28 June 2017

balance in

I am making a blog post today simply because I haven't in awhile, and I do like to post every couple of weeks.  It has become a kind of discipline over the years.

There is a lot of work going on in the studio, but I don't feel I want to share it just yet.  Not from some idea of wanting to show only "best" or even "good" work - any regular reader of this blog will know that I don't curate in that way here - but just because, well, I think it all really needs some quiet percolation time just now.  

So, while some things percolate, here are a few other things which provide a balance.

Balance in the studio: pausing for a bit of precision work in between the big loose paintings.  Below, from the "Sound" series, reworked oil paintings:

sound oil paintings balance in studio

A circle centred inside a square is a very static composition, lots of potential for boredom!  But I am determined to find ways of making it work, through use of colour, emerging/receding image and placement of lines.  I think these two are looking better than some of the earlier incarnations of the squared-circle idea.

ink and twig drawing on paper balance at work

Balance at the job: A small sketch quickly done while working at the art store, made with a twig dipped in black ink for the lines, and a brush to get the washes, on office paper.

"augury" sketches ink and gouache on watercolour paper balance of materials

Balance of materials: A few more ink & gouache sketches on w/c paper, very tiny at 4x6", because I wanted to paint yesterday but did not want to get into the big oil paintings again just yet.

roses in bloom balance in the life

And balance in the life; the garden has been keeping me busy too :)

13 June 2017

very small things and very large things

how I see

surrounded by circles
what I see

new work in progress, "auguries" oil colour glazing, verna vogel studio
inside the studio

full moon as seen from studio doorway verna vogel
outside the studio

surrounded by circles rumblesat art in space mission
ink and mixed-media stitching on paper, 7x7"
included the RumbleSat Art in Space Mission
(read about it here.)

Very small things to very large things, so many circles.


Sometimes I feel very keenly that what I'm doing in my little studio relates directly to the whole universe as we know it - and what a fine feeling that is!

24 May 2017

bright colours

brushes with bright colours oil paint

Yesterday I used bright colours to grey down a work in progress.

bright colours can make grey in layers

The canvases were also bright colours to begin with, as you can see by the edges which I did not paint over.  One bright colour painted over another can make for some very lovely off-tones.  

bright colours layered oil painting

I'll be working over them again with more bright colours in sheer layers, to get them really neutral, close to greys.  In this way the colour will remain luminous.

bright colour layers of oil painting glazes

Then I used those same bright colours to work over a red underpainting, with good results.

Fragile Planets exhibition take-down

And I discovered this photo I took when I removed my Fragile Planets installation from the Drumheller gallery.  There are no bright colours visible in this photo... but in the polished concrete floor are all sorts of colours which blend into an overall neutral grey.  

If the baseboards were painted in pure bright colours, this floor would be rather like my envisioned paintings.  :)

30 April 2017

happiness is a new painting rack

After hanging the Fragile Planets show, I crashed for a few days.  When I got up, I began a new series of paintings.

the others new abstract oil paintings by verna vogel work in progress

Above: first paint layers.

Below: a few subsequent paint layers.

the others new abstract oil paintings by verna vogel work in progress

the others new abstract oil paintings by verna vogel work in progress

Since moving into this studio about six months ago, I'd been dreaming of building a painting rack.  This week I finally built it and, in my own mind at least, it's a thing of beauty.  Simple, lightweight and strong, capable of  holding various sizes of work safely and efficiently.

simple, elegant and strong painting rack

The paintings, which had been precariously piled atop one another against the far wall of the studio, are now gently organized.  This sort of thing really does increase my happiness in the studio.

02 April 2017

installing the Fragile Planets

Yesterday my husband and I drove down to Drumheller and installed my Fragile Planets exhibition in the Western GM Drumheller Art Gallery.  I have been working on this project since July 2016.

We arrived at the gallery, unloaded my gear, took stock of the space and then got to work.  First to go up was the Meditation Wheel.

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

I used electrical conduit to make a circle that we fastened to the lighting supports near the ceiling, then hung each string of painting + print from it.

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

It actually went up surprisingly fast.  My studio is maybe 1/4 the size of the gallery, and it was wonderful to see my theoretical logistics work out so well in real life.  

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

Adjusting the lighting as best I could, I was very happy with the end result.  I had envisioned the pieces to look like they are floating in space, et Voila, my vision was realized!

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

The shadows cast on the floor were not something I had envisioned.  That was a surprise: sweet icing on the cake.

The exhibition included some of my paintings and small framed prints as well.

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery
Sound series, 20x20" each

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery
Resonance series and Other Suns series, 12x12" each

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery
Collagraph monoprints, 4x4, 5x5 and 6x6"

I was not sure how many paintings and prints to bring, but as it turned out I gauged perfectly.  The Meditation Wheel took up about 2/3 of the gallery, with my paintings and prints completing the balance beautifully.

A couple more installation shots attempting to show the work all together:

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

And a couple more shots of those sweet shadows:

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Galleryverna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

This install took about 6 hours, pretty much what I had figured on.  I think I went up and down that ladder at least 100 times!  *laughs*  While we were working, several people stopped in to have a look and made some very positive comments on the work.  It was a good beginning.

At the very end, I made a couple of real quick portraits in my sketchbook of the person who organizes and curates the gallery:

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Galleryverna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery
paint marker, ink and gouache in my portrait sketchbook
130lb paper, 9x12"

The culmination of a new idea in my work which took several months to realize, combined with physical and mental exhaustion, and knowing that my exhibition achieved a really nice balance ... What an elation I felt as we drove home!

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

Along the way we went for a little walk on the slopes above Drumheller, where my husband found a tiny, beautiful rock to add to our collection.

verna vogel exhibition Western GM Drumheller Gallery

A perfect finish to a wonderful day.

