December 15, 2011

Salon de la SNBA at the Carrousel du Louvre

Paris was absolutely amazing! The exhibit was huge and chic and very prestigious. I met an enormous amount of people and got to practice my French big time. Getting there with my big box was quite an experience, especially since two of my wheels had broken off during the flight to Paris so moving the box around and getting it through the little gates to the train station was quite challenging. The lack of elevators also made for an interesting journey, especially for the people behind me on the escalator :) After arriving at my hotel I went out to explore Paris and collect some photo material for a future piece.

On Tuesday I had to drop my piece off at the Carrousel du Louvre. After all the difficulty I had had with the lack of elevators and the tiny gates to the Metro I had decided to walk to the Louvre. I had replaced the broken wheels so my box was all mobile again, albeit a bit noisy. We got a lot of strange looks, my box and I, walking through downtown Paris. But we made it to the Carrousel du Louvre and got a beautiful spot for the exhibit. 

a nice spot for 'Toronto'

Picture with Mrs. Patricia Lortie, wife of the Canadian Ambassador and 
Mrs Johanne Bédard, Director of the Canadian Cultural Centre.

On Wednesday I had another day of photographing Paris before the Big day on Thursday. Thursday during the day the exhibit was already open and it offered a nice opportunity to get the feel for the event before it would be flooded by visitors for the official opening in the evening. Opening night was huge! At some point I heard it mentioned that there were about 4000 people. The Canadian delegation got a lot of attention and was even visited by Mrs. Patricia Lortie, the wife of the Canadian Ambassador who was very generous with her time and spoke to all the artists in the delegation. 

The next couple of days were filled with meeting people and talking about my art and lovely lunches and dinners with my fellow delegation members. At one point we got to meet Mr. Jean-Paul de Bernis, National President of the French Academy Merit and Devotion, who was admiring all the pieces and generously took the time to take photographs with the artists.

Picture with Mr. Jean-Paul de Bernis, 
National President of the French Academy Merit and Devotion

At the end of the exhibit every artist received a beautiful certificate and an official stamp from the SNBA (Société Nationale des Beaux Arts) on the back of their painting and their certificate of authenticity. 
My week in Paris has flown by and has been filled with great experiences and amazing company, we had such an amazing and supportive group, I feel very fortunate to have been able to share this experience with them. I hope we will be able to do it again next year. You can find more photographs and video of my Paris adventure here.

November 30, 2011

It's almost time for Paris!

The Salon de SNBA is fast approaching, this Sunday (December 4th) I will be getting on a plane that will take me and my painting to Paris. I am super excited! Right now I’m super busy with all the final preparations, The crate that will protect my painting during the flight is almost finished, it just lacks a couple of wheels and a handle. A new set of business cards is in and as I type this my printer is working overtime printing out material for my mini press kitts. For now I think I have things under control although I’m a bit apprehensive about the weight of my luggage, I can only bring 25kg with me as checked luggage and that includes my painting so I’ll have to be careful when I start packing.

While the preparations are keeping me busy for now I still hope to be able to at least make a start with a new piece, I’m thinking Halifax but I might change my mind. I did finish my large Montreal piece, just in time for the opening of ‘Small for W’all’, a group show at Viva Vida Art Gallery. When I get back from Paris I’m going to have to work really hard, I’m hugely behind on my boroughs project, I’ve another commission piece that needs to be finished in January and I really have to create some new art as well. I also want to do some experiments with the fast image transfer technique to see where and how I can implement it in my work.

This week an extensive interview about me, my artwork and my artistic background was published online at, the interview at this location is in Dutch, I’ve created an English translation which can be found here. I’m very grateful to Kees Hoogervorst for this amazing piece of press coverage, I had a great time answering his profound questions, he really made me think and I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed the interview itself.

I won’t be able to write a post next week since I’ll be in Paris but I will tweet and update my Facebook page while I’m there and I’ll write all about it in this blog after I get back. 

November 21, 2011

Staying as productive as possible

The past couple of months have been a bit unorganized when it comes to artwork creation. First there was my trip to Italy and then I spent a week in Florida with my family to celebrate my birthday. In the meantime there were a couple of commission and donation pieces that I needed to finish and a piece for my collaboration project. Needless to say there hasn’t been much time to work on my boroughs project or any other pieces I had planned. And the unorganizedness is not quite finished yet, come December I will be flying to Paris for the Salon de SNBA at the Carousel du Louvre and the holidays usually aren’t the most productive time of the year either. 

