Shhhhh...can you keep a secret? This is a gift for my husband. He grew up in a farmhouse in south eastern Manitoba, a house that has passed from the hands of uncle to nephew over several generations. Over the years the farmhouse has changed, the yard has changed with the removal of old growth and new growth. But it still remains in the family.
Our daughters and I have heard endless stories of his siblings, of the farm animals, of the crazy dogs, of mowing acres of grass with the garden tractor and of many broken windows caused by games of hockey, football and baseball with the neighboring farm boys.
There aren't many photographs of the property but so many memories connected to it. I am especially drawn to the history of that old home as I was raised by immigrants and with a father in mine management we tended to move quite a bit. The roots that have been sown on the land of my husband's family feel a bit like mine now, too.
And though we've raised our daughters across the prairies I feel like we have begun to create our own roots in this town. Living here for seventeen years really feels like a lifetime for me, and it definitely is for our children. It's not easy to stay in one place...there are the ups and downs, the good and bad times...and yet the lessons they teach us are perseverance and community.
So, fingers crossed...I hope he likes it.
This week I was actually preparing another canvas for a different animal when we were visited by three blue jays. My daughter and I watched them dancing around the evergreen tree for an hour and I knew I needed to paint one. My dad calls them beautiful bullies as they tend to scare off the little birds and help themselves to whatever is left behind.
The number three always feels auspicious to me, so I tend to pay attention when I see or hear things in groups of three. It represents magic, intuition, and the pure joy of creativity. Spiritually, it is also a symbol of the Holy trinity, the past, the present and the future. Interestingly it also represents reward and success.
As a totem animal, blue jay guides us to pay attention to how we use our personal power. 'Jay' comes from the Latin for for 'Gaea' which means Mother Earth. With grounding and focus, potential and ability can develop into the amazing personal gifts we have been blessed with but we must be careful not to become a jack of all trades and master of none.
My daughters have certainly experienced a few perks being the children of an artist.
Terrific variety of professional art supplies for school projects and for fun. Exposure to many different art forms and experiences as well as other creative people. They saw live theatre, symphony and ballet plus many, many galleries everywhere we went and met so many talented artists and authors. I'm afraid I didn't allow much children's programming as they often felt to me as though children were being spoken down to, though there isn't anything wrong with it, but I didn't enjoy it so I didn't believe my daughters would either. I love documentaries and BBC television so my children learned to love them, too.
But I also know there has been a down side.
They have been judged on the quality of their work based on mine. They have had supposed friends who were only interested in spending time in my studio. Sometimes my advocacy for the arts is in conflict with another adult whom my child has to work with which can be challenging. And trying to explain what your mother does professionally while you're in school can sometimes be confusing. Also too much exposure meant they didn't always appreciate it. Wanting to be different from Mom created a challenge in finding their own way, even though they are both extremely creative. Fortunately they've found their way back.
Plus, it must be difficult to live with someone who is constantly living in her own imaginary world.
When I get an idea I have to write it down, or sketch it, or paint it before it disappears or loses it's magical hold on me. I have full conversations in my head I sometimes forget that others don't hear it as well and will begin wherever it left off. I can read, view, talk about visual, performing and literary arts at all times. I am never bored.
But I do encourage them to be who they are.
I want them to do what they love, and not to worry about what I might think, or say, or feel. That is my issue, not theirs. In doing so, my hope is that they trust themselves and learn to make choices that will make them happy. I feel very lucky to be their mother.
One of my greatest pleasures is being informed where my paintings end up. I often receive emails from galleries or new painting 'adoptees' with a photo of the piece in its new space along with notes on how the patron has connected with the work. That is such a treasure.
Paintings have found new homes in every province across the country from Victoria to Toronto, a few in Alaska, all the way down through Canada and the United States to South America, and even in Europe with several finding their new families in places such as Germany, England and Scotland.
It is such a great honour not only to be supported in my work in this way, but to know that what I do touches others. I have no doubt that the deep connection I have with my work is felt by others, too. It's as if a small part of my story, my challenges and triumphs over them, can encourage someone else.
And as far And this little guy? He's on his way to Phoenix. :)
The Atlantic walrus is found in eastern Canada and the high Arctic and their tusks, which are their canine teeth, can grow from 15-35 inches in length. Their tusks are not used for hunting but rather for creating breathing holes in the ice and also when fighting for a female or for their place in the herd. The largest herd in Canada consists of approximately 5,000 members and when hunting for food they can remain underwater for thirty minutes.
As a totem animal walrus represents finding hidden treasure. They enjoy spending time with those who are like-minded, both spiritually and mentally, and ask us to remember to trust in our inner senses.
I'm supposed to be getting ready to go out, but wanted to start my next animal for the 52 WEEKS PROJECT...can you tell what it is going to be?