30
Apr
22

So What’s going on?

Well, going back a few weeks….Terry and I had 2 glorious weeks in Cayo Coco, Cuba! Wow, so amazing to walk on sand, in bare feet…..swim in the crystal clear water and not have to cook for 2 weeks!

This is where i turned 70!!! Felt so wonderful to celebrate what feels like a rather monumental milestone, beside the pelicans and the ocean.

Then back to reality….Have been working in the mudroom for the past 3 weeks, and after almost 4 months of a sabbatical, it felt good to get my hands dirty with clay, rather than paint! I’ve got many orders to deal with plus getting prepared for an the upcoming season here….and an open house on the long weekend, May 21st. Here’s what’s been happening! We are feeling very optimistic that there might be a chance of a good and productive season.

Wine cups.
Small, medium and large planters.
Trimming the large planters.
Carving the planters.

These new planters, large, medium and small are drying and I’m getting ready to do a firing next week.

Also decided to try and start some seeds for the garden …haven’t done this in many years and I’m excited to see what happens. This is the day i planted them, a couple of weeks ago, and i am now seeing some very small green shoots….

After the past 2 years of the pandemic it is beginning to feel like we are entering a more normal phase of spring and summer here at Big Hill Retreat and Pottery!

18
Mar
22

Completed the assignment.

A couple of weeks ago i completed the assignment i began early February. It was such an interesting and fruitful experience! Trying out new techniques, like ink transfer, was to say the least, frustrating, but i explored it for some time and will continue to explore it. I decided to explore the ink transfer technique to enable me to lay down photographs of me, my mother and my 2 daughters, with the idea looking at ‘mothering’…..a rather large area of exploration….here are a couple of examples of the very beginning of some of those paintings.

I then used cold wax and oil sticks to move the paintings thro a few compositions. Using oil sticks instead of the usual oil paint and cold wax offered me a much more direct way of playing with the image. The main focus for this whole assignment was to work fast and spontaneously….and the oil sticks offered this.

Here are some of the pieces above as they were resolved into a final composition.

She was a Good Mother # 1.
Mothering # 1
She was a Good Mother #2.

I am still unsure how I will integrate these spontaneous works on paper into my more practised way of painting….but something new was experienced.

13
Feb
22

Assignment

A couple of months ago i joined the Cold Wax Academy and i’m very much enjoying what they have to offer. This month there is an assignment – to be more spontaneous in your approach to painting. I’m working on paper, approx. 11 ” x 11″ and I am exploring adding collage and trying ink transfers. All a bit daunting at times, but as with most challenges there are many rewards.

I began with trying to do ink transfers of photographs of my daughter’s when they were babies…exploring some thoughts and feelings….haven’t gotten too far cos the process of ink transfers has me a bit stumped right now. But i will continue with this theme. Also, i’m exploring adding collaged tissue paper onto the paper then using oil sticks to make marks and then cover with cold wax. This is a very different approach for me….usually i mix the cold wax with the oil paint and then apply, creating many layers with textures. With this new exploration i’m intrigued by the translucency i can achieve in some pieces, but also trying to go as far as i can in one sitting, which usually is about 25-30 minutes.

collage beginnings.
oil sticks and cold wax added.
collage and oil sticks with cold wax.
collage, oil sticks and cold wax.

The idea is do make 20 or more paintings, exploring and experimenting then you have to pick 3-4 and submit to the Academy. We’ll see. So far i’m onto # 14 and these are just a few of them.

Having a focus and direction is helping me.

19
Jan
22

Sabbatical time!

For the next 4 months I take off my potter’s apron and put on my painter’s apron…..winter here on Cape Breton Island has it’s drawbacks…way too much snow….but it also offers me the time to concentrate on painting. For the past 3-4 years I have given myself this little sabbatical period and I love having the luxury of focusing on my love of painting. Here is a bit of a review of what i’ve been up to!

To free me from the arduous task of starting the woodstove in my studio, where it can be -5 degrees C when i get started…..i reorganized my little office/painting space, and it is working out really well. Still need to sort out the big studio space, and will do so maybe next month…but for the time being i’m very happy to have this cozy and accessible spot to paint.

These are 3 paintings on paper, approximately 10″ x 10″ – that i have been working on over the past week or so. Many layers of cold wax and oil on each piece. It is sometimes challenging to know when to stop…but i decided with these 3 that removing the tape that kept the outer edges clean, made me stop farting around with them. Sometimes you can really just go too far!

