I am not a minimalist, per se, but years ago I learned that living with less and making conscious consumer choices made my life easier and richer. I love simplicity, such as a minimal wardrobe with mix & match items that I love to wear (this can be a bit difficult in a 4 season climate). But I've also been finding that I've fallen into old spending habits (ie. daily Starbucks and purchasing art supplies or clothing items I don't need or use). My biggest challenges are books, art and art supplies. I need to remember to exercise patience, use libraries (which I love), and though I wish I could support every artist I do make a point off giving local/handmade gifts, and recognize that there are often opportunities to think creatively by using the stuff you have. My girls often make gifts for family & friends (which I love) or do things for loved ones instead (making memories, which I also love). A few things I have to keep in mind before I make a purchase are:
1. It has to be useful, beautiful (to me) & fit properly.
2. Good quality at a good price.
3. It should make me feel good.
4. When something comes in, something must also go out (replacement).
5. I really need to pay attention to personal style and what I love to use/wear.
Because of the support I've received online in past projects, I've decided that I want to share this decision to return to simplicity for personal accountability. I want to reduce my spending and my consumer footprint as well as making things easier for me, both for dressing every day and for cleaning and organizing my home. I was inspired recently by @styleapotheca on instagram who discusses a NO BUY or LOW BUY YEAR and shares some great suggestions:
1. Remember your WHY for shopping and for stopping (saving, reduce debt, environmental, etc).
2. Create a list of RULES (borrow, recycle, replace, wait 24 hours, etc).
3. UNSUBSCRIBE from emails & social media feeds that tempt you.
4. Create a BUDGET (consider an app to track spending).
5. Take an INVENTORY of what you have (put everything you own in one spot, ie. clothing, and then declutter - keep what you wear over and over again).
I'm starting with my wardrobe (this is my inventory)...I used this as an excuse to take photos around my community:
Bench jacket, Reitmans 2-button jeans, JoeFresh vest, Aritzia TNA sweater, Aerie plaid shirt, Walmart brown leather belt, Blundstone boots, David Rice necklace, handmade gloves
Ralph Lauren wool blazer, Lands End navy turtleneck, Reitmans jeans, ROOTS purse, Bass Pro cowboy boots, Reitmans burnt orange sweater & navy cami, Banff bracelets
3. Miller Mural:
Banff t-shirts, Reitmans moto jacket & jeans, Peru striped scarf, Walmart animal print scarf, Bob's wedge booties, Hoodoo Designs silver necklace & bracelet, Stella & Dot wrap bracelet, Mary Jane's Farm turquoise earrings
4. East Lake Park:
Suzy Shier khaki t-shirt, Denver Hayes black turtleneck, George short sleeved blouse, JoeFresh long sleeved blouse, Reitmans jeans, Dsign Step shoes, handmade Tomoko silver earrings, handmade glass necklace
5. Nose Creek Park:
Out of Print Pride & Prejudice sweatshirt, Danskin sweats, Steve Madden animal print white sneakers, Old Navy plum sweater, Oranj leggings, Skechers animal print black sneakers, Reitmans grey top, H&M camo leggings
Aerie plum henley, Reitmans jeans, GAP denim jacket, Tieks animal print flats, Boody bamboo black scoop neck top, Garage black t-shirt, Bench hoodie, ROOTS black purse, Levi black leather belt
7. City Hall:
Ralph Lauren black dress, Calvin Klein shoes, JoeFresh black wool coat, Terra Siemeritsch handmade wool shawl, Cheryl Bakke Martin handmade glass earrings, H&M plaid dress, Van Heusen necklace, Joe Fresh trench coat, Coach purse
La Vie en Rose blue nightgown & robe, La Vie en Rose grey nightgown & Aerie robe, JoeFresh batik nightgown & hotel terry robe, Aerie plaid pants & Garage black t-shirt
9. Punta Cana:
Reitmans cargo shorts, Aerie grey tank, H&M harem pants, Boody white t-shirt, Guess sleeveless dress, GAP t-shirt dress (I have one khaki & one navy), Birkenstock sandals
I wear Reitman's jeans as at 5'2" it can be difficult to find pants that fit my waist, hips and short legs and these always fit perfectly. I also donated my dress pants because I live in a place that dark jeans, a nice blouse and dress shoes suffice as formal office/meeting wear. I have 5 pairs of jeans that fit really well and that I love to wear. I also tend to invest more in purses (I like classic pieces and own three) and shoes (I tend to stick to 8 pairs to fit my shoe rack but currently have 9) so they last a long time. I have also learned to invest in layering pieces as southern Alberta weather can fluctuate dramatically due to the proximity of the Rocky Mountains. My lingerie is reduced as well to include 3 bras (wireless/t-shirt, underwire/dress, and work-out), undies, socks (argyle and wool) and two swimsuits (a bikini and one-piece). I tend to get most things in black or grey because I love the colours and they really mix and match well with everything in my closet.
