I thought I should share the completed mural titled 'Making' by the kids at the library. I love the theme of the factory that the kids came up with...and they had fun sharing the titles of some of their favorite novels (mine, too) - Harry Potter, Wizard of Oz, The Hardy Boys, Paper Bag Princess, The Book Thief, Charlotte's Web, Catcher in the Rye, Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, Little Women, and The Hobbit.
As challenging as it can be to keep a room full of fourteen children busy (and paint-free) it is always such a pleasure to see their joy when they come together to complete a project like this.
The other day I stumbled upon two floppy discs which held these photos which were taken by my friend, Calgary photographer Trevor DeGraff almost fifteen years ago. It took a little research to find a place that I could transfer them and not all were legible but Staples (thank you!) was able to salvage some. These were taken when I was first beginning to exhibit and while Trevor was studying photography, so my family became great subject material for him and I have some documentation of my first actual studio space in my house on the park.
I loved that space...it wasn't as large as the space I currently use and had no windows but the artificial lighting was fantastic and I loved the linoleum (versus the carpet I have now...it's warm but not great for drawing) and it was very warm and cozy. Plus, at the time I had little ones and had a perfect little nook for them to play. At the time I also wished I had a different easel like the wooden one I have now but I have to say, the old solid metal easel was wonderful as it only touched the canvas in four tiny spots...now I have to take the canvas off the easel whenever I want to finish the top and bottom edges as I like to wrap my paintings around the sides.
Anyway...I'm thankful that we were able to salvage these photos as they've brought with them good memories of my first exhibit at ArtSpace which was FANTASTIC - Tim Tamashiro and his quartet performed, Bernard Callebaut supplied delicious Belgian chocolate, A-Channel documented it, and there was plenty of champagne to go around. Sigh. Such wonderful memories.
I've been ill quite a bit lately, and though I know why, I don't know why I allow myself to do this...you know, overbook myself and allow myself to be drawn in too many directions at once. I know that my body and soul need rest and lots of creative time. So, Monday I allowed myself a day of rest and nourishment...which included lots and lots of sleep...and Tuesday I spent most of my waking hours hours in my studio and I feel absolutely refreshed. I began preparing a couple of new canvases over the weekend and it was good to get back to work.
I know what I need, I know what I love and yet I allow the demands of the outside world to dictate my schedule far too often. Though the meetings I attended were really wonderful, and what I feel is being accomplished is phenomenal, I have to remember to give myself plenty of creative time. To me, that means spending hours painting, sketching, looking, reading, drinking a lot of green tea, and doing it all over again and again. A good combination of physical work as I tend to stand at my easel or work on the floor interspersed with fresh, hot tea and a cozy seat on my daybed in the studio to look at the work in progress, asking myself questions...Is the composition working? Is there enough contrast? Are the colours working well together? Is the image comfortable to my eye or does it need tweaking? Do I need to let go of something I really love in order to allow something better?
I'm already excited for today.
In spite of an unfortunate cold I picked up, I really enjoyed my Saturday morning spent painting at Good Earth Café. I met many new people that were so kind and encouraging and also chatted with friends. One young gentlemen (an interesting seven year old) pulled up a chair next to me and we had the most educational conversation. He thought that the next painting I worked on should be a dragon...he loves dragons. Apparently they are not easy to spot and live in pine trees. What a pleasant fellow and such wonderful stories. Can't wait until he's old enough to join the Jr Artist Program at the library.
I was able to complete one piece that I had begun previously and to begin another which I look forward to working on some more. It was really a lovely morning. I decided to title the new piece 'Sky Dance', my ode to Van Gogh's 'Starry Night'. Like Van Gogh I painted it in the light of day, with a memory of the stars dancing in the night sky, though unlike him, I painted it in a beautiful location, while being served delicious vanilla bean tea by the fabulous young ladies at the café and listening to music I love. All-in-all a perfect way to spend a day.
Live painting at...
GOOD EARTH CAFE
1109-35 Mackenzie Way SW
Saturday, February 8, 10-12pm
Recently I stumbled upon these old photographs and was reminded how often I'm asked how I found my métier, or heart-knowing, in this creative life and I have to admit that it found me. I studied Art & Design in Red Deer College in the mid-80's, met my husband and moved to Manitoba, got a 'real' job as a Practice Administrator of a dental office and kept painting. The job was good as I got to be involved in design for renovations and all business related items and there was so much variety which was a perfect fit for me. I also got to create new filing systems, change all the manual processes into computerized ones and to learn how to design a website at a time when everything was written in html, not an easy task for me, but the challenge was fun and, oh how I love to organize.
