Typically most of my paintings are started in a similar fashion. I begin with a background that includes many layers of colour and pattern added by using brayers, brushes, stencils and an airbrush. After the paint cures and hardens well, I start the process of adding an image by using a rich colour that will stand out well from the background and is also fairly transparent so that I can add washes of colour to create shadows. After it dries well, I begin by adding some highlights and more colour until I feel like the piece is interesting, leaving some portions slightly unfinished because I love a painterly appearance. Finally, I hang the piece for awhile until I decide that it is complete...sometimes I go back in to change some colours or shapes or to add a few more layers of shadows or highlights. It's my standard process whenever I paint, even if I don't add pattern to the background as I still always begin with a toned or painted ground.
I think that clarifying in words why I select the imagery I do in my work can be a bit challenging at times. I've spent a lot of time working on this latest series which has given me a lot of time to think about this body of work and what it means to me. Why fashion? Why these particular dresses?
Psychological - fashion represents personality, a personal statement, fashion as body language, as therapy & positive mental self image, creativity.
Historical - Glenbow Dior exhibit, portrays a message of self, search for identity, consumer culture & how it relates to social culture & social movements, innovative, fashion's influence on society, communicates to the world who we are & who we would like to be.
My history included fashion education as does my daughter's current experience. Fashion is a form of personal expression from the inside out and of transformation. As a way of knowing yourself. I see it as a positive form of self expression, a way to share who you are without words.
After travelling in many different ways, I have come to the realization that I don't really like to paint outside of my home and studio. I do like bringing small moleskine sketchbooks with me in order to jot down notes and make small sketches, but I really do love to keep the messy creative stuff at home. So, it was wonderful to get back to the studio after travelling this time, and to utilize my travel time to spend quality time with my husband, to relax and refresh, and to get a lot of reading done. I was itching to get back to my 'Fashion Plates' series. This is painting number 16 of a planned 22 piece body of work. I'm beginning to see the finish line which is very exciting to me!
I spent a week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic last week and it was wonderful. Every afternoon it rained while we enjoyed our afternoon coffee (my husband) and hot chocolate (me) - both are major imports for the country and they are so, so delicious. We brought some home with us. We visited with several artisans while we were there and were able to select a couple of pieces to bring home, which is always very important to me. I love to be able to support local artists and it is lovely to see them at work. The plants and animals were, of course, very different from our home in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and I've been inspired...I can see the inspiration of a new little project heading my way. The people were incredibly friendly and welcoming, I hope to return someday.
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.
AIRdirondack Art Project