All 3 of these are 8″ x 6″ cradled board, cold wax and oil. I’m setting myself some challenges….these 3 were begun with the idea of a series about the landscape, and begun using a limited palette, then added sap green to a couple of them. Not referencing any particular landscape, but more what my unconscious memories bring forth.

I’ve also been exploring collage and acrylic ink in my sketch book….i love putting these fast little compositions together.

I use pieces of tissue paper that i have stencilled onto using acrylic paint ….. the tissue paper kinda disappears when you stick it down and so you are left with just the stencilled pattern.

Spent a very fun hour or more creating these collage papers. Very satisfying indeed.

20
Aug
21

Back from the West Coast.

Thanks to Mark, a very lovely man who dropped into the studio today, I was reminded that it’s been more than a month since my last post, so thank you Mark!

It’s been a very hectic couple of months, and of course the main event was the birth of Owen Gibson Johnson, born 6th June 2021. I began my visit to Maple Ridge, BC., on the 1st June and Morgan and I had a wonderful few days together before his birth. We did some awesome walks, had wonderful talks, did some cooking in preparation of her and Ace being a bit preoccupied…. and even did some painting.

Morgan getting artsy!
Owen Gibson Johnson, approx. 3 weeks old!

The next 4-5 weeks were amazing, Bronwyn and Brighson (6 months) arrived on the 6th in time for the birth, and stayed for 3 weeks. We rented this awesome airbnb, 8 minutes from Morgan and Ace, so convenient. I very quickly got used to being a city mouse!!!! Such wonderful food options, so easy when exhausted at the end of the day to order in…..living where we do there is no such thing as ‘delivery’ – having food dropped off at our front door was a treat to say the least. Morgan, Ace and Owen came home in the afternoon of the 8th…..what an exciting day that was. Owen was a very good size, over 8 lbs, and everyone was doing just fine. What a gift it is to hold a new born baby, so awesome – words are hard to find, my heart was full to over flowing with love for this little being!

Double Trouble for sure!
Very happy Grammy!
Happy but exhausted Dad!
Morgan, Owen, Bronwyn & Brighson.

Back to Big Hill first week of July and after a couple of days to adjust to east coast quiet and time zone, back into the studio. 2 glaze kilns done! Since then we’ve had 2 markets and it’s been great. Here is my new booth, complete with the wonderful stand Terry made for me to show my paintings.

Extremely hot day and thankfully i had my new tent to give some shade! Even sold a painting!

Gave myself a few days to noodle with paint….a day to play with a geli plate and acrylic paints…so much fun to make these mono prints, you can’t spend too much time fussing and ‘composing’ or else the paint will dry and won’t print! I find it is a very good loosing up exercise before i get all the oil paint and cold wax stuff set up!

the next day i moved into some cold wax and oil. This piece is 2′ x 2′ and was basically inspired by summer!

Finally, Aleck and Kristy, got to come and collect the 12 piece dinner set they ordered 2 years ago!!!! They live here in Baddeck during the summer and the rest of the year in North Carolina…..so of course were unable to get here last summer! They were thrilled, thank god!!!

I think that about wraps it up for the time being…..I’m at the beginning of a new cycle of production, getting ready for the next market in Baddeck on the 4th September! Here are some large bowls that will be ready for the market.

26
May
21

Successful firings.

After my kiln disaster of a few weeks ago, i have managed to put thro 2 of the 3 glaze kilns i need to get done before my trip out west. So even altho i’ll be closed for the month of June, here is a shot of the studio this morning…I’ll be open to the public early July!

1 Glaze unloaded and the last one ready to go!

The first glaze kiln load went to orders!

I have also been noodling about with some painting…..having switched the main studio over to making pottery, i sorted out my desk etc., in my office space, and have been doing some painting here. It’s a bit tight, but it works, and can afford me the time to continue exploring. I feel more balanced when i’ve been able to do a bit of painting, and maybe over the next couple of days i will get a chance to continue!

below is one i feel is done….this is 12″ x 12″ birch board, using venetian plaster then cold wax and oil.

In other news at Big Hill: We got the little dock back into the pond, it is a bit of a challenge,especially amidst the dreaded black flies…but we got it in.

Terry has also been out and about planting some little hemlock seedlings. A couple of years ago he had about 30 acres of trees on the property cut down, and so now he is having it replanted. His aim is to recreate the Arcadian Forest here. A crew of 5 young folks were here about a week ago, for 2 days (mostly in the rain) and they planted about 16,000 trees…..i think they were red spruce!

