Today I was reminded of the wisdom of Yoda, "Fear is the path of the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." I loved Yoda when I was a young girl. Watched 'Star Wars' over, and over, and over again with my brother. Drank from my Yoda cup, snuggled with my Yoda stuffie, and even had a Yoda figurine peeking out of a plant pot that I kept with me until I grew up, moved out and was married...and which scared my niece to pieces when she was a toddler ("Mouse!" she cried).
I digress...the quote was my focus. Early on in my career as an artist I received great success...and it frightened me. I stopped trusting myself and began listening to much well-meaning but misplaced guidance. I began to panic and follow instruction from those who I believed knew better and was, of course, generally unhappy. And this all finally resulted in my removing my art from galleries and moving to a farmhouse in the country, far away from here. Thankfully I didn't give up on painting though I did change my media and subject matter, giving myself the time in the country to bloom once again.
For several years I stopped exhibiting publicly, especially in gallery spaces. I began slowly once again, in public facilities...libraries, hospitals, cafes. Places that felt 'safe'. Places where it seemed there were no expectations other than that I do what I love to do. And I began to overcome that fear. In the past few years I've had nothing but wonderful experiences in galleries, along with other, perhaps unconventional venues. I slowly learned that opportunities will present themselves again, when I'm ready for them. I've also learned that just because there are opportunities, they might not be the right ones for me...or maybe just not right for now.
I've learned that this life of an artist means many different things...it is in how I can contribute to my community in this capacity, how I am inspired to create the work I do, and how it merges into my daily life as a wife and mother. For me this has to blend seamlessly....overlapping in a good way.
I don't think fear is necessarily a bad thing, it's just good to remember to listen to that still, small voice inside. Do you really want to do this? Then, just do it.
When days are challenging, believe me I experience many of those moments (is it the artist's curse of high sensitivity?), I head to my happy place. After the physical workout of adding paint to canvas, I always feel better. I've learned not to make any phone calls or write or say anything negative in those moments because it does pass and when I have allowed myself to fall into the negativity trap, I have always regretted it.
Today I'm heading to the memorial of someone I've known many, many years. He shared so much wisdom while my children were young and growing, in a kind and generous way, guiding me to trust my instincts as a mother and a person. As sudden and unexpected as his loss is, I know that he has made a huge difference in so many lives, in our entire community. I am grateful that I knew him.
While we were in the mountains recently an eagle watched us very closely with a wise & condescending look on his face and I just knew I'd have to include eagle in this 52 WEEKS PROJECT. I added the word 'thunderbird' to reflect the First Nations' mythology of the supernatural bird of power and strength. It is a sacred symbol, servant of the Great Spirit, which was believed to control rainfall and create storms owing to the sounds of the beating wings and the possibility of lightening flashing from their eyes and can often be seen on totem poles.
Eagle is all about vision, a bridge between the earth and the sky. They remind us to honour tradition and to really look and see. They also teach us to follow our boldest dreams, showing us the necessity of the spirit of creativity.
And pink, for those who know me, I used to stay absolutely clear of pink...it felt too girly and weak and since I'm small and blonde and wanted to appear tough I avoided it in everything, including my wardrobe (even though it's supposed to be one of my colours). Now I'm loving it and it's been showing up more and more in my work. It reminds me of sunrise and sunset.
I had the most amazing weekend beginning with great food, drinks and laughter with amazing friends on Friday, followed by conversation, candlelight and accoustic music with my young teenaged daughter over earth-hour on Saturday, and finally interest from an art gallery in Ontario. The sun is shining and I've got another planned date with a great friend this week. I'm so glad I'm finally making time for those people who are really important to me. They bring me so much joy.
For many years I utilized a basic palette to paint...ultramarine blue, cadmium red medium, cadmium yellow medium and white. The past two years my palette has changed slightly, and has definitely expanded.
Colours from left to right: Payne's gray, pthalo blue (sometimes I switch it up for Prussian blue), brilliant purple, bright aqua green, yellow light hansa, cadmium orange, medium magenta, quinacridone crimson (somtimes pyrrole red or napthol crimson), alizarin crimson, and titanium white. I love the translucency and staining properties of Prussian blue & alizarin crimson so they keep showing up in my work. And because I work in layers, warm colours and then cool colours and repeat, it's nice to have the variety. Though I still tend to lean towards a complimentary palette when I'm finishing a work (ie. yellow/purple, red/green, blue/orange) I have begun to expand on that more as well as I think the vibrantly coloured base layers inspire me to more experimentation.
I also wanted to send out a huge, huge thank you for all of the amazing comments I have received about my current 'SACRED VESSEL' exhibit at Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond. I always feel so vulnerable when I share a new body of work, and even more so this time as it was such a change from what I've shown publicly in the past and is so filled with meaning for me. This is just a smattering of kindness that I will always carry with me:
I am half way through the video about your Sacred Vessel exhibition. I must say I had to stop and write. I am moved to tears...we will talk about this someday. ~ Jill
I LOVE your work, Veronica! Your symbolic language and your process are so moving and so real. It is so evocative! It really resonates for me as an artist as well - I'm a singer by trade, and one of my signature pieces is an opera about the life and work of Emily Carr. Your respectful use of native Canadian imagery
reminds me very much of her work. ~ Ramona
I love it! (not surprisingly ;)) Great show!! ~ Stephanie
Ohh just beautiful...I am so honored to be able to view a bit of your work. Stunning. These pieces speak very deeply to me... ~ Linden
...the layers..spontaneity..grace...tribute to what is sacred to you. ~ Deb
Your work is stunning! Such beautiful colors. I loved listening to you speak about what your work means to you. You are an inspiration. ~ Cathy
Spectacular ~ Sarah-Jane
For the past 2 1/2 months I have been teaching a young art lover who is not only very talented but such a lovely young lady. It will be strange when this is over next week but I don't doubt that she will continue to work on her own as she has been painting quite steadily since I've gotten to know her. We've worked in pastels, oil paint, watercolour, print making, charcoal, pencil, clay and of course my favorite (and thankfully hers, too), acrylic.
