This newest piece reflects not only our current landscape with its abundance of snow but also the inuit and their kayaks made of seal skin and bone in the north. As I looked through my travel sketchbook at patterns I've seen in rock outcroppings and on teepees I began to see how they could resemble snowflakes. When I was a child I remembered the first time I learned that every snowflake has its own pattern and so I would catch them on my mittens to look closely and was amazed by their intricacy.
Because this week has been filled with a number of challenges I am even more grateful that I have a studio and creative work to which I can retreat. But along with difficulties come even greater joys. Last night I had my first class with a lovely young lady in whom I can see so much talent that I'm excited to see where she will go with it. I see a bright future in store for her.
Whenever I feel stressed, angry, anxious, or in any way unhappy I tend to do things that add to it - web hopping, television, junk food - even though I know in my heart that all I need to do is make a cup of tea, light a candle, and head into my studio. Such a relief. And I was able to complete two more canvases that have been in progress for awhile for my next exhibit at Bluerock Gallery which I am really looking forward to in March. Now, another new canvas to begin today...
I was very honored and humbled to be asked to take part in this project by artist Deborah Catton, especially when I saw the other artists whom I admire greatly, that were also included. Deborah shares that 'Artists in the Raw' is a visual journey that captures working artists of Alberta in their private and intimate spaces and is available here. She was a real treat to spend time with and I'm pleased to say that I've had the opportunity since to be involved with her again on a fundraising project for the Women's Art Museum Society of Canada whom I had the privilege of exhibitingt at their inception, an organization that is committed to preserving Canadian women's visual art heritage.
I also had the great pleasure of meeting with a lovely and talented group of ladies today, I highly recommend a visit to their websites:
** Patricia Lortie
** Connie Geerts
** Eleanor Lowden Pidgeon
** Sabine Lecorre-Moore
This new year is definitely starting off well.
Another week has gone by and I'm happy to say that this work is really feeding my other work as well. I'm glad I've given myself a week at a time as I can let the project stew in my mind a little before plunging in...though I tend to work while I stew, but at least I'm not limited by too short of a time constraint. This bear reflects my love of the north...yes, I do still miss it. And she looks like a protective mother to me - I love the look on her face. Throughout my marriage, my husband has gifted me polar bears (carvings and clay sculptures) as anniversary gifts...1, 5, 10, 20 years...and I'm looking forward to another for our 25th Anniversary this year ;).
Polar bears are fearless, known for their hunting and fishing skills. They provide for their families, being highly responsible. They always care for the weak. Polar bear reflects purity, rebirth and transformation. Where brown bear represents community, polar bear, like a spirit, reflects solitude. The Inuit regard polar bear as the spirit of the North, the carriers of ancient wisdom.
Tomorrow I'll share the 'Artists in the Raw' book that I am privileged to be a part of which was written and photographed by Deborah Catton. Later this week I'll post another completed canoe and then I'll be meeting with a fantastic group of female artists (also mothers) to begin a small support group...kind of encouraging one another and keeping each of us accountable.
It's funny, as I had just completed a worksheet titled 'Unravelling the Year Ahead' by Susannah Conway and one question asked who your support group is - friends, colleagues, mentors, experts - and though I have wonderful and creative friends, we tend not to be able to meet as often as I'd like so I wrote that I would like to work with a group of incredible people. And, the next day I received an e-mail asking if I'd like to be included in a group of smart, talented, professional women whom I admire and are also juggling the demands of motherhood that would connect weekly to discuss our goals and challenges. Wow! Talk about putting your intention out there and receiving an amazing response. Life is good.
On these snowy Alberta days I've been holed up and reading books & blogs in between periods of painting...so many I enjoy for a variety of reasons...for the writing, the artistry, the photographs, the beautiful spaces. In honor of the new year I thought I'd share a dozen that I'm currently enjoying, one for each month:
* Geninne's Art Blog
* Reading My Tea Leaves
* How 2 Draw a Cup of Coffee
* Heather Smith Jones
* Umber Dove
* Erin's Window
* Kelly Thiel Studio
* Tracey Broome...Clay
* Samantha daSilva
* Her Painted Word
Recently I've received a number of emails asking about my favorite tools, so here goes:
1. Jack Richeson Lyptus Dulce H Frame Easel - an eco-friendly easel which can accomodate canvases up to 7 feet high, weighs only 26 lbs and folds flat to place under a bed when we n.
2. Taboret - acutally a kitchen cart from IKEA with a sheet of glass duct taped to the top. Sturdy and easy to move.
3. 6x8 ThumBox pochade - I can never say enough about my 'studio in a box' from Judson's - the new one is not as deep as mine but I'm sure it will still accomodate everything needed.
