Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Storm Approach

A view of the country around Douglas, Manitoba. A little license taken with the storm approach, but that it is the joy of painting... ;-)

Storm Approach
Julie Cooper Young ©2010
Mixed Media on Canvas

"If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint."
~ Edward Hopper

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Memories of the beaches from home on Vancouver Island ...


Julie Cooper Young © 2010
Acrylic Mixed Media on Canvas

"What we need is more sense of the wonder of life." ~ Robert Henri

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dreams of Umbria

This long painting was inspired by a friend's trip to Umbria. I was fascinated by the villages clinging to the side of the steep mountains.

Dreams of Umbria
Julie Cooper Young © 2010
Acrylic on Canvas

"Art is an outsider, a gypsy over the face of the earth."
~ Robert Henri

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Great Artists : Installment 2 - Fernando Botero

(originally put together on October 4th, but sitting in drafts)

In the third week of September, the company I work for sent me to the city of Calgary for a week. As luck would have it, "The Baroque World of Fernando Botero" retrospective exhibit was being shown at the GlenBow Museum!! Are you serious??? I was almost beside myself with excitement to have a chance to see this internationally acclaimed Colombian artist's work!

At the stroke of 6 P.M. I bolted from the hotel conference room we had been working from and clutching my tourist magazine that contained the gallery address, I hailed a cab. The cab driver seemed to almost share in my excitement and hastily pointed out buildings and places of interest as we zig-zagged through rush hour traffic. (Very cool cabbies with Yellow Cab b.t.w.)

But alas, Lady Luck ditched me

When I finally got downtown, the exhibit had already closed for the day even though the tourist magazine listed the hours for that day until 9... possibly shortened hours due to quiet evenings in the downtown after a tough year during a global economic slowdown? Damn!! I was like a kid outside of a closed candy store with a shiny new quarter to spend...nose and hands to the glass, a long sigh in the beautiful modern architecture of the empty foyer ... (yes, a little dramatic, but I seriously wanted to see this exhibit, it was to be the highlight of my week!)

A kind security guard came out of his office and spoke with me at length about other art and theatre events possibly going on around town that evening and gave a stack of great tourist magazines and brochures. His friendliness made the evening much less of a disappointment and I headed out the door to find a restaurant till I had a chance to see if there was something I could attend within walking distance.

Uh oh
... lots of commuter and pedestrian traffic but not too much in that immediate area appeared to be open. I finally saw the welcoming open sign of "The Bistro" in the Art Central neighborhood and walked in. A lovely 2 tiered restaurant ...but empty except for 2 ladies at the bar on the downstairs level. Ah, not to worry...I would grab a bite and be on my way. My bite ended up being the best mushroom risotto and Maple salmon ( with a drizzle of lime juice circling my plate) that I had ever had, served alongside a couple glasses of beautiful wine that I regret forgetting the name of.

Calgary, you are a very pretty and friendly city... while missing out on the exhibit was an immense disappointment, your friendly citizens from the cab driver to the security guard to the young waiter of the Bistro kept the evening from being a bust. My sincere thanks!

: If you were fortunate enough to have seen this exhibit whether in Calgary or elsewhere, please share! Even if only to relish in the knowledge that I am probably drooling enviously staring at my laptop reading your comments on the exhibit!)

Now on with Fernando Botero. I might have missed seeing his art in person but there is still an opportunity to share my enthusiasm for his distinctive works.

*Please note that these are not detailed biographies but I link to all sources available whenever possible for your further reading pleasure. The pictures presented are not a comprehensive scope of the artist's work, but rather, a few favored by myself.


Fernando Botero
( Born 1932 - )

Fernando Botero is an internationally acclaimed Colombian artist often noted for his situational portraits of proportionally exaggerated figures featured in his paintings and sculptures. Fernando was born to working class parents, a salesman and a seamstress, and due to his father's early death at the age of 4 and the family's struggles to stay afloat, actually had little exposure to arts and museums. It is said the baroque style of the colonial churches and the city were to be the influence for Fernando's style. While Fernando's unique portraits are inevitably some of the most recognizable of his work, he is also noted for his still lifes and landscapes, and his very distinctive view on the violence of the Colombian drug cartels and the controversial exhibit in which he portrayed the prisoners of Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq war.

