Odds & Ends – artist notes

Odds and Ends for Monday 06 July 2015

Chris Erskine, urban landscape artist
Chris Erskine, urban landscape artist

Odds & Ends – 06 July 2015

Urban homes is the subject of my first painting series for 2015.  Our homes are our castles, particularly when the neighbourhood is not so perfect.  How the landscape affects our little islands of safety and peace is the focus.

I have asked Artist Christina Sealey to a portrait of my youngest daughter.  She dropped by over the weekend and took some photos.

Urban Landscape Artist, Peter Harris, is an amazing artist.  He captures that still of the night in locations that are closed for the day.  I like how he constructs his landscapes and his principle subject – house, factory, store etc.

He is part of a group show at the Mira Godard Gallery in Toronto that is currently running from June 27th to September 27th.

Cheers

Odds and Ends is a weekly review of the bits and pieces that make up an artist life.

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

Odds and Ends Mondays

Carnegie Gallery, Dundas (Ont).
Carnegie Gallery, Dundas (Ont).

Art Opening Reception at the Carnegie Gallery

Feb 6th – Christina Sealey revealed her new works at the Carnegie Gallery in Dundas, Ontario.

Christina Sealey is one of my favourite local artists. I have followed Sealey’s artistic developments since her 2002 solo show at Hamilton Artist Inc., when it was located on great factory warehouse site on Vine Street.

I am such a fan, that I commissioned Sealey to do a wonderful portrait of my oldest daughter.

While art reviews are not my thing, I can say what speaks to me as individual and a self-trained artist.

What I love about Sealey’s work is not her master level, painting-drawing, skills, but her exploration of the individual in a deeply urban landscape.  How can you be alone on an old couch when surrounded by the sounds of city life?  Sealey’s people are always separated from the crowd, but still painfully connected.

Human created spaces are everywhere in Sealey’s works, even in the middle of a wooden lot that is actually surrounded by street lights.  The city is never far away in a Sealey’s paintings or drawings.

I would say that these “night” paintings are some of the strongest works I have seen since her 2002 show at the Inc.

In the past, I say that Sealey’s best works were her paintings on canvas, but now she is showing amazing energy with the works on paper.  There is something great happening and I believe a new frontier of exploration is opening up.

The Carnegie Show continues until March.

If you do drop by the Gallery, makes sure to check out the fantastic clay work of Christopher Reid.  I have never seen someone make clay look like beautiful and rich fabric.  It is truly remarkable!

I was also impressed by the acrylic paintings of Iris McDermott in the lower space of the Gallery.  McDermott’s use of color is amazing.

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

Christina Sealey At Carnegie Feb 6th – 7pm

 

Carnegie Gallery, Dundas (Ont)
Carnegie Gallery, Dundas (Ont)

Christina Sealey’s opening reception for her new works is  Feb 6th, 2015 at the Carnegie Gallery in Dundas, Ontario.  This should be a very interesting show because it will display a bit of a re-think on her approach to painting.

The reception starts at 7 pm and runs until 9:30 pm.  The show, itself, runs from Feb 6th until Mar 1st.

I am a big fan of Christina’s work.  I have followed Christina’s development since her Hamilton Artist Inc show back in 2002.  It is an amazing experience to be able to follow the development of an artist that you admire for both her technical and creative skills.

As many of you know, I commissioned a portrait painting of my oldest daughter and we happily received the work into our home this past December.

So, I strongly recommend that you make the time and see the show.  I would also urge you to attend the opening.

Openings are always nerve-racking.  You spend months, even years, in the studio, trying to create something that people will appreciate as original and deserving of their attention.  Suddenly, the magical night arrives and you wonder if anyone will show up.

Reward yourself and see a great artist!

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

5 Reasons to Commission a Portrait Painting

Portrait by Christina Sealey
Portrait by Christina Sealey

On Thursday, I picked up a portrait painting of my daughter by artist, Christina Sealey.  It was an amazing experience to go to Sealey’s studio and to see the finished work.

I was surprised by the size and quality of the piece.  In general, I like large works for the way they project a presence into a room, this is particularly true for this piece.  Christina also really captured the personality of daughter, her intense and quiet nature.

It was great to see the finished work in Christina’s studio.  I feel a work of art can change it’s character when it leaves the studio and enters a home or workplace.  To see the work in its birth place is a rare privilege.

At home, everyone was very excited to see the painting. As this portrait settles into our lives, we look forward to commissioning another portrait of my younger daughter.

Here are 5 reasons why you should commission a portrait painting:

  1. it is unique
  2. a photograph will become dated, while a painting is timeless
  3. a good artist can capture something deeper, more reflective
  4. as a work of art, a portrait can add richness and beauty to a space
  5. for the price of a good sofa, you can have something that can last generations

Cheers

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

Art Post No.6

The arrival of two new books on Max Beckmann (German Artist, 1884-1950).  Reflecting on my art while cleaning up the studio.

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

Art Post No.3 – Painting Hamilton Artist Talk @AGH

Art Post #3: Nov 26, 2014.

