Among these lilies
in Monet’s pond
~ Sylvia Forges-Ryan
I would like to share with you the first of two new series of paintings. "Nymphaea" Stay tuned for next month when I will talk about the second series "Earth Recitals", a new body of work hovering on the edge of abstraction.
I have been thinking of Monet, poet of light and space. Monet inspires me. Why? Because i find in his work a congruence of feeling for the natural world as sustenance. I too need to immerse myself in its leafy greening, its decay, its blossoming. I need to be close to what is eternal to make sense of my own place in this fractured world. I find in Monet’s paintings, as perhaps do some of you, a reparative sense of meditation on loss and mortality. These are themes that preoccupy me in all my floral work.
As we are bombarded with images and stories of the war in Ukraine I have been walking to the public ponds and willows found within our own city. Though the garden of Monet was a walled and cultivated sanctuary, I too find solace in my urban walk. Looking into these reflective watery mirrors evidencing the eternal movement of clouds crossing the sky, the cyclical blooming and withering, and seeing the flowering of lights flickering above dark pools I am reminded of and consoled by what never ends.
In this new series “Nymphaea”, I continue to work toward paintings that come into being with you, the observer as an active participant in the coalescing of the image. I build the surface with fractured marks, with an accretion of paint and gesture that come into focus only from a distance. It is my intention to create the circumstances of witness. Deliberately choosing the well known motif of waterlilies I am consciously invoking Monet and the time in which he too was painting against a backdrop of war. Monet returned again and again to the paintings of waterlilies, a series that continued until his death. Painted even as the guns of the Great War drowned out cries for its end, his last monumental series of Waterlilies prevails as an enduring symbol of peace, gifted to the people of France on the day of the Armistice.
Like the echo in the above quoted Haiku, i hope these paintings may be an instrument to draw us into the present moment with full attention, perhaps even to find a moment of peace.
"Haiku are the shortest of poems, with the longest echoes." (Sylvia Forges-Ryan) A good haiku, like a well conceived painting distills a great deal of experience into a few phrases, and sets off a chain of thoughts that expand like the ripples in a pond. I hope for these paintings to open a contemplative space in which you, esteemed viewer, may find your own meaning.
Poets inspire me. When painting, I steal their tools. I use alliteration, rhythm, revision and repetition, emptiness and form. With strokes of the brush and gestures of the hand I scribble and scratch, use tone, light and line, fullness and space, impasto and thin washes or glazes to create atmosphere and depth, using the journey of the built surface to arrive at meaning in my paintings.
Details of Nymphae paintings, oil on canvas
In this poem by Paul Verlaine, I love how he is speaking of an internal struggle while using the image of a stroll by the lily pond, I love how repetition becomes incantation.
Maybe we could all use a little spell to dispel the the hovering black weather in our inner and outer worlds.
The setting sun cast its final rays
And the breeze rocked the pale water lilies;
Among the reeds, the huge water
Lilies shone sadly on the calm water.
Me, I wandered alone, walking my wound
Through the willow grove, the length of the pond
Where the vague mist conjured up some vast
Despairing milky ghost
With the voice of teals crying
As they called to each other, beating their wings
Through the willow grove where alone I wandered
Walking my wound; and the thick shroud
Of shadows came to drown the final rays
Of the setting sun in their pale waves
And, among the reeds, the water-
Lilies, the huge water lilies on the calm water.
From Poems Under Saturn (Princeton University Press, 2011). All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the translator.
“Then it was spring; and in spring anything may happen. Absolutely anything.”
~ ee cummings
The poet ee cummings, who some would say cannot be bettered when writing about Spring, spent three months in a French prison during the first world war. He did not lose his love for the world, he went on to write; “We can never be born enough”.
In our own time as the wheel returns us to the birth of Spring and the wild plum blooms, so too the wounds of war have been reopened and suffering is felt anew on the earth.
What can one do? We who are privileged to live in the peace of the West are experiencing the beauty of the earth’s renewal while simultaneously witness to terror unfolding in the Ukraine spring, where bombs beside flowers bloom. I can feel helpless, as I imagine many of you do.
My practice is to stay steady and paint. To attend to the covenant I have with my own life, to make of my time here on earth of service to what is on the side of life, to what is of deep time, to make with my own hands and being that which is born of love.
Take time with your loved ones. Be in the home of your self. Be in your intentional life. Keep reaching, not for things, but for what brings you most alive for it is here that one is born again and again. Remember; “in Spring, anything may happen”.
