Artist Interview: Tim Sullivan

(c) Tim Sullivan

This month, I'd like to introduce Vancouver Abstract Expressionist artist Tim Sullivan. Tim and I connected at one of my workshops in 2011, became immediate friends with a deep soulful recognition.

Looking at your portfolio online I can see that you do work in a number of styles - still life, abstracts, landscape, etc. Is there one particular style that you enjoy the most. Why?

I am most partial these days to expressionist abstract works. Who can say why.  I work very intuitively, letting what wants to come forth do so. Not always a smooth process, however. The mind tends to trick me sometimes, lets me think it knows what to paint. This usually results in less successful productions or less than enjoyable experiences. 

However, I have also been exploring figurative work, especially faces and nudes which I then “deconstruct” or situate into more abstract compositions. I feel the urge to explore this more in coming days, among other artistic ‘urges.’  

Looking at your most recent works I see a lot of textures and thick resinous layers. Would you share with us about your painting process.

These works you mention arise from a process of “addition and subtraction.” I’ll explain. After an opening ‘gesture’ which is the initial addition to the empty canvas there begins a process, partly intuitive play, partly aesthetic judgement, of removing parts or ‘subtraction’ then adding more layers...and so on, each more refined, sometimes even desperate, until completion, which is to say when something in me says, “OK, enough! It’s finished.” On more than one occasion, I have put aside a work for months not knowing what comes next, then take it up again with a new inspiration. Other works can be complete in hours.   

Tim, can you tell us how did you passion for painting began?

I believe the passion for painting, and artistic expression generally, was always in me, from an early age. However, through circumstance and other influences that passion was diverted, suppressed even. Other interests dominated, like science, reading literature and philosophy, or relationships, personal growth and spirituality, all these so-called diversions were other expressions of “passion” (it turns out) that worked on me, refined my personality, opened up my vistas and sensibility. Then, around age 48 the passion for painting re-emerged quite suddenly. Bam! I was into it. It was partly catalyzed by a romantic breakup which can also be a dramatic opening. For me it certainly was.  During this time, at the suggestion of a friend I began reading The Artists Way, and just followed the instructions.  

What's your favorite all time favorite art piece of yours and why? of another artist?

I don’t have an all time favorite piece. Sometimes I will return to view an older work and am surprised I still like it, or I see something there I hadn’t seen before that delights me, or inspires. More often though, older works bore me or worse. The favorite really is the one I’m working on that still excites me, still intrigues like a current lover. Yum yum. 

There are many contemporary artists I have discovered through Facebook who’s works are inspiring, intriguing and capture my imagination. I could mention Conny Niehoff  whose process, scale and works inspire me greatly. But there are many others. 

As for modern masters let me mention Klimpt, Egon Schiele, and Turner, not to forget Picasso of course. I could go on indefinitely, for every artist I turn to offers rich vistas. 

What are you working on currently, please tell us about it...

I have been lingering on a series of “dramatic orange-red and blue” abstracts, which I hope to finish up for the East Van Art Crawl. Maybe when its done I will understand consciously what that has been about. It’s a mystery at the moment. 

I have been contemplating putting together a compendium of past and present images of works into a presentation book.  I have quite a lot of work to choose from now. Partly to inform a wider public and of course for promotion of my work to potential collectors. 

I get many ideas, more than I can handle really. It’s about putting these ideas into action, that’s the real challenge. 

For you, What the best thing about being an artist?

When it’s all flowing smoothy, which isn’t always, then the best aspect aspect is the sense of freedom that surounds the whole endeavor. The freedom of being yourself immersed in a creative flow, which is in itself satisfying, and more so when something you create - a piece of art - impacts another, moves them to respond, to reflect. It’s a deep communion, certainly a spiritual one, though not always recognized as such. 

What 's the most challenging thing, for you, about being an artist?

The mundane challenge is being caught up in the fear I won’t be able to sustain my artistic situation. In other words, support myself through sales, to continue working in a studio and stay supplied with materials, paint, canvas. 

The more existential challenge is remaining true to the “artist within.” Resisting the tendency to rest on one’s laurels, or past achievements, resisting the temptation to become a mere image of an artist, the pretense of it. That’s a fine edge. 

How would you define success  for yourself as an artist? What are some success you have achieved thus far on your journey, and what has been a key factor in you achieving your success?

I measure success first in the satisfaction of creating something I and others genuinely respond to, or are deeply affected by. (Art as Personal Revolution, or as Transformation.) A second form of success, more material, I would say, is achieving financial sustainability through sales of works, prints or artifacts of the works I create. (Art as Business Enterprise) Third, would be a measure of public or peer recognition for one’s contribution to the domain of art, either as works, philosophy or process or technique. (Art as Cultural Legacy)

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to other artists -- specifically to other painters?

  1. Play.   (Imagine Yellow It is Curiosity). Practice playing to stay in the moment. Paint like a three year old. 

  1. Steal.   Think Blue. That’s not copying...its being influenced, inspired by others, everything. 

  1. Ground. Feel the Black & the White.  Sense your genitals, no really! It’s the connection to physicality and immediate sensation.  Rock/Paper/Scissors.  

I am, as you know, a big believer in self care - especially for artists! What do you do to nourish your self and soul? to re-charge your batteries so to speak?

Not enough. My Spiritual practice in Open Ended Inquiry into experience arising in the moment. This the most efficacious practice I know to nourish my Self, my true nature.  I have been doing it for more than 25 years now. The experience always returns me to my true being, widens my understanding, illuminates the interior, inspires me to live moment to moment, and loosens the grip of that relentless nagging mind.   

What recent or upcoming shows/and or gallery representation can we look out for or go and see of your work?

I am always exhibiting recent works at the Brushstrokes Gallery at the Quey in North Vancouver. Also preparing for the East Van Art Crawl in November when I will be exhibiting works at Studio 202, 1000 Parker Street. 


See more of Tim’s work:

Tim, Thank you for taking the time to partake in this interview! 

