Finally finished! This chair has been on the back burner for so long and I can't believe I finally finished it...just in time for Christmas ;) It's once again chilly and overcast in these parts but the hoar frost is absolutely stunning. While I've been at work on this (as well as a few larger canvases) I've been giving a lot of thought to my personal creative process:
::The pattern always begins the same with a huge amount of energy and positivity while preparing for an exhibit or article or class --- there's a high that comes with this stage, where everything feels new and exciting and I can work almost non-stop and feel giddy with joy.
::Then, there's the exhibit opening or published article or the workshop has been given and I am filled with utter exhaustion which is followed by a huge lack of self-care --- this is when I indulge in junk food just to put something in my stomach, don't consider nourishment at all, including lack of beverages (especially water, which my body is always in desperate need of) --- forutnately, at this time I also rest, something I used to call 'being lazy' (a term coined by my immigrant parents and has always been considered by my family as something very, very bad)...I have come to realize that this physical time of rest is an absolute necessity and allows me to fill my well so I can be creative again.
::After the rest, I am once again filled with abundant energy, the first portion which I give to my family in terms of care of our home and baking/cooking well. I always love this time.
::And the cycle begins again...they used to be more debilitating where I reached almost a state of clinical depression, which is something that unfortunately is a burden my family history has had to bear, but allowing myself to accept this pattern, the highs as well as the lows, has shortened the curve, both the intensity of the feelings and the duration.
I also keep in mind something I read a long, long time ago and was recently reminded of...that in some tribes if you visit a healer about depression (anxiety / discouragement / etc.), he or she will ask you six questions:
1. When did you stop dancing?
2. When did you stop singing?
3. When did you stop believing?
4. When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
5. When did you stop entering the silence?
6. When did you stop loving?
And the advice is to begin it all once again.
Been working on the adirondack chair again - it's at that awkward 'looks like it's been vandalized' stage (yes that was a comment made during my utility box painting). This time I'm including arrowheads, feathers, caribou and, yes, a canoe. I'm especially excited about the caribou, though we'll see how everything progresses as I tend to have different favorite parts throughout the process.
Today the sun is shining and I'm counting down the days until my daughter in university is home for the holidays and I can't wait. I love being at home, surrounded by my family, with projects on the go, as well as a good book or two on my night stand...oh, and a nice Starbucks green tea latte (no syrup, please). That constitutes a perfect day for me.
I've been reading Quiet by Susan Cain which is about introversion in an extroverted world. My husband is an extreme introvert and I am one who was taught to behave like an extrovert. My mother is an extreme extrovert who does not understand introversion at all. Until recently she thought that I may require medication to help me function better in this world...to which I disagree...I feel I only need long periods of solitude and quiet.
It's been interesting to see the differences in my husband and myself - he can function quite well with very little sleep (apparently common in introverts) but can tolerate noise, doesn't even notice it, whereas it is absolutely exhausting to me (another trait common in introverts) and so I find living in a rapidly growing city a challenge. I feel that at this point in my life I have found a healthy balance...I work in a public library a few times a week but the rest of my time is spent at home in silence - baking, reading, caring for my home and family, and mostly painting. I still have the opportunity to meet people with my public speaking and exhibits but, mostly, I can remain happily in my sanctuary. As much as I love being part of a wonderful community, I don't always want to be seen.
There was an interesting chapter in this novel that refers to evangelical churches being created for extroverted people. I find (my) church to be difficult for me because it is no longer a place of contemplation. The music and sound system are loud and the congregation are expected to be involved at all times which I find to be difficult, and the hand-shaking and small talk at the beginning of each service causes me stress. Yes, I am friendly, but I personally need a time of reflection and rejuvination. It's interesting to see how extroverts are bored and drained by that type of atmosphere and I am filled by it.
This book has certainly been food for thought - helping me to understand both my husband and myself a little better. And also helping me to understand those extroverts in my world a little better, too.
The act of painting is about one heart telling
I am so excited to share that I will be involved in another solo exhibit, this time at Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond in March! For those of you who haven't been there yet, it is an amazing space - I love how the wonderful owners kept the original storefront on Woos General Store while incorporating it into their space. The gallery is filled with the most amazing things...creative and beautiful pieces by artists and artisans from all over. Plus it is an honour for me to exhibit with a number of artists whom I haven't in some time. Such a gift. For this exhibit I am planning on including a number of smaller pieces and, so, I head back to the studio...grinning from ear-to-ear.