Sunflower Sutra, for Ukraine 43x30"
WIP, Earthly Delights 60x50"
I invite you to visit me at 1000 Parker St, studio 362
I am happy to invite you to attend the 25th annual Eastside Cultural Crawl. This well loved event is going ahead after a Covid break last year for the first time in its 25 year history. November 12-14 is by appointment only with your Vaccine passport and mask. November 18-21, 2021 each building is open without the neccesity to book, but monitored by vaccine passport, masks and all Covid precautions in place.
I will have a range of works available, from a set of greeting cards to small drawings of oil on paper to larger works on canvas. I will also be showing a new series of collage with oil on panel.
I look forward to seeing you in person and sharing these works in my large, well ventilated studio in person, or virtually.
Culture Crawl Exhibit at 1000 Parker St, studio 362
Firstly I would like to offer my gratitude to all of you who have subscribed to my newsletter and to thank the many of you that continue to be supportive, who inspire me and to those who have been collectors of my work.
I am enjoying the turn toward the season of sweaters, the pleasure of pulling on an extra layer in the morning when the air is chill and clouds cover the mountains. The days are beginning to emerge from a shroud of fog, mysterious beginnings that move toward brightness and lighten as the day progresses.
I am reminded of how my own paintings emerge slowly from unknown origins. I have to search for them, obscured as they are by my own lack of clarity, my initial inclination toward blindness. I discover each work through close observation, curiosity, felt-sense experiment and play. Intuition guides me to remove all that is unnecessary. I could say this is not separate from how one encounters the best possible version of one’s life!
The longer I have borne witness to the seasons, and the longer I have observed my working processes the more I trust and understand the necessity of this committed and playful fumbling toward the light.
Painting is, in its own mysterious way, the path I make each day to find my balance in this unbalanced world of brutalities and beauty.
I would like to share with you something a valued client recently said to me:
“I “collect” your pieces because they make me feel calm but also interested in the future.”
I share this because I am encouraged by how a work of art has the presence and potential to touch and inspire another traveller on the path. We are all living in difficult and unsettled times. We need reasons to believe in a more inclusive and harmonious future.
What is your path? Whatever it is, the path you choose to walk is of utmost importance. Believe in yourself, your journey is of inspiration to others.
I am excited to stand each day in front of the empty canvas. I believe the creative intention to make paintings imbued with a sense of harmony and balance, autonomy and love is a life-affirming act.
Please enjoy here a short video clip in which you can hear me speak about the painting I am proud to be donating in support of the youth arts organization Arts Umbrella. My painting is 36 x72", oil on canvas called "Distallate of the Sun". You can bid on it in the live auction.
I would like to invite you to attend an exhibition at Visual Space Gallery. Dates: Tuesday, October 12th to Saturday, 30th or Saturday, October 9th to Saturday, 30th. I am participating in a group show with these wonderful Vancouver painters; Jim Park Simone Guo and Brian O’Connor.
Thanking all of you for being here, your support and encouragement is invaluable to me.
Thanking all of you for being here, your support and encouragement is invaluable to me.
Exhibition: "After Every Winter, Soft Wind "
Visual Space Gallery April 22- May 15th, Open to view Tue-Sat noon-5 pm or book a private visit firstname.lastname@example.org
Here Comes the Sun, acrylic on canvas, 47.25 x 35.5 inches
After Every Winter, Soft Wind
3352 Dunbar Street, Vancouver 604.559.0576
April 22nd to May 15th
Noon to 5 pm daily (Sunday & Monday closed)
This new collection of oil and acrylic paintings are grounded in my earlier work with floral imagery yet informed by the experience of being in a new unknown, a territory of uncertainty, “all together in a sudden strangeness” (Neruda). Like many, I was drawn to and sought the consolations of nature while recognizing it is our presence that disturbs
I am excited to share news of my upcoming solo show at the Vancouver Gallery Visual Space. Yes, you can visit! Although there will not be the customary "Vernissage" or opening night of old, you can visit the gallery in person with all Covid safety practices observed. If you prefer to book an appointment for a private viewing, please contact the gallery here. If you wish to meet me at the gallery, I will be available at select times, please book here.
Months ago, when given this opportunity to exhibit new work, I had no idea the opening date would fall on Earth Day, April 22nd. Auspicious indeed.
My inspiration for this body of work is rooted in my love of the natural world, in particular her forms of flora and the earthen, cyclical energies that inform "the force that through the green fuse drives the flower". In the months of preparation for this show, my studio practice was informed by memories of last year's spring, the first Spring of the Pandemic, where we were all rooted in place, uncertain of our individual and collective futures. I spent as much time as I could outside, hands in the earth, all senses awoken to the return of life, participating in its re-seeding. This opportunity to be in the presence of earth's beauty and her generous proliferation, was to feel more deeply my own sense of mortality and the simultaneous awareness of my ability to rebirth and regenerate my own life and practice of painting. In the gift of a gestalt shift and the spaciousness of arrested time, new perceptions of the recurrent themes of my work became available to me. These paintings are more open, filled with gesture and their vanishings.They are odes to possibility and the unknown....from which springs all new life.
