A friend of mine asked me to stop by the Boys & Girls Club this morning as she has been working on a massive mural there and she had a gift for me. First, the gift is incredible...my Word-of-the-Year (still) engraved onto a silver pendant with a small silver raindrop and pink faceted stone as a reminder to practice stillness and also a reminder to embrace my femininity. It is so beautiful and such a wonderfully thoughtful gift. And, while we visited, I somehow ended up painting for a couple of hours. Gotta love collaboration. She was contemplating a change in one part of the mural and as we began discussing it over Vietnemese noodles we came up with a simple but absolutely effective plan which I think will ties entire mural together. There is also a graffiti artist who has been involved with the project so I wanted to incorporate that feeling of 'street art' into the bottom section. I'm so pleased with this and so happy that I could contribute in such a small way.
My third 24x60 canvas is on its way to finding itself. The fascinating thing about this whole process for me is that I'm finally able to utilize the symbols and imagery that have been with me since my youth. Growing up in Northern Manitoba was a privilege - the first exhibit I viewed was artwork by Benjamin Chee Chee at the Exhibition Centre which led me to the works of the Woodlands School of painters including the vibrant work of Norval Morrisseau and Daphne Odjig. I was shown early pictographs drawn into the rocks along the Churchill River and experienced my first archeological dig near the rapids from which came the name of my community, Leaf Rapids. Our streets were given Cree names, I grew up on Nisku (Goose) Bay. Our Winter Carnival consisted of snowshoe races and bannock baking along with cheering on the dog sleds at Turnbull Lake. I was taught to bead and weave at the hands of the Cree and Metis women from whom I had the honour of learning. I hope to honour the past, my own and that of the First Nations, as I do this work because I still dream of the aurora borealis, of the forests and of the lakes of the north for which my heart cries to return.
So, I've begun my third canvas - another 24"x60" and I've decided to leave some of the white canvas showing because I want to challenge myself more. It is very difficult for me to leave 'blank' space as I learned early on to cover the entire work surface. I find this interesting as I find that most often people are intimidated by filling the white and I feel the exact opposite though there is an interesting energy in the push and pull of pattern and colour against white. I know that leaving the white background is important when using watercolours but I find that the beauty of acrylic is the fact that white can always be added later.
These past few days I've been spending time and thought on gratitude. Taking time to remember how every day of my life is something to be thankful for, and to focus on little things that make life so wonderful. Today's list includes:
~ a glass palette on my tabouret
~ painting with my daughters
~ the fresh smell of baking bread
~ the cozy daybed in my studio
~ good memories from the past
~ great literature to get lost in
~ learning something new every day
~ new beginnings
I'm also learning to trust my instincts even more. Not pushing myself just because I think I 'should' but rather trusting myself to know when my discomfort is a sign to move in a new direction or to stop completely. I'm learning to trust my word-of-the-year...to be 'still'. I'm glad for the trials and triumphs of the past year as they have both given me the opportunity to grow into myself. And I'm learning to allow things to happen as they should.
We've begun to draw imagery on our canvases - and though they may or may not remain, I have to admit that this is definitely my 'comfort zone'. I began this journey as an artist by drawing incessantly when I was a very little girl. I was accepted into art school because of my realistic drawings but when I learned to stretch canvas, to paint large and loose I felt such absolute joy and excitement that I didn't really go back. Yes, I do sketch, but prefer to work directly on canvas, letting my brush do most of the work. One of the interesting things about this entire process is that it is a definite way to become comfortable with using colour. When I headed into college many years ago, my main goal was to learn about colour - the most intimidating aspect of artwork to me and yet, once I arrived there, I felt that we were basically left on our own to experiment - which really isn't a terrible thing but I would have loved to be given a process like this to begin.
I've also made a few changes in my life during this class. Some have been difficult but I know they were necessary. It was time to let go of some things to embrace what I need for my heart. Last year was very interesting for me - many doctor's appointments and tests and physical pain, and yet I now see that as a door. I don't know why it takes me so long to listen to my soul, but it seems to take a physical push for me to allow myself to do what I need. And though a change I made last week wasn't easy for me, I have already experienced so many wonderful and encouraging signs to continue on this new path - one is the interview with AIR 106.1, another is the exhibit with the Women's Art Museum, and yet another is an acceptance I received to further my education (Yes!).
And at the same time I've been indulging myself in fabulous literature. My recent read:
The Cat's Table
by Michael Ondaatje
I am a huge fan of Michael Ondaatje - I think his writing is so poetic. And though The English Patient was definitely one of the best books I've ever read and probably won't be topped, I still gravitate towards everything he writes. This story takes place in the 1950's on a ship that is travelling from Ceylon to England across the Indian Ocean and through the Suez Canal. The story is told by an 11-year-old boy and continuously moves back and forth in time sharing how the past shapes the present and also how the forbidden incidents of a child form their adulthood. And as I read I was transported to my own childhood memories, some not so pleasant, but I think they helped form the core of who I am none-the-less.
Friday Face - Veronica Funk
Written by Mikayla Jayne
Friday, 17 February 2012 11:18
Veronica Funk is sometimes known as "the chair lady". Her first painting was
of her favourite chair in her house.
Funk grew up in Manitoba but has lived in Airdrie for 15 years. What keeps
her in Alberta is simple.
She has exhibited her art all across Canada, and appreciates how tight knit
the scene can be, even though it stretches coast to coast.
"It's really small even though it's broad. What's been great is that people
have encouraged me to follow my passion, and to do what I love to do."
Almost every chair Funk paints has a book on it. She's a huge reader, and
thinks the arts and culture are extremely important to a community. Literature
inspires her work, and she hopes she can pass on both art and reading to the
"They say that creativity enhances logic. Your left brain and right brain
work together, and I think the more you're exposed to everything it's just
healthier for every human being."
The Airdrie Public Library has been very supportive about her hopes and
dreams for the future of the arts program in this city. In fact, Funk works at
the Library in the circulation department and running the art program.
"This Library has been wonderful. It all works together. What the Library is
doing enhances the community, and the community comes in and it enhances the
We have a junior art program here. I've got a different professional artist
every month that comes in and teaches an actual art class to kids, not just
crafts. The kids are loving it - we're booked until the summer. I''ve already
had artists step forward and say they want to do this next year."
Funk loves to live in Airdrie. She sees a great time of growth for the area,
and is glad to be a part of the development.
The Women’s Art Museum Society of Canada launched its virtual gallery today with an exhibition featuring twenty-four works by women from Alberta, British-Columbia, Ontario and the Northwest Territories - ww.wamsoc.ca/gallery.html. Two of my pieces have been included.
Today we worked on value contrast (dark vs. light) and color transparency (opaque vs, transparent colors) and at each step along the way I keep thinking of how these same principals apply to my life. How the dark times give resonance to those times filled with light, how being absolutely authentic, transparent, is important not only in my own happiness but in how I contribute as a member of my family and community. At the same time, I look at these paint-stained hands filled with the marks of my life and appreciate what they have done for me. I have been drawing since I was a little girl, cutting out paper dolls from old cracker boxes, creating villages and gardens, and learning to draw faces from the Archie comics (where, incidentally, my immigrant parents found my name). I didn't know what I was doing then, and I certainly don't know what I'm doing now...but I had fun, and am having a blast now. Learning gives me so much pleasure, experimenting and researching are two of my greatest strenghts. And so I have decided to continue to study after I complete this course, to finally achieve my dream of completing my Bachelor of Fine Arts after all these years. I don't care how long it takes or where this road will twist and turn, but I am excited.