These two 8x10 inch gallery canvases have been sitting in my studio for some time, with a few layers of colour but no ideas as to what I wanted to paint on them. This week, as I looked at a few of the Tim Holtz stencils I have, two of them suddenly caught my attention - one was of measuring tape and the other of letters. When I looked at them, all I thought of was my daughters. Kate, on the left, has sewn and created so many things from dolls to gifts to clothing since she was three years old. And Alex has been our poet having first published her writing while in high school and being invited to public readings in Edmonton and Calgary. Once the idea came to me, I knew all that I needed to do was to bring the canvases to the garden to play with spray paint in order to create a base on which to add my girls. I love these paintings as I feel that they capture the essence of each of these beautiful, intelligent young women - Kate is always full of laughter and Alex more reflective - I'm so proud to call them my daughters.
As long as I can remember I have loved Katharine Hepburn. She made me laugh, she made me cry and she was so fiercely independent that I wished I could be just like her. I was inspired by her drive to continue in her chosen field for more than sixty years in spite of many negative comments. She refused to bow to the pressure to conform to demands for publicity and was hired and promptly fired several times. In spite of a number of failures, she was highly spirited, never gave up, and of course her trousers were fantastic.
This week I have been on medical leave from my role at the library due to my shoulder injury which has given me plenty of time to think and to read...which isn't necessarily punishment for me but still difficult never-the-less. My house is untidy, work emails haven't been checked, meals have become very simple (lots of canned soup, Vietnamese and pizza) and and my painting time is coming in very short spurts, usually with my left hand. Last time this happened I learned to step back from too many obligations and to slow down which is so important and yet so difficult to do. The greatest experiences in the past for me have been those times that I was forced to slow down and let go, so I hope that this time that lesson sticks. I really applaud people with chronic pain who function quite well in spite of it as it is exhausting. And yet, despite it all, whenever I do paint or even think about artwork I become so very happy. I don't know why I was made this way, but I am glad for it.
by Dave Maffitt, Volunteer Airdrie
One of Volunteer Airdrie’s biggest supporters over the past year has been the Airdrie branch of Mattamy Homes. We are very thankful for their support, but not surprised, as one of their core values is “to build a sense of community”.
As with many relationships, the Volunteer Airdrie/Mattamy Homes partnership started with a chance encounter at a social event. I was attending the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the City Address with Mayor Peter Brown and happened to take a seat next to Joe Case, Mattamy’s Manager of Land Development. After introducing ourselves, the conversation quickly moved to what each of our organizations was doing to make Airdrie a better place to live. It was exciting to hear that our organizations had so much in common.
According to Mattamy Homes: “We believe that our communities are just as important as our homes. That’s why we ensure all of our neighbourhoods not only offer parks and play areas, they also provide access to local health care and recreation facilities. Through the Mattamy Homes ‘Community Is Our Home’ program, and the Peter Gilgan Foundation, we are proud to play our part in supporting local charitable organizations towards the creation of vibrant, healthy communities. From the community-based cancer support centre, to the neonatal clinic, to the university athletic centre, or a youth skills-development program, we contribute important funding to build long-term community facilities that enrich people’s lives.”
An organization’s culture starts at the top and Mattamy Homes is no exception. Founder Peter Gilgan says: “I believe, we all need to give back in any way we can. Every hour helps, every cent counts. Whether you sponsor a family member in a fundraising event, get involved yourself, write a cheque or give your time, everyone can do something to give back.”
Over the past year, Mattamy Homes has built, delivered and donated five large picnic tables that were used at last September’s airdrieFEST. These picnic tables are now in Volunteer Airdrie’s Picnic Table Painting Program and are being creatively painted by local artists Veronica Funk, Melissa Bruglemans, Ron Roffel, Patricia Pile and Brenna Miller. Veronica’s table is currently on display at Genesis Place Recreation Center and the others will be strategically placed throughout Airdrie as part of the new City of Airdrie “Great Places Plan”.
For months, since I began this project really, I've been debating whether or not to add words to these paintings. Now that I'm almost half way through this year's 52 WEEKS project I finally decided that I needed to make a few minor changes, adding the quotes of these amazing women to the paintings. This was something I considered last year when I decided to take on this project but have always struggled with putting words in my art. I love the look of words and art but haven't found a way that felt natural to me, except once that I painted Nina Simone I knew I wanted to include her voice. After I did that I decided to carry it through to the rest of the pieces. It was interesting as I felt the pieces were lacking a little something, and now they feel finished so I'm glad I took the leap as their words are as important as their faces. They are the essence or soul of this body of work...the reason I've chosen these particular women in the first place.
Last weekend was the last workshop for Jr & Adult/Teen Artists at the library until September. Though I love this program, with my shoulder issues these days I'm actually looking forward to the break. Heather was fantastic, teaching the kids to paint a sunset and the teens & adults to paint a rocky waterfall, both based on photos she had taken. She shared the photos along with her acrylic painting and a watercolour, sharing how different media give different and interesting results. She has taught in the school system for many years and was so great in sharing that each of us has a unique way of being creative, that every one of us sees things differently and that's a good thing. Great workshops!
I think that the first time I heard Nina Simone was on CBC Radio as a child many, many years ago. Not only was I intrigued by her voice but also by her activism, something I made of point of instilling in my own daughters as they grew. She was a classically trained pianist, began playing at the age of three, studied at Julliard, and though she also applied and was rejected by the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia (she suspected it was due to her race) she eventually received an honorary degree. She changed her name from Eunice Kathleen Waymon in order to perform 'the devil's music' (jazz) unbeknownst to her family. She suffered abuse from her second husband and also struggled with bipolar disorder but in spite of this became known as the High Priestess of Soul. Her music has been featured in a large selection of movies and television programs and inspired many of the most famous musicians (including The Beatles and Elton John).
This has been such a lovely year as already twenty-nine paintings have found their forever homes - thank you Bluerock Gallery, Inglewood Fine Arts, Effusion Gallery and Evanescence Gallery along with all of the patrons who have adopted the work. I can never express the amount of gratitude I feel for the support. And it is always the greatest honour to meet people who have purchased my work...from the bottom of my heart I thank you.
Yesterday evening the library offered its first Teen Art Studio which was led by local artist Jaye Benoit on the theme Text & Image. I am especially enjoying this program as it was inspired by the Teen Advisory Council at the library, our 'library whisperers', who are coming up with ideas for programs and events for teens at the library and a couple of fantastic students from Fort McMurray attended. It was a full house of 24 teens and I'm really looking forward to the next one in June.
The library now has a 3D printer and we were able to create a lightsaber (uncertain if it is Obi-Wan's or Luke's...or maybe an amalgamation of the two) which I have been asked to paint to resemble metal. I researched lightsabers and watched videos on painting 3D printed items (surprising how much information there is online) and have really enjoyed this project. There were many layers involved and included the colours black, white, silver, gold, pthalo blue, iron oxide, alizarin crimson, raw umber utilizing acrylic paint, gesso, glazing mediums, an archival varnish and spray inks. I really do have a fun job.