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My Chat with Wolverhampton Artist Stephi Konstantinou

Today I speak with artist Stephi Konstantinou, a painter out of Wolverhampton, England, who originally hails from the island of Cyprus.

Stephi has been creating art from a young age, and, these days, she specializes in a pleasing variety of paintings and artworks.

I’ve heard through the grapevine that as soon as she began to take an interest in art as a precocious youth, teachers and fellow students alike began to take an interest in what she was doing, drawn, as they were, to her for her rare artistic talents.

These various artworks that Stephi has been creating, for many years now, range from ephemeral watercolours of landscapes, which feature romantically rich colour palettes and evoke different moods, to pure abstract works, to representative illustrative works featuring people and animals that show a more whimsical, fun side of life.

Her work is very wide-ranging in terms of style and content, but Stephi is the kind of artist who embraces the freedom within the artistic process, which I feel is evident in her work.  To someone who has more self-imposed mental and spiritual shackles, she seems infuriatingly free of such barriers. 🙂

In the art world at large, which is often so serious and snobbish, Stephi is one of the few artists I’ve encountered who seems to draw and paint for the sheer joy of it. She paints what she wants when she wants, and how she wants, yielding some very interesting results.

This is why I was very interested to chat with her, to see what drives such an artist to continue to create.  It can’t simply be inspiration and wonder, can it?

In these days of the trying to wring a penny out of every single moment, I was curious to see if behind Stephi’s radiant, smiling countenance was actually the gateway to a blazing furnace of raging ambition.

Here is my little Q&A with Stephi Konstantinou – enjoy!

I read that your dad was a big influence on you artistically.  Can you tell me more about him.

My dad was definitely a big influence on my creativity when I was a child.  I grew up watching him create stonework and he was also a wood sculptor.

You also mention somewhere that your first art teacher, Marie Constanti, taught you a lot of skills.  What would be the most important skills she taught you about art?

Miss Marie Constanti taught me some basic artistic skills, and I progressed from there. The most important thing she taught me, I think, was how to focus, and, most importantly, to create with your heart, rather than with your mind.

You are clearly influenced by nature.  What do you think is special about the nature in Cyprus?  What is it like there, in terms of geography, and also what is the mood like there around the nature?

I live near a forest, and the trees there bring me great inspiration!  In general, Cyprus has very nice greenery everywhere which I find very inspiring.

Also, hearing the birds or the wind blowing while creating is tugs at my creative impulses and leads me on to some new creative journey.

Do you think that politics have any effect on your artwork?  Although your art seems to be not about politics that I can tell, I wonder if you feel like some of the political unrest in Cyprus or elsewhere has influenced the way you work at all?  Maybe not in style, but perhaps in method?

My artwork is not political, in my opinion.  Rather it is simply about letting your imagination see another way to live, and to continue following your dreams.

I would say you have a very romantic style of painting.  It comes across in your landscapes and color choices.  Would you agree with this label – “romantic”?

Yes, I would say so.  I create with my hands moreso than with brushes, as I love the feeling of connecting my hands to the painting directly through the paint itself.

Related question…Are you an idealist?  Do you try to see things in a positive way, most of the time?  Or are you secretly a nihilist?

I believe through my life experience that I am an idealist.  I want to contribute something positive to society and I want to improve the lives of others through my art.

How long have you been in Wolverhampton and how has that affected your artistic style?

I have been in Wolverhampton for 4 years now. The journey there has inspired me and affected my artwork deeply, in both logical and more mysterious ways. 

My education as an artist really intensified there.  I had my studio in Chapel Ash.  Also, I have been participating in different kinds of exhibitions, and even volunteering to work on various murals. 

Overall, my artwork has seen a lot of development while I’ve been here. 

When it comes to mounting / framing your artwork, how do you do it?

When it comes to framing and mounting my own artwork, I have always done this myself, from chopping the wood for the frames, to stretching the canvases.

Some of your art is in black and white.  What materials do you use for that, and why is it some of your art is in black and white?

The black and white work I have done has grown into a sizeable collection by now, and, mainly, it has been inspired by traditional Japanese music.

All of my work has been created using acrylic paints, with some of them having been sold to Japan, while others to private collectors in America and Canada.

Your earlier work seems to have a more cartoon or caricature style.  Do you still work in that style?

My earlier work was like this, but it has since changed.  I have spent years developing my craft and finding my own style that is a merging of some of the previous incarnations of my art from over the years.

What’s your studio like?  Is it organized?  Messy? 

My studio is tidy sometimes, but it can get a little messy.  I am an artist, after all.

Is there an artistic medium you’d like to try sometime which you haven’t tried?

I am always into learning how to use new materials or other new methods, but, at the moment, I’m happy creating with acrylic paints.

When you paint a scene, are you basing it on a picture or just from memory?

Sometimes, I’m basing my work on a particular landscape, or I will mix reality with my imagination, and let the creative moment guide me.

What are your favourite animals?  Do you have one particular favourite, and why is that?

My favourite animal? I love all of them, but some I particularly enjoy most are cats, rabbits, and my dog.  Honestly, I just have a love for all animals.

Do you see art as having any elements of magic, or are you a hardcore realist who thinks magic and wonder are foolish pastimes?

There are definitely elements of magic in art. Also, I love dancing while creating. I feel like an actress in whatever I do.

You have a way with painting trees.  Do you know a lot about trees?  For instance, did you know that trees talk to each other?