Artist Interview with Dana Dion

This month I'd like to introduce you to award winning Australian artist Dana DionDana and I met via The Beaumont Studios here in Vancouver where I was giving a talk about the "3 WOW's" and the secrets behind what makes some abstract paintings sell while others sit in the studio collecting dust. Dana brought her ipad with her to share her portfolio and I became entranced with her work and wanted to know more about her and her process.... 

Dana, I have to admit I was intrigued by your accent when you spoke. Personally I grew up in Canada with a South African mother and Australian father so I've had my own small exposure to various accents, but the way you spoke I could not peg it! Could you share with us your childhood and how you came to live in so many places?

I was born in Israel. When I was two years old, my family moved back and forth between Kenya, Tanzania and Israel. We eventually settled in Vancouver when I was 14. My husband is Dutch, also with an accent. We have been living in Sydney Australia for the past 12 years, and before that, we spent three years in London. Maybe this is why Deb, you could not "peg it" I think it is a "mish mash" of accents. I call it: my own special brew. 

Generous Morning (c) Dana Dion
It also seems from reading your biography on your website that you were first more focussed on fitness - teaching pilates, yoga and personal training - before you came into the artistic portion of your life. How did art come into your life and please do tell us about this transition from tri-athlete and beauty pageant persona to working artist....

I see myself as a creative person. I always try and find a creative aspect in what I do, and believe that creativity can be executed in many ways: As an artist, as a creator and inventor, as a business owner, and as a Pilates yoga and Fitness teacher etc.... It is all creative to me. And with that comes a creative journey.  This journey is where you explore different ways to express. 

Unbounded (c) Dana Dion
Looking at your portfolio online I can see that you do work in a number of styles - still life, abstracts, landscape, etc. Is there one particular style that you enjoy the most. Why?

I work with passion and feeling. I am not precious about subject matter or technique.
It is the process and the act of creating that I am interested in.
I just want to express,and feed back into the image as it develops, allowing the result to dictate where I take it next.

Sometimes my work alludes to landscapes, sometimes to figurative, or abstracts.

The theme is of secondary importance to me, and I like to paint whatever comes to mind. Lately, I have made landscape paintings. I have a lot of fun with topics and styles, that sometimes do not matter at all, and sometimes they may be personal.

Dana, please tell us about your painting process. In particular I loved the process you shared with me when we spoke at the Beaumont about how sometimes you paint a surface and then stamp or lift another canvas onto that and then use this to inspire a painting... I've never heard of this before!  

My works are drawing and  paintings, as they represent both working methods. 
The canvas or paper serves as the basis of the work, I apply many layers of paint and build up paint quality. I then start introducing my mark makings, drawing lines and motifs I collect in my memory, developing my own language. I keep going until I am satisfied With what I see.

Other working methods include drawing using pastel, charcoal, ink, pen and pencil on paper. I also like the Intimacy of working on paper as it lends itself to  personal imagery.

Drawing allows for integration of my acquired language of mark making and vocabulary of semiotics, and for the freedom to let the paper play a large part in the finished work.

The process I mentioned previously, is a simple printmaking technique which gives exciting results. It is a method which produces a single print from a smooth sheet of metal, glass or acetate. which is used as the printing plate. 
I use a big sheet of perspex.
I apply paint (mixed with retarder) and ink and create shapes, or rub off some of the paint, and just have fun on the plate. Then I place un-stretched canvas or paper onto the plate, and use a roller to apply pressure and lift the image from the plate onto the support. I do this multiple times (allow to dry between layers) until I am happy with the image. I then stretch the canvas onto a frame, (don't need to do that with paper) and start to work on "resolving" the composition. 
That could be by adding more paint in areas, defining certain areas, push back some areas, etc....
I love working this way method. It is a great way to "start" a piece.

What's your favorite all time favorite art piece of yours and why? Your favourite art piece of another artist?

Usually when I paint family members, those works become my favourite. I get attached to them. They are created with lots of though, feelings and memories of moments with them. Reminding me of how important they are to me. Those pieces become important and I end up keeping them.

The Professor (c) Dana Dion
What are you working on currently ( a new series, a calendar,other) and please tell us about it...

my current work consists of landscapes examining different places. The landscapes aim to define or locate a place where I belong. I chase the feelings of belonging and look for a reaction to the feeling. The landscapes do not depict a specific place, but rather a memory or recording of the many places I have lived in: no borders, boundaries or identified area. 

For you, What the best thing about being and artist?

Being an artist makes me look and see. I am never bored. I am always searching for images and symbols to add to my visual language and I try to notice everything. I find it a great challenge to create an image on blank surface that can give people pleasure and ability to see whatever their minds want to see or needs to see.
its the greatest feeling to "Catch" someone looking, really looking, at your work. I think this is great. 

Fishing and Thinking (c) Dana Dion

For you, What 's the most challenging thing about being an artist? 

Resolving works is the challenge. Making it all come together. And making the time to do it.
Telling Stories (c) Dana Dion

How would you define success  for yourself as an artist? What are some success you have achieved thus far on your journey, and what has been a key factor in you achieving your success?

I guess what defines it for me is the validation of my efforts by being included in selective art shows and receiving awards. 
I know the awards are subjective and they do depend on the judges, but for my work to be noticed and singled out from hundreds of works, is a great feeling.
I started exhibiting my work in 2006, and since then have won over 25 awards, I guess that defines achieving success to me.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to other artists -- specifically to other painters, perhaps younger than yourselves looking for advice and inspiration?

The more you paint, the better you get. you need to spend lots of time in the studio. It does pay off.

Misty Voyage (c) Dana Dion

What recent or upcoming shows/and or gallery representation can we look out for or go and see of your work?

In August I had a solo show in Sydney Australia, where I live, showcasing my recent landscapes.  It was called Without Borders. It would be great to have a show in Vancouver. As my landscapes have Vancouver in them.

Dana, Thank you for taking the time to partake in this interview! 

Artist Interview: Janet Sadel

Janet Sadel

This month, I'd like to introduce ARC artist in residence Janet Sadel, Photographer and Interdisciplinary Artist originally from Toronto and now living here in Vancouver. Janet will be opening her studio this upcoming November 2012 for the eastside culture crawl open studios event at the ARC here at 1701 Powell Street, East Vancouver @ Commercial Drive November 16, 17, & 18th, 2012.

