Loman’s second sailing book

northern lights
northern lights

It is almost done and the pictures are again awesome. He paints them himself…acrylic on hardboard, I think…and then adds story to create a hypothetical journey reminiscent of the mid 1800s.

colorful sky
colorful sky

I’ll have more to say when it is all done, but I thought I would show you a few of his pictures now.

Old Glory Faces the Hurricane
Old Glory Faces the Hurricane

Library “Art Gallery”

Shadows on the Snow
Shadows on the Snow

I brought a couple of my photos in to be part of the opening exhibit of photos from the Senior’s College classes…one of mine, shown above, is to be included. Last weekend I was part of a group Swarna, the librarian, shanghaied to set policy for this, her’ latest publicity venture for the Montague (PEI) library. She now has a set of chains hanging down on an open wall intended to hold pictures… paintings or photographs. Each exhibit is to be up for 6 weeks and the space is available on a first-come-first-served basis by signup. Being the sort of person she is, there will be “grand openings” every 6 weeks with refreshments… anything you spent at the library book sale supports local programs!

In the discussion of policies, I was surprised to discover how much my experiences with the Artisans on Main…discussed in blogs from last summer… gave me a clear picture of what I did NOT want for this activity.

  • There should be NO jury passing judgement if the art is good enough to be shown.
  • There should be no favoring more polished or professional work over beginners work or even work by children…whoever signs up first gets the space.
  • There should only be help in hanging and arranging an exhibit if the contributor specifically requests it. Otherwise mounting and arranging the exhibit should be entirely the responsibility of the artist (or their mother or father).

I suppose I am still smarting under the exclusivity and judgmental attitude that gradually grew up within the Artisans, but I want this library project to be free form any taint of such restrictiveness. For what its worth, I hope to sign up for a spot soon next week!

New book: Old Glory

Loman’s newest book

Loman Bell is just about to release his new children’s historical/marine picture book entitled Old Glory. In it we are treated to a voyage on a sailing ship of the 1800s. The great part of the book is the illustrations…Loman has developed a dramatic bold painting style which sets his book…the first in a planned series..apart. There is no way to describe it except as a COLOUR book…COLOR to you people in the states. I include a couple pictures just to give you a feel for the work. It will be available directly from Loman as well as through Amazon.

One of his bold illustrations


Karen Gallant Painting











I just finished converting a picture of amateur painter Karen’s amazing work into a post card to be printed by Vista Print (she is not to be confused with another more well-known artist with the same last name). The original is 30 x 40 inches, done in acrylic. The challenge is to mate the proportions of the painting to those of the post card, but that is all done now and the cards should be back in about 2 weeks.

The marvel to me is that she spent about 18 months doing it…finding both pictures of each president and researching details of their lives…and she has no US roots. She describes it as a journey without a specific goal in sight at the start. She certainly puts me, coming from the USA, to shame both for my ignorance of much US history as well as a vast ignorance of Canadian history!

Karen has prints of her painting for sale and presumably will have large postcards as well soon. She can be contacted directly at karen_anne_gallant@hotmail.com

A ‘real’ artist again

With my published books being ousted from the Artisans on Main Gallery, and my photo prints priced so low (when compared to the surrounding matted reproductions of paintings), it is clear that the majority favor the laborious one-of-a-kind works. There is, of course, the famous quote from Groucho Marx:



Belle River Shore

Still, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em…I have decided to see if the artisans group will accept me as a member. In the next week or two…I aim to submit a set of acrylics to be ‘juried’. I decided a couple weeks ago to use up all my resources in hardboard/panel-board and set out to paint 18 pictures all at once…all in thick acrylic and all done entirely with palette knife in an impressionistic style. I first laid out two 4′ x 8′ sheets of plywood on sawhorses in the garage (the truck has been outside for about a week and is probably getting irritated an being ousted), laid out all my ‘canvasses’, and went at it…all at the same time in a round-robin, production mode. For specific inspiration I grabbed some of my postcards and photo-magnets. First I put down a layer of white acrylic as a primer and then went around laying down a single range of colors at a time…first blues, grays, and whites to represent the impression of skies and clouds…then greens and yellows for grass and trees…then reds, browns and whites for beaches and fields…and finally whatever was left–purples and pinks for lupines and grey-greens for beach plants (dusty miller?). It was more fun than finger-painting back in 1st grade!

