I long so much to make beautiful things.
This is my new studio assistant Walter ;) He's a lazy 4-year-old rescue, so unlike our previous ones...not in the lazy part, as our previous pets have been all that, but this is my first cat since I moved out of my parents home thirty years ago and it certainly is different having a cat. He meows like a broken sheep...seriously...I've never heard sounds like this before. And he likes to roll around in the empty bathtub.
He wags his tail like a dog, faster when he's happy and loves to be cuddled all. the. time. We tend to get high maintenance animals as they usually have a unfortunate history of abuse - it's a good thing my daughter is a major animal lover as Walter is certainly getting his share of love. We are all grateful for his company.
ART JOURNALING IS FOR EVERYONE!
All you need is the willingness to play and the courage to explore your creativity to fully experience the joy and healing art journaling has to offer.
The mission behind 21 SECRETS is to make art journaling accessible and engaging to creative hearts everywhere! Each talented teacher in 21 SECRETS shares a passion for inspiring others and a unique approach to art journaling.
21 SECRETS is celebrating it's fifth anniversary in 2014 by offering new workshops and a new format as well! And I am thrilled to be teaching this year...21 SECRETS Fall comes out on October 1st and will go on pre-sale starting today (and they're selling out fast!). For more information or to register go HERE.
Connecting With Your Wild Spirit
I previously had the privilege of working on a year-long labor of love titled the 52 WEEKS PROJECT and in that time paid attention to nature and the wild animals I had connected with in my life. I grew up in a northern Cree community and learned about the importance of animals as messengers who can teach us so many things about ourselves and the world around us. As meditation can help us listen to that still voice inside, these messengers also guide us when we begin to pay attention to our surroundings. Using a few basic art supplies along with a journal and by paying close attention we can find our personal wild spirit guides to help us on our journey.
Of the 52 WEEKS PROJECT, Wolf & Great Horned Owl have already found homes and they are now also available online through Bluerock Gallery. This series has been such a privilege to work on and is an honour to share...I'm thankful that I had a few months to live with them before sending them out to the world.
A drive in the country culminating in a visit with Karen Gimbel at Bluerock Gallery is always a balm to my soul. It's been a few difficult weeks so this was a perfect day to refresh and replenish. Just being in the gallery and finally getting to see Justina Smith's work live (I've been following her online for awhile) was a real treat.
I also took some time to pop into The Stop Coffee House in Black Diamond for a delicious homemade cinnamon and carrot muffin (yum) and enjoyed some of my newest little read, Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. I really enjoyed his previous book, Steal Like an Artist, and so I have been looking forward to this one, too. A few of the chapter titles intrigued me...Think Process, Not Product...Share Something Small Every Day...Don't Turn Into Human Spam. I always enjoy the author's perspective and his honest and down to earth perspective on life as an artist.
In both his books, Kleon reminds us as artists to be ourselves and to discover our own path. That in trusting ourselves and following our own personal interests, while nothing is really original, we will find our own voice. And isn't that what creativity is all about?
One of my favorite and least expensive tools for adding texture to my work is DAP DryDex Spackling. I love gel medium as well, but prefer the chalkiness of spackling and the fact that I can sand or carve into it once it is dry. And DAP is fantastic as it goes on pink and dries white so I know when I can work into it without constantly sticking my fingers into it. Plus, another great bonus, is that it's inexpensive and readily available at any hardware store.
On the negative side, it can crumble off flexible surfaces like canvas and paper so I've begun mixing it with gel media to create more flexibility. I'm also careful about the amount I use on a surface that isn't rigid. Once it dries, I sand down any sharp ridges, give the piece another coat of gesso, sometimes white and other times black, depending what I'm planning to do on the top.
