There are two things I do without fail every year...one is to read Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh and the other is to reflect on the year behind as well as the year ahead. The book was published in 1955 and the author ruminates on the challenges of modern life, about how modern 'gadgets' that were supposed to make life simpler, in fact made it more complicated. It's good to be reminded to slow down and make conscious choices rather than feel pulled in many different directions. Yes, something has to be sacrificed, but then something always does, and in the end the sacrifices are certainly worth it, if its the right thing.
As far as personal reflection, last year I found a terrific resource titled 'Unravelling the Year Ahead' by Susannah Conway. It's a 25 page workbook which begins on focusing on the previous year successes and not successes and then moves onto the year ahead. Last year I sat in a café for a few hours but this year I decided to light a fire in the fireplace, prepare snacks and a matcha tea latte while enjoying some music at home and it was a real pleasure. I took time to read through last year's notes and was pleasantly surprised to see how much I had accomplished off my list of dreams, even though I never did refer back to it. There really is something powerful about writing down your intentions. She's offered the download again for this year and best of all, it's free.
The greatness of a country depends on three things: its Words, its Deeds and its Art.
On Sunday my family and I saw the exhibit titled Transformations at the Glenbow Museum which featured works by Canadian artist A.Y. Jackson & German artist Otto Dix. Though I found the order to be a bit confusing, the work was incredible. Jackson was never one of my favorite member of the Group of Seven but these works, even though about such a sad subject as the First World War, were absolutely beautiful. My favorite part of the exhibit was seeing the sketches beside their completed paintings. Typically I find his colours quite dark, but surprisingly the images featuring the war zone utilized brighter colours.
And it was nice to be introduced to a new artist (to me). Dix struggled through the war as he was quite open about his feelings about the Nazi army. At one point he stopped painting anti-war images and joined a German landscape painting group though he did continue to comment in his own way. He created his own imaginary landscapes to express his feelings on war's destructive impact on nature and humanity. I was particularly drawn to his prints. They were both involved in trench warfare which shaped their creative lives.
Before I leave the Glenbow I always take a moment to sit in the Blackfoot (Nitsitapii) tipi and listen to the prayers. I couldn't wait to get home to begin more work. After the exhibit we snacked at Café Rosso...I've been wanting to try it for some time and we were not disappointed. It looked, smelled, and tasted delicious. We'll definitely be back.
There is nothing like a batch of fresh new colour to motivate me...sigh. I've had a few busy days with meetings and finishing articles and budget planning as well as painting so it was a bit of a nice break to run into the city to pick up some art supplies for the library's art program this weekend, and a few things for myself (couldn't resist). There were so many things I picked up and put down again when I remember that I've either had the supplies before or that I really don't need them...I am not a jeweller or ceramicist or calligrapher or printmaker, but oh how I love holding the tools in my hands.
And the huge selection of sketchbooks. Oh my gosh I have to have major self control whenever I walk into an art supply store or a hardware store or a fabric store. Arts and crafts are definitely my addiction but several years ago I made myself a promise to focus. No matter what I've done throughout the years I always come back to paint. Love everything about it. Particularly acrylics. They're not intimidating, any mistakes can be painted over and I think the texture and pattern adds so much to the completed work. So naturally, that is my focus.
I was recently asked if I believed that everyone was creative. Yes. Definitely. But I do know that wherever I've lived I have always created a spot for me to work...in my first one bedroom apartment I hung plastic on the dining area wall and placed a couple of hooks onto it to hang canvases, in our second I used the extra bedroom, in our first home I set up a drafting table in the unfinished basement, in our second I set the drafting table in the bay window...I just knew I needed to have my supplies ready at all times so that I could get up early (still do) to paint before work or stay up later, however I could fit creativity in my life. So, yes, I do believe everyone is creative but I also believe that we each need to find that 'thing' that lights us up and make it accessible.
My daughter suggested I hang the 52 WEEKS PROJECT in my studio and I'm so glad she did. They still require varnish, hanging wire (I just used thumb tacks for now...my poor wall), and a decision on whether to frame or not but it is so good to see the finished work together as a whole.
Many years ago my mentor suggested hanging my work in my own home for several reasons. One is so that I can learn from what I've done. She said that an artist can learn more about what they're doing and why by viewing their own work than by looking at someone else's. By comparing the different pieces you create, you begin to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
Also, she told me it is always nice to be reminded of what you have accomplished. I've always been a prolific painter but often the work ended up in a storage closet or, in extreme cases, burned in a cathartic fire. Because of her guidance I hang on to pieces longer and will view them together to see how they read off of one another. Sometimes the work is stronger in a grouping.