Fernando participated in his first group exhibit at the age of 16, but also went on to work as a set designer and exhibit and study art in Bogota and later Madrid and Paris. Botero has spent the majority of his adult life in Paris though he still returns home to Medellin for one month out of the year. He married 3 times and fathered 4 children. He has had more then 50 major exhibits. ( ~ and hopefully one day I will finally be able to visit one! )

Hope you enjoyed this brief art stroll... till next time!

"An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively." ~ Fernando Botero

"I describe in a realistic form a non-realistic reality.
" ~ Fernando Botero

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Great Artists - Jean Paul Riopelle

In our lives, the chaos continues. Big life changes, personally and professionally. Long hours, deadlines, the uncomfortable feeling that there are times in life when you feel like your time is not even your own. I am choosing not to discuss these events for the moment until the dust settles...but until then...

I have missed blogging. We continue to create though it has been more fit and spurt in the recent weeks due to outside demands for our time and attention. Those few stolen moments of peace and quiet usually result in my burying my nose in a book for a little relaxation and distraction from the day. The latest titles include "Jackson Pollock : An American Saga" by Steven Naifeh and "The Art Spirit" By Robert Henri. AMAZING books! A must read for art and artist enthusiasts.

During these hectic days I often think of works-in-progress and potential paintings to be. It also brings to my mind artists that I admire... There is nothing I love to do more then share the art of others so I have decided that on occasion, this blog will be a platform for that. Some artists will be living, some will not. Some are so famous that you would have to have been living under a rock to not have heard of them, others, a little more obscure but no less talented! Time constraints do not allow for the amount of research and biography I would like to include, but I will include links and book titles wherever possible for anyone interested in further reading. Pictures posted will be a sampling of works, ( probably pieces favored by me) but by no means to be considered an in-depth representation of the artist's work. Please utilize the links for more comprehensive reading.

I hope you enjoy these brief art walks...

Jean Paul Riopelle ( 1923 - 2002 )

"When I hesitate, I do not paint. When I paint, I do not hesitate."

Jean Paul Riopelle was a Internationally acclaimed Canadian abstract expressionist known for his large vibrant mosaic-like abstracts. Riopelle was an original member of the Les Automatistes, a group of Quebecois artistic dissidents from Montreal Quebec and active in the artistic revolts that characterized those times. In his obituary listed with The Canadian Encyclopedia, he was described as a blend between Jackson Pollock and Henri Matisse. It was said that Riopelle always detested being referred to as an abstract expressionist, as he was raw, edgy and physically brutal in his artistic approach and style, what he himself termed as 'action paintings'. He was previously married to dancer Francoise l 'Esperance, the father of two daughters and eventually a resident of France, but his life was also characterized by his hard drinking, passion for fast cars and a lengthy and volatile relationship with another re-knowned abstract artist of that time, Joan Mitchell. Riopelle rose to staggering heights on the Paris art scene with the aid of Pierre Matisse ( son of artist Henri Matisse) and later became the youngest artist to have a retrospective at the National Gallery in 1963. Riopelle moved back to Quebec in 1972 and continued to produce work even while suffering the debilitating effects of osteoporosis. Riopelle passed away in 2002.

Further Reading on Jean Paul Riopelle

Riopelle in Conversation ( with Gilbert Erouart / translated by Donald Winkler)

Quotes by Jean Paul Riopelle

"When a painter does a good painting, he does it in the throes of terror."

"In its organization, nature is my reference."

"To progress is to destroy what we believed acquired."

"If I could live without a passport, that could be ideal. What I love is to move about freely."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Great Movies About Art and Artists

I have been on a bit of an art movie and documentary binge recently. I am on my third viewing of Georgia O'Keeffe (2009) since they posted it on Super Channel recently. A fantastic portrayal of one of the finest female artists of the 20th century. I always appreciate people who march to their own drummer, and Georgia O'Keeffe definitely falls into this category though she would falter when it came to her involvement with Alfred Stieglitz.

