On my birthday last weekend I ran into a pair of Canada geese along the creek and knew immediately what I wanted to create in order to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday. Fortunately I had my phone with me and was able to capture a few photos and I'm so happy as I wasn't certain what I wanted to paint prior to seeing them, though I knew I wanted to paint something to commemorate this time. I had this canvas prepared as the clocks represent time for me...both the 150 years since confederation and also the time that my parents have spent and contributed as Canadian citizens since the 1960's. The red and white symbolizes the flag, green and blue the beauty of the rugged nature of this beautiful country, and, of course, the geese not only represent Canada in their name but also symbolize being loyal, kind and brave as well as community. This is what Canada means to me.
Some of the tools I've been loving on these warm summer days have been much simpler than in the past. Though I tend to gravitate to smaller amounts of materials whenever I work, in the summer simplifying is even more important to me. My favorites these days have been the Jane Davenport brights watercolour pans, 6x9 Strathmore 140 lb watercolour pad, Winsor & Newton #12 round brush, a small butterfly clip to keep the sheets from curling too much, a dish of water and a cotton rag (or tissue). All of these materials are available at my local Michaels Arts & Craft supply store which certainly makes my life easier...and in the summer, easier is always good.
Every summer I tend to gravitate to working with watercolours and I wonder if it's because it's a much lighter and airier (if that's a word) medium. I know I enjoy switching back and forth between large and small works, and also between canvas and paper, but I think I also like the idea of something physically lighter. It is easier to transport and travel with and I like the fact that the white of the paper acts as highlights. It challenges me in a different way and forces me to experiment with new ideas and ways of working when I return to acrylics. I often wonder if there is some way I can bring this fluid method of working to the canvas. Perhaps in fall it will be time to play with new acrylic media once again.
Since my shoulder injury this past year and a half, I've had to begin working in a variety of different ways in order to reduce stress on the shoulder. One of my favorite methods (as in the past) is to work on the floor and now I have this lovely meditation cushion from Ten Thousand Villages to sit on. My daughters both had received them as gifts and I have admired them all this time. Not only are they beautiful and functional, it's a privilege to be able to help support women working in Vietnam.
This story focuses on a young boy named Max who, after dressing in his wolf costume, wreaks such havoc through his household that he is sent to bed without his supper. Max's bedroom undergoes a mysterious transformation into a jungle environment, and he winds up sailing to an island inhabited by malicious beasts known as the "Wild Things." After successfully intimidating the creatures, Max is hailed as the king of the Wild Things and enjoys a playful romp with his subjects. However, he starts to feel lonely and decides to return home, to the Wild Things' dismay.
I'm excited to be involved in this year's Voice & Vision collaboration once again though this time felt even more challenging. As you know, I love collaborations, but it is always a bit intimidating when you're asked to interpret someone else's writing. My aim is to let go of any preconceived (by me) expectations and allow the words to invoke images and in this case the image of lilacs and the feeling of mystery or the unknown were my guiding influences. This time it took many hours of reading and re-reading along with closing my eyes and letting images float through my mind. I'm really happy with this piece and hope the writer appreciates it, too.
Writing by Shane Kroetsch:
John sat on the front porch, hunched forward with his elbows on his knees. A figure shuffled down the laneway, silhouetted by the orange glow of the setting sun. William raised a hand in greeting as he neared.
“Evenin’ John. So, it’s ready is it?”
“Suppose so. Come have a look.”
John led William around the corner of the house and through a break in the Lilacs. A small round table stood in the center of a worn dirt patch. The same table that Emily and her friends would sit around and gossip over afternoon tea. That was a long time ago though.
John’s creation was in the center of the table. It was about the size of a bread box, but not at all the right shape. Even in the long shadow cast by the house, the object stood out. It was vivid, like it was more real than everything around it.
John scratched at the stubble on his chin while William circled the table. It seemed like an eternity of heavy boots dragging through dry soil, but after a time William paused and bent down. He raised a calloused finger and squinted his grey eyes.
“Decided to keep that did ya?”
“Made sense at the time.”
“It’s good. I like it.”
John pursed his lips and nodded. His shoulders dropped as he hooked his thumbs in to the pockets of his jeans.
“So? Think it’ll work?”
“I think it’ll work just fine. Ya done good John, yes sir.”
Through the years, one of the greatest privileges as an artist has been to create commissioned works as wedding gifts. Surprisingly, it's become one of my favorite things to do...to find out what is important to a couple and to be able to create something that reflects this point of connection for two people. It really is an honour when others trust something so important to me.
I'm often asked how I take photos and it's quite a simple process. First of all I did invest in a good camera, a Canon EOS Rebel T3i, which takes great pictures and can also film video I purchased this one second hand and saved a bundle. Because I don't want to purchase a lot of expensive equipment (painting is my passion and it's where I'd rather invest my funds), I tend to look for spaces outside to take photos of my work and that changes depending on the season. Thank goodness for digital photography as I can take as many pictures as I'd like and delete most of them. At this point, I will do whatever it takes to get a great shot...in these pics I was taking photos of my daughter and her childhood friends at graduation so it meant kicking off my heels and almost falling into the water ;) I also set my camera settings at the highest dpi (dots per inch) which has allowed me to have my photographs published in several magazines.
With my paintings, I take images from many different angles, placing the pieces in light shade in order to get as accurate in colour as possible, and I make sure to try to fill up the view finder on the camera. If I'm taking an angle shot, I pay attention to everything that will be visible in the final picture but if I'm taking a photo of the painting, I try to fill up the view finder and square the image, again to be as accurate as possible. I like to brace my arms on my knees or against my sides so that the images aren't blurry. Then, after taking many, many photos, I delete most of them, keeping only the best and only edit to focus on the painting (ie. cut out any background as it distracts).
I also take photos of work in progress in our home, but again, depending on the light at certain times of the day or year, I will take the work into different rooms. I do the same thing, never using the flash on the camera as it totally changes the colours and looks flat. I have no problem climbing on furniture or cabinets or lying on the floor as that is usually when I get the best images. I also put on the self timer and place my camera on a tripod, on the floor or other pieces of furniture to get photos of myself in the process of working. Finally, I also have two daughters with an incredible eye for composition and I never hesitate to utilize their skills.
This weekend my husband and I went for a lovely drive to High River where I delivered some new work to Evanescence Gallery. We have both always enjoyed rides in the country and this is one trip I really, really enjoy as we drive through rolling hills and beautiful trees, quite different from where we live. And spending an afternoon with my beau, especially on Father's Day, was a real treat. :)
Named for the twelfth night after Christmas, the end of the Christmas season, Twelfth Night plays with love and power. The Countess Olivia, a woman with her own household, attracts Duke (or Count) Orsino. Two other would-be suitors are her pretentious steward, Malvolio, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Onto this scene arrive the twins Viola and Sebastian; caught in a shipwreck, each thinks the other has drowned. Viola disguises herself as a male page and enters Orsino’s service. Orsino sends her as his envoy to Olivia—only to have Olivia fall in love with the messenger. The play complicates, then wonderfully untangles, these relationships.