9 Elements| Summer research project 2022 | Documentation

9 Elements (Towards the light)
175 x 275cm, acrylic on canvas
Condition: Summer sunlight August 3-7, 2022

This project was initially envisioned as a conversation between a painting and the winter sun. From January to February, the sun sits low in the horizon (about 23 degrees) allowing for its rays to penetrate deep into the ECU campus. With a skylight located slightly south of the Knee Gallery, the wall becomes an obstacle to light capturing an interesting pattern – only for a few hours – on its outer wall. Having a lot to do with being there at the right time, these moments can only be noticed by a few that venture on the campus interested in observing light phenomena. Let’s not forget that light can be a rare thing in the winter months of the Pacific Northwest. On these rare occasions when light peaks through the dark clouds and shines, to me it feels majestic making me aware of time and space. My vision was to create a painting that could act as a container and perhaps capture this phenomena making it more visible.

This project was first conceptualized as a wall painting in February 2022. It was proposed as a painting project for my summer thesis research. This project will be completed when installed on the Outer Knee Gallery wall between January-February as well as documented into the similar lighting conditions that it was first envisioned in.

The research aspect of this project is an ongoing conversation and continues to question, amongst other things, it’s viability as a painting under different lighting conditions. For this reason, It will be exhibited in the upcoming State of Practice Exhibition scheduled for September 2022 in the sculpture gallery section of the the Michael O’Brian Exhibition Commons at ECU.

Watch this video to see the full passage of August Sun onto 9 Elements.

General observation and comments
I installed 9 Elements for 4 days on the Outer Knee Gallery wall from August 3rd to 7th, 2022. This allowed me to sit with the piece, document it and received critique from invited guests. Neil Wedman, Jack Jeffrey, Gwenyth Chao and Molly Burke came by and discussed the work in presence with me. Landon Mackenzie and Damian Moppett discussed the work virtually with me while reviewing digital documentation. The comments below where generated from these conversations.

Important to note that the Outer Knee Gallery wall is a transient space used as a corridor. It is about 6 feet wide. It opens up to an skylight atrium that runs through the 3 levels below which is framed by a glass railing. This gallery space is challenging as It offers limited viewing space in front of the work and forces the viewer into narrow corridors to view the piece. As a result of this viewing conditions, the comments have pointed to note that the painting offers 3 distinct readings: at close, mid and far range.

Close range – about 2 feet from the piece:
This is the range that painters or those looking for technical information about the painting are attracted too. When standing close to the piece, one feels completely immersed in the yellowness of the work. The piece covers your entire field of vision making it at times difficult to keep your balance as you feel absorbed by a vaporous field of colour. It is hard to keep your eyes focused on the very details you came to seek. The matte finish offers no reflection of light or the viewer and tend to pull you in even further. The coloured pencil line used as a guide to paint each colour band is the thing that is most visible at close range. Once you are able to focus on the line, you also start noticing the loose brush marks of the thinly painted fields. Imperfection and unevenness in the application of paint is observed and suddenly one realized that this piece was painted fairly loose. You don’t tend to stay within this range for too long as it somewhat feels uncomfortable and hard to focus on anything.

Mid range – 3-5 feet from the piece:
Most common range that viewer will stand from the work. This is an awkward position as the area in front of the work is a corridor broken by an opening in the floor surrounded by railing so the viewer only has limited options to stand in front of the piece which is standing on the right side of the work. Once you find the most convenient place to pause and really observed, a strong optic illusion occurs. Each band of colour appeared to have been painted on a vertical gradient from purple to yellow. This effect is so strong that one is convinced that it was painted that way and need to move closer again to verified this fact. And one can kind of proved it’s point by noticing that in some areas, the edges of the painted band appeared to be painted differently but upon closer observation, one will noticed that no, the unevenness of the paint is actually throughout the entire band and not just present on the edges as per the optic illusion. Moving back to a 3-5 feet range, the optic illusion starts again creating a wave with the painted band. This is so strong and hard to understand leaving the viewer puzzled with the effect. At that range, the paintings appears yellow and purple and vibrates quite a bit.

Far range – 15-20 feet from the piece:
Not a lot of people took the time to walk all the way around the floor opening to stand directly across the painting. At this range, the 9 coloured bands completely disappeared becoming one unified gradient from pale yellow to a more saturated yellow. What stands now is the painting within its context. The architecture of the space, the skylight, the corridor, the railing and mostly how the light interact with all these details. At that range, the window behind the painting on the north wall of the Knee Gallery comes into the conversation. Architecturally speaking, it is divided into vertical window panes which recall the geometrical composition of the painting, but most importantly it is overlooking the mountain range and reads has bluish purple, the complementary colour of yellow. One starts wondering if the effect of the blue next to the yellow painting is actually altering the perception of it or contributing to the optic illusion that happens at mid range. Nevertheless, at this range, the painting completely feel like it belong to the wall and its presence enhance the awareness of space.

