Saturday, October 31, 2015

Ottawa Art School Fair - Canson Papers

Art School Fair (ASF) was held October 31 to November 1, 2015, in Ottawa.

ASF is eastern Canada's first and only ART MATERIAL TRADE FAIR + ART CLASSES. Organizers brought together the biggest and best names and brands in the industry. Attendees were able to see, buy and try the latest products, take a workshop, demo or lecture.

This is the first of four reports on the demonstrations, lectures and workshops that I attended.

Canson Papers

On Saturday, October 31st (10:30am-12:00 pm), I attended the demonstration: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Paper with Ed Brickler.

Ed Brickler

Ed Brickler of Canson Papers
Ed Brickler has been an Artist and Art Materials consultant for over thirty years. He has been the Fine Art Education Director for Canson/Arches Paper Companies and Royal Talens Color Company, for about ten years and he travels and gives free demonstration and lectures on Canson Papers.

His enthusiasm about paper is infectious (see the two-hour video of Ed Brickler giving a lecture at University Museum of Contemporary Art in 2012 below)

Other things that I  learned about Ed:

Making Art: Materials and Techniques for Today's Artist
by Ed Brickler
The History of Canson Papers

I enjoyed hearing about the history of Canson Papers
  • The Montgolfier family  had been making papers since 1557.
  • The Montgolfier brothers were inventors of the first practical balloon made using vellum paper and cloth in 1782
  • One of the daughters of (Jacques-)Etienne Montgolfier, Alexandrine, married Barthélémy de Canson who ran the mills after Etienne's death in 1799. In 1801, the company became "Montgolfier et Canson", then "Canson-Montgolfier" in 1807.
Ed Brickler knows lots of interesting historical facts that he inserts throughout his two-hour lecture. (Like how conflict in 1793 when England and France were at war and France could not get pencils made with pure Borrowdale graphite or even the inferior Englands graphite led to France's development of conte etc) There is so much information packed into such a short time frame so I will attempt to distil it into a few points that I found incredibly interesting

Interesting facts about the types of paper:

Paper Weight 

  • paper weight indicates the thickness of the paper
  • gsm is more reliable and useful to go by than the lb system

Paper Textures 

Ed emphasized the importance of knowing "the intention of the paper". For example, is the paper intended for pastels, printmaking, tracing etc and while this does not limit how you can use the paper or restrict experimentation, it is important for the artist to understand. Turner apparently purposely use the "wrong side" of paper because he preferred the "gnarley texture".

It is also important to understand sizing (either gelatin or starch). Sizing is water-soluble and will come out if you soak it. (Ed said pre-soak watercolor paper for 5 minutes maximum) I had never heard of "vegan paper" until today. Some vegan artists only work with papers not sized with gelatin.
  • Smooth: for gouache, ink etc
  • Some texture: for watercolor etc
  • Rough: pastel (note mi-teintes papers can be used on both sides - the smooth or the rough)

Canson Edition paper

Acid in Paper
  • causes yellowing as paper ages
  • calcium carbonate (basically chalk and the same substance you find in Tums) is added to paper to repel the acid
  • framing art is important - everything - even the tape - should be acid-free (most glues are acidic)

Interesting Trivia
Canson Invented Tracing Paper

2009 marked the 200th anniversary of the invention of tracing paper by Canson.
"Used since its invention, by artists, architects, engineers and draftsman. Tracing paper and tracing vellum has become a staple in every design, architectural and fine art studio. Canson developed tracing paper in 1809. No one is sure exactly how the concept came about or how much trial and error was involved in the development. One medieval recipe involved marble dust, fish glue and garlic..........To this day Canson__™s technique for making tracing paper is kept secret." (Source: )

Canson invented tracing paper in 1809
Interesting Trivia 
Vellum and the First Hot-air Balloon

"The modern era of flight lifted off in 1783 when two brothers demonstrated their invention, the hot-air balloon, before a crowd of dignitaries in Annonay, France. Joseph-Michael and Jacques-Ètienne Montgolfier, prosperous paper manufacturers (a high-tech industry at the time), began experimenting with lighter-than-air devices after observing that heated air flowing directed into a vellum paper or fabric bag made the bag rise."(Source:
Canson Vidalon Vellum