Continue reading A ‘real’ artist again

Its official–no books

Books are not art in the context of the Artisans on Main Gallery. The politics of this particular motion notwithstanding, it seems sad that the definition of art sits in the hands of some 20 folks who all seem to be painters, sculptors, or quilters. Worse yet, the collective view of paintings seems to be that the best style is represented by most of the paintings…acrylic, oil, or watercolor in a highly realistic nearly photographic form. It struck me that there are no abstract works (unless you count quilts) and virtually none that are not fairly detailed. Perhaps that is what sells…although very little seems to sell in any given week. 

I recall hearing about a very snooty… that’s the only word I can think of…group of people who juried for an art gallery back in Indiana. The standards were so high that no watercolors were accepted which used opaque white paint anywhere…white had to be achieved by the white paper showing through…either by careful avoiding of the area or by using masking fluid and removing it later.  That is always the risk of rigidly defining art. The very same issue plagued the impressionists who were denied a presence in the salon in Paris.

My writer friends who produced the books (which are soon to be removed from the gallery) would argue vehemently that their works are art, just like the earlier argument that religious poetry is not unique in having a ‘spiritual’ content. Perhaps this is just a sifting process so that the true bias of the active ‘members’ will be seen. As one email hinted recently, perhaps the group has become too selective and critical and will end up without enough members to continue.

What is art?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

What would be simply an academic discussion has become a more significant issue which boils down to, “Are books a form of art?” Perhaps I should give some background. I volunteered to put my matted prints in the Artisans on Main Gallery. One of the organizers suggested I investigate wire racks that she had heard were at Habitat for Humanity. The only ones left were quite unusual ones, but I found one assembly that could fit several rows of pictures on 4 sides with about a 3′ x 2′ footprint. Since Wood Islands Prints has long ago branched into publishing, I decided part of one side of the rack could be dedicated to showing (and offering for sale) (only) the books I have published. After all, laying out books and editing pictures for insertion is a sort of art. Well, this has been a bone of contention from the first week. I think the ‘spiritual’ nature of some of the books was a problem for one individual, but when someone pointed out that many paint-artists would view their works as having spiritual dimensions, the next move was to argue that any books are not an appropriate item in an art gallery. I think block prints would start to push that boundary since they are a form of printing, and the term ‘artisan’ seems to me to have a somewhat broader use. Part of the problem is that the ‘artisans group’ had no defined membership nor any mechanism for deciding such issues. Nevertheless I expect my books will be voted out. As one of my professor associates said decades ago in another context,

The intensity of the argument is inversely related to its importance.

As I commented here some days ago, there are thoughts of setting a minimum price for items based on size…is it fear of being undercut by other artists?…I’d like to purchase 212 square inches of art today. Since all of my matted prints are priced far below suggested thresholds, I am thinking of preempting any vote, shaking the dust off my feet, and moving everything to the boutique across the street (if as I am told, the owner over there is now open to taking them). Then I don’t have to spend a day cutting mats or could even drop the photography classes…I don’t wish to do that at this point, but the climate does not enhance the desire to help.

One good result of this kerfuffle is that I have decided to resume painting. I realized last night that all the paintings on display in the gallery are quite realistic…nothing even slightly abstract hangs on any of the walls. Since I really enjoy painting with palette knife on big surfaces, I have set up today to do a whole batch of pictures with a goal of being quite abstract. Half the garage is full of about 20 hardboard panels and I am going around to all of them in a round robin fashion carrying out steps to create pictures that are abstract but slightly scenic. If it was good enough for Turner, it should qualify now. So far I have done the skies…or at least the first draft. With acrylic paint the dry time is fast enough you have to keep going if you want the blending that can come while paints are still wet…perhaps an hour vs days with oils! I am intrigued at something after Pollock, but there isn’t enough wall space to hang even one of those! My intent is to offer up the best these for the jury process of the gallery…if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.