27 October 2016

Ontario Landscape #2

This one was done from near the top of Harold Town Conservation Area.  Another gorgeous spot with lots of trails and varying topography.  After making the painting, I realized I had chosen a view that is similar to what one might find in Southern Alberta... with a few more trees.

the view

the palette

the beginning

the middle

the finish

the artist

25 October 2016

Ontario landscape #1

landscape oil painting mill creek conservation area Ontario

I'm in Ontario, and I brought my painting kit!  This was made in the Miller Creek Wildlife Area, a beautiful wetland-and-woods type area full of birds and beavers and gorgeous views.

27 September 2016

"En Plein Air" upcoming exhibition

Two days ago:  Yet another landscape painting!  Autumn is here, the weather is very fine and I want to spend as much time outdoors as possible before the wintry cold arrives.

finished painting on location, trees and river in autumn

This week I do some final prep, and then on the weekend we go to hang our landscapes at the Western GM Gallery in Drumheller, AB.  It is the first time I show my landscapes here in Alberta, and quite special for my husband and I to be showing our paintings together.  We are quite excited about seeing our work up in this beautiful gallery!

landscape painting exhibition at Western GN Gallery in Drumheller, October 2016

23 September 2016

sketchbook patterns

Exploring patterns in a 9x12", 212 gsm sketchbook.

patterned collage work in a 9x12 sketchbook

The heavy paper makes a perfect base for collages.

working with paper in a sketchbook

The sketchbook has its own integrity and appeal.

paper collage by verna vogel

It becomes a collection of explorations, a unified thing between two covers.

decorative paper collage exploring patterns

An intimate thing which needs to be touched to be experienced. 

beautiful paper collage

Paper is so versatile, so welcoming.

11 September 2016

Alberta landscape #95

alberta landscape painting #95
the view: flat, semi-arial

alberta landscape painting #95
the palette: limited

alberta landscape painting #95
the layout

Alberta landscape painting #95
the beginning

Alberta landscape painting #95
the middle

Alberta landscape #95 finished
the end

In preparation for an upcoming exhibition, I am framing a few of my plein air landscape paintings.  I have seen works where the frame is an integral part of the painting.  That approach appeals to me far more than the standard black gallery frame, so I'm following suit with a simple but colourful framing of my small works.

Alberta landscape paintings - and a few BC landscape paintings

This will be the first time my landscape paintings are shown here in Alberta and I'm feeling excited!

05 September 2016


Making art is definitely nourishment for the soul.

Nourishment for the soul, Fragile Planets painted canvas pieces and prints

I have resumed painting some of the canvas plates that I printed a few weeks ago.  While rolling on the ink and making the prints I had been imagining different ways of finishing the plates.  

In between the imagining and the doing, I got caught up in making books!  Somehow I was inwardly compelled to print 5 editions of 75 prints in 5 sketchbooks, before I could come back to painting my stitched canvas plates.  *laughs*   Well, that's how it goes.

I really like the visual effect of painted canvas plates beside their prints.

Nourishment for the soul, Fragile Planets painted canvas pieces and prints

Nourishment for the soul, Fragile Planets painted canvas pieces and prints

As I may have already mentioned, these plates and prints are part of a larger project that will take several more months to complete.  My excitement about this project is on a constant low simmer; it's a bit like making a really good stew.

Speaking of stew, here's a basic recipe:

chicken thighs with skin & bone in
salt & pepper
homemade crabapple sauce - really tart!
a good chunk of fresh ginger, grated
a bit of cayenne or other chilli pepper
a dollop of honey
an onion or two, chopped or sliced

Rub meat with salt & pepper, place in a buttered baking dish & brown both sides under the broiler.
Meanwhile mix applesauce, ginger, chilli and honey, adding water to make a runny sauce.
Remove meat from baking dish, scrape up any drippings and stir in half the sauce.
Layer onions and browned chicken pieces, and pour the remainder of sauce on top.
Cover and bake for 1/2 hour or so.
Or you can stew it in a crock pot if you prefer.

