These past weeks have felt like a major breakthrough for me artistically. I feel as though I've connected the vibrant colour and slightly abstracted but recognizable form that I love with the imagery and symbolism of my past. As most people know, I miss the north terribly and would return in a heartbeat if I could, but because that is not an option at this time, I feel that through this work I can honour my past while moving forward remembering that I can find peace and pleasure in my current surroundings, too. Over the years I've been interested in studying with an artist but never found the one whose style of working applied to me but when I first read of Flora's 'Bloom True' class I knew in my heart that this was it. And I have not in the least been disappointed. I've learned to focus inward, to step away from the obligations that I placed on myself, to trust me...and to listen to my heart and body. When I feel uncomfortable I need to step back and take stock of why...and know that just because something is not for me, that is not to say it is not a good thing, but just not a good thing for me at this particular time. My pleasure arises from time spent in reflection and in nature, time with my family, time reading and, of course, a lot of time painting. This is when I feel grounded. I realize that somehow as a sensitive, creative person, I get caught up in everyone else's drama for some strangle, unexplicable reason and begin to be a negative Nellie instead of being a positive influence, which is really how I desperately want to live my life. So, separating myself is necessary for me - and Flora's guidance came at such an incredible time for me, after a year of medical tests and physical challenges. I still carry other people's unhappiness but know that the more time I spend just like this, doing what I've been doing here - trusting my faith in God, growing my faith in myself - I will be able to let that go, to allow them each to create their own joy and to grow into it. I am blessed beyond measure.
I've put many, many hours into each of these pieces and have enjoyed every single minute of them, so much so that I awake at six in the morning and rush to my studio. At each step along the way I love an area, then really, really dislike it until I add some more layers, texture, and colour. This process is really about trusting intuition. All I know at the beginning is that I will incorporate a canoe somehow, but until I get to that point in the work, I don't know where or how it's going to show up. So far this image reminds me of family, of heritage, community and history. At this point I believe the image will be predominantly orange and green, but I cannot guarantee anything until I get there. Thinking of community these past days makes me grateful for friends and family, and for the ways that I can contribute to healing and growing a community. This morning I received an email stating that one of my paintings will be hung at the Women's Crisis Services of the Waterloo Region in Ontario - how appropriate to happen on the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day and also one year after my work was included in the International Women's Day! exhibit in Ayr, Ontario. I love when my work continues to have a life long after it leaves my studio, where it can be a blessing to others. I am honoured.
Inspired by my visit to the mountains this weekend, I woke especially early this morning to create a dreamcatcher for my studio. Our daughters have always had a dreamcatcher in their rooms which has been reassuring for them when they awake at night and I wanted this physical symbol of peace to grace my space. I trudged through the piles of snow we received over the past two days and decided to use a branch from our red dogwood as I love its colour and pliability. Then I borrowed hemp twine from my daughter's craft stash and incorporated a stone from our garden to represent the spider. I didn't have any feathers currently so I decided to create a few with watercolours and paper until I come upon some 'gifts' from nature. They actually seem perfect for a painting studio. I've read that traditionally a dreamcatcher is no larger than a man's hand, so I knew that I wanted to create a larger size, but not too large.
This is a lovely way to begin a painting day, and the new canoe is coming along well. It's always a surprise to me when I allow myself to select colours and shapes based on an intuitive reaction to the work. So, I won't know how this will end up until it is finished, though I do believe the first three paintings in this new series are now complete. Honestly, I had no preconceived idea that I would complete an entire painting through this class and now feel wonderful about being well on my way to a new series. I love the fact that I've been able to incorporate some of what I learned, combining it with what I know and love, and to create something so bold for me, something I've been attempting to capture for the past seven years and struggled. Though it's very interesting to see that some of the work I've been doing on my own was already well on its way in this direction. I guess in my heart I knew what I was looking for.
At the same time, I've been reading Ann Voskamp's 'One Thousand Gifts' which is really wonderful in helping me to connect my traditional faith background with what I've been practicing and studying now. I truly believe a good life is all about gratitude. My word-of-the-year, STILL, helps me to focus on gratefulness as well. Learning to stop and allow has been a great lesson for me. Letting go of control is difficult for a person who has been raised to feel that the only way to get anywhere in this life is by being 100 percent in control. But I was a daydreamer and a sensitive and so I struggled when I attempted to live my life in that vein. Last night I hosted the High School Art Gala at our library - and though I'm not great at public speaking I felt that the evening went well. We had a nice crowd who attended the event and the work is absolutely stellar. The choir touched my heart and our speaker was witty and wise and really connected with all the kids. All because I allowed myself to let go of control and let it all happen as it should.
Well, I went in to work last night and got more done for the Gala this evening which means I have the entire day today to paint. I was also up until 1 am last night as I couldn't wait to start canvas number 4. Which means that I've almost completed three large paintings in the past month (1-36x48 and 2-60x24) plus this one also measures 48x36. I've been asked to exhibit my work at Cafe Koi in June which is a fabulous performing arts cafe so I'm thinking that it might be a nice place to introduce them to Calgary. I'm not sure which direction this one is headed, but I find working vertically to be a really good challenge so I'm currently gravitating towards this orientation, but that may change soon enough. These days have been happily busy with the classes I've been taking with Flora Bowley. It's interesting as my work tends to be filled with quiet space and in these pieces I had been introducing so much mark-making, and yet, the work still has the quiet, serene feeling that I love. And I finally get to use the symbols, imagery and colour that I love in a way that makes sense to me. While my family and I were in Banff on our self-created long weeked, I was able to visit my favorite galleries and also able to enjoy artwork in absolutely every venue from the smallest coffee shops to the wonderful restaurants. My favorite was seeing some of Terry McCue's newest work.
There are a lot of things happening for me this summer:
~My eldest daughter is heading off to University (yes, a few tears have been shed by this mom)
~I'm looking forward to one of my articles being published in an upcoming edition of a great magazine (in May)
~An essay I wrote will be published online at 'Do What You Love' on May 7
~One of my canoes has been selected to be printed on a tea tin at the Naked Leaf this summer
~The Cafe Koi exhibit in June
~I'll be working toward completing my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (FINALLY! - YES!!!!)
I'm very excited for the year ahead and for what it will bring. I knew I'd love being 45 :)
My family & I spent a lovely long weekend in the mountains and I feel so refreshed and ready to work again which is a good thing as today I was at the library changing the exhibits and will host a gala for local High School art tomorrow evening (http://eedition.airdrieecho.com/doc/Airdrie-Echo/airdrieecho_20120229/2012022901/#28). And then I can get back to my own work (I cannot wait!). I had a lovely tour of the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum which was an inspiration of colour and pattern and I remembered visiting the museum when I was about 12 years old. Spending time in the mountains always refreshes my soul and I am grateful to have a few of the choices I have made be reaffirmed - and for this I am truly glad.
Today I started a another new 36x48 canvas - whew! four on the go when I tend to prefer to work one at a time, I guess this is another personal challenge. This time I listened to a CD my daughter made for me for Christmas and the song I chose to was 'Northern Girl' by Terri Clark. I closed my eyes and began 'finger painting' the images in my mind - northern lights, the boreal forest, mounds of cold, fluffly snow filled with the tracks of many wild animals. When I opened my eyes I was pleased with this 'image' as I could see vesitges of what I saw in my imagination. I chose prussian blue and a dioxazine purple mixed with some titanium white as my two cool colours to begin and I'm pleased with this beginning. Being in my studio, listening to some of my favorite music, with a beeswax candle burning on my window ledge and painting...everything that gives me absolute joy.