I tend to paint a lot of trees, as there is something about them make them special to me.  Many times I do feel like they are whispering to each other.  Sometimes, when I walk amongst them, I feel like I’m going in slow motion and I am filled with a feeling of joy.

How long does it take you to paint a picture, on average?

It can take half an hour, to an hour to finish a work of mine, but there is no set time.  It depends on the process and the materials I am using.  I like to simply go with the flow.

Do you have a preference between paper or canvas?

Paper is my favourite material at the moment to work on, but you never know when that may change.

When is your next show?

Nothing in this life is certain.

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Discussing Watercolours With Candice Leyland

As an artist myself, I like to know what makes other artists tick. There are so many different mediums an artist can apply to their work, with each having its own distinct characteristics.
 
Watercolour paintings have always been of interest to me because of the relatively light touch they require. I’ve done them, and they are not easy to get right, especially for an OCD-having person like myself.
 
Maybe it’s just me, but I think that watercolours are quite easy to “ruin” or overwork, generally. To produce a stunning watercolour work, I would say is no easy task.
 
Now, for an artist like Candice Leyland, who is specializes in watercolour works of art, she makes it all look rather easy.

Candice is an independent artist who produces and sells her work in my neck of the woods, which is to say south-western Ontario – Kitchener-Waterloo region, to be precise, although she was born in Palmerston.
 
She is a teacher at the local landmark Homer-Watson Gallery, and she is also represented at the Uptown Gallery in Waterloo, ON.
 
As it mentions on her website’s About page, Candice is known for her rather moody, ethereal but at the same time slice-of-life style of painting, featuring very warm-looking and inviting paintings of everyday things like animals, scenery, and flowers.
 
Sort of a cross between Edward Wesson and Norman Rockwell, maybe
 
Speaking of flowers, here is one of her pieces simply called “Tulips” – rather self-explanatory.

In the hands of a lesser artist, these things might seem boring, but as we know from the countless artists from history who have done well with their craft, a great artist can make anything look interesting if it is captured the right way, with the right timing, colours, and, of course, the mysterious X-factor!
 
I could start listing off the many artists who have made the ordinary into extra-ordinary, but I digress. The point is, Candice has that gift herself, and I think you will see it is evident in the work.
 
She has an eye for the little details that makes a piece of art
 
I had a chance to ask her a few questions about how she approaches her work, and her thoughts on watercolour paintings in general. Please enjoy my little chat with Candice Leyland! 🙂


When did you start painting and why?
I had very little interest in art before high school. I remember we had to choose one “arts” course. Since I was shy and was already intensely studying piano, I didn’t want to take drama or music, so I defaulted to fine art class.
 
I had planned to get my “arts” courses out of the way so I could focus on science and math for the rest of high school. It is kind of funny that that one decision had such a huge impact on my life.
 
In art class, we started drawing and the teacher insisted that drawing was a skill that took practice.
 
Many people, even as adults, believe that being good at art is some kind of god given talent that people just “have”, but once I learned that it was a skill I could master and improve, I was hooked and motivated to improve.

I spent every spare minute I had practicing in my sketch book – I loved creating things and experimenting. I did sculpture, pottery, silkscreening, photography, and I devoured every book on art history I could find.
 
I fell in love with the impressionists. I spent lunch hours in the art room listening to music and making art.
 
Are you partial to creating any other types of art?
I play piano and guitar and sometimes draw, but I mostly work in watercolour. I feel it is the best way to express myself. I am addicted to colour.
 
In the past, I’ve worked extensively in photography (both commercial and artistic) and have tried oil and acrylics. I keep coming back to watercolour.
 
When did you start watercolour painting, specifically? What drew you to watercolour?
In Spring of 2016, I picked up watercolours. It felt like forever since I had been creative and I wanted to get back into making art.
 
I was always drawn to the lightness and simplicity of watercolour, but its non-toxicity and portability were the biggest draw factors for me at this point in my life.
 
I had a medically fragile child and lived in a relatively small home. Watercolours allowed me to paint from the kitchen table or even the couch safely and relatively mess free.
 
When I dove into it, I taught myself through books from the library and youtube videos. My colour theory and drawing skills from university were a solid foundation and learning watercolours came relatively easily to me.

Where do you buy your paints and do you have a preference when it comes to brands or quality of the paint itself?
I shop at a lot of places in Kitchener Waterloo. I like to support the small shops like the Artstore on Caroline Street.
 
I tend to use QOR watercolours by Golden. This is a relatively new brand (although Golden has been making Acrylics for decades). I love the vibrancy and flow of these paints. I’m pretty much obsessed with them.
 
Locally, QOR Watercolours are only available at Curry’s I tend to get my paints there. I sometimes use Holbine watercolours or Daniel Smith.
 
What is involved in the process of you sitting down to paint?
I have a very minimalist set up for a studio. My process usually involves printing my reference photo, taping a piece of paper up and getting fresh water. This is one of the biggest benefits to watercolour.
 
There is hardly any set up and take down. No barriers to creativity.

What style of art do you consider yourself to be doing?
I struggle with describing my own work or fitting myself into a mold. I feel like impressionistic florals is an accurate description. My work is moody and ethereal and focuses on light and colour.
 
What type of surface do you generally paint on?
This is where I get snobby. Only Arches brand paper, Only Cold Press: 140 lb or higher.
 
What size of brushes do you generally work with?
Round Sables between 4 and 8 and a big old mop to wet the paper.
 
Do you feel there are any drawbacks to using watercolour you’ve found in your experience using that medium over the years?
The main drawback to watercolours is the expense of framing, but good framing makes a significant difference in preserving and presenting your painting.
 