Janet and I met when she became a neighbour (2011) living in the ARC (Artist Resource Centre). She’s been involved in many of the group events and exhibits. Over the year, we’ve bonded and become good friends. She is a fairly new arrival to the Vancouver art scene, having lived and worked as an artist in Toronto for many years.

Janet, please tell us tell us about your work.

I’m a Fine Art Photographer. My digital and analog images are of landscapes, scenic views, architectural, botanical, still life and sometimes abstracts. I’ve traveled in France, Mexico, New York City and all over Canada and the U.S.A. – so lots of original and unusual views of interesting places.

My larger prints are always on archival, fine quality papers. I do sell a variety of smaller prints and photo greeting cards as well. I will also shoot commissioned works – for example: Your lovely garden, in it’s best season; A portrait of your home or vacation property.

Currently, I’m working on a few photo series themes: 

1) “Doorways of Commercial Drive”  

2)“Rain Where” – abstracts, showing views of Vancouver and some other places through the filter of a rain-soaked windshield. 

3) Rainforests and Sea Views from BC and Washington State.

Would you share with us some thoughts about your creative process?

I’m a fairly spontaneous and impulsive photographer. I love traveling to and exploring new places to create images that offer a memorable and transportive moment for viewers.

It’s uncanny how I’ll often go in search of unique locations and find that invariably “The shots find me”!

So, the lesson I’ve learned is about how to be fully “open” to all my intuitive senses when I’m shooting in the field.

Can you tell us, how did your passion for this art form began?

I’ve always been a Visual Artist, having worked in every media (from sculpture to video).
My passion for photography came early – my engineer father was a gifted self-taught photographer, who encouraged me in my artistic practice.

For many years I was an Arts Educator (specializing in photography) and through the years of teaching, I always maintained my profile as an exhibiting artist and photographer.
I still teach photography and/or visual art to small classes, in my East Van. studio and in
other education venues.

How do you make time for your art  when it's never urgent nor a priority to take time for your creativity? Where does the dispipline come from to practice. Do you have a ritual? How do you get motivated?

Because I’m a photographer…. “my artistic vision is always with me.” Meaning that, I never “turn it off.” As long as my eyes are open – I’m seeing potential shots. It’s both a blessing and a huge distraction. I could be walking to a dentist appointment, spot a great local garden and loose myself to the moment with any small camera that fits into my bag… then have to make a lame excuse to the dental receptionist about loosing my house keys and having to find them…

I could not live any other way. I’m a confirmed and committed daydreamer! Watching fabulous clouds drift above me is my idea of tuning into all my inner senses and creative energies.

My secret to happiness – is to live fully in the moment and always be prepared to give yourself up to visual beauty… wherever and whenever you find it.

What's your favorite all time favorite art piece?

There is a painting by Rosseau (in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC) – “The Sleeping Gypsy”… I played hookey from high school many Fridays and went straight to  MOMA for the day, just to be able to sit and look for an hour at that image, mesmerized… then look at all the art (Henri Matisse was a favorite) and especially MOMA’S fabulous photo collection. I’d wrap up the day by viewing one of their vintage films from the cinema archives too. What better Fine Art education could I have had?

What are you working on currently?

I’m thinking about showing some of my photos as ART INSTALLATION pieces. That will involve some sculptural presentation that incorporates my photos. Can’t explain why… but the word “miniatures” keeps tempting me. We’ll see where this leads….  My ideas are still “percolating”.

For you, what is the best thing about being and artist?

It’s all about the freedom to think boldly and creatively, to get completely “obsessed” with an original idea and “run with it”.

It’s also about the community of other artists that you affiliate with.

The feeling of isolation that many associate with being an artist, is something very foreign to me. I’m a social person and I often work in creative collaboration with other artists.

For you, What 's the most challenging thing about being an artist?

Of course, one is always challenged to balance creative life and regular every-day existence.
Basic survival issues put the “wolf” squarely at the door.

There is no easy path to becoming an artist.

It’s a life-style choice and a hard one. It takes a special kind of commitment…

How would you define success  for yourself as an artist? What are some successes you have enjoyed thus far on your journey, and what has been a key factor in you achieving your success?

Success is simply a matter of waking up each morning, knowing that I’m able to stay on my path to show and share my art with others. The joy is in reflecting on all the good moments that have accumulated to confirm my commitment – there were many, but most of all, I can say that the many artistic talents I have encouraged were the best reward!

Deb, this idea of success is purely relative to one’s inner nature… To be honest, being adaptable to situations/opportunities and to see “outside of the box” have been features of my “success”.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to other artists ?

For Photographers especially:

1)       Concentrate on COMPOSITION, CONTRAST and COMMUNICATION in every shot.

2)      Allow yourself to PLAY  - in any way you wish to define it. It’s important to preserve your sense of play and connect with the child in you.

3)      Never, ever let NEGATIVE CRITICISM affect you. Of course,CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM is useful and you can always take it or leave it. DO STAY TRUE TO YOUR CREATIVE PATH.

I am, as you know, a big believer in self care - especially for artists! What do you do to nourish yourself and soul… to re-charge your batteries so to speak?

Probably preserve my right to daydream… and look at the world with wonder.

A little yoga in the morning keeps me focused.  Hiking and walking into great landscapes
are always restorative.

I read and write quite a bit too. Certainly, looking at the works of other artists fills me with inspiration.

What recent or upcoming shows/and or gallery representation can we look out for or go and see of your work?

Please take a moment to share with us your experience living in a work/live studio.

Being privileged to live in the ARC (work/live studio) has been the best choice I ever could have made when moving from Toronto in 2011 to Vancouver. It immediately immersed me into an artistic environment – where sharing and collaboration are an everyday experience. 

The friendships and social times are always a great crucible for more learning, planning or just great networking. 

How amazing is that!!?

What can we look forward to this upcoming November at the Culture Crawl. Please share your studio number and any special demos/events you'll be offering.


I will be showing photographic art works, photo-based artworks and perhaps some installation art.