I invite you to watch this short video. Recorded in my studio, by the artist Tiffany Blaise, it is a small preview in which I give a little more insight into the work you can soon see in person at Visual Space Gallery.
I will be releasing another short film during the course of the exhibition. Subscribers to my emails will have first access, so if you would like to share this opportunity with others, please share this email and ask them to subscribe.
Thanking all of you for being here, your support and encouragement is invaluable to me.
I invite you to visit Visual Space Gallery April 22-May 15
Tuesday-Saturday noon- 5PM
3352 Dunbar St
“Art is a force for resistance and repair” Olivia Laing
In this time of crisis, making art is not only refuge, but as Olivia Laing points out in her essay “How to survive self-isolation, the role of art in difficult times” a necessary form of resistance.
“Art is about paying attention to reality” Olivia Laing.
In our studios and in our homes as we have struggled and survived this past year of the pandemic, we have adapted, we have grown our patience and tolerance for each other, we have learnt that the path of least resistance, as water parts for the stone in its path, is the way of least suffering. Resistance is not always pushing against. Resistance can be stopping, looking deeply, resistance can be time stilled, the time you take to make a painting or quietly to contemplate the garden you have been tending. Resistance can be the choice to turn away from the frenetic churning of the news cycle and sit in stillness with a loved sculpture.
Art made or art appreciated can be an antidote to despair. Sitting in the solitude of your own home, loneliness can be assauged by the touch of another heart brought to life in a well crafted work of fiction. To read or to listen to another’s story is to know one is not alone. Art is not about distraction or avoidance but attention to reality.
Olivia Laing refers often in her writing to the artist Derek Jarman, who died in another time of crisis, in the era of HIV and the plague of Aids. At the end of his life, Jarman chose to grow a garden in one of the most inhospitable of climates and barren soil, stones really, of Dungeness, Kent. “Modern Nature” is his meditative diary.
This energetic impulse, to act creatively and regeneratively despite the acutely felt and painful reality of his own dying, teaches me to never give in to the passivity that can corrode a life. In the climate of today’s uncertainties I am inspired to respond with my own expressions of hope, gestures of aliveness and offerings of love simply for the gift of being alive.
"Flight of Venus", oil on paper, frame size 35" x 27"
The true plague is fear and its attendent anxieties. Fear is what imperils our connection to others and to life itself.
Creativity empowers and gives me choice, it always connects and endlessly rebirths. There is no confinement in the mind, no isolation. Freedom is alive and without horizon in each one of our imaginative minds.
I enter 2021 with a sense of renewal. I am grateful to all who have supported my practice throughout this year of profound change. Thank you.
I am made more resilient by great loss and feel inspired by new beginnings. With such upheaval, what cannot be questioned? What can you reimagine in your own life? What is left undone? What seed have you yet to plant?
I encourage all of you to feel the possibility of your own life, the richness and fertile potentials waiting for your discovery.
at the threshold,
"How Free The Flowers", framed oil on paper 25" x 21"
Fraser River, North Arm
We exist in a stream of change. We can resist or surrender to the flow, but like a river, life itself never stops flowing.
I, perhaps like many of you, am stepping into new waters as Covid sweeps the planet and regimes teeter on the brink. I have left the edge of the Fraser River, home to my studio practice for the last 20 years, for the unknown of a new studio. I have chosen to immerse myself in different waters, to be a participant in an artistic community. Leaving the solitude and quiet of a tidal estuary for the noise of shunting rail cars and the ever present hum of human industry, I am choosing growth. Seldom comfortable, change always brings us to a new edge. It is at that edge, that tip of shocking aliveness visible in the new shoot, that growth is happening.
My window of comfort has been to look from my open studio door to the garden, to hear the gentle clack of black bamboo in the wind, to know the hawk is passing because all the small birds are suddenly chirping their alarm. Now I am learning to love the thunder of the freight train rattling my window, to know the rhythms of boxcars flowing in, flowing out, a tide without water still bearing goods.
1000 Parker St. has long been home to a thriving community of artists. I am one of the fortunate to find a studio home within its rambling halls. Although the building is not open for its usual celebration of art, artists and artisans in the annual Eastside Culture Crawl, you may chat with me virtually (using the chat icon on this page) Sunday afternoon November 22 between 1-3. In-person private viewing is available... book a studio visit with me. I look forward to the opportunity of showing you my work in the new space, third floor, studio 362. It is a place full of light, height and ample fresh air. Spacious, with room to breathe safely.
