We had another full house this month at the Airdrie Public Library's Teen Art Studio. Even though this is a new program in the library, it is already extremely successful and highly anticipated which is fantastic! The teens enjoy connecting with friends and meeting new people as well as creating something...a fun evening all around. I'm so glad we have introduced this program and thankful for the teens who dreamed it up and for local artist Jaye Benoit who is so great with the teens..
There is something absolutely wonderful about collaboration...whether that means sharing ideas, working on projects together or being involved in an exhibit opening with more than one artist. For me, not only does it take the pressure off, but I also love looking at someone else's work instead of just my own on the walls. Solo shows are a real privilege and I have had many, but I have much more fun in two or three person settings. This is the second two-person show I've been involved in with Patricia Lortie and neither has been a disappointment. We had the privilege of meeting over 300 people at our latest opening who were so kind and lovely...unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to chat with everyone but there was such great and positive energy at Inglewood Fine Art Gallery on both occasions. And I do so enjoy painting live that it was a treat to be involved in two events for this exhibit. The live jazz was fantastic and Patricia's smiling face is always such a treat. I highly recommend collaborating with others however and whenever possible.
There is so much more I want to do than I am currently physically able to do, but if I've learned one thing from completing annual 52 WEEKS projects is that one small step at a time can come together to create something great and magical. I remember taking a writing course a few years ago, when the editor who was giving the lecture spoke about creating an entire novel in one year through writing only 15 minutes a day. It's the same adage as baby steps. And because I have done this before, I know it can be done. Each time I feel discouraged I just keep that lecture in mind. I guess it's the same thing as changing the world one step at a time...not everything needs to nor can it be completed at once. And I find that I learn more when I slow down. I pay attention to some details, allow mistakes, and then beautiful and surprising things happen.
As a very young girl learning about Rosa Parks I was surprised and saddened to learn about racism. I come from a very multi-cultural family and lived in a fairly multi-cultural community and didn't understand that anyone could even consider being of more value than another person. What I loved about Rosa was the fact that she stood her ground at the age of 42 by politely refusing to give up her seat on a bus just because of the colour of her skin. Perhaps it is because I come from a line of pacifists, being exposed to any kind of conflict is very uncomfortable and I really try to avoid those circumstances. But I also believe that we need to stand up for our own rights and for that of others. Rosa's husband encouraged her to continue her education in order to complete high school, a feat in a time when less than 7% of African Americans held a diploma. She worked as a secretary for the Civil Rights Movement even though some of the people she worked with felt that women should stay home. And in Detroit she spoke against housing discrimination for the less fortunate. For her commitment to equal rights for all, she was the first woman interned in honour at the Capitol Rotunda.
Recently I was sketching, doodling really but beginning to plan for a collaborative piece knowing I wanted to add a boat, like many of the fishing boats I grew up with in the north instead of a canoe, but uncertain as to the perspective I wanted to include in my painting. The more I looked at this sketch, I knew that I wanted to create something totally separate from the collaboration that incorporated this drawing as it reminded me of my family history. Many generations of my family have each been born in a different country, several on different continents. My grandfather lost his sister and mother due to illness contracted on a ship, and one of my aunts was named after a Captain after being born on board another though she could never publicly use the name because it wasn't considered Biblical. I think I have more work to do on this canvas but am excited for the possibilities.
