Only three months left of this 52 WEEKS project and I have begun asking my family for assistance with animals that are common in Canada. My husband suggested muskrat this week as they used to be prevalent visitors to our yard when we lived on the banks of the wetlands of Nose Creek. I miss those days.
The funny thing about muskrats is that they look like most rodents but instead of being creepy are very cute. They have been called rats because they are omnivores but aren't actually rats. The name comes from their musky odor which they use to mark their territory. They were originally called musk-beaver because of their flattened tails and then muskrats because of that similarity to rats.
They can grow to 28 inches in length and their fur, which grows in a double layer to keep them warm in cold water, begins as brown or black but can actually turn grey as they age. Their back feet are slightly webbed and they can close their ears when they dive under water, where they can last for as long as 17 minutes.
As a totem animal, muskrat is a good sign, symbolizing silent observation. They remind us to trust ourselves and keep our own counsel. Grace, resilience and adaptability. Everything has a potential for positive outcome, no matter how bleak the situation may seem.
Funny thing...I found myself in both local newspapers for two of the four events I was involved in during ARTember on Saturday...on the left is the 4th Annual AIRdirdondack Gala in the Airdrie Echo and on the right is the Canals Showhome opening in the Airdrie City View. The Gala was absolutely amazing! We beat records for both attendance and chair auction, with no chair selling for less than $1000. I am so very proud of our local artists and, of course, of my friend Sherry, publisher of AirdrieLIFE magazine, who was the initial instigator of this fabulous event five years ago. I'm so pleased I have been able to be involved all these years.
Also, I currently have the great honour of re-creating works of art for two beautiful young ladies who lost all of their possession in the High River Flood this spring. I am excited to meet them next month when I personally deliver the work to them and am so grateful to be able to see my beautiful friend Arlene at her gallery, Evanescence in High River. And today tipi #11 was posted in the etsy online shop. Only three more left to post. :)
I have been loving working on this project and was thankful for a couple of hours and sunshine to take some proper photos. So now the etsy shop has been updated to include a few more tipis from the past few days and with clearer pictures of their vibrant colours and texture. Thank you all so much for the amazing feedback. Definitely work of my heart. xox
Last Saturday at the library we had a full house for henna workshop provided by Samreen Junaid. The boys and girls experienced the great fun of decorating picture frames with an ancient natural, non-toxic henna dye from the mignonette or henna tree. To make henna, the leaves of the tree or shrub are crushed and mixed with a mild acid such as lemon or tea to create a paste which is applied using a small, cone-shaped bag.
After showing the kids how to decorate with henna, Samreen treated them all to a beautiful body art henna designs on their hands. The girls got flowers and the boys dragons which they absolutely loved.
A local reporter also was treated to a beautiful temporary tattoo design on her hand as was I...all prettied up for the AIRdirondack Art Gala that evening. Thank you so very much Samreen. You are such a special lady.
And a special thank you to Creative Airdrie and ARTember for the materials in support of another fantastic Airdrie Public Library Junior Artist workshop.
For this week's challenge I knew the entire time that I wanted to paint a Mallard duck but was avoiding actually doing it because I have a friend who carves birds and knew I couldn't give it that kind of justice. I prepped the canvas, texturing and laying in a background colour. I researched images and meanings. And I was really happy that I was really, really busy with ARTember in Airdrie so I had an excuse to avoid it. But I finally had to get to work...deadlines, you know...and am pleased with the results. I like the shape and colour of his head, the loose brushwork of his feathers, and the glint in his eye.
When we used to live in Nose Creek Park, backing onto the creek, we would watch the ducks travel by every day until one day a gaggle of ducklings wandered up our neighbor's driveway. He is such a kind man, a grandfather figure to our children, and gathered those babies to bring them back to the creek to connect them with their mother (which he did) but first he stopped at our door to share them with my girls. They were so cute and so soft and my young daughters were thrilled.
As a totem animal duck symbolizes emotional comfort and protection. Their connection to water and to one another reminds us to connect to ourselves and the environment and people around us. In their element they are graceful travellers. Also, the colour green symbolizes nature, growth, balance and fresh ideas which is really how I have to remember to look at this body of work. It's all about growth.
So, I've decided to work out of order and post Tipi #10 in honour of the harvest moon (available online here). The feeling, colours and shapes in this piece remind me of an autumn evening. While I've been working I've been listening to Neil Young's Harvest Moon (how can I not?) while enjoying homemade pumpkin spice lattes and frappuccinos.
Also, as much as I love my pochade box from Judson's Art Outfitters, I never use the wet panel carrier so I have decided to give it away. It fits up to 12 6x8 inch panels. I don't like to leave things sitting around when I know someone else could use and enjoy them. Please leave a comment or send me an email if interested. If more than one person responds, I will be happy to pull a name.
Finally, finally finished the largerpiece I began over a month ago. It amazes me how switching sizes or media when I am struggling with a piece helps to resolve the work. Even when I'm not working on it, I'm working on it in some respect. It's kind of like writing down a problem before you go to bed so that your brain can continue working on it. I kept thinking of these prairie travellers. Those people who came before us and moved with their food source...different animals to hunt, different berries and other local vegetation to gather.
I have also listed tipi #3 in my etsy shop here...this one was fun as it was the first based on a watercolour I had created on our trip through Montana this summer. To me it feels a little more abstract (is that possible?) because I used simple triangle shapes, not elaborating too much, other than on the mark-making, of course.
Yesterday I dropped 'The Raven' off at Genesis Builders Group to be hung in one of the show homes in Canals Landing in Airdrie this week and will be unveiled at their grand opening on Saturday from noon until 4pm. I hope I'll have time to pop in, between the Jr Artists program at the library, setting up for the AIRdirondack Gala and attending it Saturday will be rather busy...and I'm looking forward to it. 'The Raven' is available as a print online here and here.
Also, this morning the second tipi has been added to etsy...it can be viewed here. Thank you all so much for your encouraging words, they are greatly appreciated.
I had the great privilege of being raised in a magical place north of '56. Leaf Rapids is nestled in the viridian boreal forest, on the cusp of the Canadian shield, surrounded by the clear, cool water of the Churchill River. A place we were taught the Cree arts of bannock baking, beading, canoeing, snow shoeing and weaving; we were blessed by Elders and Grandmothers; we learned to care for the land and animals that sustained us.
This summer as we travelled through Montana I was reminded of the beautifully patterned tipis of my childhood. They were the places of quiet, of rest, of joy, of laughter, of simplicity and of community. We were blessed with prayer during smudging ceremony:
'When the smoke clears I will only see the beauty of you.
When the smoke clears I will only hear the beauty of you.
When the smoke clears I will only speak the beauty of you.'
And so, to honour the beautiful history of this place, I have created a series of tipis that represent this sacred space to me. In order to share this blessing, I am placing a tipi a day in my etsy shop at an introductory rate for the next few weeks. I hope they bring you as much joy as they do me.