This morning as I was working on a commission I began to compare the merits and possible challenges of the two ways in which I work. One (like the chair in the photo above) is totally pre-planned, sketching and then creating a painted 'drawing' similar to a coloring book page, though I also add shadows, usually utilizing a deep blue or red, depending on the main color that will be used on the painting. It was a method I learned in college, by creating an almost black-and-white image and then adding color with glazes and transparent paint. My other method is to add color, pattern and texture and to make decisions as I go with the final image coming more intuitively. I have to say that I don't prefer one method over the other as when I work in one manner constantly, I tend to feel constrained and become desperate for change.
Moving back and forth between different methods of working, as well as different substrates, sizes, and images keeps the work fresh and fun for me. I haven't created large furniture paintings in quite some time, though I do still create smaller pieces with those images because I love them, even after twelve years. I did take a hiatus for awhile a number of years ago and thought I wouldn't paint another chair in my life, but I was mistaken. Then I realized it wasn't the paintings that were making me unhappy, it was all the business related to painting that I wasn't enjoying and so....I changed the business part of my creative life.
Now I am only involved in those things that make my heart sing, and only work with galleries and patrons with whom I feel a connection with and where there is mutual respect. It's definitely been working for me. The most interesting thing about this all is that once I made that decision, opportunities presented themselves to me - I didn't even have to go looking for them. And everything fell into place. Easy. I guess that old adage about taking a leap of faith works.
Inspired by Liz Lamoreux's book 'Inner Excavation', I decided to document my day yesterday. Looking at the photos, I realize that this is pretty much how I spend most of my days unless I have an article to finish, a gallery to meet, or work to do at the library. And I don't do laundry every day, but I try to tidy something (or work on another project like stripping furniture or sewing sundresses). The reading (and naptime) are probably what I miss most when I'm extremely busy. I really love my days.
Another great Summer Reading Program Fun Friday...one of my favorite days of the year. I love watching the kids so excited to paint and this year we kept the groups smaller so it was much more managable. Plus this year I had the brilliant idea just to give each child a small container of whichever color they chose to use instead of keep tins of paint around for them. Definintely less messy that way - just can't believe it took three years before I figured that one out. These days have been hot in Alberta, and though the sunshine is highly appreciated after all the rain, I am finding this a little too warm. I'm an autumn girl, so I do prefer cooler weather, and turtlenecks and jeans. But my family is enjoying these days of summer, sipping raspberry lemonade under the shade of our apple tree. And I am glad it's summer.
My new canoe has been progressing slowly but beautifully as I'm enjoying my work on this piece. Whenever I paint I feel so much peace, it's the reason for doing what I do.
I've been giving a lot of thought to what has lead me here, to this point in my life, and remembered being a young girl, of twelve or so, looking at my hands full of charcoal dust and seeing them filled with lines. My mother said that I had the hands of an old soul. As a child I often thought of growing older, looking forward to my forties and I have to say I haven't been disappointed. I love feeling more sure of myself, of understanding what gives me joy, and of knowing how I can contribute in my home and my community. I have learned to make time for the things that matter most to me - family, reading, painting. And even though there still are difficult days, as there is in life, I feel blessed beyond measure.
Since I haven't shared what I've been reading in awhile, and though I'm on book two in this series already, I thought I'd share a little synopsis on the the Game of Thrones:
Game of Thrones
by George R.R. Martin
This series has been recommended to me for some time and I'm finally reading it - and thouroughly enjoying it. And, oddly enough, while my brother was visiting, as early risers we both got up to read and noticed that we were reading the same book - both book two of the series, A Clash of Kings. I don't tend to select fantasy but I'm loving the combination of history and fiction. It takes place in a time of castles and kings where summer has lasted for decades but a harsh, evil winter is looming. There are many characters involved but the center of the story revolves around the Starks and Lannisters, one good and the other evil. Full of magic, romance, and intrigue these tomes have kept me guessing from the beginning. I'm almost finished book two, cannot wait to read the third, A Storm of Swords, and am glad to know there are currently five books in the series with two more to come. I'm also looking forward to watching the series once I've finished the books.