My daughter suggested that I take a photo of one of the pieces in this year's 52 WEEKS series while in progress to share my process which I thought was a wonderful idea. Each of the 52 canvases have been pre-prepared by utilizing layers of colour and pattern and once I decide whose portrait I will be painting I select a background that, to me, feels like it connects with the subject. Initially I wasn't drawing on the canvases prior to painting, instead just using my paintbrush to draw directly on the canvas with paint, but after a few weeks felt that I could keep more of the interesting background if I drew first. So, I transfer the image to the canvas, then begin by painting all the darks - the shadows, hair and clothing - using either prussian blue, dioxazine purple, pthalo green, payne's grey, alizarin crimson or a combination of any of those colours. I like using transparent darks at this stage and layering with thin coats of paint. Then I begin mixing skin tones which include titanium white, unbleached titanium, raw umber, and a myriad of reds, yellows, blues, purples and greens. Sometimes it is nice to have a messy palette at this point as my brush will pick up colour that I hadn't planned on which becomes interesting once I begin to apply the paint to canvas. And because I don't allow myself to labour over these, I have been pleasantly surprised by several happy accidents. It's part of trusting that intuitive sense of recognizing colour and form which happens after many, many paintings. Whenever I work too hard and think too much the paintings look laboured and stiff so I've really been enjoying myself of this series, which I was so intimidated by in the beginning. Learning to trust my creative choices has been quite freeing...that's how I feel today, in any case.
At the Airdrie Public Library we have a room that is dedicated to teens and it includes books, seating for hanging out or studying and gaming computers that I had the privilege of adding graffiti to last year. We also dedicate the exhibit space in the room to high school art and on the weekend hung a new exhibit of beautiful photography by W.H. Croxford students. In the past we also had a group of teens paint bookends and I added small chalkboard wall painted 'picture frames' on the walls so teens could leave messages or reading recommendations. It's a great space and I hope when we eventually move into a larger facility that it will grow. Not only do teens enjoy it, but adults do, too (young adult books are fantastic!).
This weekend was spent planning and carving new stamps to use in my paintings and to share at workshops. Printmaking has always fascinated me but I find carving wood and lino very difficult on my hands (and these days impossible with my shoulder) and I think that though I love the outcome, it's really the process of designing and carving that appeals to me. When I create these stamps to use in my art, it seems like such a natural progression from creating wood block prints more than twenty years ago to this as I get to use these in my current work. This was my first time using the pink Speedball Speedycut carving rubber, usually I use the white Safety-Kut which is easier to carve but does crumble a bit more. I'm still in the midst of carving a few more and can't wait to see how I will use them in my work.
Though I didn't pursue it at the time, after studying Art + Design at Red Deer College I was accepted into Fashion Design in Toronto. When I was creating my portfolio for submission, my greatest inspiration was old black and white movies. Among the clothing I designed and sewed, I created a double-breasted pinstriped gangster-inspired zoot suit for myself with a pencil skirt instead of trousers, a royal blue silk suit lined in plum paisley, and a drop-waist cream silk dress. With all of these outfits I wore long strands of beads and hats inspired by the 1920's, specifically by Louise Brooks, who in turn inspired my youngest daughter's haircut that she has had for most of her childhood.
Sadly, Louise was sexually assaulted and upon informing her mother much later, didn't receive any support being told that she must have led him on, and unfortunately those belief systems still often exist. In 1929 she starred in the film Pandora's Box which was considered a modern film out of Germany as it was the first portrayal of a same-sex relationship. She was an actor, dancer and eventually a writer, whose career experienced several highs and lows throughout her life, and has been the inspiration for books, music, comic arts and movies.
Several years ago I sold a few prints of a painting through Society6 which is an online shop that creates a huge selection of quality items with artwork printed on them. I decided to play with this again, but this time instead of just prints on paper or canvas I added a variety of great things...including these leggings which look fantastic! The three pieces I have added are (LtoR) Old Wisdom (36x48), The Voyage (30x40) and Autumn's Song (48x60) which can be viewed at Inglewood Fine Arts in Calgary (www.inglewoodfinearts.com). Now there are tote bags, iphone & ipod cases, t-shirts, pillows, shower curtains, cards, clocks, travel mugs, and so much more. You can view everything that is available online here, just click on the links on the left hand side of the page: https://society6.com/veronicafunk. There are always specials on different items and currently there is a promotion for FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING until June 6 if you click this link - https://society6.com/veronicafunk?promo=NCKCR6GHYXK4
AIRdirondack Art Project
Alberta (above) +