There are so many things going on in my life right now, and here I thought Spring would slow down for me. So many amazing opportunities have come my way and though I love every bit of it, this space is really where I want to be...All. The. Time. But I really am excited about what's in store, I just hope I haven't over-committed (which is a bit of a challenge for me). Everything is art-related, which certainly makes a difference as when I'm involved in creating something, anything, I am filled rather than depleted, even when I'm sharing and teaching. As long as I can get my hands dirty I know I'll be okay. And I guess we'll just learn to enjoy simpler meals and a less tidy house for the next two months. Oh well. It's not too long.
Since my community is named after Airdrie, Scotland, and because the thistle is the national emblem of Scotland, I have attempted to grow bull thistle in my yard for several years to no avail. It's not that the plant isn't hardy, it is, but that my husband is tenacious with weeds and though I point out that this particular weed has been planted on purpose, he keeps forgetting until it's too late. I think the thistle is gorgeous, growing up to two meters in height.
The roots of this plant is edible when cooked and apparently is similar to Jerusalem artichoke in flavor and texture though more bland and so was often mixed with other vegetables. It has been dried and stored and the young flower stems cooked while the leaves were typically soaked overnight in salted water and thorns removed prior to being cooked and eaten. The flowers were often dried and used to curdle plant milks while the seeds were roasted and eaten.
The roots were also used as a poultice and a decoction on sore jaws. The entire plant was boiled into an herbal steam for treating rheumatic joints. The down was often dried and used as tinder.
A few years ago I took a metal stamping workshop and since then I read everything I can get my hands on about it but always felt that the tools were too expensive for another hobby (I have leather stamping, printmaking, carving, knitting, crochet, jewellery making tools and the list seems to go on and on). Well, to satisfy my craving (I'm constantly looking at the tools in art supply stores or online) I finally splurged...with coupons. Now I can't wait to get some metal and begin. How I justify this turn of events is that I share everything with the arts programs at the library, so who knows...maybe we'll have a metal workshop in the next year.
I should live in Paris as there is nothing I like better for breakfast than a fresh, light, flaky pastry...particularly a croissant. I used to visit a French bakery in the city that made the most delicious pain au chocolat filled with Bernard Callebaut chocolate. Melt in your mouth goodness . But do I try to curb my desires in order to be good...or I walk to the bakery in order to justify these splurges ;)
...everything on earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence. ~ Christal Quintasket (1888-1936), Salish
Yesterday was such a productive day, I actually completed eight of the sixteen paintings I've been working on. And now it's time to wire, photograph and document all of these, and then get back to the other eight that are still in process.
With the current 52 WEEKS PROJECT I've been working on, as the focus is on wildflowers and their medicinal properties, I've been giving a lot of thought to the medicine of the earth. The doodling I've been doing in my sketchbook has also shown up on this piece as ripples and plant life found in water, the number three and triangles have been in my mind a lot of late, and I was drawn to the idea of reflection in water. I knew I wanted to create a stencil (thankfully I had a few blank sheets in my studio) and incorporate the copper leaf I've been eyeing in my stash lately. Though, as always, I didn't want it to be perfect.
Triangles represent divinity, creativity, gender, harmony, magic, time, reward, success, adventure, and in Greek history, a doorway. Along with the number three they represent (among other things):
* Birth, Life, Death
* Father, Son, Holy Ghost
* Past, Present, Future
* Spirit, Body, Mind
* Mother, Father, Child
I am typically drawn to circles, which remind me of the cycles of life, the moon and the sun, heaven and earth, the medicine wheel, four seasons, time, focus, unity and continuity...and it appears that the message of the triangle is very much the same.
The past week I've been feeling rather under the weather though I have much work to complete. Currently there are sixteen canvases in my studio at different stages of completion and though it is slow going, it still is a pleasure to spend time in my studio every day, even if it means just sitting in my chair and sketching out ideas. I'm glad for Walter's company these days as he doesn't seem to mind my sniffling and coughing.
I've also spent this time going through my sketchbooks and have begun connecting how I can transfer those ideas to canvas. There really is a connection between rest and creativity, even if it is forced rest. And I'm glad for a large, cozy chair in my studio as I can lay my head back and doze quietly as my mind processes ideas. I tend to prefer a combination of stillness and busy (my daughter calls it frantic) work. I feel as though I work very methodically but my youngest claims that when I'm at work at my easel everything shakes.
Am I obsessed with painting? Possibly. At the lowest points of this virus I felt dizzy and exhausted beyond measure and yet I still dragged myself into my studio. Mostly to sit and look, but I can't seem to stay away. It's my sanctuary and I think that's a good thing.
The prairie crocus is probably one of the first wildflowers I saw and recognized as a child. I remember loving the feel of their soft silky petals and stems and the colour is always so beautiful. Because I was born in Manitoba, I knew about this flower from a very young age as it is its floral emblem and though I was only aware of the purple and blue shades, I recently found out that there are also white varieties.
It is one of the first flowers to bloom in spring and though it is highly toxic, Blackfoot Indians used it to induce labour and abortions as well as a sedative for treating coughs. It can cause low blood pressure, diarrhea, vomiting, convulsions and coma.
During ARTember this year, a city-wide celebration of the arts that takes place in my community in September), the Airdrie Public Library is excited to host award-winning children's book author and illustrator Barbara Reid. Her work is fantastic as all the images are created with plasticine and so it is filled with interesting texture and details. I had the privilege to see an exhibit of her original pieces several years ago and, in that vein, we are excited to host a Creative Clay workshop at the library during Easter so I've been playing to come up with some ideas for the kids. Gosh I love my job.
Out of Africa has always been my favorite movie, complete with my favorite actress (obsessed with anything that includes Meryl Streep)...and then there's Robert Redford...mmmmmm. I read the book until it fell apart, listened to the soundtrack until it broke (it was a cassette tape), and was inspired by Karen Blixen to follow my heart in spite of the challenges. I remember the first time I watched it with my best friend in the mid-eighties, I can't get the first line (of both the book and movie) from my mind...'I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong hills'. I have enjoyed many movies since but, for me, nothing compares to it.
I've been painting little mandala type images on rocks for the Volunteer Appreciation display coming up at the library since the theme this year will be ripples...you know, how one small act of kindness ripples out to touch so many others. I'm thinking we can give these to volunteers after the display as little paper weights or decorations for tabletops or bookcases. Gosh I love my job, not only do I get to do creative things, but I love how much we appreciate the volunteers without whom we wouldn't be able to offer as much to the community as we do.
AIRdirondack Art Project