Joan Allen was fantastic as Georgia, allowing me to forget that this was an actress's portrayal of a complex woman, it was easy to find yourself believing this was indeed Georgia... And Jeremy Irons portrayal of Alfred Stieglitz, her lover, and narcissistic yet vulnerable and destructive leeching champion was so good that you had the strong urge to smack him ~ yet you sensed the genuine love and admiration that he had for her.

There was a sense that she never really knew just how good she was, she just painted, and was not in awe of the celebrity. There was such a sense of her experiencing and feeling her work and ideas versus consciously thinking them. The cinematography is beautiful and having never had the good fortune to see an O'Keeffe in person, I appreciated the chance to see the magnitude of some of these works by proxy. I am now a fan of the New Mexico landscape as a result of this film.

Pollock with Ed Harris (2000)

By far this is one of my favorites and one of the best biopics out there. Pollock was a man of many demons, most notably alcoholism, but such a genius at his work. There is definitely a 'tortured artist' theme evident in this movie, but Ed Harris goes out on a limb to give us the full picture of the artist and demonstrate the man at his work. This movie is rich in painting scenes and Ed Harris is the consummate perfectionist in recapturing Pollock's passion and approach to the canvas.

Lee Krasner (played by Marcia Gay Harden) is tenacious as Pollock's lover, friend and champion, literally putting aside her own career to absorb herself in his. This movie is brutal in its honesty, the ending a short, sharp shock. Watch for Amy Madigan as Peggy Guggenheim. If you haven't seen this movie, seriously consider putting it at the top of your list.

Lust For Life with Kirk Douglas (1956)

Hands-down, one of the best features of this movie is the original Vincent Van Gogh works featured in the film. The movie is well-rounded, showing the battle of Vincent's loneliness, agony and passion towards his art, spirituality and the people around him. Van Gogh's mental illness is evident but thankfully not the main feature of the film.

Anthony Quinn plays Paul Gauguin , his friend and nemesis. A great portrayal of this dance of opposites, the cold, almost bullying-in-nature Gauguin against the softer emotional and eager Van Gogh. Theo is played by James Donald, and while the close relationship to what we know is loving and accurate, it was almost eclipsed for me as I was entranced with Gauguin and Van Gogh's short relationship. A great depiction of a man's life and the location shots are not to be missed, particularly the famous 'room' from which Van Gogh went on to produce some of his most noted works. One of my favorite parts inevitably involves "Starry Night". Keep in mind that this movie is from 1956, so it is a stylized drama representative of that time, but otherwise, this movie is vivid and timeless...

Frida with Salma Hayek (2002)

Salma Hayek is brilliant in this movie in her portrayal of Frida Kahlo. This biopic captures the pain, passion and her fiery independence and the art of a woman who was definitely ahead of her time and not to be boxed in by the conventions of her society. That being said, it is painful to watch her walk eyes-wide-open into her marriage with the openly philandering Diego Rivera, yet they cannot be apart and are dependent on each other, and you cannot imagine them with any other. Alfred Molina is fantastic as Deigo and portrays with ease a lovable man that you wish you could hate, yet cannot.

Frida's enormous life-long physical pain as a result of an early trolley accident only heightens the respect you have for her as she was never self-pitying and carried herself with strength and dignity. I found myself frustrated that she would view herself as an amateur whereas Diego emerged as the champion for her work. The dream sequences that bring her inspiration and artwork to life are definitely some of my favorite features of this movie. While I am not aware if the movie actually covers all of her works, it certainly captured the works she is known for. There is such an honesty to Frida's work, and this movie does much to illustrate the complexity and talent of the woman and her genius.

Girl With A Pearl Earring with Colin Firth (2003)

A fictional story woven from the masterpiece of the same name. While the story of the Girl With A Pearl Earring is nothing more than idle speculation and/or fantasy on behalf of the writer, this period piece does much to bring to life a historical portrayal of a brilliant painter during the later 1600's who, with only 16 paintings surviving the centuries, is still viewed as a Master today.

Vermeer's financial dependence, yet evident silent resentment for his arrogant patron brings an interesting conflict to Vermeer's life in this film. He depends on commissions for his families survival and to keep them from having to flee debtors, and to perpetuate the cycle of his art, the commission needed to pursue his life in art is also in a sense, his artistic prison.

Scarlett Johanssen is beautiful in her portrayal of the young and naive maid Griet who seems to intuitively understand the artist and his work better than those who have surrounded him for years. There is an unspoken yet friendly attraction between artist and his would-be model, but something about Vermeer's true intent is left unsaid, and you find yourself aching that it is Griet that must be sacrificed for his silence and selfishness.

This film does much to give you a sense of that period, and the attention to detail and the low light and shadows does much to set the mood and tone of this time in history.

Basquiat with Jeffrey Wright (1996)

This movie is a great snapshot of the chaotic and often over-indulgent NYC art scene during the 1980's. If you could sum up the theme in only so many words, it would be "be careful what you wish for..." . This film offers a hard look at celebrity and the impact on the artist. While I only knew of Basquiat and his work through casual art book and news references, I enjoyed this movie and Basquiat's "work" ( apparently created by a close friend) a great deal. No doubt about it, the guy was creative. David Bowie is so impressive as Andy Warhol, as is Dennis Hopper as Basquiat's art dealer.

I give this movie credit for expanding my curiosity to new and less conventional forms of art.

Surviving Picasso with Anthony Hopkins (1996)

This film was based on the controversial memoir/book by Fran├žoise Gilot, Picasso's lover, muse and mother to two of his children. I had done some reading over time and watched a number of Picasso documentaries, so this movie (and the book) was not entirely a surprise. Surviving Picasso doesn't so much tell the life of Picasso as much as to give us insight into Gilot's 10 years of observations and life with the private man when the cameras are turned off and the admirers not necessarily at hand. Anthony Hopkins was brilliant as Picasso and it is impossible to imagine another actor playing the part as well as he did.

Picasso's relationship with his friend and rival Henri Matisse (played by Joss Ackland ) was one of the high points of the movie for me. Julianne Moore is amazing as Picasso's troubled former lover and muse, artist and poet Dora Maar.

Picasso's blatant womanizing is difficult to stomach so it is a relief when Fran├žoise finally takes a stand and leaves. Her leaving is absolutely an act of self-preservation, so the title of the movie seems appropriate. If memory serves me correct, Picasso outlived all of his women except for Francoise.

No doubt about it... he was a creative genius and few artists have ever come close to his diverse skills or prolific creativity. Fortunately or unfortunately, he was also aware of that. People in his inner circle paid a dear price to be near him to experience the extraordinary.

Plenty of studio shots and Picasso (Anthony Hopkins) at work on the canvas or creating assemblage art, and many scenes with his lesser known works. It will be only suggestions of his masterpieces (like a shot from above when he was at work on Guernica) due to the producers being unable to secure permission to show his work at the time this movie was made.

Definitely worth the watch if you are interested in seeing a more intimate and very complex portrait of the artist from the eyes of an insider. Watching this movie, it is not hard to see why people were swept away by the hurricane that was a man named Picasso.

Picasso : The Man and His Work (documentary 1986 )

There are two parts to this documentary, I wish they had been combined into one set and possibly re-mastered for release onto DVD for better quality. I have only seen the first one which covers Picasso's life from 1881 through to 1937, detailing his artistic development from the age of 15 right through his blue and pink periods and leaving off with one of his most famous masterpieces, Guernica. I am ordering Part 2 from Amazon as I speak as this post has reminded me that I had always wanted to own both. The first disc only run about 45 minutes so I suspect the second is probably the same.

I get the impression that the director/producer of this documentary might have been a friend as you really get a first hand view and relaxed interview with Picasso involving his home and studio, and innumerable views of his paintings, sculptures and ceramics. Definitely a Picasso extravaganza!

Part Two covers from 1938 and onwards, I will update this post when I finally get my hands on it!

Marc Chagall (directed by Kim Evans)

I wish I owned this, but I actually happened across this gem in a library video section. It was fantastic and aside from a great biography of the artist behind the fantastical paintings, my parting memory of this video is how the camera would linger on different works, allowing us to really see them. Lots of archival footage of Chagall and film depicting him at work...

The only thing better would be to see these gorgeous works in person~ and since that is not possible for many (especially myself) this documentary is certainly a great runner-up.
The movie I want to see but have not~ as of yet...( time to order it from Amazon! )

The Agony and the Ecstasy with Charlton Heston (1965)

This movie is based on Michelangelo's life during the time he painted the Sistine Chapel. I have heard many positive things about the film, enough so to leave me with the desire to view it. Have you seen the movie? Do you have any opinions or details to share?
Interesting movies with a loose art theme:

Benny and Joon with Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson (1993)

Joon is a mentally ill artist and Sam is an illiterate comedic genius and Buster Keaton wanna-be. The movie's theme is one of acceptance and hope and the budding relationship and realistic obstacles faced by two creatives, Sam and Joon. While the movie addresses real issues, Depp and Masterson put the 'fun' into dysfunctional. Not to be missed is Aiden Quinn as the older brother Benny, desperate to be free of his responsibility to Joon, yet unable to let go.

Mona Lisa Smile
with Julia Roberts, Kristen Dunn, Ginnifer Goodwin, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal etc

Julia Roberts is the new art professor at the conservative Wellesley College. While there are several other themes including a secondary romance story line, I found the bigger theme to be one about art appreciation and challenging conformity. Near the end of the film > *SPOILER ALERT * (and one of the highlights for me) is when the women all produce their own unique version and vision of Van Gogh's flowers in a vase from what had once been a simple Van Gogh paint-by-number kit. There is some exceptional art by a number of masters to be seen, especially, the immense work by Jackson Pollock in a Boston warehouse, even the close up of this enormous textured work is enough to make you drool~ a must-see for Pollock enthusiasts. ( Try as I might, I cannot find the title of this Pollock piece though there was an acknowledgment to the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in the closing credits.)


Alright, there you have it! My marathon post is complete ~ for now. I suspect I have forgotten some other great films, but the length of this post has now gotten out of hand.

These descriptions (and I use that term lightly) are strictly based on my own impressions and opinions formed from watching these films and not necessarily a description of the movie per se. Did you get something different from any of the above films? I would love to hear about it.

Have suggestions for further viewing? Please share them! I am always looking for a great art movie, old or new, to watch. Tortured artist themes abound in many, but then again, I have never known many people, artistic or otherwise, that have passed through life unscathed or without a story to tell.

*Spelling and grammar be damned, this post has already gone on long enough!

Monday, April 12, 2010


A sampling of my miniatures from earlier in my career, transferred over from my old dismantling-in-progress blog. These paintings portrayed averaged about 2" or 3" though I often used to paint even smaller. I probably completed as many as 1000+ of these wee pictures and often used to use miniature work as a way to flesh out ideas for a larger composition.
These days I prefer large scale work, 30" x 40" or larger but I enjoyed coming across these and remembering another path in my artistic journey.

These works are also signed under my former married name.I guess I could have tried to photo-shop the signature out of the pictures, but it was another time and place, so I left them as is.

"Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not."
~ Pablo Picasso

Friday, April 2, 2010


While going through the process of dismantling and relocating works from my old website and blog, I came across some snaps of old collages I had created years back. Rice paper, acrylic dyes and plenty of scissor work and glue. Fun, simple and joyful experimentation. All were sold at that time but I thought I would share some of them here with you.

"I don't grow up. In me is the small child of my early days.
" ~ M.C.Escher

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


By Julie
"Invisible" A work in progress, acrylic on canvas. Posted here to hopefully inspire me to finally get it finished!

"There are no strangers.There are just people you know whom you haven't met yet
." ~ Robert Brault

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


One of a series of mixed medias completed by Julie.
Mixed Media on canvas
24" x 24"

"Painting... we do not talk about it, we do not analyze it, we feel it.
" ~Bernard Buffet

Friday, February 26, 2010

We Are More

I had wanted to find a clip of Canadian slam poet Shane Kozycan's "We Are More" from the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, but anything 'Olympic' was removed off of YouTube within hours. Upon discovering his last name through another blogger, I am finally able to post a clip here that hopefully won't be removed. Great words by a great guy, inspiring.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Into the Silence

One of my favorite pieces, hands down. A multi-layered mixed media piece consisting of the first few bars of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata,an reproduction of an excerpt from a 1940's scholar essay, the dictionary definition of moonlight and the hint of Beethoven peering through the bars of the music.

The title, a nod to Beethoven's encroaching deafness that overtook his life. Can there be something worse for a musician composer?

By Julie
"Into the Silence"
Mixed media on canvas 40" x 40"

"The pain passes, but the beauty remains.
" ~ Renoir

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Wine ~ and another chance to play with one of my favorite palettes, van dyke red, dioxanine purple and yellow. Limited palettes are a great way to experiment with painting techniques. I happened upon this palette after visiting a Rembrandt exhibition, inspired by his use of low light and glow...

By Julie
Acrylic, mixed media on canvas

Friday, January 22, 2010

These Boots

A smaller piece, found myself in that denim and leather mood again...

"These Boots"
By Julie
Acrylic on canvas

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Playing in van dyke red, dioxanine purple and yellows...

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Sorry folks, I need to get this off of my chest...

I always thought it was rude to eavesdrop.
But I have been left no choice.
The prolific use of cell phones these days has made it impossible not to.

On a casual day I become party to plans for a birthday bash, an argument with a financial institution, a squabble with Mother, the dimensions of the room to be installed with new laminate or tonight's plans at the nightclub.

A loud and happy "Hello!" has me spinning around in the direction of the greeting only to discover the intended target is actually on the other end of a cell phone or ear-piece.

The friendly taxi driver is speaking to me then suddenly wanders off into another language and conversation. At first I thought he was talking to himself until I spied the earpiece. Our conversation had just disappeared into thin air replaced with another.

Now don't get me wrong. I am not anti-cell phone. I believe they can be a life-saver in an emergency, right up there with those On-Star devices installed in newer vehicles. I just haven't had the opportunity (thankfully) to witness that kind of conversation.

Though as a pedestrian in Victoria I was almost taken out on a crosswalk on a few occasions by drivers distracted with their conversation on their cell. Would that driver have cut their conversation short and then used their cell phone to come to my aid and call for help? I wonder about that sometimes.

I don't suffer from that here in Edmonton however. Since I discovered people here like to drive like the flames of hell are licking at their heels, I choose not to indulge in the pedestrian lifestyle as much. After 2 years of living here I understand why so many people opt for driving a Hummer.

I am not from the dark ages - someone waxing nostalgic for the 'good ol'days , I too have a cell phone. Though most of the time I struggle to remember my own number. I prefer to have people phone me at home.
I am from the mindset that if you call me and I am not home, that must mean I am busy.

My cell phone is a great alarm clock though. That little alarm function gets more of a work out then my cell minutes ever do.

I was taught that it is impolite to eavesdrop.
But I have been left with no choice... Many cell phone users speak much louder into their cell phone then they would face to face.

So, forget calling Cassie if she continues to stand you up. Go with the cream colored short shag vs the Berber. Besides, you just said they are the same price and the shag will feel softer to your feet. It's a great deal if the lights are 50% off but another week will garner you a savings of 70%. I think the Oilers will get their butt kicked in the next game, their vibe is off right now. Is that strange rash you are getting diagnosed for contagious? An RRSP loan is only good if you can support the additional debt that it will place on you without suffering financial hardship. To me it makes more sense just to get the extra money taken of each pay, at the end of the year, voila! You have your funds for an RRSP without having to have incurred more debt!


Oh, sorry ...
I thought you were talking to me...