There will be demonstrations and some hands-on activities in doing Hand Tinting of Black and White Photos.
Be sure to sign my guest list and also sign up for my WINTER WORKSHOP SERIES.


Janet, I just loved your answers! Thankyou so much for sharing this with us here! Deb xoxoox

Artist Interview with Marta Baricsa

Marta with Om natural green.

This blog starts out with a long overdue thank you to large scale painter and ARC artists in residence Marta Baricsa who very kindly had my most recent Body of Work six week workshop class into her home and studio to tell us a little bit about her process and share with us several of her bodies of work. Marta, Thank you so much for having us all over! 

 Marta with my workshop students, showing them her portfolio

My first burning question is about the title under you bio of "Founder of Directivism in art" I've never heard of directivism and would love to know what this is and how you came to found it and other artists that follow this... 

After painting for many years I came to notice that my works and the way I was doing my works were different than much of what I had seen and had been taught about in school. 
While all forms of creation are great I realized what some of the key differences for me were when painting. 

I knew that and was taught to cover my mistakes but I never did very well at hiding them. I also realized I wasn't making any "mistakes"... i.e I wasn't correcting anything in my work. And I wasn't building a surface and removing it to discover what I had put down previously mixed with what was fresh. And I wasn't building layer upon layer upon layer and covering up previous areas.

 Like I said not that there is anything wrong with that. Because there are lots of incredible artists doing paintings just that like that....but I just noticed my way was very different. I became outrageously confident in the marks I make and let what is there be there. It is like I am just allowing what is meant to be flow through me and how dare I be the judge of it?! 

So, I welcome the energy that is to be and I surrender myself to it. Basically if you x-rayed my paintings you would see what is only what has been there. 

Plus Directivism is also about a visual clarity. It is direct and to the point without being controlled. It is a point where I am conscious but have left the controlling logical mind behind. Those little voices saying...."change this"  or "that doesn't look right"  don't exist for me anymore. That is Directivism. While there aren't other artists I know of following this way of working....I can identify Directivist works. For example my partner Roy Mackey made a steel man called "naked man" which he literally built out of air. There is no armature, no building upon, removing....and his works have a real focus to them- so I would have to say he also is a Directivist for the most part.

"I consider myself a Directivist and I paint with deliberate intent.
The works are direct fluid movement that stem immediately from a source.
They can be linear or sculptural - concrete or random in composition.
I use minimal brushwork and the purist clean, clear paint.
Done with no corrections and only over painting where it is intended.
Because it is exact as it is meant to be."

"I am the founder of Directivism in art."
Marta Baricsa

Carbon line. 2006. Ink on primed canvas. 12 x 24"  

Going back a bit here, can you please tell us how did you passion for painting began?

My earliest memory is from kindergarten....having my hands in the paint and the exhilarated feeling of joy I felt - I knew from that moment what I was going to do in life is paint. As a teenager I attended Central Technical Schools art program and then later went to OCAD where I graduated from the department of experimental arts.


Have you ever had other jobs or passions or have you been a painter since graduating high school until now?

Yes, I have had other jobs some I was even passionate about! ...mainly relating to energy & movement based work. I taught, trained people in fitness, aquatics, stretching and swimming etc. I also was a Certified Fitness Consultant and performed fitness tests and made training programs for individuals. I also ran my own CPR & first aid business in Toronto & Vancouver. I trained - retrained and certified doctors, dentists and fitness professionals in CPR. While I enjoyed much of this I always felt painting was my main passion.

What's your favourite all time favourite art piece of yours and why? 

That is quite difficult for me to say....I have many favourites.  But I will include "Apollo" which I dedicated to my Mom.


Marta with Apollo

What's your favourite all time favourite art piece of another artist and why?

That is a hard one Deb. While I love many works of art I would have to say my partner Roy Mackey's "Flame Chair" stands out. Roy is an extraordinary artist and human being. His work is so new and creative. See for more on his work.

Can you please tell us the body of work you are currently working on and what inspired this series?

I am working on my Om paintings. They are focus meditation paintings. They are about clarity, focus of thought and being present. With many things that pull our attention these days it is my desire that these paintings help bring people back to a sense of awe and Om.

Here is a section I clipped from Wikipedia on Om which I find helps describe these works:

"Hindus believe that as creation began, the divine, all-encompassing consciousness took the form of the first and original vibration manifesting as sound "OM" before creation began it was "Shunyākāsha", the emptiness or the void. Shunyākāsha, meaning literally "no sky", is more than nothingness, because everything then existed in a latent state of potentiality. The vibration of "OM" symbolizes the manifestation of God in form ("sāguna brahman"). "OM" is the reflection of the absolute reality, it is said to be "Adi Anadi", without beginning or the end and embracing all that exists The mantra "OM" is the name of God, the vibration of the Supreme. When taken letter by letter, A-U-M represents the divine energy."

with Om new light.                                                                       

For you, what the best thing about being a painter?

Loving what I do. The freedom.... so many new ideas to explore....the paint itself,  the colours, the confidence I have when I have a paint brush in my hands. The excitement and the magic of the paint becoming what it is meant to be....and my hand in helping it become that. It is great feeling. 

For you, what 's the most challenging thing about being a a painter?

Wanting to have more steady income. Believing more in myself.....while I believe fully in the art and my process....I would like to feel the same about myself.

How would you define success for yourself as an artist? What are some success you have achieved thus far on your journey, and what has been a key factor in you achieving your success?

Wow! Well, the success of making the work very passionately is really key for me otherwise I think I would have to say I am a complete failure in all the other normal factors of a successful "career". Having a loving and supportive partner that helps and a caring family. Also hearing back from museum curators and gallery dealers mainly in the US that are all very positive and encouraging helps me stay on track. Selling paintings to clients is important too. Plus I am very fortunate to have had so much exposure in the movies and TV shows. 

Another success and actually quite a challenge was painting "Aequilibrium" a  27 x 20 foot tetraptych. Which I made just because I had a vision of it in my mind. My good friend, Rachel Berman, who is an incredible artist had just given me a huge bolt of canvas as a gift. And I knew I wanted to make something memorable with it.

