Archive for the ‘Surreal Art’ Category

Sketchbook Drawing: Precious Egg

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Precious Egg (graphite) by M-J Kelley 2013

Precious Egg (graphite) by M-J Kelley 2013

…from my sketchbook.

BIG IDEAS

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

I love BIG IDEAS. Somehow, I magically come up with a plan for something and move in that direction. When I do that, I give it my all. I dig deep and research, ask questions, stay up late, get up early and do the hard work needed to achieve my goals. This behavior is a constant as long as I have a BIG IDEA.

For the last several years, I have had a BIG IDEA for my artwork. I have worked hard and some of that has paid off. But some, quite frankly, has seen me throwing precious energy into the wind only to watch it fly away.

The latter is unbelievably frustrating.

And so, here I am, reassessing my BIG IDEA. In fact, I’ve been doing it since late September, which is the main reason why I haven’t posted a blog since then. Reassessing BIG IDEAS is a bit paralyzing. It’s a mental transition that seemingly affects all of me. I am no good without a BIG IDEA. The transition takes time, but fortunately, I always seem to be able to move toward another BIG IDEA.

My new BIG IDEA begins with a return in the New Year to my traditional figurative roots. I was never very far from it, but it is hard to do everything I like to do. I have spent the last several years exploring my imaginative work with my surreal art. It will continue on its creative storytelling journey even as I take a more traditional turn. And as for my wildlife drawings, I have opted to only draw a few of them this year.

The biggest thing I am axing from my last BIG IDEA is the art show circuit. I want to focus on being a better artist ― strengthening my knowledge, honing my skills and just enjoying the process. Sometimes the art show preparation is so demanding that it is easy to forget that I paint or draw not for others, but for myself ― for the simple goals of expression and enjoyment.

I have other ideas tucked into my BIG IDEA but for now I think that is a good beginning to the New Year.

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 Shows 2011

Monday, April 4th, 2011

I have changed my mind … I have decided to show both my surreal landscape paintings and my wildlife drawings this year at regional art shows.

Some artists choose to display only one style. They worry about confusing their audience. I worry about that too. But I think it’s important to stay true to myself, my interests, and my varied forms of expression.

Because of my training, I am able to draw what is in front of me as well as what is lurking in the back of my head. I enjoy both the technical proficiency of sight work and the imaginative creations that come from cerebral drawing.

I don’t like showing two types of artwork at the same show. Instead, I have opted to review each show and decide what type of art is suitable based on the show’s focus and the people who attend.

I have applied for two September shows with my surreal landscapes. All of the other shows I will be showing my traditional work.

For a listing of my upcoming shows, please visit Events.

Artistic Decisions

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Recently, I have had to make some hard decisions regarding my art practice. Last year I showed my surreal artwork at art shows with varying degrees of success.

I realized after a long assessment these art shows may not be the proper forums for my surreals. There are many reasons for this. But one of the reasons that stood out for me was that of simple human conditioning.

Most art shows show a mix of traditional and contemporary with few showing surreal artwork. I think when people wander about a show they are preconditioned or have a visual imprint of the type of work they expect to see. This is really good for people who are showing similar work. It’s not as good for those who show different work.

I liken this to a person in the travel section of a bookstore who stumbles upon a misplaced children’s book. They are not looking for that type of book and hence dismiss it even though it may be a really good book. If, however, the children’s book was in its proper section, then it may have been better received.

I love my surreal artwork, but I feel they need to be shown in another format – a graphic novel or children’s book. Which means I will not be showing my surreal artwork at the art shows this year. Instead, I will be eagerly presenting my traditional wildlife portraits – which I love just as much.

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.

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.