Unresolved ideas:
The context: This is a very difficult area to view a painting that size. The wall opens to a transient corridor for those moving along the North hallways, into the Print Studio or Elbow gallery or transitioning to the south hallways. It is not a space where one can sit and really spend the time with the painting. It makes it a really hard space to see the painting in it’s entirety without being partially block by the railing. It’s also a bit awkward to find a place to stand still has others will walk by you at all time, on their way to their business. In fact, I am not sure if most people actually notice the painting as it is so subdued and tends to melt with the context. In my opinion, It does soften the area and bringing a sense of calm. On the south side of the Elbow Gallery, there is a lounge area and I have taken the time to rearrange the orientation of the loungers to offer a more welcoming configuration where students are invited to gather. Two of the loungers are also offering a great view towards the painting but once sitting, the railing really constraint the viewing of the piece. Me and Gwenyth spend a considerable amount of time there talking about the work from those loungers and many ideas where discussed. We discuss the calmness of the piece, the context it was sitting it, the transient space, the railing but one thing that resurfaced was how the piece could provide a space to empty all content: our oversaturated world of images, news, social media, emails and general sense of lacking time. This piece is suggesting the opposite: a contemplative moment to observed time pass by, the transition of sun over a certain lapse of time, awareness of context and possibly of self.

The dependance of sunlight:

Have I gone too minimal?

The relationship to modernist abstraction, what makes this piece still relevant?

Summer Research Project 2022 | Painting process

9 Elements, 2022
175 x 275cm, acrylic on canvas
A gradient of primerose yellow composed of 9 bands of colour

Installed on Outer Knee Gallery, August 2022

What looks like a simple and minimal painting actually took a lot of material research and studies. Here are some of my comments/feedback.

The painting test started in early May, 2022. I had not painted with acrylic in a really long time and fell out of practice and lacking techniques. May was really overcast in Vancouver and it impacted my perception of colours making me crave a higher contrast for the colour gradient. After the first series of tests, I travelled to Greece for 3 weeks which altered my perception and veered my decision towards a much more subdue gradient. You can see the difference in the study images below.

Stretchers and stretched
This painting is very large and because I am painting it in school, it has to be painted on a stretcher so I can move it around. This differs completely from my usual technique of painting with a canvas stretched directly to the wall. The wall provides a hard surface for me to trace the grid needed for my geometrical shapes. I also prefer a hard surface to paint as opposed to a stretched canvas which I found too bouncy and distracting. Painting on a stretched canvas comes with many different challenges that I will need to figure out as I go. Due to the size of the painting, I had to settled for two canvases which I ordered from Canada Upper Stretcher. They also suggested that I requests the long size to be collapsible build in two parts held by screws. This would also help with shipping cost. I have never done that either and I feel a bit nervous about it.

the two stretched canvas in the Grad Gallery, July 2022

Acrylic colour tests – early May, 2022
I visited Kroma Acrylic paints on Granville Island to test some of their acrylic colours. You have to remember that I have not work with acrylics for many years and that I will have to adapt my technique. The paint qualities that I am after are the following: Transparency, matte finish and, the proper viscosity that will allow me to paint vertical without running.

Action #1 – colour
I am first testing different yellow to figure out which one is closest to what I am after. At first I was sure that Cadmium Yellow would do but upon mixing it with titanium white, it appears to have a green tint which I don’t like. By chance I purchased another type of yellow called Azylide Yellow and that is exactly the colour I am after. What I am after is a yellow that is warm and leaning towards orange. Azylide reminds me of organic egg yoke which is perfect.

Action #2 – matte/glossy
At the store, I was suggested to mix a diatomaceous earth powder with my paint to achieved a level of matteness. I am not sure of the ratio so I start by mixing a lot of it in and the paint is drying too matte and too thick. So I slowly reduced the amount until I am happy with it. With the new found ratio, the paint stays transparent and dry totally matte.

Action #3 – line colour
To draw the lines that will divide the canvas into 9 bands, I need to use a colour pencil. I have purchase a range of colours and to my surprise, the colours I assumed the best where far from it. The final colour is picked in July when the final test is ready and it is a simple beige.

