Painter browsing by tag


Woman of the Month Before – Aleese Nessler

Monday, July 1st, 2013


Aleese Nessler

Here’s a little bit about her:

Aleese is a small town Albertan born, Vancouver based painter.
She specializes in acrylic portraits and graphite drawings, but in recent years she has returned to photographing lovely landscapes, and painting them.

She has been lucky enough to be involved in art collectives, teach after school art programs on the east side and hold life drawing classes at the butchershop.

In past years she has constructed three- dimensional sculptures for Public Dreams productions and continues to construct pieces and facilitate workshops to wonderful festivals around the lower mainland.

She is currently teaching portrait lessons, (which was a delightful surprise) and is participating in the thirty days project.

And here’s how she answered my 6 questions about creativity:

What does it mean to you to be creative?
Staying involved, and remaining hungry to learn and explore.

I’ve started to realize that what you do in all aspects of your life feeds your imagination. It is so important to create space in your life for making art, respecting how important that time is, and having people in your life that support and propel you forward.

In University we had a professor tell us in
5 years/10 people out of our class would be making art, in 10 years/5 people, in 15 years, maybe 2.

I remember thinking that sounded so sad, but I suppose he was trying to tell us that sustaining creativity is a commitment. I’ve found it incredibly hard at times, but it is always something I have found my way back to.

What triggers your creativity?
Surrounding your self with people who have passion and energy in their lives.

I also feel like the tiniest experiences have a huge cumulative effect on creativity.

One of my favorites this year was spending an afternoon as a volunteer with expert weaver, Alastair Heseltine. He was weaving with beautiful willow he had grown on Hornby Island and was creating an enormous outdoor snake installation.
Weaving with natural materials was something I had never been exposed to, and I was lucky enough to experience weavers sharing their knowledge and craft.

It was a fantastic day and I felt so content in the way you do when you have spent time learning about something new.

I think in the past, when I encountered someone doing something amazing, at times it made me feel sheepish that I wasn’t better at painting or drawing; but now it makes me feel excited to buckle down and work harder.

What hinders your creativity?
I have a couple.

Getting into the habit of doing nothing makes it easy to forget how important it is to practice.

It always surprises me how quickly I lose ground with my drawing when I am being lazy.

Feeling like what I am doing is not relevant or complex enough.

I also have to say TV. Once my rump hits the couch, I’m in trouble.

What’s the wildest journey your venturesome spirit has taken you on?
I have been on some pretty delightful summer adventures with my husband. One of my favorite camping trips we took was up the Dempster Hiway, into the Artic Circle.

I came home with some of the loveliest photographs and I was so itchy to paint them.

The landscape was so quiet and felt different from anything I had seen. We drove up late summer because we were hoping to witness the turn of season in the Yukon, which happens so quickly up north. The landscape had changed color as we returned from the Artic circle and drove back down to Dawson city.

I couldn’t believe we were able to photograph caribou, black foxes and Grizzly bears. It was my favorite (and most freezing) trip indeed!

What does being bold and provocative mean to you?
Taking chances, making mistakes, and failing.

It used to take the wind out of my sails if a proposal wouldn’t get accepted. Now I see it as an opportunity to take another look at my work, push it farther, or make some alternative choices. I see it as growth.

It doesn’t always feel great, but it’s necessary.

What’s next for you?
I have some one in mind and I have been dying to draw their portrait, but I hardly know them at all. My next challenge is to approach them without sounding like a nutter, and not scare them away!

And here’s a photograph that inspires Aleese’s creativity:

Be sure to check out Aleese’s website

To hear about the next Woman of the Month, follow DollyFaye on Twitter!

Woman of the Month Before – Katherine Surridge

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Presenting March’s Woman of the Month:


Katherine Surridge

Here’s a little bit about her:

Katherine Surridge’s work has been exhibited across Canada and in the USA for over thirty years and most recently in Asia. Although she is primarily a painter she also makes films and videos, which have been shown on Canadian national television and in movie theatres.

Katherine’s art is in many public and private collections including Canada Council Art Bank, BC Provincial Collection, Burnaby Art Gallery, Edmonton Art Gallery, Richmond Art Gallery, Surrey Art Gallery and Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Her awards include a Canada Council B Grant, a BC Cultural Development Grant and a scholarship from the Santa Fe Art Institute for a residency with New York artist, Jennifer Bartlett.