4. Heinz Jordan & Co. Journals - they contain 250 pages of nice paper, lie flat when opened, measure 5x8 inches and are made in Canada.
5. Liquitex acrylics - for many reasons but the two main ones are that they don't make my family sick (high chemical sensitivities and allergies) and they have a large lid which is easy to open and helps them to stand upright. I always keep a basic set (red, blue, yellow, and white) but sometimes expand on it with any color that catches my eye.
6. Tube Wringer - a wringer gets every little bit out of each tube of paint...I tend to prefer smaller tubes as the paint won't thicken or dry out but do not want to waste any of it. It's also great for squeezing out that last bit of toothpaste :)
7. Brushes - I love flats as I can fill large spaces but also create nice lines when I turn the brush to its edge...and as often as I can I try to look for acrylic handles. I live in a very dry climate and wooden handles tend to dry out and shrink, plus if I leave the brush in the water too long they expand again, cracking the handle & wrecking the ferrule (the metal sleeve that keeps the bristles attached to the brush), which then wrecks the brush.
8. Rags - my favorite are my husband's old ripped up cotton t-shirts as the cotton is absorbant and they've been washed and dried so often that they don't leave lint behind.
9. Canvas - I love stretched canvas as my substrate...love the give and texture of the fabric and the fact that I can stretch my own (see directions here).
10. Palette Knife - I also use palette knife, not to mix with as I like the paint on my brush to be partially mixed to leave interesting marks, but to scrape off my palette at the end of a painting session.
I've taken to brewing loose-leaf teas in my Bodum coffee press, lighting my morning vanilla beeswax candle and listening to Birdy while I paint. The mornings have been spent working on these 52 WEEKS pieces, currently working on no. 2, and preparing a lesson plan for my young student who will begin next week. My afternoons are spent in the studio working on the final pieces for my upcoming exhibit, and the evenings are for finalizing art program items for the library, for reading...and for watching 'Murdoch Mysteries' with my daughter while we await the next season of 'Downton Abbey' to be available to us. I really do feel blessed.
In the past few months we have come in fairly close contact with a variety of wildlife so this first piece is my homage to the young bear that visited us several times as we camped this summer. I had no idea what I was going to do until I did it, though I began with texture and multi-media...plaster, watercolour, acrylic, conte, pencil, gel media, stencils, stamps, and china marker. I'm quite pleased with the mischievous look on her face.
Bear is wise, patient and strong reminding us to trust our inner voice. There is power in introspection and quiet, especially during the hibernating winter months. Bear is a symbol of leadership and also asks us to pay attention to our natural healing skills. Bear reminds us to slow down and go within in order to emerge with wisdom. They are a perfect balance of introspection and action. A powerful guide to support physical and emotional healing.
It's interesting, though I've only completed one, being only a week into this year long project, because I've been working on my series for the next exhibit and a piece for a book (more on that later), I've already been tempted to change my substrate. Aren't artists like children? Like puppies? So easily distracted by shiny objects? But I will persevere...because I said I would. And I had fun.
I'm thrilled to be able to share the new work now on exhibit at the library:
Inspired ~ The paintings of Michelle Wiebe
January 7 – March 4, 2013
Michelle Wiebe began her formal study of art in senior high at Langley Fine Arts School in British Columbia followed by a period of study at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design before being offered the opportunity to be involved as a Pastor of Childrens’ Ministry at the Airdrie Alliance Church several years ago. In her role at the church, she has
travelled extensively, working with children in such countries as Hungary, Turkey and Swaziland. These travels have played a huge role in inspiring this new body of work.
She has also returned to her love of printmaking with the restoration of an antique printing press she was gifted a number of years ago. Linocuts are a printmaking technique in which a sheet of linoleum is carved with a sharp knife,
V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the uncarved areas representing a mirror image of the final printed image. After carving, the linoleum is inked with a brayer (roller), and then impressed onto paper or fabric.
“Slowly I've been building up my courage to outfit this [printing press] properly,” said Michelle. “I'm super intimidated by it. It needs new rollers and I don't have any type to set - but the machine itself is in great condition. I'm reading up on how all this works. I know somehow I will be able to mount linocuts in there, so I'm practicing my linocutting.”
She will be teaching a class on printmaking during the Jr Artists Program for children aged 9 to 12 at the library on May 18. An Airdrie Public Library membership and a minimal $3 material fee is required to register.
Throughout her years as an artist, Michelle has also painted a number of personal portraits of pets and children. To read more about her inspiration and process, please visit her blog at http://www.mw-artco.blogspot.ca.