I have experimented with modern mounting methods such as adhering paper permanently to board or using ground watercolour mediums, but in my opinion, the best way to display a watercolour is to have it professionally matted and framed.

Other than that, I mostly see advantages. People always tell me how “unforgiving” watercolour is. I always hear comments like, “watercolour is so hard!”
 
I will admit that once a painting is ruined it can be hard to go back. But to me, this is not a drawback, it is a strength.
 
Watercolour paintings are often faster to make and can be less expensive to produce other mediums. If a painting isn’t working, you have the opportunity to start fresh.
 
The nature of watercolour forces you let go of control. Don’t get me wrong, with skill and technique you do have a great deal of control over the medium, but the freedom and chance of painting in watercolours is what draws me.
 
It frees up the creative process tremendously.
 
How do you decide when a piece is done?
Someone gave me a great piece of advice about this. He said to sign your painting when your close to being done, and then give yourself a limit to how much you can fiddle with it afterward.
 
After I sign my painting, I allow myself a few tweaks, then walk away. Watercolour paintings are so easy to overwork. When the painting is signed and complete, I post it to social media.
 
I love the relationship I have with my followers. I did have a teacher that once told me, “If you hate a painting – Do it again! If you Love a Painting – Do it again!” which is great advice.

You are always learning and improving. A painting might be done, but you are never done learning.
 
Would you recommend any other watercolour artists for people to check out?
My best friend Lee Angold and her botanical illustrations amaze me.
 

Visit: https://candiceleylandart.ca/

 

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Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia Multimedia Artist Živka Suvić – An Interview

As an artist myself, I am drawn to other artists. When I come across an interesting artist, I look at their work and imagine what caused them to create it. In all cases, the time and place of an artist influences their work, even if it is doing so unconsciously.
 
We are all influenced by our country, our upbringing, experiences, and so forth. Every artist has a story, and it informs their work in intimate ways. This is an obvious fact, but that doesn’t make it less interesting, because seeing an artists’ work is like seeing into their life in some way.
 
When I came across the work of Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia multimedia artist Živka Suvić, I was very interested in her creative process, because there was so much work and it has an intensity and energy that myself, as a Canadian, finds very different from the art I tend to see around here in Canada.

This is only logical. Every country in this world is different, and Serbia certainly has its own character. What that character is, I don’t know exactly, having not been to Serbia.
 
I know Serbian-born people who are living here in Canada right now, but it is not the same as visiting the country or knowing their history in detail. Clearly, Serbia has had its share of unrest, and like it or not, this often breeds great artwork.
 
In my own rather uneducated way, I could sense
 
Working in multiple mediums including assemblage, portraiture, landscape, and even incorporating video, Živka’s work seems to me to be of the sort that comes from a dark, restless soul. At the same time, there is hope in her work.
 
In her portraits, eyes stare back at you, some
 
After checking out Živka’s website, I wanted to ask her some questions about her work. Art speaks for itself, but if you have a chance to talk to the creator of that work, why not?
 
And so, I spoke with Živka recently and got a better idea of what makes this Serbian artist tick. I hope you enjoy our chat!


Q: What inspires you to make art these days?
Art is my path, my way of communicating, my way to express myself. Since I was a child, I enjoyed painting or drawing. Later, I choose art to be my life’s occupation, or maybe art chose me.
 
I don’t know, except to say that this is the way I function. Inspiration is around everywhere…
 
Q: What descriptive words come to mind to describe your own artwork?
Collecting, expression, time, materials…these are some of words. Also…consistency…etc.

Q: How much does Serbian culture influence your artwork?
I’ve finished my studies at the Art Academy in Serbia, and during that educational process, we students were well informed with the world of art history.
 
Art history also covered the national history of art, but the focus wasn’t necessarily on national works. On the contrary, we had the freedom of choice to choose our models.
 
Probably, the national culture has an impact on my work today, perhaps unconsciously, and certainly that social situation plays a big role on my life…
 
Q: How often do you show your work publicly?
I would say often. Last year, I had five independent exhibitions, and this year I have two. In addition, I exhibit in group shows.
 

 
Q: Has a secret patron ever emerged from the shadows who wants to give you a vast sum of money to support you in your endeavours?
No, there was no secret patrons. I have customers, buyers, but patrons…no.
 
Q: Why do you like creating artwork which has a tactile surface?
I use specific materials, and their nature allows me to create artwork which has a tactile surface. I use papers, different thickness, cardboard, and decoupage technique. That’s why the surface is tactile.
 
Q: Do you consider your art messy?
No, I don’t consider my art messy. There is a certain order within what I am doing. Every act of creation requires certain a chaos around it, but within the work there is a line.
 

 
Q: Do you consider some of your art to be “dark”?
Yes, I do, they are probably dark. But they are just some of my works. I think about the effect my work could have on the observer. I can control what I want to exhibit.
 
Q: When painting your landscapes or your expressive portraits, do you paint from memory or prefer to do the work live?
I usually combine the two. Sometimes, I start live and finish my work from memory….or vice versa.
 
Q: What is your special connection to New Zealand?
I spent a year and a half there studying, and New Zealand remained in my good memory. I met wonderful people and made friends there.
 
Q: What is the purpose of an assemblage, in your view?
Specifically, assemblages that I’ve made in New Zealand stayed in the Art school in Dunedin, as an exhibit and demonstration material for future students.
 
I created them through a process of collecting discarded materials which were put in pillows and boxes. Each pillow symbolically represents a dream.

