was in Toronto recently back packing around and looking at shapes and things that I could utilize in my art work.  I think I could write about this Toronto trip for the rest of the year in my blog page.  It was an event filled trip, Casa Loma, Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario Art Gallery, CN tower, Ripley's Aquarium, Caribbean Festival, St. Michael's Basilica and many other places along the way. After Toronto we ended up at Ipperwash beach - cottage country near Lake Huron.  Art is all around us where ever we go, you just need to look for it and think creative. I don't simply mean paintings but shapes, landscapes and how things have been put together are great ways that lead to abstract ideas. The possibilities are endless. 
 
When I was walking through the Ontario Art Gallery, there were many things that were memorable, but if I were to mention just one it would have to be an original painting by Rembrandt, titled, "Vanitas still life with candle, an ink well, a quill pen, a skull and books".  (Vanitas is a category of symbolic works of art, especially those associated with the still life paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries in Flanders and the Netherlands).  Rembrandt did a number of them with the skull and can be viewed on line but seeing it in person up close is nothing like the on-line or printed versions.  People sometimes ask me why we see the skull often in art.  When you attend art school and study portraiture, they first get you drawing the skull, if you have a firm understanding of the skull and all its integral parts and shapes, it helps you in the development of your portraiture. This is one reason why we see the skull often.

My next work of art is a feline portrait of "Patches" the cat for one of my clients, I'm preparing the canvas this weekend, project start up is always such fun!
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​​​​​August 13, 2017


Finally got a few abstracts posted to the website, need to work on a few more of these.  Abstracts are interesting to paint out, you can plan them a bit and I find it helpful to do so but as much as you plan them they always turn out somewhat different than the plan.  I think that’s what makes them special.

I’ve been working with script lines and the script liner brush.  It’s an interesting form of painting which is a specialty all to its own. Controlling the script line takes practice and a steady hand.  I should create a design in script line and paint it over an abstract?  There’s an idea!  I like utilizing stand oil in the paint for my script line work and then I thin it out with a lean mix of linseed oil, thinner and drier.  I used too much dryer in my last batch and the lines wrinkled a bit on me. Don’t need much drier, just a drop, I mix the drier in right on the pallet, I’ve read not to do that but I do it anyway, I just tend to use too much.

Signed up for Art History at ECU – I know what they are going to say when I get there. “Pick an artist of the past that you want to study”.  Ok, well, hummm – who do I pick.  Leave this with me, I should perhaps pick someone whom I’m not familiar with who had a significant impact on our culture, I’m thinking Europe - Maybe William Tate?  There’re so many – I may have to just study them all. Lol

I managed to stop by the Vancouver Art Gallery with a group of my artist friends and we viewed the Monet gallery.  It was the “simplicity” of much of his works that struck me foremost.  Some of his works on display had raw canvas and negative space showing.  Kind of a no-no when submitting works of art for submission or grading. But I guess if you are a big name anything you leave behind is of value.   Anyhow had a great time with good friends, posted the event photo on my face book page.

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July 3, 2017

I was enjoying the sun and Canada Day festivities in Steveston yesterday; there were many people but enough room for everyone to spread out.  Wednesdays I’ve been painting with the Richmond Artist Guild and have been meeting some great artists within the group.  Currently, I have a pet portrait on my easel, it’s nearing completion just have to get the whiskers on and a few touch ups here and there, then that’s another one done.  Once it’s done I’ll post it on the website, this dog’s name is “Phoebe”.


I’ve been utilizing cobalt drier in my oil paints and have been finding it very effective, I really like how it speeds up the drying time, just a few drops and 12 hours later the paint is firming up. It doesn’t take much either, just a drop or two starts the reaction.  Acrylic paint dries based on the theory of evaporation of water from the product where as oil paintings are more of a chemical curing process, the cobalt drier acts as a catalyst to initiate and speed up the process.  Without the drier oil paint mixed with linseed oil takes a long time to dry.