16 March 2017

JP x 2

Two portraits:

ipad portrait of Jean Pederson

one made on an ipad, the other made with ink and gouache on paper.

marker and goauche on paper, 9x12

My sitters share initials: both are JP

05 March 2017


Since last July I've been working, incrementally, on a 3D art piece.  The final bits are now coming together.

verna vogel fragile planets
verna vogel fragile planets

Last week in the studio I made rocks out of air-drying clay and then painted them.

Making the rocks was a very meditative process.  In fact, all the parts of this project have been meditative, I suppose naturally so since there is a great deal of repetition in the individual parts.  

verna vogel fragile planets

The best thing has been how my brain has been going off in various directions as I create this 3D thing.  

verna vogel fragile planets

Above: my working table.

Below: a thing made with some of the leftover bits.

verna vogel fragile planets

Looks kind of tribal, doesn't it?  I don't know what it is, but I like how it moves in the breeze when the window is open.

Next month I'll be installing the finished work in the Western GM Gallery in Drumheller.  I'm feeling excited and also a bit nervous, hoping the effect of the work will be interesting in the gallery space.

verna vogel fragile planets

23 February 2017

The Persistence of Vision

collector's gallery of art the persistence of vision

"The Persistence of Vision"...  it's the title of an upcoming exhibition that my work will be shown in.  Here's a press release about it.

"The Persistence of Vision"... it's about the persistence of human beings to be part of the connected thread of human creativity that runs under everything, regardless of the pressures of the world, and also because of those pressures.

It's also about my own life as an artist: knowing I am on the right track, knowing it from the inside out, knowing that I can find and exercise my voice if I stay the path.  I have discovered that in order to be an artist, I need a lot of sheer dogged stubborn refusal to succumb to all the noise that I myself generate simply by being in this world.  Sometimes it amazes me that I manage it at all.  

But then, look: I was invited to join a group of very diverse artists, all of whom know about persistence.  And now we are having an exhibition of our work.


"The Persistence of Vision"... it does pay off, sooner or later.

09 February 2017

this is my brain on art

the creative brain art school sculpture

Back when I was in art school, we were given an assignment to make "an artist's toolbox".  After some consideration, I decided there was no definitive artist's toolbox outside the artist's own mind, so I made "The Creative Brain".

It is made of coloured wires, xmas lights, a small container filled with water and an aquarium aerator.  Back then I called it The Creative Brain, and I still do... but in my growing maturity as an artist, I realize there's some heart and soul in the thing as well.

A brain hums, a heart pumps, and a soul casts light, n'est pas?

02 February 2017

papers and patterns

The art store where I work part-time has a paper sale this month.  I love decorative papers, and there are some really gorgeous new ones so of course I had to buy a few sheets yesterday.  

Paper is like fabric, to me: beautiful + tactile = irresistible!

patterns decorative papers at Inglewood Art Supplies, Calgary AB Canada

There are often pockets of time for creative pursuits at the store, so some days I bring a sketchbook and do portraits.  Yesterday I began with paper collage and then made portraits on top with paint markers.

patterns decorative paper collage with paint marker portrait drawing on top verna vogel

Above: I like the combined patterns and colours of the papers, but not sure how I like the drawing on top.  Well, I'll call that one a "study"  *laughs*

Below: The drawing is more to my liking, and integrated better with the collaged paper too.

decorative paper patterns at Inglewood Art Supplies, Calgary, AB Canada

Above: Portrait of CP which I made today.  I like this one a lot.  CP's face has a very interesting pattern.  Can you see how the shape of her eyebrows relate to the shape of her mouth and hairline, how the fall of her hair is echoed in her nose and chin shapes?

While I drew, we were talking about patterns, and how pattern recognition can help you to draw basically anything.  In order to recognize patterns, you must continually observe them in the world.  Forget what you think things look like - your mind's paradigms are just that - and observe the actual patterns before you.  It does not take long to realize that everything you see is made up of patterns; that the whole world is composed of observable and inter-connected relationships.

Pattern observation in the visual world has become a joyful exercise for me.  It makes my eyes happy, and then I am never bored no matter where I am or how long I must wait there.

decorative papers, portrait, patterns

Above: photo I took out the window of the city bus this morning.

Patterns on paper, patterns in faces, patterns on the street... they are everywhere.

29 January 2017

Body Project #2

In mid-January I had the great pleasure of teaching an art class with Grade One students who were learning about and discussing ideas of "community".  It was a Campus Calgary session, and I had three mornings with them.  

First we briefly talked about what community means, discussing concepts like Sharing, Mastery, Generosity and Belonging.  

Then we made a body project.  It was a really big project!

West Dover School body project West Dover School body project

Working with a partner, the students took turns laying on large sheets of cardboard and traced one another's body shapes with crayons.  Their teacher, parent volunteers and I cut out the body outlines.

   West Dover School body project West Dover School body project

Then the students painted one side of their body cut-out, and used collage techniques to glue coloured papers, fabrics, yarn and beads on the other side.

West Dover School body project West Dover School body project

On the last day we hung them from the ceiling, with their feet just above the floor, to create an art installation.  The body shapes could move and twirl on their strings, creating a kind of dance.  It was a whole community of colourful dancing figures!

West Dover School body project

I delight in creating large art projects with students who come out for the Campus Calgary sessions at the Arts Commons.  

Any creative process spanning several days is an opportunity for more in-depth reflection of ideas and processes.  And if you think of creativity as a problem-solving tool, well then "sleeping on it" is an important element, n'est ce pas?

West Dover School body project

Many thanks as always to the supportive people at Arts Commons, to Mrs. G, the parent volunteers, and to the kids who are invariably eager and expansive thinkers and doers.  

Working together, we create what I hope are memorable learning experiences, and that is a type of community worth being involved in.