Q: How often do you like to visit the ocean? Do you prefer oceans to lakes?
I’m fascinated by water, in general. Right now, I don’t have any opportunity to see an ocean, but there is a river passing trough the city I’m living in.
 
Q: Do you have any artists from the past who serve as inspirations to your work now?
Yes, I have many artists who are my inspiration, even though their work has no direct impact on mine, like Robert Rausenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, and Arman. These are some of artists who inspire me.
 
Q: What are your artistic goals for the future?
Goals…I’m working on my new paintings and maybe, in the future, I will develop a story about assemblages. I have a goal to continue working, exhibiting, and selling my work…
 

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Best Painting and Art Making Apps for your Smart Phone – ArtFlow, 8bit PhotoLab, TextArt, and More!

by: A. Martellacci

My art is made from wire, garbage and string.

Until a few years ago, I did not have a smart phone. It seems odd I would bother trying to create art with technology at all. Maybe I’m afraid to be left behind. Maybe my junk art collection is beginning to alienate people. Either way, I wanted some good clean fun.

With no idea where to start, I gamely opened the app store hoping to trip over something interesting. I did so right away because my phone is creepy and can read minds.

ArtFlow, was the first suggestion google curated. It looked just technical enough to be useful and unassuming enough to be immediately comprehensible from its short bio and pics. The reviews were glowing, except for occasional id10-T error reports.

ArtFlow

The user interface is clean… like, blank. Tap the little white dot in the corner to view the toolbars and tap again to hide. I like it. Not all tools are available in free mode (duh), but many of the most useful brushes and pens are there.

Both RYB and HSV colour wheels are free to use, for what it’s worth. It is obviously designed for tablet and slows a bit on the phone if there’s too much going on.

Using just the tip of my finger and the charcoal setting, I was able to create gentle blends without any of the smudges of real life.

Obviously, super accurate sketching was out of the question on my tiny phone screen, but I ended up pleased with a few of the pieces. Building colours with air brushes (standard, shading and foggy) and the round brush was especially zen.

Not being much a fan of markers in real life, I was surprised to find myself enjoying them especially.

Canvas size presets are standard, and therefore useful. Saving is also standard. Save to anywhere. Send to anyone. Zooming in and spinning the canvas works great.

The app’s ability to delineate between brush stokes and the zoom function taps was consistently good; so no accidental mark making

The thing I was sad for but don’t begrudge, is layers can only be added in the paid version… which I have now. The layers work great and don’t cause slowdown on my (crappy) phone.

ArtFlow is the perfect pocket scratch pad. I love sketching with it when I have a spare moment. It will always have a front page spot on my phone.

Never knowing when enough is enough, I went back to the all knowing algorithm interface known as, the Play Store, and scrolled for a long time. Nothing looked immediately interesting. Searched: “art apps”. Scrolled. 8bit PhotoLab. Interesting.

8bit PhotoLab + Bonus App

Holy crap! I loaded an image of Luna. Yes, from Sailor Moon. Wut? My finger must have slipped. I scrolled to the Commodore PET monitor setting and this happened:

This is going to be awesome!

There are a million different settings. Great fun to play with. I finger sketched a cube with ArtFlow.

These are some of my favourite 8bit PhotoLab filtrates of the above cube after spending (a lot of) time messing around.

All kinds of monitor, colour palette and even vector graphics filters can be customized to create the most vintage computing or modernaesthetic effects. I have not reached the end of this app’s free functionality (but I bought it anyway). Oh, and it goes great with another little free app I found.

TextArt

TextArt. Free font selection is limited, though you can upload your own. TextArt, and the endlessly nifty, 8bit Photo Lab, created this delightful abomination.

Notebloc

Not comfortable drawing on a screen at all? Use Notebloc to scan and trim your meatspace sketches (and notes) instead. It does a pretty good job of it. Photographing flat things is not as easy as it seems.

Notebloc proves useful for in situ scanning and saves in pdf. I’ve already used it professionally and am creeping the Notebloc tablets on amazon.

Here are a collection of jellies and aspics. Don’t let their bouncy, colourful looks fool you. One is made from pickle relish, another from tomato soup and I think there’s even some sour cream and mayo in there.

What happens when you mash Notebloc, 8-bit Photo Lab and TextArt together? You get my new forum avatar.

This collection of apps puts a whole lot of fun and functionality in the palm of your hand. They play well together, are either free or cheap and translate well to smaller screens.
 
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need some time alone to fingerpaint.

 

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Art Mom – Interview with Yoshe Karina Leigh

Tonight I had a nice chat with my friend and former schoolmate Yoshe Karina Leigh. We met years ago while in university at the University of Waterloo (in Ontario, Canada), while studying fine arts.
 
Here she is nowadays…

Dave Fox: Hi Yoshe Leigh, how are you tonight?

Yoshe Karina Leigh: great. . .

Dave Fox: like actually great or “great”?

Yoshe Karina Leigh: I’m as great as can be with my seven year old son looking over my shoulder and reading as I type. . .good news. . .he can read really well. lol

Dave Fox: Oh.. well “hello” to him if he reads this

Yoshe Karina Leigh: thanks

Dave Fox: that’s kinda what i wanted to talk to you about..

Yoshe Karina Leigh: cool. . .

Dave Fox: first off, do you remember when we met?

Yoshe Karina Leigh: yep. . . year 1997/98 was it? U of Waterloo. 1999 I was studying in Mannheim, Germany for the year.

Dave Fox: oh really? i don’t know if i knew that…but yeah, back at the University of Waterloo art department

Yoshe Karina Leigh: yeah. . . .long ago now. . .

