I should live in Paris as there is nothing I like better for breakfast than a fresh, light, flaky pastry...particularly a croissant. I used to visit a French bakery in the city that made the most delicious pain au chocolat filled with Bernard Callebaut chocolate. Melt in your mouth goodness . But do I try to curb my desires in order to be good...or I walk to the bakery in order to justify these splurges ;)
...everything on earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence. ~ Christal Quintasket (1888-1936), Salish
Yesterday was such a productive day, I actually completed eight of the sixteen paintings I've been working on. And now it's time to wire, photograph and document all of these, and then get back to the other eight that are still in process.
With the current 52 WEEKS PROJECT I've been working on, as the focus is on wildflowers and their medicinal properties, I've been giving a lot of thought to the medicine of the earth. The doodling I've been doing in my sketchbook has also shown up on this piece as ripples and plant life found in water, the number three and triangles have been in my mind a lot of late, and I was drawn to the idea of reflection in water. I knew I wanted to create a stencil (thankfully I had a few blank sheets in my studio) and incorporate the copper leaf I've been eyeing in my stash lately. Though, as always, I didn't want it to be perfect.
Triangles represent divinity, creativity, gender, harmony, magic, time, reward, success, adventure, and in Greek history, a doorway. Along with the number three they represent (among other things):
* Birth, Life, Death
* Father, Son, Holy Ghost
* Past, Present, Future
* Spirit, Body, Mind
* Mother, Father, Child
I am typically drawn to circles, which remind me of the cycles of life, the moon and the sun, heaven and earth, the medicine wheel, four seasons, time, focus, unity and continuity...and it appears that the message of the triangle is very much the same.
The past week I've been feeling rather under the weather though I have much work to complete. Currently there are sixteen canvases in my studio at different stages of completion and though it is slow going, it still is a pleasure to spend time in my studio every day, even if it means just sitting in my chair and sketching out ideas. I'm glad for Walter's company these days as he doesn't seem to mind my sniffling and coughing.
I've also spent this time going through my sketchbooks and have begun connecting how I can transfer those ideas to canvas. There really is a connection between rest and creativity, even if it is forced rest. And I'm glad for a large, cozy chair in my studio as I can lay my head back and doze quietly as my mind processes ideas. I tend to prefer a combination of stillness and busy (my daughter calls it frantic) work. I feel as though I work very methodically but my youngest claims that when I'm at work at my easel everything shakes.
Am I obsessed with painting? Possibly. At the lowest points of this virus I felt dizzy and exhausted beyond measure and yet I still dragged myself into my studio. Mostly to sit and look, but I can't seem to stay away. It's my sanctuary and I think that's a good thing.
The prairie crocus is probably one of the first wildflowers I saw and recognized as a child. I remember loving the feel of their soft silky petals and stems and the colour is always so beautiful. Because I was born in Manitoba, I knew about this flower from a very young age as it is its floral emblem and though I was only aware of the purple and blue shades, I recently found out that there are also white varieties.
It is one of the first flowers to bloom in spring and though it is highly toxic, Blackfoot Indians used it to induce labour and abortions as well as a sedative for treating coughs. It can cause low blood pressure, diarrhea, vomiting, convulsions and coma.
During ARTember this year, a city-wide celebration of the arts that takes place in my community in September), the Airdrie Public Library is excited to host award-winning children's book author and illustrator Barbara Reid. Her work is fantastic as all the images are created with plasticine and so it is filled with interesting texture and details. I had the privilege to see an exhibit of her original pieces several years ago and, in that vein, we are excited to host a Creative Clay workshop at the library during Easter so I've been playing to come up with some ideas for the kids. Gosh I love my job.
Out of Africa has always been my favorite movie, complete with my favorite actress (obsessed with anything that includes Meryl Streep)...and then there's Robert Redford...mmmmmm. I read the book until it fell apart, listened to the soundtrack until it broke (it was a cassette tape), and was inspired by Karen Blixen to follow my heart in spite of the challenges. I remember the first time I watched it with my best friend in the mid-eighties, I can't get the first line (of both the book and movie) from my mind...'I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong hills'. I have enjoyed many movies since but, for me, nothing compares to it.
