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Live from the Empress Hotel

I am now painting the portrait of a tree with limbs stetching out in all directions. This big leaf maple looming on Hobbs St. is cited in the District of Saanich’s list of Significant Trees. The tree has a condition which makes it have a huge skirt at its base. My daughter Sage and I, would drive by it every week for years on our way to her ballet class, so I always felt the tree was wearing a tutu.
My canvas size is almost 6′ long by almost 3′ wide. For some reason, children are very drawn to my painting of this tree and they have been stopping all day long. “It’s a tree”, they confirm.
One Mother stopped to show her son how carefully, I was applying the paint. The stage in which a putty knife had laid paths of paint, had already been done. I turned to look at them and she continued.
“He mixes up all his colors together and makes brown. Everything he paints is brown”.
The boy looked at me and wondered what I would say. He was about 4 years old.
I knelt down and showed him the photograph of this basically brown tree and then showed him the areas where there was red and blue in the bark of the tree.
“And there is green in the bark of the tree. The green isn’t just in the leaves”. He looked where my fingers pointed and never said a word. But he was listening.

Live from the Empress Hotel

Just before coming here today, my daughter Kayla and I went shopping to buy her one of the dresses in the fashion show at the Women In Business Awards. After buying her the dress and the jacket at the downtown Bay, we went to Starbucks. In the lineup, the man in front of us turns and asks us if we will buy him a coffee. I ask him why he is in the lineup if he can’t buy himself a coffee while looking through my wallet for a bill or change. Not enough change and no bills, but tucked amongst a myriad of receipts are 2 Starbuck gift certificates given to me by my daughter Sage. I give him one. He’s not sure what it will buy him but he thanks me and says this will help keep him warm. I take out the other gift certificate and give him that one too.
“For when you need one next time”, I say.
It is his turn to order.
“What kind of coffee can I order?”, he asks the barrista.
“Any kind you want”, she answers as she accepts the certificate.
“Any kind I want!”, he almost yells and turns to us incredulous. And she repeats it.
“In that case, I’ll have a extra large iced cappucino,” and he pauses and turns to tell us the rest of his order, “with lots of whipping cream”, and he thinks some more and then adds “and chocolate.”
The two barristas making the coffee are so flustered that this homeless man is getting so excited over his drink, that they keep forgetting what he ordered.
“You better tell them again”, I say.
And up he goes and tells them again.
When his coffee is made, it is a beautiful mountain of ice, coffee, whipping cream and chocolate drizzle and he is one happy man.
When Kayla and I are taking our first sips of the coffees we ordered, out he comes. It has taken him 30 seconds to drink his coffee.

Live from the Empress Hotel

Kristina Campbell’s film ‘Searching for Emily’ premiered in Vancouver at the Denman Cinema last night. This was the filmmaker’s first view of her work on the big screen. There was a big audience. Kristina and I signed one print after another of ‘The Pearl’ as viewers lined up before the show to receive their free print. There was such an excited buzz in the lobby after the screening and Q & A.
A big “Thank You” to all who came to see the film, many of whom were friends and family. It was a truly wonderful evening.
Valentine Henderson reminded Vancouverites to watch his show ‘On Da Grine’ on Shaw Vancouver. His half-hour interview reveals the stimulus for painting the canvases of the young Emily Carr and for filming in Haida Gwaii while following in Carr’s footsteps.

Live from the Empress Hotel

Yet another visitor to the Empress Hotel has felt that my totem painting is finished. There is something going on here. The fragment of a totem and bars of silver leaf do not feel like a finished work for me. How can I keep on painting yet keep this lightness of feeling? This has been ruminating in my mind since Friday. I may now have an answer. I am going to forego the background of forest in the actual photo and replace it with a conjured mist. This would keep it light … and real. It’s worth a try.

Live from the Empress Hotel

Here is tomorrow’s blog today!
Kristina Campbell’s documentary ‘Searching for Emily’ premieres in Vancouver on Saturday, March 24th at 7pm at the Denman Cinemas (on Comox at Denman). Tickets are 10 dollars. The first 100 ticket holders will receive a free color print of ‘The Pearl’, one of the portraits of a young Emily Carr that was in the exhibition at the Royal BC Museum in 2011. The print will be signed ‘en place’ by Kristina and myself. See you there tomorrow!

Live from the Empress Hotel

Am working on a 68″ x 24″ painting of a totem and a woman from Calgary comes and stops in her tracks and says’ “I love it”. I show her the painting of the other totem that I have done and she says, “It doesn’t speak to me.” So I tell her that I will send her a picture of the totem that she likes when it is done. “I thought it was finished”, she says. I look at it. There is an image of 2 vases underneath the newly applied gesso that attempted to obliterate a past effort. There are bands of sterling-silver leaf and the partly-painted totem speaks of fragments. Now I see what she sees and I can’t paint further.

Live at the Empress Hotel

Friday’s party to celebrate my being the new Artist in Residence at the Empress Hotel was a testament yet again to this most regal institution. The bubbly stayed on tap and the wall of sound from animated voices struck all who ventured through the front entrance. It took all day to prepare for the event. Mac drove his big Dodge Sprint full of artwork. Derek and Kayla brought in armload after armload of paintings and assembled rented easels. Richard assisted these two in positioning the works to maximize their viewing potential. Thank you all, as I was able to visit my hairdresser so that I could be seen as never before- coiffed in curls.

Thank you Martin Leclerc, General Manager of the Empress for inviting me to be here- it just keeps getting better all the time.

Live at the Empress

Today has been a scramble to find 70 easels for an exhibiton and sale of 70 paintings for the launch of being the new artist in residence at The Empress Hotel. Between Island Blue Print and Artworld, I now have found 50-60. Pick up paintings on Friday morning, easels later, hairdresser at 2:30 and then show time at 5:30pm.

Live at The Empress Hotel

I spent an hour getting 2 paintings ready for shipping. The box wasn’t big enough to hold 2 paintings. So I put another box that overlapped it like a mirror box but it didn’t quite fit. So I ripped and taped and used a whole roll of shipping tape to piece it all together. The package looks like it underwent major surgery but it will be ready to go for the 10am Purolator pick up.

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