Today I hung some work at our local Good Earth Café and had a lovely visit with my friend Koos de Jongh and Rocky View Publishing reporter Matt Durnan. As we were chatting, I mentioned yesterday's inspiration with Calgary's public art and have to say that Airdrie is certainly growing in that area.
My friend Koos has an installation titled 'The Collaboration Project' at the Chinook Fire Hall, the Main Street Project which was completed by over 1000 local artists & members of the community a few years ago, AIRdirondack Art Project chairs, there are Fortis Art Wraps on utility boxes all around town created through Awesome Airdrie's partnership with Fortis Alberta that features work by several regional artists and friends - Kathryn Zondag, Char Vanderhorst, Cheryl Todd-Shergold, Lori Presiloski, and Olivia McMurray, along with the annual Art-in-Motion project that features local artwork on bus passes, bronze sculptures at Monklands Soccer Park and in Williamstown, The Legacy Art Project titled 'Space and Time' outside City Hall and, of course, my Awesome Airdrie project, the painted traffic signal box...which still makes me happy every time I drive past it.
This morning I had to run into the city and as I drove I was so happy to take note of all the public art...in and around downtown Calgary I saw Family of Horses by Harry O'Hanlon, Brotherhood of Mankind by Mario Armengol (my personal favorite), Women are Persons by Barbara Paterson, Wonderland by Jaume Plensa, The Conversation by William McElceran, Mechanical Horse, The Trees, Travelling Light by Inges Idee (several images can be viewed here). There were several other pieces by each large office building which I don't know the names of (I'll have to do some research) but it really is inspiring to see it all. Like a gallery visit without having to leave my vehicle (for the most part). I just wish there was a map with every piece of public art along with the name of the artists and their stories.
I've been extremely busy these weeks and was in my studio early this morning though rather frustrated as I'm trying to finish up several pieces which are giving me a few challenges. Once I arrived home from my trip into the city II was excited to get back to work with so many ideas stewing in my brain. I feel like I'm finally getting somewhere. Tomorrow I'll be hanging a few pieces (both canoes & tipis) at Good Earth Café in town, on Saturday I'm painting the mural at the library with the kids (very excited about that), and finally, on Sunday I can take it easy for a day. I'm really looking forward to it.
Yesterday morning while my family was sleeping I went to the library to create the mural for the Jr Artists' Workshop next weekend. This year's Summer Reading Program theme is 'Making' and when I mentioned it to the kids at the last workshop immediately they suggested a factory. At first all I envisioned was filth and grey concrete but then I realized the brilliance of it...I love the how open minded kids are and am so grateful to be able to work with them every month. So my illustration of a factory includes books and rainbow smoke and flowers. I think they'll have a great time painting it.
I have to say I'm so grateful for the support the library's art program gets as without it we wouldn't be able to do so many things. Airdrie Paint & Decor supplies miss-tints of acrylic paint, Fulton's Home Hardware supplies primer, and Rona supplies brushes and drop cloths. Co-op and Good Earth Café supply refreshments for functions like the School Art Gala, library volunteers help set up, clean up and assist the kids and, of course, so many local artists supply their time and talents. I feel so very fortunate to be able to offer this program to our community.
As I was about to leave I realized I was missing something to showcase the Airdrie Public Library, so I added a little flag with APL on it...it will be purple (love that it is our colour) in the finished images next week.
It has taken me many years to realize my ideal time, that point in any given day or week that I am at my best to create the work I do and also to be in the world. I know there are times that I have to work outside of these parameters but I try to keep to them as much as possible. I also know that there are specific times that I definitely try not to schedule anything that may require too much of me, too much patience or commitment.
The mornings are definitely my prime times...I am happy to get up at 6:00 am and begin a load of laundry before heading into my studio or to the library to work. I always begin my day with a cup of tea, a lit candle and CBC Radio before I step up to my easel or leave my home. For me, morning is the time when anything seems possible, when my mind is free of clutter and when I feel the most confident, though perhaps confident is not the right word...where I feel open to possibility. There is no chip on my shoulder from anything I may have read or any sense of insecurity that seems to be instigated by exhaustion. Early evening also seems to fairly work well but the mornings are definitely the perfect time for me to paint, to write, to share, to create.