And finally, it is lobster season here on Cape Breton Island so the other evening i ordered a couple of big ones from our neighbour down the road….omg, it was absolutely delicious. Might have to indulge one more time before i head west, the girls don’t like seafood so i need to make the most of being able to have really fresh seafood!

Next monday i head to Abbortsford to be with Morgan who is expected to deliver her little boy around the 4-6th June. We are praying she isn’t 7-8 days late like her twin sister was!

Next blog will be coming from the West Coast!

06
May
21

Moving On!

I’ve been a potter for over 30 years, and have had my share of disappointments and some minor disasters…..but last week i had one that kinda topped them all! I loaded a bisque kiln – approximately $5,500 worth of product and basically 2-3 weeks worth of work (i am after all over 65 so semi retired!!!). My fabulous kiln is computer controlled and i have had total and utter faith in it for the past 10 years. I programmed it for the usual bisque (cone 07, approx. 1700 degrees F) but somehow i made a small error (don’t need to go into the details) and the kiln fired to cone 6, which is a glaze kiln! My first tip off was when i entered the studio the next day, i was expecting a nice cozy warm studio…..which is a lovely off shoot of firing over night – to find it way hotter than i expected! On checking the computer i found out what the issue was…it had gone to 2300 degrees F! What now, well i felt kinda nauseous – i knew the contents would be useless in terms of glazing them! The pots needs to be porous to allow the glaze to be absorbed! Ok, so a couple of days of feeling rather down, but the only thing to do is Move On!!!

So a couple of days later i unloaded it and took the hammer to it all…which was oddly satisfying!

Preparing enough work for the rather unpredictable summer ahead, is already rather difficult – but add onto that the fact that I am heading to BC, at the end of May for the whole month of June – my daughter Morgan is due to give birth to her first baby on the 4-5 June, and come hell or high water i will be there! I couldn’t miss this event for anything…Covid be damned! I will also have the absolute pleasure of being with my other daughter, Bronwyn (they are identical twins) and her little baby (born December 2020) Brighson! Such an exciting time, but also so tinged with trepidation!!!!

The past week has been busy here, i’ve revamped my production schedule (removed a few items!!) and now i’m in the groove with work progressing.

The showroom will be open to the public at the beginning of July….stay tuned for updates of opening of studio and showroom times.

04
Apr
21

Into the Caves.

In my last post i mentioned the book i’m reading, First Signs, and how it seems to be eliciting images of cave like spaces. I’m continuing on with this process and finding it very inspiring. These next 3 images have had a couple of layers added, not sure if they are done yet, but i like where they are presently.

All 3 are 12″ x 12″ birch veneer, layer of Venetian plaster then cold wax and oil paint.

29
Mar
21

Start Where you Are!

I have decided to resurrect my old blog, and so instead of trying to recap over the past 4-5 years I’m starting right here, right now.

For the past 2-3 years i have been rather dedicated to exploring cold wax and oil as a painting medium, and because of requests from my family and others, to see some of these images ( a lot of people don’t use face book or instagram), so today i will do a short introduction to my paintings.

Cold wax and oil is a way of applying paint to a surface, mostly a hard surface like birch veneer. These surfaces are covered with gesso and then they are ready to go! My main interest is in exploring abstract images….i guess i would say I’m a ‘process’ oriented painter, which just means, i make marks, put down paint and keep responding to what I’m seeing. I’m never sure where I’m going or what will appear! One of the main attractions for me is the ability to lay down many layers of paint, scrape thro to reveal what has gone before. Of particular interest for me right now incorporates the use of Venetian plaster as an under layer.

Here is one of the first images I made using plaster as an under painting, this image is 12″ x 12″.

I’m also very intrigued with the notion of what happens in the subconscious part of the brain, how we as painters process the visual world around us and then, for example, without taking such ideas as trees, or grass literally, we might find tree like marks emerging.

I’ve been reading a very enthralling book, The First Signs, that explores what types of marks were being created over 100,000 years ago……much of the book refers to images found deep inside caves, all over the world! It is an astonishing read! When i looked at this image after making it, i saw a cave like image with light coming thro….exposing some ancient hidden marks! None of this was intentional!

That’s all for the time being.

29
Dec
19

+-Testing….




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Linda Wright, Potter.

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