Talking about success I noticed that you have many of your paintings in movies. I am curious how was your work found to be placed in these movies?

That is a bit of a long story...but basically my first rental was around 11 years ago a set decorator bought some small works of mine she saw at a store.  That was the movie "Life or something like it" with Angelina Jolie.

Then "Catwoman" with Halle Berry was going to being shot here in Vancouver. The production crews were going around the buildings with artists in them and they came upon the ARC building and put up a posting. They came in our studio and saw my works. They rented one painting and were looking for another painting to cover over a mirror and had asked me if I had something that would work. I went down to the set to have a look and then painted something specific for the movie. Later they were looking for many large paintings for the scene in Sharon Stone's mansion. I think they rented around 7-8 large paintings of mine for this movie. Carol, the set decorator really gave me a great opportunity. Not only did I get great exposure in the film....they also paid me very well. 

Then I heard from my neighbours who worked in the movie industry about the BC film commission list. So I began mailing off packages to the productions. Since then I have been in nearly 20 movie /TV productions. Most recently my paintings are in "This Means War" with Reese Witherspoon and also in "50/50with Seth Rogen....where he actually says a few words about my paintings.

What recent or upcoming shows/and or gallery representation can readers look out for or go and see of your work?

Some of my paintings can be seen in the Art Rental and Sales program at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Or come to one of our open studios which I post on my website and of course private studio visits can also be booked also.

Marta, Thank you for taking the time to partake in this interview!

Thanks for the interview Deb!

Artist Interview with Jeanne Krabbendam

Artist Interview with  Jeanne Krabbendam

This month I'd like to introduce Vancouver artist, teacher and friend Jeanne Krabbendam. Jeanne and I met last year via Artists in Our Midsts and got to know each other better during the Roundhouse show in Yaletown 2011 in which she and I both sat at the front reception table during the show.  

Jeanne, first off, when we met I remember you telling me that you grew up in the Netherlands. Can you share with us what your experience was like growing up in Holland with our readers?

I grew up in a large city (Rotterdam). We lived with 7 of us in a small apartment on the 6th floor, right at the inner harbour of Rotterdam. I remember from very young making things with my hands, always creating stuff with anything I found. I had to work small though, because there wasn't much space...maybe that's why I now like large art works!

There wasn't much space outside for us children to play and explore, so we played as siblings at construction sites and even played underground in the unfinished metro...!
I also very early in life started visiting museums, something I mostly did with my sister who is in age very close to me. Historic museums, anthropological museum! Soon enough the guards got to know us, two little girls coming into the museum every Saturday, that's different! It was a cheap and easy entertainment for us and we developed our taste in art, both with different favourites. I remember seeing Oscar Kokoschka's Mandrill: it was my first and outmost favourite for a long time! 

Were you always creative as a child, that is, did you know that being an artist was going to be your life path, or did your life take other twists and turns? Was your family supportive of you being an artist?

In my family there were a few choices for girls and becoming an artist wasn't one of them. I know that I wanted to be and I even sent a few drawings in to be accepted into a school of art. I did this without my parents knowing...and for sure they weren't happy with me! My life took twists and turns, I ended up working as a paediatric nurse and studied for years part time (art, psychiatry and adult education). I became an art therapist, worked for years in psychiatry, using art as a medium to connect with others. In the meantime I created my own art at my studio and exhibited my art work in many places in Europe. I taught at colleges and universities art and art therapy. When I immigrated to Canada in 1999 I decided that I would leave the therapy part behind and focus completely on my art. Since that time I have been creating art, exhibiting and teaching art here in Vancouver.

As I recall I think you have a Masters in Fine art. Can you share with us your educational background and journey. What was your favourite class or experience during school?

My most favourite time was in France where I studied for a while at the Academie of Beaux Arts. It was an amazing experience, very international, very open and stimulating!
I hold degrees in Art and Design, in Adult Education and Psychology - Art Therapy. I did some courses in photography and printmaking on the side, but in the end I  still feel I am a painter!

Looking at your portfolio online I can see that you do work in a number of styles - figurative ( your balance series)  and, abstracts, and landscapes, etc. Is there one particular style that you enjoy the most. Why?

Yes, when you look on line at my art work you can travel far back in time (the series on my website start in 1987). My paintings became more and more abstract over the years. I find abstract art more challenging and fun to create. I also like to add suggestive figurative images into my abstracts, so they often end up becoming semi-abstracts. I totally love mixed media and from the very start of my art career (after my art education) I make mixed media art in its many forms. I've done projects like installations, art boxes, I created videos, interactive community art pieces and collaborated with poets, musicians, film makers, photographers and landscape artists. In the end though, as I said, I always return to painting. Over time I have changed my way of art making, inventing new techniques, working with home-made tools, mixing non-traditional art materials with store bought paints and mediums. I think I am a bit of an inventor, an alchemist maybe...

Jeanne, Looking at your most recent works I see a lot of textures and perhaps the use of a palette knife. Would you share with us about your painting process.

I make very loose sketches, with some colour swabs and ideas of different textures I want to use. I write small notes on them and create sample textures. This sketch sits  beside me while I am creating the art work. I start with a loose under painting in large strokes with knives, work tools like trowels, sometimes house hold tools and of course large brushes, my hands and rags, leaving areas light where I want to light later, so I can apply thin layers without loosing the light in the work. Then I create the shapes, these could be abstract shapes, transfers, textured shapes, any shapes the art work needs, followed by working on the contrast, outlining things, accentuating the values in dark and light. And at the end of my painting process I will go in one area in detail and create the finishing touch with fine tools, dropper bottles, ink, pens, scratching tools etc. etc. The sky is the limit!

Jeanne, can you tell us how did your passion for painting began?

I started really as a very young child, drawing, sewing, putting things together. I mostly made the presents I gave to others and remember a little book I had that I used for inspiration. In school my art work was appreciated by the art teacher and  she was a first very important influence to me. Later when I signed up for the drawing course, without telling my parents... (the course I never got; the instructor was sent out of our apartment) I heard the instructor telling my parents "But she has talent!" and I clung onto that and kept that inside of me for years to come! I sometimes wonder maybe when we are not encouraged, we develop a stronger inner drive...