Dave Fox: Feels like yesterday, except not really I don’t think we’ve changed much personally

Yoshe Karina Leigh: I know……I feel I have. . . but not so much in the looks department. . .we’re still attractive. . . .I would like to think.

Dave Fox: someone told me recently that i’m a 7 and she said she was a 10

Yoshe Karina Leigh: lol

Dave Fox: i’m like.. hmm.. ok, i guess that’s not bad 7 is doable.. know what i’m sayinnnn

Yoshe Karina Leigh: okay. . .lol. . .ohhhhhhh. . .that is not really a compliment then is it?

Dave Fox: i think it is if you’re speaking to a narcisist

Yoshe Karina Leigh: I guess. . .lol

Dave Fox: Anyway so this is for my art site, this interview…i wanted to steer the ship in that direction…

Yoshe Karina Leigh: okay. . .

Dave Fox: like what did you get out of being in art school, for one thing? in terms of art skills, outlook, etc.

Yoshe Karina Leigh: you mean. . .what good I feel being a BFA student has done for me even to this day? hmmmmmm. . .

Dave Fox: yeah like even at the time…when you graduated, did you feel like a true artist at that time? like did going to school for it change anything

Yoshe Karina Leigh: well. . . .you know, I still hear Don Mckay (pictured below)’s voice in my head saying, “you will never be a great artist”. . . and well. . .I didn’t become a great artist but being a student has shaped my appreciation for art. And even to this day, teachers at the school, when they see the art I do with my students, say, you’re an artist aren’t you? so that feels kind of good.
 
At that time, I didn’t feel like a “true” artist. . .

Dave Fox: that’s what you teach right.. art? what grade?

Yoshe Karina Leigh: I mean. . .I went to an all arts high school and took drama and dance. There I felt the competition and knew who was better than me etc. . .but as an artist.
 
. .well I could differentiate between students who were more technical in their art etc. . .but I didn’t feel competition. . .I actually teach Drama and dance. . .and spec. Ed in the morning.
 
. .but in the past I also among other things, taught art to my students.

Dave Fox: right so the artsier side of things

Yoshe Karina Leigh: yeah. . .I think I just appreciate art on the whole and I still remember some art history.

Dave Fox: yeah so you’re a well rounded art individual, but what i was hoping to get at is …you still do art anymore?

Yoshe Karina Leigh: When Tristan, my first was born, in 2010, I was very inspired and began doing painting with my year off with him. I loved to do his portrait. . . I had an art spurt.
 
I painted children like paintings for his walls. I painted his toys etc. But when my daughter was born, 2014, life with 2 kids took over. . .having a kindergarten kid and a new baby wasn’t easy.
 
I painted one painting over the summer but that was it. I painted 2 portraits of her a year ago but now I hold the paint when my daughter paints. . . Im her caddy.
 
. .but for painting. . .I recently bought new paint and a canvas with hope to paint soon again but haven’t started yet. . .

Dave Fox: So back in school again.. what was your style then?

Yoshe Karina Leigh: I don’t know what my style was. . .many told me that I reminded them of Matisse (pictured below). I like colours and my depth perception was off. .
 
. lol.

Dave Fox: Do you have any pics on your computer of your work? that you could send me.. i vaguely remember some pieces but.. it’s foggy

Yoshe Karina Leigh: I’ll check. . .they are on Facebook too

Dave fox: I’ll take a look for thosebut in the meantime how do you feel like parenting affected your art? i’m sure there’s lots of ways

Yoshe Karina Leigh: well. . .for one, I don’t have time. . .and then when I do have time (meaning time to spare) I can’t take the time because my three year old will then be up in my business crying because she wants to paint too.
 
. .using my canvas. . .it doesn’t work. It affected my ideas of my art in the way that now when I think of a possible painting to do or drawing. . .it is usually a portrait of my kids.
 
. .

Dave fox: Riiight, so i guess just practically speaking there’s less time and i guess you’re not up at 3 am making time cause you’re just so obsessed

Yoshe Karina Leigh: lol. . .something like that. . .

Dave Fox: Right well i guess art never became a career for you in that sense so when kids arrived it’s not like your career was in jeopardy

Yoshe Karina Leigh: no . . . not at all.

Dave Fox: it’s just a hobby you like that you can’t do as much and really it’s just time management…figured out any hacks for it? ie i guess working with your kid is kind of a hack….people love life hacks

Yoshe Karina Leigh: true. . .but I don’t want to use kids as an excuse. . .however, remember Dave Poplow? he once said that art is like an itch that you just have to scratch.
 
And so I guess I can say that for the longest time, I didn’t have that itch. . .but Im starting too again.

Dave Fox: Yeah i see Dave sometimes around here. He worked at the library for a while curating shows and stuff

Yoshe Karina Leigh: oh cool. . .do you talk to him much. . .???

Dave Fox: but yeah it’s definitely like an itch…yeah we chat every once in a while…i see him around

Yoshe Karina Leigh: okay. . .cool. . .

Dave Fox: Do you ever do crafts with the kids? like more than other moms?

Yoshe Karina Leigh: Sometimes. . .more so when Tristan was little. . .

Dave Fox: are they particularly artistically inclined the kids?

Yoshe Karina Leigh: We did more recycling crafts like making back packs out of jug containers. whales out of milk cartons etc. not particularly but I do love how Jackie does her people.

Dave Fox: sounds pretty fun

Yoshe Karina Leigh: Here’s some pics

Dave Fox: ohh nice

Yoshe Karina Leigh: And more…

Dave Fox: these are from?