I am excited to have a new opportunity to show my work in Vancouver. Along with the beautifully curated Boutique shop Gild and Co. and Vancouver Art Gallery Rentals and Sales. I am pleased to be included in the showrooms of Once A Tree Furniture.
I want to say thank you, with deep gratitude to all of you, old friends and new, who offer support in so many ways, who sustain and make buoyant my continuance in this life of creative practice. I could not do it without you.
In this time of uncertainty I am reminded by the golden crowns of the trees I see from these new windows, that this season, the one of radiant color, is also the season that leaves wither and die. They let go. Their fallen scattering of gold makes fertile the ground in which trunk and limb reach and grow.
I am excited by what I do not yet know, for on this journey between birth and death, to encounter the unknown is to encounter the self where one has not yet been brought fully alive. If we can look with courage into our own unknown self we can learn to trust the stream.
May the current of your life bear you closer to your heart's intention
may you be uplifted
for a moving read and listen: the poem “At The River Clarion"by Mary Oliver link here: https://wordsfortheyear.com/2018/04/14/at-the-river-clarion-by-mary-oliver/
New studio space at 1000 Parker St
River to railroad, may life flow through me
First Bloom, oil on paper, 20x16 inches
The wind is warm, peonies are emerging. In the vegetable garden I planted just over a month ago I am already astonished and gratified to be harvesting. This time of isolation has been one of many and varied creativities. While many struggle and I feel for the loss in all communities, I am also deeply affected by how creatives everywhere, in all walks of life, are bringing courage and ingenuity into a profoundly changed world and are working alone or together to reimagine our future. In this fragile and vulnerable moment in humanity's history I feel all acts of creativity are important and vital.
I am therefore very excited to say that I am joining a talented group of artists to exhibit some new works at Visual Space Gallery for a Summer Exhibition. The gallery will be open for in person viewing, spatially distanced, all cleaning protocols in place. Although there is no Vernisage or customary opening night. I invite you to contact Yukiko Onley to book an appointment if you wish a specific time to view. If you wish to meet me there, please send me an email, or call 604-612-1998, otherwise gallery hours are 12-5 Tuesday thru Saturday.
Also new, and available to acquire at the exquisitely curated shop of owner Bonnie Wilson's Gild and Co, are original, one of a kind, signed oil paintings on archival paper. Drop by to view. Bonnie or staff member will be happy to show you this new offering as well as to show you a select collection of my paintings.
I am very happy to be part of the Dunbar community led by creative women.These entreprenuerial business owners continue to bring beauty to our lives while supporting local artists and cultural expression despite this challenging and changing moment in our history.
Art matters in times of uncertainty and hardship. Beauty persists, and people still look to flowers for food of a different kind than the one on the supermarket shelves. Flowers emerge from cracks in pavement, from many difficult soils, simply and quietly, they rise and bloom.
"Far from distracting us from what is essential, beauty can draw us closer to all that is good and holy and healing". JODY HASSETT SANCHEZ, MAY 1, 2020,
Check out this for more interesting reading on why art matters in a pandemic http://https://www.macleans.ca/opinion/art-during-the-time-of-coronavirus/
Wishing you health and creative days,
How are you coping?
In solitude I have discovered, one meets not only the self but one’s love of engagement with others. The more deeply I enter the heart of solitude, it is here that I find awaits each precious relationship connecting me to all hearts.
Liberation from routines can often create opportunity, so in this gap It has been my pleasure to work with the professional help and exceptional team of @DazedandConfucius, to launch a new website! I am pleased to be able to invite you to view my work here… Gabryel.com
All of us are responding differently to the disruptive challenges we face, perhaps you are beginning to feel restless about returning to a world remembered, but no longer as it was. And yet, in the pause, I feel with others who wish to prolong these restorative, slower days of care and kindness, the compassionate space for our own and earth’s healing.
I hope you and your loved ones are together finding ways not just to survive but even to thrive. It is my wish for you to find pockets of peace in the chaos, and to emerge from our global crisis with renewed creative resolve in whatever is your vision for work, discipline or relationships.
When the crisis subsides, we might have occasion to ask whether we want to return to normal, or whether there might be something we’ve seen during this break in the routines that we want to bring into the future.” Charles Eisenstein from his essay; The Coronation.
I wanted to share a little about how Covid 19 has shifted my practice as I manage sheltering in place, which unlike many less fortunate, includes both a studio and garden. Although as a working artist I thrive on long hours of solitude, and have optimistically built a career on uncertainties, in the first weeks I found my attention scattered, my ability to focus fragmented.
