Beginning a career as a visual artist can be difficult as it isn't a typical career choice. An artist's life is a vulnerable one, filled with so many variables. I believe that there is success in collaboration and hope that in sharing some of the wisdom that has been shared by many others along with the experience I have gained in my creative journey I can help someone else on theirs. 'Sacred Vessel: A Painter's Handbook' is now available here.
WIN A FREE COPY (pre-edit):
I ordered a sample copy while I was working on the book to preview for errors and so I have a free copy (pre-edit) for someone. Just leave me a message here or on facebook or twitter or email and if more than one person is interested I'll pick a name. Just make sure to leave me information on how to contact you :)
“Hope” is the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul - And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all -
Since I was a very young girl I have gathered feathers of all kinds...raven, crow, magpie, gull, robin and swallow...but my favorite is a hawk feather I was gifted several years ago. And last year I began painting vibrantly coloured and patterned paintings of feathers which I am absolutely in love with, as well as the lovely poem by Emily Dickinson. And so, this week I am thankful for feathers in all shapes, colours and sizes.
When the Emily Carr exhibit was at the Glenbow Museum I went several times, with my daughters, with friends, on my own. Throughout my life I had seen so many of her watercolours and paintings of totem poles but this was the first time I got to sit in a room full of her tree paintings and I was enthralled.
I loved that she was an honorary member of the Group of Seven as her focus was also the Canadian landscape and that she employed similar methods to Lawren Harris in her use of colour and organic form. She was quirky and imaginative and as inspired by the creativity of the aboriginal people around her as I am and wanted to honour that, too.
I'm enjoying seeing how each of these artists' work has influenced my own over time, and how I took what inspired me about each one of them and translated it to my own paintings. I am definitely inspired by my surroundings but it has been the exposure to the work of these artists that pushed me to take the leap and try new things. I can never replicate what has come before (not even my own work) but can learn and grow from it.
Whenever I complete a commission, especially when it's something that means so much to a person, I'm filled with both excitement and dread. It's an absolute to honour to paint something special for someone but at the same time I am concerned that the image in their head may differ greatly from the one in mine, plus what my hands create in the end often even differs from that initial vision.
I love creating a piece that will live somewhere for a lifetime (and hopefully beyond that) and I'd have to say that is one of the greatest pleasures of being a painter...to be able to create something very meaningful. It is quite fascinating to me that I used to feel that my work didn't have as much value because it wasn't functional and now I am grateful to create paintings that do matter a great deal.
Yesterday I ran into someone who said that my work is something he looks at every single day and it makes him feel very peaceful. What a great privilege for me.
I love coneflowers and grow them in my garden as I tend to be drawn to the beauty of native wildflowers and they thrive in our dry climate and rocky soil. Prairie coneflower, also known as Mexican hat, is part of the daisy family. They grow up to 36 inches in height and flower throughout the summer.
First Nations Peoples often dried the petals as food, used the leaves for tea and the roots to create a yellow dye. The leaves and stems were boiled to relieve pain such as headaches, stomach aches and fevers. It was also used to treat poison ivy and rattlesnake bites.
The Paintbrush evoked the Native American legend of a young brave who tried to paint the sunset with his warpaints. Frustrated that he could not match the brilliance of nature, he ask for guidance from the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit gave him paintbrushes laden with the colors he so desired. With these, he painted his masterpiece and left the spent brushes in fields across the landscape.
I enjoyed the 52 WEEKS::Totem Animals project that I completed in 2013 for learning, growth and expanding my creative muscles so much that I decided to create another, though this time my focus is on native wildflowers and their medicinal and historical properties. I'm afraid I missed the first Monday of the year, but will begin now.
When I was growing up a friend pointed out this plant and called it Indian Paintbrush or prairie-fire which evoked such beautiful images for me. I had only seen the red paintbrush until a few years ago when I saw pink and white varieties but the red is still one of my favorites.
It's generic name is Castilleja, named after Spanish botanist Domingo Castillejo, and flowers are known to have the same health benefits as garlic if eaten in small amounts and in moderation (the roots and greens are toxic). It was more commonly used to make hair more glossy and full bodied and also to treat rheumatism.
This was a no-brainer...I absolutely love my easel. I have tried many easels over the years but found this beauty about 10 years ago and it fit every priority I had for the perfect easel:
1. It is extremely sturdy - I really don't like my canvases to 'jiggle' while I work;
2. It can hold canvses up to 7 feet in height;
3. It folds flat to about 4 feet in height by 2 feet in width (which means it can slide under a bed when we have a house full of overnight guests);
4 It holds both standard and gallery canvases as I like switching back & forth;
5. It takes up very little floor space - the base measures 2x2 feet;
6. It can also hold tiny little canvases;
And, finally, it is made of sustainably grown and harvested lumber...perfect!
Over the past ten years the work of Isaac Bignell has become a huge influence in his delicious use of line, colour and subject matter. He was from northern Manitoba, not too far south of where I grew up, and was basically a self taught artist.
"My art is strongly influenced by the traditional ways of my people. I was brought up to live off the land from an early age. Hunting and trapping, living in harmony with the earth has taught me to respect the animals and the spirit and power of nature.
I hoop dance and sing Pow Wows to maintain my cultural heritage. Through art and dancing I attempt to influence native people to continue their cultural ways; the gift that was given to us by the Great Spirit."
By Cindy Pierce + Kelly Proulx
January + Februay 2015
Because she grew up in central Alberta, the prairies will always home to photographer Cindy Pierce. With photography and iPhone editing she began to have the flexibility of mobile editing which became an amazing creative tool. Through experimenting and learning she is excited to see what the future will bring. Currently her work can be viewed at Muk Luk Magpie's in Airdrie and on www.cindypierce.ca.
Like Cindy, local potter Kelly Proulx’s ceramic work is defined directly by her love of natural objects, forms, patterns and textures. She is privileged to work with and experience clay, a material that originates directly from the earth.
In both wheel throwing and hand building her goal is to create objects that fulfill their purpose, whether utilitarian or decorative. By combining function and beauty, the life of the object is brought to completion.
Both artists begin their process by observing their surroundings. Kelly creates sketches to shape and texture her clay while Cindy’s photographs become sketches by exaggerating the textures, lines and patterns in nature. And in doing so, both create work made by hand.
You have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs.
I have kept my journals since 2006, though I wish I would have kept them all, but began selecting a Word-of-the-Year to set my intention instead of making New Year's Resolutions since 2010 which have really changed how I view my year.
Initially I was sure I would choose the word 'reservoir' based on my favorite quote but instead I chose BRAVE. The song by Sara Bareilles continually runs through my head - say what you want to say, just let the words fall out...honestly I want to see you be brave - and I love the movie 'Brave' by Pixar and Merida's bravery in choosing not to marry as tradition demands. Bravery can mean taking small steps through following your dreams, making your own way, choosing your own path and living the life you were meant to live.
Change is always difficult for me, and I was born an extreme introvert so every time I put myself 'out there' I need all the bravery I can get. My home is my sanctuary, it is where I feel safe but it can easily become my prison when I allow my fears to keep me bound to it. When I'm given great opportunities I'm initially excited and then I begin to doubt myself and look at them as too great of responsibilities which I'm not capable of filling. So my hope is that I am reminded to be brave every time I want to crawl into my shell because I know that whenever I try, even if I fail I learn and grow...and usually have a terrific time in the process.
In the past my words have meant the following to me:
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.
AIRdirondack Art Project
Alberta (above) +