Even as I was hanging these pieces, I could see where the media I used, my palette and/or subject matter moved in a natural progressions from one piece to the next. And though there were some weeks that I wasn't as happy with the work, I did promise to share it each Monday without any changes and I have to say I'm glad for it. Every week I received a note (or several) of encouragement and each animal was found to be a favorite by different people for different reasons. To be able to touch someone through my work is one of the greatest reasons for doing it.
So, even though there is much work ahead of me, I am extremely pleased with the final results. I would definitely recommend an annual project to anyone...just make sure that it compliments your life and work. In this case, I'm glad I worked smaller and in acrylics as I could take the canvas and my pochade anywhere to work on it and because I absolutely love working with acrylics that part wasn't a challenge at all. And I'm glad I focused on something I've never done before...though admittedly I was terrified that this was going to go horribly wrong. I don't know where this will go, though I do feel it needs to be exhibited as a body, but I am so very glad I did it.
I've been invited to give another demonstration to the Wheatland Society of Artists in Strathmore on March 27 so I thought I would share some of the tools I'll be bringing with me. I really have fun with mark-making on canvas...it's a great time to play...and so whenever I teach a workshop or give a demonstration I like to bring my little sample canvas along with some of the tools I use. My hands-down favorite are my hands (pardon the pun), so I tend to steer clear of paints that are more toxic such as anything mixed with cadmium or inexpensive craft paints (too many unknown fillers).
And here are my top go-to tools:
lids...from milk, juice, detergent, peanut butter (I prefer sturdy ones and a variety of sizes)
spray bottle for water
different sizes of brushes including house painting brushes for larger works (lines, dots, shapes - and the end of the handle for scratching into paint)
notched trowel (for setting tile cement - available in a hardware store)
paper towel (I like to look for interesting patterns)
foam brushes (often in different sizes) for dabbing, thick lines, and to create great circles
eye dropper (for thinned paint and ink or brush rinsing water when the colour is interesting)
palette knife (great for adding large organic blocks of colour and for scratching into thick paint)
a dull pencil (also for scratching and drawing lines, shapes & words into paint)
I like to browse hardware, dollar and kitchen stores for unique tools (forks are terrific, too) and if there are empty rolls from the cash register or debit machine at the library I commandeer them as well. The garage is also great for different grades of sandpaper, scraping tools and I have also been using stencils (both purchased and hand-made) as well as rubber stamps (both purchased and hand-made).
Finally (or initially), I occasionally like to add texture with gel medium, modeling paste or spackle (the notched trowel is fantastic for that...it makes great lines and circles) but mostly I just use paint because I am concerned about the integrity of the finished product and because I'm a simple gal I like to keep the supplies basic.
A Creative Life
The paintings of Tami Hort
January 2 – February 28, 2014
Good painting is nothing else but a copy of the perfections of God and a reminder of His painting. ~ Michelangelo
Tami Hort is inspired by the words of Michelangelo through her interpretation of blazing sunsets, expansive mountain and prairie views, and natural beauty of the horses here in western Canada. Although the sights may be common, it is this exceptional splendor that provides a colorful muse for her as an artist. Every day the same and yet each day ever changing with every moment a new experience. She prefers to create images that replicate her experience, to portray timeless moments. Along with landscapes, Tami loves to paint people, in all of their expression and colourful characteristics. Her favorite medium is oil though she is also proficient in pastel, acrylic and watercolour.
Tami was born in Saskatchewan where she received her first award for artwork in elementary school though she continues to be recognized having received many prestigious awards throughout her career. She believes that anyone can be an artist and that developing an artist’s eye is as simple as learning the alphabet and in that belief teaches home school students, adults and seniors art enrichment as well as working with those in need of assisted living through her company The Artist Playground. For more information please visit: http://tamihort.blogspot.ca/
I've been preparing a new batch of canvases for a slew of tipis though my mind is being drawn in a bit of a different direction on the long canvas I'm working on...I'm being pulled in two directions so we'll see what transpires as the work progresses. I love this part of the process, adding colours and marks to a pliable stretched canvas which feels so visceral to me, kind of like a tattoo on skin I suppose. I begin with a palette of warm (or cool) colours and as each layer dries I add the opposite making marks with my finger tips and hands, brayers, paper towel, brushes, bottle caps, palette knives, sponges...whatever strikes my fancy and catches my eye. This is why I prefer to work in series as while one canvas dries, another can be manipulated.
I've been inspired by BBC, by the light and colours and creativity of Sherlock, Call the Midwife, Ripper Street and Downton Abbey, by seeing the juxtaposition of texture and pattern, and by the sun's rising and setting as it paints the skies in a myriad of colours as these days slowly lengthen. It's been a wonderful holiday in spite of the illnesses that traveled through our home and it feels quiet now that everyone's gone back to their regular schedules. And since my 52 WEEKS PROJECT is now at an end I'm feeling a bit nostalgic. It's all quite bittersweet.