Yoshe Karina Leigh: First two from 2010.

Dave Fox: Nice they’re cool

Yoshe Karina Leigh: second one is from my daughter

Dave Fox: doing anything artsy with the kids?

Yoshe Karina Leigh: I mean last one I sent. . .anything artsy?. . .just teaching drama and dance and in my classes I have done drumming circles.

Dave Fox: Yeah gotcha…sounds like a lot of art actually…what are you doing here?

Yoshe Karina Leigh: dance movements using the verbs Hop, Slide, and Step

Dave Fox: ah.. are you big on dancing normally? ie hip hop dancer 🙂

Yoshe Karina Leigh: yeah. . .in university I was in the swing dance club…I took dance classes during high school and even to this day I love it.

Dave Fox: nice. i wish i could dance

Yoshe Karina Leigh: next year I have a sabbatical and one thing I want to do with my time off is enroll in a dance class for moi. lol

Dave Fox: that’d be sweet…what kind?

Yoshe Karina Leigh: I was thinking “lady of Sass”. . .or pole dancing. . .I want to feel sexy again. sexiness for me is inspiration.

Dave Fox: oh man.. well you’re at an age.. they say it’s an age where.. a woman feels things more strongly 🙂

Yoshe Karina Leigh:even when in university, other than when being at the art studio, I did a lot of my painting at home in my underwear when I liked my body. . .somehow I liked the image of the sexy artist.
 
. .but that goes away with having kids. tell me about it. . .

Dave fox: Well.. i never knew that!

Yoshe Karina Leigh: I have more sex on my mind than art these days. . .combine the two. . .well . . . . .that is hot.

Dave Fox: yeah sounds like a made for tv movie

Yoshe Karina Leigh: Not that I painted sexy things. . . .I just painted what came to my head . . .using people’s faces. . .yeah. . .could be. . . the having kids part or the painting in underwear part?

Dave Fox: just the sexy artist thing…or maybe some softcore porn…i don’t know…oh and lest we forget your hubby is an artist too…what’s his style?

Yoshe Karina Leigh: hmmm. . .I don’t know how to describe it. he now teaches art at Woodbridge art school…he loves it. he is definitely more technical…he is certainly a better artist…I am sorry.
 
. .I have to go now. . .again. . .mothering duty calls

Dave Fox: That’s ok thanks for the chat.. talk to you soon! 😀

Yoshe Karina Leigh: sure. . .

 

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Bryan Rogers – The Man, The Myth, The Legend

bryan rogers artist

Today I had a chance to sit down and chat with Bryan Rogers, who is a Cambridge, Ontario artist of some repute – ill repute, some might say!

bryan rogers artist

Originally from England (London area), Bryan is a former tool and die maker and, presently, a Fine Arts student at the University of Guelph, Ontario.

Let us begin by sharing one of his untitled portraits, of which he has many, and are usually done in oils.

brian rogers portrait 3

Bryan got his start in the art world a little later in life (he is 76 years of age at the time of this writing), and has been painting for 10+ years while he is currently attending school to earn his art degree, part time. I sat down with him recently to chat with him about his creative process, and generally to shoot the breeze about art and so forth. Here is another piece, also untitled.

weird abstract landscape art

Friend To Man & Beast

Brian is a friend of my family, and can often be found trying to solve some kind of home fixit situation with his buddy, BeachBabyBob. I’ve seen them fixing bikes (including mine), sinks, and all manner of home related issues.

Bryan, for the record, is what you might call brutally honest, in that he is not afraid to share his opinions with you, even if that opinion is slightly jarring or offensive to the overly-sensitive people of the world.

At the local YMCA, some people fear him, lest they receive a tongue lashing the likes of which they’ve never before received. Ah, but I jest! Oh look, here he is pictured below on the right, smiling for the camera.

Our conversation was of a similarly no-holds-barred nature, although I was, luckily, never spoken of blithely during any of his diatribes. No topic is particularly off limits when you talk to Bryan, and he has a knack for weaving a great and whimsical yarn as quickly as he can verbally horsewhip someone, based on all his worldly experiences thus far.

Here is a painting he did of some sunflowers, with more sunflower paintings out of frame, congregating in his basement.

bryan rogers sunflowers painting

Growing up in England in the groovy 1960’s, Bryan was lucky enough to catch all sorts of sights and sounds, including many concerts in the local area. He saw the best, and more!
 
He even saw the Beatles before they were famous! Rightly, Bryan loves to talk music.

When we spoke, Bryan was laid back as ever, and we hung out on his patio, where the weather and surroundings were quite agreeable. By the way, you will find our audio conversation is at the bottom of this article.

But first, some more info about the artist…

The Artist’s Lair

In visiting Bryan at his home in Cambridge, Ontario, I got a glimpse into his world as a painter, getting a tour of his studio and hearing about some of his works, which are all over the house, either on the wall, in his studio, or stored away.

Here is another untitled portrait conjured up by Bryan, which we hauled out from the depths. The woman pictured here – who I do not know – Bryan only mentioned that she her general disposition matches how she looks.
 
Take from that what you will. I presume it is for sale, also.

Although his house doesn’t look much different from any other house on the street from the front, Bryan’s inner environs gives itself a way as the lair of an artist with a lot on his mind, with supplies and paintings everywhere, piled high from floor to ceiling.

In taking me on a tour of the domicile, Bryan explained the stories behind many of his works as we walked, and took me deep into the caverns of his abode to show me where he does his work and what new works were coming down the pipe.
 