I've been painting little mandala type images on rocks for the Volunteer Appreciation display coming up at the library since the theme this year will be ripples...you know, how one small act of kindness ripples out to touch so many others. I'm thinking we can give these to volunteers after the display as little paper weights or decorations for tabletops or bookcases. Gosh I love my job, not only do I get to do creative things, but I love how much we appreciate the volunteers without whom we wouldn't be able to offer as much to the community as we do.
I remember a time when a blank surface intimidated me...nice, bright, shiny and clean. Once I learned to tone the surface I began having so much fun just throwing on colour and pattern, and this past year I've been having fun spray painting and stencilling, too. These days, though, I seem to get stuck at details. I sometimes spend days mulling over the finishing touches, wondering if I need to add more pattern or more colour or tone things back down. I love to draw so some of my favorite newer tools have been paint pens (particularly white). I picked up this Liquitex paint pen about a year ago though I kept returning to the inexpensive paint pens I picked up at Walmart but the other day my other pens had run out so I grabbed this one again, and to my surprise it worked like a charm even though it has been neglected for months. I still haven't found the absolute perfect acrylic paint pen that is absolutely opaque and free-flowing for ease of use, but I have to say that Liquitex has won me over once again.
Kinnikinnick (also known as Bearberry) is a clustered pale pink flower that bears dull red fruit that resemble a bunch of grapes. They are highly appreciated by bears and birds. Though they do tend to be a bit dry and mealy for people, the berries are edible and can be prepared in a variety of ways such as a tea or a spread. The common name is believed to be of Algonquin origin meaning 'something to smoke' as the leaves were often dried and used as tobacco.
...from Irwin Greenberg:
1. Paint every day.
2. Paint until you feel physical strain. Take a break and then paint some more.
4. When at an impasse, look at the work of masters.
5. Buy the best materials you can afford.
6. Let your enthusiasm show.
7. Find a way to support yourself.
8. Be your own toughest critic.
9. Develop a sense of humor about yourself.
10. Develop the habit of work. Start early every day. When you take a break, don’t eat. Instead, drink a glass of water.
11. Don’t settle for yourself at a mediocre level.
12. Don’t allow yourself to be crushed by failure. Rembrandt had failures. Success grows from failure.
13. Be a brother (or sister) to all struggling artists.
14. Keep it simple.
15. Know your art equipment and take care of it.
16. Have a set of materials ready wherever you go.
17. Always be on time for work, class, and appointments.
18. Meet deadlines. Be better than your word.
19. Find a mate who is really a mate.
20. Don’t be envious of anyone who is more talented than you. Be the best you can be.
21. Prizes are nice, but the real competition is with yesterday’s performance.
22. Give yourself room to fail and fight like hell to achieve.
23. Go to sleep thinking about what you’re going to do first thing tomorrow.
24. Analyze the work of great painters. Study how they emphasize and subordinate.
25. Find out the fewest material things you need to live.
26. Remember: Michelangelo was once a helpless baby. Great works are the result of heroic struggle.
27. There are no worthwhile tricks in art; find the answer.
28. Throw yourself into each painting heart and soul.
29. Commit yourself to a life in art.
30. No struggle, no progress.
31. Do rather than don’t.
32. Don’t say “I haven’t the time.” You have as much time everyday as the great masters.
33. Read. Be conversant with the great ideas.
34. No matter what you do for a living, nurture your art.
35. Ask. Be hungry to learn.
36. You are always the student in a one-person art school. You are also the teacher of that class.
37. Find the artists who are on your wavelength and constantly increase that list.
38. Take pride in your work.
39. Take pride in yourself.
40. No one is a better authority on your feelings than you are.
41. When painting, always keep in mind what your picture is about.
42. Be organized.
43. When you’re in trouble, study the lives of those who’ve done great things.
44. “Poor me” is no help at all.
