25 February 2011

exhibition proposal for UAS Main Gallery


I would like to submit an exhibition proposal for the UAS Main Gallery space.

The project which I have in mind involves a number artists and would not be easy to show in a commercial gallery because of its experimental nature. The process has been started; no one knows exactly what the end results will be.

My own work is based on the cityscape. I am interested in visual layers and perception, painting in translucent glazes on stitched canvases to show the ever-shifting nature of the city and viewer. So far this has been limited to the cityscapes, but I have recently been thinking about how the layers of humanly built environments are inextricably entwined with the natural landscape, and how they evolve together, and thought that I would like to explore this idea in a series of works.

Our cities are built on a foundation of natural landscape, which in some cases has grown over a foundation of previous cities, built in their turn on a previous natural landscape. The layered cycle of environments built and grown - consciously constructed and naturally evolved - moves backward and forward. Perhaps all layers exist simultaneously, it just depends on the view. With this in mind I created several variations of landscape paintings on stitched canvas, in which the stitching depicts a humanly engineered environment.

In Heaven And Earth I experimented with an all-over colour field, allowing the paint layers to highlight the stitched texture. The resulting work is reminiscent of a map or aerial view of the landscape, with roads and rivers delineated by the raised, stitched lines.

Next I created All We Need, which is somewhere between colour field and more literal landscape imagery. Here again the paint layers highlight the stitched texture, with a closer to ground-level view of the landscape superimposed on a built environment.

The painterly effects of All We Need is more interesting to me than the simple tonalilty of Heaven And Earth. Although I can envision a series of paintings in either vein, my stronger inclination is towards the more literal landscape. However, my landscape painting skills are not highly developed, and ultimately my inclination to paint landscapes is limited - but I liked the idea of layering built and natural imagery, so I decided to approach other artists who are skilled at and enjoy painting landscapes, and I got a very positive response.

I selected the participants based on the artistic merit of their studio practices, and on the thoughtfulness of their ideas in every day conversations. I have asked them to create landscapes on canvases into which I have stitched city-inspired imagery using a variety of textured materials. My hope in working with other artists is to elicit a variety of visceral responses to my stitched canvas textures, while creating a body of works which might give a sense of the fluidity of time: who can say whether the city emerges from or recedes into the landscape? They are inextricably part of one another.

Each stitched canvases measures 19x19". There are 12 artists (including myself) working on this project, creating one piece each. Most are painters, but there will be some drawing and mixed media work as well. Participants are as follows:

Aaron Sidorenko - oil, encaustic, mixed media
Amy Dryer - oil, acrylic
Dale Kirschenman - oil, acrylic
Dawn Saunders-Dahl - oil, acrylic, mixed media
Darrin Hartman - acrylic and mixed media
Frances Vettergreen - oil and wax
Jill Armstrong - mixed media
John Pritchard - encaustic, oil, acrylic
Mark Holliday - encaustic
Melanie Aikenhead - oil, pastel
Shyra DeSouza - mixed media
Verna Vogel - oil, acrylic, mixed media

I would like to present the completed body of work in the UAS Main gallery, which has ample walls to hang the work with enough surrounding space for viewers to consider each piece, but not so far apart as to unduly isolate them. The variety of wall space would lend itself beautifully to this project, as some of the finished paintings could be best viewed in the intimate closeness of the hallways, with others more suited to the larger open areas.

Our timeline is to complete the project by June 2011. Therefore we would like to exhibit our works in any available time slot after the end of June.

Please find attached artist statement and CV, images and image list.

Thank you for considering this proposal,

Verna Vogel

Something In Common
stitched and stretched canvas before painting

Something In Common
oil on stitched canvas
64w x 56h x 2d

Heaven And Earth
oil on stitched canvas (triptych)
3@ 24w x 30h x 1.5d

All We Need
oil on stitched canvas
43w x 41h x 1.75d

Example of stitched, stretched canvas prepared for this project
19w x 19h x 1.75d

24 February 2011


From here:
to here:
City Lights series
acrylic on stitched canvas
12x12" each

And from here:
to here:
No Small Thing
acrylic on stitched canvas
36w x 48h

For some reason this last one has a kind of glow under the light... maybe the particular colours I used? maybe because the paint layers aren't built up quite so thick? Whatever the reason, I'm happy about it and hope it will happen again!

19 February 2011


I calculated 46 hours in 4 days working in the studio this week, not including breaks.

And this is what I have to show for it:

City Lights, stitched

City Lights, begun painting
(the middle one is finished)

Urban Spaces #15
acrylic on stitched canvas

Two new large ones begun:

And one large work finished.
begun 2 weeks ago:



acrylic on stitched canvas
41 x 43"

So this is interesting.
I can, with acrylic, make a painting in just a couple of weeks. The oil paintings took 5-6 months to make!

Of course the oil paint has a glow under lights that acrylic will never have, no matter what high-end brand acrylic paint colours I use. This is because light bounces off the surface of acrylic - whereas with oil the light travels through the colour, bounces off the white support, back through the paint layers and then to your eye. Which brings an incredible depth to oil colours.

This week I decided to stop lamenting the lack of glow and just go for it. So here on my computer screen the acrylic painting looks good, but in the studio when I put a spotlight on it the paint seems to go a bit dull. Light bouncing off the surface instead of traveling through...

Yes, I am a colour snob and it kills me to make a painting that doesn't have that glow. Wah! But I have to make my living, and maybe this will do.

Another thought: if I can make paintings so fast, how will my paintings change? Because they will change. Spending 6 months with a work is really intense, it's like getting to know the thing, becoming friends over the long haul.
A 3-week relationship is going to alter the spirit of the thing. Yes indeed.

But I'm on this boat now and I think I'll remain for the trip and see where we land.

18 February 2011

Art is what we call

the thing an artist does.

It's not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human.

Art is not in the eye of the beholder. It's in the soul of the artist.

- Seth Godin

11 February 2011


Where to begin?
Seems like a lot has been going on, most of it internal as usual, but some things external.
I got a little black book which I keep in the studio now, and write a bit in the morning before I start work. Notes on projects, ideas, etc.

Just finished writing an exhibition proposal for the stitched city/painted landscape group project I began last month. Took me 4 hours. Haven't sent it yet, might need a bit of editing. Whoo, brain work! Haven't done much of that lately. Feels good, once I get going.

Last weekend was my solo show in Vancouver. It was a lightning trip, but great nonetheless. Met with an old friend, established a higher level of trust with the gallery owner, met some new friends. Took loads of photos for reference on one of my new(ish) projects.

Some photos from the opening:

A few of my old college classmates showed up, and one of my instructors. How cool is that, I haven't seen them in 14 years!

Some of the works for the new(ish) project:

Basically just working directly from photos, creating much more literal images. These are all 12x12" so far. Acrylic. Found a way to work with the stuff - hooray! Just dilute with water and work on raw (ungessoed) canvas. Then seal with medium and varnish. Pa-da-bing, I love it.

Now I have some big ones started, not using photo references, stitching and painting in the "usual" way except using acrylic on the raw canvas. No gesso, no oil paint. We'll see if they turn out nicely.