Last time I made this dish, I added smoked paprika, basil, a wee pinch of cumin and a chopped sweet red pepper.  
If you do not have tart applesauce you could use sweet, with a bit of cider vinegar or lemon/lime juice.

Note: If you make this dish in a crock pot in the morning, you can then spend all day in the studio nourishing your soul, and when you emerge from the studio there is your bodily nourishment.  A nice balance, n'est-ce pas?

29 August 2016

paperwork and studio work

This morning I awoke at 4:30am, feeling fully rested and ready for the day.  This is not usual.  But what can we do, we have to listen to our bodies.  So I got up and made the previous blog post, then read for awhile, and when I noticed the sky lightening I went outdoors.  What lovely fresh air before all the city engines gear up!

Looking east and west from our backyard.

I spent most of this day doing paperwork and organizing image files and writing letters.  Finally by late afternoon I got out for a walk, and then into the studio for a couple of hours.  Many thanks to my lovely husband who took care of dinner for us!

In the studio I made faux-chine-colle prints.  Faux: because I did not paste the paper and pull the print in one fell swoop.  No, I pasted the papers many days ago, and just today printed over them in a whole separate endeavour.  My plates are not flat, and the resulting uneven pressure does not work very well for adhering the papers during printing.  It could work if I had a press, but I have no press nor space for one.  C'est la vie.

"Faux-chine-colle": say it quickly and it rolls off the tongue really well!  *laughs*

faux chine-colle

Visualizing how the printed image would look over the various shapes of collaged papers was a challenge for me.  Some turned out more interesting than others, but on the whole I like them a lot.  I can see much potential for exploration based on this simple technique of collage + print.  

Will I have enough lifetime to explore everything I want to in my studio?  Perhaps not.  But I keep notes, just in case.

faux chine-colle

Alberta landscape # 94

My husband has taken his work holidays, during which time we take a few local road trips.  Of course we bring our painting kits with us!  Here's one I did on the hills above Drumheller a couple of weeks ago.

verna vogel painting landscapes on location
the view

view above Drumheller, AB.  Painting landscapes en plein air.  Alberta Landscape #94
the painting

Verna vogel - my perch to paint on location, Alberta Landscape #94
the perch

I had thought about painting with earths mixed with oil medium, but then the colours were so lovely, I did not want to do a monotone version.  

The clouds were so lovely, I wish I could've conveyed them better, but oh well.  It was the first time I ever perched on the roof of our vehicle in order to get a better view... and it may not be the last time!  

15 August 2016

a deep joy

Among all the art forms, printmaking is unique.  It's very repetitive but then no two prints are exactly alike.  Creating beauty in this way is so calming, so meditative... a deep joy.  I am so happy to have taken it up again.  In the midst of this crazy old world, it's a very good tonic.

Today I pulled the last print in a series of 5 books I've been working on.  The books themselves are purchased - I've been printing on the pages, using collagraph plates and black ink.

hand printed books

verna vogel printmaking

collagraph plates used in my hand printed books

I think I am now a bit more proficient at printmaking, and the finished books have some appeal despite their imperfections.  The plates after use are, as always, very beautiful.

Yesterday I rolled a leaf and printed it!  Nice discovery.

maple leaf print

I have also discovered Nori Paste.  It is truly awesome for glueing delicate papers.

preparing the papers

Cleaning up my image files this evening, I came across two drawings made last month during a visit to the Heritage Weavers and Spinners Guild studio at Artpoint.

Heritage weavers and spinners guild

heritage weavers and spinners guild

Looms are very beautiful and intriguing machines, and fibre artists are beautiful and intriguing people.  

Until next time,


23 July 2016

Outside and Inside

When the weather is fine I like to set up an old table and create an outdoor painting studio.  This week I decided to set up an outdoor print studio... which turned out to be a less-than-stellar idea.

verna vogel printmaking

The main problem: water-soluble inks dry incredibly quickly in this climate!  Various attempts to humidify them had either very little effect, or resulted in a mess.