That being said I haven’t been completely unproductive. Next to finishing two commission pieces and a piece for the ‘Journey’ project I’m currently working on a large 36x48 piece on Montreal which I hope to have finished by the end of the week. It’s a nice bold, black and white piece with very large buildings. And I hope to be able to start at least one more piece before I leave for Paris. 

On Saturday I attended a great charity event for the Le Nichoir wild bird rehabilitation center. I had donated three 5x7 pieces to their Wildcard art sale and was very pleased to see that all three pieces sold at the event. I am very happy that my contributions were able to generate some money for this great cause. 

November 06, 2011

10 days and 2395 photographs later.... part 4

The last part of our trip would take us back to Rome. Leaving Venice we stopped in Sirmione, a little village on the Lago di Garda. Our hotel had an absolutely amazing lake view and a lovely terrace where we could have breakfast and enjoy the sunset. 

The next day we drove to Vinci, a tiny village in Tuscany about 30 minutes from Firenze and the place where Leonardo da Vinci was born. walking through this little village you could really imagine how it must have looked back in the day. There was a little museum with all kinds of replica’s of Leonardo’s inventions, really cool!

After visiting the museum we drove back to Firenze where we would spend the night and spend the next day exploring the city. We didn’t get to go to any of the museums because there simply wasn’t enough time but we did climb the Duomo for some amazing views of the city.

In the afternoon we started our drive back to Rome where we would arrive just in time for rush hour, yay. Some navigating and very brave driving by my amazing husband was required to get us safely back to the rental company to return our car. 

We spend our last day exploring the Vatican museum and visiting Saint Peters Cathedral. The Vatican museum in particular was a very overwhelming experience. There’s just so much art and I’m not just talking about the paintings and the frescoes. Every inch of the ceilings, floors and walls is covered in artwork. You have to go there with the idea of seeing something in particular otherwise you just get overwhelmed. We saw the Sistine Chapel, naturally but for me one of the highlights was seeing Raphaels La Scuola d’Atene (The School of Athens). Having taken philosophy in school as well as history in the arts and culture this piece was very meaningful to me and seeing it in person was just amazing. 

Saint Peters Cathedral never fails to impress either, especially the beams of light coming in from the windows. You can imagine why people might start believing in God when entering this church. 

So that was our trip to Italy, the next day we would fly back to Montreal with a lot of amazing new memories and a whole lot of pictures. 

I’ve been back for a couple of weeks now and you’re probably wondering what I’ve been doing art wise, since these last couple of weeks I’ve only been blogging about my trip. Well I’ll give you a quick update:

I’ve finished the second piece in the ‘Journey’ series, its a piece on New York and it’s called ‘the Big Apple’. I’ve also finished my second ever commission piece, a second piece on Mont Tremblant called ‘the Four Seasons’. Currently I’m working on a large piece on Montreal and the first piece of the boroughs project s almost finished as well. Next I’ll be working mainly on the boroughs project because I’ve got some catching up to do. But I’ll probably do some things on the side as well. My trip to Italy has been very inspiring so something along those lines will probably come around soon as well. I will keep you all posted on all that, now I have to get back to my studio to apply another layer of gel.

October 27, 2011

10 days and 2395 photographs later.... part 3

Venice, I don’t think there’s any other place like it. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a city so photogenic. I could have taken a picture about every single step and they would all have been stunning. The amount of amazing architecture and the colors, oh those colors are amazing! And the light and the reflections! It’s an artists dream!  

Funny thing about Venice is that everyone that had spoken to me about it beforehand had mentioned the smell, most of the time it would be the first thing people mentioned. We didn’t get any of that though, the only smell we had was that of salt water and fresh air which I happen to like a lot. I guess the bad smell is only in the height of summer when it’s really hot. 