45. Look for what you can learn from the great painters, not what’s wrong with them.
46. Look. Really look.
47. Overcome errors in observing by exaggerating the opposite.
48. Critics are painters who flunked out.
49. Stay away from put-down artists.
50. If you’re at a loss for what to do next, do a self-portrait.
51. Never say “I can’t.” It closes the door to potential development.
52. Be ingenious. Howard Pyle got his start in illustration by illustrating his own stories.
53. All doors open to a hard push.
54. If art is hard, it’s because you’re struggling to go beyond what you know you can do.
55. Draw everywhere and all the time. An artist is a sketchbook with a person attached.
56. There is art in any endeavor done well.
57. If you’ve been able to put a personal response into your work, others will feel it and they will be your audience.
58. Money is O.K., but it isn’t what life is about.
59. Spend less than you earn.
60. Be modest; be self-critical, but aim for the highest.
61. Don’t hoard your knowledge, share it.
62. Try things against your grain to find out just what your grain really is.
63. Inspiration doesn’t come when you are idle. It comes when you have steeped yourself in work.
64. Habit is more powerful than will. If you get in the habit of painting every day, nothing will keep you from painting.
65. There are three ways to learn art: Study life, people, and nature. Study the great painters. Paint.
66. Remember, Rembrandt wasn’t perfect. He had to fight mediocrity.
67. Don’t call yourself an artist. Let others name you that. “Artist” is a title of great weight.
68. Be humble; learn from everybody.
69. Paintings that you work hardest at are the ones you learn the most from, and are often your favorites.
70. Read values relatively. Find the lightest light and compare all other light values to it. Do the same with the darks.
71. Grit and guts are the magic ingredients to your success.
72. Let your picture welcome the viewer.
73. Add new painters to your list of favorites all the time.
74. Study artists who are dealing with the same problems that you’re trying to solve.
75. Have a positive mindset when showing your work to galleries.
76. Don’t look for gimmicks to give your work style. You might be stuck with them for life. Or, worse yet, you might have to change your “style” every few years.
77. If what you have to say is from your deepest feelings, you’ll find an audience that responds.
78. Try to end a day’s work on a picture knowing how to proceed the next day.
79. Don’t envy others’ success. Be generous-spirited and congratulate whole-heartedly.
80. Your own standards have to be higher and more scrupulous than those of critics.
81. Howard Pyle said, “Throw your heart into a picture and jump in after it.”
82. Vermeer found a life’s work in the corner of a room.
83. Rembrandt was always clear about what is most important in a picture.
84. If, after study, the work of an artist remains obscure, the fault may not be yours.
85. Critics don’t matter. Who cares about Michelangelo’s critics?
86. Structure your day so you have time for painting, reading, exercising and resting.
87. Aim high, beyond your capacity.
88. Try not to finish too fast.
89. Take the theory of the “last inch” that holds as you approach the end of a painting, you must gather all your resources for the finish.
90. Build your painting solidly, working from big planes to small.
91. See the planes of light as shapes, the planes of shadows as shapes. Squint your eyes and find the big, fluent shapes.
92. Notice how, in a portrait, Rembrandt reduces the modeling of clothes to the essentials, emphasizing the head and the hands.
93. For all his artistic skill, what’s most important about Rembrandt is his deep compassion.
94. To emphasize something means that the other parts of a picture must be muted.
95. When painting outdoors, sit on your hands and look before starting.
96. When composing a picture, do many thumbnails, rejecting the obvious ones.
97. Study how Rembrandt creates flow of tone.
98. If you teach, teach the individual. Find out when he or she is having trouble and help at that point.
99. Painting is a practical art, using real materials—paints, brushes, canvas, and paper. Part of the practicality of it is earning a living in art.
100. Finally, don’t be an art snob. Most painters I know teach, do illustrations, or work in an art-related field. Survival is the game.