Archive for the ‘Painting’ Category

Fringe Postcard Art

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Recently a good friend called and asked if I would help her by designing her Kansas City Fringe Festival performance art postcard. She asked if I would modify one of my paintings, Pectin.

Pectin (gouache) by M-J Kelley

Pectin (gouache) by M-J Kelley

She wanted something simple. To have the cherry magically transformed into a heart. And so I did that using Photoshop’s transform – warp tool. Then I cleaned it up with the eraser and the clone/stamp tool.

Pectin Fringe postcard M-J Kelley

I selected Blackadder ITC as the main title font which suited her performance piece and used a sans serif Open Sans for the information. I set everything up to her printer’s request including trim and bleed marks and pdf proofs.

Pectin Fringe postcard back M-J Kelley

And I made her a poster as well.

Pectin Fringe poster M-J Kelley

Jamie picked them up at the printer today and said they were beautiful. Glad to help. Good luck with your Fringe performance, Jamie!

Spring Art Classes: Drawing and Painting

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

This Sunday will mark the beginning of our spring drawing and painting classes.

Learn to Draw and Paint (ages 6-10) (1-2pm):

Discover the arts! Explore drawing and painting with a variety of techniques using pencil, crayons, pencil crayons, oil pastel and tempera paint. Each lesson will build upon the last, beginning with drawing simple shapes for image creation and continuing with the use of mixed-media painting and simple printmaking.

Art Fundamentals for Teens (ages 11-14) (2:30-4pm):

Explore the fundamentals of drawing and painting with a variety of techniques and materials using pencil, charcoal, conte, ink, watercolour and acrylic. Each lesson will build upon the last, beginning with simple shapes to create form. Students will learn simple perspective, how to draw from sight, basic composition and painting skills. Students will also be introduced to the elements and principles of design.

These classes held in room #3 in the Rosemount Community Center in Vaughan. For more information…

Paint Me A Birmingham

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

I like listening to country music. I heard a song today by Tracy Lawrence — "Paint Me a Birmingham." The premise of the song is that a man stumbles upon an artist who is painting on the beach. The man asks him "if he only painted ocean scenes." The artist replies, "For twenty dollars, I’ll paint you anything."

Twenty dollars? For anything? So the man says to the artist:

"Could you Paint Me A Birmingham
Make it look just the way I planned
A little house on the edge of town
Porch goin’ all the way around
Put her there in the front yard swing
Cotton dress make it, early spring
For a while she’ll be, mine again
If you can Paint Me A Birmingham."

All that for twenty dollars and the artist offers to paint the man "back into her arms again."

I have to admit I am a sucker for this kind of romantic ballad. What I wouldn’t give to be able to paint someone’s heartache away. Maybe that is why the artist only charged twenty dollars — to cover his material costs.

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.

Art on Steroids

Monday, August 8th, 2011

I recently listened to a 60 Minutes podcast reporting that Lance Armstrong”allegedly” used performance enhancing drugs in order to win the Tour de France races. The basic premise of the story was that a cyclist had to blood-dope – because everyone else was – if he even wanted to possibly have a chance at winning. And if he didn’t? Well, forget it.

We have this too in the visual art world.

At a recent art show, I was once again reminded to what lengths an “artist” will go to produce salable artwork. At the show there was an “artist” there who painted on top of a photograph to create realistic looking animals. I believe this to be a performance enhancing art aid. A photo is taken, sent to a printer and printed on canvas. The “artist” then adds paint and sells it as if it were an original piece of art in the traditional realm of high realism.

I mentioned this technique to a 13 year old student of mine. He said, “Don’t they know that’s cheating?” and “So it’s about the product and not the process for them right?” Right.

Before I get into why this technique is wrong, I would like to mention that photography does have its place in the visual arts either as photography or as reference material for visual arts and illustration. But when an artist blurs those lines for the sake of making money, there are several issues:

  1. The “artist” isn’t being truthful to his/her customer because the “artist” is not disclosing that he/she has painted over a photograph. The purchaser of such work believes he/she is buying a “painting.”
  2. Juried shows love traditional realism. Rarely do jurors ask about the art making “process.” As a result, the shows accept the cheating “artists,” while rejecting those who have worked hard to learn their craft.
  3. The work is usually priced far lower than a work created from scratch by another artist. This is because the time, energy, and knowledge spent to create artwork goes into the pricing structure. This creates an unlevel playing field.
  4. The “artist” misses out on the true reason why one creates.

I am incensed by the nature of this type of work and by the “artists” who practice this procedure. I just don’t understand why these so-called artists wouldn’t want to learn – truly learn – how to paint and draw well.

As always, comments are welcome.

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?

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.

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.

Social Commentary

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

M-J Kelley Studio's Hood Ornament

I begin each morning with a blank page, a sharp pencil and a cup of coffee. I never know what I will be drawing. So imagine my suprise when this turned up. Hood Ornament is a new piece that makes a visual comment about the connection between the brown pelicans, automobiles, and the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

I am finding that the greater the social commentary, the greater the animation or cartooning of a piece. It seems easier to comment in this manner. I now understand political cartoonists all the more.