Over time I've created hundreds of these mini paintings but now only have thirty left which reminded me of why I began painting them in the first place. As many other artists, I have definitely had my artist's block periods. In one of my earlier blocks I decided that in order to move forward I decided to give myself the challenge of creating a painting a day for 30 days. I didn't venture too far out of my genre, continuing to paint chairs but this time in miniature - 6x6 inch squares.
Before that I had practiced Daily Paintings, something I was noticing online at the time, began blogging about the process and inspiration and painted during weekdays on inexpensive 6x8 inch panels non-oiled MDF which I textured with modelling paste and then coated with gesso. That's when I purchased my pochade, in order to simplify my practice and my studio. It was great to be able to paint anywhere, including coffee shops and parks, very freeing and led to painting publicly, something I enjoy immensely.
Unfortunately my first blog disappeared at a time when I was undergoing some physical challenges but I took that as a sign to rest. And then other opportunities and ideas began to present themselves. It ended up being a very good thing.
PS These final mini paintings will soon be heading to etsy on sale.
This morning I received an email from Art House Co-op...so many opportunities to get involved with great projects...they spoke about the age-old addict of what you would take if you were stranded on a desert island but I particularly enjoyed their quest for simplifying that even further to finding the one item that most closely represents you, that tells your life story. For me, it would have to be my pochade (which I also lovingly refer to as my laptop).
It's typically the simplest things in life that make me extraordinarily happy...and today has already been one of those days filled with simple pleasures. I remember days where I'd feel unsettled when I was too happy as it was often followed by a terrible emotional, physical or material low but now I try to hang onto those little things that give me joy and live in the moment as long as it lasts.
~ bread baking in the oven
~ a new painting on the easel
~ tummy warming oatmeal on a cold winter's day
~ the soft light of the cinnamon pecan swirl beeswax candle
~ an article almost ready to send
~ last week's to-do list almost done
~ using reclaimed materials to create something beautiful out of what was considered nothing
~ a happy family
~ chili simmering on the stove
~ sharing what I soul-achingly and gut-wrenchingly love with others
~ hugging a teenager who actually HUGS ME BACK...every single time
~ a good laugh with a handsome man (gosh I love my husband)
It's a good day.
I haven't created a new vision board in years but last week was inspired to do so again and I'm very pleased with it. It was so nice to be able to include an AirdrieLIFE magazine image of the painted utility box project which I enjoyed creating so much that I hope to have an opportunity to do that again sometime.
Some of the images and words in this board have been with me awhile. I tend to keep images I like in a folder for no reason whatsoever, just knowing that I'm not ready to let them go yet. And it's interesting to see how well they all work together. It's how I've always decorated my homes. By gathering things I like, both furniture and art, they somehow go together. I guess they are a reflection of myself and my family. When I added the pendelton blanket to my board, it was only as a symbol of warmth and comfort. And then, on Sunday at the museum with my family, I stumbled upon one almost identical in the shop.
This board is more symbolic to me than material. It's based on how I want to feel and live rather than on physical objects I want to own. I realize that things don't give me joy, but experiences and being content in all I do does.
Yesterday I had a fabulous lunch with a dear friend and then an evening chat with another. Today I'm working on an article for another magazine, for which I am absolutely grateful. I know I've said this before, but even through and in spite of all the struggles of this life, which sometimes seem to occur daily, I do feel blessed.
Well...month one finished! This fish is based on the pickerel (also known as wall-eye) that were in abundance in the lakes and rivers where I grew up in the north. Now that I'm absolutely land-locked and surrounded by prairies and mountains rather than lakes and forests, I can't believe I was ever tired of fish. I feel like I have actually accomplished something and now the next 11 months don't feel quite as daunting, though I guess I'll see what happens through holidays this year.
Fish as totem animal symbolizes independence. They teach us adaptability, may suggest that we let go and allow. To go with the flow. An awakening of the senses. Fish helps us identify our inner thoughts and can reveal our deepest desires. It guides us to pay attention to our surroundings.
This weekend was absolutely fabulous! One highlight was a visit to the Glenbow Museum with my family to see the work of Fred Herzog, photographs taken on the street of Vancouver since the 1950's. And the biggest surprise to me was the Corb Lund 'No Roads Here' exhibit...I think it was my favorite. It was definitely my favorite. It was amazing to learn about his family history and more of the history of Alberta, to see the inspiration behind his music. From the veterinary and rodeo items of his ancestors to the writing on the walls (literally) of his songs, it was all so beautifully displayed. I'm tempted to go again. Very soon.
PS My opening at Bluerock Gallery will be held on March 9...I'm so excited!
I just wanted to share a couple of photos of the Altered Shoe class my friend Rhea taught at the Jr Artist Program last weekend. Here's a peek at the photos in the local newspaper. I really am fortunate to have such good friends that volunteer their time to share their gifts & talents with the children of our community and that they do it so graciously. The kids had so much fun I'm hoping to plan another altered class of some kind - perhaps books?
Recently I came across this photo from art school and wondered, 'What would I tell my 20-year-old self now?'...and these ten things came to mind:
1. Don't hold too tightly to anything...letting go allows you to let other, greater things in. Honestly...you'll learn this to be true.
2. Enjoy the process...seriously. The work is so much fun, don't worry about what you 'should' do or how to do it, just have fun in whatever you do and it will all fall into place.
3. Nothing happens overnight...it takes time to build a portfolio, and more importantly, to build your character.
4. The tough stuff, both personally and professionally, usually precludes the good stuff. Those 'dark nights of the soul' are necessary for growth and development...it's true!
