A couple of weeks ago my daughter purchased three of the 1000 tickets to visit the CBC TV's Heartland studio set which came complete with a concert by Tom Jackson, a BBQ and a fun interview with the cast including the actors who play Ty, Tim, Jack, Lou, Georgie & Amy. It was an amazing fundraiser for High River flood victims, totally arranged and supported by the cast and crew. Everyone was so gracious as they shared how the episodes are created, how the costumes are selected, and even showed the step-by-step process of make-up.
I loved the sets as we had a tour of the house, peeked into Amy & Lou's bedrooms, Ty's trailer, the vet clinic (which was my youngest's favorite), and barn. We were able to check out the vehicles and took photos by Ty's beautiful old truck, petted the horses (Spartan, too, but with his dark colour he didn't show up well in photos). We spoke with directors, camera operators, special effects people, costume, hair and make-up technicians, almost everyone involved in the making of Heartland...it was an amazing opportunity for us and I'm so glad they were able to raise so much for High River. Though I still envy the fellow who got the Heartland Ranch tour...lucky guy. ;)
When I was a young girl my father gave me a beautiful stuffed harp seal pup for my birthday which I kept with me throughout my time in college. Even though I felt a little old to have a stuffed animal with me, it was a connection to my family for me. First we had moved from the north to the west and then my family moved across the prairies while I stayed in Alberta so this connection was nice.
As an animal totem, the seal represents imagination and insight. It's also a sign of trust and promise. All good I think. And so, week 30 of the 52 WEEKS PROJECT is now complete.
This year's Travelling Exhibit features artist Dean Francis who lives and works out of his home/studio near Empress, Saskatchewan. He is known for portraying on canvas, the light, diversity, and beauty of the Western Canadian Prairies. This exhibit focuses on a selection of images of the sage-dotted short grass prairie, rhythmic coulees, dramatic skies and gnarled cottonwoods which surround us. With keen observation he has captured a mood and time in each image which in those moments is the essence of the
Dean's work has been shown at the Calgary Stampede Western Art Salon for the past eight years. In 1996 he developed Sagebrush Studios which is set within 20 acres of idyllic landscaped prairie gardens and has grown to include three old restored churches; two seasonal galleries and one working studio. With expanded gardens and water features, visitors are welcomed to a unique prairie experience of art and nature.
Along with the fiction I've been enjoying lately, I've also been reading some non-fiction, particularly The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I'm always fascinated by how the human brain works and often wonder how I'm able to hit my studio day-in and day-out without getting bored or overly frustrated. This creative life isn't an easy one, knowing that there will be both internal and external criticism throughout the process and yet I can't help myself. Painting is like an addiction to me. Sometimes I want to give up and do something else...almost anything else. Especially when I see my talented friends teaching and demonstrating their craft regularly while I choose to hole up in my basement. And I've begun to wonder if my commitment to my practice is because it's become a force of habit.
Lately I've begun documenting the creative things I do daily, not only painting, but writing, viewing art, having creative conversations, etc.
I wanted to see what I actually do every day because it seems that hours fly by and it's as though I've been in a fog (a happy one, mind you). Is it that old adage about time flying when you're having fun? Am I frittering the time away or actually accomplishing something in my days? It's much easier to track when I'm preparing for exhibits but those in-between times, when I haven't made any commitments, I begin to wonder.
So far in my reading I've learned that it is not only the time you go to sleep and rise but what you do before and after that contributes to the probability of what you will do throughout a given day.
That's fascinating to me. I have realized that I need to spend the earliest hours in my studio...before anyone rises. If I start that way, my success rate for the quality and quantity of the work is definitely higher. I can take a break and blog or check out facebook for a short time but then I need to get back to it. This particular habit began twenty-five years ago when I worked full-time as a Practice Administrator, continued when I had my children, and continues to this day.
I'm curious to read the chapters about creating new habits and how movements happen. It's going to be interesting.
Even though autumn is my favorite season, I love summertime. Though there are more family commitments at this time I still paint...a lot. Today I'll add stencils and patterns, probably with more vibrant colour as well to this 36x48 inch canvas...I think this neutral base will allow the other colours to pop. I'm also currently helping my daughter to complete a diptych for herself. It's interesting how I've chosen earth-toned colours for mine - bronze, unbleached titanium, burnt umber - and she's chosen vibrant pinks, turquoise and yellows. Kind of like our wardrobes.