Often when I'm working smaller I like to begin by drawing on the canvas with an acrylic paint pen. This is especially convenient when I'm transferring an image from a sketchbook to the canvas as it feels much like the marker that I use to draw the original image. I've always drawn, though I don't tend to share my drawings very often, and like to use any implement including pencils, pens and markers to sketch and doodle with, but I still view these drawings as the basis for paintings rather than completed works in themselves. I always view them as my preparatory work. For as long as I can remember, I have drawn, which makes this a natural part of my creative process. Plus, using paint pens means I can use a damp cloth to 'erase' any marks to make adjustments as I go while the paint is still wet.
I've recently completed this painting, which is a bit of a departure for me, for the upcoming VIM Future Oceans fashion show that will take place in Victoria, BC on July 1 and in which my daughter, Katherine, is one of the designers.
The Future Oceans Design Competition is an innovation challenge presented to international fashion designers by Victoria International Marina, in Victoria, BC, Canada. The Ocean Legacy Foundation, and Natural Talent Alliance. The mission of Future Oceans is to inspire hope and promote positive activism toward environmental conservation and recovery.
“Five trillion individual pieces of plastic are estimated to be floating in our ocean. More than a million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals die every year from plastic. Small weathered micro-plastics are now found within digestive systems of sea life, birds and mammals globally. Over 220 million tons of plastic are produced each year, we must choose to reduce our need.” – www.oceanlegacy.ca
“Our journey is one of passion, purpose and action. The Oceans need our attention and we are answering with action led by a community of artists, backed by well-thought-out strategy and some of the smartest and most proactive people in the world. Our Designers and Ambassadors will help spread the truth about the health of our oceans while stimulating positive discussion on solving the issues that plague them. Communication is more powerful and effective when it comes from leaders, especially when told through the lens and in the vernacular of their professions.” – Craig Norris, CEO, Victoria International Marina
While I've been living with the Fashion Plate series on my wall, I've begun to see a few things that I'd like to change, beginning with this piece. I've added a creamy white over the entire dress as the original dress is unbleached muslin, but also want to add some more washes of dark shadows and perhaps some stamping using the images I had carved for my daughter to stamp the fabric in the first place. I've been wanting to use the sugar skull I created for her for some time and wonder if that is what would complete this piece for me. It's always a challenge...to leave things as they are or to alter them slightly. That is probably my greatest difficulty when I live with my work too long, I become more critical and want to make changes. Sometimes it's successful, other times it's not. Hopefully this is a good decision.
Yesterday I completed this painting before spending the rest of my day with a Cree grandmother. The painting is symbolic of the medicine wheel in its colours:
Indigo (west/fall) - intellectual/knowledge
White (north/winter) - spiritual/connection
Yellow (east/spring) - emotional/awareness
Red (south/summer) - physical/movement
Both the medicine wheel & raven symbolize balance and a little magic. I love that.
My wise 80 year old guest gifted me with a braid of sweetgrass and a sage bundle for smudging. She shared so much wisdom and joy with my daughter & I, whom she calls wolf & raven. I am so honoured that she owns several of my paintings and that she took the day to travel to us. Beauty just emanates from her and my life feels richer for her company.
I've completed two more pieces in the Fashion Plates series, both measuring 24x24 inches, which brings me to fifteen paintings. Only seven more to go. Of the final pieces, I have a larger canvas prepared which will be the largest of this series (36x48), and a couple of smaller ones. The squares have been interesting in this series, the smallest measure 20x20 and the largest 36x36, so working on composition has been a happy challenge. In every painting I like the idea of challenging myself in several different ways, and one of them has been to center the image while still making the composition interesting. I think the movement of the fabric and placement of the arms helps. It's also been interesting to have a variety of shapes and sizes of canvases prepared as I often work in series on one size at a time. I also have no idea what I'll be painting on each canvas until I get to it which has been very compelling for me. Anyway, still plugging happily along, not sure where this will head once it is complete, but definitely enjoying the process.
Years ago I began minimizing my footprint by being a smarter consumer. I reduced my wardrobe, borrowed books from the library instead of purchasing so many (I love to read), ate homemade meals and canned. Lately I feel like I've fallen out of that practice with daily trips to Starbucks (and not always bringing reusable cups), jumping into the vehicle and driving instead of walking (which is also reducing my physical activity), and purchasing extra art supplies instead of using what I have first. So, I am making a public declaration to be wiser and kinder to the environment. In the past I found that sharing my goals online helps me to keep myself accountable so this tends to work well for me. Fingers crossed!
AIRdirondack Art Project