Interesting Techniques
Degas - Monoprinting

Ed shared the technique of Degas' landscape monoprints from the 1890s: (see Degas Landscapes  By Richard Kendall)

Monoprint: "Wheat Field and Green Hill"
Edgar Degas

Monoprint: "Wheat Field and Green Hill"
Edgar Degas

Interesting Techniques
Dan Burkholder

Ed shared the techniques of  Dan Burkholder who creates high contrast inkjet prints on vellum paper and applies gold leaf to the back to create this technique. Dan Burkholder also authored "iPhone Artistry"

High contrast inkjet print on vellum paper 

Gold leaf on back of paper

This was an incredibly brief summary of some interesting points that I took away from Ed Brickler's excellent presentation today. I am thankful for this opportunity today at the Art School Fair.

We were also given a sampler package that had the following paper samples:

Sample from Canson presentation

Here are two interesting links mentioned by Ed:

Friday, October 30, 2015

Handing Out Some Old Halloween 'Eye Candy'

I have loved Halloween from when I was a wee, young girl living in Mimico, Ontario and first learned of its existence. Though folks might assume that I am over it being all "grown up" now, let me say that aging has done little to wipe the smile off my face at the sight of "anything" Halloween

My grandmother Coughlin-Moynahan adored Halloween as well and how delighted and lucky I am to have photographs of her in the early 1900s all dressed up.

My grandmother Rhea (Coughlin) Moynahan (1902-1992)
dressing up for Hallowe'en  (pre-1920)
Source: 52 Ancestors #42: Trick or Treating
And then there was my two siblings and me who loved to dress up on Halloween - usually by raiding our parents closet and adding some face paint!

Trick or Treating 70's style: It is me (far left) with my sister and brother 
Back of photo says:
" Sergeant Frisk and the two cooler queens - Droopy Pants and Truthful.
(Clearly my sister Kelly was truthful) 
Source: 52 Ancestors #42: Trick or Treating
I mention all of the above to justify the creation of this Halloween blog post on my Moynahan Studio blog.

Halloween has inspired my imagination and energized me to create since I was very little (and I have photographic evidence that it may, in fact, be part of my DNA!). From carving the pumpkin, to designing a costume to decorating outside - what a creative time of year!!

This Halloween, I am handing out some of my favorite old Halloween "eye candy" to my blog friends

Halloween Eye Candy

Literally all of the Dennison's Bogie Books may me smile
Visit this link
to flip through the pages of the 1920 book.

All of the Saturday Evening Post and New Yorker covers that feature Halloween makes me smile

"Halloween Scare" cover by Frederic Stanley November 2, 1935
"Witch’s Mask" cover by Charles Kaiser October 31, 1942
"Halloween" cover by Norman Rockwell October 23, 1920

 "Trick-Or-Treating in the Burbs" cover by Artist: John Falter; Published: November 01, 1958;

I am not sure how Tim Burton managed to have his 5-minute short about a boy who wanted to be Vincent Price narrated by Vincent Price, but it couldn't be more perfect!

Vincent Malloy is seven years old,
He's always polite and does what he's told.
For a boy his age 
he's considerate and nice,
But he wants to be just like Vincent Price....

 "Witch Carving Pumpkin " Saturday Evening Post Cover October 27 1928. "

Two Nerdy History Girls emailed a Friday video this morning: The Skeleton Dance. 

A perfect way to end this post on Halloween images and iconography.

It is part of Disney’s Silly Symphonies and is a great reminder of the amazing artists and musicians who made cartoons in the days before computers. This one is from 1929.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Unfinished 1981 Sketch "Reading In Bed"

"Reading In Bed"
An unfinished pencil crayon sketch 1981
By Cindi Moynahan
The Unfinished Sketch

This is an unfinished sketch that I did in 1981 in pencil crayon. I don't remember drawing it and I have no idea why I never got around to finishing it. I often wondered what my source of inspiration was for this sketch and I discovered the source accidentally a couple of days ago (more on that later).

I do remember 1981 though. On New Years day 1981, my mother became seriously ill with what we soon learned was an advanced and aggressive form of leukemia. She put up a valiant battle to fight it but cancer overcame her just days before her forty-fifth birthday on July 7th.