Katherine graduated with a BFA from the University of Victoria. She lives and paints full time in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Katherine’s work is currently represented by galleries in Vancouver and Victoria, BC, as well as Jakarta, Indonesia and in Singapore.

And here’s how she answered my 6 questions about creativity:

What does it mean to you to be creative?
Being creative is everything to me. I like to apply creativity to every area of my life. I believe everyone is creative and that it can be applied to everything you do.

What triggers your creativity?
Action. Getting started on something triggers my creativity. If I’m re-arranging my house or starting a new series of paintings or beginning a film, the only thing that helps me become creative is starting and continuing an action.

What hinders your creativity?
Apathy and fear.

What’s the wildest journey your venturesome spirit has taken you on?
Doing a painting residency with Jennifer Bartlett in Santa Fe when I had no money and was accepted at the last minute and had to get grants and jump through hoops to go. Maybe not that wild but I was so excited since she was my hero painter at the time and she challenged me more than I ever had been as an artist. She is still right up there for me. It was a life changing experience.

What does being bold and provocative mean to you?
Trusting yourself, ignoring your fear and pushing forward when everyone you know tells you not to do something that you believe in.

Two things come to mind. When I went back to study art in university in my twenties and everyone thought I could never make a living as an artist. That was 35 years ago.

The second was when after making some short films I decided to make a feature film and everyone thought I was crazy but a group of talented and generous actors and crew came together and we made it with very few funds and loads of passion. My feature ‘tideline’ opened in a twin theatre on Vancouver Island next to the film ‘The Queen’.

What’s next for you?
A solo show of my new paintings called ‘Taking Note’. During the two months the exhibit is on I will give two talks about my work as well as do a screening of my film ‘Anne’, a 60 min. video about an artist and writer that has been homeless for fourteen years. This exhibit will be at the Baron Gallery, 293 Columbia Street, Vancouver, BC.

It opens March 3, 2011 and continues until April 29.

And here’s who inspires Katherine’s creativity:

My daughter Julia C.S. Davis inspires me by the way she pushes her fear aside and goes for it. She lives in California, is an artist and owns a skateboard company called Sloth Skateboards. She is also a student, going back next year to the University of California at Berkeley. She inspires me by her example, to push my boundaries and to be a better person and a better artist, every day of my life.

Be sure to check out Katherine’s website.

Thank you Katherine, for always getting started and taking action!

To hear about the next Woman of the Month, follow DollyFaye on Twitter!

Woman of the Week – Suzy Birstein

Sunday, October 17th, 2010


Suzy Birstein

Here’s a little bit about her:
As a child I studied dance while absorbing Hollywood musicals, film noire and the mysteries of Rembrandt. As an adult, I’ve been seduced by the sensuality, spontaneity and intellectual activity of working with clay, colour and the essence of romance.

I now see my imagery as a marriage of my childhood and adult influences. The figure dominates my work. I endeavour to create archetypal icons which embrace the power of Ancient and contemporary World cultures, overlaid with the spirit of song and dance. I long to merge the power of Nefertiti with the spirit of Carmen Miranda.

Currently, the paintings on my pottery are inspired by the images I create as sculptures; the sculptures are often carrying my pots. I feel compelled to explore the scale and diversity of my vision by creating miniature to life size figurative sculptures accompanied by luscious and luminous oil paintings informed by these sculptures.

I adore my supportive husband and sons. I love teaching children and adults. I tap dance and wear ball gowns as often as possible!

Recent Highlights:
2008 Academy Awards: Motion Pitchers created for nominees for Best Actor and Best Director
2009: My D’Lovely Fever solo exhibit and Tap dance film
2009: Mia Muse workshop and exhibit on Greek island of Skopelos
2010: Ceramic Art & Perception No. 80.: “Return to the muses of Greece”

And here’s how she answered my 6 questions about creativity:

What does it mean to you to be creative?
Being creative and living creatively means everything to me. It’s about being fully engaged in the moment, open to the inner and outer worlds of my imagination and imaginings.