But there is nothing like getting to work to heal whatever ails me. Another ritual, another beginning. Setting the kettle on to boil, turning on CBC radio and lighting a candle while I squeeze paint onto palette and get my hands dirty. Trusting my intuition, remembering, and placing those memories on canvas. There really is nothing better.
grace : a way of moving that is smooth and attractive and that is not stiff or awkward : a controlled, polite, and pleasant way of behaving : skills that are needed for behaving in a polite way in social situations : unmerited divine love and affection bestowed freely on others
Each year (this is my 5th) I like to choose a guiding word for the year and this year I wanted to choose something calming...not because my life doesn't feel generally calm though it has been busy (aren't we all?), but because I want to make it a life-habit to face every day with gentleness and acceptance. I want to be polite and considerate of others and also to extend grace to myself.
Last year in 2013 my word-of-the-year was wisdom, which I was able to work towards through formal education and private study as well as by setting boundaries on what I was capable of being involved in and in my personal relationships. There is still much growth to experience on that path as I have come to realize that the more I know, the more I realize that I know nothing at all.
This year's journal is a large one measuring 8.5x11 (typically I use 6x8) as my intention is to do more drawing this year. I'm hoping to work through Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain with my daughter. It's been many years since I really read the book and, in fact, I had to purchase a new copy as I loaned my copy out a few years ago and it hasn't been returned, though the current edition apparently has new information. Can't wait.
I have found that I do actually take a step forward whenever I select a word for the year. During my fearless year, every time I felt fear I chose to step aside and breathe while allowing that feeling to pass without panic. Surrender helped me to learn that sometimes a thing is not necessarily for me at that time and I can let it go and allow for something better. And the year I began to practice being still I began to realize that everything tends to work out how it will without my help or interference.
FEARLESS: My 2010 word as I found I was getting caught up in the fear of how I was perceived by others and the fear of failure. Whenever I noticed fear in myself, I would focus on my word and it helped me to overcome challenges, it actually helped me to be brave in so many little ways.
SURRENDER: I decided that 2011 would be a year of letting go of my history of control...of self and others...and allowing things to happen. And, boy, did things happen. Yes, both good and bad, but always in the end for the better.
STILL: For 2012 I wanted to grow both as an artist and human being, and remembered the verse in Psalm 46:10 - 'Be still'. I tend to feel like I have to do everything, you know, that sense of obligation. Not only because I feel I should but because I worry that I don't do enough. I actually went through a physical injury that forced stillness, and it seemed that everything that needed doing got done. And I felt so much more peace in my life by allowing it.
WISDOM: In 2013 I wanted to further my education as well as seeking knowledge and understanding of others and myself. Wisdom is considered a cardinal virtue, though because of my passionate artist's nature I struggle with stepping back and attempting to control my reactions...still a work in progress.
GRACE: My word for 2014. To me practicing grace is similar to gaining wisdom in my hope to extend grace to myself and others. Theologically divine grace inspires virtuous impulses and imparts strength to endure trials. I believe it is about compassion and understanding and also about acceptance.
I've been enjoying taking the time to look back in gratitude at the previous year's abundance in my creative life. There are times I am absolutely amazed by not only what I have accomplished, but by the gifts I receive and opportunities I have been given:
One of the greatest highlights this year was to complete the 52 WEEKS PROJECT!
I was privileged to curate another six exhibits on 200 linear feet of exhibit space at the Airdrie Public Library, to coordinate 8 Jr Artists' Workshops with incredibly talented people, another fun mural with the Summer Reading Program Kids, hosted the 5th annual High School Art Gala and I got to write numerous articles on all of it.
We had the most successful AIRdirondack Gala to date, thanks to even more incredibly talented and giving artists.
Had a wonderful solo exhibition at the Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond and group exhibit at AyrSpace Gallery in Ontario. Plus there are still several canoes available at Inglewood Fine Arts in Calgary.
My work was featured on the cover of PAGES! magazine and in the Canadian Artists for the Poor calendar, plus I got to paint another (large) bowl for the Empty Bowls Festival.
Completed another Adirondack chair to partner my first.
Was honoured by a feature in a book about female Alberta artists titled 'Artists in the Raw' by Deborah Catton (the book is available online and through the Bluerock Gallery) and received the Lt Governor Art Award nomination and met the Minister of Culture, Heather Klimchuk.
The Alberta Flood Rose Project & Gala where I got to teach opera singers and chefs to paint!!!
And for all of this I want to say a huge THANK YOU!!! I couldn't do this without your support.
AIRdirondack Art Project
Alberta (above) +