"A thing of beauty is a joy forever."
~ John Keats
These days have been happily busy with so many wonderful opportunities coming my way. Can't wait until I can share them publicly - just have to wait a while longer. I also begin my abstract painting course with Flora Bowley next Monday...canvas is primed, collected material for mark-making along with paint and mediuams and am ready to go :) The sun is shining and I enjoyed the morning by the mountains with my daughter - lovely inspiration and a wonderful lunch, life is so good.
There are times I feel blessed beyond measure, and this week has been one of those times. It seems the blessings don't stop flowing and I am so very grateful. Not very long ago I felt undeserving of so many good things. I felt guilt whenever I received too much remembering all of those who are less fortunate. I often felt that I should have less. And I always waited for the other shoe to drop, wondering when a terrible thing would happen to balance the good. And one day a wise woman told me that she was surprised I felt that way, she said that all the wonderful things that happened in her life felt like blessings from God - there is no deserving or undeserving, but just a gentle reminder to express gratitude. How fortunate we are to live where we do, and how we do. That we have choices and health and food and family and joy. That those who don't have this would give almost anything for it. Those old thought patterns seem so negative now. And so now I am just thankful, and very, very happy.
There are just too many wonderful books that I want to read and it seems not enough time to read them all...but I did manage to finish my latest, and have two more on my nightstand that are ready to go. Yesterday my oldest daughter and I went to Indigo and I had to avert my eyes from some of the tables of books, sometimes it is almost painful as I want to read it all. At the same time, I am re-working a large canoe piece as the canoe felt 'disconnected' from the rest of the painting for me. I've begun by making it larger and bolder, overlapping more of the landscape and am looking forward to where this will lead. I've also ordered a glass palette to cover my entire taboret and am excited to go pick it up today :)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith
Every June my family heads to the Crossroads Farmers Market for the Calgary Herald book sale which is a fabulous fundraiser for a number of causes, including the Children's Hospital. This summer I stumbled upon an original 1943 copy of Betty Smith's 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' whose story is told by Frances Nolan, a young girl growing up in a poverty-stricken area of Brooklyn in the early 1900's. The book is physically beautiful and the story is a lovely telling of difficult times. Though her father Johnny was an alcoholic, Francie's family saw the beauty in him. The image of the tree, which was considered a weed, runs throughout the novel to signify the strength that lies within each of us to grow, overcome and even flourish despite our circumstances.
"I shall never paint anything good.
I am just dead bones and venom,
and I ache to express what is really good and beautiful and true and real."
~ Emily Carr
*completing a painting :)
*finishing a tube of paint
*starting a new tube of paint
*girls' night out (with my girls)
*a good meal
*a nice glass of merlot
*a great book (reading 'a tree grows in brooklyn')
*learning something new
*an afternoon nap
It is -40 Celsius today and schools have been cancelled - thank goodness as I grew up in northern Manitoba and my husband is a prairie boy so missing school is not typically a consideration. I don't know why I still feel guilt over missing school; I guess that's just one of those things from youth that sticks. My interview with Mikayla Salmonds of AIR 106.1 yesterday was fabulous - what a lovely young woman. She'll let me know when they post it so that I can share :) I did have that feeling of disengagement from my body which was a little strange but then I got a note from a friend who is on the station and she reminded me that at least I got to talk to a person whereas she speaks to an empty room. Makes me chuckle. I also wanted to share a couple of books that I've been able to take off my reading list:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
by Mark Haddon
I know, I know, this one was published in 2003 but it has always been one that has interested me and so I've finally read it and actually couldn't put it down. Christopher Boone is a 15-year-old autistic mathematical genius who shares the story of his disfunctional upbringing while trying to solve the mystery of the murder of a neighbor's dog. Because of its interesting perspective, it reminded me very distantly of Flowers for Algernon which I read and enjoyed immensely as a teenager.
Miss Peregrin's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs
Originally I stumbled upon this book in the adult fiction section of a bookstore but have since found it in the young adult section and I do think it can certainly fit into both. I was particularly intrigued by the fact that the author (who has an intriguing name in itself) was inspired by unusual vintage photos which are included throughout the book. It is the story of sixteen-year-old Jacob who is struggling with the unusual circumstances of the death of his grandfather which leads to Jacob's travels in order to investigate his grandfather's past and an abandoned orphanage on a deserted island.
Well, I've completed my latest commission and I'm finally happy with it. It was inspired by a personal photo of a favorite activity in a favorite place. I'll be delivering it this week - fingers crossed that the patron likes it as much as I do. I was struggling with it a bit (as I always seem to with commissions) when I finally thought of creating a pthalo blue glaze to tie the areas together and to mimic the blue cast created by a chinook sky and it worked (whew!). I don't do an overall glaze often but find that it is sometimes required on my landscapes in particular (my tried & true recipe: 1 part paint, 45 parts water, 50 parts glazing liquid - with a large jar of water and rags nearby for adjustments as it dries fairly quickly). What I like about glazing is that you can wipe back as much as you need, or in the opposite direction, add more layers in the areas that you feel are necessary. I know when I paint, my work is part technical and a larger part intuitive. When the work 'feels right' is when I need to stop. I also add a third coat of gesso before I begin the work on purchased canvases - another old habit from college that I can't seem to break. We were taught that each canvas required three coats of gesso whereas purchased canvases tend to only have two. Though I also tint my gesso (red oxide in clear gesso) as I prefer to work on a coloured ground - first to reduce to intimidation factor of a white canvas and second to create a warm base (a Group of 7 tactic) - I like the texture created by using a large housebrush to add that final coat of gesso. It adds a chalky tooth to hold onto the paint and it also creates lovely little grooves to change the appearance of the final coat of paint...whether I use dry brush or, in this case, a final glaze. In awhile I'll be off to do my radio interview this morning - funny, I've done television, internet, magazines, books, newspapers, but never radio and I have to admit that I am a little intimidated by it, oddly enough. Here goes nothing :)