My response was to tend the earth. I recognize that our human presence has disturbed nature’s balance and felt compelled to pay attention in one small way, putting my hands into the soil, beginning a vegetable garden. In these Spring days of sun and showers, witnessing the miracle of growth from seed to emergent plant has been grounding and regenerative.
This season, one of suspension, solitude and stillness as well as the ever-renewing forward tilt and vigour of unstoppable Spring has inspired new works on paper. Blossom and text interwoven. Working on paper with oils, graphite and pastels free up the release of quick gestures. Combined with lines of poetry this way of working enables me to respond with fluidity and immediacy that a larger painting may inhibit.
I am aware that in the studio I am recording and alive to the time I am living in, I want my work to reflect the instability of this time but also its vitality, its fierceness in the face of threat. These works have open spaces existing simultaneously with clusters of marks both heavy and light, giving rise to the push and pull, the tensions I and I imagine others, perhaps you, are feeling in this vitally charged and fragile present moment.
Quoting New York gallerist Magda Sawon in her recent op-ed on coming through Covid, no matter how convincing our digital lives may become, “art will always need to be seen in real spaces, to deliver a full spectrum of contemplative experience.”
I look forward to our next opportunity to meet and share art,
To book a studio visit, with the observation of safe protocols, please call 604-612-1998
May you be well,
In The Time Of Blossom 48x48 inches, acrylic on canvas. To be donated @Splash 2020
Offering, acrylic on canvas, 48×48 inches
I am excited to be extending to you this invitation to view my new work. Please enjoy a moment out of the rain to encounter my solo exhibition in the showroom of the Vancouver Art Gallery Rentals and Sales. The paintings will be on view until March 27th.
I will be giving a talk about the work and process on Tuesday evening, the 11th February at 7pm. Seating is limited, so if you wish a seat, please plan ahead.
Thank you for your continued support
Phone: 604 662 4746
Location:750 Hornby Street
Annex Bldg, 1st floor
Tuesday evenings by appointment
Closed Statutory Holidays
You’ll find my studio at 308-1000 Parker Street.
The building is located at the corner of Parker and George Streets. The main entrance is on George, the east side of the building.
HOURS OF OPENING : Thursday the 14, Friday the 15th 5-10pm, Saturday and Sunday 11-6
And one last thing……SAVE THE DATE! SUNDAY, DECEMBER the 8th, 2-6pm
I am once again hosting a Winter OPEN STUDIO in my Southlands space. For those of you who have been before, you know you won’t want to miss this event with the talented MAX ZIPURSKY and his amazing group of excellent jazz musicians! Click here to learn more about Max and his studio.
Friends, I am inviting you to come and visit me in my new studio! #308 1000 Parker St. I have been on the move since late winter of 2018, experiencing a studio residency in Murawai, New Zealand this spring, and a studio sublet this summer at 1000 Parker St., and now find myself in the gratitude of settling into a new space in the historic Vancouver building and artist enclave 1000 Parker St.
I will be a participant for the first time in this year’s Eastside Cultural Crawl. I am excited to be making this move, joining a fantastic and well-established community of committed and skilled artists calling 1000 Parker their work home.
I will be showing new paintings and works in a new format; oil, oil stick, graphite, crayon and pastel on paper. Inhabiting new space opens new space in the creative body/mind and new containers old and sustain the creation of new shapes and forms.
The 23rd annual Eastside Cultural Crawl open hours are:
- November 14-17th
- Thursday, November 14th- 5pm -10Pm
- Friday, November 15th- 5pm -10pm
- Saturday, November 16th- 11am -6pm
- Sunday, November 17th-11am -6pm
I look forward to the opportunity of connecting with you!
I am excited to say that I have been accepted for a month-long artist residency in New Zealand, this March 2019. As I near the mid-point of my 60th year, I feel a bit like our native salmon who instinctually navigate themselves to the stream of their birth years after swimming in a wide and faraway sea. My intention is to relax into the land of my beginnings, to feel the currents of air and water that first entered my being. Given a studio in which to experiment and explore, how might these influences inform my work?
I will be posting on my blog now and then. If you wish to share a glimpse into my adventure, I invite you to check my website, go to “blog” and follow along.
Earthskin Muriwai is a sanctuary of simplicity and silence,
amidst nature – where during creative exploration we can
move beyond the self to a deeper consciousness.
This is a place where the sacred blending of human and nature connect and has the opportunity to be re-cognized.
This place allows deep quiet and immersion, the land becomes the True Teacher.