I love, love, love Helen Frankenthaler's use of big, bold, vibrant colour. She is another female artist whom I'm so glad lived in my lifetime. What an inspiration. Her work was known as colour field paintings and she would actually pour colour onto large sheets of raw canvas. When I began exhibiting work I was working on raw canvas because I loved how the colour blended but for longevity, galleries asked that I begin working on primed canvas, though both she and Emily Carr worked however they chose and I sometimes want to return to my previous way of working. Perhaps one day I will spend time alone in the mountains with a large roll of canvas and experiment.
I've been working on a trio of paintings which I'm not sure if they'll be a triptych or stand-alone pieces but I am definitely struggling. With each piece, I love it and then hate it, which often rings true for my process. Usually I can see beyond the moment and trust in the flow of creativity which is a good thing. I do believe I have worked out the kinks on the central panel but I'll put it aside awhile and look with fresh eyes (I usually do this by placing the canvas face against the wall so I don't look at it at all) but the other two have been very interesting, to say the least.
First I really didn't like the left panel so I left it and focused on the right panel and then, after spending a day in the mountains, I was inspired and now I'm loving the left panel but the right has me stumped at the present time. It's a good thing I tend to work several pieces at once otherwise I might find myself frozen in place and too afraid to move forward. But, as I continue my day-to-day routines, driving a daughter to school during exams, house keeping, making dinner, walking, reading and then in-between all of that, working on another painting or two, ideas come and though all of them aren't successful they beget new ideas. And this is why I love to paint. I really do hope I have something good to show for all this trial in the end...but if not, it'll just be back to the drawing board, to pick up a brush and start once again.
Already a month in and I'm not so terrified this time as I was when I created the first 52 WEEKS project with the totem animals. I wonder if it's because I've fulfilled a commitment like this once before or because I am much more comfortable painting flowers? I've come to really look forward to working on these pieces. As a young girl in the north I was part of 4-H which, because it wasn't in farmland, included things like beading and weaving and photography. It was there that I learned to enjoy the process, not just the outcome and maybe it is because of this experience that I have never been as terrified to begin a project either. The outcome is what it is, and will get better over time with practice.
Anyway, fireweed (aka willow herb) always looks stunning to me, particularly in a burned out forest when we can see the beauty of life, of transformation from a wasted shell of land to a beautiful field of flowers. A sign of hope. It is the floral emblem of Yukon Territory, its young leaves can be used in salads, the plant can be brewed into a mild tea, and the inner pith can be used to thicken soups and stews.
I am beyond thrilled to share that my work is now being represented by Effusion Gallery in Invermere, British Columbia. Invermere is a lovely creative community nestled in between the Rocky and Purcell Mountains in the Columbia Valley. And Effusion Gallery is one of my favorite places to visit in BC, filled with the most beautiful artwork so it is a special honour to be invited to exhibit.
Anyone who knows me knows my love of Starbucks green tea latte. I know their matcha is sweetened so I order mine without extra sweetener and I find that warmed milk is sweet as it is...and it is my absolute favorite drink of all time (well, besides milk...and water...and a nice glass of merlot or raspberry beer). To treat myself, I will walk along the creek with my book in hand and head to Starbucks to spend an hour reading and enjoying my delicious green tea latte.
Besides being inspired by the colourfully patterned tipis in Montana, I have been highly influenced since childhood by Anishnaabe artist Norval Morrisseau (Copper Thunderbird). He was the founder of the Woodland Indian School of Art and focused on the spirit world capturing Windigos, spirit guides and animals by utilizing the most glorious patterns and colours. Unfortunately, this wise man was taken from us too soon:
"I transmit astral plane harmonies through my brushes into the physical plane. These otherworld colours are reflected in the alphabet of nature, a grammar in which the symbols are plants, animals, birds, fishes, earth and sky. I am merely a channel for the spirit to utilize, and it is needed by a spirit starved society."
I love his words and feel the same way. Once I'm painting, whether in my studio or elsewhere, I become absolutely absorbed by the work and totally forget everything around me. I don't really pay attention to composition or colour choices at that point and the work flows. That is why I have to step back and separate myself from the work-in-progress during each session and really look. I've always thought of the process as a meditation or prayer of sorts and I feel refreshed after time spent painting which is probably why I don't find it chore and relish the time in my studio.
CONGRATULATIONS LORI BRADFORD!
As I wrote out over 200 names in the draw for 'Sacred Vessel: A Painter's Handbook' I realized just how many need the same information I wished I had when I was beginning my career as a professional artist and I'm so glad I've been able to share what I've learned so far. And I'm so grateful for the great number of people who have assisted me along the way. I hope that what I share helps, too. Once I have your mailing information I will send it out right away. I would love to hear your comments.
I've had the pleasure of seeing many beautiful little shooting stars throughout the years. Not only are they an absolute wonder to look at they also have an interesting history. The Latin name, pulchellum, means 'beautiful'. Traditionally in aboriginal cultures they were used to create a pink dye for arrows or as an infusion for eyewash. Often they were looked upon as a charm for wealth and are the most lovely harbinger of spring in mountain meadows.
PS...I'll be pulling a name for 'Sacred Vessel::A Painter's Handbook' tomorrow!
Beginning a career as a visual artist can be difficult as it isn't a typical career choice. An artist's life is a vulnerable one, filled with so many variables. I believe that there is success in collaboration and hope that in sharing some of the wisdom that has been shared by many others along with the experience I have gained in my creative journey I can help someone else on theirs. 'Sacred Vessel: A Painter's Handbook' is now available here.
WIN A FREE COPY (pre-edit):
I ordered a sample copy while I was working on the book to preview for errors and so I have a free copy (pre-edit) for someone. Just leave me a message here or on facebook or twitter or email and if more than one person is interested I'll pick a name. Just make sure to leave me information on how to contact you :)
“Hope” is the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul - And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all -
Since I was a very young girl I have gathered feathers of all kinds...raven, crow, magpie, gull, robin and swallow...but my favorite is a hawk feather I was gifted several years ago. And last year I began painting vibrantly coloured and patterned paintings of feathers which I am absolutely in love with, as well as the lovely poem by Emily Dickinson. And so, this week I am thankful for feathers in all shapes, colours and sizes.