 

This week: Reflections on Artist Talk at the Art Gallery of Hamilton that occurred on Thursday, November 13th, 2014.

Painting Hamilton Artist Talk
Painting Hamilton Artist Talk

Painting Hamilton is a show of 10 local Hamilton artists.  In deciding how to structure the show, the curator noted that the local community is dominated by painters.  To arrive at the 10 artists featured in the show, the curator review over 80 local artists.

It was great to hear from the artists, but it is always a challenge to talk about ones art.  On the one hand, you want to invite people into the creative process. On the other hand, this invitation can quickly reduce paintings to a jigsaw puzzle.

One question from the audience dealt with the issue of whether or not art was shaped by Hamilton geography and culture.  The question was framed in a difficult manner, but the question was still valid.  I think the answer is yes, but it would have been interesting if the artist felt the same way.

All the artists are amazing, but the artists that spoke most strongly to me were Christina Sealey and Charles Meanwell.

The show continues to February and I would encourage everyone to view it.

 

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@yahoo.ca

@erskinec

 

 

#Art Post No.2

Reflections on Painting Hamilton show at the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH).  On Sunday, I went to see and support artist Christina Sealey, but I was also impressed by Charles Meanwell and Matthew Schofield.  Meanwell’s large paintings on tar-paper are very striking.  I like how he handles the paint and his use of colour.  The show runs until Feb 2015 and is worth the visit.

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

Only One Hamilton

While developers and city council are running away from our past – trying to demolish every last piece of distinctive local character –  hundreds of artists are rushing to it; trying to capture something that they can no longer find in Toronto – authenticity.

The social and aesthetic diversity of Hamilton’s different communities is providing a feeding ground to today’s emerging and mid-career artists.  A few are using the physical landscape to inform and shape their art. I believe the authenticity of their work comes not only from the unique physical features of the local landscape but our ability to associate personal experiences with particular places.

In the paintings of Christina Sealey, the city is almost like family – always present, always hovering over your shoulder; demanding your attention, questioning the process of creation even before you have started.  You wonder how fast you can run downstairs to the studio but you know sooner or later footsteps will follow. In Self-Portrait, Bold Street (2002) the buildings are jostling for space outside the window.  Their window eyes are peering into Sealey’s workspace demanding to know what she is doing. Other times the world seems indifferent to the blackness of mood and is full of lightness and energy as in Underpass (2003).

2001 Self-portrait, Bold St. 30 x 25 Oil on linen -compressed

Self-Portrait, Bold Street (2002)

Sealey’s world is full of unique places and unique individuals.  The urban landscape reveals itself as we experience it, one person at a time; one perspective at a time.  In Self-Portrait-Hamilton (2002), the car journey may cross the entire city but we only see that landscape that is immediately outside the car window.

Paul Elia, on the other hand, breaks down this tyranny of perspective and reveals the city that our mind constructs.  Instead of the city block moving beyond our perspective, we see the street as we know it, as whole.  You can see this with his pieces entitled Wellington Street North (2009) or Cannon Street (2009).

Wellington Street North, Hamilton (Ont)

Wellington Street North (2009)

If you spend any time in the core of the city then you will quickly develop this mental image of your surroundings. For example, a few years ago we lived in an 1859 stone townhouse on Bold Street.  In the summers, we would sit on the front porch and listen and watch the city turn from day into night.  We didn’t experience the street as one or two buildings but as several entire blocks – running from the new condos at 135 James Street South to the ancient 1853 Central Public School.  Using photography and a digital paint program, Elia re-constructs this is kind of experience using white, gray and black tones.

A recent series of pastel works by Clarence Porter explores the opposite effect to Elia, the individual feature of a building or object that captures our experience of place.  Porter, who lives in the Ottawa Street North area, depicts a number of local business signs from angles that you might see if you stood on the sidewalk and looked straight up. While revealing only a portion of a sign or object, the visitor who is familiar with the street would immediately recognize the building or location. Since many of these signs are from times long past, his work also captures memory as place.

Avon (2010)

Avon Floor and Wall Décor (2010)

Porter’s Avon Floor and Wall Décor (2010) or the Argyle Ave-Ottawa Street North (2010) works are good examples.  As a little kid, I still have vivid memories of driving home with my parents.  I lay stretched out on the back seat of my father’s Ford Mustang convertible.  The top was down, it was early spring and the sky was a brilliant blue. I remember the Avon sign passing by to the sound of my parents arguing over the ending to 2001-A Space Odyssey. These small landmarks capture not only a place but a time as well.

While Sealey, Elia, and Porter explore different themes, they each share a common desire to reference real places with real identities.  This focus on landscape allows the viewer to enter the work of art and associate personal memories and histories to a particular place.  The result is their art gains a meaning that is authentic.  This is something that you can’t create when the world is filled with glass boxes and generic landscapes like much of corporate Toronto.  In the global village, there is only one Hamilton.

Christina Sealey and Clarence Porter are represented by the Nathaniel Hughson Art Gallery on John Street.

Article was originally published in Raise the Hammer.