Acion #4 – The gesso colour/undercoat
I want to have a pale yellow undercoat. This will add a pink glow to the final composition, a phenomena that is perceivable in light quality of Greece. At first I mixed a Cadmium Red with matte medium to paint a light film of red that would read as pink against the white gesso. I found that the matte medium sealed the canvas too much and didn’t like the plastic feel of it. I am now testing mixing the Cadmium red to the gesso and I am satisfied with the result. In the end, the pink is almost not perceivable to the eye but stand out once I start painting the yellow next to it.

Action #5 – The gradient
Now how do I mix all these colours and achieve the gradient I am after? At first I am thinking that mixing the more saturated yellow moving toward a brighter yellow is the way to go. But after 3 bands painted, I don’t like the effect and feels it is too saturated for what I am after. I change the order of things and mix the lightest yellow first moving towards the more saturated. This is the part I am the most nervous about and will need to take my time mixing. I am also realizing that purchasing a kitchen scale will help me with the measurements to insure consistency of matteness and viscosity throughout the process. The paint appears to be keeping better in glass jars as opposed to plastic containers.

Action #6 – Testing the method
Now that I have a better idea about the necessary steps, I need to go through with it and create a small version of the gradient and really hash out the method. I am still clarifying a few steps but will give another chance and try to let go of the anxiety around it. The more I do it, the more I know, the more I know, the more confident I feel. This is a challenging process technically speaking. Many more details need to align but I feel a bit closer now.

Final tests before going to Greece on Friday May 4th. “May the 4th be with you!”

Senior Painting Studio, ECU, June 15 to End of July – Welcome to blue light
At first I was allocated the area between B4160 and the painting studio. This is great because it has a similar lighting quality as the wall where the painting will be install. I am really excited about it until I received an email a few days before the beginning of the project to inform me that I have been moved to the Painting Studio B4275. The studio has a lot of good quality: It’s quiet, it’s big enough for the project, it has a lot of window including one that opens. However, because of it being located on the north side, it offers a really blue natural tint. This is not great and will add a challenge to mixing and viewing colours. Oh well, I have to do with it.

Surprise, the evening light bring yellow tones to the Senior Painting Studio
Being a morning person, I am normally in the studio from 9am to about 5pm. With some windows on the east side, the sunshine enters the studio for a few hours in the morning before turning south and provide indirect blue light to the studio for the remaining of the day. One evening, I happened to be on campus late and upon checking the studio, I realized that the evening sunlight was also entering the studio completely changing the ambiance and light spectrum. Magical. I documented to remember the visual and psychological impact.

How many coats of gesso?
It was suggested to me to start with at least 3-5 coats of gesso with a light sand in between. This should provide a smoother surfaces increasing the vaporous effect of the subdued colour gradient. I am willing to try it. Thankfully I had help at the beginning as this process is physically taxing. Me and Kalvin Valko painted the first coat of gesso and Colin helped me with sanding and painting two more coats. By the third coat I feel happy with the smoothness but upon moving the canvas into my studio, I realized that I need another coat as the surface still appears uneven. In total, 4 coats will be applied with a light sand between each coat and at the end. Having done 2 coats and 2 sanding myself, I am off to the chiropractor, my body is feeling the physical impact. Moving forward, I make sure that I remind myself of working with an assistant for that size of painting.

Studies and more studies – moving towards the light.
I need to be completely confident about the colour tests before I can paint to the large canvas. I make many test and keep moving them around the campus to see them in proper lighting. The studio is so blue that my perception of the yellow band is affected. In the end, I painted a colour swatch for each band and installed them in the Outer Knee Gallery wall to confirm everything. The 4 coats of gesso sanded to test the smoothness, the pink undertone adjusted, the proper level of mattness achieved with the ratio of diatomaceous earth, the vaporous effect once the band is painted thinly, the pencil colour between each band and the overall feel. I look at it for a few days.

Here is a step motion video of the July Sun going through the colour swatches

The pink glow – an odd to Greece light spectrum
When I installed Configuration #85 in the sculpture gallery, I was completely mesmerized by the pink glow that emanated from some of the boxes that had a top pink edge painted. This pink glow is a phenomena that I observed a lot in Greece where the sun is so warm that white object appears to be glowing pink at times. So I decided to paint the top edge of my canvas pink. This will never be visible to the eye but will be a nice “clin d’oeil” gratifying those who spend time observing the piece and the effect in it’s environment. A light glow will be perceivable on the wall above the painting.

