Creativity is just connecting things.
When you ask creative people how they did something,
they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it,
they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.
That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things.
~ Steve Jobs
Last night's Flood Rose Gala was amazing! As soon as my lovely date (my daughter) and I arrived at Hotel Arts in Calgary we were greeted with the most delicious hors d'euvres and cocktails. It has been way too long since I've been out and about so it was really great to see so many artist friends and those who I've been in touch with over the years but have never met before.
A definite highlight of the evening was being the art instructor for some of our local celebrities. Gosh, I laughed so hard as they all had incredible senses of humour - Food Network guest chef Michael Allemeier, Calgary Herald food writer Gwendolyn Richards, soprano Michelle Minke, Petroleum Club's executive chef Liana Robberecht, Petroleum Club's sous chef Kendra Smith, and Top Chef Canada competitor Chris Shaften. And, honestly, the end result of their labour was pretty fantastic.
I grateful to see a few people who were directly affected by the flooding, both in High River and elsewhere, who were able to attend. It's heart-warming to see those whom I care about and also heart-breaking to know that there is still a long road ahead.
And it was absolutely incredible to see the roses all framed up together...I know I had the opportunity to see them as I was posting them online but seeing them in person was something else. I feel blessed and honoured to count myself a member of such a generous arts community. Thank you so much Terri Heinrichs, for this vision and for pulling this all together, and to everyone who contributed and supported this project. I'm glad it will still be traveling with the Alberta Society of Artists Travelling Exhibit so that more people can view the beautiful work and what it represents.
I've tried to encourage the creativity of my children though I never wanted them to feel like there was a necessity to paint or do anything I did as I know the value of finding your own way as a child. I remember, as each of my children was born, how very much they seemed to be formed. Their personalities were visible from the beginning. Though we've tried to guide them through the years to make choices based on their own interests and talents and tried to remind them to be considerate of others, I know their need to make their own decisions.
I'm so pleased that my daughters want to be contributing members of society. That they know the value of connecting with others and being kind. I'm so grateful when I hear others speak highly of them. But I know that was not our doing but their own. They are who they are.
And I was so happy when my thirteen-year-old daughter wanted to contribute to The Alberta Flood Rose Project. And was thrilled when my nineteen-year-old asked if she could be my date to support the Flood of Roses Gala tonight. I'm very proud of them.
I cannot believe I'm two-thirds of the way through the 52 WEEKS PROJECT! There are times we notice these little guys in the neighborhood and, unfortunately, see their remnants on the highway. They see to be in the same family as porcupines for me, very cute but a little intimidating. I have learned that it takes up to a week to reproduce their smelly spray after using it, so they don't tend to use it lightly.
As a totem animal, skunk asks us to defend ourselves in a non-violent but effective manner. They are the ultimate pacifists, calm and peaceful, exuding confidence and good judgement. Quite regal, I think.
So...my Alberta Flood Rose Project changed a bit before I could submit it as, even though the substrate I had purchased for it was advertised as 4 inches square, it actually measured 5. I brought the piece out to the garage and cut off those lovely bevelled edges with a mitre saw and began painting the edges again. I was afraid I'd have to begin all over again. In the end, it didn't turn out too bad.
The auction will be held on August 28 the Hotel Arts in Calgary, with almost 650 pieces included and Sheldon Smithers and Scott Cozen of The Canadian Pickers as auctioneers! The celebrity list is growing and the variety of media is amazing...calligraphy, oil, watercolour, soapstone, acrylic, metal, fibre, clay...WOW! And so many artists that I feel privileged to call friends. I cannot wait to see the works all framed.
Tickets are still available to support the Red Cross Flood relief online.
My eldest daughter takes advantage of the counselling provided by her university and I'm always happy to hear the coping skills that have been suggested to help manage stress. Because my family has a history of clinical depression and mental illness, I'm so glad she has access to some wonderful people who can help her deal with the difficulties that come with living on your own for the first time and handling a heavy course load.
The biggest thing she's taken away from the sessions so far is to stop and BREATHE so for her birthday I created a cuff for her as a daily reminder. I thought daisies would be a nice addition, kind of like stopping to smell the roses, but a lighter, more playful flower. Cheerful.
I have so much fun hand-stamping leather...last year I created a cuff for myself with the word COURAGE...another take on my word-of-the-year, FEARLESS. Hmmmm...what next?
I struggled a bit with this week's 52 WEEKS PROJECT subject matter as I didn't want this coyote to look like a wolf or a fox and my experience with the coyotes from this region are of lanky, almost scraggly creatures. A couple of winters ago we had one living in our neighborhood. He had created a den down the street in someone's hedge and every morning that we had fresh snow we saw evidence of it with large tracks as he had wandered through the night.