Lately I've been giving a lot of thought to Art vs Craft as what I do can often fall into both categories. I really dislike the separation because I grew up learning crafts - weaving, beading, embroidery, sewing, crocheting, knitting, wood & leather burning - which taught me composition, colour, design and how to commit to a project until it is complete. When I finally had the opportunity to take an art class when I moved to Alberta during grade 11 my teacher mentioned that she wasn't surprised that I had the same understanding of the elements of design as her other students who had studied art throughout their school years.
I think any form of creative expression is necessary...cooking, sewing, music, gardening, photography....I believe we all need to dream of things in our minds, to create something with our own two hands. And I whole-heartedly believe that every single form of that expression is art.
Lately I've really been enjoying working with my palette knives, which was a no-no at school as they were to be used to mix paint, not apply it. I like the random and interesting accidents that occur and when I scrape the paint back the under colours show through which is really beautiful. Glowing.
So often I find I wake at night and end up thinking of the most brilliant ideas (in my haze they always seem brilliant) and yet I forget them come morning. I live with a very light sleeper so writing them down isn't an option. At times I wonder if it really matters that I remember? Or does the thought process in the night visit me at some point in my work anyway?
I'm currently working on three projects which I can't wait to share...one will be made public on Monday, another near the end of the month and yet another in autumn. And on Thursday I am heading back into Calgary to join the Beltline Boys & Girls Club to talk about my journey as an artist and to begin a mural project with the kids. I'm very excited for it. There is just something fantastic about working with a group of kids who need art in their lives. I was always one of them. Though I was tiny and shy and often felt I blended into the background, once I had the opportunity to contribute to an art project I was in my element. It was there I definitely belonged.
And it still is when I am in the creative zone, painting in my studio or in public, that I feel so connected, so grounded, at peace and focused on the here and now. Oddly enough these are the times there is no condemning voice in my head, just experimentation and play. That experience is my hope is for everyone, whether they are viewing my work or creating something of their own.
Well...my daughter is home from University and so we've made a few changes this weekend. My studio has moved back upstairs and her space has moved down. Change is always good for me as I tend to pare down and to be reminded of why I don't need things which I sometimes desire so much that it creeps into my every thought. And yet, once I simplify I feel content and at peace. It's a good feeling.
The 52 WEEKS PROJECT has been taken down and packaged up, they certainly don't take up much room like this (in the closet on the bottom right photo), and I don't have much work left at home with exhibits in four galleries and at the library. I'm odd in that I feel overwhelmed when there is too much around me and then I forget how much I've accomplished when it's all being exhibited. But I have to admit I am beyond grateful to have so many wonderful opportunities to share my work.
There are a number of reasons I love painting upstairs...the light, the proximity to the kitchen so that I can prepare meals for my family while still painting, and I'm working on another project (can't wait to share) so it's easy to pop in and out throughout my evenings as well.
Our house will feel a little lighter in fall when our daughter heads back to school as she will be taking furniture with her this time. I will try to remember not to fill the spaces immediately and just live with what is there for awhile. I often find ways to repurpose or reuse items already in the house when I don't rush. Plus, and this is a terrific bonus, it's much easier to clean which means even more creative time for me. And it doesn't get better than that.
This painting was inspired by the 'blood' or 'big springs moon' recently but as I painted it reminded me of the large, orange harvest moon my daughter & I saw last fall and it was beautiful. Also, as I was working on it, Neil Young's 'Harvest Moon' kept replaying in my mind (how could it not?).
Yesterday my baby girl came home from University for the summer (yay!) and last night I stayed up late to finish The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini...so, so good and so very sad. It's the story of Amir and Hassan, two young boys who grow up in opposing circumstances, one wealthy and the other poor, and begin their childhood before Afghanistan becomes strife with war. There were a few plot twists that I anticipated but another big one that totally caught me by surprise. I am always fascinated by human nature and thankful that we are always given the opportunity to redeem ourselves. Life is filled with choices that may harm us, both good and bad, along with those blurred lines in between. I don't know why it took so long to read this novel as it was even better than his other two. Really, they're all fantastic, I highly recommend them all.
AIRdirondack Art Project
Alberta (above) +