Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Picasso Smoke and My First Couch

This post is about memory. I like to name my creations. Sometimes it is a bit of a struggle; all my ideas seem contrived which does the work an injustice. With this choker, however, as soon as it was finished it, the title came into my mind immediately.

When I was in my early twenties, I moved out of my shared apartment into my very first home of my own. It was a bachelor apartment in an old building in downtown Ottawa. I set out one day to buy my first couch. Upon seeing a gray/blue velvet Bauhaus couch and loveseat at a furniture store I was hooked. No other furniture would do. It blew the budget but I had those pieces for many years.

What sealed the deal in my mind I am sure, was the name of the color, Picasso Smoke.
Such a gorgeous juxtaposition of words... and exactly the color of the velvet ribbon in this choker. The overall dusky hues also evoked the name. Of all things to remember, so many (!) years later says a lot about memory. I know I have forgotten many details of my life so far; I have forgotten them so I cannot relate how many or why those thoughts have vanished. All I can speculate on is why I do remember what I do.

Picking out that couch was a strong signifier of who I was at the time. I shopped for it alone. Paid for it with my hard earned money from my paste-up artist job. It looked great in my apartment, my choice was the right one. Now that purchase is giving me one more pleasure, the name of my favorite new choker, Picasso Smoke.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Featured Artist #2/ Holly Farrell

Holly Farrell, a Toronto based painter, is my Featured Artist #2 in a series. She has been painting professionally since 1995, which was around the first time I noticed her work, at an outdoor art fair.

There was a purity; an essence of intent, that immediately caught my attention. On one level her paintings are studies of form, time and place. Her 'subjects' are objects yet they are also a representation of a person and how they have interacted with this particular object.

In her late twenties Holly was painting more as a pastime. As this interest grew she decided to become more serious about developing her craft. Going to art school was not an option financially or timewise, so she went about practicing drawing on her own. By using common household items as subjects she gradually taught herself to draw what was in front of her. This progressed to learning to paint in the same manner. This solitary approach to learning technique has imbued a unique quality to her work.

Referring to her work as Portraiture, she feels a connection to the objects she paints and describes these studies as "looking at one thing, one thought, one memory". She however does not see herself as a realist painter and feels the term 'folk realist' better captures her self-taught style. The folk art aesthetic is something Holly feels rooted in; it's simplicity of form and colour is always in the back of her mind as she paints.

I admire Holly's work immensely. She has taken and elevated the still life genre. I feel like I am looking at a soul, a story, a memory and also the aesthetic beauty of an object, that, when all is quiet, we can appreciate for it's own existence.

Holly is currently working on solo shows coming up in Vancouver and Tokyo. She is in private collections in the U.K., Europe, Canada and the U.S.A.

Check out her website here holly farrell.