Archive for the ‘Imagination’ Category

Currently working on…Eleanor

Friday, August 12th, 2011

"Do one thing every day that scares you."  – Eleanor Roosevelt. (graphite sketch) by M-J Kelley

Eleanor’s full title is "Do one thing every day that scares you." – Eleanor Roosevelt.

I love that quote.

I’m not sure if I do that. I think if I did that it would require me to climb tall ladders and stand on roof tops or (gasp!) be enclosed in small spaces. No thanks, I’d rather be an artist. To some that is pretty darn scary. Actually, I think it is not so much about being a full-time "art-creating person" that is scary, but more so the fear of being a "financially destitute person" that causes people to avoid or delay a vocation in the arts. I don’t blame them. It’s touch and go.

About Eleanor…the image shown here is a drawing. I draw everyday in my sketchbook – which is where all these crazy surreal ideas come from. Mostly I begin a drawing and something forms and then I think about where it is going and what I have been thinking about, or have seen and then I guide my drawing in that direction. The process is rather organic. It is a bit like being a mother duck trying to get her ducklings in a row. I use that type of movement to coax a drawing into a meaningful vision. In Eleanor’s case, I believe I had a moment of darkness. I chose to push one of my flowers overtop of a pointed rock-like object. But then it occurred to me that the flower may have chosen to do so. It made me think of Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote and its importance of reminding all of us to leave our comfort zone to become the people we are meant to be.

This drawing is dear to my heart, so I decided to turn her into a painting; a 16 x 20 full colour gouache painting which will be ready for display at the Cabbagetown Arts and Crafts show this September.

New painting: Stuffed Bunny Head on a Stick with Poison Mushroom Caps

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Stuffed Bunny Head on a Stick with Poison Mushroom Caps (detail, gouache on board) by M-J Kelley

What would ever make anyone draw, let alone paint such a thing? Experiences.

Stuffed Bunny Head on a Stick with Poison Mushroom Caps is about maintaining one’s goodness and humour in a toxic environment. How do we retain a level of childhood innocence when we are constantly barraged with the evils of the world? Bad events and bad people try to drive the innocence from us — sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. Creating illustrative images such as this one helps me to retain the sweetness of childhood.

This painting will be on display until February 13th at the Hangman Gallery (756 Queen St. E., Toronto). For more information on the show: Red Envelope Show: What’s Your Rabbit?

Don’t Anger the Snowman!

Monday, January 24th, 2011

I haven’t blogged the whole month of January. I have definitely blown past the “Happy New Year” window. Still I wish it to all.

I have many sane reasons as to why I haven’t written – but those aren’t very interesting. It would just be a hum drum list that you would have read by anyone telling you why they haven’t responded promptly to your email, etc. So I will forgo the list. Instead I will tell you that I have been busy employing one of my strengths to resolve a problem.

Adults don’t like to be told what to do. But, when they do something wrong – say like walking across a neighbour’s property to get to one’s home because it’s shorter than walking around the block – something needs to be done. The question is, how do you do it without creating a quagmire of messy neighbour relations? This is the problem I face with my neighbours. It may seem utterly minor in the scheme of the state of the world, but it bothers me.

Being one who dislikes telling adults what to do, I avoided saying anything by putting up a symbolic marker in the form of a burlap fence. Surely this would deter me if I saw it blocking my shortcut. But no, instead the interlopers walked on my fence. Yes, on it. There were snowy footprints actually on the burlap.

Against my better judgment I went a-callin’. I knocked on their door twice. No answer. I left returning with my problem and no solution.

Then I had a really great idea. It came to me when the snow fell that evening. It was packing snow! I went out and I built a huge snowman. Two eyes, carrot nose, charcoal mouth, stick arms, and a sign. Usually snowmen don’t come with signs. But mine did. It said, “Please don’t walk on our property. This will anger the snowman, and he has friends!” Truly, this was effective. I had the sign up for 5 days. Then I decided to take the sign down because I thought it was no longer necessary. How wrong I was! Last night, my neighbours cut across our property and in doing so broke my snowman’s right arm – which was his writing hand. Now the snowman is very angry. I have put in a plea for help to the ice trolls. It won’t be pretty when they show up.

I’m trying to resolve the annoying neighbour issue with humour, which is what I do with my artwork. Somehow, I believe that a humour coating will help the bitter pill of being told how to behave better will go down more easily.

I’ll keep you posted.