The afternoons are definitely out for most things, unless I can do it from my home base. Though I do run a Junior Artist Workshop at the library on Saturday afternoons, but only once a month and it doesn't require anything but creative energy...the kids really lift me up and energize me and the other artists who donate their time always inspire me. Painting at home alone is always rejuvenating, so is reading. And I try to take a small nap and a walk outdoors as often as possible to keep me going, to keep me thinking and feeling positively.
About ten years ago I began to pay attention to my personal rhythm and since then I have actively selected work environments and schedules that honoured these patterns. Since I took that step, my creative life has definitely blossomed and I've become more prolific as result...and happier, too.
I keep a fairly small working surface for a reason...though most people know me as a de-clutterer, I can be a bit of a hoarder. My taboret measures 20x24 inches (it's actually an IKEA butcher block covered with a piece of glass) which has two shelves underneath it for extra supplies (paint, tube wringer, mark-making tools...and anything else I just can't seem to let go of for whatever reason) and the surface is currently a little crowded. Love having my radio nearby and the lamp is great for extra light as I do work in a basement.
The room itself is quite large (though I'd love an even larger space), measuring 10x15 feet and I tend to keep the floor space fairly empty so that I can move around while I work at my easel. I like to step back frequently to check on composition and colour. I also have a day bed in my studio so that I can be lazy and lie down while I look as well...it also makes a great surface to wrap art and sits at a nice height since I am rather vertically challenged at 5'2". Counter height is much too high for me to work comfortably.
Whenever I need more space (to stretch canvas or work on a larger piece) I move into my family room which measures 15x34 feet. And though it's all in our basement, we live in a bi-level so I do have plenty of large windows. I feel very fortunate to have so much space to play in.
I was initially accepted into art school back in the 80's because of my portfolio of portraits in pencil. Working in pencil is fun for sketching, but I find sitting at a table creating a completed drawing to be exhausting and was thrilled once I stepped into the painting studio. There we worked large and played with vibrant colour and I was smitten with paint and canvas. I loved building canvases, cutting the stretcher bars and enjoying the give of canvas, like a drum. I don't stretch my own too often anymore...I think that's about to change as I miss that physical act.
Anyway, back to drawing...I remember preparing my portfolio for art college. I sat at my desk for a solid week, drawing for hours each day. My hands cramped and my back was sore but I finished all the work and, in the end, was accepted to every school that I applied. The thing I enjoy the most about drawing is that it only requires very little in the way of space and materials - just pencil, paper and eraser.
Unfortunately that portfolio was stolen. At first I was severely disappointed but then quite pleased that someone liked my drawings that much. I never did photograph my work in those days, wish I did, but I do have the memory of it.
In between letting layers of paint dry, I've been reading two non-fiction books simultaneously...and they were both fantastic:
by Jo Baker
This novel is the story of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as told by the Bennett's servants. I loved the constant references to the original story and the new perspective of the three main characters, Sarah the orphaned housemaid, Mrs. Hill the housekeeper, and James Smith the footman. It's definitely a keeper which will be re-read.
Day After Night
by Anita Diamant
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant was one of the best books I had previously read so I was looking forward to reading this story which tells the story of four women who are refugees from Nazi Europe. In spite of their differences, they connect and find healing in a difficult situation. This novel is based on the true escape of illegal immigrants being held in a British camp in Israel after the second world war.
On Saturday the kids at the library were privileged to learn the art of glass painting by local artist Anita Singh. Anita moved to Canada a few years ago from India where she was a high school art teacher and she was also an artist whose chair was one of the favorites at the AIRdirondack Gala last year. She is so talented and kind...we're so lucky to have her in our community.
It's nice to see the male contingent of the art classes increase as we offer new and different programs. Even in this weekend's class, the vases could be used for rocks, pinecones, candy or a myriad of collections...one young fellow knew he was going to add his leggo collection to it. The designs were terrific, everything from an octopus and a peacock to zombies and a dragon. This program at the library is one of my favorites because we get to introduce kids to new media and to encourage their experimentation. They have so much fun...and so do I. :)