We had parked the car at the Venice airport and took a boat to the city which is an amazing way to arrive because it gives you those first glimpses of the city from the water and you enter the city through the Grand Canal. Our hotel was located near the Rialto bridge, it was a bit tricky to fins due to the duplicate street names and weird numbering system. But once we had found it it was a very pleasant surprise. We had a room on the fifth floor with two windows offering beautiful views over the rooftops of Venice. 

Venice has so many things to offer that I think we have only scratched the surface on this first visit. We walked to San Marco square, watched the sunset from the top of the Campanile, did a boat tour to Murano, Burano and Torcello and rode a gondola at night. we only did a couple of churches and one museum because there was simply not enough time. It is definitely a city we would want to visit again!

Venice was our midway point, now we were slowly going to make our way back to Rome. But not before we had seen the Lago di Garda, Migelangelo’s David and Leonardo’s birthplace but more on that in next weeks blog post...

October 18, 2011

10 days and 2395 photographs later.... Part 2 - by Denise Buisman Pilger

The next part of our trip would take us to the Adriatic Coast. After dodging a multitude of scooter drivers with a death wish we picked up the highway to cross Italy, encountering stunning views of rugged mountains and villages perched on impossible cliffs along the way. Knowing that most of the Adriatic coastline is filled with high-rise hotels and tacky beach resorts we picked Parco del Conero as our goal. This 58 sq km park only a couple of minutes from Ancona offered not only stunning views on an almost unspoiled piece of coastline but also the unique experience of spending the night in an actual fort located on the beach. 

Fortino Napoleonico didn’t disappoint, we had a beautiful suite and the whole place had an amazing atmosphere. We arrived in time for a lovely stroll along the beach and a great meal overlooking the ocean. 

The next day it was only a short 2 hour drive to Ravenna for one of the most stunning church interiors I have ever seen. We started our tour of Ravenna’s sights at the Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo which had two very impressive mosaics lining both walls. Though impressive in size and detail I wasn’t blown away by them and given that the Lonely Planet claimed them to be some of Ravenna’s most beautiful mosaics I was completely unprepared for the beauty that awaited me at the Basilica de San Vitale. The multitude of colors, the detail of the mosaics and the sheer amount of decorations took my breath away. The mosaics being the main attraction in this church this is where most of the people flock towards, and rightfully so, but for me the frescoed dome was equally as impressive. The experience of entering this sombre looking church and stepping through the arches into the main space is something I will remember for the rest of my life. 

Next up: Venice....... 

October 13, 2011

10 days and 2395 photographs later....Part1

Ciao! I’m back in Montreal after 10 amazing days in Italy. We flew into Rome where we spent two days exploring the city. As usual with a flight to Europe we landed in the morning after a fairly smooth flight directly from Montreal. After some trouble with uncooperative ticket machines we managed to get two train tickets to the Termini train station just in time to hop on the train which would bring us to Rome. 

We had booked a B&B near the Colosseum where we arrived a bit to early for check in so we left our suitcases at the reception and went out for a well deserved cappuccino. After checkin and a refreshing shower we hit the streets and spend the afternoon exploring the city, going to all the major hotspots. After too much walking we ended up at Piazza Navona where we had a lovely pasta dinner. Being up for almost 48 hours straight was kind of catching up on us so we decided to call it a night and head back to our room.

The next morning came bright and early with us having a jet lag and all that. We enjoyed a classic Italian breakfast within view of the Colosseum which we were planning on visiting later. By the time we got there, there was already a huge line to get in, luckily our trusty Lonely Planet had informed us that we could get the same combination ticket at the Palatine across the street. So we left the tourist cattle behind and spend the morning wandering through a fairly quiet Palatine which was absolutely amazing. There were still loads of flowers blooming which made for some beautiful shots in combination with the ancient architecture. 

After this very relaxing morning we were ready to join the hordes of tourists to enter the Colosseum. There was still a huge line but our nice combination ticket from across the street allowed us to just walk past them and enter right away. Entering this two thousand year old building is impressive. Because of it’s completeness you can easily imagine how it must have been in its days, the hordes of tourists actually add to that experience. I imagine those halls must have been buzzing in a similar way. And the size of it really becomes apparent from the inside, it is such a vast space, how beautifully impressive it must have been.

Leaving the tourists behind us we crossed the river into Trastevere for lunch and a stroll. We followed the river to Castel Sant’Angelo where we were greeted by some beautiful frescoes and an amazing view of the city. 