What's your favorite all time favorite art piece of yours and why? of another artist?

At the moment it is the painting "Hastings, Hastings". It just got sold during my last exhibition and was shipped to Luxembourg, so I won't see much of it anymore. I enjoyed working on it, threw my full heart in it and I believe viewers feel that, get a taste of that when looking at it.

Favourite work of another artist is hard to say; I am inspired by artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, but my favourite artist is since years I think  Anselm Kiefer; An example of his works is 'The Wave' . To me it has so much impact: the size, the textures, everything; just so dramatic!

And what about this poem of Reiner Maria Rilke (1923):

Strange it is, to inhabit the earth no longer,
To have no more use for habits hardly acquired -Roses, and other things of singular promise,No longer to see them in terms of a human future;To be no more all that we nurtured and carriedIn endlessly anxious hands, and to leave by the roadsideOne's own name even, like a child's broken doll.

What are you working on currently and please tell us about it... (what inspires this new work, what is the meaning in it for you, etc.)

I am currently working on a series called TOUCHED. This series tells the story of the back side of our cities, the places we don’t like to look at and show our visitors. This series is also about how I've been touched by these places, which we normally quickly pass by, but that are for many residents of our rich cities the places where they live: their 'wall paper', their 'bedroom'.

The first impression that I got when I moved to Vancouver from The Netherlands was the enormous amounts of people living on the streets. I had never come across numbers like that. I started asking around, talking with people and learned how this phenomenon happened here in our city. 

I offered a 6 week course and started painting with people at Coast Mental Health Resource Centre and this became a volunteer job that I am still weekly involved in, now since almost 8 years! Getting to know a large group of people who live or lived on the streets make me look at the alleys and back side or the city more and different: the walls are touched by environment, rain, snow, traffic exhaust and human hands AND I am touched by the many people that find these places their home. 

Recently I am working on paintings about people moving from the street into housing after a long time and about us building huge apartment buildings right in the neighbourhoods where street people live out of their shopping carts.

I love the physicality of working on wood and canvas. Found objects and out of the ordinary materials inspire me to the point where they end up in my art work. I now see the world in a whole new way, putting a spotlight on areas and things that are often unseen or forgotten by others.

For you, What is the best thing about being and artist?/ For you, What 's the most challenging thing about being an artist?

The best thing of being an artist is the freedom I enjoy. The freedom to create what I love to make and the freedom to use my days and time the way I think  is useful and supportive to others around me. 

One of the most rewarding experiences for me is seeing the 'light go on' in a student, seeing them evolve and develop their own unique style. It is as an artist to me also very rewarding to get a work sold, to see someone fall in love with one of my pieces and 'get' what I tried to communicate with it!

Most challenging is of course the always unpredictable income. By teaching at Emily Carr University, Community Centres and privately I created a base though that seems to work very well; there is nothing to complain, I have a great life!

 What are some key success you have achieved thus far on your journey as an artist, and what do you feel has been a key factor in you achieving your success?

Overseas exhibits have been great to me personally and my art career. Being asked to come and teach at Emily Carr University Continuing Studies as a new immigrant was another, and recently my two month residency at the Banff Centre was an experience I will probably never forget! To be selected and be part of this international art community has been a pretty special and wonderful experience to me. 

Key factors? Maybe just working hard. I have quite a high pace and have the fortunate ability to work organized; I can work on many projects at the same time and keep to my deadlines. (Being Dutch? Being a woman-artist? Having worked in different art-fields? Living a meditative life? Or is it simply mainly getting my 8 - 9 hour sleep every night???)

What keeps you motivated and if you had to achieve 3 more things in your art career before your life ends, what would they be?

Finding myself inventing new ways for expressing myself, finding new ways to support, coach en mentor student-artists, the rewarding art works that come out of the hands of my students, they are all huge motivations for me!

I would love to one day have an overview exhibit of my work that I created over the years (it will be hard to accomplish because my work is spread out over de world). An exhibition in a large gallery in New York City and meeting Anselm Kiefer (someone who I greatly admire as an artist!)

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to other artists -- specifically to other painters or your students who want to work and live as a professional artist like you do?

Try and paint every day, better every day 15 minutes than once a month a full day. It is like learning to play a musical instrument, or maybe just developing a painting muscle!
Connect with others, support one another in stead of being driven by the so well-known art-envy and jealousy.

I am a big believer in self care - especially for artists! What do you do to nourish your self and soul? to re-charge your batteries so to speak?

I keep pyjama-days, movie nights, the theatre, going to galleries, reading great books
More importantly I am a spiritual person; my believe in God and knowing my life has a purpose in the greater scheme, is a major drive in my life! I  wouldn't know how to live or what to live for if  I wasn't connected with this higher power. Meditation and prayer is essential in my daily life. 

What recent or upcoming shows/and or gallery representation can we look out for or go and see of your work?

This summer (2012) I will show a selection of work from the 'TOUCHED' series at Richmond Cultural Centre. Also this summer, during the month of August, I will be showing work of the same series together with three artists who I befriended through Coast Mental Health

We will be showing art works at the Seymour Art Gallery under the title 'INVESTIGATIONS - places and things, found and re-found, seen and re-seen'. Again paintings about the streets. 

It will be an absolutely amazing show with different points of view on the same theme. 

There will be an opening night August 7th and an Artist Talk/Interview Sunday August 26th. 

In the fall I am planning on another studio Open House and next year March/April 2013 I will be showing art work with my students at the Britannia Mining Museum!

Jeanne, It's been so delightful to hear about your story, your passion. I love the threads we have in common - the basis of a deep spiritual life and the belief of being in this together and supporting and encouraging other artists to thrive and succeed. With so much gratitude, Thank you for taking the time to partake in this interview! 

Artist Interview: Deborah Bakos

I'd like to introduce Parker Studios Vancouver based Visual artist Deborah Bakos. Deb Bakos and I met via Artists in Our Midst and we got to know each other better during their annual Roundhouse show in Yaletown, 2011 in which she was curator. Deb can you tell us how you first got involved with AIOM? How did you evolve from simply painting and exhibiting your work to curating shows?