Another lovely young lady, my daughter, has been asking me to read a book she really enjoyed and now I finally have and have to admit it was pretty fantastic. I highly recommend it no matter what your age.
Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys
The story begins in Lithuania near the beginning of World War II with fifteen-year-old Lina's family being forced from their home to eventually end up working at a Siberian labor camp. She is able to overcome atrocities because of her drawings. A few years ago I read 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak, this had a similar feel and also brought to mind 'The Diary of Anne Frank', both a child's perspective of the war. The strength of children often amazes me...their courage and ability to forgive is astounding. It certainly reminds me to be grateful...for a warm home, clothing, food...so many things we tend to take for granted in our society. Aren't we fortunate to be able to do that?
I'm currently working on a project for Canadian Artists for the Poor which I'm quite excited for...it's the letter 'h' actually. For some reason Sesame Street keeps running through my mind as I paint. For their letters campaign, a number of artists have offered to paint a letter in their name on a 11x14 inch canvas. I've already chosen the style of letter, but that may have to be kept secret until the unveiling in June. I'll let you know. This is a list of the artists involved:
c Cindy Wagner
a Mardell Louise
n Muzna Amin
a Linda McKendry
d Barbara Derrick
i Teresa McCallum
a Rose-Marie Cameron
n Marlaina Eldey
a Brenda Banda Johnson
r Rae Pantalleresco
t Kimberly Buckley
i Joseph Ross
s Shiela Gosselin
t Kelly Watts
s Amanda Fox
f Keegan Starlight
o Vernon Wong
r Cynthia Ward
h Veronica Funk
e Verna Vogel
p Frances Vettergreen
o Eleanor Lowden Pidgeon
o Kim Bruce
r Julie Chandler
This project comes at a great time as I am planning an intial painting workshop at the library for the kids next month and now I've actually sat down to work on a sample. I've been involved with Canadian Artists for the Poor for many years and am glad to create something especially for them.
On Saturday local street artist Zac Abbott graced us at the library with a screen printing workshop for the kids...the kids were a little crazy because they were so excited and they absolutely loved it! One of the things I love most about my job as Art Program Coordinator is connecting these kids with our fabulous local artists and exposing them to materials or methods they may never have the opportunity to try. I was also very fortunate to have the assistance of Anita Singh who was a high school art teacher in Oman and now teaches lessons locally.
It's always a special treat to see those children who are a little more reserved come out of their shell, which was totally due to the energy and joy that Zac exudes. He even let them screen print directly onto the sweatshirt he was wearing...of course there were several handprints involved and many high-fives. Though there was ink everywhere and it was sometimes difficult to keep 15 kids from inadvertantly inking one another, they left a very, very happy group.
Today I want to share my gratitude list because every day that I get to do what I do is something to be utterly thankful for along with...
~ continued inspiration for the 52 Weeks Project
~ local artists who freely share their time & talents with children
~ a job in my community where I can contribute in a way that is extremely meaningful for me
~ delicious pizza at Casa Mia ;)
~ friends, both near and far, who are always such an encouragement and such joy-bringers
~ great books to get lost in
~ beautiful music that transports me to another place
~ steamy, creamy Mexican hot chocolate
~ packages in the mail
~ laughter...in abundance
~ and for the buffalo (bison) who represent Manitoba, the province in which I was born
Buffalo or bison is the ultimate symbol of abundance. He teaches us to meet challenges head on if we are to fulfill our goals. They can be stubborn, but work as a team reminding us not to be impatient but to work with strong determination.
On my way to Black Diamond I often like to stop at the Okotoks Erractic or Big Rock...which inspired the name of the brewing company and, in fact, the word 'okatok' is the Blackfoot word for rock. The world's largest known erratic inspired symbols on my first canoe painting where I incorporated the pictographs for members of a Blackfoot tribe and the number of 'moons' it took for them to travel. It still inspires my work and always amazes me to see this large boulder, which is really much more than that, in the middle of a field in the foothills. And to think it was dropped here by a glacier millions of years ago.
The drive is always so pretty, mountains in the distance and rolling hills along the way with the town nestled in a valley. I really do feel fortunate to live in these parts and wish I could capture in photographs the way it all appears to me in my mind's eye. The gallery itself is so interesting as it was created by combining two previous store fronts.
Today I thought I'd also share the exhibit at Bluerock Gallery as I was struck by how the work glowed with light and colour, like stained glass, when I arrived at the Artist's Reception on Saturday. In this exhibit I also included about a dozen small pieces on textured canvas, am pleased how they turned out and am thankful that the exhibit will be up until April 4 for friends who were unable to attend the opening. Karen and Chris, who own the gallery, are so wonderful, so gracious and thoughtful. It was a memorable day for me.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with the lovely Deborah Catton over chai latte at Phil & Sebastian in the quaint neighborhood of Mardo Loop in Calgary. What a fabulous place and even better company! I had her sign my copy of her book, Artists in the Raw, a visual journey that captures working artists of Alberta in their private and intimate spaces of which I am so pleased to be a part...she's doing such amazing things and I am always so proud of the success of those whom I can call 'friend'.
Spending time with creative people is always so inspiring to me. She has applied for several residencies...a dream...and has been accepted into three! Several years ago I was accepted into one and invited to another but because of family obligations was unable to accept, though to watch Deborah now I don't doubt that one day I will get another opportunity. I still have visions of working on large, raw canvas and need space and uninterrupted time to do so. I have faith it will happen...one day.