An Artist’s Fundraiser

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Beauty Flower and the Skull Mirror (gouache on board) by M-J Kelley

The Little Art Show is a local juried art auction offering original and limited edition works donated by established and emerging artists (and no bigger than 8” x 10”). Event proceeds fund the operations of the Artists’ Network, a dedicated member-driven not-for-profit with a mandate of supporting visual artists and their practice through a program of professional development, studio and exhibition opportunities. The Artists’ Network operates the Hang Man Gallery and the annual Riverdale Art Walk.

I have donated The Beauty Flower and the Skull Mirror to this auction. This work is an imaginative creation originating from a pencil drawing, and is part of a larger series on surreal landscapes that I create. This small piece is a contemporary “vanitas” piece, representing the transient nature of vanity but with a live for the moment flair that seemingly exists in today’s society. It is painted with gouache on recycled press board.

This event will take place at Saturday, November 13, 2010 at the Mercedes-Benz Downtown 761 Dundas St. E., Toronto (Dundas & River) from 7 – 11pm. For more information about the show: The Little Art Show.

Teaching Art

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Today I begin teaching at LucSculpture School & Studios. I will be teaching Art Portfolio and Cartooning, Comic Art and Sequential Storytelling.

Art Portfolio is a “one on one” class aimed at improving a student’s body of artwork for school submissions. Artistic portfolios should display “observational art” such as: landscapes, still-lifes, cityscapes, self-portrait and human form. It should also include work that speaks to your personal experiences and culture, and reflects your thoughts and concepts.

Cartooning, Comic Art and Sequential Storytelling is a seven week class series that focuses on the basic framework and components of cartoon and comic art. These will be put into play by learning how to tell and draw a story sequentially without the use of words.

I once taught a similar cartooning class at the Kansas City Art Institute. I am so looking forward to teaching it again!

The Dreamcatcher

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Dream Catcher (gouache on board) by M-J Kelley

I begin my paintings with full drawings. In the long run it makes my life a lot easier than trying to sort out tonal or structural issues on the canvas. What I found interesting about The Dreamcatcher was that I drew it with no real image in mind and no in-depth knowledge of what a dreamcatcher was – other than the basic premise. It just kind of came to life. So when I showed a friend of mine the drawing, she said, “what colour are you painting the feather?” I said that I didn’t know. “Well,” she continued, “it means something.” Oh, ok. So off I went in search of the meaning of the coloured feathers.

What I discovered was it wasn’t so much the colour of the feathers, but from whom the feather came. So if a dreamcatcher had crane feathers, then it represented wisdom and knowledge. Feathers from a dove represented the offer of love. Based on the design of the feathers in my drawing, I realized that I drew feathers similar to a hawk or an eagle. Both birds represent protection.

Then I continued my research. I found out that the size of the “sacred hoop” is the size of the dreamcatcher’s maker’s left hand. And sure enough my painting’s hoop is the size of my left hand. There are other iconographical symbols in the piece that were created by accident, but interesting to point out. These would be the seven spokes or Seven Sister (Pleiades) which is the nearest star cluster to Earth, a hole for the spirit guide, and the added fact that the feather is not tied in a downward fashion. A feather tied upside down is for children – so the good dreams slide gently into the child while they are sleeping. It strikes me that this dreamcatcher was intended for adults.

When I actually figured out that I was drawing a dreamcatcher, I asked myself what would happen if a dream was caught and what would or should one do with it once it was caught. I think the feather design solved the mystery for me. Protect it.

Silent Auction

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

The Band (gouache on board) by M-J Kelley

The Band is a gouache piece that I painted a few weeks ago. I created it specifically as a donation to a jazz and blues silent auction. The proceeds from the auction are to fund art exhibit display fixtures for the Collingwood Library.

Illustration Proposal

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

OAC Content Sample (graphite) by M-J Kelley

I recently submitted an illustration proposal for an arts booklet. Along with submitting past illustrations, I created this one specifically for the bid. I didn’t win the bid, but I really liked my proposal and also this illustration. This piece (though cropped) incorporates the various arts: dance (ballet shoes), theatre (tape marks), film (film reel), music (piano keys), and painting (canvas on easel).

Illustration Mailer

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Horse (graphite) by M-J Kelley

“Horse” is a drawing I created for an illustration mailer that the Studio will be sending out next week.The image also includes a cowboy waiting for a ride. This mailer highlights the Studio’s line art capabilities for illustration and storyboarding. If you would like to receive a mailer, please feel free to contact me and I will add you to the Studio’s distribution list.

New Painting: Tension

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Tension (gouache on board) by M-J Kelley

This is another new painting that is part of my surreal landscape series. These paintings are based on drawings that I do every morning. Some mornings are a bit more unusual than others.