I've also been reading...a lot. And I find it interesting that my summer reads tend to be quite deep. It's thrilling when I'm on a run of great literature:
And the Mountains Echoed
by Khaled Hosseini
This is the first book I've read by this author even though 'The Kite Runner' received so much praise and recognition and now I can't wait to read it along with 'A Thousand Splendid Suns'. The story was reminiscent of 'A Fine Balance' by Rohinton Mistry and 'The God of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy (both which I loved) though they felt much heavier to me. This story basically revolves around a brother and sister and the people that weave in and out of their lives. Mr. Hosseini writes so beautifully about love and loss, about how each one of us has a different perspective about the same things, and about how something that can be perceived as negative or harrowing by one person may feel like salvation to another. Ultimately, he shares how the choices we make resonate for generations.
by Alix Ohlin
Another Scotiabank Giller shortlist which I've been intrigued by, this one (once again) didn't disappoint. This story revolves around Grace and her ex-husband Mitch, both therapists in Montreal. Both characters learn through difficult experiences that we cannot be held responsible for another person's life and that the choices we make are ultimately our own to make. But that we can also begin again.
Week 29 of the 52 WEEKS PROJECT was so much fun!!! I loved working on this little mischievous guy. Love those eyes! This time I incorporated some bronze metal paint that I've been wanting to use in my studio along with a Martha Stewart stencil. I kept thinking this would be a skunk but then I saw these adorable eyes and couldn't say no.
I cannot believe how much I'm enjoying this process...laying paint, texture, and pattern on a canvas and then adding these animals that are native to the province of Alberta. These past few pieces include some gel bead media that I wanted to use up and I love the texture. I also sprayed the initial layer of paint on the canvas well with water and used a patterned paper towel to create more interest. I know I'm using the word 'love' a lot, but this little guy just makes me so happy!
In the book 'Animal Teachings' author Dawn Brunke speaks of raccoon as being the master of disguise and dexterity as well as being able to discern deception. They teach us to observe and adapt also to engage in the spirit of curiosity. Though they are gentle and easy-going animals, they are also fierce in their defense of family. Much like the many brave and beautiful women I know :)
This week I had the great pleasure of chatting with a fabulous local jeweller at the library and in spite of many difficulties she has encountered in her life, she never fails to smile. Though Christine Taylor of Hoodoo Designs has only lived in Airdrie for five years she has made a big impact as a part of the local arts community. Prior to her full-time creative life, she was a Communications Advisor in the oil and gas industry. Once she began her family, she knew she wanted to spend more time at home and less on the road to the Calgary so she began to create handmade wedding invitations.
This step into creativity evolved into glass jewellery which led to a connection through Twitter followed by a collaboration with Calgary singer-songwriter Jann Arden. From there, her artistic expression translated to graphic design and stamped silver jewellery, which is where her focus currently lies.
In 2010 Christine was selected as the official jewellery designer of the Canadian Country Music Awards and later for the Whistler Film Festival. Since then she has gone on to create jewellery for the Amazing Women Awards with AirdrieLIFE magazine.
The symbol of her creative business is a bird named Ivy. Not realizing, Christine had been collecting birds for some time when it dawned on her to add it to her logo.
Her custom collection consists of a variety of sterling silver necklaces for women, men and children, baby bracelets, key chains and vintage forks to commemorate special occasions and all are personalized with names, dates, special words or quotes. Birth stones and special pendants are also available to create a personal memory.
As we discussed the impetus for her work, she explained that the people she has the privilege of working with inspire her, that on occasion when creating a special memorial for someone such as a mother who wants to remember a lost child, she connects so deeply with the work that it brings her to tears.
When I asked what she enjoys most about what she does, she replied, "I get to stay home with my children and create memories, doing something good and meaningful for others."
And finally, when I asked for her best advice for other creative people she shared that it is important to "just keep trying." Christine's work will be exhibited at the Airdrie Public Library until September 1.
Due to the flooding that took place the same weekend the Empty Bowls Festival was supposed to take place it had to be re-scheduled to a weekend where, unfortunately, I had to work all day. I was disappointed as this was the second year I didn't get to see my fired bowl but always happy that the Airdrie Food Bank raises so much money with this event and am so glad to be able to contribute. This year they raised $8500.
Today my daughter and I headed to downtown Calgary to donate our paintings to The Alberta Flood Rose Project at Mona Lisa Artists' Materials...it was my first trip downtown since the flood and I can't believe how different it looks from the photos of a few short weeks ago, how normal. It's so good to see everything and everyone back to business. I keep thinking of how difficult it must be for the businesses affected and for their employees. While we were on 17th Avenue, we popped in to Jelly Modern Doughnuts...yummmm!
Another great cause that I'm so glad I was able to contribute to was the Canadian Artists for the Poor art calendar. The original paintings by a number of Canadian artists are available to bid on and the calendar is available for a $20 purchase. All for an amazing cause.