I got the newsletter out this morning that’s always a big job out of the way but it’s a good opportunity to touch base with everyone, starting the writing process early is the advantage I like to utilize.  In the newsletter I mentioned the great people at “GoFetch” (www.gofetch.ca).  They featured me and a few other artists in their May 12, 2017 Blog article.  It was a very nice write up and very kind of them to recognize my practice. 

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May 27, 2017


I've been working on some rough charcoal portraits for fun and practice in my sketch book,  I spray them with hair spray to help preserve them.  Charcoal is so delicate; the hair spray helps hold everything in place.  I was told that the hair spray eats away at the paper over time but I have some from 2012 and they are still in good shape, I don't see any pitting in the paper at all.  I finally got the giraffe completed for a friend of mine that I was talking about in my April 13, 2017 note below.  I like how it turned out and I will put a photo of it in my next newsletter along with some of these charcoals I've been doing.


I'm still working on some abstracts that will eventually be uploaded to the website; one is this cool collage I've been working on.  Collage is artwork made with paper, and I've really been enjoying the process.  I ripped up a map of the lower BC mainland and used small pieces of it to re-create the Fraser River, I wasn’t so sure about it – but I kind of like how it’s turning out.  I was over at the Chan Centre for a VSO concert recently so I updated my photo above.  Last summer I participated in the Delta Pet Expo in Ladner but apparently it’s not running this year so I’ve got my fingers crossed for next summer.  Not sure when my next show is, I’ve been shopping around for venues, soon as I find one I like I’ll post it up on the web site.

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April 13, 2017

Wow – time flies by fast, I made it back from Toronto, I was actually only in Toronto for a day for a meeting and then off to Southwestern Ontario via London.  I’m planning a longer stay in Toronto latter this summer so I can plan some time to stop by the art gallery there and have a look.  I took the new UP train service from the Toronto Airport to downtown union station – it works really well for those of you who are looking for an option to get downtown from the airport.  I really liked it and thought it was easy to use. I just got done another class at Emily Carr University called “Painting the Portrait”. So I just did two classes in a row plus this Toronto Trip and then the Vancouver Island Pet Expo in Victoria, I feel like I can come up and take a breath of air now.  School is always so busy because there are assignments due etc.

Anyhow I picked up some good tips and always learn something when I enroll in a class.  I have some wood panels for a series of abstracts I would like to work on next.  I also have a photo with a dog and friend I want to paint up for the website.  There are a number of people asking me if I can do themselves with their pet together in the portrait.  So I thought it would be good to have an example on the web site.  I don’t even want to think about the next class I’m going to take, at the moment I’m feeling a little burned out. Oh, I also have a request for a giraffe, it’s kind of a cool retro looking thing – I think I’ll do that one in oil paint - piece of cake!  

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Feb 28, 2017

I've been meaning to start this blog for some time now and I'm finally getting around to it.  I made it back from Abbotsford Sunday night safe and sound and put all the supplies away.  Thank you to all of the people who stopped by to say hello and subscribed to the Newsletter, I met a lot of great people at the show.  I have randomly selected a winner for the Pet Portrait draw, the winner will be announce in the second quarter (April) edition of the NewsLetter.  I can say that the winner was notified last night via email and is from Abbotsford.  So those of you from Abbotsford who filled out a form might want to check your e-mail in box.   I have not yet confirmed a location for my next show but I have been inquiring about the Vancouver Island Pet Expo in Victoria and reading some good things about it.  


 January and February were very busy months, I'm taking a course at Emily Carr University called "Anything But the Brush".  A lot of the art I'm creating in this class are exploring the abstract world of art.  There was one pet portrait I had on display at the Pet Lover's Show in Abbotsford that had a very rough textured background that was moving more towards an abstract portrait, smooth surfaces provide photo quality painted portraits rough textured backgrounds tend to lend themselves to abstract.  I have created an abstract section on this web page as a place holder for now and will be uploading some cool looking works of art unique in their design so please stay tuned.

July
Barclay Brown

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