What inspires your creativity?
Inspiration comes in so many ways and at unexpected times: while covered in clay or paint in my studio, immersed in foreign cultures through travel and books, biking, hot bubble baths, breathing…

The lives and art of other creators is a huge inspiration and affirmation.
Some of my favourites:

*Ancient and contemporary folkloric cultures from India, SE Asia, Africa, Mexico.
*Picasso’s portraits of his wives and lovers.
*Modigliani’s sculpted heads and accompanying paintings.
*Rousseau’s “Lion,Gypsy and Mandolin.”
*Matisse’s exotic odalisques.
*Chagall’s paintings and ceramics.
*The art, costume and romance of Frida Kahlo and her tragically short life
*The art and life of ceramist Beatrice Wood, who wore saris, incredible jewelry and created til she was 104 years young!

Within my own life, hands on working with materials ,travel, dance, film, music – sharing this with my wonderful family, friends and students.

What keeps you moving forward in making things happen?
I THINK I want to live on a hot desert island, creating art by the sea all day long – never worrying about money, career or the outside world. But, could I actually survive without a phone or computer? What about vintage shopping and tap dancing – the feeling of purpose juggling family, friends, students, art? In truth, the studio, teaching and parenting keep me grounded.

So, to answer this question, I like action and stimulation. I like putting something out there – be it in the creation of a work of art or work of life – having a notion and being open to the unexpected and unpredictable. It’s intriguing to interpret and be aware of the serendipitous, synchronistic messages from the universe; feeling embraced by the realm of possibilities and the process of making dreams a reality.

The other thing that keeps me moving forward happens in the studio: The genuine feeling in my gut of being connected to past and current creators, from so many diverse cultures and times. I’m always surprised by how their essence is revealed in my work. I strive to make it my own and share with others thru exhibits, publications, workshops… all of which connects me to the best part of myself.

And last, I Desire to Inspire as I have been inspired. On the most intimate level, for my supportive and loving husband, sons, parents, friends, students. Should this happen on a more global level – Halleluya!

What’s the wildest journey your venturesome spirit has taken you on?
My wildest journey – in retrospect – is the piecing of the puzzle which began when I was 20 years old living on Greek islands and culminating with my return last September, as the artist I have become.

Between then and now, I left Crete to live with my love – now husband – in Toronto. We moved to Vancouver where I became an artist, mom, and teaching artist – the stay-at-home exciting equivalent to travel.

Jump ahead to 2008: creation of life size figurative ceramic sculptures supported and inspired by columns I found while driving to dance class.

Commissioning Jim Hibbert to choreograph and direct a film of me, tapping with the Muses and shown at solo exhibit, My D’Lovely Fever Fever”

Simultaneously, a call from Hollywood to create Motion Pitchers gifted to nominees for Best Actor and Actress for 2008 Academy Awards.

Followed by “Mia Muse” ceramics workshop on Skopelos in 2009, the Greek island where “Mamma Mia” was filmed.

Then traveling to Turkey with my husband.

If you want to read more here is the link to “Return to the Muses of Greece” published in Ceramic Art & Perception No. 80. magazine.

What’s the boldest, most provocative statement you are willing to make about yourself, your business or the industry that you are in?
I would happily accept a starring role in a major motion picture (not Motion Pitcher) tap dancing with Javier Bardem, clothed in my creations: hair by Martin Samuels, directed by Julian Schnabel.

click on image to enlarge

What’s next for you?
Orchestrating the next big adventure.

I have many more sculptures and vessels in my heart. I am currently creating “Portraits of my Muses” , painting with oil on canvas.

2 upcoming annual exhibits – “Celebrate the Every day, Every Day” in December and Artists in Our Midst in May.

Finding new Vancouver and international venues to represent my work. Solo exhibit TBA

I’m dancing withHeart and Sole tap company and collaborating a multi-media presentation of my art to accompany musicians at “Maria’s Opus” Concert and Cancer fund raiser.

Continue teaching children at Arts Umbrella as well as children and adults from my studio

Combine art, teaching and travel with “Mia Muse” 2011

And here’s something that inspire Suzy’s creativity:

Check out more of her art on Suzy’s website.

Thank you Suzy, you darling dancing queen!