At the same time I had the odd opportunity to share my paintings but I really felt inadequate so usually I just kept painting for myself and for friends. There were certain things I was drawn to, those things I wanted to paint over and over again. Granted, I tried other things...assisting a potter, stone carving, wood carving and print making...but I always, always painted. I tried watercolour and oil, but kept coming back to acrylic, and acrylics just seemed to get better and better over time. Because I have the most energy in the mornings, every day I got up especially early to paint, which wasn't always easy as I began at 7:00 am but it was well worth it to me.
When my husband and I first married, I taped garbage bags onto our apartment wall with one hook to hang the canvases I stretched for painting. In our first tiny house, we had a large bay window in the kitchen and he surprised me with a large drafting table that fit perfectly. It was a great perch to watch the squirrels and to dream. When I had our first daughter I was glad I had developed the habit of getting up early as I was still able to get my daily painting in. Eventually we moved to Alberta and I had an actual studio in our basement. The ceilings were a little low but I'm not that tall so it worked for me. When I had our second daughter we moved a playpen into it so that she could sleep and play while I painted. I kept getting up early but found that during her naps I could get a lot done, which led me to my first exhibit.
At this point I had painted a series of large chairs which were beginning to sell right out of my house. I wanted to approach galleries, though I was terribly frightened, and knew that there must be a professional way to do it. This was before the online world we know today, so I purchased a book titled 'Taking the Leap' by Cay Lang in which she described preparing an artist's package. She began with discussing the value of creating a body of work (around 20 pieces) that read well together and writing an artist's statement about it. There are many different schools of thought on artist's statements, but I find that writing in my own voice, speaking about my personal experience and inspiration works best for me. Then I had to invest in a good camera and slide film to photograph the work using natural light...I'm so glad we've turned into this digital world as the slides were expensive and I never knew how they turned out until they were developed.
Along with the statement and slides, I had to include my Curriculum Vitae, my artist's resume...which was small at the time, but I had worked with other artists and taken workshops so I made sure to add every little thing I could think of...and a cover letter to introduce myself and my work. Now I have two, one that holds everything I've done related to my art and the other just with highlights for gallery submission. But before I could do that, I had to do the research which meant a lot of gallery visits. I checked out spaces to see the kind of work they represented and to see if my work would be a good fit in that environment...I also wanted to meet the staff and get a feel for the space.
At that time I sent out six packages, all with return envelopes, and was contacted by five of the galleries. I couldn't believe my luck as I sent them to the best galleries in the city, on the advice of the book. Believe me, I was intimidated. Even though I knew I was stretching and wiring my canvases properly as I learned in school, I wondered if they would be good enough. And, of course, bringing in my work to be discussed and criticized by someone who I felt knew so much more about art than I did.
I ended up being able to choose where to exhibit my work and my first show was amazing. Though I was stressed about sharing publicly what I had been doing privately for many years, I was also very happy. Bernard Callebaut supplied chocolates and the gallery served champagne...I was interviewed by A-Channel (so glad I didn't know about that in advance), my friend Tim Tamashiro and his quartet performed, another friend who is a professional photographer documented it for me as a gift and all my friends and family came, along with so many people I had never met before...and I actually had fun.
Since then, I've learned not to take rejection personally, because it does happen a lot but it just means that the opportunity or space isn't the right one for me, or not right for me right now. And also that sales don't equal success...to keep my focus on doing what I love every single day. Every opening since then has been different, but all so good. As nervous as I am about sharing what I spend so many hours investing my heart and soul into, it is good to get feedback. And the thing that never ceases to amaze me is that there is always someone who connects with what I do. That is definitely the cherry on top.
P.S. Yes, my first name used to be spelled with a 'k'...I changed it because it's just easier this way. :)
During the Jr Artists' Workshop at the library the kids painted the new mural in our Program Room in preparation for the Summer Reading Program. I know, it's early but it sure helps us to enjoy these cold winter days more. They did a terrific job, just had to finish up and re-do some outlines and it is now ready to share with everyone. When I was confused about what to create to symbolize 'Making', this year's theme, the kids came up with the idea of a factory and so I thought what would be better in a library than a book factory?
Even those kids who come in quiet and unsmiling end up with big grins every time they create something and I think this is extra special as it will be up until next year (I believe). I always leave these classes happily exhausted and thrilled that the kids leave so excited and almost impatient to come back again. This was fun as I asked them to select the colour palette and off they went, working so well together. What a terrific ending to a lovely week.