Cluttered is one word some people might use to describe such a place, although to me it looks fairly normal for an artist. The trick is to sell your paintings faster than you create them, and, often, this is a difficult situation to attain – especially in Cambridge, Ontario, where most people by their art at Wal-Mart.

Below is one of his painting rooms, packed full with stuff, including a new painting of Keith “Keef” Richards on the bottom right. Even in this early stage, the subject is quite recognizable (to me, at least).

keef painting

Influences – Pollock, Kandinsky

In terms of his artistic styles, Bryan does not stick to one strict style or aesthetic. His aesthetic is very much informed by his tastes for particular artists, such as Kandinsky, and Pollock, who are two artists he told me he really likes and takes influence from. This influence is fairly obvious from some of Bryan’s works, which are direct almost copies of both Kandinsky and Pollock, although not exactly. This one below is definitely inspired by Pollock, but goes in its own direction if you care to look closely.

pollock inspired art

Here is another abstract painting below that bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain Kandinsky work. Bryan does this knowingly, as almost a technical exercise. This type of exercise dates back to his days of measuring and copying when he was a tool and die maker, where many of the tasks he performed were exacting and focused on making things in a specific, almost carbon-copied, way.

kandinsky painting copy

Technique and Toil, Plight of the Art Student

According to Bryan, he isn’t exactly concerned about artistic originality so much at this time, as he is still an art student and absorbing new styles and working on his craft. I can vouch for this, having been to art school.
 
Sticking to the various formulas is the name of the game, if you want to get good marks, and not fail or draw the ire of certain fickle profs. Here is another work, if you please.
 
Soccer players in action…

soccor players painting by bryan rogers

If you’ve been to art school, you may have done an assignment or two where emulation of a particular artist (often the professor) is the key, and often your grades depend on that. As such, Bryan often sticks close to the source material when that is what is required of him for an assignment, but he also strays from it more and more lately as his work continues to evolve.

Here is one of his more Pollock-inspired work. Although clearly inspired by Pollock with its paint-splatter effect, Bryan puts his own twist on the technique.

pollack knock off 1

Portrait Artist, Capturer of Moods

As I said before, Bryan Rogers has done a many portraits – many many, actually – based on people he has met, and there is definitely no shortage of those when I visited his studio. Having been all over the world, and having met many people – some of whom he likes, some of whom he dislikes – he always has an opinion about who he meets, and he might even share it with them!

I’m not sure who this next guy is, but it’s one of those creepy paintings that always seems to be watching you.

creepy guy

Bryan has a keen eye when it comes to sussing out people and I think his paintings certainly reflect that. In terms of portrait style, there is no one style that dominates them all. Here is another portrait – as you can see, all the portraits have their own flair.

bryan rogers portrait 1

I would say, that of all his work, I like his portraits best overall as they seem to capture all sorts of moods inherent in their subjects. Capturing the moods of a subject, some might say, is the main goal of a portraitist.
 
Bryan excels at this, and he chooses his subjects wisely as they usually having captivating traits in one way or another.

In terms of representationalism (real vs. not real), his portraits lie somewhere in the middle ground between realism and abstraction, so they are hard to categorize. Also, stylistically, Bryan Rogers’ portraits don’t remind me of any one particular artistic influence, which is cool.
 
Bryan also took part in The Many Faces of Cambridge portrait project, which took place years ago, which featured portraits from across the region.

Here is a portrait Bryan did of a homeless guy he saw in France. The homeless are much more stylish in France, I suppose.

homeless guy portrait

Bryan’s eye for capturing interesting subjects is probably what I enjoy the most, although I am curious to see where his more abstract work goes over time.

Here is a portrait he did of his daughter, which, again, shows that he has a discerning eye in terms of what he wants to say about a particular subject. This one is not for sale, as it was given as a gift.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably ready for my interview I did recently with Bryan Rogers. We cover a lot of ground, although none of it was particularly mapped out. I hope you enjoy our talk, featured below.

If you want to get in touch with Bryan to inquire about a painting or to talk about soccor, find him here on Facebook.



 

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Oh Miss Bailey – New Artist Feature

oh miss bailey flowers and dreadlocks

Today I met an artist who goes by the name Oh Miss Bailey, who is a technically a resident of Paris, Ontario, but comes across to me more like a wandering spirit of the cosmos who is brimming with creative energy and radiates light everywhere.

oh miss bailey
Image source: Oh Miss Bailey Instagram

At the tender age of 20, she is someone who clearly doesn’t fit into simple categorization, and probably won’t be found sitting in a cubicle anytime soon. A self-described adventurer, Oh Miss Bailey creates what I’d describe loosely as playful “psychedelic” paintings done in watercolor and mixed media that are both down-to-earth and cosmic at the same time.
 
Actually, she creates other things too, like little charms made from found or discarded objects, or various other styles of art (see her Instagram for more), but what I saw first was the slightly trippy stuff.

 

oh miss bailey experimentation and tentacles
Image source: Oh Miss Bailey Instagram

I first noticed Oh Miss Bailey’s art when I was getting my mountain bike fixed at this repair shop called Wheels and Deals in downtown Paris. The artwork seemed a little out of place amongst all the bike gear, so it immediately got my attention while also being a bit puzzling as to why it was even there in the first place.
 
I think a sign that art has something special going for it is that you can see it and instantly feel a connection to it. Everything that I saw was of a fairly collectible size – around as big as your average piece of 8.5″ x 11″ paper, or smaller.
 