Did I do this sketch in the six months before my mother died or in the six months after she died? I don't remember. The sketch has only "Cindy Moynahan 1981" written on it without a month. But looking at this unfinished sketch makes me so happy and that is why it has a special place on the wall in my second-floor gallery.

The Second Floor Gallery

I have been drawing and creating all of my life......for as long as I remember. I fantasized about my retirement and how I could finally release my inner artist and spend the rest of my live-long days happily sketching, painting and creating.

When the time drew near to transform my fantasy into a reality I immersed myself in art books like Austin Keon’s “Show your Work”; Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" and many others (all borrowed from the Ottawa Public Library).

In one of the books, I cannot remember which one, it asked if, as an artist, you display your artwork in your own home? The answer for me was a loud "No! Never".

I had artwork in my home, but it was all by other artists. The article then asked, "Why not?" and went on to urge artists to create galleries in their homes and fill their walls with their own artwork - which I did.

Self-portrait in my "Second Floor Gallery"
 beside a portrait sketched of me in 1968 by G. Williams
Source: Blog Post "To Be An Artist Is To Believe In Life"

My newest artwork (2000-2015) is located on my main floor, but I created a "retro gallery" of my artwork from the 1970s and 1980s on the second floor. My 1990s were artistically sparse - that decade being a joyful time of motherhood and collaborative artmaking with my very talented and creative children.

All of this to say that my unfinished pencil crayon sketch "Reading in Bed" has a permanent spot in my home in my second-floor gallery.

Reading In Bed or Crackers In Bed

Why did I do this sketch in 1981 (my "annus horribilis") of a young girl reading in bed? And why didn't I finish it?

A clue came to me recently by way of an article written by Norman Rockwell's granddaughter Abigail. I was researching some old Saturday Evening Post covers for Halloween and saw this cover art by Norman Rockwell:

 And Every Lad May Be Aladdin (Crackers in Bed)
Edison Mazda advertisement, 1920
Norman Rockwell
Abigail Rockwell wrote:
"Here’s a story for you.  
Very early one morning, I couldn’t sleep so I went on Facebook. I was scanning the feed, looking for something to connect to, hold on to, perhaps transport me.  
I happened upon a friend’s post of this painting depicting a boy in bed. It immediately drew me in. It’s evening, and he’s sitting up in bed, intently reading. Completely absorbed. So focused on his book that he tilts the lamp to directly shine its light so no text is obscured, and shuts out all distractions. Who painted this? I wondered."
I happened upon Abigail's post and I immediately knew where the source for my sketch had come from!

I clearly copied what I loved about Norman Rockwell's painting, the same things that drew Abigail Rockwell unknowingly into her grandfather's painting. I then substituted a young girl for the young boy, slippers for the shoes and I removed the box of crackers all together! I even intended to replace the dog with a cat but never finished!

The slippers in my painting are identical to the slippers that my mother always wore at the time. It makes me wonder if I actually used my mother's slippers as a model for my pencil outline?

Detail of unfinished cat and slippers.
I was a huge Norman Rockwell fan in my youth (still am) and my brother-in-law gave me a gift that I treasure still to this day - a huge Norman Rockwell book of his complete works. I likely saw the original "Crackers in Bed" in there!? (*see correction below)

*Correction: This is the oversized Norman Rockwell book
that my brother-in-law gave to me and it features Norman's cover art only.

Crackers in Bed was a 1920 Edison Mazda Lamp advertisement

Detail of unfinished book and wall.

Abigail wrote of her experience with her grandfather's painting:
"The magic of the painting held me for quite a while. I didn’t want to leave the comfort and safety of that room, the boy’s world and that private moment.....  it speaks to the adventure, enchantment, and safety of childhood."
Maybe that's why I needed to copy Norman Rockwell's painting and sketch a feminine version of it for myself in 1981.

In a year of such profound loss, I was needing to cling to the safety of my childhood.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Mercury Lounge - Byward Market

I had a wonderful day yesterday participating in the Ottawa World Wide SketchCrawl 49  despite the cool temperatures.

It was lovely to see some familiar faces and make some new acquaintances with some amazing Ottawa artists!