AIRDRIE PUBLIC LIBRARY PRESENTS...
DESTINATION RED DEER
July 4 – August 21, 2012
As a prior Art & Design student of Red Deer College, I was excited to see this new travelling exhibit available through the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Travelling Exhibit program. For many years, educational facilities have acquired a collection of works by extremely talented Canadian artists and we are privileged to view a small portion of the College’s valuable collection which began in 1975 and includes over five hundred pieces.
This collection is rarely seen outside the campus.
The selection exhibited at the Airdrie Public Library includes an eclectic mix of mediums and genres and relates stories of the time period and geography of each artist through still life, landscape or abstract work. Though this body of work is considered contemporary, many of the pieces
were created between 1939 and 1990, a number of pieces are quite raditional in style and subject matter.
I was especially pleased to see the work of Margaret Shelton as she led an interesting life, living near Drumheller and
cycling to Banff in the summers on her bicycle which she painted orange to avoid theft. Once there, she would set
up her pup tent and spend the summers completing watercolour paintings and pencil sketches. The rest of her
year was spent capturing the images and icons of the prairies that surrounded her home.
The featured artists are Kenojuak Ashevak, Anthony Benjamin, Bruno Bobak, John K. Esler, H.G. Glyde, David Hockney, Robert Indiana, Dennis Kardon, Marion Nicoll, Linda Ohama, Jack Radetsky, Margaret Shelton, Antoni
Tàpies and William T. Wiley. Destination Red Deer features historical and contemporary Alberta based
artists beside well recognized North American and international artists.
I just had the most lovely visit with artist Deborah Catton who is currently interviewing a variety of female Alberta artists for an exhibit/book titled 'Artists in the Raw'. It's a pleasure to be included with such a fabulous group of women and even more of a pleasure to meet another wonderful artist. Her vibrant abstract work is currently being exhibited by Resolution Art Gallery in Calgary.
I really love the arts community in this province. The support and consideration they give one another is absolutely incredible. And I'm really, really thankful to be able to be a part of it. It's also wonderful to be a woman artist who is maturing under the tutelage of so many wise women. It's because of them that I've been brave enough to step out of my little box and to expand what I do, to include even more of myself in my new body of work, to open myself more and add the layers of my history into my paintings. It's interesting to see each of these women whose work I admire grow to work together. There is definitely strength in numbers.
PS I went to see 'Brave' with my daughters and nieces and it was wonderful. A great testament and example of the courage of girls. My daughters are fortunate to live in this time and place with such role models.
This past two weeks I participated in the Soul*Full Summit hosted by Catherine Just which was about fear, about fearlessness really. Here are the nuggets of wisdom I gained from the speakers:
This week has been an emotional roller coaster as my eldest daughter celebrated her high school graduation. I am so proud of her, she's worked very hard, enjoyed every minute of her life thus far and is excited about the future, while still grieving the end of the past and the changes ahead. I feel the same. And we were so fortunate to enjoy a visit with my entire family. We laughed so hard while we were taking family photos and decided to create an 'olde tyme' photo. We held the straight face for the first photo and with each consecutive image had more smiles until we were all laughing. Gosh I love the self-timer on my camera.
So now we need to rest and relax, to enjoy one another for the summer ahead. To keep loving each other and to look forward to the growth ahead. I'm glad that following my heart in this creative life has encouraged her to follow hers. I'm also glad that I can pour my heart into my work so that on difficult days my sorrow can turn into joy. And my wish for her is that she listens to her heart very closely. To recognize more quickly when she needs to adjust her path. And I am so very, very glad that she is far more confident and self-assured than I was at that tender, young age. I have been blessed with this beautiful young & wise soul in my life.