As a totem animal coyote is known as a trickster, but not always in a negative light, but rather wise and humorous which brings to mind Cherokee author, Thomas King's book 'Green Grass, Running Water' that begins with tickster-god Coyote.
I like the idea that coyotes are flexible and creative, accepting what comes and making the best of things. They are spontaneous and joyful, clever and discerning, re-directing and guiding us onto the right path. They remind us not to take things too seriously, to find wisdom in experience, to be alert to opportunity. All good stuff.
Okay. So I know there isn't only one right way to be an artist, and I really don't know if there are 50 (or only 50) different ways to be one, but I thought I'd share my experience as an artist. Many, many years ago I began to study art formally and because I was told I had potential, I pursued it further. I continued my studies, painted like the dickens and then, because I didn't trust myself and believed that everyone else, especially those in the 'industry' knew better, I followed all the advice I received...to my detriment.
I loved painting. Then I went to art college and almost stopped painting. But, I persevered, I continued to paint, even though I believed that being a potter or printmaker or jeweller or sculptor would be more lucrative. Why? Well, because each of those disciplines required certain tools that not just anyone has and because they were really, really fun to watch. So, I ventured into each of those different media for a time but continued to come back to paint.
Anyway, I was told that I had to quit my job (which I was really good at) and focus on painting full-time if I wanted to be taken seriously. I was told to invest in myself...use credit, whatever it takes in order to be taken seriously. I studied business, focusing on art business. I was involved in every exhibit, publication, and investment described as an opportunity. Galleries represented me across the country but some of the galleries never paid me for the sale of my work, or never returned unsold pieces. And the financial investment that I was required to make almost broke me...both financially and spiritually. These opportunities ended up being opportunities for those that wanted my financial investment, but not for me. Granted, I sold work, I connected with people, but never recouped my losses.
I was crushed. I never wanted to paint again. My husband and I decided to take a big leap, to sell our home in order repay the debt, to put our things into storage, and to move to a farmhouse in the prairies. Slowly my spirit healed. I began walking through the fields and down the gravel roads and found that spark inside of me once again. I began to paint again. I received such great support from the community. And we came home again.
This time I decided I would do things on my own terms. No more financial investment except in myself. I paid attention to the things that pulled at my heart-strings. I no longer invested more than I was willing to lose. And I began to notice that there was more than one way to be a professional artist.
Now, my career as a professional artist consists of five separate roles that are important to me...
1. Art Program Coordinator - I have a paid position with our local public library where I get to curate exhibits, write statements, organize children's art programs, and whatever else creative is required. It's fun and it's a steady paycheque (more money for art supplies!).
2. Painter - I get to experiment, explore, and get back to the roots of why I loved art in the first place. And I get to share this work I love with others through exhibits and sales.
3. Writer - My writing has been published in numerous newspapers, magazines and books. And I get paid to do it! How fantastic is that?
4. Student - I love to study and I love art so I am finally continuing my fine arts education. It's a huge goal for me to complete my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and I don't really care how long it takes.
5. Volunteer - This is probably the biggest change for me as I used to feel unworthy. Because I hadn't completed my degree I didn't know how I could possibly contribute as a professional. And it is amazing as I've been involved in numerous art projects which included hundreds of people and I get to support and encourage other creatives.
I've been asked for many years to teach, so that looks like a direction I may be heading in next. Who knows what is in store for me?
If you're wondering about the 50 ways to be an artist, well, I actually think there are more. I believe we each need to focus on what is really important to us, to trust our intuition when someone or something doesn't feel right for us, and to remember that this career choice is different, and because of that we all need to approach it differently. And if you trust yourself, you'll know exactly what it is you need to do. Trust me.
I've been reading and hearing a lot about the wild horses that are still around in Western Canada and am thankful that there are groups of people who protect them as there are so few left. Growing up in the north I was never exposed to horses so the first time I met one at summer camp I was rather intimidated. But she was gentle and I learned how to care for her before riding her...a huge bonus. Brushing her coat, clearing her straw and feeding her gave me a connection to her. There is definitely something to be said for doing something for another living being that they can't do for themselves. Anyway, once I got to ride her I was no longer afraid.
When we spent a year at a farmhouse in Saskatchewan I had my second encounter with a horse, this time she was a retired RCMP horse named 'Centennial'. She was incredible. Every day I spent time with her I began to love her more. It got to the point that she would run to me from a distant field, which at first was intimidating, but then became a real gift. The ground would rumble as she ran towards me but I know she could feel how I felt, so she would slow down as she came near and walk gently towards me.
So this painting in the 52 WEEKS PROJECT is dedicated to horse. She reminds us to take responsibility for our actions and to move on. To remember that our journey is made up of a whole. That all of our experiences, both good and bad, bring wisdom. Remain faithful, knowing that no pathway is the wrong one. Sometimes in new direction lies freedom and power.
Here's a great article on the life of an artist...
Painting Notes: What Painters Do