Water-soluble paints dry fast, too, but...  Inking a plate, laying the paper, pressing and lifting the paper, then hanging the print with a little clip on a line - so much slower than the immediate brush stroke.

So I moved the whole apparatus back down into my studio, and the following day's work was less frustrating and more productive.  I even devised some print-drying lines that can be very efficiently set up and taken down - sweet!

fragile planets

That was my physical challenge this week, easily dealt with once my insistence on working outdoors had been overcome.  (I can still take my lunch break outside!)

There is also a subconscious challenge embedded in my persistence to create this project in the first place, a project which has no apparent "value" in common terms.

I have been reading some essays of Herman Hesse, who writes very succinctly of the value of art, music, poetry and anything that elevates the soul.  He has some timeless practical advice, for example:

"Neither by suppression of the material streaming out of the subconscious, out of uncontrolled fancy, dreams, and the byplay of the mind, nor by permanent surrender to the unshaped infinity of the unconscious, but rather through affectionate attention to these sources, and only afterward through criticism and selection from that chaos - thus have all the great artists worked."

verna vogel printmaking

So I am back to the classics: "Be quiet, brain, and let the hands work.  You can tell us what you think later."

10 July 2016

odds & ends

In between stitching the small canvas squares and making relief prints, I do a few other art-related things.  I work at the art supply store, re-arrange the artwork in our home, go for plein air painting jaunts out on the prairie, set up dates for a couple more teaching sessions next month.

portrait of ryan statz, by verna vogel - marker and watercolour on matboard

Above, a portrait of my co-worker made with very minimal tools, during the last bit of my shift at the art store.

Below, two of my "Paperworks" framed by Candace Larsen at CK Gallery.  Candace had complete free rein on all aesthetic choices for framing these pieces.  My photos are not great, but I'm really impressed with her work!   She is a Master framer indeed.

Paperworks framed by Candace Larsen, master framer at CK Gallery

Paperworks framed by Candace Larsen, master framer at CK Gallery

The gallery has got a few more of my Paperworks series currently available.

Also CKG is having their summer exhibition which opens in a few days, and a few of my small "Vibrato" series will be included.  I look forward to seeing them on a nice clean gallery wall!  But for the moment I only have a photo of them on my messy studio wall:

Vibrato series in studio, showing now at CK Gallery 2016 summer exhibition CHROMA

And here we have a very beautiful beetle I saw while walking out on the prairie.  It is Nuttall's Blister Beetle.

Nuttall's Blister Beetle

Its body was about 2cm long, and the colour of its head and "tail" flickered through bright copper, gold and green as it moved.  I have never seen such a large and brightly-coloured beetle in this area; it reminded me of some of the amazing bugs I saw back when I lived in Malaysia.

Today I am making a small quilt for someone who's having a baby soon.  Taking a break from sewing, I make this blog post.

These days, the cycle is resting at "good life".  I will enjoy this while I can.


06 July 2016

take two

A couple of years ago I made a series of small paintings which I called the "Multiples" (you can see them here).  Now I am revisiting that idea, with a little variation: I want to create a kind of tapestry rather than paintings per se.  

The repetitive nature of the process is very meditative and relaxing.  As I work, many permutations run through my mind; nothing is settled and the possibilities remain open at this stage.  It's a wonderful place to work from. 

stitched canvas pieces for upcoming show at Library gallery in Drumheller, AB
Stitched canvas pieces.

collagraph plates & prints for upcoming shat at the Library gallery in Drumheller, AB
Collagraph prints and plates made with white glue on matboard.

After several coloured printings the plates become very beautiful.

collagraph prints made for upcoming show at Library gallery in Drumheller, AB
More collagraphs.

printing the canvas - for upcoming show at Library gallery in Drumheller, AB
Printing a piece of stitched canvas.

All these little pieces: they are all the same, but different.  Mostly the same though.