5. Don't be afraid...I know that at 20 you think you feel infallible but fears do arise. Let them go. Just breathe.
6. Be kind and gracious to others. And when you aren't, because there will be those times, apologize...and mean it!
7. Don't complain...don't fall into the trap of negativity...it's not becoming. You always, always have a choice...whether that is to change your attitude or your circumstances. It's not someone else's fault or job to make you happy. It's up to you.
8. Keep working. Whether that is caring for yourself, your home, your family, your job. Apply yourself and do your best.
9. Do it your way. There is no one-size-fits-all method of success. Trust your heart. If you want to teach, teach. If you want to write, write. If you want to do many things, do them. If you do what is true to you, you will find joy.
10. Keep learning...by talking to others, reading, taking classes. Even if it doesn't feel connected to what you do, it will trigger ideas.
When I was 20 would I have listened? At that stage in my life I had a few resentments that I had to work through, but I do know that everything I've experienced, even those things I've regretted, has helped me to be the person I am today. Hopefully more compassionate, and definitely more content.
Many years ago I was briefly mentored by an artist whom I greatly admire. I have always been a little shy, much less so as I grow older, but until fairly recently I felt that way about hanging my work in my own home. For some odd reason I felt that it would appear vain or arrogrant. But she told me to surround myself with my work for two very important reasons:
1. I get to see what is working and what isn't...not to be especially critical but to learn. It's good to see the progression and to decide what to change. It's also good to see when I've fallen into a bit too much of a comfort zone, kind of like manufacturing...when it's time to challenge myself with something new. And, believe me, I am slow to realize this...I think it's because I absolutely love, love, love to paint. I love heavy body acrylics & canvas. I love color. And I love things that are a bit wonky, skewed, imperfect.
2. I get to see the body of work that I have created. It's a good reminder to physically see what it is I accomplish on all my 'play-dates'. When I look around and see what I have accomplished, even through all the times of agony and despair, I realize that what I do actually does have merit. Beauty is necessary, and is definitely in the eye of the beholder. If I don't feel that the work absolutely represents who I am, the things I love, the media, the substrate, the subject matter, then it's time to move on to something new.
If you have an opportunity to be mentored, I recommend taking advantage of it. As an artist it's great to spend time in someone else's studio, to see their work-in-progress, to be guided and encouraged. A real gift.
My family has always called me Crow-Talker because I cannot help myself. When I know they are near I make a point of chatting with them, asking them how their day is, thanking them for our conversation. I love the way they focus on my face and how they respond when I speak. I think they're absolutely brilliant. And so, for week three on the 52 WEEKS project I just had to paint crow.
Crow is a sacred bird, with great personal integrity and is highly mindful. Crow is also a harbinger of change, a symbol of creation and spiritual healing. Crow is the messenger and magic keeper. Crow is associated with both positive and negative meanings...shape-shifting and magic. As a guide, they provide insight and support intentions. They are a sign of luck but are also associated with the trickster, beware of deception.
It was a busy weekend, but the highlight was coordinating an altered shoe class in the library for kids that was taught by my dear friend. The students enjoyed themselves so much that they've asked for a repeat. I'm thinking that next Rhea & I could co-teach an altered book class as they are so much fun...and being in the library is just the perfect fit. Plus we always have extra books on hand.
Have I mentioned that I've been reading 'The Artist's Rule'? It's written by Christine Valters Paintner, a Benedictine oblate, and is about the relationship between art & faith. Something that is near & dear to my heart. And I recently read a wonderful quote by Thomas Moore that really resonated, "The arts serve this kind of religion by giving us strong images for contemplation, for reflecting on the life-defining mysteries, and for educating ourselves so we can live them out more creatively."
"...life-defining mysteries..." I really like that phrase.
Another piece complete and three more on the go...along with the 52 WEEKS project. Though this weekend I will be busy with art programming at the library as my good friend Rhea Dallaire has graciously offered to teach the kids all about altered shoes. It's going to be great fun!
I'm finding that as I get older and look back at my life it seems that things fall into place naturally. The work I've done falls into place with work that is quite common with my personality type. The places I've travelled, things I've seen, people I've spent my time with all fit. It really is quite organic. Though it seems I am always trying to figure things out, to know without a doubt that I'm doing what I should while I'm here. Still trying to find myself in some respect. But there really is no need to try so hard to figure everything out. And, yet, I still try.
I'm a personality quiz addict and tend to enjoy filling out questionnaires to clarify things for myself. My Meyers Briggs personality type is INFG, an affinity to introversion (also painfully shy as a child) though I've learned to lean a little more to the extraverted side. When I completed the Clifton StrengthsFinder I learned that my greatest strengths are Input (research), Intellection (solitude & introspection), Empathy (sensitive), Learner (education), and Relator (a few close friends). The Birkman Method taught me that I was Insightful, Selectively social, Thoughtful, Reflective and Optimistic. While I worked as a Business Manager at a church, my Ministry Match results told me I was Innergized (reflection & solitude), Relational (heart), Finisher (need for closure), Pro-active (initiator) and Refiner (improver). And there are more tests I've taken...I find them fun and fascinating.
While I was looking through my journal I came across a page of interesting clarity questions that I thought I should share:
1. What challenges have you faced this year?
2. What are you proud of?
3. What was disappointing?
4. What can you forgive yourself for?
5. Where would you like to live?
6. What would you like to own?
7. What contribution would you like to make?
8. What would make your heart sing?
9. Where would you like to go?
10. What gift/s would you like to use?
11. What chance meeting would be a miracle?
12. Whom do you admire?
13. What would you like to celebrate?
14. What would you like to let go of?
15. What do you do for yourself?
And finally...an interesting question to help focus...How do you want to feel?