3 weeks later, I am ready to paint the large size!
With a final gradient test that I am happy with, and all my colours premixed ready, I feel confident to start painting the large piece. At this point, no more thinking is needed, I can just loose myself in the action of painting.

Painting action
Each band takes about 30 minutes to paint.

French cleat and first install – Outer Knee Gallery – ECU
Yang helps me figure out the french cleat system and together we are able to move this monster on it’s final destination, the Outer Knee Gallery wall. It is not the ideal sun at the moment as this piece was envisioned to be in conversation with winter sun, but it gives me an idea of the final result in its environment. I need to get in contact with facility to close of the ceiling light, they are driving me crazy! I also need to figure out the angles that will be used to document the passage of light onto the painting for next February. The painting was install for 4 days which gave me enough time to figure out a few more things and get comments/feedback from a few mentors. Done for now until January-February 2023 where the sun will align itself and provide the lighting phenomena that I am after.

Spring 2022 | -32 (Diamond Dust) | Final Critique + notes

Diamonds for Winter Sun, a site conditional installation for room B4130
-32 (Diamond Dust)
oil on canvas, 140 x 120cm
32 (Diamond Dust) March 31st, 2022, 1pm to 5pm
1m22sec video

Emily Carr University of Art + Design
April 8th, 2022

This site conditional installation included both a painting and a video. The painting was created specifically for that room. It was meant to be installed on the West facing wall that received natural light and would therefore change the perception of the painting as well as frame it in different ways.

The painting was installed on March 24th, 2022 and documented over a period of time under different lighting conditions. Sunny, overcast, partly cloudy and so forth. The documentation process was helping me to positioned the painting within the sunny area of the West facing wall in room B4130. The challenge was that winter solstices had just come to an end and the inclination of the earth was changing quite fast reducing the sun penetration in the room. I moved the painting 3 times and by the time the critique was on, the sun no longer aligned with the painting as per the initial vision for it.


This is a playlist that includes many videos. The first video titled -32 (Diamond Dust) March 31, 2022 is the one I presented as part of the installation for the final critique.

Documentation – March 24th, 2022, sunny day.

On that date, the painting aligned perfectly to the vision I had for it.

Documentation – March 29th, 2022, overcast day with sunny periods

Already 5 days later you can see that the shadow is now touching the top left corner of the painting where on the 25 there was a space of about 2 inches.

Documentation – March 31st – in the shadow of a sunny day

This is the day I did the best video documentation. It was super sunny. These picture where taken before the sun hit the wall and it was super purple at an angle and turquoise when looking at it from the front. .

Documentation – April 1st, 2022, overcast, raining and low light.

Documentation – April 5th, 2022, sunny.

By April 5th, the shadow is totally overlapping on top of the painting. Well.. this was intended for the winter sun and we are now in spring!

Critique Day– April 8th, 2022, overcast with bright moments. No documentation.

Documentation – April 12th, 2022, sunny day

Spring 2022 | Conditional Painting proposal

Site Specific / Conditional Painting
by Marion Landry

Site Specific / Conditional Painting

Site: South Facing wall of the Outside Knee Gallery, 4th floor. (Refer to images for wall location)

Painting action: Divide the wall into 9 vertical equal bands. Using each band, create a gradient of colour transitioning from primrose yellow to white. Use acrylic/wall paint. Leave brush stroke apparent.

Condition: Sunny day, February 2022, between noon to 1pm

Project description:

A colour gradient will be painted directly on the South facing wall of the Outside Knee Gallery using commercial paints. The choice of commercial paint is to facilitate erasure of the project once completed. The vision is for the painting to be witnessed on sunny days from noon to 1pm. During that time, the natural light enters the building through the skylight and animate the wall with a moving light pattern. The light pattern takes approximately 1 hours to transition through the entire wall. The artist will document the passing of light on her painting using a camera and a tripod installed along the corridor. During the documentation process the artist will be mindful as to create minimum impact to the common area. The piece should remain installed on the wall for a duration of 30 consecutive days. This is to ensure that the weather provides a few sunny days during the month to allow for proper documentation. The artist intends to invite the MFA cohort, professors and advisor who will be critiquing the artwork. This site specific/conditional painting is part of the artist research process which will later inform her thesis.  

Image reference

Location: 4th floor, South facing wall of the Outside Knee Gallery

Site Specific/Conditional Painting mock-up

9 bands of commercial paint colour from primrose yellow to white. (Whiteout light effect)

9 bands of commercial paint colour from primrose yellow to white. (With light effect)

APPROVAL STATUS: DECLINED – due to time constraint. The project is delayed to summer or January 2023.