I didn’t see any mammoth canvases lying around. Instead, she had small sized, colorful works that were placed here and there, hiding behind bike tires and such. I purchased one of her works with some tentacles morphing into a hot air balloon as well as one of her personalized sketchbooks.

 

ohmissbailey
Image Source: Oh Miss Bailey Instagram

You see, Paris, Ontario, is not the kind of town you would immediately associate with ground-breaking and ultra-modern artists who are going to blow your mind with their wild imaginations. It is foremost a quaint little town that has been referred to as one of the prettiest towns in Ontario, not to mention the “Cobblestone Capital of Canada”.
 
There is a lovely river running through Paris, and one might expect the river or the surrounding natural beauty to be the subject of most of the artwork there. Many of the buildings there are older, and the whole place seems rather dreamy, especially on a pleasant day as it was the other day.
 
Kayaks and canoes regularly reach Paris as their destination point, and everyone walks around at a relatively slow and relaxed pace. You almost can’t help it. To me, the idea of someone like Oh Miss Bailey making her style of kind of off-the-wall art and selling it around this charming old world town was rather curious to me.

 

astronaut sketchbook
Image Source: Oh Miss Bailey Instagram

Talking to Oh Miss Bailey in person, I learned a few things about her thoughts behind her art. One is that she is very connected to music, and many of her works are inspired by a particular artist, or song.
 
Music is a big part of what inspires her, it seems. I think she said Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes was an inspiration for at least one piece, for instance, but we didn’t go into great depth on this topic.
 
That said, I’m sure there are countless musical influences that seep into her artistic musings and I feel like I can see that in her work. In turn, her work has a musical quality about it.
 
She also mentioned she sometimes sneaks in those F-holes you find on violins into her work. Of course right now I can’t seem to find any of her works that have them in it, but I’m pretty sure I saw a few of these symbols here and there.

 

doodle from dublin
Image Source: Oh Miss Bailey Instagram

Another thing Oh Miss Bailey mentioned is that she thinks that realism is somewhat over-rated, in that she doesn’t feel compelled to paint in a purely realistic manner herself. She said that when she draws or paints someone or something, she depicts not exactly what she sees, but rather *how* she sees it.
 
This is not unlike the way the expressionists did things. For Oh Miss Bailey, it’s not about 100% photo-realistic accuracy. That’s ok, since there are numerous artists around nowadays who excel at this type of hyper-real rendering style.
 
I’d say that her renderings fall somewhere between caricatures and cartoons, with most of her work being fairly kaleidoscopic and ignoring of the basic laws of physics.

 

yoga meditation crystals entrepreneur
Image Source: Oh Miss Bailey Instagram

Similarly to music, Oh Miss Bailey mentioned that poetry is connected to her through her sister, and this is another quality I can see in her work – it has a poetic and free-spirited feel to it.
 
You might be able to argue that all artwork is poetic in its own way, but I think there is something different about the work of artists who actually take poetry to heart (eg.
 
actively read or write it), in that it adds an extra emotional dimension to the work, and makes each work almost like a window to a tiny world. To me, poetry or compelling written work does this.
 
It creates a window for a viewer or reader to see through into someplace else. Her work definitely has that effect of luring you down the rabbit hole and providing a portal into another world.

 

homesick for london
Image Source: Oh Miss Bailey Instagram

A few of the themes that I can see in Oh Miss Bailey’s work include that of travel, tentacles, and umm.. hot air balloons. Not sure what they mean but they do recur. Also, lots of faces.
 
I find that her use of watercolor adds a very whimsical quality to the work, and giving things a light touch. The cool thing about watercolor is that it is very useful for hinting at things, and creating atmosphere.
 
I think that she definitely has a knack for small scale works – like pages out of a sketchbook. In fact, this might even be the case – I don’t know.

The smaller scale of her work, to me, makes a few different statements. One is that this is work she can do while being out and about, allowing her to draw influence from her surroundings.
 
I also think this work emphasizes the importance of smaller things, and is in some way a rejection of following certain rules (this is pure conjecture on my part). That is to say, artwork doesn’t have to be huge to have an impact.
 
The linework of much of her work makes me think of animators, because the lines seem to have a life of their own, and for some reason I think of Chuck Jones sitting down to draw something, minus the cartoon violence he might typically add.

 

progressive morning oh miss bailey
Image Source: Oh Miss Bailey Instagram

Speaking of violence, I get an opposite vibe from Oh Miss Bailey’s work. It is very friendly, peaceful, and suggests the tranquil side of nature. This may have something to do with her currently living in Paris, I’d wager, were I a betting man.
 
If I had to decide if Oh Miss Bailey’s work was good or evil, I’d say its definitely on the side of good, with maybe a bit of mischief thrown in just because. Even the tentacles don’t seem very threatening to me, and tentacles, if you’ve ever been grabbed by one, can be quite terrifying!
 
Some of her pieces do seem a bit dark, in some ways, but I think there is still something quite buoyant about them. As mentioned earlier, she does more than just paint. She is also a creator of jewelry, using small found objects.

 

little charms
Image Source: Oh Miss Bailey Instagram

One more thing I learned by talking to Oh Miss Bailey is that she’s not short on ideas, and she’s determined to get herself out there as an artist. That means, there’s probably more coming, so you may want to connect with her.
 
With a firm grasp on social media, she’s not too hard to find if you search her up. You can quickly connect with her via her Facebook page or her Instagram.
 
If you like the pieces used in this article, most of her work I believe is available as prints. Thanks for reading!