For the full report of our 49th world wide sketchcrawl, visit the Ottawa Urban Sketchers blog post:

I managed to make six sketches (some incomplete because we needed to get indoors to warm up our hands).

The sketch below of the Mercury Lounge was my favourite of the day because of all the beautiful orange! To sketch this, the three of us (Jaymie, Suvitha and I) sat nestled safely on a parking curb between two market vendors while the sun came out briefly. It was lovely!

"The Mercury Lounge"
Urban sketch by Cindi Moynahan-Foreman
P.S. If you are interested in seeing what other artists at SketchCrawls around the world did 
on October 24, 2015, for the 49th WW SketchCrawl - visit this link: 

Social Media Artist Connections

I absolutely love how social media connects artists, their art and their stories.

In posting the follow-ups and reports from this 49th Ottawa WW SketchCrawl, Toronto artist Carolynn Bloomer ( commented on a facebook post written by Ottawa artist/sketchcrawler Laurie Foster.

Carolynn comes from an artistic Montreal family. Both her mother and father were artists. Carolynn's father Stephen ("Steve") Bloomer ( taught art at John Abbott College (CEGEP) in Montreal where he taught Laurie Foster.

Laurie wrote to Carolynn on facebook:
It was your dad who introduced me to sketching in markets from life -- at John Abbott he took us downtown to rue St. Laurent once, I think. He'd get so excited about everything, it was catching!
Well, this captured my curiosity. On facebook, Carolynn Bloomer responded, 
 He LOVED markets. The fish market – Waldman's –was a place he was particularly passionate about. Everything was pretty high-key there; the bright lights reflecting the wet shimmering textures, the silvery blues and greys, the brightly staring eyes of the fish and the wonderful human characters (we loved to see the men and women dressed in rich furs and buttery leather boots picking their way amongst the muddy buckets and sandy crates full of live sea creatures, and the salty, scale-covered guys in toques.... Well I guess I need to pack my sketch book and hie myself off to a market!!

More Quotes 

Montreal artist, illustrator, art teacher Steve Bloomer

I am adding these quotes found through online research following the sketchcrawl and Laurie and Carolynn's comments about Steve Bloomer 's love for markets.

Steve Bloomer's market love inspires me and echoes my feelings when I visit or sit in a busy market place like Ottawa's Byward market, or the Windsor market of my childhood, or the St. Lawrence market of my youth.....

Carolyn Bloomer wrote,
One place that always inspired Steve was a market. He was drawn to the colour, shapes, noise and teeming humanity found there; the repetition of pattern in the displays of fruit and vegetables, and the way their colours changed depending on whether they were in the shade or exposed to the sun. He studied the people: their demeanor and attitudes, sometimes bustling about, sometimes in watchful repose. He had a particular fondness for fish markets (and he could identify every type of fish!). He appreciated the mounds of crushed ice, and the many stacked, silver fish shapes with their still-shocked expressions and their glistening scales; and also the different types of people there. He loved the juxtaposition of plaid-shirted men wearing hip-waders and people in full-length mink coats tip-toeing around the wet floors in their expensive leather boots. 
The ambience of these places — the pride of the vendors and their camaraderie, shoppers jostling each other to get closer to the produce, people pushing wagons and pulling shopping carts — all this was Steve’s raw material for the story that he’d then set about to tell, with lines, shapes and colour, on paper or canvas.
I plan to sketch the ByWard market throughout this winter. The ByWard Market vendors work all year round, outdoors, no matter what the weather!

At the market, there's always a story to tell, as Steve would put it, just waiting to be told "with lines, shapes and colour on paper or canvas".....

I thought it would be lovely to close with a video of Carolynn Bloomers a way of thanking her (and Laurie) for sharing the wonderful story about her father Steve Bloomer's love of markets.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

George Reid (1860-1947) "Art For Life's Sake"

I have an unending curiosity about other artists. That is why I recently attended a talk hosted by the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) about artist George Reid.