You wouldn't believe it, my eldest struggling with possible early stages of appendicitis, my husband diagnosed with bronchitis and my youngest battling the flu...and on her 13th birthday of all things. Yikes! This is been a tough autumn so far. And, at the same time, I've been avoiding doing the work I need to do. Instead I painted a small grove of birch trees for my daughter who will be home from University in 3 1/2 weeks (yes!). I've been considering painting her room for awhile but really, really like the grey-blue walls (a favorite colour of mine) so, inspired by the bare trees outside I decided to paint birch trees instead.
1-4 inch foam brush
1-3 inch foam brush
1-1 inch foam brush
1-1/2 inch flat watercolour brush
1 tester sized can of white acrylic paint
1 small craft bottle of navy acrylic paint
1 photo for reference
And a grey-blue painted wall (the background was painted a few years ago mixing leftover house paint)
Looking at a photo I took of a grove of birch trees, I decided to focus on the trunks and leave out any branches as I wanted this to look simple and a bit contemporary (because that's my girl). I decided to create trees using all three sizes of foam brushes in random order and added a few larger trees by using the 4 inch foam brush in two stripes. I also decided to leave the white at the first coat as I liked the rustic effect of shadows caused by the base paint showing through in spots. This is the fun part because
a) the lines definitely DO NOT have to be straight
b) there is ABSOLUTELY NO measuring involved
c) and there is NO NEED to draw first
Once the white paint dried, I added knots and dots and lines using the watercolour brush and navy craft paint. Again, I used my photo as a loose reference but wasn't looking for perfection. And, VOILA, a fresh, new look in two hours :) Now that's my kind of redecorating!
P.S. OPTION: add small white and branches & navy birds (which I may do at some point but I like it like this).
The past few days have been filled with ups and downs...isn't life always like that? My eldest daughter was on the brink of emergency surgery so I had a bag packed and was ready to drive three hours to be with her but, thankfully, everything turned around quickly. I know three hours doesn't seem so far away, but it really does when you miss your child so much and all you want to do is be there to hold their hand. I also worked at the library all weekend, which is usually not a bad thing, but having my girl on my mind made it difficult and I have to say I am exhausted today.
On a really good note, my Christmas shopping is almost done! I love Christmas, love purchasing handmade items from people I have connected with somehow, and books are always a high priority for our family...shopping for them is always fun. Plus I love being done early so that whenever I'm out I can just sit back and enjoy the holiday music and great treats with my friends and family. **I do have a little secret to getting shopping done early, throughout the year I keep a small Moleskin sketchbook in my purse so that I can sketch wherever I go...AND I write down the items that people comment on while we're out, those things that catch their eye...which means I have handy birthday and Christmas wish lists with me at all times.**
And...the winter issue of STUDIOS magazine arrived in my mailbox this morning and my own personal sanctuary is in it! I am abundantly grateful to Kristen Shima for the absolutely beautiful photographs. I love my space and am so glad others do, too. So now I will make a large creamy hot chocolate (maybe with a pince of cayenne pepper and a dollop of whipped cream) and hunker down to enjoy perusing others' studio spaces...definitely favorite thing.
I've taken this week to do fun stuff just for me after all my 'busyness' over the past few weeks. This is a piece I created for my daughter who is now in university - she loves pink and everything Audrey Hepburn, so I've included parts of her favorite quote:
“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I
believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything
seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I
believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”
I'm also creating something special in her room for when she comes home at Christmas as well as still working on that adirondack chair I started for myself. With the snow and unseasonably cold temperatures I've brought the chair inside so I can work whenever I feel like it, instead of only when the weather allows.
I've also been indulging in Starbucks seasonal drinks...Pumpkin Spice, Egnnog, Gingerbread Lattes. Gosh I love this time of year.
My drive to High River on Friday was a little scary...what usually takes me an hour took two with accidents and terrible road conditions. But arriving at Evanescense Gallery was such a treat - delicious snacks (including the most incredible truffles) and red wine along with a group of fabulous ladies. In the evening I spoke about my journey as an artist, sharing some of the work I have created over numerous years and how both the good and the bad have brought me to where I am today, and for that I am grateful. I spent the night in a cozy bed enjoying a murder mystery, 'Miss Me When I'm Gone' written by Emily Arsenault.
In the morning I set up the back studio of the gallery for an intimate workshop on the heART~blox. The ladies were lovely and the food Arlene provided was fantastic. I ate and drank all day. It's always interesting to me to see how another person translates what I do with their own inspiration. I love to be able to share a few techniques and materials while allowing participants to work on their own, only assisting as they require. I am not comfortable changing what someone else is doing, but allowing them to put their own creative stamp on their work, though I am also more than happy to help and offer suggestions whenever someone feels unsure or stuck.
It was a wonderful, casual, creative weekend where I had the privilege of meeting the most interesting group of women.
'Honouring the Ancestors': Awesome Airdrie
AIRdirondack Art Project
'Counting Crows': Great Places Plan