We ended our second day with a lovely dinner in one of the side streets. The next day it would be time to pick up our car and drive to the Adriatic coast. There would be forts, mosaics and gondolas to come, but more on that another time...

September 20, 2011

Salon de la Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts

This photo was kindly provided by Marie-Josée Leroux

I am super excited to announce that I have been accepted to be part of the prestigious Salon de la SNBA (Société Nationale des Beaux Arts) to be held at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris this December. The piece that has been chosen for the exhibit is ‘Toronto’

I feel very honored to be part of such a prestigious event. I will be flying to Paris for the occasion and will be at the opening reception in person. The exhibit will run from December 8th till December 11th, 2011 with the opening reception on the 8th

Go to news article >>

September 13, 2011

Starting a commissioned piece...

I’ve been very fortunate to have received two commissions in the last couple of weeks. Working on a commissioned piece is a little different from working on my own stuff. Many artists will not take commissions because it takes away from their creative freedom. I can see where that could be an issue and I agree that you need to be careful, you could easily become a one trick pony and you definitely run the risk of repeating yourself. In this case I’ve been fortunate enough that both commissions left me completely in charge. In both cases I was basically given a subject and a size to work in, with the rest being left to me. I did talk to the clients to try and find out the things they liked and didn’t like about my work, so there are some guidelines I need to keep in mind while creating the pieces. 

Overall the creation of these two pieces shouldn’t be much different from creating a piece that’s not commissioned, with the only difference being that the choice of the subject wasn’t mine. Somehow it doesn’t work that way though. I seem to have a little more difficulty starting these pieces. I think it has something to do with the fact that there’s people with expectations ‘waiting’ at the end where normally there’s just me. 

Now I’m not saying that I’m not critical when it comes to my own work, believe me I am, I think artists are usually the harshest critics when it comes to their own work. But with a commission there are people who have expectations of a piece that I haven’t created yet, and they’ve already made a deposit so they have the right to have expectations. This makes the creation of the pieces feel slightly more loaded which makes it harder for me start working on them. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t want to disappoint anyone, especially a client. 

I realize that I just have to let go of these ‘fears’, if I don’t the pieces will never get made and I guess that would disappoint them even more. These people chose to give me these commissions and they did so for a reason. They have seen my stuff and like what I do so I just have to trust that they will like the pieces that I have yet to create as well. 

So this is me, letting go of my fears and getting on with it, commissioned pieces here I come!

September 05, 2011

Commission, Collaboration and Continuous Projects - by Denise Buisman Pilger

Things really have been moving along lately. The two solo shows I did this year have really helped increase my sales and I’ve gotten some commission requests as well. I’ve started a collaboration project with Montreal Photographer Pazit Perez. I’m still working on my ‘Montreal Boroughs’ project which I want to have finished by the end of summer 2012 and on top of that I still want to create pieces for my ‘Traveling the World’ series and my ‘Experimental’ collage series. 

Currently I am working on a small commissioned piece on Montreal as well as a small city scape of Montreal that I’ll be donating to Yes for their silent auction fundraiser event which is to be held on October 20th. This weekend I also received a commission request for a second piece of Mont Tremblant which has to be finished by the end of October. 

The collaboration project I’m doing with Pazit Perez is taking shape as well. We’ve recently decided that the project is going to be called ‘Journey’. The first piece in the series; ‘Je me Souviens’, is nearly finished and preparations for the second piece; ‘The Big Apple’ are in full swing. We are planning to have the first three pieces finished by the end of the year and we hope to have some of the merchandise ready in time for the holiday season. This project is specifically geared towards being a bit more commercial which will be an interesting change for me. 

The Montreal Boroughs project is still moving along as well. the first piece in the series; ‘Pointe Claire’, has not been finished yet but I’m close. Up until now I’ve been able to photograph 14 of the 34 boroughs which is not quite as many as I had hoped for but I think I’ll still be able to get at least half of them done before the first snows arrive. I’ve planned to finish all the pieces of the borough that have been photographed up till that point, during the winter. Come spring I will then be able to start photographing the remaining boroughs and create the pieces at the same time. This schedule should allow me to finish the project by the end of the summer. 