"Art For Life's Sake" by Ellen McLeod

The Ottawa Public Library (OPL) wrote:
"Best known for his monumental painting, "Mortgaging the Homestead," 1890, in the National Gallery of Canada, George Agnew Reid (1860-1947) was a surprisingly versatile artist, architect, designer, and teacher. This talk by Ellen McLeod will follow his long career which covers his student days, his award winning paintings, his arts and crafts designs, his homes, buildings and murals in the U.S, France, and Ontario, as well as his marriages to two women artists."
A small sample of the artwork that was discussed at the OPL
Source: Google image search for "George Reid
My Favourite "Drawing Lots"
Source: Art Gallery of Ontario tumblr

George Reid portrait with guitar 1895
Photo source:

I wanted to write a brief blog post on six things that I learned from this wonderful talk:

  1. George Reid was Mary Wrinch's husband!   You usually hear the opposite ("so-and-so was somebody's wife") In this case, about fifteen minutes into the talk, when Ellen McLeod said "George had two wives who were both artists" it occurred to me that I had previously researched and written about George's second wife Mary Wrinch (1877-1969) on my blog after seeing an exhibition of her work at the Ottawa Art Gallery. (George Reid also taught Doris McCarthy who I also blogged about). George met his first wife Mary Heister in Pennsylvania while attending the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
  2. George loved using enigmatic titles for his paintings. The woman at the edge of the field entitled "Call to Dinner"; the boy reading in the hayloft entitled "Forbidden Fruit"; the women at the spinning wheel entitled "Gossip" and the men gathered around the table entitled "The other side of the question" to name a few. These titles beckon the viewer to look closer and imagine what is going on. What is the other side of the question? What was the question? What was the forbidden fruit in the hayloft? What are they gossiping about? Who is being called to dinner? (See also the McMaster Museum's "How An Artist Draws You In" for "Call To Dinner")
  3. As part of the Arts and Crafts movement, George designed beautiful buildings and furniture. Much of his work was featured in the 2014 exhibit: "Artists, Architects, and Artisans: Canadian Art 1890–1918"  George, towards the end of his career,  compiled a scrapbook in his Wychwood Park home that contains articles and photographs of  some of the  homes he designed. The piano he designed is currently on display at the National Gallery
  4. George became a great advocate of "public art". He was a muralist and believed in the integration of the arts into public spaces  George Reid’s interest in mural painting started in Paris and was furthered through friendships at the summer art colony of Onteora in the Catskills. Reid and other Toronto artists formed the Society of Mural Decorators in 1894. They soon proposed decorations for Toronto’s new City Hall but subsequent proposals for the Parliament Buildings in Toronto and Ottawa met with little or no support
  5. In 1944, shortly before his death, George donated to Ontario 459 paintings and works on paper, most of them for display and exhibition in schools across the province.  Less than half the works are traceable today!!! I wonder if folks have them without even knowing?
  6. His work in the National Gallery of Canada can be found in the Canadian Collection rooms and side rooms. This is your last chance to see them (for a little while) as they will be removed before the New Year as the Canadian Collections are redone in preparation for  Canada's 150th birthday in 2017) Link to 24 pieces
This painting was immensely popular and sadly was burned in a fire in 1918. George recreated it in the 1940s
Source: Slideshow by Ellen McLeod
George working on the municipal murals for Toronto City Hall 1897-99
Photo source:

The Reid murals were painted over and then uncovered and restored in 2007-2008
Dufferin St Clair Branch - Toronto Public Library. The building opened in 1921, and was called Earlscourt Branch until 1972. The Reid murals were completed in May, 1926 but were painted over in a later renovation in 1964. Interior murals painted by George A. Reid, principal of the Ontario College of Art, and by two of his former students, Lorna Claire and Doris McCarthy during 1925-1932. In 2007-2008 they have been uncovered and restored.

On Reid's belief in art for life's sake as opposed to "art for art's sake"
Source: "Modern Civic Art; or, the City Made Beautiful":
Aesthetic Progressivism and the Allied Arts in Canada, 1889-1939 

Mary Hiester Reid (1854-1921)

I have fallen in love with the artwork of George Reid's first wife
Mary Heister Reid
Her work is little known - a fate shared by virtually all the female artists of her generation
 Mary Wrinch Reid

I had researched and written previously about Mary Wrinch Reid
but I had never seen this portrait of her drawn by George in 1944
Source: Slideshow by Ellen McLeod

Links of interest: