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

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.

Live from The Empress hotel

An unusual day today. No one picked up one of my brushes and no one tried to paint on my canvas. Jim the painter complained that the leather was too clean and the chrome was too shiny in my motorcycle art paintings. While touching up the walls, he wanted to touch up my paintings and make them feel real. I like them clean.

Live from the Empress Hotel

I am going to have to put up a sign that says ‘Painting in Progress’. I was at my computer sending Richard jpegs of my paintings. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed someone picking up one of my brushes. The thought of someone calling Security jumped to my brain and so I jumped out of my chair. “Can I paint?”, asked the woman who couldn’t wait to do just that. “No”, I said. I told her what had happened yesterday and said I didn’t want to work around the work of 2 painters. She told me how whe used to paint, how she doesn’t anymore, how she walked by yesterday and wanted to paint the canvas then as well, and how she had finally picked up the courage to pick up the brush to paint. I told her that from the way she held the brush, she needed to paint. She comes to the Hotel often and says that upon her return, she will show me what she has painted.

Live from The Empress Hotel

As the new artist in residence at The Empress Hotel, I will be showcasing my artwork in The Gallery on the Upper Lobby for the next 4 months. At present, I have my motorcycle art in one room and in the other room are portraits of a young Emily Carr from my exhibition at the Royal BC Museum in 2011. My aim is to post everyday something that happened in the day.
I would have posted this story yesterday but had to find out how to post a blog as I had forgotten how to. My web designer Caprina, just sent me my link and directions and so now I am able to write what happened.
When I went for lunch, I came back to see Security looking grim beside the painting of a totem that I was working on. Security told me that the man sitting on the couch had picked up my brushes and painted on my canvas. “The police are on their way”, he told me.
I looked at what the man had done and rather liked it. The police arrived shortly and I asked if the man was going to be charged. “Not if you don’t want him to be”. I told them that I absolutely did not want him to be charged. The police talked to the man and returned to tell me that the man would now give me a formal apology.
He came up to me and I don’t know exactly what he said but he was sorry. I asked him his name which he gave me. Then I told him he was a good artist and that I would not remove what he had done but incorporate it into my painting. He hugged me, I hugged him back and he left.

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