And then there are my two ongoing series; ‘Traveling the World’ and ‘Experimental’. Those, off course, are still awaiting new pieces as well. My next piece for ‘Traveling the World’ will be ‘Halifax’, the panel for this piece has been ready to go for quite a while now but I haven’t had the time to get started on this one yet. I hope to at least get a start on this one before my vacation to Italy. I have a ton of other pieces planned out for this series as well, I still want to do my city of birth; ‘Amsterdam’, as well as a couple of other Dutch cities. I have some ideas for a more nature inspired piece and I will be gathering a huge amount of new material during my vacation to Italy. 

All this means I’m very, very busy and I’m loving every second of it! I’m so grateful that I am getting this chance to build my career as an artist and that I get to do what I love. I am eternally grateful for the support I’ve been given by my gallery representative as well as all the wonderful people at Yes Montreal and ELAN and all the people I’ve met through networking and courses. When I moved to Montreal I had no idea I would meet so many great people, I’ve made so many new friend in such a short amount of time. And off course I am very grateful to have found people who are willing to spend the money to buy my work, I think I will never stop to feel humbled by that experience. Without the support of people like you I would not be able to keep doing what I love so I cannot express my gratitude enough. And then there’s my endlessly supportive husband without whom I would be nowhere near where I am right now. 

I am a very happy artist right now and I just wanted to say thanks!

August 30, 2011

Two new pieces...

I’ve finally had the time to put my latest pieces online; ‘Fredericton’ and ‘China Town’. It seems like ages ago that I finished them but now finally everyone can enjoy them.

August 29, 2011

Getting back into the rhythm...

Even though I spent the entire week in my studio last week I still feel like I’m getting back into the rhythm of things. The past couple of weeks have been filled with trips, preparations for my show and paintings that needed to be finished, which meant that I didn’t have time to go out and take photographs for my boroughs project. Now that I’m not working on quite as many paintings at the same time and I have actually planned my weekly photography outings again, I feel like things are getting back to normal again. I like my rhythm and I think I function best when it’s there although working under pressure can be exhilarating and refreshing at times. 

At the moment I am working on the first piece for my collaboration project, that piece is almost finished. I am also working on the first piece of my Boroughs project, the photographs have already been transferred to the panel so that one’s also in the final stages. I’ve got a couple of other things going on as well; I’m doing a small commission piece on Montreal and I’m going to start work on a piece that I want to donate to YES Montreal. On top of that I’ve already got a couple of other pieces planned as well, the first being a piece on Halifax. 

The last week of September we’ve got a trip to Italy planned, we’ll be driving from Rome to Venice! I’m very excited about that because it will give me a huge amount of new material to work with, I’ve always wanted to do a piece of Rome! So lots of good and exciting stuff going on but, first things first, let’s finish this collaboration piece!

August 26, 2011

Collaboration Announcement!

I am very excited to officially announce my collaboration with Montreal portrait photographer Pazit Perez. We will be working together on a whole new body of work in which we will combine both of our talents. We’ve almost completed the first piece in the series and hopefully there will be many more to come. Next to creating a series of original artworks we’re going to experiment with different ways to reproduce the images. Both Pazit and I will keep you posted on the developments. 

You can find more information on Montreal portrait photographer Pazit Perez right here.

August 22, 2011

Funky Vernissage!

Most of you will know that past Friday was opening night for my show ‘URBAN’ which is being held at the Viva Vida Art gallery until September 1st. The event was a great success! We had a good turnout and the atmosphere was amazing. I was very pleased with how everything looked and the blue lights that were installed in the window for the occasion really made a big difference, especially on the photographs. (you can check out the photographs and video here)  The gallery had arranged a DJ for the occasion which really gave the whole event an extra edge. I met so many great people and enjoyed talking to everyone immensely. 

On Saturday I had another chance to meet some great new people during my artist presentation. I spent four hours working on my Pointe Claire piece while talking about my process to all the people that came in. 

I would like to thank everyone that came out on Friday or Saturday. If you haven’t been able to go to the gallery yet, the show will run until September 1st 2011. The Viva Vida Art Gallery is located on 278-2 Lakeshore Road in Pointe-Claire.