I think the way Art is presented is almost as important as the Art itself. I am a “big picture” person, bit I am a bit excessive about details as well. Artists in our Midst’s hands-on mandate provided me the opportunity to put my visions and organizational skills to work. I have been involved in the curatorial component of this artists’ collective since I joined them 4 years ago and I have served on their working Board of Directors for 2 years. It has been my good fortune to have met, worked with and admired many, many local artists because of this.

Deb, I notice you call your studio "ripe studio" can you tell us about this name and the meaning behind it please…

At the “ripe”, not-yet-rotten age of 40, I resigned from my 12 year career as a high school Humanities teacher and enrolled at Emily Carr University. My first commission in 2006 was a large painting of drippy, cherry cheesecake.

Though I rarely paint representational images like this now, the whole Art as the “fruit” of my imagination idea still works for me.

Looking at your portfolio online I can see that you do work in a number of styles - still life, abstracts, landscape, etc. Is there one particular style that you enjoy most? Why?

Most of my work falls between the boundaries of representation and abstraction. Abstraction is the most challenging for me and for this reason I gravitate towards it. I am very interested in color theory and the language of brushstrokes. Abstract painting allows me to work larger and to focus on the emotional connections we have with essential elements like form, color and movement

Deb, looking at your most recent works, I see a lot of textures and perhaps the use of a palette knife. Would you share with us about your painting process?

This past year, I worked almost exclusively with palette knives to free myself from the careful “fixing” that can happen with small brushes. I think my newer work is larger, looser and more expressive because of the tools I use. My process begins with a solid color on my canvas or panel, followed by thick layers of paint and glazes used to carve out forms. I use a limited palette and focus on tonal contrast to create drama.

Can you tell us how your passion for painting began?

I have always had a pencil in hand to document my world, but I started painting full time when I moved to Istanbul, Turkey in 2006. I worked in studio and exhibited with local and international artists for over 2 years. I had a little home studio with a marble patio and a magnificently ancient culture to inspire me. By the time I returned to Vancouver in 2009, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

I understand you have worked as a teacher and raised -- still raising!--- two kids, obviously you lead a very busy life...How do you make time for your art when it's never urgent nor a priority to take time for our creativity?

It’s always a balancing act. But my art is a priority for sure. I am at my studio (430-1000 Parker Street, Vancouver)

5 days a week, mostly during school hours. I definitely have to be organized and self motivated, though; particularly when it comes to the “business” component of my art career.

What's your favorite all time favorite art piece of yours and why? of another artist?

Truth is, I rarely like any of my paintings and that is what keeps me motivated to work harder. Painting is like problem solving for me. It is an on-going struggle and complete solutions are rare! I do think I am making progress with my abstract work, though. “Conversations After School” is a liberating shift away from my earlier representational work. This painting is part of a series called “The Road to Excess”. It has a conceptual element to it that relates to my experiences as a mother, a teacher and an artist. I painted this piece in 2009 during a very tumultuous time in my life when my family and I were transitioning from 2 years travelling abroad. It is grounded in the familiar, but has a disjointed, aerial perspective to it. I like that.

With regards to my favorite works by other artists, Robert Motherwell’s paintings have had the most profound effect on me. I saw his work in person for the first time at The Museum of Modern Art in NYC last summer. Pure color and form! I also can never get enough of Turner’s seascapes or Lucien Freud’s raw figures.

What are you working on currently (a new series, calendar, other) and please tell us about it...

I am working on my “Futile Attraction” series which is really a continuation of the piece above. Conceptually speaking, these paintings are about universals: messy relationships we share but never truly own. And about “desires not met . . . not yet”.

Romeo’s Rival

Juliet’s Window

Romeo’s Doorstep

I am also working on visual representation of my 2 favorite poems by E. E. Cummings:

In Just-Spring” and “may I feel? said he”.

Though the style of these works seems completely different from latest my abstract work, they contain similar elements in paint application and in color palette. They are set in the past but they represent the same universal ideas about the nature of our relationships as my current abstractions.

This is a very personal project that will likely be a long time in the making.

In Just-Spring – in progress

For you, what is the best thing about being and artist?

Having a voice.

For you, what is the most challenging thing about being an artist?

Having an authentic, unique voice.

How would you define success for yourself as an artist? What are some successes you have achieved thus far on your journey, and what has been a key factor in you achieving your success?

Success for me is about critical acclaim in the art world. While I am happy to sell my work so that I can practically maintain my profession (I have sold about %80 of the work I have completed), I am not really motivated by sales. I want to know, eventually, that what I have to offer has significance. I’m a bit of an existentialist by nature, so, of course, this is an absurd goal.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to other artists -- specifically to other painters?

Travel to gain humility and perspective; see lots and lots of work by other artists; be ruthless in your commitment to learning.

I am, as you know, a big believer in self care - especially for artists! What do you do to nourish yourself and soul? To re-charge your batteries so to speak?

Hmmm . . . I think I should work on this more. Exercise always provides a lift for me, though. Wine works, too.

What recent or upcoming shows/and or gallery representation can we look out for or go and see of your work?

I was only recently juried into The Federation Gallery on Granville Island and will be submitting work for their landscape, figures, and Painting on the Edge shows this year. In the meantime I will be exhibiting at the Roundhouse with Artists in our Midst on May 16th, at the Centre for Peace on May 19th. Laura Jewitt Jewelry Gallery on West 10th often features my smaller piece and participating in The Eastside Culture Crawl in November is a given for me. All of these shows will be listed on my blog well ahead of time.

Deborah Bakos, I really enjoyed hearing your responses to my questions. Thank you for taking the time to partake in this interview!

My pleasure, Deb. Thank you for the opportunity

Featured Artist of the Month for Artist in Our Midsts

Artists in Our Midsts Featured Artist of the Month – Deb Chaney, Contemporary Abstract Artist

Here is the unedited interview with Artist in Our Midsts, Vancouver. I am grateful for this opportunity to be featured on the group website. Thank you!

Which artistic media do you prefer to work in and why?

I work in mixed media which for me is a base in acrylics and then on top of that nearly anything goes - from thick polymer mediums such as moulding paste and pouring medium to create depth, to collage including tissue papers and corrugated cardboard for texture, so earth materials such as sand for colour and texture, and finally to artist quality pens and pencils such as Lyza pencil crayons and PITT india ink pens for detail and fun.

With which past or contemporary artists or artworks do you, as an artist, feel a connection? What is it that draws you to them?
Mark Rothko - big bold paintings, his application of colour....
Helen Frakenthauler - staining techniques, her tenacity and art making spanning decades
Michelle Y Williams - my favourite modern artist, I own one of her original p ieces and would give my right arm to study with her!
Michel Keck - her business acumen and her ability to really succeed as a contemporary abstract artist in the marketplace. I admire this tremendously.
Eve Leader - the quality beauty and mystery of her work is amazing.
Sabrina Ward Harrison - her freedom, rawness, venerability in her journalling and art making capture me and I appreciate her risking it all to share her thoughts and words with the world.

What process or technique in art-making interests you?

What intrigues me is creating thick paintings that have thick multi layered encaustic wax-like effect, yet no wax has been used, instead the layer are accumulations of acrylics and mediums.. The process of applying and layering acrylics and mediums, scraping away paint, and doing so without leaving brush marks intrigues me.

What technical challenges do you face in the process of making art?

Trying to re-create Serenity! I did this painting a couple of years ago and have been trying to figure out how I get to my end result and emulate that in other such luck so far but lots of fun along the way! (

What in your artistic training do you value most at this time?

My ability to share what I know in an inspiration and organized format in my workshops.

How much of a role do accident and control play in your work?

Making art is an interplay between careful thought and planning and pure unbridlged passion and accident.
It's like the juggle bewteen right and left brain, push and pull. There is a component of both control and accident tthat I experience in my work. Often the more I let go the better the resulting piece!

What are some of your artistic challenges at present?

Prioritizing the plethera of oppportunites available today for artists such as for art shows, competitions, grants, artist and resdientces, can be daunting and it makes a big effort to set goals, be clear on my values and stay on track...

What are some of your artistic accomplishments at present?

Participating in the 2010 Vancouver East Side CULTURE CRAWL with my fellow studio mates.
Working as a consultant for Rainmaker, Inc in Vancouver doing some commission art for one of their movies.
Selling two pieces from my Kerrisdale gallery ( now closed).
Teaching workshop independently every month since August 2010.
Being a mentor for a Director Studies art student with the University Southern California Santa Barbara.

Can you share three things you’ve learned as an artist through your own art?

1. Keeping the three 3 C's in mind help make the process of art making easier. C- content ( be clear on what you're communication), C - composition (have a solid design as your foundation), C- colour ( know what colour scheme you're using).

2. Three Secrets that make an abstract painting "Wow". That is, having a sense of breathing space in the piece. Having something unique - a variation in the piece. And, having an area of strong contrast in the piece.

3. When it's not working, put it aside!

When you need inspiration, how to do you get it?

Sit and wait and let it come.
Walk in nature.
Stop painting and take break.
Paint when I don't "feel " like it and let the inspiration come to me...
Hang out with other artists.
Look at art online.
Go visit a gallery or see a coffee shop art show.
Look at children's art - always so free and inspirational!
Look at art books and magazines.

When you need to learn more as an artist, how do you do it?

DVDs, workshops, talking to other artists, asking questions, looking at art, reading, art magazines, teaching- they say you teach what you want to learn, i agree, I've learned so much about my own art making process by sharing it with others!

What is exciting on your artistic horizon?

A Possible Art show in San Francisco summer 2011.

A Possible New York show March 2012

An upcoming trip to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico and to check out galleries!

What is it about this artwork (self-selected work shown) that led you to choose it for this feature? What specific challenges did you face in making this artwork?
These are some of my favorite pieces over the span of the last 3-4 years. I chose some small 9 x 12 pieces on canvas because they represent the work I do while I'm teaching and demonstrating. I chose to show some of the pieces with many layers of mixed medis, sand and collage elements as its the springboard to where my work is leading me currently.

Selected work for AOM is on flicker at:

Thank you very much for this attention and honor. Sincerely, Deb Chaney



 Davenport, Iowa, June 15, 2009 -- Kim McCool of Davenport, Iowa will be featuring contemporary abstract artist and author, Deb Chaney, on McCool’s  live radio talk show, “Discover the Heart of Art” on internet’s Blog Talk Radio on June 15, 2009 at 2 PM Central Time.

 Deb Chaney is an emerging contemporary abstract artist who lives in Santa Barbara, CA.  She paints large layered mixed media abstract paintings on canvas and paper. Deb Chaney is the author of The Little Inspiration Book, Ideas to Empower Women and contributing author to Sand in my Bra, Funny Women Write From the Road. Her most recent body of work, entitled Pure Abstraction will be displayed in a co-collaborative art show with Emily McBride June 2009 at VIVA design studio & gallery in Santa Barbara.

  "Discover the Heart of Art with Kim McCool" is a bi-weekly show where McCool interviews artists of all kinds - from classic art, such as painting and sculpture to writing, music and choreography discuss the heart of their art.  This art talk show is unique and informative.  McCool and her guest talk about what inspires the art, where the love of the art comes from and how listeners can discover the heart of art.   

If people are not able to listen to the live broadcast, they can go to McCool’s website ( and either download the podcast for later listening or listen to the replay on their computer.  The broadcasts will be archived.

McCool is committed to not only creating her art, she does an average of 20 individual commissions annually, she is dedicated to keeping the art of porcelain painting alive.  In addition to training with some of the most esteemed artists in the field McCool has taken many student artists under her wing to teach them this wonderful medium.  Her studio is part of her home and is a special place for her two loves of creating porcelain art pieces and teaching others to create their own unique porcelain art through weekly classes held in the studio.


Interview Contact:

Kim McCool

Telephone 563.322.3219


Spirit of the Heart Designs

3750 Nobis Drive

Davenport, IA  52802